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June 17, 2009

Future Shock

AL Draft Wrap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Baltimore Orioles

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (5) Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA)
2: (54) Mychael Givens, SS, Plant HS (FL)
3: (85) Tyler Townsend, 1B, Florida International

Quick Take: While saying Hobgood was your guy regardless of signability for PR purposes is understandable, it's still hard to believe. If you say a Hobgood for $2.5 million or so is a better pick than one of the four big high school arms who want twice that much, that's not only understandable, but probably correct. However, don't say that you truly thought that on pure talent he was better than all of them, even if many did see him at the top of the list of second-tier arms. Givens is an outstanding athlete who started the year as a potential first-rounder, while Townsend is the kind of player who should please the numbers crowd, as he's coming off of a massive junior year, though the bat is his only tool.

Notable Later Picks: Righty Ryan Berry (9th round) looked like a first-round pick before he got hurt, but he'll return to Rice if he doesn't get the kind of money he was looking at pre-injury. Outfielder Devin Harris (8th) is a massive, athletic outfielder with power, speed, and huge holes in his swing. Lefty Ashur Tolliver (5th) combines a smallish frame with outstanding arm strength.

Final Summary: Even though the logic behind the pick was actually sound, taking Hobgood that high is risky, just because of the potential to look bad and/or cheap. Givens pleases the scouts, Townsend pleases the spreadsheet crowd, and the rest of their draft involved a similar balance of tools and performance.

Boston Red Sox

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (28) Reymond Fuentes, OF, Fernando Callejo HS (PR)
2: (77) Alex Wilson, RHP, Texas A&M
3: (107) David Renfroe, SS, South Panola HS (MS)

Quick Take: Fuentes was the big mover in the days leading up to the draft thanks to some outstanding private workouts that had some comparing him to a Jacoby Ellsbury type with a little more pop. That's a scary thing, as draft history is filled with plenty of examples of workout stars who quickly fell by the wayside as well as those who quickly became stars. Two recent examples of note are two Reds first-rounders: Devin Mesoraco (the version that doesn't work out), and Jay Bruce (the version that does). Wilson has above-average stuff and command, but also a checkered injury history as well as an inconsistent track record. Renfroe was the first slot-busting pick by Boston; a two-way star looking for a lot of cash, he wants to be an everyday player, and he has above-average power for the position and a plus-plus arm.

Notable Later Picks: Righty Madison Younginer (7th) is a borderline first-round talent looking for first-round money. He got up to 96 mph this year, giving him some of the top velocity among high school arms, but as one scout put it, "it wasn't especially pretty." Outfielder Brandon Jacobs (10th) is a huge athlete who is leaning toward playing football at Auburn, even though his potential on the diamond is significant. Baylor righty Kendal Volz (9th) entered the spring as a first-round pick, but he had one of the most disappointing junior years of any college prospect this spring, also losing 4-6 mph of velocity. If he's signable, he's worth a shot to see if he can regain his touch.

Final Summary: Instead of making a big splash the way they had in the previous draft, the Red Sox played it a little closer to the vest this year, but they still have a shot at turning some of their later-round picks into something much more than the talent normally found there.

Chicago White Sox

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (23) Jared Mitchell, OF, Louisiana State; (38) Josh Phegley, C, Indiana
2: (61) Trayce Thompson, OF, Santa Margarita HS (CA); (71) David Holmberg, LHP, Port Charlotte HS (FL)
3: (102) Bryan Morgado, LHP, Tennessee

Quick Take: The White Sox were looking at high-ceiling position players the whole way with the 23rd pick, and they had to be thrilled that Mitchell was still on the board when their selection came up. Phegley was a head-scratcher at 38, though nobody questions the bat, but the White Sox are one of the few who think he can stay at catcher; the consensus outside of their organization was that he was downright awful there, despite having the tools to play behind the plate. Trayce Thompson's upside surpasses that of even Mitchell, and while his being picked this high was surprising, it's only because he was seen as unsignable by many clubs, so if he signs credit to the White Sox for gauging how willing he was to go pro. Holmberg is a big lefty with a lot of projection, but like Thompson his current skills require some dreaming. Morgado is another arm-strength type with plus-plus velocity for a southpaw, but his command and secondary stuff lag behind.

