08 June 2013

Review of the Orioles’ Second Day of the Draft

In yesterday’s article, I wrote some scouty things about the team’s first three selections and then spoke more about the process of those selections.  Maybe a better way to put it, is that I mentioned the overriding theme.  For the first two picks, I had something similar in mind by choosing Ervin over Hart (taking a higher probability of low level stardom over a lower probability of mid-level stardom…being incredibly simplistic there) in order to take advantage of what I thought were a number of abundant arms available in the competitive balance portion of the draft that were, in my mind, equal to the Harvey pick.  It is a gripe, but one that is pretty minimal.  You have your scouts and scouting director for a reason, so trust in them.  To be clear, I think they went against the supply side and still wound up with solid selections.

Chance Sisco was taken in the second round.  I think that was a little too aggressive considering the other talent that was available.  I do not know much about Sisco, but I have general misgivings about placing high picks on high school catchers.  I think they are difficult to project.  They certainly are difficult for me.  I would have stayed with what I saw was a bevy of high ceiling arms and go in that direction.

For day two, I think more emphasis needs to be made on the theme as it is developing.  Much was made of the Tigers’ going six straight on pitchers, which was a little overkill.  However, it played to the strengths of this relatively weak draft.  Arms, to some degree, were there.  The Orioles took three pitchers, a couple corner infielders, and three additional catchers.  I’m not exactly saying the team went overboard with catching, but I don’t think it was a strength of the draft class as the draft wore on (the team passed on the clear top three catchers in the draft) and I don’t think the explanation that the Orioles organizational catching being atrocious is a proper explanation.

To drill down into this, I will make note of what information I have been able to gather on the four catchers the team chose:

Chance Sisco – HS – Profiles as a definite catcher with a fringe bat
Jonah Heim – HS – Raw, decent chance to remain catcher, good potential for bat if mechanics addressed
Alex Murphy – HS – Raw, better defensive tools than Heim, bat is limited
Austin Wynns – 4Y – Solid tools behind the plate, but no bat to mention

Based on that information, I see two players who probably will have MLB defensive catcher skills: Sisco and Wynns.  Both have hurdles with the lumber.  I also see Heim and Murphy as players who will catch as long as possible before having to take up a position elsehwere.  I see Murphy leaving the catching ranks first if I am underestimating his hitting.  His arm will play well out in the field.

I do not see this as meaningfully improving the quality of catching in the minors.  Simply picking up a number of guys with a C next to their name does not mean that the organization is flush with useful catchers.  You can also fill catching slots by signing more experienced catch and throw guys to fill in slots.  Organizational filler is pretty much what you tend to get past the top rounds, so my preference would be to try to find guys with raw, loud tools.  I think you can argue that Jonah Heim has some loud tools for a catcher and you can hope to turn him into a professional behind the plate.

So maybe I am really only arguing against the idea of catchers being drafted to solve the gaping hole in the system as being false, but also saying that the Murphy and Wynn picks are fine.  The team is likely going to be able to save money on those slots and apply it elsewhere (thinking Tarpley).
This boils down my complaint, a meager one, to being that I think there were high ceiling arms available in the third through fifth rounds that should have been targeted.  Tarpley was a good addition (I think the makeup concerns are overblown…as they tend to be), but a second high potential arm should have been selected.  For me, it was RHP Bobby Wahl who eventually went to the Athletics.  Admittedly, I saw nothing but a few videos of him this year, but I loved what I saw last year.  Last year, he looked like a first rounder to me and I would have selected him a few rounds earlier than he went.  However, it was not just Wahl.  Other guys were available.  In the grand scheme of things, a pitcher with a 2% chance of breaking out versus a catcher with a 1% chance of being useful is going to be a difficult difference to discern.

I hold with conviction that my strategy would have been superior to the apparent strategy the Orioles used, but that the difference between those strategies vary so slightly in likely outcomes that those differences are not discernible in the final tally.  Be happy, it was a draft with little to fault if anything.

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