Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grading Teams Number One Draft Picks: The National League

Let's continue seeing how teams fared on their recent number one draft picks with the Senior Circuit up now.

Atlanta Braves
The Braves had some decent picks with Adam Wainwright, Jeff Francouer, Jason Marquis and Kelly Johnson—although Wainwright did his winning with the Cardinals. 2005 first round pick Joey Devine had a breakout year, however, with the Oakland A's. Despite the nice picks, however, the Braves had no really game-changing picks—no Sports Illustrated cover-type—not since Chipper Jones in 1990. They Braves think that may have changed with 2007 number 1 pick, Jason Heyward, who, although possibly starting in Atlanta this year, won't turn 21 until August.

Florida Marlins
The Marlins have not had the success their cross-state enemies have had, although they have had some. Josh Beckett is a certified ace, now for Boston, and Adrian Gonzalez is a monster in San Diego. Their more recent pitching picks have been a mixed bag to put it mildly. Taylor Tankersley, Chris Volstad, Sean West and Ryan Tucker have been underwhelming so far—though it's too early to call any of them full-fledged "busts." Chris Coghlan, though was a fantastic pick in the 2006 draft.

New York Mets
The New York Mets can hang their hat on the 2001 supplemental pick of David Wright. Aside from that, not so much. Mike Pelfrey is a work in progress. Phil Humber (taken ahead of Jered Weaver) and Lastings Milledge (taken ahead of Aaron Hill) played their way out of New York, as has Aaron Heilman. Number 1 overall pick, Paul Wilson was a colossal bust.

Philadelphia Phillies
Despite not having the number of picks some other teams have, the Phillies have done pretty well for themselves in the first round. Chase Utley, J.D. Drew (although he did not sign), Brett Myers and Cole Hamels were good picks although Gavin Floyd taken one pick ahead of Mark Teixeira has to be considered somewhat of a disappointment. Kyle Drabeck, since traded, is on his way to becoming another good pick.

Washington Nationals
Considering the sheer volume of picks the Expos/Nationals have had, the have to be considered a disappointing draft team. John Patterson and Chad Codero were hits, and Ryan Zimmerman is a quality guy you can build a team around. Michael Barrett is a decent selection, but considering the national had 19 picks between 1995 and 2005, including 8 in the 1997 draft (not one of them a hit) and they only hit on 4 of them, that is a not good at all. The future rests now on Steven Strasberg's shoulder.

Chicago Cubs
From 1995 to 2001 the Cubs had some nice selections with Kerry Wood, Jon Garland and Mark Prior. The batting side only yielded Corey Patterson, taken far too early at pick 3 for his future production. Since 2001, however, the Cubs number 1 picks have produced exactly buptkus. Only 2006 pick Tyler Colvin, who earned 17 AB and a .176 batting average is to show for all the money put into the Cubs number draft picks. Obviously better scouting is needed.

Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have not had much luck with their pitching selections. 7th pick in the 2004 pick, Homer Bailey has been somewhat of a disappointment so far. 14th pick in the 2003 draft, Ryan Wagner hasn't set the world on fire either. Dustin Mosely, Ty Howington and Jeremy Sowers were misses. Number 3 pick overall in the 2002 draft, Chris Gruler, taken 1136 picks picks ahead of Mark Buehrle, was a total flop.

Houston Astros
Lance Berkman and Brad Lidge. That's it. Everyone the Astros have touched since 1995, aside from those 2, has had the reverse Midas touch. Instead of gold, they became MLB busts. Only Chris Burke (lifetime batting average of .239) is worthy of mention. The Astros need to rethink their draft approach as they are a team bankrupt of much help via the top round of the draft.

Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have hit some home runs with their picks in the past 10 years. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Matt LaPorta all have done well or shown potential. Ben Sheets was a nice pick as well. Geoff Jenkins has been a solid major leaguer since 1995. 1996 number 8 pick Chad Green was the worst pick of late, taken ahead of a number of contributing major leaguers, but overall the Brewers have been doing very well with their first round picks.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Like the Houston Astros, there is a reason the Pirates are at the bottom of their division. Poor drafting. Since 1995, Kris Benson, Paul Maholm and Sean Burnett are all that's to show for their efforts, despite being near the top of the draft year after year (passing on guys such as Chad Billingsley, Jered Weaver and Huston Street in the process). The Pirates had the number 1 pick in 2002 and drafted Bryan Bullington ahead of Prince Fielder, Zach Grienke and Scott Kazmir. Of late, the Pirates have made noises about cleaning up their front office, devoting more money to scouting and player development, some of the fruit of that being Andrew McCutchen, who played well in his rookie season.

