I was going to hold off on this article because they are planning to make changes to the draft but it is not known exactly when that will be or what changes they are planning to make. All they have actually said is that it will be easier to rank players. Whether it will change the draft settings page is unknown.
This is for the newbies more than anything but could be informative for the more experienced. Your Amateur Draft board will appear on the AM cycle 1 on March 12 with 500 hopefuls contained therein (well actually more than that). Not everybody's board will look the same as there are 1000+ players total in the draft and I am not sure that everyone sees them all. The first thing you will want to do is look at the Amateur Draft Settings page and become familiar with it. If you have questions don't forget to ask for help. It is complicated understanding their meaning behind some of the options. Once your draft board appears you can play with the the settings and it will realign the players in your draft board to those wishes. One thing to note about the settings page, any time you have ranked the players manually then change your settings page it will rearrange your draft board again and you will need to re-rank the players again.
The target count is how many of that position you would like to draft at that position, I will not guarantee that is how many that will get drafted at that position. The weight determines how much emphasis at that position is desired. Basically what it does is resets your pool with more of that position being pulled forward so you will have a better chance at drafting players at that position. In other words it could bring a 67 OVR player into the mix and be placed over a 70 OVR or better players. The Player Type can be useful in finding a specific type of player at a position, like a slugging 2B. I rarely use that feature for the actual draft as there other ways of doing it.
The "any" target becomes useful when the next player on your board does not meet any of the other targets but is ranked higher than the next available targeted player and there are no equally weighted targeted players(in regards to OVR). This is where the Rating Threshold comes into play.
The trickiest thing I have ever seen is the Rating Threshold and their explanation. If you have set up your players manually, then this should be irrelevant and set to None or zero, because you would want to take the best player on the board in your eyes. However used in conjunction with the "any" and targeted players it does become a factor, so think about how you would want it set. Do you want to take the best player (and I use that loosely since it is OVR) or continue with a player that meets your target that might be next or further down the board? In my thinking you wouldn't want to use more than 2 in the Rating Threshold because it is talking about OVR after all.
Some things to be warned about is in the Bio of the players and their meaning and the signing risk level. If in the Bio, it has anything other than "Will sign for slot money" he becomes a risk and may not sign (we call them "iffy" picks). I always run the "Very Conservative" approach for the first round and "Conservative" for the rest, but that is me and I am not recommending it. Running that approach I have never had a player not sign however.
Some of the iffy bio statements.
1. Probably won't sign - I drop these ones to the bottom of the board, so I don't know if they will sign. Someone here probably knows whether some might sign or not.
2. May not sign - I drop these ones also, but have seen some sign.
3. Wants to be drafted in the first round or will finish school (college) - I have seen these sign in supplemental as it is still considered first round. Have seen them sign in 2nd round also, but will hold out for first round money at a minimum.
4. Wants to be drafted in first round or go to college on scholarship (HS). These ones are the toughest, most sign, some do not and hold out the longest.
5. Wants to be drafted in the first 5 rounds (College or HS) - Most of these sign after a while as long as it is within the 5 rounds.
6. Wants to play another sport or scouted to play another sport - I don't bother with these types because they want a big payday and are usually not worth it unless they are considered blue chip 1st rounders.
7. Will sign if the deal is right - They normally sign before or after a few days hold out.
What to do if you drafted an "Iffy" pick. Meet the demands listed during the negotiation phase. He will either sign or you will get a message telling you he is contemplating the offer or is complacent with the offer and not ready to sign. Just let it sit and do nothing is the best course of action. Some of the time you will get a message that he accepts the offer or ups the offer before the Rookie season starts. If you haven't heard anything by the 20th game of the rookie season, you can negotiate again meeting his demands but throw in a ST invite. At least he will know you still want him and you will probably get the same reply. I know it can be frustrating because the money is tied up, but never pull the offer off the table. I had one that waited till the last 10 days of the Rookie League season to sign.
When ranking your players, take heed to all the various ratings. Remember the players in the pool are rated as your scouts see them and that is how much you spent on scouting. Which means that the numbers can be skewed a little (or a lot depending) after you draft them and that means current and projected. Some of the things people forget to watch the most is the physical ratings and secondly is the pitchers ratings. Don't let the overall rating fool you.
If you haven't realized by now a Pitchers Overall rating can be inflated by a high Stamina and a hitters by high Power where the rest of the ratings don't support it. There are some other combinations that cause it also but are rarer. So be careful in this regard also.
A quick word on scouting budget and the board. If you had, say a 14-14 even split on scouting, you will see 250 college players and 250 high school players and they will be ranked by overall. My 16-10 uneven split budget I will see about 400 college and 100 high school and they will be ranked by overall also. I have to really look at the High School players because of the lack of scouting to see where they actually fit in, mostly it becomes an educated guess as I can't trust the HS scouting. If your adv scouting was 14 with the 14-14 split, chances are you will not see much of a skew if any at all. If your adv scouting was higher there will be a difference either good or bad. If your adv scouting is lower, you better have taken good notes.
About 65% of your draft will be pitchers, most of questionable ability. It used to be that you had an even split on position players and pitchers. But rule changes created a rookie pitching fatigue problem and there wasn't enough to go around, thus the current split. But now it has created a problem getting enough position players.
After you sign your players, I would put them in the Rookie League for their first season. Some like to fast track them and put them in Low A. Well at least that is the term that is used, whether it actually helps a player to do that is very questionable.
Here is how I normally set up my Draft Settings as an example, not always as it could change after I look at the draft board the first time. I set the target to 0 for all positions and the weight to 5 and type to none except RP and DH where I use 1 in the weight. I always rank RP's manually and I may set DH to 0 later if I don't see one I could use at another position being a NL team. I set the Rating Threshold to "none" and set round 1 to "very conservative" and the rest to "conservative". This setup is called taking the conservative best player available approach or BPA for short. When the draft occurs it will take the highest ranked player available on my board that meets the signing risk level. Using this method I have not had an iffy pick not sign but there is always a first time.
One must be very careful using this setup because you might draft 20 pitchers or more. That could cause a big problem if you don't have enough position players on the roster already.
Once the draft is over, I look at the results and usually only sign 10 or so players at that time. Just enough to fill out my rookie roster and replace some of the ones that aren't worth a plug nickel. At the end of the season and I have promoted all my players, I will sign the rest. You have until the ML WS starts to do that. This allows me to keep my rookie league populated. Though it probably ruins my chances of getting a DITR after All-Star break.
Manually ranking the players is just like Rule 5. Since there are 500 players to rank, I only rank the top 100 as after that they will only be career minor league players most generally. I probably actually look hard at the top 200 on my draft board getting those 100 and I probably spend the most time on my top 50.