by Mike Rogers
Last winter I took three separate looks at the San Diego Padres 2008 draft. I had started adjusting college offensive statistics for parks and strength of schedule to get a better feel for the true talent levels of the players drafted. You can see my methods here in an article that Myron Logan and I penned for Baseball Analysts. I haven’t changed much except the weightings in my “Score” column since that article. My “Score” is a hodge-podge formula that weights adjusted wOBA, adjusted Isolated Power, a small speed score, K and BB%’s, and runs above average. The runs above average is above the average hitter in that particular conference using the conference’s average park and strength of schedule ratings.
Unfortunately for me, the 2009 draft wasn’t as loaded as the 2008 draft was with college bats. Furthermore, the Pads didn’t take as many college bats this passed June as they did in 2008, so my scope of adjusted numbers isn’t as high as my previous breakdown. But, let’s not drag this out any more. Presented in the order by which they were drafted, here are the college bats the Padres took last June (and signed) that are in my current system (which includes 13 conferences that are the ACC, SEC, Sun Belt, Big West, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 10, MAC, WAC, West Coast Conference, Moutain West, Conference USA).
Evaluations after the jump. . . Continue Reading…
by Daniel Gettinger
In his most recent Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Gregg Easterbrook blasts big-time college football programs who do little to ensure their athletes graduate with a degree. He notes that “90 percent of Division I football players never play a down in the NFL,” yet “in the past two decades, there’s been a race to the bottom, in which many football-factory schools have lowered academic standards for football and men’s basketball, dropping any pretense of education in pursuit of wins.”
Easterbrook points out that success on the field does not necessarily need to negatively correlate with classroom performance: “Cal, Georgia Tech, Navy, Nebraska, Northwestern, Stanford and TCU — all academics-first colleges where football players are more likely to attend class — are on their way to bowl games. Most of them have been in the top 20 nationally this season, and Georgia Tech and TCU even made BCS bowls.”
In my favorite paragraph of the piece, he also cites the success of academics-first schools in basketball:
The field for last season’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament included Boston College, Butler, Cal, Cornell, Duke, North Carolina, Purdue, UCLA, Villanova and Wake Forest. In the women’s tournament, Cal, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Lehigh, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, TCU, Villanova and Vanderbilt made it. Brackets for the men’s Division III basketball playoffs included Amherst, Brandeis, Carnegie Mellon, Claremont McKenna, Middlebury, MIT, RIT and Washington [University] in St. Louis (which repeated as champion). In Division III women’s basketball, Amherst, Bowdoin, Brandeis, Rochester and Washington-St. Louis all made it. All of these schools enforce academic standards for athletes.
For years, I have privately bashed the concept of big-time college football and basketball. Many of the athletes barely qualify for acceptance into the schools they play at (and these are already greatly reduced standards), and once there seem to do little but hone their athletic skills.
In August, allegations were levied against the University of Michigan football program by players regarding their time spent practicing. The NCAA allows 20 hours of organized football preparation per week, but the Michigan team far exceeded that total. On Sundays alone, the team reportedly worked for at least nine hours. Something tells me more than two hours on each of the other non-game days are spent practicing, weight lifting, and watching tape.
What’s sad is that it is highly unlikely Michigan is the only program bending the rules. Even teams that stick within the guidelines for organized practice time almost certainly strongly encourage their players to lift weights and watch film on their own time.
Lets assume the average NCAA football player practices/workouts/watches tape for 30 hours over the course of the school-week, and takes a minimal course load of 12 credit hours. That’s already a 42 hour week. And that does not account for surprisingly time consuming things like walking to class, changing into workout clothes, eating, and oh yeah completing school assignments and studying.
Its no wonder that the Federal Graduation Rate for NCAA Div I (FBS) football players is close to 55%, and only 51% for basketball players. Even if the athletes wanted to, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for students to go to class, let alone complete homework and adequately prepare for exams.
The saddest part about these numbers is there is no reason it has to be this way. If schools forced coaches to strictly abide by NCAA guidelines, players would no longer have an adequate excuse to fall behind in class. Furthermore, schools should be incentivizing coaches to graduate close to all of their players. Bonuses based on academic achievement should be as prominent in coaches’ contracts as incentives that reward on-field success. If all schools acted in such a manner, no school would be at a disadvantage relative to the competition. Sure the quality of play might decrease a little across big-time college sports, but that is a small price for fans to pay to ensure students actually get educated.
As long as I have been bashing football and basketball for doing a poor job at educating athletes, I have also been applauding Major League Baseball for not forcing high school graduates to attend college. Instead, if they are drafted by a Major League team, athletes can start honing their craft in the Minor Leagues. And get paid for doing so.
Because the option to go straight to professional ball exists, I always just assumed that students who chose to go to college actually took their studies seriously. It turns out that is not the case.
