The great Rany Jazayerli of Grantland and Baseball Prospectus posted an incredible and in-depth study into the value of young players in the Major League Baseball draft. Through exhaustive and official-looking research, Jazayerli posits young high school hitters offer incredible value based solely on their age alone.
It is a fascinating read and absolutely worth the significant chunk of your day it takes to absorb and process it. That isn’t really Getting Blanked style, however. This is more a home to quick hitting and potentially unfair analysis. Reading this post brought my thoughts to a very specific draft, the 2006 MLB entry draft.
Looking back at the 2006 draft is very interesting for a number of reasons, most notably the Rockies passing on Evan Longoria. It is also worth noting how many members of this first round now play in the Toronto Blue Jays system.
Very few of the high school hitters taken have reached the big leagues, Travis Snider and Hank Conger the only players with any significant big league reps. The results aren’t strong but realizing how young they are should (but won’t) help temper any disappointment.
Part of the fun of looking back at old drafts is playing the “let’s re-order the draft” game. Another fun exercise? Drudging up old scouting reports.
Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts liveblogged the 2006 draftand his insights provide a sharp window into how quickly things change in the prospect world.
- On Evan Longoria: Can play 3B, SS, or 2B…Adequate defensively. Well that outlook certainly changed over time, didn’t it?
- On Clayton Kershaw: He has reportedly touched the mid-90s with his fastball and has a plus curveball. Improved mechanics have contributed to better command. Given his height, handedness, stuff, and track record, Kershaw has one of the highest ceilings among all draftees. Nailed it. On the head. Good thing the Tigers took Andrew Miller directly ahead of this year’s Cy Young shoe-in.
- On Tim Lineceum: I wouldn’t be inclined to rush Lincecum and would like to see him given a chance to become a starter in the professional ranks first. If it doesn’t work out, then go ahead and convert him into a Scot Schields-type relief pitcher. Sage advice. Two-time Cy Young winner of solid right-handed reliever. The sky’s the limit!
- On Kyle Drabek: Makeup, makeup, makeup. Drabek is a top ten talent but a fiery temper and off-the-field issues dropped him to #18. Good thing they got that solved, then!
- Finally, first overall pick Luke Hochevar: At any spot in the top ten, Hochevar is simply a reach, lucky to have his hold-out gamble pay off. In truth he is a pitcher that belongs from 10-20 in the draft, garnering little more than slot from that position. Given his flakiness in the past, the bang is just not worth the buck with Hochevar. Being a Royals fan must be just delightful.
Gotta say, Lederer and Bryan Smith of Baseball Analysts kind of nailed this draft. The dearth of high school hitters yet to make an impact at the big league level is startling, especially when you consider the previous year’s draft class feature high school bats Justin Upton, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Colby Rasmus, all of whom already have big league service time in droves.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It guides our perceptions and makes oversights seem inexcusable even when considering the Fog of War. Players improve and grow or sputter and falter before reaching the highest levels. It’s a crap shoot but, as Jazayerli shows, one with definite method in its madness.