Once upon a time, Kris Benson was Stephen Strasburg. No, really.
I dare say Benson was facing tougher competition pitching in the ACC than what Strasburg has faced for the Mountain West Conference. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. If I was the GM of the Nationals (call me, Mr. Kasten!) I would draft Strasburg in a heartbeat. The point is there's lots of risk involved in giving gobs of money to any pitcher.
Benson is just one wart on the ugly face that is the 1996 draft.
Charted below is how the draft went down, alongside their wins above replacement totals for their first six years in the majors. Again, we're looking at six years because that is when the player was under his team's control.
Scott Boras is evil, just in case any of you had forgot. Exploiting a loophole in Rule 4 (E), his clients Travis Lee, John Patterson, Matt White and Bobby Seay all filed grievances and were declared free agents. Lee and Patterson ultimately signed with the Diamondbacks, White and Seay signed deals with the Devil
Rays. The four combined for $29.2 million in signing bonuses flushed down the toilet.
Outside of Boras and is antics, there's not much to say here. Eric Chavez was a star. Eric Milton and Mark Kotsay became average big league regulars while they were under team control. 71% of this first round class contributed less than an average of .5 WAR per season while under team control. That is...bad. Splitting them into groups ---
|Grouping||#||Total WAR||Avg /season|
College players came out ahead over high school players, high school pitchers in particular predictably came out worse than any grouping.
Later on, Jimmy Rollins was taken in the 2nd round, and much later on, Travis Hafner was picked in the 31st round. Apparently it's hard for North Dakota kids to get noticed. Other notables in the '96 draft are Milton Bradley (2nd), Joe Crede (5th), Mark DeRosa, Casey Blake (both 7th), Doug Davis (10th) and Chad Bradford (13th).
We've only looked at three drafts so far but I think there are some lessons here. 1.) not every draft is equal. Each draft has it's strengths and weaknesses. 2.) TINSTAAP likes to rear its ugly head. 3.) Which is tied to 2, and that is there are a ton of failures along the way. When reading different scouting reports on some of these draft prospects you might get the impression that some of these players are destined to stardom or least will make it as big league regulars. The odds are against such outcomes.