Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Feel a Draft Coming On.

Now that our long national nightmare is over – at least this year’s annual nightmare – we can focus on the long term again. Appropriately enough, the draft is in two days.

“For most teams, the most important day of the year isn't Opening Day, or a day in October that ends in a dogpile, or the November day that marks the start of free-agent season. No, for most teams, the red-letter day falls on the first Tuesday of June, a day that involves sitting around a telephone, on a conference call with 29 other teams and the Commissioner's office, a day on which, if you're really, really lucky, you get to say something like this: ‘the Chicago Cubs select Redraft Number two-six-four-one, Mark William Prior, University of Southern California.’”

That’s how I opened my draft study from three years ago. Ah, Mark Prior. Those were the days. Prior is the perfect example of why the baseball draft gets so little attention relative to its football and basketball counterparts: because while it is certainly the most important day of the year, it typically takes years before you know just how well you did.

Nonetheless, this Thursday (they changed the day of the draft this season) is almost certainly the most important day of the year for the Royals. For all the complaining from Royals fans that the team has not shown much improvement under Dayton Moore, the reality is that his administration has been in place for exactly one draft so far – a draft, I might add, which looks pretty good a year later. Mike Moustakas gave us all a good scare in April when he hit .190/.253/.226, which isn’t what Scott Boras promised us. But he hit .271/.310/.525 in May, and the slugging average in particular is what you want to see from a 19-year-old in a league where no one hits for power. It was a brutally cold spring in the Midwest, so I’m willing to cut Moustakas some slack given that he’s from SoCal and had probably never played baseball in weather like this before.

Second-rounder Sean Runion and third-rounder Daniel Duffy both recently joined the Burlington Bees, which is in itself a good sign: many high school pitchers, even those drafted early, spend their first full pro season in advanced rookie ball as opposed to a full-season league. Duffy has continued his torrid strikeout pace from last season, whiffing 18 batters in 12 innings so far. They’ve joined 14th-rounder Matt Mitchell, who’s already considered one of the late-round finds in the draft, and who has 36 whiffs against 9 walks for Burlington.

But even if all four of these guys out turn out to be stars, there’s almost no way any of them set foot in Kauffman Stadium before the end of 2010. Dayton is fighting a two-front war: he has to build a farm system that produces so much talent that the Royals will be perennially competitive from 2011 onwards – and he has to make the Royals competitive enough from 2008-2010 that he’ll still be around to enjoy the fruits of the farm system.

Step 2 comes on Thursday. This year’s draft pool isn’t considered particularly deep or particularly star-laden, but neither is it the disaster that, say, the 2000 draft was. The draft pool is extremely deep in one category: one-dimensional hitters. Fortunately, one-dimensional hitters are something that the Royals could certainly use. But drafting third, they have the luxury of picking from a number of potential star players. Much like 2006, there’s no consensus #1 talent available. That’s a problem when you have the #1 pick – as the Royals did in 2006 – but it’s not nearly as problematic when you draft third.

Anyway, here’s a brief synopsis of the best players available. I am not a scout and do not pretend to have any great insight into these players. But I’ve studied the draft from a macro perspective in the past, and I can rely on my colleague Kevin Goldstein for information on each of these players. So here’s a listing of the seven guys who have a realistic shot at being taken #3 overall:

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt

Pros: He’s been considered the best hitter in college and probable #1 draft pick since his sophomore season, if not earlier. He hit .329/.456/.675 as a freshman and .386/.463/.684 as a sophomore. He played with Team USA the past two summers and hit over .300 each year. There’s a debate as to whether he can play a competent third base in the majors, but he has the bat to play anywhere. Gets points for intelligence and work ethic.

Cons: Alvarez was hit by a pitch that broke the hamate bone on his right hand in the first week of the season, which caused him to miss 23 games this season, and he hit only .317/.424/.593 this season. There have been some concerns about his performance towards the end of the year,which has made him a possibility to drop a few spots in the draft. Third base might be the only position the Royals don’t need help at. Scott Boras is his agent.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: The guy was considered the best prospect in the land four months ago, and the only he thing he’s done wrong since is fail to get out of the way of an errant pitch. Hamate bone injuries are notorious for sapping a hitter’s power for months even after they heal, which is to say that you can pretty much throw out his junior season’s numbers when evaluating him. The Royals may not need a third baseman, but the Royals absolutely could use a first baseman who can both hit and field, and Alvarez fits that bill to a T. If he falls to #3, the Royals caught a major break.

Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin HS (Georgia)

Pros: He’s the prototypical five-tool shortstop, easily the most promising combination of tools and skills in the high school ranks. He’s been compared to the Brothers Upton; while he’s not considered in their class offensively, unlike the Uptons he’s expected to stay at shortstop in the majors. A shortstop who can play the position and can hit even .200 in the majors would be like manna from heaven in Kansas City. Scott Boras is not his agent.

