8 years of #1 draft picks


Just something I was thinking about earlier, with a commenter asking about Gillick’s drafting philosophy, and a question of being more prepared than previous regimes. I did some quick checking, and I thought this was interesting. Check out the first round picks (or second, if the team didn’t have a first) of the NL East teams from 1997-2004, and where those players currently are. An “*” means the guy was a second round pick, but that team’s first player taken


1997: Troy Cameron, SS – Out of baseball
1998: Matt Belisle, RHP* – Cincinatti
1999: Matt Butler, RHP* – Out of baseball
2000: Adam Wainwright, RHP – St Louis
2001: McCay McBride, LHP – Braves
2002: Jeff Francouer, OF – Braves
2003: Luis Atilano, INF – Washington
2004: Eric Campbell, 3B* – Braves

Only 3/8 still in the organization


1997: Aaron Akin, RHP – Out of baseball
1998: Chip Ambres, OF – Kansas City
1999: Josh Beckett, RHP – Boston
2000: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B – San Diego
2001: Garrett Berger, RHP* – Out of baseball
2002: Jeremy Hermida, OF – Florida
2003: Jeff Allison, RHP – Florida
2004: Taylor Tankersley, LHP – Florida

Only 3/8 still in the org, though Beckett would be 4 if he weren’t dumped in the purge last year


1997: Geoff Getz, LHP – Can Am League
1998: Jason Tyner, OF – Minnesota
1999: Neil Musser, LHP* – Kansas City
2000: Billy Traber, LHP – Washington
2001: Aaron Heilman, RHP – New York
2002: Scott Kazmir, LHP – Tampa Bay
2003: Lastings Milledge, OF – New York (for now)
2004: Phillip Humber, RHP – New York

Only 3/8, and with Milledge likely to get traded, it will only be 2/8


1997: Donnie Bridges, RHP – Independent League
1998: Josh McKinley, SS – Out of baseball
1999: Josh Girdley, LHP – Out of baseball
2000: Justin Wayne, RHP – Out of baseball
2001: Josh Karp, RHP – Washington
2002: Clint Evarts, RHP – Washington
2003: Chad Cordero, RHP – Washington
2004: Bill Bray, LHP – Cincinatti

Only 3/8 still with the org.


1997: JD Drew, OF – Did Not Sign
1998: Pat Burrell, 1B – Phillies
1999: Brett Myers, RHP – Phillies
2000: Chase Utley, 2B – Phillies
2001: Gavin Floyd, RHP – Chicago
2002: Cole Hamels, LHP – Phillies
2003: Tim Moss, 2B* – Phillies
2004: Greg Golson, OF – Phillies

6/8 in the org, 6/7 if you don’t count Drew.

When you glance at that, it sure looks like we had the best run of first round picks, huh? What makes some of those drafts painful, however, is that after getting past the second round, we’d find one decent player in 15 rounds. 2005 looks like it might have been a solid draft class overall, but the years prior weren’t much to brag about. With Pat Gillick in charge, I’m still not really sure what his plan is. He seemed to really take a chance with Drabek, but it’s a chance worth taking, at #18, and he seemed to have a fairly good idea on signability of the lower guys, getting premium high schoolers like Myers, Brown, and Warren. I’m planning to look at Gillick’s drafting history in Baltimore in Seattle, but that’s for another time.

EDIT, the * next to Golson was supposed to be an “F” to complete OF, but I typed it incorrectly as I was in a hurry. Thanks to the commenter for the catch.

7 thoughts on “8 years of #1 draft picks

  1. Not to be too critical, but I don’t think your metric says anything at all about the quality of first round picks. A guy who gets traded to another organization and does fine (like Kazmir) still has to count as a very good first round pick. A guy who stays in the organization but does not progress well in the minors (you’ve counted Moss here, who is really a 3rd round pick anyway) is a bad first round pick. Clearly, the guys out of baseball already are not a plus. They still could have been good picks, who got injured, or they may simply have been bad picks. The Phillies still come out well. Burrell, Utley, Myers, Hamels were excellent picks. That is a high batting average.

    This is the shame of the Phillies player development history. We seem to have above average scouts. On the first and second round picks, where we do pay to sign the guys (with Drew exception) we seem to be well above average in talent picking. But we 1)lose too many of our draft picks to FA signings, 2)do not get enough comp picks, partly because we are less willing to risk the arb award than some other teams, and 3)get fewer talents down the draft, because we are incredibly unwilling to bust slot, and 4)do relatively poorly in the international market, again because we are reluctant to pop for a few big bonuses.

    Our down the draft pickings aren’t totally awful. One Ryan Howard goes a long way. We still have high hopes for guys like Mathieson and D’Arby Myers.

  2. “Not to be too critical, but I don’t think your metric says anything at all about the quality of first round picks.”

    I didn’t really do much analysis here, I just thought it would be interesting to look at this topic.

