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1968 Dodger Draft – Best Ever

Understandably, many of the younger LA Dodger fans continually brag about the great 2016 draft, being the best draft in LAD history.  There is no doubt that it was a great draft, the best in the Andrew Friedman Era (by far).  But no, it is not the standard bearer for Dodger drafts.  The 1968 drafts were far and away the best in LAD history, and most likely the best draft in MLB history.

I say 1968 drafts, because in 1968 (and many subsequent years), there were four drafts: a January and June regular draft, and a secondary phase for both.  The January draft was for players who had graduated from school after the June draft, which was timed to coincide with the most common graduation date for high schools and colleges.  In the “secondary phase”, teams could draft players who had previously been drafted but had not signed, mainly because they had wanted to continue their studies.

While top draftees from January or from the secondary phase did sometimes become impact players in the majors, it was clear that the regular June draft was where the best future prospects could be found. The January draft was discontinued in 1987, as was the secondary phase, and since then there has been a single draft covering all eligible players.

For 1968, 101 players were drafted by the Dodgers:

  • January Regular – 10
  • January Secondary – 13
  • June Regular – 71
  • June Secondary – 7

1968 Los Angeles Drafts and the 11 players that went on to have MLB careers.

January Secondary Phase (2):

  • Dave Lopes – 2nd Round – Washburn University
  • Geoff Zahn – 5th Round – University of Michigan

June Regular – (6):

  • Bobby Valentine – 1st Round (5th overall) – Rippowam High School, Stamford Connecticut (Pictured)
  • Bill Buckner – 2nd Round – Napa High School, Napa, California
  • Tom Paciorek – 5th Round – University of Houston
  • Joe Ferguson – 8th Round – University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA)
  • Doyle Alexander – 9th Round – Woodlawn HS, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Bob Gallagher – 17 Round – Stanford University

June Secondary Phase (3)

  • Steve Garvey – 1st Round – Michigan State University
  • Sandy Vance – 2nd Round – Stanford University
  • Ron Cey – 3rd Round – Washington State

9 of the 11 players identified above, did not just have MLB careers, but were prolific MLB players.

  • Bill Buckner – 22 years – LAD 8 years
  • Steve Garvey – 19 years – LAD 14 years
  • Doyle Alexander – 19 years – LAD 1 year
  • Tom Paciorek – 18 years – LAD 6 years
  • Dave Lopes – 16 years – LAD 10 years
  • Joe Ferguson – 14 years – LAD 11 years
  • Geoff Zahn – 13 years – LAD 3 years
  • Bobby Valentine – 10 years – LAD 3 years

Sandy Vance played parts of two years in MLB, both with the Dodgers.  Bob Gallagher played 4 years in MLB, and none for LAD.  He was selected by Boston in the 1971 Rule 5 draft.

6 of the 9 combined for 23 All Stars:

  • Steve Garvey – 10
  • Ron Cey – 6
  • Dave Lopes – 4
  • Bill Buckner – 1
  • Tom Paciorek – 1
  • Doyle Alexander – 1

There was a NL MVP (Garvey), a WS MVP (Cey), 2X NLCS MVP (Garvey), and 2X All Star MVP (Garvey).  There were 5 GG: Garvey – 4 and Lopes – 1.  One won a batting title: Buckner.

Bobby Valentine – 1,909 PA – .260/.315/.326/.641 – 12 HR, 157 RBI, 134 K, 140 BB


Valentine was considered the jewel of the draft for the Dodgers.  He was all state in three sports: football, baseball, and track at Rippowam High School in Stamford, Connecticut.  He was a highly recruited athlete in both football and baseball, and chose USC over Nebraska and Notre Dame (obviously he was smart as well .  Like Mookie, he was a star at everything he did.  Mookie has bowling; Valentine was a champion ballroom dancer.  He was also Student Council President.

He became a super utility player for the Dodgers, and after the 1972 season, he was traded to the Angels with Frank Robinson, Billy Grabarkewitz, Bill Singer, Michael Strahler, for Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen.

He got off to a fast start in his first year with the Angels.  Unfortunately in May 1973, he suffered a multiple compound leg fracture, and was never the same.  His numbers would have been much better if he didn’t sustain the injury.


Bill Buckner – 10,037 PA – .289/.321/.408/.729 – 174 HR, 1,208 RBI, 1,528 K, 978 BB


Buckner was also a star high school football player and baseball player.  He was recruited by Stanford and USC, but chose professional baseball.  He did attend USC, and his roommate at USC was Bobby Valentine.

He was once a speedy OF, but after two ankle surgeries in 1975 and 1976 he was never the same.  He walked with a limp for most of his career.

