Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 Baseball Draft - Day 2 -I hate this stuff, I really do.

Overall Analysis of Day 2 - The second day of the Indians' draft sucked.  I can't say it any other way.  It sucked.  There is a reality in baseball that I don't think we all remember:  There is no such thing as a prospect that no one has seen.  There isn't.  There are so many local showcases, national showcases, college and high school games that you really can't find a diamond in the rough.  If other teams don't draft him, they don't value him as much as you do.  But more about this 'going against the grain' stuff later.

OK, the good news is that the day began with Dillon Howard becoming an Indians' draftee.  When you drafted 8th and 67th and came up with the 7th and 31st best prospects, you have had a good first round.

Then Cleveland Indians' reality set in...BIG TIME.

In the third round they selected Jake Sisco,a 19-year old RHP from Merced CC in California.  OK, the guy was the 176th rated prospect by BA and he was selected 97th.  So, as I figured the Indians would go for a potential closer on this pick AND because Sisco was an obvious overdraft, I figured they were looking for a guy who would sign for slot.  They were taking a breather from high priced prospects.  That was fine with me, although the last two high profile California JUCO pitchers that I remember the Indians signing were Seam Smith and Nick Pesco and we all remember how that turned out. 

Then it went downhill from there.  Now, I will preface my comments about the rest of day 2 by saying that I loved the 2010 draft.  They Indians mixed in a high percentage of highly rated prospects in the first 10 rounds and then sprinkled in other top prospects throughout the remaining 40 rounds.  So, the system that works for me is top prospects in the first 10 rounds and then sprinkle in guys in the lower rounds as backups if your top guys don't sign or potential extra signings if the money is there.   The Indians didn't do their job in the top 10 rounds.  Not nearly.  Yeah, they sprinkled in a few guys who were BA top 200 guys in the rounds after Howard but not enough to make a good draft.  They essentially gave themselves just barely enough to fall back on if Lindor and Howard don't sign but not enough to turn this into a great draft if they sign all of them. 

So let's examine the picks they did make, although it is almost too painful to run through the list:

In the 4th round they selected Mark (or Jake) Lowery, C, James Madison. -  Look, I have no problem with PICKING Lowery.  The problem I have is picking him in the 4th round with the talent remaining on the board at that time.  I doubt he was even the best catcher on the board at the time and not nearly the best prospect.  Lowery reminds me of Jesse Levis.  Look up his stats.  That's what we are getting if this pick pans out.   That's the point about the Jim Callis tweet and scouts' comments.  They are out of context.  Now, if you give these guys a list of players available at that spot in the draft and they STILL pick Lowery, I will concede.  I doubt that happens however, which totally defeats the support those people bring to Lowery being a good pick.  In fact it damns that pick if people have to use that info to support a historically obvious bad pick.

OK, so let's just give the Indians that one.  They are bound to come back in rounds 5-10 just like last year, right?


Their 5th round pick was Will Roberts, a LHP from the University of Virginia.  People who support this pick point to his stats.  I point to the fact that, DESPITE these stats he wasn't highly rated.  He is a command and control guy but, at that point there were many more highly rated command and control guys available including Sam Gaviglio, Mark Pope, Charlie Lowell, Austin Wood and fireballer Josh Osich. So, instead of making a case for why the Indians may be right and everyone else may be wrong about his ranking, someone should be asking (me, I guess) why they would pick Roberts over more highly rated guys who, in my opinion, would inherently have a better chance for success.  BTW, Roberts has a below average fastball.  No surprise there, given his low ranking.

In the 6th round the Indians selected OF Bryson Myles.  At least Myles was rated relatively highly but he is projected to be a left fielder.  Being projected to be a left fielder is the defensive equivalent to being projected to be a firstbaseman. LF is where you stick your guys who can't throw and are not fast enough or good enough defensively to play CF, even given his blazing speed.  Yeah, this is not a bad pick in ranking but to pick a guy with that limited of a future defensively?  BTW, he ranked only FIFTH on his own team in terms of BB/AB, not even averaging 1 walk every 10 AB.  So it is not like he has a good batting eye, either.  He was also 53/68 in steals, meaning that he can easily be had by good catchers and pitchers who know how to hold on runners.

