JABO: Hacking the Draft

Baseball’s Rule 4 Draft commences next Monday, and this year, the Arizona Diamondbacks will have the pick of the litter. While this particular crop might not be as exciting as some others, there are a handful of interesting prospects, including the usual assortment of hard-throwing pitchers and toolsy high school kids who might be useful in five years. These are the guys who are going to draw the most attention and likely go at the top of the draft, as most of the focus remains on identifying and developing potential franchise players.

However, not every draft pick is going to be oozing with upside, especially once you get out of the top half of the first round. After the top handful of players are off the board, teams have to start picking and choosing between guys with pretty notable flaws; maybe the hard-throwing guy only has a fastball at this point, or that impressive athlete hasn’t yet figured out how to hit. Or, as is the case for a large handful of draftees every summer, a lack of size and an inability to hit for power create the sense that a player is “low upside”, profiling as a future utility player or bench guy. A lot of college middle infielders fit this profile, especially the ones who get picked after the first round.

Only there’s something interesting going on in MLB right now; if you look at the majority of the best second baseman in baseball, they almost all were tagged with this “low upside” label in the draft. For example, here are a few of the draft profiles of some of the best middle infielders in baseball right now, courtesy of Baseball America.

Read the rest on Just a Bit Outside.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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8 years ago

There appears to be a disconnect between the evidence you provide and what you claim that evidence shows. Aside from Pedroia, none of the others appear to have been labeled “low upside,” at least not from the blurbs you included. Your column would make more sense if it was arguing specifically that collegiate second basemen are undervalued rather than “low upside” players in general.