Cons: Scouts think he can hit – he’s not the second coming of Matt Bush – but are divided as to whether “hit” means a middle-of-the-order presence and perennial All-Star, or if it means a .270 hitter with12 homers, a nice guy to have at the bottom of the lineup. He hit well as a high school senior but wasn’t completely studly, and you generally like your top pick to dispose of high school pitching like Niko Bellic disposes of low-level henchmen.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: He’s almost universally considered the best high school player available, and he plays a position of enormous need. If everything breaks right, he could be Barry Larkin – and even if they don’t break right, if he can hit .270 with 12 homers and play an above-average shortstop, that has as much value as a first baseman who hits .290 with 25 homers, which is what many of the college first basemen are projected to do. He’s the guy most likely to not be available when the Royals pick, for good reason. The Royals have to be comfortable that his bat will play in the majors, but if they are – grab him. And move Moustakas to another position post haste.

Buster Posey, C, Florida State

Pros: Posey was the breakout college star of the season. He hit an absolutely ridiculous .472/.572/.908 this season. He played shortstop as a freshman, was moved behind the plate before his sophomore season, and has taken to the position so well after moving there from shortstop that he now projects as an above-average defender in the majors. He’s athletic enough that his coach let him play all nine positions in a game this season. (His arm strength was good enough that he made eight appearances on the mound for FSU this year, throwing 7.1 scoreless innings and earning six saves.) Scott Boras is not his agent.

Cons: Much like Beckham, scouts think Posey will hit in the majors…they’re just not in agreement that he’ll hit at an All-Star level or simply at a league-average level. I’ve read multiple reports that FSU plays in a terrific hitter’s park, but Boyd Nation’s numbers disagree.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: Tampa Bay is still very strongly considering Posey at 1/1, but I have an uneasy feeling about Posey, albeit one not really grounded in anything rational. I just feel that he’s come on as a prospect too far too fast, and the attrition rate for catchers is pretty high. Maybe I’m biased by recent Royals history: a shortstop who hits .270/.330/.450 and plays great defense sounds wonderful, but a catcher who does the same thing doesn’t get my attention. He’s a safe pick, maybe the safest in the draft; I just think the Royals have to try to hit a home run.

Justin Smoak, 1B, U. of South Carolina

Pros: He’s a switch-hitting first baseman with Gold Glove potential, great plate discipline and power – the Mark Teixeira starter kit, in other words. He hit .383/.505/.757 this season. Scott Boras is not his agent.

Cons: While he lit up the Cape Cod League after his freshman season, he struggled with wood bats last summer as part of Team USA.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: Other than shortstop, there isn’t a position the Royals need filled more than first base. (Technically Butler can fill that hole, but Smoak would be a massive defensive upgrade and allow Butler to fill the hole at DH.) So in terms of pure need, Smoak is a good option. Then consider that the single most compelling conclusion of my draft study was that college first basemen taken in the first round return far more value than any other position at the college or high school ranks. Smoak doesn’t appear to be under consideration, but he should be.

Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri; and Brian Matusz, LHP, U. of San Diego

Pros: These are the two best college pitchers in the draft. Crow is the righty with the blazing fastball and the 43-inning scoreless streak this year; Matusz is the lefty with less velocity but terrific command of three above-average pitches. Both are considered very safe picks as pitchers go, and could be starting in the majors this time next year. Scott Boras is not their agent.

Cons: While Crow and Matusz are the two best college pitchers available, they aren’t considered to be on the same level of the best college pitchers of years past, like David Price last year or Andrew Miller the year before that or Mark Prior in 2001. They’re almost certainly going to be in major league rotations for years, but they project as #2 starters at best.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: They’re both good pitchers, and if the Royals were drafting 6th or 7th you’d be thrilled if they landed one of them. But the consensus is that there are at least three hitters better than either pitcher, and the Royals have enough pitching – both in the majors and on the farm – that there’s little sense in using a top-three pick on another one unless you’re absolutely convinced he’ll be a #1 in the majors.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS (Florida)

Pros: He’s considered to be the best hitter in any high school in the country, compared to Casey Kotchman but with more power. He’s a terrific athlete who should play very good defense at first, and could probably handle a corner outfield spot. He throws in the mid-90s and served as his team’s closer (sound familiar?)

Cons: Baseball America writes thusly: “While his approach at the plate is advanced, Hosmer's pitch recognition has been a concern for some scouts.” Scott Boras is his agent.

Rany’s Uninformed Opinion: Hosmer is the big sleeper at the top of the draft, with multiple reports indicating that the Royals are STRONGLY considering him with the #3 pick. I don’t understand why. My draft study showed that while college first basemen make terrific draft picks, high school first basemen were among the worst-performing groups.

That study may be a little dated; Kotchman and Prince Fielder have both been drafted since, along with Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney. Put these four guys together with the one draft success in my draft pool (Derrek Lee), and what they have in common is that either 1) their bat already compared to anyone in college (Fielder); 2) they were tremendously athletic for a first baseman (Lee and Loney); or 3) a little of both (Gonzalez and Kotchman.) Absolutely the last thing you want in a high school first baseman is a bat that projects to the major leagues, unless the guy is so athletic that you wonder why he was wasted at first base on his high school team. I think Hosmer falls into category 3, but I’m not 100% sure.

If the Royals think that Hosmer has the best offensive potential of any hitter in this draft, then absolutely, they should take him. But to think that in a year where you’ve got Alvarez and Smoak and Yonder Alonso and Brett Wallace…I mean, if Hosmer goes to college (which he might), if everything goes right for him, in three years he’ll be comparable to where Alvarez and Smoak are today. What are the odds that he’ll be better than they are? Whatever those odds are, they can’t be higher than the odds that he’ll fail to live up to expectations. So why are the Royals thinking about taking a guy who might be Alvarez or Smoak in three years when they can have the original article today? I don’t know.

Verdict: If I’m the Royals, I rank these guys into three tiers.

Tier 1: Alvarez and Beckham
Tier 2: Posey and Smoak
Tier 3: Hosmer and the pitchers

Last year there was one player in the draft that set himself apart from the rest, and naturally the Royals were picking second. This year, there were two players who set themselves apart, and the Royals are drafting third…except the emergence of Posey has changed the equation for the better, because it means there’s a chance that either Alvarez or Beckham falls to three.

Tampa Bay is about 90% likely to take either Posey or Beckham. If they take Posey, the Pirates are expected to take Alvarez, in which case the Royals would have to have a compelling reason not to take Beckham, given both his talent and the needs of the franchise. If Alvarez somehow falls to #3, I think you have to pounce on him no matter who is out there – Alvarez has been considered the class of this draft for two years, and that shouldn’t change just because he broke a tiny bone in his hand. Move him to first base and by the end of 2009 the heart of the order should go Gordon-Butler-Alvarez. Very nice.

If Beckham and Alvarez go 1-2, which may still happen, then the Royals have a decision to make. If you believe that Posey’s breakthrough this season is for real, then you take him – a premium bat at a premium position trumps a premium bat at first base. But you have to be convinced he can hit and that he can catch. If it turns out that Beckham doesn’t quite have the range to play shortstop, you can move him to second or third base and still retain much of his positional value. But if Posey can’t catch…he’s a first baseman. There’s almost no middle ground. (Todd Zeile moved from catcher to third base, but according to most defensive metrics he’s one of the worst defensive third basemen of the last generation.)

So if there’s any doubt about Posey, I think you go with Smoak, who ranks just a tick behind Alvarez as a hitter, and since the Royals would move Alvarez to first base anyway there’s no positional difference between the two. Both Alvarez and Smoak have at least a 50/50 shot at making multiple All-Star appearances.

As for Hosmer, Crow, and Matusz…they’re not bad players, but I see no reason why the Royals should be considering them with the third pick. Crow and Matusz, at least, would be justified if the Royals feel that either one can become a #1 starter in the majors. But the odds are small that Hosmer will develop into a better hitter than Smoak or Alvarez will. And the mere whisper that his plate discipline isn’t all that great has to scare you, because first basemen have to draw walks – it’s almost impossible to be an above-average first baseman without walking at least 60 or 70 times a season – and because the Royals are pretty much the worst organization in baseball when it comes to teaching plate discipline in the minor leagues.

Throw in the fact that he’s a high school player and further from the majors, and that Boras is his agent, and that he reportedly wants $7 million to sign…I don’t get it. If the Royals weren’t willing to give Rick Porcello $7 million last year when he was the best high school pitcher in years, why would they give Hosmer the same amount of money when equally good players are available?

The draft is a fluid process. Last year we went to bed the night before the draft with Josh Vitters penciled in as the Royals’ pick, and at the last moment they switched to Moustakas. So the rumors that the Royals will draft Hosmer are, for the time being, just rumors. But if they do take him…man, they better be right.

56 comments:

JayhawkOwensJunior said...

Sorry Rany. I refuse to do it. We're only 7 1/2 out, 50+ games in. In it to win it. Optimism reigns.

And yes, this is coming from someone who did attend the game last Wednesday. Only took me five days to get over it.

