Well, its almost here. Which means I have to finish all of my last minute prep work. In my second draft notebook, I tried to go over why focusing only on spending was dangerous and a lot of people still didn’t buy it, and intimated that you only get talent in the draft by paying over the odds. So I’m going to attempt to do one more study and look at the draft from the pre-draft rankings side of things. I’m also going to recap the guys I’ve already highlighted, and then give thoughts on a few more guys who might be there at 39, as well as some wishlist guys for our 2nd round picks. On Monday night, I’ll have analysis of our sandwich round pick. On Tuesday, we’ll make sure the picks are updated during the day, and then I’ll do a long writeup Tuesday night with initial thoughts. I’ll be updating things on Wednesday, and then do a recap Wednesday night with my thoughts on the draft as a whole. Then we have to wait till the signing deadline arrives to put a bow on the whole thing. So, let’s get started.
In case you missed it
I had intended to do a comprehensive look at drafts from 2001-2006. But due to time constraints, my research is incomplete. That said, I have partial data, and I think this partial data is enough to illustrate my main points. In v2.0 of my draft notebook, I talked about how easily we all fall under the spell of Baseball America, PG Crosschecker, ESPN and the like every year, reading the scouting reports, looking at a few clips, and thinking we have a good idea who the Phillies should take. In 2007, I was really pumped when the Phillies took Travis Mattair, because from the writeups I read, I thought he was set to be a 25-30 HR masher at 3B who could play above average defense. And yeah, I was wrong. But if you’re a fan of the draft, and trying to understand the process, I think you’d be amazed when you go back and look at old draft lists.
My key message was, its not all about the dollars spent, or where player X ranks on BA’s top 200, its about the player’s actual talent, his ability to make adjustments, and his baseball work ethic that will ultimately determine where he ends up. You can go through the draft data for the last 20 years, searching in the middle rounds, and find guys who received no mentions from BA but turned in to above average MLB players. How about a quick sampling from the 2001 draft:
Kevin Youkilis – Wasn’t ranked in BA’s top 100. Picked in the 8th round by Boston. Has the 5th highest WAR (B-R version) of any player taken in the draft.
Jason Bartlett – 13th round pick by San Diego, wasn’t in the top 100, ranked 10th in WAR, right behind Mark Prior, who he will pass soon.
CJ Wilson – 5th round pick, not in BA’s top 100.
When you go and look at the top 100/top 200 lists from BA through the years, you’ll see lots of guys ranked in the top quarter of the lists who you’ve never heard of, because they’ve washed out of baseball now. That doesn’t mean they weren’t good prospects when they were drafted. But as I talked about before, most prospects fail. Sometimes its things they can’t really control, like injuries, sometimes they lose the desire to play the game, and sometimes they just can’t make adjustments.
So let’s take a look at some of the top 100 lists from recent years (remember, click all the pictures to enlarge, thanks)
See what I mean?
Take a look at 2004, with all players who have at least 1.0 WAR in the big leagues (B-R version)
Of the top 15 players, sorted by WAR, only 4 received a bonus of $1M or more. Only 3 of the 15 were ranked in the top 10 of BA’s top 200, and 4 of them weren’t ranked at all in the Top 200.
2005 was one of the strongest drafts in memory, which you’ll see by the following chart, but again, look at the rankings in terms of WAR, and how they matches up with where BA had the players ranked before the draft, and how much they signed for.
I want to summarize this really quickly, just to keep things simple.
* My over-arching point isn’t that we should just assume the Phillies are smarter than everyone else. However, we should take the rankings from BA and the like with a grain of salt.
* These rankings fuel our desire to see the team take players who everyone else loves. But that often times doesn’t mean you end up with a better player. Ryan Howard wasn’t ranked in the Top 100 in 2001. BA didn’t even write up Domonic Brown prior to the 2006 draft.
* So my comment and advice to you is, just relax and wait to see who gets picked.
When the Phillies make a pick that I think makes no sense, I’ll voice it. I was not happy with the Hewitt selection at the time, and was equally unimpressed with the Kelly Dugan pick. But the Phillies success outside of the first round is reason enough for us to wait and see what the whole picture looks like, at least rounds 1-12, before we freak out.
