Yadier Molina: A Future Hall of Famer Missed 112 Times in the 2000 Draft

During the Major League Baseball Draft of the Year 2000, year in which the first baseman of Mexican blood Adrián González was the first selected globally by the Florida Marlins, the first receiver selected was Scott Heard, by the Texas Rangers, who chose him with the turn no. 25 of the first round.

A boy from Dora from the Maestro Ladí de Vega Alta high school, named Yadier Benjamin Molina Matta, which 21 years later looks like a safe candidate for Cooperstown Hall of Fame, had to wait until the fourth round and turn 113 to be chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals, and still play with them.

What happened to Yadier who, even having two catching brothers in the Major Leagues, Bengie molina in the Angels and Jose Molina In the Cubs, and at least one scouting report highlighting the power and precision of his arm, his fielding, his aggressive shooting on bases and his dedication to being a good player, was he overlooked for the first three rounds?

According to the opinion of three listeners, there were and are many factors that weigh on MLB organizations when it comes to going to the Draft, such as their needs in the minor league system, the market in which they operate, the turn They have, and of course, the reports of their talent evaluators, but by 2000, an MLB draft had over 1,400 at-bats and 40 rounds.

In February 2000, the Puerto Rican scout José ‘Pepito’ Centeno, wrote a report on Molina in which he alerted about the 17-year-old receiver who played in Bayamón with the American Legion under the tutelage of Jorge William Santiago, current attorney of Vega Alta in the Baseball Double A.

Centeno’s report for the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau (MLBSB), which he worked for between 1990 and 2015, was published by the Cooperstown Hall of Fame website and describes a 17-year-old Yadier over five years. games and 36 tickets.

Yadier Molina, here putting Chase Headley out at the plate in a play during the 2011 campaign, according to the report of the evaluator of his talent when he was 17 years old, he was then a player who painted to be average as a defender, although it was pointed out that he had to continue evaluating him because being a good work ethic and brother of two major league catchers it was glimpsed he could have something more with the passage of time. (Jeff Roberson)

“It is not a surprise that reports were made with little time,” said Centeno, who is still linked to MLB but in positions of baseball development on the Island. “We did not make final decisions and it was an office of service to all organizations. . That kind of report is like a warning that that player got attention. At that time the MLB organizations had their representatives in Puerto Rico and from then on it was on their side. “

Centeno stood out with an ‘excellent’ Yadier’s dedication, and with a ‘good’ (normal or average) his physical and emotional maturity, his agility, his aptitude and his habits. Among his strengths, he highlighted his ‘swing’, which had occasional power and could hit towards the opposite band. Of course, his arm had strength above normal and he had a ‘quick release’, plus he was not afraid to hit the bases to surprise runners.

Without looking at the numbers, because 20 years of career later it is easy to change them, the important thing is that I was telling the teams that there was a receiver who had caught my attention because of the strength of his arm and defense, and I think it will be 6 or 7, which means above average

–Pepito Centeno / Former MLB Scouting Bureau Listener

In the categories evaluated Centeno gave him 3 (4 in the future) in batting ability; 3 (4 future) in power; 2 (2 future in speed); 2 (2 future in running bases); 6 (future 7) in arm power; 5 (6 future) in arm precision; 5 (6 future) in ‘fielding’; and in baseball instincts, aggressiveness and reach, he gave him 4 and 5 in the future. Cinco is considered an average player. Measure 10 was the maximum possible.

In the summary, he expressed that his arm was his best tool, that he came from a baseball family with two brothers in MLB and that the experience would refine his defense.

“Without looking at the numbers, because 20 years of career later it is easy to change them, the important thing is that I was telling the teams that there was a receiver who had caught my attention because of the strength of his arm and defense, and I think he is going to be 6 or 7, which means above average. Five is average, ”Centeno said.

