Should the Orioles Select a College Pitcher?

The Orioles are widely expected to select the "best player available" with the fourth overall pick in this year's Rule IV draft. Many people believe that this will end up being one of three college right handed pitchers - Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, and Kyle Zimmer.

While I like Appel for the Orioles in this spot (although I expect he'll be gone), I find myself underwhelmed by these options, despite these pitchers being in the top of every evaluators draft lists. So I thought I would take a look at the performance of college pitchers selected in the first round of the draft. I decided to look from 1998 through 2007, since I think that any earlier and vast changes in the draft and player development would render comparisons meaningless, and later too many of the players are still prospects.

In 1998, eleven players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Three of the eleven never reached the majors. Three have a negative career WAR. Mark Mulder has a career WAR of 18.4, Jeff Weaver has a career WAR of 13.4, Kip Wells has a career WAR of 7.1, Brad Lidge has a career WAR of 7.8, Matt Thorton has a career WAR of 9.5.

In 1999, twelve players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Five of the eleven never reached the majors. Three have a negative career WAR. Barry Zito has a career WAR of 33.3, Ben Sheets has a career WAR of 21.4, Jason Jennings has a career WAR of 10.2, and Mike McDougal has a career WAR of 3.1.

In 2000, seven players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Two of the seven never reached the majors. Of the five who reached the majors, all have a negative career WAR. None are still in the majors.

In 2001, eleven players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Four of the eleven never reached the majors. Two of the eleven have a negative career WAR. Three of the eleven have a career WAR between 0.1 and 2.5. One has a career WAR of 9.6 (Noah Lowry), one has a career WAR of 15.9 (Mark Prior). Two are still in the majors, Jason Bulger and Aaron Heilman, both relievers.

In 2002, eight players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Two of the eight never reached the majors. Two of the eight have a negative career WAR. Jeff Francis has a career WAR of 8.6, Joe Saunders has a career WAR of 7.8, Jeremy Guthrie has a career WAR of 14.8, Joe Blanton has a career WAR of 9.9.

In 2003, seven players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Two of the seven never reached the majors. One has a negative career WAR. Tim Stauffer has a career WAR of 2.9, Paul Maholm has a career WAR of 9.9, Chad Cordero has a career WAR of 6.9, David Aardsma has a career WAR of 1.7.

In 2004, thirteen players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Two of the thirteen never reached the majors. Three of the thirteen have a negative career WAR. Justin Verlander has a career WAR of 28.0, Phil Humber has a career WAR of 2.9, Jeff Neimann has a career WAR of 2.7, Jeremy Sowers has a career WAR of 1.0, Jered Weaver has a career WAR of 25.9, Bill Bray has a career WAR of 1.7, Glen Perkins has a career WAR of 2.7, and Taylor Tankersley has a career WAR of 0.5.

in 2005, ten players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Two of the ten never reached the majors. Two of the ten have a negative career WAR. Ricky Romero has a career WAR of 11.5, Mike Pelfrey has a career WAR of 4.2, Lance Broadway has a career WAR of 0.2, Brian Bogusevic was converted to an outfielder after washing out as a pitcher and has 2.2 WAR as a position player, Matt Garza has a career WAR of 11.0, and Joey Devine has a career WAR of 1.9.

In 2006, eleven players selected in the first round were college pitchers. One of the eleven never reached the majors. Five of the eleven have a negative career WAR. Brandon Morrow has a career WAR of 5.6, Tim Lincecum has a career WAR of 23.2, Max Scherzer has a career WAR of 6.3, Ian Kennedy has a career WAR of 7.9, Daniel Bard has a career WAR of 4.5.

In 2007, nine players selected in the first round were college pitchers. Three of the nine never reached the majors. David Price has a career WAR of 9.0, Daniel Moskos has a career WAR of 0.2, Ross Detwiler has a career WAR of 1.6, Joe Savery has a career WAR of 0.0, Aaron Poreda has a career WAR of 0.4, Andrew Brackman has a career WAR of 0.1.

Total college pitchers selected - 99

Total never reached the majors - 26

Total with negative career WAR - 26

Total starters at the ML level for 2+ seasons - 26

Simply put, these are not inspiring numbers. Over half the college pitchers selected in the first round never provide any value at the major league level. Less than 30% will be an above replacement starting pitcher for more than one season. And of the pitchers who did make it to the majors and find success there as a starter, Mulder, Sheets, Lowry and Prior have all already seen their careers ended by injuries.

This may seem counterintuitive, but high school pitchers selected in the first round are as likely to make the majors as college pitchers, more likely to make it there as a starting pitcher, and more likely to be a valuable starter than college pitchers. And high school position players have an even better track record. College pitching is as risky of a commodity as the draft has.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Join Camden Chat

You must be a member of Camden Chat to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Camden Chat. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker