San Francisco Wins Battle of ’07 Multiple Draft Picks

The 2007 amateur draft was an exciting time if you were a fan of the San Diego Padres, the San Francisco Giants, the Texas Rangers or the Toronto Blue Jays. Each organization had at least five picks before the second round, thanks to supplemental picks obtained for the losses of free agents the previous winter. It’s been five years since that draft, so it’s a good time to look back and see which team made out best with its additional selections.

1. San Francisco Giants: The organization found the best player out of the four clubs, a potential No. 2 starter and possibly landed a couple of future utility infielders. The club also flipped one of the prospects for a veteran infielder.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, 10th overall: Drafted out of high school, the southpaw reached the majors in his third professional season — technically his second, since he didn’t pitch after signing in 2007. The 22-year-old has the ceiling of a No. 2 or a No. 3 starter at the big-league level and already has one 200-plus inning season under his belt.

Tim Alderson, RHP, 22nd: Alderson was a strong prep prospect with an unorthodox delivery. After Alderson signed with the Giants, the organization tried to make adjustments to that delivery — and his success plummeted. He was eventually traded to Pittsburgh for veteran second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and  he now pitches out of the bullpen. He’s only 23, and he has a chance to reach the majors.

Wendell Fairley, OF, 29th: A curious pick at the time as an older, raw prep pick, Fairley is still plugging away in the Giants system but he doesn’t hit for average or power, he doesn’t walk much at all and he doesn’t steal bases. Yikes.

Nick Noonan, 2B, 32nd: Noonan went through a three-year period where he didn’t hit at all but somehow ended up in Triple-A for the Giants. He has yet to play in the majors, but he could spend a few years in the big leagues as a utility player and and as an injury replacement.

Jackson Williams, C, 43rd: One of the best college defenders in the 2007 draft, Williams’ biggest liability seemed to be his inability to hit. The question appears to have been justified. He’s reached Triple-A, but Williams’ career batting average there is below .200 in parts of three seasons.

Charlie Culberson, SS, 51st: Culberson has slowly risen through the Giants’ system, but he looks like he could develop into a future utility player at the big-league level.

2. Texas Rangers: The club received the best volume of players with two mid-to-late-rotation starters, a possible future No. 3 starter and a fourth outfielder.

Blake Beavan, RHP, 17th: A hard thrower in high school, Beavan’s velocity took a dip once he turned pro and he had to learn to succeed by focusing more on mixing his pitches and hitting his spots. Traded to Seattle in 2010, the right-hander has settled in as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Michael Main, RHP/OF, 24th: A talented two-way player in high school, Main focused on pitching when he turned professional. Stints on the disabled list have derailed his career. He was traded to San Francisco in 2010, but the organization eventually released him. Main recently signed with the Miami Marlins and will look to reinvent himself as an outfielder.

Julio Borbon, OF, 35th: A strong college athlete at the University of Tennessee, Borbon hasn’t been consistent enough with the bat to warrant an everyday gig in the majors. He saw consistent playing time at the big-league level in 2010, but his window of opportunity is slowly slipping away.

Neil Ramirez, RHP, 44th: Signed as a relatively raw prep pitcher, Ramirez was seen as a long-term project. The risk appears to be paying off as Ramirez was ranked as the organization’s fourth-best prospect prior to the 2012 season. He’s currently pitching at Triple-A and he could reach the majors this year.

Tommy Hunter, RHP, 54th: Hunter reached in the majors in just his second pro season and bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A during the past three seasons. He was traded to Baltimore last year and he should be a solid mid-rotation starter going forward.

3. Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto received a starting catcher from this draft, as well as a left-handed starter who had brief success before losing velocity and getting hurt.

Kevin Ahrens, 3B, 16th: Compared to Atlanta’s Chipper Jones at the time of the draft, Ahrens has struggled to hit A-ball pitching and his future looks bleak. The third baseman abandoned switch-hitting with the hope that it would jumpstart his bat. The decision has not had an impact.

J.P. Arencibia, C, 21st: Arencibia had a respectable rookie season in the majors in 2010, and he showcased some impressive power. Still, he has a lot of holes in his swing thanks in part to a poor approach at the plate. His defense isn’t good enough to make up for the poor offensive play, and his days with the organization are numbered with catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud currently playing at Triple-A.

