my thesis

We’ve heard it time and time again: The MLB First-Year Player Draft is a crapshoot. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to play the “what if” game. For every Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones and A-Rod, there’s a Brien Taylor, a Matthew Bush and a Bryan Bullington. And then there’s Josh Hamilton, and there’s no doubt in my mind that some dude I call a dud ends up being the next Hamilton in a couple of years. I apologize to that individual in advance (and also to those whose injuries turned them into busts).

The Reds have had their fair share of duds. But how have their past few drafts compared with other teams’? Let’s take a somewhat subjective (with help from Baseball America, baseballcube and baseball-reference) look (feel free to disagree), regardless of whether or not the player is still a Red. It’s strictly a “how did we draft that year and how did they turn out” as opposed to a “who did we end up acquiring down the road and how did they make us better” analysis.

Note: Especially in the first few (most recent) years of the analysis, pretty much anyone with any big-league experience whatsoever is included in the “Studs so far/Guys they’re high on” category. Because you figure guys that are 26 and under have impressed to some extent (particularly if they weren’t high draft picks) if they’ve made it to the bigs.

Sorry, Yonder Alonso, but we’re skipping 2008 because the jury’s still out on these guys. I thought about skipping 2007 too but we’ll give that one a gloss-over treatment.

2007
First-round pick: C Devin Mesoraco (15)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: pride of Moeller HS Andrew Brackman
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: 3B Todd Frazier; probably too soon on guys like Kyle Lotzkar, Zack Cozart, Scott Carroll. Matt Klinker, a 15th round pick from Lakota West HS, pitched pretty well at Dayton last year. Only guys who have advanced as high as AA are RHP Ray Jeffords (19th round) and Brandon Douglas, who returned to University of Northern Iowa after the Reds drafted him in the 32nd round (he’s now in the Tigers’ system).
Duds so far: way too soon?
Grade: INC

2006
First-round pick: OF Drew Stubbs (8)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Giants’ Tim Lincecum, Yankees’ Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Stubbs, RHP Sean Watson (2nd round), SS Chris Valaika (3rd round), RHP Jordan Smith (6th round), RHP Josh Roenicke (10th round), OF Chris Heisey (17th round), OF Danny Dorn (32nd round)
Duds so far: too soon?
Grade: B

2005
First-round pick: OF Jay Bruce (12)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury, Twins’ Matt Garza, Braves’ Joey Devine, Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus, Athletics’ Travis Buck, Red Sox’s Clay Buchholz, Red Sox’s Jed Lowrie
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Bruce, LHP Travis Wood (2nd round), RHP Zach Ward (3rd round – in Twins’ system), RHP Sam Lecure (4th round), RHP Jeff Stevens (6th round – in Indians’ system), SS/3B Milton Loo (9th round), SS Adam Rosales (12th round), 2B Michael Griffin (14th round), RHP Abe Woody (31st round – in Diamondbacks’ system)
Duds so far: too soon?
Grade: A-

2004
First-round pick: RHP Homer Bailey (7)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Angels’ Jered Weaver, Nats’ Bill Bray, Royals’ Billy Butler, D’backs’ Stephen Drew, White Sox’s Josh Fields, Twins’ Glen Perkins, Yankees’ Phil Hughes, Dodgers’ Blake Dewitt, Athletics’ Huston Street
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Bailey, Paul Janish (5th round), Jason Urquidez (11th round – in Diamondbacks’ system)
Duds so far: B.J. Szymanski (2nd round), Craig Tatum (3rd round), Rafael Gonzalez (4th round)
Major busts: Lonny Roa (6th round), Greg Goetz (8th round), Trevor Lawhorn (9th round)
Grade: C-

2003
First-round pick: RHP Ryan Wagner (14)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Red Sox’s David Murphy, D’backs’ Conor Jackson, Nats’ Chad Cordero, Giants’ David Aardsma, Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley, Cards’ Daric Barton, D’backs Carlos Quentin, Red Sox’s Matt Murton, Braves’ Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mariners’ Adam Jones
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Carlos Guevara (7th round – in Padres’ system), Chris Dickerson (16th round), Josh Newman (31st round – didn’t sign with the Reds; Rockies drafted him in 19th round in 2004), German Duran (32nd round – didn’t sign with the Reds; Rangers drafted him in 6th round in 2005)
Duds so far: Richie Gardner (6th round)
Major busts: Thomas Pauly (2nd round), Jose Ronda (3rd round), Marc Cornell (5th round), Damian Ursin (8th round), Ben Himes (9th round), Andy D’Alessio (10th round)
Grade: D

2002
First-round pick: RHP Chris Gruler (3)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Royals’ Zack Greinke, Brewers’ Prince Fielder, Rockies’ Jeff Francis, Marlins’ Jeremy Hermida, Angels’ Joe Saunders, Padres’ Khalil Greene, Blue Jays’ Russ Adams, Mets’ Scott Kazmir, Athletics’ Nick Swisher, Phillies’ Cole Hamels, Dodgers’ James Loney, Twins’ Denard Span, Indians’ Jeremy Guthrie, Braves’ Jeff Francoeur, Athletics’ Joe Blanton, Giants’ Matt Cain, Athletics’ Mark Teahen, Red Sox’s Jon Lester, Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton, Braves’ Brian McCann, Rockies’ Micah Owings
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Joey Votto (2nd round), Camilo Vazquez (4th round), Kevin Howard (5th round – now in Mariners’ system), Chris Denorfia (19th round – now with Oakland)
Duds so far: none
Major busts: Gruler, Mark Schramek (supplemental pick for failure to sign 2001 No. 1 pick Jeremy Sowers), Walter Olmstead (6th round), Corey Wachman (7th round), O.J. King (8th round), Steve Booth (9th round), Frankie Keller (10th round)
Grade: D (Votto keeps it from F)

