I couldn't resist the image Doc. Looks like good stuff!
In 2009 Jack Z. got his first shot at a draft as GM of the M's. Those '09 guys should be MLB contributors by now, if he got it right.
The guys he picked in 2010 should be contributors in Seattle, if he got it right.
The guys taken in 2011 should be knocking on the door, if not here already. The best of the guys taken in '12 should be nearly here.
Draft picks from '13-'15 are pipeline guys and shouldn't be expected to be contributors at this stage. The guys taken in '13, however, have nearly two full years of work behind them.
With all that said, looking at the '09-'11 picks, we have a bit of ability to examine what Jack Z. has done to make the M's better, in the Amateur Draft Dept.
In '09 we picked Ackley (1) Nick Franklin (1) and Steve Baron (CA) as noteables. Oh...we got that Seager kid, too, as a diamond in the 3rd round rough. '09 is a bit of a weird year when you look at 1st round type picks. Strasburg (#1) and Trout (#26) are the guys who jump off the page as great and quick success stories. Trout at #26???....I suppose even a Tom Brady fell to the 6th round. I think people just flat out missed Trout because he was a 17-yr old senior in HS who was a year a way from really showing what he might do. Then he ripped Rookie Ball that same summer, A Ball as an 18 year old and was in ANA when he was 19. Interestingly, the Angels draft Randall Grichuck the spot ahead of him...and he's becoming a Class of '09 success story. But there aren't a great number of '09 1st Rounders who shot to the bigs with great success. Zach Wheeler, Drew Storen, Tyler Matzek (and a few others) are minor-to-fair success stories as MLB pitchers, perhaps one will leap forward and become a star. Grichuck and AJ Pollock are rapidly becoming very successful picks. Both are hitting the ball hard in the bigs this year and both bring + OF gloves, as well. Interestingly, I advocated chasing both last winter. Garrett Richards was the #42 pick for the Angels...and he's becoming a very nice pitcher. There are some nice guys picked early in '09...but none ours. Seager mitigates a bunch of that, however.
Ackley looked to be a success story....for one single AAA/MLB season. By his sophomore campaign holes had appeared. I still believe those holes are mostly personal demons and not mechanical ones. Whatever theiy are, they remain. Franklin must be seen as a first round semi-bust or worse. He sure isn't lighting up MLB throwers (hitting .139 in Florida), which makes the "Wedge destroyed him" thing a bit of an urban myth. Baron? A non-factor at this point.
We picked Ackley and passed on Trout, Grichuk and Garrett Richards. Such is the state of the AL West, but to be fair...none of those guys went before #25. All the same, Jack missed the something special in a 17 year old CF and went the safe route with the college bat of the decade. And that failure has made all the difference. I would like to give Jack an "F" grade for his draft of '09 but Seager messes all that uup. An All-Star GG, clutch-homer-hitting 3B (who plays everyday) covers up a lot of Ackley dismality. "B-" in this draft. If Ackley had turned into Seager and Seager was the bust, nobody would hold that against Jack. But If Jack had got Trout AND Seager in '09....man there would be a lot of folks calling attentin to the genius GM in our midst.
In '10 Jack did even better: Walker in Round 1, Paxton in the 4th,. Romero in the 12th. All of those guys have been in the bigs. Two of them are going to be REALLY good. I think Romero still has a lefty-bashing MLB role. But even leaving him out, there is no way this darft isn't a "B" for Jack (if one of Walker/Paxton stays healthy). It is likely a "B+" and has the potential to be an "A+" of the franchise-building type. Where Jack failed in '09 (and with the #2 pick) he succeeded in '10 by reaching down and finding SWEET young arms rather deep in the draft pile.
Of course, Trout would be WAY nicer than either. But I'm not holding the Trout miss against Jack forever. 20+ franchises missed that one.
In '11, Jack came up with Hultzen in the 1st, Brad Miller at #62 in the 2nd, Carter Capps (or Logan Morrison, if you will) in the 4th, Hicks in the 4th, Carson Smith in the 8th and Paolini in the 10th. He also drafted a guy named Kevin Cron in the 3rd who didn't sign and is now in the lower Arizona organization hitting pretty well. Miller and Smith make this draft semi-successful. Whether this is an B+/A- draft depends on Hultzen's health and progress. He's throwing again. If he's in Seattle next season and getting some folks out, then '11 is a better than fair draft. Marlette, Paolini, Marder and Pries came in this draft. Pries was a 30th round pick and is doing fine in Tacoma. He may throw in Seattle this year. If he can be a long guy next year, then he's value added stuff.
