AL East Clubs Face Varied Challenges In 2011 Draft

When you hear talk of disparity in baseball, people often point to the AL East, home to two of the biggest spenders in MLB and one of its poorest teams. But as the Rays have shown, small market clubs can offset uneven payrolls by drafting and developing players successfully.

After an offseason in which Tampa Bay saw one ranked free agent after another sign elsewhere, including Boston and New York, the Rays face what could be the most critical amateur draft in their franchise's history. This June, the Rays have an unprecedented number of early picks – they select 12 players in the first two rounds (90 picks). The challenge for executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and scouting director R.J. Harrison will be selecting future major leaguers with those picks.

Though the Red Sox and Blue Jays aren't close to matching the Rays' record total, they have considerably more picks than average. The Blue Jays have seven picks before the third round and the Red Sox have five, so they face a similar challenge to the one the Rays do: convert their extra picks into potential major leaguers.

Tampa and Boston are two of the six teams (along with the D'Backs, Nationals, Padres and Brewers) that have multiple first round picks, which means seven of the draft's first 33 selections will head to what's arguably baseball's best division.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are one of four clubs that don't select before the supplementary first round (along with the White Sox, Phillies and, last but not least, the Tigers, who don't select until 75 players are off the board). The Orioles select fourth overall, but, like the Yankees, only have two picks in the first two rounds. 

That's not to say that the O's and Yankees can't acquire young talent, however. They can, in theory, spend more money on fewer players in an attempt to lure a select number of top amateurs to their organization. Or they can sign players on the international market and build their farm systems with an aggressive approach abroad (the Yankees recently committed supplemental round money to Dominican righty Juan Carlos Paniagua).

The Rays, Blue Jays and Red Sox will select 24 of the first 90 players in this year's draft (27%). That doesn't mean they'll have productive drafts or that the Yankees and Orioles won't. But for at least a couple of days this June, the Yankees will watch and the Rays will be the ones with the power to acquire top players.

74 Responses to AL East Clubs Face Varied Challenges In 2011 Draft Leave a Reply

  1. Excited the Jays have a good amount of picks in what is supposed to be one of the deeper drafts in recent years. I have faith in AA and company to mine out a couple gems.

    • I live near the Jays’ AA team in NH and they’ve been very exciting to watch the last year or two — I look forward to the increased talent this will surely bring!

    • Adil 4 years ago

      that and aa preference to swing for the home run and the amount of money they will be willing to spend signing players especially now with the saving of vernon wells. brighter days are coming.

      • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

        Of course Jays fans were saying the same thing after they signed BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett. Though I have to admit, AA’s ability to acquire potential talent and the fact that he dumped that weight around his neck has certainly got me wondering if the Jays could become a serious threat in the AL East very soon.

        • grownice 4 years ago

          Your going to need to start wearing blue soon!

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          BJ Ryan and Aj Burnett were good acquisitions at the time, they didn’t work out to no fault of the management.

  2. Rays draft this year is just dirty!

    • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

      The amount of money the Rays will have for the draft will determine just how dirty there draft will be.

      • Green_Monster 4 years ago

        They’ll sign almost everyone they draft, they have a low payroll and have saved money for this draft, it is deep, and there will be loads of talent.

        • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

          How can you declare they will sign everyone before you even know who they draft, who represents them and how much the pick is going to demand?

          • Green_Monster 4 years ago

            So if the rays draft some really good people, and offer a lot of money, you don’t think they will except? If the Rays offer the right money there is a great chance the players won’t turn it down. The rays have tons of money saved for this draft. Also can you read?—“They’ll sign almost everyone they draft, they have a low payroll and have saved money for this draft, it is deep, and there will be loads of talent.” Tell me what the key word is in that sentence? “Almost”.

          • Green_Monster 4 years ago

            Also knowing that the rays have lots of picks, players would be more willing to sign there, because they could have a bright future, with the rays minor league and major league talent right now.

          • I am Urban Legend 4 years ago

            or could be blocked by another prospect…

          • Green_Monster 4 years ago

            Or could move to another position…

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            And still be blocked by another prospect.

          • Green_Monster 4 years ago

            And still be able to go to another position

          • mwagner26 4 years ago

            nice moves.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Or how often do you REALLY think a prospect or his agent says “I will take hundreds of thousands less because I really think I can win with this team”? C’mon.