With regard to spending as a whole. I think the data is clear that no draft pick is a sure thing, no matter how much money you give. The following players have been taken 1.1 overall, supposedly the surest thing in the draft, over the last 10 years
2002 – Bryan Bullington, RHP – Total bust
2003 – Delmon Young, OF – Still has underachieved, almost a 0 WAR player, still some hope
2004 – Matt Bush, SS – Total bust
2005 – Justin Upton, OF – Legit, still improving
2006 – Luke Hochevar, RHP – A #5 starter. Not a total bust, but a really bad pick
2007 – David Price, LHP – Legit, one of the better starters in baseball
2008 – Tim Beckham, SS – Has struggled in his minor league career, showing some life this year, miles to go
2009 – Stephen Strasburg, RHP – Legit, needs to come back from injury
2010 – Bryce Harper, OF – Looks legit, long way to go
With the exception of Upton, Price, and possibly the last 2 guys, its a lock that the player taken 1.1 will not be the most valuable player taken in his draft class. So if teams semi-regularly fail with the top pick in the entire draft, how critically should we evaluate the Phillies when they are picking late in the first round? Everyone believes the team should spend more money. I can make an argument why they can afford to spend $10M per year. And when you calculate the payoff from getting it right with one pick, the benefits probably outweigh the risks. Probably. But the draft is, by and large, a great unknown, and if someone had a formula to determine which guys will be stars and which guys will be duds, they’d be making a fortune with a pro team. It’s kind of amusing to me that I’ve been called a Phillies apologist recently, and I think if you’ve been here long enough, you know that isn’t the case. I used to be fully on board with the “they need to spend more money”, but when I’ve looked at the draft in more detail, and gone over a lot of the data, the results tell me that it’s not really how much you pay, its identifying the right guys and getting deals done, not focusing on where player X ranks on the BA Top 200, or which player you could have taken instead. Prospect attrition rate is through the roof. Just look at those top 100 lists from 2001-2003. Guys get hurt, guys never develop, it happens. The Phillies have done an excellent job mining talent in the later rounds, as they haven’t had a high draft pick since taking Gavin Floyd 4th overall in 2001.
You can disregard everything I’ve said leading up to this draft and immediately trash whoever the Phillies take, if thats your thing, I just don’t have time to get in to debating that point of view and arguing why it doesn’t make sense. We all want the Phillies to spend, but more importantly, I want the Phillies to draft players they believe in, and then get them signed, and I’m not all that concerned with where they are ranked now, or who they could have taken ahead of those guys. Again, you’ll call me a shill, but the Phillies scouts know more about every single player in the draft than I do.
That said, I’ll keep sharing my thoughts on guys I like leading up to the draft, and then of course I will have plenty of feedback after the draft has concluded. So far in v1.0, v2.0 and v3.0 I’ve covered the following guys
Tyler Beede, RHP (Lawrence Academy, HS, MA)
Kyle Crick, RHP (Sherman HS, TX)
Nick Delmonico, C/3B/OF (Farragut HS, TX)
Hudson Boyd, RHP (Bishop Verot HS, FL)
Brian Goodwin, OF (Miami Dade CC, FL)
Andrew Chafin, LHP (Kent State)
Michael Kelly, RHP (West Boca Raton HS, FL)
Trevor Story, SS (Irving HS, TX)
Kevin Comer, RHP (Seneca HS, NJ)
Cameron Gallagher, C (Manheim Township HS, PA)
Charlie Tilson, OF (New Trier HS, IL)
Brad Miller, SS (Clemson)
Jake Hager, SS (Sierra Vista HS, NV)
To kind of update the above list. There is a rumor that Beede has sent a letter to local scouts saying not to draft him, that he is going to college. Sometimes that is the player’s intention, and sometimes it means they have a pre-draft deal worked out with a team. We’ll see. Chafin has pitched well, and might have pitched himself into the end of the first round or early sandwich round, which might take him out of the Phillies’ reach. Brian Goodwin has gotten more positive writeups, and looks to go at the end of the first round, so I’d say he isn’t realistic at #39. The rest of the names should be there at #39, and a bunch of them should also be there at #66. I want to go over a few more guys I have thoughts on, who could potentially be there at #39. Tomorrow night (Monday) I will try and do another writeup after the first round + sandwich round concludes, looking at the list and seeing who might slide to the Phillies.
Jackie Bradley Jr, OF (South Carolina) – This may be a bit of a stretch, but I think I can see it. Bradley’s junior year has basically been a wash out, as he got off to a slow start and then injured his left wrist. At this time last year, Bradley would have likely been a top 10-15 pick if eligible, as he was one of the best players in college baseball, including an excellent run at the College World Series. He has tremendous baseball instincts and is an excellent defender in CF, who could eventually be one of the best in the game. In his sophomore year, he hit for average and showed gap power, but he tried hitting for more power this year and his average sunk, and then he got hurt. The Phillies like the injured/bounceback guy, and Bradley certainly fits the bill. While he isn’t a burner, he’s a great all around athlete, another check box ticked off. BA ranked him 34th in their Top 200 and Keith Law has him at 28th in his Top 100. But with injury questions, and some teams questioning his bat, I don’t think its out of the question that he would make it to #39. The big issue is the teams ahead of the Phillies with multiple picks who could take a shot on him, including Tampa Bay. Right now, of all the guys I’ve written up who could realistically be there at 39, I think I’d put him at the top of my list.
He has a small hitch in his swing, but the video is almost a year old, so I wouldn’t get too worried. Anyway, big upside chance here, if he makes it to 39, and because hes a college junior, he doesn’t have quite as much leverage as a high school senior, for example.
