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May 29, 2009

Future Shock

2008 Draft Review: NL

by Kevin Goldstein

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Having posted the 2008 American League draft review yesterday, let's move on to the National League.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Top Pick: Left-handed flame-thrower Daniel Schlereth has had little trouble missing bats at Double-A in his full-season debut, striking out 19 over 18 innings while allowing just nine hits, but he's walked 11, and his control is a concern.
Movin' On Up: The older brother of Jarrod Parker (the system's top prospect), third baseman Justin Parker has shown a clean swing and gap power while batting .312/.396/.435 at Single-A South Bend.
Disappointing: Arizona thought they might have find a diamond in the rough when fifth-round pick Colin Cowgill slugged 11 home runs in his first 16 pro games, but he has just six in 98 contests since, and is looking more like an undersized outfielder with merely solid hitting skills.

Atlanta Braves
Top Pick: A supplemental first-round pick out of a Florida high school, lefty Brett Devall has a projectable frame, three solid "right-now" pitches, and a 2.66 ERA in his first five starts for Single-A Rome after having spent the first month of the year in extended spring training.
Movin' On Up: A tenth-round pick who received an over-slot bonus of $400,000, right-hander J.J. Hoover has shown above-average velocity and command while compiling a 45/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 42 2/3 innings for Rome.
Disappointing: Fourth-round pick Braeden Schlehuber was seen as a catcher with solid skills both at and behind the plate coming into the draft, but only the glove has been there this year, as he's batting just .212/.270/.292 at Rome.

Chicago Cubs
Top Pick: Since suffering from a case of Steve Blass disease last year after signing, first-round pick Andrew Cashner is throwing more strikes while being slowly converted to a starter's role, with a 2.41 ERA in six games for High-A Daytona.
Movin' On Up: Third-round pick Chris Carpenter has a first-round body and velocity, but he also has a long medical record that includes two elbow surgeries. Healthy so far in 2009, he's struck out 43 over 40 1/3 innings at Single-A Peoria while limiting the league to a .181 batting average.
Disappointing: Second-round pick Aaron Shafer has seen his velocity dip significantly since his time at Wichita State, and even more disturbing than his 5.60 ERA at Peoria is his low total of 20 strikeouts in 35 1/3 frames.

Cincinnati Reds
Top Pick: Many were surprised to see the Reds select Yonder Alonso with the seventh overall pick while Gordon Beckham and Justin Smoak were still on the board. He's been quite solid, with a .291/.370/.506 line at High-A Sarasota, but concerns about his ability to hit lefties remain, as he's batted .240 without one home run in 25 at-bats against FSL southpaws.
Movin' On Up: Given $250,000 as a 35th-round pick out of Florida State, lefty Matt Fairel has a 2.40 ERA in ten starts for Single-A Dayton with 59 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings, while showing off above-average velocity and a nice curve.
Disappointing: Sixth-round pick Alex Buchholz was seen as a good middle infielder with a quick bat, but he's struggled offensively while at Sarasota, batting just .250/.319/.347.

Colorado Rockies
Top Pick: Prognosticators were surprised to see left-hander Christian Friedrich drop to the 25th overall pick, and so far he's blown away Sally League hitters with a 2.18 ERA in eight starts and 66 strikeouts over 45 1/3 innings, many of them recorded with one of the better curveballs around.
Movin' On Up: A big, sluggish catcher at Arizona State, sixth-round pick Kiel Roling has moved to first base and his bat has come alive with a .315/.406/.511 start at Single-A Asheville.
Disappointing: An impressive athlete who got a $525,000 over-slot bonus in the 14th round, outfielder Tyler Massey has looked raw more than anything else at Asheville, batting just .201/.235/.288.

Florida Marlins
Top Pick: There were concerns at the end of last year when sixth overall pick Kyle Skipworth struggled so mightily in the Gulf Coast League, and those concerns have turned more serious with his .177/.223/.319 line at Single-A Greensboro. Even worse, keep in mind that he was drafted as an offense-first catcher.
Movin' On Up: Fifth-round pick Peter Andrelczyk has become an interesting sleeper among closer prospects, striking out 41 over 22 2/3 innings at Greensboro with a 1.19 ERA thanks to a plus sinker/slider combination.
Disappointing: Second-round pick Brad Hand has all but completely lost his command, walking 23 over 34 innings while adding 12 wild pitches as part of a miserable 7.68 ERA at Greensboro.

Houston Astros
Top Pick: A controversial selection with the 10th overall pick, catcher Jason Castro has settled for merely good reviews at the plate with his .286/.371/.482 line in the high-octane environment of Lancaster in the Cal League, but he's really shining on defense, gunning down 29 of 50 opposing basestealers.
Movin' On Up: Supplemental first-round pick Jordan Lyles has pitched like a true first-rounder at Single-A Lexington, already throwing in the low 90s, projecting for more down the road, and striking out 56 in 48 2/3 innings.
Disappointing: Seen as a potential leadoff man due to his speed and athleticism, outfielder Jay Austin is struggling at the plate with Lexington, batting just .222/.280/.278 and adding insult to injury by being caught eight times in 15 stolen-base attempts.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Top Pick: First-rounder Ethan Martin has been as good as advertised in his pro debut, striking out 51 over 40 2/3 innings at Single-A Great Lakes, with one awful start giving him a mediocre 3.76 ERA, while he's delivered five shutout innings in three of his nine starts.
Movin' On Up: Ultra-athletic shortstop Dee Gordon is batting .294/.349/.397 with 25 stolen bases at Great Lakes, and while that line may not blow you away, scouts call him one of the most raw players in the league, one who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his abilities, with a few Jimmy Rollins comparisons thrown out there for good measure.
Disappointing: Second-round pick Josh Lindblom generated an enormous amount of buzz this spring by earning some consideration for the big-league squad, but the big right-hander has struggled in both starting and relief roles at Double-A Chattanooga with a 4.78 ERA.

