Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

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Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by recte44 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:35 pm

1995- Donald Noboru
What We Said: With their 1995 first round pick (10th overall), the Las Vegas Hustlers selected shortstop Donald "Iron Man" Noboru.

Noboru, a 20 year old out of Lincoln, Nebraska, brings a skill set that Hustlers GM Matt Rectenwald absolutely loves to the table. "Why did we pick Donald here?," mused Rectenwald. "It wasn't really a close decision, to be honest. Donald has some personality traits that set him apart from the rest of the talented prospects available to us at this position. His work ethic is incredible. Donald will not stop working until he becomes the best. He's one of the most intelligent baseball players we've scouted, and though he is "his own guy" and not a leader, he will not be a problem in the clubhouse. While he does care a lot about money, he is extremely loyal."

And then there's his actual baseball skills. Noburu is a natural hitter. He projects to be a potential .350 hitter someday. He won't provide much home run power but should be a good gap hitter as well. HIs defensive skills are slightly above average, and it's easy to see him sticking as a shortstop, though he may also get some exposure to second base in the minor leagues.

Noboru is also said to be a "signability" pick. He's a slot bonus pick and the Hustlers should have no issues signing him to a contract as soon as the draft concludes.

Some observers were shocked that the Hustlers didn't snag the seemingly more talented John Neely with this pick. The Hustlers simply had too many questions about his work ethic and dedication to the game to pull the trigger on him at #10. There were also reports that Neely would be a hard sign, and was demanding well over $3,000,000 as a signing bonus. "Pay your dues, then the money will come," said Rectenwald. "I don't believe in entitlement. It's not a great show of character to come out of high school or college having never spent a minute as a professional player and asking for more money than some MBBA'ers make in one season."

The Bottom Line: He was much more than a "signability" pick as he doubled his way into the Hall of Fame and out WAR'd Neely 65.8 to 46.7.

1996- No draft pick

1997- Killian Noble
What We Said: Nothing I could find.

The Bottom Line: Grand total of 17 appearances for the Hustlers. Career ERA of 7.24. Whiff.

1998- Julius Cook
What We Brett Schroeder Said: Cook is a nice player. Listed as a 2B but i think his limited range will provoke a move to 1B in the future. Projects to have above average contact, gap ability and an extreme knack for avoiding strikeouts. Decent speed on the bases but nothing special. His future depends heavily on the status of the 1B ahead of him in the system. He doesn't have the big power bat that everyone loves at 1B but I think if he ever gets a shot he might stick especially on a team that favors pitching, defense and speed.

The Bottom Line: He never made it to the majors with the Hustlers. Traded to California for a big fat nothing (Vince Valiant).

1998- Davis Gordon
What We Said: 2009: It's been a long, strange trip for Las Vegas right-hander Davis Gordon. The 29 year old right hander has proven to be a walking lesson in perseverance throughout the last decade, all but one spent with the Hustlers organization.

In 1998, Gordon was a top high school pitcher. He'd completed his senior season in style, winning 12 games and losing just 1, with a 1.07 ERA and 180 K's in 134 innings pitched. He figured to be a top prospect for the upcoming MBBA draft. The Las Vegas Hustlers selected the Kansas City, MO native with the 36th overall pick in the draft (Supplemental Round 1, Pick 12). The righty spent the rest of that summer with the Hustlers rookie team, starting 15 games and going a hard luck 3-9, with good numbers overall (3.39 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 6 CG, 1 SHO).

In 1999, Gordon remained at Roswell (the Hustlers rookie team) for the first half of the year. Despite pitching erratically there (5-5, 4.52 ERA), he was promoted to Class A Pahrump for the second half of the season. In 14 starts, he was 4-10 despite a decent 3.94 ERA. He continued to be a workhorse, completing 8 games.

The 2000 season found Gordon back in the rookie league. "I'm not quite sure what happened, to this day," Gordon said. "But, it was the best thing for my career at the time. I was becoming a middle of the road guy in all of my leagues, and I had never really dominated until this season." Domination is a good word for the numbers the now 20 year old Gordon produced at Roswell in 2000: 13 starts, 9-3, 1.93 ERA, 99K's in 98+IP, 6 CG, 3 SHO, 1.04 WHIP, 29 VORP.

This earned him a promotion back to Class A Pahrump for the 2001 season. He continued his focus to dominate the league he was assigned to, and did so- 16 starts, 10-3 record, 2.76 ERA, 5 CG, 1 SHO, 1.18 WHIP, 20.7 VORP.

The 2002 was different for Gordon. Now on the Hustlers radar, they converted him to mostly relief with the AA Reno club, figuring that was his likely role as a MBBA pitcher. In 46 games (just 4 starts), he went 5-1, 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 22.0 VORP.

2003 would see him back at Reno, still in a relief role. In 29 games he was amazing- 1.65 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 12.3 VORP, and an incredible 2 walks vs 31 strikeouts in his 32.2 innings of action. He earned a late season promotion to AAA Milwaukee and appeared in two games there (6.00 ERA).

IN 2004, the Hustlers tried him both as a starter again (with AA Reno, 13 games; all starts: 7-5, 5.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 0.0 VORP) and also as a reliever (with AAA Milwaukee, 6 games, all relief: 2.03 ERA). They had a decision to make in the offseason. Would they protect him on the 40 man roster, or allow him to become a minor league free agent.

The club chose the latter. "It was the strangest moment of my career," Gordon explains. "One minute I was with the Hustlers, the next minute I was unemployed. And it wasn't a great feeling."

