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June 13, 2008

Future Shock

NL Central Draft Recap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Chicago Cubs

Draft Philosophy: A surprisingly college-centric approach for Tim Wilken, who in past years has focused more on upside and ceiling.

First Pick: Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian (19th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: As expected, Cashner was the first college closer selected; one rumor had him going as high as No. 15 to the Dodgers.
Path To The Big Leagues: Early indications have the Cubs moving Cashner back to starter, which could be a risky proposition. If he can bring his stuff to the rotation, he's a monster, but at the same time he was a starter throughout his career before moving to closer this season, and before that move he was no more than a marginal prospect.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Ryan Flaherty, SS, Vanderbilt: Has great fundamentals and decent tools; maybe a bigger version of Ryan Theriot?
2. Aaron Shafer, RHP, Wichita State: Big-bodied righty who excels at throwing strikes and getting groundballs.
3. Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State: First-round arm strength, but he already has two elbow operations in his past.
4. Matt Cerda, SS, Oceanside HS (CA): A monster makeup kid who draws David Eckstein comps.
5. Justin Bristow, RHP, East Carolina: Average stuff, but excellent athlete with some projection.
6. Josh Harrison, 2B, Cincinnati: Monster numbers this year, but nobody likes the tools much.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Luis Flores, C, Oklahoma State: Great defender, can't hit, but draws a lot of walks--similar to the Jays' Brian Jeroloman.
9. Jay Jackson, RHP, Furman: Athletic and smooth with good sinker.
11. Toby Matchulat, RHP, Wabash Valley JC (IL): Tall and skinny with a lot of projection, and can already spin a good breaking ball.

Cincinnati Reds

Draft Philosophy: Take a masher in the first round, and then focus on pitching.

First Pick: Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami (Seventh overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: Seven seems a bit high, and the Reds seemingly preferred Gordon Beckham right up until the final hours. Still, there was some talk of Alonso going sixth, as Florida was intrigued by the possibilities of a slugging star who is also a Miami native and Cuban immigrant.
Path To The Big Leagues: While he has some problems with lefties at times, Alonso's combination of power and a professional approach shouldn't have to spend that much time in the minors. The only question is where he fits in on a big league team that has 24-year-old Joey Votto firmly entrenched at first base.

Rest of the First Day:
3. Zach Stewart, RHP, Texas Tech: A ground-ball machine out of the bullpen, he might go back to starting as a pro.
4. Tyler Cline, RHP, Cass HS (GA): Big kid, big project, big projection.
5. Clayton Shunick, RHP, North Carolina State: A polished command-and-control specialist who could move up quickly.
6. Alex Buchholz, 2B, Delaware: Good hitter who can play multiple infield positions--but none of them exceptionally well.

Best Second-Day Selections:
9. David Sappelt, OF, Coastal Carolina: Much more than ninth-round tools, but bat needs work.
12. Kyle Day, C, Michigan State: Has a chance to make it as a lefty-hitting backstop with some juice in his bat.
16. Carter Morrison, OF, Clayton Heights SS (BC): A very raw Canadian with very real power potential.

Houston Astros

Draft Philosophy: Confuse the so-called draft experts on numerous occasions. Who knows? Maybe they'll be the ones laughing in a few years.

First Pick: Jason Castro, C, Stanford (10th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: That he was picked tenth overall was surprising enough. Even teams in the lower teens who had him in their mix admitted it was a slight overdraft based on positional scarcity.
Path To The Big Leagues: It's impossible to be blocked in a Houston system filled with mediocrity. He could be ready by 2011 at the latest.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Jordan Lyles, RHP, Hartsville HS (SC): He has tons of upside based on frame and delivery, but doesn't have a ton of "now" stuff.
2. Jay Austin, OF, North Atlanta HS (GA): A speed demon with highly questionable hitting skills.
3. Chase Davidson, 1B, Milton HS (GA): He's a massive slugger who will hit many balls over the fence... when he makes contact.
3. Ross Seaton, RHP, Second Baptist HS (TX): One of the top high school righties in the draft, he'll need big money.
4. T.J. Steele, OF, Arizona: True center fielder with good athleticism; has contact issues.
5. David Duncan, LHP, Georgia Tech: The six-foot-eight southpaw isn't as powerful as frame would suggest--he's more of a strike-throwing speed-changer.
6. J.B. Shuck, OF, Ohio State: A slasher type with plus speed who projects as bench outfielder.

Best Second-Day Selections:
9. Luis Cruz, LHP, Academia Santa Monica (PR): A strange prospect, he has a power arm tacked to a tiny frame.
11. Jacob Priday, OF, Missouri: Took advantage of all the scouts in attendance to see the Tigers' pitching staff by showing consistent power.
13. Kyle Godfrey, RHP, Hiwassee JC (TN): It's hard to find mid-90s velocity in the double-digit rounds, but that's his only real skill.

Milwaukee Brewers

Draft Philosophy: Use their advantage of having so many picks to take high-ceiling athletes early, and then safer college selections later.

