I've got a lot of it 90% written and I really want to get it all out by the draft on the 6th, so... I'm going to overload you with old draft reviews and summaries and whatnot whether you like it or not. I need to knock out eight of these single year reviews and then, I think, 4-5 summaries. That's a little more frequently than a new post every other day. I think it's doable, but we'll see.
1987 Draft Review
Part 1: Shape of Draft
One thing that I like to do differently in these kinds of studies is to track draft class productivity on a year-to-year basis instead of just focusing on cumulative career production. In this way we can get an idea about the shape of that productivity. How quickly does a draft class as whole start to pay dividends at the MLB level? What are the peak production years for a draft class?
By answering these kinds of questions we can have more realistic expectations for draft classes and better determine about how long we should wait to grade a draft on the basis of on field productivity (note: subjective grades on the basis of prospect potential will always be made much sooner).
There have been eighteen full seasons since the 1987 draft. For the first table, I’ve designated the draft year as Y0 and each subsequent year as Y1, Y2… Y18. In order to see how player age might shape draft productivity I have also included a simple age progression for HS and C draft picks that assumes all HS players are 18 in Y0 and all college players are 21 in Y0. The 1987 draft is predominantly a college oriented draft so we would probably expect the productivity curve to more closely mimic the college age line.
The following table is a bit dense, but hopefully pretty simple to follow with a brief explanation of terms.
WARP – is the total yearly WARP3 production produced by the entire draft class
%pk – is the individual year WARP3 as a percentage of the single year WARP3 peak
I like “%pk” as a quick way to view the shape of draft productivity because it’s more intuitive than the straight WARP3 totals.
#Pl – is the total number of players who were active in MLB during each year
“3-6” – is the number of players who produced between 3 and 6 WARP3 during each year
“6+” - is the number of players who produced 6 or more WARP3 during each year
Tot – is the number of player who produced 3 or more WARP3 during each year
Although WARP3 production is the most important characteristic of draft shape, “#Pl” tells us the number of players in any given year that are contributing to the draft class production. As we’ll see most players contribute very little to the total production so it’s important to pare that large group down to key contributors. Players in the 3-6 group were at least useful complementary contributors. For a position player a 3 WARP3 season is a pretty low threshold of usefulness, but I wanted a relatively low floor to be as inclusive as possible. Any player with at least 6 WARP3 in a season is a significant contributor to his team.
Y0 Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 Y13 Y14 Y15 Y16 Y17 Y18 HS 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 C 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 WARP 2 5 31 71 128 162 200 168 221 201 195 188 172 171 107 78 47 38 33 %pk 1 2 14 32 58 73 90 76 100 91 88 85 78 77 49 35 21 17 15 #Pl 1 9 29 61 85 89 99 93 93 93 76 78 59 59 52 43 26 20 12 3 0 0 3 7 11 5 16 14 19 14 20 12 19 21 13 10 7 7 5 6+ 0 0 0 2 5 10 6 6 10 11 8 11 6 7 2 2 0 0 1 Tot 0 0 3 9 16 15 22 20 29 25 28 23 25 28 15 12 7 7 6
As you’d expect draft class production has a basic bell shape with a growth phase, a plateau phase and a decline phase. In general, there is very little productivity from Y0 to Y2, there is then a period of rapid growth between Y2 and Y6 followed by a broad plateau of peak productivity between Y6 and Y10 and then a decline phase beginning in Y11. To some extent all draft classes follow that pattern. College oriented drafts will accelerate more quickly in the growth phase and HS oriented drafts will decline from the plateau phase more slowly. In general, a relatively high Y4 total is a sign of a college draft and a relatively high Y11 total is a sign of a HS draft.
This draft deviates from that pattern in two ways. One, the large dip in Y7 is very unusual. Once a draft is over 90% of peak it stays that way until it begins the decline phase. From a quick look at the players I can’t see any real reason for this dip. More importantly, there is a very slow drop off between Y10 and Y13. Usually draft class production is down to 60% of peak by Y13 as opposed to 77% for this class.