            The Rays failed to sign their #1 pick Levon Washington from 2009 or 2010 I think. Not saying what the reason was and I do acknowledge the literal meaning of your statement, just thought it was a little premature. Just because the Rays have money certainly doesn’t mean they are going to spend it all.

          • johnsilver 4 years ago

            Rays usually don’t draft talent asking for a ton of overslot money for the most part YFS78. They seem to do their home work fairly well and go with a smart approach. getting players for the most part who are in the “correct” place in the draft and in communication with the players and advisers they might have and knowing what they want to get them under terms, not to mention well scouted in advance.

            Good thing for MLB all teams don’t do their home work as thorough as the Rays or the talent leftover for the other 29 teams to pick over would be awful huh?

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Put it like this. If I’m a talent that in any other year would be looked at as a borderline top 15-30 pick and am pushed back into the 45-60 range because the draft is so deep then I would still try and demand a mid-1st rnd pick, regardless of who drafts me.

          • RahZid 4 years ago

            Agreed. That also means that some of that talent will likely fall as far as pick #100 due to teams attempting to draft slot signing guys.

  3. Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

    You have to give credit to the Red Sox brass, they have arguably done a great job of timeing their contractual obligations with up comming free agent classes over the past few years resulting minimal losses in picks.

    • PJaysW 4 years ago

      Why would I “have to give credit” if they’ve only “arguably done a great job” ? I’ll leave the rest of that to the grammar and spelling Nazis

      • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

        If you’re going to attack his grammar then you should at least get your punctuation correct.

        • PJaysW 4 years ago

          To be fair, if you had read what I wrote, you may have noticed I didn’t actually attack his grammar, but point taken.

          • RahZid 4 years ago

            By mentioning it without provocation, you attack it.

    • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

      Theo is a smart guy but do you REALLY think he had the 2011 draft in mind when he signed Beltre to a 1 year deal w/ a PLAYER option? Do you really think that when trading for VMart he did so w/ the intention of letting him walk (despite making him an offer) so that he could collect another pick? C’mon dude. Can he cure cancer and make a cadillac w/ a bumper that stays on for more than 10 years too?

      • Green_Monster 4 years ago

        Don’t GM’s always do that? Sign players that have had a down season (Will sign for less money), and try to get a draft pick out of them, or swap them at the deadline? That post made no sense to me.

        • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

          Just the one’s who read Money Ball due.

        • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

          “You have to give credit to the Red Sox brass, they have arguably done a great job of timeing their contractual obligations with up comming free agent classes”.

          So why bother offering Beltre a payers option or offering VMart anything? I’m just saying, I don’t think Theo was thinking of the draft when he made those choices.

          • The Beltre player option was Theo’s slick way of avoiding more luxury tax:

            $10 mm/1 yr = $10 mm AAV for luxury tax purposes
            $10 mm + $4 mm player option = $7 mm AAV for luxuty tax purposes.

            Also, it’s no secret that Theo loves those draft picks, so it is possible he always has draft picks in mind when he makes a trade or signs a player.

          • “So why bother offering Beltre a payers option or offering VMart anything? I’m just saying, I don’t think Theo was thinking of the draft when he made those choices.”

            Ughh seriously? They offered Beltre the players option for the same reason the Yankees offered Soriano and CC an opt out…so they could get the guy signed. The reason why they offered Vmart a deal after this season is because they’d like to keep him, but for the right price. They knew there was a very small chance he’d stay under their terms. I’m not sure what you are trying to argue exactly? The Red Sox didn’t make these moves SOLELY for their draft pick compensation, that is obvious. However, Theo absolutely attaches a value to those picks, and offers contracts accordingly. This is the guy who paid Felipe Lopez for a shot at a supplemental pick. I think you have the other posters point confused…he didn’t say Theo traded for Vmart in 09 to one day get his comp picks. He traded for his performance for 1 1/2 years, and also factored in the two probable draft picks and placed a value on that. That might’ve only been 5% of the value, but it was absolutely factored in…it’s undeniable.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Ok, I will take 100% blame for not articulating what my point was in a more precise manner.

            a) The poster said “You have to give credit to the Red Sox brass, they have arguably done a great job of timeing their contractual obligations with up comming free agent classes over the past few years resulting minimal losses in picks”.

            To me I drew the inference that the poster feels Theo worked previous contracts with the notion that they would all culminate in draft picks for this class of 2011 because he had the forecast that this class was going to be as deep as it is.Isimply felt that was giving Theo too much credit. Now going into the winter of 2010 I absolutely agree that Theo made his moves based on having draft picks to play with in this draft. But to say he knew he would get picks for Beltre and Vmart and acquired them because of this draft is sort of wacky. At the right price both would be back in Boston this year. Obviously.

