The Reds select 27th in the 2011 MLB Draft June 6 and, of course, we all expect Cincinnati to come away with a superstar.
Yeah, good luck with that.
History suggests, taking away the last three draft years just to be fair, that the 27th pick in the first round will net a team a major leaguer 61.5 percent of the time. Since 1982, the first year the initial round went 27 picks deep, 16 players picked in that spot have reached the big leagues.
The odds are skewed a bit, however, by the fact that from 1983 through 1989, every 27th pick made it to the majors. Take away those guys and just nine of 18 made it.
Supposing our guy makes it, what kind of player can we expect? Well, probably not an all-star. Just two 27th overall picks have made all-star teams and both were Reds at some point – Pete Harnish, selected by Baltimore in 1987, and Todd Jones, taken by Houston in 1989.
All right, then, can we at least expect a steady player with a solid career? Not necessarily. Just eight No. 27 picks since 1982 played at least five seasons in big leagues. Jones and Mike Fetters (California Angels, 1986) led the way with 16 years apiece. Harnisch played 14 seasons. Calvin Schiraldi (Mets, 1983) put in eight years. Marc Valdes (Marlins, 1993) pitched six seasons. My buddy and former Red Gary Green (Padres, 1984) put in five years, as did Scott Stahoviak (Twins, 1991) and Joey Devine (Braves, 2005).
Others from the 27th slot to appear in the majors include C Bill McGuire (Mariners, 1985); LHP Jeff Mutis (Indians, 1988); RHP John Burke (Rockies, 1992); SS Kevin Nicholson (Padres, 1997); OF Chip Ambres (Marlins, 1998); and LHP Taylor Tankersley (Marlins, 2004).
Of the 16 who reached the majors, a whopping 13 were drafted out of college. Porcello, Santos and Ambres were the only prepsters to make it.
The best No. 27 pick of all-time? Take your pick of Harnisch or Jones. The worst, at least according to how far he advanced? That would be the first ever 27th pick – Stan Boderick, a high school OF selected by the Cubs. Boderick never made it out of Low-A.
By position, the most likely to succeed from the 27s are right-handed pitchers, with nine of 12 reaching the majors. We include Santos in that group. Although Santos was drafted as a shortstop, he made it to the big leagues as a pitcher. Two shortstops, two southpaw hurlers and one third baseman, one outfielder and one catcher made it to the show.
Among the players who didn’t make it, five were high schoolers, three were collegians and one was a junior college player. We throw out Alan Horne (Indians, 2001) because he didn’t sign out of high school. Horne never made it to the bigs after college, either, so put him in any category you like.
Thirteen of those who made it to the majors did so with the club that drafted them.
So, what have we learned? It appears the best chance the Reds have of landing a future major leaguer with the 27th pick is to select a college pitcher. Both left-handers – Mutis and Tankersley spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues, although neither did much. Right-handed pitchers had a 75 percent success rate of making it to MLB and produced two all-stars. Just five of 11 position players made the show, none played first base or second base and none had much of a career.
But this year is different, you say. This year’s draft is loaded. The 27th player might well go in the top 15 picks in another year. True. The 2005 Draft was extraordinary and Devine came from that at No. 27. The 27th pick, though, is littered with big names from the prospect world – Eric Duncan (Yankees, 2003); A.J. Zapp (Braves, 1996); Shea Morenz (Yankees, 1995) and Jacob Shumate (Braves, 1994) among them. There are no guarantees.