Normally it takes at least five years to determine how strong a draft class is/was. But sometimes a class is strong enough and deep enough to stand out right away, and 2005 looks to have been a potentially very special year. Just a review of the first round is revealing. Note the big disparity in quality between the hitters and pitchers.
1) Justin Upton; 2) Alex Gordon; 3) Jeff Clement; 4) Ryan Zimmerman; 5) Ryan Braun.
Wow. Three guys already established in the majors. Upton should be a superstar, and Clement should be good once he gets to play.
6) Ricky Romero; 7) Troy Tulowitzki; 8) Wade Townsend; 9) Mike Pelfrey; 10) Cameron Maybin.
Big split shows up with the pitching, as none of these arms have done as well as expected, Pelfrey being a particular disappointment. However, you have Tulowitzki who is excellent and Maybin who is a top prospect.
11) Andrew McCutchen; 12) Jay Bruce; 13) Brandon Snyder; 14) Trevor Crowe; 15) Lance Broadway; 16) Chris Volstad; 17) C.J. Henry; 18) Cesar Carillo; 19) John Mayberry; 20) Mark Pawelek
The only total bust on the hitting side is Henry, as even the worst of the others still have a shot at being useful. None of the pitchers have emerged as certain stars, though Volstad is still very projectable. It wasn't a great year for high school pitchers.
21) Cliff Pennington; 22) Aaron Thompson; 23) Jacoby Ellsbury; 24) Brian Bogusevic; 25) Matt Garza; 26) Craig Hansen; 27) Joey Devine; 28) Colby Rasmus; 29) Jacob Marceaux; 30) Tyler Greene
Some bust-ish guys there, with Ellsbury and Rasmus standing out as particular bargains. Pennington was a polished college guy who hasn't done much. Greene was a raw college guy who hasn't done much. Bogusevic has stagnated.
Other interesting picks in the Top 100: 31) Matt Torra; 36) Travis Buck; 42) Clay Buchholz; 45) Jed Lowrie; 46) Tyler Herron; 47) Michael Bowden; 66) Chase Headley; 73) Kevin Slowey; 75) Yunel Escobar; 83) Micah Owings; 85) Will Inman; 99) Taylor Teagarden.
Intriguing that Buchholz wasn't a pure first-round pick. Keep an eye on Torra, who still has a chance to be interesting now that he's healthy again.
Some Highlights from Other Rounds:
Jensen Lewis, 3rd round; Jordan Schafer, 3rd round; Matt Maloney, 3rd round; Matt Gamel, 4th round; Brent Lillibridge, 4th round; Jeremy Hellickson, 4th round; Gaby Sanchez, 4th round; Jeff Larish, 5th round; Jon Meloan, 5th round; Clete Thomas, 6th round; German Duran, 6th round; Dan Cortes, 7th round; Jon Niese, 7th round; Austin Jackson, 8th round; Steve Pearce, 8th round; Josh Outman, 10th round; Alan Horne, 11th round.
Even now we don't know exactly how this is all going to pan out. Even the best prospects fail on us, especially the pitchers. But there's no question that, based on what we know now, the 2005 class was an outstanding one, particularly on the hitting side, especially the high school outfielder group and the excellent college hitters at the top of the class.
Don't forget the bizarre machinations involving Luke Hochevar, the Dodgers, and Scott Boras. Taken 40th overall, Hochevar would have gone in the top ten if his bonus demands hadn't been opaque. Hochevar ended up in indy ball and ended up as the first overall pick in 2006, though so far his pro performance has not lived up to his draft status.