How likely is Hunter Greene to make it to the big leagues with the Cincinnati Reds?
That’s impossible to predict, but the team’s history with first round picks might give us some hints.
Greene is considered a premium prospect both as a pitcher and a shortstop, but the team says it will begin evaluating him as a hurler.
Here are some numbers to consider from looking at the 29 pitchers drafted in the first round by the Reds since 1965 (via Baseball-Reference):
*16 made it to the major leagues, be it for the Reds or anyone else (two who haven’t made their major-league debuts are still in the team’s farm system)
*11 pitched in at least 100 games (Gary Nolan, Wayne Simpson, Don Gullett, Bill Robinson, Jack Armstrong, C.J. Nitkowski, Dustin Mosely, Ryan Wagner, Homer Bailey, Brad Boxberger, Mike Leake)
*8 have a Wins Above Replacement number of 1.0 or better (Nolan, gullet, Robinson, Armstrong, Jeremy Sowers, Bailey, Boxberger, Leake and Michael Lorenzen, who has pitched in 98 games as of this writing)
*5 have a career ERA under 4.00 (Nolan, Gullett, Robinson, Boxberger, Leake)
*4 won more than 50 games in their career (Nolan, Gullett, Bailey, Leake)
*3 have more than 10 saves (Gullett, Robinson, Boxberger)
*19 were (like Greene) taken out of high school
*9 of the prep pitchers made the majors
*6 of the nine high schoolers pitched in more than 100 big leauge games, though three of them (Nolan, Simpson and Gullett) were drafted before 1970.
A hit rate (at least in terms of making it to the majors) of more than 50 percent is somewhat surprising, but how does it compare position players drafted?
The Reds have taken a non-pitcher in the first round 34 times (including supplemental picks), and 19 have made it to the big leagues. That is nearly an identical percentage, though it drops to an even 50 percent if we remove Phil Ervin and Jesse Winker, who both appeared briefly with the big club earlier this season before going back to Triple-A.
The general perception is right-handed high school pitchers are the riskiest picks, but the numbers don’t bear that out, at least with the Reds.
Here are three more to consider:
*13 of the position players drafted have played in at least 300 games, and 13 have a positive WAR.
*8 have posted a career OPS of at least .739, the major-league average last season, including Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin.
So, is Greene the next Nolan, or could he some day fill Larkin’s shoes as an all-around star?
The odds might be less different than you’d expect.
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