One other general thing to note is that draft class production skews older than you might expect. This draft class was more productive in Y13 (ages HS 31, C 34; 171 WARP3) than it was at Y4 (ages HS 22, C 25; 128 WARP3). That difference is magnified because this draft class was especially good in Y13, but this is generally true. It happens because the growth phase is much steeper than the decline phase.
When I summarized these eight drafts I compared their productivity through the common year Y11. In that comparison this draft ranks a close second to the 1989 draft. However, the slow decline phase actually makes this the most productive draft from this period. As we go through the rest of the review keep in mind that this is a very productive draft.
Part 2: Types of Players
The following table quickly categorizes every player that made the majors by his career WARP3. The WARP3 production is broken down in 10 WARP intervals, ie “0” is the range 0-9.9, “10” is the range 10-19.9, etc. The column “total players” is the total number of players that are in each interval or higher. The last column is the “total players” as a percentage of all the players from the draft class that at least made the majors.
As it turns out the oldest drafts in my study also happen to be the most college oriented drafts. These drafts from the late 1980s are mostly settled in terms of career production of individual players. There aren’t going to be many changes in these rankings from this interim look until all the players are retired. As I move into the 90s and the draft classes become more HS oriented and the players are closer to the middle of their careers, then there will be more movement within the rankings.
WARP3 # players total players % of players 100+ 2 2 1 90 0 2 1 80 3 5 3 70 0 5 3 60 3 8 5 50 5 13 8 40 4 17 10 30 6 23 14 20 11 34 21 10 23 57 35 0 87 144 87 <0 21 165 100
This is the typical distribution that one would expect. There are a handful of players at the very top of the pyramid and the size of the group within each interval becomes a little larger as we move down. By far the largest groups are for the marginal players with less than 20 WARP3 for their careers. I use that as a general cutoff for a “useful” career. There are players with fewer than 20 WARP3 in their careers who had random good years, but for the most part these players are in the cup of coffee cameo to career backup category. In this draft 165 players made the majors and of those 34 or 21% exceeded 20 WARP3 for their careers and 131 or 79% did not. Again, that is pretty typical. Roughly, 20% of the players that make the majors will produce 80% of the draft class production. Sometimes draft studies will report the number of drafted players per team that made the majors. This distribution shows that those kinds of reports can be deceiving. Teams want to draft a couple 40+ WARP3 players, not a half dozen <20 WARP3 players.
Part 3: Top 40 Players
One of the reasons I like to look at specific draft classes (as opposed to more common multiple year aggregate studies) is to try to get an idea about the number of “good” players that we can expect from an average draft class. As we’ll see forty players takes us well past the “good” players. As a result, we can also get a very good idea of the overall depth for the draft class. These forty players produced 80% of the total WARP3 production to date with an average of 44.3 WARP3/player. The other 125 players that made the majors averaged just 3.6 WARP3/player career. I haven’t checked the subsequent drafts, but I’m sure that is quite typical. There just isn’t much value outside of the Top 40. Some years there isn’t much value outside of the Top 25.
* denotes that the player was active in 2005.
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 1 1 1 Sea Ken Griffey* OF HS 130.1 2 1 22 Hou Craig Biggio* C C 115.8 3 2 47 Cle Joey Belle OF C 88.6 4 1 9 KC Kevin Appier RHP JC 85.5 5 13 324 Bal Steve Finley* OF C 84.7 6 3 72 Stl Ray Lankford OF JC 67.7 7 1s 30 Det Travis Fryman SS HS 66.1 8 7 180 Cin Reggie Sanders* SS-OF JC 60.8 9 48 1151 NYY Brad Ausmus* C HS 59.5 10 58 1225 KC Jeff Conine* 3B-OF C 55.4
I’ll go through the round and school distinctions more closely in subsequent sections, but it’s nice to take a quick look in this section just to see how top heavy (by round) and how balanced (by school) the draft class is. This draft has an extremely deep JC class so we end up with almost perfect HS:JC:C balance in the top 10. That’s quite unusual. The four very good to great players were all very high picks. Finley is a big exception obviously, but this is a pretty top heavy draft class.