First Pick: Brett Lawrie, C, Brookswood SS (BC) (16th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: The Reds took a long look at taking him with the seventh overall pick, but most had Lawrie pegged to go somewhere in the 12-18 range, and picked by a team that favors high school talent.
Path To The Big Leagues: The Brewers are converting the stocky, strong-armed Lawrie to catching, so this one might take a little more time than expected. Nobody doubts that he'll hit.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland HS (IL): One of the top high school arms in the draft was expected to go seven to ten picks higher.
1. Evan Frederickson, LHP, San Francisco: The massive southpaw can get into the mid-90s and gets good bite on a breaking ball, but sloppy mechanics lead to command troubles.
2. Seth Lintz, RHP, Marshall County HS (TN): His fastball/slider mix is plenty good now and has plenty of room to get better.
2. Cutter Dykstra, OF, Westlake HS (CA): Lenny's kid is a lot like his dad, only right-handed.
3. Logan Schafer, OF, Cal Poly: Power bat and the arm for right field; not everyone is convinced that his game will work with wood bats.
4. Josh Romanski, LHP, San Diego: A bit of a tweener who lacks power stuff or great command, but he has an effective four-pitch mix.
5. Maverick Lasker, RHP, O'Conner HS (AZ): A skinny project, he has nice velocity and smooth arm action, but little else.
6. Jose Duran, SS, Texas A&M: German's brother is a very similar type of player.

Best Second-Day Selections:
8. Eric Komatsu, OF, Cal State Fullerton: He lacks eye-popping tools, but has consistently produced.
9. Mike Marseco, SS, Samford: True Gold Glove potential at short, and true eight-hole potential with the bat.
16. Stosh Wawrzasek, RHP, Walnut Grove SS (BC): A teammate of Lawrie on Canada's national travel teams; combines a Joe Blanton-type body with decent stuff.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Draft Philosophy: Show that the new administration is in it to win it by focusing on talent and ceiling instead of dollar figures.

First Pick: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt (Second overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: He was in the mix for the first overall pick for much of the year, but was always sort of a long shot there, behind Tim Beckham and Buster Posey.
Path To The Big Leagues: Alvarez could probably hold his own offensively in the big leagues right now, and won't take long to get there.

Rest of the First Day:
2. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State: A top-ten pick before mysterious shoulder injury; if he returns to form, he's a steal.
3. Jordy Mercer, SS, Oklahoma State: Fits well into template of new-breed big and athletic shortstops, but doesn't produce much offensively.
4. Chase D'Arnaud, SS, Pepperdine: Not a true shortstop, but he offers a good combination of offensive skills, with an above-average bat and power potential.
5. Justin Wilson, LHP, Fresno State: A sinker/slider guy who could turn into back-of-the-rotation piece.
6. Robbie Grossman, OF, Cy-Fair HS (TX): He's a switch-hitter with nice tools, but he's a bit rough around the edges.

Best Second-Day Selections:
7. Benji Gonzalez, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (PR): A great glove/weak bat shortstop with lots of athleticism.
13. David Rubinstein, OF, Appalachian State: He's a good athlete with average-or-better tools across the board.
15. Chris Aure, LHP, North Pole HS (AK): This long-armed lefty is raw but has some projection, and that may be the best high school name ever.

St. Louis Cardinals

Draft Philosophy: There's a new Moneyball team in town.

First Pick: Brett Wallace, 3B/1B, Arizona State (13th overall)
How High He Could Have Gone: Seen as a late first-round pick much of the spring, late rumors had him going as high as eighth overall to the White Sox, and then it looked like he'd slip into the upper teens. In the end, he landed somewhere in the middle.
Path To The Big Leagues: He's without question one of the most advanced offensive players in the draft, but nobody really thinks he's a third baseman, and the Cardinals already have some guy named Pujols at first.

Rest of the First Day:
1. Lance Lynn, RHP, Mississippi: He looks more like a defensive lineman than a pitcher, but he's actually a control/finesse specialist.
2. Shane Peterson, OF, Long Beach State: A first baseman in college, he actually has plus speed; his line-drive swing should produce a good batting average, but his power's questionable.
3. Niko Vasquez, SS, Durango HS (NV): An offense-oriented infielder, he probably won't still be a shortstop by the time he reaches the bigs.
4. Scott Gorgen, RHP, UC Irvine: Keeps the ball on the ground and throws a ton of strikes, but he has limited ceiling.
5. Jermaine Curtis, 3B, UCLA: A big-time makeup guy with all-out style, but can he play?
6. Eric Fornataro, RHP, Miami-Dade CC (FL): One-pitch guy, but it's a plus-velocity fastball with explosive life.

Best Second-Day Selections:
11. Devin Shepherd, OF, Southern Nevada CC (NV): Has dropped off since his high school days, but he has top-notch power potential.
13. Mitch Harris, RHP, Navy: Much better than a 13th-round talent, but his military commitment confuses things.
14. Charlie Cutler, C, California: Decent defense, decent bat, decent power, good approach.

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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