June 15, 2011
AL East Draft Wrap
First Three Rounds
1. (4) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS (OK)
2. (64) Jason Esposito, 3B, Vanderbilt
3. (94) Mike Wright, RHP, East Carolina
Who They Are: The Orioles get their man in Bundy, and while he certainly offers more risk than the three college arms drafted before him, one could make an argument that he has more upside than any player in the draft. While it is difficult enough to recall many high school players with his stuff, to find one with his stuff, command, and pitching instincts is nearly impossible. Beyond the mid- to upper-90s fastball than can touch 100 mph, he has two quality breaking balls, a very advanced changeup for his age, and throws all of his pitches for strikes with utter fearlessness. He has true ace potential, and while it's optimistic, reaching the big leagues by the end of 2013 is not out of the question.
Esposito turned down $1.5 million from the Royals out of high school, and now he'll have to settle for less than half of that, as his bat just did not develop at Vanderbilt. He's a very good defensive third baseman, and the hope is that he can end up an average producer at the plate.
At 6-foot-5, Wright adds a nice downhill plane to what is already a plus sinker, but his other pitches need work and some other teams were surprised to see him go this high.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-rounder Kyle Simon is nearly a clone of Wright. Sixth-round pick Nick Delmonico will be a tough sign, but he's a big, physical third baseman with power potential, a good arm, and outstanding baseball intelligence.
Analysis: Make no mistake, this draft revolves almost completely around Bundy; the rest of the picks are a bit of a yawner.
Boston Red Sox
First Three Rounds
1. (19) Matt Barns, RHP, Connecticut
1. (26) Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS (NM)
1s. (36) Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS (CA)
1s. (40) Jackie Bradley, OF, South Carolina
2. (81) Williams Jerez, OF, Grand Street HS (NY)
3. (111) Jordan Weems, C, Columbus HS (GA)
Who They Are: Barnes had an excellent college career and it was believed he would be drafted much sooner, but he slipped due to concerns about his secondary stuff and an inability to miss bats. His frame and low- to mid-90s fastball are fantastic, and the Red Sox are betting on the other stuff to improve.
The Red Sox had been attached to Swihart for weeks leading up to the draft, as he is a talented player who will require an over-slot bonus to sway him from playing college ball at Texas. He's a switch-hitter with fantastic hand-eye coordination and some power potential, but defensively, he's the kind of player who has all of the tools to be a good catcher, but is far from being one yet.
Owens was in some late first-round mixes, as at 6-foot-7, he offers plenty to dream on. He has average velocity now, but that's going to improve, and while his development will require patience, the payoff could be big.
Bradley was a huge slider this year. Seen as a potential top-10 pick in February, Bradley got off to a great start before going into an offensive freefall, and his season ended due to wrist surgery. He's not especially toolsy, but he's also at least average across the board and scouts love his makeup.
Jerez grew up in the Dominican Republic, which has created some questions about his age. While he's raw, he's also loaded with tools, including above-average raw power and speed in a loose and athletic 6-foot-4 frame.
Weems is more likely to remain behind the plate than Swihart, but he's not nearly as good a hitter.
Later Picks Of Note: Fourth-rounder Noe Ramirez had an outstanding career at Cal State Fullerton, and while he's not especially sexy on a stuff level, he's the kind of arm that could fit at the end of a big-league rotation in short order. Fifth-round shortstop Mookie Betts is crazy raw and crazy athletic. Eighth-round outfielder Senquez Golson will need a big bonus or he's playing football at Mississippi, but he has the tools to be an impact center fielder.
Analysis: The Red Sox can't surprise anybody anymore, as once again, they combined good, reasonable picks with risky signability guys that could provide upside. Like most Boston drafts, we need to see how many sign before making initial judgments.
New York Yankees
First Three Rounds
1s. (51) Dante Bichette Jr., OF, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)
2. (88) Sam Stafford, LHP, Texas
3. (118) Jordan Cote, RHP, Winnisquam HS (NH)
Who They Are: For the second straight year, the Yankees used their top pick on a player not expected to go that high. Bichette looks almost shockingly like his father, and he plays like him too, as a good hitter with real power and a plus arm.
Stafford is a long-armed left-hander whose length works against him at times, and he has trouble throwing strikes due to an inconsistent release point. When he's on, both his fastball and curve can impress.
Cote is pure projection as a 6-foot-5, highly athletic right-hander who can already throw in the low 90s needs significant development.
Later Picks Of Note: The Yankees seemed to focus on power, as fourth round pick Matt Duran, fifth-rounder Greg Bird, and seventh-round selection Austin Jones are all high school bat-only types with tons of strength. A big sleeper could be 13th-rounder Justin James. The son of former Yankee Dion James, Justin is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound beast with a huge ceiling and tons of risk, as he spent most of his youth focusing on basketball.
Analysis: The Yankees have the ability to make a splash in any draft because of their deep pockets, but for the second straight year, they failed to do so.
Tampa Bay Rays
First Three Rounds
1. (24) Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS (SC)
1. (31) Mikie Mahtook, OF, LSU
1. (32) Jake Hager, SS, Sierra Vista HS (NV)
1s. (38) Brandon Martin, SS, Santiago HS (CA)
1s. (41) Tyler Goeddel, 3B, St. Francis HS (CA)
1s. (42) Jeff Ames, RHP, Lower Columbia College
1s. (52) Blake Snell, LHP, Shorewood HS (WA)
1s. (56) Kes Carter, OF, Western Kentucky
1s. (59) Grayson Garvin, LHP, Vanderbilt
1s. (60) James Harris, OF, Oakland Tech HS (CA)
2. (75) Granden Goetzman, OF, Palmetto HS (FL)
2. (89) Lenny Lisky, RHP, Hawaii
3. (119) Johnny Eierman, OF, Warsaw HS (MO)
Who They Are: The Rays had to have been pleasantly surprised in the first round, as both Guerreri and Mahtook falling to them was unexpected. Guerreri had some of the best stuff in the draft; he sits in the 92-96 mph range while flashing a hammer curveball, but concerns about his makeup and some effort in his delivery caused him to slip.
