It's true that it isn't fair to assess a team's Draft until years down the line, when it's clear how many big leaguers came out of a class.
Trying to ascertain who did well before players have even begun their pro careers or even signed is even trickier. But there are always opinions and ideas of who did well in a give Draft, at least on paper.
With the new system in place, no one was exactly sure how things would go, considering the perceived inability to be too aggressive in drafting players who slid because of signability. Some teams, though, were able to be creative and did not shy away from making some "risky selections."
Fresh off completing 40 rounds of the 2012 Draft, a few teams stood out, according to those in the industry, for the talent they selected over the three-day event.
Chicago Cubs: Several scouts from other teams gave kudos to the Cubs' haul in the first Draft of the Theo Epstein era. After nabbing Albert Almora in the first round, Chicago went pitching-heavy, taking seven arms in a row after the toolsy outfielder. Four were of the high school variety, with Paul Blackburn and Duane Underwood offering upside one scout in particular liked.
San Diego Padres: San Diego had a strong Draft last year, with many extra picks and the ability to aggressively pursue over-slot deals. This year, the Padres received credit for the pitching they selected as well as some quality middle-of-the-diamond players. San Diego was able to pick three high school arms at the top that many felt could have been first-rounders, throwing a good college center fielder in that mix in their first four picks. They complemented that quartet with a few more center fielders and middle infielders as the Draft progressed.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox got credit for getting some upside without the benefit of many extra picks. Chicago had been conservative at the top of Drafts in recent years, so seeing the organization go with two high school bats at the top with a ton of power potential in Courtney Hawkins and Keon Barnum was a refreshing change.
Atlanta Braves: This is another organization that broke from what had been slightly more conservative drafting of late. Starting with the high school arm in their backyard in Lucas Sims, the Braves brought in more high-end upside types than they have recently, including high school catcher Bryan de la Rosa and prep outfielder Connor Lien. Getting a Day 1 talent like college lefty Alex Wood in the second round was another nice find.
Houston Astros: It might be easy to give credit to the team with the No. 1 overall pick, but it's not just Carlos Correa that gives the Astros a good Draft grade. Getting Correa, though, made it possible for Houston to feel confident it could draft and sign Lance McCullers, a first-round talent, in the comp round. The Astros didn't stop there, however. After taking some solid college talent, they took high-end high schoolers like 3B Rio Ruiz and OF Brett Phillips.
Toronto Blue Jays: Having multiple picks, Toronto took one of the most exciting athletes in the Draft in D.J. Davis, a player one scout said could end up being one of the best players in this class. Then the Blue Jays got Marcus Stroman, who might have the most electric stuff in the Draft and could help out Toronto's bullpen very soon. They continued to go after high-ceiling high schoolers throughout. If they can somehow find a way to sign both Matt Smoral and Anthony Alford, they could win the "best Draft" award hands down.
New York Yankees: It's not always easy picking at the end of the first round, but the Yankees did well to get high school pitcher Ty Hensley, who many thought could go much higher. They followed that up by going after a toolsy athlete in Austin Aune. Senior catcher Peter O'Brien out of Miami is a very good bat that could have gone on the first day, as well.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates may have been fortunate for Mark Appel to be available at No. 8 when everyone thought he'd be long gone, but they had to take the leap to actually take him. They didn't exactly go conservative value pick right after that, either, getting good high school talent in Wyatt Mathisen and Jon Sandfort and a pair of interesting college bats in Barrett Barnes and Brandon Thomas.