by Myron Logan
I was thinking about the amateur draft the other day – both its impact on a major league franchises success and how proficient (or not) the Padres have been at it. I thought we’d take a look at each draft, year by year, starting in 2000 (because its recent enough to be somewhat relevant, but enough time has past to evaluate it). We’ll work upwards until recent years, and revisit later years if the series has any success.
Anyway, here’s my initial format. I’m going to split the draft up into three arbitrary sections: the top, the middle, and the rest. The top will consist of the first 300 picks, the middle will be the next 300, and the rest will be everybody after that (generally around an additional 600 picks). I’m also going to split each section into four groups: high school hitters, college hitters, high school pitchers, college pitchers. I’m going to place any player drafted out of a college, be it a junior college or as a junior, in the college bucket, just to simplify things a bit.
I will also provide a total WAR figure for each section, if any players drafted reached the bigs, so we can get a sense of the value they contributed to the major league club. And of course I’ll add some commentary. That’s the format for now, we’ll revise if needed. Suggested are of course always encouraged. (note: I’m not counting unsigned players: more on that in the commentary that follows).
There admittedly is not much context to these numbers, but I think they are still somewhat useful. We’ll gain a little bit of context, at least in terms of the Padres organization, as we go through the series.
The Padres drafted Mark Phillips, a left handed HS pitcher, in the first round (9th overall). Phillips responded with a 5.35 ERA in his rookie ball debut. His strikeout and home rate rates were tremendous throughout his minor league career, at 8.7 and .4, respectively. He simply could not harness any control, posting a walk rate approaching six. He disappeared from pro ball in 2003, but reappeared in an independent league in 2007 with Newark. He showed he was the same Mark Phillips, striking out one an inning and allowing just two homers in 32 innings, while walking almost eight batters per nine.
Phillips was a major disappointment, but the Padres second pick, a third basemen from Cal, Xavier Nady, has turned in a solid, if not spectacular, major league career. Nady has hit .280/.335/.458 in almost 2500 plate appearances.
The Padres fourth pick, a high school outfielder out of Louisiana, is a familiar name: Mewelde Moore. He has since gone on to have a pretty nice career in the NFL as a running back. In the minors, however, he struggled mightily, spending three seasons in rookie ball, and hitting .210/.294/.284. He did show glimpses of running back speed with ten steals in only 50 career games. While it is sort of a funny story, it is one heck of a miss for a fourth round pick.
In the 13th round, San Diego selected Justin Germano; so far he has logged 205 major league innings and a 5.27 ERA.
The Padres did select Chad Cordero, a RHP from Don Antonio High School in California, in the 27th round. However, they did not sign him. He was drafted by the Montreal Expos a few years later, where he went on to be a very good closer.
Overall, obviously, it is tough to come to too many conclusions based on this brief analysis. But, for the most part, this was not an extremely productive draft for the Pads. To put that first pick into perspective, five out of the top ten picks in 2000 did not reach the majors, so it’s not an absolute disaster. However, after Phillips came a bunch of better-looking options like Chase Utley, Adam Wainwright, and Kelly Johnson. Sure, hindsight is 20-20.
A bright spot was the selection of Xaiver Nady, who was probably the best pick in the second round of any MLB team. Nady went on to have some decent years in San Diego, then was converted into Mike Cameron in 2005.
After Nady, though, there was really nothing else. Of course, as alluded to above, there’s a lot missing here. One, is context; how good are most major league drafts? Two, there are a bunch of other potentially important factors ignored, like players that were used in trades, or valuable minor leaguers that provided something to the organization.
Anyway, we’ll look at the 2001 draft soon, and see how this one looks in comparison.
*thanks to Baseball Reference for the draft data and stats and FanGraphs for the WAR values.