Draft Day is here! For me, the draft is like Baseball Christmas, and tonight we get to see what new ballplayers that Bobby Heck and his scouting team have brought us. As fans have grown more savvy about the benefits of young new players, the draft has grown more and more popular. This year, MLB is trying to capitalize on that popularity by moving the first round of the draft to prime-time. Because of this, the draft will be spread out over three days instead of the usual two. Here's the schedule of events, with an Astros-centric focus:
- Day One - Round 1: The first round (Picks 1-32) is covered on the MLB Network. Coverage starts at 5 p.m. Houston time, and the first pick by the Washington Nationals is expected to be announced at 5:15 p.m., although they could have announced it months ago, because everyone pretty much knows it's going to be Stephen Strasburg. Bud Selig is announcing the pick, so make sure to tune in and boo and hiss at him if you still have any unresolved feelings about last year's "home" games against the Cubs in Milwaukee. You'll probably see a lot of pitchers go in the first half of the first round.
If they run it like last year, teams will have 5 minutes in between picks, so an estimated time of the Astros' first pick would be at around 7:00 p.m. You'll probably want to skip watching Wheel of Fortune though, just in case it moves quicker. Craig Biggio, Mr. Astro 3000 himself, will be representing the home team at the draft. All the teams should be represented by former stars and Hall-of-Famers, so it could be fun to tune in and see who shows up.
- Day One - Rounds 1S, 2, 3, & 3S: After the 32nd pick, coverage will shift to http://www.MLB.com/Live where they will continue all the way through the third supplemental round. These rounds, and all subsequent rounds should move much quicker than the first round. Fittingly for the team with the worst-regarded farm system in baseball, the Astros have the final pick (111th overall) on the first day, being the only team with a pick in the third supplemental round, due to the fact that they were unable to sign Chase Davidson last year. By the end of the first day's draft, we should have four new Astros farmhands, with picks at 21, 69, 100, and 111.
- Day Two - Rounds 4-30: These rounds aren't as sexy, so all of these rounds will be done on Tuesday via teleconference instead of on television.
- Day Three - Rounds 31-50: There is a maximum of 50 rounds, but many teams will stop making picks short of round 50. The Astros could keep on picking pretty much right until the end, just like they did last year. They're still dealing with all of the holes created by cutting a lot of the players Tim Purpura left behind, so we may need to sign some of these guys just to field teams in the short-season leagues. Even though these are late rounds, this is where the the best scouts distinguish themselves. Keep in mind that last year's 48th round pick, the 1433rd guy taken overall, Daniel Meszaros, was the first of our 2008 draft picks to make it to Corpus Christi, where he is currently shutting down opposing hitters in relief (13 IP, 2.08 ERA, 10 K, 4 BB).
MLB has said that they've reduced their slotting recommendations by 10% this year. Last year's 21st pick was Ryan Perry, who received $1.48 million in slot money. That means that this year, slot money for our first round pick should be about $1.332 million.