2011 MLB Draft Notebook v4.0

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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.

53 thoughts on “2011 MLB Draft Notebook v4.0

  1. I had given up on Mattair, but he’s got about a .750 OPS at CLW and is a good defender. That’s better than I thought he’d hit this soon back. Not a great prospect, but perhaps recovered to around #30-40 prospect status, with room to improve.

    1. Have you heard? Mattair was injured relatively early in the season and hasn’t played since. So just looking at some averages may not tell the story. Haven’t heard about the injury’s nature or severity, evaluate on return.

  2. I think one big thing to remember is that the Phillies (or any MLB team) know way, way more about the guys they’re taking than we do. They also know way more than BA or ESPN or whomever. If they’re taking a certain guy with their first pick, that means they’ve had several people in the organization scout that player in person several times, and those people (who get paid to evaluate amateur baseball talent for a living) have come to a consensus that he’s the best guy to pick. It’s kinda silly to immediately say “that pick sucks” based on some ranking or one-paragraph writeup you read somewhere, when the people doing the picking have vastly more information – and vastly more expertise – than you do.

    1. I can’t agree with this.

      Any GM in baseball knows more than 99.9% of fans. Omar Minaya knows more about baseball than you do. Does that mean Omar Minaya’s scouting and signings couldn’t/shouldn’t have been criticized?

      1. Omar Minaya made trades/signings for crappy veterans, whom we *did* know plenty about. High school players? Come on, we know next to nothing about these guys.

  3. Kansas-born All-Star Team:
    C: Darren Daulton
    1B: George Grantham
    2B: Pat Meares
    3B: Bob Horner
    SS: Joe Tinker
    OF: Johnny Damon
    OF: Mitch Webster
    OF: Bill Russell (had to take liberties)
    DH: Tony Clark
    SP: Walter Johnson
    SP: Mike Torrez
    SP: Rudy May
    CL: Neil Allen

    Seven active big leaguers from Kansas–former Phils pick Brad Ziegler is arguably the best of the bunch.

  4. You did a lot of work here but I do not think you address people’s main objection in the previous thread.

    If you have a high risk/high reward investment (aka top draft picks that want $$$$) then you will always find high priced flameouts. You will also find guys who can be had for (relative) pennies on the dollar for their WAR.

    The question is whether or not the investments give teams a positive return (in aggregate.) From most analysis I have read, the answer is that, on average, spending money on high priced draft picks is worth it. Even if it only pans out in a superstar a limited amount of time, the return you get back from the superstar makes up for the losses.

    1. That type of risk analysis isn’t that simplistic.

      And will require more work.

      And I’ve said, it is great to hit that one superstar where you invest $1M and he becomes a stud who more than offsets his salary for 5 years.

      But the point of this post, and all the previous, is that identifying that guy is incredibly difficult. Which is why its a lot riskier than people think. Look at the Padres, for instance. They gave Donavan Tate, OF, a $6.25M bonus as the 3rd overall pick in 2009. This is their return, thus far

      130 PA – .239/.354/.358 and countless injuries and setbacks.

      You do that for 4-5 years, constantly missing on your expensive picks without hitting a Mat Latos, and you’re not really coming out ahead.

      Teams miss on the top 5 picks in the draft, which is supposedly the easiest place to identify the stud talents. The success rate drops off sharply after the first round.

      I’ll have more raw data on this over the winter, when I have more time to dig in to it and do meaningful analysis. For now, the Top 100/Top 200 lists, which is what everyone gets all excited about, should do a good job illustrating just how volatile the prospect world is on the amateur side of things.

      Until someone produces a study that aggregates all of the data and shows that spending excess sums of money every year pays off for every team in the long run, saying it does carries no weight, because you’re saying it without having concrete evidence to back up your statement.

      1. “Until someone produces a study that aggregates all of the data and shows that spending excess sums of money every year pays off for every team in the long run, saying it does carries no weight, because you’re saying it without having concrete evidence to back up your statement.”

        I mean, maybe I’m misreading what you’re saying, but it seems like you’re accusing me of making statements with no concrete evidence, which is exactly what you yourself are doing.

        You’re picking out random guys and saying they flameout and that the success rate is low….which is something that nobody disagrees with.

        The question is just whether the returns still make up for the investment, as volatile as it is.

        1. I think I identified the study population in my last post, using very clear breakdowns of money amounts that would qualify as “over slot”….I think that is more than anyone else has provided, in terms of a value study.

