November 28, 2022

MLB 1st Round Draft Success

The MLB draft is one of the biggest unknowns in terms of talent acquisition. Fans of the Indians constantly complain on how the Indians have some of the worst scouting in the league. But how do the Indians stack up to other teams in terms of 1st round talent? These rankings are not necessarily all about the Indians, but about the MLB as a whole. This is something you would probably see on ESPN (hopefully), not on a Cleveland sports site. This article is strictly evaluating teams and their first round draft picks. First round picks are expected to make it to the Majors and make an impact. I went back, and starting with the 2005 MLB draft, evaluated every player drafted and graded them based on a rudimentary and highly unscientific equation.

There are a few caveats in these rankings: First, a player can only earn points for the team he was drafted by, for example, Justin Upton received all his points while in an Arizona jersey. Second, in the event of a tie, the team with the most players drafted will be ranked higher. Each player was given points based in 5 categories. (1) If the player made it to the MLB with the team that drafted them, they were awarded 5 points. (2) Each year a player played with the team that drafted him, he was awarded 5 points. (3) If the player was still in the organization that drafted him, then there is another 5 points. (4) If the player was ranked as a top prospect during their time with the team that drafted him, then 10 points were awarded for every year as a top prospect. (5) Each year the player made an All-Star game with the team he were drafted by, he was awarded 15 points. So, here it is Part 1: Rankings 30-16.

 
30. Philadelphia Phillies: 9.2 (12 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Joe Savery, 2007, 19th pick, LHP, 30 points.
2. Jesse Biddle, 2010, 27th pick, LHP, 25 points.
3. J.P. Crawford, 2013, 16th pick, SS, 15 points.

Analysis: The Phillies had a winning record from 2005-2011, meaning that they would not have top picks. As with any team that remains in contention, trades occur pretty often, and the Roy Halladay trade depleted the Phillies of multiple first round picks, such as Kyle Drabek (10 points) and Travis d’Arnaud (0 points). Had those two players not been traded and were brought through the Phillies system, they probably would have been higher in the list. However, their records during the Roy Halladay years beg to differ.

29. San Diego Padres: 10.0 (26 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Cory Luebke, 2007, 63rd pick, LHP, 25 points.
2. Cory Spangenberg, 2011, 10th pick, 2B, 25 points.
3. Max Fried, 2012, 7th pick, LHP, 25 points.

Analysis: Cory Luebke would rank higher, if he would not have had to undergo two Tommy John surgeries, other than Luebke the Padres have had a tough time drafting in the first round. Max Fried has the most potential of any player in the organization, and in 3 years could push him and the Padres up the list.

28. Texas Rangers: 12.3 (22 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Tanner Scheppers, 2009, 44th pick, RHP, 45 points.
2. Justin Smoak, 2008, 11th pick, 1B, 30 points.
3. Mike Olt, 2010, 49th pick. 3B, 30 points.

Analysis: The Rangers have long been known for their amateur signings. The Rangers fall under the Phillies’ category, because they traded away a lot of players for pitching. Mike Olt and Justin Smoak were both traded away in acquiring Cliff Lee and Matt Garza. Lately though, the Rangers have drafted well and have a few of the latest draft picks ranked as top prospects.

27. Atlanta Braves: 13.2 (14 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Jason Heyward, 2007,14th pick, OF, 80 points.
2. Mike Minor, 2009, 7th pick, LHP, 45 points.
3. Joey Devine, 2005, 27th pick, RHP, 20 points.

Analysis: Jason Heyward has had an up-and-down career, but he was a top prospect and has made an All-Star appearance. Take Heyward off the list, and the Braves would be bringing up the rear. Mike Minor is a solid, if not an unspectacular, starting pitcher. However, once you get past Heyward and Minor on the list, their drafting is pretty horrendous.

26. New York Yankees: 13.5 (13 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Joba Chamberlain, 2006, 41st pick, RHP, 60 points.
2. Andrew Brackman, 2007, 30th pick, RHP, 35 points.
3. Ian Kennedy, 2006, 21st pick, RHP, 30 points.

Analysis: Joba Chamberlain received more than half his value from the fact that he played 7 years with the team. The Yankees were another victim of trading away players, such as Ian Kennedy. Also, in 2008, they failed to sign current Pirate ace Gerrit Cole. Their recent first round picks haven’t turned into anything special either, the last Yankee first round pick to be a top prospect was Slade Heathcott in 2009.

25. Toronto Blue Jays: 13.7 (27 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Brett Cecil, 2007, 38th pick, LHP, 65 points.
2. Travis Snider, 2006, 14th pick, OF, 60 points.
3. Ricky Romero, 2005, 6th pick, LHP, 60 points.

Analysis: The Blue Jays tied the Boston Red Sox with the most players drafted in the last 10 years, with 27 players drafted in the first round. However, quantity does not necessarily mean quality. Ricky Romero was once considered a superstar in the making, and had a few successful years, but hasn’t pitched since 2013. Travis Snider benefitted from multiple years of being a top prospect. Since 2010, the Blue Jays have drafted 7 players who registered a 0 on the point scale, which heavily affected their average.

24. Minnesota Twins: 14.2 (18 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Chris Parmelee, 2006, 20th pick, OF, 40 points.
2. Ben Revere, 2007, 28th pick, OF, 40 points.
3. Kyle Gibson, 2009, 22nd pick, RHP, 40 points.

