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July 5, 2011

Future Shock

NL East Draft Wrap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Atlanta Braves
First Three Rounds
1. (28) Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Florida State
2. (85) Nick Ahmed, SS, Connecticut
3. (115) Kyle Kubitza, 3B, Texas State

Who They Are: There is no doubt that Gilmartin will reach the big leagues barring injury, but there's not much of a ceiling compared to most first-rounders. His command and changeup garner the highest scouting scores, as his fastball sits in the upper 80s.

Ahmed is a solid shortstop with gap power and a bit of speed who could be a nice pick if he can stay on the left side.

Kubitza offers the size and physical profile of a classic third baseman, but there are questions about his hitting skills and glove work.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round righty J.R. Graham has plus-plus velocity and could end up in a late-innings role with some refinements. Eighth-round infielder Tommy La Stella can hit, but he needs to find a defensive home. Tenth-round shortstop Logan Robbins is an excellent athlete who remains raw despite being a college product.
Analysis: The Braves have a new scouting director, a new philosophy, and the most atypical draft for the team in recent memory; they did not select a high school player until the 11th round. Frankly, it's a bit of a snooze fest.

Florida Marlins
First Three Rounds
1. (14) Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)
2. (82) Adam Conley, LHP, Washington State
3. (102) Connor Barron, SS, Sumrall HS (MS)

Who They Are: Fernandez is a good story as a Cuban refugee, but he was also seen as the best of the level two tier of high school arms. He has a pro body, plus velocity, and really knows how to spin a breaking ball.

Conley has big velocity for a southpaw, but might end up working better as a reliever due to a shallow arsenal.

Barron has the profile for a modern, big, and athletic shortstop with raw power and speed, but the bat could take a while.
Later Picks Of Note: Fifth-round righty Mason Hope pitched in the shadows of first-rounder Archie Bradley in high school, but he has two plus pitches and a good frame. Sixth-round lefty Charlie Lowell is a 250-pound beast a good fastball, but little else to write home about. Seventh-round first baseman Ryan Rieger has plenty of power, but all the caveats for first-base prospects apply.
Analysis: For the most part, the Marlins focused on athleticism and upside, a sound philosophy considering the weak state of their system.

New York Mets
First Three Rounds
1. (13) Brandon Nimmo, OF, East HS (WY)
1s. (44) Michael Fulmer, RHP, Deer Creek HS (OK)
2. (71) Cory Mazzoni, RHP, North Carolina State
3. (101) Logan Verrett, RHP, Baylor

Who They Are: Nimmo is a big athlete with speed, average power, and very good hitting skills from the left side. He'll need a lot of money to sign, but the Mets didn't take him at 13th overall not to get a deal done. He has a very high ceiling, but is anything but a sure thing.

Fullmer is yet another Oklahoma high school pitcher, and was the best not named Bradley or Bundy. He already sits in the low- to mid-90s, but still needs to transition from thrower to pitcher.

Mazzoni already signed and is the safest of the team's top picks, with three solid to plus offerings and the ability to throw strikes.

Verret is similar to Mazzoni, but with a bit less velocity yet a stronger breaking ball.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round right-hander Tyler Pill is another Mazzoni/Verret clone. All three could get to big leagues, but making an impact is doubtful. Sixth-round outfielder Joe Tuschak is a plus-plus runner who is still learning to play baseball. Right-hander Christian Montgomery, chosen in the 11th round, could be a tough sign, but he has a big frame and, at times, a big fastball.
Analysis: The Mets insisted all year that they would finally be aggressive in the draft, and despite their internal financial problems, they were.

Philadelphia Phillies
First Three Rounds
1s. (39) Larry Greene, OF, Berrien County HS (GA)
2. (66) Roman Quinn, OF, Port St. Joe HS (FL)
2. (90) Harold Martinez, 3B, Miami
3. (120) Adam Morgan, LHP, Alabama

Who They Are: Greene is a massive human being and has crazy power, with more raw strength in his swing than any high school player in the draft. It's also his only tool, so there's some chance for the next Ryan Howard, and a bigger chance for him to strike out 180 times in the Florida State League.

Quinn is the anti-Greene; he’s an absolute burner who is six inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Greene.

Many thought Martinez would be a sure-fire first-round pick when he enrolled at Miami, but his game never fully came around. He's a good defensive third baseman with a line-drive bat but below-average power for the position.

Morgan is the safe pick for the Phillies as a command-and-control lefty who could move quickly.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round third baseman Cody Asche how a classic third-base profile with power and arm strength, but he's not good defensively. Fifth-round shortstop looks good in a uniform with a lean, long, athletic frame and good defensive fundamentals, so his future will depends on how his bat develops and if he can stay up the middle. Eighth-round lefty Austin Wright is huge, left-handed, and throws hard, but rarely harnessed his stuff in college.
Analysis: It's a Phillies draft, so of course they took guys with tools. Did you expect something different?

Washington Nationals
First Three Rounds
1. (6) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
1. (23) Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky
1s. (34) Brian Goodwin, OF, Miami Dade JC
3. (96) Matt Purke, LHP, Texas Christian

Who They Are: Once the Mariners passed on Rendon with the second pick in the draft, he slid to sixth overall; teams with the top three picks did not waver from the pitcher-focused ways. While his junior year did not live up to expectations, mostly due to injuries, Rendon has the hitting ability and plate discipline to be an on-base machine in the big leagues with at least average power while offering excellent third-base defense.

Scouts have always been intrigued by Meyer's upside; he's 6-foot-9 and can dial it up to the upper 90s. He remains a bit of a project, but he made impressive improvements to his command this year while upgrading his slider and changeup into usable secondary pitches.

Goodwin is a bit raw, but he has average power, plus speed, and a leadoff hitter’s approach.

Matt Purke is still the biggest mystery of the draft; he entered this year with visions of being considered for the top overall pick. Blisters hampered him early, but then he developed shoulder problems, a far more concerning issues. He tried to pitch late in the year, but his stuff was nowhere close to what teams saw last year, when he want 16-0 for TCU. He likely wants tons of money as a draft-eligible sophomore, and could shoot up draft charts next year with a return to form if he doesn't sign.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-round lefty Kylin Turnbull was one of the better junior college pitchers in the draft with plus velocity from the left side and a projectable, skinny frame. Fifth-round pick Matt Skole's younger brother was a first-round pick by the Rangers last year, but he's not the same kind of multi-tool athlete and more of a bat-first third baseman with a bit of power. Shortstop Deion Williams, a 16th-round pick, may be a sleeper. He sure looks that part at shortstop with size and plenty of tools, but he's a big project.
Analysis: The Nationals will spend a lot of money on their first-round picks, but they also got some of the biggest upside in the draft, adding more talent to what could be an impressive young team down the road.  

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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