Bryce Brentz is a rising junior from Middle Tennessee State, and he’s expected to be a top draft choice in the 2010 draft, having already been drafted once by the Cleveland Indians in the 30th round of the 2007 draft. However, the position at which he’ll be drafted has changed. Highly touted as a pitcher entering college, Brentz has now made himself into one of the best outfield prospects in the college game. Here’s your first rundown in a series where I’ll examine a number of prospects in the 2010 draft class.
Brentz went to high school in Knoxville, Tennessee at South Doyle High School, during which he was an all-state player as a pitcher. The Indians drafted Brentz as a result of the great progress he made during his senior year, though they had no interest in him as a hitter. However, Brentz improved his hitting greatly as time went on, making himself into a starting outfielder during his freshman campaign with Middle Tennessee. He ended up starting 51 games that year, hitting .329/.404/.671, tying for the team lead in home runs with 18, and leading the team in steals with 13 in 16 attempts. However, he struck out 47 times, most on the team, compared to just 24 walks. His name was on the radar screen entering 2009, but no one expected the breakout year he had.
Armed with a guaranteed starting spot, Brentz exploded onto the major prospect scene. He finished with a .465/.535/.930 line in 230 at-bats, slugging 28 home runs, 19 doubles, and a pair of triples. His steals fell to 7 in 11 attempts, but he improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 32-to-31. This easily made him the best all-around statistical hitter in the country, 2009 draft class hitters included. He’s followed up his incredible regular season with a Team USA roster spot, and he’s continued to hit, probably showing the best bat of the USA hitters. Through 47 at-bats with the team, he’s hit .447/.480/.617, leading the team with 6 doubles, and he’s added a triple. However, he hasn’t hit a home run yet, and his 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio is again concerning. He has managed to steal 4 bases in as many attempts. On the whole, Brentz’ 2009 season has propelled him into the national spotlight, and he’s still got a pair of games in Japan and the World Baseball Challenge in Canada with Team USA to cement his status as one of the elite hitters in the 2010 draft class.
Now that we have the pure performance numbers out of the way, let’s look at how Brentz compares in the scouting community. Here’s a couple quotes in an article that essentially tells you what top prospects and coaches think of him:
“He just doesn’t get out — we can’t get him out,” VU pitcher Mike Minor said. “He can hit breaking balls; he can hit fastballs. You can’t blow it by him.”
“I called Team USA just to act upon Steve Peterson’s endorsement of his player,” VU coach Tim Corbin, a former U.S. national team coach, said. “He’s the best hitter we’ve seen. … I think he just hits everything.”
That’s the number seven pick in the 2009 draft and the coach of prospect powerhouse Vanderbilt. And that essentially sums up everything I’ve heard privately, as well. He just simply has a great bat. He’s going to hit for average, and his power, while not earth-shattering is above-average. He has fairly good pitch recognition skills, but because his bat load is deeper than most good hitters, he has to rely on his superior bat speed to make it up. He can easily do that, but it’s a concern for the long-run, as he’ll have to adjust his batting style if his bat speed ever slows down, which can be as a result of simple aging or hand and wrist injuries. All hitters and outfielders face high risk of hand and wrist injuries, so his stock could certainly fall if anything were to happen over the next 11 months. I do have concerns that he hasn’t seen enough quality breaking stuff, and like most young hitters, he sometimes gets overanxious to swing, giving away at-bats where the opposing pitcher simply wanted to walk him. That seems to be the explanation I’m getting on why his Team USA strikeout-to-walk ratio is so bad, especially in comparison to some of his teammates.
