Forty rounds and (seemingly) 500,000 picks later, the 2013 MLB Draft is finally in the books, allowing us to look back and reflect upon which teams did the most to improve.
The MLB Draft, unlike its high-profile cousins in the NFL and NBA, requires deeper, more intricate scouting since it (a) includes high school players and (b) doesn't receive much mainstream attention.
But still, when a team scores a big haul, its pretty easy to identify—at least after doing a little bit of research.
Here are three clubs that knocked it out of the park in 2013:
Tampa Bay Rays
Giving the Rays more prospects is like giving Joffrey Baratheon more undue power, but alas, Tampa walked away from the 2013 Draft as big winners...again.
It made sense when the Rays were a joke. They were picking at the top every year, so of course they had the best farm system. Who among us wouldn't have selected Evan Longoria or David Price?
But now, even drafting in the 20s (albeit drafting twice), Tampa found blue-chip value where other teams passed it over.
High school catcher Nick Ciuffo is a slightly better receiving catcher than Reese McGuire, though the new Pirates backstop has a better arm behind the plate. But Ciuffo projects with a much higher ceiling as a hitter, especially with lefty power, which is oh so rare for a catcher.
Past that, the Rays struck gold with Ryne Stanek, who was inexplicably on the board at No. 29. Stanek was a potential top-five pick before the season, but his gross misuse at Arkansas led to an up-and-down campaign.
Still, there's a reason he was so highly regarded coming into the year, and that reason becomes explicit the moment he starts throwing a baseball. No organization has proven better at developing talent these past few years, so no organization seems a better fit for a player with such raw abilities.
The Rays' success might be sustained even longer than we thought.
According to Mark Twain, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." I agree with most things Twain has ever written, so I did my diligence and re-evaluated this pick.
Now I feel even stronger about it.
Like a lot of the post-draft graders, I was enamored with what Pittsburgh did to improve its farm system. In similar fashion to Tampa—just a few years behind the Pirates—this is a franchise that was used to picking top-five but has now proven capable of sustaining draft success despite field success.
With two top-15 picks (courtesy of Mark Appel not signing last season), Pittsburgh went out and got two of the best prep players in the country.
Austin Meadows was an easy choice at No. 9, a rare combination of need and value. By most accounts, he was the highest-ranked prospect on the board, but he also provides Pittsburgh with something it sorely lacks: left-handed hitting with upside.
Then, at No. 14, the Pirates nabbed catcher Reese McGuire, a player who, by almost all accounts, has a couple of gold gloves in his future. The aforementioned Nick Ciuffo is a better fielder than he is, but McGuire comes blessed with a Pudge-esque gun behind the plate. In the small-ball national league, the importance of that can not be overstated.
I like what they did at No. 51, too, nabbing another high school player—this time a pitcher in Blake Taylor. He's only 17 years old, but with a deep-pitching system ahead of him—the spoils of sucking for so long—Pittsburgh can afford to let him develop slowly. And a guy with Taylor's kind of arm, when allowed to improve with patience, has a chance to develop into something special.
About time they were winners at something, right?
Seriously, though, Miami knows it's in trouble if it doesn't get lineup help ahora. Its hitters are about as bad as we've ever seen in the MLB (sans Giancarlo Stanton), and until the Marlins address that short-term, their ticket sales are gonna be even lower than usual. And that's really saying something.
Enter Colin Moran, whose ceiling may not be 35 stories high like some of the high school prospects but who also projects as a quick-to-the-majors talent. He's the most advanced hitter in the entire class, and the bat most ready to contribute right off the...well, bat.
Miami got another advanced prospect at No. 73, where it selected reliever Cody Suggs from Arkansas. ESPN.com pegged him as a potential MLB contributor in 2014, especially given the state of Mimai's roster.
Those two additions alone make this a solid class, one for
Miami's fan Miami fans to get genuinely excited about. And if the man sandwiched between Suggs and Moran, No. 35 overall pick Matt Krook, opts to sign rather than play college ball, this haul boosts from very good to incredible.