By: Chris Larson
The first part of the MLB Amateur Draft will take place next Monday and it's hard to believe that it's already here. Every year, the Amateur Draft is a time for all 30 MLB teams to take a step back, analyze where they are organizationally, and then figure out a game plan from there. For some teams, they will draft the next best prospect on the board, while for other teams it all depends on organizational needs and trying to fill an area that lacks depth.
However, although the overall approach to the draft differs from one team to the next, one similarity is there for all 30 teams and that is the amount of preparation and background work that goes into making sure the team is ready to draft come Monday. As a result, teams spend practically all year scouting prospects that they might be interested in, there are a ton of organizational meetings that take place along the way, and some teams might even meet with a prospect they're interested in especially if the prospect is one of the first picks in the draft and the team has a significant slot value riding on that pick.
Although the draft has a different impact on every team, its vital that every team hits as much as possible on their chosen prospect and attempts to find that next player that can quickly ascend through the minor leagues and join the big league club. With that being said though, sometimes the draft ends up being more crucial for some teams more so than others and that is especially true this year for three teams in particular.
For starters, let's focus on the first team that we're focusing on when talking about the importance of the draft - the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles will head into this year's draft with the first overall pick and have a lot of pressure riding on their shoulders to make it a good one. As you have probably seen by now, this years Orioles team flat out stinks and the team is in an obvious state of rebuild. In fact, some believe that it could be another 5-6 years before Baltimore find's its way back to contention which means they have a log, dark road ahead of them, as they try to build the next great, Orioles team and figure out their future identity along the way.
An argument can be made that this pick is especially important for the Baltimore Orioles because it could be the prospect that ends up turning into a franchise icon down the road and ultimately is the backbone of that next great core that the Orioles are trying to identify. When thinking about this, think about the effect of Jose Altuve on the Houston Astros, Mike Trout on the Los Angeles Angels, and Cody Bellinger on the Los Angeles Dodgers. That's the magnitude that the Orioles are shooting for with this first pick and the reason why there is so much pressure, coming from their fan base, to make sure that the organization hits on whoever they select.
According to many, the Baltimore Orioles look slatted to select Oregon State catcher, Adley Rutschman. Rutschman has drawn comps to potentially being the next, best catcher in the entire sport of baseball and some have even said that he could resemble something like when the Baltimore Orioles selected, Matt Wieters out of the Georgia Institute of Technology, during the first round of the 2007 Amateur Draft. If Rutschman can be anything like Wieters or even exceed what Wieters did, then the Orioles will have made a good selection and should be well on their way towards building the next Orioles squad.
Moving onto the second team with the most pressure this coming draft - the Miami Marlins. The Marlins will head into this year's draft with the fourth overall selection and it's especially important because the team has certainly not generated a lot of positive praise over the past year to year-and-a-half among the industry or their own fan base for that matter. Every week, it seems like something new is coming out ripping the organization about something or some type of controversy going on behind-the-scenes out of public view.
As mentioned above, the Miami Marlins have failed to get a significant return on many of the trades that they have made. In fact, there have been articles published over the past month talking about "What if..." and going into the idea of what if the Marlins still had Luis Castillo and Chris Paddack anchoring down their starting rotation, Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna holding down the offense, and even J.T. Realmuto behind the plate? Granted, every team goes through a rebuild at some point and the Marlins were the ones that ultimately elected to do it when they did, but it does make you wonder and often ponder if the organization did well in their returns for each of those players.
Therefore, this coming draft is crucial because the Miami Marlins need to prove to their fanbase, as well as the rest of baseball, that they are starting to head in the right direction and know clearly what they want their team to look like in 4-5 years. There's no denying that right now the team is short of a core of players to build around, an identity about who they want to be down the road, and an uneasiness about what the next move could be on the team. If the Marlins end up hitting a home run with their pick next Monday, it will catapult them into the next phase of their rebuild and prove that the future could end up ultimately being brighter, than it currently appears to be.
Lastly, the third team with the most pressure this coming draft is the San Francisco Giants. Going into this draft, the Giants hold onto the 10th overall pick and will certainly have a wide range of talented names left to chose from when their time rolls around to draft. The reason why this coming draft is so important for the Giants is because they need an organizational boost and need to start focusing on what the future championship team is going to look like in the 415.
Prior to the start of this season, the San Francisco Giants ownership group elected to make wide scale changes in their front office and basically adopt a new "analytical approach" to the way they viewed their team and the philosophies they use to build up the depth throughout the organization. As a result, the team named former Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager, Farhan Zaidi, as it's new General Manager and pioneer who would ultimately lead the organization into that next transitional phase of it's existence. Thus far, Zaidi has done a phenomenal job of trying to work with what he was given, which included a team with several big money contracts and a very barren farm system that, left little to be desired.
Looking ahead to Monday, the Amateur Draft is going to be pivotal for San Francisco because it's going to define the first pick of Farhan Zaidi's tenure in San Francisco and will signal exactly where the organization believes it is at overall. Many believe that the team will slowly start rebuilding little-by-little, trying to find a way to overcome the obstacle of attempting to move players with substantial money behind their name, and will try to make little moves along the way to build up depth in the various levels of the minor leagues. That is why it will be fascinating to see who the Giants select and a pressure situation for the Giants front office to ensure that the pick is a good one and someone that can slide into the next core of San Francisco Giants which is bound to include the likes of catcher Joey Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos, and pitcher Logan Webb.
In the end, the Amateur Draft next Monday is going to be a pivotal time for all 30 teams across Major League Baseball, but especially for the three teams mentioned above. If each of those teams hits on their pick, they will have hit a home run and propelled their organization into the next phase of their rebuild. If not, then they will have a dub on their hands and set back their organization further. Regardless, for all three, the time to focus on the future is now and that all begins with what they do this coming Monday.