Defensively, Brentz should have no problems at a corner outfield spot. He’s definitely not a center fielder, though. He still pitches for the Blue Raiders, 88.2 innings in 2009 actually, and that’s a testament to his plus arm strength. He has fairly average range, maybe a tick above, and the arm strength plays up. I worry about him continuing to pitch, as any arm injury severely limits his value in the outfield and as an overall package, similar to how Dustin Ackley had questions about his overall value before he played some center field late in the year for UNC. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brentz give up pitching in order to concentrate on his hitting and fielding next spring, though he’s thrown 8 innings of relief with Team USA, allowing 5 earned runs on 10 hits and 7 walks, striking out 12. As you can tell, he can be overpowering, but his command just isn’t what it should be. He’s really cheating himself by risking arm injuries, as his value lies completely in his bat.
Looking at the 2010 draft class so far, I’d say Brentz has definitely put himself right in the top ten. A good number of the top prospects entering the spring have faltered a little either in the spring season or summer, some both, while Brentz has continually moved forward. He’s now made himself arguably the best outfielder in entire 2010 draft class, with Florida State’s Tyler Holt definitely in the picture, but for different reasons. Brentz has to keep producing and stay healthy to keep his draft value, as corner outfielders generally don’t get overdrafted, and that puts a lot of pressure on him for his junior season. Draftitis is always a concern, but Brentz has continually gotten better over time, and his run with Team USA proves that he can handle himself on the same stage with big prospects from bigger programs. I have no doubt that Brentz can build on his monster sophomore campaign, ending up as a top draft pick in June 2010.
Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Baltimore Orioles’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:
1. Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA), #5 overall, 6’4’’/245: This was an unexpected pick. The Orioles had a history of going for expensive players over the last couple of years in Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, but they apparently wanted to go with the Pirates’ philosophy of save a little here in order to spend a little more later. Hobgood has good pure stuff, but his build is deceiving. He’s not overpowering, and the projectability isn’t completely there, but he still has #2 potential if everything comes together. As with most prep pitchers, he just needs to learn how to command his offspeed stuff. He signed fairly quickly, but hasn’t appeared on a roster yet. DOB: 8/3/90. Signing bonus: $2.422 million.
2. Mychal Givens, SS, Plant HS (FL), #54 overall, 6’1’’/190: Givens was in the running for a first-round slot at the beginning of the year, but the flaws in his game never seemed to be fixed. A two-way player, Givens drew a lot of attention on the mound, where his fastball rated up with anybody in the entire draft class. However, he wasn’t durable enough to be a starter, and his breaking ball was well below average. In the field, his hitting draws question marks, though his strong arm and defensive skills should keep him at short, providing he becomes consistent. However, this is a decent pick for draft position and talent, though he hasn’t signed yet, and it might go down to the final weekend before the signing deadline. DOB: 5/13/90. Commitment: Oklahoma State.
3. Tyler Townsend, 1B, Florida International, #85 overall, 6’3’’/215: Townsend snuck up on everybody this year, as he entered the year as only a possible mid-round pick. However, by the end, I was really thinking someone might call his name at the end of day one. Surprisingly, it was at the beginning of the third round. He has a big bat, and he projects well for both average and power. However, he can’t run at all, his arm is pretty weak, and first base is about it for him if you want even average defense at his position. Altogether, this is about average for all factors I consider, as he signed quickly, but is off to a poor 8-for-47 start (.170) with Aberdeen in the NYPL. DOB: 5/14/88. Signing bonus: $417,600.
4. Randy Henry, RHP, South Mountain CC (AZ), #116 overall, 6’3’’/198: This is probably one of the more intriguing names in the entire draft. Henry was supposed to be a solid 2008 draft prospect before he blew out his elbow and missed his senior year of high school. He ended up at South Mountain as a result, and he was held back a lot during the season. He only threw 11 innings, but as the year went along, his stuff got stronger and stronger. Now he’s considered a 19 year old kid without much mileage on his arm, and he’s got the pure stuff of a high-upside starter. I thought he might last a round or two later, but he’s got the pure talent to be a round or two higher. He still hasn’t signed, and he’s got another year at South Mountain, so he might command a little more money than slot, but he’s going to sign, and it will probably be before the deadline. DOB: 5/10/90. Commitment: None.
5. Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Oklahoma City, #146 overall, 6’0’’/170: Tolliver was also an interesting name to watch entering the draft. Having broken out on the Cape a year ago, he transferred into Oklahoma City from Arkansas-Little Rock and continued his success through most of the year. While I like this pick, I do give some credence to the thought that Tolliver can’t handle a starter’s load, as his frame really isn’t your prototypical pro starter’s. However, his stuff in relief on the Cape tells me he can probably be a lefty setup man, maybe even a closer in a pinch. That’s great value in the 5th round, so I grade this pick up. He hasn’t signed yet, but it will happen, and it will likely happen well before the deadline. DOB: 1/24/88.
6. Justin Dalles, C, South Carolina, #176 overall, 6’2’’/205: This is the fourth time Dalles has been drafted, as he went in the 15th in 2006 (Mets), 40th in 2007 (Cardinals), and 26th in 2008 (Blue Jays). 2009 was Dalles’ first year at South Carolina, where he took over the starting catching immediately, having done the same in the Florida JUCO ranks. He’s a solid defender, and while his bat is decent, it’s not really a starter’s bat when paired with his glove. All in all, Dalles looks like a backup to me, though he’s still just 20. If he can continue to improve behind the plate like he has in the last few years, he might make himself into a defensive starter. Not a big fan of this pick, but it needs time in terms of judging the total outcome. He signed quickly, but is off to a poor 8-for-41 (.195) start with Aberdeen. DOB: 12/30/88. Signing bonus: $150,000.
7. Aaron Wirsch, LHP, El Toro HS (CA), #206 overall, 6’6’’/200: I didn’t think Wirsch would find himself drafted so highly this year. Playing for a solid prep team that included Nolan Arenado and the injured Chad Thompson, Wirsch became the de facto ace when Thompson went down. He doesn’t have much pure stuff at the moment, but I’m guessing the Orioles liked his projectability. He’s got room to add some strength, so there might be some natural growth available. However, his current stuff is pretty average, and I thought he’d be picked five rounds lower, possibly more. He hasn’t signed yet either, so I’m not a fan of this pick. DOB: 11/15/90. Commitment: San Diego.
8. Devin Harris, OF, East Carolina, #236 overall, 6’3’’/227: Here’s another very talented player, but one with limited polish for a college bat. Harris started for the first time this past year, and though he played well, he also showed the holes in his game. Like a lot of prep players, Harris struggles with pitch recognition on the offensive side and route-taking on the defensive side. He’s got plus power to go along with a plus arm in right field, so the tools are there, but he’s a boom-or-bust type of player. As a sophomore-eligible, he’s also got good leverage, though I think he’ll sign. Good pick for talent, a little above-average for draft position, but a little below-average for signability. DOB: 4/23/88.
9. Ryan Berry, RHP, Rice, #266 overall, 6’1’’/195: RUN AWAY!!! That’s how I feel about drafting Rice pitchers and overworked college pitchers in general. While college pitchers bring the extra security that teams desire in some drafts, there’s also the risk that the player was overworked, and that’s usually the case with Rice. Berry’s mechanics also aren’t so clean, and while he’s got good natural stuff, it’s not anything to write home about. The one positive with Berry is that he has good command of his breaking ball, the rarely-used knuckle curve, and he also has good command of his other pitches. Decent pick for talent and very good for draft position, but his signability is a huge question. I think it will take $800K to sign him away from returning to Rice. DOB: 8/3/88.
