Baseball's Televised First Round of Draft a Bust
Where was Mel Kiper when you needed someone to simply stir things up a little bit? Tuesday night's noble experiment trying to compete with the NFL and NBA with major-league baseball televising the first round of the annual June First Year Players Draft fell a little flat.
According to the panel, every pick was perfect. Every young player was just what that organization needed. Every pick was shrewd.
Every pitcher picked sounded better than the one before and the pitcher that was picked before had already sounded like the best guy on the board.
Can't be. If it all sounds somewhat self-serving and impossible, it was. Face it. Somebody's pick had to stink, but it didn't seem that way. Only time will tell, of course, but since the new MLB Network is designed for a niche audience of seam-heads and fantasy geeks, it will likely be deemed a rip-roaring success by the Office of the Commissioner. And by the way, Bud Selig should not give up his day job. This version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire needed Howie Mandel. Bud was a stiff.
As for the Jays, Chad Jenkins is their man. The burly righthander from Georgia seemed to have a little Rick Reuschel in him on the tape that was played. He is slightly rotund, call it husky, but scouting director Jon Lalonde said that most of the front office and the scouts saw him pitch at least one game each and he has toughness and intangibles to make him a keeper. Reuschel, who pitched for the Cubs and others, was actually a pretty good pitcher back in the day and never felt pressured to shed the pounds for aesthetic purposes as pitchers often do today.
Looking back at J.P. Ricciardi's track record to see how his new Jays selected in the first three rounds might fare in the future given the bonanza of four players in this year's top 100 overall selections, it was interesting to note that in the four drafts from 2002-06, an impressive total of 11 of J.P.'s 14 draft picks from the top 100 of each draft have actually made it to the major leagues. They include Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, David Purcey, Zach Jackson, Curtis Thigpen, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Josh Banks, Shaun Marcum, Russ Adams and David Bush.
Meanwhile the same exercise from Gord Ash's seven drafts (1995-2001) as GM produced just 10 of 20 top 100 draft picks ever making it to the majors. What's striking about the Ash study is that the Jays only managed to hang onto 20 top 100 picks in seven years what with compensation and the like. Meanwhile in eight years under Ricciardi, the Jays have now had 28 picks in the top 100.
As for Jenkins, Lalonde was asked if playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference for Kennesaw State University was a concern in terms of the competition level.
“The only thing I’d throw out as an answer to that is stuff is stuff,” Lalonde said. “Whether it’s in the Southeast Conference of Sunday night slo-pitch, 90 to 93 is 90 to 93. It’s a little tougher if you were evaluating a hitter out of that conference, where you’re not quite as certain about the level of competition he’s facing from the mound. We really believe in Chad’s stuff. We believe in his makeup. The level of competition, while it was discussed, is not a major concern.”