MLB Draft Report Card

National Baseball Expert
Posted Jun 9, 2011


A draft class can never be fully evaluated until a few years down the road. And, it’s difficult to know just how players will eventually pan out. But, what we can evaluate soon after the final pick is made is how aggressive teams were in making their picks and who gave themselves the best shot at landing future big league players with high upside.

Note: Grades are based on the future upside of the picks selected. Clubs with lower picks and fewer picks are graded with that in mind in order to be fair. All 50 rounds of picks are considered in grades as well as signability.

Pittsburgh Pirates | Key Picks: Gerrit Cole, Josh Bell, Alex Dickerson

Assuming Pittsburgh can nail down Josh Bell, and that’s a big assumption, they knocked it out of the park this year. They nabbed three premium impact type talents with their first three picks, including Alex Dickerson, who very well may be their slugging first baseman of the future.

Grade: A

Seattle Mariners | Key Picks: Danny Hultzen, Brad Miller, Tyler Marlette

You could make the case that Seattle could have gone for more upside with the number two overall pick, but you can’t say Hultzen wasn’t worthy. Seattle stuck with college polish early, also taking lefty hitting Brad Miller, but did grab some prep upside later on in slugging catcher, Tyler Marlette.

Grade: B

Arizona Diamondbacks | Key Picks: Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin, Anthony Meo

It’s hard to go wrong when you land pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley within the first ten picks of the draft. To land hard throwing lefty, Andrew Chafin and power righty, Anthony Meo further down is just a cherry on top in this spectacular 2011 draft for Arizona.

Grade: A+

Baltimore Orioles | Key Picks: Dylan Bundy, Jason Esposito, Nick Delmonico

Dylan Bundy got the Orioles off to a great start in the 2011 draft. Baltimore then turned toward loading up on some safe college bats. Being able to sign talented prep catcher, Nick Delmonico, who they nabbed 185th overall, would put this class over the top as being a very solid one.

Grade: B

Kansas City Royals | Key Picks: Bubba Starling, Cam Gallagher, Bryan Brickhouse

It’s never too bad when you can kick off your draft class with Bubba Starling, the player with the most upside of any player in the nation. The class is a bit top heavy, but Cam Gallagher and Brickhouse both have solid big league upside.

Grade: B+

Washington Nationals | Key Picks: Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Brian Goodwin, Matt Purke

Like the Pirates, Washington’s draft class hinges heavily on who they can ink, including late round standouts like Hawtin Buchanan. In Rendon, Meyer, Goodwin, and Purke they can land four first round caliber talents. If Purke proves healthy and they can get him in the fold, this is a whale of a draft class for the Nats.

Grade: A

Cleveland Indians | Key Picks: Francisco Lindor, Dillon Howard, Jake Lowery

Cleveland took a real risk taking Francisco Lindor 8th overall. They deviated from their typical approach, and it’s surprising that they would do so in a year jam packed with college talent. Landing an arm like Dillon Howard later on is a major coup for the Indians, but taking this gamble up top could hurt them down the road.

Grade: B-

Chicago Cubs | Key Picks: Javier Baez, Daniel Vogelbach, Tony Zych

Hayden Simpson will forever link the Cubs to wild, off the board type picks. But, the reality is the Cubs played it pretty by the book this time around. Baez was arguably the best hitter on the board in this spot, and Vogelbach could provide huge power at the big league level. In Zych they could also have a fast moving power reliever that could help them in a hurry.

Grade: B

Houston Astros | Key Picks: George Springer, Adrian Houser, Jack Armstrong

Houston fans have to come to be skeptical about everything the Astros do regarding the draft. But, this year they nailed it with their top pick. Springer has as much upside as any hitter in the country. And, in Houser and Armstrong they landed a great deal of upside on the mound.

Grade: B+

Milwaukee Brewers | Key Picks: Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, Jorge Lopez, Andrew Gagnon

Getting two premium college arms that would be, in many other years, top ten picks is difficult to pull of. The Brewers did pull it off, however, and landed Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann. Don’t sleep on Andrew Gagnon either, who could be a fast rising righty starter.

