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Ryan McBroom to Break First Base Trend?

When I wrote (and included video) recently about the Canadians hitting prospects, I only included the two that, in my opinion, will make some serious headway through the Blue Jays system.  Surprisingly, to some, that didn’t include the C’s offensive leader in most major categories, first basemen Ryan McBroom.  I have to admit, he was close to making the cut and I did get some good video of the right hander but I was swayed by my first base bias.

After getting picked in the 15th round pick out of West Virginia there was no way McBroom was going anywhere but Vancouver.  Something Ewan Ross noted on the first edition of the YourVanCs podcast.  He was, quite literally, this year’s L.B. Dantzler, except slighty taller, and hit from the other side.

The above tweet prompted me to take a closer look.  Dantzler arrived in Vancouver slightly later (relatively speaking) than McBroom so I’ve used the first 38 games as a sample size.  Exactly half a season:

L.B. Dantzler 38 175 153 23 49 15 0 7 27 21 31 1 0 0 0.32 0.406 0.556 0.961 0.365
Ryan McBroom 38 161 146 24 48 12 0 6 35 7 23 5 3 1 0.329 0.373 0.534 0.907 0.35

Have to admit, I expected pretty similar numbers, but not that similar.  Dantzler had a better feel for the zone with his 21 walks (although he did strike out more) but even then, McBroom has tried to make up some of the OBP difference by getting plunked 5 times.  The power numbers are pretty much a wash. With McBroom coming out on top in the speed department, swiping one bag.

Defensively I’m going to say that Dantzler is better, having been a third basemen early on in college.  McBroom, the last few games at least, has really struggled, benefitting greatly from some home field scoring decisions.

L.B., of course, went on to win the NWL MVP and was instrumental in leading the C’s to their 3rd straight league championship.  Even with that success I don’t recollect anyone putting him in their off-season Blue Jays top prospects lists (I didn’t include him in my 30).

The reasoning?

As Jason Parks so eloquently put it, when discussing potential power threat Rowdy Tellez during a podcast: “guys like that are a dime a dozen, let me know when you’re crushing at AA, then we’ll start to pay attention”

The same holds true, if not more, for college drafted first basemen.

To illustrate this point, I enlisted (i.e. he did it all) the help of the aforementioned Ewan Ross of BlueJaysPlus fame to take a look at how many drafted first basemen, out of four year college programs, have made an impact at the major league level.

The search parameters were as follows:

Player had to be listed as a first basemen in college, drafted outside of the first few rounds so as more comparable to McBroom (and Dantzler for that matter), using the 5th round as a starting point.  We also cut it off after round 30 as the numbers beyond that would be so small as to make them statistically irrelevant.

We didn’t remove players who failed to sign from the total as, again, felt the sample size would be small given how little leverage those drafted in later rounds would have.  Few would have decided to return to school for their senior year of college.

Before we get to the numbers a quick reminder of how difficult it is to reach the show when drafted outside of first five rounds.  As per this article, those taken in rounds 6-10 are looking at a 20% chance, while rounds 11-20 comes in at 11%, and from there you’re looking at single digits.  It isn’t easy.

With that being said, the raw numbers:

Total picks (rounds 5 thru 30) from 1989 to 2009 – 471
Actual MLBers – 20
Cup of Coffee – 40

The minimum plate appearances for a what we’re calling a MLB’er is 1000 although as you can see below, the odd exception has been made.  ‘Cup of Coffee’ guys are just that.

So, 4%, that’s it.  McBroom faces an uphill battle.  Unlike some of the other names, McBroom, defensively, will not move off of first.  His bat needs to reflect that.  It has to play at an elite level.  Something I think he’ll struggle to maintain as he progresses.

The Jays definitely don’t have a wealth of first base prospects ahead of McBroom so he may very well move quickly over the next couple of years, but like Dantzler, I can see him stalling around the Florida State League.  It’s a huge leap from the FSL to double-A New Hampshire.  One that Jays first base prospects, unfortunately, have struggled to overcome in recent times.

Year Round # of PAs Name Comments
1989 5th 5600 JT Snow
1990 20th 950 Mark Johnson falls short, but is super close.  Also interestingly BR lists his closest offensive comparable as Bob Lemon who was a pitcher.  Not a good sign for an offence only first baseman
1993 6th 3800 Scott Speizio another unique case.  Nominally a first baseman, but played almost as much at each 2nd and 3rd
1995 5th 3500 Doug Mientkiewicz
1997 13th 1600 Ross Gload
1998 14th 3400 Jay Gibbons Jays draft pick! Though snagged in the Rule 5.  Barely played any 1B in his career, primarily was an outfielder.  Also a juicer
1999 5th 1000 Ken Harvey
10th 1100 Rob Quinlan Quinlan was never a starter, and survived in the league as long as he did, which wasn’t very long, as a so called 4 corners guy.  Meaning someone who played 1st, 3rd, and Corner OF.  I guess he was a 1B, but it’s rare those type of guys are listed as 1B in the draft.  Usually they are 3B who learn other positions to extend their careers
18th 5000 Lyle Overbay
2000 5th 3000 Garrett Atkins primarily played 3rd base in the bigs.  Surprised he’s listed as a 1B
11th 3000 Brad Hawpe like Atkins he wasn’t a 1B in the bigs, and played almost exclusively in right field.  It’s telling both were taken in the same year by the Rockies.  It’s very much the days of the Bay Steeet Bombers, where they gave zero consideration to defence
2001 5th 4700 Ryan Howard
7th 1300 Dan Johnson
2005 8th 900 Steve Pearce Falls short but the list is so limited including him aswell
2007 7th 1400 Lucas Duda Duda is listed as a 1B on the board, and while he’s played a lot of OF for the Mets, if you’ve ever seem him do that you’d know he’s very much a first baseman.  He could be the worst outfielder I’ve ever seen, he makes Moises Sierra look like Devon White
12th 400 Steven Vogt is well short, and is not a first baseman now is a “catcher” but is playing a lot so should likely be included
17th 1500 Mitch Moreland I’m very surprised Moreland was listed as a 1B on the board.  The Rangers drafted him intending to convert him into a reliever, and he requested one season to try and hit, and he just never stopped hitting.  He’s a real exception on this list, because even the team that drafted him never thought he’d hit enough
2009 5th 1200 Brandon Belt
8th 1600 Paul Goldschmidt
20th 300 Darin Ruf Ruf is WELL short of the 1000 PA cut off, but he’s young enough, and his draft recent enough that I think he has a pretty good shot to get there, even though due to Ryan Howard’s presence it’ll likely be in left field, even if his OF defence is Duda-esque

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