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Building a Champion: Mark Buehrle

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Mark Buehrle was part of the same draft class as Aaron Rowand and Kip Wells. He was just selected 37 rounds later than those two.

The reason I profiled Jon Garland before Buehrle is the same reason he was selected in the 38th round. -- Buehrle was a Draft-and-Follow pick. Junior College players selected in the later rounds are often selected as this type of pick. They can enroll in school and play for their JuCo team all while the club that drafted them still has their rights. The drafting club has until a week before the next draft to sign the player. -- Buehrle went on to post an undefeated season at Jefferson Junior College in Missouri, and the Sox offered him a signing bonus similar to that of a 3rd to 5th round pick just before the 1999 draft.

Upon signing, Buehrle was immediately sent to the Sox Low-A club in Burlington, Iowa. There he demonstrated excellent control, walking just 16 batters in almost 100IP. The following season, the Sox skipped him a level to AA Birmingham, where he also demonstrated excellent control, walking just 17 in about 120IP on his way to a sub 1 WHIP and sub-2.5 ERA.

By July of 2000, Buehrle had thrown just 30 starts in the minor leagues for a total of 217 innings, but he would not throw another inning in the minors for the rest of his Sox career. He made his first start (a win) on my 21st birthday against the Twinkies in the metrodome. He threw mostly out of the bullpen in the 2000 season, however.

In 2001, Buehrle became the staff ace. The boy who was drafted in the 38th round, who didn't appear on any top prospect lists, took the AL by storm to the tune of 16 wins and 3.29ERA.

This season Mark may have topped his '01 and '02 campaigns. He was named the AL All-Star starting pitcher, getting the win, and became the first pitcher since Catfish Hunter to start a World Series game then save the next game.

After 2003, Buehrle signed a long-term contract with the sox. The deal locked him up through the '06 season, with an option for '07. -- If I was the Sox, I would look to offer him an extension following the '06 season.

2005 Highlights: Opening Day |1:39 Game | All-Star Game

2005 Post Season Highlights: Complete Game ALCS | World Series Save