Sadly, not all first round draft picks pan out. Just because you are a prospect that a major league team used a first round draft pick on doesn’t mean you will become a major league player, and a productive or better one at that. Whiffing on a high draft pick can hurt a MLB franchise as they passed up other talent that ended up maturing into a much better, or even All-Star level talent and doing this consistently can really hurt a franchise and its win-loss record. Those of you who play in dynasty fantasy leagues know this all too well, as the teams that draft minor league and other amateur player talent well typically are the better ones in the leagues you play in.
It’s only been roughly two and a half years since the 2014 June Amateur Draft, but we can already start to see some wasted picks emerge. Sure, the jury isn’t completely out on these prospects, but at this point, well, let’s just say it doesn’t look good. So, what happened along the way to turn these first round draft picks into prospects that don’t wow us as dynasty baseball owners in 2017?
Tyler Kolek – Drafted by Miami Marlins – RHP – Drafted out of Shepherd High School (TX)
Tyler Kolek was highly thought of entering the 2014 draft. He ended up being the second overall pick in the draft, and in an article on May 14, 2014 Baseball America had him as their second ranked player. The guy had / has talent. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery currently. His 108.2 innings pitched in A ball in 2015 yielded numbers that really aren’t anything special. In fact, they aren’t good at all. I am concerned with Mr. Kolek and feel he has an uphill battle ahead of him in trying to reestablish his prospect status.
Alex Jackson – Drafted by Seattle Mariners – OF – Drafted out of Rancho Bernardo High School (CA)
Alex Jackson was another highly thought of kid entering the 2014 draft. In that same Baseball America article he was ranked as the 4th best talent available for the draft. He was seen as a potential All-Star level talent and went to the Mariners with the 6th pick of the draft. However, the Mariners seemingly gave up on him when they trade him to the Atlanta Braves. We have to remind ourselves, however, that he is just 21-years-old, and sometimes for prospects it isn’t until around this point that they start to bloom. Mr. Jackson will need to make adjustments to bloom as a hitter though. We live in an age where strikeouts, and high strikeout percentages, are becoming more common. However, the 28.9% K% (2015) and 27% K% (2016) he had while in A ball doesn’t bode well for his future. Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner was drafted (by the San Diego Padres) with the 13th overall pick. The Mariners missed out on a great talent there.
Kodi Medeiros – Drafted by Milwaukee Brewers – LHP – Drafted out of Waiakea High School (HI)
Not only did the Mariners miss out on Mr. Turner, so did the Brewers, as they selected Mr. Medeiros one pick ahead of Mr. Turner. I’m sure the Brewers would like a do-over with that 12th overall pick of the 2014 draft! Baseball America saw, in that article referenced above, Mr. Medeiros as the 35th ranked draft eligible prospect. He was considered a nice talent. The problem is that he got knocked around a lot in A+ ball in 2016. That 15.3% BB% at that level was beyond awful. Heck, he always has been beyond awful in BB% in the minor leagues. Combine that with an A+ ball K% of 15.5% (poor) and you have a prospect that doesn’t have any buzz. We need to remind ourselves that we are talking about a 20-year-old prospect here and acknowledge that sometimes prospects, even highly drafted ones, emerge as legitimate minor league talents later than we (or the MLB teams that drafted them) would like. That said, I’m looking elsewhere when looking for someone to roster in a dynasty league until Mr. Medeiros shows me something over an extended period of time.
Nick Howard – Drafted by Cincinnati Reds – RHP – Drafted out of Virginia
The Cincinnati Reds attempted to convert Mr. Howard to a starting pitcher after drafting him with the 19th pick in the draft. They decided to move him back to the bullpen and life as a relief pitcher hasn’t treated him well. In only 20 innings pitched (all as a reliever) in A+ ball in 2016 Mr. Howard posted a 27.7% BB%. Classifying that performance as beyond awful would be a mortal insult to the term “beyond awful.” In 38 A+ ball innings pitched in 2015 it was 26.5%. So, we have a real problem here. To be extremely kind, we have a relief pitcher that allows free passes to hitters at an ugly rate. The Reds would have been much happier with outfielder Bradley Zimmer (drafted two picks later), Grant Holmes (drafted three picks later) or Luke Weaver (drafted eight picks later).
Michael Chavis – Drafted by Boston Red Sox – SS – Drafted out of Sprayberry High School (GA)
The Boston Red Sox had the 26th pick in the first round and selected Mr. Chavis, who was also ranked 26th in that Baseball America article. The jury is still out on the 21-year-old but currently he is a guy with impressive raw power. In 312 plate appearances at the A ball level in 2016 Mr. Chavis only had a .244 batting average with a .303 BABIP. His K% always has been a bit worrisome but if he can keep that in check going forward and tap into his raw power more consistently during games he will restore some or all of his previous prospect credibility.
It’s always interesting to look back on past MLB drafts to see what teams whiffed on their draft selections, which ones got solid players and which ones nailed their selections. In hindsight, at least to this point in time, Kyle Schwarber (Chicago Cubs) (4th pick) and Mr. Turner (referenced above) are two guys the Marlins would have much rather selected with the second overall pick in the 2014 June Amateur Draft. There are also many other first round picks, that to this point anyways, look like much better selections than what the Marlins did with the pick.
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