“That he had very good conditions from the defensive point, that he was going to be better than average. According to what he taught me in those games, it was going to be below the batting average, but it definitely had to be followed up and each organization reached its conclusions, ”Centeno said.

Although he was the 10th receiver claimed in the 2000 draft, in his case during the fourth round, Yadier Molina was the first claim by a player from that position from St. Louis in the draft. (Jeff Roberson)

But by the time of the draft, the teams chose nine receivers first than Yadier. Of those chosen before him, Heard spent three years in the minor league and did not rise above the A + level. Neither did the majors Dave Parrish (NYY, 1 Rd.), Mike Tonis (KC, 2 Rd.), Dane Sardinha (CIN, 2 Rd.), Jared Abbruzo (LAA, 2 Rd.), Scott Walker (KC, 2 Rd.) 3 Rd.), Omar Falcón (SD, 3 Rd.), Tommy Arko (BAL, 3 Rd.) And Sean Swedlow (CLE, 3 Rd.). In fairness Tonis arrived, but only played two games.

Even that year the St. Louis Cardinals chose OF Shaun Boyd (1 Rd., 13), right-hander Blake Williams (1 Rd., 24), left-hander Chris Narveson (2 Rd., 53), and shortstop Chase Voshell (3 Rd., 83) before Molina. Except for Narveson, who pitched eight years in the majors, the others stayed in the minors.

You can’t say exactly what it was, but he was Puerto Rican, he was leaving high school, he signed at 17 years old. And many organizations at that time were not very aggressive. If you look at it that way, they caught it in a good round.

–Joey Solá / Houston Astros Exscout

Centeno recalled that for the MLB Draft Thousands of players sign up looking for the same dream, some with four years of college experience, two years of junior college, and others like Yadier, who was leaving high school. According to Baseball America, between 1980 and 2010, according to a 2019 report, only 17.6% of those chosen and signed made it to the majors.

Centeno recalled that Mike Trout, considered by many to be the best player in baseball, was picked on the 25th turn of the first round in 2009, not the first turn.

“There are many factors. You can’t say exactly what it was, but he was Puerto Rican, he was leaving high school, he signed at 17 years old. And many organizations at that time were not very aggressive. If you look at it that way, they caught it in a good round. What could they have caught before? Maybe. But there’s no way of knowing why, ”said Joey Solá, who was a scout for the Houston Astros between 2004 and 2019.

“When you evaluate a player, high school players have a lot of ‘ifs’ (if this or that happens then). You make the report, projecting it into the future. I remember that he was not a great hitter. But I remember Bengie (Angels) and Cheo (Cubs) said that little (brother) was better than them. They knew he had talent. But not necessarily because you tell the organization they are going to take it, “added Solá, who had to do with the signing of Carlos Correa with the first pick of the 2012 Draft.

Twenty-one years after being claimed in the draft, few have any doubt as to whether Yadier Molina should already be considered a safe member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Twenty-one years after being claimed in the draft, few have any doubt as to whether Yadier Molina should already be considered a safe member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. (CARLOS GIUSTI)

Veteran Kansas City Royals evaluator Johnny Ramos gave his own explanation, based on the nearly 50 years he’s been doing his job.

“Each organization is going to try to choose the best catcher, and many times the best catcher is not the one that gets to them (due to the shifts to choose from),” said Ramos. “And each organization has its players, they are accommodated as they develop and rise, and they know what they need.”

For me it was the first one I had on my list that year and Kansas City didn’t take it

–Johnny Ramos / Royals Scout

Ramos proposed a new lens to see the Yadier turn and round in 2000.

“Of the 48 players they picked in 2000, Yadi was the first catcher picked by the Cardinals. They worked with other needs before and then they chose it. Every year teams look for the players they need or think they will need. Lately pitchers are the most sought after, “he said.

Indeed, in 2000 after Yadier, St. Louis selected five additional receivers.

“Even for me it was the first one that I had on my list that year and Kansas City did not take it,” concluded Ramos.

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