Loving The Major League Baseball Draft

The major league baseball draft is clearly the ugly step-child of the three major league drafts but I have a soft spot in my heart for the event. In fact, I love it. So much so that I thought I would take a few moments to share the objects of my affection …….

* I love that there is so much groupthink amongst the “scouts” and any selection made outside of the box is immediately hailed as idiotic. Clearly, darts are thrown poorly on the first night of the baseball draft but I think it’s funny that people who are relying on second, third and fourth hand reports for their info suddenly feel equipped to rip teams that have had fifteen scouts on this job since January (and before).  Teams screw up … NO DOUBT. But let’s let history and not Baseball America be the judge. (Or course, I am exempt from that when discussing the Yankees because  … well, just because.)

* That said …. I love Keith Law. He is amusing and I think he puts in enough work so his opinion should count for something. Mind you, I was careful to say “something” and not “everything.” Plus, every year, he fellates the Red Sox scouting department and I love that this pisses off those who both bow to Law and hate the Sox. 

* I love John Hart, who was calling the shots last night as the resident “GM” expert on the MLBN broadcast. As part of his analysis, Hart went “Sheen” by using the term “winner” to describe each of the first twelve players selected. In doing so, Hart completely upset the apple cart on the use of that word as it has previously been used to describe “intangible” guys, such as “white” third down receivers and short “white” infielders. To use it on Aryans who throw a hundred miles an hour, seems a bit incongruous with the agreed upon meaning of the word.

* I love the fact that the Red Sox selected a guy named Matt Barnes. His namesake was a favorite of mine at UCLA and if this Matt has the balls of that Matt, the Sox have a pitcher with a big set of balls!

* I Love MLB.com’s summary of Sox pick Blake Swihart: “Think a slightly better version of Colby Rasmus, a hitter who could hit .300 with 20+ homers annually.” Better? Great, a souped up Rasmus behind the plate! But what do we do in Boston for a receiver until Swihart starts putting up 5.0 WAR seasons in 2015?

* I love the that the Sox third pick, Henry Owens, is from the same area where my mom lives (Seal Beach). He might get homesick for the ocean as he moves on up, but my gut tells me his politics will fit right in when he gets to Greenville (South Carolina) and Salem (Virginia).

* I love the fact that the Sox fourth pick, Jackie Bradley Jr, is always referred to as JACKIE BRADLEY JUNIOR! Actually, I don’t love that at all and truth be told, I got pretty annoyed when ESPN’s Mike Patrick refused to drop the “junior” during the 2010 College World Series.

* I love that Peter Gammons was brought in to share his views on the draft. Truth be told, those eight nights he spends each Summer watching Cape League action clearly come in handy when he is asked to play the Kiper-Bilas role on draft night.  Let’s just say his command of the material is spotty and leave it at that.

* I love that the first player selected was not even all-conference his Junior Year. Has that ever happened? As a UCLA alum who actually follows his schools baseball program, I can offer this bit of testimony. Gerrit Cole was arguably the fifth most productive pitcher in UCLA’s program over the past two years, behind Trevor Bauer, Rob Rasmussen, Danny Klein and this year’s frosh, Adam Plutko.  That is not to say he was the school’s fifth best pro prospect, but that his talent has thus far not translated into comparable production. And if he struggled at times in the Pac-10, chances are he probably wouldn’t be thriving in the Florida State or Eastern Leagues.  Mind you, there are peers from Cole’s HS class that are already doing good work at A+ and AA.

* I LOVE (emphasis added) the live chat that took place last night over at River Avenue Blues, a comprehensive Yankee blog. A blogger named Mike Axisa served as the stewardess of last night’s flight and let’s just say it was the most amusing thing to come out of Yankee land since Rafael Soriano was signed for 33 bones. Message to Mike ….. regurgitating published draft previews and passing it off as original thought is sometimes thought of as plagarism.  And offering fairly opinionated opinions on players who you have NEVER seen reminds me a lot of the conversations I used to have in 8th grade before baseball was beamed out on Cable/Sat and the primary source of national info was Street & Smith’s preseason preview.

* I love Buster Olney’s tweets and his imagination. Here are two examples:

“Orioles take Dylan Bundy at No. 4 pick; lots of execs think he is the best pure talent in this draft. 2013 rotation: Matusz, Britton, Bundy”

“Love it — the Mariners shake up the draft with the second pick. In 2013, they could have Felix, Pineda, Hultzen anchoring their rotation.”

Forget development, let’s just skip these players ahead and assume their professional trajectories are meteoric. Is Buster serious … is he suggesting that Danny Hultzen is a Mark Prior level talent who will be anchoring a rotation after one year of minor league seasoning? And Dylan Bundy is going to fly through the minors as quickly as Gooden?  I’m not saying he is wrong as I don’t have a clue but history suggests he may be a little early buying the 2013 calls.

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