      • I am Urban Legend 4 years ago

        im sure it wasnt the only reason…but it did play a FACTOR

      • RedSoxDynasty 4 years ago

        He had Adrian Gonzalez(and probably the draft pick too) in mind when he signed Beltre IMO! Boras could have easily gotten one of those no arb offer clauses except Theo(like he did with Billy Wagner) knew he would get at least a type A if he declined the option! (which was never expected to be picked up anyways) As for VMart, Theo got him solely for his value on the field as Tek was killing us at the plate in 2009! Or did he? Lol!

      • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

        Over Theo’s time as GM the sox have done a better job at keeping picks than most teams, in sure he does’nt just acquire talent for the picks. After all who signed first V-Mart or Crawford, how about Bay or Lackey, Its called calculated risk and theo’s good at it.

        • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

          Wow….I never said Theo doesn’t make moves in order to get picks. What I made point of, light heartedly, was this idea that he signed free agents TWO, THREE, FOUR years ago with 2011’s deep class in mind. Great GM with an eye on the future? YES. Clairvoyant? No.

  4. Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

    Im curious to see were teams stand on tradeing picks during the next bargaining agreement. I dont imagine it will get passed unless you do away with protected picks and create a slotting system for picks.

    • start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

      I don’t see any kind of slotting system passing. Ultimately it seems to be better business to pay $1M to a kid with potential in say round 6 of the draft than put the same money towards a back up infielder.

      Though it would be interesting to see the MLB start trading draft picks. The only thing is I doubt they would have great value. Not all top talent comes from first round picks, Albert Pujols being the best case and point.

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        I think trading picks would be a idea worth talking about but would be scared at the position the Yanks would be in if that were possible.

        I do think that trading up or down in the draft (draft picks only) is a great idea. In this case, let’s say that a team like the Padres (10th pick and the 25th pick) needed a 3B desperatly and loved Rendon. The Pirates have the 1st overall pick and they already have Pedro Alvarez. Let’s say they love Alvarez and really need a high end SS but don’t want to pay a middle round talent 1st overall money. They could trade their #1 overall pick to the Padres for their #10 and #25 and hopefully draft Lindsor with the 10th pick and whoever else with the 25th. Padres get what they want. The Pirates get what they need and save some money as well (generally the 1st overall get’s the highest bonus in the draft).

        • johnsilver 4 years ago

          Could you see Boston and NY coveting that getting the top pick with a top guy who was represented (advised) by Boras though and him leaking that said kid was wanting 30m like Strasburg wanted and some notorious cheap franchise (Marlins as an example) had the 1st overall pick..

          That scenario would turn it into a circus, put Boston or NYY into getting it (IMO) and turn the draft into a rich kids make the draft into for sure what many don’t want it to be as my opinion.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            That still happens regardless of whether or not you can trade up or down. We’ve known what just about ever 1st rnd pick has wanted before they were even drafted. Wouldn’t change a bit. What it would do is help smaller market teams negotiate better deals. What if the Pirates were able to trade down in the draft and still sign Sanchez. What if Sanchez was repped by Boras? Sanchez signed a very reasonable deal. Would the Pirates have taken him 2nd overall if Boras was advising him? Probably not. But if he were advising him and they traded their 2nd overall for the 10th overall and another pick then they could’ve gotten him their at a lessor price (compared to what most 2nd overalls get).

          • johnsilver 4 years ago

            Maybe with how both Boston and NY go overslot every year and grab more players headed to college in the lower rounds, but just what would have happened if the Marlins had that #1 pick and Strassburg been the prize? Do you think Luria would have chosen him? What if there had been a way to trade that pick? I just see too many ways to exploit that.

            On both Boston and NYY especially spending a fortune with drafting/spending in the lower rounds? Yes.. Every team out there is free to do that also, though if they choose to wisely spend money if the scouting/developmental phase of their organizations, rather than on people such as carlos Silva types who were of little use when signed as most everyone else in the game knew beforehand.

  5. Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

    Really the only value in the picks would be rounds 1-3, and they would probably be used in place of a PTBNL.

