Monday, June 4, 2012

Draft day: Evening edition -- Buxton over Appel

Byron Buxton during a showcase game last summer.
I am acutely aware of the limitations of my knowledge of amateur prospects. I'm not a scout, so I have no first-hand observations of Bryon Buxton or Carlos Correa or Mark Appel to rely on. Unlike John Sickels or the crew at Baseball America, I don't talk to scouts or scouting directors, so I don't have second-hand information. I can offer nothing more than third-hand opinions.

That said: The Twins' choice of Buxton with the second overall pick Monday evening pleased me. The scouting consensus isn't always right, but he was/is widely regarded as the top talent in this draft field. (I have a suspicion that Correa may prove the better player, but that was out of the Twins' hands when Houston made Correa 1-1.)

That the Twins passed on Appel didn't disturb me at all (it apparently does Joe Christensen, who tweeted repeatedly in the wake of the pick that the Twins have zero top-of-the-rotation prospects). My reading of the information on Appel (and the other top collegiate pitchers) does not suggest that any of them are destined to be the next Justin Verlander.

That Appel fell to eighth suggests another issue: He is a Scott Boras client, and Boras has been known to hold inflated bonus expectations. Buxton was said by the Twins to have been at the top of their draft board since last summer, but Appel's chances of being their pick may have died the night Boras sat in Terry Ryan's suite last month.

The draft rules have changed sharply from the recent past, and the penalties for overpaying to sign propects are steep enough that it's hard to imagine anybody exceeding their alloted budget. And the penalty for not signing a pick is also painful.

Appel and Boras, I think, overplayed their hand leading up to the draft. The pitcher was taken by a team (Pittsburgh) whose TOTAL budget -- for 10 rounds -- is less than the money slotted for the first or second overall pick. Somebody is going to come out of those negotiations unhappy.

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