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Trent Stevenson Signs

According to BA, the Pirates signed their 7th round pick yesterday, Brophy Prep HS (AZ) right-hander Trent Stevenson. The reason I note this is that Stevenson signed for $350,000, which is $200K above the recommendations of the commissioner’s office for anyone picked after the pick-by-pick slotting system stops after the 5th round. This might signal enough of a relaxation in the slotting system for others like Stevenson to sign above-slot deals that aren’t outrageously over slot. I’d still expect those that have hugely over slot deals to have to wait for the approval of the commissioner until at least the second week of August, but maybe this thaw will allow players looking for anything in the range of $100K-$250K over slot to ink their deals now and still get about a month of game time in before the minor league seasons end.

Looking at it from the Pirates’ side, I’m glad to see this deal get done, as Stevenson has major work to do with his huge potential. They’ll probably allow him to simply pitch out the rest of this season in the GCL, and I’m guessing he’ll get assigned there in a week’s time, and he’ll build up innings, probably starting with a relief role. By the time fall instructs come along, he might need some re-working of his mechanics, as that’s considered his major weakness, and it’s hurt his consistency and command. Looking at their draft class, this is a move in the right direction. They probably still have a large amount of money left in their budget, and getting Zack Dodson, Nate Baker, Zack Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, and Joey Schoenfeld under contract, but I doubt all of them sign. I still think the Pirates will only sign one of Von Rosenberg and Cain, as either might command $1MM+ alone. However, yesterday’s signing of Stevenson is a move in the right direction without a doubt, and I’m glad to see the Pirates starting to whittle away some of the doubts about their draft.

On a scheduling note, the Cincinnati Reds are the subject of my next draft review, and I’m not sure when that will be up. I’m going to the Gwinnett Braves vs. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game tonight as part of the Salvation Army’s Christmas in July promotion there. Give to your local Salvation Army here. They need it. The matchup tonight will be John Halama against Carlos Carrasco, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for scouts. With Carrasco, Michael Taylor, and Lou Marson slated to play, it should be a fun evening. I’m a little sad that Jordan Schafer and Jason Donald are hurt, but I can catch them some other time. I’ll be updating via my twitter account on how Carrasco looks, as well as some thoughts about Taylor and Marson, especially Taylor, who is definitely in the middle of the Roy Halladay trade discussions. Hope you have a good evening and weekend.

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July 24, 2009 Posted by | Draft Pick Signings, News and Notes, Posting Schedule | , , , , | 1 Comment

Draft Review – Atlanta Braves

Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Atlanta Braves’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:

1. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt, #7 overall, 6’3’’/200: I was slightly surprised by this pick, but not because I thought the Braves were locked into a prep arm. Minor really projects as a #4 starter to me, and I’m surprised the Braves didn’t shoot for a higher-upside arm like Alex White. However, it’s probably a signability issue, as the Braves generally don’t go over slot for their first pick, and even though Minor’s holding out at the moment (likely for last year’s slot), I don’t see him rejecting an offer somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.175 million, which is what the slot is supposedly this year. Don’t like this pick at all. DOB: 12/26/87.

3. David Hale, RHP, Princeton, #87 overall, 6’2’’/200: I really like this pick, as I’ve been high on Hale all spring. He’s got a plus arm, and while he lacks the polish that comes with most college juniors, he’s got the upside to make up for it. I’d say his potential is even higher than Mike Minor’s, though with considerably more risk. He can reach the mid-90s with his fastball, and he’s got repeatable mechanics, though his offspeed pitches are still a work in progress. He’s got a fresh arm, having thrown only 40 innings this spring, but that also means he’ll need more time in the minors. However, this is a great pick for talent and draft value, as this was a little below where I thought he might go. He also signed quickly for slot, and while he’s on the roster for Danville in the Appy League, he hasn’t appeared in a game yet. DOB: 9/27/87. Signing bonus: $405,000.

4. Mycal Jones, SS, Miami Dade CC (FL), #118 overall, 5’10’’/165: While I was high on Hale, I jumped back a bit with Jones, as I’m normally very wary of 22 year old JUCO players. Jones had a huge spring at Miami Dade, where he landed after a year at North Florida, then a year of academic ineligibility there. Jones is very, very fast, but that doesn’t always translate to the field, where he shows flashes of good defense, but only has what most have said is an average arm. I still think he’s better suited for second base or center field, but the Braves want to try him at short. This was an average pick for draft position, probably about average for talent, too, and he signed quickly for slot. He’s hitting .238/.330/.356 in 101 ABs with Danville so far. DOB: 5/30/87. Signing bonus: $252,000.

5. Thomas Berryhill, RHP, Newberry (SC), #148 overall, 5’10’’/185: This pick intrigues me, as Berryhill was a late riser in his college career. He was also a position player at Newberry, further obscuring his talent on the mound. A late-inning reliever, Berryhill flashes a plus fastball, and I think he might have the stuff and makeup to maintain a late-inning role in the Majors if he can avoid arm troubles. I didn’t expect him to go this high, but I had a sneaking suspicion late in the year that he was a name that might pop up earlier than expected anyway. He signed quickly, making this a solid pick, maybe even underrated by most observers. He’s thrown 12 solid innings for Danville so far. DOB: 12/9/87. Signing bonus: $160,000.

6. Ryan Woolley, RHP, UAB, #178 overall, 6’1’’/190: I have to admit that I had almost completely forgotten about Woolley before his name popped up this early on draft day. I had written his name down as a transfer to keep an eye on, but I didn’t really have a handle on how much helium Woolley had in side sessions. With the new transfer rules prohibiting Woolley from playing this spring, he was just a name on a piece of paper, and it wasn’t until the week before the draft that I wondered how he was doing. I had heard he would get drafted, but not this early. He’s got decent talent on the mound, but his signability is in question, and I’m not sure the Braves were competing against any other team for him this high. He hasn’t signed yet, and he’s busy pitching in the Alaska Baseball League as of now. Questionable pick. DOB: 2/11/88.

7. Robby Hefflinger, OF, Georgia Perimeter JC (GA), #208 overall, 6’5’’/225: I wasn’t surprised when the Braves selected a Georgia native, and Hefflinger was a name I thought might be connected to them, though probably in the early teens. He’s got immense power, but he seems to swing and miss a lot. He’s got a plus arm, though, as he was also a power pitcher for Perimeter. All of these tools add up to a high-ceiling corner outfielder with a lot to work on. This is a decent pick for talent, but it’s risky, and I thought they could have waited a few more rounds to get him. He signed quickly, however, and he’s hitting .277/.345/.505 in 101 ABs with Danville, a good start. DOB: 1/3/90. Signing bonus: $125,000.

8. Kyle Rose, OF, Northwest Shoals CC (AL), #238 overall, 6’1’’/185: A 49th round pick of the Marlins in 2007 out of high school, Rose is another burner selected by the Braves. I’d say his speed is his only plus tool, though, as I’ve heard numerous reports of struggles with his bat. In addition, Rose was also kicked off the team late in the season, though I don’t know all the reasons behind the move, so I can’t comment accurately on the situation. I expected Rose to last much longer, but the Braves overdrafted him here, and they signed him quickly as a JUCO sophomore. He’s hitting .327/.435/.404 in 52 ABs with the GCL Braves, with 8 steals in addition. DOB: 5/24/89. Signing bonus: $122,500.

9. Matt Weaver, SS, Burlington CC (NJ), #268 overall, 6’0’’/175: Weaver’s another questionable pick to me, as I thought he’d simply be a late-round follow. A JUCO freshman, Weaver’s still got a lot to work on, though he showed signs of an ability to hit for average this spring with Burlington. He’s also got above-average speed, though he’s not a burner like some of the Braves’ other picks. I don’t see him necessarily sticking at short, so second base might be Weaver’s best option. I’m just underwhelmed by this pick. He signed quickly, went just 3-for-22 (.136) with the GCL Braves, then was promoted to Danville, where he’s 1-for-5. DOB: 1/27/90. Signing bonus: $105,000.

10. Aaron Northcraft, RHP, Mater Dei HS (CA), #298 overall, 6’4’’/215: This is a good pick for draft position and talent, but I’m afraid Northcraft might need a complete mechanical re-work. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, and he’s inching closer to being a sidearm pitcher. He’s got the pro body and pure arm to throw as a starter from a pure three-quarters slot, but it will take time to iron out the kinks. I do like this pick a lot, however, as he’s a nice high-upside selection that signed for a reasonable amount of money in the tenth round. He’s thrown 14 quality innings in the GCL so far. DOB: 5/28/90. Signing bonus: $125,000.

11. Chris Masters, LHP, Western Carolina, #328 overall, 6’0’’/230: Masters is a big kid, and I don’t mean big in a good way. He carries some extra weight, and that might hamper his chances of success in the pros. He does have some good stuff, though, and he was quite successful at times converting to a starter this past spring. I thought he might last another round or two, but I don’t really consider this an overdraft as much as I think some teams just valued him more than others. He’s a native Georgian, and I’m sure that contributed to him signing quickly, making this a solid pick. He’s been fairly dominant so far in 21.2 innings with Danville. DOB: 10/1/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

12. Chris Lovett, SS, Columbia State CC (TN), #358 overall, 6’0’’/175: Lovett was a powerful infielder with Columbia State, but I didn’t think he’d even be in the conversation for an early second day pick like this. Armed with only a commitment to Lipscomb, Lovett was obviously not a highly-touted prospect, but the Braves drafted him in prospect territory, making this pick questionable. I’m not sure Lovett has the bat or glove to stick as a prospect in the pros. He signed fairly quickly, but is just hitting .211/.333/.395 in 38 ABs in the GCL. DOB: 12/21/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

13. Jordan Kreke, 3B, Eastern Illinois, #388 overall, 6’1’’/205: I’m sure that Ohio Valley Conference pitchers are happy to have Kreke out of their league, but I didn’t think he’d be out so quickly. A college senior, he’s your classic college hitter than had huge success against weaker pitching. He was also a shortstop with Eastern Illinois, and the Braves already moved him to third. He’s got good arm strength, as he was also a reliever in college this past spring. He’s got limited upside in general, but he signed quickly. He’s hitting .267/.371/.344 in 90 ABs with Danville. DOB: 5/21/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

14. Cory Harrilchak, OF, Elon, #418 overall, 5’10’’/180: Harrilchak is an interesting case study for how college outfielders develop. He hit very well as a junior, but he wasn’t drafted last year. However, he added some pop during his senior year, and I thought he was a good candidate for the teens in this draft. The Braves made that happen, and Harrilchak signed quickly. It almost seems like an organizational pick, but it falls squarely in prospect territory, and Harrilchak might be a future bench players and pinch hitter. He’s hitting .321/.389/.432 in 81 ABs with Danville so far, so he’s off to a good start. DOB: 10/27/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

15. Bennett Pickar, C, Eaton HS (CO), #448 overall, 6’1’’/185: This seems to mark the transition to unsignable and organization player territory for this draft, though I personally think they went to that level in terms of talent a few rounds previously. Pickar fell behind fellow Colorado catcher Chris O’Dowd in my book early on, but Pickar has the lighter commitment and possibly better pro tools. However, being from Colorado, he’s very raw, and he would benefit greatly from college, especially a place like Oral Roberts that develops good pitchers, forcing Pickar to work heavily on his defensive game. He hasn’t signed yet, and I think it’s up in the air at the moment whether he will or not. DOB: 9/14/90. Commitment: Oral Roberts.

16. Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, 1B, Nova Southeastern (FL), #478 overall, 6’2’’/215: Spanjer-Furstenburg is just trying to make my life harder in the spelling department. A native South African, Riaan (as I will call him from now on) showed some good pop at Nova, though he’s pretty limited in terms of projection. However, he should hit for at least awhile in the low minors, and I think he’s got what translates to the pro game in general. As a first baseman, he must continue to hit, though. He signed quickly and is doing just that with Danville, as he has a line of .412/.459/.619 in 97 ABs. DOB: 2/8/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

17. Jace Whitmer, C, Kennesaw State, #508 overall, 6’4’’/225: Whitmer is better known as the catcher for top draft picks Chad Jenkins and Kyle Heckathorn in this draft class. Whitmer himself might be too large to stick at catcher, though his body is definitely of pro size and strength. He strikes out tons and doesn’t walk much, so his approach in general is lacking. He signed quickly and is hitting .250/.310/.281 in 64 ABs with Danville. DOB: 12/18/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

18. Jakob Dalfonso, 3B, Middle Georgia JC, #538 overall, 6’3’’/200: Dalfonso was a shortstop as a JUCO freshman this past spring, and I wasn’t sure he’d be anything more than a late-round follow, considering he still had a year of eligibility left at Middle Georgia. He signed quickly and is hitting .333/.419/.389 in 54 ABs in the GCL. DOB: 1/25/90. Signing bonus: Unknown.

19. Ty’Relle Harris, RHP, Tennessee, #568 overall, 6’4’’/235: Harris was a senior pitcher with the Volunteers that projected as a future middle reliever for the late teens or early twenties. He’s got a big frame and some decent stuff to go with it. This was a solid pick, and Harris signed quickly. He threw 5.2 dominant innings with Danville, then was promoted to Rome in the Sally League, where he’s thrown 9.2 dominant innings there. Great start for a 19th-rounder. DOB: 12/12/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

20. Jeff Lorick, LHP, Virginia, #598 overall, 6’0’’/185: Another native Georgian from out of state, Lorick was mostly a starter at Virginia, but he really struggled this spring. I thought he would go in this area, and the Braves signed him quickly, despite Lorick having another year of eligibility. He’s had mixed results in 17.2 innings with Danville. DOB: 12/18/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

21. Matt Crim, LHP, Citadel, #628 overall, 6’0’’/195: Crim was a senior lefty that I expected to go a few rounds later, though this isn’t really an overdraft. He signed quickly and has pitched well with a great groundout to air out ratio in 24 innings with Danville. DOB: 8/14/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

22. Ryan Weber, RHP, St. Petersburg JC (FL), #658 overall, 6’0’’/170: A 12th-rounder a year ago to the Phillies, Weber’s got tons more potential than this draft slot. He didn’t show as much high-end promise this spring, though I like how his offspeed stuff came along. I doubt he signs this far down, and he’ll probably return to school and could improve on his draft position as a sophomore JUCO player. DOB: 8/12/90. Commitment: None.

23. Lucas LaPoint, RHP, Knight HS (CA), #688 overall, 6’3’’/215: LaPoint’s got a pro body to go along with some hope of projectability, and I thought he might go a few rounds higher on pure talent. He doesn’t have the refinement of even normal prep pitchers, which caused his drop. He surprisingly signed despite being taken this late, and he’s struggled a little in the GCL. DOB: 3/30/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.

