Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MLB Draft Day 1 Recap


Yesterday marked Day 1 of the Rule 4 MLB amateur entry draft.  The draft started at 7 P.M. and by the end of the night, the first round and first supplemental round saw their conclusion.  The Pirates had two picks out of the first 60 selections that were made yesterday, number #8 overall and #45 overall.  The first pick was the Pirates natural selection in the first round due to last year's record while the second pick was compensation for losing Ryan Doumit to the Twins.  With that #8 selection, the Pirates picked Stanford pitcher Mark Appel.  The #45 selection was used to nab Texas Tech outfielder Barrett Barnes.

1-8: Mark Appel

Position: P 
School: Stanford (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'4, 215
DOB: 07/15/1991 

Ultimately, it was actually quite surprising the Pirates landed Mark Appel.  Many experts pegged him to go #1 to the Astros and both Keith Law and Baseball America had him as the 4th best draft prospect. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com rated him as the 2nd best draft prospect behind only prep outfielder Byron Buxton.  Based on just the numbers, the Pirates seemingly got a minor steal by adding one of the top talents in the draft with the #8 overall pick.

Appel is actually very similar to last year's first round pick for the Pirates, Gerrit Cole.  Cole went first overall last year in a stronger draft class and is a better prospect, but Appel isn't too far behind.  The comparisons between the two stem from their remarkably similar scouting reports.  Appel - who stands at 6'5 and weighs 2l5 pounds - is an inch shorter and weighs 5 pounds less than Cole but both have ideal pitching builds.  Appel also has premium stuff like Cole, highlighted by a fastball that can touch the upper 90's.  Both round out their repertoire with a slider and changeup.  At the time they were both drafted, Cole's secondaries rated better and his fastball also rated a bit better, giving him the more electric stuff and an arguably higher upside. 

Furthermore, like Cole, Appel has been criticized for getting hit harder than his stuff would suggest.  A significant contributing factor involved in Appel getting hit hard is his delivery and his fastball movement.  Appel's delivery is long and shows the ball to the hitter for too much time, limiting deception. In addition, Appel's fastball is straight, making it easier to hit than a fastball with good movement, despite the elite velocity.  Appel does have some advantages over Cole.  His stuff may not be quite as good, but his delivery is considered cleaner and simpler.  That has led to Appel getting higher grades than Cole for command and control. In addition, Appel has produced better stats this year than Cole did last year in the same Pac-12 conference. Appel is also lauded for solid athleticism and strong makeup.

Appel certainly has his flaws, but he also has his strengths.  It's rare to be able to add a pitcher to a farm system with his arsenal and upside, especially at #1-8.  As a college guy, he's also more polished than your typical high upside prep pitcher and that should help him move quickly with the likes of other top Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon and the aforementioned Cole.  Add in teenager Luis Heredia and the Pirates now have arguably the best top-tier pitching in the minor leagues.

2010: 38 IP, 5.92 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 26 K, 19 BB
2011: 104.1 IP, 3.02 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 83 K, 26 BB
2012: 119.0 IP, 2.27 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 127 K, 26 BB

1-45: Barrett Barnes

Position: OF
School: Texas Tech (Junior)
Throws: R; Bats: R
Measurables: 6'1, 210
DOB: 07/29/1991  

The mantra when it comes to the draft is take the best player available. Adhering to that mantra it adhering to good advice.  So while the Pirates presumably would have loved to take a bat in the first round - in fact they were tied to high school prep outfielders Albert Almora and David Dahl - when Mark Appel fell to #8 the Pirates added the best player available who happened to be another arm.  That all but guaranteed the Pirates would take a positional player with their supplemental pick unless another talented arm dropped.  

First round talents Richie Shaffer, Victor Roache, and Stephen Piscotty didn't last until the 45th pick, much to the chagrin of Pirates fans and I'm sure Pirates brass.  However, Texas Tech outfielder Barrett Barnes was available and the Pirates gobbled him up.  Barnes should fit well into the system as his calling card is athleticism and power, with the second tool being markedly absent from the Pirates farm.

