MLB Draft grades 2014: Who nailed their first-round picks?

Rich Schultz

The first 27 picks, graded. How did your team do?

The first two rounds of the Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft was held on Thursday, my editors thought it would be a good idea to grade all of the picks in the first round, and because I've spent months reviewing the history of the draft, I thought I could help. Let's see how the teams with first-round picks did.

1. Brady Aiken - LHP, Houston Astros

Unbelievable. According to my research, more than half of all baseball players drafted first overall don't even manage 10 wins above replacement. Even the best-case scenarios are filled with good-not-great careers, like Darin Erstad, Mike Moore, and Tim Belcher. So what did the Astros do? Draft a baseball player. They'll eventually give him millions.

You would think they would learn. You would hope they would think outside the box. Instead, nope, another baseball player. More than 99.9-percent of drafted baseball players don't work out, yet teams keep ... banging ... their ... heads ... against ... the ... wall.

Consider this: The best player ever drafted #1 overall is a narcissistic man-child who was caught cheating. And he's supposed to be the success story. If there's a sequel to Moneyball, it's going to follow the teams who break convention and stop wasting their money on baseball players in the draft. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

2. Tyler Kolek - RHP, Miami Marlins

A partial list of right-handed high schoolers picked #2 overall: Tommy Boggs, Jay Franklin, and Pete Broberg. The Twins took Byron Buxton with the #2 pick two years ago, and he's one of the very best prospects in baseball. The Marlins should have done something like that.

The teams picking up here are bad for a reason. Picking a right-handed high schooler seems like a lot of risk without that much chance of a reward. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

3. Carlos Rodon - LHP, Chicago White Sox

Here's the best left-hander ever selected third overall: Steve Avery. The second best is Brian Anderson, and I'm not even sure which one. Eighteen percent of the #3 picks never made the majors at all; 47 percent of #3 picks have a career WAR under 1. Yet the White Sox are going to pay close to $5.7 million for Rodon.

It's like these teams are pretending the history of these picks doesn't exist. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

MLB Draft

4. Kyle Schwarber - C, Chicago Cubs

The last time a bad team picked a catcher #4: the Pirates, with Tony Sanchez. He was also seen as a reach at the time. True, this is where the Yankees took Thurman Munson and where the Brewers took Darrell Porter, but the odds are overwhelmingly against a baseball player drafted #4 ever making an impact. But that's exactly what the Cubs drafted. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Johnny Bench

Middle-case scenario: Brad Ausmus

Worst-case scenario: Jeff Clement

Grade: F

5. Nick Gordon - SS, Minnesota Twins

The Twins could have picked anyone. Anyone. They wen't with a high school shortstop who isn't even close to the majors. Do you know who the best high school shortstop picked #5 was? Alan Bannister. After that, Josh Booty. No joke, Josh Booty is the second-best shortstop drafted out of high school.

The bonus for the #5 slot is $3.851 million. Only 10 of the 49 players drafted #5 had a career WAR over 10. Picking a baseball player here was probably the wrong move, and I can't wait for teams to think outside the box. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Derek Jeter

Middle-case scenario: Alex Gonzalez (the other one)

Worst-case scenario: Matt Bush

Grade: F

6. Alex Jackson - OF, Seattle Mariners

This is the fifth time the Mariners have picked sixth. Their last four picks: Spike Owen, Darnell Coles, Tito Nanni, and Marc Newfield. Oh, but I'm sure this Mariners team knows what they're doing.

Best-case scenario: Barry Bonds

Middle-case scenario: Brad Hawpe

Worst-case scenario: Joe Borchard

Grade: F

7. Aaron Nola - RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

He gets bonus points for being named "Nola" and going to LSU, but according to Baseball America, Nola is a pitcher who uses his arm to throw baseballs. Just like Kyle Snyder and Dan Reichert. Just like the Phillies' only #7 pick in history, Brad Brink. Of the 27 pitchers drafted #7, there has been exactly one home run: Clayton Kershaw. There's been a triple that's being reviewed by the umpires: Matt Harvey. There have been two singles: Homer Bailey and Richard Dotson. The other 23 players did not contribute much at all.

A hitter with a .148 batting average would be released before spring training. But we're supposed to think the Phillies did a good thing here? Crazy. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

8. Kyle Freeland - LHP, Colorado Rockies

The Rockies drafted the most successful player in #8 history, Todd Helton. The Rockies have also used 18 first-round picks on pitchers, with Jason Jennings their best pick. He lasted six years with them and had an ERA+ of 103 -- so basically a little above average. That's the ceiling, the unlikely ceiling for them. The rest of the pitchers ranged from serviceable to duds. Most of them were duds.