24. Casey Upperman, RHP, Notre Dame Prep (AZ), #718 overall, 6’1’’/183: Another prep I expected to go a number of rounds higher, probably somewhere in the teens, Upperman fell due to a lack of projection and pro size. I doubt he signs in this slot, as he’ll be eligible again next year after a year at Yavapai. DOB: 11/16/90. Commitment: Yavapai JC (AZ).

25. Ethan Icard, RHP, Wilkes CC (NC), #748 overall, 6’2’’/180: A JUCO freshman, I didn’t expect Icard’s name to get called, as I had heard absolutely nothing on him. He’s got a year of eligibility year at Wilkes, so I’d expect him to return to school. DOB: 8/28/90. Commitment: None.

26. Will Scott, RHP, Walters State CC (TN), #778 overall, 6’2’’/191: Scott was a 32nd-rounder of the Rockies a year ago out of high school, and I expected him to go in the early twenties this year as a JUCO freshman. He’s got pretty good stuff, though he wasn’t the best pitcher on his staff. I don’t expect him to sign, as he could turn into a pretty high pick as a JUCO sophomore next year. DOB: 9/2/90. Commitment: None.

27. Joey Leftridge, OF, Howard JC (TX), #808 overall, 6’0’’/175: Despite being a freshman, Leftridge actually graduated high school two years ago, and he was drafted by the Twins in the 39th round in 2007. He’s got good speed, but he also still has a year of eligibility at the powerhouse Howard. I don’t expect him to sign this late. DOB: 11/23/88. Commitment: None.

28. Eric Swegman, RHP, Young Harris JC (GA), #838 overall, 6’6’’/215: A 33rd-rounder of the Royals a year ago, Swegman has the definition of a pro body. A JUCO sophomore from the state of Georgia, I’m guessing the Braves also thought he would be fairly signable, though he’s about ten rounds lower than I thought he’d be. With a D-1 college commitment, that signability is now in question. He hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 8/3/88. Commitment: Georgia.

29. Bobby Rauh, OF, Daytona Beach CC (FL), #868 overall, 6’0’’/185: Daytona is a pretty bad program, and Rauh wasn’t expected to be drafted. He’s got great speed, though, and he showcased that this summer in the Virginia Valley League. I don’t expect him to sign so far down in the draft with a commitment. DOB: 11/25/87. Commitment: Tampa.

30. Vince Howard, OF, Sikeston HS (MO), #898 overall, 6’0’’/205: I didn’t know what to expect with Howard coming into the draft, as he had completely fallen off my radar. I wasn’t able to find a commitment for him, either. I don’t know whether he’ll sign or not, since I don’t know of his commitment. DOB: 8/16/90. Commitment: Unknown.

31. Derek Wiley, 1B, Belmont, #928 overall, 6’3’’/217: Wiley was a 50th-rounder of the Athletics a year ago as a junior, and it was only because of his pro size. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk much, though he has some power. He’s an organizational infielder over the long-run. He signed quickly, and he’s hitting .211/.302/.395 in 38 ABs with Danville. DOB: 4/9/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

32. Jake Montgomery, RHP, Pope HS (GA), #958 overall, 6’2’’/214: Montgomery’s got a natural pro body, but he lacks the refinement of a top pro prospect. He probably could have gone fifteen rounds higher, if not more, but he also fell due to a strong college commitment. I don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 1/14/91. Commitment: Georgia.

33. Tyler Stubblefield, SS, Kennesaw State, #988 overall, 5’10’’/185: Stubblefield was a third baseman at Kennesaw State. He’s fairly small, and he’ll probably go higher as a senior sign next year. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 11/19/87.

34. Arby Fields, OF, Los Osos HS (CA), #1018 overall, 5’9’’/190: Short switch-hitter with strong college commitment. I wouldn’t expect him to sign, as I thought he’d simply be a late-round follow. DOB: 6/25/91. Commitment: Northwestern.

35. Matt Hartunian, C, Montclair Prep HS (CA), #1048 overall, 5’11’’/190: Prep catcher that will be eligible for the draft again in 2011 after his sophomore season of college. I highly doubt he signs. DOB: 6/28/90. Commitment: USC.

36. Andrew Wilson, RHP, Liberty, #1078 overall, 6’2’’/180: Senior pitcher originally from North Carolina. Nothing special in terms of stuff or size. He signed quickly and has thrown 8.2 good innings in the GCL. DOB: 7/30/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

37. Matt Moynihan, OF, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA), #1108 overall, 6’2’’/200: Athletic outfielder that I thought might go in the early twenties if not for his hometown college commitment. Lot of work left in his skillset. I doubt he signs. DOB: 1/18/90. Commitment: San Diego.

38. Tripp Faulk, OF, North Myrtle Beach HS (SC), #1138 overall, 6’1’’/175: Another late-round prep follow, but Faulk has a smaller college commitment. I still don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 1/11/91. Commitment: Wingate (NC).

39. Joey Bourgeois, RHP, Louisiana State-Eunice JC, #1168 overall, 6’3’’/225: Freshman JUCO player on the most talent-laden Louisiana JUCO team. Good pro size, but only a late-round follow, because he has much work left to do. Will probably go twenty rounds higher a year from now. DOB: 2/12/90. Commitment: None.

40. Antonio Carrillo, OF, San Ysidro HS (CA), #1198 overall, 5’11’’/165: I expected Carrillo to go as much as 25 rounds higher, as I can’t even find a college commitment for him, supposedly making him an easier sign. He’s lacking in pro size, but his toolset is at least adequate. However, he probably won’t sign this far down. DOB: 7/3/91. Commitment: Unknown.

41. Kyle Petter, LHP, El Camino JC (CA), #1228 overall, 5’10’’/180: A 41st-rounder of the Blue Jays a year ago out of high school. Having just finished his freshman year at El Camino, he still has a lot to work on with command, and he could be drafted as a hitter next year. I doubt he signs. DOB: 4/5/90. Commitment: None.

42. Josh Conway, OF, Smithburg HS (MD), #1258 overall, 6’1’’/165: One of, if not the best, outfielders in the state of Maryland, Conway needs to add serious muscle to be a pro outfielder. I expected him to go maybe 25 rounds higher, but he’s got a good college commitment, and I’d expect him to turn into a solid college hitter. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 4/12/91. Commitment: Coastal Carolina.

43. Alan Walden, RHP, Red Bank HS (TN), #1288 overall, 6’1’’/154: Walden is in a similar position to Conway in that he needs to add strength to his frame before I can consider him a pro prospect. He’s got quality stuff, not top of the line, but it will be enough to get him a bullpen role in college, if not more. He won’t sign. DOB: 11/18/90. Commitment: Tennessee.

44. Corey Newsome, RHP, Bay HS (FL), #1318 overall, 6’0’’/170: Don’t have any info on Newsome, and I couldn’t find a college commitment. I wouldn’t expect him to sign this far down, though. DOB: 9/27/90. Commitment: Unknown.

45. Nathan Dorris, LHP, Marion HS (IL), #1348 overall, 6’3’’/185: Not one of the top pitchers in Illinois, but he does compare favorably in terms of size with almost any other Illinois prep pitcher. Three years of Vanderbilt will do him good, and I don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 12/9/90. Commitment: Vanderbilt.

46. George Farmer, RHP, Rockdale County HS (GA), #1378 overall, 6’3’’/220: Otherwise known as Buck, Farmer was a top ten round candidate without the strong college commitment. He’s a strong kid with a good pro body, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him push into the top ten rounds after three years of college, too. He’s not overpowering, though, so he might disappoint a few scouts. He hasn’t signed, and I don’t think he will. DOB: 2/20/91. Commitment: Georgia Tech.

47. Colby Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC), #1408 overall, 6’0’’/195: Smaller kid with possibly better repertoire than Farmer. However, he doesn’t have the natural size, limiting him in the eyes of scouts. He could have a successful college career, though, as he probably will not sign. DOB: 10/24/90. Commitment: South Carolina.

48. Jamie Hayes, RHP, Rider, #1438 overall, 6’0’’/195: Small senior pitcher who also played shortstop in college. He was simply a roster filler pick. He signed quickly, and he’s thrown 5 innings without allowing an earned run in the GCL. DOB: 10/21/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

49. Gabe Gutierrez, RHP, Apollo HS (AZ), #1468 overall, 5’10’’/200: Small kid with a big build. I expected him to be a late-round follow, and he might pop up on draft boards again with two years at Central Arizona CC coming up. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 9/30/90. Commitment: Central Arizona CC.

50. Josh Edgin, LHP, Francis Marion (PA), #1498 overall, 6’1’’/225: Nothing to add on Edgin, who is already 22. He hasn’t signed, and I don’t know why he’s holding out, as he’ll probably go undrafted a year from now. DOB: 12/17/86.

Looking at this draft, I initially wonder what the Braves’ draft plan was. Minor doesn’t fit your typical Braves’ first round mold, but I thought the pick was at least slightly defensible, since he was one of the better lefty college pitchers available this year, and the Braves like advanced pitchers from time to time. The David Hale pick was actually one of my favorite picks of the third round, too, so I thought that was defensible, since Hale has more upside than most college picks. However, from there, I started getting really confused. Mycal Jones has a good toolset in general, but he’s already 22 and still lacks a lot of the basic fundamentals that fourth round prep shortstops have. Berryhill is also a talented pitcher, but I also thought the pick could have waited a round or three. Beyond that, I really felt that the Braves were continually jumping on players that they liked too soon, with relatively few exceptions. As a result, their total talent acquired in this draft is sorely lacking. I was fairly shocked by this, as I was a supported of their 2008 draft, even when some were questioning their heavy use of the JUCO ranks. However, they really perplexed me with some picks, so I’m not nearly as bullish on this draft as I was a year ago.

Money-wise, I’m starting to wonder whether the Braves were under some serious financial restrictions when making the picks. They’ve spent right around $5 million per year over the last couple of drafts, and the bonuses they’ve doled out so far equal out to somewhere in the $1.3 million range, with Mike Minor and Ryan Woolley the two early picks yet to sign. Minor’s slot is supposedly in the $2.175 million range, and he’s probably holding out for last year’s slot of $2.42 million. I would guess Woolley is asking for something in the $200K range, maybe a tad more. Using that 2008 slot amount and the $200K amount I throw out there, it looks like Atlanta’s budget might be around $4 million this year, a decrease of a crucial $1 million. That $1 million could have gotten them a better talent at any of the top four rounds or so, though I repeat my thought that David Hale is a great third round pick. Or they could turn that extra $1 million into multiple mid-round picks signed at higher prices, buying them away from college commitments, and players such as Zack Von Rosenberg and Brody Colvin from the Louisiana prep ranks were still available to the Braves when they made their 5th and 7th round picks respectively. Getting one of those arms instead of a Thomas Berryhill or a Robby Hefflinger is a big deal. That’s where I think the major detraction is in this draft. They lack high-end players.

Putting all those factors together, I really have to grade this draft down from each of the first six drafts I’ve reviewed, and I’m pretty surprised by that. I do expect both Minor and Woolley to sign, so I don’t see myself making any changes to that grade after signing day on August 17. Minor will probably turn out to be a solid Major League starter, but it’s more likely that he’s in the back of a rotation than the front, a disappointing fact considering the number of young arms the Braves already have in their system with more potential. Players like Woolley, Berryhill, Hefflinger, and Northcraft will define how good this draft is when we look back a number of years from now, and I’m not sure Braves fans are going to be happy about that result. The odds of a Major Leaguer coming from this draft not named Minor are pretty low, though David Hale is big wild card, and I’m high on the pick. Me being high on that pick is the only thing that saved the Braves from being graded down two levels from the worst drafts ahead of them. They got some athleticism, some power, some pitching, and some balance, so I have to give them first a passing grade, then the raw talent they got allows a little higher grade than just above passing. There’s a high risk of failure in this draft class, as with any class that falls in love with JUCO freshmen, but Minor at the top balances that out a bit. Overall, this draft was pretty disappointing, and it’s the worst I’ve graded yet.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Note: If you have signing bonus information or other information you wish to share, feel free to comment or email me at texasrangersanalyst at gmail dot com.

July 22, 2009 Posted by | Draft Review | | 9 Comments

Just In Case You Didn’t Know…

I gave a few live updates last night on my twitter account of the Braves-Mets game at Turner Field. The starters were Javier Vazquez and Fernando Nieve, and it was a treat to see Vazquez in action. His command of his fastball wasn’t the best, but his offspeed stuff was working for him. He showed exactly why solid veteran #2 starters are so valuable, as they can eat innings with quality pitching, despite not having the best command of one of their best pitches. His changeup was an absolute killer late in  the game, and despite lacking a truly dominant pitch and also throwing consistently in the low-90s, reaching 94, Vazquez managed 7 innings, allowing only a run on 6 hits and a walk, striking out 5. He never really missed up with his fastball, and that’s what made his start so effective, as even without strong command of the pitch, he always missed where the hitter couldn’t touch it.

Anyway, I’ll also be in attendance for tonight’s Braves-Giants game featuring Tommy Hanson against Jonathan Sanchez, and even though I’m excited to see Hanson, I really want to see what kind of stuff Sanchez is throwing after his no-hitter last time out. He hasn’t thrown in 10 days, so it will interesting. He’s a trade candidate as well, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for scouts at the matchup. Another strong start could net the Giants the bat they’ve wanted all year. The Braves didn’t have a particularly strong night with the bat last night, despite plating 7 runs, but their discipline was strong, which is Sanchez’ biggest weakness. It will interesting to see how the Braves gameplan Sanchez. I’ll be tweeting throughout the game, so follow along.

I’ll probably have my Braves’ draft review up tomorrow, along with a brief run-through of what I saw during the two games.

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Random Thoughts | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draft Review – San Francisco Giants

Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the San Francisco Giants’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:

1. Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA), #6 overall, 6’3’’/180: This wasn’t unexpected at all, as Wheeler had been seen by Giants’ GM Brian Sabean weeks before the draft. Wheeler had the most helium of any of the top prep pitchers over the course of the season, as he started running his fastball up and showed excellent potential. He hasn’t signed yet, but I expect him to reach a deal sometime on the deadline day. DOB: 5/30/90. Commitment: Kennesaw State.

2. Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ), #55 overall, 6’1’’/215: I had some people criticize my next-to-last mock draft, because I left Joseph out of the three round mock altogether. I even had a few people say it was idiotic for Joseph to be left out of the first round, as he was a lock. However, I felt a subtle shift in his stock late in the season, as teams were always sure of his bat, but became more apprehensive about his glove. I see first base in his future, as his mechanics behind the plate just aren’t those of a catcher in today’s game. He could easily improve greatly and prove me wrong, but I just don’t see the skills. He does have the tools, however, as his arm is quite strong. He hasn’t signed, but I expect him to agree shortly before Wheeler. DOB: 7/16/91. Commitment: Arizona.

3. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville, #86 overall, 6’5’’/235: I love this pick for the Giants, as Dominguez is one of those rare college third basemen that could turn out to be a starter at that position in the big leagues. He has enormous tools, and you have to start with the raw power. He’s got enough strength to hit 30 homers a year if he improves his approach, though that’s tough, as he struggles with pitch recognition. His arm is also a plus, and he can handle third with it in the long-run, though, as with most third base prospects, he needs reps in order to become consistent. He’s still raw, despite having been a 5th round pick last year by the Rockies as a draft-eligible sophomore, but he’s got enormous potential. This wrapped up a great first day for the Giants. Dominguez signed quickly, and after a quick .306/.375/.528 run through the AZL in 36 ABs, he’s 8-for-21 (.381) with Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League. DOB: 11/22/86. Signing bonus: $411,300.

4. Jason Stoffel, RHP, Arizona, #117 overall, 6’2’’/220: Stoffel was one of those rare cases in which I firmly believe he was the subject of pitching abuse, though he was a reliever in college. The Wildcats used him early and often, and he threw over 50 innings over a three month span, equivalent to over 100 innings in relief over a six month Major League season. No manager in the Majors would subject such a high-end arm like Stoffel’s to that kind of use. However, it happened, and as a result, Stoffel’s pure stuff was down, as was his command, and I personally speculated a few times that Stoffel might be having arm troubles. He fell this far as a result of the diminished results, and the Giants might have gotten a steal. He signed already, but has yet to be assigned to a roster. DOB: 9/15/88. Signing bonus: $254,700.

5. Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas, #147 overall, 6’5’’/210: This was a surprising overdraft to me, as I loved what the Giants had done with their first four picks. However, Belt, despite blessed with exceptional size and good natural power, lacks the performance numbers or tools to be drafted this high. Since being drafted in the 11th round in both 2006 and 2007 (Red Sox and Braves), Belt has been a huge disappointment, with relatively weak hitting, making him going this high a big surprise. He’s got good tools at first, and with mechanical adjustments, he might become a more powerful hitter, but it’s just not likely. He hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 4/20/88.

6. Matt Graham, RHP, Oak Ridge HS (TX), #177 overall, 6’4’’/225: I’m still trying to figure out what to expect from Graham, who I had as a first round lock for this class a couple years ago. He completely lost his top-shelf stuff over a year ago, and despite some claims that he’s back, I just haven’t heard the big positives I was hearing back then. He’s still raw, and though he’s gotten his fastball back to an extent, his command is just not what it was. Was he hurt? I don’t know. All I know is that the Giants got a first round talent in the sixth round here, but he might be expensive to sign. This was somewhere near where I expected Graham to go, though I heard different projections even during the beginning of draft week. Great, but risky, pick. If he doesn’t sign, he’ll be draft-eligible again after his sophomore season in college in 2011. DOB: 5/1/90. Commitment: North Carolina.

7. Nick Liles, 2B, Western Carolina, #207 overall, 6’0’’/165: I was very encouraged by Liles after a good summer on the Cape last year, but was utterly disappointed when I heard he was switching to center field part-way through the spring. Apparently he just hasn’t gotten comfortable being an infielder, though his body isn’t really geared for anything else. The Giants decided to draft him as a second baseman, hoping that with repetitions, he could become solid at that spot. Liles does have the ability to hit for average, and his speed is close to above-average, as well. Don’t expect a lot of homers out of him, but he’s not punchless, either. I expected him to go as early as the 5th or as late as the 9th, so this was a solid draft position. He signed quickly, but has had sporadic playing time in the AZL, where he’s hitting .323/.333/.355 through 31 ABs. DOB: 7/23/87. Signing bonus: $120,000.

8. Gus Benusa, OF, Riverview HS (PA), #237 overall, 5’11’’/180: I’ve heard mixed opinions on Benusa, with one person telling me that Benusa has the tools to be a Major League center fielder, but with another telling me they’d be surprised if he made it to AA. Having lived in the state of Pennsylvania this past spring, all I can tell you is that the buzz was there. I don’t necessarily believe in his tools, but he’s worth an eighth-round risk considering how much he dominated competition with a respectable pro package. He may not succeed due to his below-average pedigree for baseball, but I don’t necessarily disagree with this pick. He’ll be interesting to watch, as he signed quickly, but has also received fairly sporadic playing time in the AZL like Liles. He’s hitting .308/.400/.308 in 26 ABs. DOB: 1/30/91. Signing bonus: $125,000.

9. Evan Crawford, OF, Indiana, #267 overall, 6’2’’/175: Crawford’s another one of those players that draws differing opinions in the eyes of scouts. Seeing a theme here? The Giants decided that Crawford’s toolset, which features plus speed and decent range for a new center fielder, was worth the six figure risk. I expected Crawford to go somewhere in this range, so I don’t necessarily think this is a bad pick, but the refinement level for Crawford is quite low. He doesn’t turn 21 until next month, though, so he’s got time to improve. He signed quickly and is hitting .286/.318/.310 in 42 ABs in the AZL. DOB: 8/5/88. Signing bonus: $110,000.

10. Jeremy Toole, RHP, BYU, #297 overall, 6’4’’/235: I like this pick from a pure talent perspective, and I think this may be a tenth-round bargain, as well. However, I don’t think Toole will be a starter. On the contrary, I think Toole has the potential to be a power closer, though he’d likely serve as Brian Wilson’s setup man in the current Giants bullpen. Toole has what can be an overpowering fastball, though his arm strength seemed to falter with a starter’s workload for a second straight season, the first being at a JUCO in Texas. He was drafted out of high school by Kansas City in the 41st round in 2006, so you know the natural talent is there, just not the refinement quite yet. He’ll probably start for awhile in the minors, but that’s probably not his long-term destination. He signed quickly, and he’s thrown 10 strong innings with Salem-Keiser, though with some command problems. DOB: 6/17/88. Signing bonus: $80,000.

11. John Eshleman, SS, Mount San Jacinto JC (CA), #327 overall, 6’0’’/180: I followed Eshleman this season mainly as a result of following Drew Madrigal, his teammate, very closely. I quickly realized that Eshleman had good pro ability, though his tools aren’t overwhelming. He wasn’t a full-time shortstop, so I thought his long-term position might be center field. He’s got the potential to hit for average, and he’s got decent speed, though I don’t have a report on his defense at short. I assume he needs to become more consistent there. He signed quickly and is hitting .304/.467/.391 in 23 ABs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 4/8/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.

12. Chris Heston, RHP, East Carolina, #357 overall, 6’4’’/185: This was Heston’s third time being drafted, as most recently he was picked by the Nationals in the 29th round a year ago out of Seminole CC in Florida. A starter at ECU, Heston showed solid command, but really lacked quality pro stuff. He probably profiles best as a middle reliever as a pro, though he might be able to become a command setup man if his stuff grows, as he’s got a solid pro body. He signed quickly, but has been hit around a little in 8 innings in the AZL. DOB: 4/10/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

13. Shawn Sanford, RHP, South Florida, #387 overall, 6’0’’/210: A 43rd round pick out of high school by the Rangers in 2006, Sanford has been on the scouting stage for awhile, despite not having a prototypical pro body. He split time this spring as both a late-inning reliever and a starter, finishing the season as a starter. However, like Heston, Sanford probably profiles best as a reliever in pro ball, though Sanford’s body is less projectable. Sanford is young, not turning 21 until the very end of the season this year, so he’s got that slight advantage over many juniors just drafted. He signed quickly and has thrown 7 dominating shutout innings in the AZL in relief. DOB: 8/28/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

14. B.J. Salsbury, RHP, Mount San Jacinto JC (CA), #417 overall, 6’2’’/185: While I was drawn to Salsbury’s teammate Eshleman as a result of Drew Madrigal, I always had some interest in Salsbury, as he was drafted by the Rangers in the 37th round out of high school in 2007. I thought Eshleman and Salsbury would be flip-flopped in terms of draft position, but that’s not how it happened. Salsbury was a starter at Mount San Jacinto, and he was borderline abused there, throwing 111 innings at the age of 19. He’s got decent stuff, but I’d worry about the workload. He signed quickly, and he’s had mixed results through 16.1 innings in the AZL. DOB: 10/22/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.

15. Kyle Vazquez, RHP, Franklin Pierce (NH), #447 overall, 6’3’’175: Vazquez was a starter at Franklin Pierce this spring, and like Salsbury, I’m afraid he was slightly abused, which marks a trend in this draft for the Giants. He threw a 10 inning shutout in early May, a game which included 15 strikeouts. That obviously shows some solid stuff, but I didn’t really expect him to go this high. He signed quickly, but has been hit hard in 5.1 innings with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 6/29/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

16. Ryan Cavan, SS, UC Santa Barbara, #477 overall, 5’10’’180: Cavan was a transfer to UC Santa Barbara from Chapman University, and he sat out a year as a result, making him a 22 year old junior in 2009. He showed good plate discipline in college, as well as a decent ability to hit for average, though he lacks power and speed. A third baseman in college, Cavan was drafted as a shortstop, and I wonder if he has the range for the position. He signed quickly and is hitting .270/.368/.446 in 74 ABs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 6/28/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

17. Chris Gloor, LHP, Quinnipiac, #507 overall, 6’6’’/255: A towering figure, Gloor was a solid prospect a couple of years ago until he came out throwing lifeless fastballs last spring. He was drafted by the Tigers in the 39th round a year ago as a result. He regained some of his status this spring, but not all of it. However, I thought his size and signability would push him into the top twelve rounds. He fell here, and the Giants got a steal in all categories. Great pick. He signed quickly and is dominating the Northwest League as a reliever. DOB: 3/7/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

18. Jonathan Walsh, OF, Coppell HS (TX), #537 overall, 6’2’’/208: I was one of those who were not surprised when the Giants called Walsh’s name as an outfielder on day two of the draft. As someone on my “most disappointing” list this spring, Walsh showed little of the potential he has with the glove behind the plate as a catcher, regularly struggling to reach even average pop times. His offense also struggled under the spotlight, and though he has enormous potential with the bat, too, it just wasn’t there. Whether it’s Draftitis or a larger problem, Walsh was just not on his game this spring. He still should have gone in the top ten rounds, and he’s not going to be signable in this range. This marks the beginning of the unsignable and organizational player run for the Giants in this draft. DOB: 11/14/90. Commitment: Texas.

19. Jason Walls, RHP, Troy, #567 overall, 6’5’’/205: I was pretty high on Walls coming into the draft, as I placed him on my sleeper list and shadow drafted him in the 15th round. He’s got a good fastball that was described to me as full of life and a slider that was described to me as late-inning material. Put those two together and we have a late-inning reliever on our hands. However, Walls also has command problems and a windup that might lead to injuries, so teams naturally shied away from his pro body and natural stuff. Long-term relievers with command problems aren’t incredibly desirable. There’s a good chance Walls heads back to school for his senior year, as he’s yet to sign. DOB: 2/22/88.

20. Mitch Mormann, RHP, Des Moines Area CC (IA), #597 overall, 6’6’’/220: I think the Giants were reading off my draft list on day two, as I also popped Mormann in addition to Walls, Mormann being picked by me in the 18th round. However, I was surprised when I was able to do so as late as I did. Mormann’s got a top of the line fastball and great pro size, though his offspeed stuff needs major work. He’s also got a strong LSU commitment, one which I wouldn’t be surprised to see him follow through with. He’s still learning to pitch with his tall body, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him blossom into something special. Great pick for talent and draft position here, but he might hold out for good money, knowing he could get a lot more looks next year in Baton Rouge. DOB: 3/17/89. Commitment: LSU.

21. Zach Wasserman, 1B, Lake Shore HS (MI), #627 overall, 6’6’’/225: Wasserman has already announced he will honor his college commitment. That makes this pick kind of worthless, doesn’t it? DOB: 8/30/90. Commitment: Louisville.

22. Drew Biery, 3B, Kansas State, #657 overall, 6’0’’/205: Biery was a college senior that best profiles as an organizational utility infielder. He doesn’t have pro size or pro tools, and he’s already 23. As expected, he signed quickly and is doing well in the Northwest League, hitting .363/.416/.425 in 80 ABs. DOB: 5/14/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

23. Adam Champion, LHP, Arkansas-Little Rock, #687 overall, 6’7’’/220: Unlike Biery, Champion does have pro size, but he lacked the results to merit a high pick. I did think Champion might be picked in the top 30 rounds as a tall college junior with decent stuff, but I also think he’s a LOOGY in the long-run. It’s looked to me like Champion will return for his senior year. DOB: 9/22/87.

24. Alex Burg, C, Washington State, #717 overall, 6’0’’/190: Burg was only a part-time catcher as a senior, and he had a knee injury during the year at that. Likely drafted as an easy sign, Burg has actually yet to sign with the Giants, a surprising move. He doesn’t have any leverage for holding out. DOB: 8/9/87.

25. Taylor Rogers, RHP, Tulane, #747 overall, 6’4’’/200: It’s amazing how many big-bodied arms a team can find in the later rounds of a draft. A midweek fill-in starter and reliever at Tulane, Rogers doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but there’s always hope in a body like his. He’s already 22 despite having been a junior this year. He signed quickly and has been hit hard with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 6/5/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

26. Luis Munoz, OF, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, #777 overall, 6’0’’/165: I don’t have anything to add except the fact that I couldn’t even find a college commitment for Munoz, meaning I don’t have any real information on him. He signed already, but is hitting poorly in the AZL. DOB: 10/10/91.Signing bonus: Unknown.

27. Kyle Mach, 3B, Missouri, #807 overall, 5’11’’/191: College senior was the leading hitter on a disappointing Mizzou squad. No power, not much potential for average, but he doesn’t strike out or walk much at all. No speed. Organizational infielder. He signed quickly and is hitting .213/.278/.319 through 47 ABs in the AZL. DOB: 11/8/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

28. Jamaine Cotton, RHP, Western Oklahoma State JC, #837 overall, 6’1’’/175: JUCO freshman that I don’t expect to sign, still being 18 years old. Could be a top twenty rounder next year, if not in the top ten. Decent command as a starter as a freshman. Has not signed. DOB: 9/27/90. Commitment: None.

