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2010 Draft Preview – Atlanta Braves

The thirtieth and final part of my draft preview series is on the Atlanta Braves and their new scouting director Tony DeMacio. DeMacio has been involved in too many drafts to count for different teams, but I’ll focus on the last three years with Atlanta’s drafts, as DeMacio was a special assistant in the Atlanta front office.

Owner: Liberty Media Corp., bought club in 2007
General Manager: Frank Wren, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Tony DeMacio, first draft will be 2010

Looking Back

2007 Draft: Special Assistant with Atlanta Braves

1. Jason Heyward, OF, Henry County HS (GA), #14 Overall: Heyward was easily a top half of the first round prospect in the 2007 class, and the Braves were lucky to get him so far back in the top half of the round. Heyward featured plus-plus power and polished instincts for the game. Following players selected: Devin Mesoraco, Kevin Ahrens, Blake Beavan. Signing bonus: $1,700,000.
2. Jon Gilmore, 3B, Iowa City HS (IA), #33 Overall: Gilmore had faded somewhat in the eyes of scouts over his senior year, and the Braves picked him earlier than expected when they got him so early in the supplemental first round. He was thought of more as a second to fourth round prospect on the basis of power and his hit tool. Following players selected: Todd Frazier, Julio Borbon, Clayton Mortensen. Signing bonus: $900,000.
3. Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia, #69 Overall: Fields entered the spring as a possible first round pick on the basis of a plus two-pitch mix, but he never regained that stuff as a junior. He was still a solid second to fourth round relief prospect, but the Braves misread his signability, and he returned to school to become a first round pick in 2008. Following players selected: Jake Smolinski, David Kopp, Brian Rike. DID NOT SIGN.
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B, El Modena HS (CA), #78 Overall: Freeman was a two-way prospect in high school, and a number of teams favored him as a pitcher. However, he featured plus power and a plus arm in the field, and he was a solid second to third round prospect as a hitter. Following players selected: Zack Cozart, Matt West, Eric Sogard. Signing bonus: $409,500.
5. Brandon Hicks, SS, Texas A&M, #108 Overall: Hicks featured a solid set of tools that included defensive tools that projected for him to stay at shortstop at the pro level. He also had average to above-average power, but he struggled to make contact as a possible third to sixth round prospect. Following players selected: Neftali Soto, Evan Reed, Derek Dietrich. Signing bonus: $283,500.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Cory Gearrin (4th), Mercer, $186,750 bonus.

2008 Draft: Special Assistant with Atlanta Braves

1. Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville HS (FL), #40 Overall: DeVall stood as one of the best left-handed prep pitchers in a 2008 class short on lefty prep arms. He featured an average pitch mix with above-average command, and he was a solid supplemental first round arm, making this a solid first pick if you believed in his projectability. Following players selected: Ryan Flaherty, Jaff Decker, Wade Miley. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
2. Tyler Stovall, LHP, Hokes Bluff HS (AL), #64 Overall: Stovall was another projectable left-handed prep pitcher that actually featured better raw stuff than DeVall. However, his command wasn’t as good, making him a second or third round arm instead of an earlier arm, and his development path was longer. Following players selected: Aaron Shafer, Dennis Raben, Cody Satterwhite. Signing bonus: $750,000.
3. Zeke Spruill, RHP, Kell HS (GA), #70 Overall: Spruill is another projectable arm that went to the Braves, but he threw from the right side. He featured a plus fastball and smooth mechanics, along with projectability as good as Stovall, making this a solid selection of a second or third round arm. Following players selected: Jason Knapp, Charlie Blackmon, Bryan Shaw. Signing bonus: $600,000.
4. Craig Kimbrel, RHP, Wallace State CC (AL), #96 Overall: Kimbrel featured better raw stuff than any of the above pitchers, but he was only considered a relief arm. He had a plus-plus fastball with a usable slider, and he looked like a possible setup man or closer with some refinement. Following players selected: Chris Carpenter, Aaron Pribanic, Scott Green. Signing bonus: $391,000.
5. Braeden Schlehuber, C, CC of Southern Nevada, #130 Overall: Schlehuber featured better raw tools than an average catching prospect, but there was concern that he didn’t look like a starting catcher at the next level. As a result, he was a solid fourth to sixth round prospect instead of an earlier prospect. Following players selected: Matt Cerda, Steven Hensley, Brett Jacobson. Signing bonus: $240,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP J.J. Hoover (10th), Calhoun CC (AL), $400K bonus.

2009 Draft: Special Assistant with Atlanta Braves

1. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt, #7 Overall: Minor was considered more of a late first round to second round arm, but the Braves loved his pitchability and makeup, thinking he featured enough stuff to be a mid-rotation starter in a very short amount of time. Following players selected: Mike Leake, Jacob Turner, Drew Storen. Signing bonus: $2,420,000.
2. David Hale, RHP, Princeton, #87 Overall: Hale featured better raw stuff than Minor, but he struggled to get bad hitters out, as his fastball could be straight, and he lacked a solid amount of control. He was a two-way player at Princeton, so some thought he’d take off as a full-time pitcher. Following players selected: Donnie Joseph, Wade Gaynor, Ben Paulsen. Signing bonus: $405,000.
3. Mycal Jones, SS, Miami Dade CC (FL), #118 Overall: Jones was an excellent athlete with a lot of upside, but the downside of being 22 as a junior college sophomore. He had plus-plus speed, and a solid hit tool, and he looked like a good third to sixth round prospect. Following players selected: Mark Fleury, Edwin Gomez, Kent Matthes. Signing bonus: $252,000.
4. Thomas Berryhill, RHP, Newberry (SC), #148 Overall: Berryhill was a surprising early pick here, as he seemed like more of a seventh to twelfth round prospect as a college closer. He had good raw stuff, but didn’t have a track record against any sort of good competition. Following players selected: Daniel Tuttle, Austin Wood, Joe Sanders. Signing bonus: $160,000.
5. Ryan Woolley, RHP, UAB, #178 Overall: Woolley’s situation was unique, in that he had been sitting out the year following transferring in to UAB for his junior year, so he was ineligible to play. He had good raw stuff, but he was rusty and was shelled in the Alaska League as the Braves followed him over the summer, leading to him not signing. Following players selected: Mark Serrano, Daniel Fields, Chris Balcom-Miller. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Tony DeMacio was named as the Braves’ scouting director shortly after Roy Clark left for the Nationals at the end of the 2009 season. Clark and Paul Snyder had combined to run 24 of the past 29 drafts, with Chuck LaMar handling the first five drafts when John Schuerholz became the general manager for the 1991 season. As a result, it really feels like it’s the end of an era for the Braves. Schuerholz is no longer general manager, and longtime mainstays Dayton Moore, Roy Clark, Paul Snyder, J.J. Picollo, Mike Arbuckle, and more have all moved on, having no more ties to the Braves. DeMacio himself was with the Braves in the 1980s, but moved on when Schuerholz became general manager. He has ten years of crosschecking experience, as well as six years of scouting director experience with the Orioles from 1999-2004, so there’s no lack of experience here. I’m not completely positive how critical his special assistant role was with the Braves in the last three years, but I think Clark started to see the writing on the wall, leading to his departure for Washington. I can’t really give you any trends for DeMacio right now, but I do know his previous history. He generally likes athleticism and raw arms, something that the Braves have focused on over the years, as well. I’m not sure what to expect at the moment, but let’s assume that the raw arms and athleticism models stick for this year’s draft.

The main thing that I’m discouraged about is draft budgeting for the Braves. Since Frank Wren took over in 2008, the Braves are in a tie for the 26th-largest amount spent on draft bonuses. For a team that spent solid amounts on the draft back in the day, that’s discouraging. It’s almost as if the team is starting to de-emphasize the draft as a point of player acquisition. They didn’t shoot for high-ceiling talent last year, instead searching for players that project to move more quickly. You can tell the scouting department was hamstrung by draft budgets simply by the number of junior college players they picked. They avoided the more expensive high school prospects, but they didn’t want to drop down to the college level, instead opting for something in-between. Once again, I simply don’t know where they’re headed, but it just doesn’t look like they emphasize the draft like they should. They did that even more by handing away their first round pick in 2010, something I frown up, especially for relievers. They lost their #20 overall pick when they signed Billy Wagner, fitting that criteria. They do own picks 35, 53, 70, 101, 134, and every 30 picks after that. That’s an extra supplemental first round pick and a second round pick, both as compensation for Mike Gonzalez, signed by the Orioles, who have a pick in the top half of the first round, so they handed their second round pick off to the Braves as compensation. I could see the Braves spending somewhere in the range of $5 million for the 2010 draft, which is somewhat acceptable, but it’s not enough to really be successful over the long-term.

Connecting the Braves to specific players is difficult, especially since DeMacio hasn’t run a draft in a long time. My latest mock draft has the Braves selecting Jesse Hahn of Virginia Tech, simply for the big arm that Hahn has. Other possibilities could include Deandre Smelter, Robbie Aviles, Justin Grimm, and Taijuan Walker for that pick. Later picks could include pitchers such as Ralston Cash, Casey Mulholland, Jeff Shields, Austin Wood, and Taylor Morton, which are all speculative. Hitters could include such names as Chevez Clarke, Kevin Jordan, Tyler Austin, Jabari Blash, Michael Arencibia, and Reggie Golden, which are all, once again, speculative. I can’t give you much more than this right now, mainly because I don’t have a handle on how DeMacio might run his first draft back in the director’s chair. He has a lot of experience, so I automatically trust his instincts, but I want to see what he does before I really give him credit. It should be a very important draft for the Braves, who are at a bit of a crossroads, and I’m really looking forward to tracking DeMacio’s picks.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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


March 19, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 2 Comments

2010 Draft Preview – Los Angeles Dodgers

The twenty-ninth part of my draft preview series is on the Los Angeles Dodgers and their scouting director Tim Hallgren.

Owner: Frank McCourt, bought club in 2004
General Manager: Ned Colletti, first season was 2006
Scouting Director: Tim Hallgren, first draft was 2007

Looking Back

2007 Draft: $3.6 Million Budget

1. Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland HS (TX), #20 overall: Withrow was thought of as more of a supplemental first round to second round arm, but Hallgren called his name first. No one doubted Withrow’s potential as a top of the rotation starter, and he was commited to Baylor. Following players selected: J.P. Arencibia, Tim Alderson, Nick Schmidt. Signing bonus: $1.35 million.
2. James Adkins, LHP, Tennessee, #39 overall: Adkins was thought of as a second or third round arm with very limited potential. However, Hallgren popped the college starter in the supplemental first round, bucking popular consensus. This was possibly a signability pick. Following players selected: Kellen Kulbacki, Sean Doolittle, Eddie Kunz. Signing bonus: $787,500.
3. Michael Watt, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA), #86 overall: 2009 draftee Tyler Matzek pitched with Watt at Capistrano Valley, where Watt was considered a fairly raw lefty. Committed to Long Beach State, the Dodgers took him and signed him away. This was a questionable pick, as he was more of a fourth to sixth round arm, but it’s the Dodger way to buck popular consensus. Following players selected: Brad Chalk, Eric Eiland, Nevin Griffith. Signing bonus: $389,000.
4. Austin Gallagher, 3B, Manheim Township HS (PA), #116 overall: Gallagher was considered a fairly raw hitter entering the draft, and he was seen as a sixth to eighth round hitter. He had a fairly strong South Carolina commitment, but the Dodgers made sure to tab him in a round where he’d sign for slot. Following players selected: Tommy Toledo, Matt Harvey, John Ely. Signing bonus: $252,000.
5. Andrew Lambo, 1B/OF, Newbury Park HS (CA), #146 overall: A solid pick for his talent, this pick was questioned a little due to Lambo’s makeup problems in high school. Getting kicked out of a high school tends to do that. However, Hallgren took a chance on Lambo that looks pretty smart. Following players selected: Lance Zawadzki, Trevor Pippin, Leroy Hunt. Signing bonus: $164, 250.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Justin Miller (6th), Johnson CC (KS), $120K bonus.

2008 Draft: $4.4 Million Budget

1. Ethan Martin, RHP, Stephens County HS (GA), #15 overall: Martin was a solid two-way prospect that was projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round. Turns out he went right in the middle. This was considered a good pick, and there’s no reason to think otherwise right now. Following players selected: Brett Lawrie, David Cooper, Ike Davis. Signing bonus: $1.73 million.
2. Josh Lindblom, RHP, Purdue, #61 overall: Lindblom was considered a second round prospect after becoming a reliever late in his junior season at Purdue. Despite shying away from college pitchers in early rounds in his previous drafts, Hallgren tabbed Lindblom, and the Dodgers have turned him into a starter. Great pick. Following players selected: Cody Adams, Kenny Wilson, Tyler Stovall. Signing bonus: $663,000.
3. Kyle Russell, OF, Texas, #93 overall: Russell made a bad decision to return to school for his junior season after the Cardinals tabbed him as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2007. However, the Dodgers reaped the reward, once again going against the usual convention to sign a college player. Following players selected: Logan Schafer, Andrew Liebel, Craig Kimbrel. Signing bonus: $410,000.
4. Devaris Gordon, SS, Seminole CC (FL), #127 overall: After being ineligible for his JUCO’s spring slate, Gordon, Tom Gordon’s son, impressed scouts in workouts leading up to the draft. However, this was still slightly early for the consensus, as most teams shied away from the issues surrounding players that can’t maintain eligibility at a junior college. He’s now a top-flight prospect. Following players selected: Josh Romanski, Mark Sobolewski, Braeden Schlehuber. Signing bonus: $250,000.
5. Jon Michael Redding, RHP, Florida CC-Jacksonville, #157 overall: Another player that was picked this early despite the consensus, Redding was a strike-thrower in junior college. He was heading to LSU before the Dodgers signed him away. This is yet another pick I would never have guessed. Following players selected: Maverick Lasker, Tyler Pastornicky, Jacob Thompson. Signing bonus: $178,000.
Other Notable Selections: SS Tony Delmonico (6th), Florida State, $150K bonus; 1B Steven Caseres (9th), James Madison, $250K bonus; RHP Nathan Eovaldi (11th), Alvin HS (TX), $250K bonus; RHP Allen Webster (18th), McMichael HS (NC).