Tyler Goeddel, 3B/OF (St. Francis HS, CA) – Lets see…great athlete, from California…thats a good start. Goeddel has divergent scouting reports, as BA ranks him 89th and says he’s all projection at this point, while Keith Law bumped him all the way up to 32nd and highlighted his excellent performances against good competition. KLaw notes that he has a good feel for the game and a solid swing, and should hit for both power and average. The consensus is that he will grow out of 3B and a switch to RF will be in the cards, but that should be at least a few years away, and with his athleticism, he may be able to stick at 3B, at least until he’s reached his prime.
He certainly looks the part. I see one big obstacle here. He comes from a very wealthy family, so money will not be a big objective for him, and thus, its going to come down to whether or not he wants to attend UCLA, where his brother and current Mets pitching prospect Erik went, or if he wants to start his pro career. If he wants to sign and play pro ball immediately, then he’s at the top of my wishlist at #39.
In fact, that’s as far as I’m going to go, in terms of breaking down individual names.
BA’s final rankings right around #39 are:
36 – Joe Ross, RHP (Bishop O’Dowd HS, FL) – Not a big fan, but he’s likely to go in the first round at this point, possibly even in the first half because he is signable.
37 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (East HS, WY) – Nimmo seems a lock to go in the first round, so again, no use getting too excited here, especially since he’s supposedly asking for $3M+
38 – Andrew Chafin, LHP (Kent State) – He’s near the top of my wish list, and has rebounded after a bit of a lull in the middle of the season. I think he’s gone at the end of the first round
39 – Jorge Lopez, RHP (Academia de Milagrosa, PR) – His scouting report seems underwhelming.
40 – Trevor Story, SS (Irving HS, TX) – I’ve covered him previously, in my top 5 on my wishlist
41 – Josh Osich, LHP (Oregon State) – Phillies have some history in the Pacific NW, and he is LH. He’s got a solid delivery, and he’s coming off an injury, so who knows. Video here.
42 – Alex Dickerson, OF (Indiana) – Not a Phillies type of pick
43 – Kyle Winkler, RHP (TCU) – Left his start today clutching his elbow. Not happening
Keith Law’s final Top 100 has the guys right around our pick as
36 – Travis Harrison, 3B (Tustin HS, CA) – An interesting name, he’s almost all bat and Law thinks he’s going to have to move to LF or 1B.
37 – Alex Dickerson, OF (Indiana) – Covered him above
38 – Charles Tilson, OF (New Trier HS, IL) – I covered him in a previous writeup, was a guy I liked, KLaw much higher on him than BA
39 – Nick Delmonico, INF (Farragut HS, TN) – Also covered him in a previous writeup
40 – Hudson Boyd, RHP (Bishop Verot HS, FL) – Hey, I wrote about him before too!
41 – Kevin Comer, RHP (Seneca HS, NJ) – Namedropped by Salisbury, and I covered him in my last writeup. I think his Vandy commitment means the Phillies pass, unless they have a pre-draft deal worked out
42 – Michael Kelly, RHP (West Boca Raton HS, FL) – Covered previously
43 – Kyle Winkler, RHP (TCU) – See above
So there ya go. We’ll know pick #39 tomorrow night, and I’ll get in to the specifics of the best guys left for our 2nd round picks. My updated wishlist, in order of preference at #39
1. Tyler Goeddel, 3B/OF (St. Francis HS, CA)
2. Jackie Bradley Jr, OF (South Carolina)
3. Andrew Chafin, LHP (Kent State)
4. Nick Delmonico, INF (Farragut HS, TN)
5. Trevor Story, SS (Irving HS, TX)
Before I go, I figured I’d end this with some brief thoughts on the big guns that we’ll have no shot at, since everyone else has an opinion on them.
Gerrit Cole, RHP (UCLA) – Seems solid, but I’m not totally blown away by his stuff or delivery. I think he’ll be a good middle of the rotation guy, but I don’t think hes close to Strasburg as some have intimated.
Anthony Rendon, 3B (Rice) – I did a quick baseball-reference play index search last night for 3B who are 6’0/190 and looked at HR totals. The only name that came back that would make me happy, if I was drafting Rendon, is Ron Santo. For some reason, 6’0/190 pound guys don’t play 3B, and if they do, they aren’t very good. Its just a random data point, but his injury history would scare me, to be honest.
Trevor Bauer, RHP (UCLA) – I think he’s the best college pitcher in the draft, and I really hope he doesn’t end up on an NL East team like Washington.
Danny Hultzen, LHP (UVA) – Looks solid, his lefthandedness helps, don’t see him as an ace (Sorry Schwim, if you’re reading this!)
Dylan Bundy, RHP (Owasso HS, OK) – Looks like possibly the best pitcher in the draft. Very polished and mature for his age, great raw stuff, great idea on the mound.
Bubba Starling, OF (Gardner Edgerton High School, KS) – I’m trying to think who the last stud MLBer from Kansas. Anyway, he looks pretty damn good. But you wonder about those guys who’ve never faced top competition with any kind of consistency.
One guy I really like, who will be gone by the end of the first round, is Dillon Howard, RHP (Searcy HS, AR) who has a beautiful delivery and a big time arm.