If you’re like me, you eagerly wait for the MLB draft the same way that a kid would wait for the last day of school. Then again, you’re probably not me, Heck, you probably didn’t realize the MLB Draft was a thing unless you have a subscription to Baseball America, read MLB Pipeline, or read Minor League Madhouse (Yeah, I know, self-plug, haha.) It’s kind of disappointing, really. How is it that everyone knows about the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft, but the MLB Draft is pretty much the equivalent of the chess club? Well maybe it’s because there are a couple issues that prevent the draft from getting the visibility it deserves.
First of all, the MLB Draft is the only draft that takes place during the season as opposed to the offseason. You know why the NFL Draft has so much coverage? Because it is the most exciting event for fans until the season starts. The same thing goes for the NBA Draft. Sure you have free agency, but you also have the NBA draft. The fact that the MLB draft coincides with the season, heck, it even goes on while games are being played, makes it one of the most overlooked drafts in pro sports.
Another problem is that the players that are available to be picked don’t have the same athletic profile as an NFL or an NBA prospect. People know these names because they see them on ESPN or the other sports networks all the time. I can guarantee you Dansby Swanson made it on ESPN about a third of the time that Jameis Winston or Karl Towns did. And it gets even worse if you are a high schooler because of the fact that the majority of high school games are not televised by national networks. If you want to see Jason Groome pitch so you can see the future, check YouTube or make a trip down to Barnegat, New Jersey, because the chances you see him on national TV right now are almost none.
The third problem is that whereas NFL, NBA, and in some cases, NHL talent have a good shot at making the jump to the pros immediately, in baseball, it’s rare to see that happen. Because it can take an average of three years to see a first round pick make the majors, the interest is not there unless the fans are made aware of the hotshot prospect. Sure, JP Crawford is supposed to be the next Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia, but let me ask you, Phillies fans, how many times have you seen Crawford play live? And no, the Futures game does not count. Additionally, there is the chance that a first round pick does not make the majors, making the MLB Draft one of the biggest risks involving amateur talent. In the 50 years the draft has been held, no class has had every first rounder make the majors.
While there is no way to guarantee the success of the draft, there is always a way to drum up more interest in the event itself. So how exactly is that done? Well, here are some ideas that could get the ball rolling.
1. Televise more college and high school games on MLB Network and other channels.
If you want to get people interested in prospects, the best way to do so is to give the prospects more visibility. Sure, ESPNU will televise a college game every now and again, and the regional networks will do as well, but they play to a niche audience. And when ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN U do cover college baseball regularly, it’s usually after players are drafted, when the NCAA tournament is going on. By getting more networks involved before the fact, especially the national networks and the sports networks, there should be at least a slight bump in interest. Play it like college football does and have college baseball games on in the morning and afternoon on CBS and ABC. Show highlights on SportsCenter, and not just the occasional Top 10 Play, make sure that baseball fans know the future of baseball. Heck, if possible, drum up interest early by showing summer league games on ESPN 2. The possibilities are endless.
As far as high school, perhaps there should be more games available to stream online. If MLB.com were to offer a service to allow fans to watch games that high level prospects pitch in, then you can guarantee fans will watch it. Reading about high school prospects is the equivalent of hearing a folk legend, people rarely get to see what these players are unless there is video footage. By highlighting the top prep players in each draft class through a stream, fans will be able to see what guys like Riley Pint or Jason Groome or Blake Rutherford actually are.
Come to think of it, if ESPN and MLB Network both decided to air the MLB draft, I’m sure there would be a major viewership spike.
Watching games may be a fun way to see the talent that does come up, but there’s more to evaluating players than seeing them perform, which brings me to my next point…
2. Create an MLB Scouting Combine.
Believe it or not, this was proposed as an idea last year in the wake of the Brady Aiken saga, and it may be the only time that prep and college players get to be evaluated side by side. The idea that players can have certain measurable categories that can be evaluated against other players in the same vacuum allows for a more open approach to scouting. Additionally, if medical tests are included, teams are not left in the dark about records, and open communication between players, agents, and teams is encouraged. The other fun in it would be seeing who would be the “workout warriors” of the combine, which players would see their stock rise enough to jump them into the first round. Sure, players do see their stock rise during their seasons, but it’s not as fun to watch as seeing Aaron Donald completely defy expectations.
Now there is a certain timing issue that may lead to the question of when the combine could be scheduled, and with the MLB Draft already competing with the NCAA Tournament and the MLB season. This brings up my next point…
3. Move the draft (and possible combine) to the end of June/early July.
College coaches’ biggest complaint about the MLB draft is that it’s scheduled during the tournament, meaning that players could get distracted by all the hype that comes with being selected. Sure, it’s nice to have a celebration with your teammates like Dansby Swanson and Walker Buehler did last year, but to be honest, wouldn’t it be better to have the draft right after the College World Series? With all the distraction behind them, players can focus on the future, and teams will be able to gather more information on the players as they go through the College World Series.
Of course, one of the main issues with this is that a month of negotiating time for contracts would be cut, and considering the fact that there are over 1200 players chosen in the draft, and teams do try and sign each player, there would have to be some quick negotiations done in order to get all players in a draft class accounted for. Considering teams want to get players in the system as soon as possible, it’s reasonable that they possibly just send their draft picks to extended spring training, and then if they feel they are ready, add them to a low level part of the organization.
Now how about the actual draft? How do we make more people watch it?
1. Give the draft its own day.
Now when I say the draft, I mean the rounds that are televised. No, we don’t need to do 40 rounds in one sitting.
