We previously looked at players who were picked seventh in the June draft, and concluded as follows: “Roughly, one quarter won’t reach the majors; another quarter will be replacement level or worse; a third quarter will have between 0-10 bWAR. There’s only about a 20% chance, your selected player will be worth more than ten bWAR.” But what are the odds of finding a diamond(back) in the rough, at the other picks Arizona has in the top 100? Unsurprisingly, pickings over the past decades have been thinner. But there have still been some good players to come out of those slots.
The #44 pick
|2014||White Sox||Spencer Adams||RHP|
|2006||Red Sox||Caleb Clay||RHP|
|1996||Blue Jays||Brent Abernathy||SS||0.0|
|1990||White Sox||Bob Wickman||RHP||17.2|
|1984||Royals||Luis de los Santos||3B||-0.8|
|1978||White Sox||Benjamin Belue||OF|
|1976||Orioles||Jerry Don Gleaton||LHP||2.3|
|1974||Red Sox||Jimmy Schankle||C|
|1966||Red Sox||Richard Hoban||LHP|
[As in all the tables, players who did not sign that year are shown in italics, and their bWAR is not included in the overall total In the breakdown, we exclude the 2015 and 2016 picks as too recent; this also gives us a nice, round 50 picks with which to work]
- More than 10 bWAR: 6%
- 0-10 bWAR: 20%
- Below replacement level: 20%
- Did not make majors or did not sign: 54%
While the numbers reaching the majors below replacement and up to 10 bWAR are not dissimilar to those we saw with the seventh pick, we see a much greater chance of a #44 never reaching the majors at all, and sharply decreased odds of them being worth more than ten wins. Of the overall tally, almost half is due to a single player: Joey Votto, who was drafted 44th by the Reds in 2002. I hadn’t realised he was originally picked as a catcher - he never played there in the majors, and only seven times in the minor-leagues.
Obviously, getting a player like Votto at #44 would be hitting the jackpot for Arizona. But there have been other decent selections: All-Star Jon Lieber, a twenty-game winner for the Cubs in 2001, and Bob Wickman, who led the American League in saves for the 2005 season. Michael Fulmer, originally a Met, but dealt to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cepedes trade, is clearly the best of the recent picks. Last season’s AL Rookie of the Year will likely join that trio in the 10+ WAR club soon: the 24-year-old is 17-10 in his career, with a 3.04 ERA.
The #68 pick
|2009||Blue Jays||Jake Eliopoulos||LHP|
|2003||Devil Rays||Andrew Miller||LHP||7.0|
|1984||Red Sox||Brock Knight||RHP|
|1982||White Sox||Ken Williams||OF||-0.1|
|1974||Red Sox||Ronny Patrick||LHP|
- More than 10 bWAR: 8%
- 0-10 bWAR: 14%
- Below replacement level: 10%
- Did not make majors or did not sign: 68%
Surprisingly, the total bWAR out of the 68th pick is fractionally higher than that produced by the 44th pick. This is due to the higher number of “stars” out of the lower slot. The margin seems likely to grow, with John Lackey and Jason Vargas still actively accumulating value, and Drew Smyly likely to join them in the category when he returns from the DL, likely later this month. #68 has also given us the “best reliever in baseball”, Andrew Miller, another man almost certain to be worth 10+ WAR before his career has finished. There’s be no complaints about the wheel o’ prospects stopping on anyone similar for us next week.
A little lower, we also see the only previous time the D-backs had one of these picks, selecting catcher Chris Snyder here in 2002. That didn’t work out too badly. But the harsh truth is, success at this point is a good deal less likely than failure, with more than two-thirds of the players chosen, never making it to the majors for the team that drafted them. Finally, let’s pause to acknowledge the awesomeness of Tuffy Rhodes. He hit three homers off Dwight Gooden on Opening Day 1994 and still had a below replacement career in MLB. But he then went to Japan, where he infamously tied Sadaharu Oh’s NPB record with 55 homers in 2001.
The #82 pick
|2003||White Sox||Clint King||OF|
|2000||White Sox||Mike Morse||SS||4.0|
|1988||Blue Jays||David Weathers||RHP||10.9|
|1982||Blue Jays||Chris Johnston||1B|
|1981||Blue Jays||Scott Pleis||C|
- More than 10 bWAR: 4%
- 0-10 bWAR: 14%
- Below replacement level: 18%
- Did not make majors or did not sign: 64%
The overall value here is about half of the other two picks. The percentage of picks who never reach MLB level is similar, but there are only a couple of good players who have been found here, and a sharp increase in the number who were below replacement level. Even recently, with improved scouting, there hasn’t been much to shout about, with just two players after 2000 reaching even a single WAR. Kyle Seager is easily the most valuable man to have been picked at this spot, and has produced more WAR thus far, than 80 of the 81 who were picked ahead of him. [The other’s some guy called Mike Trout]
The other is Paco Rodriguez, who reached the majors at 21, and posted a 2.53 ERA over 124 appearances for Los Angeles, before his career was cut short by injury. He was last heard of this spring, getting cut by the Braves, and may be done. Note that the figures above exclude the output of former Diamondbacks’ farm manager Phil Nevin. He was almost a Dodger, but didn’t sign with them after they drafted him out of high school here in 1999. Three years later, he was the overall #1 pick, but never quite lived up to that potential either.