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Player Player Game Report: Kevin Jordan, OF, Northside HS (GA)

Having already planned to head to South Georgia on Saturday, I planned a side route to Columbus, Georgia to be able to catch a possible first-day draft prospect in Northside High School outfielder Kevin Jordan. Jordan is a tall, lanky center field prospect with plus tools in the power, speed, and fielding departments, and he holds a baseball scholarship to Wake Forest. A late-bloomer in terms of national prominence, Jordan came onto the bigger stage with strong performances in the Area Code games in August, followed by a good showing at the World Wood Bat World Championship in Jupiter, Florida in October. I currently rate him as a 2nd-4th round prospect, and his upside is immense. I recorded notes on most players in the matchup between Northside and Northgate High School, but this will simply be a writeup on Jordan, the only high-level draft prospect on the field on Saturday. Here’s a look at what I saw.

Jordan was the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for Northside, and he was easily the best player on the field, both in terms of current production and tools. He didn’t have a great day when I saw him on Saturday, but the tools are definitely in there. To begin, his raw size makes him stand out. He’s listed at 6’1’’, and that’s about right, though he may be closer to 6’2’’. He has lean, wiry strength that’s already solid, and he definitely has the look of someone that will fill out with solid muscle as he matures. There’s tons of potential in his body, though relying on physical projection is only one step in the grading process.

Let’s start with Jordan’s skills at the plate. He hits with a fairly simple load, and he gets set early enough to be prepared. I only say that part because that’s sometimes a problem with more inexperienced prep hitters, and Jordan’s high-level experience with baseball is pretty lacking. However, Jordan has some good fundamentals at the plate. He shouldn’t have to adjust much with a wooden bat in terms of hitting mechanics. The only glaring thing I see is how much he moves his front elbow down when he gets into his load, and that messes with his timing a little. He pulls that elbow out a little early on offspeed stuff, and while he keeps most of the rest of his body in line, that elbow moves the bat enough to make it essentially without pop if he makes contact. It’s kind of a scramble to put the ball in play rather than waiting on the pitch and driving it. That’s all correctable with pro coaching, though, and the mechanics themselves are strong. He even has a little Junior Griffey in him in terms of the load when he gets a pitch to drive. His bat speed is above-average when he’s not fooled by his somewhat weak pitch recognition, and he projects to hit for a solid average, and I gave him a future 55 grade on his hit tool, though with only four at-bats to judge. His raw power gets a future grade of 55 or 60 depending on how you see him filling out.

I didn’t get a very good opportunity to clock his speed. I was running the stopwatch continuously, but he either hit a weaker fly ball, a grounder that got into the outfield or he got lazy at the end of a routine grounder. I didn’t get a single sub-5 second time for him down the line, a clear indication that he wasn’t running close to full speed, since he’s been clocked at 4.1 seconds down the line as late as October, which is true plus speed from the left-handed batter’s box, and he’s been given anywhere from 60 to 70 grades for his raw speed by scouts. The fastest I saw him run was from center field back to the dugout after a third out was recorded by his team.

In the field, I got a chance to see Jordan’s arm in pre-game outfield/infield practice. That’s what I love about the college and prep level. They still take infield. In general, the arm didn’t impress me. He also got a chance to try and throw out a player at the plate in the first inning on a single, when the runner was trying to score from second. Not only did he not charge the ball with any sort of urgency, he then came up with a horrible throw that was cut by the first baseman in the middle of the diamond, and the runner scored easily. I gave the arm a 40 grade, which is easily below-average, and I’m hoping he was simply stiff in the high-40s windy weather, because it was simply bad. He throws right-handed, and his throwing mechanics aren’t noticeably bad, but there’s no life on his throws.

Looking simply at his fielding and range in center, I only had minimal looks. He glided for one ball in left-center late in the game, and he got under the ball easily enough to call off the nearby left fielder and make the catch. I have to note that the field was 331 feet to each foul pole, but only 352 feet to dead center, so Jordan was understandably playing a very shallow center field for any sizeable pro park, so judging his range at that field is fairly skewed. With his speed and the instincts I saw him show on that fly ball, I don’t see any reason why he can’t be an above-average center fielder if he keeps that speed after filling out. If he loses that extra bit of speed, then he could be shifted to left field and be a plus fielder there. I don’t think his arm plays in right field at all, so he would absolutely have to shift to left if he outgrew center field.

Having looked at his five tools, let me give you a quick wrap-up on the little things I saw about Jordan. In short, he’s a low-energy player, and I mean that in a bad way. Besides the lackluster effort on the single to center field where his throw came in pretty badly, he pretty much dogged it in every other aspect of his game. He didn’t back up throws, didn’t run out hits, and he looked like he absolutely didn’t care about the game of baseball. Even knowing about his good tools, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he looked completely bored out of his mind. Like I said above, the most effort I saw him put out was running back to the dugout. At the plate, he seemed timid, and he didn’t even get fired up by a pair of horrible calls by the home plate umpire, including calling a strike on a ball that bounced between home plate and the catcher’s glove. He simply stepped out of the box, stepped back in and proceeded to continue his at-bat. If he had shown any sort of effort in any other part of the game, I would have said it was mature of him to not let the umpire get to him, but I wanted to see some sort of life from him. I didn’t even see him smile. It looked like someone was forcing him to play.

Here are two more things that bothered me the most. Let’s start with the thing that bothered me most. Jordan had reached base on an error by an infielder, proceeded to steal second with another runner on 3rd without a throw, and then made it to third on another grounder. He didn’t take much of a lead at third, and he almost looked afraid of being picked off, a surprise for such a high-level athlete. While he was at third, the four-hole hitter for Northside hit a soft, looping liner to short right field. Jordan did the right thing by heading back towards third to tag up in case the right fielder caught it, but the ball fell in front of the fielder for an easy single. Jordan, seeing the ball drop, started heading home for what should have been an easy run. However, he did what I can best describe as jogging, though jogging is probably faster than he got down the line. The right fielder had time to get the ball to the first baseman on the inner grass of the infield, who relayed it home at the same time Jordan arrived there. Jordan didn’t bother to slide, instead just putting his foot right next to where the catcher was trying to block the plate, while at the same time shielding his face from the ball possibly hitting there with his hand and tilting his batting helmet that way. He scored on what was essentially a tie at home plate, and he was extremely lucky not to be thrown out or completely miss home plate with his foot. If I was coaching, he would been riding that bench for the rest of the game after that, but he stayed in, which I thought was strange after later seeing the same coach benching a kid for not getting to second on a borderline routine double down the third base line, even though the kid stumbled out of the box. The coach even publicly chewed him out in his face on his way back to the dugout. Talk about mixed messages.

The other thing that bothered me most about Jordan was his approach at the plate, specifically in his third at-bat in the fourth inning. Northgate decided to pull their starter just as Jordan was coming up to the plate. The reliever showed some interesting secondary stuff, and I expected Jordan to do what any responsible leadoff hitter should do. He should have had an extended at-bat that allowed him and his teammates to see what sort of live pitching that pitcher had to offer. Instead, he lunged at the second pitch of the at-bat for a weakly-hit ground ball for an out, the groundout where he dogged it down the line to a 5+ second clock time. It was too immature for a hitter of his draft caliber, and the effort out of the box didn’t help.