Grade: A-

New York Mets | Key Picks: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Logan Verrett, Phil Evans

The selection of Brandon Nimmo can be questioned in a big way, as there were premium college talents still on the board. The Mets may view Nimmo as the best high school hitter in the country, but most in the industry do not. But, even if the Nimmo pick is a flop, if the Mets ink some of the signability picks they took in the later rounds, this class is potentially a huge success. That’s a big if, however.

Grade: B-

Florida Marlins | Key Picks: Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley, Conner Barron

Florida drafted a lot of upside, headlined by Fernandez and Conner Barron. But, at 14th overall, you have to at least consider the fact that they could have landed a much safer bet than the hard throwing but erratic high school righty, Jose Fernandez.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Dodgers | Key Picks: Chris Reed, Alex Santana, Pratt Maynard

To be fair to the Dodgers, they are in a financial bind right now. So, it’s difficult to really crush them right now for making the selections they made. But, most in the industry would agree they consistently passed up better talents. If you want to look at the bright side, you could a lot worse on a cheap pick than Chris Reed and his low to mid 90s fastball from the left side.

Grade: C-

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Key Picks: C.J. Cron, Nick Maronde, Austin Wood

The Angels didn’t really do what most pundits expected them to. They passed on the talented high school arms and went with a guy who is dependent on the bat. Cron is a potential big league slugger, but is a bit of a risky pick consider his dependance on one major tool. Nick Maronde is also a very talented lefty, but almost a lock to be a reliever at the next level. Given the Angels’ history, you would just expect them to take a bit more upside.

Grade: C+

Oakland Athletics | Key Picks: Sonny Gray, B.A. Vollmuth, Bobby Crocker

Most of the A’s grade comes from the steal they got in the first round. Getting Sonny Gray outside of the top 15 picks has to feel like a gift for Oakland. B.A. Vollmuth and Bobby Crocker give them solid college bats, but the story of their class is clearly the Vanderbilt righty.

Grade: B

Detroit Tigers | Key Picks: James McCann, Aaron Westlake, Brandon Loy

It seems that everyone expected Detroit to go for a high upside prep player or perhaps someone like Matt Purke with their first pick. They didn’t go that route. Instead, they grabbed James McCann, a bit of an overdraft. McCann is a capable catch and throw guy with not a lot of upside at the plate. Aaron Westlake made for a solid second pick, and Loy’s defense up the middle could get him to the bigs quickly, but overall the class lacked early round impact potential.

Grade: C+

Colorado Rockies | Key Picks: Tyler Anderson, Trevor Story, Carl Thomore, Peter O’Brien

They went the safe route with Tyler Anderson early, but made potentially one of the picks of the draft later on, taking Peter O’Brien. O’Brien is a bit crude at this point, but the 6-foot-5 catcher has massive power potential at the pro level.

Grade: B-

Toronto Blue Jays | Key Picks: Tyler Beede, Jacob Anderson, Joe Musgrove, Dwight Smith, Daniel Norris

You could at least make the argument that if they sign these players, no one had a better draft class than Toronto. Daniel Norris is the key to all of this. If they can ink him and Beede then they will have landed two first round caliber high school arms.

Grade: A

St. Louis Cardinals | Key Picks: Kolten Wong, Charlie Tilson, Nick Martini

In Kolten Wong, St. Louis nabbed one of the drafts top pure hitters. And, Tilson gives them speed and athleticism that their farm system badly needs. St. Louis needed bats, and they addressed that need in this class.

Grade: B

Chicago White Sox | Key Picks: Keenyn Walker, Erik Johnson, Jeff Soptic

Chicago wasn’t loaded down with early picks and didn’t get their first pick until 47th overall. They took some upside in Keenyn Walker, but played it a bit safer with Erik Johnson. You can’t fault them for not having early picks, so given what they had they did a solid job.

