Back in 1990 a high school pitcher named Todd Van Poppel of Arlington, Texas was all the rage. He was going to be the next great pitcher. He had a blazing fastball. He was a ‘sure thing” In his arrogance he told a number of major league teams that in the upcoming draft not to draft him because he would not play for them. The lowly Atlanta Braves were one of those teams. The worst team in baseball, they had the number 1 pick. There were seriously considering taking the young phenom. So after hearing that it would be a wasted pick, they take a shortstop named Larry Jones out of Florida. Chipper Jones is now at the end of his career. In 5 years he will be inducted in Cooperstown, he’s a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
Todd Van Poppel fell to the 14th pick and the Oakland A’s. Todd Van Poppel was awful. He never pitched well. His career ended 40 wins 52 losses with a 5.58 ERA. His fastball had little movement on it. He was a career middle reliever. I was talking with Quinn about him, if he had gone to the Braves would his career have been different? Well at the time the A’s had Tony LaRussa and one of the great pitching coaches Dave Duncan. If they couldn’t do anything with him, I kind of doubt the Braves even with Leo Mazzone and Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz would have either. I have a suspicion Van Poppel was a million dollar talent that was dead from the neck up. Funny how things turn out sometimes. I am sure the Braves have no complaints. They should honor Van Poppel for turning them down!