Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feeling a draft: Dawn edition

That annual baseball anti-climax popularly known as the amateur draft gets started this evening — 6 Central on MLB Network and — with high school shortstop Nick Gordon apparently still the consensus pick for the Minnesota Twins at No. 5.

Which would be fine by me. What's interesting/worrisome is that there seems to be a lot of ways the mock drafters get to that point.

ESPN's Keith Law last night on Baseball Tonight said Tyler Kolek, the Texas prep right-hander deemed the highest velocity arm in a draft field at least since Nolan Ryan (who was in the first draft in 1965), is sliding down the boards. When Law and others started issuing mock drafts about a month ago, Kolek was a consensus top-three pick; now Law has him going seventh. (Law, again, had the Twins taking Gordon).

Kolek's slide, if it is indeed happening, fits the internal history of the draft. No prep right-hander has ever gone 1-1. (Two prep lefties have, David Clyde and Brian Taylor, and they became cautionary tales, not stars.) I saw a line a week or so ago from an unnamed veteran of the scouting game to the effect of "High school pitchers shine on the field, college pitchers shine in the draft room." Meaning that when the execs start balancing potential with cost, the older pitchers whose futures appears more certain look like the better bet.

Kolek is a big body with off-the-charts velocity. Not everyone is sold on his athleticism and his command, and there is a growing belief that an 18-year-old throwing 100 consistently is an surgery waiting to happen.

Still ... Law last night had the White Sox (pick No. 3) taking LSU's Aaron Nola. Nola is certainly going to go Top 10 at the least; he may well be the safest pick in this draft field. He may also be the lowest-payoff ticket in this lottery. I find it difficult to believe the Sox would pass on Kolek to take Nola, even if they believe Nola will be in the majors this summer.

I expect to see mocks this morning from Baseball America's John Manuel and's Jim Callis, and probably one or two others, and will comment accordingly.

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