They probably should have drafted another Todd Helton, but I'm no scout. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

9. Jeff Hoffman - RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

The odds of getting a good pitcher at #9 are already insane. There have been 24 pitchers drafted here, with maybe eight of them being worth anything, and that's including Mike Pelfrey. You can just have Mike Pelfrey if you want. Call the Twins. Here. Take him. You'll get more value than the typical #9 pick.

Not only did the Blue Jays ignore that, but they picked a pitcher whose elbow is already damaged. That's like being locked in a room with an rabid monkey and then giving it a mace. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

10. Michael Conforto - OF, New York Mets

More like Michael Con ...

Screen_shot_2014-06-06_at_8.10.32_am_medium

Aw, nuts.

Best outfielder picked #10: Carl Everett. After that was Cameron Maybin, followed by Brooks Kieschnick. The Mets probably know what they're doing, though. They'll spend $3 million, and it will totally be worth it. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Barry Bonds

Middle-case scenario: Brad Hawpe

Worst-case scenario: Joe Borchard

Grade: F

11. Max Pentecost - C, Toronto Blue Jays

The 11th pick was famously cursed before Andrew McCutchen. The tenth-best player drafted out of 49? Jeremy Hermida. Justin Smoak is already a success story. The best catcher ever drafted was Neil Walker, and he couldn't even catch in the majors. The vast majority of baseball players selected here don't make it at all. Yet teams keep picking baseball players.

Where else in the business world would companies get to whiff this much on huge financial decisions? Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Johnny Bench

Middle-case scenario: Brad Ausmus

Worst-case scenario: Jeff Clement

Grade: F

12. Kodi Medeiros - LHP, Milwaukee Brewers

Joe Saunders is the best left-handed starter ever drafted at 12. The best left-handed pitcher drafted by the Brewers in the first round in the last 20 years was Kelly Wunsch. Historically, a vast majority of the baseball players drafted #12 never make an impact. The Brewers, in the grip of the same mass hysteria of other teams, drafted a baseball player. It feels like I'm taking crazy pills. Everyone else sees how nuts this is, right? Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

13. Trea Turner - SS, San Diego Padres

Say, do you know who is horrible at drafting baseball players? The Padres. They've had 41 first-round picks since 1994. Dustin Hermanson was the best, and he didn't pitch much for the organization. Khalil Greene was second-best. After that was Sean Burroughs and Tim Stauffer. Only seven of those 41 picks have been worth even one lousy WAR. Then they went ahead and took another baseball player. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Derek Jeter

Middle-case scenario: Alex Gonzalez (the other one)

Worst-case scenario: Matt Bush

Grade: F

14. Tyler Beede - RHP, San Francisco Giants

Love the build and the arm. He's rough and has troubles repeating his delivery, but he's in an organization with a track record of success. Great value here.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Justin Verlander

Worst-case scenario: Zack Greinke

Grade: A+

15. Sean Newcomb - LHP, Los Angeles Angels

Of the seven left-handed pitchers drafted here in draft history, only one was worth more than a single win. Five never made the big leagues. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

16. Touki Toussaint - RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Notable pitching success stories from the #16 pick: Scott Bankhead, Brian Holman, and Kip Wells. Have fun with your new, expensive Scott Bankhead, Diamondbacks. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

17. Brandon Finnegan - LHP, Kansas City Royals

Let's just pull up the Royals' first-round draft history, and ...

Screen_shot_2014-06-06_at_8.42.58_am_medium

Huh, that's weird. But I think I see the problem. The Royals keep using their first-round picks on baseball players. Of course they do. That is so Royals.

Instead of continuing to complain about this, let's look for alternatives that teams might consider in future drafts. This, though? Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Randy Johnson

Middle-case scenario: Jeremy Affeldt

Worst-case scenario: Brien Taylor

Grade: F

18. Erick Fedde - RHP, Washington Nationals

The Nationals started the trend of drafting pitchers with injured elbows last year, and that pitcher has never even made the majors. So why not try it again? It's like that Einstein quote: The definition of insanity is keeping bits of human skin in your pocket so you can furtively chew them on the bus, getting caught, and then trying it again.

