OK, 3 rounds (plus sandwich) in the books.

The draft started very predictably with the National signing San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, easily the best player in the draft.  The Pittsburgh Pirates made the first “reach” on the draft, taking Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez at #4, far above his projected slot.  This was apparently a case of the Pirates choosing a signable player (there was reportedly an agreement in place before the draft) rather than a player with a high ceiling.  Pirates Nation (if such a term is still accurate) probably let loose a collection groan with this pick.  This is one of the reasons why I wish baseball teams could trade picks.  The Pirates could have easily traded down 10-20 spots and still been able to nab Sanchez.

A few guys slipped more than I expected

Aaron Crow was the first round pick of the Nationals last year (#10) overall and could not agree to a deal with Washington.  He spent a season with the independent Forth Worth Cats and went back into the draft this year.  Some folks had his stock dropping, but I really expected someone to nab him in the top 5.  Instead, he dropped to #12, where he was signed by Kansas City.  This is the second time the Royals have signed a former Cat, as Luke Hochevar followed the same path after he was drafted #6 overall by the Dodgers in 2005 (he was drafted #1 overall by the Royals in 2006).  Contrast this style with the Pirates choosing a lower ceiling player to save money.

A couple other guys were drafted later than I expected due to injury concerns  Pitcher Kyle Gibson of Missouri seemed like a lock for the top 10 before being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his pitching arm.  He dropped to the Twins at #22.  If the Twins can get a good comfort level by the August 15 signing deadline, they could end up with a very good pitcher with this pick.

Perhaps the most intriguing drop was Tanner Scheppers.  Scheppers was a lock for the top 10 last year out of Fresno State before suffering an injury to his rotator cuff and labrum.  He dropped to #48 last year, and the Pirates were unable to sign him.  To be fair to both sides, the negotiations had a risk/reward aspect related to the injury.  This year he was pitching for the independent St. Paul Saints and appears to be fully healed from the injury.  However, some doubts apparently still exist, as Scheppers dropped to the Texas Rangers at #44.  

Scheppers would have actually made a lot of sense at the tail end of the first round.  He is the equivalent of a college senior, and teams would not have been subject to the August 15 deadline to sign him.  They could have waited until right before the 2010 draft to make a really serious offer.  If he was recovered, sign him.  If not, don’t sign him.  Teams who can’t sign a first or second round pick receive a pick one spot lower in next year’s draft (if you can’t sign the #1 overall pick, you’d get the #2 pick in 2010).  Worst case scenario for a team at the tail end of the first round would be not signing Scheppers and getting an equivalent pick in 2010.  The Rangers actually took more of  a risk.  The sandwich picks are not protected.  If they don’t sign Scheppers, they do not get any sort of replacement pick.

How did my Rockies do?  I’m pretty happy.  The Rockies has 3 picks in the top 34.  At #11, I really wish we would have grabbed Aaron Crow.  Instead, we picked flamethrowing high school lefty Tyler Matzek, who already has a fastball in the mid to high 90s.  Matzek has really good upside potential.  The big knock on his was money, as he reportedly wants about $7 million to sign.  At #32 I was hoping we’d go after Scheppers, but took Sacramento State outfielder Tim Wheeler instead.  Wheeler has good speed, and question marks about his power and his ability to stay in center field.  If he can stay in center and show good power, this could be a very nice pick.  At #34, we went for another lefty pitcher with good power, Rex Brothers out of Lipscomb University.  Brothers throws in the high 90s.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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