2001 MLB #1 and #2 draft choices Joe Mauer and Mark "Gloss Joe" Prior
This weekend’s interleague series between the Cubs and the Twins has brought to mind a running argument that I have had with a friend of mine, stemming from the MLB draft several years ago now. My team, the Minnesota Twins had used the 1st overall pick to draft the highest rated college quarterback prospect in the nation, oh he played catcher in baseball too. Anyway, this friend of mine’s team the Chicago Cubs chose the top college pitcher, who had proven himself a winner at all levels of play. I heard non-stop shit about how the Twins had really screwed the pooch on the pick, passing on the “best pitching prospect ever”, for some local kid who might put some butts in the seats, but would never be as good as the guy the Twins passed on.
As the years passed, the argument was made louder and more arrogantly as Mark Prior continued to impress the league with his pitching, he was healthy once, and the Twins guy Joe Mauer was still making his way through the system. I would have to remind my friend that it was only a matter of time and that Prior had 4 years of baseball life on Mauer at the time of their selection. As Mauer made his way up the ladder the Twins had to get rid of A.J. Pierzynski and in off-loading him to the Giants they picked up Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser and the best young arm in a quarter century, Francisco Liriano. Mauer’s value increased tremendously before he ever played a game in the majors.
Now, on Saturday the MLB batting leader, and one of the finer defensive catchers in the Bigs will face-off against the crystal-armed Mark Prior who will be making his second start of the season. Not only will we get to see them face each other, but my friend will be reminded of how very, very wrong he was in saying that Prior was the better pick and player. The Tortoise and the Hare fable comes to mind.