I have tried, real hard, in the past to care about the MLB draft. I have read all the expert analysis in the past and tried to decide who I thought the Rockies should draft. I have read all the post event analysis and one expert will say the Rockies had a good draft and another will say they didn’t. I have tried to follow the guys when they first get drafted and care. I cannot anymore.
In a world where the NFL reigns supreme, whether I like it or not, the NFL draft is full of guys who will make an immediate impact on their team. The NFL draft is relevant. For the most part the MLB draft is not. Of the guys drafted yesterday in the first round and the compensation round hardly any of them will play in the big leagues this year and a vast majority will not see time in 2013 either. In fact, according to the stat Drew Goodman threw out last night during the Rockies telecast, 32% of all those drafted in the first round will not EVER make it to the big leagues. EVER! There is a strong possibility that the guys the Rockies drafted yesterday will never play in Coors Field (other than the usual star treatment they get after being drafted where they take BP with the team in the coming weeks).
I know MLB wants us to care about the draft, try to drum up the publicity that the NFL does, but the fact remains that it just doesn’t make sense to care.
Here is who the Rockies drafted recently and other players drafted that year.
2011: Rockies selected Tyler Anderson with the 20th overall pick and in looking at the names 10 spots before or after their pick I don’t see a name that is currently in the big leagues. Anderson is currently in A ball in Asheville for the Rockies. He is at least a few years from big leagues.
2010: Kyle Parker was the Rockies first round selection and the 26th overall pick. He is in Modesto playing A+ ball with the Nuts. He currently has a .714 OPS so do not expect him to be promoted anytime soon. Looking at the picks prior to Parker I see Chris Sale drafted 13th overall by the Chicago White out of college. Sale did play for the White Sox last year and he just won the AL Pitcher of the Month award for May. I would call that a success, so far. Drew Pomeranz was also drafted in 2010 by the Cleveland Indians with the 5th overall pick. Otherwise not a lot of players drafted in2010 are in the big leagues currently…other than some kid named Bryce Harper.
2009: This was Stephen Strasburg’s draft class and we know how he has turned out (after Tommy John surgery he has returned and is living up to the hype). Here we are three years after the 2009 draft and only names like Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Mike Minor, Mike Leake and Drew Storen are names that are recognizable. That’s five out of 32 names for those keeping track at home. The Rockies drafted Tyler Matzek in 2009 and his troubles in the minor leagues are well documented. Matzek was the Rockies top rated prospect by many going into 2011 and by the time the year was over he wasn’t even in the top 10 Rockies prospects. The Rockies also got Tim Wheeler late in the first round in ’09 and he is in Colorado Springs playing AAA ball currently after an impressive 2011 in AA.
2008: Going back four years we find more big league players drafted in ’08: Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, Brian Matusz, Buster Posey, Yonder Alonso and Gordon Beckham were all drafted in the first 10 picks. All in all I see 16 names drafted that year currently in the big leagues. This is the year the Rockies drafted Christian Friedrich 25th overall and so far 2012 seems to be a good year for Friedrich as he has had a few solid outings, including last night’s gem against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2007: There are a few names in ’07 that were supposed to be sure-thing All Stars. Matt LaPorta was traded for C.C. Sabathia in the Milwaukee/Cleveland trade and he was supposed to be a can’t-miss bat and he, well, missed. Josh Vitters for the Chicago Cubs was supposed to be the heir apparent at third base when Aramis Ramirez moved on, Ramirez is gone and Vitters is just now at AAA and looking at his stats is only being promoted because they need to, not based on strong performance. And in ’07 is when the Rockies drafted Casey Weathers with the 8th overall pick out of Vanderbilt. Weathers was supposed to have a fast track to the big leagues to help the Rockies bullpen very quickly, ultimately becoming the team’s closer. After arm issues caused him to miss all of 2009 Weathers is now with the Cubs in AA and has a career minor league ERA of 4.15.
