MLB Draft History: The 13th Overall Pick

The 2009 MLB Amateur Draft is only two weeks away. After picking in the number 12 slot in the first round last season, the Oakland A's will be selecting at pick number 13 this year. What kind of talent should we expect to be available to the A's at that slot? We take a look at the last 10 number 13 picks to find out…

By the Numbers
Number of Picks Discussed: 10
Number of Pitchers: 2
Number of Players Taken out of College: 7
Number of Picks to Make the Major Leagues: 4

2008: Brett Wallace, IF Last season, the 13th pick came one slot after the A's made their first selection, and it is a pick that Oakland fans have been debating ever since. With that number 12 pick, the A's took second baseman Jemile Weeks from the University of Miami. Many A's fans were hoping that the team would instead take Arizona State (and Napa, California, native) Brett Wallace instead. Both were polished collegiate players with excellent plate patience. However, the similarities between the two ended there. Weeks is an athletic, lead-off hitter-type who switch-hits and steals bases by the bushel. Wallace is a classic slugger with an unusual build.

Wallace has been a stud since draft day. Only questions about his defense at third base have kept him from breaking through to the major leagues already with the Cardinals struggling to fill the void at third caused by Troy Glaus' injury. In 2008, Wallace hit a combined .337 with eight homers and a 957 OPS in 54 games between Low-A and Double-A. This year, he is batting .310 with an 816 OPS in 42 games at Double-A and Triple-A. Weeks, meanwhile, got off to a great start with the A's Low-A affiliate last season, only to be injured after 19 games. His recovery from that leg injury was a slow one, but he made his 2009 season debut with the Stockton Ports on Wednesday.

2007: Beau Mills, IF The selection of Mills by Cleveland in 2007 was fairly similar to the Cardinals' selection of Wallace in 2008. Mills was considered one of the best power bats in the draft when he was taken out of Lewis-Clark State College. There were concerns about Mills' ability to stay at third base defensively, but the power potential was too big for the Indians to pass up.

As it has turned out, Mills has seen the bulk of his playing time at first base since the draft. He has had an up-and-down pro career thus far. His 2007 debut season was uneven, but he tore through the High-A Carolina League in 2008, batting .293 with 21 homers and an 879 OPS in 125 games. He won the league's MVP award and was an Arizona Fall League Rising Star later that year. The 2009 season has been a struggle for Mills, as he has made the jump to Double-A. Through 42 games, he is batting only .241 with a .281 OBP and a 612 OPS. He entered the season one of baseball's top 100 prospects, but he will need to pick up the pace this season to remain a top 100 prospect going into next year.

2006: Tyler Colvin, OF The Cubs had the 13th pick in 2006 and they used it on Clemson outfielder Tyler Colvin. At the time of the draft, Colvin was considered a big stretch pick. Many scouts had projected him to go in the second or third round and hardly any were pegging him for the top half of the first round. Colvin was considered a toolsy player who had a chance to stick in centerfield with decent gap power and a plus throwing arm.

Colvin was a free-swinger in college and that has followed him into the pros. In 355 career games, he has walked only 88 times and has struck-out 282 times. Colvin has shown good power at times. He hit 11 homers in only 64 games in the Northwest League in 2006 and had 16 in 125 games in 2007 and 14 in 137 games in 2008. However, his progress through the Cubs' organization has been anything but steady. After spending half of 2007 at Double-A, he repeated that level for the entire 2008 season, and he hit .256 with a 736 OPS. His 2008 season ended on a down note when he injured his elbow and wound-up having Tommy John surgery. Although he has been able to get back on the field this season, Colvin has struggled since the surgery. He was sent back to High-A Daytona, and he is hitting only .243 with one homer and a 665 OPS in 29 games for the D-Cubs thus far this season.

2005: Brandon Snyder, C/1B The 2005 draft class is considered one of the best in recent history. That first round included Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin, Lance Broadway, Jay Bruce, Matt Garza, Jacoby Ellsbury, Colby Rasmus, Travis Buck, Trevor Crowe, Clay Buchholz, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Bowden, Jed Lowrie, John Mayberry, Jr. and Joey Devine. Brandon Snyder, a catcher out of a Virginia high school, was taken with the 13th pick of that draft. Although Snyder's name doesn't yet merit the same level of recognition as some of those players on the list above, he may be headed to top prospect status this season.

Given that Snyder was a high school pick, the Orioles have moved him slowly through their system. Until this season, he had yet to play above the High-A level. After a strong 2005 debut season, Snyder struggled some with the bat in 2006 and 2007. However, 2008 was a break-through campaign for Snyder, who hit .315 with an 848 OPS for High-A Carolina. He has continued to rake in 2009 for Double-A Bowie, batting .354 with a 1035 OPS in 41 games. Snyder is no longer a catcher (he suffered a labrum injury in 2006). He now plays primarily at first base, so he will have to continue to mash to make an impact at the big league level. Notwithstanding the position change, he is still one of the Orioles' top position prospects.