Part of the problem with the way the draft is scheduled is that nobody really sees it, what with the competition being baseball games. By having there be a day off, you can bet more people would consider tuning in to watch the draft. In fact, encourage people to watch the draft by printing it on team schedules. In fact, promote it heavily, after all, this is the future of baseball that people should be seeing.
2. Invite fans to see it live.
Part of the reason why the NFL, NBA, and NHL drafts are so successful is because they encourage fans to attend the draft in person. And that’s why you see so many hardcore fans dressed up in their team colors, cheering for their team’s picks. The MLB draft, on the other hand, is almost like that exclusive party that very few people are invited to. It’s just the draft attendees and their families, the MLB Network personalities, the team representatives, the Commissioner, and maybe a few special guests. If you want to promote the future, don’t make it a stuffy cocktail party, make it an open experience. I’m sure there are plenty of fans that would give anything to sit in the left field seats at Studio 42 to watch players walk on stage and receive the jersey and handshake from Rob Manfred.
In fact, why restrict the location to Studio 42? Why not move the draft to a ballroom and set it up like Studio 42? Or even better? Have the draft at an actual MLB Ballpark, like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Wrigley Field or Fenway Park? If the NBA can have their draft at the Barclays Center every year, and the NHL can move their draft to whatever NHL Arena it is in every year, why restrict the MLB Draft to Secaucus, New Jersey? And speaking of invites…
3. Invite more college players.
This one is admittedly tricky and relies on a few scenarios to break the right way, but in my opinion, the MLB draft would get even more viewership if more college players were able to attend. Ever since the draft has been televised, very few college players have been able to attend. To prove my point, here are all the players that have attended the MLB draft in person since it started being televised in 2007:
2007: Josh Vitters (HS), Philippe Aumont (HS), Ross Detweiler (HS)
2008: Aaron Hicks (HS)
2009: Mike Trout (HS)
2011: Larry Greene (HS)
2012: Carlos Correa (HS), Andrew Heaney (NCAA), Gavin Cecchini (HS), Courtney Hawkins (HS), Clint Coulter (HS)
2013: Clint Frazier (HS), Dominic Smith (HS), Tim Anderson (JUCO), Nick Ciuffo (HS), Billy McKinney (HS), JP Crawford (HS), Aaron Judge (NCAA), Ian Clarkin (HS), Jon Denney (HS)
2014: Nick Gordon (HS), Michael Chavis (HS), Jake Gatewood (HS), Monte Harrison (HS), Derek Hill (HS), Grant Holmes (HS), Kodi Medeiros (HS)
2015: Brendan Rodgers (HS), Ashe Russell (HS), Garrett Whitley (HS), Mike Nikorak (HS)
So out of 31 players that have attended, two have come out of college, or a little over six percent. Now of course, there is a logical reason, considering the fact that the draft and the NCAA tournament conflict with each other, and the best chance to be at the draft is if your team does not qualify for the tournament. So going back to those factors that break, in the best case scenario, what could happen is that if the draft is moved, more collegians could be invited. In the worst case, that is, the draft isn’t moved, the collegians from the smaller schools, like Kyle Lewis or Matt Crohan, would get the invite.
If more collegians are invited, there is a possibility that more fans will be willing to watch, as these are the players that have the best chance to be seen. The question is which collegians would be able to come?
4. Let teams trade picks.
The MLB draft is the only draft of the Big 4 sports leagues that doesn’t allow trading of draft picks. Well, technically they do, but the picks that can be traded are only competitive balance lottery picks. The lack of trading means there’s almost no reason to be excited for the draft, especially if a team has no first round pick at all. And in some cases, it can be a real disadvantage. A team with a terrible minor league system who is this close to contention would greatly benefit if they were allowed to trade draft picks, and the draft would be even more interesting if, say, the Yankees were allowed to trade up.
While only a couple trades have been made with CB picks involved, the opportunity to expand that to, say, maybe the first 5 rounds of draft picks would make for a more interesting show. Imagine if a team is willing to offer a major league caliber star prospect in exchange for a high pick, or if teams trade picks in order to move up or down. Instead of just waiting for players to be picked, it would be a lot more fun to watch.
While these changes aren’t going to come around that quickly, if at all, it still should send a message. The future of baseball is just as important as the past and present. If the draft is given the exposure that it should get, then more fans will be willing to watch it and see what the future holds for their team.
*Publisher’s note: You can also find this article on my blogging colleague Steven Inman’s Mets-centric blog www.Brokemets.com. I highly recommend reading it, especially if you are a Mets fan. My heartiest congratulations to Steven for graduating from St. John’s University.
With a week remaining before the 2014 MLB Draft kicks off, the Mets have a very big decision to make. Armed with the tenth pick, which was protected from being lost to a team that let go of a big money free agent, the Mets have myriad options for their next big prospect.
Before going into who the Mets should take, let’s take a look at the first round strategy of GM Sandy Alderson.
Ever since Alderson took over as the Mets’ GM, he’s opted to take high ceiling talent out of high school; in fact, of the five first round picks he’s had (this includes the compensatory picks he’s gotten from losing Pedro Feliciano and Jose Reyes), only one, catcher Kevin Plawecki of Purdue University, came out of college. The players he’s taken in the first (and compensatory) rounds are as follows:
2013: Dominic Smith, first baseman, Serra High School, Los Angeles, CA.
Smith, who was viewed as one of the top hitters in his class, was valued for his stroke as well as his fielding ability. He’s been compared to Adrian Gonzalez, and in a particularly weak year for first base prospects in MLB, he’s ranked second, although he’s made strides to justify that ranking after a slow start in Low-A Savannah. Given the team’s unsurprising trade of former top pick Ike Davis and commitment to Lucas Duda (who will be 31 or 32 by the time Smith makes his MLB debut) it’s almost a certainty that Smith will be playing first base at Citi Field in the latter half of the 2010’s.
