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June 8, 2009

Future Shock

Monday Ten Pack

by Kevin Goldstein

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Scott Boras, Scott Boras Corporation
I received a phone call over the weekend from a big-league executive, and we began a discussion about Saturday's Top 50 Draft Prospects article. "Did you notice what the first five have in common?" I was asked. I certainly didn't notice it while writing the piece, but another glance and I required just seconds to put it all together: all five are being advised by Boras. It might be his greatest draft ever, and the Boras Factor is wreaking havoc both for people working on mock drafts and for teams working on their war-room boards.

Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL)
I don't really have any news on Borchering, who is a lock to go by the middle of the first round, and he's certainly not getting past Arizona with their back-to-back picks at 16 and 17. Rather, I simply have a pointer, as while doing some research, I came across a great article by Annabelle Tometich of the Fort Myers News-Press. It's about Borchering's life of baseball, which includes a home that has its own Little League-caliber fields and a batting cage, as well as a school life that includes baseball-related science projects. It's almost Todd Marinovich-esque, but without all of the creepiness, and it's a fascinating read.

Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville
There's been no bigger buzzsaw during the college postseason than Cal State Fullerton. After cruising through their regional bracket with three straight wins in which they outscored their opponents 41-9, the Titans wasted no time punching their ticket to Omaha over the weekend by beating Louisville 12-0 and 11-2. The only good news for the Cardinals was the bat of Dominguez, who supplied both Louisville runs on Saturday with a pair of solo bombs, his 24th and 25th of the year. His strikeout tendencies (including three in Friday's shutout loss) will keep him out of the first round, but he'll feature the most raw power of any player taken in the sandwich or second rounds.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri
While Gibson threw shutout baseball in last weekend's regional play, there was a lot of concern over a significant drop in his velocity (which was down to the 84-87 mph range), and a subsequent initial diagnosis of forearm tightness. The latter of the two causes for concern turned out to be much worse over the weekend, as the tightness was found to be a stress fracture. Gibson will be shut down for somewhere in the neighborhood of two months, which shouldn't affect his timetable much, but coming into the draft, being hurt is never a good thing. It's still hard to figure out how far he's going to drop, but while he was once on the periphery of the lists of many teams with the top five picks, he's now officially been scratched off.

Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA)
It's not easy for high school players to really blow up and improve their draft stock late in the season, but Matzek certainly put an exclamation point on his high school career over the weekend. After throwing a shutout to get his team into the championship game earlier in the week, Matzek's arm was needed once again in Saturday's final. Entering the game in the sixth with the bases loaded, Matzek coaxed a pop fly to keep the game scoreless, and then his bat (because yes, he can hit too) gave his team a 1-0 lead with a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning. Matzek loaded the bases in the seventh without giving up a hit, and then struck out the final two batters of the game to preserve the win. Great stuff to be sure, but from among a group of five or six elite high school arms, it's Matzek's relatively reasonable bonus demands that could be what moves him up in the end.

Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
Minor has been attached to a lot of team's picks from among the first 15, and even as high as third overall to San Diego. It's hard to find anyone who thinks that Minor's pure talent belongs that high, but that's not going to prevent his early selection somewhere in there. It just comes down to a matter of philosophy. If you look at all of the pitchers available (non-Strasburg category), and set the odds for the most likely to win 100 games in the big leagues, Minor could arguably be in the top three; if you set the odds for Cy Young awards, or All-Star games, or a more impressive total like 200 wins, he wouldn't even be in the picture. In a draft as muddled as this year's is, teams tend to lean toward either high certainty or high risk, and those looking for assuredness have Minor in their sights.

Pittsburgh Pirates
In Thursday's draft notebook, I discussed the much-ballyhooed rumor that involves Pittsburgh pulling a real surprise here with a late first-round talent (like Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez) and spending their money on international talent or signable players later on. What's being ignored is the significant possibility that the Pirates will simply take the best guy on the board. Following that scenario in likelihood, a new name has suddenly cropped up in connection to this pick. Southern California shortstop Grant Green has gone from overrated to underrated in the span of about six weeks, and the Pirates are suddenly kicking the tires on him. It would be an inspired pick, and it would also require another negotiation with Scott Boras, but don't count it out.

Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX)
The first rumors that began spreading a few weeks ago had Purke looking for an over-slot bonus in the neighborhood of $5 million. Now the ante has been upped, and the story is that Purke is looking for a "Rick Porcello deal," or around $7 million as part of a big-league contract. One scouting director put it best, saying simply, "Good for him." Now, to be fair, Purke is one of the most talented arms in the draft, but that's it. Porcello was the best high school righty some had seen since Josh Beckett. Purke just lines up well with the best this year. The consensus is that he doesn't deserve a Rick Porcello deal, and it could lead to a precipitous drop.

San Diego Padres
With just over 24 hours to go before the picks begin, any mock draft encounters its first real stumbling block at the third overall pick, which is San Diego's to make. As with the discussion in the Mike Minor comment, most talk surrounding the pick involves the safe selection (primarily focused on Minor, the kind of selection that fits in with what they do), or the big splash with Donovan Tate, who offers an enormously high ceiling and comes with an equally high price tag. A reader recently suggested that instead of a true mock draft, I should try to construct a flow diagram with all of the related if/then statements. The problem of course is that we'd be at about 500 pages by the time we got to the middle of the round. Still, for anyone else out there who wants to give it a shot, the first real point of divergence originates in San Diego.

