I know we’re desperate for baseball, but I was only about 33% excited about the last couple night’s draft. Having looked over past draft choices of AL Central teams, including the Twins, it appears to me that my non-scientific study suggests that about one-third of first round picks make a name for themselves in the major leagues. Obviously, the MLB draft is like no other, in that later round picks often make it big, but given that this year’s draft is only five rounds, it seems even more reasonable to focus on the first-round picks.
In my “analysis” I studied the first-round picks of the Twins, Tigers, Royals, Indians, and White Sox from the years 2005-2015. I didn’t pursue 2016 forward, as most of those names are in the “still too early to tell” category, and I didn’t go before 2005 as…well…very few of those players are still on MLB rosters anywhere.
As a Twins fan, I must say I came away from this thinking that we haven’t exactly distinguished ourselves with our first-round picks. We’ve drafted high in the first round, and low in the first round and several spots in between, as have the other teams in the Central. The Royals took advantage of their top selections when they were drafting at the top, perhaps more than the others (and they were drafting at the top more than the others) and the Twins got Byron Buxton up there.
The Tigers, in those years, drafted, among others, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Rick Porcello, and Nick Castellanos. Four names that we’ve all heard of, and who have had some MLB success. None of them exactly put a team over the top.
The Royals had an amazing stretch (of course they were drafting very high) of four straight years in which they selected Alex Gordon, Luck Hochever, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer. They have to be credited (even when picking early) with making picks that became bona-fide MLB all-stars and long-term solid players.
The Indians, in that stretch, selected Lonnie Chisenhall, Drew Pomeranz, Francisco Lindor, and Tyler Naquin. For me, that’s three singles and a home-run, but, with Lindor, they probably selected the very best player of any of these teams over that period.
The White Sox selected Gordon Beckham and Chris Sale, and those were the only two I felt warranted a mention. Beckham has had a very solid career, and Sale, is the best pitcher selected by any of these teams over that period.
The most prominent Twins selections during this period were Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Byron Buxton, Kohl Stewart, and Nick Gordon.
In the 11 years (2005-2015) of picks, the Twins had 15 first round selections. Of those 15, I chose the six listed above, who have had the most successful MLB careers…as of now. If I took off Nick Gordon, and Kohl Stewart, The Twins, like the other teams in the Central would have four “names” that MLB fans would know: Gibson, Hicks, Buxton, and Revere. (The White Sox probably didn’t have four names in that era). The other names are largely known only to friends, family, and the most hard-core of hard-core fans.
So, what do we make of this: based only on first round picks, it would seem the Royals selected the most bona-fide significant Major League all-stars. The two overall best picks that any AL Central team has made in this period were, at least arguably, Francisco Lindor of the Indians, and Chris Sale of the White Sox, two absolute all-stars. The Twins, I’d say were right about in the middle, as the names I’ve mentioned have all made the MLB roster, and certainly, Hicks, Revere, and Gibson all contributed, it’s too early to say about Nick Gordon, and while Kohl Stewart has made the big-league roster, so far at least, he’s no Chris Sale, nor even Kyle Gibson. And, of course, we are all hoping that Buxton becomes a perennial all-star. But, so far, he’s no Francisco Lindor. So, there we are.
Obviously, the Twins braintrust is different now than it was then, as is true for most MLB teams. So, hope springs eternal that our front office is better than your front-office.
In sum, it seems like this year’s #1 pick, Aaron Sabato, has about a one-third chance of making it to the majors and becoming a name that we all might recognize. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but it does mean we probably shouldn’t put too much pressure on him, nor place too high a set of expectations for our future based on whom we select. If we didn’t know before, we should know by a quick search of fairly recent history….the baseball draft is an almost total crapshoot. It also suggests that those of us truly so desperate to see sports that we are more interested than ever in the MLB draft, are, in fact, desperate people.