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.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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11 years ago

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.