          Like I said, it will require more work and more data. But just saying “teams should spend, because when they get it right, it more than pays off for the misses”….is kind of an empty statement. There is a lot that goes in to “being right”, and its a much more complex economic equation.

          The “getting it right part” is the part I’m trying to stress, because identifying talent in baseball is one of the hardest things to do, and these teams have people doing it who have done it for a long time, and they still get it wrong many more times than they get it right.

          It wasn’t a shot at you, it was more a general statement, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

          1. Here is how I see all of this … there is a vocal group out there who are convinced that the Phillies are idiots for not spending more on the draft. Mostly the same crowd who don’t have anything good to say about an organization that has been the second most successful organization in baseball over the past 5 years.

            PP has amply demonstrated that that crowd has it wrong.

            Beyond that, there still remains a question as to whether spending a bit more in the draft would be a smart strategy. PP has presented a ton of interesting data which I think somewhat moved the ball in the direction of saying “maybe not.” But there is no conclusive data either way. So how you come down on that question will have a lot to do with your starting assumptions.

            My starting assumption is that money spent on the draft is IN GENERAL very cost effective, all else being equal, in that, despite the high failure rate, when you hit the jackpot, you’re getting tens of millions of dollars of value for a relative pittance. So it’s going to take a LOT of evidence to convince me that their draft budget shouldn’t be a bit higher. And I haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me of that.

            But I’m not going to sweat it much, given the overall strength of the system (as I’ve said before, people underestimate how remarkable that is given where the Phillies have been drafting) and generally good decision making at the major league level.

            1. I am not sure anybody thinks the Phillies are idiots. Just frustrated that for a big market team trying to win the World Series against teams that are constantly going the extra mile to restock their pipelines…the Phillies seem deadset on proving most of the rest of MLB baseball wrong.

              Marti Wolever’s recent comments suggest that the Phillies are willing to “draw a line in the sand” as it relates to draft spending…even if most of the other teams in MLB are not.

              I can’t say they are 100% wrong in that approach, because it will take a few more years to see how that works out for them in the end. Obviously my comments identify me as a person who thinks they are taking the frugal draft budget thing a bit too far, but we’ll see.

            2. Well, there is plenty of much less measured criticism than yours around here. That’s really who my first paragraph was directed at.

      2. I can agree with much of what you say, then you say something like the last paragraph, which is so out of left field and nonsensical that I must comment. Why does every team have to succeed with this strategy in the long-term for the strategy to be deemed successful and worthwhile? A team’s success in the draft depends in large measure upon the talent of it’s scouts and development team. Some teams are going to do less well in the draft, no matter how much money they have. Some teams are going to let the over slots pass by them, for the most part, because they are short on budget. Why should these two categories of teams have to be long-term successful with their overslots, for overslot payments to be a successful strategy? We are really interested in knowing how it works for a team with superior scouts and development, as the Phillies seem to have. I realize you can’t analyze this for just one team, but I think a fairer criterion for success is whether the average team, not every team, succeeds with its over slots. This is actually the easiest analysis, which is all to the good, since you only need to look at all the overslot players, not segregate them by team. This gives a larger sample size and saves time.

        I disagree with someone’s comment on this thread about comparing draft bonuses to career WAR value. Since the team only controls the player for the first 6 years of his career, I’d end the WAR totalling at that point. If the player stays with the team after that point, either he is getting market value or has given a home-team discount because of factors unrelated to the draft — he likes the major league team, manager and city.

        To be fair, in calculating the cumulative 6 year WAR, one should deduct salary over those 6 years, as well as the draft bonus. As teams lock in players early and arb awards escalate, the salary in years 5 and 6 for the successful overslot players likely dwarfs whatever bonus that player received.

        1. I can agree with much of what you say, then you say something like the last paragraph, which is so out of left field and nonsensical that I must comment. Why does every team have to succeed with this strategy in the long-term for the strategy to be deemed successful and worthwhile?

          Allentown, maybe you are right that the best evidence we currently have is to judge the performance of the entire pool of overslot players. Maybe it really can be that simple. Maybe.

          Every project…or endeavor…has 3 main components. Time, Budget, Quality. Every individual or organization that undertakes a project or endeavor has to determine the rank of those 3 components and the impact it has on the decisions they make.

          For the Phillies specifically, quality and time matters, but it seems that budget can and does trump the other 2. I don’t agree with their approach, because the gap between what they want to spend, and the other teams are spending seems to be widening out.

