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Updated: June 3rd, 2012 9:00pm
Mackey: Unfortunately for Twins, 1st round of draft guarantees little

Mackey: Unfortunately for Twins, 1st round of draft guarantees little

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

Baseball America's Jim Callis and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo are two of the best draft analysts in the business. Both currently have Stanford right-hander Mark Appel going to the Houston Astros with the No. 1 overall pick on Monday night, followed by Appling County High School (Georgia) outfielder Byron Buxton going to the Twins.

If the Astros take Buxton, Callis and Mayo both suggest the Twins could take Appel. Callis tosses out University of San Francisco right-hander Kyle Zimmer as a darkhorse. Mayo mentions LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman.

The Twins also own picks 32 and 42 in the first round -- compensation for Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel -- and they will pick twice early in the second round as well. Having five of the top 72 picks in the draft would seem to be very beneficial to a struggling franchise that lacks top-end pitching talent.

Unfortunately for the Twins those five early picks guarantee very little because, quite frankly, the MLB amateur draft tends to a crapshoot on several levels.

First off, don't expect a quick fix. Of the 255 players drafted by the Twins since 2007 only two have made it to the big leagues -- Brian Dozier and Ben Revere.

Over that same stretch the Texas Rangers have witnessed 10 of their 259 picks reach the big leagues. The Tampa Bay Rays have had four out of 263 make it so far.

Of all players taken in the first round of the 2007 draft -- five years ago already -- 32 out of 64 have not played a game in the big leagues. Only seven out of 64 have played in at least 100 career games -- Revere, Matt Wieters, Jason Heyward, Matt LaPorta, Julio Borbon, J.P. Arencibia, and Mike Moustakas.

David Price and Rick Porcello will reach 100 later this season.

The first round of the 2001 draft is generally remembered for producing a load of top-end talent, with Joe Mauer, Mark Prior, Mark Teixeira and Gavin Floyd all going in the top 5. But in reality, the first round of the 2001 draft consisted almost entirely of underachievers and whiffs.

Among the 43 players taken -- including compensation picks -- 18 never made it to the big leagues, and seven others have appeared in fewer than 100 games.

The Mets struck gold with pick No. 38 in third baseman David Wright. But beyond him, Mauer, Prior, Teixeira and Floyd the only players to produce more than 3 career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) are Jeremy Bonderman (3.6), Gabe Gross (3.8), Mike Fontenot (4), Bobby Crosby (4), Casey Kotchman (6.9) and Noah Lowry (9.5). In fairness, Lowry and Prior likely would have gone on to very successful careers had injuries not halted them.

Crosby won Rookie of the Year in 2004, but he turned out to be a complete bust.

Pick No. 33, Jeff Mathis, turned into a very good defensive catcher. Pick No. 18, right-hander Aaron Heilman, has pitched 630 innings in his major league career but owns a 4.40 ERA, including a 6.88 mark this year.

So if we're being liberal, with the benefit of hindsight, let's say Mauer, Prior, Teixeira, Floyd, Lowry, Kotchman, Mathis and even Crosby and Bonderman -- who showed promise for several years in Detroit -- were all worthwhile first-round picks.

That's nine out of 43 -- or 21%.

The first round of the 2003 draft was deeper, in retrospect, but still provided a lot more misses than superstars. Of the 37 players taken, 10 have yet to make it to the big leagues, and another four have played in fewer than 100 games.

Eleven players have produced at least 6 WAR: Nick Markakis (20.5), John Danks (18.4), Aaron Hill (16.9), Chad Billingsley (13.7), Adam Jones (12.3), Rickie Weeks (11.2), Paul Maholm (9.6), Daric Barton (7.7), Carlos Quentin (7.1), Chad Cordero (6.9) and David Murphy (6.6). Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1.9) appears to be breaking out at age 27 with 10 home runs already this year for the Red Sox.

Ian Stewart (3.5), Delmon Young (1.6), Lastings Milledge (0) and Brandon Wood (-4) were all highly-touted with plenty of promise, but Young -- the No. 1 overall pick -- has been a bust outside of one big season in 2010, and the others have underachieved.

From the first round of the 2002 draft, 14 out of 41 have never made it to the big leagues, and another six played in fewer than 100 games. It's fair to say 15 players have contributed significantly, including Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Denard Span, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Jeff Francoeur and others.

Only seven players from the first round of the 2004 draft have posted career WARs over 6, including Justin Verlander (29.3) and Jered Weaver (25.6), and 18 out of 41 have played in fewer than 50 major league games.

Now, of course there are 50 rounds in the MLB amateur draft, and many great players have been taken after the first round. And owning five of the first 72 picks gives the Twins a good chance to find one or two serviceable players in that group, at minimum.

But they need franchise-changers. And for every Joe Mauer and Mark Teixeira there are two Josh Karps and three Chris Grulers.

Never heard of them?

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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