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MLB Draft Review: NL East


David Seifert
Director of College Scouting


Rather than taking a subjective approach to ranking organizational draft classes, we will look back through an analytical lens using WAR. The "official" definition of WAR can be found here -- WAR Defined --, but loosely defined, it is an equalizing statistic that places an overall value on a player. It is derived from all areas of the game (offense, defense, base running, pitching) for both position players and pitchers. It is also adjusted by position, ballparks and over the periods of juiced and dead ball eras.

While each Major League organization utilizes its own proprietary calculation for WAR, there are two public outfits that each produce their own valuations -- Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com. For purposes of this exercise, we utilized the calculations provided by Baseball-Reference.com.

NOTES: A negative WAR for any individual is not used to calculate a team's total WAR. For any individual who has a WAR of less than zero, 0.0 is used.

Return on Investment (ROI) measures how efficiently an organization has spent its bonus dollars. Anyone can just spend money on draft picks, but the best clubs scout efficiently and develop their prospects in a manner that allows them to fully leverage every last dollar spent to maximize return (production by the players at the Major League level).

Continuing with the NL East, here's a look at how the 2015-2018 draft classes are shaping up.


ATLANTA BRAVES
 (Scouting Director Brian Bridges 2015-18)
2015: 1st Round, 14th Overall Kolby Allard. Career WAR: -1.0
                               28th Overall Mike Soroka. Career WAR: 5.8
Individual WAR Leader: Soroka
2015 Draft Totals:  WAR: 13.2
MLers to Date: 6 (Allard, Soroka, Austin RileyA.J. MinterPatrick WeigelEvan Phillips)
Signing Bonuses: $12.66M

2016: 1st Round, 3rd Overall. Ian Anderson. Career WAR 3.9
Individual WAR Leader: Anderson
2016 Draft Totals:  WAR: 4.8
MLers to Date: 5 (Anderson, Kyle Muller, Bryse WilsonJeremy Walker, Tucker Davidson)
Signing Bonuses: $15.52M

2017: 1st Round, 5th Overall. Kyle Wright. Career WAR: -0.5
Individual WAR Leader: Bruce Zimmerman, 5th Round. WAR: 0.6
2017 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.6
MLers to Date: 2 (Wright, Zimmerman)
Signing Bonuses: $11.50M

2018: 1st Round, 5th Overall. Carter Stewart. Did Not Sign
Individual WAR Leader: N/A
2018 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.0
MLers to Date: 0
Signing Bonuses: $5.82M

2015-18 TOTALS   WAR: 18.6    MLers: 13    BONUSES: $45.5M

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: $2.45M per 1.0 WAR

SUMMARY: At $45.5M the Braves spent the third most in baseball on signing bonuses during this time period which started off with a boom, hitting pay dirt with rotation piece RHP Mike Soroka and power bat Austin Riley from the 2015 draft class. LHP AJ Minter (1.9 career WAR) in the 2nd round of 2015 has also turned out to be an excellent pick. Add in another rotation piece with RHP Ian Anderson from 2016 draft class and the Braves were off and chopping. However, 2017-18 is looking like a slightly different picture with just 0.6 WAR and two Major Leaguers produced to date. 2017 1st round RHP Kyle Wright has not developed as expected and the 2018 draft class looks like a bust at the top with 1st round (8th overall) pick RHP Carter Stewart opting to instead sign overseas, while 2nd round OF Greyson Jenista and 4th round RHP Tristan Beck struggled for success in Double-A this past summer. The top prospect from those two draft classes is 2017 2nd round OF Drew Waters, who reached AAA in his age 20 season and is currently ranked as the 79th overall prospect in MLB. Regardless of the subpar early returns from 2017-18, the Braves still place in the top third of MLB for ROI from 2015-18.


MIAMI MARLINS
 (Scouting Director Stan Meek 2015-18)
2015: 1st Round, 12th Overall Josh Naylor. Career WAR: 0.1
Individual WAR Leader: Chris Paddack, 8th Round. WAR: 1.9
2015 Draft Totals: WAR: 2.1
MLers to Date: 5 (Naylor, Cody Poteet, Paddack, Kyle KellerBen Meyer)
Signing Bonuses: $7.55M

2016: 1st Round, 7th Overall Braxton Garrett. Career WAR 0.0
Individual WAR Leader: Michael King, 12th Round. Career WAR: 0.4
2016 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.4
MLers to Date: 3 (Garrett, Dylan Lee, King)
Signing Bonuses: $7.22M

2017: 1st Round, 13th Overall. Trevor Rogers. Career WAR: 3.2
Individual WAR Leader: Rogers
2017 Draft Totals:
  WAR: 3.2
MLers to Date: 3 (Rogers, Brian MillerSean Guenther)
Signing Bonuses: $10.68M

