BA listed its best tools for each team, and some of the categories merely confirm draft-day hunches. You might expect Zack Collins to top the hitting categories (pure hitter, power) and Zack Burdi has the best fastball and best slider, and both are considered to be the closest to the majors. It’s certainly no surprise that second-rounder Alec Hansen had the best pro debut of the bunch.
Yet it’s a fun exercise since it’s targeted enough to allow less-heralded prospects to get a bit of the spotlight. For instance:
- Fastest runner: Joel Booker (22nd round). His “70 speed” allowed him to steal 41 bases in 44 attempts between the Arizona Rookie League and Great Falls.
- Best fastball: While Burdi and Hansen ranked, Bernardo Flores (6th) also received a nod for “excellent lefthanded velocity with the ability to reach 97.”
- Best defensive player: Mitch Roman (12th) has “excellent defensive tools at shortstop,” although Collins got a surprising mention for his receiving.
- Best secondary pitch: Burdi’s slider ranked first, but Ian Hamilton (11th) and Michael Horejsei (21st) also got credit for their breaking pitches.
- Best athlete: Aaron Schnurbusch (28th) “is a physical specimen, standing at a listed 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds.” He and Booker were also considered the best late-round picks. The Pitt product hit .357/.471/.542 at Great Falls.
Regarding the international draft, Major League Baseball canceled its Dominican showcase, although not after “efforts to persuade prospects to attend and bring in players not on the original roster as replacements,” which hasn’t been the most fruitful of ideas in the past for the league.
BA’s Ben Badler reported that the trainers in Latin America drove the boycott, which draws varying levels of sympathy. For instance, Badler has said that some international scouts side with the trainers in their displeasure with the way MLB is trying to implement the new system. Above all else, it’s a way for teams to pay players less — which is great for the White Sox in particular — and the people who have made the current pipeline work for decades don’t have a place at the table.
There’s a reason why the word “buscones” has a negative connotation, though, and this old ESPN article details some of the crooked behavior associated with the title. That history is probably why Keith Law wasn’t inspired to give the utmost legitimacy to the protest:
An international draft will hurt the agents in Latin America more than it will hurt the players, which explains the "boycott."— keithlaw (@keithlaw) October 26, 2016
But judging from his latest chat, Law isn’t inclined to put a whole lot of faith in the league, either — hence the uncertainty with what actually resembles progress in this area.
Sean: What are your thoughts on the international draft? I get that the current signing situation is terrible, but will this fix anything or just exacerbate the problem?
Klaw: A draft will fix the problems in the current situation. The current situation was created by MLB, though, so I suppose the conspiracy theorist would say MLB made up this godawful system so that four years later they could say, “See! What a shitshow! Let’s put in a draft instead.” And it worked!