2009 Draft: $4.0 Million Budget

1. Aaron Miller, LHP, Baylor, #36 Overall: Miller was one of the best two-way prospects in the 2009 class, and after being a hitting prospect coming into the spring, he pitched well enough to be rated more highly as a pitcher. He was expected to be a supplemental first round or second round prospect, making this a solid pick. Following players selected: James Paxton, Josh Phegley, Kentrail Davis. Signing bonus: $889,200.
2. Blake Smith, OF, California, #56 Overall: Smith was also a well-known two-way prospect, going the other way from Miller in the spring of 2009. He was rated more highly as a pitcher coming in, but after big control problems, he looked better as a power-hitting, power-throwing right fielder. This was a bit earlier than expected for this pick, but it was fairly solid. Following players selected: Billy Hamilton, Andy Oliver, Nolan Arenado. Signing bonus: $643,500.
3. Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize HS (KS), #65 Overall: I made a guess that the Dodgers would pick a prep righty with one of their first three picks in last year’s draft preview, and I was correct. Gould was a late first-round prospect for some of the spring, but fell late to a possible supplemental first round to second round prospect with a big, projectable frame and two above-average pitches. Following players selected: Bryan Berglund, Robert Stock, Jake Eliopoulos. Signing bonus: $900,000.
4. Brett Wallach, RHP, Orange Coast CC (CA), #96 Overall: I connected Wallach to the Dodgers early last year, and I turned out to be correct here, too. He was a JUCO sophomore, and he was projected to go somewhere in the third to fifth round as a projectable, yet fairly polished arm. Following players selected: Marquise Cooper, Joe Kelly, Jake Barrett. Signing bonus: $351,900.
5. Angelo Songco, OF, Loyola Marymount, #127 Overall: Songco had major helium in his junior year, as he had one of the best offensive campaigns in the draft class. He had worked his way to second round consideration, but fell here due to questions about his ability to hit quality stuff. Following players selected: Dan Mahoney, Scott Bittle, Ryan Goins. Signing bonus: $225,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Jonathan Garcia (8th), Luis Munoz Marin HS (PR), $120K bonus.

Tim Hallgren was promoted to the post of scouting director after legendary scouting director Logan White was promoted to Assistant General Manager for Amateur and International Scouting. Hallgren still falls directly under White in the reporting structure, and White does go out and scout the high-level prospects, so Hallgren is part of a larger team. However, Hallgren does run the department, and I give him full credit for the last three drafts. Before ascending the ladder, Hallgren was White’s national crosschecker, which tells you how highly we should see Hallgren. To be White’s national crosschecker was really a high honor, especially as it became apparent just how sharp that White was at running drafts. Hallgren also has previous experience as a scouting director, running a single draft with the Texas Rangers, but he was quickly pushed down to the national crosschecker role he held in Texas before that when Grady Fuson entered the picture. The Rangers missed out on building through a great drafting mind in Hallgren. Looking at Hallgren’s trends so far, it’s not very different from White’s trends. Those trends include a penchant for righty prep arms that are projectable in nature, a growing affinity for junior college players, and a carefree attitude towards industry consensus. He’s also started going after two-way players lately, as well. Martin, Miller, and Smith were all highly-rated two-way players that could have been drafted either way. These trends have added up to solid drafts.

My biggest criticism of the Dodgers’ drafting strategy is the lack of funds that they’ve given Hallgren. In the three drafts that Hallgren has run, he has received a total of $12 million to spend on draft bonuses. To compare, the Nationals spent only $500,000 less than that on 2009 alone. That $12 million comes in 28th for draft bonuses in that three year range, with only the White Sox and Angels falling under the Dodgers. That’s three large-market teams that have been shooting themselves in the foot by allocating resources elsewhere. When looking at the average Hallgren has spent per year compared to how much other scouting directors have had, only Rudy Terrasas of the Mets and Eddie Bane of the Angels have had less per year. Even Doug Laumann of the White Sox has had more per year in his second stint as scouting director for the White Sox. The fact that Hallgren has put together good drafts with such little support is astounding. Imagine what he could do with enough money to be competitive with the top-level teams. He didn’t have a first round pick last year, which makes it tough, but you can still spend a good amount on bonuses even without a first round pick. Just ask the Red Sox. In 2010, Hallgren gets to pick in the first round again, and the Dodgers hold picks 28, 78, 109, 142, and every 30 picks after that. That’s one pick in each round in the natural position for their final standings in 2009, meaning no compensation for free agency has gone either way for them over the offseason. Despite moving back into the first round, I expect the Dodgers to spend somewhere between $4 and 4.5 million in 2010, which will put them towards the bottom again. That will be a shame, as they have plenty of scouting talent.

Connecting the Dodgers to specific players, I have placed Chevez Clarke with them in my latest mock draft. That’s a good possibility, and Clarke has been gaining notoriety, as he’s really upped his game this spring. Other players that I think are real possibilities include Cam Bedrosian, A.J. Vanegas, Scott Frazier, and Stetson Allie. If Kaleb Cowart falls that far, I’d be interested to see if they pick him, as he is strikingly similar in a few ways to 2008 first round pick Ethan Martin, being a two-way Georgian that plays third base. Later picks that seem interesting to me include Taijuan Walker, Brett Eibner, Drew Vettleson, Robbie Aviles, and Aaron Sanchez for the second round. Picks beyond the second could include Michael Lorenzen, Burch Smith, Rob Segedin, and John Simms, though these are all speculative at this point. I’ll be interested to see which two-way players and projectable arms they go after, as well as the athleticism and junior college players they covet. Their picks are always pretty solid, even if some are taken earlier than the consensus. I like the Dodgers’ scouting department a great deal, and the only thing they need to be a top five department is more money.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 18, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 4 Comments

2010 Draft Preview – Detroit Tigers

The twenty-eighth part of my draft preview series is on the Detroit Tigers and their scouting director David Chadd.

Owner: Michael Ilitch, bought club in 1992
General Manager: Dave Dombrowski, first season was 2002
Scouting Director: David Chadd, first draft was 2005

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $3.8 Million Budget

1. Cameron Maybin, OF, TC Roberson HS (NC), #10 overall: David Chadd opened up his Tigers tenure with an excellent pick. Maybin was widely considered the second-best prep hitter behind Justin Upton. This draft was talent-rich in outfielders, and Maybin was right up there with any of them. Excellent start for Chadd. Following players selected: Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Brandon Snyder. Signing bonus: $2,650,000.
2. Chris Robinson, C, Illinois, #90 overall: Without a supplemental or second round pick, the Tigers planned on using most of their budget on their #10 pick, which they did. However, it hurt the rest of their crop a little. Robinson was considered more of a fourth to sixth rounder, mainly due to a hand injury his junior year. However, this was seen as a fairly solid pick of a well-known college catcher. Following players selected: James Boone, Zach Ward, Brandon Erbe. Signing bonus: $422,000.
3. Kevin Whelan, RHP, Texas A&M, #120 overall: Whelan became a well-known college reliever, having been a backup catcher entering college. He was reaching the mid-90s with his fastball, and most projected him to go right around this range. Good value for the fourth round. Following players selected: Brent Lillibridge, Sam LeCure, Kieron Pope. Signing bonus: $265,000.
4. Jeff Larish, 1B, Arizona State, #150 overall: Larish made a bad mistake by turning down a lucrative offer by the Dodgers in 2005. He had a good senior year, but we all know that seniors have little leverage. This was a nice pick by the Tigers, despite Larish’s well-documented flaws. Following players selected: Jeff Sues, James Avery, Reid Hamblet. Signing bonus: $220,000.
5. Clete Thomas, OF, Auburn, #180 overall: Thomas was one of those college players who went to school thinking their tools would click, making them a top draft prospect. However, he never really performed, making him a prospect for the end of the first day. Good pick by Chadd to get an older prospect that still had tools, as Thomas fell further than most expected, perhaps a full two rounds. Following players selected: Cameron Blair, Jeff Stevens, Blake Owen. Signing bonus: $150,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Anthony Claggett (11th), UC Riverside; OF Matt Joyce (12th), Florida Southern; OF Casper Wells (14th), Towson; RHP Burke Badenhop (19th), Bowling Green.

2006 Draft: $6.0 Million Budget

1. Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina, #6 overall: Miller was the consensus top talent in the 2006 draft, but he fell due to bonus concerns. This was without even having Scott Boras as his agent. The Tigers swooped in and signed him to a $5.4 million Major League contract. This move was beyond the control of Chadd. Following players selected: Clayton Kershaw, Drew Stubbs, Bill Rowell. Signing bonus: $3.55 million*.
2. Ronnie Bourquin, 3B, Ohio State, #50 overall: Bourquin was considered a fourth round talent at best, making this pick a little questionable. He hit quite well his junior year at OSU, but showed little power and bad defense. This was an obvious move to save a little money after picking Miller. Following players selected: Jeff Locke, Sean Watson, Chad Huffman. Signing bonus: $690,000.
3. Brennan Boesch, OF, California, #82 overall: This was right around where Boesch was expected to go, and he was almost universally rated higher than Bourquin leading up to the draft. An athletic center fielder, Boesch was another college player whose tools were better than his performance. Following players selected: Aaron Bates, Chris Valaika, Zach Britton. Signing bonus: $445,000.
4. Ryan Strieby, 1B, Kentucky, #112 overall: Strieby was considered a little bit of an overdraft by most, as he backed up great college numbers with fringy tools. However, his performance at Kentucky was great. Good power, problem with breaking balls, average fielder, poor running. Classic college power hitter. Following players selected: Kyle Orr, Justin Reed, Blake Davis. Signing bonus: $295,000.
5. Scott Sizemore, 2B, Virginia Commonwealth, #142 overall: Sizemore was considered an average college middle infield prospect entering his junior year. He disappointed a little, trying to hit home runs when he profiles more for gap power. This was a solid pick by Chadd, and it has turned out quite well. Following players selected: Kyle Smit, Josh Ravin, Tyler Henson. Signing bonus: $197,500.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Duane Below (19th), Lake Michigan JC; RHP Casey Fien (20th), Cal Poly; RHP Rudy Darrow (32nd), Nicholls State.

2007 Draft: $8.0 Million Budget

1. Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (NJ), #27 overall: Once again, the Tigers pounced on a player that fell to them due to signability issues. David Chadd didn’t have much to do with this pick, as it took a $7.285 million Major League contract to sign this prep pitcher, widely considered to be the best prep pitcher in his class. Following players selected: Ben Revere, Wendell Fairley, Andrew Brackman. Signing bonus: $3.58 million*.
2. Brandon Hamilton, RHP, Stanhope Elmore HS (AL), #60 overall: A supplemental first round pick, Hamilton was picked a little earlier than the consensus, as he supposedly had a first round arm trapped in a body with fifth round command. He had poor control and a violent delivery, but Chadd called his name anyway. Following players selected: Ed Easley, Ryan Dent, Cory Luebke. Signing bonus: $540,000.
3. Danny Worth, SS, Pepperdine, #91 overall: This was a solid pick by Chadd. Worth’s glove was questioned very little, but his bat was a question mark until the summer before his junior year. However, he hit for average and doubles, climbing boards nationally. This was around where he was expected to go. Following players selected: Danny Rams, Brant Rustich, Austin Romine. Signing bonus: $378,000.
4. Luke Putkonen, RHP, North Carolina, #121 overall: If you’ve heard of this guy, raise your hand. Ranked the 13th-best North Carolina prospect entering the draft, Chadd picked Putkonen earlier than expected, and he was a draft-eligible sophomore. I’m not sure where Chadd was going with this, but the end result hasn’t been that good. Following players selected: Angel Morales, Stephen Clyne, Ryan Pope. Signing bonus: $236,000.
5. Charlie Furbush, LHP, LSU, #151 overall: This was another solid pick by Chadd, as Furbush, despite struggles in the spring, was considered one of the top college lefties available. He had previously been arguably the top lefty in the Cape Cod League the previous summer. Good pick in the right range. Following players selected: Reggie Williams, Richard Lucas, Brad Suttle. Signing bonus: $153,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Casey Crosby (5th), Kaneland HS (IL), $748,500 bonus; SS Cale Iorg (6th), Alabama, $1.4975 million bonus.

2008 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. Ryan Perry, RHP, Arizona, #21 overall: Perry had struggled as a starter at Arizona, but still remained a projected first rounder entering the draft last year. While some teams liked the idea of moving Perry back to the rotation, the Tigers took the opposite approach and thought of him strictly as a reliever. Good value considering those on the board at the time. Following players selected: Reese Havens, Allan Dykstra, Anthony Hewitt. Signing bonus: $1.48 million.
2. Cody Satterwhite, RHP, Ole Miss, #67 overall: Instead of going a different direction for their second pick, Chadd instead decided to go for a second projected college reliever. Despite being in the rotation for Ole Miss, there were few, if any, scouts that thought Satterwhite would remain a starter. Lightning arm, but similar in many ways to Perry. Following players selected: Javier Rodriguez, James Darnell, Zeke Spruill. Signing bonus: $606,000.
3. Scott Green, RHP, Kentucky, #99 overall: Yet another college bullpen righty, Green was a much better prospect before his junior season. He had turned down a bigger bonus offer from the Red Sox after being draft-eligible as a sophomore. Chadd saw something in his big frame, selecting him with the purpose of more bullpen work. Following players selected: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Blake Tekotte, Vance Worley. Signing bonus: $373,000.
4. Brett Jacobson, RHP, Vanderbilt, #133 overall: This is about the time I started laughing at Chadd. A fourth straight college reliever from a large program, Jacobson, like Green, was a tall, projectable pitcher that jumped velocities with a move to the bullpen. Still a strange move. Following players selected: Sean Ratliff, Jason Kipnis, Trevor May. Signing bonus: $230,000.
5. Alex Avila, C, Alabama, #163 overall: Avila, the son of assistant general manager Al Avila of the Tigers, was a solid enough catcher for the Crimson Tide, though he was really just your average college catcher. This was earlier than expected for Avila to come off the board, but he was cheap. Following players selected: Dock Doyle, Anthony Bass, Jeremy Hamilton. Signing bonus: $169,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Robbie Weinhardt (10th), Oklahoma State, $15K bonus.