On January 11, 1977, Buckner was traded with Jeff Albert (MiLB) and Ivan De Jesus to Chicago Cubs for Mike Garman and Rick Monday.

Buckner won the 1980 NL Batting Crown with the Cubs.  But he will always be remembered for his misplay in the 1986 World Series against the NYM.  In the top of the 10th, the Red Sox took a two run lead.  Inexplicably, manager John McNamara chose to keep Buckner in at 1B instead of Dave Stapleton, who replaced Buckner defensively in three previous WS games.  The Mets tied the score in the bottom of the 10th.  On a Mookie Wilson slow roller to 1B, the ball rolled to the left of Buckner’s glove and between his legs for an error.  Ray Knight was at 2B when Wilson came to the plate, and scored the winning run on the error.  Buckner received death threats because of that play.

In 1990, Buckner signed with Boston as a free agent, and in full circle, he was given a standing ovation during player introductions in Boston’s home opener.


Steve Garvey – 9,466 PA – .294/.329/.446/.775 – 272 HR, 1,308 RBI, 1,003 K, 479 BB


Garvey was another star high school football player and baseball player in Tampa, FL.  He did go on to play college football and baseball at Michigan State University.  He played defensive back for the legendary Duffy Daugherty.  In his first AB at Michigan State, he hit a long grand slam HR.

Garvey was a 10 time All Star.  He was in 5 World Series (4 with LAD and 1 with SDP).  He was a true clutch performer in the postseason.  In 232 PA, he batted, .338/.361/.550/.910.  He had 11 HRs (10 as a Dodger) and 31 RBIs.

As Bear indicated, Garvey was a 3B, and the fans in the stands behind 1B were always in grave danger.  The Dodgers loved his bat so they decided to hide him at 1B.  He went on to become a tremendous defensive 1B with 4 GG, all with LAD.

Garvey is #6 on all-time Dodger HR list with 211.

After 1982, Garvey was granted free agency, and signed with San Diego.


Ron Cey – 8,344 PA – .261/.354/.445/.799 – 316 HR, 1,139 RBI, 1,235 K, 1,012 BB


Cey was a multi-sport star at Mount Tahoma High School, earning 9 varsity letters.  He played baseball two years at Washington State, before being drafted by the Dodgers.  He was a 6 time All Star, 1974-1979.  He was named on MVP ballots for 5 years, but the best he was able to achieve was 8th in 1977.  He hit 20+ HRs in 10 of 11 years.  The only year he did not reach 20 was the short season in 1981.  In 1977, Cey hit 30 HR and 110 RBI.

In the 1981 WS, Cey was named co-MVP with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager.  He was beaned in Game 5 by Goose Gossage, and returned for Game 6 and went 2-3.

Cey is #5 on all-time Dodger HR list with 228.

On January 19, 1983, Cey was traded to the Cubs for Dan Cataline (MiLB) and Vance Lovelace.


Dave Lopes – 7,340 PA – .263/.349/.388/.737 – 155 HR, 614 RBI, 852 K, 833 BB, 557 SB


Lopes was a true Dodger.  He was drafted by the Giants in 1967 in the 8th round, but did not sign.  Lopes’ ticket was his speed.  He led MLB with 77 SB in 1975 and led NL with 63 in 1976.  His 557 SB ranked #26.  His SB% was 83.01%, ranking 3rd best all time for players with at least 400 SB.  In 1975, he set a ML record with 38 consecutive SB, a record that was eventually broken by Vince Coleman in 1989.

Lopes is 2nd on the Dodgers all time SB leaders with 418, only behind Maury Wills’ 490.

On February 8, 1982, Lopes was traded to Oakland for Lance Hudson (MiLB).

Lopes, Cey, and Garvey made up ¾ of the infield that stayed together for 8 ½ years, and they were all drafted in 1968.


Joe Ferguson – 3,634 PA – .240/.358/.409/.767 – 122 HR, 445 RBI, 607 K, 641 BB


Ferguson was a 2 sport star at The University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA.  In basketball, he played on the NCAA West Regional Final, losing to Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) and UCLA in 1967.

He split time behind the dish with Steve Yeager, and because of his cannon for an arm, he played RF against LHP.  He showed off his arm in Game 1 of the 1974 WS.  Oakland took a 3-1 lead in the top of the 8th on an unearned run, and Sal Bando moved to 3B with one out.  Reggie Jackson hit a fly ball into right-center field, and Ferguson cut in front of Jimmy Wynn to make the catch, and then threw a 300 foot strike to Yeager to cut down Bando at the plate.  The Dodgers got close in the 9th, but lost Game 1, 3-2.