Milwaukee Brewers
Top Pick: As the 16th overall pick, Brett Lawrie has been one of the Midwest League's more impressive hitters despite a recent slump that dropped his averages to .270/.337/.480 at Single-A Wisconsin, but his defense at second base has been well below-average, including a recent misplayed ground ball that ended up breaking his nose.
Movin' On Up: After an impressive pro debut, second-round selection Cutter Dykstra was mired in an 8-for-51 (.157) slump at Wisconsin before being sent out to extended spring training for a conversion back to second base.
Disappointing: After earning just over $1 million as a supplemental first-round pick, gigantic left-hander Evan Frederickson has seen his below-average control turn into a downright horrible lack of control, as he's walked 28 in 29 1/3 innings at Wisconsin with a 7.06 ERA.

New York Mets
Top Pick: Coming off one of the most disappointing pro debuts of any first-round pick, Ike Davis has found his swing at High-A St. Lucie, batting .281/.363/.431 while showing plenty of gap power that should turn into more once he escapes from the Florida State League.
Movin' On Up: A cheap $25,000 senior-signing in the sixth round, second baseman Josh Satin is way too old for the Sally League, but his .327/.417/.421 line at Single-A Savannah and max-effort style of play is endearing him to scouts.
Disappointing: While the list is hardly filled with studs, all of the Mets' top draft picks are having at least solid seasons, though fourth-round pick Sean Ratliff, who was drafted for his power, has just four home runs at Savannah.

Philadelphia Phillies
Top Pick: First-rounder Anthony Hewitt was as toolsy as any player in the draft, but was also every bit as raw, and he just wasn't ready for a full-season league as a result.
Movin' On Up: While his 4.86 ERA doesn't catch your eye, second-round pick Jason Knapp has shown the best fastball in the Sally League, getting up to 97-98 mph with his fastball and striking out 63 in 46 1/3 innings at Single-A Lakewood.
Disappointing: With a profile somewhat similar to Hewitt's, outfielder Zach Collier has looked extremely unrefined at Lakewood, hitting just .248/.298/.357 in 43 games without a single home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Top Pick: Expected to dominate the Carolina League, second overall pick Pedro Alvarez has been frustrated by consistently being pitched around, and he's acquired some bad habits, hitting just .242/.345/.467 for High-A Lynchburg. The good news is that he's drawn 28 walks in 165 at-bats, and nearly half of his hits have gone for extra bases.
Movin' On Up: A 6-foot-7, 250-pound giant who has been dubbed "The Creature," 14th-round pick Calvin Anderson is slugging .297/.352/.541 at Single-A West Virginia despite some troubling plate-discipline issues.
Disappointing: A fifth-round pick out of Fresno State, southpaw Justin Wilson has been hammered for a .311 average and nine home runs in just 34 1/3 innings at Lynchburg, leading to a lofty 7.08 ERA.

St. Louis Cardinals
Top Pick: A gigantic hole at third base in the big leagues has accelerated the timetable of first-round pick Brett Wallace, who hit .281/.403/.438 at Double-A Springfield before moving up to Triple-A, where he's mired in a 2-for-21 slump. Scouts are convinced that he's an on-base machine, but there are plenty of questions about his power and defense.
Movin' On Up: A second-round pick out of Long Beach State, outfielder Shane Peterson has been the best bat at High-A Palm Beach, hitting .312/.385/.447 and showing at least average tools across the board.
Disappointing: After a pro debut that had many wondering how he lasted into the third round, shortstop Niko Vasquez has hit a wall at Single-A Quad Cities, batting just .208/.298/.270 in 45 games.

San Diego Padres
Top Pick: A huge first baseman selected out of Wake Forest, Allan Dykstra has had a strange year at Single-A Fort Wayne, proving to be good at drawing truckloads of walks but little else, batting .219/.413/.370 in 44 games with 44 free passes in 146 at-bats, but just two home runs.
Movin' On Up: Supplemental first-rounder Logan Forsythe has been nothing short of a revelation at High-A Lake Elsinore, batting .322/.477/.513 while showing significantly more power than expected.
Disappointing: Seen as a solid center-field and leadoff prospect out of the University of Miami, third-round selection Blake Tekotte has done little at Fort Wayne, hitting just .202/.270/.289.

San Francisco Giants
Top Pick: Catcher Buster Posey has performed as expected at High-A San Jose, batting .310/.386/.530 with solid defense, and delivering on defense by gunning down 42.5 percent of opposing basestealers. Expect him to move up to Double-A soon.
Movin' On Up: A fourth-round selection who never lived up to his reputation at UCLA, shortstop Brandon Crawford suddenly clicked as a pro, batting a monstrous .371/.445/.600 at San Jose before moving up to Double-A Connecticut, where he's maintained his .300-plus average.
Disappointing: After becoming the first player from the draft to reach the big leagues last year, third baseman Conor Gillaspie has been a huge disappointment on a massively talented squad at San Jose, hitting just .265/.356/.355 with one home run in 155 at-bats.

Washington Nationals
Top Pick: Top pick Aaron Crow (the ninth overall selection) didn't sign, and he should go right around that same spot in the draft this June. The Nats' top signed pick is second-rounder Destin Hood, a toolsy outfielder who will play in the short-season leagues.
Movin' On Up: While he's struggled to hit for average, third-round pick Danny Espinosa has shown above-average power and patience at High-A Potomac, a combination rarely found in shortstops.
Disappointing: A raw yet intriguing athlete, outfielder Marcus Jones was hitting just .176 at Single-A Hagerstown before being injured.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

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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