Brett Cecil, LHP, 38th: Cecil’s big league career got off to a solid start, but he battled through velocity issues in 2011 and ended up back in the minors this year. He’s been on the shelf recently with an injury but he’s reportedly close to returning. A reliever in college, that may be his future role in the big leagues.

Justin Jackson, OF/IF, 45th: Previously a dynamic, athletic shortstop, Jackson has developed into a utility player capable of playing both the infield and the outfield. He’ll never reach the heights once projected for him, but Jackson could possibly develop into a solid big league bench player who is capable of playing multiple positions and stealing some bases.

Trystan Magnuson, RHP, 56th: Drafted as a fifth-year college senior, Magnuson was traded to Oakland in the Rajai Davis deal but then was reacquired in late 2011. He has the ceiling of a middle reliever but he has battled injuries.

4. San Diego Padres: The Padres were close to getting ranked higher on this list before the best player selected got hurt and now appears headed for surgery.

Nick Schmidt, LHP, 23rd: A top college starter, Schmidt injured his elbow shortly after signing and was never the same. Still pitching, the 26-year-old hurler is a member of the Colorado Rockies organization and he reached Double-A in 2012 for the first time in his career.

Kellen Kulbacki, OF, 40th: After producing strong offensive numbers in college, Kulbacki was taken with a top pick despite a lot of questions surrounding his ability to hit with wood bats. Kulbacki topped out Double-A and spent 2011 in an independent baseball league.

Drew Cumberland, SS, 46th: The only prep player pick in the top six taken, Cumberland was looking like a future big league utility player until concussions effectively ended his career in 2011. He made an aborted comeback earlier this year.

Mitch Canham, C, 57th: An offensive-minded college catcher, Canham’s defense never really improved and he stopped hitting shortly after leaving A-ball. He’s currently playing in the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a backup catcher.

Cory Luebke, LHP, 63rd: The star of this draft, Luebke has developed into a mainstay in the Padres’ starting rotation. He’s a solid No. 3 starter, but he has an elbow injury and might be headed for Tommy John surgery.

Danny Payne, OF, 64th: A speedy, on-base machine, Payne had huge holes in his swing and struck out way too much for a guy with limited power. He played just 10 games above A-ball during his five-year career.

* * *
After reviewing the results it’s clear that having multiple picks in the MLB amateur draft does not mean a club is going to strike it rich with talent. None of the four teams had much luck with their supplemental picks. Jumping ahead to the second round of the draft, we see that some clubs that had fewer picks had much more success: There was pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (Washington), outfielder Mike Stanton (Miami) and first baseman Freddie Freeman (Atlanta). Kansas City took southpaw Danny Duffy in the third round.

Out lesson for today is that it doesn’t matter how many picks you have or where you pick, there’s value to be found throughout the draft and there’s no substitute for good scouting.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


64 Responses to “San Francisco Wins Battle of ’07 Multiple Draft Picks”

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  1. Okra says:

    The failure rate for prospects really is amazing. All these guys were high draft picks and only a few of them will actually have MLB careers.

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  2. Matt says:

    I’d say Bumgarner’s ceiling is clearly that of a #1 starter.

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    • Naveed says:

      Bumgarner’s a #1 starter right now; he would be the best pitcher on most teams in baseball.

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    • Pitnick says:

      Yeah, that really is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen on Fangraphs. In 58 career starts, he’s already pitched like an ace.

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    • cs3 says:

      Ya i dont know how you can say his “potential” is only a #2 when he is clearly one of the top 30 starting pitchers in all of baseball.

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    • Dan says:

      I don’t think Bumgarner is pitching like an ace this year (seems he’s gotten lucky, and he’s not missing enough bats so far), but he pitched like it or darn close to it last season.

      Also, this is kind of a pet peeve. If you’re talking about a “ceiling”, why say #2 or #3? Wouldn’t that mean that his ceiling is as a #2, with #3 being one of the possibilities before you get to the “ceiling”? I think it’s supposed to make the writer sound smart, but it just doesn’t make any sense.

      His ceiling is as a #1, an ace. You mgiht think he’s likely to settle in as a #2 or #3 pitcher, and that’s fine, but that is not the best case scenario for Madison Bumgarner.

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  3. On Madison Bumgarner: “The 22-year-old has the ceiling of a No. 2 or a No. 3 starter at the big-league level”

    Why don’t you try a ceiling of a #1 starter and future Cy Young Award Winner? He’s only gotten better since mowing down Texas in the World Series back in 2010.