    • Green_Monster 4 years ago

      John Smoltz was selected by the Tigers in the 22nd round of the 1985 draft.
      Brad Ausmus was selected by the Yankees in the 48th round of the 1987 draft.
      Mike Piazza was selected by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft.
      Roy Oswalt was selected by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft.
      Albert Pujols was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 draft.
      Jason Bay was selected by the Expos in the 22nd round of the 2000 draft.
      Jake Peavy was selected by the Padres in the 15th round of the 1999 draft.
      Raul Ibanez was selected by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 1992 draft.
      Jim Thome was selected by the Indians in the 13th round of the 1989 draft.

      So there is actually quite a bit of value in the late rounds if you have a good scouting system.

      • Your point isn’t lost, that there is talent out there that hasn’t been identified by scouts and talking heads by draft day. But citing 9 examples from the 20,000+ mid and late round picks between Smoltz in ’85 and Bay in ’00 isn’t exactly making an airtight case.

        There are always exceptions, diamonds in the rough, but from my own very amateur research on the topic, I’ve found that on average, roughly 25% of the WAR that comes out of a given draft comes from players taken with the first 10 picks. A little more than half of the WAR comes from players taken prior to the start of the second round. Almost 75% of the WAR comes from players taken in the first 100 picks, another 10% comes in the next 100 picks, another 10% comes from the next 600 picks, and the last 5% comes from the draft’s final 800 picks.

        Point is, pretty soon after the start of the draft, the diamonds get awfully scarce and there’s a helluva lot of rough.

        • Green_Monster 4 years ago

          The only reason I named 9 guys is because I’m not going to sit here all day, and type a whole list. I actually have a life.

          • ImAndy 4 years ago

            Yes, for example, Hudson (43rd ) is closer to Piazza in WAR than some of yours. To find someone with a greater career WAR than Piazza – who was only selected as a favor to his Dad – you need to go to Smoltz, I believe

        • ImAndy 4 years ago

          A good rule of thumb is that 1/3rd comes from first 30 picks, another third in the next 150, the rest later

      • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

        The total service time and relitive low cost of drafting players whould be the main reason for tradeing for a pick, and given the fact your more likely to get serviceable player in rounds 1-3 (assuming you can’t trade sandwich picks) than rounds 10+ affects any power held by tradeing a pick.

        Im not saying thier is’nt value in later rounds, but in 45 years of the mlb draft the success rate is pretty low.

      • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

        I can’t believe you actually responded to that ludicrous statement.

  6. Dan_O62 4 years ago

    At some point there becomes an issue as to what to do with all these ‘great draft picks’… A starting roster only has 25 spots, and while theoretically the Rays could build a very deep team, the stockpiling of talent never works out how you plan it. Injuries, failure all come into play, resulting in holes here or there, or too many starting pitchers ready to break through (who are still rookie talents)… If the Rays aren’t able to convert a good portion of these ‘draft picks’ into useful, likely more expensive pieces, what you could see is an endless cycle of ‘Here come those young Rays! They’re always nipping at —- heels!’… followed by trading the next player due to break through big-time because of contractual reasons for more young up-and-coming talent.
    Stockpiling great young talent does not guarantee a successful, winning program.

    • Green_Monster 4 years ago

      “or too many starting pitchers ready to break through (who are still rookie talents).”

      Its called trading, and sense when is having lots of draft picks a bad thing?

      • Dan_O62 4 years ago

        You are absolutely right. You can never have too many draft picks, or too much pitching; however, the current model of the Rays seems to be that they can’t/won’t pay for players once they reach a specific cost efficiency. And while past clubs in similar situations (riches of young talent) have been able to blend the two diverging theories — trading young talent for complementary veteran pieces, while building with homegrown talent — so far the Rays have not shown they are able to do that. It’s a good sign that they’ve been able to get some of their young stars to sign on semi-long term, that’s for sure.

        • Green_Monster 4 years ago

          Yes I agree with that. The rays mostly have homegrown talent, they don’t do to much FA signings or trading. They have came close to a world series in the past 3 years. They will start to fall again, but rise again, possibly 5 years after this draft.

    • I am Urban Legend 4 years ago

      If the rays continue…I can see them outlasting the yankees. The Yankee model of success is outdated and wont continue to work in the next few years.

      • Green_Monster 4 years ago

        I’m a Red Sox fan, and I know that’s ridiculous. The Yankees do have some older players (Arod, Jeter, Posada, Rivera). But also have a great young core (Cano, Gardner, Hughes)– Mixed in with some good guys in their prime (C.C, Teix, Swisher, Soriano, Granderson, Jones) and have lots of young talent (Montero, Sanchez, Romine, Brackman, Man Ban, Bentences, and more) So they are good right now, and will have a good fututre.