All in all, it was easy to see why scouts are attracted to Jordan and his tools. There were about half a dozen area scouts in attendance, most of which had been at the Georgia-Stetson matchup the night before. They were all there to see Jordan, and none even used a radar gun or moved from their spots up the left field line, with four staying put beyond the third base dugout for the entire game until Jordan’s last at-bat, when they promptly left. All had stopwatches in their hands and only paid attention when Jordan was involved with the action. I generally liked what I saw from Jordan in terms of the physical tools, but he’ll have to prove to me that he can actually show some effort before I think of him as a first-day prospect. For now, I peg him personally as a fourth-round or later guy, and his makeup was a big negative. Not knowing him personally, I’m not sure if his overall makeup is a minus, but his live game makeup was a big drawback for me.

Here are a couple other notes on some other players:

-Northgate’s best player is Conner Kendrick, who played center field for them in Saturday’s contest. He’s mainly a prospect as a pitcher, and he brings high-80s heat from the left side on the mound. He has a Georgia Tech commitment for next year, and he’s probably a late-teens to mid-twenties pick on talent, though I completely expect him to land at Tech for the 2011 season. During Northgate’s outfield throws during warm-ups, as soon as he let go of the ball, the area scout standing next to me said, “Wooo…Conner Kendrick!!” He hadn’t even noticed anyone else on the field, but Kendrick’s plus arm in center certainly got his attention.
-I love the education you can get from parents in the stands at high school games. Having forgotten that Columbus had a very successful Little League World Series team a few years ago, I was reminded of that with a particular player on Northside. Brady Hamilton, a junior on Northside, was the kid that had to get his head stitched up after jumping on a bed, then went out and played in the Series. He’s now a pretty big kid with what looks like good strength potential, but he has a huge head tug that happens early in the pitch sequence, and then follows that with a foot squarely in the bucket. In other words, he can’t even see clearly what’s coming his way. However, that’s a great example of the stories you pick up at games like this.
-I’m planning on catching Jordan and company again later in the season, and next weekend I’ll be back in Atlanta to catch the series between Georgia Tech and Rutgers. I’m looking forward to seeing Rutgers hitter Jaren Matthews faced off against Deck McGuire on Friday, and unless it’s too cold, I’ll once again be Tweeting throughout.

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Player Game Report | 3 Comments

Weekend Column: Justin Grimm Video

I shot around a half hour of video yesterday at the Georgia-Stetson matchup, and the majority of that is on my computer waiting for some editing. The only real ready-for-showing video is now uploaded here. As you can see, it has HD quality if you choose to watch it at that level. Please forgive the shaky quality of the camera work, as it was my first time out with the camera, I was incredibly cold, and saying it was windy was an understatement. Every fly ball was a battle for the fielders, and filming became that much harder. I’ll have plenty of later video on Grimm, so I’m not worried about this week’s action as much as getting good stuff later. More video footage will be posted later on in the week as I have time to edit.

Enjoy this 3 minute clip of Grimm warming up before yesterday’s outing. It’s always fun to listen to The Who in the background.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | 1 Comment

Game Report: Georgia v. Stetson, 2/26/10

If you didn’t notice already, I abandoned using Twitter for today’s game, as the weather turned too bitter cold to have my hands out of my gloves, which is what an iPhone requires. This weekend features plenty of draft prospects in action, but today’s game of the night for me was in Athens, Georgia for the matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and Stetson Hatters. Not a great name for the Stetson club, but it works for them. I purposely didn’t show up in time for batting practice tonight, because I wanted to see the Georgia hitters at work in games without the influence of what I saw earlier. I already knew that the likes of Zach Cone and Chase Davidson could put on batting practice shows, but I was there to see what kind of adjustments they make and whether they could hit live pitching as well as their tools indicate they can. I’ll have plenty of chances to catch them for the rest of this season and next before their draft year, so my goal tonight was simply to get acquainted with the hitters and how they handle live stuff.

The pitching side of the game, however, was different. While I was less excited about Stetson’s starter, Lindsey Caughel, I went into the game thinking about him as a solid second day prospect for next year’s draft. I paid plenty of attention to what he could do, as it might be the last time I see him live between now and June 2011. The main event for tonight’s game, though, was Georgia’s Justin Grimm, a borderline first round prospect for this year’s draft. A lot of you that know my stuff know that I’m not a big fan of ranking players, but I always have a fairly updated personal top 50 on my site, and Grimm came in ranked at #31 overall. I saw players ranked #5 (Deck McGuire) and #28 (Kevin Jacob) last weekend, so I was looking forward to seeing another top arm for this class.

Since I already established that I showed up after batting practice, let’s get straight to the game action and the things I observed. Game time temperature was somewhere in the mid- to low-40s, so I knew I might not be getting a realistic view of some players’ talents in the frigid conditions. I went over to check out Grimm’s pre-game bullpen session, of which I got some video which I’ll share with you. I immediately noticed the kind of high-maintenance delivery he has, and it’s very timing-intensive. Getting a consistent release point looked like a struggle for him, and while I didn’t see any glaring red flags for injury concerns, I immediately knew that I’d be treated to a game in which command might be fading in and out.

Grimm’s first two fastballs were solid pitches at 91 and 92 mph respectively, and they were located well to get things going. Then Grimm started getting really amped up and threw his hardest pitches of the day, with fastball velocities of 96, 96, 97, 94, 93, 93, 96. It was impressive to watch, but at the same time, you could easily tell that he was absolutely speeding up his arm to get these readings, and the pitches were definitely flattened out compared to his first two offerings. That string of 7 fastballs were located in about 7 different areas of the zone and outside of it, making him effectively wild, but as I said in a tweet, Stetson hitters are a little easier to get out than pro hitters, or even SEC hitters that will see Grimm later this spring. He only threw a single offspeed pitch in the first, a borderline plus curveball with excellent shape at 81 mph, and he used it to get Stetson’s leadoff hitter, Spencer Theisen, fishing for a swinging strikeout. Grimm got through the first inning easily, but I was wondering how long he could keep up the hard-throwing antics.

Caughel came out in the first, and it didn’t take long to tell that he didn’t feel like he belonged with Georgia’s hitters. He was incredibly timid on the mound, much more so than I’ve seen from anyone so far this year, and that immediately turned me off from a scouting perspective. After leadoff hitter Johnathan Taylor singled to center to lead off the inning, Caughel’s pace slowed to a halt, and there was one span during the second hitter’s at-bat that Caughel threw over three times and stepped off the mound twice between pitches. It seemed like an eternity. His stuff was fringe-average, but passable if located well, but his demeanor was of a scared pitcher on the mound, and he nibbled around the outside corner, to little effect. His fastball in the first was an 88-90 mph pitch with average life, and he added a fringe-average curveball in the low-70s, his best pitch being a 73 mph curve. It doesn’t have good shape, and it doesn’t project to improve in the future, so even in the span of a single inning, I felt like I was watching a future middle reliever or organizational arm. The strangest part was how the two-hole hitter, Chase Davidson, essentially bailed Caughel out. After all the throws to first and the stepping off of the rubber, Davidson seemingly got impatient, getting out on his front foot on a fringy fastball, rolling over it to the third baseman for an easy double play. I clocked Davidson at 4.50 seconds to first from the left side, which is bad news, getting an easy 20 or 30 grade, well below-average speed. Caughel got Georgia’s three-hole hitter, Peter Verdin, an early-rounds 2011 prospect, to ground out to short to end the inning, with Verdin getting down the line in 4.29 seconds from the right side, which comes in right about average for speed.

