“I love picking down later,” he said, “because it means we’re doing well down here. There are guys who slip through the cracks.”
A sampling of past number-22 picks shows he’s right. The list includes Rafael Palmeiro (1985), Craig Biggio (1987), Jayson Werth (1997), current Twins closer Glen Perkins (2004) and emerging Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (2011). From 1980 to 2005 only one player drafted 22nd overall did not at least reach the major leagues, and even poor Charles Peterson (1993) had a career .290/.347/.431 slash line in 14 minor-league seasons.
I wrote yesterday about what makes this draft different. It’s the same thing, arguably more than any other, that’s made the entire MLB season different: Tommy John is again the most famous name in pitching. On Tuesday, Chris Withrow became the 21st major-league pitcher to have the ligament-replacement procedure since spring training began (technically he was brought up from the minors prior to the procedure).
The rash of younger pitchers needing the procedure — which carries a high rate of success but also a 12 to 18 month recovery period — could affect who falls to number 22.
“I would only be speculating,” White said, “but I imagine that people are going to go in the other direction, they’re going to be afraid to take a pitcher.”
If you’re waiting for the part where I predict who the Dodgers will draft, you’re out of luck. The perceived Tommy John risk among some of the top pitchers makes it unusually difficult.
“This year’s going to be real interesting more than any year I’ve done this because of the injury factors,” White said. “There’s a number of college pitchers who would’ve definitely gone in the first 20 picks who may or may not go, but they’ve had to have TJ surgery. That’s going to be an interesting dynamic to watch. Premium position players, premium bat, are going to go good. People are going to want to do that.”
As a result, White predicts a mix of position players and pitchers from high school and college will be off the board by the time the Dodgers make their pick. Maybe some “low-risk” picks, too.
“I think you’re going to get some high-ceiling high school guys may go, you’re going to get some college pitchers that are still going to go pretty good,” White said. “It’s going to be pretty diversified through the first 15 picks.”
The Houston Astros are picking first for the third straight season. There isn’t a consensus number-one pick. Possibilities include North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon, San Diego high school pitcher Brady Aiken and a handful of other prep stars including catcher Alex Jackson, pitcher Tyler Kolek and shortstop Nick Gordon — Dee’s brother.
The draft begins at 4 p.m. The Dodgers are expected to make their first-round pick sometime between 6 and 6:30.