Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 MLB Draft - If I Were a GM

The 2012 Draft

The 2012 MLB Draft (well the first round at least) is scheduled to begin this Monday night, and fans across the country are waiting to see just who their favorite team will pick.  The Orioles have the 4th overall pick, just as they did last year in selecting Dylan Bundy from Owasso, OK.  Bundy has been, well, a revelation.  Fans can debate until their faces are blue about who they think the team will take, but my question is this - what would you do if you were the GM?

The Road to 2011

It all started in the summer following the 2010 draft as I began to scan the prep and college landscape for potential targets in the first round in 2011.  Typically this involved watching a lot of college baseball in the CWS and scouring sites like Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus to see guys putting up good numbers as underclassmen.  For about 6-9 months my pick was set.  I hoped and prayed that the 3B from Rice named Anthony Rendon would fall to the O's at 4.  He put up crazy numbers, had a good glove, and seemed like the future at 3B for the Orioles.  Then he got hurt... a lot.  Doubt crept in.

The weeks leading up to the draft had me pulling up Dylan Bundy's stats weekly, checking to see how he performed the week before.  I followed Bundy's run through the state playoffs, losing to Archie Bradley (though Bundy did not pitch) in the Oklahoma state championship.  I had officially changed my mind and Bundy was 'my guy'.

When Bundy and Rendon both fell to Baltimore, I felt conflicted.  Do I want them to take my first choice, or the new guy that had blown me away in recent weeks?  The birds took Bundy, just as I hoped, and the rest is history.

My Draft Philosophy

This year I've thought a lot about who I would want, and why I would want to take them.  In the recent weeks my draft preferences have changed a lot, as you can see here.  My final rankings are this:

Buxton     Correa     Giolito     Gausman     Appel     Almora     Fried     Zunino     Zimmer     Hawkins

You might notice that I have an awful lot of high school guys in my top 10, but really I think there's something more fundamental here.  I'd rather take a chance on a guy who can become a superstar than draft a guy who is more of a sure thing.  I should mention that this is more for the first round or handful of rounds only, and that teams definitely need a balance of high floor guys as well.  My opinion is just that you need to take the guy with the highest upside possible in the first round and hope you can build him to meet that potential.  For the most part, I weigh hitting ability higher than fielding, but that's with the caveat that a lack of fielding abilities certainly hurts a player's potential impact on the field.

The MLB Draft is the most difficult draft in pro sports to manage because the players are so far removed from being MLB players that you really just have to focus on what they could be and how you will get them there.  Some players have huge upsides (Byron Buxton) but are still incredibly raw in terms of polish.  Others (Marcus Stroman) could likely step onto the field and hold his own this summer.

So for me, guys like Correa, Gausman, and Giolito present opportunities to really draft and develop a franchise player.  It's not that I don't think the guys in the lower half of my top 10 could help a team like the Orioles, it's just that I think that given the chance to draft a star player, you take it.

We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below about how you'd like to draft.  Prep arms?  Athletic college OF?  What would you do if you were your favorite team's GM?

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