As you can tell by now, I was really working to pick up the technical details in this game, having had my warm-up weekend last week. It felt good to really be working the stopwatch and getting readings and writing reports at the same time, as well as getting video. It felt more normal than simply sitting there last week trying to take it all in with just a pen and my phone up for Twitter. To start the second inning, Grimm’s first pitch was a solid 95 mph fastball, but despite bringing that seemingly plus pitch, Stetson’s Nick Rickles turned it around for a solid shot to center field, which held up for Cone to catch for out number one. I didn’t a good feel for how well Cone covered ground in center, as he didn’t have to go far for anything all night. Grimm started settling down into his more normal range for the night to the next hitter, Sean Emory, sitting in the 92-94 range with an 80 mph curveball. Emory also put a decent charge into a 92 mph fastball, which was caught by Taylor in left field. Grimm was simply leaving his fastball up and over the plate, and he was lucky that it was Stetson hitters, and not a Hunter Morris or other big power hitter at the plate. Those balls would still be traveling. He started dipping down to some 90s and 91s to the next hitter, Robert Crews, as well as hitting a 94 and 95, and Crews slapped a blazing ground ball right to the left of freshman shortstop Kyle Farmer, who got eaten up by the ball, kicking it off the heel of his glove and into center field. Grimm flashed a decent, perhaps a future average, changeup to the next hitter and wriggled out of the slight inconvenience of the error with a line shot caught in center by Cone. Grimm was throwing it all over the zone in the second, and he was lucky not to allow a single official hit.

Caughel started out the second by allowing a base hit the opposite way to Georgia third baseman Colby May, who simply turned away a 90 mph fastball with an inside-out stroke to right field. Zach Cone came to the plate, and I grabbed some film of him at work. He didn’t have his best at-bat, or his best night, but he beat out of little chopper in the infield with a 4.12 second time to first base, plus-plus speed. I’ll get to his swing more in other at-bats, where he showed me a little more. After another single, Farmer showed me something interesting with a solid swing with good bat speed, hitting a blazing line drive to right center field, scoring Cone. After seeing a few more of his at-bats I rate his hit tool as a true above-average tool, with room for some growth as his presence at the plate grows with time. He’s only a freshman, and I see good things to come. Caughel induced a double play ball and strikeout on a 74 mph curveball in the dirt to finish out the inning, but allowed another run on a wild pitch in-between, leading to a 3-0 Georgia lead after two innings.

Grimm’s third inning confirmed my worries about his busy windup and delivery. After showing good stuff to the leadoff hitter, including an above-average 79 mph curveball for the strikeout, he then proceeded to walk Stetson hitter Jeff Simpson on four straight pitches, all fastballs in the low-90s. For those of you who don’t know, Simpson isn’t exactly the type that someone pitches around. Grimm simply lost his release point and started getting out of whack mechanically. It did give me an extended opportunity to see how fast Grimm was to the plate, and the vast majority of my times were in the 1.2 to 1.4 second range, which is slightly above-average to average. He walked another batter after Simpson, putting him in his first real jam of the night. He worked on the next hitter with a 94 mph fastball, followed by 88 and 89 mph fastballs, then a solid curveball that induced an inning-ending double play.

Caughel started working in his more normal fastball range in the third inning, sitting 86-88 from then on out. He was very slow in terms of his pace, and he paired that with a very slow delivery to the plate, all with times of 1.5 seconds or higher. Johnathan Taylor stole second and Peter Verdin stole third in the inning, all a function of his slow delivery. Taylor had been placed on first by a walk, and then scored when Verdin chopped a ground ball over the third baseman’s head for a double. However, Verdin was stranded at third after the steal, as May chased a low and outside 73 mph curve in the dirt and Cone followed that up with a real inability to put the bat on the breaking stuff. He struck out on another slow curve, waiving at a pitch that was actually hung out over the plate. Georgia’s lead was 4-0 after three.

Grimm came out firing with fastballs in the fourth inning, all of which were in his more normal 90-92 mph range. The Stetson lineup was absolutely bailing him out with early swings, despite his proven inability to command the strike zone, and they were simply pounding the ball into the ground, as Grimm adjusted his mechanics to be able to keep the ball down in the inning. That didn’t last, mind you, but it was a nice glimpse into his ability to adjust. Crews hit a hard ground ball into right field with two outs, but Grimm worked around it by inducing another weak ground ball to first base to end the inning. It was a very quick inning and helped stretch Grimm’s life in the game out.

Caughel’s fourth inning was one to forget. He did manage to flash a fringe-average changeup in the inning that was slightly encouraging at 81 mph, but in general his nibbling came back to bite him, as the Georgia hitters could sit on what they knew was coming. He didn’t allow many truly hard-hit balls, but the hitters were going with them and finding holes around the infield. That only caused him to nibble more, and he started to give up the big hit. He was also a very nervous fielder, as he fielded a chopped ball with runners on the corners, and proceeded to hastily throw a ball home that was luckily caught on a bounce or two by the catcher for the tag that got Farmer at home. He was very lucky that the ball didn’t go bounding to the backstop, as he completely rushed a play that didn’t need as much effort as he thought it did. It was clearly the sign of a nervous pitcher making a nervous play. He then essentially fell apart, allowing a solid line drive hit to left field by Taylor, and the left fielder, Simpson, booted it while attempting to catch it on a slide, allowing the ball to go all the way to the wall. The third base coach waved Taylor around to score, but he was thrown out on a good relay. Davidson stepped up with two outs and put an absolute charge into the ball the other way with easy raw power, and he was robbed of an extra-base hit by Simpson who caught the ball leaping into the air while hitting the hard, wooden-like wall at the same time, holding on for the out. Davidson’s easy opposite field raw power was impressive, and he still has that plus raw power in his bat somewhere. All in all, the damage added up to 3 runs in the inning and a 7-0 Georgia lead.

Grimm had a tough time coming back out after a longer inning sitting in the cold, and after a quick ground out that was once again handed on a platter to him by Stetson, he walked Simpson on four pitches, three fastballs and a 1-0 curve. The umpire helped him out, though, with the next batter, as he threw an 81 curve, 86 changeup, and 80 curve for a called strike three on three consecutive pitches, making me wonder if he felt like he had lost his fastball command, so he had temporarily ditched it in favor of his offspeed pitches. He continued to be about average for speed to the plate, clocking in at 1.35 seconds multiple times. He walked another hitter to make things even worse for him, using multiple curveballs again, and I did not like his pitch sequences, especially with a runner on first. He did pop a pair of 94 mph fastballs in that at-bat, but the overuse of his curves, which weren’t commanded any better than his fastballs, was concerning. He started throwing more changes again to end the inning, and he finished off the inning with an 89 mph fastball for a swinging strikeout. Overall, it was obvious that Grimm was tiring quickly, and even though it was only the fifth inning, Georgia was going to need some bullpen help to finish off the blowout.

Caughel’s fifth inning was even worse than his fourth, and he ended up getting pulled after he allowed a leadoff home run to Verdin on a hanging high-80s fastball. He was allowed to stay in to face a few more batters as the reliever warmed in the bullpen, getting two outs, but his day ended with a walk and single. All in all, he didn’t get hit extremely hard until the last few batters of the night, but his nibbling was so excruciating to watch that I’m not sure he’ll last in the Friday starter role for Stetson this season if he continues with such a lack of confidence. His replacement, Robbie Powell, was a fringy arm that doesn’t look draftable, and he was equally slow to the plate, and the inning ended up with 4 more Georgia runs, for a grand total of 11 in the game through five innings.