St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinal's philosophy is not so much in player development as it is in acquiring ready-to-play big league talent. Notwithstanding, they've had some success in drafting Matt Morris, J.D. Drew, Adam Kennedy, Chris Perez and Colby Ramus. That said, they struck out on a lot of players, especially in the 1999-2000 draft, where they had five picks in the first round and missed on all of them. The Cardinals best pick of late might have been 2008 13th pick overall Brett Wallace, who was traded to the A's for Matt Holliday.

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks hit some nice picks in the early part of the 2000s with Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton and Max Scherezer. Yet for their success, they haven't picked an Evan Longoria or Troy Tulowiski franchise-defining type player (although Upton can eventually become that kind of player). The majority of their success has come from Randy Johnson, Dan Haren, Luis Gonzalez and Curt Schilling types, players taken from other teams, although with Justin Upton, Max Scherzer and minor leaguer Jarrod Parker, the D-Backs hope to start growing their own players into franchise studs.

Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have had a number on early picks in the draft and have made some good selections with them. Todd Helton was the 8th pick in 1995, and Troy Tulowitzki, the number 7 pick in the 2005 draft were rocks for the Rockies. Jeff Francis, a number 9 selection in the 2002 draft was a decent pitcher for the Rockies before he got injured. Aside from them, Jake Westbrook was a pretty good pitcher in the majors. There were definitely some misses. Matt Harrington, Chris Nelson, and Mark Magnum were bad selections with better players still available.

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have a reputation for good drafting and player development, and to some point that is true. Paul Konerko, Clayton Kershaw and James Loney were all good 1st round selections by the Dodgers in the past 15 years. Blake Dewitt has some promise still. Scott Elbert, the 17th in the 2004 draft, and Ben Diggins, the 17th pick in the 2000 draft were big misses, especially considering Phil Hughes and Adam Wainwright were passed over in each draft respectively.

San Diego Padres
Along with the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals, the Padres are one of the worst teams draft-wise, considering how many picks they have had the past 15 years. From 1995 to 2005, the Padres have had 17 number 1 picks, and what do they have to show for it—Khalil Green, Sean Burroughs and Ben Davis. They've totally botched picks on guys like Casey Burns, Omar Ortiz, Gerik Baxter, Vince Faison, Mark Phillips and Jake Gautreau (all 1999-2000 picks), especially when you consider Phillips was taken 4 rounds before Cliff Lee. Highly touted selections Tim Stauffer, Matthew Bush and Matt Anotelli have either failed or have yet to produce much of anything.

San Francisco Giants
Like the Cardinals, for years the Giants were more focused on acquiring major-league veterans rather than paying much attention to their farm system. However, they have had some success with Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, David Aardsma, Madison Bumgarner and of course, Tim Lincecum. The hitting side has been far less successful, as the Giants have not had a position player drafted in the first round succeed (not just a cup of coffee, but really contribute) since Matt Williams, drafted in 1988. That needs to change, since Barry Bonds is gone and they need some hitting to help out their above average starting pitching.

For overall success in the first round, you gotta give the Milwaukee Brewers the gold cup in the NL. They’ve build a nucleus, and had Ben Sheets not gone injury-crazy, they’ve had had an ace. Their 1st round good drafting seems to be continuing with Brett Lawrie, Jeremy Jeffress and the finally healthy Mark Rodgers.

Overall, drafting in the first round of the MLB is truly difficult. Great scouting can help, but a lot of luck is needed. Sure, you might be able to draft a Brian Taylor, reportedly one of the most talented pitching prospects, but then he goes out and blows his shoulder out in a bar fight.

Or you might draft Josh Hamilton, a freakishly talented Superman-looking athlete who can crush balls and fly around in the outfield. But then Hamilton can’t handle the lifestyle change and succumbs to the dark side of fame and fortune.

Or you might take a flamethrower in the first round who does well in minor league ball and finds some success. But then the big club might rush the kid, who then fails embarrassingly miserably and loses his confidence. Then when he gets sent back down, he carries the humiliation and lack of confidence with him and starts to flame out, like the Mets did with Eddie Kunz.

Or you might draft Adam Jones with the last pick of the first round out of high school and he might make the majors by 20 and the All-Star game by 23.

Point is, the odds are against the clubs picking a Derek Jeter, Zach Grienke or Ryan Braun. Many, many many more prospects either utterly fail, or become lesser-than-good ball players. There are many more Joe Fontenots than Roy Halladays.

See you at the 2010 MLB draft Jun 7-9, 2010.

1 comment:

Pete S said...

This is one of the reasons why the Mets will continue to get worse. Their scouting is inept.