The MLB draft will never be popular

Joe Posnanski of wrote an interesting piece about why the MLB draft doesn’t work as a popular television event.

1. The vast majority of players drafted will never get close to the big leagues. Take the 1994 draft … 15 years ago. There were 287 players taken in the first 10 rounds, and 190 of them — two thirds — did not get a single at-bat or throw a single pitch in the big leagues.

2. Even the players who DO make it will not make it for years. If the NFL Draft is, as the cliché goes, like getting presents on Christmas morning, well, the baseball draft is like getting a savings bond from your grandmother that will mature when you turn 18.

I love the analogy Posnanski used in his second point.

Yesterday I DVR’d the MLB draft and was actually looking forward to watching it. The MLB Network had hyped the event up for a couple of weeks and being a Giants fan, I was excited to see who’d they take at pick No. 6.

But once Bud Selig (who was awful, by the way) read Zack Wheeler’s name at pick six, I realized that I could care less about the rest of the first round. Unless you’ve lived under a rock the past couple weeks, you knew that the Nationals were going to take San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the top pick and there was a good chance the Mariners would select North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley (arguably the best position player in the draft) at No. 2. So outside of hearing whom your favorite team picked, there wasn’t much excitement to the draft.

Posnanski is right – the MLB draft as a televised event doesn’t work. I applaud MLB for trying to make the event even a smidgen as popular as the NFL draft, but there just isn’t enough quality substance in the end. As Posnanski points out, most (and that’s not an exaggeration) of the players drafted in the first couple of rounds will never see the big leagues and even if they do, as a fan you have to wait three to four years before that happens. By that time, most casual fans have forgotten where those players came from.

Again, I think it’s great that baseball has embraced the idea of making the draft more of an event. But the reality is that I would rather watch the entire third round of the NFL draft than just one pick in the first round of the MLB draft. And I think others feel the same way.

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Is Stephen Strasburg the next great thing or the next Mark Prior?

After the Washington Nationals took San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick of the 2009 MLB Draft, the first question that came to everyone’s mind was – will he sign?

Strasburg’s agent is Scott Boras, who is someone that would rather sell his mother on eBay than not overcharge a team for one of his client’s services. The pre-draft buzz was that Washington is willing to pay whatever it takes to sign Strasburg, but we’ll see what happens when the two sides actually come to the negotiating table.

The second question on everyone’s mind is – how good is this kid?

As a sophomore at SDS, he went 8-3 with a 1.57 ERA and struck out 133 batters in 97.5 innings of work. Four of his 13 starts that year were complete games and two were shutouts. Through May this season, he posted a 13-1 record with a 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched.

The scouting report on Strasburg is eye-popping; his fastball tops out at 103 mph, his curve has excellent movement and his slider can clock in the 90s. If the Nationals absolutely needed him to pitch this season (which they don’t – there’s no reason to rush him), some believe that he’s even major-league ready now.

But there’s no such thing as a “can’t miss prospect” and Strasburg isn’t immune to criticism. Some believe he could be the next Mark Prior in that he’s injury prone because he puts too much pressure on his wrist and his elbow comes up too high in his release (which usually signals arm problems down the road). Throw in the pressure that comes along with being the No. 1 overall pick (not too mention a No. 1 pick who will eventually sign for $50-plus million) and all of a sudden you realize that transportation to bustville runs 24 hours a day.

Personally, I hope Strasburg lives up to the hype. The Nationals need him to be great and so does baseball, which is slowly starting to clean up its image. There has been a major buzz surrounding him and fans can’t wait to see him go toe to toe with major league hitters. Here’s hoping he has a bright and successful future ahead of him.

Team by team MLB draft rankings: Best drafts of the last 10 years

With the 2009 MLB Draft set to kickoff at 6:00 ET tonight on the MLB Network, did a cool feature in which they rated how each club has fared over the past 10 years when it comes to the draft.

The Brewers were rated number one and it’s hard to argue with the ranking after looking at the names Milwaukee has drafted over the years: Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Manny Parra, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. Amazingly, this club also drafted Hunter Pence (Astros), but couldn’t sign him.

The Red Sox were rated No. 2, with Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Manny Delcarmen leading the way, but the site left off a glaring omission: Jacoby Ellsbury. The Rays actually drafted Ellsbury in the 2002 draft, but never signed him. The Sox then nabbed him with the 23rd overall pick in 2005 and he’s currently their starting centerfielder.

Speaking of the Rays, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tampa ranked higher than No. 4 in the next couple of years. Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine and David Price are just some of the names they’ve drafted in the past 10 years. Don’t forget that they were the team that also drafted Josh Hamilton before he got injured and then became the poster child of what not to do when you’re an inspiring ballplayer with loads of free time on your hands.

You look at a club like the Nationals ranked No. 8 and you wonder why they’ve been so awful over the years despite drafting so well. Then you realized they dealt Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips all in the same trade for Bartolo Colon and it all starts to make sense.

If you’re wondering whom SI had ranked last, it was the Astros; only Hunter Pence was worth noting of the players Houston drafted the past 10 years. The White Sox were second to last, although if Josh Fields, Chris Getz, Clayton Richard and Gordon Beckham develop like the club hopes, I highly doubt Chicago will be ranked that low again if SI does another ranking like this in the next couple of years.

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