I did a few alternate reality mock drafts back in the day, so I thought I’d bring one back for a little lighthearted Friday fun. I had started this earlier in the week, so ignore any pre-draft (NFL Draft, that is) commentary that is no longer relevant. The premise here is simple: what if the MLB Draft order was determined by the NFL Draft order? Here’s how I set it up last time:
Roger Goodell rules the NFL with an iron fist, does he not? After finally tiring of wielding his unprecedented power of America’s Game, the commissioner now has set his sights on making big changes to America’s Pastime. First change? Unifying the draft order between the two sports. That’s right. This year’s MLB Draft order will be taken directly from the recently completed 2010 NFL Draft. As soon as the Rams went on the clock last night, so did the Cardinals. When the Lions celebrated taking the draft’s best player with the second overall pick, scouts for the Tigers were pouring over scouting reports of players they never believed they’d have a chance to get under the previous draft rules. Get the idea? Good. Prepare for more inanity with yet another Friday edition of an Alternate Reality Mock Draft!
Swap out the years and we’re more or less doing the same thing. Let’s do it…
Indianapolis – pass
I breifly thought about giving this pick to the Pirates, but came to my senses when I decided that a) having a AAA affiliate in the city isn’t good enough for my little alternate universe game, and b) any scenario when the Pirates have the chance to take the already banged up Lucas Giolito would surely result in tears for all involved. I guess that joke doesn’t work as well considering Pittsburgh’s recent stretch of relatively healthy minor league arms, but their run of failed first round pitching prospects amazes me so much that I had to mention it. If nothing else, I feel better after honoring the ghosts of Bobby Bradley and John VanBenschoten.
We all know by now that no team picks for need in baseball, right? Even mentioning the idea that a team might consider anything except best player available (BPA) is idiotic, right? Right? Well, here’s the thing – right or wrong, I’m pretty sure teams consider need on draft day. For smart teams it isn’t the determining factor, but it is a consideration. If the room is divided between two closely ranked prospects then it isn’t a stretch to believe that the ugly four-letter n-word, as determined by position and proximity to the big leagues, is as good a tie-breaker as any. Teams don’t go into the first round with tunnel vision to the point that they only consider right fielders because the man currently manning the position is in a contract year, but need, as we’ll loosely define below, isn’t as evil as some may lead you to believe.
The nice thing about need is that you can really define it any way you want. Need when it comes to baseball prospects, many of whom are at least two full minor league seasons away from even threatening to crack the big league roster, is a meaningless term. Allow me to explain using two 2012 Draft examples.
1) Washington has built a team that is ready to win now (or, at worst, now-ish), so the temptation for a quick rising prospect at a position of need (Mike Zunino) makes a lot of sense. Zunino fills an immediate organizational need while providing the team with a relatively high floor (starting caliber catcher a la Charles Johnson?) prospect who should be ready to go by 2015.
2) Washington has built a team that is ready to win now (or, at worst, now-ish), but must continue to replenish their minor league system with impact talent. Recent drafts have been kind to the Nationals in this regard. Things are no different in this alternate reality where, thanks to the Redskins dogged pursuit of their QB of the future, they hold the first overall pick in a draft with one potentially transcendant position player talent. From Strasburg to Harper to Rendon to Buxton? Byron Buxton fills the long-standing CF hole in DC. His timetable should position him to lead the next wave — the current group is already in DC or biding time in AAA — of pennant contending talent into the nation’s capital. If say, Buxton is up to stay in 2017, then he’ll likely be playing to Bryce Harper’s right. In this scenario, Harper is a grizzled veteran about to embark on his fifth big league season. This speaks to the importance of continuing the talent pipeline and staggering minor league prospects across levels.
So what does “need” even mean when it comes to drafting in baseball? Need can mean whatever you want it to mean. The Pirates needed to add a potential frontline starter in last year’s draft more than they decided they needed a polished college bat, so they selected Gerrit Cole over Anthony Rendon. I know this isn’t how need is typically viewed, but I think the whole concept of “need vs BPA” is overblown. How often does it even come up in a typical draft anyway? Has a team ever publicly admitted to drafting for need? Why do we even think it happens in the first place? I’m done thinking about drafting for need. Need is boring.
Florida C Mike Zunino is the pick, by the way.
Tough year for Minnesota sports, eh? The Twins lose no ground in this exercise with a friendly assist from their disappointing football counterparts. This reminds me that I wrote up a long piece about Christian Ponder (and Sean Gilmartin) and the myth of the “overdraft” last year, but never quite got it to the point where I was comfortable publishing. The fifteen second synopsis: if your guy is on the board and you don’t think he’ll be around the next time you pick, then you take him. There are other factors at play, of course, but the value gained in waiting a round to take the guy you want is often not worth the risk of losing him in the interim.
I have no idea which direction the Twins are leaning this year, but I’ve heard college pitching could be the focus. Good enough for me. Zimmer was once the perfect Minnesota pitching prospect — average stuff, plus command, righthanded, and nondescript. He’s retained the middle two qualities while cranking up the stuff, thus becoming very descript. (NOTE: descript may not be a real word, but it should be.) He’s like your typical Twins prospect who has been exposed to gamma rays or something.
San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer, welcome to Minnesota.
While the Browns struggle with the decision about what marquee skill player they want at pick four in the NFL Draft — quick aside: how in the world did the Browns end up with the fourth overall pick and yet still wind up in what looks to me like an unwinnable spot in the draft? I don’t like Tannehill here, would much rather wait on a WR until the second, and, as much as I love Trent Richardson, I’m not sure adding him would have the desired impact on their future they are looking for — the Indians thank their lucky stars over their good fortune. They’ll continue building up the middle and add to their existing core of 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Francisco Lindor, and C Carlos Santana by adding the draft’s biggest upside play.