29. Luke Demko, RHP, Rhode Island, #867 overall, 6’7’’/260: Tall college senior (also large in general) had success as closer this spring. Command needs work, but has decent stuff, though nothing special. He signed but hasn’t been assigned to a roster yet. DOB: 6/26/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

30. Craig Westcott, RHP, Belhaven (MS), #897 overall, 6’4’’/225: Westcott was a dominating pitcher at Belhaven, though it was as a 23 year old senior. He threw 90 innings over 17 starts, striking out 124 while allowing roughly a .200 batting average against him. That’s obviously great success, and I thought someone might take him in the teens as an interesting senior sign. He’s got good size, but marginal pro stuff. He signed quickly, and he’s dominated the AZL in 8 innings of relief. Nice pick. DOB: 3/1/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

31. Diego Seastrunk, C, Rice, #927 overall, 5’9’’/210: Seastrunk should have gone much higher as Rice’s starting catcher. An infielder in previous seasons, Seastrunk transitioned fairly well to catching, and I’m guessing he fell this far as a result of his desire to return to Rice for his senior season. He’s got the tools all-around to be a decent backup catcher at the Major League level with enough repetitions. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/11/88.

32. Luke Anders, 1B, Texas A&M, #957 overall, 6’6’’/225: I thought Anders might go 15 rounds higher after going in the 16th round to the Yankees a year ago as a junior. Like Brandon Belt, Anders is a tall college first baseman without a long history of success at the college level. He’s got some pop, though it probably doesn’t translate to the pro game. He’ll probably strike out a lot, but this is actually good value this far down, as Anders might have enough in his body to make it to the high minors, possibly into a bench role on an NL team. He signed quickly and is hitting .266/.351/.500 in 64 ABs with Salem-Keizer, a promising start. DOB: 10/2/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

33. Jake Dunning, RHP, Indiana, #987 overall, 6’4’’/188: Dunning was actually Indiana’s starting shortstop, and he only threw 7 innings in relief this spring. A college junior, he’ll likely return to school for his senior year to improve his stock. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 8/12/88.

34. Brandon Kirby, OF, Lake Wales HS (FL), #1017 overall, 6’0’’/185: I knew of Kirby’s town mate (not teammate) Kyle Andre of Frostproof HS, but I had no information on Kirby. I doubt he signs, but any draftee is a name to watch in the JUCO ranks. He hasn’t signed as of yet. DOB: 12/10/90. Commitment: South Florida CC.

35. Brandon Graves, LHP, Valdosta State (GA), #1047 overall, 6’1’’/190: I have to say I was much more on Graves’ teammates at Valdosta State than Graves himself. He was an Appalachian State transfer after starting at Tallahassee CC (FL). He had most of his success in the bullpen. Maybe there’s a future LOOGY in there. He signed quickly, and he’s had some ups and downs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 8/7/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

36. Ryan Scoma, OF, UC Davis, #1077 overall, 6’2’’/195: College senior outfielder with normal limited upside. Was at College of San Mateo before UC Davis. Very limited in tools. Signed quickly and is hitting .262/.295/.286 in 42 ABs in the AZL. DOB: 9/12/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

37. Ryan Lollis, OF, Missouri, #1107 overall, 6’2’’/185: Lollis was a 20th rounder of the Tigers a year ago as a junior, but he returned to Mizzou, where he had a disappointing season. Has good speed, and I thought he might go 15 rounds higher simply for that. He’s got a little more potential than your normal 37th round outfielder. He signed quickly and is hitting .307/.316/.453 in 75 ABs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 12/16/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

38. A.J. Proszek, RHP, Gonzaga, #1137 overall, 6’5’’/260: Senior pitcher with a big body. Nothing much to add here. Signed quickly, but was been hit very hard in 5 innings in the AZL. DOB: 4/17/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

39. Kyle Henson, C, Ole Miss, #1167 overall, 5’10’’/195: Senior catcher with Ole Miss. Very limited upside in terms of tools and skills. Signed quickly and is hitting .276/.323/.448 in 29 ABs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 12/7/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

40. Jonathan White, OF, Vanderbilt, #1197 overall, 6’2’’/198: 23 year old senior was drafted in 2007 by the Braves in the 24th round. His game relies on huge speed, but he’s simply not a refined ballplayer. Poor plate discipline and lack of hitting skills. He signed quickly and is hitting .341/.388/.500 in 44 ABs in the AZL. DOB: 6/16/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

41. Gary Moran, RHP, Sonoma State (CA), #1227 overall, 6’8’’/265: Has a big body and not much else as a 24 year old senior pitcher. Signed quickly and hasn’t allowed a run in 5.2 innings of relief with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 5/21/85. Signing bonus: Unknown.

42. Nick Schwaner, 3B, New Orleans, #1257 overall, 6’1’’/215: I thought Schwaner would go as much as 30 rounds higher as a solid college third baseman with solid hitting skills, but with a poor glove. He slipped this far, and he’ll likely return to school for his senior year. DOB: 2/27/88.

43. Matt Jansen, LHP, Purdue, #1287 overall, 6’2’’/210: 22 year old college junior with LOOGY potential. Still has a year of eligibility, so he might return to Purdue with the hopes of moving up twenty rounds. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 5/25/87.

44. Joe Lewis, 1B, Pittsburg HS (CA), #1317 overall, 6’5’’/205: Big, big kid. Still can’t find a college commitment for him, but his pure body size is encouraging. He hasn’t signed, and I’d expect he’d go to school. He was the quarterback on the school football team, too, and he was apparently pretty good. DOB: 9/17/90. Commitment: Unknown.

45. Kyle Kramp, RHP, Westfield HS (IN), #1347 overall, 6’4’’/195: Kramp’s teammate Kevin Plawecki got much more attention, but Kramp does have pro size. He’s got a decent college commitment, so I don’t expect him to sign. DOB: 12/23/90. Commitment: Butler.

46. Juan Martinez, SS, Oral Roberts, #1377 overall, 5’10’’/190: 22 year old junior infielder with limited pro skills. He signed quickly and is hitting .333/.383/.600 in 75 ABs with Salem-Keizer. DOB: 12/26/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

47. Michael Ness, RHP, Duke, #1407 overall, 6’4’’/210: Big college junior with a little more potential than your normal 47th rounder. I expected him to be a late-round follow, and I also think he’ll return to school for his senior year. DOB: 10/20/87.

48. Randolph Oduber, OF, Western Oklahoma State JC, #1437 overall, 6’3’’/186: I liked Oduber more than his teammate Cotton who was picked twenty rounds higher by the Giants. Oduber’s got solid pro tools, and I thought the only thing that held him back from being picked in the top 15 rounds was the fact that he was a JUCO freshman. He is 20 already, but he won’t sign since he went so far down. DOB: 3/18/89. Commitment: None.

49. Austin Goolsby, C, Embry-Riddle (FL), #1467 overall, 6’2’’/190: Junior catcher originally from the state of Texas. I’d expect he returns to school for his senior year, as he’s got good pro size behind the plate. DOB: 4/28/88.

50. Kaohi Downing, RHP, Point Loma Nazarene (CA), #1497 overall, 5’10’’/170: Wasn’t on my radar at all as a smallish 23 year old pitcher. He signed quickly, but is getting hit hard in the AZL. DOB: 5/7/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

A quick scan can give an encouraging sign that the Giants have signed so many of their picks before the cutoff into the unsignable and organizational player section. They’ve already signed 13 of their first 17 picks, and I think they transitioned after that 17th round pick of Chris Gloor. I’d still expect they get all of those 17 picks under contract, as I don’t think any of them are unsignable. I’d expect Belt to be signed first, but Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph, and Matt Graham might go down to the deadline. The wild card in Matt Graham, as he might feel he can make himself back into first round material in college, therefore affecting his asking price. He’d be eligible again in just a couple of years after a run with North Carolina, so it’s not an unreasonable claim. The Giants have also only spent somewhere in the $1.2 million range for bonuses so far, though a tad below that. That leaves plenty of room for more signatures, as slot for Wheeler is somewhere around $2.3 million, for Joseph it’s around $650K, and for Belt it’s around $175K. Having spent $9.1 million, $7.4 million, and $4.4 million on the last three drafts, I’d expect that leaves plenty of room to sign at least Graham, if not more. Tommy Joseph might get somewhere in the neighborhood of $800K, though, so budget room will start to be restricted after they sign those players.

The talent level of this draft greatly impresses me. Wheeler, Joseph, Dominguez, and Stoffel have all been discussed as having first-round talent from time-to-time, as has Matt Graham, who was the top prep pitcher in his class for a time during his pre-junior year. They could potentially have the best top six players of any combination of six players in any team’s draft. That’s how high I am on this draft. I still have to wait to see how many players they get under contract, but I’m optimistic about that too, as they saved money in the right places in order to have plenty to sign the big players at the top. There is some risk in this draft, though, as Dominguez, Stoffel, Belt, and Graham have all been disappointments in one way or another over the last year or two, and they come with major flaws. However, the talent level is undoubtedly there.

Looking past those initial six players, I’m not incredibly impressed. Liles may have potential to become a Major League ballplayer, but he needs to shore up his defense to be worth much of anything. His bat could help him progress, though. Benusa’s got a lot of risk, though $125K isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things within the context of the draft. Crawford also has a lot of risk, and I’m not too high on him in general. I do like the Toole pick, though, and the fact that he was so cheap is very encouraging. I’d put him in the bullpen and watch him go. There’s a lot of arms in general in this draft that could end up being helpful bullpen arms, so that’s something to watch. They might have dipped into the abused category once too many times, but every pitcher comes with inherent risk anyway. I do like the Chris Gloor pick a lot for that position, but his ceiling probably isn’t as high as some prospect homers might have you think. If the Giants can get their early picks signed, and if they can add someone in the Walsh-Walls-Mormann run, this has to be an unqualified win for this draft team. I’m going to assume that either none or just one of those players there signs, limiting my grade a bit, but I’m still very, very high on this draft, and I think it’s going to be one of the best in the entire league, despite not having any extra picks. Signing day may change my grade, but I grade this draft well above the first five I graded, as this draft is clearly superior.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Note: If you have signing bonus information or other information you wish to share, feel free to comment or email me at texasrangersanalyst at gmail dot com.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Draft Review | | 8 Comments

Some Debut Updates

-Los Angeles Angels’ 4th round pick, second baseman Wes Hatton from Norco HS (CA), high school teammate of Matt Hobgood, recently signed a contract and debuted last night in the AZL, going 1-4 with a single, walk, 2 strikeouts, and a pair of runs scored.

-Seattle Mariners’ 3rd rounder, UNC second baseman Kyle Seager, recently signed as well, and he’s been assigned to the AZL Mariners. His debut is expected shortly.

-The Mariners’ 33rd overall pick, Steve Baron, who I mentioned signed a few days ago, debuted last night with Pulaski in the Appy League, going 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout, driving in a run and scoring twice.

-Twins’ supplemental first rounder Matt Bashore of Indiana, signed recently, and he’s set to debut with Elizabethton in the Appy League. It will be interesting to see which of the Indiana arms, Eric Arnett or Bashore, has a better pro debut.

-Nationals’ 9th rounder Paul Applebee of UC Riverside signed since I did their writeup, and he debuted Wednesday night in the GCL. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in just 1.2 innings, walking and striking out none. Not too encouraging.

-Marlins’ 6th rounder Dustin Dickerson of Baylor finally signed and debuted last night. He went 2-4 with a pair of singles, an RBI, and a run scored with Jamestown in the NYPL.

-The Orioles also had someone sign and debut since my writeup, as Jake Cowan, their 10th round pick, pitched an inning for Aberdeen in the NYPL, allowing an unearned run, walking 2 and striking out 3.

-Keeping with the NYPL theme, the Yankees’ 7th round pick, Seton Hall’s Sean Black, debuted on Wednesday night, throwing 5 shutout innings, allowing 3 hits and a walk, striking out one.

-Heading to the Northwest League, the Rockies’ 3rd round pick, first baseman Ben Paulsen of Clemson, debuted Wednesday, and he’s 2-7 with a double and 4 strikeouts in 2 games with Tri-City.

-Just to fill in a gap, the Mariners signed their 9th round pick, Missouri catcher Trevor Coleman, since I wrote their review, and he’s 0-for-10 so far with Everett in the Northwest League.

-The Angels have signed one of their supplemental round picks, Oklahoma’s Garrett Richards, and he’s been assigned to Orem in the Pioneer League. His debut will come shortly.

-Same goes for the Angels’ 8th rounder, catcher Carlos Ramirez from Arizona State. He should make his Orem debut shortly.

-This isn’t a debut, but the Dodgers’ 4th round pick, outfielder Angelo Songco from Loyola Marymount, hit his way out of the Pioneer League in just 73 at-bats, and he’s moved up to the Midwest League, where he’s 1-for-9 with Great Lakes.

-He’s now four games in, but the Rockies’ 2nd round pick, Nolan Arenado from El Toro HS (CA), is 3-for-15 with Casper in the Pioneer League.

-The Mariners have been really aggressive in placing their 6th round pick, Baylor’s Shaven Hansen, in the Midwest League to start his pro career. He debuted last night, going 1-for-3 with a double and a pair of strikeouts.

July 17, 2009 Posted by | News and Notes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Discussion Question

Assuming Bryce Harper is not eligible for the 2010 draft, who do you pick at #1 overall?  I’d be looking at a number of players for that distinction, and almost all of them have noticeable flaws. But my pick is Anthony Ranaudo of LSU, simply for the safety in that pick. I considered UNC’s Matt Harvey, A.J. Cole of the Florida prep ranks, as well as Texas prep pitcher Jameson Taillon. Among hitters, profiled outfielder Bryce Brentz is an option, as are Fullerton’s shortstop Christian Colon, Miami’s catcher Yasmani Grandal (who has been horrible with Team USA), and Tennessee’s Blake Forsythe.

Who’s your #1 pick for 2010?

