Let’s begin with the obvious: No one can properly assess the full scope of the MLB draft within days of its conclusion. That’s true in every major professional sport but especially so in baseball, where maybe a handful of players will even make their big league debut in the next 24 months.

So this will not be a space wherein we throw out bulletin board-level hot takes. No one “failed” this year’s draft or even came close to it. Odds are, every team grabbed a few players who will ultimately be usable talents someday at the MLB level.

With so few experts viewing the top of this class as especially strong, it’s also highly unlikely we’re looking at someone having a Bryce Harper/Mike Trout debut in a few years. There may be a Dustin Pedroia somewhere—I say this not to denigrate Pedroia but because of the deluge of similarly skilled middle infielders atop this class—but good luck finding a 10-win guy.

All of this makes finding the diamonds in the rough more significant. The grades you’ll find below are not necessarily assessments of the mean skill level of drafted players but a more organic look at how teams did finding value where it was available. 


Draft Grades


Best of the Best

Houston Astros

No team made a better use of its early picks than the Astros, who somehow stumbled into three elite prospects. They weren’t able to adequately atone for the Brady Aiken fiasco by landing a young arm, but they hit on three bats that could make a quick rise up the minor leagues.

No. 2 pick Alex Bregman is one of the aforementioned Pedroia-like prospects, a collegiate shortstop who should hit for average and decent power—even if he doesn’t necessarily wind up at shortstop.

He projects more as a second baseman at the pro level because of concerns about his arm strength and range. But someone with his hitting skills is valuable at either middle infield spot, and he’s one of the more easily projectable players in this class.

Fifth pick Kyle Tucker has a bit longer to wait as a prep prospect, but he has one of the highest ceilings in this class. He can do a little bit of everything, hitting for power and average while boasting a solid enough arm for a corner outfield spot. Grabbing someone who reminds me a bit of Hunter Pence is far from a poor result in the top five.

The real steal of this class, however, was outfielder Daz Cameron. In most sports, we’d mock a team for selecting two players at a similar position, but that doesn’t really matter here. Value trumps everything in the MLB draft, and it’s hard to find a better value anywhere on the board than Cameron.

He was viewed as a top-15 talent almost everywhere—ESPN’s Keith Law had him No. 13—and wound up falling all the way to No. 37.

Not bad for an organization already ascending with its young talent.


Colorado Rockies

If you’re picking No. 3 and wind up with the consensus top player on the board, you did something right. If you’re picking at No. 3 and wind up with the consensus top player on the board after the two other teams selected players at the same position, I’m checking your offices for lucky horseshoes.

Brendan Rodgers being available at No. 3 is insane, even if it’s somewhat expected. Rodgers is the only shortstop of the three who seems like a lock to stay at his position. He has the lateral quickness and arm strength to be an above-average shortstop, and he possesses a strong bat that will at least hit for average someday.

He’ll draw incessant Troy Tulowitzki comparisons coming up from the minors, especially after the rebuilding Rockies pull the trigger on moving their star shortstop. But that’s not fair. Rodgers projects as a good player, not the foundational piece Tulo can be when healthy.

Colorado continued its strong early rounds at No. 27 by adding Mike Nikorak, a prep righty whom Law had No. 12 on his board. Nikorak will take time to develop, but he has top-of-the-rotation arm strength and a curveball that should develop into an out pitch.

Grabbing third baseman Tyler Nevin and righty Peter Lambert in the second round will also help fill out the farm system with highly regarded talents.


Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have been the best drafting team in baseball since Theo Epstein’s arrival, a trend that continued this year. While the system is already chock-full of talented young hitters, Epstein continued to double down by adding Cincinnati utility man Ian Happ with the ninth pick.

Happ can do a little bit of everything in the field, but he’ll most likely settle at second base or a corner outfield slot.

Chicago likely targeted Happ because of his hitting ability, as he put up a .369/.495/.682 line despite being hampered by injuries all season. Happ won’t ever hit for elite power, but he’ll be a solid average guy who can fill a number of roles.

The second round saw Epstein continue adding bats with North Florida product Donnie Dewees. The speedy outfielder will hit for average and has a ton of speed, with Brett Gardner comparisons being bandied about in the predraft process. The Cubs need a top-of-the-order player to go with their big bats in the middle of the lineup, so the process here is strong.

Their other pick of note was UCLA closer David Berg, who fell all the way to the sixth round. Berg’s sidewinder approach has flummoxed hitters his entire career in Los Angeles, and he made an 11-round leap from last year. Berg might be headed to the bigs sooner than either Happ or Dewees

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