2012: Gavin Cecchini, Shortstop, Alfred M. Barbe High School, Lake Charles, LA
Cecchini is a big time hit or miss prospect who was taken for his value as a defensive star. Although he’s had a slow start to his career due to injury, the fact that he’s only 20 years old serves as a reminder that high school talent often takes more time to develop, meaning he could conceivably be held in the minors until 2017, much like Smith. Cecchini seems to be destined to make up half of a double play combo with one of two top international prospects: Dilson Herrera, who was acquired in the Marlon Byrd trade, or Amed Rosario. Whomever is the odd man out in that group is either going to be traded or coerced into playing third base. Should Cecchini lose out on the shortstop battle, he could be tried out as a third baseman, in fact, his older brother Garin is a top third base prospect for the Boston Red Sox.
Kevin Plawecki, Catcher, Purdue University
When Kevin Plawecki was drafted, one of the big things that stood out about him was the fact that he’s a guy who constantly gets on base. A guy who also rarely strikes out, Plawecki reminds some Mets people of Daniel Murphy, except he’s slower and plays a more challenging position. As I’ve made mention before, teams are starting to understand the importance of carrying two starting level catchers on the big league club, and Plawecki with Travis d’Arnaud could actually prove to be a solid combination. Should the Mets opt to deal him, he may have some value for a team that could use a starting catcher, as evidenced by the Mets’ discussions during the offseason between the Diamondbacks.
2011: Brandon Nimmo: Outfield, Cheyenne East High School, Cheyenne, WY
Alderson’s first pick as a Mets GM is either going to be one of the biggest gem finds or a major novelty gone bad. Nimmo, who gained fame for not playing high school ball (Wyoming doesn’t sanction baseball as a sport in interscholastic competition), was valued for his athletic upside. Nimmo has overcome a predictably slow start in the minors and is currently tearing the cover off the ball in High A St. Lucie, enough to land him in the top 100 prospect list at the final spot. Should he continue that pace, expect him to make a return appearance to the Futures Game in Minnesota.
Michael Fulmer, Pitcher, Deer Creek High School, Deer Creek, OK
Fulmer is the only pitcher that Alderson has drafted in the first round, and for good reason. 2011 was a great year for Oklahoma prep pitchers, and Fulmer has followed Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley’s success pattern. Although he suffered a setback from his development after injuring his leg, he should be with the major league club by 2017, likely as a long reliever/spot starter.
Sandy Alderson’s strategy deviated from his predecessor, Omar Minaya, who drafted low ceiling/high floor talent. Although most of Minaya’s choices were destined to be average (or in the case of 2007 and 2008 first rounders Nate Vineyard, Reese Havens and Brad Holt, marred with injury and unfulfilled promise) Minaya does have the claim to fame that his final first round pick, Matt Harvey, is one of the best young pitchers in baseball.
Moving on, the question remains: Who should Alderson select with the tenth overall pick?
Generally, given the amount of time prospects take to develop, coupled with the choice between high school, JUCO and college talent, general managers go with the Best Player Available. Although Alderson didn’t necessarily need a first baseman, and many experts thought he would have gone after a college outfielder like Fresno State’s Aaron Judge, Smith was the best player available.
If we went by the best player available based on Baseball America and MLB.com’s top 200 and 100 prospect lists, then the Mets would have two different choices: Baseball America’s #10 player in their top 200 is LSU ace Aaron Nola, who’s bounced up and down the draft board, going as low as the 20’s and as high as top ten. MLB.com has University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer as their ten pick. Zimmer has stayed pretty consistent, getting picked in the top 15 in most mocks.
Looking at the Mets’ top 20 prospects, which is what I use as a basis for my mock drafts, it’s clear that once Noah Syndergaard makes his big league debut, the Mets will not have a legitimate top ten right handed pitching prospect. With Rafael Montero and Jake deGrom likely up for good, and Syndergaard coming up, Alderson, unless he invests his pick in a bona fide arm, will not have a top pitching prospect to advance through the system and excite and distract the fan base. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the options that Alderson has:
First, let’s get one thing abundantly clear: Carlos Rodon will not fall out of the top three. Despite his struggles this year at NC State, Rodon’s still got an impressive resumé, as well as covetable attributes that will make him a top pick. The same goes for Brady Aiken, the prep star from Cathedral Catholic. His stock has risen to the point where he’s in the conversation to be the top pick as well. That, and they are also left-handed pitchers. Tyler Kolek, the consensus top right handed pitching prospect, will also not fall out of the top five.
Let’s take a look at the pitchers that are in range, and that’s 5th best player to 15th best player on Baseball America’s and MLB.com’s lists:
Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina (6)
Erick Fedde, UNLV (8)
Aaron Nola, LSU (10)
Touki Toussaint, Coral Springs Christian High School, Florida (13)
Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt (15)
And now MLB.com’s list:
Grant Holmes, Conway High School, South Carolina (12)
In my two mock drafts, I had the Mets taking a right handed pitcher for the reason stated above: They will need to add a right handed pitching stud in order to balance out their top ten prospects. In the first mock, I picked Touki Toussaint: a high school arm whose raw talent, coupled with his loose arm could make him a deadly young pitcher with #2 starter potential. However, given Alderson’s Moneyball background, which actively discourages the drafting of prep arms in the first round, the chances of Toussaint wearing a Mets jersey seem slim.
In the second mock, I had the Mets taking Tyler Beede. Beede is a familiar name, as he was a first round pick three years ago by the Toronto Blue Jays. However, Beede decided against going pro and went to play for Vanderbilt. Beede’s game is great, but some mechanical fine tuning could make it better. He’s been consistently challenging both Nola and Rodon as the top college pitcher this year, and his Golden Spikes nomination last year indicates he has high level pro potential.
