The 2009 MLB Draft will forever be highlighted by Mike Trout’s selection. The picks made by the Chicago White Sox that year have collectively been less than stellar by comparison.
Everybody and their mother knows that one of the most regretful moments in the history of 22 different MLB franchises was June 9th, 2009 — the day of the 2009 MLB Draft. That day names like Donovan Tate, Matthew Hobgood, and Robert Borchering were drafted ahead of a guy named Mike Trout, whom the Angels took with the 25th overall pick. Trout obviously has gone on to evolve into the best player in the game and potentially can go down as the greatest of all time.
If you stopped to watch the video above, you probably noticed the names that were scrolling past the screen on the bottom. You were probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of people getting taken before Trout”.
You and me both.
The reason that I am writing about this, however, is because I’m going to take a look back at this day through the eyes of a loyal White Sox fan. It is a day that forever will be infamous within the franchise. I’m sure you know the story but I’ll go over it again just so us Sox cans can sob in our misery about it just a bit more.
The Chicago White Sox held the 23rd pick in the ’09 draft. The General Manager at the time was Kenny Williams and he had a preference for college players in the draft. After picking Kris Honel out of Providence Catholic High School (New Lenox, IL) with his first ever first-round selection in 2001, he would go on to pick just one other high schooler (Gio Gonzalez, 2004) in the first round in the years leading up to 2009.
Williams further proved this assessment by picking another college bat in 2009. He opted to go with a promising young outfielder from Louisiana State University by the name of Jared Mitchell. When the Sox drafted Mitchell, they were looking for the five-tool ability that he displayed throughout three years at LSU. In 174 games for the Tigers, Mitchell hit .295 with 20 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 70 stolen bases. The Louisiana-born outfielder was regarded as one of the better fielding outfielders in the draft.
To this day, it’s hard to deny that he was what seemed like a can’t miss prospect.
Ironically, Trout ended up epitomizing the mold that Williams was looking for in Mitchell — the power and speed mold. Unfortunately for Mitchell, he struggled off the bat for the Sox. He never managed to hit above .300 in his seven seasons in the minors, although he hit 50 homers in 2156 AB and swiped 92 bags. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the skill level that kept Mitchell from ever reaching the show. He never seemed to find traction in the minors and it had a lot to do with nagging injuries.
Regardless, Mitchell will seldom receive credit for a somewhat decent minor league career and it’s all because he was picked two selections before the greatest player in the game today. On the ten year anniversary of the ’09 draft, ESPN released a special profiling Mitchell and where he is today.
Aside from not picking Trout, the ’09 draft will also go down as one of the worst of all time for the White Sox in terms of total production from all players drafted. Just as an example, one of the most notable players taken in the draft was Harold Baines Jr. Of the entire White Sox 2009 draft class, only six players eventually got the call to the major league level.
Today, not a single player that the White Sox picked in 2009 remains with the organization. It was a historically bad draft for Kenny Williams and company, and I wanted to see where some of those picks are nowadays.
Round 1: Pick 3 – Jared Mitchell
After playing seven seasons in minor league baseball, Mitchell, now 30, finds himself playing with the well known Sugar Land Skeeters waiting for another shot at Major League Baseball.
Round 1A: Pick 38 – Josh Phegley
Phegley probably brought more excitement to Sox fans than any other player in the 2009 draft. Back in 2013, at a time where we were desperate for a catcher, he was one of the most exciting prospects at that position. He’d go on to play 76 games with the Sox before being shipped to Oakland along with a few others for Jeff Samardzija. Phegley has played 259 games for the A’s and remains with the team today. Through 65 games in 2019, Phegley is hitting .258 with nine home runs at age 31.
Round 3: Pick 102 – Bryan Morgado
This was a disappointing pick for the Sox, as Morgado would opt to not even sign with the club after they took him in the third round. In 2009, Morgado had a 6.36 ERA for the Tennessee Volunteers in 14 games before the Sox selected him. He instead signed with the Phillies who took him in the fourth round of the following draft. Morgado, now 30, is out of baseball after hanging up the cleats in 2016. He was named the athletic director at Dade Christian School in Miami, Florida.
Round 4: Pick 133 – Matt Heidenreich
Heidenreich would end up being one of the longest-tenured players of the draft class. A native Californian, Heidenreich went onto play eight years in the minors, with the majority of them being with the Sox. He called it quits following the 2016 season. He’s now 28, but that’s about the only information I was able to find on his current whereabouts.
Round 5: Pick 163 – Kyle Bellamy
The Sox 5th round pick in 2009, Bellamy, went on to spend his entire minor league career in the Sox organization. A Miami Hurricane, he was selected as a relief pitcher and pitched in 109 games at four different levels. Today Bellamy finds himself at the same place the Sox drafted him from, the University of Miami. Now 31, Bellamy serves as the Director of Football Nutrition & Performance.
Round 6: Pick 193 – Justin Collop
Collop appeared in 99 games over five seasons, never making it above A+. Nowadays at age 31, Collop currently serves as a Human Capital Management Consultant for Automatic Date Processing. He currently resides in the St. Petersburg Area in Florida.
Round 7: Pick 223 – Justin Jones
Jones was a high school arm that the Sox selected that opted for college rather than sign. He went on to play at the University of California, where he would pitch in 72 career games. I wasn’t to find out anything about his current whereabouts, but I do know he never ended up playing a professional game after being a 7th round pick to the Sox. Wherever he is nowadays, he is 28.
Round 8: Pick 253 – Ryan Buch
Buch stayed in professional baseball until 2013, after he capped his career with a season at Winston-Salem at the A+ level. He had a solid college career at Monmouth, going 22-8 with a 3.43 ERA and 234 strikeouts. Thomas Flynn of SportsRaid said of Buch in a 2017 article, “No one wanted to play Monmouth, and no one wanted to face Ryan Buch”.
Honorable Mentions from ’09 Class:
Brian Goodwin (Round 17: Pick 523)
241 career games with both WSH & LAA, hitting .292 thus far for LAA in 2019.
Taylor Thompson (Round 44: Pick 1333)
Made MLB debut with Oakland in 2014, appearing in five games.
Kevin Chapman (Round 50: Pick 1513)
Made MLB debut with Detroit in 2016, appearing in nine games.
It’s ironic to me that Chapman, the White Sox last pick in 2009, went on to be one of the five players from the class that played at the major league level. 2009 was a year to forget for the Sox in general. They finished third in the division that year, not to mention they missed out on a chance to draft the greatest player of our generation.
Although the success was hard to come by for the Sox 2009 class, it’s not uncommon. It does not matter what pick a player is selected in, they’re going to have to truly excel in order to one day get the call.
The 2009 draft should serve as an example for just how hard it is to spot out true potential when it’s there.