It’s a tradition here at Hardball Talk to pick the winners and losers from the draft, even though we’re years away from having any idea who came out on top. And we’re not ones to mess with tradition, no matter how silly it may make us look in the end. Let’s rock.
Mark Appel: Appel turned down $6 million in a predraft deal with the Astros that would have made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and then declined a $3.8 million offer from the Pirates after being picked eighth overall. This year, it seems likely that the Astros and Appel were able to find common ground prior to the draft; the Astros had too many alternatives with the first overall pick to have drafted Appel without knowing what it’d take to sign him. Count on it being at least a bit more than the $6 million Appel turned down last year. That doesn’t truly make him a winner — he might already be in the majors collecting service time right now had he done a deal with the Astros last year — but it’s certainly the best-case scenario for Appel given the choices he made.
Marlins: The Marlins are so far away from contending that it was kind of a surprise to see them take the most polished college bat in the draft with the sixth overall pick, particularly in light of their typical high school preference. In fact, when they selected North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, he became their first college position player taken in the top 30 since Mark Kotsay in 1996. Moran isn’t going to offer the power one tends to look for from third base, but he projects as an excellent OBP guy and perhaps an ideal No. 2 hitter. The Marlins also got pretty good value with high school left-hander Matt Krook at No. 35 and college right-hander Trevor Williams at No. 44. Their final pick of the day, right-hander Colby Suggs, is a college reliever who could help next year.
Pirates: High school outfielder Austin Meadows figured to be off the board by pick seven, but he was still sitting there for the Pirates at No. 9. They’re not going to need him in center field, but he has plenty of power potential and a terrific arm for right field. That No. 9 selection was the Pirates’ compensation for failing to sign Appel last year. With their own first-rounder, they got the top prep catcher available, Reese McGuire.
Yankees: With three picks at the end of the first round, the Yankees could have gone for it and drafted Indiana State left-hander Sean Manaea, a top-five talent with injury questions. However, to sign Manaea, the team may well have had to skimp on the other two picks and draft lesser talents. Instead, the Yankees played it straight up, taking three guys at Nos. 26, 32 and 33 who should all sign for around slot. Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo has power and questions about his defense and Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge has big-time strength that hasn’t quite turned into as many homers as hoped, but the best pick was probably the last: high school left-hander Ian Clarkin possesses the makings of an excellent three-pitch arsenal.
Giants: GM Brian Sabean’s Giants teams have had quite the knack for finding undervalued pitchers in the draft. The offensive track record, on the other hand, is very bleak indeed, with Buster Posey, who most everyone viewed as a stud, surrounded by a number of busts like Tony Torcato, Todd Linden and Wendell Fairley. So, there’s certainly no reason to give Sabean the benefit of the doubt when he drafted shortstop Christian Arroyo 25th and third baseman Ryder Jones 64th on Thursday. Neither high school player made MLB.com’s top 100 for the draft. Arroyo placed 97th on the list of ESPN’s Keith Law, while Jones was absent. Sabean thinks he’s sees something others don’t, but he probably felt that way about Jackson Williams, Emmanuel Burriss and Arturo McDowell, too.
Nationals: Because of the Rafael Soriano signing, the Nationals didn’t make their first pick until 68th overall. When they did finally make their first choice, they took a guy in Jake Johnasen who had a 5.40 ERA in 88 1/3 innings for Dallas Baptist University this year. For what it’s worth, Law had Johansen ranked 66th in his top 100, so he doesn’t see it as an overdraft. Still, as a big right-hander with inconsistent mechanics and a poor track record, he’s quite the project.
Nepotism picks: With the sons of Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Manny Ramirez, Andy Pettitte and Torii Hunter and Jamie Moyer all available, there was reason to suspect an MLB team might reach for a name, much as the Dodgers once did for Preston Mattingly and the Brewers did for Cutter Dykstra. Alas, the names all remain on the board as we head into round three. The only sons of major leaguers picked so far were Orioles’ first-rounder Hunter Harvey, the son of former All-Star closer Bryan Harvey, and Riley Unroe, the Rays’ second-round selection. His father, Tim Unroe, got 95 at-bats in the majors from 1995-2000.
Jon Denney: Denney, a high school catcher committed to Arkansas, was expected to go in round one and actually showed up at the draft, waiting for his name to be called. It never was, not after 73 picks.
Kyle Serrano: Serrano might have scared teams off with his commitment to play for his father, Dave Serrano, at the University of Tennessee. The 17-year-old right-hander was thought to be a likely late first- or early second-round pick.