He didn't remain unemployed for long. Just nine days after hitting the open market, he struck a minor league free agent deal with the Des Moines Kernels. He was assigned to their AA affiliate in Providence. Just like in Reno, he was assigned to a relief role and dominated. He pitched in 28 games (2 starts), and posted a 2.01 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 18 VORP. He didn't earn a callup to AAA, and didn't get added to the Kernels 40-man. Once again, Davis Gordon found himself on the street, without an organization to call his own.

A little over a month later, Gordon was surprised when the Las Vegas Hustlers called him. They wanted him back, and they were offering a MAJOR LEAGUE CONTRACT. Gordon was asking for one, and he was expecting to get one in the rival EBA. He wasn't expecting any MBBA team to come calling, much less the one that had cut him loose just a year earlier. He happily agreed. Hustlers GM Matt Rectenwald told him not to get his hopes up. He was viewed stricly as depth, and there was a very good chance that the Hustlers would ultimately try to waive him off their 40 man roster. Gordon understood, took the $450,000 deal. This was the most money he'd seen since Vegas gave him his $310,000 signing bonus way back in 1998.

He was assigned, once again, to AA Reno. He was put in the rotation there. He started four games and pitched so well (3-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) he forced the Hustlers hand. He got the call to Milwaukee, where he'd pitch mostly in relief (31 games, 9 starts, 3-6, 4 saves, 4.88 ERA, 1.55 WHIP).

The next season he pitched just two games in Reno, and that would be the last he'd ever see of Class AA ball. Now, he began to entrench himself in the role he was born for. After shuttling between the bullpen and the rotation, he was called into manager Walter Wambold's office and asked one simple question: "Do you want to be a starter, or a reliever?" Gordon didn't hesitate. "A starter, coach. Even if I struggle at first, I want to start."

They let him. He finished the 2007 season in AAA Milwaukee with 32 games, 17 starts. He was 7-12, 5.16 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6.7 VORP. Not the greatest season, but it gave him something to build on. Through it all, Gordon remained on the Hustlers 40 man roster. Someone was watching.

The 2008 season saw him establish himself fully as a solid Class AAA starter. It took 9 seasons, but Gordon had finally done it. In between missing two months with a sprained ankle, Gordon started 18 games, went 10-3, 3.83 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 1.19 WHIP, 24.8 VORP. He felt like he'd made the most progress of any season of his career. He went home after the Choppers season, ready to make 2009 a memorable year. But something happened on his way home...he got a phone call from Hustlers GM Matt Rectenwald. "Hey Davis, it's Recte." Gordon feared the worst, being released or waived off the 40 man. "As you know, we just clinched a playoff slot." Gordon muttered yes, bracing himself for bad news. "That means we want to reset our pitching rotation," Rectenwald said. Gordon paused. Could it be? "So, we're bringing you up to the majors to make a start against Calgary on the 29th. Sound good?" Does it sound good, Gordon thought. It's a dream come true!

The Hustlers penciled in Gordon for the start, and alerted the media. "Davis who?" fans thought. It'd been so long since he'd been on a prospect radar, and now at age 28 he couldn't be considered a prospect anymore. He didn't care, he had nothing to lose. So he got prepared, went out on the mound determined to leave it all out there. "If this was the only time I got to see a major league mound, I wanted to make it count," Gordon recalled.

The results? A complete game shutout against a formidable Marauders lineup. 9 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts. People in the organization took notice. He wasn't on the playoff roster, but watched as his Hustlers teammates won another Landis Memorial Series. And he received a ring, and a 1/8 playoff share.

Things were looking up. The Hustlers dealt fifth starter Francisco Lueras to Greenville in the offseason, which opened up a spot in the rotation. Gordon went to Spring Training with a legitimate chance to break camp as the Hustlers fifth starter, and that's what he did.

In his first start of the season. against Atlantic City, he was SHELLED. He recorded jut one out, and gave up 7 runs. He bounced back to defeat Montreal and division rival Long Beach, going deep into the game in both, before the Hustlers had a chance to sign veteran legend Jessie Wright came about. With options remaining, Gordon was sent back to AAA Milwaukee.

He didn't sulk, instead pitching the best ball of his entire career. In 25 starts he was 13-9, 3.18 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a career high 46.3 VORP. Gordon was still highly on the radar for Las Vegas.

He was summoned in the September callups, and with Wright struggling, placed back in the #5 starter role. On 9/14 he took the loss against Des Moines, despite pitching deep into the ninth inning. Then, on 9/20 he pitched a solid 8 innings at Seattle, earning his third win of the year (against two losses).

The best was yet to come. On 9/26 he faced Long Beach again, in a game with high playoff implications. If Las Vegas lost, there would be a tie in the Frick League Pacific. If they won, they'd open up a two game lead on the Surfers. Gordon pitched a complete game gem, giving up just 2 runs to the powerful Surfers, and earning his 4th win of the year. "If there was any question about whether or not Davis is a big league pitcher, you can mark it down now, he is," GM Rectenwald stated.

Gordon won't be on the playoff roster unless there's an injury opening, at which point he'd have to be highly considered. There won't be any doubt that next season he'll be a part of the Hustlers pitching staff, with this being his last option year. At age 29, he's finally made it.

The Bottom Line: That's a lot of words for a guy who ultimately pitched in a total of 15 games for the Hustlers over three years, and then never in the BBA again. He went on to have seven pretty decent years in the EBA.

1998- Norman Stewart
What We Said: Nothing I could find.

The Bottom Line: Never made the majors. Zero impact.

