Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pedro #1?

With the Commodores recently getting knocked out of the SEC tournament, unlikely to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament, and me having nothing else to do, I thought now might be a good time to take a look at Pedro Alvarez's draft status. Before the season he was considered by most to be the likely top pick in the 2008 draft. However an injury-plagued junior season combined with the hiring of Scott Boras as his "adviser" have put his status as number one in jeopardy.

There are two questions to be answered here: is Pedro the best talent in the draft and should the Rays take him first overall? In baseball more than any other sport the best available player mentality should win out almost every time, especially with the first pick, but there can be circumstances where that isn't the case.

Firstly though, is Pedro the best player in this years draft? Probably not.

Yes, Pedro can mash. His ability to hit has never been in question, his two full healthy years of college baseball show that. Last years .385/.463/.684 to go along with 18 hrs and 68 RBIs was a complete domination of the competition. However, his strikeouts are a concern.

Through his sophomore year he struck out more than once a game, and although that has changed this year, he has only played half the season. A pro who strikes out 160 times a year is going to really struggle to hit .300. As somebody expected to hit third or fourth this puts tremendous pressure on his ability to take walks. Pedro has had good walk totals so far, but it is hard to know how much of those are intentional or ab's where he was pitched around. In what is basically just an educated guess, I think Pedro will peak at around.280/.380/.500 for his prime 26-30 years.

Which brings me to his defense. Those numbers are great for a 3rd baseman. That .880 ops would have ranked 5th in baseball last year at 3b. However, Pedro is not a 3rd baseman. Although fielding percentage is a little simplistic in trying to identify what a good fielder looks like, it can easily point out a crappy fielder. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, he posted fielding percentages of .910 and .917, this year he is down to .905. To put those in perspective only twice in the last five years has a 3rd baseman had a % under .917. Last year three guys were under .950, two have been moved off 3rd base (Ryan Braun, who at .895 was historically awful, and Miguel Cabrera) and one should be (Kevin Kouzmanoff). So we must look at Pedro for what he is, a 1st baseman.

Being a 1st baseman instead of a 3rd baseman really hurts Pedro. Since 1980 only one player was drafted first overall that was a full time 1st baseman before he turned 30, Adrian Gonzalez in 2000 by the Marlins in what was both a signability pick and an awful draft. That .880 ops knocks him down to barely being top 10 in his position at 1b. Also moving across the diamond would lump him in with other outstanding prospects Justin Smoak, Yonder Alonso, and my personal favorite, Eric Hosmer.

So now that it is at least debatable whether or not Pedro is the top talent in the draft, we come to the real reasons he has no chance at being drafted #1. Firstly is Boras. Early rumors are that Pedro is demanding $8-$10 million and with Boras as his agent, he'll get it from somebody. As a player who has not distinguished himself from other top players it makes no sense to pay 2-3 times as much as the other guys would potentially cost. Secondly is that the Rays have little use for him. Carlos Pena had an absolutely huge 2007 which Tampa responded to by locking him up long term. This could be said for almost anybody they would be likely to pick however, because Tampa is pretty much loaded everywhere right now which puts even more of an emphasis on signability.

So what would I do if I were the Rays this year? It sounds like they are down to FSU catcher Buster Posey and Georgia HS SS Tim Beckham. This has been proven as a mistake, but I'd go with whatever guy would sign for the least and use that money in later rounds to pick players that have dropped for whatever reason and give them above slot deals. With no player separating himself from the pack the potential is there to get multiple impact players for the cost of one.

As for Pedro, I don't see him slipping past the Orioles at #4, with the Pirates at #2 also a very likely landing spot. Both of these teams are willing to pay the extra money that the pr boost of taking what the public perceives as the best player will bring.

*Image from

** Also ESPN Insiders should check out Keith Law's latest blog entry, lots of good info on potential Vandy guys. A quick summary is that we should get almost all of our recruits to campus, including rhp's Sonny Gray and Navery Moore as well as catcher/of Matt Marquis. The news isn't as good on likely first round SS Anthony Hewitt and Rhode Island OF Ryan Westmoreland, who has apparently been targeted by the Red Sox despite high bonus demands.

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