Notable Later Picks: The closer at Miami, righty Kyle Bellamy (5th) doesn't profile as a ninth-inning type in the majors, but he's pressure-proven, has an outstanding sinker, and could move quickly. Fellow righty Ryan Buch (8th) is a big, raw, power arm, but most intriguing is 15th-round selection Dane Williams, who some saw as the highest-ceiling high school pitcher in Florida, though he's expected to be a very difficult sign.

Final Summary: The White Sox have now firmly moved away from their earlier overly-safe drafts of the past, and by focusing on upside, they've added a lot of it to the system while mixing in some safe college types as well.

Cleveland Indians

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (15) Alex White, RHP, North Carolina
2: (63) Jason Kipnis, OF, Arizona State
3: (94) Joe Gardner, RHP, Cal Santa Barbara

Quick Take: White was expected to go higher than 15th, but he fell to the middle of the first round when several teams drafting ahead of him went the signability route. The Indians have made no secret of the fact that they like White better for both the short and long term in a bullpen role, and his fastball/splitter combination should be late inning-worthy. Kipnis is a great find in the second round as a player who combines athleticism and performance, while Gardner is a big right-hander with an outstanding sinker.

Notable Later Picks: Third baseman Kyle Bellows (4th) has a big bat, but it was surprising to see Cleveland take another corner-only guy with power. Jordan Henry (7th), on the other hand, is a true burner with leadoff skills. Righty Austin Adams (5th) can really break out the heat, but he's very raw developmentally.

Final Summary: The Indians have to be pleased with having White fall to the them, though the decision to immediately make him a reliever will be understandably questioned by some. Kipnis also could have gone higher, but overall Cleveland's draft still falls into the conservative category.

Detroit Tigers

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (9) Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO)
2: (58) Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State
3: (89) Wade Gaynor, 3B, Western Kentucky

Quick Take: Once again, the Tigers get the best high school arm in the draft, and they get him with a much lower pick than you'd think that would take. While it's not the steal that Rick Porcello was two years ago, to get a talent like Turner ninth overall should thrill Tigers fans; beyond his mid-90s heat, Turner's secondary stuff is highly advanced for his age. Oliver is another Boras client, and while he struggled during his junior year, it's hard to find big, physical lefties who can get it up to 96 mph. Gaynor has no standout tool, but his ability to hit and hit for power both rate as solid, and he's a good athlete for his size.

Notable Later Picks: It will be very hard to sign 15th-round pick Mark Appel away from a commitment to Stanford, but Northern California scouts love his projection. Detroit is hoping that the hometown appeal will help them sign shortstop Danny Fields (6th), the best high school player in the state. Outfielder Jamie Johnson (7th) has a fireplug build but outstanding athleticism, and also a big-league approach at the plate.

Final Summary: Nobody values size and velocity more than Tigers scouting director David Chadd. You would just think that at some point teams would realize that he keeps getting the best arms regardless of draft position, and they'd try to stop it.

Kansas City Royals

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (12) Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats
2: No pick
3: (91) Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

Quick Take: Crow's velocity was impressive in indie league action this spring, but his command and slider weren't as sharp as they were last year at Missouri. Still, we're talking about the best college arm in last year's draft, and he could end up being quite the find with the 12th pick. Myers was strongly considered by the Royals with their first-round pick, as they were initially focused on up-the-middle types. He'll need first-round money to sign, despite the debate over his ability to stay behind the plate.

Notable Later Picks: Southpaw Chris Dwyer (4th) is the rarest of the rare as a draft-eligible freshman, but his fastball and curve are both true plus offerings, and he's made some indications that he wants to sign. LSU's Louis Coleman (5th) could move quickly if converted to a bullpen role, thanks to his impressive sinker/slider combination. The Royals took a flyer in the 37th round on righty Tanner Poppe, hoping that the 6-foot-6 righty, one of the best basketball, football, and baseball players in the state of Kansas, might want to sign with the Royals, but 29 other teams and 1,111 picks before him show just how unsignable everyone thinks he is.

