2000 Draft Recall: Best, Worst, and in Between


On Thursday, while working on an article about Philip Humber, I noticed a number of things about the Royals’ 2004 draft class.  What stood out?  Well, after the team selected Billy Buckner 55th overall, no other player drafted by Kansas City has reached the majors.  I started to wonder if having only 3 of 53 picks reach the big leagues was good, bad, or somewhere in between.  I realized that if I was going to answer that question and put things in proper perspective, the Royals draft class would have to be measured against the draft classes of the other 29 ML teams.  So here we are with the first post in a series called Draft Recall.  Today’s edition takes a look back at the 2000 draft.

If you are wondering why I chose the 2000, and not the 2004, draft class, I’ll explain shortly.

Setting the Purpose and the Framework:

My goal is to examine the talent evaluation and drafting abilities of the franchises.  It is not to examine the ability to both identify the talent and sign it.  Because of my objective therein, a player who did not sign and was taken by another team in a later draft still counts in the success rate of the team that selected him in the draft in question.

To achieve my goal, I have chosen to evaluate each team’s draft class two different ways.  The first is by evaluating the percentage of players that reached the majors from each organization’s draft.  The second is to examine the quality of those players that did reach the majors.  Considering the vast number of players that this process involves, I have chosen plate appearances for position players and batters faced for pitchers.  The premise is simple, and perhaps flawed, but the better players are typically going to have longer careers than the fringe guys.

For the more recent draft classes, 2001-2009, there are too many incomplete careers and incomplete stories to properly evaluate.  Because of this, I have chosen to start with the 2000 draft class, and not 2004.  In future posts, I will work further into the past.  Given the amount of time and research that went into this edition, I haven’t decided how far back I will go or how frequently I will get these published.

By Quantity
Ranked in order, worst-to-first, here is the success rate of the organizations.

30  Marlins: 2 of 45 (4.44%)
29  Tigers: 2 of 43 (4.65%)
28  Brewers: 3 of 49 (6.12%)
27  Orioles: 3 of 43 (6.98%)
26  Blue Jays: 4 of 52 (7.69%)
25  Mets: 4 of 51 (7.84%)
24  Phillies: 3 of 38 (7.89%)
23  White Sox: 4 of 50 (8.00%)
22  Reds: 5 of 52 (9.62%)
21  Pirates: 5 of 50 (10.00%)
20  Yankees: 5 of 50 (10.00%)
19  Cardinals: 5 of 48 (10.42%)
18  Rays: 7 of 53 (10.64%)
17  Twins: 6 of 52 (11.54%)
16  Dodgers: 6 of 50 (12.00%)
15  Mariners: 6 of 47 (12.77%)
14  Red Sox: 6 of 46 (13.04%)
13  Rangers: 7 of 53 (13.21%)
12  Athletics: 6 of 45 (13.33%)
11  Angels: 7 of 51 (13.73%)
10  Royals: 7 of 50 (14.00%)
9  Indians: 7 of 48 (14.58%)
8  Padres: 7 of 45 (15.56%)
7  Giants: 8 of 50 (16.00%)
6  Astros: 7 of 43 (16.28%)
5  Rockies: 9 of 50 (18.00%)
4  Diamondbacks: 9 of 49 (18.37%)
3  Cubs: 10 of 51 (19.61%)
2  Braves: 11 of 55 (20.00%)
1  Nationals: 11 of 49 (22.45%)

The Marlins and Tigers only had two members of their 2000 draft class reach the majors.  On the other end of the spectrum, the Braves and Nationals each had 11 players reach the majors.  Just making it to the major leagues and making an impact once there are two entirely different things.

By Quality

Looking at the number of picks to reach the majors paints only part of the picture.  Take the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins, for example.  These two teams are at the bottom in terms of quantity and each team had only 2 players from their 2000 class to reach the majors.  When we re-examine the teams in terms of quality we wind up with very different assessments of their respective drafts.

The two players from the Tigers class to make it were 3rd round pick Nook Logan, and 4th round pick Mark Woodyard.  These two players combined to contribute only 979 FH* in the majors.

