Shadow Draftin', Plus a Chat

HOUSTON - JUNE 07: First baseman Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals takes a break during a pitching change against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 7, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

So what you're telling me is Ryan Theriot went 1-5 and blew an easy double play, costing the Cardinals the run and forcing them to use Jason Motte, and all I'm going to hear about him is how he extended his hitting streak? Yeah, that sounds about right. Sigh.

The third and final day of the draft is underway, though I'll warn you now that neither I nor you have much idea who any of the players currently being picked are. On the other hand, we do know quite a few of the names up in the earlier rounds, and that's where I want to start today.

I've been doing draft reports for four years now here, and I feel like I've accumulated a pretty fair body of knowledge. On the other hand, there's really no pressure on me to do well, seeing as how no one is spending millions on the guys I like just because I like them. So, I want to put my money (figuratively), where my mouth (literally) , is, and see if I actually know what I'm talking about or not.

John Sickels does a shadow draft every year for the Minnesota Twins, and I think I would like to do one of my own here. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of a shadow draft, it goes something like this: you pretend you're in charge of a certain team -- in this case the St. Louis Cardinals -- and make draft picks along with the actual team themselves. Then you track your own picks, versus the players they took in reality, and check back down the road to see how you did during the coming years. Sounds simple, right?

The ground rules are relatively simple: I'll pick from the players available when the Cards went on the clock each round, and abide by any signings -- or non-signings -- which take place. No fair drafting a player and then claiming my imaginary ownership group was willing to pony up the dough when the real-world team ownership was not. If I pick a player and he doesn't sign, I'm just out of luck. To do this properly, it should really be done as the draft is going on, but I'm going to have the benefit of hindsight. Not because I want to cheat, necessarily, but because I didn't decide to do this until about two hours ago.

I'm just going to do the first five rounds. Anything beyond that is tough to know enough players unless you happen to be an actual member of a drafting department, in which case you don't have to engage in such meaningless masturbation.

Anyway, I'll make my picks after the jump.

Round One -- I actually don't hate the Kolten Wong pick, though I'm also not a huge fan of it. (Notice I used his first and last names both in order to avoid any possible dick jokes about my preference for Wong.) The logic behind it makes sense, and I think he should end up a pretty solid contributor.

However, since I'm scouting director for the day, I have to follow my muse, and my must is tall and left-handed and has a huge curveball. I'm selecting Henry Owens, the high school lefty from California. I also considered Daniel Norris here, but I like Owens' delivery significantly better, and I just have a feeling about him. Owens went to the Red Sox in the real world, which I find very depressing.

Here's my writeup on Owens from early in the spring.

Round Two -- I'm a fan of the Cards' pick of Charlie Tilson. He's got top-notch athleticism, and represents the kind of upside risk I was hoping to see the Cardinals take more of in this draft.

On the other hand, Austin Hedges is still on the board, and Hedges is one of my favourite players in the entire draft. There are pretty serious whispers going around that Hedges may be a tougher sign than initially thought, though, which concerns me. In fact, it concerns me enough I'm going to pass on the guy I love, because I just don't think I can get him signed. Tilson will be a tough sign as well, but I think I can get him into the system. I'm going to make the same pick here the Cards did and take Tilson.

Round Three -- Okay, this is my last chance to take a signability guy and have the pick protected if I fail to get him signed. Looking around, I notice another of my favourite high school catchers is still on the board in Nick Delmonico. On the other hand, an even more talented, riskier player is also there in Derek Fisher, and I just can't resist. As much as I like Delmonico, Fisher's talent is just too impressive, and if he goes to school I get another shot at this pick next year. So, Fisher it is.

In the real world Fisher lasted all the way until the sixth round, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up without a signed player here. However, playing by my own rules I have to at least try and do what I would have done, and with a protected pick and a player like Fisher still on the board I'll be as honest as I can and take him.

Round Four -- The Cards (the real ones, that is), took a little-known high school shortstop here. Hypothetical draft director Aaron is currently fuming because right around the beginning of the fourth round, someone said to him, "Hey, isn't Tony Zych still on the board?" At which point Aaron got all excited, thinking he could get a fast-moving college closer with serious upside in the fourth round.  (This actually did happen in the draft chat at FR, by the way.)

Then, of course, the Cubs selected Zych, blowing Aaron's dreams out of the water and forcing him to curse the name of El Zilcho forevermore. The draft director is currently curled up in the corner with a bottle of cheap scotch, while the rest of the department tries to keep things going.

But then I notice Nick Delmonico is, in fact, still on the board, and I perk up a bit. I would kind of prefer a little safer pick here, seeing as how it's unprotected, but I like the kid too much. Plus, I passed on Hedges earlier, my first catcher crush, so I'm going with my second. Delmonico for me in the fourth round.

Here's my scouting report on Nicky D.

Round Five -- I'm really tempted by Josh Osich here, with an eye toward making him a reliever in pro ball, but his injury concerns must be scaring teams off. So I'll look elsewhere. A middle infielder wouldn't be bad here, and Brandon Loy, the shortstop from Texas, is still on the board. He's basically Ryan Jackson, with a tremendous glove and a big question mark he uses to hit with, but a guy who can pick it will have a pretty good chance of making it to the big leagues in some capacity.

I'm also thinking of going well off script here, due to this being a shadow draft and this my last round. Daniel Camarena is a high school lefty who wasn't taken until the late teens, I believe, by the Yankees, but I have a gut feeling about him and would like to get him into my fake system to track. Then again, fifteen rounds is a bit too much of an overdraft. I really like Colton Murray, the closer out of Kansas, for the same reason of getting him tracked. He didn't go until the 420ish range, though, I think.

In the end, I'm going to go with Chris Marlowe, right-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma State. He's a reliever long-term, with a big fastball in the 94-95 range and a plus breaking ball as well. No third pitch to speak of, and he's not big (6'0", 175), so his future is most likely in short work. I like the arm, though, and he could move fairly quickly with a ceiling at the back end of a big league bullpen.

So that's my version of the 2011 draft. Feel free to bash me all you like for my stupidity. I'm going to track these players over the next few years, and see how I would have done as a major league scouting director. Most likely it will end terribly and I'll be curled up in the corner of my living room with a cheap bottle of scotch (imaginary Aaron and real-life Aaron both have a serious drinking problem), but I though it might be a fun exercise to start doing at draft time each year.

Okay, I've got about an hour and a half, maybe two hours free right now. Let's have us a chat. Ask about the draft, ask about the big club, ask about anything at all you like.

Let's rock?

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