2009 Draft: $9.4 Million Budget

1. Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO), #9 Overall: Turner had an excellent senior season to make the jump as the top prep right-hander in the class, and he was neck and neck with Tyler Matzek for top prep pitcher overall. He was quite expensive, taking a Major League contract to get him signed. Following players selected: Drew Storen, Tyler Matzek, Aaron Crow. Signing bonus: $4,700,000*.
2. Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State, #58 Overall: Oliver had a well-documented saga over his representation in draft negotiations, and his suspension and court battle probably led to diminished production on the field. However, he still had a first round arm and got first round money in the second round. Following players selected: Nolan Arenado, Eric Smith, Trayce Thompson. Signing bonus: $1,495,000.
3. Wade Gaynor, 3B, Western Kentucky, #89 Overall: Gaynor had one of the best junior seasons in the country, and he profiled well for power and fielding at the hot corner. However, he was considered more of a fourth to sixth round prospect, and this pick was made for signability. Following players selected: Ben Paulsen, Wil Myers, Justin Marks. Signing bonus: $392,400.
4. Edwin Gomez, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, #120 Overall: Gomez was right up there with Reymond Fuentes entering the spring, but an inability to progress with his hitting and fielding led to most teams expecting him to slide off shortstop, making him a fifth to seventh round prospect. Following players selected: Kent Matthes, Chris Dwyer, Max Stassi. Signing bonus: $245,700.
5. Austin Wood, LHP, Texas, #150 Overall: Wood really boosted his draft stock late in the season with his historic NCAA Regionals performance, throwing well for 12 and a third innings in relief, matching Boston College’s Mike Belfiore pitch for pitch. He was a solid fifth to seventh round prospect, though he had middle reliever upside. Following players selected: Joe Sanders, Louis Coleman, Steve Parker. Signing bonus: $100,000.
Other Notable Selections: SS Daniel Fields (6th), University of Detroit Jesuit HS (MI), $1.625MM bonus; 1B James Robbins (30th), Shorecrest HS (WA), $235K bonus.

David Chadd joined the Tigers following three years as the scouting director for the Red Sox under Theo Epstein from 2002 to 2004. He drafted such notable players as Jon Lester, Brandon Moss, David Murphy, Matt Murton, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, and Cla Meredith, all players that have done fairly well in some Major League action, though Lester, Pedroia, Papelbon, and Meredith have been the best. He also only had a single first round selection in those three years, making that haul even more impressive. When you combine those three drafts with the five drafts above, you can see why I ranked him as the fifth-best scouting director in the game. He’s just a solid evaluator. He hasn’t had a single first pick in his drafts not make the Major Leagues, with Jacob Turner not having enough time to count. Most scouting directors have at least one first round bust if they get 8 years of experience, and Chadd hasn’t, and he’s even hit on the two times he hasn’t had a first round pick, getting Lester and Pedroia while with Boston with his first picks in 2002 and 2004 respectively. If I didn’t like the scouting directors I ranked in front of Chadd so much, he’d be in the running for the top scouting director in the game. One trend in Chadd’s drafts includes a penchant for the high-ceiling player that falls due to signability concerns. There’s an exception with Perry in 2008, but there wasn’t really anyone that stood out during that year, and Perry has moved quickly enough to be considered a solid pick. In general, he likes athletic hitters that can field their position, as well as having some upside with the bat, usually including some power and speed. Pitchers come from a mixed mold, as he finds talent at both the high school and college level, though he does like college relievers more than most. I find the 2008 draft a bit puzzling almost two years later, but he actually did load up the system with some relief talent that should help in the long run, though most people know that some of the best relievers come from the starting ranks, not from the college reliever pool. On the whole, though, Chadd’s balanced strategy has worked well, and it churns out a number of high-ceiling players on a yearly basis.

Looking at Chadd’s budgets while with Detroit, he’s been given a fairly substantial amount of money to spend on draft bonuses. He has spent $30.9 million over those five years, good for 9th-largest in the league over that period. That’s an average of $6.18 million per draft, which puts him 11th in the league when compared to other scouting directors’ average budgets. Being in the top third for spending certainly has its advantages. Chadd has spent a large amount of money on the top picks in the draft, and he has spent less on later rounds than most scouting directors around the league. Perry is the only first round draft pick that doesn’t represent a very sizeable chunk of Chadd’s draft spending in each year. Knowing those things, let’s look toward 2010. They own picks 44, 48, 68, 100, 133, and every 30 picks after that, representing Chadd’s first time without a first round draft pick since joining Detroit. They lost the 19th pick when they signed Jose Valverde, but they gained two supplemental first round picks for losing Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney. Since Lester and Pedroia represent the other players picked first by Chadd in drafts when he didn’t have a first round selection, I wouldn’t worry too much if I were a Tigers fan. I expect a draft budget somewhere near $5.5 to 6 million, perhaps as low as $5 million. It could be higher if they feel there’s a player on the level of a Porcello or Oliver in those supplemental first round slots. Whatever happens, it should be interesting.

Connecting the Tigers to some players is hard, since they love the pricey players that fall late in the draft season. My latest mock draft has them taking Kris Bryant and Sam Dyson with their two supplemental first round picks, though I’m not sure on either. Bryant has massive power and Dyson has a power arm, but there might be better options available. Players such as Taijuan Walker, Brett Eibner, Jarrett Parker, and Michael Choice could fit better than Bryant or Dyson, though this is all speculative. Later picks could include Kevin Jordan, Jordan Shipers, JaCoby Jones, and Delino DeShields for the second round, then Rett Varner, Kyle Parker, Mike Antonio, and Jake Skole in later rounds. Like I just said, though, this is all speculative, since we’re a little under three months out from the draft. The players they pick will probably be toolsy and high-ceiling players or solid college arms with limited upside in the bullpen, but the mix is usually quite solid. Look for at least one high-ceiling player with top of the rotation or dynamic middle of the order potential. That’s the norm for Chadd, and I respect what he’s done in his five years in Detroit under Dave Dombrowski.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 17, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 2 Comments

2010 Draft Preview – Philadelphia Phillies

The twenty-seventh part of my draft preview series is on the Philadelphia Phillies and their scouting director Marti Wolever. Wolever has been the scouting director for the Phillies since 2001, but I will focus on his five most recent drafts.

Owners: Bill Giles and David Montgomery, bought club in 1981
General Manager: Ruben Amaro Jr., first season was 2009
Scouting Director: Marti Wolever, first draft was 2001

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $1.8 Million Budget

1. Mike Costanzo, 3B, Coastal Carolina, #65 Overall: Without a first round pick, Wolever was forced to do his best with what he had. Costanzo wasn’t considered a consensus second round talent, and teams were divided about whether he was a hitter or a pitcher. Wolever liked his power and batting eye, and drafted him in the second round. Following players selected: Chase Headley, Johnny Whittleman, Donald Veal. Signing bonus: $570,000.
2. Matt Maloney, LHP, Ole Miss, #97 Overall: Maloney was Ole Miss’ Friday starter his junior year, and he was considered a solid third round draft prospect, which is where he was taken. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, he fit the normal Phillies mold for starting pitchers, a big reason why Wolever felt comfortable with him here. Following players selected: Josh Geer, Taylor Teagarden, Mark Hollimon. Signing bonus: $400,000.
3. Mike Durant, 3B, Berkeley HS (CA), #127 Overall: Durant was a powerful prep third baseman from California that towered over most prep players at 6’5”, 230 lbs. His pure power potential was right up there with the best for the class, and this was considered about where he would go before the draft. Following players selected: Mike Baxter, Shane Funk, Dylan Johnston. Signing bonus: $247,500.
4. Brett Harker, RHP, College of Charleston, #157 Overall: Though he wasn’t universally considered a fifth round talent, Harker was a college reliever with a huge curveball. College teammates with current Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner, both were thought to be seventh to tenth round prospects. However, Wolever tabbed the 6’3” closer in the fifth round. Following players selected: Seth Johnston, Michael Kirkman, Scott Taylor. Signing bonus: $165,000.
5. Justin Blaine, LHP, San Diego, #187 Overall: Blaine was a community-dividing prospect, considered as both a first day prospect by some and as low as a tenth rounder by others. At 6’4”, he was a prototypical Phillies pitcher, though he was heavily abused in college. Following players selected: Neil Jamison, German Duran, Kyle Reynolds. Signing bonus: $145,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Josh Outman (10th), Central Missouri State, $52,500 bonus; LHP Mike Zagurski (12th), Kansas.

2006 Draft: $4.8 Million Budget

1. Kyle Drabek, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX), #18 Overall: Drabek had makeup issues entering the draft, and though his arm was as good as anyone’s, he fell this far to the Phillies. He’s not the usual Phillies pitcher in terms of size, but he’s quite athletic, as he was considered a draft prospect as a shortstop, too. Following players selected: Brett Sinkbeil, Chris Parmelee, Ian Kennedy. Signing bonus: $1,550,000.
2. Adrian Cardenas, SS, Monsignor Pace HS (FL), #37 Overall: Drafting a supplemental first rounder for the first time in his sixth draft, Wolever went with a prep shortstop in Cardenas. This was considered a slight overdraft, as Cardenas was a polished hitter, but he was thought of more as a second baseman than a true shortstop. He was more of a late second round prospect. Following players selected: Cory Rasmus, David Huff, Kris Johnson. Signing bonus: $925,000.
3. Drew Carpenter, RHP, Long Beach State, #65 Overall: Carpenter was also not considered a consensus pick for this round (the second), as he was an average college starter with average pro stuff. At 6’3”, he fit the Phillies starter mold, though he lacked the projectability of most of Wolever’s college pitching picks. Following players selected: Trevor Cahill, Sergio Perez, Dustin Evans. Signing bonus: $570,000.
4. Jason Donald, SS, Arizona, #97 Overall: Donald was considered a solid middle infield prospect with a lack of above-average tools. He was expected to be a fifth rounder at best, but he was called here in the third round. Scott Boras was his advisor, but that didn’t stop Wolever from picking him. Following players selected: Matt Sulentic, Nick Moresi, Chad Rodgers. Signing bonus: $400,000.
5. D’Arby Myers, OF, Westchester HS (CA), #127 Overall: Myers wasn’t on most teams’ radars, as most expected him to go to school because of his rawness and desire for an education. He was athletic, but wasn’t expected to hit at all quite yet, part of what we consider the Phillies normal modus operandi now. He surprisingly signed. Following players selected: Chad Lee, Chris Johnson, Lee Hyde. Signing bonus: $250,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Domonic Brown (20th), Redan HS (GA), $200K bonus.

2007 Draft: $4.2 Million Budget

1. Joe Savery, LHP, Rice, #19 Overall: Savery was coming off surgery the previous year on his shoulder, and while he was good for Rice that spring, he had not performed like a first rounder. However, the Phillies’ pick of Savery was praised, as most thought he’d explode once he turned into a full-time pitcher after being a two-way player for the Owls. Following players selected: Chris Withrow, J.P. Arencibia, Tim Alderson. Signing bonus: $1,372,500.
2. Travis d’Arnaud, C, Lakewood HS (CA), #37 Overall: D’Arnaud was a solid prep prospect who was considered a solid defender with a streaky bat. This was considered in the range he was expected to go, as he wasn’t really a true first round prospect. He fit in the Phillies’ mold for athletic position players, a rarity for a catcher. Following players selected: Brett Cecil, James Adkins, Kellen Kulbacki. Signing bonus: $832,500.
3. Travis Mattair, SS, Southridge HS (WA), #83 Overall: Mattair was considered a second round prospect in a year where there were too many supplemental first round picks to keep track of. He was very athletic, having been a basketball player, but was very raw with the bat. Getting the theme yet? Following players selected: Hunter Morris, John Tolisano, Michael Watt. Signing bonus: $395,000.
4. Brandon Workman, RHP, Bowie HS (TX), #107 Overall: You’ll hear this name again this year in the draft. Workman had a first round arm with little polish, but was considered a very difficult sign, despite being taken earlier than the industry consensus here by Wolever. He ended up not signing and headed to Texas. He was a prototypical Phillies starter at 6’4”, 195 lbs. Following players selected: Brandon Hicks, Neftali Soto, Evan Reed. DID NOT SIGN.
5. Matt Spencer, OF, Arizona State, #113 Overall: Spencer had been part of the UNC Tar Heels, but lost his job and transferred to ASU. He was tall, with a power bat, but was very unrefined for a college hitter. This is definitely a trend in how Wolever works. Following players selected: Brock Huntzinger, Alan Farina, Austin Gallagher. Signing bonus: $261,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Michael Taylor (5th), Stanford, $131K bonus; RHP Justin DeFratus (11th), Ventura JC (CA); RHP Jiwan James (22nd), Williston HS (FL), $150K bonus.

2008 Draft: $6.7 Million Budget

1. Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury School (CT), #24 Overall: I personally disliked this pick, as Hewitt was a very raw hitter who looked lost against good competition on the showcase circuit. However, he fits the Phillies’ mold of athletic position players, even without a true position. Following players selected: Christian Friedrich, Daniel Schlereth, Carlos Gutierrez. Signing bonus: $1,380,000.
2. Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills HS (CA), #34 Overall: The Phillies got incredibly lucky when Collier landed in their lap here. Considered a first round talent, Collier had numerous tools with a good bat and good power potential. He’s another prototypical Phillies prep prospect. Following players selected: Evan Frederickson, Mike Montgomery, Conor Gillaspie. Signing bonus: $1,020,000.
3. Anthony Gose, OF, Bellflower HS (CA), #51 Overall: Leave it to the Phillies to pick someone widely considered a pitcher and use his speed and arm in the outfield. Gose’s injury concerns as a pitcher probably helped this to happen, and it was the reason he fell this far. He was as fast as anyone in the 2008 draft class. Following players selected: Brad Hand, Seth Lintz, Cutter Dykstra. Signing bonus: $772,000.
4. Jason Knapp, RHP, North Hunterdon HS (NJ), #71 Overall: Knapp was only thought to have a fastball coming out of a cold-weather state. That fastball only had velocity, little command, and came paired with weak secondary offerings. However, at 6’5”, the Phillies saw potential in his arm and body. It has worked out so far, and it got them Cliff Lee. Following players selected: Charlie Blackmon, Bryan Shaw, Tyler Chatwood. Signing bonus: $590,000.
5. Vance Worley, RHP, Long Beach State, #102 Overall: Worley was a re-draft for the Phillies, as Wolever took him in the 2005 draft. At 6’2”, 220 lbs., Worley’s big body attracted the Phillies, and he profiled to go somewhere in this range as a possible back of the rotation starter or reliever. Following players selected: Aaron Weatherford, Kevin Eichhorn, Ryan Chaffee. Signing bonus: $355,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Trevor May (4th), Kelso HS (WA), $375K bonus; RHP B.J. Rosenberg (13th), Louisville; RHP Jarred Cosart (38th), Clear Creek HS (TX), $550K bonus.

