The Phils and the Draft–Few Hits, Plenty of Misses

Looking at the first three rounds of the major league baseball draft over the past 10 years, it becomes quite clear why the Phils have the lack of depth that they are currently suffering from.  They have had very few high draft picks who have panned out in the manner you would hope and to some extent, expect.  When you look at the teams around the major leagues and review their first three rounds of draft picks over the last 10 years, there are very few teams that have produced less major league talent (regulars) than the Phils.

The benefit that the Phils received from their drafts over the last 10 years is that specific pieces have helped land the likes of Halladay, Oswalt, and Blanton.  Those pieces were critical to the success of the Phils (some more than others) in 2008-2011. It is notable however, that absent Halladay, there is no player that had prolonged success in the Phils organization.  The future holds some degree of hope with the ultimate success of the last 3-4 years still to be determined.

Looking back year by year: 2013: (1) JP Crawford; (2) Andrew Knapp; (3) Cord Sandberg; (3) Jan Hernandez.  It’s too early to pass judgement and the Crawford pick has the potential to erase plenty of bad draft memories.  Knapp has been hampered by Tommy John surgery which he underwent late last year.  Both Sandberg and Hernandez struggled mightily with the bat last year but have the talent to erase their first 100 professional at bats pretty quickly.

2012:(1) Shane Watson; (1)Mitch Guellar; (2) Alec Rash; (2) Dylan Cozens (3) Zach Green–Guellar has been a disappointment thus far struggling in Williamsport last year. Watson was slightly better than ok and has suffered from injury issues; Rash went unsigned; Cozens had a decent rookie year and second season in Williamsport and his development this year will lend credibility to the 2012 draft if he succeeds; Green has been slightly better than anticipated, hitting for power, but struggling to make contact at times while playing a decent 3B

2011:(1)Larry Greene; (2) Roman Quinn; (2) Harold Martinez; (3) Adam Morgan; Greene has been consistently disappointing although he has come into this year in much better shape with a new attitude according to most; Quinn’s transition to SS has been very troublesome, and he has suffered two major injuries.  His speed continues to make him intriguing even with the Achilles issue; AFter playing at the University of Miami, Martinez has not advanced past High A and has shown almost zero power which makes his value extremely low as a corner infielder; Morgan has shown a good deal of promise but significant shoulder injuries made 2013 a lost year with 2014 a question mark as well.

2010: (1)Jesse Biddle; (2) Perci Garner; (3) Cameron Rupp–Biddle has progressed relatively nicely with command and control issues introducing themselves last year and this Spring.  He continues to project as a major league starter, but I would peg him as a #3 as opposed to the front line starter many were anticipating;  Garner is now 25 and has pitched only 3 games above Clearwater; Rupp has been exactly as we would have hoped and projects to be a solid major league backup, sooner rather than later.

2009: Kelly Dugan(2); Kyrell Hudson (3); Dugan had a very nice 2013 and is progressing nicely.  I would hope that Dugan breaks into the Phils OF next year at age 24.  Hudson was a huge disappointment and is out of baseball.

2008: (1)Anthony Hewitt; (1) Zach Collier; (2) Anthony Gose; (2) Jason Knapp; (3) Vance Worley; (3)Jon Pettibone.  Hewitt has been a major disappointment with it continuing to be unlikely that he sees major league time; Collier has been only slightly less disappointing than Hewitt with a combination of injury, suspension and general ineffectiveness hampering his progress; Gose was part of the deal that landed Roy Oswalt in Philadelphia.  He has had just over 300 major league AB’s, hit .240 with 19 SB’s; Worley was part of the deal that landed Ben Revere in Philadelphia and had two fairly effective years for the Phils prior to that; Pettibone has the potential to be a decent #4-5 starter in the majors when healthy.

2007: (1) Joe Savery; (2) Travis D’Arnaud; (2) Travis Mattair; (3) Brandon Workman; (3) Matthew Spencer; Savery was another first round disappointment and was ultimately designated for assignment this year after a cup of coffee with the Phils over two seasons; D’Arnaud is in the Mets organization and continues to be regarded as one of the top young backstops in baseball. He was traded away in the Halladay deal; Mattair never reached higher than A+ in the Phils organization and as of last check was in AA with the Reds hitting around .240; Workman went unsigned; Spencer never made it higher than A+ with the Phils and spent 2013 playing Independent Ball in Lancaster.

