I know what you've been thinking all day today, "What do I need to know about this MLB draft?" It's the most difficult draft to evaluate or care about because nobody watches college baseball, half or so of the players are high schoolers, it's ridiculously long, the majority of players won't reach the majors, and those who do won't impact the league for 3 or so years. To be honest, I didn't even know the draft started yesterday. I mean, I knew it was soon, but I kind of thought it was on a weekend. Oops.
Anyway, here's my attempt to tell you some of the interesting things from the draft, similar to what I did two years ago. Why didn't I do this for last year's draft? I don't know. I think I forgot about it. But I'm going to give it another shot. I will confess that my opinions on players are taken from things I've read not my own eyes since I'm not a weirdo who watches college baseball.
First, the Twins. Actually, first I just want to say that if this Zookeeper movie with King of Queens guy makes any kind of significant money I'm going door to door like Jay and Silent Bob and punching everybody who paid money to see it. Second, the Twins:
- I am thrilled by their first round pick, SS Levi Michael out of North Carolina. It's obviously a huge need both now and in the recent past, and taking a college age shortstop who was a three year starter is a good recipe to get help in a hurry (2013?). Even better, however, is the MLB network and ESPN guys pretty much unanimously called him a first round talent and the best college shortstop in the draft, so it wasn't a reach, and everything I've projects him as a solid everyday SS - maybe not a star, but this draft was short on stars from what I've read. Reading scouting reports he sounds like his potential is like a better hitting J.J. Hardy. I'll take that every time. A+ on this pick.
- Sandwich picks, high school 3B Travis Harrison and high school pitcher Hudson Boyd, are interesting picks mainly because they're so against type for the Twins, who generally prefer to go with toolsy high school outfielders or college pitchers with their early picks. Harrison isn't remotely toolsy, but what he can do is hit and is one of the best HS hitters in the entire draft. Although currently listed as a 3b, he'll end up at 1b or in left field, but no matter where he ends up bringing in a big power bat to a team lacking in exactly that is a nice move. Boyd is a power pitcher, which means the Twins now have 3 in the entire system, with a couple of other decent pitches and projects as a #2 or #3 type in the majors, which would mean he'd be the ace of this crappy staff. Obviously as a high school kid it'll be a while before we see him, but seems like another good pick.
- Of the rest of the picks, of which there are like 100 good lord how many rounds is this thing, there really isn't much notable. It's mostly filled with college pitchers which is good because god knows the team needs help as soon as possible, but really the only pick that stands out is second round pick, rhp Madison Boer. He will probably get too much love because he's a home town kid (from Eden Prairie) and was a bit of a reach, but he was also the Pac-10 pitcher of the year. The bad news is you can't ever trust a pitcher with a stripper's name.
- The only other name that rings any bells or pops up on any kind of top prospect list is Ivan Rodriguez, and that's just because he's Pudge's kid but really who cares? Overall a very good start to the draft, followed by a pretty underwhelming rest of the draft. But to be honest, since it's the NBA draft and there are too many picks and I've heard of almost none of them I'm not exactly sure what it would take for me to be whelmed.
--> A few interesting notes from other teams around the league, and I won't be talking about second generation players getting drafted because everybody slobbers all over that and to be honest I couldn't give two craps about Dante Bichette Jr. or Dwight Smith's kid:
- Seattle made an interesting pick at #2 overall with college pitcher Danny Hultzen. Interesting because he's basically assumed to be guaranteed to end up a major league starter, but his upside is just a #2 or #3 type, he lacks the upside you'd expect from the #2 overall pick. Although sometimes safe is better, just ask Brien Taylor.
- Conversely, the Pirates pick at #1 is interesting in college starter Gerrit Cole (nice first name, ass). Cole is universally hailed as the pitcher with the best stuff in this draft - a heater that can touch 100mph, a good breaking ball, and a plus changeup to go with good control - but his stats this year didn't bear that out, and he was actually outpitched by teammate Trevor Bauer, who went #3 to Arizona, and a couple of other starters on his own team. He's from UCLA and didn't win conference pitcher of the year (went to Twins' guy, remember?). Potential vs. Stats. If they hit, it's a home run. If not, ......
- Maybe the most interesting pick of the draft is the Nationals getting college 3b Anthony Rendon at #6. Rendon is generally considered the best hitter in the draft and was projected to go #1 or #2 most of the year, but injury concerns pushed him to six. Which means the Nationals last three drafts netted them three players that were consensus #1 prospects (Strasburg (RIP), Brian Harper's kid, and Rendon). Add in Wilson Ramos, the surging Michael Morse, and a couple young middle IFs and Washington is starting to put together a nice nucleus. Too bad their pitching sucks and they'll probably lose Jordan Zimmerman to free agency in a year. Serves 'em right for leaving Montreal.
- Kansas City, already owners of the best minor league system in baseball according to basically everyone, had the #5 pick and went with Bubba Starling, a 6-4 high school centerfielder with tools coming out of his ass - he's ranked as being the best prep hitter, having the best prep arm, and being the best prep outfielder. Yet another potential superstar into their system, keyword being potential. Also a keyword: Nebraska. He has a scholarship waiting at Nebraska to play football, something he's also quite good at ranking as the #119 best football prospect in his class and the #6 "athlete", a designation for someone where they aren't quite sure what position he'll play (though Starling profiles as a QB most likely), in the country. So he'll have some decisions to make, but if KC gets him he hits their "future lineup" well because they don't have a CFer like him. Ready to have your mind blown? After all that I just wrote, guess what? He's white. BOOM. Never saw it comin', did ya?
- The funniest pick of round 1 was without a doubt the Cubs pick of high school shortstop Javier Baez at pick #9. Not because it was as bad pick, on the contrary from what I've read, but because Baez is described in every report I've read as either having "character issues" or "a temper." That's worked out well for the Cubs in the past, right Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano?
- Lastly, the Rays had 11 picks due to the compensatory picks they got for losing Carl Crawford, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Brad Hawpe, and Chad Qualls (seriously you get picks for losing Choate and Hawpe? System = broken) and as you'd expect from them the knocked it out of the park. They picked up one of the best prep arms available (although they'll have to get him away from South Carolina), a college OFer who projected in the top 15 but slid to #31, and a whole bunch of high upside, solid (and signable) prospects with really only one reach, but a reach they could afford with that many picks on day 1. Just a solid draft from a solid organization.
--> Finally, assuming anybody is still reading (both this post and this blog) since I've gotten a couple specific questions in the comments here lately let's take it to a mailbag. I've done this once before and it worked out pretty well, so if you have a question you'd like me to answer for you, about literally anything, shoot it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll answer them at some point next week. Don't be shy now.