Analysis: As deep as the Twins’ minor league system is, the first round has provided them very little in terms of proven talent. However, the Twins are primed for a big jump in the future, as Bryon Buxton and Kohl Stewart both project at All-Star levels. The Twins have also traded away their share of good players, in Matt Garza and Ben Revere.

23. Milwaukee Brewers: 16.2 (17 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Ryan Braun, 2005, 5th pick, 3B, 145 points.
2. Jeremy Jeffress, 2006, 16th pick, RHP, 40 points.
3. Brett Lawrie, 2008, 16th pick, 3B, 20 points.

Analysis: Ryan Braun is one of the best hitters in the game, steroids or not. Five All-Star appearances, an MVP, and Rookie of the Year are just some of Braun’s accolades. After Braun, the list gets pretty thin. The trades for CC Sabathia, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Greinke left the cupboard pretty bare for the Brewers. They still haven’t recovered from those trades, and unfortunately they don’t have another Ryan Braun waiting in the wings.

22. New York Mets: 16.5 (13 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Mike Pelfrey, 2005, 9th pick, RHP, 60 points.
2. Matt Harvey, 2010, 7th pick, RHP, 45 points.
3. Ike Davis, 2008, 18th pick, 1B, 40 points.

Analysis: Matt Harvey would have topped this list had it not been for Tommy John surgery that last year. Unfortunately, Harvey is the last first round pick to make a difference for the Mets. Minor leaguer Dominic Smith has a chance to shine, but he is still far away from the MLB. The Mets capitalized on an aging team and were able to sell off most of the parts for top prospects, but haven’t been able to draft very many.

21. Los Angeles Dodger: 16.8 (14 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Clayton Kershaw, 2006, 7th pick, LHP, 125 points.
2. Zach Lee, 2010, 28th pick, RHP, 35 points.
3. Chris Withrow, 2007, 20th pick, RHP, 30 points.

Analysis: The drafting of Clayton Kershaw could end up being the single greatest first round selection ever. However, you need more than one great player to top this list. Top prospects Corey Seager and Zach Lee have a chance to improve the Dodgers’ rankings in the coming years, as long as they pay off properly. On the negative side, the failure to sign 2005 first round pick, Luke Hochevar, put a dent into the average.

20. Tampa Bay Rays: 17.3 (22 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. David Price, 2007, 1st pick, LHP, 120 points.
2. Evan Longoria, 2006, 3rd pick, 3B, 110 points.
3. Tim Beckham, 2008, 1st pick, SS, 35 points.

Analysis: The Rays have arguably the best two drafted players on this entire list, in David Price and Evan Longoria. However, Price and Longoria combine to have 230 of the Rays’ 380 total points, or about 61% of all their points. If you were to take them both out, the Rays would score a 7.5, good enough for last place. None of the Rays’ other first round picks have paid off, even third place finisher Tim Beckham has been a total bust after being drafted #1 overall in 2008.

19. St. Louis Cardinals: 17.3 (24 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Shelby Miller, 2009, 19th pick, RHP, 55 points.
2. Colby Rasmus, 2005, 28th pick, OF, 50 points.
3. Lance Lynn, 2008, 39th pick, RHP, 45 points.

Analysis: Surprised to see the MLB draft golden boys here? Unlike the Rays who drafted two transcendent players, the Cardinals drafted with great depth. Out of their 24 total first round picks, 8 scored a 25 or above. However, that great depth can be an issue as well. The Cardinals have such great depth that their prospects have a hard time reaching the majors. Be on the lookout for Michael Wacha, he was drafted in 2012 and scored a 30. In three years, he should have the Cardinals at the top of this list.

18. Cleveland Indians: 17.7 (13 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Lonnie Chisenhall, 2008, 29th pick, 3B, 50 points.
2. Francisco Lindor, 2011, 8th pick, SS, 35 points.
3. Trevor Crowe, 2005, 14th pick, OF, 30 points.

Analysis: If there is one thing the Indians are good at, it’s drafting guys who go on to be top prospects. The problem is that those guys tend to fare poorly against Major League competition. The trade for Ubaldo Jimenez really hurt the Tribe in the ranks, as they gave up first rounders Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. In 3 years’ time, Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier could have the Tribe cracking the top 10.

17. Chicago Cubs: 17.9 (14 player drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Javier Baez, 2011, 9th pick, SS, 45 points.
2. Josh Vitters, 2007, 3rd pick, 3B, 45 points.
3. Tyler Colvin, 2006, 13th pick, OF, 30 points.

Analysis: As of late, the Cubs have really exceled at drafting top prospect guys, like Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Kris Bryant. However, the Cubs did trade away some pretty good players, like Josh Donaldson, Ryan Flaherty, and Andrew Cashner. If Baez, Almora, and Bryant play to their potential, the Cubs could and should shoot up the rankings.

16. Oakland Athletics: 18.6 (14 players drafted)

Top 3 Players
1. Sean Doolittle, 2007, 41st pick, 1B, 40 points.
2. Cliff Pennington, 2005, 21st pick, SS, 40 points.
3. Sonny Gray, 2011, 18th pick, RHP, 30 points.

Analysis: Moneyball hasn’t quite gotten the hint in terms of first round picks. The A’s did trade away top prospect Addison Russell in the Jeff Samardzija deal, but the future improvement of Sonny Gray should make up for that loss.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2, Ranking 15-1

— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)

Photo via metsminorleagueblog.com

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