If you’ve ever wondered what risks are involved with rookie card speculation, I present to you Exhibit A. An autographed card featuring the Padres top 3 picks from the 2004 amateur draft, courtesy of the 2004 Donruss Elite Extra Edition set. The Elite Extra Edition set is primarily made up of guys from the 2004 amateur draft and other minor league prospects. At the time, I was pretty stoked about winning this card off Ebay. After all, it featured not one, not two, but three of the Padres prized draft picks that year. What could possibly go wrong?
Fast forward to 2008. Just like the housing market, the fortunes of these three plummeted dramatically. This was such a horrendous draft class that the Padres hired Grady Fuson in 2005 to completely retool the scouting department. Let’s take a closer look at the three guys featured on this card.
Daryl Jones – The first baseman was selected in the 4th round. Only 17 when he was drafted so he had what scouts called “upside” and “potential”. Unfortunately, he never lived up to any of it. In fact, I have no idea what he’s doing right now. Google is failing me. His last year with statistics was in 2007 when he only hit .266 with 4 homers for the Class A Fort Wayne Wizards. Then he just vanished. He is no longer listed on the roster for any Padre minor league affiliate. I think it’s safe to label him a bust.
Billy Killian – A catcher chosen in the 3rd round that season. The Padres did get some value from him by including him in a trade with the Rangers that netted the Padres Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, and Terrmel Sledge. Since then the Rangers traded him to the White Sox organization. He is playing this season for the Class A Winston Salem Warthogs, where he is struggling to stay above the Mendoza line. Another winner.
Matt Bush – Regrettably, the top pick overall in 2004. Not Stephen Drew or Justin Verlander. Not Jered Weaver or Philip Hughes. Not even Billy Butler or Philip Humber. Matt Bush. He will go likely down as the worst #1 draft pick ever. Drafted as a shortstop but made no progress whatsoever, so the Padres were forced to try and convert him to pitcher. Bush’s biggest accomplishments so far are his involvement in two fights outside Arizona nightclubs. The first was shortly after the draft. The second was earlier this year during his rehab assignment. It has been 4 years since he was drafted #1 and he isn’t threatening to make a AA roster anytime soon. In fact he may go down in history with Steve Chilcott (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991) as the only #1 overall draft picks never to play in the majors.
Amazing to have that much suckage on one card. In fact, it’s pretty amazing to have that much suckage in one entire draft class. It probably explains why the Padres are in last place while the Dodgers, D-backs, and Rockies run laps around them with their younger talent. Just for kicks, I checked out the Beckett value for the card. Yes folks, for just $40 you too can have the autographs of three complete wastes of talent. I mean seriously, wouldn’t you rather have this card than a mint Tony Gwynn rookie card?