    Bumgarner is Cliff Lee with a higher ceiling. I should know- I catch every one of his starts.

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  4. Devin says:

    Sorry I can’t even take this article seriously. I got to the line where you said Madison Bumgarner has the ceiling of a #2 or #3 starter in the big leagues and stopped. It reminded me too much of an article on Bleacher Report.

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  5. John says:

    “Blake Beavan, RHP, 17th: A hard thrower in high school, Beavan’s velocity took a dip once he turned pro and he had to learn to succeed by focusing more on mixing his pitches and hitting his spots.”

    That’s not accurate. Beavan actually mixed pitches more in HS than he does as a pro. Had pinpoint control as a senior. At one point had a 150/3 SO/BB rate.

    Rangers just changed his mechanics because of perceived injury risk. Fastball suddenly went from 95-97 to 90-92.

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  6. John says:

    “Madison Bumgarner, LHP, 10th overall: The 22-year-old has the ceiling of a No. 2 or a No. 3 starter at the big-league level”

    Since he already hit that level in 2011, are you saying it’s only downhill from here? Injury?

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  7. elooie says:

    LOL FIP!!!!!

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  8. jp_on_rye says:

    Madison Bumgarner has the ceiling of a #3 starter? After finishing 4th in the NL in fWAR last year? Okay.

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  9. lonewolf says:

    Damn that Madison Bumgarner ceiling comment is really bad. If I have any constructive criticism it would be to change that ASAP and just say you were thinking of somebody else or something.

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  10. lonewolf says:

    Here is a list of pitchers since 1980 who have compiled 7+ WAR by their 22nd birthday:
    Dwight Gooden
    Madison Bumgarner
    C.C. Sabathia
    Felix Hernandez
    Brett Saberhagen
    Fernando Valenzuela

    Here is a list of pitchers who haven’t:
    Everybody else.

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  11. jon a. says:

    From reading the comments, it’s hard to tell if commenters are way overrating Bumgarner or just a lot of angry SanFran fans because Hulet didn’t immediately proclaim Bumgarner as the next Cliff Lee or Felix Hernandez.

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    • Solidarity says:

      Neither. Madison Bumgarner is just really good at baseball. You’re the only one who sounds butthurt, so grats on that.

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      • Peter says:

        LOL. Now you can go back to hoovering Grant.

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      • jon a. says:

        Being good at baseball does not make you an ace.

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      • Solidarity says:

        “Being good at baseball does not make you an ace.”

        No, but the career ERA of 3.01 and the K/BB of 3.68 suggest a career path considerably better than “No. 2 or No. 3.” That would suggest he’s slightly above average; a casual look at other #3 starters in the league will tell us that this is falso (or the fact that his career ERA+ is 121).

        He’s demonstrated the tools necessary to be one of the 30 best SP in major league baseball, if he isn’t one already. Last year alone he finished 11th in fWAR among all pitchers.

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      • jon a. says:

        Bumgarner’s 8 k/9 from last year is unsustainable. He’s more like a Daniel Hudson type pitcher. He’s good, but not a number 1 (unless it’s the Astros, I guess).

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    • quincy0191 says:

      I am a Giants fan, and it’s worth pointing out that Bumgarner’s career FIP is 0.23 points lower than Hernandez and his xFIP is 0.12 points higher. He’s got a significant edge over Lee in both FIP (0.47) and xFIP (0.49). There’s also the career progression comparison; Lee was struggling mightily through much of his career before putting it together for good at 29; before that he went from slightly above-average to horrendous.

      Since he broke into the bigs, he’s 8th in K/BB, behind Lee, Halladay, Haren, Weaver, Hamels, Greinke, and Verlander. Pretty good company.

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      • jon a. says:

        Bumgarner’s strikeout rate last year is unsustainable, as evidenced by this year, the minor leagues, and 2010 with the Giants (all under 7 k/9). We’re seeing him regress to his true production this year. Still good, but no ace.

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      • Pitnick says:

        Seems odd to refer to anything as “unsustainable” when you’re talking about a 22-year old.

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      • Pitnick says:

        Jon, you’re dismissing his full year as fluky with one comment and then in another pointing to his 39 innings this year as evidence of his regression. I’m not sure you can do both.

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      • jon a. says:

        (1) Being young does not create an impenetrable shield from regression. I suspect there have been plenty of young pitchers who have not been able to sustain strikeout rates they posted as rookies.

