You are a scouting director. For the 2005 draft, you have narrowed your choice down to four potential picks in the first round. . .let's say you are picking 15th, exactly the midpoint of the first round. Your farm system right now is, well, average. . .you're not an elite system but you're not totally dry either. Your team won 85 games last year, and should win around that in 2005. You have some decent players on the major league roster and some depth, but no one you can really say is a superstar. Your farm system is the same way: some decent prospects, good depth, but no Grade A prospects on the way up right now.
Here are the four players you have narrowed your choice to. We will assume that all four are signable and have reasonable bonus demands. Note that the players below are entirely fictional, but I want to get some ideas flowing here about drafting philosophy.
Player A: A polished college shortstop, Chris Pike has been a two-year starter for a major program in California. He grew up in San Diego and scouts have been watching him for years. Defensively, he has good range, but some scouts don't think his arm is good enough for shortstop, and believe that he'll have to move to second eventually. Your own scouts are mixed on that issue. Offensively, he is a line drive hitter with moderate power, decent-but-not spectacular plate discipline, and slightly above average speed. He is extremely polished and has great makeup, and will move through the minors quickly. But he doesn't have a lot of physical projection left in him, and is unlikely to develop into a superstar. 6-1, 190, Bats R.
Player B: A high school outfielder from South Carolina, Bob Wesley is the prototype tools player. . .he is very fast, very strong, and has several Division I offers to play college football as a defensive back. But he loves baseball and is willing to sign if drafted in the first round. He is rather raw, his swing is long, and he sometimes struggles against quality breaking balls. But he shows flashes of plate discipline at times, and your scouts believe that with the proper coaching, he will be able to make the needed adjustments at the plate. His running speed is above average and he has a strong arm, but he runs bad routes in the outfield, and will need even more coaching on defense. Scouts compare him to people like Vernon Wells; some people think he COULD be as good as Ken Griffey Jr. in time, but there is also a significant risk that he will never reach his ceiling. 6-5, 185, projected to reach 6-6, 220. A switch-hitter but is raw from the left side.
Player C: A college pitcher from a Division I program in Florida, Jose Mendez grew up in Puerto Rico, but moved to the mainland when he was 16 years old. He was drafted in the seventh round three years ago out of high school, but did not sign, choosing to attend college instead. As a freshman, he was used as a swingman and pitched very well, but his sophomore season was hampered by a constant sore elbow. But this year, his junior season, the pain cleared up (without surgery), and he had a brilliant campaign, leading his club into contention for the College World Series. Mendez throws his fastball at 92-95 MPH, and mixes in a slider, a curve, and a forkball that he uses in changeup counts. His command and control are exceptional, and he has the best pitching instincts of any pitcher in the college ranks. His mechanics are clean, but there is still some worry that the elbow injury may recur. If he isn't the best pitcher in college baseball this year, he's damn close. Scouts believe he will be ready for the Majors within two years. 6-3, 195 pounds.
Player D: A high school pitcher from suburban Dallas, Matt Decker has a fresh arm and vaulted himself into mid first-round contention with a dominant stretch of pitching this spring. He was an outfielder before this year, but moved to the mound this season to enhance his draft status. It worked great; he's the best high school pitcher in Texas this season, dominating with a 94 MPH fastball and an unhittable curve. Although he has good instincts, his command is a bit erratic at times, and he does not have much of a changeup. He is tall, thin, and physically projectable; some scouts believe he will hit the 98 MPH range with maturity. Although he is not considered a "bad kid," he has had some discipline problems. As a junior last year, he was suspended from his high school team due to a run-in with the coach. He's not dumb, but he's not a rocket scientist, either. He has a scholarship to the University of Texas, but will sign if drafted in the first round. Scouts say he is the best potential of any high school righthanded pitcher in the draft this year, but will need time to develop. 6-4, 185, projected to grow out to 6-6, 200.
Who do you draft?
LATE DRAFT UPDATE!! In his last start on Friday night, Mendez threw a complete game 131-pitch outing in a critical game for his college team. He won the game, saving a bullpen that was exhausted after a rough game on Thursday. BUT reports now say that his regular Monday morning throwing session was cut short by a stiff shoulder. "Nothing serious", his coach says. But you note that Mendez had had three high pitch count outings in a row, and his velocity had dipped somewhat by the seventh inning on Friday. Does this alter your plans?