Stanford ace Mark Appel was the top prospect in this year’s MLB Draft. FInd out what grades I gave the National League Teams.
National League East Draft Grades
Atlanta Braves, A Grade: Hometown pitchers Lucas Sims and Alex Wood help the Braves out. Sims is a high school pitcher while Wood attended Georgia. Both arms will help the Braves rebuild their rotation once they make the major leagues.
Miami Marlins, D Grade: The Marlins reached for Andrew Heaney with the 9th pick, but they did compensate for this by taking third baseman/shortstop Avery Romero. Romero attended Menedez High School in St. Augustine, FL. Romero was listed as a second-round prospect.
New York Mets, F Grade: The Mets continue to reach for players on draft day. Frankly it’s quite a shame. The decision to draft Brandon Nimmo in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft was questionable last year. Nimmo was considered a second-round prospect. Why do the Mets keep doing this thinking they can buy the best players in free agency? Mets fans deserve better than this to be quite honest.
Philadelphia Phillies, C Grade: The Phillies did not pick in the first 31 picks. The Phillies having the best payroll in the National League sort of compensates for their inability to draft players.
Washington Nationals, A+ Grade: The Nationals got excellent value with Lucas Giolito with the sixteenth overall pick. The Harvard Westlake pitcher was a top 5 talent that challenged Mark Appel to be the top pick in the MLB Draft at one point entering the season before a sprained ulcer injury kept him out for his senior year of high school. Like 2011, 3rd round pick Matt Purke, Giolito should make a speedy recovery from his injury. Both Purke and Giolito will excel in the minors and should be ready to step in as big-league pitchers for the Nationals in the event, that pitcher Stephen Strasburg bolts for a team with a better payroll.
In Round 2, the Nationals selected second baseman Tony Renda. Renda is a pure second baseman that was listed as the top second baseman a after Jesmuel Valentin.
Brett Mooneyham is a Stanford lefty that complimented Appel in the Cardinal rotation. The Nationals would strike again with another great pick in Round 3.
Outfielder Brandon Miller out of Samford is a fourth round talent that gives the Nationals a future outfielder prospect if Bryce Harper bolts.
Spencer Kieboom could be an intriguing developmental catcher. The Clemson catcher is a backup catcher in the big leagues at best.
NL East Draft Summary: The Nationals seem like they continue to stockpile through the MLB Draft. The Braves are beginning to add more prospects to bring up to their system. The Phillies have the league’s highest payroll among NL teams. The Mets and Marlins have surprised many in 2012. The NL East is exciting right now in 2012, but the edge has to go to the Nationals over the long haul.
National League Central Draft Grades
Chicago Cubs, F Grade: The Cubs needed help everywhere. It’s hard to believe that they passed on franchise pitcher Mark Appel for the overrated bat Albert Almora. Almora struggles to execute the most basic hits when I watch his tape. His line drives, look like pop fly hits that will result in direct outs. There are only two arguments that Cubs fans can make to defend this selection.
Epstein knows what he is doing and that should be enough to warrant a hall pass. The other argument is that Almora has great leadership and will develop in the minors.
The first argument seems like pure homerism from a Cubs standpoint. The second argument comes down to Almora’s work ethic and drive in the minor leagues.
Many expected Epstein to kick off his first draft as Cubs GM with a bang. To say that about his first draft with the Cubs is a bit of an understatement.
Cincinnati Reds, F Grade: The Reds made tons of questionable picks. The Reds need to try to win the NL Central in 2012 so they can make the playoffs.
Houston Astros, A Grade: The Astros passed on Appel and Buxton for Puerto Rico shortstop Carlos Correa. Taking the 17-year-old Correa with the top pick came as a huge surprise. Correa has the potential to develop into the top prospect from this draft class. Their were safer prospects with just as much upside that would have been safer draft picks and that’s my biggest criticism with the Astros choice here. Someone on the Cardinals’ front-office struggled to make good draft picks in 2006 before being re-assigned to manage the front office that is this Astros’ ball club.
However, the Astros managed to sign Correa on Friday, just four days after drafting him with the first pick in the MLB Draft. Getting a #1 overall pick to commit this early to their rookie contract is definitely impressive to say the least.
The Lance McCullers Jr. pick in the compensation round was a good choice. McCullers could have gone #1 overall in 2012 at one point. It really comes down to whether the Astros can sign McCullers Jr.
Nolan Fontana is a shortstop for the Florida Gators. Fontana is a sandwich-round talent, that fell to the Astros at the top of Round 2. Fontana could become an effective AAA prospect that the Astros deal at some point for a veteran player at the trade deadline.
Preston Tucker falling to the Astros at the top of Round 7 is a pick that surprised me. There is no question it was a great pick though. These players from the 2012 MLB Draft should compliment 2011 first-round outfielder George Springer. Springer attended Connecticut before the Astros took him in last year’s draft.
One more sleeper that the Astros landed was high school arm Hunter Virant. Virant could have been a late first-rounder. Virant slipped to the elventh round. It’s unlikely that Virant signs. If he does, he will be a steal for the Astros.
The fact that the Astros took Correa over prospects like Appel or Buxton got them an A grade rather than an A+ grade. Other than that, the Astros had an outstanding draft.