        (2) I citing all the way back to 2009 when he first pitched above A ball. That is more than 39 innings, and his history suggests a low 7s, upper 6s k/9 — not mid 8s.

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      • MajorDanby says:

        starting in 2009 (AA and above)

        innings with a k/9 below 7 – 339., with 150 in the majors
        innings with a k/9 above 7 – 214, all in the majors

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      • Pitnick says:

        It doesn’t disqualify him from regression at all. But when a (then) 21 year old suddenly posts much better numbers, it’s much less likely to be random flukiness than if we’re talking about, say, a 30 year old.

        Even if you’re right that his K/9 won’t stay above 8, with control like his that’s not a prerequisite for being an ace. Cliff Lee didn’t top that mark in 2008, 2009 or 2010. Maddux never did.

        This also seems like a good moment to point out that per 9 rates slightly underrate the ability of control specialists. Bumgarner from 2010-2012 inclusive has struck of 20.3% of batters, same as Jhoulys Chacin in that period. But because Chacin puts more guys on base and thus sees more batters in a typical inning, his K/9 rate is 7.84 to Bumgarner’s 7.59. It’s a little thing, I just thought that was interesting was someone showed it to me.

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    • elooie says:

      I dont think its outrage as much as it is a “HUH?!” moment. This is the king of all sabrmetrics sites. I dare you to name 4 starting pitchers who had a better FIP then MadBum for the full 2011 season.

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      • jon a. says:

        Yes, he had a very good year. He even outperformed Verlander, Grienke, Felix, and Hamels in FIP. By your logic, he’s better than those pitchers too. It’s a useful tool, but not the end all, be all–especially with only one full year in the majors.

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      • B N says:

        @Jon: The problem is that the original post listed him as having a CEILING of a #2 or #3 starter. When you have a full season where you’ve pitched like a #1 starter, well… huh?

        Is your ceiling not as high as your actual play? It sounds like a Yogi Berra phrase or something: “The problem with that guy is that he can’t be as good as he is.”

        Personally, I think Mad-Bum is probably a #2 or #3 starter. If he settled in as a #4 guy, I would not be shocked either. But he’s shown that his CEILING can be an ace.

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      • jon a. says:

        Good point; it’s a debate over semantics. Theoretically every pitcher has a ceiling of a number 1.

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      • John says:

        jon a. is amazingly confused.

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  12. TJS says:

    I thought FanGraphs only hated Matt Cain. Is Marc a Dodgers fan? Does he not watch NL baseball? Is Marc a bitter Rangers fan?

    I’d love to hear the rationale behind this.

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  13. exxrox says:

    “J.P. Arencibia, C, 21st: Arencibia had a respectable rookie season in the majors in 2010, and he showcased some impressive power. Still, he has a lot of holes in his swing thanks in part to a poor approach at the plate. His defense isn’t good enough to make up for the poor offensive play, and his days with the organization are numbered with catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud currently playing at Triple-A.”

    This is not entirely accurate. His defense is shown to be improving (especially blocking pitches) despite a few lapses. He certainly looks like he will stick as a catcher. Yes, he may be traded, but it won’t be too near in the future (next offseason at least). The Jays are marketing him hard right now and he seems pretty tied into the team at the moment.

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  14. Common sense says:

    Is your evalution of Bumgarner current or is that what you thought in ’07?

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  15. Madison K Bumgarner says:

    Hey Marc…

    Ftffffffftttttttttttppppppppppppppppppppppppp!

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  16. George P. says:

    Danny Payne’s only legitimate shot at making it would have been as a relief pitcher as he had dabbled in during college. Of course Padres never used him in that role before releasing him.

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  17. mr.macleod says:

    Bumgarner a #2-3 ceiling, huh? wow…

    Big credit is owed to Dick Tidrow in Giant’s FO. A lot of people have heavily criticized this org. for not going with hitters earlier in drafts such as Heyward in 07. Yet the Giants have been consistently cultivating the best young pitching in baseball the past 6-7 years.

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  18. Nate says:

    For those defending Marc’s statement re: Bumgarner, remember the quote is about ceiling, not most likely outcome. Any pitcher who pitches an elite year like Bumgarner at that age gets a high ceiling automatically, that doesn’t force you to believe that he will be guaranteed to hit that. No player is guaranteed to hit their ceiling, just that it’s within the realm of reasonable feasibility.

