Okay, I realize that there is a certain absurdity to grading a baseball draft. Especially when the teams themselves that drafted their new shiny players don’t even know how things will turn out. There are injuries, and in general, so many things can occur during a players developmental path that it’s one of the hardest things to predict in all of sports. Still we try and predict the unpredictable, and pour over scouring reports, in hopes of putting the information to the public in a way that they can digest. Hence, the grading system.
With the new collective bargaining agreement in baseball, the landscape of the draft has changed. No longer can teams, like the Toronto Blue Jays of 2011, load up on 15 high ceiling draft choices and throws large amounts of money at them to manipulate a system in their favor. There are still ways teams are trying to manipulate things, but in general, Commissioner Bud Selig has taken the overspending somewhat out of the draft.
With that in mind, I can’t grade solely on talent, because not all teams have the same opportunity to spend. Given that their are different bonus pools for the team, teams have to be graded on the level of talent they were able to draft within their bonus pool.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox are typically a little bit poor in the drafting department, or at least that is the perception. Part of that is because GM Kenny Williams has never been shy about trading prospects for major league talent. This has led to an almost unanimously held belief by most prospect followers that the White Sox system is the worst in baseball. They tried to rectify that in 2012 by drafting high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins with their first pick. Hawkins is a big, strong kid for a high schooler and has plenty of power projection. He went 13th, and that is right around most thought he would go. The White Sox next pick in the supplemental round was another potential slugger in 1B Keon Barnum. Christopher Beck could be a fast moving pitcher with solid stuff in the 2nd round. Joey DeMichele could be the same as a 2B in the 3rd round.
Best Pick: Courtney Hawkins
Potential Bust: Chris Beck. His stuff has been up and down.
Best Value: Kyle Hansen in the 6th.
Sleeper: Jordan Guerrero in the 15th has projection as a lefty, and has shown a good fastball at times.
Grade: C. There is a good mix of high school and college guys, and in general, the White Sox didn’t reach a ton, but I’m not wowed by what they did either.
The Indians, like the White Sox, have one of the lesser farm systems in baseball. However, they have a little bit of high end talent festering in the lower level minors, thanks to guys like Luigi Rodriguez, Elvis Araujo, and last year’s first round pick Francisco Lindor. Cleveland shocked everyone in the 1st round by selecting OF Tyler Naquin. Most had them penciled in to take a pitcher. Naquin can hit, but most don’t feel he has the power to profile a a RF, where he most likely will have to play defensively. I absolutely love what the Indians did in rounds 2-5 however. They got as much upside out of those picks as anyone. Mitchell Brown is a talented high school pitcher out of Minnesota. Same for Kieran Lovegrove, but this time out of California. D’Vone McClure and Dylan Baker followed giving this draft a good deal of upside. They reached for some high schoolers in rounds 6-10, and also grabbed some college guys as well.
Best Pick: Mitch Brown in the 2nd. Fresh arm with a potential above average 3 pitch mix.
Potential Bust: Tyler Naquin. He just might not have top 15 type of value.
Best Value: Dylan Baker in the 5th round is a steal to me.
Sleeper: Cody Penny. 16th round.
Grade: B The upside in the early rounds is worth the grade, but I did nick them a bit for selecting Naquin a little earlier than expected.
This may surprise some. I’m not going to criticize the Tigers draft here much, if at all. Working with the 2nd lowest bonus pool, I think they did a solid job this year, but don’t get me started on 2011. Anyway, getting Jake Thompson and Austin Schotts with their first two picks presents a bit of upside. There is a good mix of college guys and a few upside picks later. Tigers got some good value, even if their picks aren’t loaded with the highest of ceilings. Tigers got conservative in rounds 5-11, but that is okay considering they didn’t have the money to get high upside guys anyway.
Best Pick: Logan Ehlers. 2oth round. A 20th rounder the best pick? If he signs, he may be. Ehlers is a 3 pitch lefty with top 10 round talent.
Potential Bust: If the Tigers even sign him, Drew Verhagen is my choice here.
Best Value: Devon Travis in the 13th round.
Sleeper: Julio Felix in the 12th round.
Grade: B- Yeah, the Tigers got some relievers, and they got some lower ceiling players, but they also selected some intriguing guys if they can get them into the fold. Dylan Lavelle is one to watch, as is Miguel Paulino. If they could somehow get Clate Schmidt in the fold, that would be a tremendous steal, but I doubt that happens.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals are the king of the A.L. Central farm systems. However, it hasn’t done them a whole lot to this point in the majors. The Royals need pitching, and they got that in first round pick Kyle Zimmer, who some thought was the best college pitcher in the draft. The Royals didn’t shy away from high school selections after that, getting a good mix of high school and college guys throughout the draft. They added once again some decent talent to a strong system.
Best Pick: Zimmer. Hands down.
Potential Bust: Sam Selman. Good arm, but hasn’t excelled and the Royals popped him early in the 2nd.
Best Value: Kenny Diekroeger in the 4th round.
Sleeper: Dylan Sons in the 15th round.
Grade: B. The Royals got their man in Zimmer. They got some value in Diekroeger and they got some upside in 3rd rounder Colin Rodgers as well.
The Twins had one of the larger draft pools around, and if anyone needed something specific from a draft, it would’ve been pitching for the Twins. Part of their issue is they need to find some guys that can miss bats, and the Twins did address this somewhat. They also got potentially the best player in the draft. Or at least the highest ceiling. The Twins landed Byron Buxton with the 2nd overall pick after Houston passed on him. The 5 tool talent adds to an already decently rich stock of position players. The Twins then focused on pitchers after that, and got several that are known for having a little bit of heat on their fastballs.
Best Pick: Buxton, even if it was a no-brainer.
Potential Bust: Luke Bard in the supplemental
Best Value: Adam Brett Walker in the 3rd round.
Sleeper: Justin Jones in the 26th round. Jones has talent, but has gotten off track. If Twins can fix him a little, it’s a steal here.
Grade: B. This is mainly a Buxton grade with a little bit of Walker thrown in, however Barrios and Melotakis in particular have good arms. Problem is, a lot of the pitchers Minnesota took project as relievers.
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