All About Baseball
MLB Draft Recap Day 1: Biggest Winners and Losers
Who got the best value on MLB Draft Day 1?
Note: This list takes into consideration draft slots and bonus pools. Obviously, a team like the Astros, with four picks and a total of $17,289,200 to spend in total, should have come away with more talent than, say, the Mets, who only had one pick on Monday and a total bonus pool of only $3,587,800.
In this article, I am looking for the teams who made the best selections with the picks and bonus pools they had to work with. So here we go.
The Astros: Yes, it may be cliché to call the Astros the biggest winners, since they had the most money to spend by a wide margin, including two picks in the top five. However, one cannot overlook the huge steal they got in selecting high school outfielder Daz Cameron at pick #37. Daz, who happens to be the son of former big league outfielder Mike Cameron, was projected as a possible Top five pick in the draft, with many gurus predicting that the Astros would grab him up at pick #5. Instead, they used their first pick (#2 overall) on Alex Bregman, a college shortstop with an extremely high floor and a very strong hit tool (even if he may eventually move off of short), and Kyle Tucker (#5 overall), a high school outfielder with great hitting potential who may project to have plus hit and power tools one day, along with a solid all- around game to boot.
Luckily for them, Daz Cameron slipped to #37, giving them 3 players who were projected by many to go in the Top 10, or even in the Top 5 in some mocks. Cameron may be risky, but he has the potential and all around game to be an all star centerfielder one day. The Astros also selected college pitcher Thomas Eshelman at #46, a relatively safe college pitcher who only sits in the low 90s, but has strong pitchability and a nice four pitch mix. These four picks have provided the Astros with a great mix of high ceiling and high floor picks.
They Astros had a clear advantage due to having the highest bonus pool of money to spend, as well as four picks on the first day, but they still managed to exceed expectations. Since Cameron’s signing bonus may be far over slot at #37, this may limit the amount of money the Astros can spend on Day 2. However, they still managed to get a ton of high impact talent on Day 1.
The Cubs: Known for drafting hitters with their first round selections, the Cubs continued this trend by selecting Ian Happ with the #9 pick. Happ is a switch hitter out of college who has done nothing but hit throughout his college career. He may be able to stay at second base, but also may end up in the outfield. Although he doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the draft, Happ seems like a safe bet to hit, and could eventually provide solid power as well, to go along with his already impressive plate discipline, making him a strong bet to be an impact player. At pick #47, the Cubs selected another college outfielder in Donnie Dewees, who also has a strong hit tool with solid plate discipline, although he may never hit for much power. With their two picks, the Cubs acquired two more young hitters to add to their already strong stable of such.
The Marlins: With the 12th pick overall, the Marlins reached quite a bit to select Josh Naylor, a high school first baseman. I actually like Naylor as a prospect, but I think #12 was way too high for him, since his success is going to completely rely upon his bat, as the rest of his game is far below average. Naylor does have a lot of potential as a hitter, as well as what could be the makings of plus power, but he is still very raw. The fact that he has no chance of playing any position except first base puts a lot of pressure on his hitting, since first basemen with few other skills besides their bat really need to produce monster stats in order to make an impact.
This makes the odds of Naylor contributing as a big leaguer relatively small, despite his impressive power. With their second round pick, the Marlins selected Brett Lilek at #50. Lilek is a solid college pitcher, but is a pretty safe pick with limited upside. I thought the Marlins may have gone for an over slot pick at #50 (such as Michael Matuella, who’s still on the board after the first day, and should be an impact pitcher once he returns from TJ surgery) with the money they should have saved from reaching for Naylor (assuming he signs under slot). However, failing to do so cements the Marlins’ draft crop as somewhat weak after the first day, especially for a team who had a pick as high as #12, where there were several impact players still available.
The Angels: I’m not a huge fan of the Angels’ first round selection of Taylor Ward at #26. Ward is a college catcher with strong defensive skills, but seems like a bit of a reach for a first round pick, even for one picked towards the end of the first round. Ward’s offensive abilities lag far behind his defense, and his bat doesn’t seem to have much room to grow. Despite being a solid bet to make the majors, I believe he will probably end up as a back up catcher due to his lackluster hitting skills, which were inconsistent even at the college level.
Picking a safe, yet severely limited player with a relatively low ceiling like Ward is not the best way to spend a first round pick in my opinion. With the last pick of the second round (right before the start of the second competitive balance round), the Angels selected Jahmai Jones at #70 overall. Jones was selected out of high school and should play in the outfield for now. He has the makings of a strong hit tool and makes a lot of contact, to go along with above average speed. I personally like their second round selection of Jones, but I don’t think it’s enough to make up for their first round blunder.
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