(First off, look at that picture. I’ll never get tired of seeing pitch-face)
The MLB draft started today! Picking 14th overall in the first round, the Mariners took a right-handed pitcher, Logan Gilbert, from Stetson University. I am draft-ignorant, for the most part–I don’t really follow college baseball–but from the scouting report he seems like if he reaches his potential he’ll be anywhere from fine-to-good.
Not because I think anything bad about Gilbert. Seems like a good prospect and went about in the spot he probably should’ve. It’s because he’s a pitcher. I tweeted out a few thoughts and I’m going to put them into something a bit more organized here, and link to a study on durability as a supporting source.
The money quote from that source: “Across the complete sample used in this paper, pitchers suffered over 15 percent more injuries than hitters did and lost almost 38 percent more days to injury.”
For me, it’s not the talent, it’s the opportunity cost. It’s not good to get nothing out of your first-round pick, and pitchers are much riskier than hitters.
They bust at a similar rate as hitters, so I don’t think a pitcher is any more or less likely to meet expectations. But you’re far less likely to get *nothing^ out of a hitter. The M’s need pitching depth, sure, but their farm system is in such bad shape, they need everything depth, really.
If I were a GM (and it’s a good thing I’m not) I’d almost exclusively use high picks on hitters, unless there was a Strasburg-type phenom (and even he had Tommy John surgery and has merely been “really good” instead of “outstanding”). Even if you stack your system with hitters…you can trade them for the pitching depth you need later.
Put another way, I’d rather be trading for guys like Marco Gonzales than drafting them. If you draft and develop a bunch of hitters, you’ll in theory have enough Tyler O’Neill types to trade for Marco Gonzales types and not regret it.
Anyway, I like Gilbert and I hope he’s great.