Tomorrow, the MLB draft begins. As I mentioned before, College Baseball is sort of the odd man out in college sports. And, as I referred to in that post, a lot of high schoolers get drafted in the MLB draft. So, with that in mind, in most years you need a scorecard to know who the people being drafted are. So, with that in mind, I’ve done some research to get you up to speed on the draft, and who will probably get drafted, check it out underneath the jump:
Okay, so how does this draft work?
It is just like the other drafts (with the exception of the NBA’s lottery): worst team goes first, second worst after that, etc. However, there are a few things that are different. For one, if a team loses a big-name free agent, they get the first or second round draft pick of the team that signed him. As an example of this, the Angels won’t have a pick until the 114th selection, since they lost their first two picks to the Cardinals and Rangers because of the signings of Pujols and Wilson. There are also sandwich rounds that give even more picks for teams that lost top-line free agents. If a team loses a free agent that is good, but not great, they will only get a sandwich pick, not the signing team’s pick.
So basically, it’s like the other drafts, if the other drafts treated every free agent as a trade for a draft pick.
Say, can teams trade draft picks?
No. Bill Belichick would hate the MLB draft.
Does this draft cover Japan, the Dominican, Venezuela, etc?
No. It only covers the USA, Canada and US possessions (usually Puerto Rico, but in theory it also covers Guam, the US Virgin Islands and the like). There have long been discussions that there could be a international draft, but two things are generally stopping it. For one, it would be a logistical and political (the Japanese and Koreans would probably not be happy about having their High Schoolers going straight to America) nightmare. For another, it could ruin the economics that allow there to be tons of Dominican and Venezuelan prospects coming in. After the draft was expanded to Puerto Rico, it was noted, the number of players from there has dropped greatly, as they no longer were able to get large signing bonuses as international free agents.
However, changes in the most recent CBA have made it so that teams will no longer be able to just willy-nilly offer large signing bonuses to international free agents. Well, they still will be able to, but if they go over a certain amount they will have to pay more in revenue-sharing. Some have thought that this might be the first step to setting up a international draft.
In other words… stay tuned.
So who picks first?
The Astros, followed by the Twins, Mariners, Orioles and then Royals.
Who will the Astros pick?
The various mock drafts (such as here, here, here and here [note: the last one is only for EPSN insider subscribers. If you have a ESPN the magazine subscription, you can get one for free]) are all in agreement that the Astros will pick Stanford righty Mark Appel, a flamethrower who consistently hits the mid-90s. Collegiate pitchers are generally regarded as a safer bet than high schoolers, and usually are able to come up far faster than high school players. At Stanford this season, he is 10-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched.
What about after that?
All of the four mock drafts I found also agree on who the Twins will pick: HS outfielder Byron Buxton, a Georgian who has the potential to be a five-tool player. What is a five-tool player, you ask? For one thing, what the heck are you doing on this blog, for another: it is said that the best of the best ballplayers have five tools: hitting for average, hitting for power, good speed/baserunning, good arm and good fielding. The quintessential five-tool player is Willie Mays. Nobody is foolish enough to claim that Buxton will be Willie Mays (nobody is Willie Mays), but that is an example of the type of player some think Buxton could be.
When do these mock drafts start disagreeing?
At pick number three. ESPN’s Keith Law, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America‘s Jim Callis think the Mariners will go with catcher Mike Zunino from the University of Florida. John Sickels, who runs the MinorLeagueBall blog, thinks they will go SS Carlos Correa, from the Puerto Rican baseball academy.
Any family members of big leaguers or anything expected to be drafted this year?
Yes. Corey Seager is the younger brother of Mariners’ 3B Kyle Seager. Corey is also a 3B, and is predicted by most of the mock drafts I’ve seen as going in the first or second round. Daniel Bard’s little brother, Luke, is also likely to be drafted this year. And, as happens every year, the later rounds will be filled with players getting drafted as favors for front office staff, coaches and retired stars. Usually they don’t end up being anything special and flare out before they ever reach the majors. Well, except for this guy named Piazza, who had the luck of having Tommy Lasorda as a family friend and so was picked in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft. By the way, the draft doesn’t even have 62 rounds anymore, it is capped at 40.
When will players drafted from this year start making it to the big leagues?
It varies. There are occasionally guys, especially relief pitchers, who could very well be up for September call-ups, although whether they are there to help the team or just there to give the kid some experience will be up for debate. But just for reference, nobody from the first round of last year’s draft has made it up yet. Only four from the first round of 2010 (including Bryce Harper) have made it to the big leagues. 12 from the first round of 2009 have made it. The most recent draft where over 50% of the first rounders have made it to the big leagues is 2008. So, in other words, we should be seeing lots of 2012 draftees playing in the show by 2016.
That’s a long time. How am I supposed to remember these people?
Congratulations, you have found one of the main reasons why the MLB draft receives so little hype compared to the NFL and NBA drafts.