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Draft Stock Updates – College Middle Infielders

Here’s the third installment of my Draft Stock Update series, this time focusing on college middle infielders.


Jeff Kobernus, 2B, California – It’s tough to find collegiate middle infielders that really rose up the boards this spring, but Kobernus is definitely one of them.  Cal’s second baseman, Kobernus might be moved to a corner eventually, but he shows good skills at second.  As with most college middle infielders, he lacks the premium tools that a team desires, but his approach and experience will probably lead to him being drafted as high as the end of the second round.  That’s quite a ways up from where he started on the year.

Derek McCallum, 2B, Minnesota – Notice there’s no true shortstop I can find that really moved up boards?  Well, McCallum’s been a huge surprise for me this spring, as he’s hit the cover off the ball after two years of obscurity.  He outhit Indiana’s Josh Phegley in the Big Ten with a line of .401/.479/.721 with 17 homers in just 222 at-bats.  This also vastly outperformed his more heralded teammate Eric Decker.  As it stands, McCallum’s a true second baseman with a solid bat, and he could go either late in the third or as late as the fifth or sixth round.  That’s up from the mid-round status he brought into the year.

Ryan Schimpf, 2B, LSU – This is a bit of a stretch, as Schimpf had to move off of second part-way through the way to accomodate D.J. LeMehieu’s move from short on the Tiger infield.  However, this is where he’ll likely play as a pro, so I’m inclined to keep him here.  At just 5’9” and 181 pounds, Schimpf reminds Baseball America of Dustin Pedroia, though that’s a huge stretch.  His line currently sits at .326/.441/.621, the slugging percentage leading the LSU team.  I don’t think he’ll carry that power into the pros, but solid pop and a decent glove will get him drafted likely early on the second day.

Scott Lawson, 2B, Miami – Lawson replaced Jemile Weeks as the second baseman at Miami after being drafted a year ago in the 40th round out of Grayson County CC.  With a line of .327/.441/.482, Lawson filled in for Weeks admirably, and Lawson’s great control of the strike zone was a welcome addition to a free-swinging Hurricane lineup.  I think that his approach and solid defense have really rocketed him up draft boards this spring, and the final verdict on Lawson is probably an early second day selection, and my prediction is the fifth round.


Grant Green, SS, USC – As you can see, it was tough to find risers for this writeup, but there’s no shortage of falling stars here.  Green was easily the second-best prospect in the entire draft class entering the spring, and even though some wrote off his slow start, he’s continued to disappoint.  The power that scouts thought was coming after a great showing on the Cape last summer was nonexistant, and Green’s line of .374/.435/.569 was well under expectations.  As a result, he’s fallen from being a likely #2 pick to possibly the middle of the first round, with Scott Boras being a factor in his draft position.  Expect something in the middle there, but also remember how far he’s fallen.

Ryan Jackson, SS, Miami – While his double play partner was rising up draft boards, Jackson was busy sinking.  Thought of as a defensive wizard with a little bit of a bat, Jackson’s spring has convinced scouts that he’s a defensive wizard without any bat at all.  His line of .259/.361/.381 wouldn’t be acceptable in A-ball, but that was produced with a metal bat in college baseball.  That horrible showing has dropped Jackson from a possible first round candidate to the third round or lower.

Robbie Shields, SS, Florida Southern – Shields was supposed to set the world on fire this spring, but he seemingly played down to his competition at Florida Southern, a huge disappointment after a nice cameo on the Cape last summer.  He’s still got a little pop, but scouts are now completely convinced shortstop is not even in his future.  A possible first rounder like Jackson following last summer, Shields is now a late first day candidate.

D.J. LeMaheiu, 2B, LSU – Yes, I listed both LeMahieu and Schimpf as second basemen, but both did handle the position this spring for the Tigers.  LeMahieu’s star has fallen as much as any listed here.  A draft-eligible sophomore, LeMahieu tore up the Cape Cod league last summer, but really disappointed with a lack of power and athleticism this spring.  Moved to second base due to range and arm issues, LeMahieu doesn’t even really fit there, either, as he’s just not quick.  The result has been a drop from first round consideration to late first day consideration, and possibly farther if his sophomore status leads teams to believe he’s not signable.

The usual disclaimer: writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG unless otherwise noted.  Go to their sites for draft coverage.  They’re awesome.

Who are your risers for the Spring?


May 31, 2009 Posted by | Draft Stock Updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upcoming Posting Schedule

Well, it’s 9 days and counting until the draft begins, and I’m going to be starting a big rush with an overload of information between now and then.  Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect:

Sunday (5/31): Recap of NCAA Regional Play; Draft Stock Updates
Monday (6/1): Mock Draft #7 (3 rounds); Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews
Tuesday (6/2): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; DRAFT CHAT (2 pm)!
Wednesday (6/3): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; Stats vs. Draft Stock Comparison
Thursday (6/4): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; NCAA Super Regional Previews
Friday (6/5): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; Discussion Question
Saturday (6/6): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; JOHN SICKELS MOCK DRAFT (12 pm)
Sunday (6/7): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews
Monday (6/8): Draft Stock Updates; Team Draft Previews; News and Notes
Tuesday (6/9): Mock Draft #8 (3 rounds); Live Draft Chat/Blog (5 pm start time)

That’s the schedule from here until the draft.  If there are any other requests, I’ll try to fulfill them, but there can’t be many promises at this point.  It’s a busy time.  Comments or suggestions?

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Posting Schedule | Leave a comment

Names in Consideration for the First Round

Here’s a quick list of all the players I’ve seen linked to a possible first round selection in recent weeks (locks denoted with *):

Steven Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State*
Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina*
Aaron Crow, RHP, Ft. Worth Cats*
Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints*
Grant Green, SS, USC*
Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO)*
Alex White, RHP, North Carolina*
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA)*
Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA)*
Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX)*
Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX)
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri*
Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State*
Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State*
Max Stassi, C, Yuba City HS (CA)
Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb*
Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College
Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (CA)
Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL)*
James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky
Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford
Billy Bullock, RHP, Florida
Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (GA)
Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (NJ)*
Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State
Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)*
Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State
Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana*
Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize HS (KS)
Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK)*
Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State
Jared Mitchell, OF, LSU
Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia
Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
AJ Pollock, OF, Notre Dame
Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA)
Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA)
Everett Williams, OF, McCallum HS (TX)
Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ)
Matt Davidson, 3B, Yucaipa HS (CA)
Brett Jackson, OF, California
Aaron Miller, LHP, Baylor
Brody Colvin, RHP, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
Luke Bailey, C, Troup County HS (GA)
David Renfroe, SS/RHP, South Panola HS (MS)
LeVon Washington, OF, Buchholz HS (FL)
Reymond Fuentes, OF, Callego HS (PR)
Marc Krauss, OF, Ohio

I’d be more than a little surprised if someone not on this list goes in the first round.  I count 48 names for 32 slots, though I’m sure there are two more out there that could round out my list to 50.  I also count 19 locks, meaning that it’s likely the remaining 29 names battling it out for 13 slots.  That’s how confusing this draft will likely be.  If you have any more names you’d like me to add, I’ll do so.

