Top 100 Draft Flashback: What States Produce

BA DRAFT FLASHBACKS
At What Positions Do Top Picks End Up?
Impact Players and Notable Flops
Greatest Pitcher Hits and Misses


While we’re focused on this year’s draft, we’re also taking a retrospective look at the top draft 100 picks—the cream of the amateur crop—from the 20 drafts from 1989-2008. The first three installments of the Top 100 draft flashback series explained our methodology and examined landing spots for position players and impact rates for both pitchers and players drafted among the top 100 picks.

As we highlight the top draft prospects from all 50 states for this year, we wanted to look back at which states produce the most top 100 draft talent, and at any disparities between the production of high school and college talent within states.

John Manuel’s recent column about the historical dearth of big leaguers who signed out of high school in Mississippi highlights the divide some states experience between prep and college talent. The graph below presents all the states whose top 100 draft picks (from the 1989-2008 drafts) have accumulated at least 50 WAR for their careers and ranks those states in descending order. WAR totals are split into high school and college so you can see which source has been more profitable for major league teams.

The college category also includes junior college players, because in practically all cases JC players are subject to the same Rule 5 draft protection guidelines as four-year college players. And the two-year school contributions don’t affect the outcome too much. Just four junior-college players in our sample reached a double-digit WAR total for the careers: Miami-Dade South CC righthander Alex Fernandez (White Sox, fourth overall, 1990), Grayson County (Texas) CC righthander John Lackey (Angels, 68th, 1999), Young Harris (Ga.) JC outfielder Nick Markakis (Orioles, seventh, 2003) and Angelina (Texas) JC righthander Clay Buchholz (Red Sox, 42nd, 2005).

 

State-By-State WAR

 

Some states feature large disparities between high school and college talent produced.

• Florida (+320 WAR for high school players)

The Sunshine State’s prep advantage springs largely from three incredibly talented players drafted between 1990-93: Alex Rodriguez (116 WAR), Chipper Jones (85) and Johnny Damon (56). Without that trio, the high school tally shrinks to 313, though that’s still greater than the college total of 251. Look for the four-year set to close the gap in coming years thanks to the presence of stars in their prime like Miami’s Ryan Braun and Florida State’s Buster Posey.

• California (+291 WAR for college players)

The California college advantage comes courtesy of eight players with 30 or more career WAR: Stanford’s Mike Mussina (83), UCLA’s Chase Utley (55), Long Beach State’s Jason Giambi (52), UCLA’s Troy Glaus (38), Southern California’s Barry Zito (37), Pepperdine’s Dan Haren (33), LBSU’s Evan Longoria (31) and LBSU’s Jered Weaver (31)—with LBSU’s Troy Tulowitzki (28) on deck. That’s four players alone from Long Beach State.

The top California prep players haven’t quite kept pace with their college counterparts, but the second tier makes for good comps. The top eight: C.C. Sabathia (56), Jimmy Rollins (42), Jason Kendall (42), Eric Chavez (37), Shawn Green (35), Derrek Lee (34), Adrian Gonzalez (31) and Cole Hamels (30). The gap grows beyond the top eight, as college players hold a 435-197 advantage thanks to quality big leaguers like Randy Wolf (24), Mark Kotsay (23), Geoff Jenkins (22), Aaron Rowand (21) and Jeremy Guthrie (18).

• Alabama (+138 WAR for college players)

Auburn’s Frank Thomas (74) accounts for nearly half of Alabama collegians’ WAR total, with the remaining total coming mostly from contributions by a pair of second basemen in Auburn’s Mark Bellhorn (eight) and South Alabama’s Marlon Anderson (seven), plus righthanders like Jacksonville State’s Todd Jones (11), Wallace State CC’s Craig Kimbrel (seven) and Auburn’s Scott Sullivan (seven). Outfielders Colby Rasmus (eight) and Terrence Long (five) are the only position players of note from the high school ranks.

• Louisiana (+112 WAR for college players)

High school righty Gil Meche (17 WAR) accounts for practically all the WAR value for Louisiana prep players. Louisiana State, meanwhile, accounts for much of the state’s college value with players like Aaron Hill (24), Ben McDonald (21), Todd Walker (11), Ryan Theriot (six) and Chad Ogea (five). They’re supported by the likes of Northeast Louisiana’s (now known as Louisiana-Monroe) Ben Sheets (23) and Southern’s Rickie Weeks (13).

• Virginia (+77 WAR for college players)

Not even a robust crop of Virginia Beach area high schoolers—David Wright (41), B.J. Upton (15), Justin Upton (15) and Michael Cuddyer (14)—can erase the advantage held by the state’s college stars, such as Old Dominion’s Justin Verlander (37), Virginia’s Ryan Zimmerman (30), Ferrum’s Billy Wagner (28), Virginia Commonwealth’s Brandon Inge (19) and Richmond’s Sean Casey (16).

The following states feature great balance, with both high school and college players contributing at least 100 WAR.

• Texas (+9 WAR for high school)

The high school ranks count Carl Crawford (37), Josh Beckett (34), Vernon Wells (30), Kerry Wood (28) and Clayton Kershaw (26), while the college ranks include Rice’s Lance Berkman (52), Texas A&M’s Chuck Knoblauch (45), Grayson County CC’s John Lackey (25), Rice’s Jose Cruz Jr. (20) and Texas-Arlington’s Hunter Pence (20).