Also, ask me to repeat this statement after this road trip is over.

Devon said...

I hope we can get the SS. If Avila works out at SS, we can then have a prospect to trade if we can trade it for something else really important...like an extra 1st round draft pick next year from a team like....mmmm...Washington or Seattle. I think that would be worth it.

Ryan said...

I totally agree with you on Hosmer. If they Royals take him, they're idiots. No, seriously, idiots.

If they want the power hitting first baseman, they have to take Smoak. Switch hitting, good D, little risk? It's a no brainer.

Everyone and their mother has the Pirates taking Alvarez, so it'll be interesting to see if Tampa takes Posey or Beckham.

I think Posey would be a good pick. He's an Academic All-American majoring in finance. He's the best defensive catcher in the draft. He's baseball smart. He's a leader. He could handle a pitching staff well. He's got some pop to his bat.

I think you build your team up the middle: catcher, pitching, SS, CF. I think they have to go catcher or short stop.

The Royals should be happy with Beckham, Posey or Smoak.

If they choose Hosmer, I am leading the revolt against Dayton Moore.

Anonymous said...

Love the recap of the players the Royals are looking at... Maybe Dayton hasn't turned the MLB club around fast enough, but there is hope in the minors now... And if they hit for .320 for two weeks they aren't rushed up here destroyed and never heard from again... These boys are allowed to Develop...

kc1fan8569
I just hope I don't hear another Colt Griffin name picked... All you have to do is look at the 1st round draft picks between 91 and 01 to see why we are in such terrible shape right now... Here is the list of Former Number 1 picks.. From MLB.com

2001 Jonathon Griffin, rhp 9
2000 Michael Stodolka, lhp 4
1999 Kyle Snyder, rhp 7
1999 Mike MacDougal 25
1999 Mike Paradis, rhp 13
1998 Jeff Austin, p 4
1998 Matt Burch, p 30
1997 Dan Reichert, rhp 7
1996 Dermal Brown, of 14
1995 Juan LeBron, of 19
1994 Matt Smith, 1b 16
1993 Jeff Granger, lhp 5
1992 Michael Tucker, ss 10
1992 Jim Pittsley, rhp 17
1992 Sherard Clinkscales, rhp 31
1992 Johnny Damon, of 35
1991 Joe Vitiello, 1b 7

Only Johnny Damon and Michael Tucker had any type of career.

Baseball isn't an exact science, but this is just terrible... 40% Hit rate could of avoided 1 or 2 100 loss seasons.

OJ said...

Rany,

As possibly the only Twins fan who reads your blog, I have to say that I am outraged that you would say the Royals are the worst organization in baseball as far as teaching plate discipline.

If the Twins front office gets word that you said there is an organization out there that values walks less than the Twins, you could be looking at a lawsuit.

At least your manager has mentioned that OBP is important. Our manager and front office have never heard of OBP and openly mock people who suggest that Delmon Young might need to walk more.

How dare you slight the Twins like that??

Anonymous said...

Someone should tell Dayton Moore that Smoak played on a Pee-Pee team named the Braves.

Anonymous said...

Pee-Pee team. Brilliant. I meant "Pee-Wee."

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that Hosmer is not nearly as bad as everyone is making him out to be. I personally would go with Gordon Beckham. He is an Atlanta kid, which likely means Dayton has had scouting reports on him for 5 or six years.

Nathan W said...

How can you not draft a guy with the last name "Smoak"? Honestly.

Brett said...

Any team's drafts from 91 to 01 can be looked at, and most of them won't look much better than the Royals. How about the Yankees:

2001 John Ford-Griffin, 3b 23
2000 David Parrish, c 28
1999 Danny Walling, rhp 27
1998 Andy Brown, of 24
1997 Tyrell Godwin, of 24
1996 Eric Milton, lhp 20
1996 NONE --
1995 Shea Morenz, of 27
1994 Brian Buchanan, of 24
1993 Matt Drews, rhp 13
1992 Derek Jeter, ss 6
1991 Brien Taylor, lhp 1

Obviously Jeter worked out, but nobody else jumps out at you. Brien Taylor was 1/1, supposed to be the next great superstar pitcher, etc., but he never made the Major Leagues, and now he's working in real estate.