Grimm had been throwing in foul territory on the right field line during the Stetson pitching change, and I could tell it would probably be his last inning. In actuality, he didn’t finish off the inning. He got the leadoff hitter to strike out swing to start the sixth, but catcher Christian Glisson failed to keep it in front of him for the wild pitch, as the 81 mph curveball bounded into the Georgia dugout on the first base side. Grimm was popping fastballs in the 92-94 range in the inning, and he was speeding up his arm to do so, knowing that it would be his last inning. He allowed a weak single to left field after the wild pitch, but then induced a double play to May at third base, who stepped on the bag and threw to first to complete the play. That ended up being Grimm’s last pitch, and he was relieved by 2010 draft prospect Justin Earls, a potential LOOGY arm in the top ten rounds. He finished off the inning with 87-88 mph fastballs, and the lead stayed at 11-0. Grimm’s final line consisted of 5.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing two hits and four walks, striking out seven. A solid, if shaky, outing that brought up questions about his command. I’ll get to see him a few more times this year, and he’ll need to answer those questions to be a true first-round arm.

Here’s a quick rundown on the rest of the game, which featured bench players entering on both sides:

-Earls was bringing 84-88 mph fastballs and 73-75 mph curveballs that were both fringe-average in nature. He looks like a decent LOOGY candidate to me, as he handled lefties well with his deception. There’s not much more in there, though.
-Davidson connected to start Georgia’s part of the 6th inning, hitting an absolute monster home run to right center field, easily going 400+ feet. If he can do that more consistently, he’s a first day draft prospect again next year after not signing with the Astros as a third-round pick in 2008.
-Zach Taylor came off the bench to hit in the 6th, showing borderline plus speed from the left-handed batter’s box, clocking in at 4.16 seconds to first base.
-May features a very mature approach at the plate at times, and he has a very simple load in his swing. He’s very calm with his hands, and he projects to be a solid pro hitter, though he’s more of a second-day prospect for the 2011 draft.
-Zach Cone didn’t impress me too much on the time, as he proved very susceptible to soft stuff low and away. He struck out again in the 6th. I have a good bit of film on him, and I’ll let you decide what you see.

I’ll get up video for tomorrow, and I’ll also be covering what I see from Northside High School (GA) prospect Kevin Jordan tomorrow starting at noon. Hope you enjoyed the second Friday of college action.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Game Report | 4 Comments

Game Thread: Georgia v. Stetson, 2/26/10

Follow me on Twitter as I take you through today’s game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Stetson Hatters, which starts at 5 pm eastern.

I’ll be updating you on Justin Grimm and other interesting draft prospects, and I’ll have a writeup and some film this evening.

Enjoy week two of college baseball!

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Open Thread | Leave a comment

MLB Draft Notebook Excerpt: Mike Antonio

Mike Antonio   Position: SS   School: George Washington HS
State: NY   Height: 6’2’’   Weight: 180

Bats: R   Throws: R   Birth Date: 10/26/91
Seiler Rating: XXX   Commitment: St. John’s

Mike Antonio is a solidly-built infielder from the Bronx. He easily rates as the best New York City prospect in this draft class. At the plate, Antonio is still developing what his style of execution is going to be. At the moment, his body is more of a leadoff player’s body, and he has average to above-average speed, so he could fit in that mold if he wanted to. However, his body still has good projection, and if he adds enough strength, he could conceivably turn into a hitter with solid power projection. How he develops physically will dictate that, but the consensus is that he’s probably more of a number two hitter, one with solid athleticism, but not enough speed to leadoff and not enough pop to bat in the middle third. Defensively, he has solid actions and should be able to be an average shortstop if he doesn’t fill out too much and lose range. He has an average arm, and he could move to third base if needed, though second base is probably the better option for him both offensively and defensively. He should be signable in the top seven rounds, and I project him as a third to fifth round prospect and a solid sign.

February 26, 2010 Posted by | MLB Draft Notebook | Leave a comment

2010 Draft Preview – Florida Marlins

The nineteenth part of my draft preview series is on the Florida Marlins and their scouting director Stan Meek. Meek has run the Marlins’ drafts since 2003, but I will focus on the most recent five, starting in 2005.

Owner: Jeffrey Loria, bought club in 2002
General Manager: Michael Hill, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Stan Meek, first draft was 2003

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $7.7 Million Budget

1. Chris Volstad, RHP, Palm Beach Garden HS (FL), #16 Overall: Volstad was the first of three true first round picks in Meek’s third draft with the Marlins. He was a true first-rounder on most boards, and he offered tons of projection and was still signable. Solid first pick. Following players selected: C.J. Henry, Cesar Carrillo, John Mayberry. Signing bonus: $1,600,000.
2. Aaron Thompson, LHP, Second Baptist HS (TX), #22 Overall: Thompson wasn’t considered a universal first round prospect, but he was far more advanced than even the top level of prep starting pitchers. There were major concerns about his ceiling, but the Marlins felt his high floor made him attractive. Following players selected: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Bogusevic, Matt Garza. Signing bonus: $1,225,000.
3. Jacob Marceaux, RHP, McNeese State, #29 Overall: Marceaux was a borderline first round draft prospect, mainly due to not being on the prospect scene for very long and also due to questions about his long-term role. He still offered a fresh arm for a collegiate pitcher, plus extra upside. Following players selected: Tyler Greene, Matt Torra, Chaz Roe. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
4. Ryan Tucker, RHP, Temple City HS (CA), #34 Overall: Tucker was a closely-followed SoCal prospect with a plus to plus-plus fastball, but little else. Still, teams loved his quick arm, despite having little feel for any sort of breaking balls. He was expected to go in the area of the second round, and this was a solid pick. Following players selected: Cesar Ramos, Travis Buck, Trevor Bell. Signing bonus: $975,000.
5. Sean West, LHP, Captain Shreve HS (LA), #44 Overall: West was considered a solid, signable prep arm that was expected to go in the supplemental first round to late second round range. He was huge, standing 6’8’’, and the projectability with the size was attractive to scouts. Following players selected: Jed Lowrie, Tyler Herron, Michael Bowden. Signing bonus: $775,000.
Other Notable Selections: C Gaby Sanchez (4th), Miami, $250K bonus; RHP Chris Leroux (7th), Winthrop, $152K bonus; 1B Logan Morrison, Northshore HS (LA), $225K bonus.

