Ah, late May, when the turtle pops out his head from his shell in anticipation of the MLB Draft. Let’s kick off some draft coverage today with a look at the selection history of Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty.
Cincinnati selects 27th in the first round of this year’s spectacular, which runs from June 6-8. The Reds haven’t picked this late in a draft since 1995 when they chose RHP Brett Tomko of Florida Southern with the 54th selection. Tomko, though, was a second-rounder. Cincinnati hasn’t picked this late in the first round since taking OF Pat Watkins out of East Carolina in 1993.
Some early mock drafts are all over the place as to whom Walt Jocketty and company might choose. Connecticut OF George Springer, Texas A&M RHP John Stilson, North Carolina SS Levi Michael and Hawaii 2B Kolten Wong are some of the players speculated as Jocketty’s choice out of a draft that experts consider the most talent-laden and deepest since 2005.
Does a look at Jocketty’s draft history offer a clue as to which way he might go? Well, he’s never picked a third baseman or a left-handed pitcher with his first selection. Other than that, Jocketty has been all over the board. His most-popular choice is a right-handed pitcher, which he has taken seven times. Three times Jocketty has chosen an outfielder. Three times he nabbed a shortstop and twice a catcher. Jocketty also selected one first baseman.
While the scouting director has great input and near total control through most of the draft, the top choice is on the GM. Jocketty appears to prefer college talent, taking a high schooler just five times. Of those five, two – Daric Barton and Colby Rasmus – have reached the majors. Eight of Jocketty’s 11 college picks have reached the big leagues.
Jocketty led off like Pete Rose, spraying hits all over:
1995: Matt Morris-RHP-Seton Hall. Morris went 121-92 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 big league seasons before hanging it up in 2008.
1996: Braden Looper-RHP-Wichita State. Looper went 72-65 with a 4.15 ERA in 12 big league seasons through 2009.
1997: Adam Kennedy-SS-Cal State-Northridge. In 13 MLB seasons, Kennedy has 74 home runs, 525 RBI and a slash line of .275/.329/.387, with 171 stolen bases while wielding a strong glove.
1998: J.D. Drew-OF-Florida State. Though oft-injured, Drew has a solid 240 homers, 781 RBI and a line of .280/.387/.496 through 14 MLB seasons.
From there, Jocketty turned into Jonny Gomes, following a hot streak with a frustrating slump:
1999: Chance Caple-RHP-Texas A&M. Injuries limited Caple to just 287 minor league innings, none above High-A. He was out of baseball by 2004.
2000: Shaun Boyd-OF-Vista HS. In 2006 reached AAA, where he batted a miserable .188 before going off to indy ball.
2002: Cal Hayes-SS-East Rowan HS. In fairness, the Cardinals didn’t have a pick until the third round. Hayes flamed out in High-A ball in 2006.
Jocketty then made a comeback reminiscent of Josh Hamilton:
2006: Adam Ottavino-RHP-Northeastern. Ottavino received a five-game cup of coffee last season and scuffled his way to an 8.46 ERA. He’s currently in AAA.
2007: Pete Kozma-SS-Owasso HS. Kozma, 23, has reached AAA, where he has a line of 0-10-.192/258/.225 this season..
Jocketty then pulled a Dmitri Young, prospering after coming to the Reds from the Cardinals:
2008: Yonder Alonso-1B-Miami. Alonso has a 28-140-.295/.370/.468 line in four minor league seasons and currently is tearing it up in AAA. He received a 29-at bat cup of coffee last season.
2009: Mike Leake-RHP-Arizona State. Leake has an 11-6 record with a 4.55 ERA without spending a day in the minor leagues.
2010: Yasmani Grandal-C-Miami. Grandal is off to a solid start, batting 8-23-.287/.422/.565 in High-A ball of the hitter-friendly California League. He’s walked (25) nearly as often as he’s struck out (28).
What does this tell us?
Jocketty isn’t afraid of taking a cold-weather pitcher (Morris, Lambert, Ottavino)
and drafts from the South, West, Southwest and Northeast fairly evenly.
Jocketty rarely misses when selecting 12th or higher, snagging Morris, Looper, Drew, Hayes, Alonso, Leake and Grandal in that range. Boyd, however, was a 13th pick. As for producing big leaguers, Jocketty has batted .600 when drafting 27th or later, snaring Barton, Rasmus and Ottavino, while whiffing on Caple and Pope.
Five position players – Kennedy, Drew, Barton, Rasmus and Alonso – made the big leagues, as did five pitchers – Morris, Looper, Lambert, Leake and Ottavino.