2009 Draft: $3.2 Million Budget

1. Kelly Dugan, OF, Notre Dame HS (CA), #75 Overall: Dugan was actually a first baseman in high school, and this was probably one of the more shocking picks of the first day of the 2009 draft for me. Dugan had big power potential, but he was pretty raw in most aspects, and he wasn’t as athletic as typical Phillies outfielders. Following players selected: J.R. Murphy, Alex Wilson, Kenny Diekroeger. Signing bonus: $485,000.
2. Kyrell Hudson, OF, Evergreen HS (WA), #106 Overall: Hudson was much more like the typical Phillies outfield prospect, as he featured plus-plus speed and athleticism. However, he had some makeup issues and hitting issues, and he had fallen off the draft boards of some teams, though this was in the area of his expected draft position. Following players selected: David Renfroe, Todd Glaesmann, Austin Kirk. Signing bonus: $475,000.
3. Adam Buschini, 2B, Cal Poly, #137 Overall: Buschini was a star collegiate hitter after struggling to come back from an elbow injury in 2008. However, he lacked much athleticism, and all of his value was in his hit tool, but he projected as a solid utility player. Following players selected: Jeremy Hazelbaker, Luke Bailey, Chris Rusin. Signing bonus: $195,000.
4. Matt Way, LHP, Washington State, #167 Overall: Way was a solid senior sign that projected as a middle reliever at the next level. A fifth to tenth round prospect, he started for Washington State, but didn’t have enough on his slider to have a third pitch necessary for starting at the pro level. Following players selected: Seth Schwindenhammer, Jeff Malm, Wes Darvill. Signing bonus: $40,000.
5. Steven Inch, RHP, Vauxhall Academy (AB), #197 Overall: Inch was one of my favorite sixth round picks, mainly because he combined projectability with good pitchability, an excellent combination. He was considered a fifth to seventh round pick, making this a good fit all around. Following players selected: Branden Kline, Devin Fuller, Brooks Raley. Signing bonus: $300,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Brody Colvin (7th), St. Thomas More HS (LA), $900K bonus; 1B Jonathan Singleton (8th), Millikan HS (CA), $200K bonus.

Marti Wolever only ranks behind the Rockies’ Bill Schmidt as the longest-tenured scouting directors in the league. I mistakenly made the statement last year that Wolever’s first draft was 2002, which is also stated in Baseball America’s Executive Database, but Wolever actually ran the 2001 draft after former scouting director Mike Arbuckle announced the first pick, which was Gavin Floyd. As has been the case in many years since then, the Phillies lost picks that year as compensation, and they didn’t pick again until the fourth round, and their most notable selection in Wolever’s first draft was Ryan Howard, who was the second pick of Wolever. I was corrected in my statement last year, and I’m happy to correct it this year. Being one of the most experienced scouting directors in the game, Wolever enjoys a nice advantage in that he goes in knowing exactly what he wants, and his experience gives him leeway with his general manager, which is now Ruben Amaro. He’s on boss number three now, following Ed Wade and Pat Gillick, two well-known scouting minds, so it seems that he is well respected by numerous front office people. That respect is deserved, as he has drafted the core of the recent successful Philadelphia teams. I don’t always agree with his picks, but he’s been given enough space to develop his own mold that it has worked quite a few times. Like I said in the scouting director rankings I released on Saturday, I think Wolever’s reached the point where he’s leaving something on the table with his early picks, since he’s only looking for a particular type of player, and that’s starting to come back to bite them. Their development timeframe is longer than most teams, and their bust rate on high picks is higher, and I think their player mold may be becoming outdated, though they always end up with a few prospects from every draft, though they’re not always from the top of the draft. Their bats and arms are almost always risky or below the starter’s level for potential, with practically nothing in-between. For every Anthony Hewitt there’s a Matt Way or a Drew Carpenter. I’m fine with them approaching the draft like they’re going to trade their prospects away, which has been the case in recent years, but at some point their bust rate is going to become too much to bear.

The reason I say their bust rate is going to become too much to bear is because they don’t spend enough money in the draft to absorb the busts as easily as other big-market teams. In the most recent five years, the Phillies have only spent the 25th-largest amount on draft bonuses in all of baseball, a sad ranking for such a successful team with a large amount of resources at their disposal. That five year period covers all three general managers, so all are to blame in one way or another. Pat Gillick increased the draft spending slightly during his years, but it was still mediocre at best. The thing I give Gillick credit for is keeping first-rounders for Wolever to work with, something that wasn’t as common under Wade. Wolever had a first-rounder and a supplemental first-rounder in each of the three drafts run under Gillick, while Amaro reverted back to the Wade style of management, giving up his first-rounder for Raul Ibanez. The Phillies are back in the first round again in 2010, and they own picks 27, 77, 108, 141, and every 30 picks after that. That’s the natural order for each of their picks, meaning no compensation has gone either way for them over the past offseason. They spent only $3.2 million on bonuses in 2009, and that was done without a first-rounder, so I’d expect something in the $4.5 million range in 2010. They could slide into the $5+ million range with a few more overslot deals, but I don’t anticipate that as much. They’re generally conservative with their spending, and without any extra picks, I don’t see much risk-taking again in 2010.

Connecting players to the Phillies is especially difficult, as Wolever is the type that likes to buck industry consensus. Dugan was definitely like that in 2009. I have them taking Louisiana prep infielder Garin Cecchini in my latest mock draft, and he fits the mold of the powerful prep hitter that has gone to the Phillies in the past. He’s a little less athletic than some of their selections, but they do like their big, powerful infielders, especially one that projects to slide to third base. Other options I could see going there are Chevez Clarke, A.J. Vanegas, Stefan Sabol, and Kaleb Cowart. Later picks could include such names as Peter Tago, Aaron Sanchez, Michael Lorenzen, and Kevin Jordan for the second round. Picks after the second could include Jesus Valdez, Robby Rowland, Angelo Gumbs, Ryon Healy, and Brandon Brennan, all of which are speculative and from California. I could also see them drafting someone such as Chad Arnold from Washington State or even Drew Vettleson, though I have less of a read on whether Vettleson is signable enough to go to the Phillies. No matter what happens, though, I expect the Phillies to be loaded with more athletes and projectable arms, as well as low-ceiling collegiate players who will make good role players. I haven’t always agreed with Marti Wolever’s drafting philosophy, but it has worked for them.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 3 Comments

2010 Draft Preview – Seattle Mariners

The twenty-sixth part of my draft preview series is on the Seattle Mariners and their scouting director Tom McNamara.

Owner: Hiroshi Yamauchi, bought club in 1992
General Manager: Jack Zduriencik, first season was 2009
Scouting Director: Tom McNamara, first draft was 2009

Looking Back

2009 Draft: $10.9 Million Budget

1. Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina, #2 Overall: Ackley was the no-doubt second-best prospect in the 2010 class behind Stephen Strasburg. He featured a plus-plus hit tool and some hope for power, in addition to plus foot speed. Excellent pick, and Ackley got a Major League contract. Following players selected: Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matt Hobgood. Signing bonus: $6,000,000*.
2. Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brantley HS (FL), #27 Overall: Franklin was a solid prospect, but most didn’t consider him a legitimate first round pick due to a lack of elite tools. He was best as a defender, but teams generally want more than that when picking in the first round, especially since Franklin took more than slot to sign. Following players selected: Reymond Fuentes, Slade Heathcott, LeVon Washington. Signing bonus: $1,280,000.
3. Steve Baron, C, Ferguson HS (FL), #33 Overall: Baron’s similar to Franklin in that he wasn’t this high on most boards. He was probably the best defender in the strong 2010 prep catching class, but a weak bat put him more in the second or third round. He also signed for more than slot. Following players selected: Rex Brothers, Matt Davidson, Aaron Miller. Signing bonus: $980,000.
4. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia, #51 Overall: Poythress was rising up boards fast in his junior year, then he struggled against more advanced pitching in the SEC schedule. However, he still featured some of the best college bat power in the class, making him an attractive supplemental first round to second round candidate. Following players selected: Everett Williams, Brooks Pounders, Mychal Givens. Signing bonus: $694,800.
5. Kyle Seager, 2B, North Carolina, #82 Overall: Seager played third base in his junior year at North Carolina, and his production and versatility made him a solid third to fifth round prospect. He profiled more as a utility man than true starter, though he may have enough bat to hold down second base as a starter in his prime. Following players selected: Jerry Sullivan, Evan Chambers, Tyler Townsend. Signing bonus: $436,500.
Other Notable Selections: OF James Jones (4th), Long Island, $267,300 bonus.

Tom McNamara’s 2009 was his first as a scouting director, but that doesn’t mean he lacks scouting experience. When Jack Zduriencik became the general manager of the Mariners following the 2008 season, he personally handpicked McNamara to come with him to serve as his scouting director in Seattle. As one of the best scouting directors in baseball while in Milwaukee, I trust Zduriencik’s judgment when it comes to all things amateur scouting. Having been an area scout for nine drafts, as well as the Brewers’ East Coast crosschecker in his last year there, McNamara comes with real amateur scouting experience, too, though it’s not at the top of the run for experience when compared to other scouting directors. He was a pro scout under Kevin Towers in San Diego, as well, but most scouts would tell you that the mode of thinking is different for a pro scout than an amateur scout. Generally, though, McNamara has plenty of experience to step into the scouting director position, especially with a former scouting director as his general manager, which leads to plenty of support from the front office. He’s only been on the job for a single draft, so it’s hard to see any sort of trends, but let’s take a look. The first thing is a genuine lean towards the East Coast, McNamara’s old stomping grounds. Their first six picks in 2010 were all in states that connect to the Atlantic Ocean, and I’m not sure that wasn’t on purpose. That’s where McNamara was most comfortable, having crosschecked that region for the entire draft season the year before. The major trend in terms of talent I see, though, is a genuine dislike for prep pitching. They didn’t draft a high school pitcher until the 34th round (Scott Griggs), and they didn’t sign a single prep arm. That’s interesting to me, as that was much more extreme than most first year scouting directors, but we can only wait and see how it pans out. The hitters were much more mixed around, but more college bats were mixed in after Baron in the supplemental first round. These are just some high-level trends, and when you only have a year to look at, it’s pretty much shooting in the dark.

I don’t think any Mariner fans have anything to complain about when it comes to draft spending in 2009. With plenty of extra picks, the Mariners spent the 2nd-most on bonuses, falling $600,000 behind the Nationals, who had to ink the amazing Stephen Strasburg. Ackley was definitely expensive to sign, but they got the job done, giving him a Major League contract and a $6 million bonus. Franklin and Baron were overslot bonuses, and so was Tyler Blandford in the fifth round. The rest fell in line, though, so the team spent most of its money at the top, which is normal for teams with an extra first round pick and a supplemental first round pick. I don’t expect the Mariners to spend another $10.9 million on bonuses again this year, but it should be a healthy number if all goes right. They own picks 43, 67, 99, 132, and every 30 picks after that. They gave up their first round pick when they signed Chone Figgins, but they gained a supplemental first round pick when the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre, whom Figgins will replace. Since they pick 41 picks after their slot from last year, expect something more in the $5-6 million range, but not a humongous drop-off, as Zduriencik is likely to budget healthy money towards the draft, the piece of the puzzle that he concentrated on before becoming a general manager.

Connecting the Mariners to a specific player or players is tough, especially because I don’t know how they’ll handle picking so far down. Will they go high upside with their first pick to make up for not having an earlier pick? Will they go safer and fill in with overslot bonuses in later rounds, similar to the Pirates and Orioles of 2009? I simply don’t know. My latest mock draft has them taking Arkansas’ Brett Eibner with their first pick, and he somewhat falls in line with their James Jones pick of 2009. Eibner could go either way, either as a starting pitcher with mid-rotation upside or as a power-hitting athletic outfielder, though one that should have to stick in a corner. His raw is tremendous, though, so there’s appeal for him as a hitter. Other options around there will be Todd Cunningham, Gary Brown, Sam Dyson, Micah Gibbs, and Michael Choice. Later options could include such players as Matt Harvey, Thomas Girdwood, Ty Linton, and John Gast, though these are all speculative East Coast players. Whatever McNamara does, I suspect it will be a solid draft class, as he’s working under one of the best scouting directors in the modern era in Zduriencik. Things should be looking up for the Mariners.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | Leave a comment

2010 Draft Preview – Colorado Rockies

The twenty-fifth part of my draft preview series is on the Colorado Rockies and their scouting director Bill Schmidt. Schmidt has run the Rockies’ drafts since 2000, but I will focus on the most recent five years.