          I guess maybe a better way to say it is that it still might work out in the end, even if they could have done better by being a little more aggressive with overslot spend.

  5. I think there are times that a fan can disapprove of a draft pick, even though the team knows more than the fan about a particular player. That’s when the draft pick conforms with a failing philosophy. Picking 19-year-old Anthony Hewitt was almost certain to fail, and we knew this and the Phils didn’t. Scouts knew he had no pitch recognition, no plate discipline, and that being 19 and from the NE, he was probably already 2 years behind in development. The Phils’ draft philosophy, as far as we’ve been able to discern, is that good tools trump plate discipline and pitch recognition in high draft pick OFs. They’re 0 for the last 20 years on that one. I don’t have any problem with guys who have tools, but make sure the strike/zone control tool is one of them.

      1. They hit with Gose, their first real hit with this strategy. Collier remains to be seen, though I like him. As you implicitly recognize, Brown doesn’t really count.

        But what some people don’t realize, the flip side of “you don’t need many high bonus players to succeed to justify picking/paying them,” is that “you don’t need many toolsheds to succeed to justify picking them.”

        All else being equal, I’d kind of like them to wait until at least rounds 2 to 3 to pick these types of players, not round 1 or round 1s.

        1. “All else being equal, I’d kind of like them to wait until at least rounds 2 to 3 to pick these types of players, not round 1 or round 1s.”

          Agreed with that.

  6. Eyeballing the 2004-2005 data, I reach two tentative conclusions, one supporting PP’s point, one maybe not so much.

    (1) A disproportionate number of those guys were off the board by the time the Phillies picked – or, in some cases, where they would have picked given more recent success levels. (Supports PP’s point and shows how tough it it to draft when you don’t get a top 15 Rnd 1 pick).

    (2) Most of the rest of those guys are higher round picks with larg(ish) bonuses. Not necessarily 7 figures, but mid to high 6 figures. Which maybe is some evidence the other way – but as most of us agree, the evidence is not conclusive this point one way or the other.

  7. Another thing which leaps out at me: major league teams tend to be smarter than Baseball America. I’m only eyeballing the data, and it’s only 2 years, but that’s how it looks to me. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising, though.

    1. MLB teams have a lot more data than BA. And BA relies on scouts to pass them information. In some cases, its not in the scout’s best interest to be completely forthcoming with a 3rd party, when that information will disseminated for all to read.

      But I think thats only a small part of it. Its really tough to develop above average major league players. Its a tough sport.

      1. Sure it’s tough, but to me those lists provide a ton of evidence that it’s far from a random lottery, that there are certain factors which dramatically increase the chance of developing above average major league players. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the most unambiguous & strongest such factor appears to be “drafting in the first 20 picks of the first round.”

        Of the guys you list (2004-2005), 19 were taken in the top 20, 13 more later in the first round (including supplemental). Moreover, a disproportionate number of the guys accumulating a lot of WAR were early first round picks.

  8. I really think Trevor Story is all glove.

    If they go the way of a big body righty Joe Musgrove fits the bill. He could be an overslot guy in the top 5 rounds.

  9. My wishlist would look pretty similar, with Goeddel at or near the top, barring the inevitable consensus 1st round talent dropping to 39. What most intrigued me about him was the Jayson Werth comparison, even if thats mostly based on body type.

    Another name on my wishlist is Johnny Eierman, the 170 piece Craftsman toolshed SS/(2B?/3B?/CF?) committed to LSU. The “t” word elicits a cringe here, but Eierman’s are among the best in the draft, and might’ve merited a much higher pick with more exposure. He’d fit our ultra-toolsy outfielder mold perfectly, but since we already struggle to find playing time for outfielders in the low minors, it really depends on which position our scouts project he’ll play. That being said, Keith Law, who doesn’t especially love him, still thinks his bat would play above-average in a corner outfield spot.

    You can tell Eierman falls a little under the radar by the divergent scouting reports. While ESPN’s Churchill says he’s fastest runner the best in the draft, Baseball Beginnings lists it as his only weakness. Keith Law calls him “a little” raw, doubts his ability to stay in the infield and says his swing needs work, yet others rave about his natural instincts, compact stroke, infield defense, ideal makeup and readiness to go pro. Everyone seems to agree that Eierman’s a true 5 tool talent with an exceptional work ethic; PG rates his overall tools as tied with Starling and Nimmo, for #1 among high school players.

