This week the MLB will be holding their annual amateur draft. 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the event which was first held in 1965. With the Phillies in Cincinnati to face the Reds it is an apt time for us to discuss the best hitter taken in the initial MLB draft.
With their 2nd pick (36th overall) the Cincinnati Reds took Catcher Johnny Bench from Oklahoma City OK.
Using WAR as a barometer Bench (75.0) was the most successful position player taken in the original draft. The runner up to Bench was Graig Nettles (68.0 WAR, Twins - 4th round 74th pick)
There were also two prominent pitchers taken in 1965: Tom Seaver (Dodgers - 10th rd 193rd pk - did not sign, 110.5 WAR) and Nolan Ryan (Mets - 12th rd 295 pk, 81.8 WAR)
Among backstops 2nd place went to 1st round and 7th overall pick Ray Fosse (Indians 12.9 WAR)
The Phillies most successful selection from the 65 draft was Larry Hisle (24.9 WAR - 2nd round, 38th overall). The club failed to sign their first pick Mike Adamson (18th overall) but that is a subject best saved for another posting.
2014 Heritage - 1965 Draft Insert Set
The 2014 Heritage 1st Draft insert set is a bit peculiar. There are only four cards which fall 1 in every 12 packs - the entire set can be built from 2 hobby boxes. The set only has three subjects because Johnny Bench appears on two cards. The other two players are Ryan and Nettles.
Sources and Links
Johnny Bench HoF Index