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View Full Version : BA draft study, college talent leads the way



M2
04-02-2007, 07:11 PM
Baseball America just did a draft study (http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/features/263613.html) on which teams have been the most successful at drafting and developing major league talent. While I think the study has its flaws (e.g. Texas would get credit for Edwin Encarnacion despite the fact that the Reds clearly developed him and Toronto ranks first overall, mostly due to players who've come up with other teams or thrived elsewhere) it does break down the number of everyday players (502 plate appearances in a season to qualify) and starting pitchers (162+ IP in a season) each organization has churned out since 1995.

More interesting, to me, is when they sliced it up along college/high school lines in taking a deeper look at the results (http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/majors/features/263614.html).

Though it lacks qualitative information, college/JC players far outnumber high school players. Here's the raw numbers:

Hitters

College/JC - 219
High School - 106

Pitchers

College/JC - 262
High School - 127

Now, there's probably a good number of high schoolers from recent drafts yet to break through. A study from 1991-2000 would probably be a more accurate slice, but I find the results stunning. While it ignores relievers, I think BA chose two excellent yardsticks. You had to do something right at some point in your life to merit being a BA or ERA qualifier. Somebody thought you were worth being one of the main contributors on your team, even if you ultimately fell flat on your face.

I never would have guessed it would be so lopsided toward the college players.

dougdirt
04-02-2007, 07:21 PM
having done similar things, the number of 2nd-5th round high school guys that dont make it past low A ball is staggering. I think a lot of these guys are the "toolsy" types that teams want to teach baseball to, but they just are great athletes and not very good baseball players.

edabbs44
04-02-2007, 07:26 PM
having done similar things, the number of 2nd-5th round high school guys that dont make it past low A ball is staggering. I think a lot of these guys are the "toolsy" types that teams want to teach baseball to, but they just are great athletes and not very good baseball players.

Exactly...they are the "IF they hit their ceiling, they're gonna be superstars" Szymanski types. Notice the big IF.

M2
04-02-2007, 11:57 PM
having done similar things, the number of 2nd-5th round high school guys that dont make it past low A ball is staggering. I think a lot of these guys are the "toolsy" types that teams want to teach baseball to, but they just are great athletes and not very good baseball players.

That certainly gets back to A's philosophy of prioritizing guys who can play over raw athletes.

Not surprisingly, the A's did very well in the BA study (finishing second to the Jays). On the end of the spectrum, the tools-minded Dodgers finished 29th. I fully admit I'm a sucker for a more athletic brand of baseball (I say it's part and parcel of being a Reds fan), but this definitely gets me thinking that it would be better to hold off on pure athlete picks until the slot prices start to get less expensive.

lollipopcurve
04-03-2007, 09:55 AM
Not surprisingly, the A's did very well in the BA study (finishing second to the Jays). On the end of the spectrum, the tools-minded Dodgers finished 29th. I fully admit I'm a sucker for a more athletic brand of baseball (I say it's part and parcel of being a Reds fan), but this definitely gets me thinking that it would be better to hold off on pure athlete picks until the slot prices start to get less expensive.

And right now the A's system is weak and the Dodgers is strong. These things have peaks and valleys. I just don't buy that you need an ideology when you draft. You need good information. You need more than a home-to-first time and a body type. You need more than the guy's OBP in college. How does the kid practice? Does he love the game? Does he understand the game well? What's the wear and tear on his body? What's his support system like? How many times did you see him, and was he seen by more than one of your scouts? These questions outweigh "how old is he?" in my opinion.

While these numbers from BA seem compelling, I'd ask a few questions before pronouncing them conclusive of much. How many college players/JUCO were drafted? How many high schoolers? As the level of performance rises (among those major league regulars) does the proportion of high schoolers increase?

I think for those who prefer to see college players drafted, Buckley may be your guy. Last year he went college in the first 3 rounds and in 8 of the first 10. His history shows him to favor college kids early, too.

M2
04-03-2007, 12:05 PM
And right now the A's system is weak and the Dodgers is strong.

I don't know about that. The Dodgers supposedly had a top system for most of the past 12 years and it turned out to be bunk.

Meanwhile the A's have Travis Buck in their opening day lineup, the majority of which is homegrown. In the past three years the system has also produced two starting pitchers and a closer.

Meanwhile, there were as many A's products as Dodgers products in L.A.'s lineup yesterday (one). For all the hype around L.A.'s system, only six homegrown products made the L.A. roster to start the season - the catcher, three relievers and two backup OFs, one of whom should probably be in AAA.