And it works when you look at teams that are supposed to be good with home-grown talent, too. Here are the A's first-round picks from 91 to 01:

2001 Robert Crosby, ss 25
2001 Jeremy Bonderman, rhp 26
2000 NONE --
1999 Barry Zito, lhp 9
1998 Mark Mulder, lhp 2
1997 Chris Enochs, rhp 11
1997 Eric DuBose, lhp 21
1996 Eric Chavez, 3b 10
1995 Ariel Prieto, rhp 5
1994 Ben Grieve, of 2
1993 John Wasdin, rhp 25
1992 Benji Grigsby, rhp 20
1991 Brent Gates, ss 26

Some decent players there, but not exactly anyone I'd trade the farm for.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:

1) I thought one should NEVER draft for need - draft for talent only

2) I know GMDM has shown a tendency to trend towards HS players, not college, but I think he should rethink this time - the seeds of contention have already been sewn; the team needs a big bat that will be ready by late 2009, not 2011 or 2012.

3) I can't believe I'm saying this - but forget the high school shortstop, and go for the power bat that is nearly ready for the bigs already - pick either Alvarez or Smoak.

4) NO NO NO to Hosmer. That's too much of a risk. I'm also wary of Posey; not sure why, just am.

Ryan said...

The Royals need almost everything, so...

I don't agree that you have to hit a home run with the pick. I think that's where most teams get in trouble. Colt Griffin, with his 100 mph fastball, was swinging for a home run. You can't afford your first pick not being a quality major leaguer, especially if you're the Royals.

Personally, I'm not sold on Tim Beckham. Everyone compares him to the Upton's, but then say, "but he doesn't have their power. He "probably" will be a SS, but at worst a CF? So, we might draft Juan Pierre with third pick in the draft? A light hitting, speedy guy?

Give me the next Jason Varitek in Posey, or Texeira in Smoak please.

Keith Law said...

I totally agree with you on Hosmer. If they Royals take him, they're idiots. No, seriously, idiots.

I couldn't disagree with this more. If they take one of the five best players in the draft pool at #3, they're idiots? I'd love to have your level of certainty.

I've actually seen Hosmer play three separate times, and I think he's going to be a star. Taking him third would be completely appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I pray that either Smoak or Alvarez are available at 1/3. The Royals need at least one big bat at the major league level within a year (or at least by 2010). That bat is NOT coming from their current crop of prospects. And the Royals don't have the luxury of drafting a young kid out of high school and hoping he develops as projected.

If they can't get either Smoak or Alvarez, then a trade will HAVE to be made (probably involving one of the top pitching prospects and/or Greinke or Bannister). They might STILL need a trade for a quality 1B or corner OF, even if they land one of them in this year's draft.

Ryan said...

Well, Keith Law, I do improv comedy, and you are a Harvard grad with in depth knowledge of baseball and have actually seen these players play so, uh, obviously I am .... correct...and you have...health insurance.

I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about, but it's fun to do so.

I'm going to go play with my sock puppets.

Ryan said...

Dear Keith Law,

Please use your Ivy League and ESPN powers to make it stop raining in Chicago, so I can see Greinke pitch and remain dry.

Also, please keep me from getting beat up by White Sox fans tonight.

Sincerely,
Pop Fisher

Keith Law said...

I don't object to differing opinions, but let's save "idiots" for people who really deserve it. Like if some team already playing for next year takes a college reliever in the first round.

Ryan said...

Fair enough, Keith Law. Fair enough. I recant my use of the word "idiots." My apologies.

And thank you, Mr. Law, for making the rain stop. I don't know what kind of pull you have with the baseball gods, but it's appreciated.

Pastor Suff (Steve Suffron) said...

Brett,

The A's list has two Rookies-of-the-Year (Crosby and Grieve), a Cy Young Award winner (Zito), another 20-game winner (Mulder), a six-time Gold Glove-winner who has driven in 100+ multiple times (Chavez), and a guy who won 56 bigleague games before the age of 25 (Bonderman). Plus three other guys (Gates, Prieto, and Wasdin)who have been useful players. You'd be hard-pressed to find a group that good, I would imagine, for any 11-year stretch since the draft started.

Compared to the Royals: One All-Star calibur player (Damon), one fourth-outfielder-type (Tucker), and a couple of guys with a season or two of useful bullpen work (Snyder and Macdougal). The rest didn't make the big leagues or were never good at all.

Jeff said...

Well you cant compare Royals & Yankees drafts because KC always drafts top 10 while the Yanks pick near the end of the 1st round. The Yanks did win 4 word series in that 10 year time frame.

As for the draft my personal preference is Smoak but really wouldnt be upset with Alvarez, Posey, Beckham, or Hosmer.

Anonymous said...

Devon, you can't trade draft picks in baseball.

Ryan said...

Thank God it didn't rain tonight, and I could see Greinke give up four home runs.

I fought the Law, and the Law won.

Isaac said...

