I was asked to be on a radio show last night to talk about the baseball draft. This despite telling the host up front that I know next to nothin’ about the draft. When I pressed the guy for an answer on which way he wanted to go with it, he said that he wanted to do a “winners and losers” style thing, in which I make some sort of pronouncement about who “won the draft.”
I have no idea how to answer that, so I declined the invite. There are people who do know a lot about amateur players and even they struggle with it. Jonathan Mayo is one of those experts, and he has an article up over at MLB.com today in which he talks to scouts who — after all of the “it’s hard to predict the future” caveats were offered — suggested that the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Rays did the best. Their drafts, as well as the Padres and the Red Sox, who were also said to have done well, are analyzed.
There is a lot of good information to be gained in that sort of exercise. But still, I keep coming back to an article Kevin Goldstein wrote over at Baseball Prospectus yesterday in which he listed off a ton of superstars whose selections in the first round were mocked. Joe Mauer. Adrian Gonzalez. Prince Fielder. There are a lot of those kinds of guys.
I don’t want to throw my hands up in the air, plead draft agnostic and say “we can’t know!” because, sure, we can know an awful lot if we bother to learn about amateur players (which I admittedly haven’t). But it seems like a tall order to make any pronouncements like the radio host wanted to have someone make. And I suppose the inability to make that kind of stark judgment — that need to know something right now about what just happened — is one of many reasons why the baseball draft will never be as big a media event as the NFL’s and NBA’s.
And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Good things come to those who wait.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.