Judging draft success or something like that.

This is a response to a poster on BBTiA (UTB).  I originally intended to post it in the comments sections over there, but it started to get out of hand.  Feel free to rip me to shreds or whatever.

Just make sure not to discount the job that JD & Co. have done.  Think about what would have been said if Mark Prior and Kerry Wood had blown out their arms in the minors and had just vanished.  That kind of thing happens.  You've acknowledged that the FO has done a good job in their other pursuits but not the draft.  When you consider all the things that a draft pick can do (succeed in your organization, function as trade ammunition, burn out in your organization, or outright fail), JD hasn't been truly unsuccessful in the draft. 

As far as pitchers are concerned, he hasn't been gloriously successful, but most GM's aren't.  You generally have to have an incredibly bad major league product to land a surefire thing like Strasburg (who is now somewhat of an uncertainty with TJ surgery), or all the dominos have to fall right.  For a Michael Main looked like he could be something special; now he looks like he's a strong candidate to completely flame out.  JD used Main and other picks (Beavan, Falcon, Tatusko) as trade amunition.  Were all of those trade ultimitely what got Texas to the World Series?  Probably not.  JD probably could have avoided the Guzman and Cantu trades without any problems.  That being said there are plenty of arms like Falcon or Tatusko left in the system. 

You're also using a really short timeline to judge JD's drafting abilities.  2006 wasn't that long ago.  Kiker has pretty much fallen off the map, and Ballard was barely ever on it, but Jake Brigham still has a chance to do something.  You also shouldn't just Derek Holland too quickly.  I've got him as more than a coinflip to outperform Matt Garza over the next three seasons, and that might start this year.  Even if he doesn't take a step forward and ends up as a league average 4th starter, that has value in any round of the draft and has tremendous value in the 25th round.  From 2007 Hunter will never be more than a 4th or 5th starter (I'm might not even trust him to maintain that); however, he's already there.  It's not an ace, but actualized major league talent is not a failure.  Neil Ramirez has a chance to take a real leap forward in 2011.  And don't forget that highly rated 2010 draftees Anthony Ranaudo (#100 per KG) and Drew Pomeranz (#43) were both 2007 Rangers draftees.  That they aren't in the Rangers system definitely isn't JD's fault.  Add Matt Thompson, Corey Young, Ross/Erlin, Buckel, Scheppers, Wieland, Bell, Justin Grimm, and Luke Jackson to the list of guys who might develop into something that could benefit the major league team.

As far as developing a true ACE goes, no, JD has not done that through the draft.  Derek Holland's ceiling is more that of a really solid #2 pitcher (see what I did there?).  Tanner Scheppers has true ACE potential but doesn't have any feel for his changeup, needs a big upgrade on his command, and is being treated like he's made of glass (and rightfully so); he's probably going to end up in the bullpen.  There are a few candidates from LA signings (Martin/David Perez, Neftali Feliz, Font, and others), but they don't really count for this discussion of JD's drafting (plus outside of Feliz, their ultimate upside isn't really any better than a good #2).  JD hasn't had someone develop into a truly amazing success like drafting Tommy Hanson in the 22nd round or getting Albert Pujols in the 13th round. 

If we're going to judge a GM's success in the rule 4 amateur draft, I figure I might as well break down the makeup of the top pitchers in the league.  I figured I'd set my bar as starters with at least 12 WAR (Fangraphs) over the last three seasons.  That gives us 15 pitchers:

Zach Greinke - 2006 #6 overall

Cliff Lee - 2000 4th round

Ubaldo Jimenez - 2001 LA free agent

Roy Halladay - 1995 #17 overall

Tim Lincecum - 2006 #10 overall

CC Sabathia - 1998 #20 overall

Justin Verlander - 2004 #2 overall

John Lester - 2002 2nd round

Dan Haren - 2001 2nd round

Felix Hernandez - 2002 LA free agent

Adam Wainwright - 2000 #29 overall

Jered Weaver - 2004 #12 overall

Ryan Dempster - 1995 3rd round

John Danks - 2003 #9 overall

Chad Billingsley - 2003 #24 overall

There are certainly plenty of first rounders in that talent pool, but there are plenty of year that haven't produced a player who fits this loose definition of an ace.  Essentially judged a GM based upon whether or not he's developed an ace through the rule 4 amateur draft is ridiculous.

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