Friday, June 7, 2013
MLB Draft: Winners and questions
By Keith Law
More draft content:
Pick-by-pick analysis | Top 100 | AL best second round | NL best of second round
Here's a quick look at my favorite picks and drafts from the first day, and a few picks that didn't make sense from where I sit. You'll also find my ranking of the 10 best available players.
Picks I loved
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays popped my top prep catcher in the draft class in Nick Ciuffo (21st overall), then made an opportunistic grab with Ryne Stanek at 29. Stanek came into the year as a potential top-five pick but performed well below expectations, which led to the Arkansas coaching staff jerking him around in the rotation, but he still has premium stuff and ranked 13th on my board.
The Brewers didn't pick until 54th overall, but got a first-round talent in athletic right-hander Devin Williams, who was 20th on my board and was an absolute steal in the second round. I'm flabbergasted that he lasted that long, and thrilled for Brewers fans because they haven't added a high-upside talent like that through the draft for several years.
I wasn't inspired by their first selection of DJ Peterson, but grabbing Austin Wilson, a first-round talent in my view but whose junior year was wrecked by injuries, in the second round (No. 49 overall) was outstanding. I don't think he'll be an easy sign there, but they could reserve some money by taking a few guys with lower bonus demands on Friday and boost their bonus from the $1.11 million assigned value for that pick.
Kansas City Royals
They over-drafted infielder Hunter Dozier (eighth overall) with their first pick, but made the strategy clear by taking Sean Manaea with the first pick in the competitive balance round, 34th overall. Manaea finished the year 10th on my board, which assumes that the hip injury that ruined his junior year has no long-term effects. If that's the case, this is a tremendous buy-low opportunity, and ending Day 1 with Manaea, Dozier and projectable JC lefty Cody Reed is a very good draft.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels, like the Brewers, didn't pick until the second round, but got a much better talent than they had any right to expect at pick 59, getting prep lefty Hunter Green, 42nd on my board and discussed by teams at the tail end of the first round. They were very college-heavy last year, focusing on players who could move fast through the minors, so going for a little ceiling as they did this time was a good change in strategy.
Picks I question
Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays reached twice for high-ceiling but very low-floor (or high-risk) prep arms. Phil Bickford (10th overall) has hit 98 mph and improved over the course of the spring, but his breaking stuff is unimpressive, with a flat slider and below-average curveball. The Jays believe he could be like Noah Syndergaard, who was an under-the-radar guy in 2010 but improved as the spring went on and increased his value in pro ball, although Syndergaard was a sandwich pick (No. 38 overall) and signed for less than MLB's recommended bonus for that slot.
Clinton Hollon (No. 47 overall) has first-round stuff but not command or control and has had arm trouble that wiped out most of last summer. Both kids also earned negative makeup comments from scouts with whom I spoke.
San Francisco Giants
Christian Arroyo, the Giants' first-round pick, just barely made my top 100, ranking 99th as a prep shortstop with some strength but who is destined for another position. I don't think there was much of a market for him that high in the draft, and too many better players were available at the pick.
Ryder Jones, their second-round pick, is committed to Stanford, which hasn't lost a major baseball commitment in more than a decade (despite a long track record of screwing up hitting prospects). The strong-armed third baseman projects to hit for above-average to plus power if he can hit, which is an open question.
The Tigers had three picks on Thursday night, taking three college arms -- one current reliever and two starters who will most likely end up relievers. Jonathan Crawford (20th overall) and Corey Knebel (39th) both have power arms, while Kevin Ziomek has more feel but a tough arm action that points to a relief role. It was great for the Tigers to have a first-round pick for a change, but taking three guys who are expected to end up in the pen squanders a bit of an opportunity here.
I loved Braden Shipley, the D-backs' first pick. But they earn the prize this year for the first selection of a player I did not rank on my top 100: Louisiana prep infielder Justin Williams, who has big raw power but a well below-average hit tool and no position.
1. Kyle Serrano, RHP | Farragut (Tenn.) HS
2. Jon Denney, C | Yukon (Okla.) HS
3. Connor Jones, RHP | Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake, Va.)
4. Andrew Mitchell, RHP | TCU
5. Wil Crowe, RHP | Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) HS
6. Ryan Boldt, OF | Red Wing (Minn.) HS
7. Jacob Brentz, LHP | Parkway South HS (Manchester, Mo.)
8. Garrett Williams, LHP | Calvary Baptist HS (Shreveport, La.)
9. Cord Sandberg, OF | Manatee HS (Bradenton, Fla.)
10. Dustin Driver, RHP | Wenatchee (Wash.) HS
Most of these players slid on signability concerns; Jones explicitly told scouts he would not sign and was going to Virginia, while Brentz was reportedly looking for a big bonus to buy him out of Missouri. Mitchell has worked as a starter but too many teams may view him as a reliever, and he was under-scouted early in the spring when he was a little-used piece in TCU's bullpen.
There were also some injury issues that caused a couple of these guys to fall. There are serious concerns about Crowe's medicals, as he has had ACL issues in both knees, while Boldt missed much of the season with minor knee injuries.
I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these guys, especially Crowe, Sandberg and Driver, go early on Friday with deals cut overnight or in the morning.