MLB Draft grades 2017: Handing out first-day 'draft fortune' grades for every team

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MLB Draft 2017: Handing out first-day 'draft fortune' grades for every team

MLB Draft 2017: Handing out first-day 'draft fortune' grades for every team

Draft grades are a bit ridiculous, right?

They’re kinda ridiculous in the NFL and NBA, and in those sports the draft picks will contribute immediately so there’s at least the opportunity to justify grades by guessing how the picks will fit into the new team’s current structure. But they’re especially ridiculous in baseball, when all but a handful of players are at least two years away from making their big-league debuts.

How can anyone possibly pass judgment on how a team performed when it picked a high school player who won’t fit into his new franchise’s big-league mix until years down the road?

MLB DRAFT: Complete results from Rounds 1 and 2

On the other hand, readers love draft grades. Writers churn out draft grades like there’s no tomorrow. It’s not good enough just to watch a draft happen, we have to figure out immediately which teams came out on top. We have to know right damn now.

So … we’re going to attempt to give you some version of draft grades after the first day of the MLB Draft. Instead of evaluating individual picks, we’re going to look at how the draft played out for teams and lump them into groups. And we’ll assigns “grades” to the groups, because it just wouldn’t seem right to slap another name on the group.

2017 MLB Draft grades

Draft fortune grade: A

The Braves were widely reported to covet Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright heading into the draft, but there seemed to be very little chance that Wright would still be around when the Braves’ pick rolled around. See, Wright was projected to go No. 1 overall to the Twins in most mocks in the days leading up to the draft. But when Minnesota went with prep shortstop Royce Young, that cracked open the door, and when Cincinnati and San Diego picked prep stars at No. 2 and 3, too, that meant the Braves were going to have an opportunity to draft either Wright or Louisville’s Brendan McKay, another guy who was a serious candidate to go No. 1. The Rays went with McKay, which has to thrill Tampa Bay fans, and the Braves snagged Wright. Couldn’t have played out much better for either of those clubs.

The Astros should have a happy fan base, too. Houston wound up with J.B. Bukauskas, the polished right-hander from North Carolina who was expected to be a top-10 pick, possibly as high as No. 6 to the A’s. But Bukauskas’ final start for the Tar Heels was a bit of a disaster, as he failed to make it through four innings against Davidson in the NCAA Tournament. He still had one hell of a season for UNC, and he still has all the tools that had scouts drooling since he arrived in Chapel Hill. It’s hard to see that hiccup against Davidson as anything other than a great break for the Astros. The draft evaluation folks at said Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall has the best combination of tools of any college position player, and he was ranked as the No. 6 draft prospect. So, yes, the Dodgers have to be thrilled he was still around for them to pick at No. 23.

Time will tell whether the Nationals’ risk — taking a lefty who has had all sorts of discipline issues, including some that got him suspended, then kicked off his college team this spring — was worth it. But when you consider that Romero is probably closer to the bigs than any other player in this draft, and his skill set — he’s a hard-throwing lefty with strikeout stuff — matches exactly what the Nationals need at the big-league level (the bullpen is kind of a mess, a fact that was obvious again in a loss Monday night), the club is fortunate he was there at No. 25.

One more, then we’ll move to the next letter grade. Mariners director of scouting Scott Hunter said this after Day 1: “I don’t think as an organization we could have done better than we did today.” He’s not wrong. The Mariners’ aren’t here just because of their first-round pick, Kentucky first baseman Evan White, though he was great value at No. 17. No, Seattle’s here largely because of its second-round pick, Sam Carlson. See, Carlson was expected to be a first-round pick — both Baseball America and rated the prep right-hander from Minnesota as the No. 15 overall prospect in the draft — but there he was when the Mariners picked at No. 55. Sure, maybe he dropped for a reason and maybe Carlson won’t have a great career. But the Mariners have to feel pretty fortunate that a prospect who works in the mid-90s and was considered a top 15 prospect was around at No. 55. So they get an A in this evaluation exercise.

Draft fortune grade: B

First of all, forget about this A-minus or B-plus stuff. Just full letter grades here.

And, to end the suspense quickly, every team that didn’t get an A gets a B. The Twins, Reds and Padres were always going to have only great choices with the top three picks. The A’s had scouted the state of North Carolina heavily this spring, and they chose Austin Beck, a prep outfielder from Lexington, N.C. At 8 and 9, the Diamondbacks and Phillies were fortunate enough to be able to choose polished hitters from the University of Virginia. The Brewers were criticized a bit for taking a hitter without a position but with injury concerns (Keston Hiura), but it’s not like he has a hole in both of his knees. His injuries will heal at some point, and the Brewers are happy.

We considered giving the Orioles an A, because their pick; prep pitcher D.L. Hall has nasty stuff, and most mocks had him going seven or eight picks higher than No. 21, where Baltimore selected the lefty from Georgia. The first round was full of college pitchers, and nobody knew exactly what order they’d be drafted in; after Wright and Bukauskas went off the board, the Yankees (Clarke Schmidt at No. 16), Tigers (Alex Faedo at 18), Mets (David Peterson at 20), Red Sox (Tanner Houck at 24) and Cubs (Alex Lange at 30, after taking juco lefty Brendon Little at 27) all snagged college arms. Will Faedo really have a career that’s six picks better than Houck or 12 picks better than Lange? That’s impossible to know, of course.

MORE: 5 picks we'll see in the majors quickly

If you were a team that wanted the upside of a prep position player in the first round, this was a pretty good draft, too. The Angels had to be thrilled to get Jordon Adell at No. 10 (rumors were the Brewers had their eye on him at No. 9), and Angels fans will love this guy, as a person and a player. The Royals got former Little League World Series hero Nick Pratto out of a California high school at No. 14, the Giants snagged Heliot Ramos from Puerto Rico at No. 19, the Rangers picked up outfielder Bubba Thompson at No. 26 and shortstop Chris Seise at No. 29 — seriously, does any team love high-upside prepsters more than Texas?

Speaking of prep stars, the Pirates (RHP Shane Baz) and Marlins (LHP Trevor Rogers) are pretty pleased with their high-upside choices available when they picked, at 12 and 13, respectively. The Blue Jays had two picks, and they picked a smooth college middle infielder with a good bat at No. 22 (UNC’s Logan Warmouth) and a juco right-hander who hits triple-digits with his fastball at No. 28 (Nate Pearson). That worked out well. The White Sox went the college route, too, grabbing a masher from Missouri State (no, not Ryan Howard) at No. 11, Jake Burger.