First-round winners and losers from the MLB draft

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Sure, one generally has to wait four or five years to really sit back and analyze how a draft turned out. But why let that stop us from picking some winners and losers from Monday evening’s first round.

Winners

Dodgers – Corey Seager will likely prove to be a tough sign, but the high school shortstop had the talent to go well above pick No. 18. Kyle’s younger brother has superior power and rates as one of the class’s few potential All-Stars, though it will probably be at third base. Now the Dodgers only need to ink him.

Lucas Giolito – Despite missing his entire senior season with a sprained UCL — that’s the Tommy John ligament — Giolito got taken 16th overall by a Nationals team that could well prove aggressive enough to sign him. Giolito, a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake high school in California, was a favorite to go first overall before the injury. The Nationals may have just gotten the draft’s most talented player for the third time in four years.

Marcus Stroman – The one pure reliever drafted in round one, Stroman went to a team in the Blue Jays that isn’t afraid to be aggressive with top prospects. It could lead to him making his major league debut later this year. Stroman, a 5’9″ right-hander out of Duke, has closer potential with his mid-90s fastball and power curve. The Jays made him their second first-round pick, taking him 22nd overall.

Yankees – The Yankees have made a lot of questionable first-round picks in recent years — Ian Kennedy rates as their best since Derek Jeter in 1992 — but they appeared to get very good value with high school right-hander Ty Hensley at No. 30 overall tonight. Most expected the big right-hander to go in the middle of the round.

Losers

Mark Appel – Most every mock draft had the Astros taking the Stanford right-hander first overall, but the team made the last-minute decision, according to GM Jeff Luhnow, to go with Correa instead. Whether that was because of Appel’s bonus demands is something that could become clear in the coming days. Regardless, it seems clear Appel was none too happy to fall to the Pirates at No. 8. He declined to talk to the press afterwards, instead releasing a statement that read: “I’m currently concentrating on winning a national championship and finishing my academic endeavors at Stanford. I will address the possibility of a professional career in due time.”

Cardinals – St. Louis got to draft 19th and 23rd overall, but failed to come away with a particularly exciting prospect. RHP Michael Wacha, the 19th pick, went about where most believed he would, but outfielder James Ramsey, a college senior, was considered an overdraft. Perhaps the Cardinals were thinking ahead: they did take well regarded third baseman Stephen Piscotty in the supplemental round and could use some Ramsey savings on him.

Jesus Montero – He wants to be a catcher, but the Mariners’ selection of Mike Zunino third overall suggests that Montero is bound for the DH spot. Zunino is an above average defensive catcher with pretty good power from the right side of the plate. He doesn’t project as an All-Star, but he should be a very solid regular.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.