Keith Law wrote his annual piece today where he re-drafts the first round from 10 years before. That 2005 draft was a loaded one, featuring Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun and Jacoby Ellsbury, among others. When we hit 2019, however, Keith may want to skip the column.
The report that Atlanta Braves left-hander Mike Minor will have shoulder surgery is another dagger in the 2009 draft that -- even with Mike Trout -- will go down as one of the worst in history. Stephen Strasburg was the first pick in the draft and he's certainly had his moments with more likely to come. Second pick Dustin Ackley is actually one of the success stories of the first round, although hardly what you expect from the second overall pick.
The rest of the top 10, however, included Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matt Hobgood, Zack Wheeler, Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner and Drew Storen. The final six guys on that list were pitchers and four of the next five were also pitchers: Tyler Matzek, Aaron Crow, Matt Purke and Alex White. That group of 10 has combined for a 26.7 career WAR, 11.1 from Leake alone.
It's a reminder of the risk with drafting and developing young pitchers. Hopefully Minor can recover from this surgery and regain the promise he showed in 2013, when he went 13-9 with a 3.21 ERA, just like Wheeler will hopefully bounce back from his Tommy John surgery. Minor was part of a terrific Braves staff that season that allowed just 548 runs -- fewer runs allowed than any Braves team that featured Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine or John Smoltz. Minor was once part of a promising trio that included Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen that helped the Braves to 94 wins in 2013 and then 96 in 2014.
Beachy and Medlen both have had two Tommy John surgeries and haven't pitched since 2013. Now Minor joins them on the operating table. Julio Teheran and Alex Wood were rookies that year. Both are still just 24 but off to slow starts, as Teheran has seen his walk rate spike and Wood has seen his strikeout rate plummet. Let's hope nothing is going on with those two.
Braves general manager John Hart doubled down on young pitching in the offseason. He traded Jason Heyward for Shelby Miller, who has been terrific so far. As he traded away veterans, he focused on pitching prospects: Max Fried from the Padres, Mike Foltynewicz from the Astros, Tyrell Jenkins from the Cardinals, Manny Banuelos from the Yankees, Matt Wisler in the Craig Kimbrel trade. Get a dozen young arms, hope one or two break through and manage to stay healthy.
That's the shell game with young pitchers. The Braves made their living for 15 years on keeping pitchers healthy. Unfortunately, they haven't been so lucky in recent seasons. Braves fans can only hope the next crop can avoid the scalpels.