2006 Draft: $5.1 Million Budget

1. Brett Sinkbeil, RHP, Missouri State, #19 Overall: Sinkbeil was a solid first-round prospect, and while he didn’t offer a lot in terms of upside, he offered relative safety. He profiled as a signable mid-rotation starter, and this was a solid start to the 2006 draft for Meek. Following players selected: Chris Parmelee, Ian Kennedy, Colton Willems. Signing bonus: $1,525,000.
2. Chris Coghlan, 3B, Ole Miss, #36 Overall: Coghlan was considered more of a second to fourth round prospect, but few doubted his hit tool. Most scouts didn’t think he’d developed much power, and his defense wasn’t sparkling, but he was a solid, signable pick, another in a line for Meek’s 2006 draft. Following players selected: Adrian Cardenas, Cory Rasmus, David Huff. Signing bonus: $950,000.
3. Tom Hickman, OF, Pepperell HS (GA), #63 Overall: Hickman was considered more of a pitching prospect than hitting prospect for some teams, but the Marlins liked Hickman’s upside with the bat. He wasn’t considered an early prospect, though, so this second round selection seemed a bit strange at the time. Following players selected: Joe Benson, Drew Carpenter, Trevor Cahill. Signing bonus: $575,000.
4. Torre Langley, C, Alexander HS (GA), #90 Overall: Langley was considered a solid fourth to sixth round prospect as a defense-first catcher. He was known on the national stage for his defensive skills, but there were plenty of doubts about his bat, leading to concerns about his high-level ability. Following players selected: Stephen King, Cole Gillespie, Cedric Hunter. Signing bonus: $422,500.
5. Scott Cousins, OF, San Francisco, #95 Overall: Cousins was a gritty college player that was also known as a pitcher to some scouts. He featured solid power upside, along with solid defensive potential, though he rated as a ‘tweener, without enough power for right field or enough speed for center. However, this was a solid pick. Following players selected: Tyler Robertson, Jason Donald, Matt Sulentic. Signing bonus: $407,500.
Other Notable Selections: OF John Raynor (9th), UNC Wilmington, $17,500 bonus.

2007 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth HS (CA), #12 Overall: Dominguez was a very good all-around high school prospect, and he was Mike Moustakas’ teammate in a year where they both went in the top 12 picks. Dominguez had solid hit and power tools, as well as excellent defensive tools. Following players selected: Beau Mills, Jason Heyward, Devin Mesoraco. Signing bonus: $1,800,000.
2. Mike Stanton, OF, Notre Dame HS (CA), #76 Overall: Stanton was always a big-time power prospect, but he’s also always struggled with pitch recognition and contact. He featured solid all-around tools, though the raw power was his only true plus tool. Following players selected: Scott Moviel, Freddie Freeman, Zack Cozart. Signing bonus: $475,000.
3. Jameson Smith, C, Fresno CC (CA), #106 Overall: Smith was a surprise third round draftee, as he had plenty of questions about both his glove and bat. He was more athletic than the usual college catcher, and he did flash some potential to hit for average at the plate, as well as with some power. He was expected to go a few rounds later. Following players selected: Brandon Workman, Brandon Hicks, Neftali Soto. Signing bonus: $310,000.
4. Bryan Petersen, OF, UC Irvine, #136 Overall: Petersen was similar in a way to Stanton in that he was a solidly-athletic outfielder with raw power, but he struggled with pitch recognition and making contact. Petersen was a bit faster than Stanton, but he was expected to go a few rounds later than that. Following players selected: Timothy McFarland, Cory Gearrin, Blake Stouffer. Signing bonus: $191,250.
5. Steven Cishek, RHP, Carson-Newman, #166 Overall: Cishek was considered a better prospect than Smith and Petersen, who were taken ahead of him by Meek. He was an unknown prospect out of high school, and he was only a reliever in college, so there were plenty of questions about him, but his arm was of high quality. Following players selected: Jonathan Holt, Dennis Dixon, Drew Bowman. Signing bonus: $139,500.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Garrett Parcell (12th), San Diego State.

2008 Draft: $5.4 Million Budget

1. Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS (CA), #6 Overall: Skipworth was universally considered a lock to become a plus hitter in terms of both batting average and power at the pro level. Little did we all know. He was a solid top ten prospect in the 2008 class, and this pick wasn’t second-guessed by many insiders. Following players selected: Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow. Signing bonus: $2,300,000.
2. Brad Hand, LHP, Chaska HS (MN), #52 Overall: Hand was considered a third or fourth round prospect, but there were flashes of a better prospect throughout the spring. He featured good upside as a cold-weather arm, and the lack of innings on his arm was also a plus for some scouts. Following players selected: Seth Lintz, Cutter Dykstra, Destin Hood. Signing bonus: $760,000.
3. Edgar Olmos, LHP, Birmingham HS (CA), #83 Overall: Olmos was considered more of a fourth or fifth round prospect, but his projectability was a big draw for a number of teams. His motion was pretty strange, and some questioned his ability to change it in the pros, but if he could be corrected, his upside was immense. Following players selected: Zach Stewart, Stephen Fife, Brent Morel. Signing bonus: $478,000.
4. Curtis Petersen, RHP, Ryan HS (TX), #118 Overall: Petersen was considered more of a seventh to tenth round prospect, but with a good amount of projectability. The problem was that he was almost completely projection and not as much current production. Interesting pick, but one with good upside. Following players selected: Tyler Cline, Drew O’Neil, Graham Hicks. Signing bonus: $350,000.
5. Pete Andrelczyk, RHP, Coastal Carolina, #148 Overall: Andrelczyk was a solid college reliever that had setup man potential. He was expected to be picked in this range as a 22 year old junior that didn’t have much incentive to return to school after a great redshirt junior year. Following players selected: Clayton Shunick, Dan Hudson, Adrian Nieto. Signing bonus: $185,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Isaac Galloway (8th), Los Osos HS (CA), $245K bonus; RHP Tom Koehler (18th), SUNY Stony Brook.

2009 Draft: $4.3 Million Budget

1. Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK), #18 Overall: James slowly worked his way up draft boards in the spring of his senior year after an extensive conditioning program saw him increase his velocity and command. He offered big upside, and he was more signable than the other options on the board. Following players selected: Shelby Miller, Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni Mier. Signing bonus: $1,700,000.
2. Bryan Berglund, RHP, Royal HS (CA), #66 Overall: Berglund was considered more of a third to fifth round prospect, but his projectability was also attractive to pro scouts. A Swedish citizen, Berglund had a solid arsenal, showing good upside with solid performance in the current. Following players selected: Robert Stock, Jake Eliopoulos, Tanner Bushue. Signing bonus: $572,500.
3. Marquise Cooper, OF, Edison HS (CA), #97 Overall: Cooper wasn’t even on my radar for a first day prospect, and I don’t think many teams valued him this highly. He was very athletic, featuring plus to plus-plus speed, and he offered some upside with the bat. Following players selected: Joe Kelly, Jake Barrett, Telvin Nash. Signing bonus: $345,000.
4. Dan Mahoney, RHP, Connecticut, #128 Overall: Mahoney was a solid college prospect with remaining upside, and the Marlins liked what they saw from him. He featured a plus fastball and a solid breaking ball, but he had bad luck after signing, going down to Tommy John surgery. Following players selected: Scott Bittle, Ryan Goins, B.J. Hyatt. Signing bonus: $222,300.
5. Chase Austin, SS, Elon, #158 Overall: Austin was a solid college performer that profiled as a utility man at the next level. He had good upside with the bat, as he had a simply and repeatable stroke, and he was expected to be taken in the top seven rounds for his versatility and hit tool. Following players selected: Ryan Jackson, Ryan Schimpf, Brandon Wikoff. Signing bonus: $155,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Stan Meek is one of the most respected evaluators in the game of baseball. Having run seven drafts with the Marlins now, he’s right up there with the most experienced scouting directors of the game. He rounds out that experience with an additional seven years of experience as a national crosschecker, five years of area scout experience, and 14 years of coaching at the collegiate level. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the type of respect that such an amount of experience commands. Meek is signed through 2011, and he probably has better job security than almost any scouting director in the business. Knowing this background, let’s step into Meek’s recent history for some trends to his drafting. It becomes immediately apparent that Meek prefers prep players over collegiate ones, with the collegiate players all having either solid to plus tools or plus pitches. In terms of pitching, Meek loves the projectable prep arm, especially from the left side when they’re available. That will produce a larger number of busts than a lot of teams, but will also end in bigger successes with the ones that do end up being hits. On the hitting side, Meek loves power and speed, especially in some form of a combination. Matt Dominguez offered the hitting tools, without the speed, but he had a power arm and plus glove instead. In general, every hitting prospect that Meek drafts will have either speed or power, some with both, though those are rare in any draft class. Geographically, it should be noted that the Marlins WILL TAKE someone from California in the first day. It’s almost an inevitability. California is their breeding ground. In addition, Texas gets a fair amount of their attention, and they’re not afraid of cold-weather states. These are all trends to keep in mind, though the past is not always the predictor of the future that us historians like to think it is.