Owner: Charlie Monfort, bought club in 1992
General Manager: Dan O’Dowd, first season was 2000
Scouting Director: Bill Schmidt, first draft was 2000

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $6.0 Million Budget

1. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Long Beach State, #7 Overall: Tulowitzki was a solid top ten draft prospect in 2005, and he projected to be an excellent big league shortstop. He had above-average power and above-average defensive tools, a rare combo for a college shortstop. Following players selected: Wade Townsend, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin. Signing bonus: $2,300,000.
2. Chaz Roe, RHP, Lafayette HS (KY), #32 Overall: Roe was an extremely projectable prep arm that had major helium in his senior year of high school. He was a solid two-way player, as well, making him an athletic prep arm with talent even for the back of the first round. Following players selected: John Drennen, Ryan Tucker, Cesar Ramos. Signing bonus: $1,025,000.
3. Daniel Carte, OF, Winthrop, #52 Overall: Carte was a solid all-around collegiate athlete with good tools in most areas. He made himself into a good supplemental first round to second round option, showing good raw power, arm strength, and speed. Following players selected: Craig Italiano, Paul Kelly, Zach Simons. Signing bonus: $670,000.
4. Zach Simons, RHP, Everett CC (WA), #55 Overall: Simons was another projectable arm, though he had already done some filling out between his years at Everett. More of a third to fifth round pick, Simons was a bit of surprise this early considering his lack of command, but he did have a big enough arm for this selection. Following players selected: Chris Mason, Jon Egan, Ryan Mount. Signing bonus: $635,000.
5. Kyle Hancock, RHP, Rowlett HS (TX), #87 Overall: Hancock was a bigger prospect entering his senior year than leaving it. He was a possible late first-round option early on, but fell more to the third to sixth round area, where he offered a fairly polished arsenal for a prep arm. Following players selected: Bryan Morris, Tommy Manzella, Chris Robinson. Signing bonus: $475,000.
Other Notable Selections: 2B Corey Wimberly (6th), Alcorn State, $145K bonus.

2006 Draft: $6.2 Million Budget

1. Greg Reynolds, RHP, Stanford, #2 Overall: Reynolds was a legitimate top ten pick in the 2006 class, but quite a few people second-guessed his selection at such a high slot. He featured a polish arsenal with good command, but he didn’t offer much upside over being a mid-rotation starter. Following players selected: Evan Longoria, Brad Lincoln, Brandon Morrow. Signing bonus: $3,250,000.
2. David Christensen, OF, Douglas HS (FL), #46 Overall: Christensen was a solid all-around athlete that projected to be a good starting right fielder if everything went as planned. However, he was more of a third to fifth round prospect, and the Rockies took him with the second pick of the second round. Following players selected: Josh Butler, Mike Felix, Chris Tillman. Signing bonus: $750,000.
3. Keith Weiser, LHP, Miami (Ohio), #78 Overall: Weiser was a solid college lefty that profiled best for the back of the rotation. A decent third to fifth round prospect, he featured solid-average stuff, but he also featured below-average command, and his handedness really helped him get such a high draft slot. Following players selected: Nick Fuller, Shelby Ford, Tony Butler. Signing bonus: $455,000.
4. Craig Baker, RHP, Cal State Northridge, #108 Overall: Baker fit perfectly into this draft slot on most boards, as he was a solid college arm with fair upside. He had bounced around between the rotation and bullpen at Northridge, and his plus curveball got him drafted this high. Following players selected: Alex Cobb, Jared Hughes, Ricky Orta. Signing bonus: $265,000.
5. Helder Velazquez, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, #138 Overall: Velazquez was more of a seventh to tenth round pick as a defense-first shortstop. He wasn’t a solid hitter, and he didn’t project for any power, but he had the defensive tools of a gold-glover and was signable. Following players selected: Shawn O’Malley, Pat Bresnehan, Nathan Adcock. Signing bonus: $209,000.
Other Notable Selections: C Michael McKenry (7th), Middle Tennessee State, $135K bonus.

2007 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt, #8 Overall: Weathers was a senior college reliever, so it didn’t make the most sense that he’d go in the top ten picks. He was more of a mid- to late-first round prospect, but he featured plus stuff and proven success at the back of the bullpen. Following players selected: Jarrod Parker, Madison Bumgarner, Phillippe Aumont. Signing bonus: $1,800,000.
2. Brian Rike, OF, Louisiana Tech, #72 Overall: Rike was another player that was picked a little early by most industry standards, as he was more of a third to fifth round bat. He featured solid tools and good makeup, and that made him a solid draft prospect for teams looking for polished college outfielders. Following players selected: Barry Enright, Grant Desme, Denny Almonte. Signing bonus: $450,000.
3. Lars Davis, C, Illinois, #102 Overall: Davis is yet another player that was picked a little early, as he looked like a fifth to eighth round prospect, though one with fairly good upside. He featured an excellent bat, but most teams didn’t think he’d stick at catcher, as he was new to the position and was a little big. Following players selected: Reynaldo Navarro, Scott Carroll, Danny Carroll. Signing bonus: $337,000.
4. Isaiah Froneberger, LHP, Forest Park HS (GA), #132 Overall: Froneberger was polarizing in the scouting community, as he was a short, stout lefty with solid-average stuff. He was a relief prospect at the time, and that’s never great for a prep arm. However, he looked like a fifth to seventh round arm, and the Rockies took him in the fourth round. Following players selected: Sean Morgan, Corey Kluber, Nolan Gallagher. Signing bonus: $200,000.
5. Connor Graham, RHP, Miami (Ohio), #162 Overall: Graham was a steal in the fifth round, as he looked like more of a second or third round prospect. He had a big arm, but not a lot of command, and his stuff wavered from start to start. Following players selected: Tyrell Worthington, Chance Corgan, Joseph Dunigan. Signing bonus: $143,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Cory Riordan (6th), Fordham, $120K bonus; RHP Parker Frazier (8th), Bishop Kelley HS (OK), $100K bonus.

2008 Draft: $4.2 Million Budget

1. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky, #25 Overall: Friedrich was a possible early first-round arm, featuring solid mid-rotation stuff from the left side. However, he fell to the Rockies in the late first round for reasons unknown, and Colorado got a great first round steal. Following players selected: Daniel Schlereth, Carlos Gutierrez, Gerrit Cole. Signing bonus: $1,330,000.
2. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Georgia Tech, #72 Overall: Blackmon was moving up boards quickly as a senior, having been fairly new to full-time hitting. He featured true five tool potential, a rarity in college baseball, and he looked like a second to fourth round draft prospect because of those tools. Following players selected: Bryan Shaw, Tyler Chatwood, Scott Bittle. Signing bonus: $563,000.
3. Aaron Weatherford, RHP, Mississippi State, #103 Overall: Weatherford was a solid second or third round relief arm, having proven himself as a closer at the highest level of collegiate competition in the SEC. He featured solid stuff with setup man upside, with perhaps room for more over time. Following players selected: Kevin Eichhorn, Ryan Chaffee, David Adams. Signing bonus: $350,000.
4. Ethan Hollingsworth, RHP, Western Michigan, #137 Overall: Hollingsworth was a solid back of the rotation option anywhere from the second to fourth round in the draft. He featured average stuff across the board, but had above-average command, helping him achieve good results with prototypical size or stuff. Following players selected: Ryne White, Buddy Boshers, Corban Joseph. Signing bonus: $215,000.
5. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville, #167 Overall: Dominguez was a talented draft-eligible sophomore that featured plus power and a plus arm, two tools that graded out well against almost every collegiate competitor. However, as a solid second or third round prospect, when he fell to the Rockies here, they couldn’t get the money together to sign him, and he returned to Louisville and became the Giants’ third-rounder in 2009. Following players selected: Collin Cowgill, Khiry Cooper, Chris Smith. DID NOT SIGN.
Other Notable Selections: C Kiel Roling (6th), Arizona State, $140K bonus; OF Delta Cleary (37th), LSU-Eunice JC (LA), $250K bonus.

2009 Draft: $7.9 Million Budget

1. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA), #11 Overall: Matzek was a true top ten talent, and a few teams had him right behind Stephen Strasburg as their number two arm in the entire draft class. However, he wasn’t considered the most signable, and the Rockies got a steal here for under $4 million. Following players selected: Aaron Crow, Grant Green, Matt Purke. Signing bonus: $3,900,000.
2. Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State, #32 Overall: Wheeler was a solid mid- to late-first round collegiate outfielder with average to plus tools. As a potential five-tool college outfielder, Wheeler found himself in rare company, and the Rockies were lucky once again when Wheeler fell to them. Following players selected: Steve Baron, Rex Brothers, Matt Davidson. Signing bonus: $900,000.
3. Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb, #34 Overall: Brothers was another player that could have easily gone in the middle of the first round. He featured a plus fastball-slider combination that worked well as a starter in college, though some teams saw the next Billy Wagner. The Rockies got lucky to grab him with the second pick of the supplemental first round. Following players selected: Matt Davidson, Aaron Miller, James Paxton. Signing bonus: $969,000.
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B, El Toro HS (CA), #59 Overall: Arenado wasn’t on my radar as a second round option, looking to me like a third to sixth round option as a solid prep bat. He had defensive questions, having been a prep shortstop, and some teams wanted to try him at catcher. However, the Rockies liked his bat enough to draft him as a third baseman in the top half of the second round. Following players selected: Eric Smith, Trayce Thompson, Tommy Mendonca. Signing bonus: $625,000.
5. Ben Paulsen, 1B, Clemson, #90 Overall: Paulsen was a solid college hitter that lacked much upside beyond being a possible second-division starting first baseman. He was a third to fifth round prospect with a solid hit tool, though his other tools, including his power, were fringy. Following players selected: Wil Myers, Justin Marks, Robbie Erlin. Signing bonus: $391,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Chris Balcom-Miller (6th), West Valley JC (CA), $125K bonus.

Bill Schmidt is now the longest-tenured scouting director in Major League Baseball, and he has that honor by a couple years. Having already run ten drafts for Colorado, the question of when he’ll step aside has to be answered. An average scouting director usually only goes for 5-7 years if all goes well, as the stress and workload of the job is simply enormous. Keeping a competitive edge is so important, and the burnout rate for scouting directors is so high that they are usually promoted within an organization, usually to a special assistant to the general manager position, or they move on in another organization, as a scout, crosschecker, assistant general manager or in a similar special assistant role. The job is just too hard. However, Schmidt ran has tenth draft in 2009, and it was probably his best draft to date, showing that he’s not slowing down, which is simply incredible. He has been a successful team with long-time general manager Dan O’Dowd, and after Schmidt was promoted to the Vice President level three years ago, he became part of the elite group of scouting directors that have true influence in the personnel decisions of their organization outside of just drafting players. It’s a lot on Schmidt’s plate, but he handles it with such results that it’s easy to say that he’s one of the best scouting directors in baseball. Looking at some high-level trends in Schmidt’s five most recent drafts, I think it’s fair to say that he shows a solid preference for college arms over prep arms and college bats over prep bats. There are notable exceptions, but that’s the general trend. It’s hard to count Matzek in trending, because he was easily the best player available at that pick. Schmidt likes solid all-around players that aren’t one-dimensional, and while he doesn’t draft the most athletic players in the draft, he gets some of the most well-rounded ones, leading to an easier transition to pro ball. This is just some obvious stuff, but it’s worth pointing out that Schmidt likes these types of players.

In terms of draft budgeting, the Rockies are more of a year-to-year type of club than most. They haven’t generally set themselves on a particular yearly budget, making predicting their budget for this year especially hard. In the most recent five years, the Rockies have spent the 13th-largest amount on draft bonuses, a respectable amount for a solid ballclub. They picked early on in the draft for a number of those drafts, though, so a lot of the money went directly to those picks, including three top ten picks and the highest bonus of all in Matzek. They spent the 8th-highest amount on bonuses last year, mainly because of Matzek and a pair of extra picks in Wheeler and Brothers, so that’s information that is hard to incorporate into future guesses. They own picks 26, 47, 76, 107, 140, and every 30 picks after that in the 2010 draft, representing all their natural picks in each round plus a supplemental first round pick as compensation for losing Jason Marquis. I’d expect a budget back down closer to the $4-5 million range they were in for the 2008 draft, but I could be wrong. I think the maximum amount we’ll see is $5.5 million, which would put them in the middle of the pack or just below it.

Looking at who the Rockies might want in the early rounds, I have them picking Chad Bettis in the first round in my latest mock draft, following that up with Jacksonville State’s Todd Cunningham in the supplemental first round. Both fit into the Rockies’ molds for drafting, and I think both would succeed in those slots and in the organization. Other possible names might include Brandon Workman, Bryce Brentz, and Alex Wimmers in the first round, then Jarrett Parker, Bryan Morgado, and Justin Grimm in the supplemental first round. Beyond that I could see players such as Ross Wilson, Logan Darnell, Kolbrin Vitek, and Kevin Rhoderick for the second round. Other names to keep in mind include Scott Woodward, Thomas Royse, Turner Phelps, and Gauntlett Eldemire, though those are all speculative. I expect a college-heavy group of players, especially considering their first-round pick isn’t until the 26th slot. They will probably find a very solid arm or bat from the college ranks there, and then follow it up with a number of college bats and arms, though I suspect they’re heavier on junior college players after the success of some of their finds in recent years. They do have a solid presence here in Georgia, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Georgia names come up, with Grimm already named and players such as Brandon Cumpton and Alex McRee as later names. The Rockies will probably have a solid draft, but it won’t be as spectacular as last year, when they were able to get three players that were legitimate first round names in their first three picks. I always trust Bill Schmidt to find solid talent, even without those early picks, so expect a solid draft class to enter Colorado once again.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | Leave a comment

2010 Draft Preview – New York Yankees

The twenty-fourth part of my draft preview series is on the New York Yankees and their scouting director Damon Oppenheimer.