*FH stands for Fish Heads.  It reflects the total number of plate appearances for position players and batters faced for pitchers.

The two players from the Marlins class that made it to the show were 1st round pick Adrian Gonzalez and 17th round pick Josh Willingham.  Florida’s two players have amassed a score of 5,090 FH which moves them from 30th in terms of quantity to 13th in terms of quality.  It is also worth mentioning that both these players, especially Adrian, are going strong and rapidly adding to their FH total.

Let’s get to the full list.  I’ve included the quantity ranking in brackets for comparison

30  Tigers (979) [29]
29  Orioles (1,146) [27]
28  Reds (1,237) [22]
27  White Sox (1,445) [23]
26  Mets (1,590) [25]
25  Yankees (1,987) [20]
24  Mariners (2,173) [15]
23  Brewers (2,256) [28]
22  Dodgers (2,276) [16]
21  Blue Jays (2,915) [26]
20  Cardinals (3,274) [19]
19  Athletics (3,928) [12]
18  Giants (4,196) [7]
17  Astros (4,522) [6]
16  Twins (4,692) [17]
15  Rangers (4,726) [13]
14  Phillies (4,952) [24]
13  Marlins (5,090) [30]
12  Padres (5,121) [8]
11  Indians (5,167) [9]
10  Royals (5,514) [10]
9  Red Sox (6,019) [14]
8  Angels (6,028) [11]
7  Rays (6,155) [18]
6  Cubs (8,679) [3]
5  Diamondbacks (9,646) [4]
4  Rockies (10,313) [5]
3  Pirates (11,344) [21]
2  Braves (12,877) [2]
1  Nationals (18,623) [1]

The Expos/Nationals were always known for their farm system and talent evaluation.  As we can see, their 2000 draft was no different as six of their first eight picks reached the majors.  Their 11 player class includes Justin Wayne (1), Grady Sizemore (3), Cliff Lee (4), Shawn Hill (6), Wes Littleton (7), Phil Seibel (8), Fred Lewis (20), Jason Bay (22), Russell Martin (35), Anthony Ferrari (44), and Jeff Karstens (45).  Lewis, Martin, Karstens, and Littleton didn’t sign with the team, but the organization pegged them as ML talent none-the-less.  Lewis and Martin were drafted again in 2002, while Karstens and Littleton were selected in the 2003 draft.

The Nationals hold down the top spot on both lists and several teams are in the same general range when evaluated in terms of quantity and quality.  I already referenced the Marlins above.  Thanks to Gonzalez and Willingham, the went from dead last in quantity to 13th in quality.  That is a significant jump of 17 spots, but they were not the biggest mover up the rankings.  That honor belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates who jumped from 21st in quantity to 3rd in quality.

The Pirates draft was an interesting one.  Their 1st round pick Sean Burnett, has reached the majors and, at age 27, looks to be establishing himself as a solid bullpen option for many years to come.  The team’s 3rd round pick Chris R. Young has also made good on his lofty draft status and has started 131 ML games, though none of them came as a part of the Pirates organization thanks to a ill advised trade in 2002 that brought back Matt Herges.  Since picks from rounds 1 and 3 probably should get to the majors, those first two guys aren’t that interesting.  The next three transform the Pittsburgh draft class.  Jose Bautista was selected in the 20th round, followed by the selections of Nate McLouth in the 25th round and Ian Snell in the 26th round.  Most teams are lucky to find 1 productive major league player after the 20th round or so, but the Pirates found three.  They only hit on 5 guys, but these five have done quite well for themselves.  All 5 of them will be adding to their FH scores in 2010.

The 2000 Draft:

Only 180 of 1,452 players selected in the 2000 draft managed to reach the majors and get into a game.  That works out to a league-wide success rate of 13.73%.  There were 40 1st round and supplemental 1st round picks.  Of those 40 selections, 18 of them reached the majors for a success rate of 45%.  Of course success is all relative.

At Least They Made it to the Show:

Of the 180 that did make it, many of them didn’t stick around.  There were 10 players who either failed to face 10 batters, or failed to get 5 plate appearances in their brief big league careers.  C-Brian Esposito, Boston’s 5th round pick, is the only player of the 180 who wound up with a 0 FH.  He got into 1 game as a defensive replacement for the Cardinals back in 2007 and never got to dig into the batter’s box.

