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June 6, 2009
Draft Class '09 Top 50
To be clear, this is not a prediction of how the players will be selected, nor is it any kind of mock draft. Instead, this is a pure ranking of talent based on a combination of ultimate ceiling and the probability of reaching it after numerous conversations with scouts, cross-checkers, scouting directors, and front office officials.
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State
The Good: He's arguably the best pitching prospect in draft history, with a perfect frame and solid mechanics to go with an 80 fastball, 70 command, and a 60-65 breaking pitch.
2. Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina
The Good: He has the best combination of tools and skills among the position players, with above-average power and speed, along with amazing hands that easily project him as a .300 hitter in the big leagues.
3. Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (GA)
The Good: The best athlete in the draft, and the guy with the highest ceiling. His raw power, speed, and arm are all rated as plus-70 by some scouts.
4. Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Academy (MO)
The Good: The top high school pitcher in the draft has gotten better throughout the spring, as he started the year touching 95 mph, and ended it sitting there while getting up to 98. He's big and projectable, with a clean delivery and a good curve.
5. Grant Green, SS, Southern California
The Good: He's a big, athletic shortstop with an excellent approach at the plate, gap power, and excellent defensive fundamentals. He didn't live up to expectations this year, but he also played in a pitcher's park against toughest schedule in college baseball.
6. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints
The Good: An unsigned pick from last year (Pirates), he has the best fastball outside of Strasburg's, with his gas sitting in the mid-90s and touching 98 during indy league starts; he also shows off a plus power curve.
7. Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats
The Good: The best right-handed college arm in last year's draft, he's throwing as hard as ever in the indy leagues, sitting at 92-95 mph while touching 97 with his fastball, which also shows excellent sink and run. His slider is a plus offering.
8. Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State
The Good: The most consistent pitcher in college baseball had a lower ERA than Stephen Strasburg while pitching in a tougher park against much tougher competition; he throws strikes with three pitches that grade average to plus; he also has top-line pitchability.
9. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA)
The Good: He has a long, lean, projectable frame as well as a surprisingly deep arsenal for a high school arm. His fastball and slider already rate as plus, his curve is solid, and he comes to the pros with some feel for a changeup. His command is above average.
10. Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX)
The Good: He's highly similar to Matzek in terms of size and stuff, but probably throws a bit harder, although he also isn't as polished.
11. Zach Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA)
The Good: A big, power right-hander, his fastball has been sitting at 92-95 mph all year, and he throws it with excellent command; he also has a strong frame and very good mechanics.
12. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri
The Good: He's a long 6-foot-6 righty who takes advantages of his angles with an 88-92 mph fastball with excellent movement. His slider borders on outstanding, and his changeup is above average, and he pounds the zone with all three pitches.
13. Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX)
The Good: He's that classic big and strong Texas-based prep right-hander, with a fastball that consistently gets up to 97 mph, and he has a nasty mound demeanor to boot. His arm action is clean, and he gets tremendous leverage from his power frame.
14. Alex White, RHP, University of North Carolina
The Good: A power arm who sits in the low 90s and can dial his heat up to 96 mph; he complements that with a splitter that's an outstanding offering that drops off the table; he's an excellent athlete.
15. Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
The Good: The fastest-rising high school position player now ranks as the best one on many boards; he offers plus power from both sides of the plate to go with excellent hand/eye coordination that should allow him to hit for a high average as well. His arm is a plus tool.
16. Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (NJ)
The Good: He's one of the better high school athletes in the draft, with plus speed and decent power that some project to become even more potent down the road; the kid also has outstanding makeup.
17. Jared Mitchell, OF, Louisiana State
The Good: The best college athlete in the draft by a mile; he's made consistent progress at LSU as far as his hitting, especially in developing a more patient approach and finding his power; he's plus-plus runner and a true weapon on the basepaths.
18. Everett Williams, OF, McCallum HS
The Good: An excellent athlete with above-average speed and one of the quickest bats among all high school players in the draft; he also has surprising power for his size, and the wheels to stay in center field.
19. Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb
The Good: He has the kind of power stuff rarely found in a left-hander, with a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph, and he also has a hard, biting slider.
20. Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College
The Good: He's an athletic catcher, and one that has the potential to be an absolute shutdown defender in the big leagues, with outstanding actions behind the plate and a very good arm; he offers above-average power for the position; he possesses all of the baseball intelligence and leadership qualities one looks for in a big-league catcher.
21. Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana
The Good: The fastest riser among college arms, he generated an enormous amunt of buzz over the last month with his massive frame, 95 mph fastball, and plus slider; he repeats his mechanics well, and he has outstanding stamina.
22. Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK)
The Good: A long, loose, projectable southpaw, he's moved way up on teams' boards by gaining three or four ticks on his fastball this spring, getting up to 96 mph while sitting at 91-93; he also has a clean and easy arm action.
23. Mat Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA)
The Good: An absolutely massive righty, he packs 250 pounds onto a 6-foot-4 frame. He cooks with gas, holding his 92-94 mph velocity deep into games while touching 96. His feel for his curve and changeup are both good for a high school arm.
24. Max Stassi, C, Yuba City HS (CA)
The Good: With a quick, compact swing, he has an outstanding feel for contact, and a touch of power; he's also a plus-plus defender with tremendous receiving skills.
25. Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State
The Good: He packs average to plus power and average speed in a big, athletic frame, and he really came alive with the bat this year, showing the ability to drive balls to all fields; a high-energy player.
26. Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State
The Good: This sizable right-hander has one of the better sinkers around, as his 92-94 mph fastball has been up to 96 this spring while featuring significant drop to go with natural tailing action. He also has a solid slider, and his changeup really impresses scouts.
27. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
The Good: He's one of the few pitchers who offers his future team significant certainty due to his command, polish, and pitchability; his best pitch is his changeup, his velocity is average, the breaking balls are solid; he pounds the strike zone and mixes pitches well.
28. David Renfroe, SS/RHP, South Panola HS (MS)
The Good: The best two-way talent in the draft wants to be an everyday player, and scouts prefer him there as a smooth shortstop with an outstanding arm. He projects for above-average power for a middle infielder, and he runs well.
29. Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize HS (KS)
The Good: He has one of the best curveballs you'll find among the prep arms, but he also gained some velocity this year to help lessen concerns about how hard he'll throw; the fastball was sitting at 88-92 mph and touching 94 at times in some of his late-season starts. He's an excellent athlete.
30. Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (CA)
The Good: He has more defensive potential up the middle than any player in the draft, with pro-level instincts, hands, and actions as a shortstop to go with a 70 arm. He's a good runner, and has a quick, line-drive bat.
31. James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky
The Good: He certainly passes the scouting sniff test as a tall, muscular left-hander who can get up to 96 mph with his fastball while having it sit at 91-94 mph; his curveball flashes plus, and he throws strikes.
32. A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame
The Good: He does a little bit of everything; a solid defender up the middle with good speed, with a quick bat and much-improved power this year. He works the count well, and scouts love his makeup.
33. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State
The Good: An intimidating presence on the mound, Heckathorn has been clocked as high as 99 mph in the past, but more often he was in the 92-95 range this spring; more teams ended up liking his teammate, Chad Jenkins, as the much more complete pitcher.
34. Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian HS (NC)
The Good: The best hitter and athlete among the catchers in the draft, Myers has a smooth swing with strength and leverage; he's a very good athlete and an average runner with plus arm strength.
35. Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State
The Good: One of the better power lefties in the draft, with a fastball that's sitting consistently at 92-94 mph while touching 96, and he also has a good changeup, works both sides of the plate well, and is very athletic.
36. Brett Jackson, OF, California
The Good: He's one of the better athletes in the draft, with 60 speed, 60 raw power, and a 60 arm out in center field.
37. Slade Heathcott, OF, Texas HS (TX)
The Good: An outstanding athlete with above-average power and speed, but he also has enough arm strength to touch 94 mph on the mound. There are teams out there who have him far higher on their board than this.
38. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia
The Good: Poythress had a big start and a big finish wrapped around a slight mid-season slump, but his numbers are still monstrous at .376/.468/.764, with 25 home runs in 237 at-bats. There's tremendous strength and leverage in his swing, and he has a good eye at the plate.
39. Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA)
The Good: This 6-foot-5 left-hander has shown above-average velocity and an impressive curve in the past, but he didn't show as much this year as he had during his junior year.
40. Billy Hamilton, SS, Taylorsville HS (MS)
The Good: One of, if not the best athlete in the draft, Hamilton might be the best baseball, football, and basketball player in the state. He's a plus-plus runner with plus arm strength who could develop power if he fills out his slight frame.
41. Matt Davidson, 3B, Yucaipa HS (CA)
The Good: Davidson's a very polished high school product with good defensive skills and a feel for consistent, hard contact. He took a step forward with his power this year, and his all-around polish should allow him to hit the ground running as a pro.
42. Levon Washington, OF, Buchholz HS (FL)
The Good: He's an absolute burner with game-changing 80-grade speed and a tremendous first step who should steal a ton of bases; he's a quick-twitch athlete with a quick bat.
43. Sam Dyson, RHP, South Carolina
The Good: Dyson returned from labrum troubles to show one of the best fastballs around, one that's sitting in the mid-90s and routinely touches 98 mph; he throws strikes, is very aggressive, and pitches with a lot of confidence.
44. Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford
The Good: Storen slowly but surely established himself as the top college reliever in the game, which should mean he ends up getting selected higher than this ranking; he lives off of a 92-94 mph sinker that he throws with effortless command and laser-like precision; he should move quickly through the minors.
45. Brian Goodwin, OF, Rocky Mount HS (NC)
The Good: An ultra-toolsy high school outfielder with plenty of speed and a plus arm, Goodwin also has a smooth swing with gap power; he combines great natural ability with a bulldog mentality.
46. Mychal Givens, SS, Plant HS (FL)
The Good: He's an outstanding defensive shortstop with great instincts and positioning, as well as a pure cannon for an arm; he smokes line drives to all fields and runs well.
47. Brody Colvin, RHP, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
The Good: Owner of a projectable arm whose fastball already sits at 90-93 mph with natural heavy sink; he also throws an advanced curveball for his age; he's a fantastic athlete who would be drafted as a hitter if he had never taken to the mound.
48. Jason Kipnis, OF, Arizona State
The Good: This undersized, scrappy outfielder had an explosive junior year, batting .387/.500/.751 with 15 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 28 attempts; he works the count extremely well, has gap power, and solid center-field skills.
49. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville
The Good: A gigantic third baseman, Dominguez has two 70-plus tools in his incredible raw power to all fields and a gun for an arm that fires laser beams across the diamond; he's a surprisingly good athlete for his size.
50. Jeff Malm, 1B, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
The Good: One of the best pure high school hitters in the draft, Malm combines a short, quiet swing with tremendous raw pop; he projects to hit for both average and power as a pro.