Milwaukee Brewers, B Grade: The Brewers have their replacement to Prince Fielder with Victor Roache. It may take two years, but the Brewers will be competitive again in the National League. Roache was one of the top bats at Georgia Southern before his injury occurred at the start of the 2012 season. The Brewers drafted four pitchers in the top 100 of the 2011 MLB Draft with starting potential. Milwaukee should ascend to contention again sooner rather than later.
Pittsburgh Pirates, A+ Grade: The Pirates obtained the steal of the draft with Appel. The Pirates got tremendous value with their picks in rounds 1-5. How can you not love this rotation?
The Pirates’ starting rotation in 2014 will look like this.
The Pirates will have 10 other pitchers from their farm system up as relief pitchers if they can keep everyone by this time too. It will just come down to the bats and whether the Pirates can get Appel to sign his rookie deal.
In the sandwich round, the Pirates added Texas Tech outfielder Barrett Barnes. One insider on the 2012 MLB Draft special compared Barnes to a young Kirby Puckett. The Pirates could use a bat with Puckett’s skill set to compliment Andrew McCutchen to develop in the minors for a few seasons.
In Round 2, the Pirates took catcher Wyatt Mathisen. Mathisen was considered the top catcher in the 2012 MLB Draft after Florida catcher Mike Zunino. Mathisen provides the Pirates with a contingency plan at catcher if 2009 first-round pick Tony Sanchez fails to make an impact in the majors. Sanchez recently got promoted to AAA.
In Round 3, the Pirates took Jonathan Sandfort. Sandfort adds insurance to a strong core of pitching prospects just in case someone busts. It never hurts to have a 6-foot-6, 205-pound arm ready to step in should injuries occur.
Georgia Tech outfielder Brandon Thomas is a switch-hitter. The Pirates took Thomas in Round 4 of the 2012 MLB Draft, and he could do some damage for Pittsburgh with the proper seasoning.
The final notable prospect that the Pirates selected was Adrian Sampson. The pitching prospect was once ranked 84th overall. He improved his ability after returning to junior college. Sampson went from a sixteenth-round pick on the Marlins in 2011 to a fifth-round pick on the Pirates in 2012.
Sampson had Tommy John surgery during his senior year of high school. That might be the only downside with this two-year Junior College pitching prospect.
Sampson’s ability to control his fastball, curveball, and change-up separate him from the rest of the JUCO pitchers in the 2012 MLB Draft.
St. Louis Cardinals, A+ Grade: The Cardinals landed tons of talented prospects and got even better value for those picks. Texas A&M pitcher Michael Wacha and Florida State outfielder James Ramsey were excellent first-round selections for the Cardinals.
Wacha should have gone much earlier. He was a steal at 19. Ramsey is to college baseball what Tim Tebow is to the NFL with his passion for the game. I like the Ramsey pick by the Cardinals at this spot.
The Cardinals would also go on to land Trey Williams in the eleventh round. It’s hard to believe that the Cardinals got such a value pick this late in the draft.
NL Central Draft Summary: Down the road, expect the rivalry between the Brewers and Pirates to soar to new heights. Both teams will ascend into playoff contention over the next few seasons. Can either team maintain that consistency or get to a World Series year in or year out?
The Cardinals could reclaim greatness one day even though, they’re re-tooling their farm system right now. The Astros may emerge as a rival to the Rangers at some point five years from now in the AL West. For now, the Astros are a doormat cellar dweller in rebuilding mode. The Astros have done better than people expected this season, so that is the one positive thing to point out about their ball-club.
National League West Draft Grades
Arizona Diamondbacks, A- Grade: The Diamondbacks got great value with Stryker Trahan at 26 overall. Trahan looks to be another outstanding diamond in the rough that is ready to blossom in the Diamondbacks’ minor league farm system.
Colorado Rockies, B Grade: The Rockies really needed a pitcher. However, I loved the David Dahl selection. Dahl played ball for Oak Mountain High School, Birmingham, Ala., as an outfielder. Dahl provides the complete skill set in the outfield at that Almora lacks for a high-end bat. Dahl reminds me of Johnny Damon and has all the tools to develop into a lead-off batter.
Los Angeles Dodgers, B- Grade: The Dodgers made some decent picks where they were picking. The Dodgers drafted better in 2012, then they did in recent years.
San Francisco Giants, A Grade: The Giants obtained Mississippi State pitcher Chris Stratton here. Stratton struck out 17 batters against an LSU Tigers team in the SEC. The Giants have one of the MLB’s best starting rotations. Adding Stratton to the Giants’ farm system gives them another pitcher to work with.
San Diego Padres, B Grade: The Padres’ draft was solid, but not overly impressive. The Padres getting Zach Eflin and Walker Weichel in the Round 1 compensation round, helps out a really weak Padres that struggled with their draft picks in 2011.
NL West Summary: The Giants and Diamondbacks got great value continuing to add prospects. The rest of the NL West teams made solid picks, but Arizona and San Francisco stood out when it came to obtaining draft prospects.
National League Summary: Expect the Nationals, Brewers, Pirates, and Giants to be four dominant that battle for National League supremacy by building through the MLB Draft over the next few years. Which players the Pirates sign, which team does not have a World Series yet, and which team has the best pitching depth in the postseason will all be huge factors in an exciting National League Playoffs over the next few years.