Sunday, December 27, 2009

If the Draft Were Held Today- Premise and Season 1

Different GMs have different ideas as to how to run a team, but think we all would agree that drafting well is a key component to putting together a good franchise. While we all await aginor's coverage of this past draft (I'm sure he'll do a great job as always), we can take a look back at previous drafts (the first 4- past that is probably still too early to tell) with the advantage of having a good idea as to how the players have turned out (obviously some are still developing, but the big-time prospects are in or close to the ML level). So the question is this: if the drafts were held today, knowing what we know now and with each team able to see each and every player, what would happen? Would there be significant changes or would it be very similar?

Disclaimers: 1. I haven't asked any GM about this, so this is my educated guess and will be somewhat biased toward my tendencies and what I would do. I could be wrong on a lot of these, but I think it will be fairly close.
2. The needs of any given team, now or at the time, will not be considered, as we are in essence "hopping in the time machine" and going back to before the players develop, so it is far more likely that teams would draft the best player available. Naturally, ability to play a more premium defensive position will be considered.

Let's start with Season 1. If we could go back in time, what would the top 10 of this draft look like?

1. Boston (formerly Huntington)

Pick then: 2B Derrin Hernandez
Today: SP Lonny Gates (went #3 to Houston, still with team)

This is not a knock on Hernandez, who has scored over 100 runs four times and has been a quality player (maybe a little short of superstar level, but a very good player), especially since being traded to San Juan. But Gates is 55-22 in his 3+ season career and has been at least mentioned as a Cy Young candidate the past few seasons. He's a legitimate #1 starter and if you can grab one in the draft, I think you do it.

2. Syracuse (formerly Pawtucket)

Pick then: 2B Rico Guevara
Today: IF Amp Palmer (went #6 to Louisville, still with team)

Again, Guevara is far from a bust. He's come back to earth a bit after last season's 30-30 season, so I'll give the Simpletons the more consistent Palmer, who was rated the #1 prospect for at least part of his stint in the minors. Palmer doesn't get credit for playing SS (you have to play it well- 46 errors last season doesn't cut it), but he'd be a solid defensive 3B and would still score his 100, drive in 100, and steal at least 20 bases. And he's done it every season.

3. Houston

Pick then: SP Lonny Gates
Today: SP Mateo Batista (went #14 to Anaheim, still with team)

This is only because Gates is already off the board- if you gave Houston a shot to draft Gates again, I don't think they'd hesitate. But if they can't get Gates, they would have their choice of some good position players (see the next few picks) or another starting pitcher. This would not be the pick if I had done this last season at this time, but Batista seems to have taken the next step and put everything together, with the big key being cutting down on giving up the long ball. He may not win, but he'll be in the Cy Young conversation this season, and I think that would be enough for the Riverdogs.

4. Seattle (formerly Vancouver)

Pick then: 2B Jack Hunt
Today: Hunt

If it's close, I'll give the team the player it already has. Hunt is another guy who has taken his game to new heights this season, hitting .349 (over 100 points higher than last season) in addition to being a 30-30 threat.

5. Salem

Pick then: SP Benji Stewart
Today: Hernandez

As much as I believe Salem values pitching, I'd have to think they'd rather have a 100 run scorer in Hernandez than a middle of the road pitcher (who cost them over $9 million in signing bonus, by the way).

6. Louisville

Pick then: IF Amp Palmer
Today: Guevara

So essentially Palmer and Guevara get traded for each other- I'd have to wonder how long it would take Louisville to reject that deal if it were actually proposed. Louisville would have to settle for Guevara's promise instead of Palmer's productivity.

7. Atlanta

Pick then: 2B Jason Walker
Today: Walker

Again, this pick could go a few different directions, but I think Atlanta is happy with their choice of Walker, a guy who will hit near .300, has scored 100 twice, and is a 20-20 candidate every season.

8. Norfolk

Pick then: SP Eddie Marquis
Today: IF Che Bong (went #9 to Salt Lake City (formerly LA), still with team)

Unlike some of the other prospects, Marquis seems to hit his ceiling, which is a career .500 pitcher with about a 4.50 ERA in the National League. I'd have to think Norfolk was hoping for a little better from a #8 overall pick, so I'll give them Bong, a career .285 hitter who is among the league leaders in triples.

9. Salt Lake City (formerly LA)

Pick then: IF Che Bong
Today: 2B Tito Martin (went #20 to Buffalo (formerly Cleveland), still with team)

Since they can't get Bong, they might go with a reasonable facsimile of Bong, just with slightly less production. They could easily go with the guy I'm putting at #10 or 1B Jimmie Williams, a slugging 1B now with Austin, but I'll give them the middle infielder who has put up decent numbers.

10. Oklahoma City (formerly Texas)

Pick then: RP Matt Skinner
Today: Skinner

Skinner, just traded from Houston to Austin, has established himself as one of the top closers in the game, winning a Fireman of the Year Award two seasons ago and racking up 173 career saves.

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