A mistake is not something to be determined after the fact, but in light of the information until that point.
Here’s the irritating truth about evaluating a draft: We won’t know for years how the story ends, and even when that happens, judging the draft solely on actual outcome (to the exclusion of the process that led to it) gives an incomplete picture. At the same time, process is much more difficult to observe and understand, and oh by the way, people with a vested interest tend to be more concerned with outcome anyway.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m glad it’s not my job to stock a big-league organization with talent. I would drive myself (and others) mad trying to do it to the best of my ability while also hoping to appease a large and vocal group of people whose job isn’t to understand or even care about such things.
That out of the way, let me preface what follows by making explicit an unstated assumption in much of my work: I am not a professional evaluator of baseball talent. My strength, if it may be called that, is aggregating and analyzing data culled from sources I consider reliable. When discussing the draft, I formulate my thoughts and opinions based on data provided to me by subject matter experts. If you’ve been reading my stuff for any appreciable amount of time, you already know this, but sometimes it’s good to remind folks just the same.
To my thoughts, whatever those may be worth: First off, my general impression of the first round is that more of a premium was placed on college closers than I’d expected. Some of the guys we were guessing the Padres might have interest in — Andrew Cashner (#19), Josh Fields (#20), and Ryan Perry (#21) — all went right in a row just ahead of their first pick. Another reliever who at least one person had associated with the Padres, left-hander Daniel Schlereth, went to Arizona at #26. Schlereth is a guy I’d considered to be a serious reach at #23, but I also respect the heck out of the Diamondbacks’ scouting and player development people, so I’m not sure what to do with that.
One ramification of the early run on college closers was that several “toolsy” type players remained available at #23, perhaps most intriguingly high school outfielder Zach Collier. I’m on record as saying that’s who I’d have taken with the pick. I’m also on record as having no vote in the matter and no budget with which to sign any of these guys. In other words, it’s easy for me to make the call because, frankly, there’s nothing at stake. My reputation? Well, maybe, but I stake that more on asking the right questions than on providing the right answers.
Anyway, what I would have done with my imaginary pick and imaginary signing money doesn’t matter. Let’s look at what actually happened:
No, he’s not related to Lenny (although his son was drafted, which made things a bit confusing). What do we know about Dykstra? Well, he went to Rancho Bernardo High School. He played with Matt Antonelli at Wake Forest. He’s really friggin’ huge, and he’s got the power to go with it.
Some folks may be puzzled that the Padres would take a first baseman with their first pick when the team’s best player, Adrian Gonzalez, plays the same position, but that shouldn’t enter into the equation. If Dykstra was the top guy on their board still available at #23, then they had to take him. Worry about logistics later. Conditions change.
Not that I’m expecting such an outcome, but limiting one’s vision to a world in which nothing bad ever happens to Gonzalez is a good way to be caught unprepared in the event that it does. Jim Edmonds taught us that lesson, remember?
I may not agree with the direction the Padres chose to go here, but many experts (at least the ones without proprietary constraints in place to keep them from tipping their hand to competitors) had Dykstra falling within the next 10-15 picks. Padres staffer Chris Long has indicated that Arizona would have taken him at #26, and I’ve already expressed my admiration for the way the Snakes do business (it’s also worth noting that I’m not alone in this assessment).
People and organizations evaluate players differently, of course, and I’m sure the Padres had their own opinion of Dykstra and the other available options based on criteria that we cannot know (because of that whole proprietary thing). I like adding Dykstra’s power bat to the organization, but I’m sorry that it came at the expense of a guy like Collier. Here’s hoping everyone involved makes me look like a raving idiot for clinging to the promise of Collier’s tools.
Yes, his first name is “Jaff.” He draws comparisons to Matt Stairs because of his build and, more importantly, ability to hit baseballs (watching the video, I’m reminded somewhat of ex-Padre Phil Plantier, another smallish left-handed batter with tremendous torque in his swing). Decker also possesses a strong arm and it’s believed that some teams were looking at him more as a pitcher. I have two reactions to this pick:
- I’m surprised to see the Padres jump on a high school kid this early (although if he’s from Peoria, presumably they’ve seen him a lot). The organization has leaned heavily toward college players in the recent past, but the Pads really outdid themselves in 2008. Decker was one of only six high school players they drafted this year (that’s 13% of their 46 picks if you’re scoring at home).
- I’m intrigued that they apparently weren’t scared off by his height. You’ll notice this theme further down, as 4 of the first 11 players the Padres selected are shorter than 6’0″. Perhaps they’ve identified a market inefficiency of some sort? Or maybe I’m just looking for things that aren’t there. It wouldn’t be the first time…
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We now join the “minimal commentary” portion of our program, already in progress…
Forsythe controls the strike zone, has doubles power that may translate into home-run power, and draws praise for his makeup.
Darnell is a contact hitter with line-drive power. He may shift to the outfield.
Tekotte is reportedly a true center fielder with leadoff skills. Assuming reports are accurate, I really like this pick.
