In the 24/7, rapid-reaction sports cycle in which we live, there is a constant emphasis on having bombastic opinions within seconds of an event ending.
If it's something like Tony Parker's beautiful shot to vanquish the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, having instant opinions works just fine. We're not going to think less of Parker's shot three years down the line when watching it on YouTube. It's going to be there for everyone to see and marvel at, and everything will feel similar.
The pitfalls of such rapid reactions come when we're judging things that haven't happened yet, and w hen we're pre-judging based on assumptions. The most frequent culprit of that phenomenon is when folks rush to deify or deride a team's draft class.
Of course, the impetus to that mini-lesson is the 2013 MLB draft, which saw its first two rounds completed on Thursday night. The Houston Astros made Stanford pitcher Mark Appel the top pick, and it was a draft filled with names you mostly knew—especially in the first round.
But the problem, especially with the MLB draft, is that we might never know these players the way we do Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter. As noted by Baseball America's Matt Eddy, less than 40 percent of position players and pitchers drafted in the first round wind up playing in the big leagues:
That's a wretched success rate—even Darko Milicic played in the NBA for a decade.
And with that low success rate comes an even more difficult judging process for pundits, so we're not going to do that in this space—at least not totally. Instead of looking at players and deeming them busts before they ever play a professional game, we're going to judge these picks merely on the value they presented at the time of their selection.
With that in mind, here's a look at a few reaches from Round 1.
8. Kansas City Royals: Hunter Dozier (SS, Stephen F. Austin)
Despite the Chicago Cubs' best efforts to muck everything up, the beginning of this draft went mostly to script. Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray, the expected No. 2 pick after Appel, went to the Colorado Rockies with the next pick at No. 3 overall, and things normalized.
And then the Kansas City Royals came on the clock and turned the entire draft on its head. While many expected the Royals to emphasize offense with their first pick, no one expected Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier to come off the board. Pegged by most draft pundits as a competitive-balance or second-round selection, Dozier was selected by Kansas City at No. 8 overall.
Understandably, Dozier's selection instantly became a lightning rod of debate. Some went out of their way to praise Kansas City for taking the player it wanted while likely saving a ton of money for the No. 8 slotting price. Others saw it as an archaic selection during a time where MLB is working to protect against these money savers.
The general consensus, as one scout texted Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, was that this was a massive reach:
Much of that has to do with Dozier's position at the next level. While he was a very good hitter at the collegiate level, batting .396/.482/.755 with 17 home runs this season, it was against relatively weak competition at Stephen F. Austin. And while he still projects as a very good hitter for a shortstop, very few scouts project him to stay at that position. ESPN's Insider scouting report (subscription required) notes that Dozier will almost certainly switch to second or third base at the next level.
Since positional value plays a large factor in evaluating picks, we'll stand pat on agreeing with the public sentiment here.
25. San Francisco Giants: Cristian Arroyo (SS, Hernando HS)
Heading into the 2013 season, ESPN's Keith Law ranked the Giants' farm system 26th in Major League Baseball. They were behind only the Phillies, White Sox, Brewers and Angels, four teams that either have historically dreadful player development emphases or have simply purged their systems in recent years.
It's not hard to see why after Thursday night. Prior to the draft, many expected the Giants to look for a young bat because most of their positive developmental steps are on the mound—at least they did that.
But in drafting high school shortstop Christian Arroyo, the Giants led Bud Selig to call out a name very few expected to hear before Friday. Bleacher Report's MLB Twitter feed was one of the first to react to Arroyo's selection, noting that he did not even appear in the top-100 prospects:
ESPN's Keith Law, while noting that he heard Arroyo heading to the Giants was a possibility, acknowledged that he was surprised it wasn't a smokescreen:
A 6'1" shortstop with a quick bat, Arroyo could develop into a plus hitter at the major-league level. He's got surprisingly quick hands, though he doesn't quite possess elite power yet, nor does he seem to have much of a frame for developing it. The best-case scenario is him being something close to a .300 hitter, which is just fine if he plays shortstop.
Much like Dozier, the word continues to be that Arroyo will play a different, undetermined position as a professional. It's likely that San Francisco tries him out at short during his first year or so in the minors, simply to see whether he'll be able to develop the necessary footwork and quickness.
Odds are the Giants essentially punted this pick. In an interview with reporters after being selected, Arroyo noted that school is a "big part" of him as a person, per MLB.com's Chris Haft. Should Arroyo spurn the Giants and go to Florida, this reach could quickly transmogrify into a disaster.