2001
First-round pick: Jeremy Sowers (20, who opted to go to Vanderbilt instead of signing with the Reds)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Braves’ Macay McBride, Athletics’ Bobby Crosby, Athletics’ Jeremy Bonderman, Giants’ Noah Lowry, Mets’ David Wright, Brewers’ J.J. Hardy, Cardinals’ Dan Haren
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Slim pickings. Bobby Basham (7th round) at one time showed tremendous promise with Sarasota and Chattanooga but appears to be out of baseball now. David Shafer (32nd round) also looked great in 2005 and 2006 but hasn’t impressed since the Reds got rid of him. He’s in Oakland’s system now. Same goes for Daylan Childress (5th round), who was lights out for Dayton in 2002 (at age 23) but then slowly but surely disappeared.
Duds so far: none
Major busts: Justin Gillman (2nd round), Alan Moye (3rd round), Scott Light (6th round), Jose Rodriguez (8th round), Junior Ruiz (9th round), Bryan Prince (10th round)
Grade: F

2000
First-round pick: David Espinosa (23)
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Braves’ Adam Wainwright, Twins’ Aaron Heilman, Blue Jays’ Dustin McGowan, Braves’ Kelly Johnson, Padres’ Xavier Nady, Red Sox’s Manny Delcarmen, Astros’ Chad Qualls
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Dustin Moseley (supplemental first-round pick for loss of free agent Juan Guzman) is with the Angels. Dane Sardinha (2nd round) is with the Tigers. Chris Schroder (46th round) has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Nationals.
Duds so far: David Gil (3rd round) showed promise but he’s out of baseball. Same goes for Ryan Mottl (6th round).
Major busts: Espinosa, Marc Kaiser (4th round), Roydell Williams (5th round), Daniel Fletcher (7th round), Dan Gooris (8th round)
Grade: D-

1999
First-round pick: Ty Howington
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Rockies’ Jason Jennings, Blue Jays’ Alex Rios, Orioles’ Larry Bigbie, Royals’ Mike MacDougal, Dodgers’ Jason Repko, Cardinals’ Chris Duncan, Orioles’ Brian Roberts, Rays’ Carl Crawford, Nationals’ Brandon Phillips, Pirates’ Ryan Doumit, Athletics’ Ryan Ludwick, Angels’ John Lackey, Twins’ Justin Morneau, Rangers’ Hank Blalock
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Ben Broussard (2nd round) has played seven big-league seasons and is now with the Rangers. Brad Salmon (21st round) appeared in 26 games for the Reds in 2007. Rich Hill (36th round – didn’t sign with the Reds; Cubs drafted him in 4th round in 2002)
Duds so far: none
Major busts: Howington, Brandon Love (3rd round), Kenny Lutz (4th round), Alex LeFlore (6th round), Corey Barrow (7th round), Ryan Lundquist (8th round), Casey Bookout (9th round)
Grade: D

1998
First-round pick: Austin Kearns
Among those drafted later than our first-round pick by other teams: Blue Jays’ Felipe Lopez, Rangers’ Carlos Pena, Tigers’ Jeff Weaver, White Sox’s Kip Wells, Astros’ Brad Lidge, Indians’ C.C. Sabathia, Nats’ Brad Wilkerson, White Sox’s Aaron Rowand, Yankees’ Mark Prior, Athletics’ Gerald Laird, Rangers’ Barry Zito
Studs so far/Guys they’re high on: Kearns, Adam Dunn (2nd round). 12th-rounder John Koronka has had three big-league stints and is still only 28 (he’s in the Rockies’ system). B.J. Ryan, selected in the 17th round, is the Blue Jays’ closer and has 115 big-league saves. Todd Coffey, now with the Brewers, was a 41st round pick.
Duds so far: Greg Porter, the Reds’ third pick in the draft, has bounced around quite a bit and is currently believed to be in the Yankees’ system. Sixth rounder Bobby Madritsch was out of baseball for a couple of seasons but attempted a comeback in 2008. Seventh rounder Josh Hall had a cup of coffee with the Reds in 2003 and is currently in the Rockies’ system.
Major busts: Darrell Hussman (4th round), Jayson Larman (5th round), Clint Vaughn (8th round), Jacob Wallis (10th round)
Grade: A-

1 Comment

  1. Dan

    I wonder how well our drafts compare to other teams. I imagine all the Pirates drafts suck… they don’t have many big players that come up through them… Maybe Jason Bay, Jack Wilson? Any if you are a young player in the Yankees system, I would think your best chance of making it to the bigs would be to be traded to another team, since the Yankees buy all their talent it seems. Oakland and Minnesota have to be two of the best drafting teams. That’s all off the top of my head and may be completely wrong. Where are the helmet sundaes?

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