The 2009 MLB trade deadline wasn’t the first time that the Phillies failed to pull the trigger on a move that would allow them to acquire Roy Halladay. When the team made their selection in the first round of the 1995 MLB Draft, Halladay was on the board. Instead of selecting him, the Phillies went elsewhere.
“They [the Phillies] were basically looking between Reggie Taylor and Roy Halladay,” Todd Zolecki – author of Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay – said on a recent episode of Locked On Phillies. “The Pirates selected before the Phillies, and to make a long story short, the wrong player fell to the Phillies and they took the wrong player. The Blue Jays were just thrilled that Roy Halladay fell down to them. You hear stories like that all the time, where teams want a player…or want a couple players…they might have one player ranked just a little bit higher on the draft board…that player falls to them, they take him and it’s like ‘Whoops, we took a guy that didn’t make much of a contribution at all and sacrificed a Hall of Famer.'”
With the No. 9 pick in the 1995 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected shortstop Chad Hermansen, who would become an outfielder and hit just .195 in six MLB seasons. The insinuation is that if not Hermansen, the Pirates would have selected Taylor, setting off a chain reaction where Taylor wasn’t on the board when the Phillies went on the clock with pick No. 14. The belief is that Taylor was the Phillies first choice of the options available with their selection, and Halladay was the second.
Taylor – a speedy outfielder with some pop – actually was a very good minor league player. Once upon a time, the New York Yankees nearly traded star LHP Andy Pettitte to the Phillies for a package headlined by Taylor. Ultimately, the Yankees elected not to make the deal, and Taylor made his major league debut with the Phillies in 2000. However, injuries derailed his career and he ultimately played in only 14 total games for the Phillies between the 2000 and 2001 seasons, before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for reliever Hector Mercado just prior to the 2002 season.
Halladay, meanwhile, became arguably the greatest player in the history of the Blue Jays organization, winning the 2002 American League Cy Young Award and making six All-Star teams in 12 seasons north of the border.
That said, two seasons prior to winning the American League Cy Young Award, Halladay bottomed out, posting a 10.64 ERA in 19 games, 13 of which were starts. Not only did Halladay need to change his plan of attack, but he needed to regroup mentally after being shattered by the 2000 season.
In his book, Zolecki goes into detail about how Halladay’s wife Brady stumbling onto the book “The Mental ABCs of Pitching” by Harvey Dorfman changed his life, and ultimately launched a tremendous friendship with the author. Queen, a pitching instructor in the Blue Jays organization, came out of retirement and helped Halladay to change his delivery to the side-armed one that he became synonymous with.
So if Halladay had been drafted by the Phillies, Zolecki isn’t sure things would have played out the same way.
“What’s interesting about that – and I mentioned this to somebody the other day – is say the Phillies do draft him…he still has those pitching mechanics…and he still has those confidence, anxiety and self-doubt issues that he had early in his career in Toronto. But in Toronto, he met Mel Queen and because of the Toronto connection with Harvey Dorfman he met him. [If he was drafted by the Phillies] Maybe he doesn’t get his mechanics fixed…maybe he doesn’t mean Harvey Dorfman…and maybe Roy Halladay ends up having a completely different career. So, you never know how it’s going to work out.”
Todd Zolecki’s tremendous book “Doc: The Life of Roy Halladay” is available on all e-readers and can be purchased in hard copy here.
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