May 29, 2009 Posted by | Draft Lists | | 10 Comments

Draft News and Notes

From time to time, I’ll post a very bloggy post with a nice roundup of links and summaries so that people know where to go for expert opinions from people in the industry itself. Here’s some places to hit up.

The commissioner’s office reduced slot recommendations by 10%, a sign that they want to use the struggling economy to artificially attempt to reduce signing bonuses.  While I agree that bonuses are on the verge of exploding into the out of control arena, this was pretty much a useless move when talking about the first round.  They attempted this shenanigan in 2007, and bonuses still rose, so there’s no reason to think that they won’t this year.  However, while most are completely critical of the soft slotting system in MLB, I’m actually somewhat in favor of the system.  Slotting keeps bonuses down past the first round, and as you’ve seen in my draft previews, the huge part of draft budgets for teams are the first round picks alone.  Slotting only covers the first five rounds, so if a team cuts its second through fifth round bonuses by ten percent, which is quite likely, they could save somewhere between $150K and $200K.  That’s easily enough to bridge the gap between a good player in the later rounds and the team’s budget levels.  So a team could go out with the same budget and get one more solid player, probably at the expense of some bonus money for the second to fifth rounders, as well as cutting some $10K bonuses in the mid to late rounds for less quality four year college players.  Teams should be thanking Bud Selig for this development.  Looking round by round from a year ago, there was 1 overslot bonus given out in the supplemental first round, 11 in the second, 4 in the third, 2 in the supplemental third, 8 in the fourth, and 6 in the fifth.  So the vast majority of those picks sign for slot.  Nine first-rounders signed for above-slot a year ago.  Two also didn’t sign.  But on the whole, while bonuses will still likely go up, and while there will be a few more holdouts, I expect to see a slight increase in the number of above-slot bonuses handed out in the 6th-12th round range, which will bring more talent into farm systems.

In other news, BA released their newest draft tracker and updated their draft tracker chart.  These are free, so please read them.  In addition, they’ve added a few more stories in their draft blog, including an update on Tyler Skaggs’ ankle injury, a writeup on the best prep Canadian prospect Jake Eliopoulos, some info on Tyler Matzek’s latest start, and a quick JUCO article with a sentence on Brett Wallach, whom I featured in my JUCO article a few days ago.  These short pieces are also free, so I highly recommend them to everyone.

BA also released their Top 100 Draft Prospects list, and you can see the list with statistics for free.  Some interesting notes include the fact that I’m not the only one that’s bearish on Grant Green, my placement of Tim Wheeler so high is quite merited, and LeVon Washington has risen as fast as anyone I’ve ever seen that has had so many limitations during the spring of their draft year.  Rich Poythress, Matt Davidson, Jiovanni Mier, Tommy Joseph, Drew Storen, and James Paxton are all outside the top 32, with surprises such as Washington and Everett Williams taking their place.  It’s not a big deal, though, as teams’ boards are all over the place this year.  Here are the individual scouting reports for those prospects, though that’s behind the BA pay wall.  It’s up to you whether you want to see those reports that badly or not.

Over at Crosschecker, the draft coverage also continues, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything for free there.  They released their own top 100, and the only big differences are that they love Mike Minor and Drew Storen, while they don’t favor Washington or Kentrail Davis.  Two JUCO players make their list, but I’ve got my hands tied by the pay wall as to who they are.  I did profile both of them, though.  They’ve also had their follow lists up for quite awhile, though only a few are on their final version now.  Their state previews are coming out now, and they have up Alabama, California, Florida and Puerto Rico.  Alabama’s pretty barren this year, but California and Florida are deeper than usual, as is Puerto Rico, who has their best class in a number of years.  It’s worth the money to read their reports, as they give tons of info on individual prospects, about as much as BA, therefore allowing you to use the two to compare notes.  They also have a number of blogs, each with good info on individual prospects taken from seeing the prospects in person.  Good stuff.

The ESPN Draft Blog looks at the 1996 and 1997 drafts, in addition to making an attempt to summarize the entire 2009 draft class in three statements.  Not easy.

Last, but certainly not least, John Sickels looks at the top righties and lefties in the 2009 class.  If you scroll down, you can see his excellent set of writeups on the origins of the best Major League pitchers from the 2008 season, analyzing it from a drafting perspective.  There are breakdowns of those pitchers by origin, as well as by college for those with a four year school background.  He proposes this question:

“Question: are Pac-10 and SEC pitchers perhaps turning out to be disappointing as pros? To study this we would need to look at ALL picks from those conferences, then compare success and failure rates.”

Interesting question, and I’ll leave you with that.  Comprehensive lists coming out shortly.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | News and Notes | , , , , | 4 Comments

Thinking About the Big Day…

Yesterday was the two week mark before the upcoming draft, and I thought it might be wise to give some sort of idea about what sort of resource this blog can be for you during those days.  Here’s a quick idea I’ve sketched together on what you can expect.  I plan on live blogging through each round, even to the last if possible.  Here’s some basic info on the draft schedule from BA. In addition, I’m thinking of using the popular chatting software to host some sort of live chat, though it would probably only be on the evening of the first day, June 9.  Before the second day ramps up, I’ll give a quick roundup of the best players still on the board, and I’m fairly sure there might be some news come out overnight about deals made with some of those players.  Teams picking early in that round have a nice advantage, as certain high-upside players with either injury or signability questions could go quickly after having had a negotiation period of sorts.

My final mock draft will be published the day of the draft, with all rounds posted before the first pick is announced starting at 6 pm.  It will be a little fun to not only compare how I do against how the draft board actually goes, but also to compare my first mock draft, which is published at Minor League Ball, to the draft board, as well.  It will show how much the class has evolved.  All the little snippets I’ve written can be analyzed to see if I ever really got on the right path in trying to line up teams’ boards.  It’s a difficult thing to do, and I think you’ll appreciate that on the day.

Lastly, between now and June 9, I’ll be making a mad attempt to finish my draft previews, and while I think my draft stock updates might make it all the way through, I think I might have started a bit too late.  This blog started quite late in general, so I hope you’ll forgive that inconvenience.  Mock drafts will continue to go up at a regular pace, though it might change more than weekly as we go along.  More info is coming out almost daily about connecting teams to certain players, and I might go into a more traditional blogging platform with newsflashes like that.  I’m trying to get an interview set up with a high-ranking draft prospect, and I think I might even be able to get one to give some updates on here personally about what their spring draft year experiences have been like, as well as give updates on pre-draft workouts and their draft and signing processes.  The potential for that kind of an article series is quite amazing, and I hope to capitalize on that in the future.  However, we have to realize that players are extremely busy in the spring months, and college players have an especially heavy burden during their junior draft years.

