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2016 MLB Draft: Pick No. 17 Over the Years

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The MLB draft kicks off tomorrow, so let’s take a look back at the history of the 17th pick to get a better idea of what the Astros can expect to be waiting for them when they go on the clock.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The 2016 MLB draft starts tomorrow and the Astros front office finds itself in an unfamiliar position. Having picked in one of the top two slots in each of the last four drafts, the Astros will have to be patient tomorrow as their first pick doesn’t come until pick 17.

With the new found success of the major league club last year, club focus and fan interest has understandably turned to the big leagues. While a shift in focus is understandable draft success is still paramount.  In order to sustain success and continue to build upon last year’s playoff appearance the Astros must find a way to succeed with less as the allotted bonus pool shrinks. The success rate of the 17th pick is not nearly as high as it is at the top the board,but it is just as important, so as the Astros prepare for the MLB draft, let’s take a look back at some notable selections made over the years with the 17th pick.

The Last 10 Years:

First, let’s take a quick look at the last ten selections and get an update as to where they are today.

The Last 10 Years


Year


Pick


Position


Team


School


2015

Brady Aiken

LHP

Cleveland Indians

IMG Academy

2014

Brandon Finnegan

LHP

Kansas City Royals

TCU

2013

Tim Anderson

SS

Chicago White Sox

East Central CC

2012

D.J. Davis

OF

Toronto Blue Jays

Stone County HS

2011

C.J. Cron

C

Los Angeles Angels

Utah

2010

Josh Sale

RF

Tampa Bay Rays

Bishop Blanchet HS

2009

A.J. Pollock

CF

Arizona Diamondbacks

Notre Dame

2008

David Cooper

1B

Toronto Blue Jays

UC Berkeley

2007

Blake Beavan

SP

Texas Rangers

Irving (TX) HS

2006

Matt Antonelli

3B

San Diego Padres

Wake Forest


Working forward from the 2006 selection, lets dig a little deeper into how each selection has panned out. So without further ado, lets kick it off with Matt Antonelli. Drafted out of Wake Forest, Antonelli spent eight years toiling in the minors with only a 21 game stint with the San Diego Padres in 2008. Not a great start for Astros fans hoping for an everyday contributor at 17…

The 2007 pick, Blake Beavan accumulated 293 major league innings with the Seattle Mariners, but never really found much success as he pitched to a 4.61 ERA while only registering 4.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

In similar fashion the Toronto Blue Jays 2008 selection David Cooper made it to the bigs, but never really made a lasting impression. Cooper appeared in 72 games with the Toronto Blue Jays during 2011 and 2012, but never really found his footing. Cooper most recently played in ten games for the New York Mets AA affiliate last year after a short stint with the independent league Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League.

After three duds to kick things off, the Arizona Diamondbacks finally shine a ray of hope for 17th picks everywhere with their selection of A.J. Pollock. Drafted out of Notre Dame, Pollock is currently working his way up the career WAR leaderboard for 17th picks with a career 14.8 WAR. Pollock’s 14.8 currently ranks him seventh all time and at the age of 28 he has a strong chance to move further up the list. Pollock broke into the majors in 2012 with the Arizona Diamondbacks before taking over full time in 2013 flashing a solid speed power combination. In 2015, Pollock put it all together winning a gold glove and being named to the national league all-star team thanks to a 20 homerun, 39 stolen base season and a solid .315 average.

Josh Sale never made it above A ball, last playing in a game in 2014 for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, so back to the bust bin.

2011 selection C.J. Cron showed promise out of Utah and moved quickly through the minors. Cron cracked the major league roster in 2014 and proceeded to launch eleven homeruns in a little less than half a season. Since breaking into the major leagues, though, Cron has provided the Angels with a roughly replacement level (-0.1 WAR) player splitting time at 1B and DH. It’s still early and Cron could develop into something more for the Angels, but at this point it is looking more likely that Cron is what he is.