I have a bias towards need and HS or College. Considering our current situation at certain positions, you have to go with guys that have a quicker path to the majors. Because of the gaping holes we have in our lineup, we also need to at least consider position as well. I'm not saying take a guy who projects to being a regular over a guy who projects to superstar level just because they will get here sooner but these things should be taken into account when drafting or making a decision between similar or equal players.

Anonymous said...

For my money, the Royals have to take one of these three - (MY order of preference) Alvarez, Beckham, Smoak. Having said that, I wouldn't complain too loudly if it were Posey but Hosmer just doesn't seem like the right guy to me.

And just to throw something else into the mix... you are all aware that Moustakas is improving with the bat but are you also aware that he has committed a lot of errors. (I think a LOT of them are throwing errors but errors nonetheless). I just feel that since most of baseball thinks he doesn't project as a SS... he will require a position change. Might he move to the OF or will it be to first? Who knows!

And as for not trading draft picks... you are right, that is the current rule. However, there is a push being made now to change that for next year. Personally, I hope they get that decision right otherwise cheapskate owners might just have one more way to sell their draftees to the big-dollar teams.

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Anonymous said...

Ahem...the Mariners have to be at least as bad in the plate discipline dept as the Royals and Twins.

Brett said...

Jeff,

The Yankees had some lower picks in that period, but you'll notice that Brien Taylor was the first overall pick in the draft. One of two (I believe) #1 overall picks to never play in the Major Leagues.

Pastor Suff,

I agree that the A's had some pretty good first-round picks in that period. If anyone tried to say the Royals' first-round picks over that period were better, I'd be on your side of the argument. My point was even a team that's renowned for their draftsing doesn't exactly get a 10-time All-Star every year. Is there anyone there that you'd trade Alex Gordon for? Even if the Giants agreed to pay Zito's $18 million per year?

Pastor Suff (Steve Suffron) said...

Well, besides Bonderman and Crosby, most of those guys are on the other sides of their prime, so no, I wouldn't trade Gordon for any of them right now. But would I trade Gordon's potential for the guarantee he would be as good as Chavez has been for the A's? Probably.

My point was that the Royals have done awful with the first round and the A's have done really well. They are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and bringing up the A's just magnifies how poorly the Royals have done. It seemed you were trying to show there wasn't much difference.

Brett said...

Yeah, I guess it did seem that way in my original comment. My point was meant to be that, while that was indeed a bad 11-year stretch for the Royals, the baseball draft is a crapshoot, and even the best teams aren't going to always get a superstar in the first round. Show me a team that had half of their first-round picks turn into above-average major leaguers over a significant stretch of time, and I'll show you a GM who's probably considered one of the best in the game.

Anonymous said...

Brien Taylor hurt his arm in a fight at a bar, as I recall, while still in the minors (his first year, if I recall), and *that's* why he never made it to the majors. IOW, not due to lack of pitching talent (as far as we'll ever know), but due to stupidity.

Dallas Tucker said...

I'm not speaking for blog posters as a whole, but I'm pretty most of us are in no place to say who we should or should not draft. Have all of you seen all of these players live multiple times. I think Dayton Moore probably has a better idea than we do. That being said, Smoak sounds pretty good to me.

Byron said...

Hmm. Let's see if I got this right: Mariner's pick at #20 + Andrew Cashner of TCU = Keith Law's definition of "idiot." Do I pass the draft class?

Frustrated Fan said...

I dont mean to detract from the draft talk, but could somebody please explain to me why Dayton keeps calling up players who are tearing up Omaha to ride the pine for the big club? Last year Justin Huber (who then stunk up omaha for weeks when he went back) and now Aviles. What is the point of calling up a guy to not play. Arent they much better off playing for development purposes?

Ryan said...

1. Byron - I think you pass the draft class.

2. Frustrated Fan - I hear you. Posnanski's blog about OBP and the Royals inability to use German came right before Thursday's story that German is going to get "six" or "seven" games at short to see how he does. Hillman wants players who "give us the best at bats."

When you only give German 55 ABs all year, and give Aviles, who was tearing up AAA, three at-bats, how the heck are you supposed to know which one is giving you the best at-bats? It makes absolutely no sense.

Back to my original point. I saw the game on Tuesday. I read that tonight's game, the Royals didn't get ONE hit in extra innings before giving up Konerko's home run in the 15th.

We have no real prospects in AA or AAA hitting wise.

Maybe Eric Hosmer and Tim Beckham are great prospects, but with a team that has 2-4 guys in the line up that have any chance at getting on base, how can you not draft a college bat that is a good bet to help you within a year? Maybe Hosmer is so good that he'll be in the majors in 2010 (best case scenario.) Who the heck is going score runs and knock in people until then?

Anonymous said...

Some how.. Some way... I keep thinking...

ALVAREZ!!!

