The 2012 MLB Draft order was unveiled yesterday. The Angels will lack a presence at the top of the draft after signing Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the off-season. The signings of the two highly prized free agents means the Angels lose its first round pick to the Cardinals as compensation for Pujols and second round pick to the Rangers for Wilson. The team’s first pick in the draft won’t come until the third round with the 114th overall pick.
Should the Angels be concerned about not having a draft pick until the third round? No, not really. I doubt it was a consideration when the team pursued Pujols and Wilson as acquiring the duo was a franchise altering move. From a talent standpoint the team should have made those deals 100 times out of 100 without worrying about draft compensation. Ideally though, the draft (and amateur free agency) is where teams build their roster. It assists in keeping the payroll low because the team is paying little money compared to the free agent market. For teams with the ability to support big payrolls such as the Angels it is of less concern, than say, the Rays which rely heavily on the draft to supply their Major League roster with talent. Furthermore Major League Baseball draft picks, unlike the NFL or NBA, most often do not make an impact at the Major League level for several years, spending time in the minor leagues developing.
While the MLB draft has many more rounds (40) than the NFL (7) and NBA (2), most top-tier big league players (obtained through the draft, not internationally) are picked in the top five or so rounds. Sure, there are absolutely players that have highly successful careers that were drafted in the later rounds, but those first rounds are given a great deal of attention in comparison. Looking at the Angels currently, there are six players on the 25-man roster that were drafted in the first or second round; those players are Jered Weaver (1st round), Torii Hunter (1st round), Vernon Wells (1st round), Jerome Williams (Supplemental1st round ), Dan Haren (2nd round), and Kevin Jepsen (2nd round). In the Angels’ last 11 drafts, from 2001-2011, the team had at least a first or second round pick. This draft is uncharted territory. The team was without its first round pick in the 2007 (signing Gary Matthews Jr.) and 2008 (signing Torii Hunter) drafts.
There is no deal to be made about the Angels missing out completely on the top 100-plus picks for one draft. However to sustain success at the Major League level, every team has to have some homegrown talent on their roster. Having those early round picks is a proven way to build homegrown talent. Luckily for the Angels, the team is able to have a high payroll and is set with a Major League roster rich with talent.