If I were Alderson, I’d want a battle tested pitcher, a pitcher that has faced top flight competition. Right off the bat, that eliminates Toussaint and Grant Holmes, a big pitcher from Conway High School. Because high school baseball talent is relative to the state that it’s played in, even if Toussaint and Holmes were among the best talents that year, keep in mind they were facing typical prep talent. Not every South Carolina and Florida prepster is going to play division one ball in college, and even if they did, they wouldn’t all play in the power conferences like the SEC or the ACC.
The second aspect of a battle tested pitcher is the college conference they play in. The Mountain West and Conference USA, once upon a time, were college hotbeds, but now they’re essentially a tick below the real power conferences. Sure, pitchers like Hoffman and Fedde may get the opportunity to play a power conference team here and there, but ultimately, unless it was consistent, it’s a waste of time for Alderson to even think about Fedde and Hoffman.
This leaves it to two pitchers: Nola, and Beede.
Nola, the ace at LSU, is a pitcher who, while he isn’t going to blow you away with any special pitch, has great command and control of his offerings. He won’t be an ace at the major league level, but his dependability will be an asset to any team that needs a pitcher who can go deep into innings.
Beede, on the other hand, is an anti-Nola. His fastball is his best major league offering, going from the low to mid 90’s, and his ceiling is a front-end starter, possibly as high as #2. What Beede lacks in his game is pitch consistency. While Beede does have devastating offerings, like his fastball, curve and change up, they are only effective if he can consistently locate the strike zone.
So who should Sandy pick if it comes down to Nola and Beede?
In a perfect world, Nola will fall to the tenth spot where Alderson can nab him. His consistency and even strength in his offerings mean that either he’s going to be an above average hurler with little to no need to tinker, or, if there is room for improvement, establish a dominant pitch or make each pitch better. Nola’s mechanics are excellent and he is battle tested against the highest possible level of competition in college baseball. It seems that Nola is one of the very few high ceiling/high floor talents, and although Alderson isn’t the type of general manager who goes for safe picks, getting that combination will pay off rather quickly.
The signing deadline for 2013 draft picks is coming up, and so far, 29 out of 33 players have completed deals. Most recently was the Padres first round pick, Hunter Renfroe of Mississippi State University. The remaining picks to sign are as follows:
University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, who was chosen second overall by the Chicago Cubs. Sources indicate that Bryant and the Cubs have been “far apart in negotiations”, but the Cubs are “confident that they can get a deal done”. Bryant was Baseball America College Player of the Year and is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes award. It has been reported that Bryant’s camp wants more than the $6.7 Million that is recommended for the second overall pick, while the Cubs want Bryant to sign for slightly less than that amount, as they are over budget and could forfeit draft picks if they do overspend for Bryant. If the Cubs do not sign Bryant, he will likely finish his senior season at San Diego, and hope that he can raise his stock to the point where he is the number one pick in next year’s draft, much like Mark Appel did last year.
North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran was chosen with the sixth pick by the Miami Marlins. So far, nothing has come out of either camp. The Marlins have dealt with this situation before, when last year, Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State waited until the final hour to sign with the team, despite rumors that he would not sign as the Marlins would not offer him a contract. One point worth noting is that the Marlins also have not signed top pick Matt Krook and have no plans to, potentially freeing up more money to sign Moran.
Oaks Christian High School pitcher Phil Bickford, who was chosen tenth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, is the sole remaining high schooler who has yet to sign. Bickford, who had signability concerns, is expected to command more than $3 million, which is more than the recommended slot for the tenth pick. Out of all the choices, he and Bryant seem the least likely to sign their deals.
Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge was taken 32nd overall by the New York Yankees. Judge is expected to sign soon, and had no signability concerns when he was drafted, in fact, he did take batting practice with the team after he was drafted.
Since 2008, when the “Draft and Follow” signing was eliminated, there has been at least one first round draft choice who ultimately did not sign, which led to compensation for the drafting team in the form of a draft pick. Here’s a rundown of those unsigned picks and where they ultimately went.
Aaron Crow was chosen with the ninth pick in the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Missouri. Crow elected not to sign, citing the infamous reason that the Nationals were a “Losing Organization”. He had exhausted his college eligibility, and ended up pitching for the Fort Worth Cats. A year later the Kansas City Royals chose him with the twelfth pick. He signed, and has since served as a valued bullpen arm and an emergency closer. He earned an All-star selection in 2011, although he didn’t pitch in the game.
(The Nationals used their compensatory pick the following year on Drew Storen, who pitched for Stanford University. Storen now serves as the Nationals set up man.)
Gerrit Cole was taken by the New York Yankees with the 28th pick in the draft out of Orange Lutheran High School. He never had any intention to sign with the team, and ultimately went to pitch for UCLA, where he had a half-decent college career. Three years later, the Pirates took Cole with the first pick in the 2011 draft. He was promoted to the major leagues a little less than a month ago, and has contributed to the team’s ascension to the top of the NL Central standings.
(The Yankees used their compensatory pick the following year on Slade Heathcott, an outfielder from Texas High School in Texarkana. Heathcott is currently playing for the AA Trenton Thunder.)
Matt Purke was a high school arm in Texas who drew rave reviews and was considered to be a potential first round pick. The Texas Rangers chose him with the 14th pick in the draft. He didn’t sign, and opted to pitch for the Texas Christian University baseball team. After two seasons, Purke’s stock fell, as he was injured his sophomore season. The Washington Nationals took him with their third round pick, where he signed. He’s currently pitching in Double-A after missing most of last year due to injury.
