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2015 MLB Draft Preview: How often does a player fall?

With the Mets not picking a player until the 53rd selection of the draft, it might be difficult to find a top talent. But it's not impossible. The elite virtually never fall that far, but several top-35 players have fallen that far in the draft in recent years, including a certain fellow named Wil Myers.

Wil Myers was once a top player her fell past the 53rd pick of the draft.
Wil Myers was once a top player her fell past the 53rd pick of the draft.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets lack a first-round pick in this year’s draft, so I started wondering what the chances were that the Mets could still bring home a first-round talent that late in the draft. Baseball players can fall from presumed positions for a variety of reasons, and it could be possible for the Mets to snatch one up with pick number 53. But what are the odds that a top player makes it all the way down to the Mets this year?

I’ve been covering the draft since 2008, so I went back those seven years to take a look at how often a top player, according to Baseball America, drops that far. Why Baseball America? Well, for one thing, they’re a respected publication that does a fantastic job following amateur baseball players. For another, I have access to their rankings. I really don’t intend to criticize them for failing to hit the mark on players; analyzing amateurs is an incredibly difficult job—I’ve learned that first hand—and misses are just part of it.

I should also point out that this is more of a fun exercise than anything else. Due to the changing nature of the draft’s economics, data that’s just a few years old may no longer be relevant. Or it might be of some limited relevance. It really changes on a case-by-case basis. And we’re only looking at seven years as it is: we’re a good distance from statistical significance.

So I’m going to look at the last seven years’ worth of Baseball America’s top-52 players to figure out how often a projected pick was still on the board at pick 53.

Top 1-10 Prospects

The odds of a top ten pick making it to #53? Zero, zilch, nada, not-a-chance. It didn’t happen once over those seven years.

It did come close to happening three times. In 2008 and 2009, Tanner Scheppers was considered a top-ten prospect both years. And both times he fell past pick 40. It was discovered shortly before the 2008 draft that Scheppers’s shoulder resembled Swiss cheese, causing him to fall to the supplemental round. The Pirates didn’t offer him enough of a bonus, so he re-entered the draft the following year only to have the same thing happen. Teams just didn’t trust his shoulder.

It also happened to Stetson Allie in 2010. Baseball America’s number-eight prospect, Allie didn’t get drafted until pick 52. Signability had something to do with that, but I’ll be honest: I thought Baseball America was nuts to have him that high. They fell in love with radar gun readings and didn’t seem to care that Allie’s mechanics were a mess or that he couldn’t find the strike zone—he walked 37 batters in 26.2 career innings. He moved to the outfield in 2012 and is now a slugger who is striking out in roughly a third of his plate appearances in Double-A.

Top 11-15 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
Tim Melville 2008 15 115 Signability
Josh Bell 2011 15 61 Signability

Odds of a player falling: 5.7%

The only two players to fall to 52 were both signability casualties. Melville was the best prep pitcher in a terrible year for prep pitchers and wanted to get paid despite the fact that teams didn’t think he was that good. Bell was a great prospect who just asked for an obscene amount of money, even though he signed for less.

Top 16-20 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
A.J. Cole 2010 16 116 Signability
Brandon Workman 2010 19 57 Teams disagreed
Daniel Norris 2011 16 74 Signability

Odds of a player falling: 8.5%

Two guys were tough signs, while teams just didn’t value Brandon Workman as much as Baseball America thought they would. He was a relatively low-upside pitcher for the middle of the first round, and teams usually prefer to shoot for the moon when picking that high. Or at least they did that year.

Top 21-25 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
Andy Oliver 2009 21 58 Signability
Garrett Gould 2009 25 65 Teams disagreed
Brett Eibner 2010 23 54 Teams disagreed
John Stilson 2011 23 108 Teams disagreed
Jon Denney 2013 25 81 Teams disagreed / Signability

Odds of a player falling: 14.3%

Oliver was a Scott Boras client, teams just weren’t quite crazy for curveball artist Gould, there was uncertainty about whether Eibner was better suited as a pitcher or an outfielder, Stilson had some truly awful mechanics, and Denney fell somewhat because of perceived signability, even though he signed for a reasonable $875,000, and somewhat because teams just didn’t believe in his defense behind the plate.