2006: (1)Kyle Drabek; (1) Adrian Cardenas; (2) Drew Carpenter; (3)Jason Donald; Drabek is now 26 and helped the Phils acquire Roy Halladay; He has had significant elbow issues and has started 37 games at the major league level for Toronto with an ERA approaching 6. Cardenas was involved in the Joe Blanton deal and is another that didn’t pan out in the manner expected; He played 45 games for the Cubs in 2012 and is now out of baseball; Carpenter had a handful of appearances with the Phils and has bounced around the upper levels of several organizations over the last two years;  Jason Donald has 550 plus major league at bats most recently with the Indians in 2012. He hit .219 playing for Louisville (AAA) last year in the Reds organization.

2005: (2)Mike Costanzo; (3) Matt Maloney;  Costanzo was traded two years after he was drafted in the Brad Lidge deal; He has become a AAAA player and has accumulated 18 major league AB’s and 1 hit;  Maloney landed Kyle Lohse in Philly from the Reds way back when.  Maloney made 31 major league appearances over four years with the Reds and Twins with an ERA of 5.74.  Maloney finished last season playing at AA in the Red Sox organization.

2004: (1)Greg Golson; (2) Jason Jaramillo; (3) JA Happ; Golson has 41 major league AB’s in the Yankees organization and was involved in the trade that brought John Mayberry to Philly; He is expected to play AAA in the Brewers organization this year and is considered to be a AAAA player; Jaramillo spent parts of three seasons as the Pirates back up catcher and was traded back in 2008 for none other than Ronny Paulino, who never played a game for the Phils; Jaramillo spent 2013 in the Astros/Mariners organization at the AAA level; Happ had a modicum of success with the Phils and was sent to Houston as part of the Roy Oswalt deal; Happ has spent more time in the majors than any other on this list with parts of seven seasons spent in the majors, now with the Blue Jays.

14 thoughts on “The Phils and the Draft–Few Hits, Plenty of Misses

  1. A horror! Nothing in these past several drafts that is exciting for the future except perhaps Crawford. Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels were great choices…but not much since then.

    It’s as if management decided that this winning major lg franchise could relax with all the attendance and TV dollars rolling in…..and settled for 2nd best in it’s drafts with some great errors in evaluations in the 1st round…Golson, Hewitt, etc! At the same time other teams were consulting with stat gurus and making informed intelligent choices, leaving the Phils gasping with incompetence…and we fans holding the bag.

    This goes to the top of the org. Without a change in their mindset, the Phils will continue to languish among the hopeless losers.

    Thanks for the timely review.

  2. Total WAR of players drafted from 2004 – 2009:
    Phillies: 13.7
    Braves: 89.8
    Mets: 36.7
    Marlins: 30.5
    Nationals: 102.4

    1. “‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”

      Total Wins of NL East Teams 2003-2008 (years preceding those drafts)

      Phillies: 526 (2 Division Titles, 1 World Series)
      Braves: 522 (3 Division Titles)
      Mets: 494 (1 Division Title)
      Marlins: 490
      Nationals/Expos: 434

      Drafting has been poor, but the team was above .500 all those years and usually drafting later in the first round. (21st in 04, None in 05, 18th in 06, 19th in 07, 24th in 08, None in 09). ANd it’s not like any all-stars went in the 1st round after the Phillies picked (although Gerrit Cole was drafted by the yankees and didn’t sign)

      The nats figure is inflated by the fact that they drafted high most of those years, adding guys like Zimmerman and Strasburg. The Braves are an outlier, although they also tend to hit on local products that nobody else seems sure on (like Heyward).

      And it’s not like the phillies were the only ones who valued some of these guys; a lot of them were traded for useful major league players.

      1. I think we’re all pretty aware that the Phillies were the best team in the division over that span and their lower draft positions contributed to this. The point is we are where we are, and the lack of talent from that stretch of drafts is now coming to fruition as those players are now in what should be their prime seasons. It’s the single biggest reason we aren’t likely to compete for the next three years.

    2. Kind of late commenting on this, but:

      What stands out here are the Braves. Marlins, Mets, and Nationals all drafted much higher (and two of the three with not much to show for it).

      But the Braves drafted about where the Phillies did – and produced almost 7 times as much talent! That’s a heck of an organization. And, incidentally, one reason why I don’t put the lack of a serious analytic department at or near the top of the list of problems with the organization. Atlanta isn’t particularly driven by analytics either – just really good scouting, development, and talent evaluation.

      That, said, I agree that context (i.e., a comprehensive ;league wide comparison, taking into account draft position) would be helpful. But,IMO,even taking draft position into account and assuming some bad luck, the question that such analysis would answer is whether the Phillies’ draft/development performance has been horrendous or merely bad. 13.7 WAR over that time period is bad regardless of draft position, and goes a LONG way towards explaining the current sad state of the franchise.

