MLB Draft 2012: Winners and Losers from Day 2 of the Draft
After a strong day of drafting on Monday, the Astros' dream team kept up the effort and earned an A+ for Tuesday's showing. (photo courtesy of blog.chrono.com)
After a tumultuous Day 1, some sense of order was restored to the 2012 MLB draft on Day 2.
Rounds 2 through 15 were completed with considerably less intrigue and head scratching than yesterday's cluster bomb of a first round.
There were several big-name players who saw their names called early on, a whole hoard of Florida Gators who were scattered across the big-league landscape and a few players who did their best Mark Appel impersonation, sliding due to signability concerns.
Just as there were winners and losers from Day 1, there were also a few of each for Day 2.
The biggest winner of all is without a doubt the Houston Astros, who get an A+ for their drafting effort so far. General manager Jeff Luhnow deserves a big-time raise.
Let's see who else joins them in the winner's circle, and who rounds out the "losers" bunch.
Winner: Houston Astros
photo courtesy of GatorZone.com
The Astros completely overhauled their farm system over the course of the last 24 hours.
Day 2 started off with a bang for the Astros, who added Nolan Fontana (the top defensive shortstop) from the University of Florida to their arsenal. They had previously drafted the top offensive shortstop (Carlos Correa) and the pitcher with the best fastball (Lance McCullers).
Fontana is a three-time All-SEC Defensive Team honoree. He also has incredible plate discipline and pitch recognition. Even if Correa and Fontana both make it to the big leagues, the latter could slide over to second base to accommodate the No. 1 overall pick.
Houston added a trio of reliable college players in Rounds 3 through 8: outfielder Preston Tucker, right-hand pitcher Brady Rodgers and catcher Tyler Heineman.
Tucker has big-time power (55 home runs in four seasons) and defensive versatility (first base, third base, outfield). Rodgers has the stuff to be a back-end starter or an elite reliever. Heineman is a defensive wizard (45 percent caught stealing) who came into his own at the plate (.351) this season.
They topped off their stellar draft class with two high schoolers: third baseman Rio Ruiz and left-hand pitcher Hunter Virant.
Ruiz missed the entire season after having a blood clot removed from his shoulder, but scouts seem to agree that if he stays healthy, he has the tools to be an everyday third baseman. Virant is incredibly raw, but has three or four pitches with average or greater potential.
Loser: Texas Rangers
photo courtesy of holyturf.com
The Rangers get a passing grade for their performance on Day 1.
Outfielder Lewis Brinson and first baseman/third baseman Joey Gallo are two of the better power hitters in this class. If they can manage to get them both signed, it could be a major shot to a farm system that is already one of baseball's best.
What they did beyond Day 1 struck me as incredibly risky.
For starters, they continued their fascination with two-sport athletes. I'm alright with the Brinson pick because he has enough baseball acumen that he could justify passing on football. Two of their Day 2 picks, however, can't make that same argument.
Both outfielder Jamie Jarmon and outfielder Jameis Winston have bright football careers ahead of them, making both tough signs. Winston, who they selected in the 15th round, seems practically unsignable after committing to FSU.
The Rangers also took a gamble on outfielder Nick Williams in the fourth round. Assuming they can get him to sign, and that's a big if, they'll be getting an incredibly raw talent who has drawn comparisons to a young Ken Griffey Jr. He's still light years away from being ready for full-season ball, though.
It's a good thing that the Rangers are so active in the international market, as it makes up for their risky performance in the draft.
Winner: Baltimore Orioles
photo courtesy of mlbdraftinsider.com
The Orioles don't usually have too much success outside the first round, but the past two years appear to be exceptions.
After picking up Jason Esposito, Nicky Delmonico, Mike Wright, Johnny Ruettiger and Tyler Wilson last year, they once again scored a major haul.
They nabbed Virginia right-hand pitcher Branden Kline with their first pick of Day 2. Kline was a dominant closer last year, showing the stuff to fill that same role in the majors, but he made the move to the rotation in 2012. The results were mixed, but the O's will likely give him the chance to start first.
In the fourth round they added another college veteran, first baseman Christian Walker. The O's have long lacked a presence at first base, and Walker has both the bat and defensive ability to fill that role. He has been South Carolina's best hitter for two years running and appears to be ready to take the next step.
In Rounds 6 and 7 they added two more college pitchers with intriguing prospects.