It's not like L.A.'s got a pile of pitchers in the high minors behind Billingsley and Broxton, Scott Elbert's the main guy and he's probably at least two years off from being effective in the majors. I'm extremely low on impatient slap hitters like Hu and Abreu. You basically end up with LaRoche and Loney as the main position players in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile Oakland's got Suzuki and Barton on the brink of the majors (don't be surprised if both are playing regularly in the majors in the second half), some potential rotation help in Jason Windsor and a high-octane bullpen arm in Marcus McBeth.

Also given how well the A's have transitioned players from the minors to the majors while the Dodgers have been a disaster at it, I'm thinking the A's system looks a whole lot better at the moment. Of late it's turned out more frontline players and I expect it to continue no matter what the hype says at the moment.

klw
04-03-2007, 02:59 PM
[QUOTE]While these numbers from BA seem compelling, I'd ask a few questions before pronouncing them conclusive of much. How many college players/JUCO were drafted?


This was my reaction as well. Is there a dramatic difference in the % of college draftees that make it vs HS or is it just that there is a preference for drafting from college now?

15fan
04-03-2007, 04:58 PM
Maybe the college / juco guys were more likely to make the bigs, but what are the odds of a guy being an impact player (define that however you want - All-Stars, top 10 in MVP voting, team leaders in any of the major offensive/pitching statistics, etc)? Maybe the college / juco guys are safer bets to make the show, but what kind of impact are they going to make once they get there? It's the essence of risk/reward.

I'd also be curious to see if there are any geographic patterns. Are high school pitchers from the northeast more likely than high school pitchers from the northwest to make it? Are high school bats from texas more or less likely to make it than college bats from the midwest? Etc. That kind of information would really be useful in terms of allowing a team to make an informed decision about where to deploy scouts, etc.

dougdirt
04-03-2007, 05:43 PM
Maybe the college / juco guys were more likely to make the bigs, but what are the odds of a guy being an impact player (define that however you want - All-Stars, top 10 in MVP voting, team leaders in any of the major offensive/pitching statistics, etc)? Maybe the college / juco guys are safer bets to make the show, but what kind of impact are they going to make once they get there? It's the essence of risk/reward.

I'd also be curious to see if there are any geographic patterns. Are high school pitchers from the northeast more likely than high school pitchers from the northwest to make it? Are high school bats from texas more or less likely to make it than college bats from the midwest? Etc. That kind of information would really be useful in terms of allowing a team to make an informed decision about where to deploy scouts, etc.

While that information would be nice, I just dont think there is enough out there to figure it out. Prospects are handled so much differently now than they were even 10 years ago, so I dont think the information would be very telling over time, becuase of the way things have changed.

M2
04-03-2007, 07:03 PM
Maybe the college / juco guys were more likely to make the bigs, but what are the odds of a guy being an impact player (define that however you want - All-Stars, top 10 in MVP voting, team leaders in any of the major offensive/pitching statistics, etc)? Maybe the college / juco guys are safer bets to make the show, but what kind of impact are they going to make once they get there? It's the essence of risk/reward.

I'd also be curious to see if there are any geographic patterns. Are high school pitchers from the northeast more likely than high school pitchers from the northwest to make it? Are high school bats from texas more or less likely to make it than college bats from the midwest? Etc. That kind of information would really be useful in terms of allowing a team to make an informed decision about where to deploy scouts, etc.

There's definitely multiple layers of this stuff, far more than a basic count can cover. Though with that sort of tilt toward college/juco guys, I'll guarantee you it inevitably leads to more of everything (impact players, secondary players, role players, etc.).

Just thinking out loud here, but might these numbers say more about the state of American baseball than anything else? We all know there's an extremely competitive sports market for premier athletes. I'm also under the impression kids play less baseball than they did in previous generations, even the ones who play at organized levels. It's possible that the sorting out process at the college level has become more important due to those factors, that baseball, at least in America, has become a late bloomer's sport. That layer of HS kids who flat out disappear in A ball don't get drafted if they go to college and fizzle. Meanwhile, a lot of kids who weren't highly regarded find themselves in college.

15fan
04-04-2007, 09:19 AM
While that information would be nice, I just dont think there is enough out there to figure it out. Prospects are handled so much differently now than they were even 10 years ago, so I dont think the information would be very telling over time, becuase of the way things have changed.

I'd take the exact opposite position - it's not that there is a lack of information. Instead, there's an overabundance of information. Places like baseball-reference.com, baseballcube.com, etc already have most of this information (draft position, minor/major league stats, etc) in a data base. The work comes in parsing the data (for example, to do a regional study, do you divide the country up into 50 states, 6 regions, 4 regions, etc?). Coding the data would be a heck of a lot of work, but in this day in age, the data is most certainly there.

