Draft Analysis

Inaugural Draft: Part III of a Series

Ruth West – Picks 1 through 8

Out West, the Ruth Conference has its toughest division with all four teams ready to make an immediate run in the standings. In Hollywood and Phoenix we possibly have the top two offenses in all of baseball, while further north both Seattle and Irvine have taken a balanced approach, putting together solid all-around teams with players just entering their prime years. According to our spreadsheets, Hollywood is on pace to win the most games, but Irvine and Phoenix are right behind the Stars. Given how tough it will be for the Stars to put together a decent rotation at this stage of the draft, we aren’t prepared to give them the division and will withhold our formal prediction until later in the draft.

Phoenix Firebirds: Grade = A The Firebirds were both bold and lucky to pick up Bonds and McGwire as far down as they fell; they are now the most potent hitting combination in all of baseball, with McGwire this publication’s pick to lead all Ruthers in walks, home-runs, and RBIs, while Bonds will compete with his in-division rivals Edgar Martinez and Matt Williams for MVP. The Firebirds made the wise choice to pick up Navarro in the 6th round, a good quality SP who flew a bit under the radar in the draft. Lockhart, whether played at 2B or 3B, was a steal in the 8th round for a contending team. White, Veras, and Offerman were all slight over-drafts, but – given their relative youth – made sense for a team that otherwise targeted players in their prime.

LF Bonds – A
1B McGwire – A+
CF White – B-
SS Offerman – B+
RF Justice – A-
SP J Navarro – A
2B Veras – B
3B Lockhart – A

Seattle Steelheads: Grade = A- The Steelheads made a number of high value picks of players just entering their prime, which should carry the team for years to come. While the division competition will be fierce in 1995, and we predict Seattle will end up on the outside looking in this year, their future as an organization is bright. Reggie Sanders and Mike Piazza anchor the team, while three smart starting pitcher picks in Nagy, the knuckleballer Wakefield, and the greatly named VanLandingham make for a core rotation that should exceed most analysts’ performance expectations, even if we think the ace is probably not the one most would expect. While our spreadsheets would not have put Jaha or Kent as the best players available at their positions in those rounds, both are quality picks with upside potential.

C Piazza – A
RF Sanders – A+
SP Nagy – B
SP Wakefield – A
2B Kent – B+
SS Dunston – B+
SP VanLandingham – A-
1B Jaha – B

Irvine Aces: Grade = B+ The Aces made excellent choices in rounds 4 through 8 and have emerged as the most well-balanced win-now club in their division; depending on how well they fill their next half dozen picks may determine whether or not we decide to tap them for the predicted division crown instead of the Stars (and up their overall grade). However, there were other starting pitchers and impact hitters on the board we would have grabbed before their first four picks. As the only club to select four big-league ready starting pitchers in the first eight rounds, the Aces may have the depth to hold off the offensive juggernauts out west this season. Ultimately, however, where Matt Williams goes, Irvine will follow; he will be cornerstone of their offense – and we are somewhat worried about some analysts’ predictions of an early decline.

SP Neagle – B+
3B M. Williams – B
SP Saberhagen – B-
1B R. Palmeiro – B-
SP C. Perez – A-
LF L. Gonzalez – A-
SP Harnisch – A-
CF Finley – A

Hollywood Stars: Grade = B In an unusual twist, we are giving Hollywood both a slight (informal) edge on odds to win the division in 1995, and our lowest grade in their division. Their offense is shaping up to be excellent, and Edgar Martinez is our pick to win MVP in 1995; if he holds up long enough with age he may be the most valuable player picked in the draft (a big if). Given the paucity of talent at shortstop, the Stars were brilliant and/or lucky to get Larkin the second round, while Bonilla, Haney, and Bichette all provide excellent offensive value. Where the picks get a little more murky is with Sid Fernandez, who is already well into a decline phase and probably wouldn’t crack a lot of teams’ rotations, and 36-year old Ricky Henderson, who – because of the log-jam at 3B and LF caused by the pick of Bonilla – doesn’t have a natural position on the team, and will probably start most games at DH. Unless the Stars put together a league average rotation over the next few picks, we’re not sure that we’ll be able to stick with them as our division favorites.

3B E. Martinez – A+
SS Larkin – A+
LF/3B Bonilla – B+
2B Haney – A
SP S. Fernandez – D
RF Bichette – A
LF/DH – R. Henderson D-
CF L. Johnson – A-

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