July 16, 2009 Posted by | Open Thread | 5 Comments

2010 Draft Order at the Break

Since we’re now past the half-way point of the 2009 season, I thought it might be time to see where teams fall in terms of 2010 draft order. This is obviously before the signing deadline for this year’s picks, so there are no unsigned draft pick compensation picks included. In addition, there’s no free agent compensation picks, too, so this is just raw order in terms of standings this year. Here’s your first look at the 2010 draft order:

1. Washington Nationals (26-61)
2. Cleveland Indians (35-54)
3. San Diego Padres (36-52)
4. Kansas City (37-51)
5. Arizona Diamondbacks (38-51)
6. Oakland Athletics (37-49)
7. Pittsburgh Pirates (38-50)
8. Baltimore Orioles (40-48)
9. Cincinnati Reds (42-45)
10. New York Mets (42-45)
11. Atlanta Braves (43-45)
12. Toronto Blue Jays (44-46)
13. Houston Astros (44-44)
14. Chicago Cubs (43-43)
15. Minnesota Twins (45-44)
16. Florida Marlins (46-44)
17. Chicago White Sox (45-43)
18. Milwaukee Brewers (45-43)
19. Seattle Mariners (46-42)
20. Colorado Rockies (47-41)
21. St. Louis Cardinals (49-42)
22. Tampa Bay Rays (48-41)
23. Detroit Tigers (48-39)
24. Texas Rangers (48-39)
25. San Francisco Giants (49-39)
26. Philadelphia Phillies (48-38)
27. Los Angeles Angels (49-37)
28. New York Yankees (51-37)
29. Boston Red Sox (54-34)
30. Los Angeles Dodgers (56-32)

I probably won’t get around to finishing the Giants’ draft review, as I’ve got a really busy day around here, but it should be up tomorrow.

July 15, 2009 Posted by | 2010 Draft Order | Leave a comment

2010 Draft Prospect: Bryce Brentz

Middle Tennessee State outfielder Bryce Brentz (courtesy Nashville City Paper)

Middle Tennessee State outfielder Bryce Brentz (courtesy Nashville City Paper)

Bryce Brentz is a rising junior from Middle Tennessee State, and he’s expected to be a top draft choice in the 2010 draft, having already been drafted once by the Cleveland Indians in the 30th round of the 2007 draft. However, the position at which he’ll be drafted has changed. Highly touted as a pitcher entering college, Brentz has now made himself into one of the best outfield prospects in the college game. Here’s your first rundown in a series where I’ll examine a number of prospects in the 2010 draft class.

Brentz went to high school in Knoxville, Tennessee at South Doyle High School, during which he was an all-state player as a pitcher. The Indians drafted Brentz as a result of the great progress he made during his senior year, though they had no interest in him as a hitter. However, Brentz improved his hitting greatly as time went on, making himself into a starting outfielder during his freshman campaign with Middle Tennessee. He ended up starting 51 games that year, hitting .329/.404/.671, tying for the team lead in home runs with 18, and leading the team in steals with 13 in 16 attempts. However, he struck out 47 times, most on the team, compared to just 24 walks. His name was on the radar screen entering 2009, but no one expected the breakout year he had.

Armed with a guaranteed starting spot, Brentz exploded onto the major prospect scene. He finished with a .465/.535/.930 line in 230 at-bats, slugging 28 home runs, 19 doubles, and a pair of triples. His steals fell to 7 in 11 attempts, but he improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 32-to-31. This easily made him the best all-around statistical hitter in the country, 2009 draft class hitters included. He’s followed up his incredible regular season with a Team USA roster spot, and he’s continued to hit, probably showing the best bat of the USA hitters. Through 47 at-bats with the team, he’s hit .447/.480/.617, leading the team with 6 doubles, and he’s added a triple. However, he hasn’t hit a home run yet, and his 12-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio is again concerning. He has managed to steal 4 bases in as many attempts. On the whole, Brentz’ 2009 season has propelled him into the national spotlight, and he’s still got a pair of games in Japan and the World Baseball Challenge in Canada with Team USA to cement his status as one of the elite hitters in the 2010 draft class.

Now that we have the pure performance numbers out of the way, let’s look at how Brentz compares in the scouting community. Here’s a couple quotes in an article that essentially tells you what top prospects and coaches think of him:

“He just doesn’t get out — we can’t get him out,” VU pitcher Mike Minor said. “He can hit breaking balls; he can hit fastballs. You can’t blow it by him.”

“I called Team USA just to act upon Steve Peterson’s endorsement of his player,” VU coach Tim Corbin, a former U.S. national team coach, said. “He’s the best hitter we’ve seen. … I think he just hits everything.”

That’s the number seven pick in the 2009 draft and the coach of prospect powerhouse Vanderbilt. And that essentially sums up everything I’ve heard privately, as well. He just simply has a great bat. He’s going to hit for average, and his power, while not earth-shattering is above-average. He has fairly good pitch recognition skills, but because his bat load is deeper than most good hitters, he has to rely on his superior bat speed to make it up. He can easily do that, but it’s a concern for the long-run, as he’ll have to adjust his batting style if his bat speed ever slows down, which can be as a result of simple aging or hand and wrist injuries. All hitters and outfielders face high risk of hand and wrist injuries, so his stock could certainly fall if anything were to happen over the next 11 months. I do have concerns that he hasn’t seen enough quality breaking stuff, and like most young hitters, he sometimes gets overanxious to swing, giving away at-bats where the opposing pitcher simply wanted to walk him. That seems to be the explanation I’m getting on why his Team USA strikeout-to-walk ratio is so bad, especially in comparison to some of his teammates.

Defensively, Brentz should have no problems at a corner outfield spot. He’s definitely not a center fielder, though. He still pitches for the Blue Raiders, 88.2 innings in 2009 actually, and that’s a testament to his plus arm strength. He has fairly average range, maybe a tick above, and the arm strength plays up. I worry about him continuing to pitch, as any arm injury severely limits his value in the outfield and as an overall package, similar to how Dustin Ackley had questions about his overall value before he played some center field late in the year for UNC. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brentz give up pitching in order to concentrate on his hitting and fielding next spring, though he’s thrown 8 innings of relief with Team USA, allowing 5 earned runs on 10 hits and 7 walks, striking out 12. As you can tell, he can be overpowering, but his command just isn’t what it should be. He’s really cheating himself by risking arm injuries, as his value lies completely in his bat.

Looking at the 2010 draft class so far, I’d say Brentz has definitely put himself right in the top ten. A good number of the top prospects entering the spring have faltered a little either in the spring season or summer, some both, while Brentz has continually moved forward. He’s now made himself arguably the best outfielder in entire 2010 draft class, with Florida State’s Tyler Holt definitely in the picture, but for different reasons. Brentz has to keep producing and stay healthy to keep his draft value, as corner outfielders generally don’t get overdrafted, and that puts a lot of pressure on him for his junior season. Draftitis is always a concern, but Brentz has continually gotten better over time, and his run with Team USA proves that he can handle himself on the same stage with big prospects from bigger programs. I have no doubt that Brentz can build on his monster sophomore campaign, ending up as a top draft pick in June 2010.

July 14, 2009 Posted by | 2010 Draft Profiles | | 5 Comments

Draft Review – Baltimore Orioles

Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Baltimore Orioles’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:

1. Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA), #5 overall, 6’4’’/245: This was an unexpected pick. The Orioles had a history of going for expensive players over the last couple of years in Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, but they apparently wanted to go with the Pirates’ philosophy of save a little here in order to spend a little more later. Hobgood has good pure stuff, but his build is deceiving. He’s not overpowering, and the projectability isn’t completely there, but he still has #2 potential if everything comes together. As with most prep pitchers, he just needs to learn how to command his offspeed stuff. He signed fairly quickly, but hasn’t appeared on a roster yet. DOB: 8/3/90. Signing bonus: $2.422 million.

2. Mychal Givens, SS, Plant HS (FL), #54 overall, 6’1’’/190: Givens was in the running for a first-round slot at the beginning of the year, but the flaws in his game never seemed to be fixed. A two-way player, Givens drew a lot of attention on the mound, where his fastball rated up with anybody in the entire draft class. However, he wasn’t durable enough to be a starter, and his breaking ball was well below average. In the field, his hitting draws question marks, though his strong arm and defensive skills should keep him at short, providing he becomes consistent. However, this is a decent pick for draft position and talent, though he hasn’t signed yet, and it might go down to the final weekend before the signing deadline. DOB: 5/13/90. Commitment: Oklahoma State.

3. Tyler Townsend, 1B, Florida International, #85 overall, 6’3’’/215: Townsend snuck up on everybody this year, as he entered the year as only a possible mid-round pick. However, by the end, I was really thinking someone might call his name at the end of day one. Surprisingly, it was at the beginning of the third round. He has a big bat, and he projects well for both average and power. However, he can’t run at all, his arm is pretty weak, and first base is about it for him if you want even average defense at his position. Altogether, this is about average for all factors I consider, as he signed quickly, but is off to a poor 8-for-47 start (.170) with Aberdeen in the NYPL. DOB: 5/14/88. Signing bonus: $417,600.

4. Randy Henry, RHP, South Mountain CC (AZ), #116 overall, 6’3’’/198: This is probably one of the more intriguing names in the entire draft. Henry was supposed to be a solid 2008 draft prospect before he blew out his elbow and missed his senior year of high school. He ended up at South Mountain as a result, and he was held back a lot during the season. He only threw 11 innings, but as the year went along, his stuff got stronger and stronger. Now he’s considered a 19 year old kid without much mileage on his arm, and he’s got the pure stuff of a high-upside starter. I thought he might last a round or two later, but he’s got the pure talent to be a round or two higher. He still hasn’t signed, and he’s got another year at South Mountain, so he might command a little more money than slot, but he’s going to sign, and it will probably be before the deadline. DOB: 5/10/90. Commitment: None.

5. Ashur Tolliver, LHP, Oklahoma City, #146 overall, 6’0’’/170: Tolliver was also an interesting name to watch entering the draft. Having broken out on the Cape a year ago, he transferred into Oklahoma City from Arkansas-Little Rock and continued his success through most of the year. While I like this pick, I do give some credence to the thought that Tolliver can’t handle a starter’s load, as his frame really isn’t your prototypical pro starter’s. However, his stuff in relief on the Cape tells me he can probably be a lefty setup man, maybe even a closer in a pinch. That’s great value in the 5th round, so I grade this pick up. He hasn’t signed yet, but it will happen, and it will likely happen well before the deadline. DOB: 1/24/88.

6. Justin Dalles, C, South Carolina, #176 overall, 6’2’’/205: This is the fourth time Dalles has been drafted, as he went in the 15th in 2006 (Mets), 40th in 2007 (Cardinals), and 26th in 2008 (Blue Jays). 2009 was Dalles’ first year at South Carolina, where he took over the starting catching immediately, having done the same in the Florida JUCO ranks. He’s a solid defender, and while his bat is decent, it’s not really a starter’s bat when paired with his glove. All in all, Dalles looks like a backup to me, though he’s still just 20. If he can continue to improve behind the plate like he has in the last few years, he might make himself into a defensive starter. Not a big fan of this pick, but it needs time in terms of judging the total outcome. He signed quickly, but is off to a poor 8-for-41 (.195) start with Aberdeen. DOB: 12/30/88. Signing bonus: $150,000.

7. Aaron Wirsch, LHP, El Toro HS (CA), #206 overall, 6’6’’/200: I didn’t think Wirsch would find himself drafted so highly this year. Playing for a solid prep team that included Nolan Arenado and the injured Chad Thompson, Wirsch became the de facto ace when Thompson went down. He doesn’t have much pure stuff at the moment, but I’m guessing the Orioles liked his projectability. He’s got room to add some strength, so there might be some natural growth available. However, his current stuff is pretty average, and I thought he’d be picked five rounds lower, possibly more. He hasn’t signed yet either, so I’m not a fan of this pick. DOB: 11/15/90. Commitment: San Diego.

8. Devin Harris, OF, East Carolina, #236 overall, 6’3’’/227: Here’s another very talented player, but one with limited polish for a college bat. Harris started for the first time this past year, and though he played well, he also showed the holes in his game. Like a lot of prep players, Harris struggles with pitch recognition on the offensive side and route-taking on the defensive side. He’s got plus power to go along with a plus arm in right field, so the tools are there, but he’s a boom-or-bust type of player. As a sophomore-eligible, he’s also got good leverage, though I think he’ll sign. Good pick for talent, a little above-average for draft position, but a little below-average for signability. DOB: 4/23/88.

9. Ryan Berry, RHP, Rice, #266 overall, 6’1’’/195: RUN AWAY!!! That’s how I feel about drafting Rice pitchers and overworked college pitchers in general. While college pitchers bring the extra security that teams desire in some drafts, there’s also the risk that the player was overworked, and that’s usually the case with Rice. Berry’s mechanics also aren’t so clean, and while he’s got good natural stuff, it’s not anything to write home about. The one positive with Berry is that he has good command of his breaking ball, the rarely-used knuckle curve, and he also has good command of his other pitches. Decent pick for talent and very good for draft position, but his signability is a huge question. I think it will take $800K to sign him away from returning to Rice. DOB: 8/3/88.

10. Jacob Cowan, RHP, San Jacinto JC (TX), #296 overall, 6’3’’/175: Cowan was the second straight pitcher with injury questions that the Orioles took. Having been drafted in the 14th round by the Red Sox in 2007 out of high school, Cowan stagnated at Virginia in 2008 before transferring to San Jacinto. He came down with elbow tendinitis part-way through the season after showing diminished stuff, making some question his long-term health outlook. However, he came back strong later in the season, and the Orioles got a steal getting him this late. He should have gone five or six rounds higher. Great pick for talent and draft position, and he just signed. No word on the signing bonus yet, and he hasn’t been placed on a roster. DOB: 6/30/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

11. Michael Ohlman, C, Lakewood Ranch HS (FL), #326 overall, 6’4’’/205: I’m a bit higher on Ohlman than some others, as I think he has the natural tools to stay behind the plate, and he’s developed the skills there, too. He’s still got some learning to do, but I think he could be a plus defender there. At the plate, I like the fact that he makes good contact, and his power should play. There’s no reason to think that there’s not a starting catcher in his toolset. This is a great pick for both talent and draft position, as Ohlman was speculated to be a first day candidate. However, he might not be signable, as it could take $1MM+ to get him away from Miami. That will be tough, but the Orioles might have saved enough for it with the Hobgood deal. DOB: 12/14/90. Commitment: Miami.

