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June 21, 2009

Future Shock

NL Draft Wrap

by Kevin Goldstein

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Picks in First Three Rounds

1: (16) Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL); (17) A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame; (35) Matt Davidson, 1B, Yupica HS (CA); (41) Chris Owings, SS, Gilbert HS (SC); (45) Mike Belfiore, LHP, Boston College
2: (60) Eric Smith, RHP, Rhode Island; (64) Marc Krauss, OF, Ohio
3: (95) Keon Broxton, OF, Santa Fe CC

Quick Take: Borchering was a late-season riser on people's draft boards, and was seen in the end as the consensus top high school hitter on the board. He's a switch-hitter with plus power from both sides of the plate; his ability to stay at third base is a 50/50 proposition at this point. Pollock was an overdraft at 17th overall, but one can dream on him as a solid center fielder who hits second, almost like a bigger, right-handed David DeJesus. Massive raw power is Davidson's calling card, but the bat is really his only tool. Owings is another player who went higher than expected, but his tools, other than his power, are solid-to-plus across the board. Belfiore is a reliever with plus velocity from the left side who still has some projection in him, and he could improve if he settles on one breaking ball. Smith is one of those prospects who might be greater than the sum of his parts, as his sinker, slider, and changeup all rate as at least average, as does his command. Krauss had a monster junior year (.402/.521/.852), but doesn't really have a position, and there are questions about his level of competition and overall upside. Broxton is a big, toolsy athlete with plenty of upside, but he's very raw.

Notable Later Picks: First baseman Ryan Wheeler (5th) is another premium bat from the college ranks, but like Krauss, the bat has to carry him. Third baseman Matt Helm (7th) was down all spring with an injury, but the D'backs are hoping to lure the Arizona product to the pros, as he entered the year with a good deal of hype. Lefty Pat Schuster (13th) received national attention when he tossed four straight no-hitters, but he's likely bound for Florida.

Final Summary: With five picks in the first 45, Arizona couldn't afford to make a lot of big splashes, but this is a solid set of talent that should help replenish a woefully shallow system.

Atlanta Braves

1: (7) Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
2: No pick
3: (87) David Hale, RHP, Princeton

Quick Take: Minor at seventh overall was an absolutely baffling selection; with their highest pick since 1991, the Braves opted for a low-upside, command/control lefty whose ceiling ends as a fourth starter, with a shot as a third at the most optimistic scenario possible. Hale is an intriguing athlete with a pure power arm, but unlike most college products, he still need a lot of refinement.

Notable Later Picks: Shortstop Mycal Jones (4th) is a pure tools bet with average power, plus-plus speed, and the athleticism to stick at shortstop. Righty Thomas Berryhill (5th) fascinates scouts with his ability to get up to 97 mph despite his 5-foot-10 frame. Outfielder Kyle Rose (8th) is a pure burner who comes with his fair share of makeup issues.

Final Summary: The Braves' draft was difficult to understand, as Minor was an overdraft based on certainty, while picks like Jones and Rose also went higher than expected and were seen as too risky. Overall, it was a set of choices that caused a lot of confused reactions.

Chicago Cubs

1: (31) Brett Jackson, OF, California
2: (79) D.J. LeMahieu, 2B, Louisiana State
3: (109) Austin Kirk, LHP, Owasso HS (OK)

Quick Take: Jackson ended up going right around where he was expected to. One of the best defensive outfielders in the draft, he has raw power, plus speed, and a very good arm, but there is a lot of swing-and-miss in his game. LeMahieu's draft stock plummeted when he was moved from shortstop to second base before turning pro, while his bat disappointed as well. It was very surprising to see him go this high, as most had him pegged as a third- or fourth-round selection. Kirk has far more polish than your average high school arm, but also far less upside.

Notable Later Picks: Brooks Raley (6th) is a sophomore-eligible college player who fell due to signability concerns, but he has size, a good sinker/slider combo, and is a great pickup if the Cubs end up signing him. Shortstop Wes Darvill was a late riser from Canada who had impressive late-spring workouts. He's raw, but a good athlete with a feel for hitting, though shortstop is not his long-term home. Catcher Richard Jones (9th) has a ton of power, along with many questions about his ability to stay behind the plate.

Final Summary: A solid but unspectacular player, Jackson is one of those guys who will either be a steal, or the next Tyler Colvin, while the remainder of their picks made up a well-diversified portfolio that combined college and high school players, as well as tools and skills.