In the long run, I think we can have a particularly unique draft setup on here, capitalizing on the niches not even covered by those of BA or PG, those of the experiences of the players.  I think we all want to know what it’s like to be heavily recruited or heavily scouted, throwing or hitting in front of dozens of scouts.  I hope to be able to provide you with some sort of idea of what that’s like through some interviews and personal journal-type of entries written by the players themselves.  It should be a lot of fun.

Heavy lists of players to watch, most without any sort of actual writeup, are forthcoming, and I’m actually going to be putting together a personal draft board of what players I would like in the separate rounds of the draft.  I’ll pick 51 players over 50 rounds, drafting from my slot as the Texas Rangers, starting at #14 overall.  I’ll give you tons of names to watch, and I hope you remember at least some of them when your team picks on June 9.

As usual, ask me any questions you want about individual draft prospects, teams, etc.  I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.  As for now, vote in the poll below.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Draft Day Coverage | 7 Comments

Draft Preview – Los Angeles Angels

Here is the eleventh part in my series, this time focusing on the Los Angeles Angels and their scouting director Eddie Bane.

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

2004 Draft: $4.7 Million Budget

1. Jered Weaver, RHP, Long Beach State, #12 overall: Weaver was the best player in the 2004 draft, and there really wasn’t much of an argument.  A tall, dominant pitcher, Weaver had one of the best junior seasons on record, and his maturity in repertoire on the mound was unparalled.  Great pick.  Following players selected: Bill Bray, Billy Butler, Stephen Drew.  Signing bonus: $4 million.
2. Patrick White, OF, Daphne HS (AL), #113 overall: After signing Weaver, the Angels basically had little to no room in their signing bonus budget.  In addition, they didn’t have second and third round picks.  As a result, they drafted White, who is better known as the kid who led the West Virginia Mountaineers from the quarterback position, and didn’t sign him.  Following players selected: Collin Balester, Nate Moore, Ross Ohlendorf.  DID NOT SIGN.
3. Luis Rivera, OF, Ramon Vila Mayo HS (PR), #143 overall: A reach in the fifth round, Rivera was considered a top ten prospect from Puerto Rico.  However, he was mainly known for his glove, and he was expected to go 3-4 rounds later.  Following players selected: Greg Bunn, Henry Barrera, Cesar Nicolas.  Signing bonus: $185,000.
4. Josh LeBlanc, 2B, Southern, #173 overall: LeBlanc was behind Rickie Weeks for two years, but he excelled during his junior season.  This was an overdraft by a couple of rounds, though LeBlanc’s speed was up there with the best in the class.  Following players selected: Devin Ivany, Chad Blackwell, Brandon Burgess.  Signing bonus: $115,000.
5. Bill Layman, RHP, North Florida, #203 overall: Layman was a college reliever with a good arm, and this was a couple rounds below where he was expected to go taken.  His status as a sophomore-eligible hurt in that regard.  Following players selected: Marvin Lowrance, Patrick Green, Koley Kolberg.  Signing bonus: $120,000.
Other Notable Selections: SS Freddy Sandoval (8th), San Diego, $84K bonus; Hainley Statia (9th), Trinity Christian Academy (FL), $90K bonus; RHP Nick Adenhart (14th), Williamsport HS (MD), $710K bonus (overslot); 1B Mark Trumbo (18th), Villa Park HS (CA), $1.425MM bonus (overslot); RHP Nick Green (35th), Darton JC (GA); RHP Stephen Marek (40th), San Jacinto JC (TX)

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.  A bit of an overdraft, Bell was supposed to go somewhere in the second round.  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.  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.  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.  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.  Following players selected: Josh Flores, Caleb Moore, Josh Bell.  DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: OF Peter Bourjos (10th), Notre Dame HS (AZ), $325K bonus (overslot)

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.  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.  However, even though this might have been the right slot talent-wise, they didn’t gauge signability, and Moldenhauer left for Texas.  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.  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.  The Twins failed to sign him as a draft and follow from the year before, so this was a nice coup.  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 early.  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), $1MM bonus (overslot), draft and follow; OF Chris Pettit (19th), Loyola Marymount

2007 Draft: $1.8 Million Budget

1. Jon Bachanov, RHP, University HS (FL), #58 overall: This was still the supplemental first round, though in the last few picks.  Bachanov was projected to go a round or two later, but he was quite signable as a projectable 6’5” ox.  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.  Following players selected: John Ely, Sam Demel, Luke Putkonen.  DID NOT SIGN.
3. Trevor Pippin, OF, Middle Georgia JC, #148 overall: A huge 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 was considered to be somewhere in that range.  Signability pick.  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.  Following players selected: Nathan Jones, Andrew Carignan, Casey Crosby.  Signing bonus: $128,700.
5. Ryan Brasier, RHP, Weatherford JC (TX), #208 overall: Another overdraft, 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.  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 (overslot); 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.  Following players selected: Scott Bittle, Trey Haley, Derrik Gibson.  Signing bonus: $547,000.
2. Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Chipola JC (FL), #105 overall: Though this was an overdraft by a few rounds by most standards, Chaffee was by far the best JUCO prospect in a loaded Florida class.  Already holding a plus changeup, this wasn’t criticized much.  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.  Frustrating.  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.  Tall, projectable lefty.  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.  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 (overslot)

Those are the five drafts undertaken by Eddie Bane since joining the Angels organization from the front office of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  Yes, they were the Devil Rays back then, so no fine for me.  Back to Bane, it’s quite easy to see he’s been completely hamstrung by a tight budget, though there were some picks where signability needed to be gauged more accurately.  The Zach Cone mistake a year ago is pretty horrible, as even drafting a signable college first baseman would be better than losing a third round compensation pick forever.  And I don’t really doubt the scouting judgment much at all.  It’s the signability and budgeting questions that have me so confused.  The Angels have also been selling their draft picks down the river for free agents a little much lately, though that’s coming around to them in a positive way this year.  Looking at some obvious trends, it’s quite easy to see what Bane prefers.  He uses California and Florida heavily, with good amounts of Texas and Arizona mixed in.  The Gulf Coast is also a popular destination for Bane, with Georgia coming in the picture as well.  In general, he stays away from the cold weather guys, with Matt Harvey being the most notable exception, though he didn’t sign.  In addition, it seems that Bane really hates to pick four year program college players unless it’s absolutely necessary, with Andrew Romine being the only one picked early since Bane’s first Anaheim draft in 2004.  Even the later rounds are pretty bereft of any impact-type college players.  With the end of the draft and follow system, Bane’s lost one piece of the puzzle in his drafting scheme, but he’s continued to use JUCO programs as a springboard to find more signable players than preps, though with continued upside.  Last year’s picks of Chaffee, Boshers, and Smith were quite the norm.  Bane will mix and match pitching and hitting, but he obviously prefers the arms with the first picks.  Hank Conger is the only exception there.  So keep in mind those trends when thinking about a possible gameplan, and also think about guys a little underrated in terms of draft stock nationally, as Bane tends to call names a round or two early, sometimes more.