1998- Dale Harper
What We Said: Nothing I could find of substance....until all the way in 2010.
With Marshall sent back to AAA, and Gordon still there on rehab, the Hustlers had to look for their third 5th starter of the season. Enter 33 year old Dale Harper. He'd been with the Hustlers since they selected him as their #1 supplemental pick in 1998. He was always viewed as a "tweener", meaning he had the pitch selection to start but maybe not the stamina. His time in the major leagues with Las Vegas has been primarily as a reliever. He's had major injuries, missing nearly all of 2007 with elbow reconstruction and a lot of time in 2009 with a hamstring injury. IN between the injuries, he's performed admirably in a middle relief role. Now, the Hustlers will give him a couple of starts. How he does in this role could determine his future with the club. If he can't get major league hitters out as a starting pitcher, he's the type of guy that could be an odd man out when Gordon returns. The Hustlers claimed veteran reliever Felipe Blanco off waivers from Washington and brought him up to fill Marshall's roster spot. Moving forward, if Harper doesn't stick as the 5th starter one of their pitchers will have to be dealt or exposed to waivers.

The Bottom Line: After bouncing up and down between Vegas and AAA from 2003-2010, it turns out that the previous article about him would also mark the last season he pitched in the BBA. Good results overall, just couldn't find his niche.

1999- Paul "One Shoe" Gilbert
What We Chris Ramsey Said (Custom Ammy): Paul is a complete player. He is very efficient at the plate but isn't immune to a strikeout. He will hit for 20-25 HR, so he has some power. Some of the long shots that do not make it over the fence end up for extra bases. When he is on base he has some ability to steal. At 3B he isn't necessarily a 'vacuum', but he is above average for sure.

The Bottom Line: We ended up trading him to Valencia for Jimmy Slizz. He never did anything for them either. Tough to be a left-handed third baseman, I suppose.

2000- Jason Vanega
What We Said: The Hustlers made Jason Vanega, a high school first baseman, their #1 pick (21st overall) in the 2000 Ammy Draft. The Hustlers were high on Vanega, even though his lack of power or positional flexibility would make it tough for him to establish himself. Turns out, that was the least of their problems. Vanega has struggled to perform throughout his Hustlers minor league career, finally hitting .361 last year in his third year in the low minors. Promoted to AA Reno this year, Vanega couldn't get playing time and batted just .217.

The Hustlers had to protect him on the 40 man roster this year or expose him to the Rule 5 Draft. They chose to chance it. Hawaii saw something in the now 23 year old Vanega, and picked him in the 3rd round of the Rule 5 Draft.

The Bottom Line: Hawaii ended up returning Vanega to the Hustlers after a short stint there, and Vanega actually ended up starting for Vegas for a couple of years, batting over .300 in both 2006 and 2007. He was then traded to Carolina in a blockbuster deal that ended up being in the Hustlers favor, with a return including Larry Wilkes (who replaced Vanega nicely for one year) and Mark Davis (who was a starting OF for many years and hit 300 HR in his BBA career).

2000- Dave Slater
What We Said: Las Vegas made Dave Slater a Supplemental #1 pick in the 2000 Draft. It was questioned why they would draft two first basemen, but the Hustlers quickly indicated they would train Slater at third base. Over the years, Slater learned not only third base but shortstop and second base as well. Like Vanega, he struggled initially in the minors coming out of high school. Unlike Vanega, he began to break through over the last two years. Then, last season he was involved in the John Catron trade with Madison. Madison never activated him onto a minor league roster, and then oddly left him available in the Rule 5 Draft. Las Vegas grabbed him and will allow him to sit on the bench for a year and then finish off his development at the AAA level.

The Bottom Line: So what if he only played in one game ever for the Hustlers. We made out ok by trading him to Madison.

2001- Mike Sims
What We Said: Mike Sims, SP, Dupont Polymers (high school) (1st Round, 17th overall pick)
Sims, a 20 year old lefty, was a two time high school All-Star in his junior and senior seasons. The Massachusetts native throws a plus-plus 94-96 mph fastball, mixed in with a plus curveball, and an above average changeup. He is an intelligent pitcher, and projects to be a #3-4 starter in the MBBA.

The Bottom Line: Never pitched for the Hustlers, but we got a nice return for him headed by Vanilla Ice himself.

2001- Robert Bernard
What We Said: Bernard is a big (6'6") left-hander who is more of an offspeed pitcher than Sims. Bernard projects to have one of the best changeups in the game. He has an above average cutter which gets mixed in with a 91-93 mph fastball that is above average but needs improvement. Bernard flew under the radar due to poor luck with Nike, but the native San Diego-an is another mid rotation prospect to add to the Hustlers depth.

The Bottom Line: We traded him to Washington for an elderly Ken Howell. Bernard never made the big leagues.

2001- Jeff Washington
What We Said: Here's the future centerfielder for the Las Vegas Hustlers. In the mold of Jimmy "Super" Slizz, Washington is an amazing defender with plus speed whose bat will be a secondary skill but more than satisfactory projection. The 22 year old was a College All-Star in his senior year, while winning the Glove Wizard for CF both his junior and senior campaigns.

The Bottom Line: Ten years with your club is usually a sign of a good pick. He was sometimes a starter, mostly a backup, but all in all a solid player and pretty much exactly what we thought we were getting. Not quite Slizz, but damn close.

2002- Gerald Mason
What We Said: 2003, Part of Deal to ATC for Ross White: The Hustlers #1 pick last year, Mason became expendable not only because of a glut of young infield talent in the system, but also due to Jake Urban's long term extension signed earlier this year.

The Bottom Line: He helped us get Ross White, so that's a success already. As for Mason, he did last eleven years in the BBA and while not always a starter did have moderate success as one in several of his seasons.