Man, I sure HOPE so!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Rob said...

Great article. I do agree with the anonymous poster who wrote...

1) I thought one should NEVER draft for need - draft for talent only

3) I can't believe I'm saying this - but forget the high school shortstop, and go for the power bat that is nearly ready for the bigs already - pick either Alvarez or Smoak.

I was thinking that you may have allowed the current team need at SS (is "need" too weak of a term to describe the delta between Pena and a major-league quality hitter at shortstop?)

My thought process went to wondering how many of the better shortstops in the game were drafted as top picks as HS shortstops, since I couldn't think of any but Jeter. Now, maybe Beckham will become the next Derek Jeter, but among the other high-VORP shortstops, it seems as (of course) most of them were signed out of other countries, followed by somewhat later-round picks who have sort of elevated their stock. The HS-SS types who make it seem to have a disproportionately high rate of moving to other positions (at least in my subjective recollection).

Kevin said...

Well, Hosmer it is.

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo, looking forward to waiting 4 years for him to get called up and try to help us snap what I'm sure will be another 10 game losing streak.

Pastor Suff (Steve Suffron) said...

It would be great if Hosmer develops power, but the Royals seems incapable of developing a power hitter. It seems their prospects always come up and we think, "Gee, I thought they'd have more power." Even guys who had power, like Beltran (and Dye, who wasn't their prospect) went somewhere else and instantly had even more power. The only guy who was a pleasant surprise with power since Bo Jackson (or maybe Hamelin for a brief time) was Mike Sweeney, and they lucked into holding on to him by a timely Jeff King injury.

(It probably has a lot to do with not teaching plate discipline well).

Jared said...

We should have taken Smoak...

Anonymous said...

Why do you all think Smoak fell to number 11? For a top tier pick, it sure seems he sure fell a long way.

Shelby said...

there's clearly something the scouts know about Smoak to which we ain't privy...

Curtis said...

Say what you will about whether this kid or last year's kid works out, the biggest difference is that even though they took a player different from the one I would have liked most, I am very confident in the pick that our guys made because our guys made it. That in itself is a huge leap forward over the darkest years.

Anonymous said...

Curtis, I agree with that sentiment for the most part. I would like to KNOW for SURE if GMDM did or did not have anything to do with the drafting of Hochevar. I know he wasn't supposed to since he was privvy to all of the Braves plans but I can't help but wonder.

Everything I read says that Hosmer has the highest upside of ANY player in the draft. I guess that is hard to argue with then isn't it??? I mean, yeah, we fans really wanted the guy closest to the Bigs but if this kid ends up being THE STUD out of this draft... well, it will be worth the wait whenever that is.

Last point... he is a Bore-ASS client which is still scary despite the fact that we signed both Hoch and Moustakas. I personally did NOT enjoy going to the wire with Moustakas and won't appreciate it again this year. I hope there were some pre-draft negotiations and that we sign the kid QUICKLY!!! If it takes the reported $7M... I don't care. Trade Mahay and Gobble and use their money when we bring up Musser and Chambliss or whowever. I know we have all been saying for years that we need to spend the money on signing draft picks and kids from Latin America. Now is the time to do that. And it will no doubt be costly since he does have Bore-ASS and that Arizona State scholarship in his hip pocket.

What do we know about the supplemental pick. A lefty power pitcher. Sign him too as that sounds good to me!!!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

ChaimMKeller said...

I really wonder how Smoak made it all the way down to # 11. If there are genuine concerns with him, maybe Hosmer was the best bet for the Royals after all.

Anonymous said...

Last point about Bore-Ass while I'm thinking about it...

Not only do we have to pay bigger $ now at the beginning of these guys careers... we probably have enough evidence to KNOW that there will NOT be any hometown discount once these guys are arb-eligible or free agent-eligible. There is just no real advantage to having to deal with this guy is there?

Anyway... lets hope Hosmer is the real deal and lets also hope that the Royals put away the ChiSox tonight!

Go Royals!!! C-ya, AusSteveW

Carl Willingham said...

Three quick points:
1. Even if GMDM wasn't involved in the process he kept Ladinier and that was and endorsment of the pick. I personally think it is improbable Moore did not have some input.
2. I like the Hosmer pick. Seems to have plenty of upside and getting worried about a seven million dollar price tag when we gave Elarton and Sanders over 16 million for nothing (and it was so predictable) is shortsighted. When Bud announced Hosmer I thought he was saying Aaron Crow and about started cyring.
3. It's going to be harder to deal with Hosmer and Boras with him being a HS player versus a college junior. This is very underrated. If Hosmer is offered 5.5 and balks we need to get Matt Harrington on speed dial. Sure Boras has the number if we don't.

