Monday, June 3, 2013

Hoping There is No David Clydes in this year's MLB Draft

The major league baseball draft is this week.  Many young men will take the first steps in realizing their boyhood dreams.  As for the number one overall pick, this year's selection is still up for grabs with University of Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray and Stanford pitcher Mark Appel as the top candidates.  History has shown us that this honor is no different than any other pick in terms of major league success.  One could become a future hall of famer like Ken Griffey Jr.(1987-Seattle) or Chipper Jones(1990-Atlanta) or not make the major leagues at all such as Steve Chilcutt(1966-NY Mets) or Brien Taylor(1991-NY Yankees).
1974 Topps
The most infamous overall draft pick in MLB history is perhaps David Clyde in 1973.  Clyde was a dominating left handed pitcher at Westchester High School in Texas.  He had 18-0 record while only given up three earned runs in 148 innings pitched during his senior year and was considered to having the best arm of any high schooler in the nation.  Texas Rangers selected him as the top pick and gave him $125,000 signing bonus, a record at the time.
Rangers who were in their second year in Texas after moving from Washington had poor attendance.  Rangers owner Bob Short decided to use Clyde as a draw and named him a starter just 19 days after graduating from high school and without any minor league experience.  He was a  box office success, For his debut, Texas sold out the 35,000+ seats in Arlington Stadium. 
As for the game itself, Clyde beat Minnesota 4-3.  Clyde pitched five innings, threw 112 pitches, struck out eight batters and walked seven others.   Clyde stayed in the big leagues and drew big crowds for the rest of the year.  He finished the season with a 4-8 record and an ERA of 5.01 in 93 innings pitched.
By 1975, Clyde developed arm problems due to the stress on his arm at such a young age. He was traded to Cleveland and out of baseball in 1979.  Clyde's first big league manager, Whitey Herzog later stated in his book, "White Rat", that he regretted using Clyde so much and should have not gone along with Short's desire to use him.
So before the rise and fall of pitching phenoms Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, there was a David Clyde.  Clyde should always be remembered as the posterboy for mismanaging young pitching arms in baseball.  When you see a ballclub like the Washington Nationals put an innings limit on a Stephen Strasburg, think of Clyde.  I am a firm believer in not rushing a player to the majors.  Let him experience the ups and downs of professional ball in the minor leagues.  Failures will often occur more when a player debuts in the majors too soon rather than too late. 

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