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View Full Version : Article: Draft a College Pitcher? Are you sure?



Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 06:05 AM
You can view the page at http://www.twinsdaily.com/content.php?476-Draft-a-College-Pitcher-Are-you-sure

Mr. Ed
04-26-2012, 06:57 AM
Given the recent washouts of Bashore, Tootle and Hunt, due in part to injury, I'd be very leery of a college pitcher. A shame that some of these guys get over-worked in college. One reason a number of kids by-pass it for a shot in the bigs on draft day.

roger
04-26-2012, 07:23 AM
Does this tell us we should trade down to #12? Oh, I forgot, this isn't the NFL and we can't do that! Bah!!!

Han Joelo
04-26-2012, 07:51 AM
Cool research. I think the NFL draft skews the way people look at the baseball draft a tad. Totally different beasts. The risks with pitchers are enormous comparatively, as pointed out above.

I'm not sure if this is a fair comparison, but compare Zunino and Appel/Zimmer whomever, with Montero and Pineda. Go with the guy who plays every day at a premium position, and then like every other team, hope you can find the next Roger Clemens a bit lower.

ScottyB
04-26-2012, 08:13 AM
I'm hoping that the Astros take Buxton, so the Twins aren't tempted to take another 'toolsy' high school outfielder. They already have a glut of outfielders - Benson, Hicks, Morales and others. I could see taking Zunino or Correa, but depending on healing, I'm still intrigued by Giolito. He's a clone of Verlander and the Twins have a desperate need for a true ace. That being said, Appel, Zimmer and Gausman would also be good choices. With next year's projected starting rotation of Blackburn, Hendricks, and at this point I don't know (maybe Swarzak, Diamond and Gibson). They desperately need starters. 2014 looks to be the year the next crop of players comes through. But I do trust the Twins to make the right choice. Despite the busts they have drafted, they have also drafted some nice pieces in the first round - Mauer, Parmalee, Ploufe, Revere, Span, and Perkins on the current team, plus guys like Hunter and Cuddyer. They do need some scouts who can spot pitchers.

Thrylos
04-26-2012, 09:19 AM
Well, I would agree with the conclusion if:

a. there were more data showing the WAR of others ie. college position players, high school pitchers and high school position players, so we can compare
b. Career WAR is an interesting metric for thing like HOF. WAR/season is more important and esp since a lot of the players in the list are still active


So unless I see the comparisons, I cannot really say that the data support the hypothesis ;)

Boom Boom
04-26-2012, 09:27 AM
Pitchers are half of your team. The Twins shouldn't be afraid to draft a good one.

Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 09:30 AM
Correct, to some degree. i agree that it isn't fair to those that are still playing which is why I mentioned the likes of Verlander and Lincecum. The per-year thing is good, but I think you also want at top pitcher to give more than 2-3 years like Prior, great as they were.

And, I thought about how it would look, relative to high school pitchers or hitters or college hitters, but at the same time, I think this tells the story for college pitchers and says that as optimistic as we want to be about a college pitcher, it may should be tempered. It's not to say that drafting a high school bat is better or worse.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 09:53 AM
Don't you have to compare that to hitters, to understand which offers more likelihood of success? Half the roster is pitchers, you need 5-7 starters. If you dont' draft pitchers high EVER because they are risky, how do you ever get pitching? That's the part people can't answer...."never draft a pitcher high, because it is risky", then how do you ever get pitching?

Shane Wahl
04-26-2012, 10:22 AM
I probably wouldn't care about not drafting a solid college pitcher with the 2 pick if I could rest assured that the Twins were going to chase a top 50 MLB pitcher on the market in the offseason or make a trade for one.

edavis0308
04-26-2012, 10:26 AM
I feel there should be one more dimension looked at - career WAR of pitchers drafted by team. Example - compare the drafting of pitchers of the Rays over the past few years compared to the Twins.

