- Keith Law, ESPN Insider
Most of the important names in the MLB Rule 4 draft go in the first three rounds, so now is a good time to look back and see what teams have added so far and who fared well or not so well on Day 1.
Best picks of the first round
I can't say enough about the Rockies nabbing Tyler Matzek at 11. Sure, it was luck that he was available at their pick, and he slid because teams were concerned about his price tag, but the Rockies deserve credit for taking the plunge on the top prep arm in the draft. (You shouldn't draft for need, but I would forgive the Rockies if they overweighted pitching.) Matzek is a polished lefty with above-average velocity and should end up with four legitimate big league pitches and plus command. I think every system could use one of those guys, but the Rockies had the guts to take him despite his bonus demands.
The Cardinals did something similar in grabbing Shelby Miller at 19. Miller, long a favorite of mine, was a clear top-10 talent to me, up to 96 mph with plus life and good depth on his breaking ball, with some command issues midyear that settled down in time. The Cards don't have guys like Miller -- a high-upside arm who could pitch at the top of a big league rotation someday -- in their system, and you typically don't get arms like that at 19.
The Twins really showed some guts with their first-round pick, taking Kyle Gibson (who probably would have gone in the top 10 if healthy) despite the stress fracture in his arm that wrecked his velocity in his last college outing. There isn't a clear consensus on how serious the injury is long term, but the reward for taking this risk is a future No. 2 or 3 starter who still has some projection left in his tall, lean body. Minnesota took a similar gamble at 101, taking Jacksonville State pitcher Ben Tootle, who was a star as a closer on the Cape last summer but struggled as a starter this spring, in part due to a stomach virus that cost him more than 20 pounds.
Worst picks of the first round
Three picks jumped out at me in the wrong way. One was Tony Sanchez at No. 4 to Pittsburgh, simply because of who else was on the board. Sanchez was a legitimate first-rounder for me, an everyday catcher who should hit for power, and I don't think this is a Daniel Moskos situation in which the Pirates took a signable player who might never have big league value -- Sanchez will play in the majors. The Pirates have indicated they didn't like the price tags on the other guys available at that pick (they would have taken Stephen Strasburg or Dustin Ackley) and they intended to allocate their draft budget toward later picks; that's just not the strategy I would likely take, at least not in the top five overall picks. I do like their second-round pick, Brooks Pounders, quite a bit, and if you're looking for a Micah Owings type in this draft, he might be the guy, because he's got substantial raw power even though his future is on the mound.
The Rockies and Twins showed some guts in the first round, while the Pirates made an early pick that stood out for the wrong reasons.