2002- No pick

2003- Grady Powers
What We Said: If you're a fan of bold moves, then you're loving the Hustlers 2003 #1 Draft Pick. It doesn't get much bolder than drafting a guy who recently tore his rotator cuff with the 19th overall pick in the draft. That's exactly what the Hustlers did by selecting Grady Powers.

Powers, 22 years old, will not pitch this year. He's likely to be back for the 2004 season when he's 23 years old. This means he'll have to show some serious development over the next couple years to be worthy of this high pick. Pundits were in shock when the Hustlers made this pick. "They could have had him in the second round," said one scout. "It is insane to grab a guy this highly who not only will miss a season, but also has control issues."

At the end of the day, the Hustlers are betting on Powers' raw stuff, and arsenal of four plus pitches (fastball, slider, curveball, changeup) that will eventually make him a valuable member of the Las Vegas pitching staff. "Above all, we know it's an uphill battle for Grady and so does he," GM Matt Rectenwald said. "His high work ethic will come into play here, and we feel that Grady will eventually don a Hustlers uniform."

Grady Powers is the son of recently retired relief legend Marty Powers, who married his high school sweetheart at the age of 18.

The Bottom Line: Never pitched an inning in the Hustlers system after his injury in college. Was in the same trade with Slater that brought Catron. Did pitch some in the BBA but it was an outright disaster.

2004- Joshua Carruthers
What We Said: Carruthers, 22 years old, was a 3 year starter for Anheiser-Busch. A lot was expected of him after an awesome sophomore season, but he tailed off a bit his junior year before going pro. The Hustlers love his bat, and versatility. "Joshua didn't play any outfield in college, but we'll get him some work there in the minors," said GM Matt Rectenwald. "Ultimately, we think Joshua can fit at all four infield positions and all three outfield positions. This, along with his bat will make him a valuable player." Carruthers hasn't signed yet, after his agent has demanded a major league contract. The Hustlers are open to that, as they believe he'll be ready in three years, but are trying to negotiate a longer contract with the 1st rounder.

The Bottom Line: After a cup of coffee with the Hustlers in 2005, he was outstanding as a part-timer in 2006, then a decent starter in 2007-08. So everything was going ok until we traded him to Greenville in a deal we really lost badly.

2004- Ernie Stauffer
What We Said: Stauffer is a Amish Mennonite from Lancaster, Pennsylvania who was discovered by a scout and convinced to leave his community to pursue a professional baseball career. Raw as raw can be, with no actual experience or coaching, this pure talent hit .411 with a 1.058 OPS in his single season of high school ball last year. The Hustlers signed him quickly, with a $220,000 signing bonus, and assigned him to rookie ball. "Ernie is a long term investment in a high ceiling of talent," Rectenwald said.

The Bottom Line: Oops. We traded him to Phoenix for Moronobu and Calfo. Phoenix then traded him to Montreal where the "high ceiling" we mentioned came to be reality. This sad tale does have a happy ending though as the Hustlers signed him back as a free agent and he went on to have the two best seasons of his career in 2017 and 2018. After fading in 2019 and 2020 he had a resurgent 2021, then really began to regress at age 36 in 2022. After that season we then shipped him to Buffalo where he finished his career in "The Trade That Shall Not Be Mentioned".

2004- Cal Wilson
What We Said: It was no secret that the Hustlers needed to start getting some young arms into their system. After trading many prospect away in the last two years, their system has fallen from one of the top 3 to one of the bottom 3. Wilson, 22 years old, isn't a Top 100 prospect but the Hustlers feel he could become one. "He's a four year college starter, durable, with good movement, projected good control, and four pitches," Rectenwald said.

The Bottom Line: Never made the big leagues. Was in the same deal with Phoenix in which they originally dealt Stauffer away.

2005- Weston Fitzpatrick
What We Lee Honigsfeld Said (Custom Ammy): Fitzpatrick is your typical top CF..He is a great contact hitter with gap power...He could be a 300 plus hitter with 30 doubles hitter...He has fantasic speed could be a stolen base leader by the time he reaches the MBBA...With Fitzpatrick speed he should be able to cover any Centerfield as he has teffific range and very good arm strenght...

The Bottom Line: Weston never played for the Hustlers. See, we traded for Catron and that was great at first but then he became a drain on our finances. With that and the need for relief help, we shipped him to Montreal with Catron and other prospects for Art Messer. As for his career, he played 15 years in the BBA. Impressive, right? During that span, he accumulated a grand total of 6.3 WAR. Impressive in a bad way, right?

2006- Jeremy Gaze
What We Said: Gaze, 18 years old, was a top starting pitcher for the General Motors all-star team over the last three years. He features an array of five pitches, and great projected control.
ETA: June 2010

The Bottom Line: Somehow he made his way to the EBA- I can't quite remember why. Anyways he never pitched for the Hustlers.

2007- Richie Shafer
What We Said: 18 year old Richie Shafer was taken 29th overall by the Las Vegas Hustlers with their first selection in the 2007 Ammy Draft. The Chicago, IL native had just completed four years with the Chevron High School Team.

He was a career .425 hitter in four seasons on the varsity, with 211 career hits, 42 career homeruns, and 150 career RBI.

Scouts all believe that Shafer will be an elite power hitter with some development in the minor leagues. He's an acceptable catcher defensively, having won the Glove Wizard Award this past season.

ETA: 2011
Projected Peak Year: .265, 40 HR, 115 RBI

The Bottom Line: So it turns out we were a little off on that prediction. He showed a lot of promise in his rookie year- but it was short lived as he fell into a backup role. Journeyman.

2008- Dave Marshall
What We Said: We also continue to keep a close eye on last year's #1 pick, Dave Marshall. after two great starts in AA Reno, he's already been promoted to AAA Milwaukee and should be a factor in the big leagues before this year is up.