• Georgia (+42 for college players)

Georgia Tech provides the difference-makers for the collegians in this category, including the likes of Mark Teixeira (48), Nomar Garciaparra (44), Jason Varitek (24), Jay Payton (15) and Matt Wieters (13). The Braves originally drafted three of the state’s top high school players: Adam Wainwright (24), Brian McCann (21) and Jason Heyward (15)—with Rondell White (28) and Brandon Phillips (23) filling in the gaps.

• Washington (+18 for college players)

Grady Sizemore (28), Jon Lester (26) and Jeremy Affeldt (10) represent the best of the state’s high school players, while Washington State’s John Olerud (58) and Aaron Sele (21) and Washington’s Tim Lincecum (24) account for nearly all the state’s college value.

We’ll close with a side-by-side comparison of each state’s premier talent from the high school and college ranks. This may be helpful in making player comparisons to players in this year’s draft.

 

BEST PLAYERS FROM EACH STATE • TOP 100 PICKS • 1989-2008 DRAFTS
State WAR Top High School Player
Top College Player
California 1295 LHP C.C. Sabathia RHP Mike Mussina
Florida 821 SS Alex Rodriguez OF J.D. Drew
Texas 592 OF Carl Crawford 1B Lance Berkman
Georgia 351 OF Rondell White 1B Mark Teixeira
Virginia 252 3B David Wright RHP Justin Verlander
Washington 217 OF Grady Sizemore 1B John Olerud
Alabama 165 OF Colby Rasmus 1B Frank Thomas
Arizona 154 1B Paul Konerko OF Tim Salmon
Louisiana 142 RHP Gil Meche 2B Aaron Hill
Tennessee 140 RHP Matt Cain 1B Todd Helton
Illinois 106 OF Cliff Floyd OF Curtis Granderson
Michigan 105 SS Derek Jeter LHP Mark Mulder
North Carolina 95 OF Josh Hamilton RHP Paul Shuey
Minnesota 92 C Joe Mauer LHP Denny Neagle
Puerto Rico 92 OF Carlos Beltran
Indiana 90 3B Scott Rolen RHP Brad Lidge
New York 89 OF Manny Ramirez LHP Allen Watson
Canada 89 1B Joey Votto LHP Jeff Francis
Ohio 86 RHP Chad Billingsley OF Nick Swisher
New Jersey 83 OF Jack Cust 1B Mo Vaughn
South Carolina 81 2B Pokey Reese 2B Brian Roberts
Colorado 75 RHP Roy Halladay
Nebraska 65 RHP Buddy Carlyle OF Darin Erstad
Oklahoma 58 RHP Jamey Wright OF Jeromy Burnitz
Wisconsin 55 LHP Jarrod Washburn
Arkansas 53 OF Torii Hunter 2B Logan Forsythe
Kentucky 50 OF Austin Kearns RHP Joe Blanton
Maryland 38 RHP Gavin Floyd LHP Eric Milton
Nevada 37 LHP Shawn Estes OF Ryan Ludwick
New Hampshire 34 RHP Chris Carpenter
Missouri 32 2B Blake DeWitt RHP Shaun Marcum
Massachusetts 32 RHP Manny Delcarmen 1B Carlos Pena
Mississippi 28 1B Nate Rolison LHP Paul Maholm
Pennsylvania 26 RHP Matt Clement OF Doug Glanville
Iowa 25 OF Ryan Sweeney RHP Cal Eldred
Kansas 22 RHP Nate Cornejo RHP Braden Looper
Oregon 13 C Ben Petrick OF Jacoby Ellsbury
Rhode Island 10 OF Rocco Baldelli OF Keith Reed
Hawaii 8 RHP Jerome Williams RHP Mark J. Johnson
Maine 2 RHP Mark Rogers LHP Larry Thomas
New Mexico 1 3B Shane Andrews
Utah -1 RHP Mitch Talbot RHP Stephen Fife
West Virginia -2 OF Darrell Whitmore
Connecticut -2 C Brook Fordyce OF Jason Grabowski

 

For some of the states with low WAR totals, their outlooks would improve if we expanded our window beyond the top 100 draft picks. In most cases, those states simply do not produce enough talent or feature tough enough competition for scouting departments to invest high picks with any kind of regularity. For example, Connecticut would shoot way up the rankings if we included Jeff Bagwell, a fourth-round pick in 1989 from the University of Hartford. Similarly, Rays lefty Matt Moore, an eighth-rounder in 2007 from Moriarty (N.M.) High, ought to exceed the career value of Mitch Talbot and Stephen Fife with ease.

In other cases, a recent top-100 draftee projects to make a big difference eventually. A number of recent University of Connecticut prospects—Mike Olt (Rangers), George Springer (Astros), Matt Barnes (Red Sox) and Nick Ahmed (Diamondbacks)—could help move the needle for the Nutmeg State. Padres third baseman Jedd Gyorko, a second-round pick from West Virginia in 2010, figures to take the top spot on his state’s leaderboard, possibly by the end of his rookie season in 2013.

 

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