Owner: George Steinbrenner, bought club in 1973
General Manager: Brian Cashman, first season was 1998
Scouting Director: Damon Oppenheimer, first draft was 2005

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. C.J. Henry, SS, Putnam City HS (OK), #17 Overall: Henry was an ultra-athletic prep shortstop with an extremely high ceiling. He wasn’t as refined as some of the top prep names, but his tools were better than anyone’s, making him a true first-round draft prospect. Following players selected: Cesar Carrillo, John Mayberry, Mark Pawelek. Signing bonus: $1,575,000.
2. J. Brent Cox, RHP, Texas, #63 Overall: Cox was a solid college closer with fairly good stuff, though he wasn’t noted for having anything above an average fastball. He was seen as a solid 2nd-4th round draft prospect who would only need a year or so in the minors. Following players selected: Kris Harvey, Mike Costanzo, Chase Headley. Signing bonus: $550,000.
3. Brett Gardner, OF, College of Charleston, #109 Overall: Gardner was one of the best true leadoff prospects in the 2005 draft, though he looked more like a 7th-10th round prospect to a lot of clubs. HE had plus-plus speed and an above-average hit tool, but not a lot else. Following players selected: Daryl Jones, Mark Romanczuk, Joe Dickerson. Signing bonus: $210,000.
4. Lance Pendleton, RHP, Rice, #139 Overall: Pendleton was a two-way prospect at Rice, and he was a reliever when he was on the mound. He features solid stuff, with a good fastball/curveball pairing, and he was considered a 4th-6th round prospect as both a hitter and pitcher. Following players selected: Bryan Anderson, Chris Rahl, Shawn Hayes. Signing bonus: $215,000.
5. Zach Kroenke, LHP, Nebraska, #169 Overall: Kroenke was a solid college starter that was also more of a 7th-10th round prospect than a 5th round prospect, where the Yankees took him. He featured solid-average stuff, but he was considered more of a reliever, possibly only a LOOGY in the long run. Following players selected: Mitch Boggs, Greg Smith, Ryan DiPietro. Signing bonus: $155,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Austin Jackson (8th), Ryan HS (TX), $800K bonus; RHP Alan Horne (11th), Florida, $400K bonus.

2006 Draft: $6.7 Million Budget

1. Ian Kennedy, RHP, USC, #21 Overall: Kennedy was very inconsistent in his draft year at USC, and he didn’t help himself by having Scott Boras as his advisor. The Yankees were one of the few teams that still saw him as a first-rounder, as his stuff had regressed from year to year. Following players selected: Colton Willems, Max Sapp, Cody Johnson. Signing bonus: $2,250,000.
2. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Nebraska, #41 Overall: Chamberlain was supposed to go in the top ten to fifteen picks, but fell to the Yankees in the supplemental first round. He had top-tier stuff, but also had some questions about his durability, even back then. Following players selected: Chris Perez, Steve Evarts, Caleb Clay. Signing bonus: $1,150,000.
3. Zach McAllister, RHP, Illinois Valley Central HS (IL), #104 Overall: McAllister was a tall, projectable right-handed prep arm with good baseball bloodlines. He wasn’t the most refined prospect, but he was still a solid 3rd-6th round arm worth a good investment. Following players selected: Justin Edwards, Gary Daley, Derrick Robinson. Signing bonus: $368,000.
4. Colin Curtis, OF, Arizona State, #134 Overall: Curtis, like Kennedy, had a horribly inconsistent draft year, and he was also represented by Scott Boras. He regressed to become an average athlete with average tools across the board, dropping him from a possible first round prospect to a 4th-6th round prospect. Following players selected: Tyler Reves, Eddie Degerman, Jason Godin. Signing bonus: $450,000.
5. George Kontos, RHP, Northwestern, #164 Overall: Kontos was yet another enigma for scouts, as he also seemed to regress in his draft year. He still featured quality stuff, but his lack of a consistent arm angle and consistent secondary stuff made him hittable. Following players selected: John Shelby, Shane Robinson, Harold Mozingo. Signing bonus: $158,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Dellin Betances (8th), Grand Street HS (NY), $1MM bonus; RHP Mark Melancon (9th), Arizona, $600K bonus; RHP Daniel McCutchen (13th), Oklahoma; RHP David Robertson
(17th), Alabama, $200K bonus.

2007 Draft: $8.0 Million Budget

1. Andrew Brackman, RHP, NC State, #30 Overall: Brackman was supposed to be a top seven to ten overall pick, but a late arm injury ended up pushing him all the way down to the Yankees. He required Tommy John surgery, but he still got a Major League contract out of New York. Following players selected: Josh Smoker, Nick Noonan, Jon Gilmore. Signing bonus: $3,350,000*.
2. Austin Romine, C, El Toro HS (CA), #94 Overall: Romine was known as an excellent defensive catcher, though he fell down some boards after hurting his thumb on his catching hand most of the way through his senior year. He looked like an excellent 2nd-4th round prospect. Following players selected: Nick Barnese, Danny Duffy, Tony Thomas. Signing bonus: $500,000.
3. Ryan Pope, RHP, Savannah College of Art & Design (GA), #124 Overall: Pope came out of nowhere to establish himself as a 3rd-7th round prospect. The wide range was due to stuff that blossomed at the beginning of his junior year then slowly died off, leaving some scouts wondering what happened. Following players selected: David Newmann, Peter Hodge, Darwin Barney. Signing bonus: $229,500.
4. Brad Suttle, 3B, Texas, #154 Overall: Suttle was a draft-eligible sophomore who was expected to go anywhere from the end of the first round to the early second round. However, he fell due to signability questions, and the Yankees got another steal of a player that was sliding down boards. Following players selected: Dustin Biell, Adrian Ortiz, Brandon Guyer. Signing bonus: $1,300,000.
5. Adam Olbrychowski, RHP, Pepperdine, #184 Overall: Olbrychowski (try typing that a few times) was a solid college reliever with plus stuff. He was a good sinker/slider pitcher that projected to eat up innings in middle relief, and he was expected to go somewhere in the 4th-7th round range. Following players selected: Emeel Salem, Fernando Cruz, Casey Lambert. Signing bonus: $123,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.

2008 Draft: $5.1 Million Budget

1. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS (CA), #28 Overall: Cole was a legitimate first-round prospect with a plus fastball and supreme projectability. However, midway through the summer after the draft, he set his heart on going to college, so the Yankees were unable to sign him. Following players selected: Lonnie Chisenhall, Casey Kelly, Shooter Hunt. DID NOT SIGN.
2. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Stanford, #44 Overall: This was one of the most surprising picks in the 2008 draft, though it was overblown due to the fact that it was a Yankees pick. Bleich was considered more of a 4th-7th round arm, though he was a solid college starter that threw from the left-hand side. Following players selected: Bryan Price, Logan Forsythe, Kyle Lobstein. Signing bonus: $700,000.
3. Scott Bittle, RHP, Ole Miss, #75 Overall: Bittle was a solid college closer with a single plus-plus pitch, an advanced cutter. He was expected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round, but he was unable to come to terms with the Yankees after physical problems cropped up during the time for a physical. Following players selected: Trey Haley, Derrik Gibson, Jake Jefferies. DID NOT SIGN.
4. David Adams, 2B, Virginia, #106 Overall: Adams was a heralded prospect coming out of high school, and he had two excellent seasons at Virginia, putting him in a prime position to be a late first-round pick entering his draft year. However, he fell off the boards due to a performance slip, and the Yankees grabbed him here in the third round. Following players selected: Cord Phelps, Kyle Weiland, Ross Seaton. Signing bonus: $333,000.
5. Corban Joseph, SS, Franklin HS (TN), #140 Overall: Joseph was seen as more of a 6th-8th round prospect as an offensive middle infielder. However, the Yankees took him in the 4th round, believing that he would continue to be a well-rounded hitter with average defense for a shortstop. Following players selected: David Roberts, Pete Hissey, Mike Sheridan. Signing bonus: $207,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP D.J. Mitchell (10th), Clemson, $400K bonus; RHP David Phelps (14th), Notre Dame, $150K bonus.

2009 Draft: $7.6 Million Budget

1. Slade Heathcott, OF, Texas HS (TX), #29 Overall: Heathcott was a late riser up draft boards, as there were questions about his makeup and his injury history, as he was recovering from a torn ACL and jammed throwing shoulder. However, the Yankees believed in his plus tools as a hitter over his possible first-day arm as a pitcher. Following players selected: LeVon Washington, Brett Jackson, Tim Wheeler. Signing bonus: $2,200,000.
2. J.R. Murphy, C, Pendleton School (FL), #76 Overall: Murphy was another player who rose up boards throughout the spring, flashing a plus hit tool and plus arm behind the plate. He was fairly new to catching, but he was still considered a supplemental first round to third round prospect. Following players selected: Alex Wilson, Kenny Diekroeger, D.J. LeMahieu. Signing bonus: $1,250,000.
3. Adam Warren, RHP, North Carolina, #135 Overall: Warren looked like a solid relief prospect after starting in his career at North Carolina. He was a senior, and he didn’t have a lot of upside, but he had been working on a solid-average to above-average fastball that could be a bigger weapon out of the ‘pen. Following players selected: Brooks Hall, Adam Buschini, Jeremy Hazelbaker. Signing bonus: $195,000.
4. Caleb Cotham, RHP, Vanderbilt, #165 Overall: Cotham was a frustrating college prospect, as he had solid sinker/slider stuff, but he never used it to his advantage, getting hit hard by polished SEC hitters. He was also a draft-eligible sophomore, putting his signability in question and making him a 5th-7th round prospect. Following players selected: D’Vontrey Richardson, Matt Way, Seth Schwindenammer. Signing bonus: $675,000.
5. Rob Lyerly, 3B, Charlotte, #195 Overall: Lyerly seemed like more of a fill-in pick for the Yankees, as a lot of clubs saw him as organizational filler. He had below-average athleticism, but a solid bat, and he looked like a left-handed bench option in the 8th-12th round range. Following players selected: Hiram Burgos, Steven Inch, Branden Kline. Signing bonus: $125,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Neil Medchill (11th), Oklahoma State, $125K bonus; RHP Bryan Mitchell, Rockingham County HS (NC), $800K bonus.

If I was writing this draft preview five years ago, I’d be talking about how dysfunctional the Yankees’ scouting was when teamed with the rest of its front office. After all, scouting was almost completely separate, being run out of Tampa without any oversight from the general manager level in New York. However, when Damon Oppenheimer was moved into the scouting director’s chair, things changed, and it has been wildly successful when compared to previous regimes. Oppenheimer became a part of the Yankees’ organization as a scout in the early ‘90s, and he’s held just about every position you can before becoming scouting director. He has the advantage of having run a player development program under the same general manager in Brian Cashman, so he knows what he’s looking for in players when it comes to them getting through the system. Such an advantage is great, and it’s also advantageous that Oppenheimer doesn’t have to run both departments simultaneously like a few scouting directors have to do, which makes things hectic. Think about how much a scouting director must work during the year, and then add more hours to run a farm system well. You just can’t do both with the same effort and expertise. Something has to give. However, Oppenheimer has the best of both worlds, running only a single department while having the experience in the other. Looking at the trends in his first five drafts, we can see that Oppenheimer generally likes to jump on players that fall for one reason or another. Kennedy, Chamberlain, Brackman, and Cole all fell to the Yankees in either the first or supplemental first round when they shouldn’t have, and Oppenheimer’s happy to jump on players like that when they’re available. Looking at positional trends, he prefers up the middle athletes with bats that project to have plus hit tools. With pitchers, he generally likes collegiate arms, but he’s fine getting some upside with specific arms that he likes. He has built a solid system with good drafting, and these trends are the reason for that success.

One of the greatest trends for Yankee fans is a trend towards higher draft spending since Oppenheimer took over. In the five years since Oppenheimer has taken control, the Yankees have spent the 8th-most on draft bonuses, a solid spot. Oppenheimer himself has gotten an average budget of $6.22 million per year, good for 10th-largest when compared to other scouting directors’ averages. Either way, the Yankees allocate plenty of resources to their drafts. They were 9th in draft spending in the 2009 draft, so it’s obvious that the trends are solid and fairly predictable. In 2010, the Yankees own picks 32, 82, 112, 145, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in their natural slot in each round, no compensation picks going either way. That’s fairly unusual for the Yankees, a team that’s normally quite active in free agency, either getting compensation picks or signing high-priced free agents. Using past budgeting, we can make an educated guess about how much the Yankees are likely to spend. I predict budgeting somewhere in the $6.5-7.5 million range, which should be in the top half of all spending for the draft. I expect that small decline from 2009 simply because they’ll have more leverage against their picks this year, compared to last year when their first and second round picks were both compensation for not signing picks the year before. It should be another solid year for spending, and the Yankees won’t shy from getting their man, no matter the cost.

Connecting the Yankees to specific players is difficult, simply because I don’t know what player might drop all the way to the last pick of the first round. We don’t know who the Andrew Brackman or Joba Chamberlain of the year will be until shortly before the draft, so it’s best to wait and see for any final connections to this team. However, let’s take a look at who I’ve connected to them so far. In my latest mock draft, I have them selecting Cameron Bedrosian, a quick-armed prep righty from Georgia and the son of former Cy Young award winner Steve Bedrosian. I’ll be seeing Cameron in person next week, so stay tuned for reports. Other players I see as options at the end of the first round are Manny Machado, James Paxton, LeVon Washington, and Austin Wilson. Later options might include Rob Brantly, Garin Cecchini, Bryan Morgado, and Robbie Aviles for the second round, then names like Connor Narron, Michael Fuda, John Gast, Tyler Cannon, and Brandon Cumpton for later rounds. These are all speculative right now, but simply keep these names in mind when thinking about the Yankees. In general, the Yankees will be very unpredictable when it comes to drafting until right before the draft, so buy my Draft Notebook for the updated version of this draft preview in June.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 2 Comments

2010 Draft Preview – St. Louis Cardinals

The twenty-third part of my draft preview series is on the St. Louis Cardinals and their scouting director Jeff Luhnow.

Owner: Bill DeWitt, bought club in 1995
General Manager: John Mozeliak, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Jeff Luhnow, first draft was 2005

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $5.6 Million Budget

1. Colby Rasmus, OF, Russell County HS (AL), #28 Overall: Rasmus was a solid first-round prospect that the Cardinals were lucky to get at the end of that round. He featured average to plus tools in all five categories, and he had a winning track record. Excellent first pick for Luhnow. Following players selected: Jacob Marceaux, Tyler Greene, Matt Torra. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
2. Tyler Greene, SS, Georgia Tech, #30 Overall: Greene was more of a supplemental first round to third round prospect, as he was a utility infielder to some scouts due to his weak bat. He featured an above-average glove, though, and this pick was solid enough, though Greene got more money than Rasmus. Following players selected: Matt Torra, Chaz Roe, John Drennen. Signing bonus: $1,100,000.
3. Mark McCormick, RHP, Baylor, #43 Overall: McCormick was almost universally considered a first round arm, and he might have had the best pure arm in the entire draft. He had a plus-plus fastball and a decent curve, but he had below-average command and a Boras connection. Following players selected: Sean West, Jed Lowrie, Tyler Herron. Signing bonus: $800,000.
4. Tyler Herron, RHP, Wellington Community HS (FL), #46 Overall: Herron was a fairly polished prep arm that featured an average to above-average fastball and a plus curveball. He was expected to go in the supplemental first round to the third round. Following players selected: Michael Bowden, Garrett Olson, Matt Green. Signing bonus: $675,000.
5. Josh Wilson, RHP, Whitehouse HS (TX), #70 Overall: Wilson had a rough spring, losing stuff and getting hit harder than expected, though some teams still like his projectable frame and stuff from the previous fall. He looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect than the second-rounder he became. Following players selected: P.J. Phillips, Ralph Henriquez, Kevin Slowey. Signing bonus: $515,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Daryl Jones (3rd), Spring HS (TX), $450K bonus; C Bryan Anderson (4th), Simi Valley HS (CA), $250K bonus; RHP Mitch Boggs (5th), Georgia, $150K bonus; LHP Jamie Garcia (22nd), Mission HS (TX).