The Bottom Line: Pitched in one game for Las Vegas. Traded to GRE for Charlie Schaffer. DIdn't amount to anything in the BBA and barely was a league average pitcher in the EBA.

2009- Andrew Chesley
What We Said: The Las Vegas Hustlers announced the selection of high school pitcher Andrew Chesley with their 2009 #1 Ammy Pick (23rd overall).

The righty, from La Palma, CA, is a 6'1", 205 lb power pitcher who is a two pitch starter with workhorse potential. "We fully intend to try and teach him a third pitch," GM Matt Rectenwald said. "On face value, he looks like a reliever right now with just the two pitches but there's reason to leave him as a starter. He's shown the ability to go deep into games, and he's not a real hard thrower. We'll try to teach him a changeup to go with that excellent fastball and slider and see what happens."

Chesley is a long way from the majors at 18 years old, but with a lack of pitching depth in the system and no one prospect who stood out for the Hustlers, they took a chance with this pick.

"It's a gamble, big time," Rectenwald explained. "That's one we'll take our chances on."

Chesley will be assigned to Rookie League once signed, and should make his professional debut later this summer.

The Bottom Line: This one actually turned out pretty good for Vegas. Until he got hurt and faded out quickly. Then Chesley went on to the EBA where he pitched nine seasons before making an unexpected swan song back in the BBA with Phoenix to end his career.

2010- Honorio Fradesso
What We Said: The first pick (Round 1, 22nd overall) was a college outfielder, Honorio Fradesso. Fradesso isn't just depth, he's a major league ready college outfielder who will step into the Hustlers starting lineup as soon as negotiations are complete. "Could not believe he was here at #22," GM Matt Rectenwald beamed. "He was one of our top 10 prospects in this draft, and we're so happy to have him as a part of the Hustlers." Fradesso was a .337 hitter in five college seasons with the Waffle House Irons, and over the last two seasons he developed power taking his slugging overage over .600 each of the last two seasons. "He's a platoon player, struggles against LHP, but against RHP he has a chance to be an All-Star," Rectenwald explained.

The Bottom Line: Step right in he did, with an incredibly dominant second half of the year for the Hustlers without any minor league experience. Then it kind of fizzled out, like immediately. Never was remotely close to a regular again in the BBA, but made a mini-comeback in the EBA.

2011- Mickey Hart
What We Said: The Hustlers first round pick in 2011, his ascent to the majors was quick as expected. Las Vegas still hasn't quite decided what to make of Hart. Is he a center fielder? Is he a starter? Is he a fourth outfielder? We'll see.

The Bottom Line: He wasn't much of a center fielder, he wasn't a starter for too long either. That being said, he played over 1000 BBA games so not a bad career.

2012- Patrick O'Malley
What We Said: End of 2014: A season of struggle was bookended by months of promise for 24 year old starting pitcher Patrick "Red" O'Malley. It's hard to be excited about a 6.00 ERA and 211 hits allowed in 180 innings, so let's concentrate on his decent walk rate, BABIP that should come down a bit, acceptable WHIP, and overall record. The future is bright for "Red".

The Bottom Line: Gave the Hustlers two more seasons as a starter to some success, then pretty decent years as a reliever before moving on to California. Not a bad pick, but it may have been going a bit far to say his future was bright.

2013- Dave Wren
What We Said: 2014: The second rated prospect in the system, starter Dave Wren (9/7/6 Talents) , is being pushed aggressively to the Class A level. Is it too soon? We'll soon find out.

The Bottom Line: Easily the best pick in a long time for the Hustlers. Amazing what picking high will do for a draft. Could have been even better had injuries not taken down the tail end of his career.

2014- Gary Estes
What We Said: The Hustlers #1 pick this season made his professional debut with the Rookie League Roswell Aliens, and didn't disappoint. In 12 starts, he went 7-3 with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP despite a higher than average BABIP (as evidenced by his 2.91 FIP). He allowed just 1 homer in 74.1 innings (amazing), walking just 15 while striking out 40. The future is bright indeed for Estes.

The Bottom Line: HALL OF FAMER! Next....

2015- Manny Bautista
What We Said: Three teams in front of the Hustlers were scared away by his "fragile" injury status. The Hustlers couldn't ignore the possible ace who sat atop their entire board. Another factor: Bautista has never actually been injured. The lefthander they call "Little Bull" is a lanky 6'2", 185 lbs and will be equally tough on lefties and righties alike. His arsenal includes a 91-93 fastball that is very good, but his excellent curveball is an attraction as well. Scouts feel that his changeup will ultimately be the put-away pitch that puts him among the elite pitchers in the game. At 19 years old, Bautista will need minor league seasoning. The Hustlers plan to move him up level to level, which would place his major league arrival in 2019.

The Bottom Line: HALL OF FAMER!!!! Next....

2016- Daniel Labrie, Jr.

What We Aaron Said: Shockingly, Labrie, Jr., despite a tremendous pedigree and an overwhelming amount of development, lasted until pick #9. Has serious makeup issues against lefties but his immediate impact against righties should be so significant it won’t matter. Strong defensively, okay intangibles, admittedly expensive, Labrie fits a tremendous need for Las Vegas’ organization and he should be a good one.

The Bottom Line: Was well on his way to being the third straight HOF'er from the Hustlers' drafts but injuries and then a PED scandal rendered him ineffective and cast shade on an otherwise fantastic career.

2017- None

2018- Thatcher Jolley
What We Said: The Las Vegas Hustlers selected college third baseman Thatcher "Snake Hips" Jolley with the first pick, the 11th overall in the 2018 Ammy Draft.

