Thoughts on Last Night’s Draft Proceedings

I already chatted for nearly six hours during last night’s picks, wrote a bunch of mock drafts and, with the help of David Appelman, made a Sortable Draft Board full of the top players with tools, reports, video and where they were taken last night, but I thought I should drop in and give some thoughts on last night’s first two rounds of the draft.

The top-11 picks went pretty much as expected, with those players all projected there in some order. Husky Canadian prep 1B Josh Naylor crashed the party, jumping from late first-round expectations to 12th overall, which was the first big surprise of the night, similar to what Kodi Medeiros did last year with the Brewers. Often, what fans will term a “reach” or “overdraft” is a team deciding they want a player and realizing he won’t be at the next pick. I support this idea from the team’s side, especially if you can save some money, because when we look back at the draft in 10 years, we won’t say “this guy wasn’t a good value here,” we’ll either say he was good or he wasn’t. Don’t forget that rankings and mock drafts are a guide, not the correct answer. When you can’t trade picks, you take the guy you want and sometimes it’ll look like this.

The rest of the first round was composed of names I had projected in that range or ranked within my top 50-60 players, except for the Orioles at pick 36 with Ryan Mountcastle, whom I heard last week had some people looking at him in the second round. Mountcastle is a unique player with above-average bat speed, bat control, raw power and speed to go with a projectable frame and a long track record of hitting, so he clearly checks a lot of boxes. His swing is a little awkward, he didn’t hit for power in games this spring and scouts think he might be a left fielder, but you can clearly see why teams would be on him with a high pick and I’m betting the Orioles wouldn’t have gotten him with their next pick.

I will never be able to call the 37th overall pick before the draft again in my whole life, but I got it this time and the Astros effectively used their bonus-pool muscle to get three of my top-dozen players with their top-three picks. Among the best values on the first day were the Jays taking RHP Jon Harris (my 14th prospect) at pick 29 after some so-so starts down the stretch, the Rays taking C Chris Betts (my 17th prospect) at pick 52 due to defensive questions (I think), the Dodgers taking RHP Kyle Funkhouser (my 19th prospect) due to a late-season velo dip and the Cardinals taking RF Bryce Denton (my 27th prospect) at pick 66 due to being a medium-sized high-school corner outfielder.

Only two players went last night who weren’t in my top 202: Tigers second-rounder LHP Tyler Alexander from TCU and Braves comp second-rounder LHP A.J. Minter from Texas A&M. Alexander was in the mix for the list, but has fringy stuff in most outings, although I recently heard his stuff ticked up very late. Of the four teams I asked about the pick to see if I missed something, one liked him as a fifth starter with some feel, for a pick a round or two lower than Detroit took him; another had him on the board for rounds 6-10; a third team was a little lower than that; and a fourth team didn’t turn him in, meaning they weren’t going to draft him.  I saw Minter on Team USA last summer and didn’t think he belonged on the list, as a power reliever without a knockout second pitch and below average command. That said, he should come as a discount, as the sub-6 foot lefty reliever is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Thoughts on Specific Teams

Among teams, most of them made a couple picks of solid value, but 11 teams stood out for various reasons. The Indians took a risk with Brady Aiken at 17, but that’s also where I ranked him and it feels like a solid decision with the top players off the board. I also liked the value picks in the second round of two more prep pitchers, Juan Hillman and Triston McKenzie. The Rockies took four prep prospects (Rodgers, Nikorak, Nevin, and Lambert) who were all solid values at each pick, infusing some upside into the lower rungs of their farm.  The Astros mixed college high floors (Bregman, Eshelman) with prep upside (Tucker, Cameron) in their four picks that, as I mentioned above, represents a very good use of their resources while also potentially quickly helping a surging big-league team.

The Royals went straight upside with three raw arms (Russell, Watson, Staumont), but I’d bet one of them works out in a big way. I liked the Dodgers taking what the board gave them with the college pitching slipping (Funkhouser and Buehler) and Mitchell Hansen should be a nice second-round pick if they get him signed as expected. The Brewers also caught my eye, getting the best value in the top-15 picks, by snagging an inexplicably falling Trenton Clark at 15, then grabbing two nice values with college pitching in Nate Kirby and Cody Ponce. The A’s steered into the strength of this draft, taking two college shortstops (Martin and White) from the southeast, which also happens to be the type of player they target often.

The Phillies did a nice job of taking what the board gave them, pivoting away from their strategy in the past of taking upside at all costs and selecting some of the top remaining players on my board at both picks (Randolph, Kingery). The Cardinals went upside with three prep picks (Plummer, Woodford, Denton) and they’re all guys I like with some track record of standout performance and clean actions. I think the lowest pick of the three, Denton, may be the best of the bunch. Finally, the Rays (Whitley and Betts) and Rangers (Tate, Jenkins) both only had two picks, but both went for upside; in Tampa’s case that helps gives some upside to a system without a ton and the Rangers keep adding to the young stockpile of talent.





Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.

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Peter
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Peter

The royals have such a pitiful track record at developing starting pitchers that I don’t really have any faith at all in their ability to turn any of those pitchers into major league starters

TangoAlphaLima
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TangoAlphaLima

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit worried about this myself. However, it seems like Dayton Moore’s strategy to counter this is by sheer volume of pitching prospects. Since 2012, and including 2015, the Royals have had 12 picks in the first two rounds of the amateur draft. 10 of those selections have been pitchers. Time will tell if this strategy, and the ability for the organization to develop starting pitchers, will pan out.

SL
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SL

Current Royals roster: Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland.
Other ML roster: Zack Greinke, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, Kevin
Chapman, Aaron Crow, Blaine Hardy.
Minor League pipeline: John Lamb, Aaron Brooks, Sam Selman, Louis Coleman, Brandon Finnegan, Scott Blewitt, Foster Griffin, Cody Reed, Daniel Stumpf, Glen Sparkman, Sean Manea, Kyle Zimmer, Jake Junis, Christian Binford, Colin Rodgers, Miguel Almonte, Malcolm Culver.
I think Royals are doing ok. They could always do better but they have quite a bit major leaguers and minor league depth.

Who is Zorbist?
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Who is Zorbist?

I count 1 decent one there, and 2 that the Rays fixed. Not counting Grienke, a guy “deveolped” a decade ago. The rest are relievers.