Looking at draft budgeting, it becomes pretty clear that the Marlins’ draft budgets rely heavily on how many picks they have. They almost always draft for slot, and they always pay slot, and while that limits their options, it has worked for them so far. The 2005 draft is an aberration in terms of pure spending, but when you look at slots, it was extraordinarily normal for them. They simply had more picks. In the most recent five years, the Marlins have spent the 19th-most on draft bonuses, comfortably higher than their corresponding Major League spending. Comparing current scouting director budgets with those that have had a draft with their current club, Meek’s average of $5.24 million allotted comes in 17th if you keep the Red Sox in the equation. That’s all very average, but when you look at the fact that they almost always pay slot, it’s respectable. Looking at the upcoming 2010 draft, the Marlins own picks 23, 73, 104, 137, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in every round in the natural order in which they finished in the 2009 standings, meaning they gained no compensation picks and lost none, as well. I would expect their draft spending to equal roughly $4 million, putting them comfortably in the bottom third of my projections for teams. However, they’re spending that much due to growing success at the Major League level, so there’s not much for arguing against success.

Connecting the Marlins to specific players is tough right now, since signability is such a concern in their drafting strategy. However, I’ll give it a shot as usual. My latest mock draft has connected them to California athletic prep catcher Stefan Sabol, who features power, speed, and a California connection, satisfying multiple levels of the Meek philosophy. Sabol’s a borderline first round prospect himself, and the biggest question is his signability, which is a complete question mark right now, probably even to Sabol himself. Other names that could be a possibility there include Chevez Clarke, A.J. Vanegas if his Stanford commitment isn’t as expensive as thought, and possibly Peter Tago or Taijuan Walker, who are more borderline that the other names for that slot. Later names could include Aaron Sanchez, Michael Lorenzen, and Nick Tepesch for the second round, then Jesus Valdez, Adam Plutko, Cory Hahn, and Griffin Murphy for later rounds, though Murphy has been gaining steam after a solid showing earlier in the month. These names are all speculative for now, but they all fit the criteria for Meek’s drafting philosophy. It has generally worked well to fill in the Marlins’ system in the past, and I expect Meek to continue with what has worked in the past.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think?  What will the Marlins do?

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 1 Comment

MLB Draft Notebook Excerpt: Will Allen

Will Allen   Position: C   School: Buchholz HS
State: FL   Height: 6’3’’   Weight: 215

Bats: B   Throws: R   Birth Date: 3/25/92
Seiler Rating: XXX   Commitment: Ole Miss

Will Allen is a catcher from Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida, where he was 2009 first-rounder LeVon Washington’s teammate for three years. Allen relies on a game that is built on power on both sides of the ball. His arm is his best tool on the defensive side of the ball, and it’s above-average, pretty much the minimum requirement to be a solid pro catcher. He’s had to work hard on his transfer skills, and he still turns in average pop times around 2.00, despite having an above-average arm. He’s big for the position, and he’ll always have to work to stay behind the plate. His secondary position is first base, which would put enormous pressure on the offensive side of his game. At the plate he’s a switch-hitter with above-average raw power, though he struggles to tap into it against more advanced pitching. He profiles as an offense-first catcher either way, and his advancement will depend almost completely on his bat. Despite being from the Gators’ back yard, Allen committed to Ole Miss, as his chances of catching are much better there, as the Rebels are expected to have a catching opening after 2010. Allen should be signable in the first five rounds, but I see him going anywhere from round seven to twelve on talent.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | MLB Draft Notebook | Leave a comment

HD Camera Has Arrived

Thanks to a generous donation, I now have an HD video camera, and I’ll be catching video of the draft prospects I see.

Here’s a quick look at who I’m seeing this weekend:

Justin Grimm, RHP, Georgia: Friday night starter, possible late-first round pick to supplemental first round pick. Will be facing off against Stetson.

Zach Cone, OF, Georgia: Possible top ten pick in the 2011 draft. He is the Bulldogs’ center fielder and he profiles as a masher at the next level.

Alex McRee, LHP, Georgia: McRee is the Bulldogs’ closer this year, and I will likely see him on Friday night. He’s an extremely tall lefty with good stuff who will go in the top seven rounds in June.

Kevin Jordan, OF, Northside HS: Jordan has been one of the fastest mover up draft boards over the last 9 months, and he’s a possible first day prospect. I’ll be seeing him on Saturday.

I’ll have video on these players, as well as a few more prospects to watch.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | News and Notes | Leave a comment

2010 Draft Preview – Los Angeles Angels

The eighteenth part of my draft preview series is on the Los Angeles Angels and their scouting director Eddie Bane. Bane has run the Angels’ drafts since 2004, but I will focus on the most recent five, starting in 2005.

Owner: Arte Moreno, bought club in 2003
General Manager: Tony Reagins, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Eddie Bane, first draft was 2004

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $3.4 Million Budget

1. Trevor Bell, RHP, Crescenta Valley HS (CA), #37 overall: Bell was a well-known prospect by the time he reached the draft, as BA picked Bell as their top 14 year old player four years earlier. Bell was supposed to go somewhere in the second round after watching his stock slightly drop year to year. Following players selected: Eli Iorg, Henry Sanchez, Luke Hochevar. Signing bonus: $925,000.
2. Ryan Mount, SS, Ayala HS (CA), #58 overall: Projected to go right around this slot, Mount was a less-heralded prospect entering his senior year. He had a good amount of tools, but none of them seemed strong enough to warrant top consideration, and he was considered a solid all-around player without superstar potential. Following players selected: Brad Corley, Travis Wood, Nolan Reimold. Signing bonus: $615,000.
3. P.J. Phillips, SS, Redan HS (GA), #71 overall: The brother of Cincinnati Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips, P.J. was a powerful middle infielder out of high school. His range was questioned, but he was projected to go a bit higher than this, making this a solid selection of an up-the-middle athlete. Following players selected: Ralph Henriquez, Kevin Slowey, Josh Wall. Signing bonus: $505,000.
4. Sean O’Sullivan, RHP, Valhalla HS (CA), #103 overall: The best prep pitcher coming into his draft year, O’Sullivan completely broke down with a bad case of draftitis. Expected to still go in the second, he fell to here, spent a year at Grossmont CC and signed as a draft and follow. Very solid pick for the Angels. Following players selected: Josh Lindblom, Ryan Mullins, Sergio Pedroza.  Signing bonus: $500,000.
5. Brian Matusz, LHP, St. Mary’s HS (AZ), #133 overall: Matusz was a popular prep from Arizona, and scouts seemed to love his projectability. He was expected to go a couple rounds earlier, but fell to here due to signability questions, and the Angels couldn’t sign him away from a San Diego commitment. I think we all know him by now. Following players selected: Josh Flores, Caleb Moore, Josh Bell. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Bobby Mosebach (9th), Hillsborough CC (FL), $152K bonus; OF Peter Bourjos (10th), Notre Dame HS (AZ), $325K bonus.

