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General  | Top Ten  | 2/5/2008

Condrey Holds Unique Distinction

Allan Simpson     
Mike Piazza is credited with being the lowest-round draft pick to play in the major leagues in 2007. He was a lowly 62nd-round selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 and one of only eight big leaguers who was active a year ago that was drafted after the 50th round at the time they signed.

But Piazza has nothing on Philadelphia Phillies reliever Clay Condrey. Condrey was signed in 1998 as a non-drafted free agent by the San Diego Padres (by current Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, no less), but he had previously been drafted in the 94th round in 1996 out of Angelina (Texas) Junior College, though went unsigned at the time. It gives the journeyman reliever the distinction of being the lowest-round draft selection ever to reach the big leagues. Tom Glavine’s brother Mike, who played briefly in the big leagues, was an unsigned 93rd-rounder in 1994.

Piazza’s status as a 62nd-rounder who hit paydirt is impressive, but it doesn’t even crack the top 10 among 2007 big leaguers. In fact, Diamondbacks catcher Robby Hammock has the distinction of twice being a lower-round pick than Piazza. He went in the 66th round out of a Georgia high school in 1995 and in the 89th round out of junior college two years later, before eventually signing with the Diamondbacks in 1998 as a 23rd-rounder. Righthander Matt Wise also was drafted twice after the 50th round before he signed.

Travis Phelps, an 89th round pick in 1996, and Scott Seabol, an 88th-rounder that year, are the lowest-round selections in draft history to play in the big leagues among players who signed when they were drafted. But Condrey has the record for being the lowest-round pick to reach the big leagues.

His record is almost certain to stand the test of time as the draft has been limited to 50 rounds since 1998. It was also 50 rounds in 1992, before teams were permitted to draft at will in a five-year window from 1993-97.

While acknowledging that Piazza has the distinction of being the lowest-round pick to play in the majors among those that signed at the time they were drafted, here’s the actual list of the lowest-round draft picks among players that were active in 2007. None of the 10 players signed at the time.
 
Ranking. Player Pos. Team, Year (Round)
1. Clay Condrey, rhp Yankees ’96 (94)
2. Robby Hammock, c Devil Rays ’97 (89)
3. *Travis Driskill, rhp Astros ’90 (76)
4. *Eric Bruntlett, ss Dodgers ’96 (72)
5. *Johnny Estrada, c Marlins ’94 (71)
6. Heath Bell, rhp Devil Rays ’97 (69)
7. *Robby Hammock, c Marlins ’95 (66)
8. Matt Wise, rhp Yankees ’96 (64)
9. *Paul Hoover, ss Marlins ’94 (64)
10. Jay Witasick, rhp Astros ’91 (63)
* High school selection
-- Allan Simpson