EDIT: to build on that, it might show who has superior scouting in the late rounds compared to teams that aren't as good that frequently draft toward the top of the round.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 10:27 AM
I'm with shanewahl on that, if I thought they'd change their DNA and sign LEGIT MLB starter(s) in FA, or trade prospects for one or more, sure, pass on pitching all you want in the draft....but in year three of their new stadium, they cut their payroll, and didn't sign one.

ashburyjohn
04-26-2012, 10:32 AM
I raised a similar question in my inaugural blog entry yesterday, although I came at it from the POV of wondering about all those supplemental draft picks, and took a cherry-picker's approach to demonstrate that if the draft pool is thin one year you can end up with little or nothing even with several picks just after the real first round.

What you (Seth) have done is a great start, toward the question of what to do with the #2 pick, but surely there exists somewhere a set of data that carries things further: separate the draftees by HS/College and Pitcher/Position-player, and use some metric (WAR as you have done) to assess the empirical record of what has worked the best among these four combinations. Anecdotal evidence (like what I wrote yesterday, or the "for every Justin Verlander at pick #2 I can find an Adam Johnson or even Mark Prior as a cautionary example) only goes so far.

Indeed probably one or more major league teams already have done exactly this and it will have colored their choices the past decade or so. Focusing on Boston, Tampa, and Oakland's picks might be very instructive - if only to show that the opportunity to set oneself apart is past.

nicksaviking
04-26-2012, 10:39 AM
Shane's right, there is just no other way to get a front line starter, and you need two or three of them to compete these days. The Twins will never give a pitcher more than a four year deal, and the top guys ask for double that and usually settle for between 5-7 years. The only hope for the team is to get a stud in the system, then after a season or two offer to buy out a couple arbitration years in exchange for 2 free agent years and have him locked up for the first eight years of his career.

minn55441
04-26-2012, 10:40 AM
Is this the era of the new and improved Terry Ryan? Now that he actually has some money to spend will it change his approach to creating a roster?

2013 we have 1 starting pitcher under contract. I don't see us filling out the rotation from within. How much money will be devoted to FA's? I don't think any pitcher taken in this years draft will be part of the 2013 rotation. It would be nice if we could count of Wimmers and Gibson, but they are both big question marks.

I would like to see us take Zunino with the #2 overall pick and then start loading up on arms, both College or younger for the seasons 2015 on out. The starting pitchers we need from a competitive 2013 need to come from outside the organization. Whether we aquire them through trade or free agency, it's up to Ryan to find a balance between value and price we have to pay.

Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 11:01 AM
Believe me, I'm NOT saying DON'T take a college pitcher with the #2 pick... but like any pick (but particularly college pitchers) there is no such thing as a sure thing. As many before us have said, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. I think of the 5 picks in the top 72, I'd like to see at least two and probably 3 pitchers taken.

ashburyjohn
04-26-2012, 11:10 AM
Believe me, I'm NOT saying DON'T take a college pitcher with the #2 pick...

I think what's needed is to trust the scouts, and if they can say "this is the guy" you just take him. Some years that's what happens at #1, #2, #3... If it's viewed as close between a couple of guys, then you look at this kind of historical/empircal study to maybe tip the balance.

YourHouseIsMyHouse
04-26-2012, 11:28 AM
I think we should draft Zunino. The guy in the thumbnail being my second choice (Zimmer).

ssp833
04-26-2012, 11:31 AM
Mike wants wins makes the exact same point I would - if you don't take a chance on a strikeout pitcher because it may be risky then you will never have any. Based on where the current strategy for building a pitching staff has gotten them, I so hope that they not only pick a hard throwing starter with number 2 but that they pick several more. And then do the same every year.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 12:05 PM
min55441...they had money to do that this year, and didn't. So, I see no evidence Ryan is a changed man. Which makes me sad, because I think they have a nice core with Mauer, Morneau, Span, Willingham...but once again, they've surrounded them with yuckiness.