    Eierman could be a “helium” type, coveted by a club in the Midwest who’s seen him more, but if I’m sold on his talent if he drops to 39. I’ve seen him go in mocks everywhere from the mid first round, to the end of the third, but he’s usually in that sandwich range. He’s dominated showcases with a wooden bat, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he becomes a very solid pro.

  10. My alternate take on the mo money mo problems debate: more money means more options and options are always good. We passed on a lot of quality prospects over the years, who signed over slot and became good players. We also failed to sign a number of prospects who eventually signed for much more than the price we wouldn’t match. Spending money doesn’t betray the scouts; it increases the yield from their labor. Every team has throwaway picks in every draft, but more money means less picks are wasted.

    1. “Spending money doesn’t betray the scouts; it increases the yield from their labor. Every team has throwaway picks in every draft, but more money means less picks are wasted.”

      The crux of the debate summed up in 29 words. Well done.

  11. This is somewhat of a side issue, but interesting (to me, anyway). I think that most would agree that the drafts from 1996 to 2002 for the Phillies were quite good. And with those drafts they did build the core of their recent success. Yet even then , in 3 of those years they drafted and signed exactly one player who went on to any real major league success. In 3 other years, they drafted and signed exactly 2 such players. Only once (1998) did they draft more (4) – though 2 of those 4 players had pretty forgettable careers.

    Of course when they did hit in those years, they tended to hit big.

  12. I think there are just too many value assessments that can used to rate a draft (total career WAR has its flaws) to make it a worth the extensive research, though it should be better than speculation.

    IMHO, all other things being equal (not all teams have the same overall budget or team development cycle), spending more money in the draft should result in more draft talent. Using this argument, I can see where using draft $ spent makes sense at determining the value assigned to a teams’ draft class as a whole. I could see an accountant agreeing with this type of value assessment, but accounting value does not translate directly to wins.

    I would think the following would be generally proven or agreed upon:
    a) failure rate of draftees is high
    b) higher drafted players are more likely to succeed
    c) higher bonus paid players are more likely to succeed
    d) low drafted players also succeed
    e) undrafted and zero bonus players also succeed
    f) players are acquired through means besides just the draft

    The value question being discussed is whether some arbitrary cutoff spending level int the draft (for example, overslot players or total money spent) yields a benefit exceeding that initial spending level. The cost of developing the farm system and non-performance related revenues generated by players would also need to be counted and are not calculated in WAR.

    With absolutely no data other than the huge cost of free agents and the recent willingness of lower budget teams to sign more expensive draftees, I would guess that spending excessively in the draft would be cheaper in the long run, despite the attrition rate.

    1. PhxPhilly: On: “The value question being discussed is whether some arbitrary cutoff spending level in the draft (for example, overslot players or total money spent) yields a benefit exceeding that initial spending level.”

      Not sure this is an accurate conclusion. I think PP is saying something significantly different. I’m guessing he (and I, and most others) would agree with this broad statement. PP made a more refined statement that takes the issue from theoretical to real world finances.

      I think what is meant on the other side of the issue is this (using your statement as a template):

      “The value question being discussed is whether some arbitrary cutoff spending level in the draft (for example, overslot players or total money spent) yields a benefit that consistently or significantly exceeds that initial spending level more than a marginal amount and in a reasonable proportion to the money spent.”

      This is the way I understand the issue as discussed by PP and others. I think your statement does not speak accurately to their argument. In fact, it’s pretty obvious increased spending would yield more prospects and enable the team to win more. The Yanks and Red Sox have proven that–pretty much the only two teams that don’t mind getting even a small, even negligible, return on huge additional dollar outlay, as long as they hit on an extra one once in a while. In the real world, the other 29 teams do mind, including the Phils. PP’s point is that the Phils choice to spend in prudent proportion to the likely return is a sound business decision and may not alter the relative quality of the Phis draft in some or most years. although in other years, when the Yanks or Sox get lucky, it could yield additional benefits.

      That’s how I understand the argument. And yes, I would like the Phils to spend more also, simply because I want more prospect density, even if most of the money is thrown away.

