It comically looks like Houston has 30 people in their draft room. Shouldn't only people with an essential role be allowed in the war room? With a closer look, but I could be wrong about this, it seems some of the Astros beat writers have been granted access to the team's draft room.
In the main studio building, with all the teams represented, Juan Cruz is at the Astros table. In the background, we see Eric Davis manning the Reds table. It's 80's night at the MLB Draft!
Before we're even ready, Bud Selig takes the podium to announce that the Houston Astros select Mark Appel. They passed on the consensus 1-1 pick last June and ended up with him here. Appel is an expensive pick. Jeff Luhnow and the Astros are showing a different strategy than last season, when they saved money by taking Carlos Correa under slot. This was a bit of a surprise to most pundits, who were expecting them to select Jonathan Gray.
The Cubs should take Jonathan Gray, as they're expected to choose between the Sooner Ace and Mark Appel. As a Cubs fan, I'm kind of leaning towards Gray instead of Kris Bryant because I want them to have a front-line starter. The Roger Clemens and Matt Cain comparables sound great, but taking a college hitter is a much safer proposition than any pitcher. Last season, the Cubs elected a strategy of taking a safe batter early in the first round, then take a run of 7 straight pitchers and 13 of the next 18 picks. That strategy makes sense, since the problem with investing in good young pitchers is that many of them get hurt. So, take a bunch of them and some will stay healthy.
Surprise, surprise! The Cubs took Kris Bryant, the power hitting With the large investments required for early first round draft choices, it makes sense to go for the safer pick, while hoping to find a few arms that can help the system in the next 10 of the next 15 picks.
More noticeably, the mock drafts I looked at were wrong again. Most had the Cubs picking between the top two pitchers. All day, I wondered what was it that made the Cubs decide to drop Kris Bryant from their consideration? For weeks, the talk was Gray, Appel, or Bryant. Then, 24 or 48 hours before the draft, we hear the Cubs have narrowed it down to Gray or Appel. Why? How did that rumor begin? I believe that Jim Callis and Keith Law reported it because trustworthy information they received made them believe it was worth reporting. Asking, but not being answered, in the klaw chat didn't help matters, but I digress.
Jonathan Gray, the right-handed falling to Colorado at #3 is perfect. As we say every draft, the Rockies cannot recruit pitching without paying through the nose. No team wants to rely on building an offense through free agency and international signings, but Colorado's circumstances are so different. The Rockies need to draft top-line pitching at every opportunity.
Kohl Stewart goes #4 to the Twins. Entering the draft, Stewart was seen as a high risk/reward pick. If he signed, he'd be a top athlete in any organization, but deals to play college football have been known to scare teams. Jonathan Mayo, on the MLB Network team, is confident that Stewart will sign with the Twins. It makes sense, coming out of high school, to sign if you're selected this highly. Who knows where he'd be picked after three years of college baseball and football.
The Indians took an exciting young player, who may end up being the belle of the ball: Clint Frazier. For some reason, people have been talking about a prejudice against redheads. A personal favorite, Matt Murton, never got a steady shot at starting every day. Instead, Murton took his talents to Japan and has been extremely successful. Clint Frazier is already a more accomplished prospect than Murton ever was. The TV guys are saying he has world class bat speed and may be able to develop all five tools. Someone dropped a Mike Trout comp on him, which I think is a bit much. His swing looked a bit like a right-handed Grady Sizemore's to my unpaid scouting eyes.
Colin Moran, from North Carolina, went 6th to the Marlins. A lazy comp I heard of him before the draft was Dustin Ackley. If team's really expected this Tar Heel to play like Dustin Ackley, would he be getting drafted in the top 10? Peter Gammons seems to be high on this guy. There were whispers on Moran maybe sneaking into the top 3 for a team wanting to spend some of the slot money later. Moran is a left-handed, power-hitting third baseman, taking after his uncle B.J. Surhoff.
Before we know it, the MLB Draft feels like the 5th round of the NFL Draft. Most baseball fans have never heard of Matt Appel, let alone anyone taken after him. In fact, most fans won't hear about Kris Bryant for two or three years, if ever.
