Last night’s first round of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft was full of excitement and anticipation for the teams and families involved.
However, history shows that most of those selected will prove to be forgettable choices.
As an example, a look back at the draft from exactly a decade ago reveals such varied results. There were a couple of superstars in that 2007 MLB Draft, and a few other star-caliber players. There were also some who carved out a small niche for themselves in the big leagues.
But there were also a bunch of never-weres mixed into the selection process. Each one of those misses was considered to be a strong prospect at the time they were drafted.
The Tampa Bay Rays held the first overall pick in 2007, and there really wasn’t much of a choice. Left-handed pitcher David Price from Vanderbilt had been considered a near lock for that top selection for months.
With the second pick, the Kansas City Royals chose a left-side infielder from Chatsworth High School in California. The surprise was that the Royals selection was Mike Moustakas rather than Chris Dominguez. ‘Moose’ had put on a big time power display that spring to pass his more heavily scouted teammate.
TOP TWO PICKS IN 2007 WERE HITS
Price and Moustakas represent the possibilities at the top of the draft. Price was perceived as a can’t miss prospect. Over the next decade, he would live up to the hype.
Now with the Boston Red Sox, Price has a 122-66 record over 175 appearances, 170 of those as a starter. He was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner, and was runner-up for the honor on two other occasions. He is a five-time American League all-star.
Moustakas was the Royals starter at third base for the better part of five seasons, culminating with an AL all-star selection in 2015 as the Royals won the World Series.
His career on an individual basis doesn’t equal Price’s. But Moustakas’s contributions to a championship team certainly mean that Kansas City will never regret his selection.
FIRST ROUND 2007 BUSTS
If Price and Moustakas reveal the upside possibilities of players picked at the top of a draft, the next two players show the opposite. Both players are largely forgotten, never having made a mark in the big leagues.
Selected at third overall by the Chicago Cubs was a California high school third baseman named Josh Vitters. Over the next five years, Vitters seemed to be progressing on schedule as he rose through the Cubs system.
In August of 2012, Vitters received his first big league promotion. He would spend most of the final six weeks of the season as the Cubs starting third baseman. Vitters hit for just a .121/.193/.202 slash line. He had just two home runs and five RBI, and never again appeared in a big league uniform.
The fourth overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates was a pitcher named Daniel Moskos. The lefty out of Clemson University in South Carolina would similarly see action in just one big league season.
Moskos appeared in 31 games over two separate stints with the Pirates in the 2011 season. He had a 1-1 record with a favorable 2.96 ERA mark. But Moskos also allowed 29 hits over 24.1 innings with just an 11/9 K:BB ratio.
Released by the Bucs in July of 2012, Moskos has bounced through four other MLB organizations since. While a free agent in June of 2015, Moskos was suspended for 50 games after a second positive test for a drug of abuse.
OTHER 2007 DRAFT BIG HITS
A big winner in that 2007 first round were the San Francisco Giants. With the 10th overall selection, the Giants chose a North Carolina high school lefty pitcher named Madison Bumgarner. The rest is history.
Bumgarner would help the Giants to World Series crowns in 2010, 2012, and 2014. He is a four-time NL all-star, and has two Silver Sluggers in his trophy case. In 2014 he was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year as well as the AP Male Athlete of the Year.
There were other “hits” in that 2007 MLB Amateur Draft first round. Four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove catcher Matt Wieters was selected fifth by the Baltimore Orioles. And four-time Gold Glover Jason Heyward was selected 14th overall by the Atlanta Braves.
And all the way down at 27th overall, the Detroit Tigers chose Rick Porcello. A New Jersey right-handed pitcher, Porcello would finish third in the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year voting. It was the first of his six consecutive seasons as an innings-eater in a contending Tigers rotation.
In December 2014, Detroit shipped Porcello off to the Boston Red Sox for a package that included a star rental outfielder in Yoenis Cespedes.
Porcello would finally put it all together in Boston a year ago. He won 22 games in 2016, and was honored with the AL Cy Young Award.
PLAYERS FROM LOWER ROUNDS WILL RISE
There will be more than a thousand players selected over the course of three days in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft. A number of the players chosen after the first round are sure to make an impact far greater than most of the first rounders.
The Florida (now Miami) Marlins chase Dominguez with their first round pick at 12th overall. He would appear in parts of five big league seasons, but just one in south Florida.
However, the Fish are certainly happy with their second round selection that season. At 76th overall, the Marlins selected outfielder “Mike” Giancarlo Stanton that year.
Other pitchers selected after the first round in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft include Jordan Zimmermann (67), Corey Kluber (134), Jake Arrieta (159), Chris Sale (642), and Craig Kimbrel who was the 1,006th player chosen.
The 2007 Draft also included Freddie Freeman (78), Jonathan Lucroy (101). Anthony Rizzo (204), and Brandon Belt (348) as position players taken after the first round.
MOST FIRST ROUNDERS WON’T MAKE IT
But aside from that handful of strong picks, the vast majority of the other two dozen players chosen in that 2007 first round were closer to Vitters and Moskos.
Others chose in the top ten that year included players who have tasted the big leagues, such as Ross Detwiler, Matt LaPorta, Casey Weathers, and Jarrod Parker.
Scattered throughout the rest of the first round were players who never even reached the big leagues, led by Beau Mills, a pitcher selected at 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians.
Devin Mesoraco probably represents a mid-level outcome for a first round draftee. The catcher was selected at 15th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.
Now in his seventh season, he was a 2014 NL all-star. But that was Mesoraco’s only real big season, and he is now relegated to backup duties.
THEY WON’T ALL MAKE IT, BUT THEY’RE ALL RICH
History shows that, despite all the excitement surrounding the young men selected last night, most of them will never make even one appearance in Major League Baseball.
Every first rounder will be a millionaire. The slot value for the 30th overall pick, which is the final pick of that first round, has been assigned by MLB at more than two million dollars.
Hopefully the players and their families make some wise financial decisions in the coming weeks and months, because most are never going to see another huge payday from the game of baseball.
However, each now has a chance, which is more than most youngsters who have ever played the game have ever received. They will get first-class coaching and medical treatment, and as a first round pick, they will get at least a few years to prove their worth on the diamond.