Written by Minor League Ball’s John Sickels.
Judging the first day of a draft with a simple “up/down” dichotomy can be misleading. Last year, for example, it looked strange for the Pirates to draft Tony Sanchez, but they turned around and used the money saved to pick higher-upside players in later rounds. With that in mind, here is my thumbnail take on the first day of the draft.
Arizona – Down
I like Loux as a prospect, but he has some injury risk and there were both safer and higher upside arms available at number six overall.
Atlanta – Tentative Up
Lipka in the supplemental round has considerable upside, especially if he can remain at shortstop. If he moves to second base or outfield, this might not look so hot down the road.
Baltimore – Up
Machado is an excellent choice in all respects.
Boston – Up
Vitek and Brentz have two of the best bats available in a weak hitting class. Ranaudo in the supplemental round could be an outstanding pick if he returns to full health. Red Sox fans should be happy.
Chicago Cubs – Down
Simpson was a pre-draft sleeper, but no one expected him to go this early. The Cubs must have been totally convinced that he’s legit, and VERY certain that he was coming off the board before they picked again.
Chicago White Sox – Up
Some doubt Sale’s unconventional arm slot and worry about injury, but any time you get a consensus top five talent at thirteen, you grab him.
Cincinnati – Up
Grandal’s combination of strong defense and greatly improved hitting makes him a very attractive pick.
Cleveland – Up
Pomeranz needs a bit of refinement, but he had the best lefty power arm available in my view.
Colorado – Up
Both Parker and Tago have risk factors, but the upside is very high and overall I like the combination.
Detroit – Up
The Tigers will have to pay early-slot money for Castellanos, while Ruffin provides another polished relief arm that should move quickly, a Tigers theme in recent drafts.
Florida – Down
Yelich has impressive pure hitting skills, but his power is questionable and there were bigger impact bats available here.
Houston – Tentative Up
DeShields has great tools, Foltynewicz has a fresh Midwest arm with huge upside, and Kvasnicka has a promising bat but an uncertain position.
Kansas City –Tentative Up
Colon fills an organizational need and should move quickly. If the Royals take money possibly saved here and apply to later rounds, move this to “up.”
Los Angeles Angels – Tentative Up
Very tools-heavy here with multiple picks, but I think a college player mixed in would have balanced risk without harming upside if it was the right player. This draft is bold though, and very boom-or-bust.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Down
Unless they have a pre-draft deal in place, picking the probably-unsignable Lee is a huge gamble financially and otherwise, with a good chance that they will have to recycle this pick next year. That may not be a bad thing, though, depending on what they do in later rounds and what the draft class is like in ’11.
Covey’s stock was dropping pre-draft, but the Brewers clearly believe he’ll be fine with a few mechanical tweaks. There’s some risk, but I think it was worth it.
Minnesota – Up
Wimmers fits the Minnesota mold. He’s low risk, but he has very good stuff and is similar to Scott Baker at the same stage. He is not a finesse pitcher.
New York Mets – Down
Harvey has a great arm, but mechanical issues and control problems make him a poor risk at seven overall.
New York Yankees – Down
Culver’s home-state ties and toolsy nature attracted the Yankees, but he would most likely have been available in later rounds. If they use some money saved to make a big splash in later rounds, this could end up being OK, but we’ll have to see.
Oakland – Up
Choice has power, patience, and an underrated tool set in my view. He’s in the right system for a hitter with his style.
Philadelphia – Up
This may be a minority opinion, but I like the pick: if Biddle had gone to high school in Florida or California, he would have ranked higher on a lot of boards.
Pittsburgh – Up
Can’t beat Taillon, who would have been the definite number one guy most years.
St. Louis – Up
Cox is a very polished hitter, while both Blair and Jenkins would have been worthy first round choices. This looks like a great class to me.
San Diego – Up
I love Whitson’s combination of stuff and command.
San Francisco – Down
Brown can fly and has a great glove, but he isn’t likely to help the Giants much in the OBP and power departments.
Seattle – Tentative Down
I like Walker, but he’s quite risky and raw. If they take some saved money and apply to others in later rounds, this could look better.
Tampa Bay – Up
Three highly-impressive high school bats load up the lower levels of the system quite nicely.
Texas – Tentative Up
Skole was shooting up draft boards and Deglan is very advanced for a Canadian high schooler. Jackson and Olt are more speculative, and might have been available in later rounds. I will reserve final judgment until we see the rest of the class.
Toronto – Up
Very pitching heavy, with a nice mixture, two college arms (McGuire, Wojciechowski) who should move fast and two high schoolers (Sanchez, Syndergaard) who will need more time but have great upside. Extra letters for uniform names might be a budget hassle.
Washington – Up
Harper was the obvious choice, and should make the draft class for the Nationals by himself.