The Giants first round pick, Joey Bart, has officially signed with the team and is headed to Arizona to begin Professional Baseball Activities. So I thought I’d look at every number two pick from 2000 through 2015 to get a sense of how recent picks have fared as major leaguers, as a guide to what our realistic expectations should be for Bart.
(I omitted 2016 and 2017 because neither Nick Senzel nor Hunter Greene has made it to the majors yet, or should have been expected to make it to the majors yet, and so their career paths can’t really tell us much. Senzel’s looking real, real good though.)
These are the guys you hope for
It would be extremely good if Joey Bart turned into a Verlander, Gordon, or Bryant-caliber player. This is probably not a controversial statement. Let’s move on.
Too early to tell, but looking good so far
Bregman came into the league as a good hitter, and his offense has improved every year. The main reason he’s not in the top category is that he’s young and sometimes Baseball Stuff Happens, but you also just can’t assume a linear, predictable career path for any baseball player. Still, he’s done everything right so far in his career, and there’s no way the Astros regret picking him.
Fine players, with caveats
Melvin Upton Jr
Prior obviously had all the talent (and early results) in the world, but couldn’t stay healthy. Upton had some very good seasons in Tampa, but as soon as he signed with the Braves, he just wasn’t the same (He was even in Sacramento last year on a minor league deal with the Giants! It didn’t work out). Moustakas has been a nice player with power — he hit 38 home runs last year question mark — but he’s been limited by his generally poor on base skills. And Weeks hung around forever, but other than his one six win season with the Brewers, he never really turned into the offensive threat that he probably hoped for.
Too early to tell, but probably not superstars
Buxton has great speed and is a fantastic defender, but hasn’t had a year where he’s figured things out at the plate just yet. Taillon has been a good pitcher since he first got called up a couple years ago, but he’s now a 26 year old who’s thrown 300 innings and hasn’t done more than that. They’ve both been good players to have, and it’s not impossible for them to turn into more, but it’s also not the most likely scenario.
Major league players, but not especially good ones
Dustin Ackley was the player that many, many commenters on this site wanted the Giants to take in 2009. He was unavailable by the time the Giants drafted, which meant they took Zack Wheeler instead, which is actually good because I have this chart with 981 thumbtacks in it that shows exactly how Ackley’s presence would have meant no World Series at all this decade, including 2010, which you might think wouldn’t be affected by a minor league second baseman, but you’re so, so wrong.
Alvarez was selected three spots before Buster Posey in 2008, which means he was a great pick. Great pick, Pirates. You selecting Pedro Alvarez in the 2008 draft had many positive effects, and even if they weren’t for your team, you can rest assured we are all grateful for them.
Neither of these players turned out to be special major league talents. Alvarez did make an All-Star team! But, uh, that’s about it for his career highlights.
Johnson went to the Twins in 2000, Reynolds to the Rockies in 2006, and Hultzen to the Mariners in 2011. Johnson shot up through the minors and briefly made the major league team in 2003, seemingly entirely because of his draft pedigree, before fading into obscurity. Reynolds was good-with-caveats in the minors and made the majors less than two years after being drafted, but was never effective and he ended up being traded for Chad Tracy, but not that Chad Tracy. This is a different, and worse, Chad Tracy who never made it out of AAA. Hultzen had good results while he was on the field in the minors, but injuries took a toll on him, and he’s currently rehabbing with the Cubs, though he hasn’t gotten into any games this year at any level.
If you really want to get technical about it, Kolek, who the Marlins took second overall in 2014, could get his own “Technically too early to tell, but oh gosh, this is not going well” category, but, well, I’m pretty comfortable putting him here. Since being drafted, he’s been either injured or uninspiring, and his entire professional experience since January of 2016 is 3.2 innings in Rookie ball where he struck out 1, walked 14, and hit 3 guys with pitches. He’s been injured for three years now, and it is difficult to imagine that he will have a successful major league career.
YOU: When I clicked on this article, I said to myself, “If there aren’t more words dedicated to Tyler Kolek than to any other player, I’m going to be very disappointed.”
Glad to help, friend.
So, to sum up: the median result for a number two pick in the draft, which depends a little on how you think the careers of Bregman, Buxton, and Taillon will go, probably comes in somewhere around Mike Moustakas or Melvin Upton Jr. They’re both players who were productive during the years they were under team control, but it’s not hard to want more from such a high pick. It’s hard not to look at the top three guys on the list and think that that’s the norm, but in reality, just getting a good player at number two isn’t too bad.
What should we expect from Joey Bart? If history’s any guide, it is far more likely than not that he won’t be the next Buster Posey. Other number two picks have turned out to have fine careers that are nothing to be ashamed of, and anything more than that would be a plus. Don’t bemoan the pick if he turns into a good player, but not a perennial All-Star. That’s about what you should expect.