2004: Bill Bray, RP Bill Bray earned the distinction of being the last first round pick in the history of the Montreal Expos. A lefty out of William and Mary, Bray was a collegiate reliever and was considered a good bet to reach the big leagues quickly. He was also a safe bet to sign for a franchise looking to keep costs as low as possible.

Bray fulfilled the expectations teams had of him by reaching the big leagues in two years. He made his debut with the Washington Nationals in 2006 and was traded later that season to the Cincinnati Reds as part of the trade that sent Austin Kearns to DC. Since that time, Bray has gone back-and-forth between the big leagues and Triple-A. In 112 major league innings, Bray has a 3.86 ERA and three saves. Unfortunately for Bray, he won't be adding to that major league inning total any time this season. He injured his elbow early in the year and had Tommy John surgery this month. He will be out at least 12 months.

2003: Aaron Hill, IF Like Bray, 2003 number 13 selection Aaron Hill was a fast-riser to the big leagues. Hill was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Louisiana State University. He came to Toronto with a polished approach at the plate. He began his career as a shortstop, but then moved to second base when Orlando Hudson left the Blue Jays. Hill has played some short and third, in addition to second base, in the major leagues.

Hill reached the majors by the 2005 season and he hit .274 in 105 games for the Blue Jays that season. He was Toronto's primary second baseman in 2006 and 2007, hitting exactly .291 in each of those two seasons. His 2008 season was marred by a bad concussion that limited him to only 55 games. Hill is healthy again in 2009 and is quickly becoming one of the league's best young second basemen. In 49 games, he is batting .344 with 11 homers and a 912 OPS.

2002: Khalil Greene, SS The 2002 draft may always be remembered for its role in Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball," but given that the A's first pick wasn't until slot 16, the "Moneyball" aspect of the draft had no effect on pick 13 that season. Khalil Greene was the choice for the San Diego Padres at that slot. The shortstop from Clemson hit a remarkable 27 homeruns in 71 games during his final season at Clemson and he added another nine homers for the Padres' High-A affiliate after signing in 2002. Greene moved up the ladder quickly and was in the big leagues by the end of the 2003 season.

In 2004, Greene would finish second in the National League's Rookie of the Year balloting after batting .273 with 15 homers and a 795 OPS. He was the Padres' everyday shortstop for the next four seasons before being dealt to St. Louis before the start of the 2009 season. Green had his best offensive season in 2007 when he hit 27 homers and drove-in 97 runs. He has also developed into a top-notch defensive shortstop. Greene has always been a free-swinger, however, and in 696 major league games, he has a career OBP of .303. Those free-swinging ways caught-up with him in 2008, when he hit only .213 with a .260 OBP in 105 games for San Diego and saw his playing time dramatically decrease. The Cardinals took a flier on Greene, hoping that his bat would recover some of that 2007 magic. However, he is hitting only .202 with a .289 OBP in 37 games for the Cardinals and recently lost his starting shortstop spot. The Padres got some very good seasons out of Greene, although they may look back and regret not taking Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, James Loney or Matt Cain with the pick instead.

2001: Casey Kotchman, 1B In 2001, the Anaheim Angels had the 13th pick in the draft, and they used it to select the son of long-time scout Tom Kotchman. The younger Kotchman was a stand-out high school hitter at the time of the draft. Casey had no trouble adjusting to professional baseball, batting .281 with an 834 OPS in his first full season in 2002. He hit .350 the following season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and was considered at that time to be one of the top first-base prospects in baseball. Kotchman added to that resume in 2004 when he hit .370 between Double-A and Triple-A before making his big league debut with the Angels as a 21-year-old. He hit only .224 for Anaheim that season.

In 2005, Kotchman split his season between Triple-A and the big leagues. He hit .289 with an 813 OPS in Triple-A, but actually posted a better OPS in the major leagues (836 in 47 games). Going into the 2006 season, Kotchman was supposed to be a fixture in the Angels' line-up, but a bad case of mononucleosis ruined his season. He was back as the Angels' regular first baseman in 2007 and he put together a fine season, batting .296 with an 839 OPS. He slumped some in 2008 and was traded to the Atlanta Braves midway through the season as part of the Mark Teixeira trade. Since arriving in Atlanta, he has an OPS of less than 750.

Despite being in professional baseball for nine seasons, Kotchman is still only 26. He has yet to fulfill the high expectations that people had for him as a future batting champ, but he has shown flashes of being that hitter in the past. The jury is still out on Kotchman.

