As anyone who follows baseball closely knows, the best chance for a team to build a solid foundation for its future is through savvy and shrewd drafting. Teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals have moved from the basement to the penthouse at times on the shoulders of years of strong drafts. A team such as the Oakland Athletics absolutely has to follow this strategy if they hope to create and sustain success considering their significant lack of financial resources.
June 3, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners pitcher Dillon Overton (13) pitches in the first inning of game five of the Charlottesville regional at Davenport Field against the Virginia Cavaliers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Laferriere-USA TODAY Sports
That’s what makes the selection of Dillon Overton in the second round this year so intriguing. The A’s and Overton agreed to terms a few days ago the team announced. The catch here is this, Overton will have Tommy John surgery within the coming weeks and won’t start his career in the Athletics organization until perhaps late in 2014. The fact that he was bound for surgery meant that his signing bonus was significantly under the slot value for his spot in the draft. But that doesn’t mean the talent is not there.
Overton is not a bulky guy, standing at 6’2″ and weighing just 175 pounds. He has a very simple, easily repeatable delivery that should hopefully keep him from too many injuries. Of course saying that sounds a little silly considering he’s about to go under the knife. But it’s much better to try to take care of any potential lingering issues in his elbow now and get it out of the way. That said, recovery from TJ surgery is never a guarantee, so there’s always a risk.
Overton possesses a decent fastball, sitting in the low 90’s to go along with a slider and a changeup. He won’t overpower hitters, but he does appear to possess the tools to get the job done at a high level. And considering his experience, the 21 year old comes as a fairly polished product and could find his way to Oakland fairly quickly once he recovers and regains his rhythm.
In drafting Overton, the Athletics may have gotten themselves a solid middle to back of the rotation starter for the future. While many teams may look to the free agent or trade market to fill such a void, Overton will enable the A’s to fill that need from within like they have so many times before. This has the makings on another Billy Beane steal.