Jolley, 21 years old, starred for Yum! Brands this year in CCAS, batting .435 with a 1.071 OPS, 7 homers, 31 RBI and 24 steals in 49 games.

The right-handed batting, right-handed throwing Jolley was a work in progress at third base, but scouts believe he will be adequate to average there in time. He profiled as perhaps the fastest player in this years draft, and while he lacks home run power could develop into a .300 hitter in time. He may also be able to play left field in the future, as well as other infield positions.

He acquired the unique nickname "Snake Hips" because of a dance he does after stealing bases, made popular by Earl "Snakehips" Tucker in Harlem in the 1920's.

The addition of Jolley gives Las Vegas significant organizational depth at the hot corner, with current top prospect Hunter Eisenhower ahead of Jolley after two years experience in the system.

Upon signing, the Hustlers plan to start Jolley at Class A Pahrump.

The Bottom Line: Nothing more than a backup for six seasons in Vegas.

2018- Gustavo Medina
What We Said: 2021: Medina, the Hustlers #1 pick in 2018, slides back to Class A ball in the hopes that dominating results will lead to a kickstart of his lagging control development.

The Bottom Line: Lost to New Orleans on waivers. Only pitched in 4 BBA games (with ATC) and lost two of them. Bust.

2019- Chester Kipling
What We Said: Kipling (#13 Hustlers' prospect) was the #1 pick in the 2019 Draft and will make his AA debut this year.

The Bottom Line: 07/21/2023- Was traded by the Las Vegas Hustlers to the Vancouver Mounties, along with LF Pedro Vega, SS Edward Allen, C Pedro Gómez, SS Jesús Gonzáles, in exchange for CF Benjamin Franklin Pierce, 1B Bernardo Pérez, 2B John Aguilera. Ended up having a long, productive career in the BBA but it didn't really benefit the Hustlers at all as that trade was a total bust.

2020- Paco Key
What We Said: 2021: Key, the Hustlers #1 pick last year, will make his professional debut. Growing pains are expected.

The Bottom Line: Never made it with the Hustlers. Had four years of being no better than a third catcher for Des Moines. Ick.

2020- Lane Neely
What We Said: Neely enters his second year as the Aliens first baseman, and he's another Hustlers prospect not on the Top 20 list that is worthy of keeping an eye on.

The Bottom Line: Never made the BBA.

2021- Chris Drover
What We Said: The Hustlers selected college right-hander Chris Drover with their #1 pick in the 2021 Ammy Draft.

Drover, 21 years old, pitched for Hilton Gardens in the CCAS. He was 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 7 saves in three seasons, the first as closer and the second two as a starting pitcher. He's a 6'3", 195 lb. player from Ontario, Canada. Drover has a three pitch arsenal, a plus fastball, and a very good curveball and changeup. He averages about 95-97 mph with his fastball, and has the stamina to start but not go deep into games, which leads many scouts to believe Drover might be a future relief pitcher. The Hustlers would plan to start him for now to continue his development, if he signs with Las Vegas.

While Drover is a great leader, he's been pegged as greedy and not having the best work ethic. He'll need to change his ways if he ever hopes to make the major leagues.

The Bottom Line: Never really was able to break through with the Hustlers. Traded to Hawaii for Captain Joyride, he never quite made himself into a dependable pitcher there either.

2022- Spencer Woolescroft
What We Said: 2022: .The Ranchers have awful pitching this year as they have pushed several youngsters to rookie ball perhaps a year too early, pitchers such as Spencer Woolescroft (7/6/8 Talents)

The Bottom Line: Complete and total failure.

2022- Sam Romero
What We Said: Sam Romero (9/7/5 Talents) was a Supplemental 1st Rounder by the Hustlers in the 2022 Draft. At the time, the Hustlers held out hope that Romero would someday develop into a major league starting pitcher. Soon after being drafted, the Hustlers scouts noted that his control was not as good as previously thought. Romero was going to be a reliever moving forward. This year he saved 34 games across three levels of minor leagues and solidified his opportunity to be a part of the Hustlers' future plans.

The Bottom Line: Gave the Hustlers five seasons of top level SP production, then traded to Calgary. One piece of that trade, Otto Altaner, is just breaking through to the big league level.

2023- Claudio Sanchez
What We Said: 2026, Traded to Jacksonville: Sanchez was the real loss of the deal for Las Vegas, as he was probably the Hustlers top starting pitcher prospect and will become the same with the Moonshiners.

The Bottom Line: Not a loss at all, he never made the BBA.

2024- Lloyd Braun
What We Said: "A Long, Strange Trip For Braun": viewtopic.php?f=58&t=18838&p=100302&hilit=braun#p100302

The Bottom Line: We all know Braun and he's had an outstanding career. His value to Vegas is skewed, however. We gave him up (along with three others) to get Chris Workman, and that was a horrible deal. Later when we re-acquired him, we had to give up Alfredo Martinez. That hurt. But we made up for it when dealing him to Seattle and getting Quant Kouros and Sancho Castillo back.

2025- Victor Hurtado
What We Aaron Said: "Worst Value Picks" Usually, Matt doesn’t make this list, but it’s a strange year. Hurtado doesn’t have the stamina to be converted into a reliever or to be a starting pitcher, and doesn’t have the chops to be a major league starter for the most part, and, what’s worse, he cost the Hustlers $1.4 million. He does throw hard for a young guy.

The Bottom Line: We traded him for Vicente Marin to be a fifth outfielder during a pennant chase. Hurtado later pitched five years in the BBA for Valencia and was about replacement level.