2000: Shaun Boyd, IF/OF As spectacular as that 2005 first round class was, the 2000 first round class has been just as unspectacular. Number one pick Adrian Gonzalez has developed into a star, as has the number 15 pick Chase Utley and number 29 pick Adam Wainwright, but the rest of the first round is littered with role players and players who never made it out of the minor leagues. Shaun Boyd is one of those players who never made it to the major leagues. The 13th pick of the 2000 draft was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals. An outfielder/second baseman from a California high school, Boyd was projected to be a speedy top-of-the-order hitter with some gap power. There was debate about whether he was best suited for the outfield or second base. The Cardinals tried him at second base, but after committing 60 errors in 207 games at second in 2001 and 2002, Boyd was moved to the outfield. Although he was a better outfielder than second baseman, Boyd was never known for his glove.

At the plate, Boyd spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons with Low-A Peoria, where he hit .313 with an 850 OPS in 2002, his best season as a pro. After that season, however, Boyd was never able to amass an OPS above 700, with the exception of the 2004 season when he had a 900 OPS in 39 games with High-A Palm Beach. He would slump to a 490 OPS for the rest of that season at Double-A, however. Boyd hung around the Cardinals' organization through 2006, when he reached Triple-A for the first time. However, he managed only a 524 OPS in 49 games at Triple-A that season and was released at the end of the year. In 2007, he began the year in the independent Atlantic League before latching on for 32 games in the Phillies organization. He was back in independent ball in 2008 with the Camden Sharks, but he has yet to play in a professional baseball game thus far this season.

1999: Mike Paradis, SP Of all of the drafts we have discussed in this article, the 1999 draft is the only one in which the A's actually had a selection before the 13th pick. They selected ninth that year and chose wisely, taking Barry Zito out of USC. The 13th pick went to the Baltimore Orioles, who had seven picks in the first and supplemental first rounds that season. Only three of those seven picks would make the major leagues and only one (Brian Roberts) would become a star. Ironically, Roberts was the last first-round pick of the Orioles that season. Baltimore's first first-round pick was Mike Paradis, a right-handed pitcher out of Clemson. At the time of his selection, Paradis was considered a polished college right-hander who could move up the ladder quickly.

It wasn't to be. In six minor league seasons in the Orioles chain, Paradis managed only a 29-47 record and a 5.22 ERA. He struck-out only 415 batters and walked 312 in 576.2 innings while allowing 640 hits. Paradis struggled with arm injuries for much of his professional career and played only nine games at the Triple-A level. He was released by the Orioles in 2004 and hasn't been in professional baseball since that time. While Baltimore may regret many of its choices in the first round of that draft, they can take comfort in the fact that they did come away with two bona fide stars that season: Roberts and left-hander Erik Bedard, a sixth round pick. They also selected Willie Harris in the 24th round and Harris has turned in a respectable career as a major league fourth outfielder.

Conclusion

While every draft is different, it is interesting to note that over the last 10 years, teams with the 13th pick have almost always gone with college draft picks over high school or junior college picks. All 10 of these selections signed with the teams who took them, and signability seems to have played a factor in some of these selections. It is only a coincidence that only two of these 10 picks were pitchers, although it probably isn't a coincidence that both pitchers were college picks who were taken by pitching-poor teams in need of fairly immediate help at the major league level.

Although only four of the 10 players we discuss in this article have made the big leagues thus far, it is unfair to say that that number is an indication of the talent that has been available at this pick over the last decade. Brett Wallace, Beau Mills and Brandon Snyder are all top prospects who have decent chances of making the major leagues over the next few years. And there were certainly a number of instances over the last decade where a team at 13 had the opportunity to take a player who would later develop into a superstar, but chose unwisely.

That being said, it is certainly evident from looking at these last 10 drafts that the chances of finding a superstar in the draft are much higher within the top 10 picks than any picks after those top 10. Since the advent of the draft, only four number one picks have not made the big leagues (two of those players – Tim Beckham and Matt Bush are still active). In fact, the top four picks in the MLB draft have historically overwhelmingly produced major league players, but the drop-off after pick four is fairly significant. Only slightly more than half of the players taken with the 13th overall pick have tasted the major leagues.

The 2009 draft will most likely be remembered for its first pick: which is expected to be right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who has been dubbed by some analysts as the best pitching prospect of all time. While the talent drop-off is significant after Strasburg (as it would be any year), most scouts see a decent amount of talent in the first round, especially in the area of pitching, which is bolstered not only by Strasburg, but by 2008 draft re-entries Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers. Only time will tell whether the number 13 is lucky or cursed for the A's.


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