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2019 Draft Preview: Reviewing the 2016-18 Draft Classes

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2014 MLB Draft Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

2016 marks the first draft under the current front office, marking a pretty significant break with the past so it makes sense to examine them together. It was only for 2017 that a new scouting director was brought in, but Ben Cherington was in place and his influence could be felt as the approach was a lot different and in particularly more college heavy and less off-the-board.

Especially compared to the 2012-15 drafts, it’s far too early to be making sweeping conclusions, and another major difference is the general lack of extra first day picks and lower first round position due to the 2015-16 run. Overall, that means a lower bar for what should be considered a successful draft.

2016 Draft

Total spend: approximately $7.8-million (plus ~$75,000 in pool overage penalties)

Bottom line: While it’s still too early to say anything definitively, Bichette looks like the type of above average regular or potential star who alone could make this draft. A couple more college players are at least MLB contributors and potential regulars in Cavan Biggio and T.J. Zeuch. If a couple of the high school players who are now emerging click, this could end up a foundational type of draft class success despite a few whiffs in the top 10 rounds.

2017 Draft

Total spend: approximately $9.8-million (plus ~$300,000 in pool overage penalties)

On balance, two years out this draft looks to be in reasonably good shape. Nate Pearson has fast-tracked to New Hampshire, with the raw stuff to be a frontline starter. The bar is a little elevated with two late first round picks, but if that came to fruition it alone would basically make the draft.

The shine has come off the other first round pick’s prospect status, though Logan Warmoth has had a nice May since coming off the DL and it’s still prematurely to write him off. Far more disappointing are the struggles of Kevin Smith in AA after such a nice 2018 — but it was hardly unforeseeable given his draft profile. But again, we’ll see if he can adjust.

Zach Logue has moved quickly to AA with success, and while the stuff is pedestrian he can really mix three pitches and should figure into the MLB level and could surprise. Ty Tice has likewise moved quickly to AA and has the stuff to figure into a MLB bullpen. There’s been a lot of injuries, but some of the college pitchers are potential MLB contributors in relief roles if they can get/stay healthy and on-track.

Riley Adams has hit nicely over the last year, and Cullen Large has really too since a lackluster debut. And other position players are progressing reasonably well, and that’s the big takeaway two years out — it’s too early to be talking about big league impact, but the potential hasn’t been diminished.

2018 Draft

Total spend: approximately $9.9-million (plus ~$250,000 in pool overage penalties)

It’s way too early for any type of bottom line, but on balance the early returns are encouraging. That’s mostly because Jordan Groshans has followed the Bichette track of doing nothing but hit in pro ball, and before landing on the IL looked like a man among boys in Lansing. Hitting on your early first rounder goes a long way, especially when it saves some slot that can be redeployed to bring in more value.

Griffin Conine showed good power in Vancouver, the overall numbers were mediocre but he was settling in nicely before injuring his shoulder in early August after which his production slumped. The 50 game suspension was not good, but he off to a hot start with Lansing.

There’s plenty of intriguing draftees below that. Joey Murray and Nick Allgeyer are already in high-A and having success. Cal Stevenson is there too, and while not setting the league on fire like last summer, holding his own is very good for a senior sign. A couple of my favourites are Cre Finfrock and Cobi Johnson. Johnson was electric as Vancouver’s closer, and might best profile as a reliever but with three good pitches it would be folly not to see what he can do starting for now.