twinsfanstreif
04-26-2012, 12:05 PM
I've heard a lot of people on here say that if we want an ace we have to draft him high in the first. This comment may be totally legit but does anyone know currently of each "ace" or ace caliber player in the majors how we're they aquired or what round were they drafted in? I would be curious to see the result because I feel this is a blanket statement with no research involved.

scottz
04-26-2012, 12:37 PM
All I know is, other than a very few of the names mentioned (eg., Dan Reichert, Sean Lowe), just about anybody on that list could have stepped onto this roster and make an improvement to our rotation. Even if we ended up with a Charles Nagy or Rick Helling as a starter in 2 years, it would be an improvement over what we see here currently. If 78% of college pitchers taken in the top 25 picks over the last 31 years have made the bigs [(222-49)/222], and presumably made it fairly quickly, then that sounds like a pretty solid risk to me.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 12:46 PM
btw, I meant to, once again, thank Seth for his time and effort. Your contribution to the Twins' community is amazing.

Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 12:49 PM
I think what's needed is to trust the scouts, and if they can say "this is the guy" you just take him. Some years that's what happens at #1, #2, #3... If it's viewed as close between a couple of guys, then you look at this kind of historical/empircal study to maybe tip the balance.

It's all we can do. I'm not even going to pretend to know how to rank Buxton vs Zunino, much less Appel vs Zimmer vs Gausman. My point would be that whoever the Twins have at the top of their list when it's their turn to pick, that's who they should pick.

Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 12:49 PM
btw, I meant to, once again, thank Seth for his time and effort. Your contribution to the Twins' community is amazing.

I appreciate that! Thank you!

twinsfanstreif
04-26-2012, 01:02 PM
All I know is, other than a very few of the names mentioned (eg., Dan Reichert, Sean Lowe), just about anybody on that list could have stepped onto this roster and make an improvement to our rotation. Even if we ended up with a Charles Nagy or Rick Helling as a starter in 2 years, it would be an improvement over what we see here currently. If 78% of college pitchers taken in the top 25 picks over the last 31 years have made the bigs [(222-49)/222], and presumably made it fairly quickly, then that sounds like a pretty solid risk to me.

You have to take into account that guys like Adam Johnson technically made it to the majors. It's about the amount of guys that were affective. 50 of the 222 had a career WAR of 10 or more(keep in mind that Jason Marqis has a Career WAR of 12) that makes 22% were affective. Keep in mind that many people would be very upset if our #2 pick turned out to be like Jason Marquis. So really the 25 that had a WAR over 20 have been very good to elite and that's only 11% of college pitchers taken in the first round. Those numbers look much less promising.

shs_59
04-26-2012, 01:04 PM
GREAT ARTICLE SETH!!!

I'm all about the Twins taking Pitchers (mainly college arms) in picks 32-72 Right now.

With pick #2 overall in my mind, there should be no doubt on Byron Buxton, and if he's gone, then Either Zunino or Maybe Albert Almora, Devin Marrero, Lucas Gioloto, Carlos Correa.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 01:06 PM
Just read an insider article espousing Almora over Buxton, making Buxton not a no-brainer...

twinsfanstreif
04-26-2012, 01:26 PM
Just read an insider article espousing Almora over Buxton, making Buxton not a no-brainer...

Also on a draft chat done by perfectgame.com a scout was writing about how he is much higher on Correa than Buxton, he said Buxton is not a "5 tool" guy like everyone is saying but more like a 3 tool.

Seth Stohs
04-26-2012, 01:31 PM
You have to take into account that guys like Adam Johnson technically made it to the majors. It's about the amount of guys that were affective. 50 of the 222 had a career WAR of 10 or more(keep in mind that Jason Marqis has a Career WAR of 12) that makes 22% were affective. Keep in mind that many people would be very upset if our #2 pick turned out to be like Jason Marquis. So really the 25 that had a WAR over 20 have been very good to elite and that's only 11% of college pitchers taken in the first round. Those numbers look much less promising.