Looking at draft budgeting probably makes Angel fans sick to their stomach.  Cheap budgeting has meant the loss of prospects such as Pat White, Brian Matusz, Tim Murphy of the Rangers, Brad Suttle of the Yankees, Chris Davis of the Rangers, Buster Posey of the Giants, and future draft prospects Jake Locker, Matt Harvey, Zach Cone, and Khiry Cooper.  While one can’t expect all these players to be signed, as every team picks some guys every year that they attempt to sign that go on to succeed in college, this has been a maddening trend for the Angels.  They’ve combined to spend only $4.5 million on the draft over the last two years, equal to or lower than the budgets of 24 of the other 29 teams in baseball for the 2008 draft alone.  That utter lack of care for draft budgeting has undeniably harmed the Angels’ system and their current Major League team, as well.  Drafting is not done just with the idea of making players into Major League players on your club, but to also have attractive prospects with which to deal for Major League talent.  The Angels lack this talent as a result of the poor budgeting.  However, expect the budgeting to change this year.  While I don’t expect any overslot signings in the later rounds, I expect the Angels to go all out to sign their early picks after years of embarassment seem to have caught up to them.  The Angels hold picks #24, 25, 40, 42, 48, 80, 110, and 141, followed by every 30 picks after that.  That’s an extra first round pick and three supplemental first round picks.  Signing Brian Fuentes cost them their own slot at #32 overall, but I highly doubt that they were concerned about that.  Using the slot recommendations from a year ago, the picks listed above would equate to somewhere in the $6.5 million range through pick 171.  So I’d guess that they’ve budgeted somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million, the highest since Bane’s initial draft in 2004 (the budget number listed above is for the first ten rounds, the number BA has).  I don’t doubt that they’ve actually budgeted this much, if not more, and that they’ll do better at signing players this year.

Tying specific players to the Angels at this point is very difficult.  Prep players are proving harder and harder to sign, especially for slot, and the Angels have been stopping at slot in early rounds historically.  However, finding a small number of very signable preps is possible.  I do think that Bane might tab a college player or two early this year, if only to balance out signability.  I’m fairly sure he doesn’t want to be caught with two unsigned early picks again.  I’ve currently connected the Angels to Bobby Borchering, Wil Myers, Matt Davidson, Madison Younginer, and Aaron Miller of Baylor.  I know that both Borchering and Davidson are considered third basemen, but my feeling is that Davidson will likely be moved to first pretty quickly by someone who wishes defense to be less of a pressure on the power-hitting kid.  Borchering and Davidson obviously fit the Florida and California connections, but Myers and Younginer are in North Carolina and South Carolina respectively, though I think Bane isn’t opposed to drafting from those areas.  Miller’s in the Texas scouting zone, so I’m sure he’s not being ignored.  Other names could include Tyler Skaggs, possibly Max Stassi, Mychal Givens, Tommy Joseph, and Everett Williams for some of the early picks, with other names such as Brody Colvin, David Holmberg, Colton Cain, and Brooks Pounders also popping into my head for the supplemental or second round picks.  Some JUCO names to consider are all the names I mentioned in the article below, as well as Patrick Corbin of Chipola JC, Mike Rayl of Palm Beach JC, and Daniel Webb of Northwest Florida State.  Webb’s probably the least signable of the three as a JUCO freshman.  Just remember those names when draft day comes around.

All bonus information came from BA, and writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG.  Go to their sites for draft coverage.  They’re awesome.

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

Previous Draft Previews:

Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles
Colorado Rockies
Chicago White Sox
Washington Nationals

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Draft Previews | , , | 3 Comments

JUCO Players to Watch

I’ve been very interested in recent years by the JUCO draft changes, as draft and follows have been eliminated in the current CBA.  The result has been an interesting shift in how teams view JUCO players.  Teams like the Braves see the JUCO ranks as a place to find players with the upside they desire, yet at the price they can afford.  The leverage prep players have in terms of being able to go to school drives up their price, while JUCO players generally sign for slot.  The result has been a growing emphasis on scouting JUCO players across the country.  So, seeing that I want you to be as prepared as possible for draft day, here’s a general list of some of the better JUCO players in the country this Spring, noting that this is far from a comprehensive list.  If you have any others guys you find interesting, post them in the comments, and I might do some individual profiles for better coverage.

Players to Watch

Jake Cowan, RHP, San Jacinto JC (TX) – A 14th rounder of the Boston Red Sox out of Roswell HS in Georgia in 2007, Cowan ended up going to Virginia, where he pitched last Spring with a line of 2-1, 3.34 ERA, 28-14 K/BB ratio in 32.1 innings, impressive for a freshman.  After leaving Virginia for San Jacinto, he signed with the Texas Longhorns for the Spring of 2010.  However, odds are against him making it to campus, as his draft stock is quite high.  With a borderline plus fastball (I’d give it a solid 55 with 60 future potential) and good command of a slider and changeup, Cowan’s quite advanced for a JUCO prospect.  At 6’3”, he’s also a scout’s dream.  Projectability and current production.  Entering his upcoming matchup in the JUCO World Series, and he should pitch Tuesday, Cowan is 5-0, 1.66 ERA, 65-28 K/BB ratio in 54.1 innings.  Batters are hitting just .184 off of him.  These things combined make him a possible first day talent for the draft, though the third round is probably his ceiling.  Expect some good things from this kid.

Brett Wallach, RHP, Orange Coast JC (CA) – Remember third baseman Tim Wallach of the Expos and Dodgers?  This is his son.  Like his dad, Wallach plays third base, and while he has a nice bat, most recognition he’s getting in draft circles is because of his arm on the mound.  Having just led his team to the CCCAA state championship, Wallach deserves the recognition.  He ended the regular season with a 9-1 record and 2.23 ERA in 96.2 innings, striking out 102 and walking 36.  He also hit .352.  He’s been reported to hit 92 on the gun, but sits more in the 88-90 range.  However, the whole package is enticing, as he’s improved so much in two years that scouts still see more projection in him.  He’s committed to Long Beach State, but odds are that he’ll sign with the team that drafts him next month.  I expect him to go somewhere early in the first day, most likely in the 5th round range.

