Phillies: Chase Utley nearly became a Cardinal in 2000 Draft
On the first day of the 2020 NFL Draft, we look back 20 years to the MLB Draft; Phillies history could have easily changed at the hands of the Cardinals.
Thursday marks the start of the highly anticipated 2020 NFL Draft, one of the very few recent live events due to social distancing guidelines. And, 20 years ago during Major League Baseball’s June amateur draft, the course of Philadelphia Phillies history could have changed drastically at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.
And it all involves Phillies franchise great second baseman, Chase Utley.
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The 1999 season did not bode well for neither the Phillies nor Cardinals. Both teams finished trailing their division by more than 20 games and tied for allowing 5.2 runs per game — the 15th and 16th most in the league. Therefore, for the following year’s draft, the Cardinals held the 13th pick, and the Phillies the 15th.
As it turns out, both teams had the same need in mind: to draft a middle infielder. Only one had been selected among the first 12 picks in the draft leading into the Cardinals’ selection — shortstop Luis Montanez to the Chicago Cubs with the third pick.
2000 MLB Draft, Picks 1-15
- Pick 1: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Florida Marlins
- Pick 2: RHP Adam Johnson, Minnesota Twins
- Pick 3: SS Luis Montanez, Chicago Cubs
- Pick 4: LHP Mike Stodolka, Kansas City Royals
- Pick 5: RHP Justin Wayne, Montreal Expos
- Pick 6: OF Rocco Baldelli, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
- Pick 7: RHP Matt Harrington, Colorado Rockies
- Pick 8: RHP Matt Wheatland, Detroit Tigers
- Pick 9: LHP Mark Phillips, San Diego Padres
- Pick 10: LHP Joe Torres, Anaheim Angels
- Pick 11: OF Dave Krynzel, Milwaukee Brewers
- Pick 12: OF Joe Borchard, Chicago White Sox
- Pick 13: 2B Shaun Boyd, St. Louis Cardinals
- Pick 14: RHP Beau Hale, Baltimore Orioles
- Pick 15: 2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
The other top 12 selections included one first baseman — eventual five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner Adrian Gonzalez — seven pitchers and three outfielders, including Rocco Baldelli to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who the Phillies would play eight years later in the 2008 World Series.
So, with the Cardinals’ 13th pick on the board, they opted to go with what MLB.com describes as raw, “mesmerizing” high school talent “with tools for days” over “a polished college bat, short and squat and a little slow but with an undeniably sweet stroke.”
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With the 13th pick, the Cardinals selected high schooler Shaun Boyd out of Oceanside, California. Two picks later, after the Baltimore Orioles selected a right-handed pitcher, the Phillies selected another Californian middle infielder, the Pasadena native Utley out of UCLA.
The Riverfront Times describes the Cardinals’ thinking to select Boyd:
"[The Cardinals] had two middle infielders to choose from. One was polished, the other extremely raw. One was a college player, the other just a high school kid. Utley had blossoming power, a sweet, short stroke from the left side of the plate, and an exceptional batting eye. Unfortunately, what Utley didn’t have was the range to play shortstop in the big leagues. The high school kid, while certainly no one’s idea of a polished bat, probably had the range for short, and had plenty of projection left. … The Cardinals made their choice, and they took the raw, toolsy kid."
Thankfully, the Cardinals made the wrong decision, and this is one of the few examples where the Phillies’ draft “cards” were dealt and played to their favor.
Boyd would never make it to the major leagues, playing in parts of high seasons in the minors in which he combined to slash .273/.342/.382 with 136 doubles, 15 triples, 41 home runs, 280 RBI, 131 stolen bases, 269 walks and 448 strikeouts spanning 750 games. Ironically, Boyd finished his MLB pursuit as a member of the Phillies organization in 2007, when he played in combined 31 games between Double-A Reading and Single-A Clearwater.
Boyd’s very last taste of professional baseball was across the bridge in Camden, New Jersey, playing 38 games for the Camden Riversharks in 2008 — the same year Utley and the Phillies won it all for just the second time in franchise history.
We all know how Utley’s career played out. A six-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and 2008 World Series champion to name a few. But, his consistent grind and motivation to always be the best version of himself is the player that Phillies fans fell in love with over the years.
A career that spanned 16 seasons, 13 with the Phillies, almost never happened like it played out, had the Cardinals opted to go with Utley over Boyd.