In #12, Z got Zunino with the 3rd pick overall and then Diaz, Tyler Pike, Kivlehan, Chris Taylor in the early rounds and Pizzano + Leone in the later ones. Zunino and Taylor make this a winning draft, or so it now seems. If Zunino ever chokes up on the bat and hits .240, then it is a very nice draft. I think both of Kivlehan and Pizzano will be Seattle regulars and Diaz or Pike (or both) will be MLB guys. Jack gets a"B" grade and it has a chance to go higher.
OK: Drafts in '13-'15 are still in the panning out stage, it is a bit early to grade them. For example, in '13 we picked DJ Peterson, Austin Wilson and Tank O'Neill. Deej hit until this season, his 2nd in Jackson. But he has struggled badly in AA in '15, which seems weird for a 2nd go-around. Wilson is basically bad in Bakersfield, while Tank has hit some homers there, but has an 11/87 BB/K ration. He's K'ed in 33% of his AB's. Tyler Smith was taken in this draft, too. The M's should move him to CF right now. That's where our hole is....not 2B/SS's. Down the line, this kid could help. He's a dirt dog and can play.
The "magic" .800 OPS in the minors is still a hard to find thing for us, or at least for the guys we've drafted. We have only have 3 guys that we drafted OPS'ing over .800 and playing regularly. And that is throughout our entire system. I don't know what the M's organizational emphasis on MiLB hitting is, but it isn't working very well.
Romero is at .882, Pizzano is at .823 and Blash is at .873. Blash has struggled to make contact in Tacoma, hitting just .210 (which is what he hit last year there) and K'ing in 35% of his AB's. Even when he was sent down to Jackson, he still K'ed in nearly 30% of his AB's. His top-end may be Peguerro-like. He can certainly ride the ball...but hasn't done anything in AAA. So if you discount Blash, that leaves us with Pizzano and Romero. Go figure, those are the two guys I've been pushing all year.
There is something weird in our MiLB water coolers. Or in the way we coach hitters. Man, even in the way we evaluate them....Pizzano was hitting north of .350 (and he walks a bunch) for most of this year, his 2nd in AA, and we still didn't promote him to Tacoma. That chapped me....What more did the kid have to do?
Anyway, in the 4 drafts orchestrated by Jack Z. that could have possible had impact on the M's right now, Jack really gets a passing grade, or better, in all of them. From '09-'12 he added guys who have already helped us, with 8 of them on the MLB roster right now. Jack did just fine.
Free Agency and trades?
Cruz, Guti, Morrison, Cano, Jackson, Smith, Happ, Elias...etc, they were all Jack gets. All have been decent (well, maybe not Jackson), or better. Montgomery was a steal and Carson Smith (drafted late) a terrific find. Oh...he signed Kuma, too.
But Fister and that dimunitive Angel we traded for (among other examples....including the total dog-housing of Montero) have to be counted against Jack, as well.
Where Jack Z. has failed the organization is in seeing the development of MiLB bats and in his managerial choices. Ironically, the best manager he had was likely Wakamatsu and Jack sold him out for the aforementioned diminutive malcontent. Turns out that was a terrible decision. Many of us called it at the time. I believe the franchise is still reeling from that decision.
Jack has backed himself into a position where he really can't sell talent right now, without admitting the season has been a drastic failure...which means his tenure as a winning GM has been a failure, too. Happ/Morrison/Smith....all should be shopped. Seems like they aren't. Sigh.
That's Jack's scorecard, when it comes to drafting guys who we might expect to help us now, he hasn't been bad. But Wedge was a disaster and McClendon is a great guy but not a very good manager. This year, beginning with such huge hopes, is going down the tubes. But Jack is sticking by Lloyd....and that is going to cost Jack his job. But then, I'm not sure canning Lloyd now saves it for him. We're 30 games beyond that.
A little more Trout and a lot less Ackley in '09 would change much of this tune, but it is what it is. Do we can Jack for that one miss? Well, that's not really what he will get his walking papers for, but if he had picked Trout things would be different. In the end, I guess, he will get his walking papers for that fateful miss....and for hiring two managers who didn't get it done.