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June 25, 2010

Future Shock

Draft Wrap: AL West

by Kevin Goldstein

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Los Angeles Angels

Day One Selections

18. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Cook HS (GA)
Inside the Pick:
Seen as more of a late first-round talent, Cowart moved up to the Angels, and was a surprising selection for them, as he's considered a tough sign. 
What He is:
Cowart is a fantastic athlete and a two-way talent, but someone many teams preferred as a pitcher. As a third baseman, he's a switch-hitter with power from both sides and a downright pretty swing. He's even an average runner, and his arm is strong.
What He is Not:
Cowart's defensive reviews, other than his arm, are a mixed bag, and he'll need to improve his reads, footwork, and the accuracy of his throws. He's an aggressive hitter who looks to mash early in the count, and will need to temper his approach. 
Path with the Angels: The Angels have very little when it comes to prospects that play on the left side of the infield, so there's nothing blocking Cowart's progress long-term.

29. Cam Bedrosian, RHP, East Coweta HS (GA)
Inside the Pick:
After selecting Cowart with the first of their five day-one picks, the Angels moved a couple talents higher than expected into the first round, possibly hoping to save a bit of money.
What He is:
The son of former big-leaguer Steve Bedrosian, Cam is a short and bulky right-hander with an outstanding fastball that sits from 91-94 mph that he can get up to 96. He has the makings of a good curveball and has a nice combination of poise and aggressiveness on the mound.
What He is Not:
Bedrosian is short for a right-hander, and his arm-focused mechanics don't exactly make it look easy. Everyone liked his arm, but he had plenty of future reliever projections.
Path with the Angels:
There's nothing about Bedrosian that should allow him to move quickly or slowly. The hope is to get him signed quickly enough for some innings in the complex leagues and a 2011 assignment in Low-A.

30. Chevez Clarke, OF, Marietta HS (GA)
Inside the Pick:
With their third straight Georgia high school selection, the Angels grabbed a player who, like Bedrosian, was seen as more of a supplemental first-rounder at best.
What He is:
Clarke has classic tools for center field, with plus speed, excellent defensive instincts, and a solid arm. At the plate, he's shown an advanced feel for the strike zone already, and he's a switch-hitter with gap power.
What He is Not:
Clarke's swing is complicated, and it leaves him behind good velocity, while others simply question his basic hitting ability. 
Path with the Angels:
With Mike Trout at Low-A and Peter Bourjos just a step away from the majors, the Angels already have plenty of speedy outfielders, so there will be little pressure on Clarke.

37. Taylor Lindsey, SS, Desert Mountain HS (AZ)
Inside the Pick:
Few thought Lindsey would be a day-one pick, but with so many selections, the Angels did play it safe here and there.
What He is:
An outstanding hitter with bat speed, an instinctual knack for contact, and surprising power.
What He is Not:
A shortstop in high school, nobody thinks he can stay there as a pro. He's not a big athlete, as both his speed and arm rate as fringe average. Second base is his first move, but many think he could be limited to left field down the road.
Path with the Angels:
Already signed, Lindsey should be ready for a 2011 full-season assignment.

40. Ryan Bolden, OF, Madison Central HS (MS)
Inside the Pick:
With so many picks, the Angels could afford to take a risk, and they did so at 40 with one of the toolsiest players in the draft, and also one of the riskiest.
What He is:
Golden is a long, muscular athlete with plus-plus speed, above-average raw power, and a plus arm. 
What He is Not:
Golden is miles away from being a baseball player. He didn't even put up good numbers at his small high school in Mississippi, and is considered a major project by most.
Path with the Angels:
Golden signed quickly and is already playing in the Arizona Summer League. Unless some kind of unanticipated breakout occurs, he'll likely begin 2011 in extended spring training.