      One fundamental and obvious point worth mentioning. Draft spending is largely pre-specified by the structure of the draft. Some teams choose to be flat out cheap (Phils in 1980s and early 1990s. Some choose to stay within the draft structure and make a few calculated forays out of the straight and narrow, such as a few oberslots. Two others look at the structure as an opportunity to stretch the structure consistently. I can’t criticize the Yanks or Sox for this. They have the money and are motivated to be in the top five in baseball every year. But it’s hard to criticize the Phils or other smart-drafting teams for being in the middle group, despite the fact that I want more premium guys to dream over and support top contender status year in year out.

      Just my take.

  13. When evaluating a draft, here’s the best quote (and it didn’t relate to baseball or sports of any kind):

    “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”


  14. I think Keith Law tends to think very similarly to the Phillies when it comes to drafting. If he’s got Comer at #41, then I won’t be surprised if he is the pick at 39.

  15. From Law’s Twitter early this morning…”Doubt that. They don’t spend like that RT @aTOMic26: @keithlaw you see the phillies picking Comer at 39 and stay within their own backyard?”

  16. PP,

    First off, thanks for this site and the work you put into it. By far, the best source of info on the Phillies minor league system anywhere. I certainly have learned things I didn’t know before from yourself and others here.

    However, I must say that I feel the positions of the critics of the Phillies approach to the draft and LA spend are frequently misconstrued and the simple, basic point is missed.

    Some of your statements…

    “I tried to go over why focusing only on spending was dangerous and a lot of people still didn’t buy it”

    I don’t think any of us have ever suggested to focus “only on spending”. The reason we talk about it is because their self imposed draft budget seems a little short compared to the rest of MLB. That seems pretty obvious. And with all the things they do right, spending is the one area they seem to be lagging behind in. So obviously the criticism would be focused on the thing they seem to need improvement in.

    “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.”

    I am not sure who disagrees with that statement. I don’t.

    “Everyone believes the team should spend more money. I can make an argument why they can afford to spend $10M per year.”

    If everyone believes that, it is hard to tell sometimes from some of the comments. I am not even asking for $10M per year. The MLB average would be fine by me. For such a large market team, that seems like a fair and simple goal. That is still less money than teams like the Yankees and Red Sox spend each year.

    “the results tell me that it’s not really how much you pay, its identifying the right guys and getting deals done,”

    They are not mutually exclusive. They are both related. Of course it is about identifying the right guy and getting deals done. I agree wholeheartedly. The Phillies seem really good about identifying the right guys, but they haven’t been as good at getting deals done…because they have arbitrarily set for themselves one of the lowest draft budgets in MLB. Even Marti Wolever’s recent comments suggest that he doesn’t realize that one of the only teams that has “drawn a line in the sand” when it comes to draft spend is…the Phillies. They just seem stubborn to the point of cutting their nose off to spite their face at times when it comes to the big dollar…for them ($1+M)…overslot signings they draft. For me the evidence is starting to pile up that they are costing themselves some prospects because they don’t like paying the market value rate for some of the guys they are drafting.

    And just to be clear, I do not think you are an apologist, since I think that is far too strong a word. You generally tend to give the Phillies the benefit of the doubt. I think that is the right approach in general. So do I in every area except for draft spend. I do think you can at times look at a set of data points and see the reasons to support the Phillies draft spend, but miss the evidence in the very same data points that suggests an equally strong argument for them to spend a little bit more (not $10M per…maybe $4.5M to $6M per). I remember well your less than enthusiastic responses to Hewitt, Dugan and others, so I do trust that when it comes to the individual prospects, you say what you think, and I respect that.

    All in all, I am a fan of the Phillies minor league scouts, I even like Marti Wolever, and I appreciate their organization and discipline they bring to the minor league system. An organization and discipline that started with Mike Arbuckle and has been carried on well since then.

    1. Thanks for that.

      I think the thing is, I’d love for the Phillies to spend more money. It makes sense, on some levels. But I understand why they don’t. And really, their total draft budget normally lines up with the recommended slots. However, you only have to look at 2008 to see they aren’t completely rigid in their spending patterns. They went over slot a number of times in the first 10 rounds, and then in a big way on Cosart.

      Part of the lack of spending is either

      a.) not having a first round pick
      b.) always picking at the end of rounds

      Both of those things drive down the slot estimates and the “average spend” if they adhere to the slots. Whether they should or not is obviously a topic for debate, but the Phillies seem to play nice with the Commish. You’d hope at some point soon we’re rewarded with an ASG, since CBP hasn’t hosted one yet.

      One thing I do wish for is hard slotting in the next CBA. Not because I think its the right thing to do, but because I think it will give the Phillies even more of an advantage when it comes to the draft. How it impacts the talent pool, well that is definitely a concern.