10. Jacob Cowan, RHP, San Jacinto JC (TX), #296 overall, 6’3’’/175: Cowan was the second straight pitcher with injury questions that the Orioles took. Having been drafted in the 14th round by the Red Sox in 2007 out of high school, Cowan stagnated at Virginia in 2008 before transferring to San Jacinto. He came down with elbow tendinitis part-way through the season after showing diminished stuff, making some question his long-term health outlook. However, he came back strong later in the season, and the Orioles got a steal getting him this late. He should have gone five or six rounds higher. Great pick for talent and draft position, and he just signed. No word on the signing bonus yet, and he hasn’t been placed on a roster. DOB: 6/30/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
11. Michael Ohlman, C, Lakewood Ranch HS (FL), #326 overall, 6’4’’/205: I’m a bit higher on Ohlman than some others, as I think he has the natural tools to stay behind the plate, and he’s developed the skills there, too. He’s still got some learning to do, but I think he could be a plus defender there. At the plate, I like the fact that he makes good contact, and his power should play. There’s no reason to think that there’s not a starting catcher in his toolset. This is a great pick for both talent and draft position, as Ohlman was speculated to be a first day candidate. However, he might not be signable, as it could take $1MM+ to get him away from Miami. That will be tough, but the Orioles might have saved enough for it with the Hobgood deal. DOB: 12/14/90. Commitment: Miami.
12. Steve Bumbry, OF, Virginia Tech, #356 overall, 5’10’’/185: I was pretty surprised that any team would be interested in Bumbry as anything more than an organizational player. He doesn’t have pro size, strikes out a ton, and doesn’t really have any noticeable pro tools. However, he proved very signable, and while I don’t like this pick for either talent or draft position, the signability factor came into play. He was 2-for-20 with Aberdeen before coming down with an injury and hitting the disabled list. DOB: 4/4/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
13. Ty Kelly, 2B, UC Davis, #386 overall, 6’0’’/185: While Kelly was supposed to go a few rounds later on most boards, I somewhat like this pick. As a sophomore, Kelly had a great campaign, but he really dipped during his junior year. However, he still has the same ability to hit for average, and I like his chances of being a possible reserve Major Leaguer. He might even have enough skills to start at second for a season or two. In addition, he also signed quickly and doesn’t turn 21 until next Monday. He’s hitting .309/.347/.382 in 68 ABs with Aberdeen so far. DOB: 7/20/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
14. David Baker, RHP, Hemet HS (CA), #416 overall, 6’4’’/195: Baker wasn’t really on my radar as anyone that would be drafted on the second day. So it naturally surprised me when he went in a team’s favored range, the top fifteen rounds. He’s got some projectability, but has a long, long way to go, as he allowed what is a lofty ERA in prep ball for a high draftee (3.12). Don’t like this pick for draft position at all, but he might prove to have more talent than I think. He signed fairly quickly, but hasn’t been rostered yet. DOB: 4/17/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.
15. Garrett Bush, RHP, Stanton College Prep HS (FL), #446 overall, 6’4’’/190: This marks the transition to the unsignable or organizational player territory for the Orioles. Bush has a great combination of pro body with pro arm, and he has the added plus that he lacks significant mileage on his arm, as he served as a reliever for the most part in high school. However, he lacks the polish of most highly-touted prep pitchers, as he focused on catching before realizing his pitching potential during the last couple of years. I thought he might be signable in the top ten rounds, but it’s more difficult this far down. Great pick for talent and draft position, but I fear he may end up at Auburn without $250K heading in his direction. DOB: 10/11/90. Commitment: Auburn.
16. Ryan Palsha, RHP, Diablo Valley JC (CA), #476 overall, 6’1’’/180: Not someone that was on my follow lists early on. Command is a problem, and he needs to be a reliever. I thought he’d be a late-round follow, as he has a year left at Diablo Valley. However, he signed already, but hasn’t appeared on a roster yet. DOB: 5/17/90. Signing bonus: Unknown.
17. Jeff Walters, RHP, Georgia, #506 overall, 6’3’’/190: I thought Walters might go a few rounds earlier, as he’s got the body and pure stuff of a 7th inning reliever. He was picked out of a JUCO last year in the 30th round by the Indians, but ended up at Georgia. Like Justin Dalles, he was also picked the previous two years. This could be a nice sign if the Orioles can make it happen. I put the odds of signing him at 50/50. DOB: 11/6/87.
