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June 21, 2011

Future Shock

AL West Draft Recap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Los Angeles Angels
First Three Rounds
1. (17) C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah
3. (104) Nick Maronde, LHP, Florida
Who They Are: As a bat-only college product, Cron is not your standard Angels pick. At the same time, some thought he was the best pure college bat on the board. He can't run, he can't field, and he can't throw, but he has bat speed, hand-eye coordination, plus-plus raw power, and shouldn't take long in the minors.

Maronde is a left-handed power pitcher with serious heat, and the Angels have a history of favoring velocity, then leaning on their development staff to teach the secondary offerings, which Maronde will need.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round pick Mike Clevinger is another hard thrower who could cruise through the system as a power reliever. Same goes for sixth-round pick Austin Wood, who has a first-round body and first-round velocity, but struggles with his command and never found a breaking ball.
Analysis: While Cron went in the range that was expected, it was a surprise that the Angels selected him. It may have been a response to Kendry Morales' continued inability to play. From there, it was pure power arms.

Oakland Athletics
First Three Rounds
1. (18) Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
3. (105) B.A. Vollmuth, 3B, Southern Mississippi
Who They Are: Gray is a bit undersized, but he has pure power stuff, with a 92-94 mph fastball than he can dial up to 97 when he needs something extra, to go along with a fantastic curveball. Those that like him compare him to a right-handed Scott Kazmir (the good version).

Vollmuth sounds like a character from an ‘80s action TV series, but in reality he has a classic third-base profile and a long track record of hitting for power.
Later Picks Of Note: The A's drafted a pair of toolsy outfielders in the fourth and sixth rounds with Bobby Crocker and Dayton Alexander. Crocker is especially impressive from a physical standpoint; he's a 230-pound beast with power and at least average speed.
Analysis: The A's must have been pleasantly surprised to see Gray still on the board at 18th overall, and while they focused on college talent in the early rounds, it was clear that tools played as much of an influence on their choices as performance.

Seattle Mariners
First Three Rounds
1. (2) Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
2. (62) Brad Miller, SS Clemson
3. (92) Kevin Cron, 1B, Montain Pointe HS (AZ)
3s. (121) Carter Capps, RHP, Mount Olive College
Who They Are: Hultzen has been among college baseball's best and most consistent performers all year, with a 1.41 ERA in 17 starts and 157 strikeouts in 115 innings with just 23 walks. More of a skilled surgeon than a dominating power arm, his 92-95 mph fastball, two-plane slider, and diving changeup are all plus pitches and play up due to his command. He doesn't have the kind of ceiling most second overall picks do, but he should be in Seattle very quickly and is the best bet in the draft to be a productive big-leaguer.

Miller isn't loaded with tools, but he can really hit. That said, he's not a shortstop, Dustin Ackley is the big-league second baseman, and Kyle Seager is already blocked at the position.

Cron is the younger brother of the Angels’ first-round pick, and a similar talent. He's massive, slow, limited to first base, and can really rake.

Capps is huge and throws hard, and could move quickly as a reliever if the Mariners decide to go that route.
Later Picks Of Note: Fifth-round pick Tyler Marlette could cost a little extra money, but he projects as an offense-first player with enough defensive ability to not be a liability behind the plate. Ninth-rounder Cavan Cohoes is maybe the most fascinating player in the draft, as he plays for a high school in Germany on an American base. He's impressed European scouts with the kind of athleticism normally reserved for soccer players on that side of the pond, but he's quite raw.
Analysis: The Mariners tore apart everyone's mock draft with the Hultzen selection, but his ability to move quickly gave him an edge over Anthony Rendon's concerning junior year and shortstop Francisco Lindor's youth.

Texas Rangers
First Three Rounds
1. (33) Kevin Mathews, LHP, Richmond Hill HS (GA)
1s. (37) Zach Cone, OF, Georgia
2. (83) Will Lamb, LHP, Clemson
3. (113) Kyle Castro, RHP, Pleasant Valley HS (CA)
Who They Are: The Rangers went off the board with Matthews, who was not expected to be drafted on the first day due to his size and a strong Virginia commitment. His combination of plus velocity and command is something Texas brass has always coveted.

Cone is a difficult player to wrap one’s head around, as he's a college product with fantastic tools, but the performances have rarely been there.

Lamb is a 6-foot-6 lefty and fantastic athlete who often played center field in college. His fastball is above average, but he'll take some time to develop due to so-so secondary pitches and a lack of command.

Castro is a more traditional high school pitching prospect with length and tons of projection.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round outfielder Desmond Henry is a pure burner who is considerably rawness. Sixth-round pick Derek Fisher has plenty of hitting skills and raw power, but he threw out a big number before the draft and could be a tough sign. Fifth-round right-hander Brandon Woodruff is another tools bet with big heat but a rough delivery.
Analysis: The Rangers have added so many small pitchers with good stuff and command that one is forced to wonder if they see it as some kind of market inefficiency.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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