Amateur Draft

Dave · June 2, 2006 at 8:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The MLB Amateur Draft is next Tuesday and Wednesday. The Mariners have the fifth overall selection in the draft. To this point, we’ve spent very little time covering the draft, with the exception of the Andrew Miller article and discussion I wrote a few months ago.

Part of the reduced draft coverage was because I’ve been extremely busy the last few months, but it’s also due to the fact that absolutely no one knows what’s going to happen on Tuesday. Seriously, nobody has any idea. Everything that has been written the past few months could be, and probably will be, thrown out the window by the time the draft rolls around. Stuff I’m writing now could be invalid by the time you read it. There’s just no certainty in this draft at all, and so I’ve avoided speculating about the different possibilities.

Now that we’re only a few days away, though, here’s a look into what could transpire in the first five picks on Tuesday, and what that might mean for the Mariners.

#1: Kansas City Royals

While some have speculated that Dayton Moore’s hiring as the GM means that they’ll take Andrew Miller #1 overall, that conclusion is based on a flawed premise – Moore will have no say in the Royals draft. He won’t officially become GM until June 8th, and he will remain with the Braves through that day. Muzzy Jackson and Daric Ladnier will run the draft for Kansas City, meaning the uncertainty following that pick remains.

The Royals, like everyone else, believe Andrew Miller is the best player in this draft, but aren’t convinced he’s that much better than the other arms, and they’re trying to work out a predraft deal with someone. It could be Tim Lincecum, though that’s unlikely. Luke Hochevar is another name that has been floated, but if you’re looking for a predraft deal, a Scott Boras client probably isn’t your best bet. At this point, literally no one knows what Kansas City is going to do. My best guess is they cut a pre-draft deal with a safe pick after years of getting burned by high-risk draftees.

Dave’s WAG: Brandon Morrow, RHP, Cal

#2: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies have been linked to two names almost exclusively the past few months; Andrew Miller and third baseman Evan Longoria. While nothing is set in stone, this appears to be the easiest pick to project. Miller would fit in perfectly with what the Rockies are trying to do, and he’s the consensus top talent in the draft. It’s highly unlikely he gets past Colorado if KC passes on him. If the Royals tab Miller, they turn to Longoria with an eye on trying him as a second baseman.

Dave’s WAG: Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina

#3: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

While it’s been easy to pick on Tampa Bay, they’ve drafted extremly well the past few years, and are now a very well run club, under the eyes of Andrew Friedman and Gerry Hunsicker. They’re going to make a good pick. They’ve been tied to a whole host of names, but the one that makes the most sense, given the teams needs and their current management team, is RHP Brad Lincoln. He’s polished, he’s effective with good stuff and command, and he needs little projection. He’s a perfect fit for the Rays.

Dave’s WAG: Brad Lincoln, RHP, Houston

#4: Pittsburgh Pirates

Like KC, no one has a good feel for where Pittsburgh wants to go. They’ve been tied to Kyle Drabek, mostly due to his father’s success in that city, but they also have a long history of taking college pitching and passing on high-ceiling talent in favor of minimizing risk. This is the organization that took Bryan Bullington over B.J. Upton, after all. Lincoln would be their dream player, and if he goes, they’re probably not happy. Lincecum, Hochevar, and Scherzer are the top arms remaining if the top three goes as I’m guessing, but all are higher risk prospects than Pittssburgh likes. Greg Reynolds, however, fits the mold of what the Pirates are after, even if he’s a big reach at #4; he throws strikes, went to Stanford, and has projection. If they continue to go for lower risk college arms, I think Reynolds is the guy.

Dave’s WAG: Greg Reynolds, RHP, Stanford

#5: Seattle Mariners

The M’s are going to draft a college arm, there’s no doubt about that. The only question is which one. With Miller and Lincoln unlikely to slide to #5, the M’s will probably be picking from the Lincecum/Hochevar/Scherzer/Morrow group. They’ve been tied to Hochevar quite a bit, but no one knows how much of that is real or just a smokescreen.

While Bavasi has a history of preferring high-reward players, Bob Fontaine is running the draft, and he’s a bit more conservative by nature. Fontaine’s also a big proponant of pitcher’s body types, and Lincecum doesn’t fit the mold of what he generally prefers. I don’t see the M’s going for the UW star, but instead picking between Scherzer or Hochevar, unless Morrow falls.

Dave’s WAG: Max Scherzer, RHP, Missouri

Now, keep in mind, all of this is heavily subject to change. It’s normal for one of the consensus top talents to fall due to late concerns about signability (Mark Teixeira, Stephen Drew, Jered Weaver, Luke Hochevar, etc…). It would be weird if something didn’t happen in the next four days that shook up the top of the draft.

We’ll find out more in the next few days, and we’ll keep you up to date with what we’re hearing. But, the main thing to keep in mind about all the draft rumors floating around right now is that no one has any idea what’s actually going to happen on Tuesday.