The other 9 players in this group of 10 are; Mike Schultz (Diamondbacks 2nd), Tyrell Godwin (Rangers 1s), Travis Chapman (Phillies 17th), Rich Thompson (Blue Jays 6th), Humberto Sanchez (Dodgers 9th), John Nelson (Mariners 39), Trey Lunsford (Giants 33rd), Darren Clarke (Rockies 35th), and Chris Basak (Mets 6th).

The Big Winners:

Every draft, teams find players in all the rounds that will evolve into legit major league contributors.  Here are the best picks of the 2000 draft class using FH to rank them.

Rounds 1-10:
Brandon Webb (5,515) – Diamondbacks 8th
Cliff Lee (5,079) – Nationals 4th
Dontrelle Willis (4,675) – Cubs 8th
Chase Utley (3,813) – Phillies 1st
Grady Sizemore (3,612) – Nationals 3rd
David DeJesus (3,405) – Royals 4th**
Garrett Atkins (3,121) – Rockies 5th
Chris R. Young (3,068) – Pirates 3rd
Adrian Gonzalez (2,938) – Marlins 1st
Adam Wainright (2,714)- Braves 1st

**People still don’t appreciate how good of a player he truly is.  He’s good folks.  Really, really good.

Rounds 11-20:
James Shields (3,221) – Rays 16th
Rich Harden (3,136) – Athletics 17th
Freddy Sanchez (2,946) – Red Sox 11th
Brad Hawpe (2,807) – Rockies 11th
Josh Willingham (2,152) – Marlins 17th
Jose Bautista (2,038) – Pirates 20th
Corey Hart (2,015) – Brewers 11th
Ryan Church (1,890) – Indians 14th
Jason Kubel (1,863) – Twins 12th
Michael Bourne (1,336) – Astros 19th

Rounds 21-50:
Jason Bay (3,897) – Nationals 22nd
Ian Snell (3,355) – Pirates 26th
Adam LaRoche (3,230) – Braves 29th
Russell Martin (2,326) – Nationals 35th*
Ian Kinsler (2,263) – Diamondbacks 29th*
Nate McLouth (2,075) – Pirates 25th
Jason Hammel (1,709) – Mariners 23rd*
Chad Cordero (1,347) – Padres 26th*
Brian Burres (1,223) – Giants 31st
Jeff Karstens (950) – Nationals 45th*
Brian Wilson (811) – Indians 30th*
Ruben Gotay (811) – Royals 31st
*Player Did Not Sign

General Thoughts:

Ranking the teams in terms of quantity and then in terms quality worked a lot better than I thought it would.  I was pleasantly surprised by the end results along those lines.  My statistical measure, Fish Heads, seemed to work well with what I set out to accomplish.  It does seem to favor elite starting pitchers over hitters and relievers, but I think that is a good thing since quality starting pitching is the most difficult thing to find in the draft.  As such, teams that hit on a SP prospect should be recognized for that.  I’m sure there are ways to tweak FH into something more advanced, but I like that it is simple and straight forward.

On one hand, this draft was the perfect starting point for this series since it is unlikely that any other players from this class are going to make their big league debuts.  If they haven’t done it by now, it’s probably not going to happen, and if it does, the impact of that player(s) will likely be minimal.

On the other hand, the players that have reached the major leagues, will continue jumble up most of the above data for several years to come.  While the window of opportunity has all but closed on the fringe guys, the elite and average talents are still going strong and have many more seasons ahead of them.  This is the primary downside of starting with the 2000 class.  After the 2010 season I could recalculate all of the above.  While things would remain the same or mostly the same in terms of quantity, they would look much different in terms of quality with very different FH scores.

Aside from that downside, I severely underestimated how much time gathering the data for this article would consume.  The next edition, on the 1999 draft, should go a little smoother and the research should be far more efficient but I don’t know when I will try and tackle another Draft Recall.

Note: All draft and statistical data was compiled with the help of Baseball Reference.com which just happens to be one of the greatest websites in history.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided.com’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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