(GAME DATE — May 24, 2020) — As the 2020 Bull League first year player draft approaches, we take a look back in time a decade to see where the league’s top draft picks from 2010 are today.
The 2010 draft was an unusually short one, just 3 rounds for the league’s 16 teams at that time. The expansion that would add Arizona, Battle Creek (now Milwaukee), Dallas and Norfolk was still two seasons away, and many teams were already chock full of talent through their systems.
There were just two minor league levels at that time, AAA-level Cow League, and A-level Calf League, and so no need for adding 20 amateur players into every farm system.
Nevertheless, the 2010 draft produced some quality players, with the top 3 WAR players from that draft all pitchers all coming out of the first round.
MATTHEW RENDALL (TORONTO NOMADS)
Selected 7th overall by the Calgary Inferno out of St. Mary’s, in Halifax, NS, this top prospect signed for a $2.8 million bonus and made his debut just two seasons later, as a 22-year-old multi-tasker, starting 6 of 24 games and collecting 3 saves, and ending the year with a 6-3 record and a 3.72 ERA.
Rendall player 6 seasons in Calgary, including both of that club’s Bull Cup championship years, 2015 and 2017, making a trip to the 2016 All-Star Game and generally being one of the club’s very productive mid-rotation arms. He had a 14 K game against Nevada on June 5, 2014, throwing 115 pitches and allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk in a shutout game. He achieved 12 K’s three times since then.
In 2017, he recorded his 500th career strikeout, won is second Bull Cup ring, and exercised his opt-out clause to test free agency. He was not disappointed, and the Detroit Motorheads signed him right away to a 4-year, $34.3 million deal. With Detroit, his record suffered under the lighter run support provided by the Motorheads bats, but he continued to provide sound innings and positive WAR each year until he was traded to Toronto after the 2019 season.
His career 16.1 WAR since entering the Bull League tops his draft class, and though he may never contend for the Sandy Koufax Award, he is a sure armed reliable rotation piece eating consistent innings when given the right lineup and defense behind him.
ANDY BOYLES (Pittsburgh Iron Pigs)
Boyles was selected 3rd overall by the Hamilton Crusaders, and has remained with the organization through two relocations, first to Rimouski, and now to their current home, Pittsburgh. Since being drafted, he has accumulated a career 14.7 WAR, compiling over 1,060 innings pitched in 135 starts, and leading the 2010 draft class pitchers in strikeouts with 877.
Like Rendall, Boyles has been a solid mid-rotation guy through his career and has flirted with no-hitters several times throughout his career, including a 1-hit shutout against Chicoutimi back in 2015. Boyles has consistently filled a starter role almost since debuting one year after the draft, other than 2018 when he was mainly used in the bullpen.
Last season, he won his first award, a Pitcher of the Month award, in August.
There are signs the LA native is getting antsy playing for a team that consistently fizzles in their playoff appearances. He opted out of his last contract and took an arbitration award to play for 2020, but with Pittsburgh’s sub-.500 performance so far this year Boyles may be looking to switch.
JOE “LUNDY” LUND (NEW YORK DRAGONS)
The third pitcher to top the 2010 draft list trifecta is Lundy, a serviceable, if unlucky, mid-rotation arm who found some early success on back-to-back championship rosters with his draft team, the California Tidals, as a bullpen rookie before transitioning to a starter and struggling to find success again.
Part of the reason for his struggles was the Tidals doing what a lot of surprise championship teams do: blow a tire after a short period of success, and decline to a basement dweller. The Tidals offered Lundy no run support after moving him to the rotation in 2014, with a team average of 3.11 runs/game up until 2018, when he was traded to Dallas.
Last year, Lundy was picked up by the Dragons who immediately put him into the back end of the rotation and offered him better run support, giving Lundy a 13-8 finish that season, his second career winning season since his 2012 debut. This season, Lundy and the Dragons are off to a shaky start, but he has still managed a respectable 9.6 WAR since coming into the league 10 years ago.
The Sarnia, Ontario native should continue to eat innings at the back of the Dragons rotation for a while to come, even though he is in the last year of his contract with them. New York needs arms like his who can pick up wins out of the end of their rotation, and New York has a decent chance at a wild card spot this season where playoff revenue could be used as a reward to keep him around.
CESAR HERNANDEZ (BOSTON BRAWLERS)
The top position player to come out of the 2010 draft also one of the league’s top defensive shortstops, Cesar Hernandez, who is still playing for his draft team, the Boston Brawlers.
Cesar was drafted 13th overall out of high school Hightstown (NJ) . The Princeton, NJ native was renowned for his speed and great defensive skills, while there was hope his offense would develop later. The lean Latino (he stands at 6′ and just 180 lbs) made his debut at 23 in 2015, and has readily provided good but not great offense since then, including a league leading 33 doubles in 2018.
Notoriously pesky on the base paths, he has 77 steals since coming into the majors, with just 19 times being caught. But it’s his career +21.6 zone rating that has kept Boston’s defense solid and contending in the playoffs three out of the five seasons since he joined the roster. And it looks like they are headed towards another solid year and a playoff appearance, and Hernandez is a huge part of that defensively.
So far in 2020, he is batting .359, and although he will never win any home run derbies, he is so far walking twice as often as striking out, suggesting that he has turned a corner at the plate and is becoming a more patient hitter, playing to his strengths.
Cesar’s career WAR is 5.7, but with the longer 162-game seasons introduced last year, he should easily bump that up over the next few years.
There were slim pickings for other players to highlight out of this draft, but a few names rise above the others. Fred Loveless was a pitcher drafted by the Toronto Ducks in the supplemental round, and would later be part of a 7-player trade that sent Katai Kitigawa, Masato Watanabe and Juan Martinez to the San Diego Seagulls in exchange for Hong-ryul Oh, two more players, and a 1st round draft pick.
Kitigawa, of course, is now one of the top lead off hitters in baseball, a speedy contact hitter who is still playing for the Seagulls current incarnation, the St. Petersburg Admirals. Watanabe had been fizzling with Toronto, but went on to produce solid starts for the Seagulls, then did a stint in Chicago before landing at his present home in Calgary. Oh was to become one of Toronto’s best catchers, but never launched quite to the stratosphere, instead becoming a reliable workhorse during very rough years.
In the ten years since being drafted, Loveless has wound up with a 22-22 record, 4.03 career ERA, and career 4.7 WHIP as he has transitioned into the bullpen for the New York Dragons, where he was traded to after the Seagulls-Ducks deal.
Left fielder “Tommy Gun” Tommy Crompton was drafted by Boston 10th overall, and was rookie of the month for July in his big league debut year, 2015. He ended up hitting .320 that season, and stealing 12 bases over 67 games, accumulating a 1.8 WAR on the season. But Tommy Gun struggled afterwards, hitting under .260 every year afterwards. In the field, he has been more than adequate however, even producing 3 rare outfield double plays, and crafting a +3.8 zone rating.
The 2010 draft was thin but still managed to provide some great talent for a few lucky teams. With the 2020 draft going 20 rounds, and a lot more qualifying feeder leagues in the mix, this draft should easily prove a deeper gold mine for great prospects.