2006: In 2006 players like Evan Longoria, Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw, Drew Stubbs, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer and Ian Kennedy were drafted. We have Cy Young winners and very solid everyday big league players. But there are also names like Bill Rowell (drafted 9th by Baltimore), Kasey Kiker (12th by Texas), Brett Sinkbeil (19th by Florida) and Colton Williams (22nd by Washington) who were drafted. This was a good year for the Rockies but not because of who they drafted. The Rockies selected Greg Reynolds second overall in ’06 (Longoria, Kershaw and Lincecum were all available) and Reynolds has been a big pile of fail. While he has reached the Rockies he has been very unsuccessful once he gets here. But now the Rockies have Tyler Colvin (13th pick by the Cubs) and Adam Ottovino (30th by the Cardinals) on their team and contributing.
2005: Ah, 2005, the draft class in which all future draft classes will be compared. These are the names of players who have made the All-Star game from the first 12 picks in ’05: Justin Upton (1st overall), Ryan Zimmerman (4th), Ryan Braun (5th), Ricky Romero (6th), Troy Tulowitzki (7th), Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Jay Bruce (12th). Add in solid contributors like Alex Gordon (2nd), Mike Pelfrey (9th) and Cameron Maybin (10th) and the first 12 picks were really successful in ’05. Only Jeff Clement and Wade Townsend never panned out (Clement did see time in the big leagues, though, while Townsend has not). As we move down the draft list in ’05 there are names like Chris Volstad, Cliff Pennington, Matt Garza, Colby Rasmus and Tyler Greene who have or are currently everyday big league players. Finally Jacoby Ellsbury was drafted 23rd overall by the Red Sox and he is also an All-Star and was in the MVP running in 2011. 2005 was a great draft class and even in this case there are at least 12 guys who have not reached the big leagues and might never impact. So in one of the best classes ever 1/3 of the guys could be considered busts. Doesn’t really instill confidence in the draft or who is drafted.
Back to this year’s draft. The Rockies selected David Dahl out of Oak Mountain High School where he played outfield. In Compensation Round A they selected Eddie Butler out of Radford University, a pitcher. Since I know nothing about either, here are a few reviews of them.
ESPN.com: Dahl is a guy I saw this spring and really believe in his ability to hit, as he also hit very well against good pitching with wood bats on the summer circuit. He’s often compared to Colby Rasmus as a left-handed-hitting Alabama prep center fielder with above-average tools. Dahl has a chance for five above average to plus tools with average current raw power and at least plus speed. He also has an advanced feel for the game and some struggles this spring may be the only reason he made it to the 10th pick. A really nice pick by the Rockies here.
MLB.com: Dahl gets some comparisons to Johnny Damon, both in terms of body type and somewhat how he plays the game. He doesn’t have the power Damon has shown – Dahl’s more of an alley guy – but he’s got a good approach at the plate, makes consistent contact and uses his speed well on both sides of the ball. He should hit for plenty of average and be a base-stealing threat. He’s above average defensively in terms of range and arm, and his baseball IQ helps all of his tools play up. Dahl can get a little lengthy with his swing, some added strength would help his power profile a bit and he’s still learning how to read fly balls off the bat.
ESPN.com: Butler hits the mid-90s at times but needs to develop his slider and changeup, as well as shore up his command, or he’ll head to the bullpen.
MLB.com: [Butler] served as a starter for Radford and had a solid junior season, finishing particularly strong, with a pair of 10-strikeout performances in his last four starts. He was touching 97 mph, with a lot of eyes on him late in the year. His slider doesn’t grade out as well as the plus heater, but it has the chance to be a solid secondary pitch. He does have a changeup, but it’s behind the other two pitches. That, plus command issues and his size, lead many to believe he’s better suited for a bullpen role, though his mechanics and command did improve as the season wore on. Even if he gets an opportunity to start, if a team wants to shorten him up as a reliever, they could be getting a big league bullpen arm in a hurry.
All in all the Rockies will draft 50-60 players or thereabouts and most we will never hear from again. I pay much closer attention to the prospect rankings each year as those lists have some professional baseball data behind them, in most cases.