    Burrell + Utley + Myers + Hamels is better than

    Wainwright + Francouer + Campbell + Belslie


    Beckett + Hermida + Gonzalez + Tankersley (at least at this point)


    Heilman + Milledge + Kazmir + Humber (at least at this point)


    Karp + Everts + Cordero + Bray


    I think that was my main point. Wade made a lot of good 1st round picks, but as I readily admitted, he struggled in the lower rounds with a few very notable exceptions in Howard and Mathieson. But where he loses points is picking guys in the first 10-12 rounds that he couldn’t sign. To me, you just can’t afford to do that when you have a team that isn’t a powerhouse at the major league level. The Yankees and Red Sox can afford to draft signability concerns because they already have a strong major league team, we didn’t have that luxury for much of the last 10 years.

  3. A’town makes very good points, and you responded well. Another factor to consider is where we
    were in the draft. Because of our low finishes, generally speaking, we had better opportunities because of being higher in the draft order.

  4. What makes some of those drafts painful, however, is that after getting past the second round, we’d find one decent player in 15 rounds.

    I wonder how unusual this is though. What percentage of post-second-round picks actually make significant contributions in the majors? I bet it’s very low.

    Looking at the post-second-round picks signed by all the other NL East teams in 1997, it appears that the following players made it to the majors:

    FLA Ross Gload, Matt Erickson
    ATL Horacio Ramirez, Danny Wright
    NYM Cesar Crespo, Eric Cammack, Jason Roach, Jason Phillips
    MON Bryan Hebson, T.J. Tucker, Talmadge Nunnari, Scott Strickland, Matt Blank, Luis Rivera
    PHI Derrick Turnbow, Johnny Estrada, Andy Domininque

    That’s every single post-2nd-round pick that made it to the majors. Not a star in the bunch, only a few decent players, and a whole lot of dreck.

    Moving on to 1998, the following post-2nd-round picks from that draft made the majors:

    ATL: Scott Sobkowiak, John Ennis, Tim Spooneybarger, Brad Voyles
    FLA: Dave Callahan, Kevin Olsen
    NYM: Craig Brazell, Ty Wiggington,Jaime Cerda, Earl Snyder
    MON: Jim Serrano
    PHI: Geoff Geary, Nick Punto, Ryan Madson, Jason Michaels.

    The Phillies pretty much dominated their division in the lower rounds in 1998.

    We’d have to do this exercise for more years to be sure, but based on what I’ve seen so far I’m dubious that the Phillies were any less successful overall in the lower rounds than any other team in the division over this 8-year span.

  5. Ok, with the assistance of the Baseball Cube, I took this comparison up to 2002 (stopping there because the verdict on more recent drafts may still be out).

    This is every player drafted in the third round or later (and signed) by an NL East team from 1997-2002 that has since seen time in the majors:

    ATL Bryan McCann, Chuck James, Adam Stern, Kyle Davies, Anthony Lerrew, Blaine Boyer, Zack Miner, Charles Thomas, Adam Laroche, Andrew Brown, Ben Koslowski, John Foster, Nick Green, Scott Sobkowiak, John Ennis, Tim Spooneybarger, Mike Perez, Brad Voyles, Cory Aldridge, Horacio Ramirez, Danny Wright

    FLA Ross Gload, Matt Erickson, Dave Callahan, Kevin Olsen, Josh Willingham, Chris Resop, Jeff, Fulchino, Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Eric Reed, Travis Chick

    MON Bryan Hebsom, T.J. Tucker, Talmadge Nunnari, Scott Strickland, Matt Blank, Luis Rivera, Jim Serrano, Matt Cepicky, Brandon Watson, Val Pascucci, Matt Watson, Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Shawn Hill, Phil Seibel, Jason Bay, Anthony Ferrari, Josh Lanandeira, Chad Bentz, Chris Schroder, Darrell Rasner, Mike O’Connor, Jay Bergmann

    NYM Cesar Crespo, Eric Cammack, Jason Roach, Jason Phillips, Craig Brazell, Ty Wiggington,Jaime Cerda, Earl Snyder, Jeremy Griffiths, Angel Pagan, Prentice Redman, Mike Jacobs, Jeff Duncan, Lenny DiNardo, Danny Garcia, Joe Hietpas

    PHI Derrick Turnbow, Johnny Estrada, Andy Dominique, Jason Michaels, Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary, Nick Punto, Marlon Byrd, Frank Brooks, Taylor Buchholz, Carlos Rivera, Travis Chapman, Chris Roberson, Ryan Howard, Scott Mathieson.

    I think the Phillies come out of this comparison looking pretty good. The only NL East team that might be better is Montreal– but the good players they drafted (Bay, Sizemore, Lee) have moved on to other teams.

    There’s a couple big names in there, and a handful of ok players, but given that this represents 30 drafts (5 teams, 6 years) it’s striking how few good major leaguers emerged from the lower rounds.

  6. Interesting stuff, thanks for doing the legwork. Florida has fewer contributors, but Johnson, Olsen and Willingham have potential. Of course, we netted Mathieson and Howard.

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