Monday, June 4, 2012

About the draft: There is no such thing as best available player!!!

As we approach the first round of the draft tonight I wanted to comment on one statement I have heard over and over again, year after year.

"The Indians will draft the best available player"

Yeah, tell that to the fans who had to endure the likes of Beau Mills (with Jason Heyward available), Danny Peoples, Wil Hartley, Javi Herrera, Nick Bartolone, Kyle Bellows, David Roberts, TJ McFarland (when Casey Crosby, now pitching for Detroit, was available).  A guy with a copy of Baseball America's top 200 prospects which, in theory, is based on the best available player can generally do better than the Indians have done.  I know because I have done that and the guys above were all drafted way ahead of where they should have been, based on talent, and failed or are in the process of failing miserably.

The problem is "best available player" is such a loaded statement.  What does it mean?  What is the equation that is used to figure out who the "best available player" is?

I think it comes down to the best available player who:
  • has the most talent and
  • is willing to sign for a reasonable bonus  and/or fits in their bonus plans and
  • who has shown to be very coachable and
  • who the organization feels they can develop, presumably because they can develop, say, LHP or catchers and
  • who fits the need in the organization
The Indians do a great job of finding major league or potential major league relievers in later rounds, but not much else.  They do a miserable job of finding guys who are underrated and turning them into major leaguers who do anything else BUT pitch in relief.

A sickening exercise that I don't advise is to look at the guys drafted right after the guys above.  The fact is that the Indians do a bad job of drafting the "best available player".

Their equation is NOT based on talent, or at least it hasn't been except for 2010. as near as I can figure.  If it is based on anything but talent then they either need to evaluate better or develop better because it is now a generally held belief that their lack of talent in the minors and the small amount of homegrown talent in the majors is due to bad drafting and bad drafting alone.

So, dispense with the 'best player available' stuff unless you are willing to define it as something more than talent.  THAT is a quote that would be refreshing and that I would love to read in the rhetoric that surrounds the hype that surrounds the baseball draft.

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