Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Loose Draft Thoughts

So The Lost Collector's comments about how flawed the MLB Draft is inspired me to write of my own on the topic. I should probably save this post until next year's draft but you know what, this is #FreeContent so I'm going to post it up whenever I'm out of blogging material (which is now lol).

The MLB Draft isn't the big sports media spectacle that MLB wishes it was. And quite frankly I think everyone has accepted that it never will be.

TLC brought up a good point that lack of prior exposure is a reason why so many people aren't interested. There are literally thousands upon thousands of high school/college baseball players across the US and Canada. Being able to see all of them before the draft like you can with basketball/football/hockey is impossible. Not when they're all so spread out and at various baseball powerhouses across the country. Plus there's the fact that baseball at it's highest level is unpopular, what makes you think the public will watch it at it's lowest levels unless every channel that's not ESPN 2 gets blacked out? Actually even then I think people would just turn off the TV and play with their phones.

There's also the fact that even despite all of the scouting reports and the hype, these players are largely going to disappear into the minors for a good 2-5 years. The draft for other sports are different, in that the road to the highest levels are much much quicker and as such the players are more important and impactful in the short term.

Like I love Anthony Seigler's potential and think he could be a wonderful player. But he's a high school catcher which means that he's a good five years away from realistically getting an MLB callup. And that's assuming there are no major setbacks along the way. Your average Yankee fan isn't going to care about him right now unless they're considering getting him for their long term fantasy dynasty or keeper league.

I think it's fair to point out that the ONLY quasi-interesting part of the draft is wondering how the teams are going to manipulate the bonuses they dish out to maneuver through their draft pools. The teams all have a set amount of bonus money they can give to players. Some players are going to cost more than others (these are usually the guys you see drafted in the 2nd/3rd rounds) and as such, teams are going to look to save money on the picks that won't be that pricey (ie every college senior ever) in the later rounds so as to pool money into the high upside but also high sign-ability issue guy they really want's draft slot. Got it? No? Well I don't blame you.

This is why the draft is so unappealing to the average Joe. Or even a large chunk of baseball fans. Even hardcore baseball fans. Imagine you ask your friend who is super into prospects and the draft, "so what did you think of the Yankees draft haul?" and then their (or rather my) response is 'well it looks like after Seigler and Josh Breaux all of the other picks were "safe" low-cost picks in an effort to funnel money into Ryder Green's bonus pool'. Like I get that what the other guy wants to hear is that the Yankees got the next Mike Trout, but the reality is that what I just described is literally the ONLY thing that happened.

There are really three things that happen in the draft.
1). In the first three rounds you draft the best talent available
2). After the fourth round you start to see how you can manipulate bonuses to sign the really pricey high school/junior college kid you drafted in either the 2nd or 3rd round
3). By the rounds in the double digits it's all a giant crapshoot so it's nothing but more bonus pool manipulation and the token "we know we're not going to get this extremely talented player that is extremely committed to go to college, but we're just going to draft him anyway to establish a connection and hope that they'll remember us for when they're draft eligible again in two-three years" pick.

Boom, that's the whole draft. By day two the plan is set and you know who the key players are.

It also doesn't help that the broadcast for the first two rounds is complete ass.
If Rob Manfred has such a hard on for fixing the pace of play he should start with the pace of the draft broadcast. It took nearly five hours to get through the first two rounds (and the compensation picks and the competitive balance picks) on day one. FIVE FUCKING HOURS of having to listen to morons like Harold Reynolds blithering on about travel ball players they've never seen and spewing lazy player comps (player comps suck BTW, never trust them). The MLB Network sucks at analyzing major leaguers, what possible insight could they have on amateurs?

Also since we're in the age of Twitter, hearing Manfred or the team's reps say who they draft isn't really that up to date anyway. Like, I knew that the Yankees were going to take Seigler a good two minutes before Manfred announced it because information spreads faster on Twitter than it does elsewhere. This was largely the case for most of the first rounders (pro tip, use this awkward two minute span to pick up any cards you want of your favorite team's first rounder on eBay for cheap, because they'll shoot up in price real quick in a matter of minutes).

Speaking of the broadcast, I like Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo just fine and give them a lot of credit for being the two in charge of everything at MLB Pipeline including the draft, international amateur free agent signings and the prospects already in affiliated baseball, but that's a LOT of responsibilities placed on them. I mean I'm sure they get their information from scouts who spend a lot more time in concentrated assignments, but personally I'd rather the network not just rely on them but also get in touch with more people who specifically cover high school or college baseball on a national level. Heck, Baseball America has people like that on their payroll, call them!

Ultimately the only real charming thing about the MLB draft that makes it worth watching is just seeing the happy families and friends excited for the draftees. Look at how proud and happy Seigler's parents are there behind him. That's wonderful.

Personally I don't think you can "fix" the draft and make it more appealing. Being able to trade draft picks would be huge, but I doubt that that would be enough. With the way the system is set up now it's still just going to be "okay, we got these new draft picks, now we can manipulate the draft pools even more!"

Kudos to MLB for trying but, it's not meant to be.

So to recap:
*We're basically watching people enter indentured servitude where the team is going to manipulate their service time to make sure they enter free agency when their best years are behind them

*The MLB draft is all just a game of salary/bonus suppression

*Half of the MLB Network commentators don't know jack shit

*Expecting beat writers to know everything about the guy the team they cover drafted minutes ago is unrealistic

*Just follow smart prospect people on Twitter

So there are my thoughts on the draft. It's very long, boring and tedious, and the only interesting things are the transactions and the emotions the players feel. Which is basically baseball in a nutshell too.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).


  1. All interesting and valid points. I've found myself more interested in the college guys who move quicker, even though they have less upside than the top picks further away. Guys like Holder and Montgomery and Adam Warren because they move quicker. The might not be as highly rated, but still nice to see the returns a bit quicker.

    Once a high school pick or international free agent gets to full season minor league ball, I get a little more excited because the path to the Majors becomes a little clearer.

    1. I used to be excited about supposed fast college movers until I found that even they are susceptible to setbacks and injuries. Although they're more likely to be in full season ball a lot faster.

  2. "There's also the fact that even despite all of the scouting reports and the hype, these players are largely going to disappear into the minors for a good 2-5 years."

    This! In today's short attention span age, where we're all about the now, future be damned, no one is interested in theoreticals half a decade away. If these players were going directly onto an MLB roster, I really think the draft would be much closer in popularity to the NBA draft. As it stands, far too much can happen in between draft day and a player's possible MLB debut.

    1. At the same time, prospects seem to be what people really fantasize about the most. Mainly because people haven't been able to see them amount to just another ordinary major leaguer yet.

  3. I agree with pretty much everything you said, yet I still love to watch the draft. Now, I’m fully aware that I am the exception and not the rule, but I enjoy learning about incoming prospects, trying to figure out where they will land in the system, etc. I guess as a fan of the Rangers right now, all we really have is the future to loom forward to.

    1. I like the influx of players too, but if you've read a mock draft or two before the actual draft that'll give you a good idea of what your team might get.

  4. Lol. If the MLB Newwork commentators don't know jack $hit... then there's definitely no hope for me ;) I guess that's why I rely on you for my prospects information.

    1. I wouldn't say that, but I take their analysis with a grain of salt. Any network that employs Harold Reynolds or Chris Russo should never be taken at face value.