18. Jarret Martin, LHP, Bakersfield JC (CA), #536 overall, 6’3’’/200: The Orioles obviously like Martin, as they also popped him in the 19th round a year ago. He’s got a pro body, but was a reliever with Bakersfield. He was just a JUCO freshman, so there’s questions about his signability this late. He’s a potential LOOGY, but hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 8/14/89. Commitment: None.
19. Kipp Schutz, OF, Indiana, #566 overall, 6’4’’/170: I thought Schutz might go a little higher, as he had a decent junior year. He’s also got pro size, though his power was disappointing this spring. The bad with Schutz is the defense, and he might be a career platoon left fielder, even in the minors. He just doesn’t have the skills there. The Orioles also picked Schutz, a draft-eligible sophomore, in the 26th round out of high school in 2006. He signed quickly, but is off to a poor 7-for-42 (.167) start with Bluefield in the Appy League. DOB: 3/21/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
20. James Brandhorst, RHP, Lamar, #596 overall, 6’4’’/235: This is a great pick this far down. I had Brandhorst as a sleeper reliever candidate to go in the top twelve rounds, and I think he has setup man potential. His command is the huge hurdle though, and it’s a big one. However, with his fastball/slider combo, Brandhorst has room for a little error, and he should move through the low minors fairly easily. Great pick for draft position and talent, and he signed quickly. He’s pitched 9 innings with Aberdeen, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out 13. DOB: 8/26/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
21. Kevin Landry, RHP, William & Mary, #626 overall, 6’7’’/220: Another great pick here. Landry should have gone as much as ten rounds higher, but fell for unknown reasons. His pure stuff was down this spring, but the Orioles bought low for a guy that can flash low- to mid-90s fastballs in the spirit of a first day pick. His pure ceiling might be a tad below that of Brandhorst’s, but Landry is no slouch. Great pick for talent and draft position, and he signed already. He allowed a run on 3 hits in 1.2 innings in his Aberdeen debut, walking 2 and striking out 3. DOB: 5/9/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
22. Cameron Coffey, LHP, Houston Christian HS (TX), #656 overall, 6’5’’/215: Coffey got a tough break this spring, when he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. This came after a huge breakout early in the year in which he started routinely throwing in the low-90s and I was hearing tons of buzz on him. I thought he might be heading towards day one before the injury. This seems like a pure follow to me, as I don’t think the Orioles will invest the money to sign Coffey away from his strong Duke commitment. DOB: 9/20/90. Commitment: Duke.
23. Mike Mooney, SS, Florida, #686 overall, 5’8’’/160: This was puzzling to me, as I thought Mooney would either be a late-round follow or go undrafted altogether. He’s tiny, doesn’t have any pro tools or skills, and still had a year of eligibility at Florida. However, he signed quickly with the Orioles, and he’s hitting .214/.290/.339 in 56 ABs with Aberdeen. Don’t like this pick. DOB: 6/12/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
24. Justin Anderson, LHP, UL-Monroe, #716 overall, 6’4’’/195: I have to admit I didn’t even follow Anderson this past season. It really surprised me to see someone picked in day two that I had to look up. He struggled during the year, and I’m surprised he signed so quickly, as he might have climbed boards as a senior lefty. He’s got pro size, and he’s off to a decent start as a reliever with Bluefield, as he has a 3.95 ERA through 13.2 innings. DOB: 10/21/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
25. Jay Johnson, LHP, Lethbridge CC (AB), #746 overall, 6’2’’/210: Johnson was probably the best JUCO player in Canada for this draft class, and I expected him to go possible a few rounds earlier. As a result, he hasn’t signed, and I expect him to honor his college commitment. DOB: 12/21/89. Commitment: Texas Tech.
