This draft is going to make some teams look really smart. Since it’s a relatively weak class, there’s not a lot of differentiation once you get past the top five or ten guys. Some players got into the top 20 by surprise; others dropped into the supplemental round or beyond even though teams were on them with top-15 picks.
In fact, just about everybody down to 45 appeared on a recent draft board as going in the first round. Some of those have fallen for good reason, but others are going to make us wonder in a few years how they lasted so long.
33. Michael Kvasnicka – Astros. Houston went with a bit of an enigma, a player whose tools are better than his results so far. It’s not clear where he’ll play–he’s been in the outfield, many consider him a future catcher, and he was announced as a third baseman.
I offer this more as a side note than any type of evaluation–he was -3 runs on the basepaths this year. That’s about as bad as you can be in a ~50-game season. It might mean nothing, it might have more to do with coaching, or it might reflect badly on his baseball smarts.
36. Bryce Brentz – Red Sox. Solid pick for 36. Brentz is a power corner guy and proved a little tough to evaluate because of mediocre competition and an mid-season injury. Buzz had him going as high as 10ish, which would’ve been a big mistake.
39. Anthony Ranaudo – Red Sox. These will be some interesting negotiations. In February, Ranaudo was number two on a lot of rankings. Since then, he got injured, missed much of the season, and hasn’t looked the same upon his return.
As a third pick, though, it seems like a smart one. The obvious counterpoint is that he did get this far. If 20-30 medical staffs looked at his records and expressed enough skepticism to pass on this kind of ceiling, you wonder just what his chances are of regaining his pre-season magic.
41. Asher Wojciechowski – Blue Jays. He seemed to be a fallback option for a lot of teams drafting in the 15-30 range, so the Jays must have been happy to see him on the board this late. His size and stuff has some projecting him as a future reliever.
46. Seth Blair – Cardinals. I’m surprised to see him go so early, especially with someone like Brandon Workman still on the board. Blair would be a solid second- or third-round pick, the type of low-ceiling, low-risk college guy that programs like Arizona State churn out just about every year.
He struggled this year against lefties and also performed better in non-conference games, which doesn’t bode well for his chances against pro competition.
48. Chance Ruffin – Tigers. Here’s another guy who could’ve gone much, much higher. I think 48 is about right for him—good stuff, solid college results, probably a future reliever.
If he does end up in the bullpen, he could be dominant there. As the Longhorns closer this season, he struck out 94 in 60 innings, crushing hitters from both sides of the plate.
49. Mike Olt – Rangers. This is a little higher than I would’ve taken Olt, but not a bad pick by any means. Scouts love him, he’s a solid defender at third, and while the numbers weren’t college-silly, they don’t raise any question marks.
For every surprise in the first 50 picks, there are some guys who were expected to go but didn’t. Perhaps the most notable is Brandon Workman, along with guys like Brett Eibner, Jesse Hahn, and James Paxton. Also a surprise not to hear prep pitcher Stetson Allie’s name called.