The Not-An-Expert Q-and-A preview of the MLB Draft (2013 edition)

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:

(Portions of this are copied or modified from last year’s Q&A)

Okay, so how does this draft work?

It is just like the other drafts (with the exception of the leagues that use a 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 didn’t have a pick until the 114th selection in 2012, since they lost their first two picks to the Cardinals and Rangers because of the signings of Pujols and Wilson. There are also sandwich picks at the end of the first or second round 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. New this year is that there are now two “competitive balance” rounds between the first and second and the second and third rounds. These picks, which as the name suggest are being given out as a way to encourage competitive balance, go to teams in either small markets or with small revenues that win a special lottery.

So basically, it’s like the other drafts, if the other drafts treated every free agent as a trade for a draft pick and the teams in small markets sometimes got more picks.

Say, can teams trade draft picks?

No, not really. The only picks that can be traded are the compensatory round picks that go to teams with low revenue or are in small markets.  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 had thought that this might be the first step to setting up a international draft, but it is now looking less likely.

In other words… stay tuned.

So who picks first this year?

The Astros (again), and then the Cubs, Rockies, Twins and then Indians.

Who will the Astros pick?

Different people have different ideas, as this year’s draft is considered something of an enigma. That said, SB Nation, which took a look at various Mock Drafts and created a “consensus” mock draft that suggests that most analysts expect them to pick Jonathan Gray, a right handed pitcher at the University of Oklahoma. However, his recent positive test for Adderall may throw that in to doubt- or could just mean he will make less money when he signs.

What about after that?

Most people think that when the Cubs pick at number two it’ll be Stanford’s Mark Appel, who some think is an even better prospect than Gray, but who is something of a signability worry. Last year, for example, his signability was such a issue that he fell to the Pirates at number eight (despite the fact many thought he’d be number one)… who were unable to sign him.  However, Appel is now out of years in college, so unless Scott Boras is going to convince him to play in the Indys or overseas until next year’s draft, he’ll probably end up signing.

Enough pitchers! Can anybody in this draft hit?

Yes. Kris Bryant from the University of San Diego is a righty 3B (potentially converted to 1B or OF) who scouts say can hit to all fields with power. Many think the Rockies will pick him with the third pick. Other hitters to look for in the early first round include corner-infielder Colin Moran from UNC Chapel Hill, Georgian high school outfielder Clint Frazier, Washingtonian (as in the state) high school catcher Reese McGuire, and 3B D.J. Petersen of the University of New Mexico.

Anybody related to anybody famous going to be drafted?

Of course! Why, the aforementioned Colin Moran is B.J. Surhoff‘s nephew! Baseball America has a big page full of draft prospects who are related to notable names.

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. That said, to give an idea of how long it takes for players to get up. Very few players, such as Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha, have made it up to the big leagues since being drafted last season. Five or so from 2011 have made it to the show, and 8 or so from the first round of 2010 are there. You have to go back to the 2009 draft before you get double-digit amounts of first rounders in the big leagues. So, basically, don’t be surprised if you start seeing the class of the 2013 draft arriving in MLB in large numbers until about four years.

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.

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