As long-time readers know, I do a Shadow Draft for the Minnesota Twins every year. I have been doing this in one form or another since 1996, and have been doing it publicly since 2005. I find it a useful exercise to force focus on draft research, but mostly I do it because it is a helluvalotta fun.
This is not the same thing as a Mock Draft where I try to figure out what the real Twins will do. The real Twins and my Shadow farm system diverged long ago. To make it more challenging, I do this in almost-real time on draft day and have always assumed realistic Twins-like budgets. The new draft pool bonus system actually makes that a lot easier to do. I came out within realistic bonus parameters last year, finishing $243,000 below pool allowance.
Even better, the new International pools make it possible to Shadow international signings as well. From now on, I can't count guys like Miguel Sano and Oswaldo Arcia as Shadow prospects. Will I regret not signing Amaurys Minier? We'll find out in five years.
This article has a list of all my Shadow Drafts going back to 2003. 2008 looks very good right now. . .but 2006, 2007, and 2009 were pretty terrible.
Here is how my current Shadow Twins farm system looks. It has been an interesting week, with two Shadow Twins (Jake Odorizzi and Kevin Gausman) entering major league rotations. Last year I drafted a bunch of pitching, very much like the Real Twins did although I picked different guys, other than Jose Berrios.
I'm working on my draft board for 2013. For me the top four talents are Kris Bryant, Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel, and Clint Frazier in that order (right now). After that there is a big drop-off in prospect quality in my opinion. I hope to have my board finished and published here by the end of next week.
My plan is to pick whichever of those top guys is still on the board, then switch to filling some organizational needs in subsequent rounds. My farm system could use more pitching, particularly left-handed pitching, but I also need catching and help in the middle infield.
I know many of you do similar Shadow Drafts for your favorite teams. It really is a lot of fun.
That said, we should always remember that a fun exercise in armchair quarterbacking for us is very serious business for the real teams and the real scouts. Millions of dollars are on the line. A bad run of drafts can cripple a farm system for years.
The real teams and the real scouts risk everything for this: their jobs, their livelihoods. All we shadow and mock drafters risk is pride.