The Dodgers won Game 2 thanks to a 2-run HR by Ferguson in the 6th inning against Vida Blue.  That was the only game the Dodgers would win in the 1974 WS.

On June 25, 1976, Ferguson was traded with Freddie Tisdale (MiLB) and Bob Detherage to St. Louis for Reggie Smith.


Tom Paciorek (aka Wimpy) – 4,465 PA – .282/.325/.415/.741 – 86 HR, 503 RBI, 704 K, 245 BB


Paciorek was also a 2-sport college star at the University of Houston.  He was a defensive back, good enough to be a 9th round pick by Miami Dolphins. He was an All-Tournament player in the 1967 College World Series.  Houston was the runner-up to Arizona State.  He was a MiLB superstar as he won 1972 Sporting News MiLB Player of the Year with Albuquerque Dukes.

On November 17, 1975, Paciorek was traded with Lee Lacy, Jerry Royster, and Jim Wynn to Atlanta for Ed Goodson and Dusty Baker.


Geoff Zahn – 304 G, 1,849 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.354 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 705 K, 526 BB, 149 HR


The Dodgers were the 4th team to draft Zahn.

  • 06-07-66 – White Sox (34th round)
  • 01-28-67 – Red Sox (5th round)
  • 06-06-67 – Tigers (2nd round)
  • 01-27-68 – Dodgers (5th round)

Zahn won 18 games in 1982 for the Angels, earning Sporting News AL All Star Team LHP.

On May 2, 1975, Zahn was traded with Eddie Solomon for Burt Hooten.


Doyle Alexander – 561 G, 3,376 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, 3.95 FIP, 1,528 K, 978 BB, 324 HR


Lasted one year with LAD before being traded with Bob O’Brien, Sergio Robles, Royle Stillman to Baltimore for Pete Richert and Frank Robinson.

Alexander was later traded in one of the more memorable deals for both teams. On August 12, 1987, Alexander was traded by Atlanta to Detroit for John Smoltz.  Smoltz went on to a HOF career with the Braves, but Alexander did what he was acquired to do.  He started 11 games for the Tigers in a pennant race, going 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA.

The Others:

Sandy Vance – 30 G, 141 IP, 3.83 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, 3.73 FIP, 56 K, 46 BB, 10 HRs

Vance was another 4 team draftee:

  • 06-08-65 – Angels (2nd round)
  • 06-06-67 – White Sox (2nd round)
  • 01-27-68 – Houston (2nd round)
  • 06-07-68 – Dodgers (2nd round)

He retired after 6 years in the Dodgers organization.


Bob Gallagher – 276 PA, .220/.266/.275/.541 – 2 HR, 13 RBI, 56 K, 16 BB

Gallagher was selected by Boston in the 1971 Rule 5 draft.  He never played a game for the Dodgers.


Not only did most of this draft class have productive careers with the Dodgers, many were later traded in packages that brought back other productive Dodgers.

  • Doyle Alexander in a trade to return Frank Robinson
  • Bobby Valentine in a trade to return Andy Messersmith
  • Geoff Zahn in a trade to return Burt Hooten
  • Tom Paciorek in a trade to return Dusty Baker
  • Joe Ferguson in a trade to return Reggie Smith
  • Bill Buckner in a trade to return Rick Monday

The 1968 drafts were absolutely the Mount Everest of MLB drafts.  It is the draft that all other drafts are measured against.

I will be comparing the 2016 draft tomorrow or the next day.

Everything sounds better with Vin Scully.



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1968 draft. Means something different to me. In 1968 296,406 were drafted. I was in country by that time. Had I not joined I would’ve been playing baseball somewhere. 2 of my teammates in high school were at USC.I don’t think I was SC material. But then, those guys weren’t Marine material. I guess it all unfolds as it must.


Buckner was my favorite out of that group. I loved how he played the outfield and I thought he was the best natural hitter in that group. If he wasn’t injured I think he would have put up better numbers than any of them.


I remember being in the left field pavilion during a game, and he made an error in left. Some guys in the pavilion, probably full of beer and vinegar, started chanting, you suck Buck. He merely put his left arm behind his back and flipped them the bird. Classic.


I think Buckner was the best athlete of that group. He was an All State wide receiver at Napa and as Jeff pointed out was recruited by several schools. He hit .300 twice before he was 25 (.300 used to mean something back then) and was racing all over the outfield running down fly balls. I enjoyed watching him play baseball as you could tell he loved doing it. His ankle injury at age 25, before his prime years, really slowed him down.

