The MLB Draft 2011 will take place today through June 8. There are no certainties.
While in sports like basketball and football, fans can see immediate returns on their draft investments, baseball is a sport where it can take years for top prospects to reach the Majors.
A couple non-bold positions before we get too crazy:
1. The MLB Draft will not have the same ratings as the NFL and NBA Drafts.
2. There will be more chaos in the first round because talent evaluators for different teams often have wildly different scouting reports on players.
And now for some predictions that could come true in the draft.
High school players are generally picked with reckless abandon in the MLB Draft. This year, many of the top prospects are from high school:
Dylan Bundy RHP
Bubba Starling OF
Francisco Lindor SS
Archie Bradley RHP
These players will fall more than expected in the draft—only two will be top-10 picks. As the MLB Draft raises its profile, fans will pay more attention to their team's top picks and be quick to judgment on the effectiveness of GMs across the league.
High school players take longer to develop. For some GMs, there might not be enough time to wait on a high school guy. By the time he gets to the big leagues, the GM could already be fired.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had bad luck in the MLB Draft in past years. That's the only way to explain such a long run of losing baseball—they get top picks every year and don't improve.
Guys like Bryan Bullington (No. 1 overall in 2002) did the Pirates no good. Their luck may be changing. Recent top picks Paul Maholm, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez figure to be part of the Pirates core for the foreseeable future.
Even so, Anthony Rendon should be the No. 1 pick. The Pirates already have Alvarez at third base, sure. But in the MLB Draft it is more important than ever to take the best on the board regardless of position; successes and failures are magnified.
Rendon would be the consensus first overall pick if not for injuries, and he is the best hitter in the country.
The UConn Huskies are not known for their baseball team; they haven't had a player chosen in the first round since Charles Nagy in 1988. This year, Matt Barnes and George Springer will change that.
Matt Barnes is a powerful pitcher who routinely throws fastballs in the high-90s. Springer is a five-tool outfielder who needs to work on hitting offspeed pitches.
The Arizona Diamondbacks could take either player at No. 7. If Barnes goes to Arizona, his pitching coach will be none other than Nagy.
The Red Sox have four of the top-40 picks in the draft. In 2005, the Sox had a similar situation with five of the top-50 picks.
Among them, they selected Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 23), Clay Buchholz (No. 42) and Jed Lowrie (No. 45). If the Red Sox can replicate that success, they will be looking at sustaining their run of excellence even further.
The Red Sox have it pretty good in this draft, but they don't compare to Tampa. Three first-round picks followed by SEVEN compensation-round picks will allow the already potent Rays to get even stronger.
Remember when the Rays used to be the joke of the American League? It might not happen again the way they have been accumulating talent lately. 10 of 60 picks. That is absurd, unprecedented and downright scary for every other team in the league.
Sure, not every pick in the draft makes the majors, but if it's a game of probability, the Rays have a huge advantage.