Why are the Reds still drafting high school pitchers?

One of the Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s philosophies espoused in Moneyball was by drafting college age pitchers he knew:

1) more of what they could do (measurable competetion and success rates)
2) more information on their usage patterns and injury history
3) that the pitcher was that much closer to the big leagues without suffering injury
4) could make a faster impact

So, we draft Ryan Wagner and Richie Gardner from the college ranks using the above philosphy ..only that drafting relief pitchers leaves little room for error. Wagner was promising in his initial year, but in the Reds efforts to prove their drafting prowess, rushed him to the majors…now we have a project on our hands with the option clock ticking.

Meanwhile, Richie Gardner has become one of our top prospects and I’m anticipating a September preview this year.

So, what do we do? We draft another high schooler in the first round…Apparently, our pitching staff is stronger than I think and we have time to wait…

I’ve never seen Homer Bailey (who gave the pitcher THAT nickname?) pitch, and I have precious little doubt that he’s a “high ceiling” talent…that is, if he makes it, he could make it big. But, he’s years away from impact, and we’ve had an abysmal health record (Ty Howington and Chris Gruler are the two most recent) when it comes to high school #1 picked young pitchers making it through the low minors.

It’s not unusual for pitchers to get hurt in the minors…that’s why it makes more sense to me to go the college route until our major league staff is solid.

6 Responses

  1. Matthew Barker

    Hey Guys!

    I added yoour blog to my list of ljnks concerning Ohio Sports. I was wondering if you guys could return the favor?


  2. Matthew Barker

    Let me try this again…I added YOUR blog to a list of Ohio sports LINKS on my site, and I was wondering if you guys could return the favor?

    Thanks, Matt

  3. Tom

    I certainly see the logic and success that choosing draft picks from the college ranks has shown. But, you knew that was coming didn’t you, I wouldn’t let that stop me from taking a high school pitcher in the right situation. As you know, you have to work from a mix of statistical and scouting data when choosing your players in the draft. If the scouting data is showing that the best projectable high cieling top of the rotation arms consist of 4 college pitchers and 2 high school pitchers and you’re choosing in the middle of pack and only one of the high school arms is left. I wouldn’t shy away from drafting that player just because he is a high schooler. I realize that other factors come into play, signability, remaining position players available, etc…. But just wanted to point out that while that may be your overall direction, it may not necessarily preclude you from drafting a pitcher from the high school ranks on occasion.


  4. Steve

    The difference here, I think, is that the Reds are choosing to go with high school pitchers first.

    If we had the minor and major league depth to give us 3-5 years to develop a starting pitcher, I would be much more flexible in my opinion…but, we’re hurting, and I’m thinking we need more of an immediate impact.

    Now, the initial signing cost would be more; but the risk factor should be less, and the expected return should have a higher guarantee than a high school starting pitcher.

    But, as I said, this is a chosen route….Howington, Sowers, Gruler, and Bailey…..

    Steve Price

  5. Tom

    I’ll have to take a closer look at the drafts to see what was left on the board when the Reds chose their high schoolers. I really have a feeling this is probably more of a signability issue too. I look forward to looking into this later when I have some time.


  6. Steve

    Even the “signability” angle bugs me…the Reds drafted Sowers knowing he wouldn’t sign to give them another chance at the supplemental draft the next year.

    Also, signing a high school pitcher for a whole lot of money, and then investing all sorts of money to develop him over a longer period of time, that doesn’t make it has to have a huge opportunity or investment cost. This can’t be a better long term deal than paying more up front for a pitcher with a better known track record with higher probability of success.

    I read where Gardner almost wasn’t signed after being drafted because Reds upper management refused to pay the bonus.

    These are decisions made out of choice, not need. It’s been shown that the Reds are one of baseball’s most profitable teams–