The consensus agreement among many scouts is that the MLB draft that just took place had a weak pool of talent. Particularly, it was weak in terms of up the middle talent and college hitters.
That doesn’t mean teams can’t find star players, though, especially in the first couple of rounds of the draft.
The Boston Red Sox drafted Missouri Tigers right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck 24th overall. Houck draws comparisons to another former Missouri Tiger, two-time Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer.
Houck’s best weapon is surely his mid-to-upper 90s fastball that has a sinking movement to it. In order for Houck to be successful at the next level, though, his off speed pitches will need improvement along with his overall mechanics.
Houck isn’t the safest pick, but if he realizes his potential Boston could have an absolute steal with the 24th pick.
With their second-round pick, the Red Sox selected Cole Brannen, a speedy high school outfielder from The Westfield School in Georgia.
The New York Mets also drafted a high-upside college pitcher in the first round. They selected David Peterson, a 6-foot-6 lefty from the University Oregon, with the 20th overall pick. Peterson throws a mid-90s fastball and is very good at mixing up his pitch combinations. He has an exceptional slider to go with his fastball. Peterson continues to improve year by year on his control as his walk rate is the lowest it’s ever been.
With their second pick, the Mets selected Mark Vientos, a high school third baseman from Florida with a commitment to the Miami Hurricanes. Vientos’ large 6-foot-4 frame gives him lots of potential. His lack of athleticism and an up-and-down spring is the main reason why he slid into the second round. The Mets selection of Vientos there signifies that they believe his bat will play at the pro level.
The New York Yankees early draft strategy was much different than that of Boston’s or the Mets’. Last year, the Yankees manipulated their slot money situation so they could sign a top-tier talent that fell due to signability issues. That talent turned out to be Blake Rutherford, who signed for an over-slot deal and, to this point, has been everything the Yankees hoped he’d be.
This year, the Yankees manipulated their signing bonus pool again, but in a reverse fashion. The Yankees drafted South Carolina right handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt with the 16th overall pick. Schmidt would’ve been projected to go around where the Yankees drafted him had he not blown out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery.
The reason the Yankees did this is they essentially cut a deal with Schmidt. The slot value of the Yankees 16th overall pick is $3,458,600. Schmidt, being a college pitcher who just had Tommy John surgery, has very little negotiating leverage. Schmidt will take an under-slot value deal where he’ll still make more money than he normally would have.
This gives the Yankees more money to allocate to their second-round pick, high school right-hander Matt Sauer. Sauer fell to the second round only because of signability issues (he’s commited to Arizona).
Sauer throws a mid-90s fastball along with a devastating slider that reaches 87 mph. Sauer needs to work on his command and the other pitches in his repertoire, but the upside is certainly there.
The Yankees clearly believe that Schmidt will recover from his surgery and become a solid mid-rotation starter. Their strategy is risky, but if it works the Yankees could potentially have two very good pitchers to add to their already loaded farm system.
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