Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Drafting With Hindsight



I’m fond of calling the Detroit Tigers the worst drafting team in professional sports. The Tigers in my lifetime can sum up their draft history as “Justin Verlander and Several Hundred Cade Gaspars”. They’re just awful at it and it is proven each season when the experts routinely rank the Tigers as having one of the bottom five minor league systems in professional baseball. Every friggin’ year.

Over at Bless You Boys, the always great Patrick O’Kennedy (aka TigerDog to those who remember BYB before SB Nation sold out) has an interesting piece up about the odds of a draft pick making the majors. And it seems he’ll be following it up later on how the Tigers relate to it. But I thought I’d take a look back at some drafts and see how it could have gone for Detroit with the benefit of hindsight. Just for poops and giggles.

Obviously, no draft will be perfect. And I consider baseball to be, by far, the hardest sport to project how young players will turn out. But I find it interesting to see how close the Tigers were to getting some real talent over the years and only blow it by drafting some clown like Scott Moore instead.

So here’s a look at the last ten drafts that we should have reasonably seen some sort of impact on the MLB club (1999-2008) by now. I still think it’s too soon to completely crap on the 2009-2012 drafts. There’ll be plenty of time for that later, I’m sure.

Oh, one last thing on the hindsight part of this. No one could have seen a 13th round selected Albert Pujols or a 62nd round selected guy like Mike Piazza becoming the superstars they turned out to be. So I’m focusing the hindsight on guys that were drafted close to where the top three Tiger draftees were each season. I want this to be a reasonable look at what could have been.


1999 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#3 Eric Munson

Well, Munson is our first huge bust. Don’t worry…there will be many more. That first round pick could have been used on Barry Zito (#9), Ben Sheets (#10), or even on down to Carl Crawford (#52).

#87 Neil Jenkins (made it to AA)

Who? Two picks later, the Twins would select Justin Morneau. I think they made a better choice.

#117 Cody Ross

Cody wasn’t a horrible pick here. The only other decent choice would have been Angel Pagan, taken at #136.

Overall in 1999, Detroit had 43 draft picks. Only 4 would make it to the majors (9.3%). They are Munson, Ross, Eric Eckenstahler (Round 32), and Jason Frasor (Round 33).

2000 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#8 Matt Wheatland (didn’t make it past A-ball)

At #15, the Phillies took Chase Utley. Think of all the “Can he play second?” nonsense we could have skipped over in recent years.

#48 Chad Petty (didn’t make it past A-ball)

Joel Hanrahan was taken at #57 by the Dodgers. There’s your closer, kids.

#78 Nook Logan

Nook was drafted as a shortstop, believe it or not. Try not to weep when you learn Cliff Lee was available and taken #105 by the Expos.

The Tigers had 43 picks in 2000. Only 3 made the majors (6.98%). They were Logan, Mark Woodyard (Round 4), and Luis Alicea (Round 39). Worst draft ever.

2001 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#11 Kenny Baugh (made it to AAA)

Jeremy Bonderman, taken at #26, would have been a better pick and we could have kept Jeff Weaver around to hate a while longer.

#32 Mike Woods (made it to AA)

David Wright was taken by the Mets at #38. This breaks my cold, tiny heart.

#55 Preson Larrison (made it to AAA)

With the next pick, JJ Hardy was taken by the Brewers at #56.

BONUS FUN!!!

This was the draft where Detroit had two first rounders and two second rounders. None would make the majors because Randy Smith was a brain-dead moron. With Larrison, the Tigers also selected whatever a Matt Coenden is in the second round at #65. At #72, the Cardinals took Dan Haren. Shit, fuck, goddammit.

Detroit had 48 picks in 2001. Five would make the majors (10.4%), surprisingly. They are Jack Hannahan (Round 3), Mike Rabelo (Round 4), Ryan Raburn (Round 5), Don Kelly (Round 8), and Humberto Sanchez (Round 31).

2002 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#8 Scott Moore

Take your pick. Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Joey Votto were all RIGHT FUCKING THERE. But,noooooooooooooooo...
 
#49 Brent Clevlen

We could have Jon Lester, who went to Boston at #57.

#80 Curtis Granderson

Hey, I can’t complain here. Our first really good pick. (SPOILER: There won’t be many more.)

Since I can’t complain about Grandy, let’s move to the fourth round where Detroit took a guy that would never advance past A-ball named Matt Pender at #87. Josh Johnson was there for the taking and went #113 to the Marlins.

Detroit had 45 picks in 2002. 6 would make it to the show (13.3%). That’s our highest percentage yet. They are Moore, Clevlen, Granderson, Luke Carlin (Round 10), Joel Zumaya (Round 11), and Jesse Carlson (Round 15).

2003 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#3 Kyle Sleeth (made it to AA)

Nick Markakis went to the Orioles at #7. If you don’t like him, the amazing Adam Jones would slip to Seattle at #37.