Through Three Rounds
2 (81). Daniel Tillman, RHP, Florida Southern
3 (111). Wendell Soto, SS, Riverview HS (FL)
3 (115). Donnie Roach (RHP) College of Southern Nevada (JUCO)

Tillman is a college closer with an above-average fastball/slider combination, but his ceiling ends as a seventh- or eighth-inning type. Soto is one of the few true shortstops in this year's draft, and while he's physically similar to Erick Aybar, he has nowhere near Aybar's tools. Roach was the first CSN player selected after first overall pick Bryce Harper after consistently touching 94-95 as the team's best starter.

Of Note Afterward:
They’re first pick out of their talent-filled local area, fifth-round pick Jesus Valdez is a funky but ultra-projectable righty who needs a lot of work but has already been up to 94 mph. Sixth-rounder Brian Diemer was the closer at Cal, and could be a set-up man in the big leagues if his slider improves.
Summary:
The Angels never wavered from their love of the upside, and they took advantage of the opportunity to breathe some life into a system that has been faltering of late.

Oakland Athletics
Day One Selections

10. Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington
Inside the Pick:
Choice was Oakland's choice (pun intended) all along, but it looked like he'd be off the board in the days leading up to the draft. Ultimately, thanks to some changes of direction at the top, the A's got their man.
What He is:
A prototypical right fielder was good hitting skills, well above-average raw power, fringe-average speed, and a very good arm. Also appealing to the A's was his NCAA-leading walk total. 
What He is Not:
Choice's power comes at a price, as he'll likely rack up high strikeout totals all the way up the chain. He doesn't have much experience against top-grade pitching, and could develop a bit slower than most top college picks.
Path with the Athletics:
The range of possibilities for Choice's first pro assignment range from Short-season Vancouver to High-A Stockton.

Through Three Rounds
2 (60). Yordy Cabrera, 3B, Lakeland HS (FL)
3. Aaron Shipman (92), OF, Brooks County HS (GA)

Cabrera is big and loaded with the kind of potential often only found in first-round picks, but he's also a high school player who turns 20 in the fall and is already behind the standard development curve. Shipman has the speed, instincts, and arm to be an outstanding center fielder, and he can hit a bit with gap power.

Of Note Afterward:
Fourth-round pick Chad Lewis is a pure third baseman with good hands, a plus arm, and tons of raw power, but not everyone is sure he can hit. Already signed, seventh-rounder Jordan Tripp has all-around outfield tools and a bigger upside than most players found that late.
Summary:
The A's focused on offense and upside in the draft, taking position players, mostly with tools over skills in seven of their first nine picks.

Seattle Mariners
Day One Selections

43. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Yucaipa HS (CA)
Inside the Pick:
With no first-round pick, the Mariners selected one of the highest-upside players still on the board, regardless of the considerable risk that comes with him.
What He is:
There might not have been a more athletic pitcher in the draft than Walker. He's 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, long, wiry, and an outstanding basketball player. His fastball sits in the low 90s now, and offers plenty of projection beyond that; it also features natural cutting movement. He has some feel for spinning his curveball.
What He is Not:
Walker is far more of a thrower than a pitcher at this time. His delivery is all arm, and even in high school, he'd have games where he'd walk the ballpark.
Path with the Mariners:
Walker is undoubtedly a project who might not pitch in a full-season league until 2012.

Through Three Rounds
2. Marcus Littlewood, SS, Pine View HS (UT)
3. Ryne Stanek, RHP, Blue Valley HS (KS)

Littlewood is too big and slow to stay at shortstop, but he has average tools across the board to go with outstanding makeup and baseball intelligence. Stanek was a pop-up player this spring who went from throwing in the upper 80s last year to touching 96 mph this spring. He has a good curveball, but remains a bit raw.

Of Note Afterward:
Fourth-round pick James Paxton was Toronto's unsigned supplemental first-rounder last year. He's a huge lefty with huge velocity, but has problems with his command and secondary offerings. Eighth-round pick Jabari Blash has crazy tools, but has rarely translated them into results on the stat sheet.
Summary:
Not surprisingly, the Mariners had a classic Jack Zduriencik. draft, focusing almost solely on tools and upside. 