Again Baseball America and Keith Law concurred in their rankings, with both pundits rating Barnes as the 41st best player available in the draft.  Jonathan Mayo wasn't as enamored with him, ranking him 57th.  At first blush, Barnes is a George Springer-lite.  A college outfielder with more tools than expected but at the same time, less polish than expected.  Barnes is fairly stocky at 6'1, 210 pounds, and that frame generates above-average to plus raw power.  Barnes is also surprisingly quick, with plus straight line speed.  However that speed doesn't always translate to the field and Barnes may have to move to a corner.  At the plate, the outfielder is a pull hitter which may hurt his average a bit as he'll be susceptible to soft stuff, but Barnes does a good job of laying off pitches outside the zone and will take a walk.  

Barnes will almost assuredly not end up as a star in the major leagues, but if he develops well, he has enough tools to be a very good centerfielder or an above-average corner outfielder, depending on his defense.  Considering the Pirates lack of bats in their farm system, especially at higher levels, a college hitter with some upside might be just what the doctor ordered.  

2010: 217 AB, .341/.465/.641, 14 HR, 40 BB, 50 K, 12 SB, 3 CS
2011: 214 AB, .290/.414/.509, 10 HR, 41 BB, 57 K, 19 SB, 2 CS
2012: 206 AB, .325/.419/.597, 9 HR, 37 BB, 32 K, 19 SB, 1 CS

Other Notable Picks

Houston Astros
1-1: Carlos Correa

The Astros passed on both Mark Appel and Byron Buxton and instead took prep shortstop Carlos Correa.  I've been high on Correa for months (check this mock draft) and ranked him as the second best player in the draft behind pitcher Lucas Giolito.  Giolito has had injury problems, so I think the Astros made the best selection here possible.  Correa is the first #1 overall pick out of Puerto Rico.
Washington Nationals
1-16: Lucas Giolito

The Nationals once again drafted potentially the best talent in the draft despite not picking first.  If Anthony Rendon and Giolito can stay healthy and fulfill their potential it's possible the Nationals could have a four year run of drafting the best player for that year.  Going back to 2009, Stephen Strasburg and then Bryce Harper in 2010 would join the mix.

Tampa Bay
1-25: Richie Shaffer

After the Pirates selected Mark Appel, I had to wait for 37 picks for the Pirates to be on the clock again.  The entire time I hoped for a miracle to occur that would cause Richie Shaffer to fall into the Pirates lap at 1-45.  He didn't make it that far as one of the best general managers in baseball, the Rays's Andrew Friedman, snagged Shaffer in the back of the first round.  Ignoring defense, I believe the Rays were able to draft the best all-around college bat in the entire draft and behind Zunino, the best college positional player.

Milwaukee Brewers
1-27: Clint Coulter
1-28: Victor Roache

The Brewers had back to back picks with one coming from the departure of Prince Fielder.  While it will take years for either prospect - especially Clint Coulter - to reach the majors, the Brewers immediately set out to replace the power they lost in Fielder.  Both picks were guys with above-average or better power with Roache potentially having the most usable game power in the draft.  Considering the success the Brewers have had over the last several years with a potent lineup that could hit the longball, these two draft picks were good additions to the Brewers farm system that is in the midst of a restocking period.

Toronto Blue Jays
1S-50: Matt Smoral

Smoral was one of the best prep pitching prospects in the entire draft before injuries derailed him.  In my latest mock, I still had the Blue Jays taking him at #17.  Leave it to them to add him at #50, 33 picks later instead.  That gives the Blue Jays a draft class that includes Smoral and D.J. Davis, two prep players with incredible upside and potentially the best arm in the draft in Marcus Stroman if size is ignored.  Another good draft by Alex Anthoupolos.

San Diego Padres
1-55: Walker Weickel

Speaking of good drafts, with the 55th overall pick, the Padres took one of the last remaining high upside prep arms that could have gone in the first round.  That also was the third prep arm the Pardes took on the day out of four picks.  All three prep arms ranked inside the top 40 of Baseball America's top 500, with #7 overall pick Max Fried ranking 11th.  It'll be interesting to see if the Padres can sign all 3 prep pitchers, but if they can, they might have the haul of the draft.


  1. "Furthermore, like Cole, Appel has been criticized for getting harder than his stuff would suggest"

    Do you mean getting hit harder?

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