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.