Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Scouting the Draft: Random Thoughts
The annual MLB First Year Player Draft starts tonight with the first 2 rounds. Including supplemental round and compensation picks, the first 73 players will be chosen tomorrow. Rounds 3-10 will be on Friday and rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
Experts consensus has a top tier of 3 college players: RHP Mark Appel, RHP Johnathan Gray and 3B Kris Bryant. While these 3 players are all excellent prospects, all 3 have their warts too. Appel is a senior at Stanford and has somtimes failed to pitch up to his scouting reports. Gray kind of burst onto the scene this year. Bryant has tremendous power, but has struggled to make contact at times.
IMO, there is a second tier of draft prospects that goes 4 deep: HS OF Clint Frazier, HS OF Austin Meadows, College 3B Colin Moran, HS RHP Kohl Stewart. I am personally not convinced that the talent after pick 7 is substantially better or more likely to succeed in the pros than players who will be available all the way into Round 3!
All the experts seem to think that Houston will take either Appel or Gray at #1 due to the fact that the top tier talent dovetails nicely with organizational need for pitching. I'm not so sure. Last year, Houston pointedly took Carlos Correa, a first round talent, but not considered top tier, and signed him to an underslot deal which was still very lucrative for the player and distributed the money they saved on the bonus to lower picks which enabled them to take tougher to sign high school talent in later top 10 rounds. While the jury is still out on how that turns out for the Astros, all signs point to them being quite pleased with themselves for pulling off that strategy. I think they will do that again this year.
The draft slotting system puts tremendous pressure on teams at the top of the draft to pay close to their slot bonus. Given the flatness of the talent curve in this year's draft, being in that position may not be where you want to be. If the Giants can get a player approximately equal in talent to the #10 pick at #25, that is a nice chunk of change they have saved on bonus money with no loss of return on the draft.
John Barr confirms the relative parity of the talent pool by saying he thinks there could be as many as 8-10 players that the Giants consider first round talents available for them to choose at #25. This makes predicting who they might take akin to finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.
This draft appears to be much stronger and deeper on the pitching side. I'd break it down this way: College Pitching- B+. HS Pitching- B. HS Hitters- C+. College Hitters D. The college pitchers get a half letter grade higher due to the presence of Appel and Gray at the top. After that, the HS arms might even have a slight edge because the talent runs a bit deeper on the HS side. While there are a few interesting college hitters scattered around, they tend to be few and far between. I think pretty much everybody agrees this is a terrible year for college hitters.
You would think that the Giants would draft pitching in the first round since that is their tendency and that is the strength of the draft. Again, I'm not so sure. The Giants like to cut against the grain. They may well decide to reach for a hitter at #25 thinking they can get first round pitching talent in round 2 or even round 3 whereas if they took a pitcher at #25, there won't be any good hitters left in rounds 2 and 3. We'll see.
Chris Haft of sfgiants.com seems to think they are particularly interested in HS SS Oscar Mercado, HS C Nick Ciuffo and college OF-RHP Michael Lorenzen. Another rumor out there has them drafting HS SS Christian Arroyo and signing him to an underslot bonus. If this is true, it would imply that they will also go after HS talent in subsequent rounds and want extra money sign it. Last year, the Giants stuck almost exclusively to college talent that they knew they could sign for near slot money. It is possible that after seeing how easy it was for teams to sign HS players down to around $500 K, it has emboldened them to go after HS players this year, especially since the talent pool at the HS level seems deeper.
If you are interested in names of players who BA ranks at the Giants picks. Here they are:
#25 Phil Bickford, HS RHP
#64 Rowdy Tellez, HS OF
#101 Mason Smith, HS OF
#132 Brandon Thomas college OF(Sr).
#162 Jamie Westbrook, HS 2B
#192 Ryan Cordell, college OF.
Shankbone and a couple of other guys ran the Giants community mock draft over at Minor League Ball. That mock draft lasted 4 rounds. Their picks were:
#25 Rob Kaminsky, HS LHP.
#64 Trey Masek, College RHP
#101 Mason Smith, HS OF
#132 Daniel Palka, College OF.
I think this is a very realistic mock draft and one the Giants could well end up following. Kaminsky is a smallish LHP who has strong stuff with very advanced command for a HS pitcher. He could be a fast mover out of HS a la Madison Bumgarner. Masek is a college pitcher who again has great pitchability. Smith is kind of a sleeper HS prospect out of Idaho with some helium while Palka is a college masher straight out of the John Barr mold.
So, who do I think the Giants will take in Round 1? I have no idea. The field is wide open. I think there may well be some fire behind the smoke of the Arroyo rumors. The Giants love their up-the-middle position players almost as much as they love pitching. There are enough SS rumors connected to the Giants that I have a strong feeling that is where they may be looking. One name I can't shake, if he is still on the board when the Giants pick at #25, is JC SS Tim Anderson who looks like he has all the upside in the world and can stick at the position.