106 Responses to “Amateur Draft”

  1. Dave on June 2nd, 2006 8:39 pm

    Gillick worked for the M’s when he was hired by Philadelphia. As a stipulation to let him take the Philly job, they didn’t allow him to pilfer the organization. If they fired Bavasi, there would be no such stipulation. Also, Fontaine is pretty loyal, and it’s not likely he would want to work for a club that just fired his friend.

    Also, large framed (both tall and girthy) pitchers have historically had longer careers than short ones. Even Nate Silver’s PECOTA system thinks height is important. It’s not just scouts being stupid – body type does matter. It doesn’t mean its a deal breaker, as you can have a good pitcher without ideal body size, but all things being equal, you want the 6’6 guy over the 5’10 guy.

  2. ConorGlassey on June 2nd, 2006 10:25 pm

    Speaking of shorter guys having good velo, I read (Will Carroll, I believe) that velocity is directly related to the speed of one’s hip rotation. He said that a pitching motion is pretty similar to a tennis serve and that Andy Roddick would have a hell of a fastball…

  3. theberle on June 2nd, 2006 11:18 pm

    Sports drafts are just sports welfare.

    As far as pitching mechanics go, obviously the baseball doesn’t travel in a pure arc, but each portion of the pitchers body (arm, forearm, wrist, fingers) that is longer allows the ball to travel faster tangentially with the same rotational velocity of the joint. Add that to the closer release point, and greater downward angle of the pitch, and taller pitchers definitely have an advantage.

    Of course, I wonder if the greater length of their arms might actually put more strain on their joints/muscles in some circumstances, since there’s more torque on their joints.

    Also (and I could be wrong on this), pitchers with longer fingers tend to get more movement on their pitches (I remember reading somewhere that Pedro has freakishly long fingers).

  4. Choo on June 3rd, 2006 12:17 am

    103 – Pedro does have freakishly long fingers, and you are right about long, flexible fingers relating to pitch movement. It’s not the only determining factor, but it works for all the reasons you mentioned in reference to rotational velocity of the joint (wrist) and the distance between the wrist and the actual release point at the tips of his fingers. The extra distance between Pedro’s wrist and the tips of his fingers, in addition to extra surface coverage of the ball and laces allows him to increase the rate of spin on breaking pitches, cutters, and two-seamers.

    Think also of the height/long finger combo in reference to Randy Johnson’s slider when he was at his peak. The amount of movement he created with that pitch was almost surreal.

    I believe the main (and perhaps the only) disatvantage to being a long and lanky pitcher is in regards to repeatable mechanics. The same minor mechanical flaw in two pitchers will be slightly more exaggerated in the one who has more room between his joints*. And the more “off” a pitcher is mechanically, the greater his chance of doing physical damage to his joints and tendons. Add the greater energy transfer generated by the typical tall pitcher and you can see why shorter pitchers have a better track record of health.

    *You can compare it to a golf swing from the tee box. The PGA Tour consists mostly of a) tall, lanky guys (6’1″-6’5″) who excel at distance and b) short guys (5’6″-5’10”) who excel at control. There aren’t a lot of 6′ guys on the tour, which is odd when you consider 6′ is a pretty average height.

  5. Steve Nelson on June 3rd, 2006 12:19 am

    #103: Also (and I could be wrong on this), pitchers with longer fingers tend to get more movement on their pitches (I remember reading somewhere that Pedro has freakishly long fingers).

    That seems as though it would be another area where you get more speed with the same rotational velocity. Longer fingere means the ball is farther away from the wrist, so with longer you should be able to impart more spin to the ball from the same wrist action.

  6. BelaXadux on June 3rd, 2006 12:40 am

    One further issue on velocity, in kinesiological studies with tennis players, it was identified that players with greater power on their serves had significantly greater arcs of rotation in their rearward shoulder revolution at the start of their motion. Said another way, their shoulder joints flexed further back and toward their spine as they swung. Hip rotation is surely very important, too, I don’t mean to brush that off. It’s highly probable that the same is true for pitchers, and is part of the explanation for why some guys with smaller frames still get excellent velocity: their shoulders rotate back and open better than typical pitchers, large or small.

    Re: smaller power pitchers, there’s the case of Steve Dalkowski to take warning by. Widely held to be the hardest thrower of his time (the ’60s IIRC), he wasn’t 5’10. He was also so incredibly wild that he never had a big league career. (He was also severely alcoholic which factored into that, but.)

    And really what concerns me most about Lincecum is the terrible lack of control. Injury risk aside, and it’s hard to evaluate since he’s an outlier, he’s useless now, stuff or no. Whoever d(r)afts him is betting the pick that his control can be refined to the point where he’ll be effective in the Bigs. Like Dave, I’d rather make that bet in the bottom of the 1st round than at the top, and would really rather not make it at all. I mean, you could probably pick up J. Affeldt from the Royals for a lot less, his upside and downsides are comparable to Tim’s, and Affeldt has major league experience now, too. Why spend a pick for that??

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