Exactly this!! That was my point. The percent is likely a little better for a #2 pick, but even there, not a given.

ashburyjohn
04-26-2012, 01:39 PM
I'm all about the Twins taking Pitchers (mainly college arms) in picks 32-72 Right now.

I'm in favor of this too. However, if we think it will result in a true ace pitcher, the 2011 Cy Young voting stacks the odds against. I took a quick look at the top 4 or 5 Cy vote getters (much below that and the ranking is skewed by individual voters), and typically these pitchers are taken midway through the first round, like pick 17 (Hamels and Halladay both, as it happens). Verlander is an outlier up at #2. A couple of guys like Lee and Shields went in later rounds and presumably could have been picked in the range you're talking about.

So to address to your point, in Halladay's year, there was Washburn available for the #31 pick, then Tomko, Dempster and Arroyo further down, sprinkled among the wreckage of washed-out picks 32-72. In Hamels's year, there was Jon Lester at #57, Broxton and Crain soon after. If you had ALL the picks 32-72, you'd scoop up some good ones; with a few picks, you're fighting less than 50/50 odds, unless your scouts happen to be godly.

Though, even #2 is still a crapshoot. The year Hamels went #17, the Rays got Upton at #2, so they can't second guess themselves too much. But when Halladay went #17, the Padres took catcher Ben Davis at #2 - hardly a bust but not what they probably were hoping for.

Again, I hope someone with teh mad database skillz has figured out a better methodology than my cherry-picker approach.

twinsfanstreif
04-26-2012, 01:53 PM
If anyone wants to do their own research you can go here (http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?query_type=pos_round&pos=SS&draft_round=1&draft_type=junreg) and do your own math. I did SS(hs and college), out of 214 drafted in the first round 40 had a WAR over 10, that's 18%, granted 10 of those were in the top 5 for a 30% rate. A little worse than college pitchers but I wonder what pitchers would be if you calculated in HS players.

twinsfanstreif
04-26-2012, 02:03 PM
On my calculations pitchers have a 26% rate in the first 5 picks. Worse than SS and not much better than pitching over all

minn55441
04-26-2012, 03:27 PM
min55441...they had money to do that this year, and didn't. So, I see no evidence Ryan is a changed man. Which makes me sad, because I think they have a nice core with Mauer, Morneau, Span, Willingham...but once again, they've surrounded them with yuckiness.

Mike, The differance was that after the 2011 season Ryan was named GM midstream. Billy was still running the show up until after the organizational meetings. Also we had all of these starting pitchers under contract. In my mind his hands were tied. He couldn't trade them. I don't think he was prepared to eat the salary when they had a chance to preform at a higher level.

When this season ends, Ryan will have a clean slate, with only Blackburn under contract. How he fills out our starting rotation will determine our course over the next several seasons. If he tries to fill all of the starting pitcher spots through the draft we are in for 5 or 6 years of losing baseball. If he can sign one of two quality starters as FA's and then work out a trade or two to fill the remaining spots we could quickly return to a competitive team again. We need to take pitchers in the draft, I just feel the odds are pretty low that we can pick up a pitcher that will make an impact within a year or two.

mike wants wins
04-26-2012, 03:33 PM
minn55441, fair enough. I'm certainly not going to say Ryan is a failure on his return after 1 year, any more than I REALLY wanted to after Smith's first year.

And, agreed, if they try to only fix this problem through the draft, there won't be 20K fans in the stands in 2013, 14...

Loosey
04-26-2012, 03:51 PM
For comparisons sake and to see where the Twins could also find talent. I would like to see an analysis of where the some of the top aces in baseball today and some in the recent past were drafted. For example Johan Santana was discovered and signed out of Venezuela and eventually drafted by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft. I would like to see other examples such as this.

scottz
04-26-2012, 04:19 PM
You have to take into account that guys like Adam Johnson technically made it to the majors. It's about the amount of guys that were affective. 50 of the 222 had a career WAR of 10 or more(keep in mind that Jason Marqis has a Career WAR of 12) that makes 22% were affective. Keep in mind that many people would be very upset if our #2 pick turned out to be like Jason Marquis. So really the 25 that had a WAR over 20 have been very good to elite and that's only 11% of college pitchers taken in the first round. Those numbers look much less promising.

