Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft, also known as the Rule 4 Draft, will be held from June 5th through June 7th at MLB Network’s ‘Studio 42’ in Secaucus, New Jersey. The draft includes 40 rounds of selections from high school and college players by the 30 MLB teams and is by far the most comprehensive draft in all of professional sports.
The draft this year is considered to be particularly rich in pitching, especially right-handed pitching at both the high school and college levels, and considerably less rich in position players. Most mock drafts and prospect lists have the first few slots occupied by pitchers. The three most prominent names on the lists are pitchers Carlos Rondon, Tyler Kokek and Brady Aiken. Rondon had been projected as the first overall selection for several months but now appears to have fallen back perhaps to number three. Jeff Hoffman had also been part of this group until recently when he had Tommy John surgery as did another top ten pitcher Erick Fedde.
The Houston Astros have the number one pick for the third consecutive year. The Blue Jays, Royals, Reds, Indians, Red Sox and Cardinals all have two picks in the first round or compensation round which follows the first round. The Rockies, Marlins, Astros, Indians, Royals and Brewers have a competitive balance selection also before the second round selections. The competitive balance selections represent MLB’s lottery for the teams in the 10 smallest markets and teams with the 10 lowest revenues who were eligible to be entered into the lottery.
The Dodgers draft selection in the first round is 22 and since they have no compensation or competitive balance selections their next selection is 63 in the second round. The Dodgers have had a drafting strategy in the past that has focused on pitching and quite often on bloodlines. Perhaps Kacy Clemens will become a Dodger this year. He was drafted by the Astros in 2013 but returned to Texas to play with the Longhorns in 2014.
I expect Logan White, Vice President of Amateur Scouting for the Dodgers, will follow the route taken in drafting Corey Seager in 2012.
“Everybody speculates that we’ll always take pitching, but I’ve always said we’ll take the best available player, and to me he was the best available player at that pick,” White said.
The best player available this year may well be a pitcher in the first round. I’m expecting the Dodgers to draft a high school pitcher who has no signability issues. Jacob Bukauskas, a right-handed pitcher from Virginia High School, has been suggested as a number one pick for Logan White and his team, but Bukauskas has asked teams not to draft him as he plans to continue his studies in 2014.
Others that have been suggested as first round selections for the Dodgers include Luis Ortiz – a right-handed pitcher from California High School; Sean Reid-Foley – also a right-handed pitcher from Florida High School; and Spencer Adam – a Georgia High School right-hander. Keith Law projects outfielder Derek Hill from Elk Grove High School in northern California to the Dodgers in the first round.
What would a draft be without a personal preference, a take-a-chance kind of guy? As time has passed by, this young man has moved up the charts so he may no longer be a take-a-chance player and might still be available for the 22nd selection. Touki Toussaint, presently a student at Coral Springs Christian High School, is a bit of a risk but potentially is a very high reward candidate. He is a 6’2″/195 lb. right-handed pitcher who is lean and athletic, a quality that Dodger scouts look for. He will turn 18 in June.
Toussaint is a Dodger story waiting to happen. He is from Haiti and was a soccer player growing up. He has been playing baseball for about five years now and adapted very quickly to it both as a pitcher and a hitter at the high school level. His fastball sits at 92-95 MPH but can touch 97. His curveball is perhaps his best weapon and he has a change up that is effective but rarely used as it is not needed. His stuff is described as “electric”.
So why is he a bit of a risk? He is also described as “raw” with a delivery that needs refinement and he has struggled at times with command. However, both of those issues are correctable and the Dodgers love power arms.
I will be watching carefully to see where he gets drafted with my fingers crossed that it is at 22 in the first round.