The 2021 MLB Draft concluded Tuesday with rounds 11-20. In the past, the draft stretched 40 rounds, but this year’s event was cut in half. Players drafted after the 10th round seldom make impacts at the big league level, but that doesn’t mean there are no diamonds in this rough.
On Monday, several teams went heavy on pitchers, but the Angels outdid them all. Los Angeles took a pitcher with every single one of their 20 picks. All but one of those selections was a college pitcher. Typically, teams don’t draft for need. Prospects take too long to develop to make those kinds of decisions with any degree of certainty. Instead, they’ll try to select the best overall player left on the board. The Angels, however, need pitching, and they need it soon.
According to FanGraphs, the Angels have one pitcher in their system with a 45 Future Value or above: Reid Detmers. Their first pick in the 2020 draft has just 11 professional starts that have all come at the Double-A level. In those 11 starts, Detmers has struck out 91 batters in 50 innings while walking 17. He’s struggled with the long ball, but with the way Detmers has dominated hitters Southern League hitters, there’s an argument he belongs on the major league roster. That’s especially true considering the Angels’ struggles to find quality starters Shohei Ohtani and Alex Cobb notwithstanding.
An “accuracy by volume” approach only gets the Angels so far. They still need to develop these pitchers into big-league arms, and the Angels don’t have a great track record for doing that. This isn’t a new strategy either. The Angels took 17 pitchers in the first 20 rounds of the 2019 draft and 16 pitchers in 2018.
The Angels weren’t the only team to go extremely pitcher-heavy. The Dodgers only took two position players and Cleveland only took one. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America speculated that the lack of a college wood bat season in 2020 put a lot less certainty on hitters. Pitchers only need to throw in front of a Rapsodo a few times to get an idea of their pitch quality, but hitters need to face high-quality opponents several hundred times before they can prove themselves.
A pitcher's analytics give teams some comfort in who they are, regardless of the quality of hitters he faced. There is no such comfort with hitters. Judging their ability is more tied to the caliber of pitcher they face.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 13, 2021
Unlike last year, teams were able to start signing non-drafted free agents following the draft’s conclusion. Teams could sign players for a maximum of $20,000, and leftover slot money cannot be spent on NDFA.
Best Names of Day 3
Connor Kokx: I’m surprised he got past the profanity filter.
Owen Sharts: Always a fan of players whose name is a complete sentence.
Colby Smelley: When your cheese goes bad.
River Town: This is my fiancee’s favorite show on the CW.
Blake Beers: Objectively better than Seth Beer.
Daniel Corona: A lot like Seth Beer but with a lime.
Kris Anglin: The Mindfreak.
Nick Zwack: POW! BIFF! BAM! ZWACK!
Harrison Beethe: If Nicolas Cage’s character in The Wicker Man had a lisp.