MLB Draft Day: Five Tools, College Pitchers, & Ridiculous Signing Bonuses
Unbeknownst to everyone but the most devoted baseball fans, the 2006 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft kicks off in a few short minutes. With the exception of one or two college relievers, who will be fast-tracked to the majors, most of these names won't be relevant until about 2009, when we will all start fighting to draft them about 8 rounds too early in our keeper leagues.
This is considered a weak year for the draft, but nonetheless, I thought I'd provide a brief overview of what to expect.
Why Should I Pay Attention?
The Red Sox have 3 picks in the top 40, though none before number 27. Aside from that, as I said before, it gives you the jump on the rest of the owners in your fantasy baseball league, who are probably concerned with trivial things like the Stanley Cup, and their jobs.
Who's Number One?
For most of the spring, North Carolina lefty Andrew Miller was seen as the number one choice, but now that he's layed out his salary demands (eight figures), he could tumble down the board - Baseball America's Mock Draft has him falling all the way to the 11th pick. It's expected to be a toss-up now between re-entry Luke Hochevar, who went 40th last year, and had a deal with the Dodgers until he signed with Scott Boras and renegged, and Brad Lincoln, a college pitcher from Houston, who also happens to be a really good hitter. For that reason, we hope that he ends up in the National League, and not with the Royals, who pick first.
Expect Hochevar to get the nod, and will probably sign for a million or two more than the $2.9 that the Dodgers were prepared to give him - hat tip to Peter Gammons for that tidbit.
(As an aside, I've never fully understood why the prospects with high salary demands tumble down the board. If you were Royals owner David Glass, wouldn't you rather pay an extra few million for a prospect who might become an All-Star in five years rather than paying a few million dollars to get Doug Mientkiewicz and Reggie Sanders, who might be the difference between your big club winning 49 and 51 games this year?)
Who Might I See In A Big League Uniform By This Time Next Year?
Tim Lincecum, the diminutive righty from Washington, could be coming to a bullpen near you sooner rather than later.
Are There Any Second Generation Stars Who Will Get Their Names Called Early?
Count on Kyle Drabek, the son of Pittsburgh Pirate Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, getting the nod in the first twenty picks. He's a talented pitcher/outfielder coming out of high school, but character issues might cause him to slide down the board.
Will This Be Another Moneyball Draft?
Nope. The A's give up their first round pick to Washington as compensation for signing Esteban Loaiza, so they don't have a pick in the top 40. Furthermore, the college crop is thin, so don't be surprised to see some teams who focus on college talent (Toronto, Boston) go for high school position players early.
Why Don't I See Any Latin American Or Asian Players In Baseball America's Mock Draft?
Because the first year player draft is just for American (and Canadian) players. Players from overseas are exempt from the draft, and free to sign with whomever they wish.
What Could Be The Craziest Storyline To Emerge From This Draft?
How about the Orioles drafting Jeffrey Meier. Yes, the Jeffrey Meier.
He's considered a borderline prospect for the draft, but after a solid career at Wesleyan, he could get the nod from someone. Of course, given the way he's tortured the O's in the past, if they do take him, I'm certain that a future Hall of Famer who they were also considering will be taken with the next pick.
Since the first picks are about to come off the board, I'll leave it there. To all two of you watching the live broadcast on mlb.com, enjoy!