2006 Draft: $5.3 Million Budget

1. Adam Ottovino, RHP, Northeastern, #30 Overall: Ottavino was an excellent college arm, and though he came from a smaller cold-weather school, he had flashed dominance against more advanced hitters whenever he faced them. He looked like a solid first-round arm. Following players selected: Preston Mattingly, Pedro Beato, Emmanuel Burriss. Signing bonus: $950,000.
2. Chris Perez, RHP, Miami, #42 Overall: Perez was one of the best college relievers available in the 2006 class, and he featured a pair of excellent pitches. He had a plus fastball and plus slider, and he was expected to go within the first couple of rounds. Following players selected: Steve Evarts, Caleb Clay, Jason Taylor. Signing bonus: $800,000.
3. Brad Furnish, LHP, TCU, #54 Overall: Furnish was a solid college lefty that lacked much upside. He featured a solid-average fastball with a solid-average curveball, and he was expected to go somewhere in the 3rd-6th round range, making this a pick made slightly early. Following players selected: Brett Anderson, Steven Wright, Josh Rodriguez. Signing bonus: $600,000.
4. Jon Jay, OF, Miami, #74 Overall: Jay was a solid all-around prospect, though he wasn’t really good at anything. He had average to below-average tools all the way around, and while he was built for center field, he lacked the range to stay there as a pro. He looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect. Following players selected: Matt McBride, Mark Hamilton, Blake Wood. Signing bonus: $480,000.
5. Mark Hamilton, 1B, Tulane, #76 Overall: This was back in the day when there was a supplemental second round. Hamilton had plus raw power and a solid bat, but he was lacking in athleticism, and he was surely stuck at first base in the long term. He was supposed to go right in this range, though. Following players selected: Blake Wood, Keith Weiser, Nick Fuller. Signing bonus: $465,000.
Other Notable Selections: SS Allen Craig (8th), California, $15K bonus.

2007 Draft: $4.6 Million Budget

1. Pete Kozma, SS, Owasso HS (OK), #18 Overall: Kozma slowly rose up draft boards in the spring of 2007, using big production to continually impress scouts. He wasn’t the most gifted athlete, but he was average to above-average in all his tools, and most teams thought he was a solid first-round prep shortstop. Following players selected: Joe Savery, Chris Withrow, J.P. Arencibia. Signing bonus: $1,395,000.
2. Clayton Mortensen, RHP, Gonzaga, #36 Overall: Mortensen was a very surprising pick, as he was a senior prospect that looked more like a 3rd-5th round prospect. He features a solid arsenal, but not much upside above a back of the rotation starting option. Following players selected: Travis d’Arnaud, Brett Cecil, James Adkins. Signing bonus: $650,000.
3. David Kopp, RHP, Clemson, #71 Overall: Kopp was a solid second-round option as a college starter with good upside remaining. He featured a borderline plus fastball and a good slider, making him a more attractive than Mortensen to quite a few scouts. Following players selected: Brian Rike, Barry Enright, Grant Desme. Signing bonus: $459,000.
4. Jess Todd, RHP, Arkansas, #82 Overall: Todd was a college starter that best profiled as a high-end reliever at the next level. He had true closer’s stuff, featuring a solid fastball/slider combo. He was expected to go in the 2nd-4th round range, making this a solid pick. Following players selected: Travis Mattair, Hunter Morris, John Tolisano. Signing bonus: $400,000.
5. Daniel Descalso, 3B, UC Davis, #112 Overall: Descalso was a pick on the level of the Mortensen pick, as it surprised most analysts. He was seen as more of a 7th-10th round prospect, featuring some raw power, but he wasn’t an attractive athletic fielder. Following players selected: Matt Spencer, Brock Huntzinger, Alan Farina. Signing bonus: $255,000.
Other Notable Selections: 1B Steven Hill (13th), Stephen F. Austin.

2008 Draft: $5.5 Million Budget

1. Brett Wallace, 1B, Arizona State, #13 Overall: Wallace was considered an all-bat college hitter with a plus hit tool and plus raw power. He was a third base prospect in college, and he was expected to be given a shot there in the pros. This was right around his expected draft slot. Following players selected: Aaron Hicks, Ethan Martin, Brett Lawrie. Signing bonus: $1,840,000.
2. Lance Lynn, RHP, Ole Miss, #39 Overall: Lynn was a big college starter that was expected to turn into a back-end starter that could eat up innings. He was expected to go a round or three later, but the Cardinals called his name earlier, because they believed his natural stuff could make him much better than his individual pitches. Following players selected: Brett DeVall, Ryan Flaherty, Jaff Decker. Signing bonus: $938,000.
3. Shane Peterson, OF, Long Beach State, #59 Overall: Peterson was considered a good-hitting prospect that would go in the top three rounds. He put up gaudy numbers in college, and his hit and power tools were above-average. He wasn’t very athletic, but was considered passable in the outfield. Following players selected: Tyler Ladendorf, Josh Lindblom, Cody Adams. Signing bonus: $683,000.
4. Niko Vasquez, SS, Durango HS (NV), 91 Overall: Vasquez was a bit of an inconsistent draft prospect, but he flashed a plus hit tool when at his best. His fielding at shortstop was below-average, but he was expected to be able to handle second base at the pro level. This was right around where he was expected to go. Following players selected: Bobby Lanigan, Kyle Russell, Logan Schafer. Signing bonus: $423,000.
5. Scott Gorgen, RHP, UC Irvine, #125 Overall: Gorgen absolutely cominated college competition, but like Lynn, Gorgen featured very little future projection above a back of the rotation ceiling. He was expected to go in the third to sixth round range, and the Cardinals made him their fourth round pick. Following players selected: Danny Ortiz, Dee Gordon, Josh Romanski. Signing bonus: $250,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.

2009 Draft: $5.4 Million Budget

1. Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX), #19 Overall: Miller competed with Jacob Turner for the most powerful raw arm in the entire 2009 draft class. He featured a plus-plus fastball, and his ceiling was a true number one starter. He was expected to go a few slots earlier, and the Cardinals got a steal. Following players selected: Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni  Mier, Kyle Gibson. Signing bonus: $2,875,000.
2. Robert Stock, C, USC, #67 Overall: Stock was a better pitching prospect in college, and some scouts were frustrated by Stock’s inconsistency at the plate. He featured a plus arm behind the plate, though, and he was expected to be a solid catching prospect drafted in the top three rounds. Following players selected: Jake Eliopoulos, Tanner Bushue, Billy Bullock. Signing bonus: $525,000.
3. Joe Kelly, RHP, UC Riverside, #98 Overall: Kelly was in the same conversation with Drew Storen and Billy Bullock as the best college relievers in the 2009 class for quite awhile. He had a setup man’s ceiling, and he was expected to go in the second to fifth round range to a team that believed he might have a bit more in his arm. Following players selected: Jake Barrett, Telvin Nash, Ben Tootle. Signing bonus: $341,000.
4. Scott Bittle, RHP, Ole Miss, #129 Overall: Bittle went unsigned as a second-round pick of the Yankees after his junior year, and shoulder woes plagued his draft stock, though he was dominating on the mound when healthy. He could have gone anywhere in the third to sixth round range to teams that believed they could keep him healthy and unhittable. Following players selected: Ryan Goins, B.J. Hyatt, Derek McCallum. Signing bonus: $75,000.
5. Ryan Jackson, SS, Miami, #159 Overall: Jackson was an all-glove shortstop from Miami whose draft stock plummeted during a rough junior campaign. His hitting was considered below-average, and he had utility infielder skills, and he could have gone anywhere from the fourth to seventh rounds. Following players selected: Ryan Schimpf, Brandon Wikoff, Tobias Streich. Signing bonus: $157,500.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Jeff Luhnow is one of only a few scouting directors around baseball that also handle the player development department at the same time. This means that Luhnow is now solely responsible for prospects within the Cardinals’ organization, from drafting them to getting them to the Major Leagues. Needless to say, that’s a lot of pressure. The great thing about Jeff Luhnow is that he uses Twitter, and you can know where he is at times, though he hasn’t updated since last Monday. We’ll see if he sticks to that through the spring draft season. I, for one, would love to see what comes of that account. He has run five drafts with the Cardinals so far, and it would be interesting to see some form of public interest in his sixth. Looking at the trends from his first five years, I think you can see a specific Cardinal style of drafting and development. On the hitting side of things, it’s pretty obvious that he prefers players with good defensive value. Stock and Jackson were both considered questionable bats when they were picked a year ago, though no one doubted their defensive tools. That’s been fairly universal throughout the drafts that Luhnow has run, and I think it’s an interesting philosophy. He hasn’t shown a solid preference for prep or college bats, though he does like the solid college bats with some pop in there. That’s a pretty solid philosophy, though he’s been fine with going after up the middle prep bats, too, such as Kozma, Vasquez, and Rasmus. On the pitching side of things, he has shown a general preference for finished products with solid secondary stuff. This has led to more collegiate picks than prep picks, but he was quick to jump on the Shelby Miller train last June when he fell down to the Cards at the 19th pick. Generally, though, Luhnow greatly prefers college arms with durability and developed secondary stuff. These are general trends, and Luhnow has shown a willingness to go almost anywhere for talent.

In terms of draft budgeting, the Cardinals have been fairly middle of the road since Luhnow started drafting in 2005. Over those five years, they come in 18th for draft spending, and they’ve been very consistent with their spending over that time, always spending between $4.6 million and $5.6 million. They’ve never drafted higher than the 13th overall slot in 2008, when they picked Brett Wallace, so that probably has something to do with it, though the Red Sox have proven that you can still spend at the bottom of each round. However, the Cardinals have chosen to be reasonably conservative with their spending, and that has worked sometimes, though not consistently through their drafts under Luhnow. This year they hold picks 25, 46, 50, 75, 106, 139, and every 30 picks after that. They gained a pair of supplemental first round picks for Mark DeRosa and Joel Pineiro, and that’s generally been the norm for their drafts, as they usually have extra picks. They’ve still spent in that range anyway, so I’d expect another $5-5.5 million budget this year. That should come in somewhere in the 15-20 range when ranking spending for 2010.

Connecting the Cardinals to some players, I have them taking former University of Kentucky pitcher James Paxton in my latest mock draft, followed by Gary Brown and Michael Choice, a pair of college outfielders, one with burner speed and the other with plus raw power. These all make general sense, though Choice is more questionable, since his defensive value is less than the normal St. Louis draftee. Other options in that area could include Rick Hague, Chad Bettis, Brandon Workman, and Jarrett Parker. Later options that I have sort of connected as potential Cardinal draftees include Tyler Holt, Kolbrin Vitek, Rob Rasmussen, Josh Mueller, Pat Dean, and Tyler Cannon, all collegiate players. I haven’t seen any prep player that I can specifically link to the Cardinals yet, as they don’t have a specific player beyond the first round that they particularly go towards, but there isn’t a fear of prep players in the Cardinal organization. The Cardinals have one of the weaker farm systems in the league this year, and a solid draft would go a long way towards rebuilding a great franchise. This year is critical on this path, and Luhnow has a lot of pressure to do well this year, as almost all players in the system are now his draftees, and we’re coming towards a breaking point for Luhnow’s job security if things don’t move forward from here.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 4, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 1 Comment

2010 Draft Preview – Minnesota Twins

The twenty-second part of my draft preview series is on the Minnesota Twins and their scouting director Deron Johnson.

Owner: The Pohlad family, bought club in 1984
General Manager: Bill Smith, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Deron Johnson, first draft was 2008

Looking Back

2008 Draft: $7.3 Million Budget

1. Aaron Hicks, OF, Wilson HS (CA), #14 Overall: Hicks was a legitimate two-way first round talent in the 2008 draft, and he could have easily been selected this high as a pitcher. However, in the field he was a five tool talent with a plus-plus arm, making this an excellent selection. Following players selected: Ethan Martin, Brett Lawrie, David Cooper. Signing bonus: $1,780,000.
2. Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Miami, #27 Overall: Gutierrez wasn’t seen by many as a first-round talent at all, making this quite the opposite from Hicks. He was a sinker/slider closer at Miami, and while he was a possible 3rd-5th round relief arm, the Twins were one of the few that thought of him this highly, and it was a bit of a shocking pick. Following players selected: Gerrit Cole, Lonnie Chisenhall, Casey Kelly. Signing bonus: $1,290,000.
3. Shooter Hunt, RHP, Tulane, #31 Overall: Hunt was seen as a mid first-round pick, though he slid to the Twins with the first pick of the supplemental first round. He had plus stuff, though he didn’t have much command at the time, and his control has fallen apart since. At the time, this pick was considered a bargain. Following players selected: Jake Odorizzi, Brad Holt, Zach Collier. Signing bonus: $1,080,000.
4. Tyler Ladendorf, SS, Howard JC (TX), #60 Overall: Ladendorf was considered as high as an early supplemental first-round prospect, and it’s possible that the Twins were thinking about him with the pick that they took Hunt. He featured plus speed and amazing production, making this an excellent pick. Following players selected: Josh Lindblom, Cody Adams, Kenny Wilson. Signing bonus: $673,000.
5. Bobby Lanigan, RHP, Adelphi (NY), #92 Overall: Lanigan was a solid small college prospect, featuring big size and solid-average stuff. He was expected to go somewhere in the 3rd-6th round range to a team that wanted to use him as a starter, and the Twins picked him in the third. Following players selected: Kyle Russell, Logan Schafer, Andrew Liebel. Signing bonus: $417,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP B.J. Hermsen (6th), West Delaware HS (IA), $650K bonus.

