2013 MLB Draft: Day one winners and losers

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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.

Winners

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.

Losers

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.

Rob Manfred offers little insight, shows contempt for reporters in press conference

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at a press conference, addressing the Astros cheating scandal and other topics on Sunday evening. It did not go well.

To start, the press conference was not broadcast officially on MLB’s own TV channel (it aired the 1988 movie Bull Durham instead), nor could any mention to it or link to the live stream be found anywhere on MLB.com. When the actual questions began, Manfred’s answers were circuitous or simply illogical given other comments he has made in the past. On more than one occasion, he showed contempt for reporters for doing their jobs — and, some might argue, doing his job — holding players and front office personnel accountable.

Last month, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Astros’ “dark arts” and “Codebreaker” operation, based on a letter Manfred sent to then-GM Jeff Luhnow. Diamond was among the reporters present for Manfred’s press conference on Sunday. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Manfred addressed Diamond, saying, “You know, congratulations. You got a private letter that, you know, I sent to a club official. Nice reporting on your part.” MLB’s response to the depth of the Astros’ cheating ways was lacking and, without Diamond’s reporting, we would have known how deeply lacking that response was. It is understandable that Manfred would be salty about it, since it exposed him as doing his job poorly, but it was an immature, unrestrained response from someone in charge of the entire league.

Onto the actual topic at hand, Manfred said he felt like the punishment doled out to the Astros was enough. Per Chris Cotillo, Manfred said Astros players “have been hurt by this” and will forever be questioned about their achievements in 2017 and ’18. Some players disagree. Former pitcher Phil Hughes even suggested the players have a work stoppage over this issue.

Manfred defended his decision not to vacate the Astros’ championship, saying, “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.” The commissioner devaluing the meaning of a championship seems… not great? Counterintuitive, even? The “piece of metal” is literally called the Commissioner’s Trophy. Manfred went on to brag about the league having “the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.” Be careful, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Manfred said there was no evidence found that the Astros used buzzers and added that, since the players were given immunity, he doesn’t think they would continue to hide that when asked about it. He said, “I think in my own mind. It was hard for me to figure out why they would tell us, given that they were immune, why they would be truthful and admit they did the wrong thing and 17, admit they did the wrong thing and 18, and then lie about what was going on in 19.”

The commissioner expects the league to implement “really serious restrictions” on access to in-game video feeds for the 2020 season.

There has been some recent back-and-forth between the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Manfred isn’t a fan of the sniping through the media. He said, “I’m sort of a civil discourse person. It must be because I’m old. But, yeah, I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy.” The reason Bellinger and others are speaking publicly about the issue, attempting to hold the Astros accountable, is because the league did not do a sufficient job doing that itself. Bellinger wouldn’t feel the need to speak up in defense of himself, his teammates, and other players affected by the cheating scheme if he felt like the league had his and his peers’ backs.

Because the players involved in the Astros’ cheating scheme weren’t punished, some — like Larry Bowa — have suggested intentionally throwing baseballs at Astros players to exact justice. Manfred met with managers who were in attendance today to inform them that retaliatory beanballs “will not be tolerated.” He added, “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.” Manfred has done nothing about beanball wars in the past, but it will now give the Astros somewhat of an advantage since pitchers will now be judged closely on any pitch that runs too far inside on Astro hitters.

Manfred also spoke about the ongoing feud with Minor League Baseball and basically reiterated what he and the rest of the league have disingenuously been saying since it was revealed MLB proposed cutting 42 minor league teams. Manfred’s talking point is that MLB is concerned about substandard facilities being used by minor league players, but not all of the 42 teams on the proposed chopping block have anything close to what could reasonably be considered substandard.

Lastly, Manfred was asked about the Orioles and tanking, and more or less danced around the issue by expressing confidence in the club’s ownership. The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games in the past two seasons. Payroll dropped by more than $50 million. The Orioles saw over 250,000 fewer fans in attendance in 2019 than in ’18. The O’s also saw a decline of over 460,000 fans in attendance from 2017 to ’18. But, yeah, it’s going well.

All in all, this press conference could not have gone worse for Manfred. The press found it condescending and the comments he made rang hollow to the players. Manfred seemed on edge and unprepared addressing arguably the biggest controversy baseball has faced since the steroid era. This is a dark time for the sport.