Nathan said...

Pastor Suff,

You're definitely right about the Royals trouble developing power prospects. It may have a lot to do with plate discipline, but I think it also has to do with other aspects of their hitting philosophy. Unfortunately, Paul Splitorff may be telling the truth when he says the Royals work on getting their young hitters to try to take pitches the other way unless they're so far inside that they have to be pulled to be hit. Other announcers sound off endlessly on the merits of opposite field hitting, of course--it's baseball dogma--but those teams still pull the ball into the seats from time to time. The Royals don't, because they don't even try. In fact, they seemingly teach their hitters not to hit for power.

N. J. Thomas said...

I've decided 2010 is our year. America will win the world cup led by some hot shot kid I've never heard of who plays for the the Wizards.

Hosmer will break the Royals record for home runs. Also, we'll still be in contention in... late August!

The Chiefs will win a play-off game.

And, of course, we'll crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of the women.

Ryan said...

At least it's clear that Dayton has a philosophy and is sticking to it. I can't fault him for that. I hope Hosmer ends up being a big stud even if it's four or five years down the road.

Their third pick, the second baseman from New Orleans, I like a lot. Baseball is the main deal in cajun country, and I'm sure the GMDM who loves h.s. pitchers with potential wouldn't be waisting that pick on someone he didn't think could hit the heck out of the ball. Perhaps he's the next Theriot/Fontenot. I'm excited about him.

I saw the Royals twice this week in Chicago. I've seen them play in the last couple of years. I can't remember a line up this bad. They are awful. We might as well disconnect and reconnect back in 2011. DeJesus and Teahen are hitting the ball well. Gordon and Guillen looked bad. They had German and Callaspo on the left side of the infield tonight, and you could just field the discomfort. An easy ground ball went right under Callaspo's glove. They hunch their shoulders and are discouraged after they make an out and walk back to the dugout. The White Sox had an a player thrown out by three feet at third tonight early in the game, and was called safe and no one came out to argue. Where's the fight? Hillman came out to argue with the first base umpire a few innings later for no clear reason.

Meche looked awful. He says he's pressing. If by pressing, he means missing the plate by a foot on half your pitches and throwing 88 pitches in the first four innings, then yeah, he's pressing. He finally settled down in the fifth, but it was too late. He was throwing scared against a line up with some power that has been in a huge slump. When they made contact early tonight, they were destroying the ball. There's no reason that lineup should be doing that.

I'm behind the Dayton Moore movement, but I don't see how people in KC are going to drag themselves to the ballpark to see this team play for the next three years while waiting for their young players to develop. We are bad.

Carl Willingham said...

Let me shout this, "Meche is not that good". If he gets on a hot streak and we can unload him for a couple of upside prospects do it. I'm not so sure that we couldn't have gotten LaPorta from the Brewers for Meche before the season started. The Royals are so busy patting themselves on the back for signing Meche they seem to be missing the point that he just isn't that good.

John said...

I like the Hosmer pick. I'll trust Dayton to know his stuff---now if we can only sign the kid.

Is it just me, or are the Royals' players as a whole just DUMB? They take few pitches, are all suckers for low curves or outside curves, can't run bases with ANY intelligence (except Teahen), and their pitchers just nibble-nibble-nibble then leave weak pitches in the dead middle. I want a smart group of players that know how to play the game...

Brett said...

We got Melville in the 4th round?! He's baseball america's 15th overall player and 2nd highest HS pitcher. If we sign him, this draft gets an A.

Brett said...

So close, Byron. You said, "Hmm. Let's see if I got this right: Mariner's pick at #20 + Andrew Cashner of TCU = Keith Law's definition of "idiot." Do I pass the draft class?"

Instead, Mariner's pick at #20 was Josh Fields of Georgia, and Keith Law pretty much ripped them for it. And who knows, if the Cubs hadn't taken Cashner one pick earlier, you might have predicted it perfectly.

N. J. Thomas said...

Wow. It's nice to see the implosion on the comments to this post. Royals fans being disappointed (rather than having expectations fulfilled) is the first step!

Byron said...

Hey, Brett

I wish I could claim complete clairvoyance. Unfortunately, there was too much "college reliever" noise in the Seattle camp - leading to a very depressing draft day buildup.

Worst record in the AL and drafting a college reliever with the #1 pick. I have to think the days of the current regime are numbered.

In contrast, congratulations to the Royals on a very nice draft. Of course, we won't really know for a few years but at least the current crop of draftees (Hosmer, Mellville, etc.) give reason for hope.

Chris in KC said...

LMAO at Rany dragging Scott Boras through the mud on EVERY prospect. It's nice to know that there's someone else out there that hates Boras as much as I do.