Evan Chambers, OF, Hillsborough CC (FL) – Chambers, part of a huge Florida JUCO class, was a former Florida Gator who transferred out due to lack of playing time his freshman year (8 ABs).  He has some good raw power and plate discipline, though he’s a bit of a small-bodied kid at 5’9”.  He’s already up to 220 lbs., and I’ve seen more than one place show a bit of a concern that he might put on a little too much weight.  As it stands, he’s a solid prospect with a decent arm and range for a corner outfielder.  He’s not a center fielder by any means, though.  His speed is about average, so the knock is his general range.  For the most part, though, Chambers’ performance of a .324 average with 11 homers this Spring has elevated his stock, possibly making him a first day pick.  Someone looking for a signability outfielder with decent raw power could even call his name in the second round.  He’s committed to Tampa.

Jabari Blash, OF, Miami-Dade CC (FL) – Another Florida JUCO outfielder, Blash has been most impressive this Spring, hitting .353 with 10 homers in a tough JUCO environment.  A Virgin Island native, Blash failed to qualify academically for Alcorn State as a recruit, and he ended up at Miami-Dade after playing in the Great South League last summer.  Everything about Blash screams raw, but his tools are above and beyond that of normal college kids in the draft.  For that reason alone, some team could take a risk on Blash early in the draft, with the third round being his possible ceiling.  He’s got plus power potential, and while he’s not quite athletic or polished enough to handle center field, his defense in right shouldn’t hold him back.  At 6’5”, 215 lbs., Blash is a physical specimen that catches the attention of anyone watching a game, so he’s sure to have moved up boards this spring.

Mychal Jones, SS, Miami-Dade CC (FL) – This should tell you something about how talented the Miami-Dade club was this spring.  Jones, who will be 22 on draft day, is a plus runner with a plus hit tool, and there’s a good chance that he sticks at short in the pros after some polishing.  With a .446 average and 12 homers this spring, Jones did nothing but fly up draft boards.  A former North Florida Osprey, Jones also failed to qualify academically for his sophomore season, prompting the transfer and advanced age.  I’m not as much of a believer in Jones as some, but I do think he’ll be an early second day draftee, probably in the area of the fourth to seventh round.  His age is a big detractor, but if he can convince teams of his toolset in private workouts over the next few weeks, he’ll go early.

Miles Hamblin, C, Howard JC (TX) – This is a kid I’ve been all over this spring.  A 6’2”, 190 lbs. catcher with a lefty bat, Hamblin’s the prototypical starting catcher to draft.  Following a season in which he hit .412 with 11 homers as a freshman, Hamblin hit .448 with 16 homers this spring.  He added 25 doubles and a triple, all in just 172 at-bats.  In addition, he started every single game for Howard.  His catching skillset is solid, though he’s newer to the position, but he’ll stick there as a pro, and his entire bat and glove package is probably as mature and advanced as any college catcher in the country, Tony Sanchez included.  He’s committed to Ole Miss, but there’s no way he makes it there.  I expect him to be off the board early in the second day, and my prediction is that he’s a fourth rounder.

There are tons of pitchers in addition to those above, so here’s a quick list to keep an eye on:

Kendall Korbal, RHP, Blinn JC (TX)
Devin Fuller, RHP, Chandler-Gilbert CC (AZ)
John Stilson, RHP, Texarkana JC (TX)
Braden Tullis, RHP, Skagit Valley CC (WA)
Randy Henry, RHP, South Mountain CC (AZ)
Darrell Ceciliana, OF, Columbia Basin CC (WA)
Danny Jimenez, LHP, John A. Logan JC (IL)

If you’ve got any for me to add, or if you want a longer writeup about someone in the JUCO ranks, let me know, and I’ll try to oblige.

Usual disclaimer: While the names listed are influenced by readings on BA and PG, info for writeups are in the free public sections of those sites with contributing information from newspaper and school-specific recaps.  Direct info will be linked with attribution.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | JUCO | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Personal Draft Board

As promised, here’s my personal draft board for the top 32, and this does not take into account signability, as I obviously don’t have a budget with which to work in.

1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State
2. Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina
3. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA)
4. Alex White, RHP, North Carolina
5. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints
6. Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (GA)
7. Aaron Crow, RHP, Ft. Worth Cats
8. Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State
9. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri
10. Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO)
11. Zach Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA)
12. Grant Green, SS, USC
13. Max Stassi, C, Yuba City HS (CA)
14. Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX)
15. Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX)
16. Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State
17. Jared Mitchell, OF, LSU
18. Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)
19. Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State
20. James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky
21. Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb
22. Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
23. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
24. Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (CA)
25. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia
26. Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK)
27. Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College
28. AJ Pollock, OF, Notre Dame
29. Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ)
30. Luke Bailey, C, Troup County HS (GA)
31. Everett Williams, OF, McCallum HS (TX)
32. Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford

Some people would put a sensational guy as the last one, but this is how I’d line up a board if I was in on the conference call.  If the player was highest on my board at my pick, I’d call his name.  There’s not huge variance from the consensus national board, but there are a few differences that show my tendencies.

Any personal boards out there?  Please share.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Andy's Draft Board | 4 Comments

Draft Preview – Washington Nationals

Here is the tenth part in my series, this time focusing on the Washington Nationals and their scouting director Dana Brown.

Owner: Ted Lerner, bought club in 2006
General Manager: Mike Rizzo, became acting GM in 2009
Scouting Director: Dana Brown, first draft was 2002

Looking Back

2002 Draft: Unknown Budget

1. Clint Everts, RHP, Cypress Falls HS (TX), #5 overall: Considered a mid-first round talent, this was a bit of an overdraft by the Expos (yes, way back then).  However, Everts was considered a genuinely elite prep pitcher, and he was the teammate of fellow first-rounder Scott Kazmir.  Following players selected: Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Scott Moore.  Signing bonus: $2.5 million.
2. Darrell Rasner, RHP, Nevada, #46 overall: Rasner was considered a possible first round pick, making this pick a highly valuable one in terms of talent.  At 6’4”, 215 lbs. with a power curve, most praised this pick. Following players selected: Adam Donachie, Joshua Murray, Brent Clevlen.  Signing bonus: $800,000.
3. Larry Broadway, 1B, Duke, #77 overall: Broadway was expected to go somewhere in this range after a fairly disappointing junior season at Duke.  He had mashed on the Cape the previous Summer, but really failed to impress with his big frame in the Spring. Following players selected: Dave Jensen, Eric Thomas, Curtis Granderson.  Signing bonus: $450,000.
4. Jon Felfoldi, LHP, Glendale CC (CA), #107 overall: Felfoldi was one of the best draft-and-follow kids from the 2001 draft to not sign and re-enter the 2002 draft.  The Expos probably got a bargain in terms of draft stock, as the diminutive lefty was supposed to go a round or two earlier. Following players selected: Danny Christensen, Nic Carter, Robbie Sovie.  Signing bonus: Unknown.
5. Anthony Pearson, RHP, Jackson State, #137 overall: Once again, this was about where most expected Pearson to go.  Pearson was considered a high-risk high-reward pitcher with a nice frame and solid arm, but little results or command. Following players selected: Donnie Murphy, Jarrad Page, Bo Flowers.  Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Picks: LHP Mike O’Connor (7th), George Washington; Jason Bergmann (11th), Rutgers

