Post-Mussina Stanford Pitchers
Mike Mussina was drafted out of Stanford University in the first round in 1990. This got me thinking about the outcomes of other highly-drafted Stanford pitchers over the last 20 years. Let's take a look at this.
Here is a list of Stanford pitchers drafted from 1990 through 2010. This includes all pitchers who either 1) made the majors, or 2) were drafted in the first, supplemental, or second, or third rounds.
Willie Adams: Drafted in the supplemental first round in 1993, 36th overall, by Oakland. He pitched well early in his career (although he wasn't dominant), reaching the majors with Oakland in 1996 and making 12 starts with decent results (4.01 ERA). However, in 1997 he was crushed (8.18 ERA in 58 innings), got sent back to the minors, hurt his arm, and never returned. Career ERA 5.81 in 135 innings, 105/55 K/BB, 149 hits, WAR +1.3.
Jeff Austin: Drafted in the first round in 1998, fourth overall, by Kansas City. Austin was supposed to be very advanced with a good combination of power and command, but he struggled after reaching Triple-A in 2000. He reached the Royals in 2001 but never found his niche as either a starter or reliever. He would flash ability at times but never got consistent about it, lost velocity and eventually his confidence. His career ended in independent ball at the age of 28. Career 6.75 ERA in 65 innings, 55/41 K/BB, 69 hits, WAR -0.4.
Jeremy Bleich: Drafted in the supplemental first round in 2008, 44th overall, by the New York Yankees. Obviously we don't know how this will turn out yet, but he's been erratic thus far (4.87 ERA in 189 minor league innings) and has been prone to injury.
Tony Cogan: Drafted in the 12th round in 1999 by the Royals, Cogan bolted through the system very quickly, pitched 39 games in Kansas City in 2001, then never returned. He pitched five years in independent ball before retiring in 2010. Career ERA 5.84 in 25 innings, 17/13 K/BB, 32 hits, WAR -0.6. He was very good in independent ball, successful as both a closer and starter.
Mike Gosling: Drafted in the second round, 66th overall, in 2001 by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gosling was a hard-thrower with a big breaking ball, and had a strong season in Double-A in 2002. But his velocity began to slip in '03, and he bounced between Triple-A and the majors for the next six years, never living up to his initial potential. Career ERA 4.85 in 117 innings, 74/72 K/BB, 139 hits allowed, WAR -0.5.
Jeremy Guthrie: Drafted in the first round, 22nd overall, by the Cleveland Indians in 2002. Guthrie had a horrible season in Triple-A in 2003, then gradually put his game together, though he didn't figure things out really until a solid season with the Orioles in 2007. He's been a decent starter ever since, not the ace envisioned when he was in college, but solid inning-eater . Career 4.15 ERA in 812 innings, 496/238 K/BB, 800 hits allowed, WAR +8.7.
Rick Helling: Helling was drafted by the Texas Rangers, 22nd overall, in 1992. He was considered to have a good combination of command and stuff and not expected to need long in the minors. He had a solid season in Double-A/Triple-A in 1993, then reached Texas for the first time in 1994, making nine starts. He bounced between Triple-A and the majors for the next three years, finally emerging as a reliable starter with a 20-win season for the Rangers in 1998. He faded in his early 30s but overall had a decent career, 93-81, 4.68 ERA, 1058/562 K/BB in 1526 innings, 1540 hits, WAR +15.0.
John Hudgins: Hudgins was a third round pick by the Rangers in 2003 after he went 14-3, 2.99 with a 143/35 K/BB in 165 innings for Stanford. He pitched well in Double-A in 2004, but in '05 his velocity dropped off substantially and he was never the same pitcher again, fizzling out in Triple-A and never reaching the majors. His career ended in 2009 at age 27.
Chad Hutchinson: Hutchinson was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the second round in 1998, 48th overall. He threw very hard but had command issues, football leverage, and a big price tag. Serious control problems were evident immediately and while his stuff was never doubted, he never put it together. His career ended after a 7.93 ERA with 104 walks in 98 innings in Triple-A in 2001. He pitched four innings for the Cardinals in 2000 with awful results, and ended up playing football instead. Career ERA 24.75 in three games, WAR -0.4.
