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View Full Version : Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?



fearofpopvol1
07-15-2011, 11:41 PM
dougdirt said I should pose the question in its own thread, so I am.

Doesn't conventional wisdom say to take projected relievers later in the draft?

My question is why do the Reds take them so early? Some names...

Boxberger
Joseph
Cingrani
Allen
Shunick
Stewart
Jordan Smith
Valiquette

Am I leaving some out? I think I probably am. You could make a case that Valiquette wasn't drafted to be a reliever.

So why? Is this a good strategy? Thoughts?

Scrap Irony
07-15-2011, 11:55 PM
Two theories:

1) Relievers offer a fairly safe value pick, as many make it to the majors and/or are attractive as trade chips in the high minors. (See the Rolen and Phillips/ Stevens deals, both made with college relievers, IIRC.) They're also likely a bit cheaper as well.

2) Reliever arms aren't as stressed as starters and often offer the better "stuff". The Reds, like the Blue Jays of around a decade ago, must believe they can teach control (and the ability to go long in games) much more effectively than finding better stuff.

Add all that up and it's a defensible strategy.

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 12:11 AM
I think that's logical, but the problem is, they also don't add a lot of value to your team if they end up relievers. Craig Kimbrel, who may be the best statistical reliever in the game this year, has been worth 2 wins so far. Most good relievers have been worth 1 win and may end up at around 2 - 2.5 by season's end. That's nice to have, but to use your top draft picks on? I'm not so sure.

I know it's too early to say for some of the Reds draftees, but Boxberger appears to be headed for the bullpen and many of the other guys as well.

If the Reds didn't pick these players where they went, would they have fallen to later rounds thus giving the Reds more of a chance to maximize position player draft picks in the earlier rounds?

Scrap Irony
07-16-2011, 12:25 AM
Possible.

But not all relievers stay as relievers. Shawn Marcum was a reliever, IIRC. So was Zach Stewart. Brandon Morrow switched back and forth both in college and in the minors. I'm sure there are many more.

I would agree that taking a reliever that profiles only as a reliever early is questionable, at best. Boxberger is going to be a closer, it looks like, and his selection in the supplemental 1st round was a stretch.

But, really, any draftee that makes the majors is a good pick, especially one from rounds 2-50.

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 12:48 AM
Possible.

But not all relievers stay as relievers. Shawn Marcum was a reliever, IIRC. So was Zach Stewart. Brandon Morrow switched back and forth both in college and in the minors. I'm sure there are many more.

I would agree that taking a reliever that profiles only as a reliever early is questionable, at best. Boxberger is going to be a closer, it looks like, and his selection in the supplemental 1st round was a stretch.

But, really, any draftee that makes the majors is a good pick, especially one from rounds 2-50.

Stewart could end up as a reliever as well.

I don't have as big of a problem with relievers when you get beyond say the 6th round, but before that I think you risk passing up on more valuable players.

dougdirt
07-16-2011, 01:25 AM
Some of those guys weren't drafted as relievers, it just happened that way. Brad Boxberger, Zach Stewart, Jordan Smith and Philippe Valiquette all were starters.

The next question is, have the Reds been any more guilty of this than other teams have been?

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 03:07 AM
How do you figure on Stewart? In his first year, he was a reliever. He wasn't stretched out until year 2. I have read that Boxberger was always thought of as a reliever as well.

How do the Reds compare to other teams? I admittedly don't know. Do you? My gut tells me that the Reds are more aggressive with projected relievers earlier in the draft than other teams.

camisadelgolf
07-16-2011, 05:33 AM
A lot of times what happens is that a pitcher is drafted in the hopes that he'll be a quality starter, but part of the reason you draft him is in the safety of knowing that he has a good chance of being an effective reliever if things don't work out. With that said, relievers make up about 1/4 of a team, so shouldn't that be represented by the players you pick in the draft? Well, just looking back in the past six drafts, it has worked out that exactly 1/4 of the first four draft picks of each year were relievers.
2 C
1 1B
7 IF/UT
3 OF
5 SP
6 RP

I just don't see anything unusual, ineffective, or wrong about the Reds drafting philosophies when it comes to relievers.