The Boston Red Sox surprise a lot of people with the 7th pick by selecting two-way, high school star Trey Ball. Coming out of Indiana, Ball is a 6'5" lefty who can pitch and hit well. Indications are that the Red Sox will want him to pitch and become another Jon Lester type of starting pitcher, who throws strikes at 92-93 mph.
I'm starting to feel the effects of a weak draft, as normally, I would expect a #7 overall pick to have a bit more upside than Peter Gammons alludes to, tweeting soon after the selection:
NL official on Trey Ball:"very athletic, projectionable, power arm with chance to be a number 2"
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) June 7, 2013
With the 8th pick, the Kansas City
I made sure not to drive off the road tweeting about the Royals pick. Instead I nearly drove off the road because of the Royals pick.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) June 7, 2013
Just got home. I'll be happy to tell you what I think of Hunter Dozier, just as soon as I find out WHO THE HELL IS HUNTER DOZIER.
— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) June 7, 2013
It sounds as thought the Royals are just taking someone they like under slot, and planning on drafting someone over slot with their next pick. The Royals are certainly interesting.
Rounding out the Top 10, the Pirates take a potential 5-tool prep outfielder from Georgia, Austin Meadows, and Toronto selects a right-handed, 6'4" 200 lb pitcher out of California named Phillip Bickford.
The New York Mets have the next pick, and Darryl Strawberry is smiling at the Mets' table. So many 1980's icons at the team tables, it's like we're watching Hot Tub Time Machine 3. Harold Reynolds just called the Mets pick, Dominic Smith, the best left-handed batter to come out of LA since Darryl Strawberry. Smith's video clip with MLB Network taught us that he has a great voice and he likes to cook.
D.J. Peterson is a corner infielder with power and patience at the plate. All joking aside, he could become a very good hitter.
The polar opposite dilemma that Colorado has in recruiting pitchers is how the Padres find themselves trying to build an offense. Free agent pitchers will carry their own bags to sign with San Diego, but a free agent hitter isn't going to go there and hope everyone understands that 28 home runs would be a monster season. The Padres need to draft hitters. So, they took a toolsy college outfielder named Hunter Renfro. When I'm least expecting it, we get hit with another terrible comp. Someone on TV says that Renfro "has a little bit of Tim Salmon in him". Why? Because they might have a slight resemblance? These piss-poor comp must end.
At Nos. 14 and 15, the Pirates take a prep catcher named Reese McGuire, and the Diamondbacks take Braden Shipley, a right-handed starting pitcher out of the University of Nevada. MLB Network has a camera crew in his home, and Shipley looks really happy to have been drafted.
At #16, the Phillies make an exciting pick, by taking J.P. Crawford, a high school shortstop and Carl Crawford's cousin. He might get moved to the Outfield in pro ball, but Phillies fans won't care where he plays if he can hit and run like a young Carl Crawford. In a pre-recorded clip aired after his pick, Crawford said he'd like to model his game after Derek Jeter because Jeter is so good defensively. I guess we know that J.P. isn't spending too much time reading John Dewan.
Back-to-back Andersons go at 17 and 18. First, the White Sox selected Tim Anderson, a JuCo shortstop. Then, the took college pitcher Chris Anderson.
Jonathan Mayo and Peter Gammons like the Dodgers pick of Chris Anderson. He is a hard thrower that entered the season with high expectations. He faded a bit with fatigue, potential overuse, and a lousy team behind him. The TV guys are trying to give the Dodgers the benefit of the doubt. The conversation is getting a bit circular. Did he have an off year because his college team had an off year? Or, did his college have an off year because he had an off year?
Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga goes to the Cardinals at #19. He's a left-handed pitcher. Jim Callis had him ranked as the 5th best left-handed pitcher. This doesn't sound like last year, when the Cardinals drafted Michael Wacha. After the Wacha pick, everyone was gushing about how fortunate the Cardinals were to have him fall in their laps.
