Drafts are always best judged years later, but since there isn't much to talk about yet in spring training, we'll take a look at the picks a week later. What defines a good draft? For some, it's grabbing that sleeper under the radar, for others it's making sure to get "value" at their picks, while others identify need or target rising prospects.
There may not be any clear-cut Kei Igawa's in this year's draft, but there was no shortage of picks that made some fans cheer and also cry.
It's hard to say what constitutes a best pick in round one. There was no sure-fire top pick as in years past like Albert Pujols (2002) or David Wright (2005), and it's too early to tell if this will be a Vicente Padilla (2001) or Zach Duke (2006) draft. You could say Marietta didn't go wrong grabbing the best batter in Milton Bradley at the top of the round, and the same might go for other squads that grabbed the few elite bats available.
For history, and downright coincidence, you can't beat Josh Johnson, who just two years ago also was taken No. 4 overall, by Philadelphia. This time Sardine City nabbed him at the four spot, raising a couple of eyebrows because he was a second-rounder on some draft boards. But it was SC's second pick of the round at No. 6 that flat out dropped jaws around the league. Many thought Alexei Ramirez could be had after several rounds, but the middle of the first round was a high price to pay for a franchise that has talked about playoff contention in 2010.
Taken by Hillsborough 7th overall (after trading up for Hoboken's pick), Shin-Soo Choo became the highest Korean-born player ever selected, beating out Jae Seo (who was selected 9th in 2006 by Hoboken). Hong-Chi Kuo was taken 17th overall by Marietta, coming close to the record for the highest Taiwanese player. Chien-Ming Wang went No. 14 in 2006 to Newark.
Round 2 saw more deals as D.C. moved up to take Howie Kendrick with Hoboken's original pick. Kendrick and Matt Capps were the first players taken who were left unprotected (Kendrick by Hillsborough and Capps by Sardine City). It was the second year in a row that three ineligible players were selected in round two: Tommy Hanson was the first by D.C., along with Neftali Feliz by Sardine City and Blue Ridge nabbed Pablo Sandoval.
The first run on relievers began with five taken in the third round, along with three ineligible prospects. Marlon Byrd's numbers may have been an improvement over last year (when he lasted into the second supplemental round and bounced around as a free agent), and his balance uncanny (.841 OPS vRHP, .842 vLHP), but Hoboken put the mental in supplemental by taking a 31-year-old outfielder this early with so many options still on the board. Meanwhile, Carolina must be hoping for another bounce back year from Vernon Wells, who has an eerily similar OPS to Byrd, and isn't much younger.
Another run on relievers began in round five, with six taken. Catchers aren't in super high demand on draft day but grabbing one who slugs almost .500 with a better than .400 OBP this late, even if it is a one-year wonder, makes it a high-value pick. One could make the case that this was the best value pick of the entire draft - some had John Baker as a potential first-rounder and Philly grabbed him in round six.
There was no shortage of value in the sixth round with Jody Gerut, Raul Ibanez and Jason Giambi expected to see plenty of PT for their squads this year.
Thanks to some deals last year, Hoboken had three picks in this round. After it looked like they would take a rebuilding approach early in the draft, selecting a nearly 40-year-old reliever (Takashi Saito), with albeit good numbers, was curious. The schizophrenia continued when they went with two ineligible starter prospects in the very same round (Nick Adenhart and Carlos Carrasco).
It's questionable what his future might be in St. Louis, with Skip Schumaker playing some second base in spring training, but for a team like Arkansas that plans to compete in 2010, they grabbed what could be their leadoff hitter in the ninth round. We all know franchises shun veterans even if they have big numbers, particularly those coming off back problems, but Joe Crede could get most of the at-bats at the hot corner in Hoboken. Grabbing Crede is one thing, but five picks earlier the Cutters nabbed Blake DeWitt, a youngster to backup at 2nd and 3rd, but who's expected to ride the pine now that the Dodgers inked Orlando Hudson.
Another example of veterans being available late, Fernando Tatis could make a case for starting in New Jersey. The 3.90 ERA could be camouflage for the power numbers and solid splits of Edwar Ramirez.
Are ineligible prospects considered a good pick if they merely qualify for next season? If so, pencil in Kenshin Kawakami, who's expected to get a spot in Atlanta's rotation and was nabbed by Newark. Another if: Oliver Perez puts together another season for D.C. like he did five years ago when he struck out 249 batters while going 16-5 for Vancouver.
Players taken in the supplemental rounds sometimes make their way to every team in the league throughout the season. For others, it's where they fill out their ineligible prospect picks or target their reclamation projects. Five of the 70 or so players taken in last year's supplemental rounds remain on rosters: Newark's Joe Saunders and Mike Fontenot, Mike Mussina of Marietta, Hoboken's Aaron Cook and Nick Blackburn, and Travis Snider, who will remain on New Jersey's roster for a second year as an ineligible prospect.
Just a year after he was taken in the second round and considered among the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, Homer Bailey is as good a pick in the supplemental rounds as you'll findů.unless he pitches to an ERA that nearly mirrored his number of starts last year (8).
Sure, he's 38, but Ray Durham might just see the most time at 2B for Arkansas, which could use Martin Prado as a super-sub around the diamond.
Benny DiStefano is the last left-handed throwing catcher to appear in a Major League Baseball game.