With the Rays’ signing of Felipe Lopez to a minor league deal, all the supplemental draft picks have been decided and the final draft order for the 2011 Rule 4 draft has been set. Especially given how tremendously strong the 2011 draft is supposed to be – Keith Law says that there could be as many as 20 top-100 caliber prospects in this class and that it looks, at least right now, like the best class since he joined the baseball industry. Using the draft order from our own Mike Axisa at River Avenue Blues, here are the teams that can really invigorate their systems with either high quality picks, a large quantity of picks, or both.
Top 90 picks: #3 #7 #43 #63
One can definitely question if the Arizona Diamondbacks even gave a single thought to signing last year’s sixth overall pick, Barret Loux. Regardless of the morality in their decision to eschew signing Loux for the guarantee of the compensatory pick they received in thie year’s draft – the seventh overall pick – it almost certainly will pay dividends. The Diamondbacks will already bring in a top-tier talent at the third spot, and the talent they get with the seventh pick this season will almost certainly outclass Loux. On top of that, they’ll bring in a supplemental draft pick with Adam LaRoche’s departure, and their second round pick is early enough that it could provide some value. Victor Wang’s draft research only gave dollar values for mid-first round choices, placing them at around $5 million in surplus values. But using Sky Andrecheck’s research, we can see that the third overall pick is worth roughly three times the amount of a typical first round compensatory pick (for more, see here) and the seventh pick is worth roughly twice that. With the value from those picks set at about $5 million by Wang, the Diamondbacks first two picks alone could be worth of upwards of $25 million in surplus value, plus another $3.5 million for picks 43 and 63. Given the changes to the economics of baseball since 2009, that number could be even higher.
Tampa Bay Rays
Top 90 Picks: #24, #31, #32, #38, #41, #42, #52, #56, #59, #60, #75, #89
Carl Crawford (24, 38). Rafael Soriano (31, 42). Grant Balfour (41, 75). Joaquin Benoit (52). Randy Choate (56). Brad Hawpe (59). Chad Qualls (60). The Rays know they can’t just build their farm systems from perennial top-tier picks now that they’re contenders, so they exploited the frig (to wax Cistullian for a second) out of the ELIAS draft pick compensation system. The Rays couldn’t control Carl Crawford’s departure, but one has to assume that the acquisition of Soriano was made with Type A status in mind, and the Rays had no intention of re-signing guys like Balfour, Benoit, Choate, Qualls, or Hawpe because they knew that (a) the money could best be spent elsewhere and (b) the draft picks could hold immense value in a deep draft and potentially in the last season of this kind of compensation. According to Wang’s research, the Rays could realize around $31 million in surplus value from these picks (and again, this is in 2009 economics, so possibly more).
San Diego Padres
Top 90 Picks: #10 #25 #48 #54 #58 #82
Like the Diamondbacks, the Padres are the beneficiaries of a compensatory pick for failing to sign last year’s draft pick. That pick was ninth overall Karsten Whitson, who decided not to sign with the Padres (unlike Loux, who actually planned on signing with Arizona). As a result, the Padres have a top 10 pick despite finishing with 90 wins. The departures of Jon Garland, Yorvit Torrealba, and Kevin Correia – useful pieces, but replaceable – also brought in supplemental picks. The Padres right now are looking at just under $20 million in surplus value out of these picks.
A few other teams deserve mention too – the Red Sox have picks 19, 26, 36, 40, and 81, and the Blue Jays have 21, 35, 46, 53, 57, 74, and 78 (as I covered here). In an incredibly deep draft, these five teams look to benefit the most on draft weekend.
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