Draft Day One Thoughts

Well, the Orioles had the chance to take Manny Machado, the third of the three talents everyone agreed were head and shoulders above the rest, and they took him.  After the Hobgood pick last year, they certainly have proved again that they are willing to spend, selecting the Boras-represented Machado, who will command a well overslot bonus.  Obviously, we won't know for a couple of days whether that willingness to spend goes beyond the top pick, but it is nice to see the Orioles grabbing an elite talent after having, in the eyes of some, gone cheap with the top pick in 2009.  But as far as the O's go, the day went as planned and nothing went wrong.

The bad news?  A lot of people are going to be talking about how the Red Sox had the best draft of all 30 teams.

more after the jump...

The Red Sox had three of the first forty picks, and selected Kolbrin Vitek, Bryce Brentz, and Anthony Ranaudo.  All three are college players.  Vitek is a second baseman whose major league home may be in center field, Brentz is a corner outfielder who many people before the season thought would be the strongest collegiate bat regardless of position, and Ranaudo should be familiar to everyone as he was one of the names that was connected early to the O's as the top collegiate arm available, before arm troubles and effectiveness issues at times pushed him down.

While a lot of people will rave about this class, I'm not as high on it.  Yes, these guys were all expected at some points to go earlier on draft day.  But Vitek was supposed to go in the top ten to the Padres, which is run by former Red Sox execs, and that tells me that the Red Sox/Padres network loves Vitek more than the rest of the league.  Ranaudo I think is never going to stop having arm troubles; his delivery is a mess.  Brentz is the one that hurts here.

On the upside, the Yankees had one of the biggest WTF moments of the draft, selecting Cito Culver, a shortstop/RHP who had committed late to Maryland.  Culver is an odd pick; probably lacking the range to play shortstop or center, lacking an elite enough bat to man an outfield corner, and yet is a better hitting prospect than pitcher.  His most attractive attribute would seem to be that he is considered signable, so I'm not sure what the heck the Yankees were thinking.

The Rays, on the other hand, did quite well, nabbing prep outfielder Josh Sale, prep C/SS Justin O'Conner, and prep outfielder Drew Vettleson.  Interestingly, Sale and Vettleson are both corner outfielders from the Seattle area who are quite familiar with each other, so bringing them up through the minors together should be a neat story.  Both Sale and Vettleson are elite hitters, with Sale having the best hit/power combination outside of Harper in the class according to some evaluators.  O'Conner is a strong athlete with a plus arm with average contact ability and plus raw power who lacks refinement due to playing in a cold weather state and is considered very signable, which was important with that pick being unprotected.  But Tampa just added a solid group of prep bats to a system already deep in pitching.

The Jays went the opposite direction, and used all four of their picks on arms, grabbing college right-handers Deck McGuire and Asher Wojciechowski, and prep righties Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard.  The first thing this tells me is that even with many extra picks, the Jays are on a tight budget; none of these names are expected to demand more than slot.  But all of them are solid picks, with only Syndergaard a significant reach.  McGuire is considered to be the safest of this year's college arms, while Sanchez is a hard thrower who still has projection left and Wojciechowski has one of the biggest fastballs in the class and a killer slider but lacks a changeup, leaving many to think his destination is the back of a bullpen.

My instinct on day one is to think that the Rays and Red Sox did better than we could have hoped, while the Jays did a bit worse due to budget constraints and that Brian Cashman has gone insane.

As for day two, the most interesting thing to follow will be to see what happens to the big names still left on the board.  Austin Wilson, Stetson Allie, Brandon Workman, AJ Cole, Sammy Solis, Brett Eibner, Yordy Cabrera, Reggie Golden, Jedd Gyorko, DeAndre Smelter and Austen Wates are all on the board still, and there is a chance that one or more of them could make it through the second round, particularly if it holds as many big surprises as the first.  Will any of the big names make it through to us?  Will we jump on one of them if we can?

Tune in at noon tomorrow...

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