By La Velle
We’re just a few days away from the expensive crapshoot that is the Major League Baseball draft.
About this time every year. I pour over Baseball America stories – they really have their fingers on the pulse of the draft every year – and check in with Twins scouting gurus daily. As I write this, the executive dining room at the Dome is packed with Twins scouts from all over the country as they break down film of prospects and put together their big board.
They will draft some players on Thursday you will NEVER see in a major league uniform. They will waste hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, on wasted draft picks. The draft is such an inexact science. You don’t how how a hitter will react once he’s introduced to a slider, has to to get the hitch out of his swing or gets hit hard for the first time in his life.
I often go back through past drafts and see which team had the biggest flops. The Twins are right there in the mix, with astute selections like B.J. Garbe in 1999 ($2.75 million) and Adam Johnson in 2000 ($2.5 million). But every team has busts. The Twins have two players at Class AAA Rochester in Casey Daigle and Sergio Santos who were signed for $1.3 million and $1.4 million, respectively by Arizona. How about the Royals in 2001, when they signed Colt Griffin for $2.4 million and then inked Roscoe Crosby for $1.75 million?
You can poke fun and every team for bad drafting. That’s why I didn’t join the chorus last season when the Twins were criticized for selecting Ben Revere in the first round and signing him for only $750,000.
Revere was viewed more as a 2-3 round talent, but the Twins liked him and got him without spending a lot of money, by first-round standards.
My argument is if a team really believes in a player who doesn’t want top dollar to sign, make it happen. There has been too much money lost on players who never make it to the majors. And a draft boils down to what teams get out rounds 5-15 – where bonuses are lower.
It just so happens that Revere is off to an encouraging start at Class A Beloit and deserves a promotion to High-A Fort Myers if he keeps it up. He’s not a power hitter – which I sense is a reason why the pick was bashed – but I’m beginning to wonder if speed will be more desirable in the post Mitchell-report era. Teams will always look for power – the Twins need to do better in that area – but there’s nothing wrong with a few speed guys in a lineup.
Now don’t get me started on the Twins’ inability to sign top Latin American talent – teams have no choice but to ante up because that’s the system that’s in place. But I won’t get on them for being choosy on draft day.