Monday, June 12th begins MLB Draft season, and try as I might, it's hard for me to keep away entirely. I've got a crazy job that has kept me apart from Halos Heaven for the last year or so, but the MLB draft is a compulsion that just keeps calling, so thought I'd take some time out this afternoon to contemplate recent Angels drafts.
For three consecutive seasons, I put together a set of "consensus draft rankings" culled from 12-20 of the most prominent MLB draft mocks in an attempt to build benchmarks for the "best player available" at any given point in the draft. BPA is a somewhat subjective concept, so I like taking a pure wisdom-of-the-crowd approach, and build from a chorus of expertise.
At the same time, I offered my suggestions each June for the players I'd choose if I were in the draft room, given the likely players available in the big board zone the team was in that year.
Here's how that played out 2014 – 2016.
|Year||Round One||Round Two|
|2016||Bryan Reynolds||Heath Quinn|
|2015||D.J. Stewart||Christin Stewart|
|2014||Bradley Zimmer||Jacob Lindgren|
Best player available (based on consensus rankings):
|Year||Round One||Round Two|
|2016||Blake Rutherford /
|2015||Jon Harris||Jacob Nix|
|2014||Sean Newcomb||Marcus Wilson|
|Year||Round One||Round Two|
|2016||Matt Thaiss||Brandon Marsh|
|2015||Taylor Ward||Jahmai Jones|
|2014||Sean Newcomb||Joe Gatto|
As one can see, the Angels have typically taken a rather different route than where I might have gone, and in many cases, have steered clear of consensus, expending their first round picks on players expected to go well below the slots they selected them at. This was certainly the case with Taylor Ward (expected to go in the 2-4 rounds in 2015) and in 2016 as well, where Matt Thaiss slotted in at #29 on the consensus big board.
Three recent Angels picks, however, conformed largely to the BPA concept. Sean Newcomb was a consensus top ten prospect in 2014, and fell into the Angels' lap at pick #15. Likewise, while Marsh and Jones were not the consensus best players available in rounds two of 2015-16, they were ranked a few notches higher than where the Angels selected, and were among the best players still remaining.
For the most part, the consensus has served the Angels well, when they looked to it.
Sean Newcomb was the key piece in the Angels' trade for the best defensive shortstop in baseball – a trade few fans would regret, even as Newcomb finally cracked the Majors this weekend, with a terrific outing (4 hits, one unearned run, and 7 strikeouts over 6.1 innings). That was among the best selections the Angels could've made, given the options. Likewise, while they are still very early in their careers, both greenhorns at age 19, Jahmai Jones and Brandon Marsh both have upsides that will make their development exciting to watch. They are far from the show, but they both flash speed, power and athleticism that justify their selections.
On the other hand, the two contrarian selections of Thaiss and Ward have not yet played out so well. Thaiss is struggling to hit for average or power at age 22 in a hitter's league, while Ward, a year older, has a nearly identical hitter's profile. In fact, they are very similar players, though the former is a 1B with an iffy glove, while the latter projects as a backup catcher, given he's unlikely to hit enough to carry a starting role.
When the Angels chose Thaiss, both Blake Rutherford and Dakota Hudson were still on the board – each in the #9-12 zone of the consensus rankings. Rutherford was rumored to have a big price tag (and indeed, he signed for $3M+ with Yankees). But Hudson was quite signable – the Cardinals picked him up later in the first round, and he signed for $150k less than Thaiss.
Hudson is currently pitching at AA Springfield, carrying a sweet 2.98 ERA and pitching with notable consistency. The Cardinals also picked up the second round's remaining BPA in Connor Jones, who is at their high-A club. Jones is doing fine, holding an ERA just under 4, though he's struggling with lowered K rates, in what is his first pro season transitioning to starting (the Cards had him in short BP stints in 2016).
Meanwhile, how have my own picks fared?
Well, not too shabby, all said and done.
Here are their current statuses:
|Current Level||Current Status|
|Jacob Lindgren||(DL)||(Tommy John)|
Man, my current 2016 picks are crushing it! Both are playing for San Francisco's high-A affiliate. Both were available when the Angels selected, and then the Giants scooped both up in the following rounds 2 and 3, one pick before LAA picked each time.
The Stewarts of 2015? Well, while Christin was available to the Angels in round one, D.J. was selected by Baltimore one slot earlier at #25 in round one. To be fair, he's not setting the world on fire. While he found his power stroke again in high-A ball last year, where he hit a strong .279/.389/.448, he's hitting a more mediocre league average line at the higher level. Although against higher competition than either Ward or Thaiss are facing now. Christin on the other hand is displaying the sort of power the Angels can only dream of in their system right now.
Meanwhile, while I was delighted with the Newcomb pick in 2014, Zimmer was the date I came in with. He got his first crack at the show with Cleveland this year, and he is not disappointing. Many expect that he becomes a franchise player. The Yanks, on the other hand, rushed Lindgren to the Majors within a year of drafting, and may have paid the price for it. While he destroyed pitching at several MiLB levels, striking out 14+ batters per nine, he struggled at the MLB level and succumbed to TJ surgery last year. His biography is not yet finished.
So tell me, Halostan, how have your own picks done in recent years?