Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2012 and Conclusions

2012

Using advanced mathematics, I’ve determined that the 2012 draft happened only one year ago, and similar to the 2011 draft, it is way too soon to grade the Orioles on it.  And you may already know this, but the Orioles used their first round pick on…

1-4 – Kevin Gausman (RHP) from Louisiana State University

So far this looks like it was an excellent pick by the Orioles.  Gausman has already made his major league debut (after only 61.1 minor league innings) and his stuff looks filthy, even if his results don’t quite match up yet (we took a look at his debut a week ago or so).  He was the Orioles #2 ranked prospect in 2013 behind Dylan Bundy and was ranked #13 overall by Baseball Prospectus.  Scouts project him to be a #2 starter, maybe even a #1a starter behind Bundy.

Other Baltimore picks in the 2012 draft that show up in Baseball Prospectus’ top 10 list include #8 RHP Branden Kline (selected in 2nd round), #9 SS Adrian Marin (selected in 3rd round), and #10 LHP Josh Hader (selected in 19th round).  Again, these players are not close to helping the big league club, so there is plenty of time for them to improve, fail, or be passed on the list by other members of the draft class.

There are a lot of interesting prospects who were taken after Gausman, and it’s too soon to say if this was the absolute best pick.  However, it’s hard to argue with it, when you consider Gausman’s projected ceiling along with the fact that he was the first player drafted in the first round to reach the big leagues.

Conclusion

Here is the total list of players from the 2000-2012 drafts who have contributed positive WAR (according to Fangraphs) on Baltimore’s major league club.

Orioles Draft Picks

The WAR in the table only includes players who contributed a positive WAR.  Draftees producing a negative WAR for the Orioles were not included (for example, Xavier Avery contributed -0.2 WAR last year), so the cumulative WAR the Orioles received from their draft picks since 2000 is going to be lower than 63.8.  I have not looked at the wins above replacement accumulated by other teams from the draft during the same period, but 63.8 seems really low and I’d be shocked if it didn’t rank towards the bottom of the league.  Some points of observation before we wrap this up.

  1. Selecting the right player in the MLB Rule 4 draft is a very difficult job
  2. Having said that, with the exception of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, the Orioles chose poorly, especially with regards to their first round selections from 2000-2009
  3. All 13 first round picks were in the top 15, 11 were in the top 10, and 7 were in the top 5.  To get such little production out of so many high draft picks is almost impressive (like when your dog eats a whole wheel of cheese and poops in the fridge, you don’t even get mad, because it’s amazing).  It reminds me of a physics test I took in high school where I got all 10 True/False questions wrong.  Maybe both of us would have been better off just guessing.
  4. Drafting well is not the only way to build a winning team.  Trades, free agency, international free agents, waiver claims, Rule 5 Draft picks, etc. also need to be successful.  However, it is an important aspect to building a winning team both directly and indirectly (as draft picks can be used to bring major league talent through trades), and looking at that list does a lot to explain the absence of winning baseball in Baltimore between 1997 and 2012.
  5. Two things are needed to help make a draft pick successful: good scouting to ensure that the right pick is made and good player development to make sure that pick develops into a quality major leaguer.  It is near impossible to differentiate who is responsible for a prospect’s success or failure, and many times both departments deserve credit/blame.
  6. Sometimes stuff happens to these prospects and there is no one to blame but bad luck.  Players get hurt, don’t progress, or sometimes weren’t that good in the first place.

This whole exercise was informative and kind of depressing, but let’s end on a positive note.  In the last three years, the Orioles appear to have used their first round picks on potential stars who could help the team for years to come.  Additionally, Baltimore’s first pick in the 2013 draft is all the way back at #22, the latest they’ve picked since 1998, which is good news, since it means that they won a lot of games the previous year.

Until next time, happy draft watching!

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