May 31, 2011
You having fun yet? Good, because teams certainly are not as they set up their respective war rooms for next week's draft. This IM conversation with one front-office official says it all.
FO: So who are we getting?
The list of players the official’s team is considering is nearly double where the team is picking. The size of the list shows how the flattening of talent and the absence of no-brainer selections have left teams scrambling for one last look at players in high school tournaments, private workouts, and the first round of NCAA tournament play.
The last two years were much easier; everyone knew Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper would be the first picks in the draft, so you worked from there. Now, just one week away from the first selection, the Pirates are still considering a range of players, which complicates any flow chart of draft logic. Rumors of the Pirates being interested in the top high school pitcher (Dylan Bundy) and position player (Bubba Starling) have waned considerably, but there is a consensus that there is very little consensus within Pittsburgh in terms of taking Rice infielder Anthony Rendon, UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, or University of Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen. If forced to do a mock draft today (you'll see one later in the week), I'd attach Hultzen to the Pirates, but based on numerous conversations with both teams and agents, this would be my level of confidence:
Danny Hultzen: 40%
That creates quite a conundrum for teams right below Pittsburgh, but here's how things are shaking out in the next four picks.
2. Seattle Mariners: They've been attached to Rendon all spring, and it has reached the point where if the Pirates nab Rendon at first overall, nobody has a good feel for just what Seattle would do with the pick.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Arizona has been heavy on Hultzen all spring, but if he's gone, they'll likely stick with a college arm. One interesting rumor has them favoring UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer over his teammate, Cole.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is the first team thought to have heavy interest in Dylan Bundy, the top high school pitcher in the draft. He’s only tangentially in the mix for the first three picks, so he should be around for the Orioles. This could come down to getting a more realistic feel for Bundy's bonus demands toward the end of the week.
5. Kansas City Royals: The Royals could be in a similar pickle to last year: The players they really wanted were gone, so they settled for infielder Christian Colon, who signed quickly for the recommended slot. There are plenty of scenarios with the Royals spending Sunday night calling around to figure out which college pitcher would do the same this year, saving the extra cash for the international market or stowing it away to help lock up some young stars down the road.
The Annual Money Game Begins
“Historic Draft My Ass”