Andrew Lorraine: A fourth round pick by the Angels in 1993, Lorraine jumped to Triple-A in 1994 due to his polish, pitched well, and reached the majors (briefly) within a year of being drafted. He spent the rest of his career bouncing between Triple-A and the majors, stereotyped as a Quadruple-A quality strike-thrower not quite good enough for the majors. He won 104 games in the minors, but in the majors he went 6-11, 6.53 in 175 innings, 113/83 K/BB, 218 hits allowed, WAR +0.5.
John Lynch: A second round pick by the Marlins out of Stanford in 1992, Lynch pitched just 38 minor league innings before dropping baseball in favor of an NFL career. He was a nine-time Pro-Bowl player.
Jason Middlebrook: A ninth round pick out of Stanford in 1996 by the Padres, Middlebrook threw hard but moved slowly through the farm system due to significant control problems and injuries. He reached the majors in 2001, then saw scattered action for the Padres and Mets, never gaining any consistency. Went 4-4, 5.33 in 78 innings, 55/36 K/BB, 75 hits, WAR +0.3.
Kyle Peterson: Peterson was drafted in the first round by the Brewers in 1997, 13th overall. He was considered to have a good mixture of polish and stuff, projecting as a number three starter. He reached Milwaukee in 1999 and held his own, but injuries struck in 2000 and he was never the same, losing his stuff and out of baseball by 2002. Went 5-9, 4.71 in 92 innings, 46/29 K/BB, 106 hits, WAR +1.6.
Greg Reynolds: Drafted in the first round by the Rockies, second overall, in 2006, Reynolds has been hampered by arm problems which have cost him velocity. He pitched in Double-A last year with mediocre results (5.22 ERA in 90 innings, 105 hits, 45/15 K/BB). Has made 13 major league starts, 8.13 ERA with 22/26 K/BB in 62 innings, 83 hits. WAR -0.5. Can he buck history and have a good career?
Brian Sackinsky: A second round pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 1992, Sackinsky pitched quite well in 1993 and 1994 and looked like a solid prospect. He hurt his arm in 1995 and was never the same. He pitched five major league innings overall, WAR -0.1. He was good in the minors before he got hurt, going 11-7, 3.36 with a 145/39 K/BB in 177 innings in Double-A in 1994 for example.
Stan Spencer: A supplemental first round pick by the Montreal Expos in 1990 (35th overall), Spencer was another Stanford product who showed above-average command of above-average stuff. And he got hurt too, blowing out his elbow and missing all of 1992. He recovered enough to reach the majors with the Padres in 1998 and pitched parts of three seasons, going 3-9, 5.54 with a 107/34 K/BB in 119 innings, 129 hits, WAR +0.7.
Drew Storen: First round pick, 10th overall, in 2009 by the Washington Nationals. Storen moved through the minors in less than a season and pitched well in the Nationals pen last year, 3.58 ERA, 52/22 K/BB in 55 innings, 48 hits, WAR +0.7.
Justin Wayne: Drafted in the first round by the Expos in 2000, fifth overall. Had a decent fastball, two breaking pitches, a changeup, and excellent command. He pitched well in '01 but in '02 his velocity began to decline, he lost the bite on his breaking pitches, and he wasn't able to compensate. By 2005 he was in independent ball, one of the most disappointing early-first-round busts of the last decade. 5-8, 6.13 ERA in the majors, 37/36 K/BB in 62 innings, 66 hits, WAR -0.8.
Jason Young: Drafted in the second round in 2000 by the Rockies, 47th overall, part of a one-two punch with Wayne. He had problems staying healthy right away but pitched well in the minors, reaching Colorado in 2003 but getting hurt again. His career ended after a horrible 2005 season in Triple-A. 0-3, 9.71 ERA, 25/14 K/BB in 30 innings, 49 hits, WAR -0.3.
Other than Rick Helling (WAR +15) and Jeremy Guthrie (WAR +8.7), Stanford pitchers drafted early over the last 20 years have not performed well as professionals, with injuries and velocity drops being common. The early returns on Drew Storen are promising and maybe he'll have a better chance to stay healthy since he's not a starter. Is Stanford's record any worse than the other major colleges? That's a topic for another day.