12. Steve Bumbry, OF, Virginia Tech, #356 overall, 5’10’’/185: I was pretty surprised that any team would be interested in Bumbry as anything more than an organizational player. He doesn’t have pro size, strikes out a ton, and doesn’t really have any noticeable pro tools. However, he proved very signable, and while I don’t like this pick for either talent or draft position, the signability factor came into play. He was 2-for-20 with Aberdeen before coming down with an injury and hitting the disabled list. DOB: 4/4/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

13. Ty Kelly, 2B, UC Davis, #386 overall, 6’0’’/185: While Kelly was supposed to go a few rounds later on most boards, I somewhat like this pick. As a sophomore, Kelly had a great campaign, but he really dipped during his junior year. However, he still has the same ability to hit for average, and I like his chances of being a possible reserve Major Leaguer. He might even have enough skills to start at second for a season or two. In addition, he also signed quickly and doesn’t turn 21 until next Monday. He’s hitting .309/.347/.382 in 68 ABs with Aberdeen so far. DOB: 7/20/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

14. David Baker, RHP, Hemet HS (CA), #416 overall, 6’4’’/195: Baker wasn’t really on my radar as anyone that would be drafted on the second day. So it naturally surprised me when he went in a team’s favored range, the top fifteen rounds. He’s got some projectability, but has a long, long way to go, as he allowed what is a lofty ERA in prep ball for a high draftee (3.12). Don’t like this pick for draft position at all, but he might prove to have more talent than I think. He signed fairly quickly, but hasn’t been rostered yet. DOB: 4/17/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.

15. Garrett Bush, RHP, Stanton College Prep HS (FL), #446 overall, 6’4’’/190: This marks the transition to the unsignable or organizational player territory for the Orioles. Bush has a great combination of pro body with pro arm, and he has the added plus that he lacks significant mileage on his arm, as he served as a reliever for the most part in high school. However, he lacks the polish of most highly-touted prep pitchers, as he focused on catching before realizing his pitching potential during the last couple of years. I thought he might be signable in the top ten rounds, but it’s more difficult this far down. Great pick for talent and draft position, but I fear he may end up at Auburn without $250K heading in his direction. DOB: 10/11/90. Commitment: Auburn.

16. Ryan Palsha, RHP, Diablo Valley JC (CA), #476 overall, 6’1’’/180: Not someone that was on my follow lists early on. Command is a problem, and he needs to be a reliever. I thought he’d be a late-round follow, as he has a year left at Diablo Valley. However, he signed already, but hasn’t appeared on a roster yet. DOB: 5/17/90. Signing bonus: Unknown.

17. Jeff Walters, RHP, Georgia, #506 overall, 6’3’’/190: I thought Walters might go a few rounds earlier, as he’s got the body and pure stuff of a 7th inning reliever. He was picked out of a JUCO last year in the 30th round by the Indians, but ended up at Georgia. Like Justin Dalles, he was also picked the previous two years. This could be a nice sign if the Orioles can make it happen. I put the odds of signing him at 50/50. DOB: 11/6/87.

18. Jarret Martin, LHP, Bakersfield JC (CA), #536 overall, 6’3’’/200: The Orioles obviously like Martin, as they also popped him in the 19th round a year ago. He’s got a pro body, but was a reliever with Bakersfield. He was just a JUCO freshman, so there’s questions about his signability this late. He’s a potential LOOGY, but hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 8/14/89. Commitment: None.

19. Kipp Schutz, OF, Indiana, #566 overall, 6’4’’/170: I thought Schutz might go a little higher, as he had a decent junior year. He’s also got pro size, though his power was disappointing this spring. The bad with Schutz is the defense, and he might be a career platoon left fielder, even in the minors. He just doesn’t have the skills there. The Orioles also picked Schutz, a draft-eligible sophomore, in the 26th round out of high school in 2006. He signed quickly, but is off to a poor 7-for-42 (.167) start with Bluefield in the Appy League. DOB: 3/21/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

20. James Brandhorst, RHP, Lamar, #596 overall, 6’4’’/235: This is a great pick this far down. I had Brandhorst as a sleeper reliever candidate to go in the top twelve rounds, and I think he has setup man potential. His command is the huge hurdle though, and it’s a big one. However, with his fastball/slider combo, Brandhorst has room for a little error, and he should move through the low minors fairly easily. Great pick for draft position and talent, and he signed quickly. He’s pitched 9 innings with Aberdeen, allowing 3 runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out 13. DOB: 8/26/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

21. Kevin Landry, RHP, William & Mary, #626 overall, 6’7’’/220: Another great pick here. Landry should have gone as much as ten rounds higher, but fell for unknown reasons. His pure stuff was down this spring, but the Orioles bought low for a guy that can flash low- to mid-90s fastballs in the spirit of a first day pick. His pure ceiling might be a tad below that of Brandhorst’s, but Landry is no slouch. Great pick for talent and draft position, and he signed already. He allowed a run on 3 hits in 1.2 innings in his Aberdeen debut, walking 2 and striking out 3. DOB: 5/9/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

22. Cameron Coffey, LHP, Houston Christian HS (TX), #656 overall, 6’5’’/215: Coffey got a tough break this spring, when he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. This came after a huge breakout early in the year in which he started routinely throwing in the low-90s and I was hearing tons of buzz on him. I thought he might be heading towards day one before the injury. This seems like a pure follow to me, as I don’t think the Orioles will invest the money to sign Coffey away from his strong Duke commitment. DOB: 9/20/90. Commitment: Duke.

23. Mike Mooney, SS, Florida, #686 overall, 5’8’’/160: This was puzzling to me, as I thought Mooney would either be a late-round follow or go undrafted altogether. He’s tiny, doesn’t have any pro tools or skills, and still had a year of eligibility at Florida. However, he signed quickly with the Orioles, and he’s hitting .214/.290/.339 in 56 ABs with Aberdeen. Don’t like this pick. DOB: 6/12/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

24. Justin Anderson, LHP, UL-Monroe, #716 overall, 6’4’’/195: I have to admit I didn’t even follow Anderson this past season. It really surprised me to see someone picked in day two that I had to look up. He struggled during the year, and I’m surprised he signed so quickly, as he might have climbed boards as a senior lefty. He’s got pro size, and he’s off to a decent start as a reliever with Bluefield, as he has a 3.95 ERA through 13.2 innings. DOB: 10/21/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

25. Jay Johnson, LHP, Lethbridge CC (AB), #746 overall, 6’2’’/210: Johnson was probably the best JUCO player in Canada for this draft class, and I expected him to go possible a few rounds earlier. As a result, he hasn’t signed, and I expect him to honor his college commitment. DOB: 12/21/89. Commitment: Texas Tech.

26. Blake Mechaw, LHP, Shelton State CC (AL), #776 overall, 6’2’’/200: A JUCO sophomore, I thought Mechaw might go a few rounds earlier, though him falling to here wasn’t a surprise. He might be a future LOOGY at best, and he signed quickly. He’s allowed 5 earned runs in 6.2 innings with Bluefield so far. DOB: 8/19/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.

27. Mike Planeta, OF, Glendale CC (AZ), #806 overall, 6’3’’/195: As a JUCO freshman, I had essentially written off Planeta as a late-round follow with an eye on next year. However, he’s got pro size, and he signed fairly quickly. He’s got bad pitch recognition skills, so I don’t expect much from him. He’s hitting .259/.273/.315 through 54 ABs with Bluefield. DOB: 10/17/89. Signing bonus: Unknown.

28. Kyle Hoppy, OF, Orchard Park HS (NY), #836 overall, 6’0’’/195: Hoppy’s probably got a better chance of starting on the football team at Bucknell next year than sporting a pro baseball uniform. I didn’t even follow him this spring, and I don’t think I’ve seen him on any other follow lists either. Interesting name to watch if you like two-sport athletes, though. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 5/8/91. Commitment: Bucknell (FB).

29. Brandon Alexander, OF, Oakville HS (MO), #866 overall, 6’1’’/170: A 19 year old high school senior, Alexander was yet another surprise to me. Since he committed to a JUCO, he’ll be eligible for the draft every year from here on out, since he’d be eligible at a four year school as a 21 year old sophomore. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 6/2/90. Commitment: Logan JC (IL).

30. Brenden Webb, OF, Palomar JC (CA), #896 overall, 6’3’’/190: If only they could sign him, I would love this pick. Webb was a name I kept hearing about in the California JUCO ranks as the draft neared, and I wondered if he might have enough helium to reach the top ten rounds. However, he fell as a JUCO freshman, and the Orioles picked him with their last second day pick. He’ll likely return to school, and he could be one of the top JUCO bats for the 2010 draft. DOB: 2/24/90. Commitment: None.

31. Mike Flacco, 3B, Catonsville CC (MD), #926 overall, 6’5’’/220: Flacco was the best JUCO hitter in the state of Maryland for 2009, though that’s not saying much. He’s much more famous as the brother of Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco. While I like the size, I don’t like the fact that he was a JUCO freshman at age 22, and I don’t see a bright future in baseball for the other Flacco. He signed quickly, and he’s off to a .242/.315/.333 start in 66 ABs for Bluefield. DOB: 1/17/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

32. Matt Nadolski, LHP, Casa Grande HS (CA), #956 overall, 6’2’’/185: I thought Nadolski would go as many as twenty rounds higher as a projectable prep lefty. However, it seems his college commitment scared off enough teams that the Orioles drafted him as a simple follow, meaning he won’t be signing. He should contribute immediately for San Diego State. DOB: 2/6/91. Commitment: San Diego State.

33. Tyler Naquin, OF, Klein Collins HS (TX), #986 overall, 6’1’’/165: I also thought Naquin could go twenty rounds higher, as he’s got some pro tools. However, he’s probably headed to JUCO power San Jacinto, and we’ll probably see his name again next year. He hasn’t signed, and I wouldn’t expect him to. DOB: 4/24/91. Commitment: San Jacinto JC (TX).

34. Malcolm Clapsaddle, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL), #1016 overall, 6’2’’/170: Clapsaddle is the next in a run of projectable, but unsignable, prep players for the Orioles. He has what can be called a projectable body, and he’ll probably contribute immediately out of the bullpen in college. I thought he’d go twenty rounds higher, maybe more. He won’t be signing. DOB: 9/10/90. Commitment: Georgia.

35. Jeremy Lucas, C, West Vigo HS (IN), #1046 overall, 6’2’’/190: Lucas is someone who will benefit from college time. Coming from a less-than-stellar baseball state, he just needs reps. Expect to see him on draft boards in three years, though his tools are probably not good enough to warrant a high selection. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/10/91. Commitment: Indiana State.

36. Scott Firth, RHP, Stevenson HS (IL), #1076 overall, 6’0’’/170: For me, Illinois’ prep pitcher ranks went Tanner Bushue-Ian Krol-Scott Firth. However, scouts always mentioned something about Firth’s size, as he’s definitely not your prototypical starting pitcher. However, he’s got pro stuff, and he’s also got the brains to succeed. He’s a great student, so that’s why he fell so far, with his college commitment being as strong as they come. He won’t be signing with the Orioles. DOB: 4/20/91. Commitment: Clemson.

37. Taylor Rogers, LHP, Chatfield HS (CO), #1106 overall, 6’3’’/175: Rogers is another projectable lefty, though he’s much more raw than most as a result of his competition in Colorado. I’d say that Rogers was probably the best prep lefty from the state in the class, but again, that’s not saying much. I doubt he signs, and he’ll be in the bullpen next year in college. DOB: 12/17/90. Commitment: Kentucky.

38. Josh Dowdy, RHP, Appalachian State, #1136 overall, 6’1’’/190: The Orioles had to fill out their rosters somewhere. Dowdy was a senior reliever who signed quickly and is off to a sizzling start with Bluefield, having allowed a single run in 13.2 innings of relief. DOB: 1/18/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

39. Kevin Alexander, RHP, Taravella HS (FL), #1166 overall, 6’0’’/160: Alexander’s got a body much like Firth’s, though Alexander probably needs a lot more work on his strength than Firth. As a result, Alexander wasn’t high on many follow lists in the heavily-scouted state of Florida, and I thought he might not get drafted at all. He’ll have some major work to do in college. DOB: 5/4/91. Commitment: Florida Atlantic.

40. Bobby Shore, RHP, Palomar JC (CA), #1196 overall, 6’0’’/175: Having already drafted an outfielder from Palomar, the Orioles decided Shore might be another nice addition, though he’s equally likely to sign. Shore doesn’t have much of a body, but he did garner a big college commitment, which probably dropped him somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty rounds. He’ll be back on boards next year as a junior. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/27/89. Commitment: Oklahoma.

41. Mason Magleby, RHP, Del Oro HS (CA), #1226 overall, 6’1’’/190: Magleby’s also a football prospect, and that’s where his future lies in college. He’s got average size for a pitcher, though he’s not really projectable. He will likely not sign. DOB: 4/29/91. Commitment: Nevada (FB).

42. Joe Valleggia, C, Old Dominion, #1256 overall, 6’6’’/235: Valleggia has great size, but little results. He played on a limited basis this past year, and is still 9 days shy of his 21st birthday. He will probably head back to school for his senior year. DOB: 7/23/88.

43. Brad Decater, OF, Cuesta JC (CA), #1286 overall, 6’1’’/190: I had Decater on my lists as a shortstop, so I’m a little perplexed as to what outfield position the Orioles thought he would play. However, I also thought he’d be a late-round follow, and I don’t even know his commitment for next year. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 12/28/88. Commitment: Unknown.

44. Kyle Westwood, RHP, Palm Harbor University HS (FL), #1316 overall, 6’2’’/170: Westwood has solid size for a projectable starting pitching prospect, but he wasn’t very highly touted as a prep. I don’t even know what his commitment is, and I thought he’d be drafted in this area if at all. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 4/13/91. Commitment: Unknown.

45. David Rivera, OF, Francisco Oller HS (PR), #1346 overall, 6’0’’/190: I’ve got nothing that isn’t already known about Rivera (which isn’t much). He signed quickly and is off to a .255/.304/.333 start in 51 ABs with the GCL Orioles. DOB: 3/20/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.

46. Scott Swinson, RHP, Maryland, #1376 overall, 6’1’’/185: By the end of the year, I thought Swinson had made himself into his team’s best 2009 draft prospect, ousting teammate A.J. Casario from that spot. However, Swinson fell this far probably due to a desire to return for his senior year and the poor results he generally got. He’s got average stuff with above-average command, so he might be a nice senior sign in the 2010 draft. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 3/11/88.

47. Nolan Martz, RHP, McKendree (IL), #1406 overall, 6’5’’/230: I didn’t follow Martz at all, so all I can say is that his frame screams big middle reliever. He probably won’t sign and will show up on draft boards again as a senior next year. DOB: 2/24/88.

48. Ryan Burnaman, 3B, San Jacinto JC (TX), #1436 overall, 5’11’’/165: Ignoring anyone on San Jacinto is a bad idea, even the small-framed infielder. A shortstop with San Jacinto, this JUCO freshman was picked as a corner infielder, though he’ll likely end back up at school. If he can prove he can hit, Burnaman might be as many as thirty rounds higher next year. DOB: 3/6/90. Commitment: None.