(The Rangers used their compensatory pick on Jake Skole, an outfielder from Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia. Skole, who has struggled since being drafted, is currently on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in Single-A)
LeVon Washington was a highly touted outfield prospect from Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida. He was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 30th pick in the draft. He elected not to sign, and ultimately went to Chipola College, a Juco team from Marianna, Florida. Washington was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round the following year. He currently plays for the Lake County Captains in the Midwest league.
(The Rays used their compensatory pick on Justin O’Conner, a catcher from Cowan High School, in Cowan Indiana. O’Connor currently plays for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest league.)
James Paxton was a supplemental pick by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Kentucky. The Canadian chose not to sign, and because he was ineligible to return to the Wildcats, pitched for the Grand Prairie Airhogs of the American Association. The following year, the Seattle Mariners took Paxton with their fourth round draft choice. Paxton has managed to climb onto the top prospect list, and currently pitches for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.
(The Blue Jays used the compensation pick for Paxton on Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher for Legacy High School in Texas. Syndergaard was traded to the Mets following the 2012 season and currently pitches for the AA Binghamton Mets. He will be pitching in the Futures game on July 14th.)
Barret Loux was the sixth pick in the 2010 mlb draft, chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Loux, a senior from Texas A&M, was not offered a contract after he failed a physical. After being declared a free agent, he signed with his home state Texas Rangers. Loux was later traded to the Chicago Cubs as a player to be named later in the Geovany Soto trade. He is currently pitching for the Iowa Cubs in AAA. Incidentally, the pick after Loux was North Carolina pitcher Matt Harvey.
(The Diamondbacks used their compensatory selection on Broken Arrow High School pitcher Archie Bradley, who is currently pitching for the AA Mobile BayBears.)
Karsten Whitson was taken out of Chipley High School, in Florida by the San Diego Padres with the ninth pick in the draft. Whitson declined his offer and went to pitch for the Florida Gators, where he’s had a solid college career. However, after an injury plagued 2013, Whitson’s stock fell, and he was chosen in the 37th round by the Washington Nationals. It is unlikely that he will sign, as he will want to raise his stock so that he can be a first round pick in 2014.
(The Padres used their compensatory selection the following year on Indian River State College third baseman Cory Spangenberg. He is currently playing for the AA San Antonio Missions.)
Dylan Covey was taken with the 14th pick our of Maranatha High School in California by the Milwaukee Brewers. He did not sign after tests revealed that he was suffering from Type 1 diabetes. Covey spent the next three seasons at the University of San Diego where he took control of his medical condition. Covey was drafted this year by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round. He signed a contract and is currently pitching in short season ball.
(The following year, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Georgia Tech left hander Jed Bradley. Bradley is currently pitching for the A level Brevard County Manatees)
We already covered Tyler Beede, who currently pitches for Vanderbilt and is likely a top pick in next year’s draft.
(The Blue Jays used their compensatory pick on Duke reliever Marcus Stroman, who, despite a suspension for PED’s, is now pitching for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.)
Brett Austin, a catcher from Providence High School in North Carolina, was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental round of the draft. Austin didn’t sign and is currently a catcher for the North Carolina State University team. He is a projected top prospect for the 2014 draft. With the team drafting Austin Hedges in the second round, it’s unlikely that they miss Austin that much though.
(The Padres selected Walker Weickel out of Olympia High School in Florida as compensation for losing Austin the following year. Weickel, a pitcher, currently plays for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the Midwest league.)
Mark Appel was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft. He didn’t sign with the team, spent one more year at Stanford, and was chosen last month by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick.
(The Pirates chose Grayson High School outfielder Austin Meadows as compensation for Appel with the ninth pick in the draft. Meadows, who signed his contract last month, is currently playing for the Gulf Coast League Pirates.)
How many first rounders do you think will sign? Will this be the first year since 2007 where all the first round picks are signed?
Day One of the Draft is in the books and what an event it was. While not as entertaining as the NFL draft, it certainly had its highlights. From the attendees getting picked, to hearing Clint Frazier sing (something I never want to hear again), to Nick Ciuffo wiggling his ears, to the awkward moment when Ian Clarkin was taken by the Yankees despite the fact that he and his father both hate the team and were very happy when they lost the 2001 World Series, all in all, it was an interesting night. Now, we focus on the winners and losers of the draft:
Winners: Most Teams that had more than one first round choice in the draft.
Most teams that had two or more (in the case of the Yankees) first round draft choices used them on big name talent. The Pirates used their two picks on the consensus top hitter in the draft, and the top catcher in Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire. The Cardinals used their picks to bolster their pitching, specifically their southpaws, with Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales and Garden State prepster Rob Kaminsky. And the Yankees have begun their transition to the future with the selections of third baseman Eric Jagielo of Notre Dame, expected to take over for Alex Rodriguez, Aaron Judge, the freakishly large and athletic outfielder from Fresno State, and California prepster Ian Clarkin, who apparently had to quickly change his fan allegiance after saying he hated the Yankees. All in all, very solid names came to those who picked more than once. However…
Loser: Texas Rangers
Billy McKinney, a home state product and the second best prep corner infielder, was available at pick 23. The Rangers bypassed him, going for Oral Roberts starter Alex Gonzalez. Jon Denney, the third best prep catcher, was available at pick 30, and the Rangers went with Travis Demerritte, who wasn’t even close to being the best available prep shortstop after JP Crawford was picked. Two stupid decisions in one night. Must be a sign of things to come. The Rangers have generally had good picks in recent years, opting for prep talent which could contribute down the line, but this time, they overvalued their two picks. Will it come back to bite them? Possibly, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Winner: Mark Appel and the Houston Astros
Apparently waiting an extra year did help Appel in his quest to go first overall. The Astros, who bypassed him a year ago for prep shortstop Carlos Correa, decided that he was ready the second time around, and picked him first overall. Appel, a Houston native and soon-to-be Stanford alum, was considered, along with Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray and San Diego infielder Kris Bryant, to be a top pick. Because of his college experience, he should be fast tracked to the major leagues.