The Federal Graduation Rate for baseball, at about 49 percent, is even lower than for football and basketball.
That is unacceptable. Very few college baseball players are good enough to make it to the Major Leagues. Coaches must commit to educating their student-athletes first, and winning games second.
The low graduation rates in college baseball do not seem to get the same publicity as the figures in basketball and football. But they should. By not ensuring their baseball players graduate, institutions whose missions are to educate, are failing both the students and society as a whole.
by Mike Rogers
So, I’ve been absent ’round here, well, all year. But, with the MLB draft taking place last week, my forte comes a’callin’ again.
…But not quite yet.
After perusing the numbers, I must admit that Logan Forsythe’s out-performed my expectations thus far. I thought James Darnell would be the better hitter, as I liked his power potential and his eye at the plate more than Forsythe’s. But, I’m happy to be relatively wrong as Darnell’s only slightly out-performing Forsythe, albeit at a lower level then Logan.
Allan Dykstra really has struggled thus far, but Depodesta notes that they’ve made some adjustments to his swing in Spring Training and that is possibly the cause. His plate discipline has been great thus far (19.5% BB rate), and I suspect that his power will come. I still like James Darnell the most out of the college bats that San Deigo took last year.
Now, as I said before, my college hitters numbers are on the way, but I don’t have an exact date as of yet (nor a real timetable, either). I have 199 hitters — most of which were draft eligible this year — updated with 2009 numbers. I need to flesh those out with the full conference data, and when I do that, I’ll be able to pen something on the college hitters San Deigo took last week. But I can give you a sneak peak.
The Padres top college bat taken in the 2009 draft was Miami (FL) Hurricane’s catcher Jason Hagerty. He had a breakout season in 2009. Of the 199 hitters I have stats for in 2009, Hagerty’s season came out 20th best as judged by my “score” ranking. He had an adjusted wOBA of .447 (26th best in my 2009 numbers), .306 adjusted Isolate Power (20th in my 2009 numbers), while walking 16.5% of the time and striking out 18.8% of the time in 260 plate appearances. The strikeouts are a little disconcerting, but from what I’ve read, he’s likely to stick behind the plate. So, you can live with some offensive short comings for a catcher, as their bats are often less potent and consistent then other position players.
The problem I’ve got with Hagerty is his past performance. I’m always a little leery of breakout players in their Junior seasons. Let’s peruse his 2008 numbers:
.358 adjusted wOBA
.220 adjusted IsoP
7.4% BB rate
25.9% K rate
* = this score is slightly different then my 2009 score. For the 2008 and 2007 seasons, I have calculated an average wOBA for each conference and then adjusted that by the conference’s average park factor and strength of schedule. I use that to get a Runs Above Average number for each hitter in the conference. For instance, in 2008, the average adjusted wOBA in the ACC was .389 — Hagerty was 4.36 runs below the average ACC hitter in 2008. I take this into account in my score, but don’t for 2009 because I don’t have full conference data yet.
And his 2007 numbers:
.233 adjusted wOBA
.023 adjusted IsoP
9.0% BB rate
27.0% K rate
The average adjusted wOBA for ACC hitters in 2007 was .383. Hagerty was 13.02 runs below the average ACC hitter in 2007.
Now, these 2007 and 2008 numbers need to be taken with a barrell of salt. Combined, it’s just 262 PA’s, while he had 260 in 2009 alone. He was a utility man of sorts for his first couple of years before finally settling into the starting catchers role this year. So, sporadic playing time in his freshman and sophomore seasons may have been a big part of the bad numbers. That said, I am always a bit skeptical of players that have drastically improved statistics in their junior years. His improvement in the walk and strikeout department is a very good one and if that carries over to the pro game (assuming they sign him), then I think he’s got some offensive upside. As of now, his ability to stick behind the plate could be enough to get him to the majors as at backup backstop.
by Myron Logan
The Padres have garnered perhaps as much attention as any team for what appears to be a dramatic shift in draft-philosophy this year. Over the past few years, San Diego has consistently shown a preference towards taking college ball players in the amateur draft. For the most part, that has corresponded with the selection of guys with little “signability” issues; players that shouldn’t be too difficult to sign and will likely not demand over-slot money.
In the 2007 draft, for instance, they passed on high school right hander Rick Porcello and opted to sign Arkansas lefty Nick Schmidt. Porcello, a top talent, fell to the Tigers at #27 largely because of fear that he’d demand a large signing bonus.
The Padres strategy, at least from an outsider’s perspective, has appeared to have a couple of angles. One, college players are safer bets to reach the majors and at least turn into solid contributors. There is more reliable data on them, especially in the form of numbers, with most high school stats being close to useless. They are older and more mature, and generally they are a little easier to evaluate.
