Monday evening, every Major League Baseball team added players to their system you’ve never heard of and may never see play.
Yes, the biggest crapshoot in the world, the MLB “First-Year Player Draft,” got started Thursday night. It will mercifully end Wednesday after 40 potential rounds.
The A’s held the 11th pick of the first round, as well as two compensation picks, awarded for losing free agents. The Giants were pegged to select 20th.
The A’s, in desperate need of offense in their system, took high school shortstop Addison Russell with the No. 11 overall pick. Russell, from Pace High School in Florida, was drafted as a shortstop but could eventually move to third base.
ESPN’s Keith Law believes Russell can stay at shortstop. Scouting reports say that he added weight last summer and coaches on Team USA moved him to third, which he didn’t like, so he lost the weight to move back to shortstop.
Like many high school players taken in the MLB draft, Russell has a college commitment and he must make a decision whether to sign with the A’s or attend Auburn. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that Russell has said that it will be “a family decision.”
MaxPreps.com’s Jon Buzby spoke with Russell’s high school coach, Charlie Warner, who has been coaching baseball for 29 years. Warner had high praise for Russell:
“He’s the most talented player I’ve ever coached.”
With their first compensation pick, the 34th overall selection, the A’s draft yet another high school shortstop, taking Daniel Robertson from Upland High School in Southern California. His unofficial stats according to MaxPreps.com are eye-popping.
Robertson hit .560 with six home runs and 31 RBI. Scouting reports praise his intensity and baseball IQ, noting that he’s a smart baserunner. Keith Law believes his bat could carry him quickly through the A’s system.
With their final compensation pick, 47th overall, the A’s took a big country boy. Matt Olson, from Parkview High School in Georgia, is 6-foot-4, 236 lbs. and projects as a first baseman. Olson can pitch, though his bat will carry him. Like Russell, he’s got a college commitment to think about. He has signed on to play at national power Vanderbilt.
I would have liked to have seen the A’s take one or two college bats. But what I take away from these early draft picks is that Billy Beane is looking long-term. He’s building for the future and isn’t concerned about getting players that can help this season, or even next season. You probably wont see Russell, Robertson or Olson for at least three or four years.
As for the Giants, they had just one pick on the first day of the draft, and they crossed up all the major mock drafts by using it on a college pitcher.
The college arm they selected was Mississippi State right-hander Chris Stratton. He started the season in the bullpen but was moved to the rotation and flourished. The Giants have had a lot of success developing pitchers, so hopefully Stratton moves quickly and can join the Giants rotation in a couple years.
The Giants minor league system is pretty bleak. Their last couple of first round picks aren’t having great seasons. Joe Panik is struggling and Gary Brown is coming back to life after a really slow start.
They traded away 2009 first rounder Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran last season. The Giants need to use the remaining rounds of the draft to re-stock their depleted system. I’d like to see them target some college bats that might be able to help sooner rather than later.