Loser: Jon Denney
You know how ESPN focuses on football players waiting to be drafted by showing shots of them in the green room, like they did with Aaron Rodgers, Brady Quinn, and Geno Smith? If they were covering the MLB draft, you can bet that one of the things they’d show more than anything else would be Jon Denney, waiting in the dugout while the names came and went. Denney, who was originally considered the top prep catcher, had a senior slump which dropped his stock. Nobody expected him to fall out of the second round, but unfortunately, he did. What’s worse for Denney is that the remainder of the draft will be done by conference call, instead of live television, No draft hat for him with the team logo on the side, no jersey, no putting his name on the board, no picture with Bud Selig, and no interview with the MLB network “on field” reporter. Sad. However, there are several options for him. He could sign with the team that does draft him, and likely he will be picked in the third round, he could go to a junior college program and resubmit his name for the draft next year, or he could go to college and rise his stock in time for the 2016 draft.
Winner: Billy McKinney
Billy McKinney is a Texan, but his allegiance lies in Oakland. Before the draft, he was asked if he was a Rangers fan, however, he said “No no, I’m an A’s fan” The A’s must have heard this and tabbed him to be their first baseman of the future. With two consecutive high schoolers chosen in the first round, Billy Beane is departing from his moneyball drafting strategy of high floor collegians in favor of high ceiling prepsters. McKinney and 2012 first rounder Addison Russell will be probably the most hyped prep players in Oakland since Todd Van Poppel and Ariel Prieto, but hopefully they won’t fizzle like the other two did.
Loser: Moneyball drafting
Billy Beane went 11 years between drafting prep players in the first round. Starting in 2002 and ending in 2011, the A’s selected collegians in the first round. Some panned out, like Nick Swisher, Jemile Weeks, and Huston Street. Others failed, like Jeremy Brown, John McCurdy, and Corey Brown. It seems that Beane has outgrown this phase, and ventured back into the prep drafting phase. With choices like Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, it has shown that Oakland is ready to ditch the drafting system that made them famous. That doesn’t mean that Moneyball is dead entirely, as Oakland still goes for cheap talent that can get them wins.
Winner: Nick Ciuffo’s ears
When Tampa Bay took their catcher of the future, we all learned that he has an interesting fact about him: He can wiggle his ears. When he was chosen, we got to see first hand, his talent. Although not as awesome as Courtney Hawkins doing a backflip in a suit, Ciuffo wiggling his ears like a mischevious leprechaun certainly was a highlight of the night.
Loser: Clint Frazier’s pipes.
There should be a rule that states that unless athletes have good singing voices, they should avoid singing entirely. Clint Frazier didn’t get the memo, and “graced” the viewers with his half-dead rendition of a certain Taylor Swift song that I absolutely refuse to name. Stick to baseball, Clint.
Winner: Colorado Rockies
Jonathan Gray’s positive Adderall test may have hurt his draft stock, but he still fell into the welcoming arms of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies, who have yet to produce a true franchise pitcher, may have finally found their star. A workhorse with a 102 mile per hour fastball, Gray projects to be the ace of the Rockies staff for years to come.
Loser: San Francisco Giants
Either the Giants are really smart, or really stupid, because their first round pick were not even remotely close to the MLB top 100 prospects. Christian Arroyo, a shortstop, the position which they are set with. With Brandon Crawford in the majors and 2011 first rounder Joe Panik at AA, it made absolutely no sense for them to go after Arroyo. Similarly, the Giants could have picked a catcher in the hopes that when Buster Posey does inevitably have to move to first base, he would be ready to take over. Jon Denney was available. Instead, they bypassed him twice in favor of Arroyo and Ryder Jones, a prep third baseman. If Denney is still available by the time the Giants pick next, then they should seriously consider taking him.
Winner: Harold Reynolds
Harold Reynolds is the consummate professional analyst at the 2013 draft, and is starting to draw comparisons to Mel Kiper in terms of his experience. Reynolds, a former baseball player and fourth round draft pick, has the most insight into the situation, as he’s actually been there and done it. Reynolds will be the face of the MLB draft for years to come.
Loser: Pedro Astacio
I dont’ know which was more painful to watch/hear: Clint Frazier “singing” or Pedro Astacio coming up to the podium to announce who the Rockies picked. Either way, it was awful. Astacio mumbled through his words, couldn’t get the names of the schools correct, and just stumbled in more ways that you can imagine. Even Bud Selig’s annual “with the X pick in the 2000 draft” was more bearable this year. Bring back Garrett Atkins.
Coming up: Draft Grades, steals, and busts.
The 2013 MLB Draft starts tomorrow at 7 PM at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. Studio 42 will once again be used for Bud Selig and the team representatives. The MLB Draft crew will be on the first base side of Studio 42, while all draftees that are in attendance will sit in the third base dugout.
This year marks the third consecutive year that prospects will be in attendance, and the fifth year overall that prospects have attended the draft. What started off as Phillippe Aumont, Josh Vitters, and Ross Detweiler in 2007, became Mike Trout in 2009, shortstop Larry Greene in 2011, and last year, a record five attendees: Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Marlins pitcher, and the first collegian to attend the draft in person, Andrew Heaney, Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins, and Brewers catcher Clint Coulter. All were selected in the first round, and all were given major recognition. This year, the number of draftees increases to eight who will be in attendance. They include six high schoolers, one Junior Collegian, and a collegian.
