June 8, 2007
Wait 'Til Next Year
Best Draft: Toronto Blue Jays
It's hard to believe that the Blue Jays were the organization with the most well-balanced blend of players on Thursday, but Jon Lalonde had a great draft. The team picked a good infield of prepsters that should progress together up through the minors--Kevin Ahrens, Justin Jackson, and John Tolisano. Lalonde also went with his usual habits, picking a powerful collegian in J.P. Arencibia and an accomplished southpaw in Brett Cecil. I also really like how the Blue Jays ended with day, drafting southpaw Brad Mills and groundball artist Marc Rzepczynski. One of the game's worst farm systems might have about seven new members for its top ten prospect list.
Honorable Mention: Washington Nationals
The combination of Mike Rizzo and Dana Brown proved a good one, as the Nats again went with high -eiling players in Ross Detwiler, Michael Burgess, and Jake Smolinski. In the end, however, sandwich pick Josh Smoker could be the best of the group.
Worst Draft: Colorado Rockies
I'm just not sure I understand the direction the Rockies were going yesterday. Two of their five picks were college relievers, including first-round pick Casey Weathers, who is not the answer for a struggling franchise with a good closer. In the third round, the team drafted Fighting Illini Lars Davis, a catcher who was most notable for the cheap signing bonus he's thought to be willing to sign for. Isiah Froneberger is an accomplished high school player, but he stands just 5-8, and while I won't hate on Jarrod Parker or Tim Lincecum, there is such a thing as too small. The only upside pick was Brian Rike, a good outfielder that could make a killing in Coors Field.
Dishonorable Mention: New York Mets
Talk about a low upside draft. With eight picks in the first five rounds, the Mets took four college relievers, apparently high on their success with Joe Smith a year ago.
Most College-Heavy Draft: Oakland Athletics
This should come as no surprise, but with eight choices in the first five rounds, the A's stuck with picking three-year college players at every juncture. This differs from their strategy the past few years, but with a barren farm system, the A's went back to their Moneyball ways. The draft provided four true low-upside players in their first two picks James Simmons and Sean Doolittle, as well as the last two picks, Travis Banwart and Andrew Carignan. In between were some players with upside, particularly Corey Brown, who could become Milton Bradley, and Josh Horton, who could be Mark Ellis. Overall, it was a good-not-great, very Eric Kubota draft.
Honorable Mention: St. Louis Cardinals
After Peter Kozma, the Cardinals ended up with six straight college players, with Jess Todd and Kyle Russell giving the Cardinals very good value in two slots.
Most Prep-Heavy Draft: Minnesota Twins
Mike Radcliff didn't take a college player with his five choices, drafting four American high school players and the best player from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Angel Morales. Radcliff's first selection, Ben Revere, generated a lot of head-scratching because his size and corresponding offensive projection wasn't first-round caliber. Given the past troubles of B.J. Garbe and Denard Span, Twins fans are sure to question this pick. Second-rounder Danny Rams is an offense-minded catcher who might not stay behind the plate, but who could profile to give Joe Mauer days off against tough southpaws down the road. This draft looks poor on the surface, but Mike Radcliff deserves the benefit of the doubt more than most scouting directors.
Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Dodgers
No surprise that Logan White drafts just one college player on the first day, and a raw one in that--Tennessee southpaw James Adkins. Whether or not they steal Kyle Blair from his commitment to UC San Diego will determine the success of this draft.
Most Pitching-Heavy Draft: Chicago White Sox
Kenny Williams has balked at the conservative choices made at the top by Duane Shaffer in the past, and he told the scouting director to draft big-upside players on Thursday. Shaffer did just that, getting big, hard throwers at every opportunity. The best of the group is Aaron Poreda, a big southpaw with a fastball that will play at any level (his slider needs work, though). Nevin Griffith was the lone high school player taken by the White Sox, but he could be the best, particularly if he tightens up his curveball. The next three pitchers were from schools that gradually became smaller programs: Miami of Ohio, Sacramento Community College, and Northern Kentucky. For lack of anything better to say, let's praise the area scouts for finding those arms.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Tigers
Rick Porcello led off a very good draft by David Chadd, who also found good arms in Joey Hamilton and Charlie Furbush, and some--not me--like Casey Crosby.
TINSTAPP draft: Chicago Cubs
Such a dogmatic draft was hardly expected from Tim Wilken, who probably didn't wake up yesterday morning thinking he'd take five hitters and no pitchers on day one. The Cubs did find very good offensive depth in the draft, even if they veered away from high-ceiling guys after taking Josh Vitters. Tony Thomas had a fantastic year at Florida State, and most important in the eyes of scouts, cut down on his previously huge strikeout totals. Josh Donaldson gives the system a good catcher for the first time in years, and it will be interesting to see how Brandon Guyer does when he reaches a friendlier park than the University of Virginia offers.
Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Brewers
Jack Zduriencik led off his day with a head-scratcher by picking first baseman Matt LaPorta, and they stuck to what he's comfortable with, up-the-middle players, led by the Ragin' Cajun, Jon Lucroy.
Best Use of Multiple Picks: San Diego Padres
Kevin harped a lot on the Padres' Moneyball approach to the draft, but in the end, the Padres added good depth to their farm system. Nick Schmidt should get to the majors quickly, possibly joined by Cory Luebke and Eric Sogard. I really like the Drew Cumberland selection in the sandwich round; he should give the system the athletic shortstop that Matt Bush never proved to be. Finally, in Kellen Kulbacki and Danny Payne, the Padres went with two college outfielders that mix very good bodies of work with some usable tools.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Reds
Chris Buckley finally took a prep player in the first round when he picked Devin Mesoraco, and did so again twice more in the first five rounds. However, I think the combination of Todd Frazier and Zach Cozart is a really good mix, probably because if you combined the two players, they would make one hell of a prospect.
Best Draft with Under Five Picks: Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles gave away their second- and third-round picks due to free agent signings in the winter, but with three picks in the first five rounds, the Orioles made it count. The decision to draft Matt Wieters is likely based upon their not having those second- and third-round choices. It doesn't make up all the difference--the added bonuses for players in the fifth slot in the first three rounds last season was $3.575 million--but it certainly paved the way for their picking the Georgia Tech catcher. In the fifth round, the Orioles got the day's biggest slide in Jake Arrieta. If the draft had been last August, Arrieta would have been a top 20 player overall, now, he'll have to look for his 2006 form in the Orioles system.
Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Angels
Powered by the Matt Harvey selection, Eddie Bane landed two high-upside arms with his first two picks.
Happiest Universities: Barring any commissioner-angering late-round organizational spending, Stanford and Tennesee should add Jack McGeary and Kentrail Davis, respectively, to their diminishing programs.
Saddest University: Wichita State, who entered the day with two good shortstop commitments in Peter Kozma and Jon Gilmore, and saw both drafted within the first 33 picks.
Best Decision to Return to School: Matt LaPorta, who wasn't getting a great offer from the Red Sox, returned to Florida for his senior season and became the draft's seventh overall choice.
Worst Decision to Return to School: Tony Watson, who as a draft-eligible sophomore was offered a crooked six figure number from the Orioles last year. Instead, he went back to Nebraska, and for whatever reason, did not hear his name called on Thursday.
Best Value Picks in the First Round: Arizona grabbing Jarrod Parker, Atlanta taking Jason Heyward, and of course, the Tigers finding Rick Porcello at pick 27.
Best Value Picks:
Will Middlebrooks (Boston, Round 5)