Final Summary: Rumors are circulating that the Royals and Crow had a deal arranged prior to his selection, as plenty of first-round teams did not get a return call from Crow's advisors in the hours leading up to the draft, while Crow was also seen with Royals' officials at various points during the spring. It's hard to see him getting more than the $3.5 million he turned down from Washington last year, and his bonus, as well as that of Texas pick Tanner Scheppers, could have players thinking twice about trying the year-off/indie-ball gambit. Myers gives them another first-round talent, and the organization continued to play aggressively into the later rounds as Kansas City's rebuilding from within continues in a most impressive manner.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (24) Randal Grichuk, OF, Lamar HS (TX); (25) Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (NJ); (40) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA); (42) Garrett Richards, RHP, Oklahoma; (48) Tyler Kehrer, LHP, Eastern Illinois
2: (80) Pat Corbin, LHP, Chipola JC
3: (110) Josh Spence, LHP, Arizona State

Quick Take: Grichuck moved up on a lot of draft boards during the final week before, showing plus-plus raw power with wood bats. He's not the standard toolsy guy who you might normally get taking a first-round high school outfielder, but he can really put a charge into the ball. Trout, on the other hand, is that classic high school tools bet, but his game comes without the expected rawness. Skaggs entered the year as a potential first-rounder, but his spring was filled with inconsistency. He's still considered signable, and when you seen him on the right day, you'd wonder why he didn't go higher. Richards was selected on the basis of his impressive velocity alone; he has a lot of trouble throwing strikes and keeping the ball down. Kehrer is a strong lefty that sits at 91-95 mph, but most teams see him as a reliever in the end. Corbin is more the projectable type of left-hander who will need some refinement with his mechanics, while Spence is a pure pitchability type with a lot of polish, as evidenced when he battled Alex White to a draw in Arizona State's College World Series opener.

Notable Later Picks: The Angels rarely shy away from undersized power arms, to the point where they may see them representing an undervalued niche, and they think they have a steal in sixth-round pick Danny Reynolds, who got up to 97 mph this year. Catcher Carlos Ramirez has very good power, and at least profiles as a solid backup. While they have almost no chance of signing him due to his NFL dreams, 10th-round pick Jack Locker was one of the best high school players in the country three years ago before deciding to focus on the gridiron in college.

Final Summary: With five picks in the first 48, the Angels were able to restock their system with the kind of high-ceiling youth that they desperately needed, though they stayed away from the late signability types they have done well with in years past.

Minnesota Twins

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (22) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri; (46) Matt Bashore, LHP, Indiana
2: (70) Billy Bullock, RHP, Florida
3: (101) Ben Tootle, RHP, Jacksonville State

Quick Take: Gibson was a sure-fire single-digit selection before being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his forearm. If he can get healthy and stay that way, he's a steal here, but the pick does not come without considerable risk. Bashore is a classic Twins pick as a left-hander with good stuff and above-average command, while Bullock and Tootle are both strong-armed relief types with late-inning potential.

Notable Later Picks: Infielder Derek McCallum (4th) is a hometown selection from the University of Minnesota, but he's a grinder with some impressive pop in his bat. Chris Herrmann (6th) didn't catch at Miami this year because of the presence of elite-level 2010 pick Yasmini Grandal, but the Twins will still try him back there, hoping that he can become an offense-oriented backstop. Righty Brad Stillings (7th) is a true power arm, but comes with a lot of command and control issues.

Final Summary: It's not a splashy group by any stretch, but the selection of Gibson is the kind of risk that the Twins rarely take. It's probable that his development will ultimately define the success of this draft.

New York Yankees

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (29) Slade Heathcott, OF, Texas HS (TX)
2: (76) J.R. Murphy, C, Pendleton School (FL)
3: No pick

Quick Take: The Yankees zeroed in on Heathcott very early, and they were leaning towards still taking him even if some of the expensive arms fell to them at the bottom of the first round. He combines speed and power with an infectious maximum-effort style of play, and many of the concerns about his makeup were overstated. Murphy is a compact catcher with impressive power and pure hitting skills, but reviews of his defense are mixed.

