Johnny Manziel Could Help Padres, Sort Of

The Padres took Johnny Manziel, a football player of some renown, with their 28th-round pick in the 2014 first-year player draft. It’s a publicity stunt that had some fans wishing the team would pick a baseball player who might, you know, help on the field.

Problem is, 28th-round picks generally don’t. Paul Molitor is in the Hall of Fame, but he didn’t sign when the Cardinals drafted him in 1974.

Here are the best signed players ever drafted in the 28th round, listed in descending order by rWAR:

  1. Woody Williams, 1988, 30.9
  2. Dave Roberts, 1994, 9.0
  3. Sergio Romo, 2005, 7.9
  4. Luke Gregerson, 2006, 5.0
  5. Shane Spencer, 1990, 4.9

Do you know how many players have been drafted in the 28th round through 2009 (the most recent year to graduate a big-leaguer from that round)? A lot:

Picks MLB Pct rWAR rWAR/MLB
1066 71 6.7 221.1 3.1

This includes guys that didn’t sign, like Molitor, who accounts for 34 percent of all rWAR accumulated by players taken in the 28th round. Without him and his ilk, the numbers are even worse.

Point is, the Padres (or any team) probably won’t get anything out of their 28th-round pick. They might, however, generate revenue by selling a few Manziel jerseys (hey, it worked for the Rangers with Russell Wilson). It won’t be much, but for a perpetually cash-strapped franchise, something is better than nothing.

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