This draft class should produce two HoF players and a 3rd player with a HoF peak. That’s not uncommon for very good draft classes (remember this is the most productive of the eight in my study), but this top three is better than most. Appier through Sanders are all very good players. Ausmus and Conine are more WARP accumulators than anything else, but they’ve certainly had productive careers.
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 11 1 5 CWS Jack McDowell RHP C 54.8 12 32 830 Tex Robb Nen RHP HS 50.6 13 5 127 Tor Mike Timlin* RHP C 50.2 14 1 12 Mon Deline DeShields SS HS 49.0 15 30 781 Hou Daryl Kile RHP CC 45.4 16 2 33 Sea Dave Burba RHP C 41.3 17 20 510 Oak Scott Brosius 3B C 40.2 18 18 454 Bal David Segui 1B C 39.4 19 1s 27 Bal Pete Harnisch RHP C 38.6 20 13 323 Atl Mike Stanton* LHP CC 36.1
In this group of ten we start to see the C ranks stand out and the round distribution is more random. Half the players were high round picks and half were drafted after the 13th rd. At this level we also start to mix in good players with relatively short careers (McDowell, Nen, DeShields) with some accumulators like Timlin and players who were just solid overall contributors (Burba, Brosius). I use 40 WARP3 as a quick, blunt cutoff for a “good” career, but I’m comfortable leaving the case by case determinations much more subjective. Did Burba really have a better career than Harnisch? Are they both examples of “good” players? How about Segui who was mostly known for being constantly injured? Stanton was “good” for a middle reliever, but is that really “good” overall? In general, it’s somewhere in this 11-20th interval that we have to start asking those types of questions. Even good drafts like this one start to run out of steam by the 20th best player.
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 21 2 39 NYM Todd Hundley C HS 35.5 22 3 71 Mil Jaime Navarro RHP CC 35.0 23 6 144 LA Darrin Fletcher C C 33.2 24 6 140 Cub Frank Castillo* RHP HS 29.5 25 2 49 Tor Derek Bell OF HS 29.3 26 5 123 Mil Steve Sparks RHP C 29.3 27 13 330 Mil Troy O’Leary OF HS 29.3 28 7 165 Min Mark Guthire LHP C 28.4 29 1 16 SF Mike Remlinger* LHP C 27.6 30 1 13 Mil Bill Spiers SS C 27.0
This range is generally heavy on pitchers. It’s usually filled with back of the rotation starters (Castillo, Sparks) and somewhat successful middle relievers (Guthrie, Remlinger). Hundley was a great player for one year and some of these other players were solid supporting players for several years, but I don’t think too many people would look back on their careers and refer to them as “good” players. One way to think about the “are they good players” question is to ask yourself if you’d be happy if your team’s #1 draft pick had this type of career. Would you be happy if Jacoby Ellsbury had a Troy O’Leary career? Well in terms of expected return on draft slot you ought to be, but you really want your shiny new #1 draft picks to be more than that. Ellsbury is supposed to Damon-lite. If he’s that, then you’ll be happy. I usually start wavering on that question in the bottom half of the previous group of ten. There usually aren’t any who pass that test in this interval.
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 31 6 146 SD Dave Hollins 2B C 26.7 32 9 230 SF Gil Heredia RHP C 23.9 33 2 56 NYM Pete Schourek LHP HS 21.8 34 1 19 Tex Brian Bohanon LHP C 21.7 35 12 296 CWS Buddy Groom* LHP C 19.3 36 6 148 Mon Greg Colbrunn 3B HS 19.2 37 14 366 NYY Gerald Williams* OF C 18.7 38 11 291 Bos Phil Plantier 3B HS 18.6 39 14 354 Oak Ron Coomer 3B JC 18.4 40 15 387 Cin Butch Henry LHP HS 18.2
This is actually a pretty strong group. Hollins was a very good player for a couple of years in Philly before he got hurt. Schourek, Plantier and Henry all had one very, very good season. A few of the other players hung around for a several years and made some positive contributions to their teams.
Note that in the top 10 there are six active players in the 18th full season after this draft and most of them were still pretty productive in 2005. There are just six more active players in the next group of 30 and only Timlin was productive.
