Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scouting the Draft: 2014 Draft Review

There is always a lot of talk about winners and losers in the amateur draft immediately after, but we seldom look back at past drafts to see how those declarations actually worked out on the field.  Part of the problem is how far do you look back?  It probably takes a minimum of 5 years for a draft to play out and really see who was successful in finding good major league talent and who didn't.  We'll try to do one of those in the near future, but with several players from last year's draft class already in the majors or getting close, and with that draft still fresh enough in our minds to remember the excitement we had for certain players, I thought it might be fun to look back just one year to the 2014 draft and see who is looking good.

Just remember that it takes HS talent longer to reach the majors, but some of those HS players may have higher ceilings than college draftees who arrive sooner.  We'll assign current grades based on current performance knowing they may not reflect the ultimate grade of the pick.  With that said, here's the rundown(We'll just do Round 1):

1.  Astros.    Brady Aiken, LHP, HS.  Did not sign.  Underwent TJ surgery in the spring.  Drafted at #17 overall by the Cleveland Indians in 2015.  Astros got a compensatory pick in 2015 for not signing Aiken and used it on Alex Bregman, so the pick was not a total loss and may end up being a plus in the end and the Astros may well be better off not signing Aiken at all than signing him for a reduced bonus.  Grade B.

2.  Marlins.  Tyler Kolek, RHP, HS.  2014 Rookie GCL:  0-3, 4.80, 22 IP, 13 BB, 18 K, GO/AO= 1.32.  Low A:  4-3, 4.74, 57 IP, 22 BB, 37 K, GO/AO= 1.22.  One of the biggest, hardest throwers in the draft.  I don't have a current scouting report, but these are not dominant numbers at age appropriate levels.  Grade C-

3.  White Sox.  Carlos Rodon, LHP, College.  MLB:  3-1, 4.07, 55.1 IP, 31 BB, 55 K, GO/AO= 1.19. Pitchers who rely heavily on the slider tend to have command/control issues when they first arrive in the majors.  Rodon is no exception.  Impressive that he is already pitching in the majors and holding his own though.  He's going to have to do a better job of establishing the FB to force MLB hitters to swing at sliders that fall out of the zone.  Too many easy takes so far.  Grade A-.

4.  Cubs.  Kyle Schwarber, C/OF/1B, College.  AA:  .320/.438/.579, 13 HR.  MLB:  .364/.391/.591 in 22 AB.  Schwarber is a college masher without a definite MLB position.  Recently called up to DH in interleague play and kept on mashing.  Seems like 1B is is most likely ultimate position and the Cubs already have a good one there in Anthony Rizzo.  Cubs went best hitter available ignoring positional concerns.  That may come back to haunt them.  No question Schwarber is a serious hitter, though.  Grade B+

5.  Twins.  Nick Gordon, SS, HS.  Low A:  .247/.325/.296, 15 SB.  Hit .294 in rookie ball last year.  Premium athlete.  Hit tool may take time and may not develop at all.  Grade:  C-.

6.  Mariners.  Alex Jackson, OF, HS.  2014 Rookie AZL:  .280/.344/.476, 2 HR.  2015 Low A:  .157/.240/.213.  2015 Short Season:  .308/.379/.385, 10 K in 26 AB.  No Bueno for a kid drafted for his bat and for his power.  Remember, Arroyo struggled in Low A last year too.  On the other hand, Arroyo did not have Jackson's frightful strikeout numbers.  Grade D.

7.  Phillies.  Aaron Nola, RHP, College.  AA:  7-3, 1.88, 76.2 IP, 9 BB, 59 K.  AAA:  2-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 2 BB, 14 K's.  Phillies are taking it a bit slower with Nola than the White Sox are with Rodon, but Nola may have better early success once he hits the majors.  The question with Nola is ceiling.  So far, he looks exactly like what the Phils thought they were drafting.  A solid #2-3 MLB SP.  Grade A-.

8.  Rockies.  Kyle Freeland, LHP, College.  A bit of a pop-up pitching prospect.  Has not played in 2015 due to a shoulder injury.  The Rockies just keep on drafting college LHP's and they keep on busting.  This was not a well thought out pick for them that looked very iffy at the time, and it's looking even worse now.  Grade F.

9.  Blue Jays.  Jeff Hoffman, RHP, College.  High A:  1-2, 3.72, 38.2 IP, 12 BB, 24 K.  Hoffman appears to be healthy S/P TJ surgery.  That's a plus.  Sample size is probably too small here to draw conclusions from.  Risk of recurrent UCL tear is high, something like 100% by 10 years.  Not sure Hoffman's upside justifies that risk.  Grade C.

