Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2000-2003

With the MLB Rule 4 Draft rapidly approaching (the festivities begin June 6), I’m sure that you have seen a lot of draft analysis (as well as mock drafts) all over the interwebs from your favorite baseball writers.  While I appreciate the inclusion among your favorite baseball writers, I am not planning to write up any kind of draft preview (although maybe I’ll do a draft recap).  Instead, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at how well the Orioles have drafted since 2000.  We’ll take a look at the team’s first round picks, a first round pick they passed on (but shouldn’t have), and any successful picks they made in later rounds.

2000

The Orioles had two first round picks in the 2000 draft (numbers 14 and 32 overall), the second pick a result of losing Arthur Rhodes to free agency.

1-14 – Beau Hale (RHP) from University of Texas at Austin

1-32 – Tripper Johnson (RHP) from Newport HS (Bellevue, WA)

Don’t get upset at yourself if you’ve never heard of either of these two.  Both players topped out at AA, and neither has played since 2007.  In fact, no one from the Orioles 2000 draft has made it to the major leagues, except for their picks in each of the rounds from 32 to 36, with only one out of five providing positive Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  That lone player was Tim Stauffer (never signed with the Orioles), who has a career 2.1 WAR (according to Fangraphs), all with the San Diego Padres, who drafted him in 2003.

The biggest prize in the first round the Orioles skipped over from that draft was none other than one of my favorite players, Chase Utley (career 52.9 WAR), who was selected by the Phillies at #15, immediately following the Orioles pick of Hale.

2001

The Orioles once again had multiple first round picks, the two extra being given as a result to losing Mike Mussina as a free agent.

1-7 – Chris Smith (LHP) from Cumberland University

1-19 – Mike Fontenot (2B) from Louisiana State University

1-31 – Bryan Bass (SS) from Seminole HS (Seminole, FL)

Fontnenot is the only one of the 3 to make the big leagues, accumulating 4.8 WAR, mostly for the Cubs and Giants (the Orioles traded Fontenot and others in 2005 for the washed up remains of Sammy Sosa).  The one from the first round that got away in 2001 was David Wright, but in fairness, he was drafted 38th overall, so just about every team their shot at him.

The Orioles got their current closer Jim Johnson in the 5th round of the 2001 draft, but really nothing else.

2002

The Orioles had one first round pick in 2002, and they used it on…

1-4 – Adam Loewen (LHP) from Fraser Valley Christian HS (Surrey, BC)

Loewen contributed a total of 1.7 WAR on the mound for the Orioles between 2006 and 2008.  In 2011, he briefly returned to MLB as an outfielder for the Blue Jays (currently on their AAA team).  The only other player from that Orioles draft that produced a positive WAR was John Maine (all of that positive value was with the Mets, who traded for him in 2006).

I don’t know what everyone was thinking leading up to this draft, but looking back, this draft was loaded in the first round, and the Orioles passed on all the following players still on the board when they took Loewen.

#6 – Zack Greinke

#7 – Prince Fielder

#9 – Jeff Francis

#12 – Joe Saunders

#15 – Scott Kazmir

#16 – Nick Swisher

#17 – Cole Hamels

#20 – Denard Span

#25 – Matt Cain

Not the finest moment in the Orioles draft history.

2003

While the Orioles didn’t get much from the 2002 first round pick, they made up for it the following year by selecting…

1-7 – Nick Markakis (OF) from Young Harris College

With a career total of 21.0 WAR to date (all for the Orioles), I think it’s safe to say that this was a good first round pick, regardless of who was still on the board.  But just out of curiosity, let’s take a look and see who was still there in the first round.  Names such as John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Hill, and Carlos Quentin were still available, but none of them have been more valuable than Markakis.  In fact, Markakis has been the most valuable 1st round pick (according to WAR) from the 2003 draft, period.

Despite the excellent Markakis pick in the first round, the Orioles got nothing else of value out of the 2003 draft.  We’ll stop on that somewhat positive note and pick it back up with 2004-2007 next time.

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