Right-hand pitcher Matt Price, Walker's teammate at South Carolina, has proven to be one of the most dominating closers in college baseball history. He bounced back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation this year, but the O's are no doubt interested in his late-inning heroics. He could even see time as early as this year if the team is still in contention in September.
Preceding the Price pick was left-hand pitcher Lex Rutledge from Radford. Rutledge throws two above-average pitches (fastball and slider) and could also be a reliever who moves quickly through the system.
Last but not least is third baseman Torsten Boss of Michigan State. Boss has five-tool talent, excelling with power and speed. He is a more athletic version of last year's second-round pick, Jason Esposito, and also features better plate discipline.
Loser: Oregon Ducks' 2012 Recruiting Class
photo courtesy of espn.go.com
Oregon has quietly been building a formidable baseball program, but its efforts have been severely impeded by the last two baseball drafts.
This year alone the Ducks have lost three players, including third baseman Carson Kelly, their top recruit, who was expected to be the cornerstone of their 2012 class. Instead, he'll likely be one of many solid pickups by the St. Louis Cardinals, who plucked him in the second round.
Two other prospects, right-hand pitcher Adrian Sampson and outfielder/right-hand pitcher Andrew Pullin were also selected, both in the fifth round, cutting the Ducks' recruiting class nearly in half and robbing them of three of their most talented players.
Tomorrow's draft action could rob them of another two or three players, leaving head coach George Horton in a bind.
Winner: Boston Red Sox
photo courtesy of charlotteobserver.com
Kudos to the Red Sox for knowing exactly what their weakness was and doing exactly what they needed to do to reinforce their weak pitching depth.
The Sox and rookie general manager Ben Cherington may have underwhelmed on Day 1 with the selection of left-hand pitcher Brian Johnson, but they should earn rave reviews for their performance on Day 2.
They selected prep right-hand pitcher Jamie Callahan, a projectable pitcher, who has the chance for three above-average pitches, including a ridiculous curveball. Callahan was the third (Brian Johnson and Pat Light were the first two) in a run of eight consecutive pitchers selected by Boston.
Next came right-hand pitcher Austin Maddox, who has, among other duties, performed as the Florida Gators closer the past two seasons. Maddox is also a pretty good hitter, but he'll be strictly relieving as a professional.
After Maddox came the real prize, right-hand pitcher Ty Buttrey from Providence High School in North Carolina. Buttrey has the stuff and projection to be a No. 2 starter. His fastball is so good and has so much movement it almost counts as two above-average pitches, while his curve is a strong weapon on its own.
Loser: Colorado Rockies
photo courtesy of buffalobulls.com
Aside from outfielder David Dahl, who was picked in the first round, and catcher Tom Murphy from Buffalo, who the Rockies selected in the third round, the club didn't get many players with low risk and high upside.
Even Dahl has some risk to him.
In other words, they're going to be hoping like hell for somebody from their mid-to-late-round picks to surprise in a big way.
Winner: Minnesota Twins
photo courtesy of judolphins.com
The Twins are another team that drafted incredibly well on Day 2.
After picking up right-hand pitcher Mason Melotakis, a future shutdown reliever and possibly even the team's closer of the future, they took a chance on hulking slugger outfielder Adam Brett Walker in the fourth round.
Walker has shown light-tower power and a strong, accurate arm during his time at Jacksonville University, but has also been plagued by bouts of inconsistency. If he can straighten things out at the plate, he could be a massive hit.
They got another possible closer in third-rounder right-hand pitcher J.T. Chargois, who dabbled at first base this past season for Rice, but whose future is clearly on the mound in late-inning situations.
Additionally, they grabbed a mid-rotation starter in right-hand pitcher D.J. Baxendale, who served as Arkansas' Sunday starter this past season.
Baxendale has great command of his low-90s fastball and an above-average slider. He too could be a promising reliever, but the Twins will give him a chance to prove himself as a starter first.
In second baseman L.J. Mazzilli they got a player with a ceiling as a super-utility guy.
Right-hand pitcher Christian Powell, from Florida prep powerhouse Archbishop McCarthy, also has tons of potential.
Loser: UCLA Bruins' 2012 Recruiting Class
photo courtesy of mlbdraftinsider.com
Left-hand pitcher Max Fried
Picked seventh overall. Likely to sign.
Right-hand pitcher Lucas Giolito
Picked 16th overall. Likely to sign.
Left-hand pitcher Hunter Virant
Picked 339th overall. Pretty likely to sign.
And just like that, the Bruins lost out on three players that could have made up one of the best recruiting classes of all time.