In the 7th round the Indians selected HS catcher Eric Haase.  His scholarship offer is to Ohio State, not a big baseball power.  There is some positive buzz about him but the question still remains: what players could the Indians have drafted instead of him?  When guys like Nick Martini (BA #172), Brian Flynn (#192), Cody Kukuk (#154), Christian Lopes (#180), Blake Treinen (#190), David Goforth (#177) were all drafted right after Haase in the 7th round, you have to wonder if there wasn't many better prospects than Haase at this point.  Again, the question is not whether you can stretch the stats to show that Haase is NOT an incredible overdraft at this point.  Even if you concede he isn't that much of an overdraft, the question should still be why you would draft him when better prospects, by ranking were still on the board?

In the 8th round the Indians drafted another guy who wasn't ranked in BA's top 200: 6'1" HS RHP Stephen Tarpley.    So now we are getting into the rounds where a lot of the top prospects have been taken.  What do we know about this guy is that BA said he is likely to be a tough sign.  Great, a guy who isn't that highly rated who will be tough to sign.  Sounds like we will overpay for this guy if we get him at all.

In the 9th round we picked Jordan Smith, a thirdbaseman out of St. Cloud St.  He is a sophomore, making him a tough sign and he is not highly rated either.  So, in rounds 8 and 9 we now have tough signs who aren't highly rated.  BTW, Kyle Winkler (BA #43) was drafted after Smith.  So, ask me if I would have drafted Winkler ahead of Smith even though Winkler may be injured.  Absolutely, as you will find out later.

In the 10th round we took another unknown: 5'11" RHP Jeffrey Johnson of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in CA.  A short righthander, he is a bullpen pitcher.  Brooks Pinckard (BA #114) is a highly thought of short RHP drafted just after Johnson.  So why waste a pick on Johnson when Pinckard was still on the board and thought of, by at least one team, as an essentially equivalent prospect?

So, after 10 rounds we have only 4 guys in the BA top 200 and, after Howard, no guy who is any more than a fringe prospect.  We have seen HUNDREDS of these types of unknowns/head scratchers come into the system through the draft.  These guys are 10th-20th round guys, not top 10 round guys for an organization that has admittedly limited itself PRIMARILY to growing through the draft.  This happened in the year before slotting will be mandatory so you won't be able to draft guys who fell due to bonus demands because you know they will never sign for the money you are forced to offer them.  In the last year before this happens we go cheap.   Last year was the way you run a draft.  Get your stud prospects early.  Nine of the first 10 picks were BA top 200 guys.  This year we had 4.  That is ridiculous in this year of huge depth in this draft, in the last year before slotting and for a club who admits they can only compete by drafting well.

Now, there were some flyers in the rest of the draff so far for the Indians:  Zack MacPhee was highly rated before hitting only about .260 this season.  Dillon Peters (BA 104) is a 5'9" LH HS pitcher from Indianapolis.  The ranking is a good thing, the height is a killer.  How many 5'9" LHP do you know of in the majors?  There is a reason for that.  No leverage or downhill plane. Taylor Parks (BA #131) is a 6'4" HS RHP. Kevin Kramer was ranked #131 by BA before the season but dropped out of the top 200 at draft time.

That was it.  In the 24 rounds after they drafted Myles in the 6th round they drafted exactly TWO guys who were in BA's top 200.  TWO, and was of those was a 5'9" HS pitcher.  For a total of 6 in 30 rounds.  Last year they drafted 9 in the first 10 rounds.  Now, BA's list is just a guide but, amazing, most writers and the MLB network where the first night of the draft was held, listed BA ratings for the guys drafted, meaning to me they must put some stock in those ratings.

This was a pathetic draft for the Cleveland Indians after the first two rounds.  Just pathetic.  Teams who count on the draft as their main source of talent can't do this.  And you know what?  Teams can't draft this far against the grain and be successful.  Ask the Indians about the 2007 draft, rated as an "F" by Baseball America.  If we fail to sign Lindor OR Howard this draft is suspect.  If we fail to sign either of them, this draft could go down as just as bad as 2007.  The Cleveland Indians can't afford screwups like this.  They just can't.

Tomorrow I will have my own immediately post-draft mock draft.  You will see that if you draft right, you can have good success and I will back that up with two of these drafts I did in the past and compare them to Indians' drafts of the same year in how they turned out. 

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