Cleveland awaits Appling County HS (Georgia) CF Byron Buxton’s arrival
4. Tampa Bay
Giving the Rays a pick this early in the draft may bring back flashbacks to their horrible Devil days, but I’m sure it is a trade that they’d gladly take once they remember how much fun it is picking high in the draft. It’s like the opposite of a life lesson that way: it isn’t the journey because, damn, the journey sucks, it’s the destination.
A part of me would really like to see how a team like Tampa or Texas or Boston or even the Phillies would draft if they had the chance to select in the top ten. I’m sick of seeing the Pirates, Royals, and Orioles always picking near the top. I want to see what a smarter scouting staff would do with a premium pick. That’s why the Rays are going with my pick of Lucas Giolito here. The subtext there is pretty clear: I’m lumping myself in with what I’d imagine these smart teams would do. I’m pretty much in love with myself.
Get well soon and enjoy the Florida sunshine, Harvard-Westlake HS (California) RHP Lucas Giolito
5. St. Louis
This annoys me. Can I just skip this pick? It is my alternate reality and I am making up the rules as I go, after all. We’ll just keep it brief. Have fun with your stupid championship and the pre-season consensus top draft prospect, St. Louis. Some teams have all the luck…
Stanford Mark Appel is off the board.
Jacksonville – pass
My brother had the world’s ugliest Jaguars starter jacket when we growing up. Every shade of color on it looked like vomit. I didn’t associate teal, gold, and black with vomit before he got that coat, but now I know that anything is possible.
Duke RHP Marcus Stroman to Miami. Why? Why not? Florida might not have picked a short college righthander with an early first round pick, but anything goes in wild and crazy Miami.
Carolina – pass
My Panthers starter jacket on the other hand, oh boy, now that was a thing of beauty. If there’s a nicer shade of blue than Panther Blue, I haven’t seen it. Is it weird that one of the most vivid memories of my young life was watching the 1995 Hall of Fame Game with my brother (my two sisters had wandered off) while my parents shopped for some kind of big ticket appliance (either oven or washer/dryer, can’t remember) at Sears. Memory…how does it work?
Buffalo – pass
Baseball? More like snowball? Am I right? (It’s pretty cold in Buffalo during the winter) (I hear their summer is quite nice, lots of upper-70s and low-80s days) (The joke only works if you ignore the previous statement, so if it isn’t too much trouble you can just go ahead and do that). Anyway, no pick for Buffalo because they don’t have a MLB team. Someday, maybe!
7. Kansas City
Kansas City has been hot on the trail of a college starting pitcher every year since I’ve been running this site. Three years later and they have yet to draft a true college starting pitcher, though I’m admittedly hiding behind the Aaron Crow independent league loophole here. They haven’t drafted an honest to goodness college starting pitcher since Matt Campbell, a player I legitimately have no memory, in 2004. I’m going to go ahead and assume this is a true fact, despite the fact that ESPN wants me to believe the Royals drafted a guy named Mitchell Myer the year before. A good copy editor is priceless. They get their college starter and arguably the most talented of the bunch in Kevin Gasuman.
BBQ time for LSU RHP Kevin Gausman
I gave up on trying to predict what Seattle would do last year before they made the shocking — to me, anyway — pick of Danny Hultzen. I’m man enough to admit when I’m beat. My logic for Correa is three-fold: 1) he’s the best player left on the board, 2) Seattle has a bevy of arms flying through the system, so the need (yes, need) for arms might not be on the forefront of their draft plan, and 3) I want to see a Correa-Dustin Ackley double play in person somewhere, someday. Lots of buzz out there that Correa is ahead of Buxton on Houston’s board, by the way.
Good luck in Seattle, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy SS Carlos Correa
When I started this thing way back in 1997, I really thought mock drafts would be an integral part of the site. I enjoyed reading them, I wanted to challenge myself by making one myself, and, as I soon learned, people really, really, really love clicking on them – the first three search engine terms that lead people to my site all include the word “mock.” Then I started doing them and realized that they are more or less pointless (unless you are Jim Callis) beyond whatever entertainment and information you can provide in the rationale for each pick. Since I’m neither entertaining nor informative, I’ve moved away from mocks in recent years.
A good mock draft to me doesn’t necessarily have to get a single pick right. A good mock draft should be fun to read. A non-expert mock (i.e. anything not by Callis) should be a vessel for sharing information about interesting players while trying to make logical connections between prospects and teams. If you happen to have a little insider-y intelligence to share, so much the better. Marrero to Arizona falls under a few of my mock draft criterion. It is a logical fit (he’d be Stephen Drew’s long-term successor at short) and there is a fun angle to write about (hometown player!). Sometimes that’s all it takes.
Arizona State SS Deven Marrero is already used to the dry heat, so…
Even though the Rangers don’t need any extra help and, more importantly, I’ve spent a lifetime hating the Cowboys, I’ll throw the fine folks of Texas a bone and give the Cowboys pick to the Metroplex Rangers. This is a poor decision because it gives the talent-rich Texas club the draft’s best lefthander. Owner/GM/Scouting Direction/Secret Manager/Bullpen Catcher Nolan Ryan (as some Rangers fans tell it) should be pleased adding such a high upside arm in my fictional world.
Something something cowboy boots something something, Harvard-Westlake HS (California) LHP Max Fried