First off, the high schoolers:
Nick Ciuffo is one of the top three high school catchers that this draft has to offer. Ciuffo, who was the South Carolina player of the year, hit .468 with 5 homers and 33 RBI. I projected Ciuffo to be a late first round pick, going to the Tampa Bay Rays, whose catching system was decimated earlier this year.
JP Crawford is the best shortstop in one of the weakest middle infield classes in recent memory. Scouted as a contact hitter with an excellent glove, my belief is that he was going to be a top 15 pick, playing in his home state for the San Diego Padres.
Jon Denney is one of the three top high school catchers in this year’s draft. His stock took a hit this year after I originally mocked him to Minnesota. This time, I picked Denney to fall to Pittsburgh, where they will use their 13th pick on him.
The second of the two hyped Georgia outfielders, Clint Frazier has made a name for himself this year as his hit a triple crown line of .521/13/34 to end regular season play. Frazier’s friend and rival, Austin Meadows however, chose not to attend. Frazier was originally mocked to the Blue Jays by me before he moved up to Boston.
Billy McKinney may be the most underrated high school first baseman in the draft. A Texan, McKinney hit well in his home state and excelled in showcases. I mocked him to his home state Rangers twice, as the Rangers are prone to drafting home staters more than anything else.
Dominic Smith is another high school first baseman who has an interesting pedigree in terms of his school. it is common knowledge that Serra high school is one of the best hitters mills in the nation, producing alums like Barry Bonds, Jim Fregosi and Gregg Jeffries. I had originally mocked Smith to his home state Dodgers, but changed his choice to the White Sox.
Next, the Junior Collegian:
Tim Anderson has the benefit of a monster season and a weak middle infield class. Originally just an afterthought, Anderson shot up draft boards at an accelerated pace, to the point where he could be picked in the bottom half of the first round. I mocked him to the Cincinnati Reds with the final pick in the first round.
Lastly, the lone collegian
Aaron Judge is a physical specimen. 6’7 and an outfielder, Judge is a raw power hitter with defensive ability. He has drawn comparisons to Richie Sexon, and has proven that he can hit top flight pitchers (Mark Appel, for example). I had mocked him to hte Rangers with a compensatory selection, but ultimately moved him to the top 15, where the Mets took him at number 11.
Stay tuned for the draft, starting tomorrow night at seven, when the first and second round will be broadcasted.
The 2013 Draft is 2 weeks away, and with conference tournaments and high school playoffs ending and starting, it’s time to update my mock draft. Certain players have raised their stock, while others have fallen Among the top prospects that have risen is Jonathan Gray, a pitcher for the University of Oklahoma Among those who have fallen is Oklahoma prep catcher Jon Denney, whom I originally tabbed as Joe Mauer’s potential successor. I originally mocked him to Kansas City at the 8th pick, but his stock has risen to the point where he is battling Mark Appel for the top pick in the draft. Without further delay, here is my new mock draft. Again, it will be split into three parts.
1. Houston Astros select Jonathan Gray, Pitcher, Oklahoma
(Prev. Mark Appel, Pitcher, Stanford)
Almost every mock draft site lists Jonathan Gray as a top pick, and I’m willing to go that route too. Gray is a potential frontrunner for the Golden Spikes award, given annually to the best amateur (I would say college, but Bryce Harper and Alex Fernandez won at the JuCo level) baseball player. He is in the top five in strikeouts, top 25 in ERA, and has brought Oklahoma back into the College World Series discussion. Gray’s stock can only get better with the NCAA tournament looming. Gray is armed with a long-lasting high velocity fastball as well as a solid slider. He’s a workhorse starter, and has the potential to pitch a full game. Houston will not hesitate to take this pick, no matter what.
2. Chicago Cubs select Mark Appel, Pitcher, Stanford
(Prev. Sean Manaea, Pitcher, Indiana State)
This may change as the NCAA tournament approaches, but in all likelihood, Appel will once again fail in his quest to go first overall, whether it’s due to signability concerns or the fact that Gray is better. Appel’s fall could be short, though, as the Chicago Cubs are always on the lookout for promising arms. Appel’s fastball isn’t as dazzling as Gray’s, but his other stuff is practically majors material. It will be interesting to see how long he stays in the minors, if he does at all.
3. Colorado Rockies select Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
(Prev. Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson High School, Georgia)
Colorado’s most glaring farm system need is at first, but if Kris Bryant is still available at the third spot, expect the Rockies to draft him. Bryant has emerged as one of this year’s top collegiate bats, A power hitter with fielding ability, the possibility that Bryant becomes Todd Helton’s heir is a very possible reality. Bryant also has the benefit of playing in a dry climate, so the adjustment from playing in San Diego to Denver isn’t exactly the world’s biggest issue.
4. Minnesota Twins select Reese McGuire, Catcher, Kentwood High School, Washington
(Prev. Jon Denney, Catcher, Yukon High School, Oklahoma)
MLB Trade Rumors published some draft notes a couple weeks ago that indicated that the Twins were looking towards making a deal to draft and sign Reese McGuire. McGuire, whose stock has risen to the point where he is a potential top ten pick, is most likely going to succeed Joe Mauer as the team’s catcher in the distant future. McGuire has a great arm coupled with solid fielding ability and a developing hitting skill set. Playing in Washington State will help the adjustment to the cold Minnesota springs as well.