Part 4: Top Players Prior to Free Agency
The easiest way to rank players is by their career productivity. However, if we’re trying to tie our rankings into the draft process itself then it also makes sense to focus on just pre-free agency service time production. It’s in those six cost controlled years where teams really reap the advantage of good drafts. Unfortunately, that’s not a particularly easy thing to do. Service time is one of the very few important, common pieces of baseball data that is not easily accessible somewhere on the web.
This past year I found the Cot’s Contracts site (I think originally linked by someone at BTF) and that site does include service time for most active major leaguers. I was planning on eventually putting that data into a spreadsheet, but thankfully I procrastinated long enough until The Hardball Times Annual came out and included that info (with a tip of the hat to Cot’s) in a downloadable link for people who purchased the annual. So thanks to both of those sites for making this difficult task much more palatable.
There are roughly 1200 MLB players from these eight drafts, most of whom are no longer active and therefore wouldn’t be on the Cot’s/THT list. I certainly did not want to figure out yearly service time for 1200 players. Just by restricting myself to players that exceeded 20 WARP3 I knew I could eliminate about 80% of the players without losing many players that are of interest. It turned out that the players with high career WARP3 totals were pretty easy to figure out. Many were still active and most good players don’t have many of the partial seasons that make things really difficult. I’m probably 95% correct for players over 60 WARP3, a little lower for the 40 WARP3 group but still pretty good. The “useful” 20 WARP3 players were a little hit or miss though. These players will have a lot of partial seasons or will be relievers who are hard to gauge just from their playing time. I was accurate enough to include them (partially because the errors on these low WARP3 careers would be small themselves), but there was definitely no point trying to decipher service time for the hundreds of players that didn’t reach 20 WARP3.
The following table is every player that exceeded 20 WARP3 ranked by a good (I think) estimate of their pre-free agency service time production. I also included their career rank and post-FA production so we can get a quick idea of which players may be over or underrated by the career total ranking from Part 3.
I put an * next to the post-FA total of active players.
Rank Car Rank Player Pre-FA Post-FA 1 3 Joey Belle 57.2 31.4 2 1 Ken Griffey 56.5 73.6* 3 4 Kevin Appier 47.1 38.4 4 7 Travis Fryman 44.2 21.9 5 2 Craig Biggio 42.8 73.0* 6 11 Jack McDowell 41.5 13.3 7 6 Ray Lankford 37.9 29.8 8 9 Brad Ausmus 29.7 29.8* 9 8 Reggie Sanders 28.7 32.1* 10 14 Delino DeShields 28.7 20.3 11 21 Todd Hundley 27.8 7.7 12 10 Jeff Conine 27.7 27.7* 13 25 Derek Bell 27.6 1.7 14 22 Jaime Navarro 27.4 7.6 15 17 Scott Brosius 27.3 12.9 16 12 Robb Nen 27.1 23.5 17 31 Dave Hollins 25.4 1.3 18 27 Troy O’Leary 24.9 4.4 19 26 Steve Sparks 24.3 5.0 20 5 Steve Finley 23.3 61.4* 21 29 Mike Remlinger 22.9 4.7* 22 19 Pete Harnisch 21.8 16.8 23 32 Gil Heredia 16.6 7.3 24 13 Mike Timlin 16.0 34.2* 25 16 Dave Burba 14.9 26.4 26 23 Darren Fletcher 14.6 18.6 27 18 David Segui 13.8 25.6 28 33 Pete Schourek 13.7 8.1 29 24 Frank Castillo 13.7 15.8* 30 28 Mark Guthrie 13.7 14.7 31 15 Daryl Kile 13.7 31.7 32 20 Mike Stanton 13.4 22.7* 33 30 Bill Spiers 11.8 15.2 34 34 Brian Bohanon 4.5 17.2
Belle and Griffey were practically instant MVP candidates averaging over 9 WARP3 per season prior to free agency. That kind of production at CBA-restricted wages is by far the most valuable commodity in baseball. Belle didn’t do very well on his first HoF ballot and will apparently never get in, but if you have a preference for high peak (and high value) players Belle was a truly magnificent player.