      In an ideal world, the Phillies would just take the best player available and get him signed. But we don’t live in an ideal world, unfortunately.

      1. I still wonder if maybe the plan last year was to spend more but they got a little unlucky with a couple guys who they thought they could sign and couldn’t, without paying much more than they wanted for that particular player.

        If that’s the case, my residual criticism of the team mostly disappears.

        1. Yes!
          Since I believe the Phillies are not stupid, but just tough negotiators, I agree with this summary. (Much better than I would have said it!)

          I think Phillies had a ‘deal’ with Workman but after he was drafted that number changed.
          I think a similar thing happened with Frazier (and Hinson). However, it could have been a budget issue in that the “Frazier money” seemed to be spent on 3 other guys after he declined.

          Unfortunately, it seems the 2008 draft was the abberation. I’d like them to have done their research on each player they select and have an idea what they are willing to offer. (Villanova guy last season did not like their 9th Rd offer, so they took him very late and made the same offer which he did not accept.) The Phillies willingness to say ‘no’ I think keeps their leverage with agents and prospects.

          1. Does anyone know where the Phils project (or may project) with possible sandwich picks for assumed lost FA’s i.e. I believe Ibanez is an type A thus if he signs elswhere the phils recieve draft compenation.

    2. I’l play amateur front office psychologist for a moment. I don’t think the Phils have any set dollar figure that they shy away from in higher round or overslept negotiations. I do think, based on reading many years of statements and observing many years of actions with a modicum of understanding, that Phils do get their hackles up over a guy, or his family, or his agent, who unrealistically slots himself beyond his true status.

      Many of our discussions, whether stated or otherwise, center around disagreement over whether these guys are truly worth a dollar gamble. For example, Susac was clearly a good catcher when Phils drafted him, but his hitting was a ?. Now he shows he can hit a little. But at the time, Phils could not risk an offer that would trump his college commitment, on the real possibility that they would have a lifetime .230 hitting catcher with a huge bank account on their hands (can you say Tuffy Gosewisch, before this year?). They have probably made that type of decision, right or wrong on their evaluation, a half dozed, maybe even a dozen times in recent years. That’s essentially a non-gambling, conservative mindset, but not an unreasonable one. They can be held accountable for whether they are right or wrong on these decisions, or whether they get their hackles up over the style of the discussions (which they should not let cud their judgement). But the mindset is reasonable, and most good-drafting teams have the same POV.

      1. Whew, the auto-spelly thing is a bear to live with sometimes. One letter wrong and it becomes something else. “Culd” (“could”) becomes “cud.”

      2. Yeah, that’s kind of what I was getting at in my comment immediately above. Keep in mind that from a pure negotiation tactics POV, their strategy should save them money in the long run. One point that I don’t think that PP has made is that thier draft spending is low in part because they do a good job negotiating with their picks. i.e., if they had a reputation as a free spender, they would have to pay much more for the prospects that they DO sign.

  17. Cameron Gallagher- seen on the local news last month or so. Scout from Toronto Blue Jays spoke on camera, said they like the work ethic, looking for a chance to take him, but they know alot of teams are interested in him. His father was drafted in the 3rd rd., I believe, one spot ahead of Tony Gwynn. I think brother is also recent signee and they wish he would be drafted higher than either (his family I mean).

    So, I will sign on for that: for a wish list:
    Gallagher, C
    Trevor Story, SS
    a couple of players mentioned in another thread:
    Deion Williams , SS, list as 6’3 190, from Domonic Brown’s old HS , R-R, looks like could be a relative of Brown, looks like a SS, kind of like Garry Templeton build, but if can’t stick there looks like potential in OF. Limited viewing of swing, but looks good.
    Only college committment seen is Georgia State and a JC> maybe signable.
    Jean-Phillippe Rousseau, C, from Quebec , clip only shows batting and (not top of the line)baserunning. 5’11 200. Similar to many strong looking types, Bat looks all right, but 1994 birthday, figure they can draft him at 16. How often can you draft a 16 y.o. . They can find a spot later in draft.
    They can find a College SS after the first few rounds, Like Panick from NY and the guy from TCU.

    1. And to promote some more nepotism,
      Andrew Amaro, SS-INF, Philly area
      and back again:
      Rob Amaro and Chris Gosik, believe both still at 3B
      They can nab these guys a little later.

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