Mackey: If Kohl Stewart pans out, he'd be first of his kind for Twins
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By selecting Kohl Stewart with the No. 4 overall pick in last week's MLB entry draft, the Minnesota Twins did something they haven't done in over 20 years -- take a high school pitcher with their first pick in the first round.
Dan Serafini was the last one, back in 1992. He finished his major league career with a 6.04 ERA and only 15 wins (nine with the Twins). In fact, Serafini -- who, by the way, is still pitching at age 39 for Los Tigres de Quintana Roo and for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic this past year -- has thrown nearly three times as many innings in Japanese and Mexican leagues than in the major leagues.
He was a huge bust, but I'd imagine he is extremely well-cultured.
It's unclear if Serafini put the Twins into a 21-year hibernation from drafting high school pitchers early or if the organization just wound up going the college pitcher route more frequently by happenstance.
But looking at the Twins' success rate historically -- or lack thereof -- with high school pitchers in the first and second rounds, they probably made a wise decision by taking some time off.
According to a thorough comb through Baseball Reference's draft history archives, the Minnesota Twins selected 21 high school pitchers in the first, second or supplemental rounds in team history prior to this year.
The results are Not Safe For Work.
Not counting Hudson Boyd (No. 55 in 2011) or Jose Berrios (No. 32 in 2012), both of whom haven't had enough time to progress, only nine -- yes, NINE -- of those 21 high school pitchers ever made it to the big leagues.
Of the 13 drafted in the second round, only five ever made it to the bigs.
Ranking those first- and second-round high school pitchers by career major league wins -- an admittedly flawed stat, but relevant for the purposes of this study -- Allan Anderson (49), Todd Ritchie (43), Willie Banks (33), Serafini and Anthony Swarzak (11) top the list.
Most of Ritchie's wins came with other clubs.
To Anderson's credit, he led the American League in ERA (2.45) in 1988, but his success lasted only two years.
The other high school pitchers not named above are Jeff Bumgarner, Jay Rainville, Kyle Waldrop (currently at Triple-A in Pirates organization), Leo Pinnick, Bart Nieuwenhuis, Stephen Parrott, Terry Felton, Michael Riley, Steve Gasser, Ron Caridad, Dan Perkins, Marcus Sents, J.D. Durbin and Scott Tyler.
The Twins obviously hope Kohl Stewart pans out much differently -- and the chances are better, considering he was the No. 1 high school pitcher available in the draft. The only high school pitcher ever drafted higher by the Twins was Banks, who went No. 3 overall in 1987.
"The odds are good that he's going to surface at the major leagues," general manager Terry Ryan said in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Saturday. "Most of the first rounders surface at the major league level. Now, whether or not they become All-Stars or the types of guys that have the careers of a (Joe) Mauer, that is few and far between. But picking up at the 4-hole, certainly the odds are better than if you're picking at the 24-hole. ...
"Things have to come together, and the work ethic, and lack of injuries, and the knowledge and all the things that come with development. If he takes to all that stuff there's a good chance he'll become a very good pitcher for a long time."