I also think there's some value in the study even though you claim that minor leaguers are handled differently than they were 10 years ago. You might find, for example, that over time, kids from (insert state/region here) fare better in their development than kids from the rest of the nation, regardless of the minor league operations. That would indicate that maybe the Little League / Pony League / AAU / High School systems at the local or regional level have more of an impact than originally thought. There's certainly some logic there - kids who are taught better at an earlier age are more likely to not have bad habits / techniques that lead to the inevitable injuries, etc. Conversely, you might find that there has been a change with the way that kids from state/region X have gone from being drafted to actually being a regular big leaguer. Some evidence there would give credence to the argument that minor league instruction is more important than finding kids from solid programs either at the junior high, high school, or college levels.

I like the Late Bloomer hypothesis that M2's working.

lollipopcurve
04-04-2007, 09:27 AM
That layer of HS kids who flat out disappear in A ball don't get drafted if they go to college and fizzle. Meanwhile, a lot of kids who weren't highly regarded find themselves in college.

There is truth in this, just as in any sport. But the true high-high-end talent is often recognizable by the time the kid is 18 -- thus the NBA's rush to sign high schoolers, for example. This is why I have no problem with the Reds looking at high schoolers for their first round picks.

M2
04-04-2007, 11:43 AM
There is truth in this, just as in any sport. But the true high-high-end talent is often recognizable by the time the kid is 18 -- thus the NBA's rush to sign high schoolers, for example. This is why I have no problem with the Reds looking at high schoolers for their first round picks.

Except we keep learning that it isn't that easy to spot the "true high-high-end talent." For instance, I am in shock B.J. Upton isn't a stud player at this very moment. Seriously, he had everything -- five tools, great instincts, loved the game. At age 18 he seemed like he was only a heartbeat away from the majors. Maybe he'll still get it together to be a good player, but he looked like Cooperstown was in his future five years ago.

I'm not saying don't draft high school players, but this is yet more evidence of how high the risk is.

dougdirt
04-04-2007, 12:27 PM
I'd take the exact opposite position - it's not that there is a lack of information. Instead, there's an overabundance of information. Places like baseball-reference.com, baseballcube.com, etc already have most of this information (draft position, minor/major league stats, etc) in a data base. The work comes in parsing the data (for example, to do a regional study, do you divide the country up into 50 states, 6 regions, 4 regions, etc?). Coding the data would be a heck of a lot of work, but in this day in age, the data is most certainly there.

I also think there's some value in the study even though you claim that minor leaguers are handled differently than they were 10 years ago. You might find, for example, that over time, kids from (insert state/region here) fare better in their development than kids from the rest of the nation, regardless of the minor league operations. That would indicate that maybe the Little League / Pony League / AAU / High School systems at the local or regional level have more of an impact than originally thought. There's certainly some logic there - kids who are taught better at an earlier age are more likely to not have bad habits / techniques that lead to the inevitable injuries, etc. Conversely, you might find that there has been a change with the way that kids from state/region X have gone from being drafted to actually being a regular big leaguer. Some evidence there would give credence to the argument that minor league instruction is more important than finding kids from solid programs either at the junior high, high school, or college levels.

I like the Late Bloomer hypothesis that M2's working.

As someone who actually has gone through 8 years of draft data, I am convinced that a study like that would not have enough data to get what you are looking for to confirm an actual conclusion with any base of information behind it. I mean yes, there are a few examples. Joey Votto said that in HS in Toronto, he never faced a guy throwing harder than 85 MPH. Now days some of these kids see 90 almost every game in summer leagues. But going through all of that data just is going to leave you with the conclusion that there actually isnt enough data to determine an actual conclusion.

A study like that would have to go about 15 years deep. Well once you get past the 5th or 6th round, the number of actual major leaguers are few and far between. All players beyond that are going to drop the numbers across the board dramatically. It is also going leave the sample size extremely small of guys who signed from a certain region.

lollipopcurve
04-04-2007, 01:11 PM
Except we keep learning that it isn't that easy to spot the "true high-high-end talent." For instance, I am in shock B.J. Upton isn't a stud player at this very moment. Seriously, he had everything -- five tools, great instincts, loved the game. At age 18 he seemed like he was only a heartbeat away from the majors. Maybe he'll still get it together to be a good player, but he looked like Cooperstown was in his future five years ago.

I'd say it is relatively easy. That's why most of the kids drafted in the early rounds are on everybody's radar. No one's saying there is such thing as a sure thing (you mention Upton -- the college pitcher taken before him, Bullington, is pretty assuredly a bust, while BJ has plenty of time to become a good player, starting this year when he'll get regular ABs in the majors). My position is that you shouldn't rule out the HS crop at any point in the draft -- especially what appears to be the very high-end talent there. High-school athletes are bigger and stronger than they've ever been and the parental focus on getting them trained to perform at the next level, whatever that may be, is white hot these days. It extends from personal trainers to practically year-round high-level competition. Kids who are excelling against the best competition in that environment, who still have room to mature physically, are better bets than they've ever been, in my opinion.