The MLB draft drew to a close yesterday, with the third and final day behind us. And with its conclusion, dozens of Alaska Baseball League alumni will be negotiating their first pro contracts. We’ve already had a look at the players drafted on Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft; now we’re going to wrap up our draft coverage with a rundown of Day 3.
But first, a correction to make to my previous coverage of Day 2. I missed a few players; Goldpanner Michael Vaughn who was drafted by Miami in the 14th round, #437 overall. This was a simple oversight. The worst miss was former Miner Robert Benincasa, who I missed because I had his name incorrectly stated on my big draft list. Benincasa went in the 7th round, #234 overall. The Day 2 draft post has been updated to reflect these corrections, as will all the draft articles be updated should any more oversight be discovered.
OK, here is the Day 3 coverage…
- Jeff Popick (Oilers), Colorado, #498 overall
- Eddie Orozco (Oilers), Chicago (NL), #674 overall
- Matt Vedo (Goldpanners), Seattle, #731 overall
- Sean Lucas (Bucs), Cincinnati, #772 overall
- Austin Pentecost (Goldpanners), Chicago (NL), #884 overall
- Jason Coats (Glacier Pilots), Chicago (AL), #891 overall
- John “Caleb” Bushyhead (Oilers), Los Angeles (AL), #897 overall
- Zach Kirksey (Oilers), Detroit, #904 overall
- Bryan “B.K.” Santy (Bucs), Minnesota, #910 overall
- Derrick Chung (Goldpanners), Toronto, #955 overall
- Ryan Dull (Miners), Oakland, #979 overall
- Robbie Buller (Goldpanners), Arizona, #1083 overall
- Zach Vincej (Bucs), Cincinnati, #1132 overall
Some thoughts on this draft. One thing worth mentioning is that the Oilers cleaned house. By my count the Oilers placed no fewer than 13 picks in the draft, including two in the first compensation round…more than one in three draft picks were an Oiler. This shouldn’t be a terrible surprise to anyone as the Oilers have been one of the dominant teams over the past two seasons while the teams which have placed fewer picks have been the ones who have struggled, but on the other hand, prospects are more about tools than they are current talent so I would expect that performance in the ABL is not a direct indicator of a player’s draft-worthiness.
Another thing is the volume of players, overall. By my count there were 35 ABL alumni drafted this year. Last year, I counted 64. Why would there be 29 fewer picks this year? One answer is the old argument that the Alaska League is going downhill and no one good wants to play here anymore; but that doesn’t seem to stand up to scrutiny when you consider that we had three players drafted on Day 1, the first time we’ve had any day-one guys in a few years (unless you count Keenyn Walker, who was drafted in the first compensation round before his ABL year began). And sorting through the rosters to make my draft preview this year, I think that next year will be even better.
I think two important things changed in this draft that might explain the above questions a bit. First of all, MLB introduced some weird slotting rules for signing bonuses. I’m going to be really honest with you, I don’t even really get it myself. But to hear people bellyaching about it, some teams are very reluctant to draft tough signs in the middle-early rounds. Second, the draft was shortened from 50 rounds to 40. As a result I think a lot of teams were both reluctant to go big on college Juniors, for whom they might have trouble signing by MLB’s bonus guidelines, and they had less room in the later rounds for hard-to-sign players and long-shot prospects. The result was that a lot of players who would have been draftable otherwise ended up falling off the back end, I think. With fewer draft picks and more risk involved, perhaps teams were targeting proven players, which might explain why there is such a close correlation between team success on the field and the amount of draft picks turned out. Of course good ol’ dumb luck probably had a lot to do with it as well; maybe next year we’ll have 100 picks. Who knows?
In any event, I could make a long list of draft snubs. At the top would be Ryan Gebhart, who went completely undrafted despite by ranking him a Top-10 draft prospect. I could add a few more to that list: Matt Wessinger, Boomer Collins, Pablo Bermudez, Kevin Hall, and so on, and so forth. Many of those guys and a few others I was really hoping would get a draft pick because they have finished their senior years I hate to see them faced with a choice between hustling for a free agent contract or washing their hands of baseball. But that’s just the way the game goes.
And with that draft over, we’re just a few short days away from the next crop of young draft prospects, hoping to make a name for themselves and increase their odds of being picked in the years to come. The whole cycle starts anew right now. Stick with us as we embark upon a new season and learn about a whole new group of ABLers.