Who Makes It to the Majors After the Draft?

Who Makes It to the Majors After the Draft?

( this is from an article in Baseball America and is not written by me)

Approximately two out of every five (38.3 percent) position players drafted among the top 100 picks will reach the majors for at least 100 games. If modern draft history is any guide, then college position players will graduate for more than a cup of coffee about half of the time (48.5 percent), while high schoolers will graduate a little less than one-third of the time (30.2 percent). That last figures to rise slightly as more prep players from the 2006-08 drafts make the big leagues in the coming years. (Keep in mind that the typical ’06 high school pick still is just 25.)

Despite the large disparity in graduation rates for college position players and high school ones, the gap in impact rates is much narrower. About 14 in 100 college players in our study have accumulated at least 10 WAR for their careers, while nearly 11 in 100 high schoolers reached that level. In fact, the star-of-stars high school position players (Top 5) produced more wins above replacement (1,091) than their college counterparts (1,016), which is remarkable when you consider their lower graduation rate, lower impact rate and the fact that prep stars spot roughly three years of experience to college players at the time of their draft selection, a phenomenon that ought to make collegians in the later years of our sample considerably more productive.

High school position players keep track with collegians if you expand the impact threshold to 20 career WAR (34 high school, 31 college), 30 career WAR (17, 17) or 40 career WAR (11, 11).

In broad strokes, high school players drafted as shortstops, catchers or outfielders (particularly center fielders)—those positions that require the most athleticism, speed and/or skill—tend to out-produce their college counterparts. This is apparent from the comparative Top 5 WAR sums above—776-449 in favor of high school players—and also in the head count of 40-WAR players. For the high school set, those players would be Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Jason Kendall, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins—with Carl Crawford and Joe Mauer in hot pursuit. For collegians, J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Chuck Knoblauch and Tim Salmon are the lone representatives in the 40-WAR club, though Curtis Granderson, Dustin Pedroia and Troy Tulowitzki could get there if their careers track normally.

AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION-The average draft position of top 100 draft picks, 1989-2008, can tell us a lot about the types of players that teams prefer. After all, the higher a player is drafted, the more money it typically costs to sign him. In this sample, we consider signed picks only.


RHP 51 49

LHP 50 47

C 55 55

SS 47 52

2B 68 49

3B 52 43

OF 47 52

1B 49 46

The fact that those high school shortstops, catchers and outfielders turned pro in the first place, rather than attend college, hints at selection bias on the part of major league organizations. Teams want these skilled, multi-tooled teenagers in their farm systems, and they’re willing to draft them higher and, consequently, pay them higher bonuses. Average draft positions for MLB graduates reflects this fact. The only positions where signed high school players are selected earlier than signed college players are catcher, shortstop and outfield (see Average Draft Position table). At every other position, pitchers included, teams tend to prefer college players, seeing as they draft and sign them out of higher draft positions.