49. Ashley Bulluck, RHP, South Broward HS (FL), #1466 overall, 6’9’’/270: I don’t think the size is a typo, but the last listings I saw on Bulluck had him at 6’4’’, which was still good enough for me to make a note of him. There’s a point where size works against a pitcher, and this is probably it. Bulluck will probably always garner scouting attention for his size, so remember the name. He won’t be signing this year. DOB: 5/13/91. Commitment: Broward CC (FL).

50. Tim Berry, LHP, San Marcos HS (CA), #1496 overall, 6’2’’/165: Berry’s got a weak frame, and he’s likely to benefit from three years of college. To call him projectable might be an understatement, as he’s got tons of room to grow. I thought he might go in the top fifteen rounds to someone who liked that projectability, but he fell here due to his college commitment and questions about his durability. He won’t sign. DOB: 3/18/91. Commitment: Oregon.

I’m immediately struck by how much risk is in this draft. While Tyler Townsend offers at least some security, most of the rest of this draft is filled with riskier players. Hobgood is one of your more secure prep pitchers, but as with any prep pitcher, or any pitcher at age 18 for that matter, there’s a huge amount of risk. Perhaps Hobgood’s strong size will help him get through the injury nexus, but I wouldn’t bet $2.4 million on it. Looking beyond Hobgood, Givens is a very risky pick as a position player, and it will probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of $800K to sign him, maybe more. I don’t like Givens’ chances to both reach his potential with the bat and glove, so at least one will be iffy. The pure talent is definitely there, and while I like pure talent in evaluating, the risk of entire draft class has to be taken into account, too.

Starting with the second day, I see more risk in there. Henry threw just 11 innings this year, as I noted above, and he was also a reliever. I’m pretty sure they drafted him as a starter, but JUCO freshmen take time to develop, and they’re also close to being as risky as prep pitchers. The one consolation I find in that selection from a risk standpoint is that his coach did a nice job of shielding him from a heavy workload. Tolliver is a nice pick, but I do see him as a reliever, which takes away some of the risk, but he’s also only a year into being any good, and there might be some regression in there. Same with Dalles. Wirsch has a long way to go, as does Devin Harris, who could pay huge dividends, but could also be an expensive bust. Berry and Cowan are a pair of pitchers coming off arm injuries during the season, so there’s that risk, too. In addition, with Mike Ohlman, the Orioles need to believe that he’ll stick at catcher with his huge frame. Otherwise it’s a waste of a large amount of money on someone that might not hit enough to be a starter at any other position, though I personally believe in his bat.

From there, the Orioles went into what almost seemed to be risk-averse mode, overdrafting Bumbry, Kelly, and Baker, though the selection of Garrett Bush in the 15th round could be a huge steal if they can sign him. I do like Kelly more than most, but I’m not predicting stardom for him. I really like the selections of Walters, Brandhorst, and Landry, as they could all be Major League relievers. Walters might not sign, but already having Brandhorst and Landry locked up could be a coup, but not enough of one to really raise my grade of their draft as a whole. I’ll be re-examining every team’s draft after the signing deadline and end of the minor league season, so there’s a lot that could change between now and then. However, looking at the here and now, I have to give this draft a B-, as the risk is just too high. Getting good players late, and also getting bargains early in terms of draft position, was offset by a few overdrafts and the heavy risk involved with their picks. This draft may put out a Major Leaguer or two, but I don’t see most of these high-risk players making it past AA.

FINAL GRADE: B-.

Note: If you have signing bonus information or other information you wish to share, feel free to comment or email me at texasrangersanalyst at gmail dot com.

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Draft Review | | 6 Comments

Draft Review – Pittsburgh Pirates

Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:

1. Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College, #4 overall, 6’0’’/215: I, like many observers, absolutely loathed this pick when it occurred. This smelled like old Pirates’ ball, the kind where Moskos is better than Wieters. Sanchez is a good player, and easily the best college catcher in the 2009 class, but he’s not top ten good. However, he was affordable for slot, and the Pirates value that. He signed almost immediately, and after a quick 4-for-13 stint with State College in the NYPL, Sanchez is now 13-for-30 (.433) with West Virginia in the single-A Sally League. DOB: 5/20/88. Signing bonus: $2.5 million.

1s. Victor Black, RHP, Dallas Baptist, #49 overall, 6’4’’/205: Though I wasn’t a fan of the Sanchez pick, I immediately liked this one. Black greatly improved from 2008 to 2009 due to hard work on his mechanics, thus improving his command. He’s got great natural stuff, with a hard fastball that lacks movement, but also paired with an effective slider. He’s got a bit longer to go than most college junior pitchers, but he’s got the natural stuff of a potential #3 starter. Good pick for talent, about average for draft value, and he signed quickly. He’s thrown 6 good innings for State College. DOB: 5/23/88. Signing bonus: $717,000.

2. Brooks Pounders, RHP, Temecula Valley HS (CA), #53 overall, 6’4’’/225: Pounders has a big body, but he’s not going to be throwing every pitch past batters. Rather, Pounders comes with an advanced repertoire for a prep, including a changeup that is already considered something close to average. His command is solid, and there’s a chance he can move fairly fast. I expected Pounders to last to the next round or so, and this isn’t really a projectability pick, so I’m a tad down on it, but Pounders could easily work his way up to becoming a solid #3 or 4 workhorse in the rotation. He signed fairly quickly, but was lit up for a couple of runs in just two-thirds of an inning in his GCL debut. He followed that up nicely with 3 perfect innings five days later. DOB: 9/26/90. Signing bonus: $670,000.

3. Evan Chambers, OF, Hillsborough CC (FL), #84 overall, 5’11’’/210: I’m not a big fan of this pick at all. Chambers has some thunder in his bat, but I don’t think his recognition skills are good enough to warrant this high of a selection. I expected him to go somewhere early in the second day, probably in the neighborhood of the 5th round, so this was also a bit of an overdraft. He’s got enough skills to be an average center fielder, but the whole package is generally some plus tools with some average ones with some minus skills. He’ll need time, and I’m not sure he was worth the risk of such an expensive investment. He signed fairly quickly and is off to a 7-for-36 (.194) start with State College. DOB: 3/24/89. Signing bonus: $423,900.

4. Zack Dodson, LHP, Medina Valley HS (TX), #115 overall, 6’2’’/190: Dodson’s also a very risky pick. I’ve heard multiple reports that his mechanics are Purke-like, though his command in games was much worse than Matt Purke’s. My initial reaction is that he might need a remake of his mechanics altogether. However, even with the shaky mechanics, Dodson is able to unleash an average fastball for a lefty, combined with a nice slow curve. BA has speculated that he has a seven-figure asking price, so this is a bad pick for signability. The talent is there, however, and this is about where I thought he might go, possibly landing a round later. He still has not signed, and this one will probably go down to the wire. DOB: 7/23/90. Commitment: Baylor.

5. Nate Baker, LHP, Ole Miss, #145 overall, 6’3’’/193: Another surprising pick, as Baker was a spot starter and reliever this year with the Rebels. He doesn’t really have a long track record of success, either. However, he did end up being the most effective pitcher on the Rebels’ staff, and he’s got solid stuff. I still think he’s probably a LOOGY, or a 7th inning type of guy, but there’s a good chance the Pirates see him as a starter, as he has a nice three pitch mix. His ceiling is probably as a #4/5 starter in his prime. Don’t like this pick much for draft position or talent, though I would think he’s signable. However, he hasn’t signed yet, so it’s something to watch. Neal Huntington said they were close to a deal 11 days ago. DOB: 12/27/87.

6. Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP, Zachary HS (LA), #175 overall, 6’5’’/205: I was very surprised when Von Rosenberg lasted this long, as he’s a personal favorite of mine. A pitchability righty, Von Rosenberg doesn’t have a flaming fastball, but his command of his arsenal is some of the best I’ve seen from a prep in recent memory. His frame is projectable, so there might even be something to add in the velocity department if that’s your thing. But I’ll stick with this kid, because he can locate his pitches and can learn how to throw Major League pitch sequences as a result. He hasn’t signed yet, and I doubt he will until the deadline, as I expect his bonus might be in the $800K-$1MM range. He’ll be worth it. DOB: 9/24/90. Commitment: LSU.

7. Trent Stevenson, RHP, Brophy Prep HS (AZ), #205 overall, 6’6’’/175: I’d say Stevenson is pretty close to being the opposite of Von Rosenberg. As a tall, skinny prep thrower, Stevenson lacks the polish of a top prospect, even for a prep. He’s got the body and pure arm of a first-rounder, but his lack of command and consistency really keeps him from making anything of his natural talents, at least so far. If the Pirates sign him, which is by no means guaranteed, they’ll have a major project on their hands, as Stevenson will probably need the full step-by-step process to reach the bigs. He’s got monster potential, probably in the #2 range, but is years away from seeing it. Good pick for talent and draft position, but he’s going to be expensive. DOB: 6/1/90. Commitment: Arizona.

8. Colton Cain, LHP, Waxahachie HS (TX), #235 overall, 6’3’’/225: The Pirates finished a run of three top prep arms with the one who might be best of all in Cain. Here’s a lefty who can sit in the low-90s, and he also has a decent curve on top of that. Already a big kid, Cain is capable of playing first base, as well, which is something he did on the showcases last summer. He’s got some minor makeup issues, usually in the cocky category, but the talent is undeniable. Great pick for talent and draft position, but it might take seven figures to keep Cain from Austin. I’m guessing that one of the three pitchers here won’t sign, as this is an expensive run. DOB: 2/5/91. Commitment: Texas.

9. Brock Holt, 2B, Rice, #265 overall, 5’10’’/170: I thought Holt might climb a few rounds higher as a scrappy, heady player from a solid program. However, Holt does lack the overall tools to be an impact player, and I see him as an eventual utility man with plus defensive skills at second, average ones at short, and the ability to handle third in a pinch. His bat has some pop, but I wouldn’t classify it as average in the power department. He probably won’t hit enough to hold down a regular job. He signed quickly and is off to a rough .208/.291/.325 start with State College in 77 ABs. DOB: 6/11/88. Signing bonus: $125,000.

10. Joey Schoenfeld, C, Santiago HS (CA), #295 overall, 6’2’’/187: This was a large overdraft, as Schoenfeld is one of the more raw players with talent in this draft class. Classifying him as a catcher is a bit iffy right now, as he has the tools, but has bad mechanics and will need a lot of work. There’s been speculation he’ll need to move somewhere else and soon. Same for the bat, as he’s just up to shape yet. The Pirates surprised me by calling his name this high, and while the talent might be decent, it’s definitely not a strong by draft position. He hasn’t signed yet, either, and I wonder if he will at all. A bit puzzling here. He’s simply an athlete, not yet a baseball player. DOB: 6/11/91. Commitment: San Diego State.

11. Aaron Baker, 1B, Oklahoma, #325 overall, 6’2’’/220: I liked this pick to an extent, as Baker has the natural talent to be a starting first baseman, but has more holes in his game than your normal college pick. He’s got huge power, and I like his patience as well, but he strikes out way too much as a result of big holes in his swing that will get exposed at higher levels. However, this pick is quite good for talent, and this is about where I thought he’d go. He signed quickly, and he’s at .244/.370/.333 through 45 ABs with State College. DOB: 9/10/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

12. Jeff Inman, RHP, Stanford, #355 overall, 6’3’’/205: Inman was in the running for a top three rounds pick entering the spring. However, huge bouts of ineffectiveness and loss of command meant that he fell down the boards. He’s got the natural talent to be an impact pitcher, but with questions of health and stuff coming in, this was a natural decline in draft stock. I still expected him to go in the 7-10 round range, with someone offering him 3rd round money to sign away from his senior year at Stanford, but it’s looking to me like he’ll return. This is a decent gamble in the 12th round for the Pirates, but I only see him signing if multiple pitchers in the 6-8 round picks fail to sign, opening up enough money for him. DOB: 11/24/87.

13. Walker Gourley, SS, Eastern Wayne HS (NC), #385 overall, 6’0’’/180: I expected Gourley to go somewhere in this range as a solid prep infielder with medium upside. He’s not loaded with tools outside of his arm, but he has enough talent to become a possible utility infielder, though his range up the middle will be limited. He also has a chance to hit for a decent average, but with little power. He signed not long ago, but is off to a poor 1-for-16 start in the GCL. DOB: 6/28/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.

14. Marcos Reyna, RHP, Bakersfield JC (CA), #415 overall, 6’2’’/185: This was a very surprising pick to me, as Reyna, a JUCO freshman, was never even on my radar. A 14th-round pick is usually spent on someone a team thinks can be a possible Major Leaguer. He’s got a solid pro body with some decent stuff, but this was a reach. He hasn’t signed, and I wonder if his extra leverage in being a JUCO freshman comes into play. DOB: 11/4/89. Commitment: None.

15. Peter Bako, C, Connors State JC (OK), #445 overall, 6’1’’/180: Another JUCO freshman, Bako’s got a different pedigree than Reyna, having come to Connors from Ontario. I expected Bako’s name to pop up somewhere around this point, as he’s got the raw tools to be a decent catching prospect. However, as with Reyna, he has extra leverage, and he hasn’t signed. I put the odds of him signing at 20/80, with the 80 being him going back to school. DOB: 9/14/89. Commitment: None.

16. Matt den Dekker, OF, Florida, #475 overall, 6’1’’/205: This marks the transition to the unsignable and organizational player wave for the Pirates. den Dekker was a first day prospect entering the spring, but his disappointing performance led to big questions about his future hitting ability, as some now see him as a reserve outfielder. He’s got solid fielding skills for center, and he should hit in time, but it’s now likely he’ll return to school for his senior year, where he could hit himself into the first day. He hasn’t signed, and I don’t expect him to. DOB: 8/10/87.

17. Jordan Cooper, RHP, Central HS (TN), #505 overall, 6’2’’/195: Cooper’s got the natural talent of a first day prospect, but the refinement of a 15th-rounder. He throws the ball with great velocity, but his command of his arsenal, and the lack of quality secondary pitches, pushed him down boards. However, he should have gone significantly higher than this on ceiling alone, but fell due to signability concerns. He probably won’t sign, and he’ll be eligible for the draft again after his sophomore season at Kentucky in 2011. DOB: 2/16/90. Commitment: Kentucky.

18. Ryan Beckman, RHP, Grayson County CC (TX), #535 overall, 6’4’’/185: This is an intriguing pick for me, as I knew of Beckman, but not enough to think he’d be picked even in the second day. He’s definitely got a pro body, and it seems to be projectable, but he just seemed so raw to me that I thought teams would surely let him return for his sophomore season at Grayson. Surprisingly, he rather quickly signed with the Pirates, and he threw 4 decent innings in his GCL debut on July 10. DOB: 1/2/90. Signing bonus: Unknown.