Notable Later Picks: Clemson's Graham Stoneburner will be a tough sign as a sophomore-eligible 14th-round selection, but he has a rare combination of above-average velocity and command. Southpaw Gavin Brooks (9th) has an excellent fastball for a left-hander, though his future is as a reliever only. Sixth-rounder Robery Lyerly is a pure hitter, but questions about his power as a third baseman kept him from going higher.

Final Summary: It wasn't a traditional Yankee draft filled with big-money selections in the later rounds, with the organization seemingly focused more on depth this year, especially on the mound; after their first two picks, 11 of their next 14 selections were pitchers.

Oakland Athletics

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (13) Grant Green, SS, Southern California
2: No pick
3: (92) Justin Marks, LHP, Louisville

Quick Take: Green went from overrated to underrated in the span of three months. He was the best middle infielder in the draft, and Oakland was lucky to get him this late. Marks went around where he was expected to; he's not a sexy pick with a ton of upside, but he throws strikes, has a full arsenal, and could move quickly into a back-of-the-rotation role.

Notable Later Picks: Max Stassi (4th) is a first-round talent who may even have gotten some minor consideration from the A's at 13th overall. He'll certainly require first-round money to sign, but Oakland wouldn't have used a fourth-round pick on him without some confidence that a deal could be done. Righty Sam Dyson (10th) is much more of a flyer as a guy with (late) first-round talent and one of the better fastballs among college arms, but he also has the leverage of a sophomore-eligible player to go with a seven-figure price tag. Outfielder Myrio Richard (9th) is bigger, stronger, and faster than older brother Michael, an infielder in the Oakland system, but he's very rough around the edges.

Final Summary: While the A's stayed in their comfort zone with many of their picks, the selection of a Boras client in the first round, as well as a some signability talents in the later rounds, show that if anything the A's are flexible about mixing certainty with upside.

Seattle Mariners

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (2) Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina; (27) Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brantley HS (FL); (33) Steve Baron, C, Ferguson HS (FL)
2: (51) Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia
3: (82) Kyle Seager, 2B, North Carolina

Quick Take: Having the second overall pick almost seemed like a curse for most of the spring until Ackley clearly separated himself from the pack. He's almost certainly going to be a dynamic offensive force, but it may come at the cost of being in left field, and he'd have significantly less value if he can't stick in center. Ackley is also going to cost an awful lot of money, so the Mariners went conservative with the 27th overall pick; Franklin has the tools to stick at shortstop, but his bat profiles as a bottom-of-the-order type. Baron should get to the big leagues on the strength of his defense alone, but his bat comes with many questions. Despite massive numbers this year, Poythress fell out of first-round consideration due to a debate over his ability to re-create his performances with wood. With so many eyeballs consistently on Ackley, the Mariners also had plenty of chances to evaluate Seager, who doesn't blow anyone away with his tools, but he has an excellent feel for contact.

Notable Later Picks: Right-hander Tyler Blandford (5th) is a guy with impressive arm strength, but he'll require patience and a move to the bullpen. Another guy who got a lot of attention because scouts were looking at someone else, Missouri catcher Trevor Coleman (9th) is a switch-hitter with solid defensive skills. Vinnie Catricala is a raw third baseman with a ton of strength who was taken in the 10th round.

Final Summary: Ackley is obviously the big star here, and he could be in the middle of the Mariners lineup by 2011. After that, the Mariners' draft was frankly a bit bland, as Franklin and Baron are more skillsy than toolsy high school talents, and after those two the Mariners went college-only with their selections until the 13th round.

Tampa Bay Rays

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (30) LeVon Washington, 2B, Buchholz HS (FL)
2: (78) Ken Diekroger, SS, Menlo HS (CA)
3: (108) Todd Glaesmann, OF, Midway HS (TX)

Quick Take: Washington is a 70-plus runner who will likely move from second base back to center field once his shoulder is fully recovered from pre-season surgery. He's got excellent bat speed and a smooth swing, with one scout calling him a smaller version of Carl Crawford. Diekroger is bigger and arguably more athletic than Washington, but is also quite raw, and as a sloppy infielder he will probably also move to center. Glaesmann is, yup, another big-time athlete with more size and strength than those picked before him, but only average to plus speed.