2018: 1st Round, 13th Overall. Connor Scott. Career WAR: 0.0
Individual WAR Leader: Nick Fortes, 4th Round. 0.2 WAR
2018 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.3
MLers to Date: 2 (Fortes, Alex Vesia)
Signing Bonuses: $10.37M

2015-18 TOTALS   WAR: 6.0    MLers: 13    BONUSES: $35.82M

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: $5.97M per 1.0 WAR

SUMMARY: Not much to look at here, outside of 2017 1st round LHP Trevor Rogers who has accumulated 3.2 of Miami's 6.0 total WAR. A now healthy Garrett, the continued success of Rogers and the return to form of 2015 8th round RHP Chris Paddack (Padres) could brighten the outlook, but the lack of any Top 100 MLB prospects from the 2015-18 draft classes lessens the chances of the Fish escaping the bottom third ROI in MLB.


NEW YORK METS
 (Scouting Director Tommy Tanous 2015-16, Marc Tramuta 2017-18)
2015: 1st Round, NO PICK
Individual WAR Leader: Thomas Szapucki, 5th Round. WAR: -0.1
2015 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.0
MLers to Date: 4 (Szapucki, Patrick Mazeika, Kevin KaczmarskiPJ Conlon)
Signing Bonuses: $4.27M

2016: 1st Round, 19th Overall Justin Dunn. Career WAR: 1.6
Individual WAR Leader: Pete Alonso, 2nd Round. WAR: 9.8
2016 Draft Totals:  WAR: 11.4
MLers to Date: 3 (Dunn, Anthony Kay, Alonso)
Signing Bonuses: $8.65M

2017: 1st Round, 20th Overall David Peterson. Career WAR: 1.1
Individual WAR Leader: Peterson
2017 Draft Totals:  WAR: 1.1
MLers to Date: 1 (Pederson)
Signing Bonuses: $7.89M

2018: 1st Round, 6th Overall Jarred Kelenic. Career WAR: -1.8
Individual WAR Leader: Tylor Megill, 8th Round. Career WAR: 0.8
2018 Draft Totals:  WAR: 0.8
MLers to Date: 2 (Kelenic, Megill)
Signing Bonuses: $11.02M

2015-18 TOTALS   WAR: 13.3    MLers: 10    BONUSES: $31.83M

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: $2.39M per 1.0 WAR

SUMMARY: The results of the 2015 draft class have been dismal with all four of its Major Leaguers producing negative WAR. But, it gets a whole lot better from there, mostly thanks to one large human being -- Pete Alonso. The Mets top three picks from 2016 have all reached the Show led by 2nd rounder Alonso, who despite some struggles in a covid-shortened 2020 season, looks to be a franchise-type talent. He has currently produced 73.6% of the team's total WAR. First rounde RHP Justin Dunn (now with SEA) and LHP Anthony Kay (now with TOR) have begun to emerge in the Big Leagues and both should help the Mets' team WAR grow. It's still too early to completely judge the 2017 class, but it has potential for some impact with 1st round LHP David Peterson who debuted with a 1.5 WAR in 2020, before regressing a bit in 2021. Even more impact could come from 2018 1st rounder (6th overall) OF Jarred Kelenic, who scuffled for Seattle as a rookie, but still boasts plenty of potential in the middle of the diamond. Currently, the Metropolitans lead the NL East in ROI at $2.39M


PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 
(Scouting Director Johnny Almaraz 2015-18)
2015: 1st Round, 10th Overall Cornelius Randolph. Career WAR: 0.0
Individual WAR Leader: Tyler Gilbert, 6th Round. WAR 1.1
2015 Draft Totals: WAR: 1.7
MLers to Date: 4 (Scott KingeryLuke WilliamsBailey Falter, Gilbert)
Signing Bonuses: $7.65M

2016: 1st Round, 1st Overall Mickey Moniak. Career WAR: -0.3
Individual WAR Leader: Cole Irvin. 5th Round. Career WAR: 1.0
2016 Draft Totals:  WAR: 1.0
MLers to Date: 3 (Moniak, JoJo Romero, Irvin)
Signing Bonuses: $14.99M

2017: 1st Round, 8th Overall Adam Haseley. Career WAR: 1.5
Individual WAR Leader: Haseley
2017 Draft Total: WAR: 2.9
MLers to Date: 7 (Haseley, Spencer HowardConnor SeaboldNick MatonConnor Brogdon, Kyle Dohy, Damon Jones)
Signing Bonuses: $10.79M

