Around the MajorsJune 10, 2009
Winners and Losers on Draft Day 1
By Marc Hulet

Well, there were a lot of good things and a few bad things from Draft Day 1, when looking at the prospect hauls that teams pulled in. Let's have a look at a few of them.

The Pittsburgh Pirates
I don't know what to say about the Pirates. The organization insisted that it wasn't going to take a signability pick with the fourth overall selection, after years of futility, but then the club went and took Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez with the selection. It's not that Sanchez is a bad pick - he's a very talented player - but he doesn't fit well here from a talent standpoint.

The Pirates' supplemental first round pick, Victor Black of Dallas Baptist, has a big fastball (up to 96 mph) but he's been good for only one season (2008-09) and he struggled as recently as last summer's Cape Cod League. It's a pretty risky pick with some safer picks still on the board. But I do agree that the club should have been looking for some advanced arms that could get to the Majors rather quickly.

Prep pitchers Brooks Pounders (2nd round) and Zack Dodson (4th round) will be tough signings as they are both committed to good schools: USC and Baylor. Dodson specifically has a seven-figure asking price but the Pirates organization made him its first pick on Day 2, so you have to hope that the club got a good read on his signability. Both pitchers will probably command above-slot deals to sign away from college so it's a head-scratcher when you consider the organization went cheap with its first-round pick.

The Minnesota Twins
I really like the first-day draft for this organization. The Twins club is known for its pitching - and is hurting a bit in the hitting prospect depth - but the club felt the best players available at the time were hurlers. And the organization did not just get "pitchers." The club grabbed some big arms.

Kyle Gibson was obviously a big gamble with the 22nd overall pick, but if he had been healthy he would have been a Top 5 selection. And his forearm stress fracture is not a long-term-injury concern. The club then took a college lefty (Matt Bashore) with a good fastball in the supplemental round a potential future closer (Billy Bullock) in the second round. Third-round pick Ben Tootle can hit the upper 90s with his fastball but his other pitches need a lot of work. Well, he's headed to the right organization to learn how to pitch.

The Kansas City Royals
I am not a huge fan of the direction the Major League club has taken in the past year or two, but I really like the way the last two drafts have gone for the Royals, especially with last year's draft of Eric Hosmer, Tim Melville, and Mike Montgomery. Aaron Crow is one more great arm that the organization has added in the past 12 months. He could easily start out in high-A or double-A and I just hope that the club can get him signed and pitching in the organization ASAP. He should fit in as a No. 3 starter at worst. The club lacked a second-round selection, but third-round pick Wil Myers could be a steal if he can stay behind the plate.
The Texas Rangers
It's hard not to like what the Rangers organization is doing. The club grabbed two power arms with its first two picks - Matt Purke out of high school, and former Fresno State hurler Tanner Scheppers. Both players have HUGE ceilings and add to an already-impressive collection of arms in the system. The extra pick in the supplemental round helps the organization in taking a risk with Scheppers, although everything points to his shoulder injury as being a non-issue now. The club then went out and grabbed a power bat in Tommy Mendonca, a former teammate of Scheppers'. (Taking a sneak peak into Day 2... the club drafted Ruben Sierra Jr. with its sixth round pick).
The Arizona Diamondbacks
This organization had the most picks of any team in the first three rounds: Eight. Unfortunately, the only two picks that really got me excited were prep third basemen Bobby Borchering (16th overall) and Matt Davidson (35th overall). They both have massive power for players their ages, but they are also probably both first basemen down the line. The club really focused on hitting during the first day of the draft, taking just one pitcher and one two-way player, to go along with six hitters.

OK, let's cheat a bit a talk a bit about Day 2, since I just mentioned it above...

The Tampa Bay Rays
I have to admit that I was really not fond of what the Rays organization did on Day 1. But the club redeemed itself with its first two picks on Day 2... with prep catcher Luke Bailey and high school first baseman Jeff Malm. Bailey was a lock to be a first-round selection before he required Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He should rebound OK, though. Malm is one of the best pure hitters in the high school ranks, although there are some questions about his power potential.

So, what do you think? Are you happy with what your team did?

Interesting Notes:

  • 16 of the 32 first-round picks (50%) were pitchers, but 11 of the first 15 were hurlers.
  • It was also split right down the middle with 16 prep and 16 college prospects getting selected in the first round.
  • The most prospects were drafted out of California in the first round: Eight
  • Of the 16 hitters taken, 10 were outfielders.
  • After the run on first basemen last year in the first round, none were taken in 2009.
  • There were only four prep players taken in the supplemental round (17 picks overall); 12 of the picks were pitchers (including one two-way player).

  • Comments

    It's not really so head-scratching that the Pirates went cheap in the first round and took harder-to-sign guys later, is it? They were clearly trying to save money in the first and then spending it later. We'll see if that was a wise strategy.

    The Pirates strategy was unusual but understandable. One may or may not agree with this approach, but it's fairly easy to see what it is they set out to do. Save some money on the Sanchez pick and re-allocate those funds to steer high school pitchers chosen in later rounds from their college commitments. Only time will tell if it will backfire or not.

    No first basemen in the first round? How about Dustin Ackley? He was number 2.