Earlier today, an article was pushed to the front page that was written six-plus years ago. It was a draft-related article that you can read here if you missed it. One of the main takeaways was a baseline for what to expect from a draft. Or rather a series of drafts. Here is a relevant quote:

So, we can ballpark it that an average team should send 27 draft picks to the majors in a six-year span and that 6 of those should total 5.0 bWAR before their career is done.

This was originally written around the time of Omar Minaya’s dismissal. The record of Minaya’s drafts was far from complete back then, so let’s revisit those drafts and see how things stand now. As of today, 31 players drafted and signed by the Mets when Minaya was the GM have made the majors, putting him ahead of the sample from the original article. Also, eight of those players have amassed at least a 5.0 bWAR lifetime, again putting him ahead of the sample. And that does not count Ike Davis at a 4.9 or Dillon Gee at a 4.8 bWAR.

When the piece was written in late 2010, Minaya’s six drafts had produced 13 players to reach the majors.

Let’s compare that with Sandy Alderson, who also has had six drafts under his belt. Already, 17 players drafted by the current GM have reached the majors.

At the time of the original article, many people were down on the performance of Minaya, specifically his draft record. But in hindsight we see that not only were his drafts not bad – they were actually above average compared to our sample. Right now some people are down on the performance of Alderson, specifically his draft picks.

Yet we see that Alderson is ahead of the pace established by Minaya.

We want instant gratification when it comes to the farm system and for the most part, that’s simply not how it works. You can point to the Cubs or the Astros and wonder how come the Mets aren’t in that class. A big reason is that they didn’t have multiple top five draft picks, like those clubs had. And when you make the very best the minimum acceptable standard – well, you’re going to be disappointed quite a bit.

There are people out there who think that a good farm system has top-ranked prospects at every position ready to step in at any moment in time. But those people aren’t being realistic with their expectations.

Coming into the season the Braves were ranked as having the best farm system in baseball by John Sickels, Baseball America and Keith Law. Yet when first baseman Freddie Freeman went down with an injury that was going to sideline him for 10 weeks – they didn’t have someone to promote to fill his spot. Shoot, they turned to veteran James Loney and when he flopped in the minors, they went ahead and traded for Matt Adams. They also have four pitchers on their MLB roster with an ERA over 5.00 and the only reason it’s not five is because Bartolo Colon recently went on the disabled list. Yep, they were still trotting out Colon as his ERA topped 7.00 rather than turn to their farm system. Only a trip to the DL made them make a move.

Yes, it would be nice if the Mets had some pitching help in Triple-A to use right now, or pretty much any point since the season started. We saw far too much of Tommy Milone, Rafael Montero, Neil Ramirez and Josh Smoker for anyone’s taste. But just because the Triple-A pitching cupboard was bare does not equal the farm system being a disaster. At least it doesn’t under any reasonable accounting. If the Braves have the best farm system and they weren’t able to produce quality, major-league-ready pitchers or first baseman on demand, why should we expect differently from another system?

So, before you crucify Alderson for his draft record, take a second to check and see where your expectations are for a minor league system. Then check to see where you were at a similar point in time with your opinion of Minaya’s draft record. There are people out there who criticized Minaya in 2010 and now see him as far superior to Alderson. Minaya didn’t deserve the criticism he took for his draft results, even if some of his picks were complete flops. And it’s likely that Alderson’s draft record will look significantly better in 2024 than it does today.

*****

For more information on the draft, check out the piece posted at FanGraphs by Jeff Sullivan today. He took all draft picks, going back to the year 2000, for all clubs. He found that the average number of guys to reach the majors per team in this time period was 71. The Mets were below average but you have to remember that the Steve Phillips era from 2000-2003 was not good. Only 14 players reached the majors from these four drafts. And 2004 wasn’t any better, as only three players drafted and signed by the Jim Duquette Mets made the majors from that year, with Mike Carp and Nick Evans leading the way with identical lifetime 1.5 bWAR marks.

11 comments on “Updating Omar Minaya’s draft record and comparing it with Sandy Alderson’s

  • holmer

    Great analysis. Thanks.

    • Brian Joura

      Thanks, Holmer – I appreciate it!

  • David Groveman

    I loved the article.

    If this team could only get healthy and stay healthy they might accomplish something.

  • Jimmy P

    I always thought Minaya did a good job with the draft, was underrated and unfairly maligned, considering he was trying to win at the time.

    Alderson’s seven year run has not impressed me. But two more Michael Confortos and by this standard he’d look like a genius.

  • Name

    When evaluating drafts, i only look at how well the 1st round picks do. Those are the guys that are heavily scouted and you have lots of data, discussions and pre-draft anaylsis.
    I don’t think that picking Gee in the 21st round and #663 overall Lugo in the 34th round at #1032 is any indication of draft “skill” as after the first 50 picks, you’re basically just picking names from a hat.

    Minaya had 7 first round picks. 3 became regulars for more than a season (Pelfrey, Davis, Harvey). 1 made the majors (Kunz). 3 didn’t make the majors (Havens, Holt, Vineyard)
    Alderson has had 8 first round picks. 2 became regulars (Fulmer, Conforto). 1 has been a backup (Plawecki). 2 have made the majors (Nimmo, Cecchini). 3 have a TBD future(Smith, Kay, Dunn)

    Again, we get the same conclusion as earlier as Alderson’s not as bad as we perceive him to be. If he gets 1 more to join the regular club or 3 guys to move up into the backup club, then he’ll be on par with Minaya.

  • IDRAFT

    You can’t compare these GMs on the draft. Minaya drafted at a time where it was hardly a draft, as there was no cap on signing bonuses. I’m not advocating for anyone, just surprised this important point is being ignored.

    • Brian Joura

      Mainly it’s being ignored because its effect was more psychological than real.

      The original piece was written in 2010, before the hard rules about slotting went into effect for 2012. While before then, teams had the ability to ignore the “recommendations” from the commissioner’s office, few teams actually did. And the Mets under Minaya were certainly not one of them. They dabbled in it in 2009, giving above-slot bonuses to Jeff Glennn, Zach Dotson and Jeff Greene. None of them quite worked out.

      Alderson finally did so in 2011 and who did he pay big bucks to for a lower pick? Philip Evans, who’s reached Triple-A six years later but doesn’t seem to be much of a prospect.

      For every guy you can name who got a bonus way above what other people got for his round and who made an impact in the majors, you can find at least one who flopped. And when it looked like teams were finally starting to make some headway, they changed the rules.

      • Chris F

        Id take his defense at 3B over any person we have on the big club!

        • Brian Joura

          If that’s truly what you want – just play Reynolds.

  • Matty Mets

    drafted after Brandon Nimmo in 2011 – Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray, Kolton Wong, Joe Ross, Joe Panik
    After Gavin Cecchini in 2012 – Corey Seager, Marcus Stroman, Lucas Giolito

    • Brian Joura

      You can do that for every single GM.

      Unless there’s a case where the team was debating between two guys – like Steve Chilcott and Reggie Jackson – it’s not worth getting worked up over.

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