As a side note I played MABL in Napa into my 50’s and there were several guys in that league who knew him back in the 60s. I heard many stories of his exploits as a young athlete. He was definitely a legend in Napa Valley.


I always viewed him as the poster boy for warning track power. Other than that he was a guy I wanted on any team I would root for.


I remember that draft well. I was back from Korea in 1968 and like a nimnal, I got married that year. I also turned 20. Ferguson was later traded back to the Dodgers by the Astros for Rafael Landestoy and Jeff one wing down, Leonard. He had been sent to the Stros for Larry Dierker by the Cardinals. I also remember going to a game, it would have to be in 75 I think, in which Buckner, Mike Marshall and Paciorek, all went down with injuries. If I remember right, that was when Buckner’s ankle was first injured. Not as bad as Tommy Davis’s broken ankle in 65, but pretty bad.


That Valentine trade was a doozy. A little before my time. I miss those types of trades. Multiple major league pieces.


They really wanted Messersmith. Alston wanted Frank Robinson gone.


Mets spend another $50MM. Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo will look good in the first spots in the Mets lineup.

A 12th-round Draft pick who golfed competitively in high school before shifting his focus to baseball in college, McNeil never ranked among the Mets’ top prospects, as he battled injuries throughout his Minor League career. He did not break into the Majors until he was 26 years old, but he quickly established himself as a premier hitter, batting .329 as a rookie — his first of three consecutive seasons above .300. He endured a down year in 2021 but bounced back to secure the batting title on the penultimate day of the 2022 season, largely by rediscovering the mechanics that have always made him a throwback.


I am trying to make peace with Muncy, or Busch, or Vargas playing second base for the Dodgers and there is one player that keeps popping into my head — Daniel Murphy. He is considered the Mets #2 all time best second baseman and he could not field a lick.

2. Daniel Murphy, 2008-15
Key fact: Six straight postseason games with a home run is a Major League record.

A steady offensive contributor throughout the early 2010s, Murphy never quite blossomed as a star in part because of his defensive limitations — he was not a natural second baseman, but found himself forced there due to circumstance, and twice shredded knee ligaments as he learned the position — and in part because of his lack of power.

But Murphy could flat-out rake. One of the better pure hitters to wear a Mets uniform, Murphy batted .288 during his tenure in New York, dipping below .280 just once — and that in his first full season.

It’s a solid resume. Of course, the reason why Murphy ascends to No. 2 on this list is what he did in the 2015 postseason, homering in six consecutive games against the likes of Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw (the Nos. 1-3 finishers in National League Cy Young Award voting that year) and others.

“Pretty much,” Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said that month, “he’s the best hitter in the game in October.”

At the time, it seemed like a Ruthian hot streak; what few realized was how fully Murphy had transformed his swing en route to becoming one of the most prominent members of what would turn into baseball’s “launch-angle revolution.”

When the Mets showed no interest in re-signing him after 2015, Murphy went on to deliver the two best individual seasons of his career in Washington, including his two highest home run totals by a significant margin.

Singing the Blue

The one difference between Murphy’s time and today is the NL’s adopting the DH. That’s an extra spot to put a guy like that (or maybe Busch) so that you can keep him in the lineup without totally killing your defense.

From what I’ve read, Busch is probably (or will probably become) a better second baseman than Murphy, but it’s still nice to have that DH spot available.


I find it interesting that people refer to Kent as a defensive liability. He has a career fielding % of .980. Joe Morgan had a career fielding % of .981. Roberto Alomar at .984. Bill Mazeroski at .983. Jackie Robinson at .983 as a 2B. Sounds to me like he was a more than adequate second baseman.


He was good when the ball was hit right to him.

Singing the Blue

If he wasn’t such a curmudgeon he’d be in the HOF. Writers hold grudges just like a lot of other human beings.

If he had Mookie’s or Kersh’s personality, I bet they would have overlooked his defense and voted him in.

I’m far too lazy to do it, but maybe one of you guys would like to check to see if any other HOF’s have a UZR of -30 or more. I bet you’ll find some.

Last edited 1 year ago by Singing the Blue

Mama always said. “Play Nice”.


I don’t recall his defense being bad when he was an All Star. I checked and from age 26 through 34 he had a +dWAR 8 out of 9 years. His last 4 years sucked, close to a -4. But he was pushing 40. Maybe those 4 years gives the writers an excuse.


Pudge and Papi got in because they played nice with the writers. Neither should be in the HOF.
The writers are like the umpires. They get it wrong and there is no accountability.

Last edited 1 year ago by OhioDodger

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