      1. To expand upon this … yes, the Braves are a little bit of an outlier. But, increasingly,with the changing financial dynamics of the game, an organization NEEDS TO BE AN OUTLIER TO CONTEND CONSISTENTLY. It would be interesting to see such a list for all organizations, but I think we can guess who some of the other outliers are. And THEY are the teams that, in the past to some extent but going forward especially, are going to be consistent contenders.

        Another path to a window of contention is to be at least decent with drafting and development and contend after a period of several losing seasons. Sadly, this now seems the BEST case for the Phillies’ organization.

      2. Agree on scouting for the Braves. They also generously invested financially in the LA free agent market. Two years ago MLB ranked their top ten prospects and 6 were signed as LA free agents. This year, 3 of their top 5 are LA free agent signees.
        Their willingness to spend in that market, with astute scouting, has proved fruitful.

  3. Oh! If this spring training wasn’t enough to get me down….this recent draft history surely will do the trick.

  4. This explains why Arbuckle didn’t get the GM job here. Clearly, we must add some doubtful scouting or scouting philosophy, or problems with the development staff to too many draft picks lost to FA signings, not enough spent on the draft, not enough spent internationally as causes of the demise of the Phillies and their minor leagues. I’m tempted to drop ‘trading too much minor league talent in trades’ as a cause, because we seem to have done well turning some of these turkeys into solid major league vets. I still miss D’Arnauld, Singleton, and Santana, but by and large, the Phillies won all of these trades.

    1. Yeah, I think it’s a little bit all of the above.

      I will say this, despite my overall pessimism as related elsewhere, I do think they have gotten better recently at drafting, aided last year by draft position. And even the misses seem more a matter of bad luck or possibly poor development. Though the latter obviously is a possible cause of concern going forward.

    2. I agree, although of the three you mention the one I regret the most is Santana. While he is not a lock to be a successful major leaguer he has a chance to be really good and he was a player to be named….D’Arnauld and Singleton look to be good but you have to trade something of value to get return. Santana as a throw in was a huge mistake.

  5. To make it worse, remember that when Mike Costanzo was drafted #65, the next pick was another 3B that has had a slightly better career…Chase Headley.

  6. This looks bad, to be sure, but just wondering whether we have a benchmark to compare it to. What is the hit rate for guys picked in rounds 1-3? It might be lower than we think. I don’t know how to do this research easily on Baseball Reference, but it seems like you would need to find an average team, neither too good over the last decade (and thus picking at the back of the draft) or too bad for any sustained period over the last decade (and thus picking regularly at the top of the draft, a la the Astros, Cubs, Twins, etc). I just arbitrarily picked the White Sox. I have no idea what their drafting philosophy is, I’m just looking for a proxy for a mediocre organization. I’ll define a “hit” as any player who has contributed more than 1 win above replacement over the course of his career.

    First round “hits” since 2004:
    Gio Gonzalez (14 WAR)
    Gordon Beckham (5 WAR)
    Chris Sale (16 WAR)

    Second round “hits” since 2004:
    None

    Third round “hits” since 2004:
    Addison Reed (1 WAR)

    So basically, what does this (admittedly arbitrary) comparison tell us? A couple things we should already know: 1)it is hard to find decent players outside the first round; 2)it is hard to find star caliber players outside the top half of the first round. No question that the Phillies have blown it with their first round picks. But to dig a bit deeper, Sale was picked #13 and Beckham was picked #8. The last time the Phillies had a pick in that neighborhood was the draft when they took Cole Hamels. Is it embarrassing that the Phillies first round draft picks haven’t been able to muster a single measly win? Of course! But maybe it’s not completely surprising.

    A second thing to note about Sale and Beckham: they were both 4-year college players, so they got to the majors pretty quickly. The Phillies, as we know, prefer to gamble on high school players, and there are still quite a few guys on this list (Biddle, D’Arnaud, maybe Dugan and Gose) who could end up contributing at the major league level. Of course, they probably won’t turn into Sale. But any one of them could easily be better than Beckham. And Gio Gonzalez actually seems like a pretty good ceiling comp for Biddle.

    Third, when you go a bit deeper, you notice that three of the Phillies third round picks (Happ, Worley, Pettibone) have combined for nearly 10 WAR over the course of their career–not bad in comparison to the White Sox’s performance. Those guys are all following a similar career path–workmanlike #4-5 starter who provides value at little price to the team and, in the case of Happ and Worley, were subsequently flipped at peak value for other players.

    Admittedly, this is a very unscientific exercise–for one thing, the White Sox could be notoriously bad at scouting/drafting, I don’t know their reputation. There are probably too many variables at work to ever compare two teams like this. But as a thought experiment, I think it was helpful to me, and I think it makes the list look a little less dire than it might appea at first glance. It’s easy to forget: failure is the norm with prospects.

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