One of my favorite baseball draft websites is MLB Bonus Baby. The site offers scouting reports and updates on draft prospects from the high school to college ranks. The author, Andy Seiler, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us regarding June’s draft. My questions are in bold with his answers below.
Is there any chance Bryce Harper does not go #1 to Washington?
AS: I’d say there’s a 95% chance that Washington takes Harper on June 7. The odds are just too stacked in favor of that choice. The only things that could really get in the way are an injury and a major slump in a hitter’s form of Steve Blass disease. The odds of those things happening are low, and the Nationals will pony up to sign him.
Who are your projected top 5 picks?
AS: I currently have Harper to the Nationals, Pomeranz to the Pirates, Ranaudo to the Orioles, Taillon to the Royals, and Chris Sale to the Indians. A lot can change between now and June, though, and Ranaudo represents the biggest risk in that group in terms of draft stock.
Who’s stock is rising the fastest? Who is falling the fastest?
AS: Someone who I never thought would receive first round consideration is Asher Wojciechowski from The Citadel. It’s not that I didn’t believe in him as a prospect, it’s that I thought he’d never get the feel or command of his breaking ball, and he’s done that and more this spring. He’s the Eric Arnett of this class. Rick Hague is going in the opposite direction, and I feel more and more like he’s going to be coming back to Rice for his senior year. He’s just been moved off of shortstop, and it looks like he has a bad case of draftitis, as he’s much more sure-handed and reliable than he’s performed this year.
What current projected first round pick has the most question marks?
AS: This is an interesting question, as all first round picks, regardless of the player, have some sort of question mark or two. Even Stephen Strasburg wasn’t a perfect draft prospect. I’ll say that James Paxton, who is right on the edge between the first round and the supplemental first round, comes with the most question marks. He got picked in the supplemental first round last year on account of his raw stuff from the left side, but after leaving Kentucky, scouts are wondering how they’re going to know he’s made any sort of progress. He struggled with command last year, and he was erratic from start to start, and now they’re only going to get limited looks at him before having to make a major decision about him. That’s always an uncomfortable situation, even in the best of circumstances.
How much emphasis do you place on statistics when evaluating a prospect?
AS: It definitely depends on where the prospect is playing. If it’s a player in a major conference against other real prospects, statistics need to play a heavier role. If it’s a smaller conference, the stats can be misleading, though they can’t be discounted completely. If a player is struggling statistically in a small conference, that definitely should play a part in evaluation. At the high school level, stats can almost be thrown out the window, with the exception of a player who is bad statistically. If a kid in high school can’t hit .300, he’s not a prospect, no matter how many times you show me a 500 foot batting practice home run. It’s just not going to happen. The biggest issue with stats at the high school level is whether or not they’re playing anyone good. You hear about a player allowing a single run in 40 innings in high school going in the 5th round, then one that had outings where he was allowing 3 or 4 runs in a 7 inning outing going in the top five. The difference could be that one’s from Iowa and one’s from the hardest district in Texas. All this being said, stats need to be a part of the picture of an evaluation, but so do the traditional measures of scouting. The scouting community has updated itself better than they’re given credit for, and I think you’d be surprised how well teams prepare themselves with every piece of the puzzle during evaluation.
If your interested in more MLB draft analysis check out Andy Seiler’s 2010 MLB Draft Notebook.