HokieRed
07-16-2011, 08:54 AM
Is it as simple as only a very small number of arms are actually able to be major league starters? One thing stays pretty constant about major league baseball and that is the scarcity of quality starting pitching (or even of competent starting pitching).

lollipopcurve
07-16-2011, 09:01 AM
Most relievers were drafted as starters.

HokieRed
07-16-2011, 09:13 AM
Most relievers were drafted as starters.

Right. So we look at these guys and say the org. is drafting relievers when actually they've drafted starters whose fate is relieving b/c it looks very unlikely that they'll ever have command of enough plus repertoire to start.

dougdirt
07-16-2011, 02:06 PM
How do you figure on Stewart? In his first year, he was a reliever. He wasn't stretched out until year 2. I have read that Boxberger was always thought of as a reliever as well.

How do the Reds compare to other teams? I admittedly don't know. Do you? My gut tells me that the Reds are more aggressive with projected relievers earlier in the draft than other teams.

Lots of college pitchers get the reliever treatment the first half season out of college just to protect their arm. Josh Smith relieved last season. He is probably the best starting pitcher we have had in the minors this year (best performance at least, not best prospect). And with Stewart, the guy has made it to the Majors, as a starter. Simply because the Reds may not have ultimately used him there doesn't mean he wasn't a starter. Sam LeCure is a starting pitcher. But they haven't used him as one much. Boxberger, its tougher to say. Some thought he had a chance to be a starter and to be honest, he didn't exactly prove he wasn't before he was taken out of the role.

And no, I don't know how the Reds compare to other teams. But I think someone should look into it.

LeDoux
07-16-2011, 02:50 PM
Perhaps this is a dumb question. But how do you project a draft pick as reliever or starter? Theoretically the same baseball dynamics apply in the first as the eight inning. What criteria do scouts and minor league managers use to seperate bullpen arms from starters? Number of pitches times the quality of those pitches?

dougdirt
07-16-2011, 02:59 PM
Perhaps this is a dumb question. But how do you project a draft pick as reliever or starter? Theoretically the same baseball dynamics apply in the first as the eight inning. What criteria do scouts and minor league managers use to seperate bullpen arms from starters? Number of pitches times the quality of those pitches?

Arm action. Number of pitches. The quality of those pitches. Body size (generally because smaller guys can't last 100 pitches for 35 starts in a season). Stamina. All of those things go into it. And really, it isn't the managers who are deciding who is a starter/reliever. They are told who the starters are for the most part. Same goes for position guys. There are certain guys who "must play", where as they only get to make the decisions on certain guys as to who is the starter and who is the bench guy.

LeDoux
07-16-2011, 03:03 PM
Arm action. Number of pitches. The quality of those pitches. Body size (generally because smaller guys can't last 100 pitches for 35 starts in a season). Stamina. All of those things go into it. And really, it isn't the managers who are deciding who is a starter/reliever. They are told who the starters are for the most part. Same goes for position guys. There are certain guys who "must play", where as they only get to make the decisions on certain guys as to who is the starter and who is the bench guy.

Thanks for the info. I will click on some of you ads as thanks.

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 03:13 PM
Most relievers were drafted as starters.

I don't know if I would agree with that. Several of the ones I listed were drafted as relievers.

HokieRed
07-16-2011, 04:13 PM
Stamina, size--referring back to Doug's post. Which is why I like the McMyne pick that started all this discussion and why I think he may still be a starter. He's something like 6' 215-220.

10xWSChamps
07-16-2011, 04:25 PM
Relievers are great to trade. Bring them up for a little, work them enough to build some stats and put them in positions to succeed.... and if you need to trade some of them.