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  19. ANGRY CAVEMAN says:

    BUMGARNER IS AWESOME YOU GUYS ARE STUPID IF YOU DISAGREE.

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  20. Jon L. says:

    I’m really surprised no one’s mentioned the comment in the article about Madison Bumgarner’s ceiling. Usually there are like 80 people on this site just waiting to pounce on any potential inaccuracy.

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  21. Commenters, please read Kevin Goldstein’s article on what it means to be “a number 1 starter” in scouting parlance and check back in. Hint: It isn’t just “the 30 best starters.”

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    • TtD says:

      Aye, with Marc he’s always been very stingy with the pitcher ceilings grades, he stills rates Ricky Romero as a #2 ceiling if I remember correctly, and he’s the Jays ace no questions asked. A lot of overreaction on here given Marc’s consistant approach over the years.

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    • Graham says:

      Kevin Goldstein offers scouting criteria for evaluating prospects. The criteria aren’t relevant for a guy who has established himself as a dominant big league starting pitcher.

      The K’s may well regress, although if he gets his velocity back up to where it was last year, I still think he can put up more than 8 k’s / 9. As other commentators have said, however, his elite control (especially for a pitcher his age) makes the strikeouts a little bit less important to his overall success, and in fact actually lowers his K/9 by a small but statistically significant amount.

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      • dp says:

        Your comment betrays the fact that you have not read the article in question. The analysis and tools thereof are used to evaluate prospects and established players alike. It’s not just Kevin’s particular criteria, but an industry standard of player evaluation used at the major, minor, and amateur league levels. His analysis and definition of what a #1 is may be different, and it is generally different for each individual evaluator. Bumgarner may very well have #1 potential (I wouldn’t deign to know), but if one were to poll industry evaluators, the ceiling that Marc cited here would likely be the general consensus. A #2 starter is fantastic–Matt Cain, for example; a #1 is Roy Halladay or (gasp) Clayton Kershaw. Don’t let your burning passion for the Crazy Derelict blind you and make you spam up a thread with author-trashing. It brings down the level of discourse, and makes us dumber as a collective.

        Of course, if Zach Wheeler starts his career w/ the Mets in the same manner, then I’ll probably forget everything I just said and spam up BP and Fangraphs with similar invective. Such is fandom, I suppose.

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      • Ben says:

        Exactly. Goldstein estimated that there are only about 10 or so true #1 (in the industry parlance, which I assume Marc is using) pitchers in the majors; to deem somebody a #2 isn’t a prediction that they’ll perform similarly to the average of all #2 starters in the league, many of whom under this system wouldn’t necessarily qualify as #2 starters.

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  22. Baltar says:

    The only reason I read Marc Hulet’s posts are to see the corrections in the comments. He is full of opinions and low on facts, except incorrect ones.

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  23. Scott says:

    As much as I love Bumgarner (I think he is clearly a #2 right now), I don’t know if he has a #1 ceiling. It all depends on how you define a #1, as mentioned by another commenter regarding Kevin Goldstein’s thoughts on #1 pitchers. Goldstein cites a scout as saying a #1 gives you “50% great starts, 25% very good starts, and 25% average starts”. So a #1 is someone dominant, with great durability, command, stuff, pitchability, makeup, etc., and there’s only about 10, give or take a few, in the league at any one time.

    A short list of the #1s would be something like Verlander, Sabathia, Halladay, Lee, Felix, and Kershaw as the only sure things (my opinion, of course), and pitchers like Hamels, Cain, Weaver, Lincecum, Greinke, Price, and Strasburg on the border. That is not very many pitchers, which would be the only explanation I can think of for the author not writing Bumgarner’s ceiling as a #1, because Bumgarner doesn’t yet fit in that above category. He needs to show he can regularly pitch 220+ innings at a dominant level. If you’re talking about the 30 best starters, clearly Bumgarner is in that category.

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    • Nick44 says:

      If we are going to divorce the words “#1 starter” from all numerical logic and have it mean the top 7 pitchers, or the top 13 pitchers I don’t know what to tell you except to stop using fantasy baseball notation in a thread about actual baseball.

      Hey prospect watchers! Cut the crap! Say a pitcher has the upside of being in the top 60 of starting pitchers if his upside is a #2. Otherwise it is confusing. #2 on the Rockies is different than #2 on the Braves which is different than #2 on the Phillies.

      Arguments based on imprecise language are just absolutely idiotic and can easily be remedied.

      Jesus.

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