The Dodgers shocked many analysts and fans alike, me included, by selecting Corey Seager with their first pick. Compounding the confounding day was the selection of Jesmuel Valentin in the supplemental first round. Were these prospects the best on the board? Did the Dodgers reach on Valentin at 51? Let's dig deeper into these picks.
Seager, by all accounts, was worthy of the 18th overall pick in the draft. Top publications had him as a second half of the first round pick. The main question has been Corey's signability, with teams unsure of his asking price and the strength of his commitment to South Carolina.
Valentin, on the other hand, was generally seen as a 2nd to 3rd rounder. Playing second-fiddle to Carlos Correa got him exposure as well as unwanted comparisons to his teammate who would end up being the first overall pick in the draft.
While the Dodgers may have reached slightly for Jesmuel, it's not like taking players a round or two ahead of where scouting publications and analysts project is taboo. Logan White has shunned rankings by outside groups and depends on his own scouting staff and sources to gauge value.
When the Dodgers were up at #18, the consensus was that they'd be going with a prep pitcher. Ty Hensley, a prep pitcher from Oklahoma, seemed like a logical choice. Richie Shaffer, whom the Dodgers chose in the 25th round back in 2009, was also on the board. College arms such as Michael Wacha, Chris Stratton and Marcus Stroman were also available.
How does Seager stack up? Shaffer would have given the Dodgers a corner infielder with a potent bat who could move quickly, but there's some swing-and-miss in him and he's no lock to stay at third. The pitchers varied in current and future grades, with Stroman having the best present stuff and Henley looking like a future ace.
However, when all was said and done, Seager presented the most overall value, offensively and defensively, filling the void in LA's system of a potentially elite bat. With the pitching depth in the system, the organization clearly valued a hitter in the first more than an arm. And while the club will leave Seager at short for the time being, most people project that he eventually settles in as a plus defender at third.
Valentin, on the other hand, seemed like a bit of a reach due to who was left on the board. Hitters Mitch Nay and Jeff Gelalich, as well as pitchers Mitchell Gueller and Walker Weickel all provided substantial value at the end of the supplemental round. While Gelalich was projected to be a 2nd or 3rd rounder, his bat warranted consideration based on his power potential. Same goes for Nay, who plays third but figures to end up in a corner outfield spot.
Weickel and Gueller offer different present skillsets but lots of potential. Gueller already has a good fastball and has shown flashes of two promising secondary offerings. Weickel has the command and polish of a first rounder, but his stuff and mechanics were inconsistent this spring. Still, his 6'6 200 lbs frame offers boatloads of projection and he's already touched the mid 90s with his fastball.
So, while Valentin doesn't offer as much offensive potential as Gelalich or Nay, he still could provide plenty of value if he sticks at short. He reminds me of Ivan De Jesus, whom the Dodgers selected with the 51st overall pick in 2005, though Valentin has a better glove.
Overall, I'm happy with what the Dodgers did today. They infused their system with a potential offensive cornerstone in Seager and a shortstop with ability on both sides of the ball.
Moving forward, there are still some impressive prospects left on the board for the Dodgers' next few picks. Some targets:
-Tanner Buehler, a shortstop from Palm Desert, has a similar profile to Seager and is considered signable, though there's a good chance he's gone before the Dodgers pick at 82.
-Ty Buttrey, a prep RHP from North Carolina, shows a low 90s fastball and a hard curve. NC has become a Dodger farmhand breeding ground and he's likely in play if he's available for the Dodgers in the 2nd round.
-Wyatt Mathisen is regarded as the best prep catcher in the draft. The Texas native is new to the position and will take some time to develop, but has a promising bat.
-Hunter Virant went to school close to where I live and I got to see him pitch this spring. He's very thin and very projectable, already having touched 93 and has a deep repertoire.
Day 2 begins in just about 8 hours. Follow all the action on LADugout.com!
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