By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
With the 2021 MLB draft set to begin on July 11, I thought it would be fitting to share some draft research I’ve done on some legendary Montreal Expos players over the years.
Carter was selected by the Expos in the third round (53rd overall) of the 1972 MLB draft out of Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif., and, of course, went on to become the greatest catcher in franchise history.
But did you know that Carter was the third catcher the Expos selected in the 1972 draft?
In the first round, they chose Bobby Goodman, a young backstop out of Bishop Byrnes High School in Memphis, Tenn. Goodman would spend three seasons in double-A and play one game in triple-A, but never make the big leagues.
In the second round, they took a rocket-armed catcher/outfielder out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles named Ellis Valentine. Yes, Valentine spent a lot of time behind the dish in high school. The Expos, however, told him to ditch the tools of ignorance after they drafted him.
Cromartie was chosen in the first round (fifth overall) by the Expos in the June 1973 MLB draft.
But did you know that he was selected by four different teams in four previous MLB drafts?
The left-handed hitting outfielder was initially taken in the seventh round of the June 1971 MLB draft by Chicago White Sox out of Jackson High School in Miami, but he declined to sign and headed to Miami-Dade College.
Six months later, in the January 1972 (Secondary Phase) draft, he was selected in the third round by the Minnesota Twins. He once again opted not to sign and then was chosen in the first round (fifth overall) by the San Diego Padres in the June 1972 draft. Once again, he didn’t sign. Then the Oakland A’s made him their first pick in the January 1973 (Secondary Phase) draft and, fortunately for the Expos, Cromartie also rebuffed the A’s.
The Expos lucked out when they were able to select Dawson in the 11th round of the 1975 MLB draft. As you know, Dawson went on to become one of the best all-around players in franchise history.
But did you know that Dawson was the third outfielder the Expos took in the 1975 draft?
The Expos opted for outfielder Dale McMullen out of St. Pius X High School in Houston, Tex., with their second-round pick. He spent four seasons in the Expos’ organization, making it as high as double-A.
They then chose outfielder Andrew Dyes in the fourth round out of California State University. The speedy Dyes would play three seasons in the Expos’ organization, all in Canada: Lethbridge (Rookie ball), 1975 and Quebec City (double-A) in 1976 and 1977. He made it as high as triple-A in the Padres’ organization (1978 to 1980) before ending his professional career with four seasons in the Mexican League.
This Hall of Fame outfielder was selected in the fifth round of the 1977 draft by the Expos as a shortstop. Yes, you read that correctly. He was drafted as a shortstop.
This may not be surprising to long-time Expos fans who saw Raines play second base early in his big league career before being transformed into a full-time outfielder.
Here’s another interesting tidbit: Three of the players selected as shortstops in the first five rounds of the 1977 MLB draft now have plaques in Cooperstown: Paul Molitor (first round, third overall, Milwaukee Brewers), Ozzie Smith (fourth round, 86th overall, San Diego Padres) and Raines.
Expos longtime ace and Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Steve Rogers, was originally selected in the 1967 MLB draft by the New York Yankees.
The durable right-hander was chosen in the 60th round by the Bronx Bombers out of Glendale High School in Springfield, Mo. He once told me in an interview that his signing bonus from the Yankees would’ve been “a bus ticket and an apple.” Rogers elected instead to go to the University of Tulsa for four years and was then selected in the first round (fourth overall) by the Expos in 1971.
He played more game with the Expos than any other player and ranks among the franchise leaders in almost every offensive category. For his efforts, the Gold Glove Award winning third baseman was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
But did you know that Wallach was originally chosen by the California Angels in the eighth round of the 1978 MLB draft as a first baseman?
He elected not to sign with the Angels and was taken in the first round (10th overall) the following year.