Carroll is a gaps-type hitter who is seen by some more as a left fielder. Not everyone is convinced he’ll develop enough power for a corner spot.
Kipnis is a good hitter with some power. He may not have enough range to remain in center.
Bass features a fastball that runs around 92 mph and draws praise for his command.
Cole is the son of former big-league infielder Bien Figueroa. At least one person has compared him to Russ Adams.
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Paul DePodesta has rounds 7-11 lumped together:
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DePo has rounds 12-15 lumped together:
Davis was hit in the face by a line drive in 2006 but has come back strong.
#465: Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Buhach Colony HS (Atwater, Calif.), 6’5″, 215 lbs, B-L , T-L, BA #78 (report)
Brett is the son of former big-league pitcher Bill Mooneyham. According to Baseball America, some clubs tabbed him as “the top prep lefthander on the board.” BA also notes that “he was considered one of the least signable players in the West, if not the country.” For those of you clamoring for upside, here it is. Anyone want to get a bake sale going?
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Finally, DePo throws everyone from round 16 to the end in one big pile (not literally, of course; that would hurt). To say I know nothing about these guys would be to give me too much credit:
#495: Thomas Davis, RHP, Fordham U., 6’2″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R
#525: Derek Shunk, SS, Villanova U., 6’2″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R
#555: Nick Vincent, RHP, Cal State Long Beach U., 6’0″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R
Vincent attended Ramona High School.
#585: Robert Lara, C, U. of Central Florida, 6’2″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R
#615: Jason Codiroli, CF, West Valley Coll., 5’10″, 175 lbs, B-L, T-L
Jason is the nephew of former big-league pitcher Chris Codiroli.
#645: Joseph Railey, 2B, U. of San Francisco, 5’7″, 180 lbs, B-L, T-R
#675: Chris Wilkes, RHP, Dr. Phillips HS (Orlando, Fla.), 6’4″, 235 lbs, B-R, T-R
Wilkes is also committed to play quarterback at Ole Miss.
#705: Nick Conaway, RHP, Walnut Grove, N.C., 6’0″, 200 lbs, B-R, T-R
#735: Eric Gonzalez, RHP, U. of South Alabama, 6’4″, 200 lbs, B-R, T-R
Gonzalez was born in Spain.
#765: Logan Power, CF, U. of Mississippi, 6’0″, 195 lbs, B-R, T-R
#795: Dean Anna, SS, Ball State U., 5’11″, 180 lbs, B-L, T-R
#825: Aaron Murphree, RF, U. of Arkansas, 6’5″, 235 lbs, B-R, T-L
#855: Nick Schumacher, RHP, Wayne State Coll., 6’4″, 210 lbs, B-R, T-R
#885: Omar Gutierrez, RHP, Texas A&M U., 6’1″, 215 lbs, B-R, T-R
#915: Robert Verbick, OF, Sam Houston State U., 5’11″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R
#945: Sean Gilmartin, OF, Crespi Carmelite HS (Encino, Calif.), 6’2″, 190 lbs, B-L, T-L
#975: Kyle Heyne, RHP, Ball State U., 6’5″, 220 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1005: Dan Robertson, CF, Oregon State U., 5’8″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1035: Matthew Gaski, 2B, U. of North Carolina Greensboro, 5’10″, 185 lbs, B-L, T-R
#1065: Logan Gelbrich, C, U. of San Diego, 6’3″, 205 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1095: Jake Shadle, RHP, Graham Kapowsin HS (Graham, Wash.), 6’2″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1125: Matthew Means, LHP, Sonoma State U., 6’1″, 210 lbs, B-L, T-L
#1155: Zachary Herr, LHP, U. of Nebraska, 5’9″, 185 lbs, B-L, T-L
#1185: Gary Poynter, RHP, Lubbock Christian U., 6’3″, 225 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1215: Colin Lynch, RHP, St. Johns U., 5’10″, 185 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1245: Zachary Dascenzo, C, Laurel Highlands HS (Uniontown, Penn.), 6’0″, 190 lbs, B-R, T-R
Zach is the son of former big-league outfielder (and current Fort Wayne Wizards manager) Doug Dascenzo.
#1275: Brad Brach, RHP, Monmouth U., 6’4″, 210 lbs, B-R, T-R
#1305: James Tunnell, RF, Oklahoma City, 6’3″, 175 lbs, B-R, T-R
James is the son of former big-league pitcher Lee Tunnell.
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Full breakdown by position:
You can see a listing of all the Padres picks (many with videos) at MLB.com. Also, be sure to visit Paul DePodesta’s blog for a closer look at how the organization views these guys. I’m looking in from the outside and trying to make sense of all this stuff based on what I know. DePodesta’s actually in there doing it, along with many other folks whose knowledge makes me look very puny, indeed. It’s awesome that the Padres are giving us this kind of access to their thought process, and I’m not just saying that to suck up to anyone — although I’m certainly not above such tactics.
Whew. Okay, I think we’re done here.