Yeah, I hear what you're saying. However, I think the Twins pitching is in such rough shape right now, that they are going to have to be aggressive with their selections. If there's an obvious best player on the board, yes, I agree, go ahead and take that guy. But if it is a toss-up between a power arm who might join the MLB team in 2 years and a position player who might join the team in 4-5 years, I think you have to go with the arm. If we're being honest with ourselves, there are very few "sure things" in baseball anyway, and so the numbers we're talking about (11% elite in the first round) is probably within the error bars of a "good draft" anyway. Why not take a shot? If not, the reality is that we're punting on making a run in the Joe Mauer era, unless they are crazy aggressive in free agency with pitchers. I expect them to pick up 1 FA starter, and I hope they pick up 2, but I don't think they will. And if you aren't going to do that, you need a starter to come from somewhere.

Thoughts?

nicksaviking
04-26-2012, 04:28 PM
A pitcher taken this high always could be a bust. Someone mentioned we would not be happy if he turned out to be Jason Marquis, another mentioned Adam Johnson. Any of these pitchers could bust out, but these guys are all fireballers. This year and last have seen a large increase in velocity in the top pitchers in the draft. There normally aren't this many guys who regularly hit 95-97, Jason Marquis never had that kind of heat, nor does Wimmers, Gibson, or likely Adam Johnson. I think the bust rate with most of these pitchers is being widely overblown. Even if they do bust, a high velocity starter who can't cut it, usually turns into an even harder throwing bullpen arm.

Either way, I don't see how Zunino or Buxton are any safer. One plays a position that limits offensive production and he has a high strikeout rate for a top of the draft college player. The other is playing very weak compition. Does Buxton remind no one of Donavan Tate? I haven't heard anyone compare the two despite the fact that they are both 5 tool, 6' 2", 200 lb rural Georgia, top 5 pick and best OF in their drafts? Tate went #3 3 years ago and is looking like a huge disappointment.

mike wants wins
04-30-2012, 11:35 AM
Latest ESPN insider states that Appel is moving back up the draft boards again....and is looking like he has a shot to be the first pick again. I bet Buxton drops, given the competition level, just my current guess, in April...

CDog
04-30-2012, 01:53 PM
I think the bust rate with most of these pitchers is being widely overblown. Even if they do bust, a high velocity starter who can't cut it, usually turns into an even harder throwing bullpen arm.

I'm pretty sure the original post went into pretty much every detail of the calculations done, so I'm not sure exactly what could be being "overblown." If I count the men and women in a room and report the ratio is 7:5, is that overblowing the results?

And pitchers can also accumulate value as a reliever, so I would think that's cooked into the analysis that was done, too.

Perhaps a different way of looking at things would put a different set of shadows on it, but then someone could always do that if they wanted...

mlhouse
04-30-2012, 08:43 PM
If you remove the obvious outliers like Clemons and Mussina, you can see the correlation between draft positon and value. Another factor you might want to control for is "signing bonus" because historically in the MLB draft some of the higher end prospects were pushed down the draft list because of signability.

For the Twins, it is obvious at #2 that they should take the best college pitcher.

Jeremy Nygaard
04-30-2012, 09:08 PM
The newest ESPN Insider draft article suggests that Appel is back in the #1 conversation. Expect this to change a few dozen more times before the draft.

Seth Stohs
04-30-2012, 09:20 PM
The newest ESPN Insider draft article suggests that Appel is back in the #1 conversation. Expect this to change a few dozen more times before the draft.

That's why it's best for us not to pay too much attention... It's easy for me to say "I'd lean toward Zimmer." But I don't know. Ha!