Top 26-30 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
Ross Seaton 2008 28 109 Teams disagreed
Max Stassi 2009 30 123 Signability / Injury
Austin Wilson 2010 27 379 Signabilty
Yordy Cabrera 2010 30 60 Teams disagreed
Austin Hedges 2011 28 82 Signability
Andrew Susac 2011 30 86 Injury / Teams disagreed

Odds of a player falling: 17.1%

Teams didn’t trust Seaton because he didn’t have a good secondary pitch. Stassi had hurt his shoulder that year and was still asking for a ton of money. Wilson, who would come close to qualifying for this list again a couple years later, had a Stanford commitment no one could buy him out of. Cabrera was a power-hitting third baseman with a rocket for an arm, but a lack of athleticism pushed him further down draft lists. Hedges had a strong commitment to USC, while Susac just didn’t impress teams enough with his defense or his bat. Catchers are always hard to gauge.

Top 31-35 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
Dennis Raben 2008 34 66 Teams disagreed
Tyson Ross 2008 35 58 Teams disagreed
Wil Myers 2009 31 91 Signability
Jesse Hahn 2010 31 191 Injury
Ryan LaMarre 2010 32 62 Injury
Chad Bettis 2010 33 76 Teams disagreed
Dillon Howard 2011 31 67 Teams disagreed
Matt Purke 2011 32 96 Injury
Tanner Rahier 2012 34 78 Teams disagreed
Hunter Green 2013 31 59 Teams disagreed
Alex Balog 2013 32 70 Teams disagreed
Connor Jones 2013 34 628 Signability
Kyle Serrano 2013 35 859 Signability
J. B. Bukauskas 2014 33 600 Signability

Odds of a player falling: 40.0%

The probabilities here take a jump--at this point the player is barely considered "falling." Instead, this is just a very reasonable outcome for them. You’ll notice the last three guys really fell. Jones and Bukauskas told teams they were definitely honoring their college commitments, and everyone knew Serrano wanted to play for his dad at Tennessee. For what it’s worth, and it’s not worth anything, Raben, Myers, Hahn, Howard, and Balog were some of my very favorite players in their draft classes.

Top 36-40 Prospects

Name Year BA Rank Draft Pos Reason
Isaac Galloway 2008 36 238 Teams disagreed / Signability
Sam Dyson 2009 38 303 Injury
James Paxton 2010 38 132 Injury
Jedd Gyorko 2010 39 59 Teams disagreed
Jacob Petricka 2010 40 63 Teams disagreed
Jorge Lopez 2011 39 71 Teams disagreed
Anthony Alford 2012 36 112 Signability
Walker Weickel 2012 37 55 Teams disagreed
Ty Buttrey 2012 38 151 Signability
Bobby Wahl 2013 36 161 Injury
Oscar Mercado 2013 38 57 Teams disagreed
Cord Sandberg 2013 40 89 Teams disagreed

Odds of a player falling: 34.3%

More of the same here, except for the three guys who were battling injuries at the time of the draft. Galloway was an interesting case: a toolsy player with a bad swing, he may have been giving off signals that he wasn’t signable, but when he wasn’t selected early on, he more or less announced that he was willing to sign for $200,000.

After pick 40, the probabilities jump up slightly over 50%, which is pretty much what you’d expect. There is virtually no difference between the 40th best player and the 53rd.

In the end, there are three reasons why a guy falls. He’s hurt, he’s not as good as Baseball America thinks, or he’s asking for a boatload of money. Every once in a while, a guy may fall for character issues, but the experts usually dock players for those red flags. Tomorrow, we’ll look at guys who might be prime for a drop.