26. Blake Mechaw, LHP, Shelton State CC (AL), #776 overall, 6’2’’/200: A JUCO sophomore, I thought Mechaw might go a few rounds earlier, though him falling to here wasn’t a surprise. He might be a future LOOGY at best, and he signed quickly. He’s allowed 5 earned runs in 6.2 innings with Bluefield so far. DOB: 8/19/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
27. Mike Planeta, OF, Glendale CC (AZ), #806 overall, 6’3’’/195: As a JUCO freshman, I had essentially written off Planeta as a late-round follow with an eye on next year. However, he’s got pro size, and he signed fairly quickly. He’s got bad pitch recognition skills, so I don’t expect much from him. He’s hitting .259/.273/.315 through 54 ABs with Bluefield. DOB: 10/17/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.
28. Kyle Hoppy, OF, Orchard Park HS (NY), #836 overall, 6’0’’/195: Hoppy’s probably got a better chance of starting on the football team at Bucknell next year than sporting a pro baseball uniform. I didn’t even follow him this spring, and I don’t think I’ve seen him on any other follow lists either. Interesting name to watch if you like two-sport athletes, though. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 5/8/91. Commitment: Bucknell (FB).
29. Brandon Alexander, OF, Oakville HS (MO), #866 overall, 6’1’’/170: A 19 year old high school senior, Alexander was yet another surprise to me. Since he committed to a JUCO, he’ll be eligible for the draft every year from here on out, since he’d be eligible at a four year school as a 21 year old sophomore. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 6/2/90. Commitment: Logan JC (IL).
30. Brenden Webb, OF, Palomar JC (CA), #896 overall, 6’3’’/190: If only they could sign him, I would love this pick. Webb was a name I kept hearing about in the California JUCO ranks as the draft neared, and I wondered if he might have enough helium to reach the top ten rounds. However, he fell as a JUCO freshman, and the Orioles picked him with their last second day pick. He’ll likely return to school, and he could be one of the top JUCO bats for the 2010 draft. DOB: 2/24/90. Commitment: None.
31. Mike Flacco, 3B, Catonsville CC (MD), #926 overall, 6’5’’/220: Flacco was the best JUCO hitter in the state of Maryland for 2009, though that’s not saying much. He’s much more famous as the brother of Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco. While I like the size, I don’t like the fact that he was a JUCO freshman at age 22, and I don’t see a bright future in baseball for the other Flacco. He signed quickly, and he’s off to a .242/.315/.333 start in 66 ABs for Bluefield. DOB: 1/17/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
32. Matt Nadolski, LHP, Casa Grande HS (CA), #956 overall, 6’2’’/185: I thought Nadolski would go as many as twenty rounds higher as a projectable prep lefty. However, it seems his college commitment scared off enough teams that the Orioles drafted him as a simple follow, meaning he won’t be signing. He should contribute immediately for San Diego State. DOB: 2/6/91. Commitment: San Diego State.
33. Tyler Naquin, OF, Klein Collins HS (TX), #986 overall, 6’1’’/165: I also thought Naquin could go twenty rounds higher, as he’s got some pro tools. However, he’s probably headed to JUCO power San Jacinto, and we’ll probably see his name again next year. He hasn’t signed, and I wouldn’t expect him to. DOB: 4/24/91. Commitment: San Jacinto JC (TX).
34. Malcolm Clapsaddle, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL), #1016 overall, 6’2’’/170: Clapsaddle is the next in a run of projectable, but unsignable, prep players for the Orioles. He has what can be called a projectable body, and he’ll probably contribute immediately out of the bullpen in college. I thought he’d go twenty rounds higher, maybe more. He won’t be signing. DOB: 9/10/90. Commitment: Georgia.
35. Jeremy Lucas, C, West Vigo HS (IN), #1046 overall, 6’2’’/190: Lucas is someone who will benefit from college time. Coming from a less-than-stellar baseball state, he just needs reps. Expect to see him on draft boards in three years, though his tools are probably not good enough to warrant a high selection. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/10/91. Commitment: Indiana State.
36. Scott Firth, RHP, Stevenson HS (IL), #1076 overall, 6’0’’/170: For me, Illinois’ prep pitcher ranks went Tanner Bushue-Ian Krol-Scott Firth. However, scouts always mentioned something about Firth’s size, as he’s definitely not your prototypical starting pitcher. However, he’s got pro stuff, and he’s also got the brains to succeed. He’s a great student, so that’s why he fell so far, with his college commitment being as strong as they come. He won’t be signing with the Orioles. DOB: 4/20/91. Commitment: Clemson.
37. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Chatfield HS (CO), #1106 overall, 6’3’’/175: Rogers is another projectable lefty, though he’s much more raw than most as a result of his competition in Colorado. I’d say that Rogers was probably the best prep lefty from the state in the class, but again, that’s not saying much. I doubt he signs, and he’ll be in the bullpen next year in college. DOB: 12/17/90. Commitment: Kentucky.
38. Josh Dowdy, RHP, Appalachian State, #1136 overall, 6’1’’/190: The Orioles had to fill out their rosters somewhere. Dowdy was a senior reliever who signed quickly and is off to a sizzling start with Bluefield, having allowed a single run in 13.2 innings of relief. DOB: 1/18/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
39. Kevin Alexander, RHP, Taravella HS (FL), #1166 overall, 6’0’’/160: Alexander’s got a body much like Firth’s, though Alexander probably needs a lot more work on his strength than Firth. As a result, Alexander wasn’t high on many follow lists in the heavily-scouted state of Florida, and I thought he might not get drafted at all. He’ll have some major work to do in college. DOB: 5/4/91. Commitment: Florida Atlantic.
40. Bobby Shore, RHP, Palomar JC (CA), #1196 overall, 6’0’’/175: Having already drafted an outfielder from Palomar, the Orioles decided Shore might be another nice addition, though he’s equally likely to sign. Shore doesn’t have much of a body, but he did garner a big college commitment, which probably dropped him somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty rounds. He’ll be back on boards next year as a junior. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/27/89. Commitment: Oklahoma.
41. Mason Magleby, RHP, Del Oro HS (CA), #1226 overall, 6’1’’/190: Magleby’s also a football prospect, and that’s where his future lies in college. He’s got average size for a pitcher, though he’s not really projectable. He will likely not sign. DOB: 4/29/91. Commitment: Nevada (FB).
42. Joe Valleggia, C, Old Dominion, #1256 overall, 6’6’’/235: Valleggia has great size, but little results. He played on a limited basis this past year, and is still 9 days shy of his 21st birthday. He will probably head back to school for his senior year. DOB: 7/23/88.
43. Brad Decater, OF, Cuesta JC (CA), #1286 overall, 6’1’’/190: I had Decater on my lists as a shortstop, so I’m a little perplexed as to what outfield position the Orioles thought he would play. However, I also thought he’d be a late-round follow, and I don’t even know his commitment for next year. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 12/28/88. Commitment: Unknown.
44. Kyle Westwood, RHP, Palm Harbor University HS (FL), #1316 overall, 6’2’’/170: Westwood has solid size for a projectable starting pitching prospect, but he wasn’t very highly touted as a prep. I don’t even know what his commitment is, and I thought he’d be drafted in this area if at all. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 4/13/91. Commitment: Unknown.
45. David Rivera, OF, Francisco Oller HS (PR), #1346 overall, 6’0’’/190: I’ve got nothing that isn’t already known about Rivera (which isn’t much). He signed quickly and is off to a .255/.304/.333 start in 51 ABs with the GCL Orioles. DOB: 3/20/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.
46. Scott Swinson, RHP, Maryland, #1376 overall, 6’1’’/185: By the end of the year, I thought Swinson had made himself into his team’s best 2009 draft prospect, ousting teammate A.J. Casario from that spot. However, Swinson fell this far probably due to a desire to return for his senior year and the poor results he generally got. He’s got average stuff with above-average command, so he might be a nice senior sign in the 2010 draft. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 3/11/88.
47. Nolan Martz, RHP, McKendree (IL), #1406 overall, 6’5’’/230: I didn’t follow Martz at all, so all I can say is that his frame screams big middle reliever. He probably won’t sign and will show up on draft boards again as a senior next year. DOB: 2/24/88.