The next group of players (Appier to Lankford) averaged 6-8 WARP3 per season and contains very good, very valuable players. Note that Fryman and McDowell were roughly as valuable as Biggio in their pre-FA years, but Biggio is (or should be) going to the HoF because he’s still cranking out productive seasons long, long after the other two faded away.
There’s a large gap between Lankford and Ausmus followed by a large group of players with 20+ pre-FA WARP3 production. I think somewhere around 24 or 25 WARP3 (an average of a little over 4 WARP3 per season) is a decent place to draw the line for good players. Hollins who ranks 17th with 25.4 was a very good payer for the early 90s Phillies, but players like O’Leary and Sparks are borderline. Again, this suggests to me that even good drafts start to run out of good players in the 17-20 range.
Any player who’s career rank is much higher than his pre-FA rank was a less valuable commodity to the team that drafted and developed him than his career total suggests. Steve Finley with just 23.3 pre-FA WARP3 compared to 61.4 post-FA WARP3 is the poster boy for that group. We often see relievers like Mike Timlin and Mike Stanton in this group as well. Relievers just don’t pitch enough innings to earn a lot of WARP3 per season so their totals in any small interval are going to be modest, but if they can stay healthy and hang around for many years they can still accumulate impressive career totals.
Conversely, there are players who burn out quickly and as a result are more valuable to the team that drafted and developed them than their career totals suggest. Jack McDowell was extremely valuable to the White Sox with 41.5 pre-FA WARP3 (rank of #6), but his modest post-FA total of 13.3 WARP3 dropped his career ranking to #11. If you skim down the post-FA column for single digit totals (eg Hundley, Bell, Navarro, Hollins, O’Leary) you’ll find a sizable group of these early burnout players. Ideally, the team that reaped the benefit of their valuable solid pre-FA production did not get stuck paying post-FA prices for their declines. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with the Sox and O’Leary.
Part 5: Players by Round
I’m eventually going post a more detailed slot by slot analysis, but this is just a quick look at productivity by round. I’ve only listed the rounds that produced a MLB player. I’m reporting the total WARP3 produced by players drafted in each round and the WARP/pick. Note that that is not the WARP per signed player (that information is too difficult to find for later round picks).
I’ve also included the 1987-1994 WARP/pick average for quick comparisons of this draft to an average expected productivity. The “Players” column is simply the number of players that made the majors from each round. The last five columns – “20”, “40”, etc – are the number of players that reached that career WARP3 threshold.
Note that there were only 26 teams in 1987. That means the rounds turned over more quickly than they do now so you can’t necessarily do an exact comparison between round x in 1987 and round x in 2005. This isn’t a big deal for the first few rounds, but it is an issue as you move further into the draft. For example, the slots that comprised round 10 in 1987 are probably in round 8 in 2005.
Round WARP3 WARP/pk WARP/pk (87-94) Players 20 40 60 80 100 1 595.5 22.9 17.9 20 3 2 1 2 1s 124.2 20.7 6.6 5 1 1 2 252.1 9.7 4.1 19 3 1 1 3 162.4 6.2 4.6 9 1 1 4 14.5 0.6 2.8 10 5 103.0 4.0 3.1 8 1 1 6 115.1 4.4 3.0 9 3 7 98.9 3.8 2.5 8 1 1 8 23.0 0.9 2.3 4 9 34.6 1.3 1.1 5 1 10 0.1 0.0 1.1 3 11 22.2 0.9 1.8 2 12 18.9 0.7 0.8 3 13 165.4 6.4 2.0 7 2 1 14 53.6 2.1 0.7 4 15 18.2 0.7 0.8 1 16 20.8 0.8 0.3 4 17 3.6 0.1 1.5 2 18 44.2 1.7 1.1 5 1 19 9.7 0.4 0.4 3 20 50.0 1.9 1.3 5 1 21 12.4 0.5 0.4 3 22 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1 23 9.0 0.3 0.5 2 25 1.5 0.1 0.6 1 26 1.7 0.1 0.2 1 27 5.3 0.2 0.1 1 28 1.6 0.1 0.5 1 29 9.3 0.4 0.2 1 30 45.7 1.8 0.7 2 1 31 -0.7 0.0 0.0 1 32 50.5 1.9 0.3 2 1 33 10.6 0.4 0.1 3 36 1.4 0.1 0.3 1 37 0.7 0.0 0.1 1 38 11.8 0.5 0.1 3 43 11.6 0.4 0.4 1 45 0.1 0.0 0.3 1 48 59.5 2.3 0.3 1 1 53 0.4 0.0 0.0 1 58 55.4 2.1 0.3 1 1 Tot 2217.6
I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this table. The obvious point from looking at the WARP/pk (87-94) column is that the expected return per pick drops off very quickly after the first round. There’s a decent little plateau from the 1s to 3rd rds and then maybe another slightly lower one from rds 4-8 and after that the levels are very low and they bounce around that low baseline. This draft was very good in the supplemental round as well and pretty good in rds 2 and 3, but mostly the WARP/pk column follows the typical distribution.
