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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

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