The 2013 MLB First-Year Players Draft finally begins tonight and Georgia Tech should have a nice showing this year! Although the MLB draft lacks the excitement of the NFL and NBA drafts since players aren't immediately playing for their major league teams, it still has an intrigue that most wouldn't expect. If you've never watched the MLB Draft broadcast, check it out tonight starting at 6 PM on MLB Network. What makes the MLB Draft so interesting is how players are scouted. Unlike the NBA and NFL Drafts, small school players frequently sit at the top of draft boards and players are eligible out of high school to be drafted. It's truly amazing that scouts are able to cover the entire country and scout every college and high school player. They're occasionally off on their evaluations, but they work their tails off and do their best on a seemingly impossible task.
The first two rounds of the draft will be broadcasted tonight, with the 3rd-10th rounds starting tomorrow at 1 PM and the 11th-40th rounds on Saturday at 1 PM as well. It's highly unlikely that any Tech players hear their name called tonight, but Zane Evans has the best chance out of anyone. Keith Law, ESPN's Draft Expert, has Evans as his 94th ranked player in the draft, which would put him as a late 3rd round pick. If a team really falls in love with him, however, he could get selected towards the end of the second round. Evans is certainly Tech's best pro prospect because he is an excellent defensive catcher and has major league power.
Sometime soon after Evans, Buck Farmer should hear his name called. Farmer has had four excellent years here at Tech and is the definition of consistency. He doesn't project as a staff ace, but he will be a middle of the rotation starter with above average strikeout numbers. Daniel Palka is another name that should go early on Day Two. As most Tech fans know, he has fantastic power and should interest a lot of teams. He had the highest strikeout numbers on the team, but his high average should help alleviate any worries teams might have.
Kyle Wren is another great pro prospect from this year's team. He has major league speed, which is evident by his 6 triples and 28 SB, and posted a crazy .360 batting average. Teams will love his ability to get on base and use his speed when they need it. If that wasn't enough, Wren understands what it takes to be a professional (his dad's the GM of the Braves) and should handle himself well as he advances through the minors. He may not be an all star in the majors, but he seems to be a safer pick who should at worst be a 4th or 5th OF for a major league team.
Now let's take a look at some of the players who should hear their names called on Saturday. Brandon Thomas has a similar game to Kyle Wren, and although his BA was about forty points lower than Wren's, he made up for it by having a higher walk percentage at the plate. He's also got the wheels to steal bases when he wants to, posting a very impressive 9 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Sam Dove and Mott Hyde are two more guys who should hear their names called on Saturday. Dove's numbers are certainly better than Hyde's, but Hyde consistently picked the team up late in games and played well under pressure.
Dusty Isaacs and Jonathan Roberts are two more to keep your eyes on. Neither will be a very high pick, but they should at least get drafted with the potential as two quality bullpen arms. Both are juniors though, and should return next season.
The last player I really wanted to discuss was Mitch Earnest. As Zane Evans' back up, Earnest received about a fourth of the plate appearances, but was very impressive considering the small sample size. He averaged a home run about every 20 ABs and had a batting average over .300. Since Evans is leaving the team, it would favor Earnest to stay for his senior season, but he may get drafted higher than expected and that should at least give him something to think about.
I'll post updates in the comments for everyone as players are drafted, so be sure to check back later tonight or tomorrow afternoon.