The pattern in the “Players” column is also pretty typical. About twenty draft picks from the first rounds will make the majors (this 2nd rd was unusually high). That number falls to 8-10 players for a few rounds, then drops to 3-5 players from roughly the 8th to 20th rd and then settles in at 0-2 for the rest of the draft.
The one big picture point I do want to make in this section is to look at the clustering of good players at the top of the draft. Everybody knows a handful of very successful low round players (Mike Piazza from the 62nd rd of the 1988 draft is often the example) and because the overall success rate of even very high draft picks is quite low, it’s become an easy cliché to call the draft a crapshoot. That’s not really true. If the draft really was a crapshoot we’d expect to see the good players more randomly sprinkled throughout this table. And that’s not the case. Four of the five players that have exceeded 80 WARP3 were drafted in the first two rounds. Six of the eight players that have exceeded 60 WARP3 were drafted in the first three rounds. That clustering of good players at the top of the draft is the product of the amateur player evaluation methods used by MLB as an industry. I guess we’d call the evaluation practices in 1987 “traditional scouting”, but what ever you call it there is obvious added value from it.
These evaluation methods weren’t perfect. Far from it and there’s certainly plenty of room to experiment and strive for improvement. But people are much too quick to disparage the process that leads to these results without really understanding the draft as a whole. The success rate for high round draft picks is low. That’s a fact. But the primary cause of that fact isn’t that teams foolishly draft too many of X types of players, it’s that there just aren’t very many good players in the draft to begin with. Projecting the career productivity of 18-21 years olds is just really, really hard. Any worthwhile criticism of standard draft practices has to start with that as the baseline. And any deviation from those practices – whether it’s drafting college kids with good translated stats or local HS kids from Georgia or whatever – has to be evaluated with that baseline in mind.
I’ll get off the soapbox, but that is a lovely segue to the next part.
Part 6: Players by School
I assume at least a few people read that last paragraph and went – blah, blah, blah, drafting is hard, but college players are better, right? Some years they are and 1987 is one of them.
In this section we’ll look at the players that were drafted from the three different school types - HS, JC/CC and C. I’m presenting all the data in two forms. Any column with “tot” as a prefix means that every player that made the majors was included. Any column with “20+” as a prefix means that only players that have reached 20 WARP3 in their careers are included. This distinction is not important for the next set of data, but in many cases we’ll see that one subgroup will have a very large edge in sub-20 WARP3 production and that can distort our perceptions of the two groups. For the most part, we’re only interested in players that exceed 20 WARP3.
The first pair of columns lists the cumulative WARP3 production from each school type. The second pair of columns lists the number of players that made the majors from each school type. The final pair of columns lists the percentage of total WARP3 production from each school type. Since the school type debate is really a HS vs C debate I also added in parentheses the HS and C percentages excluding the JC players. That makes for a more direct HS vs C comparison.
totWARP3 20+WARP3 totPlayers 20+Players totPercent 20+Percent HS 653.2 500.7 45 10 29 (36) 30 (38) JC 393.8 330.5 20 6 18 20 C 1170.6 826.8 100 18 53 (64) 50 (62)
Almost across the table the C group doubles the HS group. The gap narrows slightly when we just look at the “20+” columns, but this is a strong college oriented draft. The most notable thing from this table though is the strength of the JC group. This is by far the best JC group in my eight year study.