Notable Later Picks: Luke Bailey (4th) was the top high school catcher in the nation before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He'll need a big bonus, but could be a great find in the fourth round. Jeff Malm (5th), has as much raw power as any prep hitter around, but he's a sluggish, unathletic first baseman who has to mash in order to make it. Derek Dennis will be a difficult sign as a 10th-round pick, but he's a good defender with a projectable frame.

Final Summary: Teams wondered what the Rays would do now that they're not picking at the top of the draft, but nothing really changed as the organization continued to focus on high-upside talent, including some signability selections in the middle round. They didn't have the usual opportunity to find an elite talent, but it was still an impressive haul.

Texas Rangers

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (14) Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX); (44) Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints
2: (62) Tommy Mendonca, 3B, Fresno State
3: (93) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Scotts Valley HS (CA)

Quick Take: Purke was one of the top two left-handers in the draft, but his $7 million dollar price tag scared many teams off. He won't get seven large from the Rangers, but will certainly get a deal that is somewhere in the range of two to three times the recommended slot for the 14th overall selection. Scheppers' drop was one of the bigger stories among the picks made this year; he had the second-best fastball in the draft, but concerns over his medical history ended up really hurting him. Mendonca was a surprise in the second round as a third baseman with huge power and equally huge holes in his swing. Robbie Erlin generates surprising velocity out of a small frame and has one scout comparing him to Texas 2006 first-round pick Kasey Kiker, but with a better curveball.

Notable Later Picks: Andrew Doyle (4th) is a college right-hander who hits his spots and generates a lot of ground balls; he doesn't match with the Rangers' proclivity for power arms, but he's the kind of guy who could move quickly. Outfielder Ruben Sierra (6th) is the son of the former MVP and nearly a match for his father physically, but he's also an unrefined talent who will required a lot of patience and may not be ready for a full-season league until 2011. Jabari Blash (9th) is another big athlete with an enormous amount of promise and a million holes in his game.

Final Summary: Tom Hicks' financial troubles seem to have been overstated, as Purke and Scheppers will both be expensive. Still, if both sign, the Rangers will have pulled a coup by grabbing a pair of players who had both received top five consideration with the 14th and 44th overall selections.

Toronto Blue Jays

Picks in First Three Rounds
1: (20) Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State; (37) James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky
2: (68) Jake Eliopoulos, LHP, Sacred Heart HS (ON)
3: (99) Jake Barrett, RHP, Desert Ridge HS (AZ); (104) Jake Marisnick, OF, Poly HS (CA)

Quick Take: Jenkins is a massive ground-ball machine who one scout has referred to as, "What Matt Hobgood will be in three years." That's a little strong, but Jenkins should at least move quickly. Paxton baffles scouts due to his combination of first-round size, stuff, and a five-plus ERA; he's also a late addition to the Boras stable. While he was the best player in Canada, Eliopoulos was still a reach in the second round. Barrett has a build and stuff like Jenkins, but he's three years younger. The Blue Jays have looked to add athletes after the first round in recent drafts, and Marisnick is this year's version, as he features speed and projectable power in center field.

Notable Later Picks: The son of former big-league player and manager Butch, outfielder Kris Hobson (6th) is bigger than his dad, and like him, he has significant raw power. Ryan Goins (4th) is more of an old-school Jays pick as an infielder who isn't especially fast or strong, but makes up for it with patience and gap power. Righty Brian Slover (8th) was a little overshadowed by bigger college talents, but he was one of the more impressive college closers around, getting up to 96 mph this spring at Cal State Northridge.

Final Summary: The Blue Jays focused on pitching this year, and didn't shy away from Boras clients or upside at any point in the draft. While their first-round pick might be seen as a reach by some, they made up for it in the later rounds.

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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