2006 Draft: $4.0 Million Budget

1. Hank Conger, C, Huntington Beach HS (CA), #25 overall: Conger was quite easily the best prep catcher in the 2006 class, despite the fact that the Astros chose Max Sapp over him. With plus power and a strong arm, he was expected to go in the back half of the first round to a team that believed in him sticking behind the plate. Following players selected: Bryan Morris, Jason Place, Daniel Bard. Signing bonus: $1.35 million.
2. Russ Moldenhauer, OF, Boerne HS (TX), #102 overall: Without a second round pick, the Angels chose to go the prep route with Moldenhauer in the third round. However, even though this might have been the right slot according to talent, they didn’t gauge signability as well as one would hope, and Moldenhauer left for the University of Texas, where he’s now a senior. Following players selected: Bryce Cox, Zach McAllister, Justin Edwards. DID NOT SIGN.
3. Clay Fuller, OF, Smithson Valley HS (TX), #132 overall: This was one heck of an overdraft, as Fuller wasn’t even a name on the radar for the first seven rounds. However, his brother had signed with the Angels a year before, and this Fuller brought great foot speed and up-the-middle athleticism, a draw for Bane and the Angels. Following players selected: Jon Still, Colin Curtis, Tyler Reves. Signing bonus: $227,500.
4. David Herndon, RHP, Gulf Coast CC (FL), #162 overall: Selected in just about the right spot, Herndon was expected to be in the neighborhood of the fifth round, where this pick was. The Twins failed to sign him as a draft and follow from the year before, so this was a nice coup of a young junior college pitcher. Following players selected: Dustin Richardson, George Kontos, John Shelby. Signing bonus: $157,500.
5. Robert Fish, LHP, Miller HS (CA), #192 overall: This was as big of an overdraft as Fuller was, as Fish was a little-known Southern California prospect. The Angels took a chance on his funky motion, which turned majority of scouts off. Part of a baffling 2006 draft strategy behind Conger. Following players selected: Zach Daeges, Mitch Hilligoss, Brian Omogrosso. Signing bonus: $140,000.
Other Notable Selections: 1B Matt Sweeney (8th), Magruder HS (MD), $75K bonus; RHP Jordan Walden (12th), Mansfield HS (TX), $1 million bonus; OF Chris Pettit (19th), Loyola Marymount.

2007 Draft: $1.8 Million Budget

1. Jon Bachanov, RHP, University HS (FL), #58 overall: This pick was in the supplemental first round, though in the last few picks. Bachanov was projected to anywhere from the 2nd to 4th round, but he was quite signable as a projectable 6′5” ox. The Angels liked their chances of Bachanov fulfilling his promise. Following players selected: Corey Brown, Brandon Hamilton, Ed Easley. Signing bonus: $553,300.
2. Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch HS (CT), #118 overall: Harvey was one of the elite prep pitchers in the country entering the 2007 draft. However, with a North Carolina commitment and Scott Boras connection, he fell, and the Angels failed to sign him. He has been quite disappointing at North Carolina, though he’s still a top 100 guy for the 2010 draft. Following players selected: John Ely, Sam Demel, Luke Putkonen. DID NOT SIGN.
3. Trevor Pippin, OF, Middle Georgia JC, #148 overall: Another outfielder overdraft, Pippin wasn’t even really on the prospect radar much at all after his year at Middle Georgia. He had been a 29th round pick of the Diamondbacks in the past, and he was considered to be somewhere in that range again in 2007. It should be obvious by now that the Angels value outfielders differently than most. Following players selected: Leroy Hunt, Travis Banwart, Charles Furbush. Signing bonus: $140,000.
4. Andrew Romine, SS, Arizona State, #178 overall: Expected to go somewhere in this range, Romine was an all-glove shortstop for the Sun Devils. Most teams didn’t think he could hit at all, but the Angels believed he could. He was a solid all-around college shortstop either way. Following players selected: Nathan Jones, Andrew Carignan, Casey Crosby. Signing bonus: $128,700.
5. Ryan Brasier, RHP, Weatherford JC (TX), #208 overall: Brasier was a raw JUCO player with a good arm, but little refinement. Given that he was about equal in terms of a total package as a prep pitcher, his draft stock wasn’t too high, but the Angels loved his arm enough to spend a 6th round pick on him. Following players selected: Johnnie Lowe, Scott Hodsdon, Garth Iorg. Signing bonus: $123,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Trevor Reckling (8th), St. Benedict’s Prep HS (NJ), $123,300 bonus; RHP Mason Tobin (16th), Everett CC (WA), $120K bonus; OF Terrell Alliman (43rd), Bluevalue Collegiate Institute (ON), $25K bonus.

2008 Draft: $2.7 Million Budget

1. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, Redlands HS (CA), #74 overall: Without a first round pick, the Angels went after a prep pitcher with a nice fastball-curveball combo. Chatwood was expected to go somewhere in the second round, and this was a nice first pick, similar to the Bachanov pick from the year before. Following players selected: Scott Bittle, Trey Haley, Derrik Gibson. Signing bonus: $547,000.
2. Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Chipola JC (FL), #105 overall: Though this might have been an overdraft by a few rounds by some industry standards, Chaffee was by far the best JUCO prospect in a loaded Florida class.  Already throwing a plus changeup, this pick wasn’t criticized much, as Chaffee had good upside and good refinement. Following players selected: David Adams, Cord Phelps, Kyle Weiland. Signing bonus: $338,000.
3. Zach Cone, OF, Parkview HS (GA), #112 overall: Cone was projected as a possible second round pick, but slid here due to signability concerns. Already a compensation pick for not signing Matt Harvey, the Angels failed to sign Cone, losing this pick forever. Cone is now working his way into the top half of the first round of the 2011 draft. Following players selected: Ty Morrison, Chase D’Arnaud, Tim Melville. DID NOT SIGN.
4. Buddy Boshers, LHP, Calhoun CC (AL), #139 overall: This was similar to the Chaffee pick in that some thought Boshers wasn’t a fourth round prospect, but his JUCO success made draft stock a bit harder to judge.  A tall, projectable lefty, Boshers offered more upside than comparable college pick. Following players selected: Corban Joseph, David Roberts, Pete Hissey. Signing bonus: $210,000.
5. Khiry Cooper, OF, Calvary Baptist Academy (LA), #169 overall: When signing day came and went, I studied the Angels’ draft class, and once again, Cooper stood out to me as a funny pick. Signed to play football at Nebraska, his signability should have been a huge red flag, and he ended up not signing. He hasn’t established himself on the baseball field at Nebraska, so they might have saved money on a bust in the end. Following players selected: Chris Smith, Zach Putnam, Ryan Westmoreland. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Will Smith (7th), Gulf Coast CC (FL), $150K bonus; SS Rolando Gomez (11th), Flanagan HS (FL), $450K bonus; RHP Michael Kohn (13th), College of Charleston.