Grade: B-

Boston Red Sox | Key Picks: Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley

Boston is another team squarely in the conversation for having the best draft class if they sign all these players. Swihart is likely to be the biggest challenge for them, as he has a very strong commitment to Texas. In Barnes and Owens they have potential front end starters. In Swihart, they have a potential All-Star catcher. Bradley gives them a potential center fielder of the future.

Grade: A

San Diego Padres | Key Picks: Cory Spangenberg, Joe Ross, Michael Kelly

San Diego took the best player on their board at pick ten and they stuck with the player they’ve been on all spring. But, what’s most impressive is what they did later on, taking high upside arms like Michael Kelly and Joe Ross. They also grabbed some signability cases in the late rounds like prep pitcher, Patrick Connaughton.

Grade: A-

Texas Rangers | Key Picks: Kevin Matthews, Zach Cone, Brandon Woodruff

Texas made perhaps the best pick in the draft in the 5th round when they landed prep arm, Brandon Woodruff. An under the radar power arm with pitchability, Woodruff could look like a former first round pick a couple years from now.

Grade: B

Cincinnati Reds | Key Picks: Robert Stephenson, Gabriel Rosa, Anthony Cingrani

The Reds got one of the best high school pitchers in the country with the 27th overall pick and won’t have to overpay to get him. That in itself is a huge victory for them. Following that pick they loaded up on quality college talent.

Grade: B+

Atlanta Braves | Key Picks: Sean Gilmartin, Nick Ahmed, J.R. Graham

This didn’t resemble a typical Atlanta Braves draft class. It was probably because of many of the high school players Atlanta would typically select came with high price tags. Instead we saw Atlanta go the college route with their first ten picks.

Grade: B

San Francisco Giants | Key Picks: Joe Panik, Kyle Crick, Andrew Susac, Ricky Oropesa

San Francisco shocked everyone by taking Joe Panik with their first round selection. The reality is that Panik is not an impact type player, but the Giants saw him as a player who could arrive quickly and be a solid regular. They did make up for that lack of upside later by taking hard throwing prep righty, Kyle Crick with their next pick. Susac and Oropesa add some collegiate strength to the class as well.

Grade: B-

Minnesota Twins | Key Picks: Levi Michael, Travis Harrison, Hudson Boyd

The Twins have a certain type of player that fits their mold at the big league level. Levi Michael fits that mold beautifully. He plays the game correctly, makes contact, and gives them good defense up the middle. But, Minnesota didn’t just play it safe. Travis Harrison and Hudson Boyd give them good high school upside. Boyd in particular, even coming out of high school, has the potential to advance quickly.

Grade: B+

New York Yankees | Key Picks: Dante Bichette Jr., Sam Stafford, Jordan Cote

The Yankees aren’t afraid to go against the grain and pick a kid they feel comfortable with. And, that’s just what they did by taking Bichette Jr. That trend continued throughout the 50 rounds as they continued to rack up high upside prep talent. By also mixing in hard throwing collegiate lefty, Sam Stafford, New York did a solid job considering they didn’t pick until 51st overall.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Rays | Key Picks: Taylor Guerrieri, Mikie Mahtook, Jake Hager, Brandon Martin, Tyler Goeddel, Jeff Ames, Blake Snell, Kes Carter, Grayson Garvin, James Harris, Granden Goetzman, Lenny Linsky, Johnny Eierman

Yes, the Rays drafted all of these players. And, they got every one of them within the top 120 picks. The thing to remember about the MLB Draft is that it’s about getting as many bodies into the farm system as possible. Tampa Bay certainly got quantity here. They picked a diverse group, from polished college arms like Grayson Garvin, to high upside prep pitchers in Taylor Guerrieri, to toolsy position players like Johnny Eierman. You can’t do better than this in a draft.

Grade: A+

Philadelphia Phillies | Key Picks: Larry Greene, Roman Quinn, Harold Martinez

The Phils did their best considering they didn’t make their first pick until 39th overall. And, they did what they always do best and that’s taking upside. Larry Greene shows huge power potential from the left side and Roman Quinn shows plus athleticism. Martinez, although he’s a college player, also is more of a projection pick.

Grade: B


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