10.  Mets.  Michael Conforto, OF, College.  High A:  .283/.350/.462, 7 HR, 184 AB.  AA:  .326/.426/.533, 2 HR, 92 AB.  I liked Conforto in college and would have been OK with the Giants drafting him had he fallen.  So far, so good in the pros.  Limited to corner play, but who cares if he can hit?  Grade B+.

11.  Blue Jays.  Max Pentecost, C, College.  2014 Short Season:  .313/.322/.410.   Has had two shoulder surgeries since putting up this line out of the draft.  Shoulder surgery is almost as bad for a catcher as for a pitcher.  Pentecost is athletic enough to play another position, maybe even 2B, but you really want him at Catcher.  Grade C with wide range of possible outcomes.

12.  Brewers.  Kodi Medieros, LHP, HS.  Low A:  4-2, 4.41, 65.1 IP, 28 BB, 69 K's, GO/AO= 3.32.  Looked like a lefty reliever to me before the draft.  Still looks like that now.  Grade C.

13.  Padres.  Trea Turner, SS, College.  AA:  .318/.372/.464, 5 HR, 13 SB, 274 AB.  Strange saga.  Turner was included as a PTBNL in a 3 team trade in which he is now in the Washington Nationals organization while the Padres received Wil Myers from Tampa Bay in return.  Myers has looked good at times but has also been injured again.  Turner is looking good so far and will likely take over the starting SS position with Washington next year as Ian Desmond leaves via FA.  Hard to know how to grade this as it essentially makes Wil Myers the Padres first round pick here, which is not terrible, but they might have been better off just to keep Turner.  Grade B-.

14.  Giants.  Tyler Beede, RHP, College.  High A:  2-2, 2.24, 52.1 IP, 9 BB, 37 K, GO/AO= 2.44.  AA:  1-2, 5.01, 23.1 IP, 9 BB, 13 K's, GO/AO= 1.62.  I had Beede going to the Cubs at #4 in my mock draft.  I still think he's the guy the Cubs should have taken, as good a hitter as Schwarber seems to be.  Beede had a strong AA debut then a couple of hiccups.  He pitched well tonight(6/30/2015) which is not reflected in the line above.  I think he was a steal at #14 and is progressing as we would hope.  Grade B+(with potential to move up into the A range if he gets his feet on the ground in AA).

15.  Angels.  Sean Newcomb, LHP, College.  Low A:  1-0, 1.83, 34.1 IP, 19 BB, 45 K's, GO/AO= 2.00.  High A:  3-0, 3.32, 38.0 IP, 19 BB, 50 K's, GO/AO= 1.29.  The Angels are taking it slow with Newcomb who comes out of a smaller college program.    The K's look terrific. He could stand to improve his walk rate.  Grade B.

16.  D'Backs.  Touki Toussaint, RHP, HS.  Low A:  2-2, 3.69, 39 IP, 15 BB, 29 K, GO/AO= 0.87.  Touki was the guy a lot of draft watching Giants fans wanted them to take and he would have been a fine pick.  He wasn't dominant in low A ball, but he was holding his own.  The D'Backs recently inexplicably traded him to the Braves for a mess of pottage.  Were he still in the D'Backs organization, I would grade the pick as a B right now.  With the trade, I give it a solid F!

17.  Royals.  Brandon Finnegan, LHP, College.  MLB:  1-0, 1.88, 14.1 IP, 8 BB, 12 K's, GO/AO= 2.50.  Finnegan made a splash by helping the Royals in last year's postseason.  He's stayed on in a bullpen role this year with good results.  It remains to be seen if he eventually moves into the rotation or becomes the Royals version of Jeremy Affledt.  Grade B.

18.  Nationals.  Erick Fedde, RHP, College.  Short Season:  0-0, 3.00, 3 IP, 3 BB, 4 K's.  Fedde was a pop up prospect last year then suffered a torn UCL and underwent TJ surgery.  I am not at all in love with using a first round pick on a TJ alumnus, especially one with thin credentials to begin wihth, but the Nationals feel they know how to rehab TJ pitchers.  Grade C.

19.  Reds.  Nick Howard, RHP, College.  High A:  3-2, 7.09, 33 IP, 42 BB, 26 K's.  College pitcher with thin credentials.  The Reds could have had their choice of several signable, much higher ceiling HS pitchers here.  These numbers are downright ugly!  Grade F.