How many teams don't need relievers at the trade deadline? Teams can be fine with their starting pitching or lineup, but there is always room for another in the bullpen. Look at the Brewers, they have the best reliever in the division and traded for a guy who is even better then that.

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 07:07 PM
Relievers are great to trade. Bring them up for a little, work them enough to build some stats and put them in positions to succeed.... and if you need to trade some of them.

How many teams don't need relievers at the trade deadline? Teams can be fine with their starting pitching or lineup, but there is always room for another in the bullpen. Look at the Brewers, they have the best reliever in the division and traded for a guy who is even better then that.

The problem is, relievers are rarely worth much in a trade, unless they are top notch.

Scrap Irony
07-16-2011, 11:05 PM
Relievers netted Phillips and Scott Rolen, two above average Red starters.

fearofpopvol1
07-16-2011, 11:06 PM
Relievers netted Phillips and Scott Rolen, two above average Red starters.

Some here will argue to the death that Stewart is a starter. The Phillips call is a good one, but deals like the Phillips one are rare.

Scrap Irony
07-16-2011, 11:37 PM
He wasn't a starter when they drafted him, though. (Or at least not completely.)

dougdirt
07-17-2011, 04:54 AM
Some here will argue to the death that Stewart is a starter. The Phillips call is a good one, but deals like the Phillips one are rare.

Stewart has 42 starts in the last two seasons. Why is there even an argument?

fearofpopvol1
07-17-2011, 05:21 AM
Stewart has 42 starts in the last two seasons. Why is there even an argument?

Because some still see him as a reliever at the Major League level and don't see him as a viable starter.

dougdirt
07-17-2011, 01:32 PM
Because some still see him as a reliever at the Major League level and don't see him as a viable starter.

Yet the team that holds his future thinks he is.

HokieRed
07-17-2011, 01:46 PM
Yet the team that holds his future thinks he is.

And he was certainly acquired by Toronto with the idea that he was a starter.

fearofpopvol1
07-17-2011, 03:19 PM
Yet the team that holds his future thinks he is.

thinks is the key word. if he gives up 5-6 runs a game averaged out over 10-15 starts, do you think they will keep him as a starter?

dougdirt
07-18-2011, 02:54 AM
thinks is the key word. if he gives up 5-6 runs a game averaged out over 10-15 starts, do you think they will keep him as a starter?

Sure. Greg Maddux had an ERA over 5.50 in his first two seasons (36 combined games, albeit at a younger age). Homer Bailey is still starting. He did that. Edinson Volquez is still starting. He did that. They may not, but it isn't like he would be the first guy to ever do that.

fearofpopvol1
07-18-2011, 04:06 AM
I think the leash is smaller these days for pitchers, particularly for guys who aren't drafted in the 1st round.

Mario-Rijo
07-18-2011, 08:40 AM
Sean Watson, Stewart and some others were drafted high as relievers but the organization thought they could turn them into starters. Seems the organizational philosophy is to take arms without alot of mileage and try to develop them into starting pitchers. I think it's an interesting thought but doesn't seem to be working all that well we have yet to develop one of them. Wish they would wait until later than the 3rd to do this and preferably later than the 5th.

camisadelgolf
07-18-2011, 02:13 PM
Sean Watson, Stewart and some others were drafted high as relievers but the organization thought they could turn them into starters. Seems the organizational philosophy is to take arms without alot of mileage and try to develop them into starting pitchers. I think it's an interesting thought but doesn't seem to be working all that well we have yet to develop one of them. Wish they would wait until later than the 3rd to do this and preferably later than the 5th.
Many times, players are drafted as relievers but used as starters to get them more innings. We've seen that with Carlos Fisher, Sean Watson, and Brad Boxberger just to name a few.

RedLegsToday
07-19-2011, 10:31 AM
I don't know that this is a bad philosophy for the Reds to take. Pitchers are expensive. If you are constantly bringing up quality relievers, you don't have to do something crazy, like spend $12 million a year on closer and can use that money elsewhere.