2003 Draft: $3.1 Million Budget

1. Chad Cordero, RHP, Cal State Fullerton, #20 overall: This was about as stupid as it gets for a top twenty pick.  Cordero was expected to go somewhere in the third or fourth round range, and the Expos called his name for signability. Following players selected: Matt Moses, David Aardsma, Brandon Wood.  Signing bonus: $1.35 million.
2. Jerry Owens, OF, The Master’s College (CA), #57 overall: Owens was expected to go somewhere around this range, if not a bit higher.  He was rated almost universally higher than Cordero going into the draft as the result of his hit tool and speed. Following players selected: Scott Baker, Jason Hirsh, Anthony Wittington.  Signing bonus: $600,000.
3. Kory Casto, OF, Portland, #87 overall: This was another sizable overdraft, as Casto was projected to go in the 6-10 round range.  He was a solid college hitter, but didn’t really have the tools to back up any hype. Following players selected: Johnny Woodard, Drew Stubbs, Sean Rodriguez.  Signing bonus: $410,000.
4. Edgardo Baez, OF, Jose S. Alegria HS (PR), #117 overall: A fairly large-framed outfielder from Puerto Rico, Baez was supposed to go a few rounds higher before he tanked the annual Excellence Games on the island.  Still, this was solid value. Following players selected: David Shinskie, Josh Anderson, Bob Zimmerman.  Signing bonus: $250,000.
5. Trey Webb, SS, Baylor, #147 overall: Webb was an overdraft here, as he was projected to go somewhere in the 8-10 round range after a disappointing Spring.  His bat was quite bad, as was his glove, and only a weak market kept him this high. Following players selected: Brandon McArthur, Josh Muecke, Blake Balkcom.  Signing bonus: $180,000.
Other Notable Selections: 1B Josh Whitesell (6th), Loyola Marymount, $120K bonus; RHP Daryl Thompson (8th), La Plata HS (MD), $80K bonus; C Luke Montz (17th), Hill College

2004 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. Bill Bray, LHP, William & Mary, #13 overall: A second consecutive first round overdraft, Bray was a college reliever with a polished repertoire.  He was expected to go somewhere in the supplemental first to second round range, making this quite bad. Following players selected: Billy Butler, Stephen Drew, David Purcey.  Signing bonus: $1.75 million.
2. Erick San Pedro, C, Miami, #54 overall: A projected third or fourth round pick, San Pedro was popped by the Expos here in the second.  He was an excellent defender behind the plate for the Hurricanes, but his bat was not good. Following players selected: Billy Buckner, Jon Zeringue, Curtis Thigpen.  Signing bonus: $650,000.
3. Ian Desmond, SS, Sarasota HS (FL), #84 overall: This was seen as a huge overdraft, as Desmond was just a solid prep player with average tools.  He was expected to go around round ten, though most thought he’d go to school at South Florida. Following players selected: Josh Johnson, Garrett Mock, Danny Hill.  Signing bonus: $430,000.
4. Collin Balester, RHP, Huntington Beach HS (CA), #114 overall: Once again, the Expos reached for someone in the fourth round, as Balester was expected to go in the fifth round at best.  At 6’5”, scouts loved his frame, but he was rather raw, even for a prep. Following players selected: Nate Moore, Ross Ohlendorf, Casey Janssen.  Signing bonus: $290,000.
5. Greg Bunn, RHP, East Carolina, #144 overall: Bunn was considered someone to watch in the 6-10 round range, but the Expos popped him a round earlier.  He had a pretty big curve in college, but some saw him as a middle reliever at best. Following players selected: Henry Barrera, Cesar Nicolas, Ryan Klosterman.  Signing bonus: $190,000.
Other Notable Picks: 3B Leonard Davis (8th), Fresno CC, $75K bonus

2005 Draft: $4.0 Million Budget

1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Virginia, #4 overall: Zimmerman was projected to go early in the first round of the 2005 draft, and this was a solid choice by the Expos’ front office.  Lauded as a plus defender with a good hit tool, this pick made tons of sense. Following players selected: Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki.  Signing bonus: $2.975 million.
2. Justin Maxwell, OF, Maryland, #114 overall: The Expos didn’t have a second or third round pick, making this one of extreme importance.  Maxwell was an injury-prone college outfielder with plus intelligence and tools, and he was projected to go a round higher.  Solid. Following players selected: Matt Gamel, Ryan Patterson, Brandon Durden.  Signing bonus: $386,000.
3. Ryan DeLaughter, OF, Ryan HS (TX), #144 overall: DeLaughter was expected to go somewhere in this range as a two-way prep player.  The Expos liked his bat, and his 6’4”, 215 lbs. frame was quite enticing to a number of teams. Following players selected: Kevin Roberts, Eric Fowler, Josh Sullivan.  Signing bonus: $187,500.
4. Marco Estrada, RHP, Long Beach State, #174 overall: Estrada was overdrafted here by a few rounds, as his smallish frame didn’t fit the good results he got at LBSU.  He was expected to go somewhere in the seventh round range. Following players selected: Steve Hammond, Josh Bell, Corey Wimberly.  Signing bonus: $152,000.
5. Mike Daniel, OF, North Carolina, #204 overall: Another big overdraft here, but the Expos were just looking to ensure the player they picked was signable.  Daniel was your typical college outfielder at a big program, lacking major tools. Following players selected: Michael Brantley, Robert Ray, Geoff Strickland.  Signing bonus: $115,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP John Lannan (11th), Siena; RHP Craig Stammen (12th), Dayton

2006 Draft: $5.4 Million Budget

1. Chris Marrero, 3B, Monsignor Pace HS (FL), #15 overall: Marrero was a lock for the first round, having been the best prep player in the draft class entering the Spring.  He wasn’t impressive that Spring, though, so he slipped to the Nationals. Following players selected: Jeremy Jeffress, Matt Antonelli, Kyle Drabek.  Signing bonus: $1.625 million.
2. Colton Willems, RHP, John Carroll Catholic HS (FL), #22 overall: Blessed with a second first round pick, the Nationals slightly overdrafted a prep arm.  Willems had plus arm strength, but lacked a good secondary pitch. Following players selected: Max Sapp, Cody Johnson, Hank Conger.  Signing bonus: $1.425 million.
3. Sean Black, RHP, Lenape HS (NJ), #59 overall: Black rose quickly up boards when he flashed plus velocity for the first time in his career during his Senior season.  However, the Nationals misgaued his signability, and he walked away from money for Seton Hall.  Look for him in this draft. Following players selected: Brent Brewer, Wade LeBlanc, Kevin Mulvey.  DID NOT SIGN.
4. Stephen Englund, OF, Bellevue HS (WA), #70 overall: With their second pick in the second round, the Nationals went risky with Englund.  A prep player with some makeup issues, but plus tools, Englund was expected to go a round later. Following players selected: Justin Masterson, Chase Fontaine, Matt Long.  Signing bonus: $515,000.
5. Stephen King, SS, Winter Park HS (FL), #91 overall: King was a possible supplemental first rounder until he fell due to performance and injury issues.  He had plus tools and nice size at 6’3”, 195 lbs., and this was a solid third round pick. Following players selected: Cole Gillespie, Cedric Hunter, Joe Smith.  Signing bonus: $750,000.
Other Notable Picks: LHP Cory VanAllen (5th), Baylor, $170K bonus

