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Phighting Words: Pseudo Draft Mailbag

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I have a few final items before next week’s draft that I wanted to discuss since I’ve seen them come up in the comments, so this is a bit of a pseudo mailbag. I’m happy to answer further questions in the comments.

First, a few folks asked me a bit indirectly what my own rankings were and since this is a pseudo mailbag I’ll consider that close enough to a legit question. So a few notes before I share it, this is a bit of my take on draft value, not how much I like a particular player. If I ranked it that way, Turang is a top 10 player and Madrigal is top 5 and Singer’s probably down in the 11-15 range. No I tried to look at draft history, position impact, recent trends and then basically used my preference for a player if there was a bit of a tie break situation. This is also not meant to be a projection of the order they’ll be drafted. Mock drafts are fun to read, but more useless than a bicycle on a canoe.

  1. Casey Mize, RHP - Slam dunk. Barring injury he’ll be an Ace and probably a pretty quick mover.
  2. Alec Bohm, 3B - 70 grade power, potentially fills a position of need (even though you should never draft for that) and I buy the hit tool enough to think he’ll unlock all the power.
  3. Joey Bart, C - I don’t entirely buy the bat, but I 100% buy the defense and power. His Floor might be Matt Wieters, which is pretty good.
  4. Jonathan India, 3B - Basically the anti-Bohm. I buy the bat, but I don’t buy the power and there is some position question.
  5. Shane McClanahan, LHP - Three potential plus pitches is rare stuff from a Lefty. There are control issues, but I suspect a team will fall in love with stuff and try to fix the control.
  6. Brady Singer, RHP - Plus fastball, plus slider sounds like a fantastic relief Pitcher. Still he has a great track record, he might have a Change-up and no one oddly discusses the medical he failed when the Blue Jays drafted him 3 years ago, so perhaps no one else worries about that.
  7. Matthew Liberatore, LHP - I personally prefer him to the two above, but I suspect teams will prefer the College track records after recent failures of other High School Pitchers.
  8. Travis Swaggerty, OF - Swaggerty is the first 5-tool prospect on this list. I’m not 100% sure he’ll get to the power, but getting that level of talent in the 6-10 or later area is going to be too much for some teams to avoid.
  9. Nick Madrigal, 2B - Second Basemen rarely get drafted in the First Round, they even more rarely get drafted top 10. Madrigal’s hit tool is special, but history suggests teams will be scared off by the position.
  10. Jarred Kelenic, OF - Best High School hitter in the class with speed to play all 3 spots in the OF and the arm to match.
  11. Brice Turang
  12. Jackson Kowar, RHP
  13. Carter Stewart, RHP
  14. Cole Winn, RHP
  15. Nolan Gorman, 3B
  16. Kumar Rocker, RHP
  17. Ethan Hankins, RHP
  18. Logan Gilbert, RHP
  19. Triston Casas, 3B/1B
  20. Ryan Rolison, LHP

Earlier this week Blurstoftimes asked “What’s the better gamble- developing Bohm into a power corner infielder, or developing Madrigal into a bat first 2B?” I was planning on writing about this subject anyway, but Blurst was nice enough to accidentally give me pseudo mailbag material.

I’ve talked plenty about the tools of both Bohm and Madrigal, so I’m going to skip specific tools and focus on position value as it relates to the draft.

So let me start by referring to something Matt Eddy wrote for Baseball America on the value of Third Basemen taken in the top 10 picks. Fifteen Third Basemen have been drafted in the top 10 picks since 1987 and there are only 2 who might be considered busts. Those 15 players have amassed 391.7 WAR so far. Several of those players moved off of Third and other than the one sure bust, they all put up 18+ career WAR. It’s a good piece where he gives some of the reasoning for the overall success of these 15 players.

In the entire history of the draft going back 50 years there have been a total of 24 Second Basemen drafted in the First Round. Those 24 players have totaled 120.6 Career WAR, nearly 4 times less than that of the 15 Third Basemen Matt Eddy wrote about, and 65.6 of that WAR is Chase Utley alone. To further break it down, 7 of those 24 players were taken in the top 10 picks and career journeyman Rickie Weeks is the most successful of them with 11.8 career WAR over his 14 year career.

You might argue that past results are no guarantee of future results. That’s true and fair. Every First Round Second Baseman was a relative flop until Chase Utley came along. And it’s unfair to credit Bohm with the success of others or damn Madrigal for the failures of others. All true and fair, but I’m not trying to say specifically anything about these 2 players. I’m merely pointing out that history suggests it’s very, very difficult to draft a Second Baseman in the First Round and develop him into an everyday player (it’s happened exactly one time in 50 years), while it is comparatively easy to develop a Third Baseman drafted in the top 10 into an everyday player (it has not happened only twice, and one of those two did make an All Star Game and win a Silver Slugger). I also share it to show that teams tend to value Second Basemen pretty weakly only selecting one in the top 10, on average, every 7 years. I suspect Madrigal’s bat is worth a top 5 pick, but I am guessing he’ll go 5 sports or more lower because of his defensive position.