A Few Post-Draft Observations

Draft

The 2012 MLB Draft came to a close today, with 1238 players being picked, 42 of them by the Brewers. I’m not really in a position where I can do pick-by-pick analysis (If you’re looking for that, Disciples of Uecker has done a fantastic roundup of each player drafted by Milwaukee), but I did have some observations after following the draft fairly closely:

– Baseball’s new CBA imposed hard caps on how much teams can spend in the draft, and it’s been interesting watching the Brewers (and every other team) try to adjust. In the first ten rounds, it was clear that there was a fair amount of strategy involved in the process: For most teams, the question appeared not to be “Who is the best player available?”, but “Who is the best player available that we can sign and still stay in line with MLB’s slots?”. To me, the craziness and strange scenarios that ensue are fascinating, but the changes MLB made seem to have created as many problems as they solved.

In the first three rounds, the Brewers were fairly conservative, selecting high school catcher Clint Coulter 27th overall, college outfielder Victor Roache 28th (The Roache pick was seen by many, including ESPN’s Keith Law, as a bit of a reach at 28. He has apparently already agreed to a deal.), and college outfielder Mitch Haniger in the supplemental round. None of these players were expected to be especially tough signs, nor was second rounder Tyrone Taylor, a high school outfielder. Milwaukee’s third round pick, high school hurler Zach Quintana, doesn’t figure to be either – as a short right-hander with good, but not overwhelming stuff, there seemed to be a fair amount of surprise that he went this high in the first place.

However, this (hopefully) freed up some cash to spend in later rounds on talent that fell lower than expected, which looks to be just what the Brewers did. In the fifth round, they took Oklahoma right-hander Damien Magnifico, a draft-eligible sophomore with an outstanding name and a triple-digit fastball who will probably require an above-slot deal to sign. Later, in the eighth and ninth round, respectively, they were able to draft two high school players that will both likely require a significant bonus to go pro (OF Edgardo Rivera and RHP Alejandro Lavendero).

This strategy seems strange at first, but there’s no reason to be unhappy with it right now. If the Brewers’ scouts have a higher opinion of say, Roache and Quintana than the pundits who make the rankings, that’s fine with me: The club needs to pick the players they like, not the ones that will get them a good grade the week after the draft (I’m sure that the pundits who do the rankings and grades agree). However, all the bonus-shuffling shenanigans don’t speak well at all for MLB’s new slotting system. In theory, hard-slotting was supposed to ensure that the best players always go to the worst teams, but it’s clear that signability, pre-draft deals, and financial wrestling between teams and agents as prevalent as ever. Right now, this appears to be a duct-tape solution at best.

- One more interesting pick was college pitcher Buck Farmer, who fell all the way to the 15th round before signing with Milwaukee – Baseball America ranked him as their 117th best prospect available. Farmer is a big (6’4, 228 lb) right-hander with a low 90s fastball, good slider and change, and command of all three. Though there are some questions about his delivery, many people see a future midrotation starter at the big league level, which is a player that simply shouldn’t be available at pick #485.

It was great that the Brewers were able to nab Farmer, but they will have to sign him as well. Farmer does have the option of returning to Georgia Tech for his senior year, and will likely do so if he doesn’t get a significantly above-slot offer from the Brewers. If said offer is greater than $100,000 (it will presumably have to be), the value of the bonus will count against Milwaukee’s cap for the first ten rounds. It will likely take some creativity to get this one done.

- The club used a late-round pick on a Brewers brat again this year, selecting Lance Roenicke (yep, Ron’s son) in the 25th round, just like they took Jon’s brother David Lucroy in the 26th last year. According to his father, Lance is both a grinder with a feel for the game and an athletic kid who needs to grow into his tools. There’s really no harm to this kind of thing – The younger Roenicke hit pretty well (310/.361/.462) in college this year, and apparently has some speed – but I still would be very unhappy if I was the Brewers’ 26th round pick. (Incidentally, their 26th round pick was a prep lefty named Mark McCoy.)

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