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June 11, 2008

Future Shock

AL East Draft Recap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Baltimore Orioles

Draft Philosophy: Take the best college pitcher in the draft, then basically find an Olympic-caliber sprint relay team.

First Pick: Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego (fourth overall).
How High He Could Have Gone: He might have been in the mix as high as No. 1, but he never really seemed to be considered there. Realistically, he wasn't going to go higher than third.
Path To The Big Leagues: As a left-hander with above-average command of three pitches, all of which grade out as 55-70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, Matusz should pretty easily rocket through the minor leagues.

Rest of the First Day:
2. Xavier Avery, OF, Cedar Grove HS (GA): An absolute burner with a ton of tools who needs a lot of refinement.
3. L.J. Hoes, 2B, St. John's HS (DC): Good tools across the board, but he has questionable defensive skills.
4. Kyle Hudson, OF, Illinois: The college version of Avery, an 80 runner with more success at football than baseball.
5. Greg Miclat, SS, Virginia: A water bug middle infielder with very good speed and all-out style.
6. Rick Zagone, LHP, Missouri: A physical southpaw with a plus fastball and command.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Caleb Joseph, C, Lipscomb: Good defense behind the plate and power isn't easy to find in the seventh round.
11. Nathan Moreau, LHP, Georgia: The Bulldogs' weekend starter looks the part, but rarely dominates.
16. Bobby Stevens, SS, Northern Illinois: An outstanding defensive player, he will need to improve offense dramatically.

Boston Red Sox

Draft Philosophy: Find a signability player in the first round, follow that with some local talent, and then pick more signability guys.

First Pick: Casey Kelly, RHP, Sarasota HS (FL) (30th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: Many teams picking in the middle of the first round were interested, but they wondered about his willingness to pitch as opposed to playing shortstop (where he also had first-round ability), and how much it would cost to buy him away from Tennessee, where he was recruited as a quarterback.
Path To The Big Leagues: Kelly is a highly athletic product who already has three plus pitches and who shouldn't take more than three or four years.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Bryan Price, RHP, Rice: The Sox made up for not taking a college closer by nabbing this fastball/slider specialist with command issues.
2. Derrik Gibson, SS, Seaford HS (DE): Although highly athletic, like many players from the Northeast Gibson is a bit of a project.
3. Stephen Fife, RHP, Utah: Big-bodied righty with good fastball and command but questionable breaking ball.
3. Kyle Weiland, RHP, Notre Dame: Another fastball/slider reliever who has far more command than Price, but less stuff.
4. Pete Hissey, OF, Unionville HS (PA): Solid tools across the board and good baseball skills.
5. Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Portsmouth HS (RI): One of the best athletes in the draft, but he'll cost a ton.
6. Ryan Lavarnway, C, Yale: Has put up silly numbers in the Ivy League, but that answers few questions; not a good defensive player.

Best Second-Day Selections:
17. Jordan Cooper, RHP, Shawnee Heights HS (KN): Clocked throwing up to 94 mph by the end of the spring, Boston will follow him this summer to decide if the price is right.
18. Brian Flynn, LHP, Owasso HS (OK): The gigantic (6'8") southpaw is all projection, and low on current ability.
20. Alex Meyer, RHP, Greensburg HS (IN): Likely unsignable due to money demands; everyone agrees that he's a late first-round talent.

New York Yankees

Draft Philosophy: Take the best player available in the first round, regardless of bonus issues, then play it surprisingly close to the vest.

First Pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS (CA) (28th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: While he was arguably the best pure arm among prep players, some anticipated financial demands and some attitude issues dropped him. Detroit thought about taking a stab at him at 21, and a few mid-first round teams kicked the tires on him. On pure talent alone, however, he's much better than the 28th-best prospect in the draft.
Path To The Big Leagues: Cole is an incredible raw talent, but a bit of a project. His mechanics are a little violent, and despite the velocity he currently has, some might consider trying to raise his arm angle in order to give him more depth and spin on his breaking stuff, and hopefully improve his command.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Stanford: An overdraft to possibly make up for the cost of Cole, Bleich is a strike-thrower low on stuff and ceiling who most project as a reliever.
2. Scott Bittle, RHP, Mississippi: Some of the best numbers in college baseball (70 2/3 IP, 35 H, 130 K), but some see him as no more than a trick pitcher who won't close in the big leagues.
3. David Adams, 2B, Virginia: Possibly a first-round talent entering the spring, he could be a steal if he returns to earlier form.
4. Corban Joseph, SS, Franklin HS (TN): Good-not-great athlete with middle-infield skills.
5. Chris Smith, OF, Centennial HS (CA): High-ceiling bat with plus power who needs some refinement.
6. Brett Marshall, RHP, Sterling HS (TX): The only other big-budget pick they picked on day one, Marshall delivers pure power stuff out of a smallish frame, but will go to college unless he gets a big bonus.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Kyle Higashioka, C, Edison HS (CA): A big catcher with great defense and a power bat, but he will be costly.
12. Luke Greinke, RHP, Auburn: Zach's brother isn't nearly in his brother's class, but like his kin, he's an outstanding athlete, so there's some projection there.
20. Pat Venditte, RHP/LHP, Creighton: One of the most fascinating prospects around, Venditte pitches from both sides, but the stuff isn't especially impressive either way.
30. Ben McMahon, C, Bishop Moore HS (FL): One of the better high school catchers in the country is likely unsignable.

Tampa Bay Rays

Draft Philosophy: Figure out who the best player available is at No. 1 and take him, and follow the same approach from there, not focusing on hitter or pitcher, college or high school players.

First Pick: Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin HS (GA)
How High He Could Have Gone: Certainly no higher than this, as that would be impossible.
Path To The Big Leagues: As a high school player, it's likely a three-year journey at the very least.

Rest of the First Day:
2. Kyle Lobstein, LHP, Coconino HS (AZ): First-round talent entering the year, Lobstein disappointed this spring but still fell further than expected; he's a smooth, projectable lefty who still wants to get paid.
3. Jacob Jefferies, C, UC Davis: One of the top college catchers who wasn't a first-round talent, Jeffries will hit for average, but he doesn't offer much power and his defense is only so-so.
4. Ty Morrison, OF, Tigard HS (OR): A bit of a project, but also a great athlete with a ton of upside; has big possibilities if he can tap into his power potential.
5. Mike Sheridan, 1B, William & Mary: Fantastic numbers in college, offering the rare combination of power and contact skills, but some question his ability to translate the power with wood bats, and the bat is his only real tool.
6. Shane Dyer, RHP, South Mountain CC (AZ): Decent fastball and plus curve, Tampa Bay hopes he can hit his ceiling as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Jason Corder, OF, Long Beach State: Big-time power masked by giant home park; will have problems hitting for average.
17. Jeremy Beckham, 2B, Georgia Southern: Tim's older brother has speed and good approach, but almost no power.
39. Andrew Gans, OF, Coronado HS (NV): Not a huge prospect, but his father had a minor league career and is now a big-money entertainer at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

Toronto Blue Jays

Draft Philosophy: Go with a classic Blue Jays pick early on--a college masher--and then go back to last year's template of high-ceiling athletes.

First Pick: David Cooper, 1B, California (17th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: The Blue Jays saw Cooper as the best hitter on the board when they picked; rumors of him going anywhere from 15-30 were consistent all year.
Path To The Big Leagues: Cooper is a highly advanced product who shouldn't need long to adjust to pro pitching. Late 2010 is certainly possible.

Rest of the First Day:
2. Kenny Wilson, OF, Sickels HS (FL): A late-bloomer who moved up quickly late; he's an 80 runner and a true center fielder with a lot of projection.
3. Andrew Liebel, RHP, Long Beach State: An aggressive strike-thrower with a four-pitch mix; a little on the small side.
4. Mark Sobelewski, 3B, Miami: Has surprising power and a cannon arm, but needs to improve his defensive fundamentals; some would like to try him at second base.
5. Tyler Pastornicky, SS, Pendelton HS (FL): Dad played ten big league games 25 years ago; he's not big or physical, but there are some tools to like and he's a true shortstop.
6. Markus Brisker, OF, Winter Haven HS (FL): A premium athlete with plus speed and a great arm; offensively he's a major project.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Eric Thames, OF, Pepperdine: The Jays were surprised he was still around, as he's a very good offensive prospect, but there are injury concerns.
9. Antonio Jimenez, C, Discipulos De Cristo HS (PR): One scout saw him as the best defensive catcher in Puerto Rico since Yadier Molina.
15. Scott Gracey, RHP, New Mexico: A shortstop in college, the Jays will convert him to the mound, where he throws in the low 90s with an outstanding cutter.

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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