A pair of pitchers taken in the late rounds helped General Manager Eric Brown and Bacon at Mile 11 earn the second best draft grade in league history in 2017.
Reliever Nick Vincent was chosen with the 377th pick of the draft and finished the 2017 season with a 3.20 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 27 net saves/holds. Vincent ended the season ranked in the Top 200, finishing 193rd.
Lucas Giolito was picked in the last round with the 409th pick but spent much of the early season in the minors before making seven starts late in the season for the White Sox. While Brown released Giolito in April, the young pitcher went on to post a 2.38 ERA and .094 WHIP and was a contributor for Everybody Hurts, who added Giolito on Sept. 3.
Finding late-round contributors is essential for a good draft but equally important is to avoid early round busts. Four of five keepers for Brown finished the season ranked in the Top 80 and Chris Archer, the one player that didn’t, finished 2017 ranked a respectable 117th.
Two late-round flyers, catcher Sandy Leon and pitcher Zack Wheeler, were the lowest-ranked players drafted by Brown. Leon was dropped in early June as he hit just .225 in 301 plate appearances while Wheeler earned just six quality starts in 86.1 innings.
By uncovering several late-round gems, minimizing keeper busts, and squeezing value out of mid-round picks, Brown finished 2017 with the league’s highest-rated draft. It helped him win the North Division title and finish with the league’s fourth-best regular season record.