The bigger problem is the drafting of a baseball player. You know who's more important than a busted prospect? A brilliant front-office executive. Logan White does more for the Dodgers than 90 percent of their first-round picks ever will. Scout smart people and offer them $100,000 to be smart in a suit for them. The money would be well under slot. The odds are much better that a team will get a return on that value.

Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

19. Nick Howard - RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Or how about creating an academy of five-footers who spend eight hours a day in front of a pitching machine, practicing nothing but fouling pitches off. Stick a player like that at leadoff, and the pitcher has two choices: throw 30 or 40 pitches to start the game, or issue an intentional walk. Either the pitcher gets tired, or you get a free baserunner. Even better: two of those guys. Use your first-round pick on the fastest of the bunch.

Think, people. Challenge these conventions. Don't just throw money away. I just gave you an industry changer for free, and I've been thinking about it for 30 minutes. What can you do if you devote all your resources to ideas like this?

Horrible pick, by the way.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

20. Casey Gillaspie - 1B, Tampa Bay Rays

There were 49 players drafted at #20. About nine of them were decent-to-great. The other 40 didn't do much. Keep going into the casino, teams. Maybe this is your shot.

What about taking the money you would spend on a draft and investing it? You invest it in some volatile, high-risk, high-reward endeavor, but you mitigate the risk by getting two investors below you, and they get two investors each, and those two get two, all the way down. It would build a financial triangle of sorts. It makes sense to me, and it would be worth more than baseball players. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Jimmie Foxx

Middle-case scenario: Lyle Overbay

Worst-case scenario: Matt LaPorta

Grade: F

21. Bradley Zimmer - OF, Cleveland Indians

I don't know about you, but I've always found one-note satire gets even better after the 2,000th word. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Barry Bonds

Middle-case scenario: Brad Hawpe

Worst-case scenario: Joe Borchard

Grade: F

22. Grant Holmes - RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Great hair, but still a baseball player. The best right-hander ever drafted at #22 was Rick Helling. The best Dodgers pick at #22 was Tom Goodwin. Teams have drafted baseball players with all 49 picks at this slot; 32 of them were not worth a single win over replacement. That is not a coincidence. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Roger Clemens

Middle-case scenario: Jeff Suppan

Worst-case scenario: Bryan Bullington

Grade: F

23. Derek Hill - OF, Detroit Tigers

The best high school outfielder in the history of the #23 pick was Jeff Francoeur. Now he has a chance to be one of the best right-handed pitchers ever drafted at #23. He's a renaissance man. Still, I thought Dave Dombrowski would be smarter here. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Barry Bonds

Middle-case scenario: Brad Hawpe

Worst-case scenario: Joe Borchard

Grade: F

24. Cole Tucker - SS, Pittsburgh Pirates

Most players at the end of the first round are unlikely to make the majors, yet there will be several outstanding major leaguers drafted after this spot. The Pirates should have taken one of those guys. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Derek Jeter

Middle-case scenario: Alex Gonzalez (the other one)

Worst-case scenario: Matt Bush

Grade: F

25. Matt Chapman - 3B, Oakland Athletics

The last time the A's picked a position player here, it was Bobby Crosby. The odds are much, much lower for Chapman to be as good as Crosby. I've never seen Chapman -- or any of these players -- actually play baseball, so they might be really, really good. But history is not on their side. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Mike Schmidt

Middle-case scenario: Joe Randa

Worst-case scenario: Hensley Meulens

Grade: F

26. Michael Chavis - SS, Boston Red Sox

The best shortstop drafted at #26 was Brent Gates, who is the fourth-most valuable player drafted there, too. The best high-school shortstop drafted there was Todd Cruz. The best Red Sox player at #27 in history was Reggie Harris, who appeared in 86 games. Horrible pick.

Best-case scenario: Derek Jeter

Middle-case scenario: Alex Gonzalez (the other one)

Worst-case scenario: Matt Bush

Grade: F

27. Luke Weaver - RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Seriously, though, this guy is going to have eight shutout innings in the NLCS this year because the Cardinals are dicks.

Best-case scenario: Michael Wacha

Middle-case scenario: Michael Wacha

Worst-case scenario: Michael Wacha

Grade: A, I guess

There you go, grades for every team who picked in the first segment of the first round. Almost all of them were stupid. Millions and millions of dollars will be thrown away. Teams kept picking baseball players, and they're going to regret it. Let's come back in 10 years and compare draft grades. Mine will be more accurate.

I don't know why teams don't see this.

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