With all signs pointing towards the Orioles drafting Manny Machado, Aman Reaka, an independent scout/prospector, takes a detailed look at the shortstop. Aman is based in Kansas and scouts a lot of Big 12 baseball, you can follow him on twitter here.
Manny Machado, Brito Private High School, SS, Miami (FL)
I think Taillon is the smart choice and likely choice for the Pirates and that would leave the last of “the big 3″ to be had by the Orioles. I have heard all sorts of things tossed around when it comes to Machado. I have heard “Alex Rodriguez” comparisons, that he will not EVER be a big league shortstop and will move to third base and much more hearsay to go along with him. The fact remains that Machado is lanky, athletic, has quick bat speed, a balanced swing, plays good defense at shortstop and has a great arm. With his bat likely to result in a fairly high average with some decent to good power development AND a legitimate chance to stay at the shortstop position, Machado has gained a full head of steam in the past 6 months. Shortstops with a good bat that can hit for power don’t grow on trees so if he has a decent chance of obtaining all 3, then he is worth the risk of an early pick and a big signing bonus.
That being said, Machado (like most High School shortstop prospects) comes with great risk as well. He does appear that he will fill out quite a bit. This natural development comes with a positive and a negative. When he fills out and gains weight and muscle, he will lose some quickness and lateral movement. His lateral movement already leaves a bit more to be desired although he is smooth with the glove and has good hands. A loss in movement and quickness could eventually result in a shift to 3b. His arm is more than strong enough to handle 3B and his glove and athleticism would make him a very good fielder at the hot corner. This move would also give him less value because he likely wont hit for quite enough power to make sense in drafting him as a third baseman #3 overall. The positive in his muscle and weight gain would be to add more power to his swing. So this is the wonderful and often impossible job of scouts and scouting directors, is to determine what his likelihood of position and power will end up at. Since there seems to be a decent (some believe significant) chance that he will eventually require a move to 3b, this undoubtedly will be a somewhat risky pick at the #3 spot. The Orioles system is looking very bright right now so they can definitely afford the risk of drafting Machado. If he turns into a future regular at SS or even possibly an All-star, then the Orioles have done a great job of player development and their scouting would be right on target with this pick. However, if he ends up at 3B as just an average regular then this pick would be a bit of a reach.
With all of that being said, would it be a horrible pick if the O’s got a future big league 3b out of their first pick in the 2010 draft? Machado seems like a sure bet to eventually make it as a big-leaguer, on the left side of the infield, with a good bat and with some power. His ceiling is high and his floor doesn’t seem to be that low (unless a major league average 3b is low in your mind). The one thing that will likely hold true is his development time may be quite lengthy (defensively and for his power to develop) so don’t look for Machado in Baltimore before 2014.
If Baltimore wanted to play it more safe and shock the draft world tonight, they could go for Pomeranz who should be ready to pitch in the big leagues by sometime next year, or Sale who would be on a similar timetable as Pomeranz. But Sale might not quite be as “ready to go” BUT with all of the nice young pitching prospects in their system or fresh on the big league staff, I don’t think they would go for either. If the O’s wanted to save a little money and spend more later in the draft for some overslot picks, thy could go for Christian Colon at #3. Colon is ready to play SS in the big leagues right now and should have at least an average bat.
Thanks and enjoy the draft tonight. This is one of the weakest drafts in recent memory. It could result in a lot of average big leaguers and a few stars from the prep levels. A lot of the prep guys cost a lot of money so I can foresee many teams taking the risk of not signing picks in order to add a draft pick to next years draft. The 2011 draft will absolutely be loaded with talent across the board so this strategy might prove to be a smart tactic.