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Thread: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

  1. #1
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    Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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?

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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.
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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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?

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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.
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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    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.

  7. #6
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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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?

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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.

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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.

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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).

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Most relievers were drafted as starters.
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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by lollipopcurve View Post
    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.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by fearofpopvol1 View Post
    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.

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    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?

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeDoux View Post
    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.

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    Re: Why do the Reds take projected relievers so early in the draft?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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.
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