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June 27, 2011

Future Shock

NL Central Draft Wrap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Chicago Cubs
First Three Rounds
1. (9) Javier Baez, SS, Arlington Country Day HS (FL)
2. (68) Dan Vogelbach, 1B, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
3. (98) Zeke DeVoss, OF, Miami

Who They are: It was a bit surprising to see Baez go this high, but he's hardly a total reach. Some scouts saw him as the top high school hitter in the draft with outstanding hands, a lightning-quick bat, and a chance to develop some power as his game matures. He won't be a shortstop long-term, but the bat should work at second or third base.

Vogelbach has top-of-the-charts raw power, but he's also an incredibly bad-bodied teenager and already just plain fat.

DeVoss is hardly fat; he's a skinny speedster with a leadoff man's approach.
Later Picks of Note: With a mid-90s fastball that consistently touches 97-98, fourth-round pick Tony Zych was one of the hardest throwers in this year's draft, but he doesn't have another plus offering. Sixth-round catcher Neftali Rosario is a very good defensive catcher with a bit of pop. He'll be a nearly impossible sign, but many think 11th-round pick Shawon Dunston Jr. will be a first-round pick in 2014 after honing his skills at Vanderbilt.
Analysis: The Cubs focused more on teenage upside than in recent drafts, which fits well with the system needs. Tough signs like Dunston and seventh-round pick Trevor Gretzky give them a chance to make this an excellent crop.

Cincinnati Reds
First Three Rounds
1. (27) Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS (CA)
2. (84) Gabriel Rosa, OF, Colegio Hector Urdeneta (PR)
3. (114) Tony Cingrani, LHP, Rice

Who They are: Stephenson is a classic first-round high school arm. He's already touches the mid-90s with his fastball while sitting at 90-94 mph, and his power breaking ball is already a quality pitch. He doesn't have a changeup, but scouts love his projection.

Rosa is a 6-foot-4 athlete with average to plus power and speed, but his hitting tool will need plenty of development.

Cingrani is already signed and could move quickly through the system as a flame-throwing reliever who needs to improve his slider.
Later Picks of Note: Fifth-round second baseman Ryan Wright can flat-out hit, but his other tools are a bit short. While he's the son of the Reds' scouting director, sixth-round pick Sean Buckley was hardly a nepotism pick; he has classic third-base tools. Ninth-round righty Cole Green was a consistent winner at Texas, and while he lacks stuff, he has the pitchability to be a fifth starter.
Analysis: The Reds were expected to take a college arm with their first pick, and surprised many with Stephenson, then surprised again by selecting a second toolsy high school player with their second pick. The team chose safer picks from there, to produce a well-balanced draft.

Houston Astros
First Three Rounds
1. (11) George Springer, OF, Connecticut
2. (69) Adrian Houser, RHP, Locust Grove HS (OK)
3. (99) Jack Armstrong, RHP, Vanderbilt

Who They are: Springer has the kind of tools rarely found in a college player. He’s an impressive physical specimen with above-average power and speed, good instincts in center field, and a plus arm. The biggest question is his bat, which has plenty of swing-and-miss in it.

All of the high school pitching in Oklahoma this spring allowed plenty of people to see Houser, who has two plus pitches—a fastball and curveball—and a pro body.

Armstrong has thought to be a sure-fire first-round pick when he entered Vanderbilt, but injuries and ineffectiveness hurt his college career. He's 6-foot-7 and has very good arm strength, but he's still for more of a thrower than a pitcher.
Later Picks of Note: Fifth-round righty Nick Tropeano is a bit of a trick pitcher with a great changeup, but he has just enough velocity to make it work. Seventh-round outfielder Javaris Reynolds is a tools bet due to his rawness, but he has above-average raw power and speed. Lefty Kyle Hallock, selected in the 10th round, is the type of pitcher who could put up big numbers at the lower levels thanks to command and flashes of plus secondary pitches, but he'll have to prove himself at every level due to a lack of velocity.
Analysis: The Astros ended up with one of the highest-ceiling position players in the draft with their first pick, and continued to focus on college talent for most of the draft to add depth to one of baseball's weakest systems.

Milwaukee Brewers
First Three Rounds
1. (12) Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
1. (15) Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech
2. (70) Jorge Lopez, RHP, Academia de Milagrosa (PR)
3. (100) Drew Gagnon, RHP, Long Beach State

Who They are: Jungmann had some of the most impressive numbers in college baseball this year, flirting with a sub-one ERA for much of the spring before some late-season struggles. His 6-foot-6 frame gives him plenty of angle on a low-90s fastball, and both his slider and changeup are at least average pitches. He's the kind of college player who could move through the system quickly but lacks star potential.

