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June 13, 2013

Perfect Game Presents

NL Draft Wrap

by Patrick Ebert

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Another draft is in the books, and while we're only a day removed from the process, it is time to take an early look as to how the teams fared. As part of a two-part series (American/National League) I'm going to provide a quick synopsis of six National League teams that at first glance look to have done a good job in the 2013 MLB draft.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Rumors leading right up until the draft itself indicated that the Diamondbacks may have been leaning toward Fresno State slugger Aaron Judge after he put on an impressive display of power in front of Arizona's brass as part of a pre-draft workout. However, when Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley fell in their lap, they couldn't resist taking the emerging fire-baller.

Shipley is a converted infielder with an athletic frame and easy, repeatable delivery. His secondary stuff continues to improve as his fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s. The D-Backs followed their pick of Shipley with another power-armed righty from college in Marshall's Aaron Blair. Blair's overall repertoire is more polished than Shipley's at this point in time, and he too can dial his fastball up to the mid-90s, touching a few ticks higher on occasion.

After loading up on a pair of power arms the Diamondbacks turned their attention to a pair of power bats in Justin Williams and Daniel Palka in the third and fourth rounds. Matt McPhearson, their fifth rounder, has the best speed of any draft-eligible player, and has promise at the plate as well.

Athletic outfielder Dane McFarland (12) and college left-hander Steve Hathaway (14) stand out among the team's picks after the 10th round.

New York Mets
The Mets targeted upside with their first four picks, taking a quartet of high school players. Hard hitting first baseman Dominic Smith, arguably the most dynamic pure hitter of the 2013 draft class, was the first of these picks. Smith's affable personality in addition to his talents could allow him to become an embraced star in New York, and his polished approach and left-handed swing could allow him to advance quickly to the big leagues.

Emerging hard throwing right-hander Andrew Church, athletic outfielder Ivan Wilson and ultra-projectable right-hander Casey Meisner were the teams next three picks.

After the third round the Mets switched gears and targeted players from the college level that may not have the upside as their prep counterparts, but have a proven track record for success. Infielders L.J. Mazzilli (4) and Matt Oberste (7), outfielders Jared King (5) and Patrick Biondi (9) and right-hander Ricky Knapp (8) all could be poised to enjoy immediate success in the lower levels of the minor leagues, and could also be promoted aggressively.

Slick-fielding prep shortstop Luis Guillorme (10) has already signed with the team, and the Mets took some interesting arms in the later rounds including John Magliozzi (17), Dan Herrmann (20), Daniel Procopio (22) and Ricky Jacquez (25).

Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have placed a high premium on dynamic athletes in recent years, and continued that preference this year with several of their early picks.

PG All-American shortstop J.P. Crawford was one of the most well-rounded athletes available in this year's draft, with promise both at the plate, defensively up the middle of the infield and on the basepaths. He has just started to recognize his power potential from the left side of the plate.

Fellow PG All-American outfielder Cord Sandberg was considered a draft wildcard given his two-sport talents as a promising quarterback recruit. The Phillies quickly announced that they had signed Sandberg ending any speculation that he may be headed to college to pursue both sports.

Infielder Jan Hernandez (3), catcher Jake Sweaney (4) and outfielders Jason Monda (6) and Justin Parr (8) continued to show the team's preference for high ceiling athletes, while Trey Williams (7) is one of the most polished hitters from the junior college ranks.

The team continued to add some intriguing athletes past the 10th round and it will be interesting to see how aggressively they try to sign another pair of PG All-Americans in Joey Martarano (13), who also is a two-sport star with a college commitment to play linebacker for Boise State, and Cavan Biggio (29).

Left-handers Ben Wetzler (5), Denton Keys (11) and right-hander Dan Child (18) stand out among the pitchers they selected.

Pittsburgh Pirates
With one of the most impressive collections of arms at the minor-league level, it was no secret that the Pirates were intent on adding a pair of promising position prospects with their two first-round picks. The first of which was Austin Meadows, selected with their compensatory pick after they were unable to sign Mark Appel a year ago. Meadows has five-tool potential with an exciting blend of power and speed, and he could become a fixture in the Pirates' outfield alongside another former PG All-American, Andrew McCutchen.

Catcher Reese McGuire was the second of their two first-rounders, one of the most well-rounded backstops to be drafted in recent years. His refined defensive prowess will allow him to advance as quickly as his powerful left-handed swing allows.

Other position prospects taken among their early picks include infielders JaCoby Jones (3), Trae Arbet (5) and Adam Frazier (6). Jones could move to the outfield after an impressive career at LSU, Arbet has exciting upside as an offensive-minded second baseman, while Frazier is one of the most polished defenders to come out of this year's draft.

Left-hander Cody Dickson (4) and right-handers Buddy Borden (7) and Shane Carle (10) give the Pirates a trio of power arms from the college level to supplement their already deep pitching talent.

It will be interesting to see if the Pirates are able to sign either prep outfielder Nick Buckner (14) and/or prep right-hander Billy Roth (16), and if they do it will strengthen an already strong draft class.

San Diego Padres
After loading up on arms a year ago, with arguably the most impressive collection of pitchers in the lower levels of the minor leagues, the Padres turned their attention to bats this year.

The first of which came in the form of Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe, whose production at the plate this year reflected his loud tools. For as good of a hitter as Renfroe is, with exciting power potential, his right arm is his best pure tool, making him a perfect fit for right field with the requisite power/power profile.

Prep positional players Dustin Peterson (2), Jordan Paroubeck (2s), Mason Smith (4) and Josh VanMeter (5) all offer a variety of tools between Peterson's power, VanMeter's versatility and the natural athleticism of Paroubeck and Smith.

Their sixth-round pick, Kentucky closer Trevor Gott, could ascend quickly toward San Diego to give them yet another bullpen arm to contend with. And while none of Connor Jones (21), Chris Okey (31) and Garrett Williams (33) are considered signable given the rounds they were drafted, if the Padres find a way to sign any of the three it would be considered a major coup.

St. Louis Cardinals
Immediately after the Cardinals selected prep left-hander Rob Kaminsky in the supplemental first round, the prevailing sentiment among the Perfect Game staff was that it was a pick that epitomized an organization that consistently makes sounds decisions in all aspects of their baseball operations.

Kaminsky's selection (compensation for free agent Kyle Lohse) came after their true first rounder, another left-hander in the form of Marco Gonzales, who also doubled as a first baseman in three years playing for Gonzaga. Gonzales and Kaminsky are both among the most polished at the college and high school levels, and could be among the first of their class to reach the big leagues. Gonzales will do so on the strength of his pitchability and changeup, while Kaminsky will do so with his impressive command of his fastball and hammer curve.

Slick fielding shortstop Oscar Mercado was the team's pick in the second round, and the Cardinals added another PG All-American infielder in Chris Rivera in the seventh. Canadian infielder Malik Collymore (10) gives the team a third prep infielder with exciting potential.

LSU first baseman Mason Katz and Missouri State right-hander Nick Petree have been among the most productive players at the college level the past three years, while another prep left-hander, Ian McKinney, also has the polish to move toward the big leagues quickly.

Prep right-hander Steven Farinaro (11) and junior college righty Blake Higgins (16) are among the most notable prospects among the team's picks after the 10th round.

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