This coming Monday is Major League Baseball’s Rule IV draft—or amateur draft for those who care not for formalities. It’s an occasion marked with hope and expectation as each team attempts to restock their farm system with fresh talent. It’s a way for fans and the media to forget the pains of the present and instead to focus on the future: The glass-totally-full, infallible future.
The draft always leads to post after post in the blogosphere and tweet after tweet in the Twitterverse proclaiming that Team X will do this and Team Y will do that. When the draft finally goes down, those same writers and tweeters will praise or chide their team for doing this or that or not doing that or the other thing.
It’s all nonsense.
Even prospect and draft experts such as Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law, who have been preparing mock drafts for weeks now, have no idea what’s going to happen on Monday night. They can guess and they sure as hell have more industry contacts than anyone else not working for a Major League front office, but ultimately it’s still a crapshoot.
What a certain team will do changes numerous times based on who’s still available when they get to pick. The teams ahead of them dictate more what they’ll do than anyone else.
The mock drafts published by people like Goldstein and Law are useful for two things: 1) Knowing who the top draft talents are, and 2) Speculating, based on the opinion of those in the industry, what teams might be looking to do, i.e. add a college arm or a high school position player.
Beyond that, there’s literally zero point in speculating who might become a member of your favourite team’s organization on Monday night. Even Goldstein and Law will acknowledge as much and they know way, way more about it than you. Trust me.
When your team does welcome its new players into the fold on Monday, you’re going to find that there are draft experts everywhere. Suddenly, every team blogger and random self-proclaimed baseball expert will be professing that his or her team should have taken Lucas Giolito with their pick, and not that bum Marcus Stroman or Duane Underwood. They’ll give you scouting reports on Joey Gallo or Byron Buxton and they’ll claim to know what their team was thinking when they grabbed their player.
Of course, they know nothing. Or at least, they only know as much as they’ve learned through guys like Goldstein and Law.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing. In five years we can all look back at what a stupid pick Team X made, but the reality is, the draft is a giant crapshoot. The small miracle that is a player becoming a good everyday regular at the Major League level is not even close to being complete for any of the players who will be drafted on Monday. Some will become good players, others will bust, others still were never good in the first place. We might even get a super star out of nowhere in the 15th round. But even the experts have little to no idea who will do what.
So here, informed baseball fan, is what you are going to do on Monday night before the draft rolls around:
1) Go to your locally licensed alcohol vendor and purchase some sort of adult beverage. The preferred choice is some sort of delicious beer (put down the Budweiser and pick up a real beer. No, not Coors Light, you fool, a real beer), but any adult beverage will do. If you cannot drink alcohol, find some other tasty drink that will entertain your taste buds and keep you fresh.
2) Order a pizza. Support your local vendors; stay away from chains, their pizza sucks anyway.
3) Get yourself an ESPN Insider pass if you don’t already have one (trust me, it’s worth it) and listen to this discussion between Keith Law and Kiley McDaniel to get some idea of who the relevant draft prospects are.
4) Then read this rundown of the Top 100 draft rankings by Law in order to further your limited knowledge.
5) And because you can’t get enough of Law, read the third version of his Mock Draft to get some idea of what your favourite team might be looking to do on Monday.
7) Now that you know something about the players in the draft and what your team may do, head on over to MLB.com for their live coverage of the event.
8) Put your feet up. To at least a level that is equal to your hipbone; higher if possible.
9) Watch said draft coverage.
10) When the draft is over, do not read anything by anyone other than actual draft experts. Anyone endorsed by ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com, or Baseball America will do. No one else that proclaims to know anything about anything should be trusted. Seriously, ignore them. They’re just looking for attention.
Follow those ten steps and you will find you are more informed than most. Still, try not to over-think it. Even the best draft strategies go awry and even the most in-tuned front office personnel cannot predict what will happen to the players they’ve just drafted. Trust the process and go to sleep knowing that the people making the decisions for your team are far more qualified than you or that guy you follow on Twitter who has an egg for an avatar.
*Featured picture found at WingWire.com