2009 Draft: $4.7 Million Budget

1. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri, #22 Overall: Gibson was thought of as a top ten talent before he went down with an arm injury shortly before the draft. Teams were unsure of how severe the injury might be, but the Twins ended up getting a top ten talent in bottom third of the first round, an excellent bargain. Following players selected: Jared Mitchell, Randal Grichuk, Mike Trout. Signing bonus: $1,850,000.
2. Matt Bashore, LHP, Indiana, #46 Overall: Bashore was a big college lefty with above-average stuff, though he was overshadowed by first-rounder teammate Eric Arnett. Bashore was considered a solid supplemental first-round talent, making this another solid selection. Following players selected: Kyle Heckathorn, Tyler Kehrer, Victor Black. Signing bonus: $751,500.
3. Billy Bullock, RHP, Florida, #70 Overall: Bullock fought with Stanford’s Drew Storen and Arizona’s Jason Stoffel for much of the year for the title of best closer draft prospect. He featured a power arsenal and big body, and he was considered a solid second-round prospect that had been in the conversation for the late first-round at one point during the spring. Following players selected: David Holmberg, Steve Matz, Max Walla. Signing bonus: $522,000.
4. Ben Tootle, RHP, Jacksonville State, #101 Overall: Tootle was another pitcher who was considered near the first round before unfortunate circumstances showed up. He went down with a stomach bug not long before the draft, and in his weakened state returning, he lost much of his stuff. However, he was still a solid first-day prospect, making this another excellent pick. Following players selected: Bryan Morgado, Robbie Shields, Jake Marisnick. Signing bonus: $324,900.
5. Derek McCallum, 2B, Minnesota, #132 Overall: McCallum was a late bloomer in the college game, but he put together a historic junior season, pushing him up draft boards. He featured a plus hit tool and average raw power, and he was considered a 3rd-5th round prospect. Another solid pick. Following players selected: Matt Heidenreich, Darrell Ceciliani, Adam Warren. Signing bonus: $209,700.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Deron Johnson took over the amateur scouting department from long-time scouting director Mike Radcliff following the 2007 season, a position that Radcliff held for 15 drafting seasons. Needless to say, Johnson had a big some big shoes to fill following his promotion. Prior to the promotion, Johnson had been the Twins’ West Coast Crosschecker for almost a decade, a position that resulted in a fair amount of talent coming into the Minnesota system. Prior to holding that crosschecker position, Johnson had been the Twins’ Northern California area scout, and his scouting instincts are not in question. He’s an excellent evaluator, and the Twins have benefited from having him in their system as they rebuilt towards success with a proven plan under Radcliff’s drafting strategy. Johnson now has a pair of solid drafts under him, and it’s time to look at a few of the trends he’s been following since his first draft in June 2008. To begin, Johnson generally capitalizes on excellent players with higher draft stock falling to him in lower spots. Hicks was picked right where he should have gone, but players like Kyle Gibson, Shooter Hunt, Tyler Ladendorf, and Ben Tootle should have all gone higher than when the Twins grabbed them. That’s an excellent testament to how well the Twins have executed their draft strategy, as they’ve been able to maximize the value in each pick, with the vast majority signing for slot money. Looking beyond that, Johnson has continued much of what Radcliff had started in terms of the type of player that the Twins draft. Generally, they are high makeup players with solid baseball skills. They get a solid mix of upside players with safer players, and the bats they spend high draft picks on are usually more toolsy than polished. The pitchers they draft are quite the opposite, as they have plus command or a lot of experience, with Hunt falling in the latter. This method of operation has been very successful for the Twins as an organization, and I expect more of the same in 2010.

Looking at draft budgeting under Johnson, the Twins have been quite middle of the road. Looking at combined bonus amounts for 2008 and 2009, the Twins rank 17th in draft spending, right behind Texas and Colorado and right ahead of Cleveland, their division rival. If you just look at how much each scouting director has had to spend on average in their years of tenure, then Johnson comes in 12th, behind David Chadd of Detroit and ahead of Brad Grant of Cleveland. That’s behind Kansas City, but ahead of the White Sox, which is to be expected. In general, the Twins are keeping up with their division rivals for draft spending, which is all that can be expected. However, with the opening of a new stadium, it should be interesting to see if the Twins invest a little more in the draft this year. They own picks 21, 71, 102, 135, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in each natural spot of every round, no compensation picks going either way. Looking at previous draft spending, I’d expect budgeting somewhere in the $5-6 million range, maybe a tad less if they stick to slot or a tad more if they open the wallet a little due to the new stadium. We’ll just have to wait and see, as this is a little more unpredictable than a lot of stable front offices.

Connecting the Twins to certain players is tough since they jump on players that fall to them for whatever circumstances, but let’s give it a shot. I have them taking Georgia prep third baseman/pitcher Kaleb Cowart in my most recent mock. Knowing their history, I don’t see them taking Cowart as a pitcher, but he could fit in as a hitter, as he has good upside with the bat, but also excellent defensive skills, including a plus-plus arm. Other names that could be available to them include Yordy Cabrera, Alex Wimmers, Josh Sale, Stefan Sabol, and Chad Bettis, all players I could see them taking. For the second round and beyond, I’ve linked players such as Drew Vettleson, Chevez Clarke, Josh Mueller, and Josh Spence. It will be interesting to see what route they take, because if they have more resources than usual due to the new stadium, then we could see a bit of a departure from the more conservative draft spending they’ve had in recent years, leading to more aggressive player drafting of guys considered less signable. However they go, I expect another solid draft, one that should be in my top third for talent when taking into account the slot in which they pick. The future remains bright for the Twins, and I still think their drafting philosophy is near the top of the league.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 3, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 1 Comment

2010 Draft Preview – San Francisco Giants

The twenty-first part of my draft preview series is on the San Francisco Giants and their scouting director John Barr.

Owner: Bill Neukom, took over club in October 2008
General Manager: Brian Sabean, first season was 1997
Scouting Director: John Barr, first draft was 2008

Looking Back

2008 Draft: $9.1 Million Budget

1. Buster Posey, C, Florida State, #5 Overall: Posey was in the running for the first overall pick before the Rays decided on Tim Beckham. He was easily the best catcher in a decent catching class including Kyle Skipworth and Jason Castro. This was an excellent pick, though Posey ran away with all their money. Following players selected: Kyle Skipworth, Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham. Signing bonus: $6,200,000.
2. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Wichita State, #37 Overall: Gillaspie had a big hit tool in college, and while he wasn’t the most athletic collegiate athlete ever, he was plenty solid enough to be considered as high as the end of the first round. The Giants got a relative steal here, but his contract included a call-up clause for his first September, essentially making it a Major League contract. Following players selected: Jordan Lyles, Lance Lynn, Brett DeVall. Signing bonus: $970,000.
3. Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech, #82 Overall: Kieschnick had above-average raw power and was one of the better all-around outfielders in the 2008 class. Having fallen from pre-season status as a first-rounder, the Giants still got a steal of a possible supplemental first round talent in the third round. Following players selected: Edgar Olmos, Zach Stewart, Stephen Fife. Signing bonus: $525,000.
4. Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA, #117 Overall: Crawford fits into the traditional speed and defense model that has crept back in to baseball in recent years. He had above-average speed and good hands, as well as an above-average arm for shortstop. He had been considered as high as two rounds earlier, making this another solid pick. Following players selected: Curtis Petersen, Tyler Cline, Drew O’Neil. Signing bonus: $375,000.
5. Edwin Quirarte, RHP, Cal State Northridge, #147 Overall: Quirarte was pretty much the opposite of the four players picked above him, as he was a relative unknown entering his junior year. He had his first successful collegiate year, but still was projected as a 8th-15th round prospect. Following players selected: Pete Andrelczyk, Clayton Shunick, Dan Hudson. Signing bonus: $193,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Aaron King (7th), Surry CC (NC), $110K bonus; LHP Scott Barnes (8th), St. John’s, $100K bonus.

2009 Draft: $6.3 Million Budget

1. Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA), #6 Overall: Wheeler had huge helium during his senior year, going from a possible late first-round option to deservedly getting picked in the top ten. This was seen as an excellent pick in the scouting community, and he has top of the rotation potential. Following players selected: Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner. Signing bonus: $3,300,000.
2. Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ), #55 Overall: Joseph had a thunderous bat that was unmatched by any other prep catcher in a deep year for prep catchers, but questions remained about his defensive skills. However, he was in the running for a late first-round draft slot, making this a great pick. Following players selected: Blake Smith, Billy Hamilton, Andy Oliver. Signing bonus: $712,500.
3. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville, #86 Overall: Dominguez went unsigned as a 5th-rounder of the Rockies as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2008, and he improved his draft stock as a 22 year old junior. He featured plus power and a plus arm, but had general questions about making contact and fielding, making him a 2nd-4th round prospect. Following players selected: David Hale, Donnie Joseph, Wade Gaynor. Signing bonus: $411,300.
4. Jason Stoffel, RHP, Arizona, #117 Overall: Stoffel had been the closer over the likes of former first-rounders Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, and he was well on his way to being a first-rounder himself before he came out completely flat and was overworked in his junior year. However, he was still a solid 2nd-4th round prospect, making this a great selection. Following players selected: Mycal Jones, Mark Fleury, Edwin Gomez. Signing bonus: $254,700.
5. Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas, #147 Overall: Belt was a huge first baseman with Texas, but he lacked the tools to be an elite prospect, even failing to register an average grade on the power scale thanks to an almost slap-like approach at times. However, he was an intriguing 5th-7th round name, and the Giants believed they could help him improve with pro instruction. Following players selected: Thomas Berryhill, Daniel Tuttle, Austin Wood. Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Matt Graham (6th), Oak Ridge HS (TX), $500K bonus.

John Barr is probably the most accomplished scouting director when you consider his age and experience levels. Only in his early-50s, Barr has as much high-level scouting experience as any scouting director in the entire game of baseball. He became the Orioles’ scouting director shortly after turning 30, and has run a combined eight drafts including the two drafts he has run since joining the Giants. Directly before joining the Giants, he was the Dodgers’ East Coast crosschecker for ten years, running possibly the best region in a club that developed a number of homegrown players. His official title with San Francisco is Special Assistant to the General Manager for Scouting, but he functions as a scouting director. He’s simply at a higher place in the food chain than some scouting directors are. That’s well deserved, and I consider Barr one of the best scouting directors in the game. Looking at his first two drafts with the Giants, the first glaring trend is a desire to nab players that have slipped a little more than expected in their draft year. That fits for Gillaspie, Kieschnick, Crawford, Joseph, and Stoffel, all names that were considered in the first round equation at one point in the 12 months before their respective drafts. That’s intriguing to me, because they wouldn’t have been even in the conversation if they weren’t immensely talented to begin with. The fact that Barr has drafted five of those players in just two years is incredible, with Matt Graham being an addition to that, as he was in the top ten conversation two years before his draft year. A second high-level trend is a tendency to lean towards power hitters, or at the least hitters with a solid future at the plate. Crawford was the notable exception, being more of a speed and defense guy, but in general Barr likes the guys that can do something with the bat. Joseph was a fairly polished prep bat, and the rest were college bats, an interesting trend in itself. Barr generally prefers getting pitchers from the collegiate level, though the high picks have been relievers. Wheeler was the first significant investment in a prep arm for Barr, and Graham comes in second. While I think this was more about opportunity, I also think that Barr and company are more willing to take prep arms than is thought by simply looking at the draft lists. All in all, he has a fairly balanced draft strategy utilizing a set plan that works well.

Switching gears to draft budgeting, the Giants have done quite well for themselves under Barr. In the two years under Barr, the club has spent the 6th-largest amount on draft bonuses, and that bodes well for the future of the Giants’ organization as a whole. The thing that stands out, though, is that an unusually large percentage of bonuses go to their first pick, which was in the top six both years. Posey took up 68 percent of their 2008 budget, and Wheeler took up 52 percent, which is more than most teams that don’t take a Stephen Strasburg or Dustin Ackley on a big year to acquire that special talent. You can argue that Posey deserves that sort of budgeting, but Wheeler taking over 50 percent of a draft budget can lead to a situation where most of the eggs are in a single basket, that being a risky prep pitcher, simply due to injury histories and rates of attrition. This isn’t necessarily the worst strategy in the world, and they’ve signed all of their targets, but it’s just something to note. In 2010, the Giants own picks 24, 74, 105, 138, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in their natural position in each round, no compensation picks going either way. That was their situation a year ago, and they turned in a very impressive draft, though they were picking near the top of each round, where they’re now 17 natural spots lower. That should impact draft budgeting a bit, but I still expect a budget of close to $6 million, a large sum of that going to the player who unexpectedly falls to them with pick 24.

Since the Giants like to capitalize on players that have fallen a little due to lessened production during their junior year, it’s hard to connect them firmly with any sort of player at the moment. I currently have them taking Rice shortstop Rick Hague in my latest mock draft, though Hague has looked bad enough in the first two weeks of action to drop off my first round radar altogether. I can see them taking players such as Bryce Brentz, Nick Castellanos, Austin Wilson, Drew Pomeranz, and Chris Sale. Almost all of these players are projected to go higher than pick 24 at this point, but that’s my point. The Giants are a candidate to take someone who falls. For later rounds, I can see them looking at names such as Michael Choice, Daniel Tillman, Brett Eibner, and Addison Reed, second round candidates for the most part. Even later than that, take a look at Rob Segedin, Kevin Keyes, Barret Loux, Brian Fletcher, and Kyle Parker, though I’m purely speculating at this early juncture in the season. I’m trying to introduce a few new names here that you should watch in order to see where the Giants might go in June. No matter what happens, though, I expect another solid top-third draft for when I do my rankings in the fall.

*Bonus information came from BA.

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

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Draft Previews | 7 Comments