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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Goldstein on '06 Draft Fodder

In what should be a good series of articles to watch, Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus is profiling some of the top players available in the draft. The '06 draft could be important for the Reds, as it will (hopefully) be one of our last years that we'll have had a bad enough record the year before to get a high draft pick (#8 I think...?). Unfortunately, the pickings could be slim. Goldstein:
"It's unbelievable," said one team executive. "It's now appalling how bad this draft is. It's that extreme." With the lack of talent--and, more importantly, lack of separation between talents--this year's draft is beginning to look eerily similar to 2000's draft, when a weak pool led to lower bonuses as a number of teams spent the final week before the draft working on pre-draft deals for bonuses below slot. "The top is very shaky," said one scouting director. "You spend a lot of time wondering if you want to give first-round money to these guys." A team executive added that the lack of positional talent could lead to hitters getting over-drafted. "After the first round, it could end up like a fantasy draft," quipped the exec. "Teams might just start drafting position guys early to make sure they get one of the few decent ones available." College arms are still the name of the game this year, and the only area of talent that's even above average. Most of the top hitters have failed to impress, leaving one executive to classify the college hitting class as a "bottomless pit of despair."
This is not exactly what you want to hear as a team with a top-10 draft pick. Still, the Reds' number one priority has to be to replenish the pitching side of their farm system. We have a few good arms (Bailey, Chick, Wood, Obispo), but beyond that it's pretty slim pickings.

In Goldstein's article, he goes on to discuss some of the college pitchers that have impressed lately: Tim Lincecum (Washington), Brandon Morrow (California), Brad Lincoln (U Houston), and Andrew Miller (NC).

The fact that there may be a couple of good college arms out there is encouraging. Selecting high school pitchers isn't as stupid a move as it was 15 years ago (a point I'm going to revisit in a month or so when the draft gets closer) but college pitchers are still a better bet than high school pitchers in the first two rounds (at least). Furthermore, if the other talent pools are weak, going with a college pitcher doesn't result in sacrificing a more "sure-thing" college hitter pick to the same degree it normally would. I'd really like to see the Reds take one of these good college pitchers in the first round this year.