Next comes D.J Davis. Drafted out of high school in 2012, Davis has toiled away in the low minors and still resides in A+. Splitting time between CF and LF this season for the Dunedin Blue Jays, Davis is the owner of a less than inspiring .206/.278/.300 triple slash line. While still only 21, things are not looking overly promising for the former first rounder.

After looking into the seven picks from 2006-2012, Pollock shines through as the only true success story. Cron and Davis still stand a chance, but as things stand currently the success rate at 17 looks grim. Luckily the more recent drafts have seen higher upside and potential with top prospect Tim Anderson, major league pitcher Brandon Finnegan and none other than former number one pick Brady Aicken.

Anderson currently mans short stop for the Charlotte Kinghts, the Chicago White Sox triple A affiliate. While Anderson has yet to break through to the major leagues, the White Sox are hopeful that they have found their short stop of the future in the 23 year old. Anderson cracked a number of top 100 prospect lists in 2015, being ranked as high as 39 by Baseball Prospectus. It is easy to see why, as he has managed a career .301 average in the minors and swiped 40+ bases in both of the last two seasons. Anderson could still benefit from improved fielding, but look for Anderson to make his major league debut in the near future and provide positive results for the White Sox.

Drafted in 2014, Brandon Finnegan made an almost immediate impact for the Kansas City Royals, joining the big league club down the stretch out of the bullpen. Since then, Finnegan has spent some time in the minors developing further as a starter, but in 2015 Finnegan broke through for good. Finnegan was sent to the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline last season and has been in the Reds rotation ever since. The results have not been amazing,  but at the age of 23 Finnegan sports a 3.89 ERA over 12 starts in 2016 and looks to have established himself as a rotation mainstay going forward.

Finally, in the 2015 draft the Cleveland Indians selected none other than former first overall pick Brady Aicken. Aiken was drafted after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so it is no surprise that he has still yet to pitch an inning for the Cleveland Indians organization. If Aiken can regain his pre surgery form and capitalize on some of the hype and talent that had him drafted number one in 2014 he could easily prove to be one of the best selections at 17 in the history of the MLB draft.

The Best of the Best:

Speaking of the top selections in MLB draft history, let’s take a look at the top WAR producing players who were selected 17th overall.

At the top of the heap is Roy Halladay who was selected by the Blue Jays in 1995. As his 64.6 career WAR suggests, the right handed pitcher went on to one of the most successful pitching careers in modern history. Halladay collected two Cy Young awards and a 203-105 career record over 16 major league seasons. Further, looking past wins, losses and longevity and digging into some more advanced stats, Halladay holds a career ERA+ of 131, which is tied with Sandy Koufax for pitchers with over 1000 innings pitched, so yeah he was pretty good.

Next on the career WAR list sits Cole Hamels at 44.2. Hamels spent most of his career with the Philladelphia Phillies where he actually called Halladay a teammate from 2010-2013. At 32, Hamels is in his 11 year in the majors, but is still producing at a high level with a 3.39 ERA in 2016 for the Texas Rangers. While Hamels has the potential to rack up extra WAR over the coming years it is hard to see him overtaking Halladay for the top spot at this point in his career.

Rounding out the top five in career WAR are Giants outfielder Gary Matthews (drafted 17th in 1968), Cleveland Indians pitcher Charles Nagy (1988) and New York Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz (1990).

The Astros History at 17:

Alright, so one final note before we wrap this thing up and turn our attention to the upcoming 2016 selection, who have the Astros selected at number 17 in the past?

The Astros have picked in the 17th slot multiple times, grabbing right handed pitcher Don August in 1984 and catcher Ramon Castro ten years later in 1994. While August and Castro made it to the big leagues and produced positive WAR, neither really broke through as difference makers at the highest level, unlike the Astros most recent 17th selection. In 1998 the Astros selected Brad "lights out" Lidge. Lidge would go on to collect 225 saves and appear in two all-star games thanks to a career 3.54 ERA. All in all Lidge sits at eleventh on the career WAR list at 8.2.

Here is to hoping that the Astros find the next pitching gem with the 17th pick in the 2016 draft because I know I wouldn’t be upset if Houston came away from the upcoming draft with the next Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels or even Roy Halladay level talent.