#40 Jay Sborz

Never trust a guy named Sborz. Especially when Andre Ethier was there and went at #62 to the Dodgers.

#70 Tony Giarratano

At #80, Shawn Marcum went to the Blue Jays.

The Tigers had 50 picks in 2003. 6 would make it to the majors (12%). However, none were any good and didn’t last long. They were Sborz, Giarratano, Virgil Vazquez (Round 7), Brian Rogers (Round 11), Jordan Tata (Round 16), and Dusty Ryan (Round 48).

2004 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#2 Justin Verlander

I can live with this one, I guess.

#43 Eric Beattie (didn’t make it past A-ball)

Take your pick of Hunter Pence at #64 or Dustin Pedroia at #65.

#73 Jeff Frazier

There aren’t a lot of great options here. But Wade Davis (#75) and Adam Lind (#83) are much better than Frazier ended up becoming.

Again, Detroit had 50 picks in 2004. Only 4 would make it this time (8%). In addition to JV and Frazier’s cup of coffee, the others were Brent Dlugach (Round 6) and Luke French (Round 8). Verlander saves yet another terrible draft by being a can’t miss prospect. Thanks for passing on him, San Diego.

2005 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#10 Cameron Maybin

At #11, the Pirates took Andrew McCutchen. So close to having my favorite non-Tiger in Detroit…

#90 Chris Robinson (made it to AAA)

The speedy Brett Gardner is the closest thing to a good player here taken at #109.

#120 Kevin Whelan

Meh. Chris Getz (#125) or Gaby Sanchez (#126) aren’t great, but would turn out to be better choices.

An amazing 10 out of 49 Detroit picks would make the majors (20.4%). But don’t get too excited. They were Maybin, Whelan, Jeff Larish (Round 5), Clete Thomas (Round 6), Anthony Claggett (Round 11), Matt Joyce (Round 12), Casper Wells (Round 14), Michael Hollimon (Round 16), Burke Badenhop (Round 19), and Will Rhymes (Round 27). As much as I’d like to be cranky about missing out on McCutchen, this was basically the draft that allowed the Tigers to acquire Miguel Cabrera. Can’t get too upset over that.

2006 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#6 Andrew Miller

Sigh. Clayton Kershaw would go next at #7. Tim Lincecum went at #10. Miller was the final piece of the Cabrera puzzle, so don’t fret too much over it, I guess.

#50 Ronnie Bourquin (made it to AA)

This bust could have been avoided with Trevor Cahill at #66 or Justin Masterson at #71.

#83 Brennan Boesch

As much as it pains me to admit it, Boesch is the best player to be taken around this part of the draft. However there would be better talent later on such as Jeff Samardzija (5th round to Chicago) and Doug Fister (7th round to Seattle).

Out of 50 picks for the Tigers, 5 would make it to MLB (10%). They were Miller, Boesch, Scott Sizemore (Round 5), Duane Below (Round 19), and Casey Fien (Round 20).

2007 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#27 Rick Porcello

Good pick for that spot.

#60 Brandon Hamilton

Uh oh. Everyone’s dream Tiger, Giancarlo Stanton, would go at #76 to the Marlins. Damn.

#91 Danny Worth

Not a lot of talent here, but another good fielder named Darwin Barney was taken at #127 by the Cubs.

Detroit had 45 picks in 2007 and 5 have made the majors (11.1%). They are Porcello, Worth, Luke Putkonen (Round 3), Charlie Furbush (Round 4), and Casey Crosby (Round 5).

2008 MLB Draft

Top 3 Detroit Picks

#21 Ryan Perry

Lance Lynn went to the Cards at #39. I’d prefer him to Agent P.

#67 Cody Satterwhite (made it to AA)

Craig Kimbrel, taken at #96) would look good in the Detroit bullpen around now.

#99 Scott Green (didn’t advance past A-ball)

At #102, Vance Worley was taken. Oh well.

5 out of 50 have made it to the majors from the 2008 class (10%). In addition to Perry, the others were Alex Avila (Round 5), Andy Dirks (Round 8), Robbie Weinhardt (Round 10), and Thad Weber (Round 16).

Overall, by my count 53 out of 473 drafted players from this time period would make the Major Leagues (11.2%). Most were terrible. Only Verlander and Granderson can be considered great picks by the Tigers. However, as I said earlier, many of these guys would be flipped to the Marlins in the Cabrera deal, so that helps quite a bit. 

But overall, I think we can all agree that the Tigers, though getting slightly better at it, really struggle in the Draft. I’m sure TigerDog will give a more scientific look at it in his next piece at BYB.

Guess it’s a good thing we have a filthy rich owner that doesn’t mind spending cash on free agents nowdays, huh? Otherwise, we’d be the Detroit Pirates.

Except they were smart enough to take McCutchen.

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