2011 MLB Draft Winners and Losers

John Botelho@JohnBotelhoSJCorrespondent IIAugust 18, 2011

2011 MLB Draft Winners and Losers

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    With the MLB's deadline to sign players from this year's drafted behind us, teams can finally have a sense of how their drafts shook out.

    The money is spent, the players are signed (or unsigned) and it's time to focus on who came out on top after this year's draft.  It's also time to find out which teams had drafts that left something to be desired, for one reason or another.

    Find our here with the 2011 MLB Draft winners and losers.


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    Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates made the most of what could be their last first overall pick for a while, taking UCLA righty Gerrit Cole and signing him for an $8 million bonus.

    Cole projects as a dominant starter, and immediately becomes the Pirates best prospect and a future ace.  Those are lofty tags considering the Pirates drafted Jameson Taillon second overall a season ago and many scouts believe he has the best arsenal ever for a player drafted out of high school.

    The Pirates didn't stop there, tabbing Josh Bell in the second round despite him telling anyone that would listen he was going Texas to be a Longhorn and had no desire to sign.

    As perhaps the top overall high school hitting prospect in the draft, Bell gives the Pirates a stable of young, elite prospects that should help turn the organization around.

    From an individual stand point, Bell can be seen as a draft winner as well.  He signed for $5 million, the largest contract ever for someone outside of round one.  After painting himself as untouchable, Bell became an even more wanted commodity because he was something no one "could have." Slot money for where where he we was projected to be taken, in the 8-15 range, would've been less than half of what he signed for.

    Washington Nationals: Since 2005, when they took Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals have used the draft not just for finding young prospects, but as a means for finding organizational cornerstones, and 2011 was no different.

    After taking super prospects Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper the last two years, the Nationals came away with perhaps their deepest haul ever this year.

    When the season began, the Nationals, picking sixth, didn't figure to have any shot at Anthony Rendon or Matt Purke, who were both being touted as the first overall pick, in the same breath as Gerrit Gole.  Come draft day, they wound up with both players.

    Some scouts have rated Rendon as a better prospect than Harper, so Washington jumped at the chance to have an elite talent even though they've got Zimmerman already.  They paid him handsomely, shelling out $6 million for his signature on a contract.

    Purke appeared to be the greater challenge as his price tag was something of great debate the last few months.  He ultimately signed a big league contract with a $2.75 million bonus and will be on the fast track to joining Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman in the rotation.

    The Nats were set on taking Alex Meyer sixth overall until Rendon fell in their lap, and then Meyer lasted until they picked again at 23.

    They also brought in potential five-tooler Brian Goodwin, and signed every pick they made in the first 12 rounds.

    Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox have been arguably the best big market team in the MLB draft since Theo Epstein became GM, and he added to that again this year.

    The Sox are very willing to spend money if they want a prospect, and were able to lure Blake Swihart—a premier hitting catcher with a scholarship to Texas—to pro ball with a $3 million contract.

    Boston also netted Matt Barnes, an advanced college arm and Jackie Bradley, a two-time World Champion as the heart and soul of South Carolina's offense, without breaking the bank.

    The team shelled more than $10 million on the whole draft class, something they seem to do almost every year now, in an effort to stock their farm system.

    Arizona DiamondbacksThe Diamondbacks would've taken Trevor Bauer first overall given the opportunity, so when he was there for the No. 3 pick it was an obvious choice.  They got him signed up in July and he's already advanced to Double-A and could help a playoff push down the stretch.

    What makes the D'Backs draft truly special wasn't just getting their first pick right, but it was a risk they took just four picks later that drove them into the winners column.  With the seventh pick Arizona selected Archie Bradley, the consensus No. 2 high school arm in the country.

    The toughest part in signing Bradley was not just what he could do on the baseball field, but he had a scholarship to go play quarterback at Oklahoma this fall.

    Arizona ultimately lured him away with a $5 million offer, giving themselves another guy who projects as a front-line starter.


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    New York Yankees: The Yankees continue to get through the MLB draft without going after high-priced talent, something they don't mind doing any where else in baseball.

    The Yankees wound up with just one player who required more than $1 million to sign, and while Greg Bird landed $1.1 million many were surprised he was able to land such a deal.

    The Yankees also failed to come to terms with their second rounder, weakening an already less than impressive draft haul.

    What stings the most in New York though, is that they drafted Gerrit Cole in the first round a few years ago but were unable to come to terms with him. They had to sit back and watch as as he was the No. 1 overall pick.

    Toronto Blue Jays: Putting the Blue Jays on the "Losers" side of this argument might surprise most, considering their draft probably ranks as of the 10 best in baseball this year.  The reason they'r'e here though is for failure to sign Tyler Beede, instead letting him head to Vanderbilt on scholarship.

    The worst part here is the Jays were able to net some very talented players such as Kevin Comer and Dan Norris, but they were the ONLY team who failed to sign it's top pick this year.

    If Beede takes off at Vandy, this one will hurt even more.

    Major League Baseball: The MLB comes away, once again, as the biggest loser at the draft.  The commissioner's office pushed for an Aug. 15 signing deadline to get players signed closer to the slot values they assigned each pick, as well as getting more players signed up and into pro ball without much delay.

    The problem is, this plan has worked completely backwards.  Now, players just hold out until deadline day because they know teams will pay more at the last minute. 

    Every year draft spending seems to be higher and higher, and this year 7 teams broke the $10 million mark.  To put it in perspective, the record before the Aug. 15 deadline was less than $10 million, not the norm for multiple teams to spend.

    Another unintended consequence of the deadline is that it actually delays guys from getting into pro ball.  By waiting until Aug. 15, players are not able to appear in games until the next spring, causing teams to have wait almost a whole year before they see their drafted product on the field.