The Phillies have had their share of quality first round picks over the years
With the starting date for the 2020 baseball season very much a question mark, there is little to do but reminisce. As I pondered teams from the past, I made note of homegrown players that succeeded, particularly first-round picks.
Here’s a look at the Phillies top number one draft picks based on Major League success.
8: Larry Christenson (3rd overall 1972)
Selected straight out of Marysville High School in Washington in 1972, Larry Christenson dominated in the Rookie League, striking out 42 in 38 innings while posting an ERA of 2.84. He did so well that he started the 1973 season with the Phillies. Christenson walked six in nine innings during his debut, but allowed only a run in a win over the Mets. However, Christenson struggled in nine other appearances that season and ended up in Triple-A Eugene after a 1-4 record and 6.55 ERA.
Pitching much of 1974 at Triple-A Toledo, Christenson posted an 11-9 record with a 3.30 ERA and a 4.03 ERA in 10 appearances with the Phillies. The following season Christenson came into his own, posting an 11-6 mark with an ERA of 3.67 in 171 2/3 innings. He became an integral part of the rotation over the next three seasons, going 45-28 with a career-best 19 wins in 1977, logging over 200 innings in both 1977 and 1978.
Unfortunately for Christenson, injury issues began to surface. He missed the beginning of the 1979 season with elbow problems and several weeks with a broken collarbone. During the World Series run in 1980, Christenson missed time after undergoing elbow surgery. All told, he made only 33 appearances over the two seasons, posting a record of 9-11.
In the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, Christenson went a mediocre 4-7. However he was healthy and although winning just nine in 1982, had a 3.47 ERA and a career-best 145 strikeouts in 223 innings. After starting 2-4 in 1983, Christenson had elbow surgery and was released by the Phillies after the season.
Never able to return to baseball following several attempts, Christenson retired with a record of 83-71 with a 3.79 ERA and six shutouts in 243 games.