Our countdown to San Diego Padres Opening Day 2019 rolls along, with just 86 days remaining.
Welcome to 2019, San Diego Padres fans! Our countdown to Opening Day has reached 86 days. In 86 days, the Padres will take on the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park to kick off what should be an interesting season for San Diego. To represent 86 in today’s countdown, we look at the 86th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
Did you know that the San Diego Padres have had the 86th overall pick more often than any other team in baseball? Elite stat fact right there, right? The Padres have had the 86th overall pick in six different drafts, with the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates having the 86th overall pick four times. The more you know!
Double the points if you can guess who the most successful player ever to be selected with his pick is. You can probably assume the answer if you saw the featured image for this article, if not, your time is up! Back in 1977, the Padres used the 86th pick of the draft to select a wizard by the name of Ozzie Smith. Per Baseball Reference, Ozzie Smith posted a career bWAR of 76.9, more than 3x the value of every other player ever drafted in this position.
The 15x All-Star, 13x-Gold Glove winner, and Hall of Famer may not be best known for his short time in San Diego, yet Smith did play his first four professional seasons in a Padres uniform, winning two of his Gold Glove awards, making one All-Star game, and finishing second in the 1978 Rookie of the Year voting. His 147 stolen bases with the Padres ranks 5th in franchise history, highlighted by a career-high 57 swipes in 1980 (matched that total again in 1988 with the St. Louis Cardinals).
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The second most successful player ever drafted 86th overall, another San Diego Padres selection, Matt Clement. A RHP out of Butler Area High School in Pennsylvania, Clement played in parts of three of his nine pro seasons with the Padres, posting a career 25-29 record and 4.82 ERA before finishing his career with the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.
Clement did not have a very memorable career, posting a bWAR of 12.4 and making one All-Star game back in 2005. He was well known for his wild command and propensity to walk a large number of hitters. Over the course of his career, Clement walked 4.9 hitters/9 IP, including 125 walks in 205 innings during his final season in San Diego.
More recently, San Diego had the 86th overall pick in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 drafts, selecting RHP Bryan Verbitsky (last appeared with the A+ Lake Elsinore Storm in 2016), RHP Zech Lemond (now with the Miami Marlins and reached AA last season), and RHP Jacob Nix. Nix made nine starts in 2018 at the major league level, finishing with a 2-5 record and 7.02 ERA.
Happy first day of 2019, Padres fans. Let’s make this a tremendous year!