Bradley was an enigma for most of the spring. As a bulky left-hander with a Roger Clemens body and low- to mid-90s heat, he's a scout's dream, but the results were rarely there.

Lopez isn't much of a pitcher yet, but his long, lanky frame and fantastic athleticism absolutely screams projection.

Gagnon has already signed and has some similarity to Jungmann in that he doesn't blow away hitters, but does have a good three-pitch mix.
Later Picks of Note: Fifth-round outfielder Michael Reed is rough around the edges offensively, but he has a classic right-field package with raw power and a very good arm. Sixth-round righty Danny Keller is equally unrefined, but he has a 6-foot-6 body and a low-90s fastball, so he offers plenty to dream on. Seventh-round righty David Goforth is a college reliever who could move quickly and profiles for some as a future set-up man.
Analysis: The worst system in baseball added a good mix of upside and safety, but it will take many more drafts to dig out of the current hole.

Pittsburgh Pirates
First Three Rounds
1. (1) Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
2. (61) Josh Bell, OF, Dallas Jesuit HS (TX)
3. (91) Alex Dickerson, OF, Indiana

Who They are: There are few pitchers at any level who can feature three plus-plus pitches, but Cole has just that. His fastball sits at 94-97 mph, touches triple digits, and scouts spend plenty of time arguing which is the better of his two secondary offerings—the devastating upper-80s slider with heavy bite, or the changeup that falls off the table. The knock against Cole is that he didn't dominate nearly as much as a pitcher with his stuff should, mostly due to command issues. His ceiling is pure ace, but he doesn't come without risks.

After using the first pick of the second day to grab Stetson Allie last year, the Pirates took an even bigger risk with Bell, a top-10 talent who told teams not to draft him because he planned to attend the University of Texas. He's a switch-hitter who profiles as a middle-of-the-order run-producer more than any other high school player in the draft. His price tag is somewhere between steep and unsignable, to the point where along with Cole, the pair could end up representing the two biggest deals in the draft.

Dickerson is a bat-only prospect, but he has a sweet swing from the left side and solid power.
Later Picks of Note: The Pirates found even more upside in the fifth-round with 6-foot-7 righty Tyler Glasnow, who can get into the low 90s now but might not be ready for a full-season assignment until 2013. Seventh-round pick Jack Burnette is another tall righty who is all upside and plenty of risk. Speaking of upside, 14th-round outfielder Jordan Dunatov is loaded with it, but will be another tough sign as he fell due to a back injury and could rocket up draft boards with a healthy college career.
Analysis: While the chances of signing Bell seem slight, this was a good draft the moment Pittsburgh selected Cole. If they add Bell, the rapidly-improving Pirates organization gets that much better.

St. Louis Cardinals
First Three Rounds
1. (22) Kolten Wong, 2B, Hawaii
2. (79) Charlie Tilson, OF, New Trier HS (IL)
3. (109) C.J. McElroy, OF, Clear Creek HS (TX)

Who They are: Wong is a hitting machine who scouts nearly universally believe can rake his way to the big leagues. His power is more of the gap variety, and he's no more than an average defender. While there's little room for a star-level ceiling, there are plenty of scenarios where Wong develops into an above-average everyday player.

Tilson is a great athlete who dropped a bit after a spring that fell below expectations. He's a plus-plus runner and very good center fielder, but his future will come down to how much he can hit and get on base, as he's not a power hitter. There were late indications that he'd be more signable than originally anticipated, which helped get him into the second round.

McElroy is another burner, who is even faster than Tilson, but quite small, so he'll need to develop true leadoff man skills.
Later Picks of Note: The Cardinals found even more speed in the fourth round with Los Angeles high school shortstop Kenny Peoples, who is similar athletically to McElroy but can play in the infield. Seventh-rounder Nick Martini is an on-base machine who could turn into a nice fourth outfielder. The team hopes they found a sleeper and local hero in St. Louis high school star Lance Jeffries, a 10th-round pick. He's an outfielder built like an NFL running back, but he's far more of an athlete than a baseball player.
Analysis: The Cardinals drafted a track team and some safe college arms to help mitigate the risk. Wong should get to the bigs quickly, but this draft will take years to properly judge. 

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

Related Content:  Righty,  Lance Jeffries,  The Who,  Nick Tropeano

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