As you may have noticed, it’s Draft Madness Week here at Burly’s Baseball Musings. However, no matter how much die-hard baseball fans get into the Draft (and I do every year), it’s a whole different ballgame selecting amateur talent in MLB than it is in the NBA or NFL.
To give you some idea of how difficult it is to choose the studs from the duds, here’s a list of the seven starting pitchers who won their ballgames tonight and where they were drafted.
Trevor Cahill, selected in the 2nd round, 66th overall, by the A’s in 2006.
Mat Latos, selected in the 11th round, 333rd overall, by the Padres in 2006.
Jake Arrieta, selected in the 5th round, 159th overall, by the Orioles in 2007.
Roy Oswalt, selected in the 23rd round, 684th overall (out of Holmes Community College), by the Astros in 1996.
Brett Cecil, selected in the 1st round (supplemental), 38th overall, by the Blue Jays in 2007.
Josh Johnson, selected in the 4th round, 113th overall, by the Marlins in 2002.
Jonathan Niese, selected in the 7th round, 209th overall, by the Mets in 2005.
Starters Livan Hernandez and Bruce Chen also won tonight, but as Latin American players (Livan is from Cuba, Bruce is from Panama), they were not subject to the draft.
Not as many first rounders as you would expect, although this could certainly be a fluke based on a small sample size. The point remains, however, that there is a lot more blind luck in baseball in terms of the draft picks that develop as opposed to the ones who don’t.
In fact, the best pitcher in terms of career to date, Roy Oswalt, was the lowest drafted of the bunch. Aside from the fact that he was a junior college pitcher from a school that most people have never heard of, he is a small right-hander, and there is a bigger prejudice against small right-handed pitchers than there is against any other identifiable group in baseball.
It just goes to show that you have to beat the bushes pretty hard for baseball talent because it could be lurking anywhere.
In one final interesting note, all seven of these drafted starters won for the team that originally drafted them. I suspect this is a fluke, made possible only because Josh Johnson out-dueled Roy Halladay in a game that was 1-0 through eight innings after which both starters were pulled.
It does make the point, however, that if you want to build a successful ball club, you draft well throughout the Draft, and not just in the first couple of rounds.