In some sports, the draft can make a big impact immediately. In the NBA, two great players can make a team great. In baseball, however, it's more of a process and it requires patience and player development.
When the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begins on Thursday, there is a clear blueprint laid on how teams can transform themselves from a bad team with top picks to a good team with a healthy future, regardless of market size and past.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals are that. Now, teams like the Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins will try to follow.
The Florida Marlins, the other team in the top five picks, are a team that is hard to group because they are far different than any of the others. While they have won two World Series in a span that would make many organizations jealous, they also have then gone and sold off their assets for a low price and immediately started attempting a rebuilding process again, on the cheap.
One of the most interesting teams in the equation now is the Astros, who this year alone have seen two of their largest offensive assets from recent drafts in Jon Singleton and George Springer. Both appear to be, thus far, the real deal.
Now, the Astros need the pitching to match. The same can be said, on some level, for the Cubs. They are ready to make a lot of upgrades at their home park, Wrigley Field, and will be looking for a successful team to match it.
They have plenty of hitting prospects, none better than last year's first-round draft pick/third baseman Kris Bryant, with his 19 home runs in Double-A already this season. The Cubs, however, have the same pitching issues as Houston. Both will likely be in the market for a top arm but have shown they will ultimately pick the best player come Thursday.
Some of those top picks, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, are: San Diego high schoolers Brady Aiken (pitcher) and Alex Jackson (C/OF). There's also Texas high schooler Tyler Kolek (RHP) and Orlando, Fla., high schooler Nick Gordon (SS) and North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon.
Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto or Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost also might become high picks.
As we've found out in recent years, these picks will be just as important, if not more, than the big-name free agent signees that catch much more attention.
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