2009 Draft: $6.8 Million Budget

1. Randal Grichuk, OF, Lamar Consolidated HS (TX), #24 Overall: In a rare year where the Angels had both a first round pick and extra picks, Grichuk became their first selection. Considered more of a 2nd-4th round prospect, Grichuk offered good power potential while being fairly raw in his pitch selection. Following players selected: Mike Trout, Eric Arnett, Nick Franklin. Signing bonus: $1,242,000.
2. Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (NJ), #25 Overall: Trout was a good makeup prep outfielder that profiled to stick as a true center fielder in the pros. He offered a plus hit tool and some power projection, making this an excellent first-round selection as far back as this was. Following players selected: Eric Arnett, Nick Franklin, Reymond Fuentes. Signing bonus: $1,215,000.
3. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA), #40 Overall: Skaggs was in the first round picture early in the season before an ankle injury brought his stock down. He was tall and projectable, and some thought he offered as much upside as any pitcher in the entire class. Good pick to start their run in the supplemental first round. Following players selected: Chris Owings, Garrett Richards, Brad Boxberger. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
4. Garrett Richards, RHP, Oklahoma, #42 Overall: Richards was an inconsistent college performer, flashing big power stuff, but getting hit hard. He flashed a plus fastball in terms of velocity, but it was straight. He did get some looks for the late first round, but he landed here, which was a better place for slot. Following players selected: Brad Boxberger, Tanner Scheppers, Mike Belfiore. Signing bonus: $802,800.
5. Tyler Kehrer, LHP, Eastern Illinois, #48 Overall: Kehrer wasn’t the most polished college lefty, but he offered some upside if he could get his mechanics together. Command wasn’t his forte, but at the end of the supplemental first round, getting an upside collegiate college lefty is a good coup. Following players selected: Victor Black, Jeff Kobernus, Rich Poythress. Signing bonus: $728,100.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Pat Corbin (2nd), Chipola JC (FL), $450K bonus; C Carlos Ramirez (8th), Arizona State, $110K bonus.

Eddie Bane is now on his second general manager as scouting director of the Angels, having come over from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to run the Angels’ drafts starting with the 2004 draft. Prior to joining the Angels, he was a Special Assistant to the General Manager with Tampa Bay, where he assisted original GM Chuck LaMar. Bane has played the game himself, having been a first-round pick of the Twins back in 1973 out of Arizona State. He even went straight to the Majors that year. However, he ended up having arm troubles and leaving the playing field, entering scouting and managing some 30 years ago. He’s built of a lot of experience in the years since, and he’s now one of the longest-tenured scouting directors in all of baseball, with 2010 being his seventh draft with the Angels. Looking for trends in the previous drafts, it’s easy to see that Bane and the Angels rely heavily on Florida for their talent. That’s due to having one of the most successful scouts in modern history in Tom Kotchman, who is their area scout in Florida. Kotchman doubles as their Gulf Coast League manager, and he’s become renowned for finding talent, including his own son Casey. In addition, the Angels also hit the major states of Texas and California hard, and the majority of their picks have come from those three states. They have renewed their presence in the Midwest in recent years, so that should reap dividends again in the coming years. In general, Bane also favors up-the-middle athletes with catchers, shortstops, and center fielders, almost all coming from the prep or junior college ranks. Pitchers are generally harder-throwing arms, and he focuses mainly on prep and junior college arms, though collegiate arms have been used a little more lately, though mainly due to having extra picks. The Angels raid junior colleges just about as equally as the Braves in the early rounds, and that’s one trend I fully expect to continue.

Looking at draft budgeting, the Angels’ front office has been extremely frustrating for their fans. It’s one thing to set an amount for specific players, then not going above it, but when you do that consistently and don’t sign other high-ceiling players to make up for not signing earlier players, your organization suffers. I know an Angels blogger wrote a scathing piece about the difference between draft budgeting and actual spending, but the end result is the same. Not spending in the draft hurts your club. The Angels have simply not spent enough in the draft over the last five years. Their spending places them 29th out of the 30 Major League teams over that period, with the above amount only being $3.74 million. Taking that to tenured scouting directors, that puts Bane dead last for resources compared to his peers. That’s simply unacceptable. The only good news is that the Angels’ 2009 spending showed a willingness to pay for good talent, even if they were at slot for almost every pick, Skaggs being the slight exception. Even looking at 2009 alone, the Angels barely snuck into the top half of the league for draft spending. For a team that spends over $100 million on Major League payroll on average, that’s too low. The Angels are once again in a good position in 2010. They own picks 18, 29, 30, 37, 40, 81, 111, 115, 144, and every 30 picks after that. That’s two extra first round picks, two supplemental first round picks, and a supplemental third round pick for not signing Josh Spence last year. I’d expect another $7 million or so for draft budgeting in 2010, which should put them roughly in the top dozen teams for draft spending. Don’t expect much, if any, overslot spending, but it should be a solid draft much like their 2009 class.

Connecting players to the Angels is tough at this point, since signability is not too clear. The Angels prefer slot players, and that typically pulls a team away from prep players early on, which would go against the Angels’ method of operation. However, looking at my latest mock draft, the five first round and supplemental first round players I have going to them are Nick Castellanos, A.J. Vanegas, Justin O’Conner, Sammy Solis, and Kyle Blair. That’s three California-based prospects, a Florida prospect, and a Midwest prospect. Vanegas might be out of their price range, as he owns a Stanford scholarship that typically goes for more than slot of the 29th overall pick. These are all very possible picks for the Angels, mixing a couple affordable college arms, one left-handed, with the three earlier prep picks. Castellanos is a little off their history of drafting up the middle, but his Florida connection and hitting might draw Kotchman and Bane. Later picks could include Austin Wood, Michael Lorenzen, Burch Smith, and Matt Lipka. This is a solid group of players, and the Angels could come out with multiple names here. These are all speculative right now, as Lipka and Lorenzen might also be out of their price range, but keep these names in mind in terms of connections with the Angels. They’ll have another solid draft, featuring pitchers and up the middle athletes, and it should help continue to rebuild a fallen system.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think?  What will the Angels do?

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 2 Comments

MLB Draft Notebook Excerpt – Michael Arencibia

Michael Arencibia   Position: OF   School: Key West HS
State: FL   Height: 6’1’’   Weight: 165

Bats: L   Throws: R   Birth Date: 11/20/91
Player Rating: XXX   Commitment: Florida State

Michael Arencibia is the type of raw athlete that could really profit from increased attentiveness to defense in baseball front offices. A raw hitter, Arencibia has all the tools to be a truly plus center fielder in the pro game. He’s a plus-plus runner with a plus arm, and with some cleanup of his routes, he could really turn into a true gold glover. That’s all dependent on him getting through the minors, though, and that might be a bit of a chore. He has future ratings of average for both his hit tool and his power, though he’s pretty far away from those grades at the moment. His bat speed is good, but he really needs to work on pitch recognition and taking some pitches in general, as he could turn into someone that walks once a week. I personally think he’s good enough to be an average pro hitter, but he might need to go step-by-step through a minor league system, including stops at two short-season levels. His Florida State commitment might mean he’s not as signable as he appears, and he’ll go somewhere from round three to six on talent. He might take $750,000 to sign, perhaps more.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | MLB Draft Notebook | Leave a comment

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