2007 Draft: $7.9 Million Budget

1. Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State, #6 overall: Detwiler was projected to go easily within the top ten picks of the 2007 draft, making this an excellent opening selection.  He had prototypical starter size at 6’4” with plus arm strength. Following players selected: Matt LaPorta, Casey Weathers, Jarrod Parker.  Signing bonus: $2.15 million.
2. Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun HS (GA), #31 overall: Most thought Smoker would be a first rounder, but he fell to the Nationals here for unknown reasons.  He had a very advanced repertoire for a prep pitcher, along with good command. Following players selected: Nick Noonan, Jon Gilmore, Todd Frazier.  Signing bonus: $1 million.
3. Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough HS (FL), #49 overall: With a second supplemental first rounder, the Nationals went for another high-end prospect.  Burgess was thought to be a possible first round candidate with plus-plus power, but slipped due to inconsistency. Following players selected: Wes Roemer, Charlie Culberson, Matt Mangini.  Signing bonus: $630,000.
4. Jordan Zimmermann, RHP, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, #67 overall: Zimmermann was expected to go somewhere in this range after a strange draft season.  Having broken his jaw, had his wisdom teeth pulled, and battled the usual Wisconsin weather, Zimmermann was lucky that he had previous exposure. Following players selected: Duke Welker, Josh Fields, Jake Smolinski.  Signing bonus: $495,000.
5. Jake Smolinski, 3B, Boylan Catholic HS (IL), #70 overall: Once again, the Nationals had multiple second rounders, and Smolinski was a reach.  Expected to go as much as three to four rounds later, Smolinski had a decent toolset, but wasn’t very refined and had a smallish body. Following players selected: David Kopp, Brian Rike, Barry Enright.  Signing bonus: $452,500.
Other Notable Selections: C Derek Norris (4th), Goddard HS (KS), $210K bonus; LHP Jack McGeary (6th), Roxbury Latin HS (MA), $1.8MM bonus (overslot); RHP PJ Dean (7th), New Caney HS (TX), $120K bonus; OF Bill Rhinehart (11th), Arizona

2008 Draft: $4.8 Million Budget

1. Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri, #9 overall: From a drafting standpoint, this was a great pick, as Crow was virtually a lock for the top ten.  However, when you don’t sign your first rounder over a difference of half a million dollars, you’re just being careless. Following players selected: Jason Castro, Justin Smoak, Jemile Weeks.  DID NOT SIGN.
2. Destin Hood, OF, St. Paul’s Episcopal HS (AL), #55 overall: Hood was expected to go somewhere in this range as a very raw prep bat.  His raw power was his huge asset, and his speed also rated as plus.  Solid pick. Following players selected: Jay Austin, Robbie Ross, Tyson Ross.  Signing bonus: $1.1 million.
3. Danny Espinosa, SS, Long Beach State, #87 overall: The legend of the Long Beach State shortstop lives on.  Overdrafted by a couple of rounds here, Espinosa was a solid college infielder with average tools, but good makeup. Following players selected: Chase Davidson, Tim Murphy, Petey Paramore.  Signing bonus: $525,000.
4. Graham Hicks, LHP, Jenkins HS (FL), #121 overall: Hicks was overdrafted by a couple, maybe more, rounds as a result of his good late-season performance in an all-star event.  At 6’5” with good pitchability, it was a pick with projection in mind. Following players selected: TJ Steele, Joe Wieland, Anthony Capra.  Signing bonus: $475,000.
5. Adrian Nieto, C, American Heritage HS (FL), #151 overall: Nieto was supposed to go somewhere in the second to third round range as a good offensive catcher with solid catching skills.  However, he slid here for unknown reasons, and the Nationals capitalized. Following players selected: David Duncan, Clark Murphy, Jason Christian.  Signing bonus: $376,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Will Atwood (12th), South Carolina; OF J.P. Ramirez (15th), Canyon HS (TX), $1MM bonus (overslot)

Those are the seven drafts undertaken by Dana Brown, who is now working under his third different general manager in Mike Rizzo.  Of course, Rizzo is just the acting general manager until they hire someone permanently, which presumably will happen this offseason.  There’s a chance Rizzo retains the chair, but I’m not thinking that’s likely.  Anyway, Brown has handled drafts under Omar Minaya and Jim Bowden in the past, and I’m assuming he has even more freedom than usual this year, as the Baseball Ops department is kind of handling their own specialties until a permanent head man arrives.  In general, Brown has started to improve his drafting record when it comes to getting value at each pick.  At the beginning, most notably in the dreaded contraction years, Brown was guilty of numerous overdrafts.  That’s less the case now.  The 2006, 2007, and 2008 drafts were solid, with the huge 2007 budget allowing for extra picks and, as a result, a greater influx of talent.  Who would have that there would be a correlation?  Brown generally likes to use Florida, though California has also played a fairly large part.  He goes into the Midwest from time-to-time, but both Aaron Crow and Ross Detwiler were well-known picks that any scouting director would have made, regardless of locale.  Add in some Atlantic Coast flavor, and you’ve got a Dana Brown drafting recipe.  The Florida-Georgia-Alabama triangle always breeds good talent in the form of athleticism and refinement relative to other states, so there’s a reason to this kind of drafting.  I fully expect Brown to stick with this philosophy in the picks following the first round.

As far as money is concerned, this is going to be one of the more unique drafts in the history of baseball for the Nationals.  Stephen Strasburg is obviously going to command a record bonus, and my guess has always been in the $12-15 million range.  I think the ceiling is probably $20 million.  Anything more is pretty unlikely.  In addition, since the Nationals didn’t sign Aaron Crow a year ago, they hold the tenth overall pick, which had a $2.07 million slot recommendation a year ago.  I’d expect another recommendation in the $2.1 million range from MLB.  As a result, it looks like the Nationals could be spending as much as $22 million before the first round is even up.  Look for their total budget to be in the $20 million range as a whole, as I still think Strasburg maxes out at $15 million.  Add in the $2 million for their second pick, and then I think the rest of their budget should be in the $3 million range, maybe a tad less.  They realize they need a talent infusion, so I don’t see them going with a combined $1 million bonus budget for the other picks.  However, don’t expect to see another JP Ramirez or Jack McGeary, as overslot bonuses will be done after Strasburg.  He’s the prize, and the rest of the players will simply be complementary in this class.

