After looking at a few comments on the message board, I figured it might be a good time to hit the reset button and think about these selections in a somewhat constructive manner. At least, constructive within my own mind. Perhaps the way I think about these amateurs could help spur some conversation.
(Discuss this at the BSL Board here.)
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS (Catawba, NC)
The first thing people mention about Hunter is his father, Bryan Harvey. The second thing they mention is Hunter’s oft-stated preference to never have to open a college textbook. The third thing they mention is that Hunter is a solid pitching prospect. His pitches have been largely inconsistent, which is not surprising for a high school pitcher. However, they tend to grade out well with him projected to have a fringe plus fastball, a plus curve, and an average change. Hunter also has some room left on his frame to add another 20-30 lbs, which could help add another couple miles per hour and that could greatly improve his fastball and change. His ceiling is a mid-rotation arm, but he has shown plus plus velocity in short stints that may play up as a reliever. This could give the team options if he struggles as a starter.
Why do I like the pick?
Although he went earlier to the Dodgers, I had some concern about the team picking up a “safe” college starting pitcher like Chris Anderson. That profile is of a guy who would sit at the back end of a rotation and chew up innings. Anderson is not a sure thing to be that, but it basically is his ceiling and a likely one to hit (as prospects go). My preference when we are talking about hit draft picks is that you need to select for stardom. As we look around in free agency, we see innings chewers available on the market. Guys like Joe Saunders or Jeremy Guthrie are there every year. They can be acquired and be somewhat overpaid. Star players rarely hit the market anymore. To acquire a star, you typically have to pay a king’s ransom in prospects and then give the player a contract close to what the free market would suggest. The scarcity of those star players means, to me, that you have to go gonzo.
Harvey qualifies as a gonzo selection. If he can use his frame to add weight and, therefore, some velocity to his fastball then he may wind up becoming an upper mid-rotation arm. If that fails, his fastball and curve should play well as a late inning arm. So what we have is a solid upside with a rather safe floor. This does not mean you can write him a ticket for the big leagues, but that the risk is diversified and he stands to be a name we will be getting used to in Baltimore in some fashion.
Why would I have selected someone else?
There are two players I would have chosen instead of Harvey depending on the perspective. If we choose to look at this from a pitching perspective, I would have taken Rob Kaminsky (LHP, St. Joseph HS, Montvale NJ). There are two big strikes against him: velocity around 90 mph and has no room in his frame for growth. The two big things in his favor are that he is a lefty and he has the best curveball in the draft. Additionally, he probably uses his curveball better than anyone else in the draft and it works well against both sides of the plate. As a polished lefty with a big curve, he would likely move quickly through the minors. However, it is difficult for me to look at the pluses and minuses with the conclusion that Kaminsky is significantly better of a selection than Harvey.
My inclination would have been to lean towards a college bat. I like Phillip Ervin (OF, Samford). Another little guy at 5’10 and 200 lbs, but he flat out performs well. He is not quite the wonder that I thought Jackie Bradley Jr. was a few years back, but I look at him similarly. In terms of overall value, I thought Bradley was worthy of the 5th pick in the draft. I think Ervin was worth the 10th. His plate coverage, solid eye, and good power places him somewhere in center or right field with a high floor. I think his ceiling is that of a 3-4 WAR player out there.
Josh Hart, OF, Parkview HS (Lilburn, GA)
Hart is, more or less, the high school version of the Ervin selection. He is a little further away from being fully baked, so you can forgive some of his flaws that may turn him into more of a tweener like Ervin. You can basically cut and paste my thoughts on Ervin here with the caveat that there may be some unlocked potential with Hart.
Why do I like the selection?
Hart plays into the potential all star model that I think you need to have at the top of the draft. You need to find these potentially very good players here. Hart should be able to play center well or a corner slot very well. His bat can develop into something that works well for left or center and you can envision him becoming a somewhat traditional lead off hitter.
Why would I have chosen someone else?
The way I saw the draft unfolding was that by this point it would be thick with arms. I think that play out to be the case. It was one of the reasons why I leaned heavily on a college bat with that first pick. When we arrived at this one, we had several arms that I thought were equivalent of Harvey’s, such as Devin Williams (RHP, Hazelwood West HS MO), Bobby Wahl (RHP, Ole Miss), and Hunter Green (LHP, Warren East HS, KY). I think Josh Hart probably had the best available profile of the remaining outfielders, but that he pales in comparison to Ervin while those pitchers all look just as promising to me.
Chance Sisco, C, Santiago HS (Corona, CA)
What do I know about Sisco? Not much. I have difficulty projecting high school catchers. Receiving skills do not seem exactly intuitive for me from an analytical standpoint. That said, I am told he is athletic, but raw behind the plate with a bat that could wind up being above average. He is considered to be a very slow climber up the ladder due to the development he will need from both his glove and bat.
Why do I like the pick?
The organization simply lacks catchers the profile as major league starters. It makes sense that some planning needs to be made to beef up that position within the franchise because Wieters is unlikely to be the team’s catcher six years from now. Guys like Sisco, but maybe not Sisco, need to be drafted and signed to provide greater depth. I have no issues with the selection. Some people may point to him being in the 100s according to Baseball America’s rankings, but that is not exactly a great way to use that tool. There is a great deal of variability on that table to the point that it is common for many mid-100 players to be ranked above guys in the 50s for several teams. In other words, if you dislike this pick then focus on the player and not on some list.
Why would I have chosen someone else?
At this point in the draft, I have selected Ervin and an upside pitcher. I think my strategy was better tailored for the strengths of this draft, but the difference between the two strategies is not that great. I only think that Ervin is a far better prospect than Hart. At this point, my focus would remain on pitchers with Jake Brentz (LHP, Parkway South HS, Manchester MO), Bobby Wahl (RHP, Ole Miss), and A.J. Puk (LHP, Washington HS, Cedar Rapids, IA) available. Of course, I find it surprising that a couple of these guys are available. I have Brentz and Wahl pretty high on my board, so I am wondering if there are bonus requests that I am unaware of. Brentz might be set on college and Wahl might be convinced a healthy junior year will reward him with a couple million more. That said, a signable high upside arm here is what I would focus on instead of generating positional depth where there are weaknesses in the organization. In other words, I think there are Siscos available later on.
The Orioles have set themselves up with three high schoolers who should be easy signings. None appear to be reaches, although that may be the case with Sisco. If Sisco is a pre-draft deal kind of guy, then the team may be looking for talent that drifts today. Although, saving money at a second round slot does not really give you a lot of extra cash to spend later. For today, I would look at Wahl, of course, but also power bats like Rowdy Tellez (1B, Elk Grove HS, Elk Grove, CA), Trey Michalczewski (3B, Jenks HS, Jenks OK), and Conrad Gregor (1B, Vanderbilt). My focus at this point would have been to look at middle infielders and catchers today along with a potential bat like Gregor.
Anyway, on with the festivities of day 2.
Jon Shepherd founded the Baltimore Orioles blog Camden Depot in 2007. In addition to Baltimore Orioles analysis, the blog also focuses on qualitative and quantitative approaches to assessing baseball in general as well as providing mainstream reviews and commentary on substances alleged to performance enhancing. Dr. Shepherd’s writing has been featured on ESPN, and his blog has been part of the ESPN Sweetspot Network since May 2011. He has made radio and podcast appearances for Orioles’ centered programs.