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 1976 expansion draft and ensuing moves made by what would become the 1977 Seattle Mariners.
The 1976 expansion draft was set up for the Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. Different that the later expansion drafts, each team would select 30 total players over five rounds. They were only able to select unprotected players from American League teams. Five rounds consisted of 12 picks each round meant that a player from each AL team would be taken each round for a total of 5 players lost per team.
Part owner Danny Kaye, the actor and comedian, announced the first selection of the draft which was given to the Mariners. The Mariners selected OF Ruppert Jones from the Kansas City Royals with the first overall pick. The Mariners then selected Gary Wheelock, a pitcher from the California Angels, with their 2nd (3rd overall) pick. They then took 3B Bill Stein (5th) from the Chicago White Sox with their 3rd pick, following that with RHP Dick Pole (7th) from the Boston Red Sox. Their 5th selection (9th) was 1B Dan Meyer from the Detroit Tigers and they finished off the first round by taking LHP Grant Jackson (11th) from the New York Yankees.
The Blue Jays were given the first pick of the second round, so the Mariners selected OF Dave Collins from the Angels with their first pick of the second round (14). OF Leroy Stanton was taken in the same round. The 3rd round started with the Mariners selection of catcher Bob Stinson from the Royals. They also selected RHP Dave Pagan from the Baltimore Orioles (29th) in the 3rd round. Current Mets minor league pitching coach Glenn Abbott was selected as a pitcher in the same round by the Mariners.
Similar to the 2nd round, the Jays took the first pick. The Mariners followed by taking Minnesota Twins OF Steve Braun. The Jays also opened the 5th and final round, leaving the Mariners to pick up pitcher Bill Laxton from the Tigers. Among notable 5th round selections, the Mariners took 2B Julio Cruz (52th) from the Angels and finished off the draft by taking pitcher Greg Erardi from Brewers.
The following is the complete series of selections by the Seattle Mariners:
RoundPickPlayerPositionSelected fromSelected by
(1)1Ruppert JonesOutfielderKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
3Gary WheelockPitcherCalifornia AngelsSeattle Mariners
5Bill SteinThird basemanChicago White SoxSeattle Mariners
7Dick PolePitcherBoston Red SoxSeattle Mariners
9Dan MeyerFirst basemanDetroit TigersSeattle Mariners
11Grant JacksonPitcherNew York YankeesSeattle Mariners
(2)14Dave CollinsOutfielderCalifornia AngelsSeattle Mariners
16Frank MacCormackPitcherDetroit TigersSeattle Mariners
18Stan ThomasPitcherCleveland IndiansSeattle Mariners
20Juan BernhardtOutfielderNew York YankeesSeattle Mariners
22Rick JonesPitcherBoston Red SoxSeattle Mariners
24Glenn AbbottPitcherOakland AthleticsSeattle Mariners
(3)25Bob StinsonCatcherKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
27Carlos LopezOutfielderCalifornia AngelsSeattle Mariners
29Dave PaganPitcherBaltimore OriolesSeattle Mariners
31Roy ThomasPitcherChicago White SoxSeattle Mariners
33Tom McMillanShortstopCleveland IndiansSeattle Mariners
35Pete BrobergPitcherMilwaukee BrewersSeattle Mariners
(4)38Steve BraunOutfielderMinnesota TwinsSeattle Mariners
40Leroy StantonOutfielderCalifornia AngelsSeattle Mariners
42Bob GalassoPitcherBaltimore OriolesSeattle Mariners
44Steve BurkePitcherBoston Red SoxSeattle Mariners
46Joe LisFirst basemanCleveland IndiansSeattle Mariners
48Alan GriffinPitcherOakland AthleticsSeattle Mariners
(5)50Bill LaxtonPitcherDetroit TigersSeattle Mariners
52Julio CruzSecond basemanCalifornia AngelsSeattle Mariners
54Steve BarrPitcherTexas RangersSeattle Mariners
56Puchy DelgadoOutfielderBoston Red SoxSeattle Mariners
58Tommy SmithOutfielderCleveland IndiansSeattle Mariners
60Greg ErardiPitcherMilwaukee BrewersSeattle Mariners
The Mariners would trade Grant Jackson to the Pittsburgh Pirates for SS Craig Reynolds. Players were signed before the draft, LHP Deigo Segui and 2B Jose Baez, were starters in the opening day lineup in the Mariners first game.
The following was the 1977 opening day lineup for the Seattle Mariners:
As you can see, the Mariners did a terrible job drafting in the expansion draft, as it showed with their immediate team as well as the noticeable future. Under new manager Darrell Johnson, the team struggled to a 64-98 record, 38 games out of first place in the AL West behind the Kansas City Royals. However, it was good enough to finish 6th out of the 7 teams in the division, 1/2 game ahead of the Oakland Athletics.