Connecting the Nationals to players other than Stephen Strasburg can be a little difficult.  The names of Brett Jackson and Chad Jenkins have been floated publicly for the #10 overall pick, and I have Kyle Gibson falling to them in my mock this week.  Gibson’s maxed out his draft stock, so there’s no way he’d ask for more than slot.  Mike Leake could be another solid possibility, as could a number of hitters besides Jackson.  Jared Mitchell and Rich Poythress have been there in my mocks before.  In general, I think it’s going to be a solid college player with a little upside, but one who has no incentive to go back to school to make more money.  I wouldn’t be shocked if the player signed for less than the $2 million slot.  Beyond the first round, I wonder if the lack of budget money means they have to go heavily college in the rest of the early and mid rounds.  I’ve had them connected to Josh Phegley, DJ LeMahieu, Matt den Dekker, as well as preps Wil Myers and Matt Hobgood, both of whom have played their way above the #50 slot.  In general, I think we should be looking for a mix of solid college players and a few preps with weak commitments.  Looking into the state of Florida, that could mean righty pitcher Matt Heckroth, or maybe outfielder Ronnie Richardson.  I don’t know how strong Dane Williams’ NC State commitment is, but the Wolfpack generally don’t garner strong commitments, so he’s worth keeping an eye on as a possible fourth round prep righty.

All bonus information came from BA, and writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG.  Go to their sites for draft coverage.  They’re awesome.

What do you guys think?  What do the Nationals do?

Previous Draft Previews:

Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Dodgers
Detroit Tigers
Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles
Colorado Rockies
Chicago White Sox

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Draft Previews | , , | 7 Comments

2009 Amateur Draft Mock #6 Supplemental Round

Here’s the continuation of my mock from early in the week, listed at the bottom of the page:

33. Seattle – Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt – Minor’s really turned it on as of late, but this was mocked before his performance late this week.  He’ll be in the first round mock next week, probably somewhere in the twenties.  BA has him as a second round talent, but there are whispers of him going #3 to the Padres.  Weird.  Previously: #31.
34. Colorado – AJ Pollock, OF, Notre Dame – I think the Rockies would be thrilled to get Pollock here, as he could easily go to a team late in the first round.  He’s one of the more physically talented college position players available, and this would be a coup.  Previously: #32.
35. Arizona –Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA) – I’ve been connecting Skaggs to the Diamondbacks from time-to-time since the beginning of the season.  Skaggs’ stock has been up and down over the course of the year, and he got hurt at the wrong time.  Good news for Arizona. Previously: #26.
36. Los Angeles (NL) – Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA) – Hobgood’s gotten some consideration as high as the late teens, but he’s gone through a bit of a rough patch late in the season.  He’s still a high draft pick, and I’m sure the Dodgers would swipe him if given the opportunity.  Previously: #27.
37. Toronto – Everett Williams, OF, McCallum HS (TX) – I’ve been hearing very good things about Williams this Spring, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him ten picks higher.  However, in this scenario, Toronto gets to add another athletic prep player after getting Kenny Wilson a year ago.  Previously: #35.
38. Chicago (AL) – Billy Bullock, RHP, Florida – Surprisingly, Jason Churchill’s sources have Bullock as the best pure reliever in the draft, even above Drew Storen.  I don’t think that’s the case league-wide, but Bullock’s definitely risen this Spring.  Interesting fit here.  Previously: #45.
39. Milwaukee – Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ) – Milwaukee’s a bit hard to predict, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in on catchers after watching a few teams prosper from having a surplus.  Joseph’s got a huge bat, and if he sticks at catcher, he could be a plus ML catcher long-term.  Previously: #30.
40. Los Angeles (AL) – Matt Davidson, 3B, Yucaipa HS (CA) – Davidson’s still got that monstrous power, and I’m sure the Angels have been watching him this Spring.  He’s not really a true first rounder, mainly due to his questionable range at third, but this is a solid pick.  Previously: #33.
41. Arizona – Mychal Givens, SS/RHP, Plant HS (FL) – I’m starting to slowly be convinced that Mychal Givens is a shortstop and that teams believe in his bat.  Because I don’t. However, a team like Arizona that wants to rebuild their system could easily take a chance on him as a boom or bust prospect.  Previously: #36.
42. Los Angeles (AL) – Madison Younginer, RHP, Mauldin HS (SC) – Younginer could be anywhere in the first 75 picks. Used as a reliever this Spring, there have been lots of comparisons to Jordan Lyles, a prospect who jumped up the boards with private workouts a year ago.  Could happen again.  Previously: #29.
43. Cincinnati –Brett Jackson, OF, California – Maybe I got too much out of Jackson’s huge strikeout numbers this Spring, as teams are still on him as a  huge-upside college outfielder.  The Reds normally go for these type of guys, and Jackson’s similar in a few ways to Drew Stubbs.  Previously: #59.
44. Texas – Sam Dyson, RHP, South Carolina – Dyson’s been up and down a dozen times this Spring, but it’s tough to beat his arm strength at the collegiate level.  Only Steven Strasburg can bring better heat.  The question is whether he fits as a starter or reliever.  Previously: #56.
45. Arizona – Brad Boxberger, RHP, USC – I made this connection earlier on this Spring, and I’ve come back around to it.  Boxberger makes a ton of sense for a team on a budget in the supplemental first round.  He’s got a good assortment of pitches and should be signable.  Previously: #47.
46. Minnesota – Joe Kelly, RHP, UC Riverside – Kelly’s still got the best arm strength of the pure college relievers, and I think he’ll be part of a run on relievers in the supplemental first to second round.  The Twins find value in odd places.  Previously: #44.
47. Milwaukee – Brody Colvin, RHP, St. Thomas More HS (LA) – Colvin’s got a first round arm, but isn’t as refined as one would hope a first rounder would be.  As a result, he’s a supplemental first rounder to me.  The Brewers should be interested in some high upside arms.  Previously: #52.
48. Los Angeles (AL) – Aaron Miller, LHP, Baylor – I’ve decided to never again refer to Miller as a hitter, only thinking of him as a lefty collegiate pitcher.  He’s risen up draft boards this Spring, and with Brooks Raley’s late season collapse, Miller might have secured the top spot for collegiate two-way players.  Previously: #67.
49. Pittsburgh – Josh Phegley, C, Indiana – Signability is a huge part in a draft, and if the Pirates do get Jacob Turner with their first pick, then I don’t doubt that this pick will be on the cheap end.  Phegley’s catching skills are in question, but he’s got a good bat with moderate power.  Previously: #50.

The usual disclaimer: writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG unless otherwise noted.  Go to their sites for draft coverage.  They’re awesome.

What do you think?

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Mock Draft | 2 Comments