20.  Rays.  Casey Gillaspie, 1B, College.  Low A:  .278/.358/.530, 16 HR, 4 SB.  I wasn't excited about this pick at the time.  To me, Gillaspie is a one dimensional player and that one dimension is iffy at best.  Those are fine numbers if he was in High A ball, but Low A for a first round college draftee?  Rays would have been better advised to take any of several HS Pitchers here, but some teams simply won't take a HS pitcher in round 1.  Grade D.

21.  Indians.  Brad Zimmer, OF, College.  High A:  .300/.399/.488, 9 HR, 28 SB.  Highly athletic college OF with solid numbers at an appropriate level for a first round college draftee.  Grade B.

22.  Dodgers.  Grant Holmes, RHP, HS.  Low A:  3-0, 3.68, 51.1 IP, 28 BB, 67 K, GO/AO= 0.98.  Strong start for a hard throwing pitcher.  Grade B+.

23.  Tigers.  Derek Hill, OF, HS.  Low A:  .227/.293/.303, 23 SB.  Speedy, athletic HS OF's usually struggle with the bat early in their pro career.  Sometimes the bat develops.  Grade D.

24.  Pirates.  Cole Tucker, SS, HS.  Low A:  .281/.308/.343, 2 HR, 19 SB.  This pick was criticized at the time as an underslot bonus move.  He's doing surprisingly well in Low A ball.  Grade B.

25.  A's.  Matt Chapman, 3B, College.  High A:  .246/.333/.533, 11 HR.  Very A's-like pick here with power and walks, but BA challenged.  Again, IMO, one of several HS pitchers would have given better upside, but I'm sure Chapman is doing exactly what Billy Beane hoped he would do.  Grade C.

26.  Red Sox.  Michael Chavis, SS, HS.  Low A:  .204/.266/.353, 6 HR, 30+% K's.  Chavis was drafted for his bat.  So far that has been a big disappointment, but he is young and has time to come around.  Grade D.

27.  Cardinals.  Luke Weaver, RHP, College.  High A:  1-3, 2.73, 33 IP, 10 BB, 26 K's, GO/AO= 0.83.  Very Cardinalsy pick here.  About where you would expect him to be.  Grade B.

28.  Royals.  Foster Griffin, LHP, HS.  Low A:  0-2, 6.63, 38.0 IP, 12 BB, 29 K's, GO/AO= 1.83.  Peripherals aren't nearly as terrible as the ERA.  Grade C.

29.  Reds.  Alex Blandino, SS, College.  High A:  .292/.370/.415, 5 HR, 7 SB.  Another low ceiling pick by the Reds who need to be aiming higher as they enter a rebuild.  Grade C.

30.  Rangers.  Luis Ortiz, RHP, HS.  Low A:  4-1, 1.72, 47 IP, 9 BB, 44 K's, GO/AO= 0.86.  I really liked Ortiz before the draft and I like him even better now.  Great pick by the Rangers here.  Grade A-.

31.  Indians.  Justus Sheffield, LHP, HS.  Low A:  6-1, 4.72, 61 IP, 17 BB, 70 K's, GO/AO= 1.22.  Nothing wrong with those peripheral numbers here.  Grade B.

32.  Braves.  Braxton Davidson, OF, HS.  Low A:  .262/.401/.389, 6 HR.  Nice walk rate for a HS draftee.  A bit one dimensional.  Grade B.

33.  Red Sox.  Michael Kopech, RHP, HS.  Low A:  3-5, 2.88, 50 IP, 17 BB, 58 K, GO/AO= 1.27.  I loved Kopech before the draft.  I thought he might have the highest ceiling of any of the HS pitchers.  He's reportedly hitting the high 90's with his FB so he has pretty high present too.  Huge value this late in the draft.  Grade A.

34.  Cardinals.  Jack Flaherty, RHP, HS.  Low A:  3-1, 2.17, 29 IP, 13 BB, 24 K, GO/AO= 0.63.  Two way player in HS. Concentrating on pitching now and off to a pretty good start.  Grade B.


  1. Interesting. I think it's best to look back five years in baseball and four years in football before assigning grades. With baseball, that's a very reasonable development time. With football, that's when teams give up on high round draft choices that don't really pan out, but have been given starting roles because they were Round 1 or Round 2 draftees.

    So I look at 2010 and, frankly, except for the fact that some of those players were included in trades, getting the Giants something for their efforts, it was a waste of draft. But that's baseball. You're going to draft a ton of players. If you're lucky you'll get a couple of good major league players out of it (Belt, Heston -- 2009). And if you're really lucky you can hit on a few All-Stars/potential All-Stars along the way -- Lincecum (2006), Bumgarner (2007), Posey (2008) and Wheeler (2009).

