Baseball America began their organizational top 10 rankings in 1983. Thirty-five years ago. Can it really be that long ago since 1983? Prospects have always fascinated me since discovering that 1989 Topps Ty Griffin future stars card as a seven year old. There may be nothing better in baseball, in my eyes, as combing through old prospect lists and Major League Baseball draft.
Since the first organizational ranking of the Chicago Cubs minor league system was released in 1983, it makes for a nice round 35 years ago to go back and reflect. So, here are the Cubs top 10 prospects from 1983 as ranked by Baseball America….in baseball card form.
1) Shawon Dunston
Background: Dunston was the Cubs number one overall draft pick in 1982 out of high school in Brooklyn, New York. As a senior, he hit .790 with 10 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Yes, nearly eight out of 10 at bats were a hit.
MLB Career WAR: 11.5
Career Overview: Dunston lived up to the hype over 18 seasons in Major League Baseball. The shortstop was a two-time All Star with the Cubs in 1988 and 1990. After playing his first 12 years with the Cubs, he also spent time with the Giants, Pirates, Indians, Cardinals, and Mets.
2) Joe Carter
Background: Carter was the Cubs first round draft pick a year before Dunston, in 1981, where he was selected second overall.
MLB Career WAR: 19.3
Career Overview: Carter made his big league debut with the Cubs in 1983, his only season in Chicago. He hit .176 in 23 games during his rookie season. While Carter went on to become a five-time All Star, the Cubs did get great value in return for the slugger. On June 13, 1984, Carter was sent to the Cleveland Indians with Mel Hall, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks for Rick Sutcliffe, Ron Hassey, and George Frazier. Sutcliffe only went on to win 16 games during the second half of the 1984 season and claimed the Cy Young.
3) Vance Lovelace
Background: Lovelace was also a Cubs first round pick in the Joe Carter draft, picked 14 spots behind at number 16 overall.
MLB Career WAR: -0.1
Career Overview: Lovelace proved to be a bust. The pitcher did reach the big leagues, though, appearing in nine games over three seasons from 1988 to 1990 with the California Angels and Seattle Mariners. The Cubs were clear winners of the trade that sent Lovelace and Dan Cataline to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The return: Ron Cey.
4) Mel Hall
Background: Hall was a second round draft pick by the Cubs in 1978 out of Port Byron High School in Cayuga, New York.
MLB Career WAR: 8.7
Career Overview: Hall debuted with the Cubs in 1981 playing in 10 games. He appeared in 24 games in 1982 and put together a full season by 1983. Hall joined Carter in the trade to Cleveland for Sutcliffe. The outfielder did enjoy a long career in MLB playing 13 seasons.
5) Pat Tabler
Background: Tabler was a first round pick of the Yankees in the 1976 draft. New York gave up on their former first rounder by 1981 and shipped Tabler to Chicago on August 19, 1981 for a player to be named later. The Cubs later sent Bill Caudill and Jay Howell to complete the trade.
MLB Career WAR: 3.0
Career Overview: Tabler made his big league debut with the Cubs in 1983, but only played in 60 games over two seasons with Chicago. He was traded to the White Sox with Scott Fletcher, Randy Martz, and Dick Tidrow for Warren Brusstar and Steve Trout. Tabler would make one All Star game for the Cleveland Indians in 1987.
6) Stan Boderick
Background: Boderick was the Cubs’ supplemental first round pick in the 1982 draft (27th overall).
MLB Career WAR: 0.0 (did not play)
Career Overview: Boderick did not make it far in his professional career. That could be attributed to some very interesting comments made by Madison Muskies (Oakland Athletics minor league team) manager Brad Fischer. Boderick had been traded by the Cubs to the A’s in 1983 and then hit .093 in 25 games for the Class A Midwest League Muskies.
From the May 12, 1985 Chicago Tribune:
Stan Boderick, a first-round draft pick in 1982 along with shortstop Shawon Dunston, hit .313 at Sarasota that summer. But the speedy outfielder slipped to .188 and struck out 124 times in 1983 at Quad City. The Cubs sent him to Oakland in the Tim Stoddard trade in March, 1984, but the A`s sent Boderick back to the Cubs three months later after he batted .093 in 25 games at Madison of the Midwest League.
His manager at Madison, Brad Fischer, said he talked to the Cubs`
organization about Boderick after he was returned.
“I told them I wasn`t impressed at all by what I`d seen the year before when he was at Quad City,“ Fischer said. “Then, when we got him, he had no power, no contact hitting ability, a poor throwing arm and poor overall mechanics. He just wasn`t a very good player at all for us.“
How did Boderick become a first-round draft pick?
“It looks to me like a scout must have caught him in high school on a very good day and never bothered to have him cross-checked,“ Fischer said.
“That`s the only explanation I can think of. And if that`s the case, I wonder if that scout is still in the Cubs` organization.“
7) Geoff Doggett
Background: Doggett was also a member of that 1982 draft class. Unfortunately, Doggett’s career was similar to Boderick’s rather than Dunston’s. The outfielder was a 9th round pick out of the University of South Alabama.
MLB Career WAR: 0.0 (did not play)
Career Overview: You may have noticed Doggett’s baseball card is from the Lynchburg Mets. To my knowledge, there are no Cubs minor league cards featuring Doggett, as he spent just two seasons in the Cubs system, with the Geneva Cubs in 1982 and Salinas Spurs in 1983. After his 1985 season with the Lynchburg Mets, Doggett was out of professional baseball.
8) Craig Lefferts
Background: After not signing as a 7th round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 1979, Lefferts returned to the University of Arizona and was taken in the 9th round by the Cubs a year later.
MLB Career WAR: 9.3
Career Overview: Another 1983 top prospect that spent limited time with Chicago. Lefferts pitched for the Cubs just one season (1983) going 3-4 with 3.13 ERA in 56 games. He made five starts. Following the 1983 season, Lefferts was involved in a three-team trade that saw the Cubs send Lefferts, Fritzie Connally, and Carmelo Martinez to the San Diego Padres. The Padres sent Gary Lucas to the Montreal Expos, and the Expos sent Al Newman to the Padres, while the Cubs received Scott Sanderson from Montreal. Lefferts played 12 seasons in the big leagues and played in two World Series (1984 Padres and 1989 Giants).
9) Carmelo Martinez
Background: Martinez was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1978 as an 18-year old out of Puerto Rico.
MLB Career WAR: 11.0
Career Overview: Carmelo played in 29 games for the 1983 Cubs. He hit six home runs in 89 at bats before the trade that sent him to San Diego that saw the Cubs get Scott Sanderson from the Expos. Martinez went on to play 9 seasons in MLB.
10) Don Schulze
Background: Schulze was drafted by the Cubs in the first round (11th overall) of the 1980 draft.
MLB Career WAR: -1.6
Career Overview: Schulze played in parts of two seasons for the 1983 and 1984 Cubs going 0-1, 7.94 ERA in 17 innings. Schulze was sent to Cleveland in the Rick Sutcliffe trade.