Former Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers general manager John Hart has a great track record as a baseball executive in the majors, and built those two franchises into winners. He joined Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark here on WNST 1570 to talk about today’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, and how Baltimore’s rebuilding franchise should go in the draft in an effort to keep building up the franchise to get it back to its winning ways.
Hart, who took over the Cleveland Indians in 1991, was at the helm for nine years, and during that time the Indians won six of the possible nine American League central championships and made appearances in the World Series in 1995 and 1997. The list of players on those teams were outstanding including Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Sandy Alomar Jr, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez, Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, Orel Hershiser and Hart was one of the integral parts in keeping that team together for the time they were in Cleveland.
During his time in Cleveland, Hart was 870-681 as GM of the team and was outs away from winning two World Series. Now, he serves as a studio analyst for the MLB Network, and looking at this year’s draft, he weighed in to Drew and Glenn about the top picks in the draft this year, and if he were to make the decisions here in Baltimore, he said that the Orioles are going to like whoever falls to them behind Bryce Harper going to the Nationals and whoever the Pirates take with the #2 pick.
He first weighed in on Brito High (Miami) shortstop Manny Machado, who has drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez coming into the league. While Hart said the A-Rod comparisons aren’t fair, he said that he does have legitimate power and compares him more to a big, powerful hitter out in Colorado, Troy Tulowitzki.
“Machado is an infielder with a bat and power,” Hart said. “He’s only going to fill out and he’s got a lot of room to grow. Any organization would like this kid.”
Hart said that when Machado finally does fill out, he probably will be your stereotypical 6’4”, 215 lb. hitter who has a chance to stay at shortstop for a few years until a move to third or the outfield is likely.
With that kind of talent, the Pirates are likely to take Machado. And with Orioles GM Andy MacPhail’s philosophy of “buying the bats and growing the arms”, the next best option for the Orioles at the 3rd spot in the draft is Woodlands High (Texas) pitcher Jameson Taillon.
Taillon, 18, is a tall, intimidating right hander who stands at 6’7”, 230 pounds and has four plus pitches in his repertoire. This guy could be a front-of-the-line rotation guy in a couple years, and pairing him with Hobgood in last year’s draft along with maybe Tillman, Matusz, and Arrieta could give the Orioles one of the best rotations in all baseball if they all pan out, which is not certain.
But Hart says this is certain: Taillon is the real deal.
“I tell you the scouts I’ve talked to said he is one of the top four amateur high school pitchers they’ve ever seen,” Hart said. “He’s going to pitch with a plus fastball… and he’s got a great makeup. He’s a guy you can anchor any staff around, and he’s got front of the rotation stuff.”
But Hart did leave us with this. He said that it’s probably better for GMs to wait on the high school guys till later on in the draft, and most GMs already follow that policy because they want the players up in the big leagues as soon as possible. Hart says to look for the guy that will give you “the most impact”, and then a GM can look on their draft with success.
But it will take a few years to figure out if a draft will work or not.
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