Texas Rangers
Day One Selections

15. Jake Skole, OF, Blessed Trinity HS (GA)
Inside the Pick:
With an unprotected pick and financial limitations, the Rangers found the highest upside player who would sign quickly for slot.
What He is:
Skole is a fantastic athlete who had Division-I opportunities as a defensive back. He's an above-average runner with enough defensive skills to stay in center field, as his arm is a true plus tool. He has good bat speed and a bit of power.
What He is Not:
Skole's swing can get loopy and exploitable, and he played more football than baseball in high school, so his hitting instincts need work. His power projects as somewhere between fringe-average to slightly below.
Path with the Rangers:
Already playing for the Arizona complex team, the Rangers hope Skole's focus on one sport will have him ready for Low-A Hickory in 2011.

22. Kellin Deglan, C, Mountain SS (B.C., Canada)
Inside the Pick:
Still looking to save (or at least conserve) cash, the Rangers took the catcher that was rumored to go to various late first-round picks as part of a pre-draft deal.
What He is:
Deglan is a big, athletic catcher with a plus arm and surprisingly advanced receiving skills for a Canadian. He has a short swing and enough strength to project for power down the road.
What He is Not:
Deglan has looked overmatched at times when exposed to upper-level competition, and the development of his hitting could take a while.
Path with the Rangers:
Signed quickly for an under-slot bonus of $1 million, Deglan is playing with Skole in Arizona, and should join him next year in the Sally League.

45. Luke Jackson, RHP, Calvary Christian HS (FL)
Inside the Pick:
Always big fans of velocity in their pitchers, the Rangers selected one of the better arm-strength high school arms around.
What He is:
Jackson can bring the heat, as he was sitting at 91-94 mph late in the spring, and touching 96. He's a good athlete with projection, and he dominated when throwing strikes.
What He is Not:
Jackson's fastball is his only big-league quality pitch right now, as both his breaking ball and changeup lag well behind. His mechanics need to be smoothed out, which hopefully will lead to improved command.
Path with the Rangers:
The only day-one pick of the Rangers who has yet to sign, Jackson will join Skole and Deglan once he signs.

49. Mike Olt, 3B, Connecticut
Inside the Pick:
With their first college pick, the Rangers went with one of the NCAA's leaders in home runs, as Olt hit 23 in 264 at-bats.
What He is:
Olt is a classic third baseman whose best offensive trait is his plus raw power. Defensively, he has outstanding hands and range, and a strong, accurate throwing arm.
What He is Not:
Olt hit just .318 as a junior, and there is plenty of swing and miss in his game. 
Path with the Rangers:
Olt is similar in many ways to Tommy Mendonca, the Rangers' second-round pick last year who has crashed and burned at High-A, giving Olt the opportunity to quickly become the team's top third base prospect.

Through Three Rounds
2. Cody Buckel, RHP, Royal HS (CA)
3. Jordan Akins, OF, Union Grove HS (GA)

With two more inches and 20 more pounds, Buckel could have been a first-round pick. Standing just 6-feet tall, he's already up to 93-94 mph with his fastball, has a quality breaking ball and advanced changeup for his age, and throws strikes. Akins is a massively toolsy outfielder who has equal chances of becoming a star and never getting out of A-ball, as for now, he's just an athlete.

Of Note Afterward:
Fifth-rounder Justin Grimm rarely pitched well at Georgia, despite a plus fastball/curve combination. Eighth-round pick Jonathan Roof has big-league bloodlines and excellent defensive skills at shortstop, but comes with plenty of questions about his bat.
Summary: With the ownership situation in what is starting to seem like a never-ending purgatory, the Rangers did the best they could with the chips they had. Cost concerns often lead to boring and safe picks, so at least the club focused more on upside.

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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