There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo at MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye to eye. They'll be discussing their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.
Deciding what team had the best Draft class less than a year after it took place might sound like a fool's errand, but since when did that stop the MLBPipeline.com crew?
That's the issue at hand for Jim Callis and me in this week's Pipeline Perspectives, trying to decide now, before a single player from the Class of 2013 has reached the big leagues, which team had the best overall Draft haul.
Jim saved me from being accused of being a homer by taking the Pirates. With the caveat that you can't properly judge a Draft until at least five years later, I'm going with the Minnesota Twins.
The easy route would be to go with a team that had multiple first-round picks. Picking twice in the top 15 is a sure-fire way for a team to work its way onto a short list for "best Draft." I let Jim go down that path.
The Twins didn't have any extra picks. They had one pick per round, 10 total, through the first 10 rounds. They had $8.264 million and change in their Draft pool for those picks. The Astros, Cubs and Rockies all had larger pools because they picked ahead of Minnesota in the first round. The Marlins were about $1.3 million ahead because of extra picks. The aforementioned Pirates had about $650,000 more to play with thanks to the extra first-round selection, though the fact Minnesota picked five spots ahead of Pittsburgh made that gap less noticeable.
I like what the Twins did with their money. It started right at the top with the No. 4 pick in the Draft. Taking Kohl Stewart, the top high school arm in the country, was a continuation from the previous year, when they took the toolsy Byron Buxton No. 2 overall. Going high school and high ceiling for two years in a row, those two picks reversed a trend that saw Minnesota take college players in the first round for the previous three Drafts.
Yes, high school pitching is the highest risk pick out there. But the return is also high, and I think the Twins were at their best as a bastion of scouting and development when they aggressively went after this kind of talent. Picking in the top four picks two years in a row makes it less risky, of course, but taking Stewart, who had a college football commitment to deal with as well, showed that the Twins were serious about going after the best player available. Stewart has the chance to be a frontline starter down the line.
Just having Stewart as a follow-up to Buxton, the game's best prospect, would make it a good Draft in my eyes. But the Twins were far from done. In the second round, they nabbed LSU starter Ryan Eades. While it's true Eades didn't quite live up to advanced billing during his junior year, he's still a guy who had a solid career for one of the top college programs in the country, a college pitcher with size and stuff who was getting first-round consideration. To get him in the second round was a good get.
The Twins stayed in college, and the SEC, in the third round, taking Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner. It wasn't a good class for college backstops, and Turner was thought to be the best defensive one of the bunch. His bat isn't as well-regarded, though he's shown some ability to control the strike zone and make consistent contact. At the very least, he has the looks of big league backup, with the chance to be a defensive-minded regular acquired with the 78th overall pick.
Finally, down in the fourth round, with pick No. 110, getting high school lefty Stephen Gonsalves could end up being one of the steals of the Draft. The SoCal southpaw entered the spring as one of the better prep lefties in the class, but didn't live up to advanced billing. He might be a bit of a project, but he's tall and projectable and has shown signs of a very good three-pitch mix.
That's three prospects who were on the Draft Top 100 at the time of the Draft and a fourth who looks like a future big league catcher in short order. Throw in sixth-rounder Brian Navaretto, a strong high school backstop, and it's a pretty good haul.
Will we look back five years from now and still say the same thing? Time, and the Twins' player development department, will tell.