Remember Dan Reichert? Well, I sure do, but I never thought I’d see his name in a current issue of Baseball America.
I admit I am a few issues behind on reading the paper copy of Baseball America’s publication, though I do keep up with their online stuff on a daily basis. You can imagine my surprise when I was reading the October 19th-November 1st issue and saw that Dan Reichert was named to the 2009 Independent League All-Star Second Team.
The Royals 1st round pick, 7th overall, in the 1997 draft, Reichert spent the 2009 season pitching for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB). He went 14-9 with a 3.53 ERA in 194 IP. He struck out 126 while walking 75 and surrendering 183 hits. That’s a 1.33 WHIP for a guy that managed marks of 1.45 in the minors and 1.68 in the majors. He’s now 33 and is just another reminder of what could have been.
Reichert made his ML debut during the 1999 season at the tender age of 22 and just a year after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In 36.2 IP and 8 starts, he had a 9.08 ERA, 2.182 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 55. His 1999 season was worse than Sir Sidney’s 2009! Undeterred, the Royals stuck with him and Reichert spent all of 2000 in the big leagues. He led the AL Wild Pitches with 18, but outside of that had a solid season for a 23 year old. He appeared in 44 games, 18 of them starts, with a 4.70 ERA, 1.617 WHIP, and ERA+ of 108. Of course a look at his other stats, 9.2 H/9 and 1.03 SO/BB suggested that his ML career would be very short unless he drastically improved his control. As we all know, he never did.
He made his last ML appearance with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003 and has since pitched in the minors for Milwaukee, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. Beyond the Bridgeport Bluefish, he has also pitched for several Independent League teams including the Atlantic City Surf, Calgary Vipers, Nashua Pride, Lincoln Saltdogs, and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
He logged just 395.1 ML innings over 5 seasons. Reichert finished his career with a 21-25 record, 5.55 ERA, 1.680 WHIP, 441 H, 223 BB, 240 SO, and an ERA+ of 89. His career WAR was -0.4 though he did have a 1.3 WAR in 2000 and 0.1 WAR in 2001.
I always liked Dan Reichert, though I can’t say specifically why. Maybe it was because he was trying to battle ML hitters and diabetes at the same time. Maybe it is because for a brief moment he was a ML average pitcher on a pretty dreadful pitching staff. I honestly don’t know, but I respect the hell out of a guy that has bounced around between Double-A, Triple-A, and several Independent Leagues just to keep playing baseball and keep the dream alive.
Reichert will go down in Royals history as another first-round bust, but at least he made it to the majors which is something that the Mets can’t say about their 1st round pick, 6th overall, Geoff Goetz. There were 52 first round and supplemental picks in the 1997 draft. Of those 52, 20 of them failed to reach the majors.
Out of the 32 that did make it to the big leagues, only 9 of them found a decent measure of success:
Phillies: J.D. Drew (2nd overall)*
Angels: Troy Glaus (3rd overall)
Blue Jays: Vernon Wells (5th overall)
Twins: Michael Cuddyer (9th overall)
Cubs: Jon Garland (10th overall)
Astros: Lance Berkman (16th overall)
Cardinals: Adam Kennedy (20th overall)
Orioles: Jayson Werth (22nd overall)
D-Backs: Jack Cust (30th overall)
*I struggled with whether or not Drew belongs on this list since he didn’t sign and was then drafted by the Cardinals in the 1st round, 5th overall, in the 1998 draft. I kept him on since the whole point of providing the list is to show the guys that developed into legit ML players and Drew certainly has done that.
Four of the nine players above (Drew, Garland, Werth, and Cust) did not taste ML success for the team that selected them in the draft.
The Houston Astros were the big winners in the 1st round with their selection of Lance Berkman 16th overall. If they hadn’t passed on Derek Jeter in the 1992 draft because of his bonus demands, imagine the dynasty the Astros could have assembled.
If you want to check out the rest of the 1997 1st round picks, click here. Seriously take a look at the list. You might be surprised to find that Reichert wasn’t quite the bust he is perceived to be. He may not have lived up to our expectations or developed into a front line all-star pitcher, but he did do better than a majority of his 1st round peers.
I guess when it all comes down to it, I’m still a Dan Reichert fan.