The Draft is when!?

After having not really thought about it, I found out today that the MLB draft is Monday. Christ! I mean, yeah, it’s the right time for it, but… I guess it just sort of snuck up on me.

I know virtually nothing about this draft class, except that it’s supposed to be a deep one. That, too, is a change from years past — when the Braves took Jason Heyward in 200… 7, I think it was, I pumped my fist, because I knew, even then, that it was going to be a dynamite choice. This year, though, I don’t know any of the guys on the draft boards (except Anthony Rendon, a third baseman who’s supposed to be a beast, and will almost certainly go to either the Pirates with the first pick or the Mariners with the second) from Adam. The experts have the Braves making a typical Braves pick… a high-velocity high school arm that they can sign for cheap. I’m not sure that’s altogether the right choice, speaking personally. I’m against drafting for need, but the Braves are well-stocked on pitching currently. It’s the bats they need. I’d really like to see them take an up-the-middle guy who projects as a plus offensive player, should one fall to them. You can never have too much pitching, but a staff that loses 2-1 every night won’t get you anywhere either.

The baseball draft is kind of an outlier in that it’s not an event like the NFL or NBA’s, despite MLB trying to make it one. Part of that is that college baseball lacks the exposure of college football and basketball, so the players aren’t as well-known (and that’s not even getting in to high schoolers, who are only going to be known by aficionados regardless). Mostly, though, it’s due to the fact that baseball’s developmental period is much longer than the other sports. In the NBA or NFL, there’s a pretty good chance that your stud draft pick is going to be a key piece on your team in short order, so the draft is critical to shaping the team for the coming seasons. Baseball’s draft is just as critical, but there’s usually a period of several years before a guy’s name is called and he becomes an impact player at the big league level, if he ever does. If you’re a casual fan who doesn’t follow the minors, hearing that a guy was taken with the such-and-such pick in the first round is likely to be the last you’ll hear of him for three or four years at least. It’s hard to get excited about “This guy’ll be big… half a decade from now”, you know?

I still like it, though. The Draft is all potential — for a lot of guys, it’s the height of their careers. Draft day is all about ceilings and potential — everyone’s a future All-Star or a number one starter or throwing aspirin tablets in someone’s pen. It’s great to look at these guys, with little real data to drag them down, and imagine what they might be, someday, in an ideal world. The minors will tarnish their images, no doubt. Monday, though… anything’s possible then, at least until the contracts are signed.


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