Are ya ready for the draft? 2pm EST on ESPN2; Karl Ravech hosts, Peter Gammons and Steve Phillips (erg) will be in the house, RAB fav Keith Law will be on from Bristol via satelitte, as will BA’s Jim Callis from Chicago.
Just like every year, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning, except today the rich kid’s presents may fall due to signability.
- The Yanks first pick comes at #30, the last pick of the first round. They didn’t pick up any sandwich picks as compensation for losing a free agent, so they don’t pick again until number #94, the last pick of the second round. The new CBA changed compensation for FA losses, so the sandwich round is a record 34 picks long this year. The Yanks are basically losing out on 2 rounds of action between their first and second selection.
- I personally think the “take the best player available” approach is a cop out…sort of. Teams should be drafting players with their organizational strengths in mind; if they are good at developing arms, then they should go pitcher heavy, but if they are good at developing bats, then go hitter heavy. If the best players available to you in the first couple rounds are pitchers, but you’ve had a history of pitchers blowing out their arms (I’m lookin’ at you Pittsburgh), it may be wise to take the 2nd, or even 3rd best player available and get a hitter that has a better chance of developing in your system. It’s not about the “best available player,” it’s about maximizing your return.
- Word on the street is that NC State’s Andrew Brackman needs Tommy John surgery. If he does, his draft stock will drop considerably, as we’ve seen top talents Nick Adenhart and Anthony Varvaro (St. John’s best pitcher in 2005, and that includes Hall of Fame Hansen) fall into the teen rounds in recent years after blowing out their elbows the weekend before the draft. The Yanks should make sure they do not miss out on this opportunity, and take Brackman in the 5th, or maybe even 4th round to ensure they get his arm. Of course if he doesn’t need surgery, this is all moot.
- It’s all but certain that the Yanks will draft the best Boras client that drops to them at pick #30 due to signability. Hard to argue with that logic, that’s exactly what the Yanks should be doing given their financial resources.
- However, don’t think that just because they are the Yankees, they can throw whatever money is needed at a player to sign them. In recent years they’ve drafted, but failed to sign, Aaron Heilman (55th round, 1997), Mark Prior (sandwich round, 1998), Phil Humber (29th round, 2001) and Daniel Bard (20th round, 2003).
- I am completely against drafting guys with this scouting report: “plus-plus power, trouble making consistent contact.” How often does a guy like that learn to make more contact? Not very, and Tim Battle is a prime example. Gimme a guy who hits for average, I’ll take my chances that he develops some pop later.
- There’s been alot of talk around the blogosphere recently about the Yanks using their first round pick to draft a falling talent like Brackman, or a catcher like Mitch Canham, or a masher like Matt LaPrta (nooooooooooooo!!!), but the Scouting Director Damon Oppenheimer loves premium up-the-middle athletes (Battle, CJ Henry, Austin Jackson), so don’t be surprised if they pop Oklahoma State’s uber-centerfielder Corey Brown, or prep middle infielders Pete Kozma, Will Middlebrooks and Nick Noonan if no super-elite Boras client ends up available.
- The new CBA mandates a uniform signing date of August 15th for draft picks, meaning two things: negotiations won’t drag on, and the death of the draft-and-follow. The Yanks were one of the few teams that exploited the D/F rule, going that route to acquire Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Sean Henn. Henn’s $1.2M bonus is the third largest in D/F history, behind San Diego’s Matt Latos (cashed in for $1.25M just last week) and Baltimore’s Adam Loewen ($4.2M after being the 4th overall pick in 2002 draft). Travis Hafner, Rich Harden and Roy Oswalt are other notable D/F guys. The draft will be shortened to 40, or possibly even 35 rounds in the coming years now that D/F process is gone; you’ll see alot of teams passing on their late, late round picks instead of grabbing a guy they have no intention of signing.
- The new CBA also gives a team a similar pick in the following draft if they fail to sign their first or second round pick. So if the Yanks can’t sign their guy at #30, they get the 31st pick in the ’08 draft as compensation. I’m sure teams will use that as a bit of leverage during negotiations (“I don’t need to sign your client, we’ll be glad to have the extra pick next year”), but you can be sure they’d prefer to the get the guy they drafted under contract ASAP rather than have to wait a year for a potentially inferior player.
- As of right now, I see 4 players in this draft that would become the Yanks’ best prospect (yes ahead of Tabata) the instant they sign a contract (I’m not counting Hughes here, that kid will never see the minors for anything but a rehab assignment the rest of his career): David Price, Rick Porcello, Matt Wieters and Jarrod Parker. I could probably be convinced to include Josh Vitters and Mike Moustakas in that list.
- As it does every year, the Boras factor is creating havoc atop the draft. There’s some rumblings that Wieters and Porcello could fall to the Yanks at #30. You can be sure that Boras wants a major league deal for Wieters, a 3-yr college guy, and he’s rumored to be looking for “Josh Beckett money, adjusted for inflation” for Porcello. Beckett also got a ML deal. The Yanks have a strict organizational policy against giving out ML deals, but they were rumored to be willing to break that policy if Andrew Miller or a certain fireballer fell to them at #21 last year. If Wieters or Porcello fell into their lap, I’d give Wieters a ML deal, but I’d do my best to talk Porcello out of it…and then I’d cave just before the August 15th deadline if need be. Theirs NO chance they’ll have to choose between the 2, the Tigers would certainly pop one (probably Wieters) at #27.
- If I was picking first overall, I’d take Wieters. David Price is a great talent, but a switch hitting catcher with plus power from both sides and an arm that’ll shut down any team’s running game? Come on, it doesn’t come more premium than that.
If you’re unfamiliar with the whole draft process, Baseball America’s Will Lingo breaks it down for ya.