Mahtook mysteriously slipped out of the middle of the first round after being one of the few hitters to have a big year with the new metal bats. Scouts have trouble seeing him as an up-the-middle player as a pro, but he has plus hitting ability and at least average power.
Hager was the first off-the-board pick by the Rays, as a grinder with solid tools who nobody saw as a first-round pick.
Martin actually has the better shortstop prowess, as he's a better athlete, hitter, and defender than Hager.
Goeddel will be a tough sign, but he's a lanky, projectable player with the potential to be a classic third baseman with a bit of surprising speed.
The Rays love the state of Washington, and Ames was the best pure arm up there, but scouts wonder about what he has to excite with beyond the plus-plus velocity.
Ten picks later, Tampa got the best prep arm in the state. Snell combines raw secondaries with good velocity and an easy arm action.
Carter is one of those weird college tools bets, where it would be easy to get excited if he was 18 years old, but he'll need to develop much quicker. He's a plus runner, good center fielder, and has some power. Now it will come down to him hitting.
As a 6-foot-6 lefty, Grayson Garvin looks like an elite pick, but it's more second-round stuff with a 89-93 mph fastball, a solid-but-unspectacular slider/changeup combination, and decent command.
Harris was a player many teams were eying with an early day-two pick. He's a burner with a good approach and more size than your average prep speedster, and while it's unlikely, he at least has the potential to be another Desmond Jennings.
Goetzman is a big athlete with a classic right-field profile, plenty of power, and some holes in his swing.
Linsky moved up boards when teams going to see Cardinals first-round pick Kolten Wong at Hawaii saw Linsky pitch. He has a good fastball, even better slider, and profiles as a potential set-up man.
Eierman is another tools bet, as he can run and hit for power, but he's unproven against top-flight competition and has an ugly swing.
Later Picks Of Note: What, 14 guys in the first three rounds isn't enough? Seventh-round lefty Ryan Carpenter entered the spring with a chance to go much higher, as he has good velocity for a southpaw but is highly inconsistent. Eighth-round first baseman John Alexander is a 6-foot-6 slugger with serious power from the left side.
Analysis: One is forced to wonder if the Rays didn't leave something on the table with their historic number of early picks. They had a chance to break the bank here, but chose to play it closer to the vest than expected, taking very few players who will cost over slot, and plenty that will come cheap. They can't afford to compete with the Red Sox or the Yankees on the free-agent market, so this was their big chance to find stars.
Toronto Blue Jays
First Three Rounds
1. (21) Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy (MA)
1s. (35) Jacob Anderson, OF, Chino HS (CA)
1s. (46) Joe Musgrove, RHP, Grossmont HS (CA)
1s. (53) Dwight Smith Jr., OF, McIntosh HS (GA)
1s. (57) Kevin Comer, RHP, Secena HS (NJ)
2. (74) Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS (TN)
2. (78) Jeremy Gabryszwski, RHP, Crosby HS (TX)
3. (108) John Stilson, RHP, Texas A&M
Who They Are: Beede was one of the biggest surprises of the first round. He sent pre-draft letters to scouts insisting they he intended to go to Vanderbilt, with rumors of a $3 million demand. Scouts saw him as more of a standard seven-figure late first-round talent, but clearly the Blue Jays either think they can sign him, or are simply willing to pay the fare. He has a classic power pitcher's body and three average-to-plus pitches, so to give him big money involves a lot of projection that not all teams agree with.
Anderson is another tough sign, as he's an advanced hitter with plenty of power potential and a right-field profile.
Musgrove was the safe pick of the group, and has already signed for a well below-slot bonus of $500,000. He's a tall, wide-bodied pitcher with good velocity and sink, but the rest of his game needs work.
Smith is similar to his father, as he can hit and has above-average speed, but might not fit in center and might not have the power normally associated with a corner.
Comer is another Vanderbilt commit with a big price tag. He's a little bigger than Beede and his fastball and curve both impress.
Norris could be the toughest sign of all, as he floated a rumored $3.9 million price tag before the draft and could have going in the first 15 picks without fears of a tough negotiation. He was generally seen as the top high school southpaw in the draft, with a fastball than can get into the mid-90s with ease and a plus power breaking ball.
Gabryszwski is a big Texan who can get it up to 95 mph, but unlike many from that area, he's quite unrefined.
Stilson was a shocking pick, as while he had late first-round hopes in the weeks leading up to the draft, he suffered a shoulder injury in late May and will likely need surgery.
Later Picks Of Note: The Jays took another injured arm in fifth-round lefty Andrew Chin, who has plenty of projection but also underwent Tommy John surgery two months ago. Seventh-rounder Christian Lopez is an excellent high school hitter, but there's no way he can play on the left side of the infield as a pro, so he'll have to develop into an everyday player as a second baseman. As if the Jays didn't ruin Vanderbilt's recruiting class enough, they popped New Jersey high school outfielder John Norwood in the 10th as a center fielder with above-average speed.
Analysis: No team had a more aggressive draft than the Jays, and now it will come down to how many of them sign over the next two months. If they can somehow land all four over-slot picks in the first two rounds, this has the potential to be a monster class.
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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