2026- None

2027- Rob McNeill
What We Aaron Said: A righty hitting contact hitter with good intangibles, McNeill won’t ever be a star but could be a starter in this league. Might find his way across the diamond at first base due to his defensive deficiencies.

The Bottom Line: Traded to SA to get Gow Cho for a pennant run. Some backup time with SA but never a starter. Now playing in the UMEBA.

2027- Austin Stinson
What We Aaron Said: I would expect Stinson to get tossed back if Matt has the option, but he might not. Not impressive even in college, Stinson will have to seriously pop if he wants to make it as anything. This is the second time he’s been drafted in the first round, though, so someone must like the guy.

The Bottom Line: Never made the bigs.

2028- Juan Sweetworld
What We Said: Drafted CF Juan Sweetworld (7/7/6/4/9 Talents) in the 2028 first-year player draft (Round 1, Pick 27, 27th overall pick).
Sweetworld wasn't a high rated prospect, grading out at just 2*. But the Hustlers have never been ones to look at scouting stars to make their decisions. There are so many things to like about Sweetworld: a left-handed stick that is semi-advanced, decent outfield defense, good baserunning, off the charts leadership and desire to win. "He could probably play in the big leagues right now," GM Matt Rectenwald said. "We're starting him off at AA Reno, as we want him to dominate at the minor league level which will hopefully help jump him to a higher level."

The Bottom Line: Despite the big contract which was an albatross, this pick was an enormous success- especially for a #27 overall.

2028- Shawn Huber
What We Said: Drafted CL Shawn Huber (10/7/7 Talents) in the 2028 first-year player draft (Supplemental Round 1, Pick 2, 30th overall pick).
There was more hooting and hollering in the Hustlers' War Room than has been heard in maybe a decade when they called Huber's name here. Many in the room were pushing for him with the 27th pick, but the Hustlers gambled (correctly) that they would be able to grab both Sweetworld and Huber if they did it in that order. So here's Huber, a 16 year old lefty whose residency in Puerto Rico allowed him to play in the International Finishing Academy and made him eligible for this draft. "We have extremely high hopes for Shawn based on his ceiling," Rectenwald explained. "We feel like he could be the next Paul Hogan for this franchise." Strong words indeed. "Those are big shoes to fill," Huber sheepishly said. "I'll just try to do the best I can, I'm just a regular kid who loves to play baseball." Classic boom or bust pick.

The Bottom Line: The hooting and hollering was justified. Better than Hogan. BOOM BOOM BOOM.

2029- Ken Bates
What We Said: 1st Round: Ken Bates (7/7/8 Talents) , LHP, Home Depot (HSAS)
Bates is a projectable lefty arm that should stick as a starting pitcher. He features a 91-93 mph Fastball along with a developing curveball and changeup. Bates came into High School strong and won the Swanson Award in his first year (2026). After a bit of a slump in 2027, he rebounded nicely in 2028 and ended his high school career with an 11-4 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 205 K's in 143.2 IP.

The Bottom Line: Had one really nice year for the Hustlers as a starter, which we were able to turn into a trade for Henry Rectenberg. We thought he pitched over his head and we've been proved correct. He's a decent back of the rotation guy, but no Estes.

2030- Jesus Lopez
What We Said: Drafted SP Jesus Lopez (8/7/7 Talents) in the 2030 first-year player draft (Round 1, Pick 28, 28th overall pick).
Signing bonus of $1,800,000.
16 year old right hander from International Ball. Played two seasons for Chang Beer, being named to the All-Star team both years and finishing 3rd in Pitcher of the Year Voting in 2029. Off the charts intelligence, and high marks in work ethic and loyalty. Low stamina leads to some concerns that he might ultimately be a reliever, however a four pitch arsenal with premium fastball, above average slider and forkball, and development changeup projects him as a starting pitcher as of now. At age 16, assigned aggressively to Rookie League Roswell.

The Bottom Line: In 2036 he had a nice year for the Hustlers as a starter. In 2037 he was back to being erratic. We were able to get Jubal Troop for a package headed by Lopez, but that didn't work out either.

2031- Ryosei Akahori
What We Said: Drafted SP Ryosei Akahori (8/7/7 Talents) in the 2031 first-year player draft (Round 1, Pick 27, 27th overall pick).
Signed 4/12/31- $810,000 signing bonus
16 year old lefty out of Japan. Highly projectable at 6'7", only 190 lbs right now. His big frame has Hustlers scouts thinking that in time his stamina may increase, as will his velocity (currently 89-91). If those two things can happen, a future 9/7/7 lefty starter is nothing to complain about at pick #27.

The Bottom Line: This doesn't look like its working out. He's a reliever, not a starter. He's 10/6/6 as a reliever but has been roughed up.

2032- None

2033- Alvin Chartrand
What We Said: 2035: The Hustlers' top pitching prospect, Alvin Chartrand) , struggled in his first three starts of the year for Class A Pahrump but the Hustlers promoted him to AA Reno anyway. There, he was lit up like a pinball machine in his first few starts but has settled in nicely (2-1, 1.44 ERA in 4 May starts). "It's not every day you find an arm like this who can throw six different pitches at you," Hustlers pitching coach Christopher Stoller said.

The Bottom Line: Finally emerged as a top starter this year. Should have good things ahead of him.

2033- Manuel Orozco
What We Said: 2035: The Hustlers expected one of their top prospects to be a factor this year, but for Manuel Orozco) that looks like it won't be the case. The 19 year old left his Opening Day start for Reno in the seventh inning with arm pain, and the news wasn't great. He's expected to miss 8-9 weeks with biceps tendinitis. "It could have been worse, I suppose," a dejected Orozco said.