2018: 1st Round, 3rd Overall Alec Bohm. Career WAR: -0.5
Individual WAR Leader: Matt Vierling, 4th Round. Career WAR: 0.3
2018 Draft Total: WAR: 0.3
MLers to Date: 2 (Bohm, Vierling)
Signing Bonuses: $11.34M

2015-18 TOTALS   WAR: 5.9    MLers: 16    BONUSES: $44.77M

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: $7.59M per 1.0 WAR

SUMMARY: With more than $22M in bonuses shelled out for the 2015 and 2016 drafts, and just 2.7 WAR to show for it, Almaraz's first two drafts are uninspiring. The failed development of 1st rounders OF Cornelius Randolph and OF Mickey Moniak has been especially painful. Further down each of these draft classes show little else produced to date, nor does it offer much in terms of potential future value. 2015 2nd round UTL Scott Kingery was given a six-year, $24M contract before ever playing a game in the Major Leagues, and his 2.6 WAR from 2019 is a distant memory after two consecutive seasons of below zero marks which has regressed into a current 0.5 career WAR. A couple of bright spots for the scouting department include the traded and then Rule V selected LHP Tyler Gilbert. The 2015 6th round selection produced a 1.1 WAR in 2021 for the D'Backs. Another southpaw who was left for dead, 2016 5th rounder Cole Irvin, was sold by the Phillies to the A's in late January of 2021. Irvin won 10 games in 32 starts for Oakland, compiling a 1.5 WAR.

On this date a year ago things were really looking up for the Phils 2017 and 2018 draft classes with 2017 1st round OF Adam Haseley coming off a second solid season and 2018 1st round 3B Alec Bohm a 0.9 WAR and a tie for second place in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. However, things turned south in a hurry as Bohm struggled to a -1.4 WAR in 2021 taking his career WAR into the sub-zero and Haseley struggling to a -0.3 WAR. A few bright spots from the 2017 draft do remain with 2nd round RHP Spencer Howard (traded this past July to the Rangers), 7th round SS Nick Maton and 10th round RHP Connor Brodgon who compiled a 1.2 WAR. Overall during the 2021 season, the total number of Major Leaguers produced from 2015-18 jumped from eight to 16, but the total team WAR only nudged up slightly from 4.0 to 5.9. A current ROI of $7.59M leaves the Phils just ahead of the last place Nationals ($8.02M) in the NL East.


WASHINGTON NATIONALS
 (Scouting Director Kris Kline 2015-18)
2015: 1st Round, NO PICK
Individual WAR Leader: Taylor Guilbeau, 8th Round. WAR: 0.5
2015 Draft Totals: WAR: 1.1
MLers to Date: 5 (Andrew StevensonTaylor HearnKoda Glover, Guilbeau, Max Schrock)
Signing Bonuses Total: $4.98M

2016: 1st Round, 28th Overall Carter Kieboom. Career WAR: -1.7
                               29th Overall Dane Dunning. Career WAR: 0.9
Individual WAR Leader: Dunning
2016 Draft Totals: WAR: 1.7
MLers to Date: 9 (Kieboom, Dunning, Sheldon NeuseJesus LuzardoDaniel JohnsonTres BarreraJake Noll, Ben BraymerSterling Sharpe)
Signing Bonuses: $8.72M

2017: 1st Round, 25th Overall. Seth Romero. Career WAR: -0.2
Individual WAR Leader: Jake Cousins, 20th Round. Career WAR: 0.7
2017 Draft Totals: WAR: 0.7
MLers to Date: 4 (Romero, Wil Crowe, Cousins, Gabe Klobosits)
Signing Bonuses: $6.65M

2018: 1st Round, 2th Overall. Mason Denaburg. Career WAR: 0.0
Individual WAR Leader: Cody Wilson, 13th Round. Career WAR: 0.0
2018 Draft Totals: WAR: 0.0
MLers to Date: 2 (Wilson, Aaron Fletcher)
Signing Bonuses: $6.91M

2015-18 TOTALS:  WAR: 3.4    MLers: 20    BONUSES: $27.27M

RETURN ON INVESTMENT: $8.02M per 1.0 WAR

SUMMARY: A remarkable 20 draftees have already seen time in the Major Leagues from bonus spending of just over $27M during this four-year period. However, to date none have impacted the game and 13 of those 20 have not accumulated a positive career WAR. Two of those 13 include 1st round picks 3B Carter Kieboom (2016) and LHP Seth Romero (2017). The organization's top WAR producer to date, RHP Dan Dunning, was traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of the Adam Eaton deal, while the next best performer is 2017 20th rounder, OF Jake Cousins. Overall, the Nats rank last in the NL East and in the bottom third of the Major Leagues with an $8.02M ROI. They also have limited opportunity for improvement with zero current Top 100 MLB prospects to show from their 2015-2018 drafts.

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