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Which model is that? The one that’s given them 2 top 10 farm ratings, 5 post-season appearances and a world series and has produced several mlb players like Hughes, Joba, IPK, Austin Jackson, Brett Gardner, Jose Tabata, Dave Robertson, Mike Dunn, Mark Melancon and Alfedo Aceves since 2005?

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Also, the most obvious reason for the rays success in building a farm is because a) they were a horrible team for most of the decade and always drafted w/in the first 1-8 picks overall and b) they couldn’t afford to resign their free agent eligible stars and are now “swole” with draft picks in the first 60 or so picks this year. How is that a recipe forl long and sustained success?

        By no means am I thinking they WON’T compete over the next few years but that’s hardly a “plan for success” that’s repeatable.

        • Uh, that isn’t all that true considering a lot of the Rays main talent came from outside the first round; i.e. Jeremy Hellickson, Carl Crawford, Desmond Jennings, James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine, John Jaso, Wade Davis, Matt Moore, etc. Any of those guys could have been drafted by an other team, so it is just that the Rays got high picks, they also drafted well with their lower picks as well.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            So tell me….where did the majority of the impact draft picks come from?

            BJ Upton 2nd overall pick in 2002
            Delmon Young 1st overall pick in 2003 (traded for Garza)
            Jeff Neiman 4th overall pick in 2004
            Wade Townsend 8th overall pick in 2005
            Evan Longoria 3rd overall pick in 2006
            David Price 1st overll pick in 2007
            Tim Beckham 1st overallpick in 2008

            As of 2010 that was 3/5th of your starting pitchers and 2 of your 3 best position players. How can you say that the Rays can point to those drafts as the most signifigant reason for acquiring their talent?

            Hellickson, Jennings, Sonnastine and Moor had little or no contributions to their success over the last 3 years. However, I can easily make the point that w/o those early rnd picks of Upton, Longo, Price and Young (Garza) that the Rays wouldn’t of been playoff contenders in the last 3 years. Can you argue differently?

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            you call Hellickson, Jennings, Sonnastine, and Moore out for having no contribution, but you mention Tim Beckham as having done so?

          • GrayhawkAZ 4 years ago

            Wade Townsend hahahahahahahahahahhaaa

  7. That 27% figure is ridiculous.

  8. Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

    As a Sox fan i can attest to that, Its widely overlooked that the rays have lacked in international signings, and lack the financial flexability to sign mid level picks with top level talent but high demands (like the sox did with Anthony Ranaudo last year) to compinsate for thier small market status.

  9. Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

    As a Sox fan i can attest to that, Its widely overlooked that the rays have lacked in international signings, and lack the financial flexability to sign mid level picks with top level talent but high demands (like the sox did with Anthony Ranaudo last year) to compinsate for thier small market status.

  10. Guest 4 years ago

    12 picks in first the 90 selections? Eff it, I wouldnt resign my bullpen either.

  11. mozelpuffski 4 years ago

    only two more fridays!

  12. kingoriole 4 years ago

    What a great system!

    Back to back AL East champions get 9 picks in first two rounds.
    12 straight losing season Orioles get 1 pick in the first two rounds.

  13. Green_Monster 4 years ago

    Exactly, that’s why I like the Theo, he likes to spend money on the draft, and he has developed lots of good players, sense he got here.

  14. The Phillies have made a farm system out of drafting kids like that… Brown, Singleton, Cosart, Colvin were all taken after the 5th round I think. Maybe even later than that.

    It all has to do with signability. Most of the college players will go in the first 3 rounds and the rest are all high upside high school kids.

  15. It obviously remains to be seen, but a lot of people think Rizzo was that guy. I agree though, it’s fun to see those kinds of guys come through your system.

  16. johnsilver 4 years ago

    Boston could always go back to drafting as they did in the 1970’s and get big bruisers like Otis Foster, Dave Koza, Jack “Buck” Baker, Rocky Alburtis, Kevin Burrell..Bruisers like those (and more) ho just stood at the plate and just took huge swings with raw power as the only talent and nothing else. Only Baker and Koza got a handful of AB’s at the big league level and they were awful there.

    Lets hope the Epstein ERA does not go back to drafting like the O’Connell/Sulliven one ever did.

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