Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The fourth pick in the draft

Ryan Zimmerman was the fourth
overall pick in 2005.
Tuesday's post on Mark Teixeira mentioned in passing that Gavin Floyd was the fourth overall pick in the 2001 amateur draft. That always surprises me; I forget that Floyd was taken before Teixeira.

I assume that when the Phillies took Floyd, they did so in the hopes that he would mature into a front-of-the-rotation starter. He didn't, but he did become a reliable 30-start, 190-innings, 4.00-ERA guy, and that's valuable. (Didn't help the Phillies much; they traded him and Gio Gonzalez to the White Sox for Freddie Garcia after the 2006 season. Floyd has 63 wins with the Sox; Garcia went 1-5 in his one season with the Phillies.)

So ... question: Is a Gavin Floyd a good return for a No. 4 pick?

This is a relevant question for Twins fans because Minnesota has the No. 4 pick in next June's draft.

Since we already know 2001, we'll start there and move forward, using Baseball Reference's version of WAR as a rough overall measure of career value:

2001: Floyd, Philadelphia, RHP, 13.9 WAR
2002: Adam Lowen, Baltimore, LHP/OF, 0.4 WAR. Washed out as a pitcher, now an outfielder who has reached Triple A but hasn't cracked the show as a hitter.
2003: Tim Stauffer, San Diego, RHP, 2.5 WAR. Made 31 starts in 2011, just one this year.
2004: Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay, RHP, 3.4 WAR. Cracked the Rays rotation in 2009, record somewhat  similar to Floyd's, but less durable.
2005: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington, 3B, 28.7 WAR. Finally something resembling a star player.
2006: Brad Lincoln, Pittsburgh, RHP, 0.0 WAR. Generic middle reliever.
2007: Daniel Moskos, Pittsburgh, LHP, 0.2 WAR. 31 games and 24.2 innings of relief in 2011.
2008: Brian Matusz, Baltimore, LHP, 0.8 WAR. Pitching in relief in the playoffs, failing so far as a starter. Future may be in the bullpen.
2009: Tony Sanchez, Pittsburgh, C. Hasn't reached the majors. Split 2012 between Double A and Triple A. Hasn't hit since 2010 in High A.
2010: Christian Colon, Kansas City, SS. Hasn't reached the majors. May not stick at shortstop. A handful of Triple A games. Didn't hit particularly well in Double-A.
2011: Dylan Bundy, Baltimore, RHP, 0.1 WAR. Reached majors for a couple of shutout innings this September at age 19. Eye-popping numbers at three minor league levels, being handled very gingerly by the O's. May top the prospect lists this offseason.
2012: Kevin Glausman, Baltimore, RHP: Has barely begun his pro career.

What do we have of out these 12 No. 4 picks? One standout position player in Zimmerman, two middle-rotation starters (Floyd and Niemann), one dazzling prospect (Bundy), and a bunch of question marks or busts.

This may say more about the scouting acumen in Pittsburgh and Baltimore (responsible for seven of the 12 picks) than of the talent available at that slot, but it's not an impressive track record. Floyd does look pretty good in this crowd, which may indicate how difficult it is to find and develop even a mid-rotation arm.

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