November 15, 2013
AFL First Pitch Forums Draft
I took my annual trek to Arizona two weeks ago for both the Arizona Fall League and the Baseball HQ First Pitch Forums. It’s my favorite trip of the year and this might’ve been my best time yet. I drove from Austin with my dog, which actually enhanced the trip despite there being a total of 34 hours of driving to and fro. Thankfully, I like driving.
One of my favorite parts of the event is Draft Saturday. I believe they started the live drafts three or four years ago and it has evolved a bit throughout, but the staple has been a pair of NFBC-style drafts wherein we draft 23 rounds in person and the other 27 on the internet over the winter. It’s a draft-and-hold, which means no pickups or trades. Surplus is less useful and you need contingencies because you will get injuries during the season. We do a Kentucky Derby Style draft slotting (see no. 4 on that link for an explanation) and assuming the top two were gone, I was hoping to grab the three-spot for Paul Goldschmidt.
The assumption of the top two being gone is simply unnecessary pessimism from never getting them in the past and this year was no different. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t get the third spot, either. I think I was the sixth or seventh name out of the hat, and I promptly took spot 14. The top four spots (I could’ve reasonably expected to get Goldy at four as he’s not the consensus third pick) were gone, as was the elbow at 15, and I find the cluster between five and 14 to be relatively similar, so I might as well get the earliest second-round pick possible. By the way, Goldy did go third.
It is a total grab bag for the rest of the first round which is precisely why I didn’t mind slotting myself 14th after the top four spots were gone. Our draft saw Chris Davis go sixth, followed by Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Adam Jones, Adrian Beltre, and Troy Tulowitzki leading to my pick. I’m not going to run down every single round, but I figured the first round in full would be particularly notable. In fact, you can compare it against my most recent Top 15 (notice I’ve flipped Goldy and Cutch since then).
The obvious pick going off of my top 15 would’ve been Edwin Encarnacion. I ranked him ninth in my last iteration, but after further analysis in the three weeks since that went up, I’ve bumped Joey Votto back up a bit and made him my top pick. Considering the fact that I got him at 27 in a 15-team mock draft I participated in a few months ago, I might have actually over-drafted him here, but what’s the real difference of taking him here or waiting three picks to take him at 2.2? I couldn’t realistically see him lasting to my pick at 3.14, so now is the time. I think he’s criminally undervalued in early 2014 drafts.
The round closed out with our second pitcher, as Yu Darvish was taken off the board. Dang, I was hoping to get him at 7.10, as I did in this same draft a year ago (not really, relax).
My other primary consideration was Giancarlo Stanton, a long-time Sporer Favorite, but the health record moved me off of him in this particular instance. Ryan Braun and then my two considerations immediately followed my pick with Stanton going before Encarnacion.
I felt confident enough to join the run under the assumption that the drafter at 15 wouldn’t take either of my prime targets for round four. I actually suspected she would join in on the pitcher run giving her a pair of aces and automatically leaving at least one of my targets at pick 4.2. She added Cole Hamels to Darvish giving her an obscene 1-2 combo.
Ian Desmond was my choice this round while Shin-Soo Choo was given heavy consideration. I honestly can’t believe Desmond made it to me at 4.2, especially considering that I had him in my top 15 last time out. He’s had back-to-back 20/20 seasons at far and away the worst position on the diamond. Again, I don’t let positional scarcity dictate my moves, but when you can get a stud AND fill in a remarkably difficult position at the same time, you do it. Choo went two picks later.
Chapman made it to me and became my closer. Of course there has been some chatter that they might once again try Chapman out as a starter. While I advocated this heavily in the beginning, I think the ship has sailed and he should remain a closer. It wouldn’t be an overwhelming disaster for my team if he was transitioned, but it would hurt.
The severe lack of outfielders on my team through five rounds is very out of character for me. I usually have at least a couple by this point, but I’m happy with my 1B, 3B, SP, SS, and RP quintet.
Steve Gardner either thought I was an idiot for trying to take his third round pick or that he vastly overdrafted the Cardinals second baseman. Almost certainly the former. This sent me into an inexplicable tizzy and instead of calmly reselecting, I took Brett Lawrie in a panic. Now I don’t say that to distance myself from my belief in Lawrie, but he was definitely an overdraft at 7.14 and I could’ve gotten him later. My backup to Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, was taken two picks earlier and apparently I didn’t think far enough to have three guys I really liked in mind.
This is the year, Brett, right? RIGHT?? :chugs Red Bull: :smashes can on eye: :looks at Rosenthal’s B-Ref page:
My heart was broken four picks later, as Gerrit Cole, someone I was hoping to get in the early double-digit rounds, was snatched from my grasp.
With the 14th pick of the ninth round, I took Billy Hamilton!!! I was absolutely giddy that someone I mentally circled 20-some picks ago wasn’t ripped away from me. He stole 13 bases in 13 games as predominantly a pinch-runner; what’s he going to do in a more thorough allotment of playing time? I don’t need him to play all season to be a huge value here. Hell, he can do immense damage in 100 games, but I honestly think we will see him before Memorial Day.
My super-trio was completed by a third straight outfielder and my third in four picks. Considering that I went against type and didn’t get an outfielder until the sixth round, I am rather happy with the first three of my starting five at the position. This pick not only perfectly counterbalances the previous pick, but it has the added bonus of being one of my absolute favorite players.
I got Curtis Granderson with my 10th pick. This was a great discount coming off of the injury-riddled 2013, but I’m not bothered by the throwaway season as the injuries were beyond his control as opposed to something that will linger and continue to bother him. He kept getting Shin-Soo Choo’d (hit by pitches) and breaking stuff! First a fractured right arm in spring training and then a fractured left pinkie almost immediately after he returned from the forearm. Here’s hoping jerkstores stop hitting Granderson on his new team in 2014 or he’s able to get out of the way at the very least.
My Team So Far:
*Catchers were going like mad in this draft. There were 10 off the board by the end of round 10 and little did I know that it was just the beginning.
If you’re interested in knowing where some key guys went, feel free to ask in the comments.