48. Ryan Burnaman, 3B, San Jacinto JC (TX), #1436 overall, 5’11’’/165: Ignoring anyone on San Jacinto is a bad idea, even the small-framed infielder. A shortstop with San Jacinto, this JUCO freshman was picked as a corner infielder, though he’ll likely end back up at school. If he can prove he can hit, Burnaman might be as many as thirty rounds higher next year. DOB: 3/6/90. Commitment: None.
49. Ashley Bulluck, RHP, South Broward HS (FL), #1466 overall, 6’9’’/270: I don’t think the size is a typo, but the last listings I saw on Bulluck had him at 6’4’’, which was still good enough for me to make a note of him. There’s a point where size works against a pitcher, and this is probably it. Bulluck will probably always garner scouting attention for his size, so remember the name. He won’t be signing this year. DOB: 5/13/91. Commitment: Broward CC (FL).
50. Tim Berry, LHP, San Marcos HS (CA), #1496 overall, 6’2’’/165: Berry’s got a weak frame, and he’s likely to benefit from three years of college. To call him projectable might be an understatement, as he’s got tons of room to grow. I thought he might go in the top fifteen rounds to someone who liked that projectability, but he fell here due to his college commitment and questions about his durability. He won’t sign. DOB: 3/18/91. Commitment: Oregon.
I’m immediately struck by how much risk is in this draft. While Tyler Townsend offers at least some security, most of the rest of this draft is filled with riskier players. Hobgood is one of your more secure prep pitchers, but as with any prep pitcher, or any pitcher at age 18 for that matter, there’s a huge amount of risk. Perhaps Hobgood’s strong size will help him get through the injury nexus, but I wouldn’t bet $2.4 million on it. Looking beyond Hobgood, Givens is a very risky pick as a position player, and it will probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of $800K to sign him, maybe more. I don’t like Givens’ chances to both reach his potential with the bat and glove, so at least one will be iffy. The pure talent is definitely there, and while I like pure talent in evaluating, the risk of entire draft class has to be taken into account, too.
Starting with the second day, I see more risk in there. Henry threw just 11 innings this year, as I noted above, and he was also a reliever. I’m pretty sure they drafted him as a starter, but JUCO freshmen take time to develop, and they’re also close to being as risky as prep pitchers. The one consolation I find in that selection from a risk standpoint is that his coach did a nice job of shielding him from a heavy workload. Tolliver is a nice pick, but I do see him as a reliever, which takes away some of the risk, but he’s also only a year into being any good, and there might be some regression in there. Same with Dalles. Wirsch has a long way to go, as does Devin Harris, who could pay huge dividends, but could also be an expensive bust. Berry and Cowan are a pair of pitchers coming off arm injuries during the season, so there’s that risk, too. In addition, with Mike Ohlman, the Orioles need to believe that he’ll stick at catcher with his huge frame. Otherwise it’s a waste of a large amount of money on someone that might not hit enough to be a starter at any other position, though I personally believe in his bat.
From there, the Orioles went into what almost seemed to be risk-averse mode, overdrafting Bumbry, Kelly, and Baker, though the selection of Garrett Bush in the 15th round could be a huge steal if they can sign him. I do like Kelly more than most, but I’m not predicting stardom for him. I really like the selections of Walters, Brandhorst, and Landry, as they could all be Major League relievers. Walters might not sign, but already having Brandhorst and Landry locked up could be a coup, but not enough of one to really raise my grade of their draft as a whole. I’ll be re-examining every team’s draft after the signing deadline and end of the minor league season, so there’s a lot that could change between now and then. However, looking at the here and now, I have to give this draft a B-, as the risk is just too high. Getting good players late, and also getting bargains early in terms of draft position, was offset by a few overdrafts and the heavy risk involved with their picks. This draft may put out a Major Leaguer or two, but I don’t see most of these high-risk players making it past AA.
FINAL GRADE: B-.
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