Alex White, RHP, North Carolina
Purely on a business level, White's start on Saturday was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and perhaps as much as a million. After back-to-back sub-standard outings, Saturday's super regional against East Carolina had the potential to save his stock, or to send it plummeting. With a low-90s fastball that was touching 95, his usual good splitter, and a solid slider that scouts hadn't seen for months, White struck out 11 while pitching into the ninth inning, and he's once again likely to get nabbed with a single-digit pick.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

Related Content:  The Who,  Tyler Matzek

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

TheBunk

Great article Kevin, how do the bats of brett lawrie and bobby borchering compare?

Jun 08, 2009 08:55 AM
rating: 0
 
cjrhgarmon

Boras seems to be the only agent that is ever mentioned regarding the draft and signability. Is he really a better negotiator than the other agents? Or has he just worked the hype machine so much that he gets the best players as his clients? Has anyone at BP ever done a study on whether Boras gets more money than other agents after controlling for the talent level of his clients? If not, I think it would be a worthwhile project.

Thanks for the great draft coverage.

Jun 08, 2009 09:41 AM
rating: 7
 
erniepoe

Amazing that one start could carry so much weight. I suppose if teams thought White had lost it and are now soothed by a strong start, I could see what you mean.

Jun 08, 2009 09:46 AM
rating: 1
 
Al Skorupa

Could definitely see Purke dropping to Boston.

Jun 08, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

It's my understanding that Boston isn't interesting in paying him that money either.

Jun 08, 2009 10:02 AM
 
phuturephillies

In the mock draft I did for my site, which I admitted wasn't completely realistic, I had Crow going to San Diego and the Pirates taking Leake, based on the rumor that they wanted someone cheap. Leake seems like a high probability guy and should sign for slot, right?

Jun 08, 2009 10:35 AM
rating: 1
 
Matthew Avery

I'm always confused when I read stuff like the comment on Alex White. I find it stunning that one start gives enough information to scouts and teams to drastically change their view of a player. If I made a similar argument about a major league pitcher (eg, that his final start of the year should increase the size of the FA contract he signs by 10 or 20 percent) I'd be laughed at. I realize there's an imbalance in information here (tons more outings for professional pitchers, relatively fewer for minor league ones), but have scouts not been watching Alex White for the past 2+ years? Haven't all potential top 10 picks (especially those in major college programs) been scouted and cross-checked repeatedly at this point?

I just don't see how one start suddenly changes everyone's mind.

Jun 08, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: 3
 
Evan
(47)

If he's wearing down or hiding an injury, then he shouldn't have the stuff for that one good outing. That he can demonstrates that the potential everyone saw before is still there - he's just not showcasing it well.

Without that start, the possibility remains that whatever people saw before is gone.

Jun 08, 2009 10:46 AM
rating: 3
 
mymrbig

It probably doesn't "change their mind". It just reminds them of what they really liked in White heading into the season. White has thrown hard and had the splitty pretty much all year, but showing he could spin a breaking ball reminds people that he won't just be a 2-pitch guy. More that it assuages concerns than anything else.

Jun 08, 2009 10:48 AM
rating: 1
 
Schlom

Kevin, what's the difference between Mike Minor and Jeremy Sowers? Their numbers in college are similar (although Sowers' were better) but I'm guessing that since Minor is listed 3 inches and 30 pounds bigger he throws harder which makes him a better prospect. However, Sowers doesn't look like he has any chance of getting to 100 wins (only 13 since he was drafted 5 years ago), so what makes Minor that much more of a lock?

Jun 08, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: 1
 
Nick Smith

I think Kevin is waaaay underestimating the difficulty of getting to 100 wins.

Jun 08, 2009 13:02 PM
rating: 2
 
cbirkemeier

My question for you is why do those college numbers mean anything?

Jun 08, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: -1
 
Schlom

Considering they played at the same college pretty close together (just 5 years) it's easy to compare and contrast them. I'm not saying that college numbers mean everything but I'd like to know why someone with better numbers (Sowers) has no future in the majors and was in no way worth the #4 pick, while the player with worse numbers might go #3.

Jun 08, 2009 14:00 PM
rating: 1
 
mymrbig

It strikes me as weird that so much of the speculation for San Diego at #3 seems to be for the two polar opposites. Either the risky, high ceiling, above-slot, uber-athlete in Tate, or the low-risk, low-ceiling, slot-or-below, uninspired, overdraft of Minor.

Why in the world isn't the clear answer someone like Crow, who is low-risk, high ceiling, around-slot? Too many people seem to either be pegging a business-as-usual pick like Minor or a shake-things-up pick like Tate.

But honestly, if you don't want the risk of a HS pitcher, Crow should almost be a consensus #3 to me. Doesn't have the risk or price tag or Scheppers or Tate. More consistent than White. More upside than Leake. Doesn't have Green's questions.

He literally has no glaring negatives (other than his arm action). But if you are that worried about his arm action, get him to the majors by August or September and get your money's worth sooner rather than later.

Jun 08, 2009 10:46 AM
rating: 1
 
apilgrim

I read the Bochering article. Hes already committed to a college so its going to take a considerable amount of money to get him. AZ has 7 picks-is this the kind of pick they want to make. Also, with all that training and practice you have to wonder how much better can he get?

Jun 09, 2009 02:05 AM
rating: 0
 
lost_zero

Any chance the Padres take Tate and make a less-than-aggressive push to sign him, taking the #4 pick next year?

How does their ownership situation factor into their plans?

Jun 09, 2009 10:34 AM
rating: 0
 
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