Sorry for being AWOL for the last week or so. I am trying to redesign those little summaries of games I provide for my many readers so that I can catch up quickly by dealing with whole series at a time, and this should go into effect shortly.
Today, I was looking at the draft coverage on the always-excellent Baseball America because tonight the amateur draft begins. This year, because I have listened to many Baseball America podcasts during the ccllege season, I am perhaps better informed than ever before. I still remember the first amateur draft I followed, the 2005 one. In those days, it was a conference call broadcast on the internet, with scouting reports and video offered by MLB.com I know that in 2009-10 one could still access this kind of information for earlier drafts, like the one conducted in 2002. If you still can access those lists, you'll see all the information one had to go on back in those days.
Tonight, MLB Network will offer a kind of Barnum & Bailey circus presentation by comparison with the spartan era of ten years ago. I have to say, the more glamour associated with the draft, the less appealing I find it. There were years when I would have been disappointed to miss the draft, but this year I am actually electing not to follow it at all,* beyond the much more extensive work I have done up to now. I know, for example, that Carlos Rodon was considered a lock at #1 in February, that his stock fell considerably, but now he is thought by Baseball America's Mock Draft to be destined for the Miami Marlins at #2 because he is the kind of Cuban-American star that the organisation has always favoured, when they could get one. (Remember Robert Andino, a 2002 second-rounder whose greatest fame came with the Orioles?)
The Nationals are choosing a Tommy John victim, RHP Erick Fredde, according to the BA Mock Drafters, while the Tigers are after Casey Gillaspie, a college hitter whose name I have seen and heard around. Reading the comments in that thread I linked above, though, suggests that the Nationals may take a chance on one of my two favourite names in the draft, Touki Toussaint, another Tommy John victim whose stock has been higher throughout the amateur season. Toussaint has far more upside that Fredde, so I would applaud the Nationals if they nabbed him ahead of Fredde. However, if one explores the Mock Draft at John Sickels' Minorleagueball.com, the community there sees Michael Conforto coming to the Nationals. Baseball America has Conforto going to the Cubs at #4, which just goes to show how far a community of fans can depart from the scuttlebutt of really existing MLB front offices. Finally, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at Mlb.com have a very different picture, with Gillaspie or Kyle Freeland to the Nationals, and RHP Nick Howard or OF Derek Hill to the Tigers.
I'm not a fan of speculation, which is why I focus on summaries of what happened in games. I haven't a clue who the Nationals (or the Tigers) should take, because at #18 it is going to depend on too many variables of the players already taken. Furthermore, by the time one gets to pick #18 (let alone #23), one is looking at getting a Willie Wilson or an RA Dickey at best. The median pick looks to be a kind of below-replacement character like Royce Ring.
Because I'm in a keeper Diamond Mind league, I take more interest in the draft than the average fan. But, this year, for the first time in my modern baseball fandom, it is not going to be the festival of hope over experience that it traditionally has been.
* Well, I might follow a Twitter feed like @MLBDraftTracker that just listed the picks.