19. Josh Urban, RHP, Dripping Springs HS (TX), #565 overall, 6’4’’/215: Urban’s another pick that has much more raw talent than his draft position shows. Blessed with a natural pro body, Urban’s main flaws lie in his mechanics, and he gets many of the same criticisms that fellow Texan Matt Purke gets about his delivery. However, Urban’s mechanics don’t allow for the velocity of Purke, making his stock even worse. This is a great pick on talent and draft position, but he also won’t sign. DOB: 3/1/91. Commitment: Texas.

20. Sam Spangler, LHP, Hawaii, #595 overall, 6’2’’/195: Spangler’s an interesting story, as he was an absolute nobody entering college. Originally from New Mexico, Spangler worked himself into being a pro prospect as a draft-eligible sophomore, and he has the talent to be a swing man. In other words, he can be more than just a LOOGY. However, his extra leverage puts his signability in doubt, and even though he should have gone 5-10 rounds earlier, he fell here and hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 9/24/87.

21. Phillip Irwin, RHP, Ole Miss, #625 overall, 6’3’’/220: Having already drafted one Rebel, the Pirates went back to Oxford for a second Ole Miss pitcher. Irwin’s got a durable pro body, but lacks any real pro stuff, and he projects as a middle reliever to me. He signed quickly, and he’s thrown 7 quality shutout innings in his debut with State College. DOB: 2/25/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

22. Carmine Giardina, LHP, Tampa, #655 overall, 6’3’’/218: Giardina was a 28th-rounder of the Red Sox in 2006, but he passed up pro ball to head to school at Central Florida, where he transferred out of in favor of Tampa this year. He’s also blessed with a natural pro body, and he’s usually the most obvious pro candidate on any field he’s played on. However, he hasn’t signed quickly, and even though I thought he’d go around this in terms of draft stock, there’s a good chance he heads back to school. DOB: 2/20/88.

23. Jose Hernandez, LF, UT-San Antonio, #685 overall, 5’11’’/190: Pure organizational filler here. Hernandez never secured a solid starting spot at Long Beach State, so he transferred for UTSA for his junior year. I didn’t expect him to go this high, but he signed quickly. Already 23 years old, he’s 5-for-19 so far with State College. DOB: 3/19/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

24. Jason Erickson, RHP, Washington, #715 overall, 6’1’’/195: Erickson was picked in the 44th round out of high school in 2005, and was drafted 20 rounds earlier as a senior in college. I thought he could go as many as 10 rounds higher, but more due to command than stuff. He signed quickly and has a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings with State College. DOB: 2/3/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.

25. Aaron LaFountaine, OF, North HS (CA), #745 overall, 6’0’’/150: Not on my radar screen at all. It was hard enough finding a college commitment for him. Judging from the numbers and body size, he needs some college experience. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 6/29/91. Commitment: Riverside CC (CA).

26. Matt Dermody, LHP, Norwalk HS (IA), #775 overall, 6’5’’/185: Dermody is another tall, projectable kid drafted by the Pirates, and it looks like Dermody isn’t signable, too. He was the best prep lefty in Iowa, and he battled Matt Koch in my mind for best prep pitcher period in that state. I expect he goes to school and reemerges in two years, as he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2011. He has not signed. DOB: 7/4/90. Commitment: Iowa.

27. Wes Luquette, C, Newman HS (LA), #805 overall, 6’0’’/200: Call it the curse of Luke Bailey. Luquette also went down late in the season, only to have Tommy John surgery pretty much ruin his draft stock. I had Luquette ranked in my top five defensive catchers before the surgery, and his bat was solid, but nothing spectacular. He reminds me a lot of Taylor Teagarden, maybe with a tad less power. I bet he goes to school, as his pure talent would have had him in the top ten rounds. DOB: 5/28/90. Commitment: LSU.

28. Kyle Hooper, RHP, Saugus HS (CA), #835 overall, 6’4’’/195: I applaud the Pirates for thinking long-term in terms of drafting pitcher after pitcher with projectability. The only problem is the signability factor. Hooper should have gone in the top twelve to fifteen rounds, as he’s got nice size, but lacks polish. He’ll likely end up at school, as it will probably take good money to sign him away. DOB: 5/28/91. Commitment: UC Irvine.

29. Michael Heller, RHP, Cardinal Mooney HS (FL), #865 overall, 6’1’’/188: I initially tracked Heller as a middle infielder, but it became apparent that his potent tool was his arm strength, which played much better as a pitcher. In many ways, he’s similar to Keyvius Sampson there, as he might only have one average or better pitch, probably limiting him to relief. Combined with his signability, it made him fall all the way to this spot, and he probably won’t sign. DOB: 4/25/91. Commitment: Florida.

30. Ty Summerlin, SS, Southeastern Louisiana, #895 overall, 5’10’’/170: A college senior, Summerlin was a roster-filler pick. He signed quickly, and he’s hitting .293/.333/.345 in 58 ABs. DOB: 10/6/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

31. Zach Taylor, OF, Statesboro HS (GA), #925 overall, 6’3’’/210: Taylor’s a big kid, but is quite raw in most facets of his game. As a result, he fell this far, probably ten rounds more than I thought he would, and he’ll likely end up at school. Remember this name for a possible Jared Mitchell-like ascendance three years from now. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 5/3/91. Commitment: Georgia.

32. Niko Spezial, LHP, Don Bosco Prep HS (NJ), #955 overall, 6’3’’/230: Spezial was probably the best prep lefthander in New Jersey this year, but fell this far due to signability concerns and concerns over his secondary stuff. As evidenced by his size numbers, he’s a big kid, and he might blossom like follow New Jersey prep Anthony Ranaudo has at LSU. He will likely not sign. DOB: 11/1/90. Commitment: Wake Forest.

33. Pat Irvine, OF, Elon, #985 overall, 5’11’’/190: Irvine’s another guy I wasn’t really tracking this year. He’s a roster filler that really struggled at times before this year. He signed quickly and is off to a .220/.300/.373 start with State College. DOB: 1/27/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

34. Zach Fuesser, LHP, Walters State CC (TN), #1015 overall, 6’2’’/190: Fuesser was a 19th-rounder of the Braves a year ago out of high school and didn’t sign, so it’s doubtful he’ll sign this year. A JUCO freshman, Fuesser’s also got the leverage of having another year of JUCO ball. He’s got good size, but needs to work on his consistency. I doubt he signs. DOB: 7/17/90. Commitment: None.

35. Chris McKenzie, RHP, San Jacinto JC (TX), #1045 overall, 6’3’’/185: Another JUCO freshman, McKenzie will also probably pass over the Pirates’ offer in favor of another year at the JUCO powerhouse San Jacinto. I expected him to go late like this, as he’s got talent, but needs work and isn’t worthy of a large investment quite yet. He could emerge higher next year, as he probably will not sign. DOB: 12/6/89. Commitment: None.

36. Bobby Doran, RHP, Seward County CC (KS), #1075 overall, 6’6’’/225: You generally can’t beat Bobby Doran in terms of size, but I haven’t been able to pull together much other information about him. He worked a lot for Seward this year, and I think he wants to pitch in the Big 12. I doubt he signs. DOB: 3/21/89. Commitment: Texas Tech.

37. Zach Nuding, RHP, Weatherford JC (TX), #1105 overall, 6’4’’/250: Back to JUCO freshmen, Nuding is one from Weatherford. He’s got a big, durable body, and he pitched in relief this past year. It seems he’s got a durable starter’s body in the long-run, but I doubt he signs with Pittsburgh and returns to Weatherford for his sophomore campaign. DOB: 3/29/90. Commitment: None.

38. Jake Lamb, 3B, Bishop Blancet HS (WA), #1135 overall, 6’3’’/195: Lamb’s another kid with a pro body, but is also a kid in need of some polish before entering the pro game. He’s got plenty of talent, but if he wants to be drafted as a third baseman again, he needs to get the bat going. He’s almost certain to end up at college. DOB: 10/9/90. Commitment: Washington.

39. Keifer Nuncio, RHP, Katy HS (TX), #1165 overall, 6’0’’/195: I thought Nuncio would go in the top 12 rounds, but he fell due to signability concerns. His body isn’t exactly your typical pro body, and there’s thought that he might not be able to handle a starter’s workload. However, he’ll probably step right in for his college staff as a reliever, working his way into more mound time. He’s got solid stuff. He probably will not sign. DOB: 1/23/91. Commitment: Texas.

40. Brett Lee, LHP, West Florida HS (FL), #1195 overall, 6’4’’/185: Another tall, tall kid, Lee is a pure projectability pick. A southpaw, Lee doesn’t have a lot in terms of current stuff, but he offers a lot of projectability for a club wanting high-end arms. Lee should have gone in the top 15 rounds or so, and he’ll likely end up at college. He has not signed. DOB: 9/20/90. Commitment: Florida State.

41. Tyler Cannon, SS, Virginia, #1225 overall, 6’0’’/205: When picking kids out of historically-strong academic schools, there’s always a risk that they won’t want to sign after their junior year. That’s what prompted Cannon to fall so far, as he had a chance to go in the top ten rounds when taking signability out of the equation. He improved a lot from year-to-year, but doubts linger about his bat. He’s not likely to sign. DOB: 8/30/87.

42. Marc Baca, RHP, UNLV, #1255 overall, 5’11’’/170: Senior sign on the cheap. Signed quickly and has only allowed a single earned run in 9.1 innings of relief with State College. DOB: 10/11/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

43. Teddy Fallon, RHP, South Carolina-Upstate, #1285 overall, 6’2’’/191: 22 year old college junior with nothing left to prove in college. Signed quickly and has allowed 3 earned runs in 4 innings of relief with State College. DOB: 10/29/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.

44. Dexter Bobo, Georgia Southern, #1315 overall, 5’11’’/190: Bobo’s got some decent pure stuff, but doesn’t get the results. He’s a smallish pitcher with a middle reliever ceiling, but it’s likely he returns to school for his senior year. He hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 11/10/87.

45. Kevin Gelinas, LHP, Central Arizona JC, #1345 overall, 6’5’’/230: I thought Gelinas would go much higher, possibly even sneaking into the top ten rounds. However, it seems his commitment for college is much stronger than I thought. He needs to work on his command, but he’s got scary potential. I doubt he signs, as he hasn’t yet. DOB: 5/31/89. Commitment: UC Santa Barbara.

46. Parker Bangs, RHP, South Carolina, #1375 overall, 6’4’’/213: Bangs was a sophomore-eligible with a big body, but not much results. He’ll likely return to school for his junior year, and he should go much higher. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 12/22/87.

47. Justin Earls, LHP, Georgia, #1405 overall, 6’2’’/190: Earls was a junior lefty with Georgia, and he’s got enough stuff to possibly be a LOOGY in the distant future. However, for now he’ll be returning to Athens for his senior year. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 12/4/87.

48. Blake Brown, OF, Normal West HS (IL), #1435 overall, 6’0’’/185: I thought Brown could go in the top fifteen rounds as a solid prep outfield pick. However, he’s committed strongly to Missouri, and coming from a cold climate, that was enough to convince scouts that they should let him go. He could improve his draft stock greatly with three years of college. He hasn’t signed. DOB: 6/30/91. Commitment: Missouri.

49. Yasser Clor, RHP, California, #1465 overall, 6’4’’/195: Clor was picked in the 15th round out of high school by the White Sox in 2006, but hasn’t gained much notoriety since. He’ll likely return to school for his senior year, as he hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/16/88.

50. Matt Taylor, LHP, Columbus HS (GA), #1495 overall, 6’1’’/160: Taylor fits the mold of this draft, as he’s a projectable pitcher with room to grow. I like his big, slow curveball, and he could end up contributing quickly in school. Since he fell about 40 rounds farther than I thought he would, he won’t sign. DOB: 4/1/91. Commitment: Alabama.

I’m very interested in how this draft looks on August 18, after all the signings have become known. There’s quite a few guys with big signability questions mixed in, and if they can ink them, this draft looks quite impressive. As I’ve made known quite a few times, I don’t like passing on more talented players at the top in favor of signability, so the Tony Sanchez pick doesn’t sit too well in my eyes. Even though first-rounders are no sure things, they generally put out much more value in the Major Leagues than any other slot, so teams need to concentrate heavily on getting the best player available there. Sanchez was a borderline first round pick, and most studies have shown that top fifteen players can be much more valuable in terms of Major League output than the second half of the first round. Since the Pirates conceivably picked a guy that’s a second half of the first round talent, there’s a line of thought that they essentially traded away Major League output for money, at least in terms of pure statistical chance. So I don’t like it. I thought this team had changed their ways after last year’s Pedro Alvarez pick, but apparently not.

The one shining light I found in their model was the idea that they were saving that Sanchez money not for Miguel Angel Sano, but for the rest of their picks. They did a good job of signing their top picks quickly, as Victor Black and Brooks Pounders gave them two solid starting prospects, and Evan Chambers gave them a high-risk, high-reward option in the outfield. Sanchez is likely their future starting catcher, too. Their other signed top-ten rounder, Brock Holt, probably has a future as at least a Major League utility man, though his price tag of $125K is a little much that far down. Since the Pirates already have a draft of Sanchez, Black, Pounders, Chambers, and Holt locked down, their chances of sliding up in quality at the signing deadline are high. Dodson, Von Rosenberg, Stevenson, and Cain all offer quality prep arms, and my guess is that they ink three of the four. Nate Baker should be signed before the deadline, as I don’t see him going any higher if he were to re-enter next year. The 5th round is his ultimate ceiling.

Beyond those top ten guys, there’s an interesting mix of what are largely unsignable players. Depending on the amount the Pirates spend on the prep mix listed above, there’s a chance one or two of the guys I listed as virtually unsignable will in fact be signed. Jeff Inman is probably their first option past those guys, and they’ll probably make an independent run at him with a set budget amount in mind. Inking a Matt den Dekker also would make this draft interesting, as adding a few position players might help it. However, looking at this draft as a whole, it’s quite successful, but I have to mark it down a little, as they didn’t get a marquee player, even while holding the fourth pick. As a result, I grade them about even with the Nationals, but better than Seattle or San Diego.

FINAL GRADE: B.

Note: If you have signing bonus information or other information you wish to share, feel free to comment or email me at texasrangersanalyst at gmail dot com.

July 13, 2009 Posted by | Draft Review | | 3 Comments