Prior to the first game played by each of the new teams, a draft was held the year before for the new teams to attempt to put together a roster of players for the next season. The rules for the availability of players changed slightly from 1962 to 1998, but what was common was the opportunity for the new teams to decide which players they could use from the existing teams in MLB. Over a series of 14 posts, I will review the expansion drafts of each of these newer 14 teams. Included are trades made following the draft and which players were taken first overall. Without further due, here is a recap of the 1997 expansion draft of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The draft was held similarly to that of the 1992 expansion draft. Each team was to select a total of 35 players, 14 in the first and second round and 7 in the 3rd round. No more than one player could be selected from any team in a round. Each MLB team could protect 15 players, then an additional three after each of the first two rounds. The coin toss that determined the first pick was the only difference of the past draft, as the winner had a choice of either the first pick or the second and third picks and the first pick of the second and third rounds. The Devils Rays won the toss and decided to pick first.
The Diamondbacks took LHP Brian Anderson with the 2nd overall pick as their first selection. Anderson came from the Cleveland Indians. They snagged RHP Jeff Suppan from the Boston Red Sox with the next pick. They followed that up with San Diego 3B Gabe Alvarez with their third pick and Chicago White Sox catcher Jorge Fabregas with their fourth selection. They then took Dodgers OF Karim Garcia with their next selection. The rest of their top ten picks consisted of Texas Rangers infielder Edwin Diaz, New York Mets RHP Cory Lidle, Milwaukee Brewers LHP Joel Adamson, New York Yankees RHP Ben Ford and Kansas City Royals OF Yamil Benitez. Their last two picks of the first found netted them Minnesota Twins OF Brent Brede and Oakland Athletics 1B Tony Batista.
The Diamondbacks opened up the second round by taking LHP Tom Martin from the Houston Astros and LHP Omar Daal from the Toronto Blue Jays. Within the second round, they took three players that wound up having respectable to good MLB careers. They took their future catcher, Damien Miller, from the Twins. OF David Dellucci was taken in the same round from the Baltimore Orioles and RHP Hector Carrasco from the Royals.
Their first pick of the third round was 3B Joe Randa from the Pittsburgh Pirates. They also added Astros RHP Russ Springer, Brewers catcher Kelly Stinnett, White Sox LHP Chuck McElroy and finished off the draft by taking RHP Marty Janzen from the Blue Jays.
Here is the entire expansion draft by the Diamondbacks:
The Diamondbacks followed up the draft by signing SS Jay Bell to a multiyear deal. They also traded Jesus Martinez, taken with the second pick of the third round from the Dodgers, to the Florida Marlins for OF Devon White. They then traded Alvarez, Randa and RHP Matt Drews, taken in the 2nd round from the Detroit Tigers to Detroit for 3B Travis Fryman. Fryman and Martin were then dealt to the Cleveland Indians for Matt Williams. They also signed free agent pitcher Andy Benes. The team's opening day lineup:
1.Devon White CF
2.Jay Bell SS
3.Travis Lee 1B
4.Matt Williams 3B
5.Brent Brede LF
6.Karim Garcia RF
7.Jorge Fabregas C
8.Edwin Diaz 2B
Manager Buck Showalter led the first year Diamondbacks to a 65-97 record, last place in the NL West Division. They had the last laugh though, as they won a World Series in their 4th season (2001), the earliest an MLB team had won a WS Championship.