The 2008 Draft
The 2008 draft kicks off in just under two hours, with the M’s having the 20th selection in the first round. Despite the fact that it isn’t as glitzy as its NFL and NBA counterparts, the draft is still an important day for every franchise. Teams that draft well can stock their organization with a pipeline of cheap, young talent that can be the foundation of championship runs.
I know we all are very frustrated with the Mariners front office and the job they’ve done assembling the major league roster. But, do not let that frustration seep into your idea of the quality of this organization’s scouting department. Led by scouting director Bob Fontaine, the Mariners do an excellent job of finding guys that other teams miss on, and Fontaine is legendary for grabbing valuable players in the middle rounds of the draft when most teams aren’t expecting to get any real value. Fontaine knows what he’s doing, and really, our reaction after this draft should probably just be “we trust Bob.”
However, with that said, there are a couple of player types that I think history has shown that it generally doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a first round selection on; relief pitchers and ultra-raw two sport athletes. As we’ve talked about before, it’s just really easy to build a bullpen with spare parts and minor league castoffs, and using a resource such as a first round selection on a guy whose ultimate upside is pitching in the 8th or 9th inning is a waste. The reward just isn’t justifiable. On the flip side, the risk is simply too high with the kids who haven’t dedicated themselves to baseball and have lost valuable development time becoming stars in other sports.
I think the history of previous drafts bear these generalizations out. Take shots on the raw athletes in the second or third round and grab a couple relievers in the fifth round and on, but let the first round be for guys who can play everyday or be part of your future rotation.
So, with that said, there’s a pretty decent chance that I’m going to groan when the Mariners selection is made in a few hours. Pretty much all the talk the last few days has linked them to a quartet of college relievers. The combination of the desire to move Morrow to the rotation and the perceived lack of a successor to J.J. Putz if they do that is driving the idea that a polished reliever who could get to the majors quickly is the way to go. It looks, right now, like the M’s will be selecting one of Andrew Cashner (Texas Christian), Josh Fields (Georgia), Ryan Perry (Arizona), and Daniel Schlereth (Arizona). Cashner’s the best of the bunch, while Fields is a step below, and Perry and Schlereth are velocity guys who light up the radar and that’s about it.
I hated the fact that the M’s were going after Casey Weathers at #11 last year, but they were saved by the fact that the Rockies took him at #8 and Phillippe Aumont fell into their laps. Let’s hope the same happens this year, but it’s a lot more to ask for four college relievers to all be off the board by #19. Odds are that at least one of them will be available, and the M”s will take the one furthest up their board. And it will be simply be the latest reason to loathe the 2008 season.
In Fontaine I trust, but please, Bob, avoid the college relievers.