31. Atlanta Braves: Jason Hursh (RHP, Oklahoma State)
Of the picks we're mentioning in this space, Atlanta taking Hursh at No. 31 is by far the least surprising. The Braves have seemingly made it their organizational mission statement to draft pitchers in the first round, and they've tended to vary their selections between high-upside talents and low-basement collegiate arms.
Oklahoma State righty Jason Hursh is more on the latter side. He has a fastball that usually hovers somewhere in the mid 90s and mostly keeps his poise when on the mound, but the upside is almost nonexistent with this pick.
As noted by ESPN's Jason Churchill, Hursh may have a low basement, but his ceiling isn't all that much to be thrilled about. In Churchill's words, Hursh "isn't likely to be much more than a No. 4 starter."
That's fine if you're a talent-needy team simply looking for a guy to call up to the big leagues, or if your system is so bereft of pitching that you just need live arms who can possibly work as rotation filler down the line, or if your team has so many upcoming picks that you just want to save on slotting now so that you can do a little splurging later.
Atlanta is none of those things. The Braves are one of the most dominant teams in baseball, and they have a roster constitution that screams long-term contention. They've drafted five pitchers in Round 1 since 2008, so Hursh doesn't exactly rectify an untapped resource of need. Also, Atlanta's next pick after No. 31 did not come until No. 65.
So...yeah. Hursh may be a major-leaguer someday, but who he'll be when and if he gets there isn't befitting of a first-round pick.
Complete 1st-Round Results
|1||Houston Astros||Mark Appel||RHP||Stanford|
|2||Chicago Cubs||Kris Bryant||3B||San Diego|
|3||Colorado Rockies||Jonathan Gray||RHP||Oklahoma|
|4||Minnesota Twins||Kohl Stewart||RHP||St. Puis X HS (Houston)|
|5||Cleveland Indians||Clint Frazier||OF||Loganville (Ga.) HS|
|6||Miami Marlins||Colin Moran||3B||North Carolina|
|7||Boston Red Sox||Trey Ball||LHP||New Castle (Ind.) HS|
|8||Kansas City Royals||Hunter Dozier||SS||Stephen F. Austin|
|9||Pittsburgh Pirates||Austin Meadows||OF||Grayson (Ga.) HS|
|10||Toronto Blue Jays||Phil Bickford||RHP||Oaks Christian (Calif.) HS|
|11||New York Mets||Dominic Smith||1B||JSerra Catholic (Calif.) HS|
|12||Seattle Mariners||D.J. Peterson||3B||New Mexico|
|13||San Diego Padres||Hunter Renfroe||OF||Mississippi State|
|14||Pittsburgh Pirates||Reese McGuire||C||Kentwood (Wash.) HS|
|15||Arizona Diamondbacks||Braden Shipley||RHP||Nevada|
|16||Philadelphia Phillies||J.P. Crawford||SS||Lakewood (Calif.) HS|
|17||Chicago White Sox||Tim Anderson||SS||East Central CC|
|18||Los Angeles Dodgers||Chris Anderson||RHP||Jacksonville|
|19||St. Louis Cardinals||Marco Gonzales||LHP||Gonzaga|
|20||Detroit Tigers||Jonathon Crawford||RHP||Florida|
|21||Tampa Bay Rays||Nick Ciuffo||C||Lexington (S.C.) HS|
|22||Baltimore Orioles||Hunter Harvey||RHP||Bandys (N.C.) HS|
|23||Texas Rangers||Alex Gonzalez||RHP||Oral Roberts|
|24||Oakland Athletics||Billy McKinney||CF||Plano West Sr. HS (Texas)|
|25||San Francisco Giants||Christian Arroyo||SS||Hernando (Fla.) HS|
|26||New York Yankees||Eric Jagielo||3B||Notre Dame|
|27||Cincinnati Reds||Phillip Ervin||CF||Samford|
|28||St. Louis Cardinals||Rob Kaminsky||LHP||St. Joseph Regional School (N.J.)|
|29||Tampa Bay Rays||Ryne Stanek||RHP||Arkansas|
|30||Texas Rangers||Travis Demeritte||SS||Winder Barrow (Ga.) HS|
|31||Atlanta Braves||Jason Hursh||RHP||Oklahoma State|
|32||New York Yankees||Aaron Judge||OF||Fresno State|
|33||New York Yankees||Ian Clarkin||LHP||James Madison (Calif.) HS|
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