5. Cleveland Indians select Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina
(Prev. Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego)
The Indians lose out on Kris Bryant, but get another prized Tar Heels infielder in Colin Moran. Morans value is that he is defensively capable at third base, He also has the ability to hit, and in a spacious ballpark like Progressive Field, Moran is definitely a hot commodity. Having Moran also proves valuable with top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor also coming up in the next two years, so expect the left side of the infield to be one of the best up-and coming infields in the future.
6, Miami Marlins select Austin Meadows, Outfielder, Grayson High School, Georgia
(Prev. DJ Peterson, 1B, New Mexico)
Meadows is the top high school talent in the draft, but with the above teams having more pressing minor league needs, soon to be major league, Meadows falls all the way to the Marlins. Though the Marlins need a first baseman for their minor league system, the chance to go after Meadows is likely going to have them change their minds. Meadows is also a first baseman though, so he could be guided through the system as an infielder. Meadows is a solid all-around guy, and should merit a lot of attention, plus playing in Georgia isn’t too far from playing in Miami.
7. Boston Red Sox select Clint Frazier, Outfield, Loganville High School, Georgia
(Prev. Ryne Stanek, Pitcher, Arkansas)
Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows are friends and rivals, so you can imagine the media angle if they are drafted one after another. The Red Sox have been connected to Frazier for the longest time, and rightfully so. Frazier is almost a mirror image of Meadows as well, except he is a better power hitter. It will be interesting to see how Frazier and Meadows do when they both reach the majors.
8. Kansas City Royals select Sean Manaea, Pitcher, Indiana State
(Prev. Jonathan Gray, Oklahoma)
Sean Manaea fell all the way from number 2 to number 8 in my draft, but fortunately, to a team which is likely to have a bright future on the horizon. Manaea garnered attention this past summer as a member of the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, and while he doesn’t have the benefit of facing top level competition like Grey or Appel, he still looks like a promising lefty, which are hard to come by these days. Manaea also has the benefit of possibly joining James Shields and Wade Davis in a vastly improved Royals rotation.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates select Ryne Stanek, Pitcher, Arkansas
(Prev. Chris Anderson, Pitcher, Jacksonville)
Ryne Stanek is a big college name, and the Pirates love big college names. Once considered the top pick in this draft, Stanek’s injury concerns and velocity drop have lowered him to a top ten selection. Stanek may have had problems this year, but his arsenal is two standard deviations above the average college pitcher. If Stanek can get past this season and return to top form, he, Gerrit Cole, and Jameson Taillon could make for a scary good front part of the Pirates rotation.
10. Toronto Blue Jays select Kohl Stewart, Pitcher, St. Pius X High School, Texas
(Prev. Clint Frazier, Outfield, Loganville High School, Georgia)
Toronto, as of late, has been drafting and developing high ceiling pitchers, and that strategy doesn’t look like it’s going to change. With the Marlins and Mets decimating their minor league pitching prospects down to Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, and Marcus Stroman, and with the sting of losing 2011 pick Tyler Beede to Vanderbilt, where he has gone on to look like a top five pick in the 2014 draft, the Jays could go after one of the best athletes in the high school ranks. Kohl Stewart. Stewart is an excellent high school baseball player with a great arsenal of pitches, Stewart is also one of the top rated football quarterbacks in the nation and has signed a letter of intent to play for Texas A&M in both baseball and football. Stewart could command a high bonus, which the Jays would most likely oblige to give, especially with the possibility of Stewart’s quarterback competition, Johnny Manziel, likely leaving for the NFL after the 2013 college season. Stewart’s only knock is his health, as he is a diabetic, but with the recent success of diabetics in baseball, don’t expect it to be much of an issue.
11. New York Mets select Aaron Judge, Outfield, Fresno State
(Prev. Phillip Ervin, Outfield, Samford)
The Mets outfield is a mess, with the team now relying on clearly past their prime players like Rick Ankiel and Marlon Byrd, while players like Brandon Nimmo are years away from the big leagues. Barring a trade for Giancarlo Stanton, if the Mets want an outfield bat that has plenty of pop, the answer is Fresno State’s Aaron Judge. Judge, who is a physical anomaly, with a 6’7″ 255 pound body, which makes him one of the biggest outfielders in baseball. Judge also has shown plenty of power, like last year when he homered of Mark Appel twice. Judge reminds me a lot of Jeromy Burnitz and Dave Kingman, both average hitters with plenty of power potential. Having a guy like him patrol Citi Field’s outfield will be a sight worth waiting for.
12. Seattle Mariners: DJ Peterson, 1B, New Mexico
(Prev. Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina)
Seattle is rife with pitchers, has an up-and coming catcher in Mike Zunino, has a solid enough outfield, and a decent infield, at least from third to second. Which leads us to first base. Since being acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, Justin Smoak hasn’t exactly set the world on fire like he was supposed to. With DJ Peterson, the team is opting for a new direction. Peterson is generally solid, and like Manaea, he was discovered over the summer while playing for Team USA. Peterson has the pop in his bat necessary to put him in the lineup for the future, and should the team not resign Michael Morse, he represents the Mariners future on offense.
13. San Diego Padres select JP Crawford, Shortstop, Lakewood High School, California
In what can be seen as a dropoff from last year’s surge of middle infield talent, JP Crawford stands as the best middle infield prospect in the draft. I previously had Crawford going to San Diego, as they have a penchant for getting high ceiling developmental prospects, and in all likelihood, they will, as shortstop is a possible future position of need. Crawford has a developing hitting skill set, but his defense is arguably some of the best that will be seen in the high school ranks. Crawford is also a home state product, even if he’s a two hour drive away from Petco, so it’s possible that the Padres already have some interest in him. We’ll see how he turns out in the future if he plays for the Padres.