A draft class can never be fully evaluated until a few years down the road, and it’s difficult to know just how players will eventually pan out. But, what we can evaluate soon after the final pick is made is how aggressive teams were in making their picks and who gave themselves the best shot at landing future big league players with high upside.
The Big Winners
Toronto Blue Jays
Very quickly the Toronto Blue Jays have become a team we have to routinely associate with powerhouse draft classes. This year, they once again failed to disappoint. They were able to land a premium college arm in Marcus Stroman, along with a slew of high upside prep players in D.J. Davis, Matt Smoral, Mich Nay, and Tyler Gonzales. If they can get Smoral signed then they also will have landed the second best prep lefty in the country.
You can debate all day long whether Houston did the right thing by taking Carlos Correa first overall. What you can't debate is the overall depth of their draft class. Both Correa and their second pick, Lance McCullers have impact player type upside. Then, they also added some safer, polished picks in Nolan Fontana and Brady Rodgers. Overall, they brought in a good mix of safe and high upside type players.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have taken some criticism for their draft classes in recent years. It's going to be difficult for people to knock this year's class, at least initially. Corey Seager, their top selection, has one of the highest upsides of any player in the nation and could one day give them a Gold Glove caliber third baseman and a 25 home run bat. Their third selection, Steven Rodriguez, could give them a swing and miss type lefty out of the bullpen as early as late this season. And, don't sleep on Jesmuel Valentin, whose offensive upside makes him one of the best under the radar picks of the entire draft.
San Diego Padres
The Padres just seemed to rattle off impressive pick after impressive pick in this year's draft. Starting with Max Fried in the first round, the hits just kept on coming. In Fried, Zach Eflin, and Walker Weickel they landed three high school pitchers with front of the rotation type potential. That's a very difficult task to pull off in any draft. Mix in two of the two best college hitters in the country, Travis Jankowski and Dane Phillips, and it's hard not to love what San Diego did this week.
Playing It Safe
St. Louis Cardinals
You can judge the Cardinals' draft class in a number of different ways, but if you're a fan of high upside type selections, you won't like their early round picks. They did take a high upside bat in Carson Kelly 86th overall, as well as some other toolsy players in the later rounds, but for the most part they played it safe. Their two first rounders, Michael Wacha and James Ramsey, are likely big leaguers but do not profile as impact type talents.
This is going to be a boom or bust draft class for the Rangers. They took some tremendous athletes, but molding them into polished players is going to be a significant task for their strong player development department. Texas selected five straight high school players to begin their draft, including Lewis Brinson, Jamie Jarmon, and Nick Williams. All of these players are considered at least somewhat raw by most scouts. Joey Gallo, the lefty slugger they took 39th overall pick, while probably the best power hitter in the class, also comes with a degree risk.
The strategy doesn't change much for Philadelphia. They like drafting high school talent, particularly athletic position position players. They did just that this week, taking Dylan Cozens 77th overall and Zach Green 125th overall. They also rolled the dice on three powerful right-handed arms from the high school ranks in Shane Watson, Mitch Gueller and Alec Rash. Each of them has front of the rotation type potential but are far from finished products.