Tomorrow's podcast features an interview with MLB draft expert Jeff Ellis. With the 2017 amateur draft quickly approaching on June 12, we were pumped to be able to ask Jeff a handful of questions. We asked him about the quality of this year's draft compared to previous years, his reaction to the Kyle Schwarber pick in 2014, and hyped prospect Hunter Greene. Make sure to give that a listen because Jeff's analysis is great (subscribe here).
It's the best time of year for college baseball fans; the 2017 selection show happens on Monday and regional games begin next weekend. This year's field will not include Illinois—23-28 overall and 9-15 in Big 10—but Paul and I were lucky to be able to attend the super regional in Champaign in 2015. Illinois was the higher seed, but Vanderbilt was much more talented and took the first two games to punch their ticket to Omaha. It was still a great experience!
That's the extent of my college baseball fandom. However, I do find the college careers of major league players interesting. Over the course of this year's tournament, my plan is to pick a few guys to look back on. We're starting out strong this week with Barry Bonds.
Out of high school, Bonds was taken in the second round of the 1982 draft by the San Francisco Giants. Just like Bo Jackson, who was taken 11 picks after Bonds, he didn't sign a contract and went to college. Bonds chose Arizona State, a baseball powerhouse. He played three years for the Sun Devils and legendary coach Jim Brock.
Arizona State reached the College World Series (final eight teams) in 1983 and 1984. Bonds was selected to the all-tournament team both years. In 1984, he recorded a hit in a record eight consecutive CWS at-bats.
So Bonds was beloved by everyone in Tempe, right? Very wrong. His teammates despised him, at one point voting to kick him off the team. Brock shared his memories of Bonds with Sports Illustrated in 1990.
"Unfortunately, I never saw a teammate care about him. Part of it would be his being rude, inconsiderate and self-centered. He bragged about the money he turned down, and he popped off about his dad. I don't think he ever figured out what to-do to get people to like him."
Despite all his baggage, Bonds was taken by the Pirates sixth overall in 1985, a draft considered by many the best of all time. It produced greats such as Bonds, Barry Larkin (4th), Rafael Palmeiro (22nd), Randy Johnson (36th), Tino Martinez (75th), and John Smoltz (574th).
There aren't many—if any—videos of Bonds' career at Arizona State. I did find the one below chronicling a good college Bonds story.