This is a follow-up on something mentioned in passing when I was writing about the Touki Tossaint trade: I noted that no high-school pitcher chosen with the 16th pick like Toussaint, had ever become an "ace", or even had a career worth 10 WAR. It was pointed out, and it is fair criticism, that this was a narrow selection, and just one pick away, you could find the likes of Roy Halladay, who certainly were successful. So, I decided to dig into things a little further. Hey, it's an off-day and I couldn't find anything that grabbed me on Netflix. :)
Below, is a table listing all the high-school pitchers chosen between 1981-2005 from the 11th to the 20th round of the draft, all figures inclusive. Why 2005? Because that gives the pitcher at least five years to develop in the minors and then five more years of production in the majors, which should be enough to get a decent idea of success. Why 1981? Because I wanted a decent sample size: I started in 2005 and went back, deciding I would only stop when I had found fifty qualifying pitchers. Going back to 1981 gave me a total of 52, representing 20.8% of the 250 players chosen in that time. It was also a convenient quarter-century!
[The table columns are sortable, so you can click on the headers to order by a specific set of data. Re-click to sort it in the reverse direction.]
|2001||16||White Sox||Kris Honel||RHP|
|1999||15||White Sox||Jason Stumm||RHP|
|1997||17||Red Sox||John Curtice||LHP|
|1996||12||White Sox||Bobby Seay||LHP||3.2||261||11||6||4.16||1.37||1|
|1995||15||Red Sox||Andrew Yount||RHP|
|1995||17||Blue Jays||Roy Halladay||RHP||64.6||416||203||105||3.38||1.18||1|
|1993||15||Blue Jays||Chris Carpenter||RHP||34.5||350||144||94||3.76||1.28||0|
|1990||14||Athletics||Todd Van Poppel||RHP||-0.2||359||40||52||5.58||1.55||4|
|1984||20||White Sox||Tony Menendez||RHP||-0.3||23||3||1||4.97||1.21|
|1983||13||White Sox||Joel Davis||RHP||0.6||49||8||14||4.91||1.51||0|
|1982||18||Red Sox||Bob Parkins||RHP|
I'm not going to analyze these in much detail, I just wanted to throw a larger set of data out there: read into it, as you will! Because, from the above, we can safely conclude that... Well, we can safely conclude that we cannot predict with any degree of certainly how Touki Toussaint will perform. There is everything here from potential Hall of Famers through to total burnouts. And the line can be razor-thin: In 1995, with the sixteenth pick, the Giants picked Joe Fontenot, who went 0-7 in the majors: no starter in the modern era has lost more games without a win. With the very next selection, the Blue Jays chose Halladay, who worked out kinda well. But, in general terms?
- Total WAR: 294.7, an average of 5.7 per player. Some are still playing, so this may increase a bit.
- The distribution is heavily skewed. just four pitchers (Halladay, Sabathia, Hamels and Carpenter) are responsible for 198.5 WAR, more than two-thirds of the overall total.
- Though it is worth noting, a good chunk of that was obtained after the players concerned reached free agency, not for the club who drafted them.
- The others, representing 92% of qualifying picks, averaged two WAR.
- 46% never played in the major-leagues at all.
- A further 17% were at or below replacement level.
- 23% had careers worth between zero and ten WAR.
- 15% were over ten WAR.
The phrase "lottery ticket" gets thrown around a lot in this context, but it's by no means inaccurate. Based on the results here, there is roughly a two in three chance a high-school pitcher chosen in round 11-20 will have a career worth 1.5 WAR or less. Beyond that, the returns certainly can be massive, but the odds unquestionably become thinner, the higher you go.