    1. I think you can assign grades at any time. You just have to realize that it's just a snapshot at any given time and may change. Probably do need at least 5 years to get a final read on a baseball draft.

    2. I don't think you can put Wheeler in the same boat as Lincecum (CY, CY), Bumgarner (2014 Sportsman of the year), Posey (ROY, MVP). I mean come on. Zack has 285 IP at 100 ERA+ and is missing this entire year with TJ.

    3. Not yet, but he was looking pretty good. And he wasn't even fully healthy. Sometime in 2013 he apparently compromised his UCL which, eventually, turned into a full tear and Tommy John Surgery. So even with the soreness and problems and what-not that caused him to miss starts and putting him under a medical watch, he was pitching well both 2013 and 2014.

      Anyway, I think a guy who can pitch as well as Wheeler, far in excess of a hundred of innings, all with a bad elbow, is probably a pretty good pitcher and is showing, to me at least, that he deserves some respect and an acknowledgement that he may end up a very good pitcher. Hence 'potential' All Star.

      And, FWIW, I think he's got more potential and a better early-career than Matt Cain. And there's a former All Star.

    4. I would have let this go, because, sure, Wheeler could end up a very good pitcher, or even an All Star (although he is neither yet), but "better early-career than Cain"? Cain had more innings pitched in his age 20-22 seasons (437), than Wheeler has had since debuting in his age 23 season (285). And those three head start seasons for Cain were ERA+ 185, 108, 123 - all better than Wheeler's average or his best season. Cain accumulated 1.8 bWAR in his first 46.1 innings, almost matching Wheeler's career bWAR of 2.0. Unsurprisingly, that many more innings pitched at a higher quality also means Cain's total WAR for his pre-23 seasons dwarfs Wheeler's post-22 seasons. And of course Cain had a run of 8+ seasons as a horse. Wheeler may have potential left over, but he is coming off a big injury/surgery. BTW, with DeGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, and now Matz, looks like Wheeler is a #3 starter at best. ;) (Sorry, old Matt Cain joke from McC).

      Look maybe Wheeler goes on to big and amazin' (mets) things. But the names you've listed thus far were major contributors and stars (or even peaked...Timmy cough cough) in the six years after their draft, so I just don't think they are comparable - a disservice to the greatness/luck of 2006-8 #1 picks. That is looking at them and evaluating them in that same approximate five year period DrB is thinking he'd wait at a minimum to evaluate a draft. For some players you may have to wait longer, and obviously you want to save final conclusions for after everyone is through playing (although maybe even then trades and mentoring can linger on). With Wheeler, we'll have to give him more than 6 years to really prove his full potential. But now it looks to me like best-case scenario for Zack is a Francisco Liriano post-TJ career. BTW, Liriano is one of the big success stories for TJ.

      I know we were looking at 1st rounders, but the obvious big win from 2009? One Mister Brandon Belt with 10.5 career bWAR. And 10 WAR from a draft is already a great return. A value that will only be added to as Belt and Wheeler continue to play.

  2. Love these kinds of posts. Thanks Dr B!


  3. 90%? I can think of a lot of Giants players who took or are taking more than 5 years. Crawford, Belt, Pagan, Lincecum, Heston, to name a few.

    1. Crawford was drafted in 2008 and was firmly entrenched as the Giants starting SS by 2012. Brandon Belt was drafted in 2010 and was the starting 1B on the 2012 championship team. Pagan came to the Giants via trade. Tim Lincecum was drafted in 2006 and won a Cy Young award in 2008. Out those names you listed only Chris Heston missed the 5 year cutoff and then by just 1 season.

      At any rate, what I actually said is it probably takes at LEAST 5 years to get a final reading on a draft. Also like I said, you can take a snapshot grade any time as long as you realize it is a work in progress. If you really want to be a stickler for how a draft turned out, you probably have to wait for 15 years. Case in point: Ryan Vogelsong probably would not have come back to the Giants had they not been the team that originally drafted him, so I think you could reasonably count him as a success from his draft which took place over 10 years before he had his belated breakout with the Giants.

  4. Thanks for this...very interesting and fun read.

  5. Doc, was your comment about "the Royals version of Jeremy Affeldt" intentionally ironic? Contextually, it seems you want Finnegan to be for the Royals, what RP Affledt has been for SF Giants. Not what SP Affeldt was for the Royals.