• Grading In A Void

    Of the last decade's drafts, I think it’s safe to say that the two first round picks for which the Twins took the most immediate heat were 2001 and 2007. It might be worth noting just how ridiculous that looks right now. In 2001, the Twins took Joe Mauer as the #1 pick and were lambasted for being too damn cheap and possibly blinded by a local kid. In 2007, the fiscal-based criticism was similar when they drafted Ben Revere "above slot" and it was compounded by a perception that the Twins were way too happy with their annoying little Piranhas and devoid of power.

    But if you take a look at first round picks the Twins have made, Mauer and Revere currently rank among some of the best, even given Revere’s limited role so far.

    The problem with writing about the draft the day after is that you’re writing in a void. After all, we have very little idea what these players will become. And when confronted with a void, the human mind creates a reality. So we start with rankings culled by a few media members and bloggers who are sensitive to what other media member and bloggers perceive. Then we extend realities from the ones we perceive while following the club, especially when they are supported by rankings.

    So which realities do you want to embrace?

    You could go with the “Twins Love Toolsy Outfielders” paradigm, which explains why the Twins nabbed high school prep star Byron Buxton. If you're disappointed by Aaron Hicks, then that's a bad thing. If you admire Denard Span or Torii Hunter, then that's a good thing. But, of course, neither Span nor Hunter nor Hicks have any impact on the development of Buxton.

    Or you could go with the “Twins Are Too Cheap” which explains why they didn’t select Scott Boras client Mark Appel with the #2 pick and leaves you feeling a little bitter. It explains why the next two picks - Puerto Rican high school pitcher Jose Orlando Berrios and college relief pitcher Luke Bard - were chosen slightly above where they had been ranked by Baseball America and other ranking systems. By doing so, the Twins might save money since these players don’t have that high bonus expectations others might have had. Or it could be that the Twins didn't agree with Baseball America's rankings.

    There will be others realities someone will want to extend. I'm quite sure someone will absolutely find a “Pitch To Contact” trend, though I think it’s going to take some imagination. More obvious is the “Twins Are Oblivious” since they didn’t come out of the first day with a college starting pitcher. Or a “Twins Are Medical Quacks” since third pick, Bard, is down with non-arm injury.

    I’m looking forward to reading them. But the longer I do this, the more I conclude that none of them are legitimate.

    Here’s what happened yesterday: the Twins nabbed some black boxes. Or maybe a better analogy would be some junk bond portfolios. Some are very promising, highly graded, with a possible high payout. Some are less so.

    Twenty-nine other traders did the same thing. They did so based on experience and insider information that we have little access to. Our perceptions on what drove them or didn’t drive them are probably wrong. More than likely, they looked at these opaque boxes, shook them a bit, and picked the ones they like best.

    Now we get to wait to see what’s in them.
    This article was originally published in blog: Grading In A Void started by John Bonnes
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Paul, fair enough. I am going on their opinions, then.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      John, this is one of the better articles regarding the draft I have read in some time. Thanks!
    1. bulldogguy's Avatar
      bulldogguy -
      Thanks John for writing this. I know we love to hypothesize or project for draft picks, but baseball drafting in many ways is a frickin crapshoot. Its the one sport that the equipment changes dramatically from highschool/college to the pros (bats). I am glad I am not a GM trying to sort this out.

      For anyone that is of the "jimmy Johnson" type opnion that you don't take guys in slots ahead of where other "experts" had them slotted...the big thing you are missing on is knowing what the other teams plans are. If you had a guy you loved that is slated as a fifth rounder, but you for some reason know that another team loves him and is going to draft him before then (they scouted him the same times you did, they told their coach that they planned to draft him in the fourth round) whatever it is that gives you inside information on when some other team might draft him, that will impact when you draft someone if you really value that player.

      I love the dialogue, I love being able to predict what guys might do, but for god sake...we don't get paid to do this even though we think we should. I have to lean on the experts and at least trust their initial judgement on things and in 3-7 years, we can analyze all of the teams drafts and how these kids panned out in the majors to that point and make a clear cut call on whether this draft was a success or uter failure.

      Terry Ryan has had more success than failure in his career so i am going to lean towards his 30+years of paid experience on this one and see what he says post draft about what their plan is for each of these players and we can revisit the results down the road.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      I'm with you 100%.

      I recall a hockey exec once likened the NHL draft to "trying to figure out which 6th grader will make the best doctor."

      Good line, and equally applicable to MLB.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Just out of curiosity--I went to the 2007 draft list--first round only dont have a lot of time. 5 Solid MLB guys from the first round of that draft:

      Rick Porcello, Jason Heyward, David Price, Matt Weiters, Mike Moustakas...

      3 others in MLB--Revere, Ross Detwieler, LaPorta

      I may have missed one or two who have had a cup of coffee--but 5 years later that is 25% of picks got to the show...lets not look for a big return from Buxton, Young Mazilli or any of the others just yet.
    1. Snortwood's Avatar
      Snortwood -
      Given the time it typically takes for players to move from draft to contributor at the major league level I think the only approach to the MLB draft that makes sense is this - act as if nobody has anything, as if we're all starting from scratch. Meaning that early on i advocate you take the best player available, the guy everyone else would want to have on his team. Once you've filled out your roster you begin to pick for depth. Up front you take the best guy on the board.

      All indications are Buxton is that kid - the guy everyone else would prefer to have on their team. That's good for the Twins. He was the consensus best athlete on the board from all players eligible for the draft across the nation, and he just won a state championship. Where are the negatives? Twins made the right choice (so far; we reserve the right to second guess and to have everyone forget about this post years from now if he falls flat). From here on it all depends on Buxton - his athleticism and work ethic and intelligence and, of course, good fortune.
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