The Bottom Line: Traded to Omaha. The first injury was a sign of things to come. Looking like the new Tully Crow. Can never stay healthy.

2034- Diesel Dave
What We Said: 2035, Traded to HNT: In their third and final trade of the deadline, Vegas shipped outfielder Adrian Young and catching prospect Diesel Dave to the Huntsville Phantoms in exchange for CF Roberto Mendez , RF Sadaharu Oh III , and 2B Tyler Shacklady.

The Bottom Line: Oh III alone makes this a win for the Hustlers.

2035- Raul Alilea
What We Said: Round 1 (27th Overall): Raul Alilea (7/8/6/5/7 Talents) , Mt. Fuji Bullets (IFA), First Base/Second Base
Birthday: 05/04/2018 Born in: Bayamon, BAY Nationality: Puerto Rican Height: 6' 0" Weight: 155 lbs Bats: Right Throws: Right
Stats: 36 G, 142 AB, 11 doubles, 2 triples, 7 homers, 34 RBIs (.289/.366/.542/.909)
Book smarts, people skills, and hard work define Alilea. He rates high as a Leader, in Work Ethic and in Intelligence and low in Greed. He has some strikes against him, though. First, he's a right-handed hitter, and one without top notch power. This means that his success or failure will probably lie in his ability to stick at second base, where the Hustlers plan to play him and hope he develops there.

The Bottom Line: He did learn to play second base. HE's a complementary player, but a good one.

2036- Luis German
What We Said: Drafted SP Luis German (8/6/7 Talents) in the 2036 first-year player draft (Round 1, Pick 30, 30th overall pick).
18 years old, German projects to be a big league starter. With great stuff, four good pitches, and decent stamina he has all the tools the Hustlers are looking for in a starting pitcher.
Grade: B+
Best Case: #3 Starter
Likely: #4-5 Starter
BBA ETA: 2039

The Bottom Line: We used him to get rid of Sweetworld's bloated contract.

2037- Tetsuzan Yamanaka
What We Said: The Las Vegas Hustlers selected Tetsuzan Yamanaka with their 2037 first round pick, 24th overall.

Yamanaka, 17 years old, is a left handed pitcher from Kodaira, TOK, Japan who has been pitching for the Belfast Burgundy Brigade of the International Finishing Academy for the past two seasons.

"He's a lefty, which we love," said GM Matt Rectenwald. "He's shown awesome control this year (5 BB to 57 K's) and he's projectable to be a mid to top rotation starter by our scouts."

Yamanaka has a four pitch arsenal with his fastball, changeup, splitter and cutter all projected to be above average. "We think the changeup, which is currently his weakest pitch, could eventually become his out-pitch," said Rectenwald.

The Hustlers continue to scout and sign a lot of pitchers out of Asia. With Hyun-sik Chang (South Korea), Chin Kim (South Korea), Hao Kun (China) and Ryosei Akahori (Japan) already on their big league roster, the area has been bountiful for the Las Vegas franchise.

"I hope I can join those players someday in a Hustlers uniform," Yamanaka said through his intrepreter.

The Burgundy Brigade are out of the playoffs now, so Yamanaka is looking forward to signing with the Hustlers and starting his professional career. "I look forward to their negotiations," said Yamanaka, again through his intrepreter.

The Bottom Line: Complete and total bust. Released.

2038- Rafael Flores
What We Said: The Las Vegas Hustlers entered the 2038 Ammy Draft with the 21st overall pick in the first round. In this deep, talented draft the Hustlers hoped to acquire a real difference maker with their first pick, and team brass is thrilled to have nabbed RHP Rafael Flores with their selection.

The 6'7 Flores checks a lot of boxes for Las Vegas. He's a 18 year old starting pitcher who has been dominant from his first season in High School with MGM. He's unique in that his four pitch repetoire doesn't feature a traditional fastball, rather four pitches that all figure to be plus in the future. His current best pitch is his slider, which actually figures to be the "weakest" of the four long term (7 POT). His curveball (9 POT), slider (8 POT) and changeup (8 POT) all contribute to his makeup as a projected ground-ball machine, something the Hustlers put great emphasis on in their pitching prospects these days.

Scouts do believe that Flores' work ethic needs attention, and the Hustlers will certainly spend time and resources to improve that. Another scout expressed some concern over his injury history. Flores has had nine injury records over the last three seasons, but in fairness all were day-to-day and nothing major raised a red flag with the Hustlers. He has the frame that projects him to be a workhorse down the road.

OFP: 70 (#1/#2 Starter)
ETA: 2042

The Bottom Line: Dealt to Omaha in an ill-advised deal that "netted" Mtume.
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by 7teen » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:39 pm

I may have to copy some of this myself..... Especially the All-Time me stuff.

Good stuff! Going to be hard not seeing you and Vegas together. Heck, you've been Vegas ever since the GBC to me...
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by recte44 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:45 pm

This was kind of fun at first, but it ended up taking me over a month to finish.
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by RonCo » Sat Sep 07, 2019 11:47 am

Yep. That's what happens when you've been around forever. :)
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by Rubaboo » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:40 pm

How's the trade one coming? :)
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by recte44 » Sat Sep 07, 2019 1:27 pm

Probably not
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Re: Recte's Hustler History Vol 3: The Modern #1 Picks

Post by jiminyhopkins » Sat Sep 07, 2019 2:13 pm

7teen wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:39 pm
Good stuff! Going to be hard not seeing you and Vegas together. Heck, you've been Vegas ever since the GBC to me...
:plus1:

One of my favorite articles is when the Talons went to Vegas to test drive some Nissans.
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