With the 20th pick, Dave Dombrowski added another power arm to the Detroit's minor league stable. The Tigers selected Jonathan Crawford from the University of Florida. Considering how the Tigers had Rick Porcello make 31 starts as a 20-year old, they will probably not take too long to give 21-year old Crawford an opportunity to impress Jim Leyland.
The American League East got better with the 21st and 22nd picks. First, the Tampa Bay Rays selected Nick Ciuffo, a high school catcher, who looks and sounds like he's going to be a good fit for the Rays. Truth be told, the Rays have such a good thing going that it sounds like anyone could be a good fit for the Rays. The 22nd pick wound up being my favorite pick of the first round.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Hunter Harvey, the son of former All-Star closer Bryan Harvey. Hunter comes out of high school, throwing 97 mph, saying he doesn't want to go to college. The Orioles may want to pencil him into a future rotation with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, but he could also be lightning coming out of the bullpen. MLB Network placed Harvey onto the list of top Orioles prospects immediately.
Baseball has another guy named Alex Gonzalez, as the Rangers made him the 23rd pick of the evening. He's a college right-hander, as the Rangers wisely attempt to stay on top of their division by perpetually competing in the arms race.
Living Legend, Billy Beane, has been thought of as one who prefers the more secure nature of picking college players than high school players because they are closer to the finished product. Imagine my surprise when the Oakland A's took a high school outfielder, named Billy McKinney with their first pick in the draft.
The World Champion Giants selected Christian Arroyo, an 18-year old shortstop from Florida. He was the starting shortstop for the Team USA 18-and-under team. So, he comes with some pedigree behind him. He has a commitment to play for the Gators, but we'll see if San Francisco can convince him to get his career started.
The Yankees had to wait until now to pick, but they actually have more first round picks than any other team, as they will close out the first round with back-to-back picks at 32 and 33. With the 26th pick, the Yankees take Eric Jagielo from Notre Dame, a power-hitting 3rd baseman with a left-handed swing tailor made for Yankee Stadium.
At 27, the Reds selected Phillip Ervin from Samford University. Ervin is a Centerfielder who sounds like he can do everything pretty well without excelling at any tool. He has good speed, can stay in center, and is a good pure hitter with some power. The Denard Span and Andrew McCutchen comps probably represent his optimistic floor and just out of reach ceiling.
The 28th pick, by St. Louis winds up being Rob Kaminsky, another southpaw. He sounds like a "low cieling, but high floor" prospect. I'm not impressed by his prerecorded video piece, nor the scouting video MLB Network just. I don't like to root against kids, but I'm sick of the Cardinals dominating the NL Central and hope this kid stinks. A happier ending would also be to hope he gets traded and succeeds elsewhere. Yeah, let's root for that.
Jonathan Mayo was about to go crazy if no-one selected Ryan Stanek soon, and the Rays helped him calm down with the 29th pick. From his draft video, we learn that Ryan Stanek has a power arm and acne. The luster from this prospect certainly wore off, as he had too many question marks to go any higher. I wrote above that just about anyone could be a good fit with the Rays. Here's another chance for the team from Tampa to succeed by zigging into Stanek while others were zagging away.
The Rangers take Travis Demeritte, a shortstop from Statham, GA. He could develop into a leadoff hitter and has a nice smile.
Jason Hursch, a college pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, was taken at 31 by the Braves.
The Yankees are about to finish up the first round with two back-to-back picks. No-one has taken Sean Manaea, and he was highly rated coming in. Also, Ian Clarkin is still available and high on most draft boards.
The 32nd pick is amazing. The Yankees took a Centerfielder who is humongous. Aaron Judge, from Fresno State, is listed at 6'7" 255 lbs. Dave Winfield was 6'6" 220. This guy is a monster. I hope he turns out to me good.
The Yankees took Ian Clarkin, a high school left-handed pitcher with the 33rd pick. In his TV interview, Clarkin sounded like he was less than pleased to be joining the Yankee organization. It sounds like he grew up a hater.
The compensation round is about to begin, and this is where we check out. Thank goodness. Thanks for reading! Please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments below.