All HS players over 20 WARP3
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 1 1 1 Sea Ken Griffey* OF HS 130.1 2 1s 30 Det Travis Fryman SS HS 66.1 3 48 1151 NYY Brad Ausmus* C HS 59.5 4 32 830 Tex Robb Nen RHP HS 50.6 5 1 12 Mon Delino DeShields SS HS 49.0 6 2 39 NYM Todd Hundley C HS 35.5 7 6 140 Cub Frank Castillo* RHP HS 29.5 8 2 49 Tor Derek Bell OF HS 29.3 9 13 330 Mil Troy O’Leary OF HS 29.3 10 2 56 NYM Pete Schourek LHP HS 21.8
The HS ranks produced one future superstar who was available for all of one pick. Fryman, Nen and DeShields were All Star level players. Ausmus has had a long career as a useful accumulator. The rest were useful contributors with some occasional big years (eg Hundley’s 41 HR season in 1996, and Schourek placed 2nd in the Cy Young voting in 1995).
For the most part these players are clustered at the top of the draft. Ausmus and Nen are big exceptions, but four out of the six players to produce at least 30 WARP3 were picked in the first 39 selections.
All JC/CC players over 20 WARP3
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 1 1 9 KC Kevin Appier RHP JC 85.5 2 3 72 Stl Ray Lankford OF JC 67.7 3 7 180 Cin Reggie Sanders* SS-OF JC 60.8 4 30 781 Hou Daryl Kile RHP CC 45.4 5 13 323 Atl Mike Stanton* LHP CC 36.1 6 3 71 Mil Jaime Navarro RHP CC 35.0
One of the reasons this group is so good is that it includes a top 10 overall draft pick. It’s pretty rare for a JC player to be drafted that high and of course Appier was a tremendously productive player. Lankford and Sanders were both very good players with long careers. Not every draft class has one 60+ WARP3 JC position player so it’s quite unexpected that this class has two. Kile signed as an expensive draft and follow in 1988. And again, while that process may be fairly common it certainly doesn’t produce someone as good as Kile every year. There is really a confluence of a lot of unusual things in the JC ranks this year. When we get to the early 90s the JC classes will mostly be pitchers like Stanton and Navarro.
All C players over 20 WARP3
Rank Rd Pick Team Player Pos School WARP3 1 1 22 Hou Craig Biggio* C C 115.8 2 2 47 Cle Joey Belle OF C 88.6 3 13 324 Bal Steve Finley* OF C 84.7 4 58 1225 KC Jeff Conine* 3B-OF C 55.4 5 1 5 CWS Jack McDowell RHP C 54.8 6 5 127 Tor Mike Timlin* RHP C 50.2 7 2 33 Sea Dave Burba RHP C 41.3 8 20 510 Oak Scott Brosius 3B C 40.2 9 18 454 Bal David Segui 1B C 39.4 10 1s 27 Bal Pete Harnisch RHP C 38.6 11 6 144 LA Darrin Fletcher C C 33.2 12 5 123 Mil Steve Sparks RHP C 29.3 13 7 165 Min Mark Guthire LHP C 28.4 14 1 16 SF Mike Remlinger* LHP C 27.6 15 1 13 Mil Bill Spiers SS C 27.0 16 6 146 SD Dave Hollins 2B C 26.7 17 9 230 SF Gil Heredia RHP C 23.9 18 1 19 Tex Brian Bohanon LHP C 21.7
The college ranks produced two excellent players and a lot of good depth. Depending on your opinion of Segui, Harnish and Fletcher there are 8 to 11 good, solid players and that’s about double what we saw from the HS ranks. The distribution of good players isn’t as tightly clustered although the three best picks in terms of pre-FA production are towards the top of the draft. Biggio and McDowell were both 1st rd picks and Belle was acknowledged as a 1st rd talent with question marks about his attitude. It turned out that those questions about his attitude were both valid and meaningless.