The 2012 Draft
The 2012 MLB Draft (well the first round at least) is scheduled to begin this Monday night, and fans across the country are waiting to see just who their favorite team will pick. The Orioles have the 4th overall pick, just as they did last year in selecting Dylan Bundy from Owasso, OK. Bundy has been, well, a revelation. Fans can debate until their faces are blue about who they think the team will take, but my question is this – what would you do if you were the GM?
The Road to 2011
It all started in the summer following the 2010 draft as I began to scan the prep and college landscape for potential targets in the first round in 2011. Typically this involved watching a lot of college baseball in the CWS and scouring sites like Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus to see guys putting up good numbers as underclassmen. For about 6-9 months my pick was set. I hoped and prayed that the 3B from Rice named Anthony Rendon would fall to the O’s at 4. He put up crazy numbers, had a good glove, and seemed like the future at 3B for the Orioles. Then he got hurt… a lot. Doubt crept in.
The weeks leading up to the draft had me pulling up Dylan Bundy’s stats weekly, checking to see how he performed the week before. I followed Bundy’s run through the state playoffs, losing to Archie Bradley (though Bundy did not pitch) in the Oklahoma state championship. I had officially changed my mind and Bundy was ‘my guy’.
When Bundy and Rendon both fell to Baltimore, I felt conflicted. Do I want them to take my first choice, or the new guy that had blown me away in recent weeks? The birds took Bundy, just as I hoped, and the rest is history.
My Draft Philosophy
This year I’ve thought a lot about who I would want, and why I would want to take them. In the recent weeks my draft preferences have changed a lot, as you can see here. My final rankings are this:
Buxton Correa Giolito Gausman Appel Almora Fried Zunino Zimmer Hawkins
You might notice that I have an awful lot of high school guys in my top 10, but really I think there’s something more fundamental here. I’d rather take a chance on a guy who can become a superstar than draft a guy who is more of a sure thing. I should mention that this is more for the first round or handful of rounds only, and that teams definitely need a balance of high floor guys as well. My opinion is just that you need to take the guy with the highest upside possible in the first round and hope you can build him to meet that potential. For the most part, I weigh hitting ability higher than fielding, but that’s with the caveat that a lack of fielding abilities certainly hurts a player’s potential impact on the field.
The MLB Draft is the most difficult draft in pro sports to manage because the players are so far removed from being MLB players that you really just have to focus on what they could be and how you will get them there. Some players have huge upsides (Byron Buxton) but are still incredibly raw in terms of polish. Others (Marcus Stroman) could likely step onto the field and hold his own this summer.
So for me, guys like Correa, Gausman, and Giolito present opportunities to really draft and develop a franchise player. It’s not that I don’t think the guys in the lower half of my top 10 could help a team like the Orioles, it’s just that I think that given the chance to draft a star player, you take it.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below about how you’d like to draft. Prep arms? Athletic college OF? What would you do if you were your favorite team’s GM?
Also, find more of my work at my site: Warehouse Worthy
As an Orioles fan, I never thought I would be more excited about a prospect than after the O’s drafted Manny Machado. A few years ago, the Orioles drafted Matt Wieters and paid him a massive bonus. Wieters was pretty much a finished product after dominating at Georgia Tech, and everyone knew he would be good one day. Watching Wieters cruise through the minors was fun, but also expected.
Then Manny Machado came along. Machado, just a teenager drafted out of high school wasn’t polished like Wieters but was exciting nonetheless. Manny, drafted just a few slots after phenom Bryce Harper has impressed as a 19 year old in pro ball despite playing guys with a few years of experience on him. It’s exciting to watch Machado play SS and continually hit well despite his youth.
However, everything changed when Dylan Bundy came along. I remember going into last year’s draft knowing that Anthony Rendon was the way to go. As he continued to struggle (compared to his own standards) and Bundy continued to dominate, my focus shifted. On draft day, the scenarios I ran through my head countless times came to fruition and the Orioles selected Dylan Bundy 4th overall.
Fast forward to Bundy’s pro debut a few days ago and Manny Machado became an afterthought. Bundy tossed 3 perfect innings, striking out 6 batters for low class A Delmarva. Bundy sat in the mid to high 90s, and showed solid secondary stuff to go with it. He showed every bit of what made him a top prospect prior to last June’s draft. A full scouting report of Bundy’s start can be found here. Jim Callis is seemingly jumping on the bandwagon as well, saying Bundy might have gone 1:1 if the draft was re-done today.
When you’re an Orioles fan, you find that a lot of your hopes lie in the futures of your prospects. For a while that didn’t work out so well. The new wave of prospects to succeed so far may be changing that around however. Let’s not get carried away, it was just 3 innings against low class A competition. All I’m saying is, I’m believing the hype. Are you?