Secondly, since they have less options than their high school counterparts, college players are generally easier to sign (and cost less money). Schmidt, the junior from Arkansas, ended up signing for $1.3 million (recommend slot money). Porcello, on the other hand, signed for $3.6 mil, well above the recommended slot ($1.2 mil). A similar example, from the same draft, is Andrew Brackman, who fell to the Yanks at #30 and signed for $3.3 million.
While the Padres have gradually improved their farm system year-by-year, slowly the criticism started to mount. College players are fine, but the Padres were getting too college centric, the critics said. They had a farm system full of solid players, but most of them with little upside or star-potential.
In this 2009 draft, the Padres have surprised a lot of people by taking two high school outfielders with their first two picks, Donavan Tate and Everett Williams. In the fourth round, they nabbed highly touted prep pitcher Keyvius Sampson. Three high school players in the first four picks is not what anybody was anticipating, with rumors that the Padres were considering Vanderbilt lefty Mike Minor – of the Nick Schmidt mold – swirling.. All three HS players taken are expected to be somewhat tough to sign, and will probably demand above-slot money.
I thought it would be interested to look at the Padres draft selections since 2006 to really get a sense of their preferences. I separated the draft into three ‘tiers’ and counted up how many college hitters, college pitchers, high school hitters, and high school pitchers San Diego selected in each tier. Note: I counted junior college players in the college bucket, and I didn’t determine whether or not the Padres signed the player. It’s not a detailed analysis, but I think it paints a decent picture:
First Tier (Rounds 1-10)
|Year||College Bat||College Arm||HS Bat||HS Arm||College||HS|
From 2006-08, the Padres picked 35 college players and just 7 high schoolers in the first 10 rounds. This year, they picked 6 college and 4 HS – and, as mentioned previously, 3 of the first 4 were from HS. It certainly appears to be somewhat of a shift.
Middle Tier (Rounds 11-30 approx.)
|Year||College bat||College Arm||HS Bat||HS Arm||College||HS|
In the middle of the draft, the Padres have a (recent) history of being tremendously college-heavy. It didn’t change this year, as 19 of the 20 picks came from the college ranks. Overall, from 2006 through 2009, 67 of the 74 ( 91%!) selections have been college players.
Late Rounds (Rounds 31-end)
|Year||College Bat||College Arm||HS Bat||HS Arm||College||HS|
The bottom of the draft has been all over the place. In 2006, the Pads loaded up on high school players late. But in 2008 and ‘09 combined, they’ve been very college heavy (78%).
Overall, the change in philosophy, if there is one, appears to have taken place at the top of the draft. In the first four rounds, from ‘06-‘08, the Padres took HS players just four times: Kyler Burke, Drew Cumberland, Tommy Toledo (didn’t sign), and Jaff Decker. This year alone, they took three.
But, is it a change in philosophy?
It is easy to look at the past draft results and make some casual observations. It is less clear, however, to truly access the Padres strategy and whether or not it has changed. There are a few potential problems:
“Small sample” – We’re only talking about ten picks here this draft, of which the Padres opted to take four HS players. Even considering all the picks, there really isn’t a ton of data with which to make any substantial claims.
The high school/college distinction– The distinction between college and high school players is not always clear. Is a JC player closer to college or HS? Is a projectable, raw college athlete really the same as a four year college starter? When it comes down to it, each player is truly unique, and it is tough to separate them into four buckets.
A long term plan – Maybe the Padres plan all along was to stock up on college players and replenish the system with depth, then once that was complete, begin to draft higher upside, riskier high school athletes. It’s tough for us to tell, from the outside looking in.
While I’m not sure how much we can conclude based on one draft, I will say that I think it’s a good thing to add more elite high schoolers into the mix. Nick Schmidt, the Padres prospect we talked about earlier, after suffering season ending surgery short after joining the Padres organization, is still stuck in A ball (albeit, pitching well). Porcello, after spending one season in the minors, is already in the Tigers rotation, carrying a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts. He’s about to be worth a whole lot more than that $3.6 million the Tigers initially paid for him, and he’s only taken a couple of years to develop.
While it isn’t necessarily wise to look too much into one pick, the Schmidt/Porcello comparison offers a glimpse into the benefits of taking the talented high school player, and giving him a little more money than you’d like. Some people might criticize the $6 million-plus that Donavan Tate is going to command, but if he develops into the kind of player the Padres are expecting, it will be well worth the price. Hopefully, the Padres can get Tate, Williams, and Sampson signed, or else all of this optimism is premature.
Yes, I’m back! As Daniel previously mentioned, I’ve agreed to write an occasional post for Friar Forecast under the heading Myron’s Musings. I’m truly excited about that, as I think Daniel and company have made this into an even better Padres-hangout since my departure. If you can’t get enough of me, I’m also blogging on my own again, too.