Cincinnati Reds

1: (8) Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State; (43) Brad Boxberger, RHP, Southern California
2: (57) Bill Hamilton, SS, Taylorsville HS (MS)
3: (88) Donnie Joseph, LHP, Houston

Quick Take: There is some debate in the industry as to whether Leake was a signability pick or not, since the Reds were kicking the tires on some of the high-priced high school arms before settling on him. Those that like him think he's the next Tim Hudson, while those that don't think he's no more than a back-of-the-rotation type. Another Pac-10 star, Boxberger was the Trojans' Friday starter, and he showed plus stuff during most of the spring while struggling at times to throw strikes. Hamilton was one of the draft's best athletes, but he's probably going to move to the outfield, and his power will always be a on the light side. Joseph excelled as a closer this year, with an above-average fastball/slider combination, but also some control issues.

Notable Later Picks: Righty Daniel Tuttle (5th) showed some surprising velocity this spring, but at this point he's far more of a thrower than a pitcher. Catcher Tucker Burnhart (10th) will be a difficult sign, but he's got solid skills both at the plate and behind it. Mark Fleury (4th) is another catcher who is far more likely to sign, and he drew one A.J. Pierzynski comparison.

Final Summary: Leake could move quickly through the minors, while Hamilton and some others provide upside. It's neither an especially impressive nor disappointing group.

Colorado Rockies

1: (11) Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA); (32) Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State; (34) Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb
2: (59) Nolan Arenado, 3B, El Toro HS (CA)
3: (90) Ben Paulsen, 1B, Clemson

Quick Take: Matzek didn't really move up for scouts until the end of the season, when some suddenly had him as the top high school arm in the draft. His desire for a 'precedent-setting' contract dropped him to the 11th overall pick, and now the negotiations begin. Wheeler was seen as a first-round pick all spring while he put up some big numbers, but private workouts showed him to be a player whose tools are merely solid across the board as opposed to plus in any way. Brothers was attached to many teams in the second half of the first round, so the Rockies are happy to have him in the sandwich round, as lefties with his kind of velocity are few and far between. Arenado has good strength and an outstanding arm, while Paulsen is an outstanding pure hitter who lacks the kind of power normally associated with first base.

Notable Later Picks: Some think that outfielder Kent Matthes could be a real steal in the fourth-round, with one scout insisting that both his numbers and tools eclipsed those of Wheeler. Third baseman Joe Sanders (5th) can match Matthes' power, but his other skills are lacking. Righty Rob Scahill (9th) is a pure arm-strength guy who needs to find some consistent secondary offerings.

Final Summary: If the Rockies can sign all of their top selections, this will be one of the more impressive drafts of the year, with one elite player in Matzek, two more first-round level talents in Wheeler and Brothers, and plenty of sleepers in the later rounds.

Florida Marlins

1: (18) Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK)
2: (66) Bryan Berglund, RHP, Royal HS (CA)
3: (97) Da'Shon Cooper, OF, Edison HS (CA)

Quick Take: James exploded this spring when he suddenly began hitting 95 mph in front of scouts, and then maintained that velocity throughout the spring. He also has a lot of a projection and a good curveball. Berglund, on the other hand, was a disappointment; he was seen as a possible first-round pick going into the year, but he failed to take the steps forward that scouts expected. Cooper is a big athlete in a small package, but he has never focused on baseball full-time and will probably require a slow development cycle.

Notable Later Picks: Right-hander Dan Mahoney (4th) has a power frame and power stuff, but he may profile best as a reliever in the end. Josh Hodges (7th) is a 6-foot-6, 240-pound right-hander with a very high ceiling, and a huge gap between that ceiling and where he is currently. Shortstop Chase Austin (5th) has solid tools across the board and great makeup, leaving many to believe he'll at least make it as a good utility player.

Final Summary: It was the usual Florida draft, focusing mostly on prep talent with high ceilings early on, and then taking the safer, lower-return college talent in the middle rounds. It's a formula that has served them well over the years.

Houston Astros

1: (21) Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (CA)
2: (69) Tanner Bushue, RHP, South Central HS (IL)
3: (100) Telvin Nash, OF, Griffin HS (GA); (111) Jonathan Meyer, 3B, Simi Valley HS (CA)

Quick Take: Mier went slightly higher than expected, but he's a good fit for an organization desperate for up-the-middle talent. The best defensive shortstop among prep players, he has enough of a bat to play every day, but he'll probably hit at the bottom of the order. Bushue is a country-strong righty from a tiny town in southern Illinois; he's big, projectable, and already throws in the low 90s, but he's something of a project. Nash is a massive physical presence with tons of power, but he's also quite raw. Meyer was a two-way star who some preferred on the mound, but the Astros liked his smooth swing from both sides of the plate.

Notable Later Picks: B.J. Hyatt (4th) is a projectable right-hander with a big frame and a fastball that got up to 95 mph this year. Brandon Wikoff (5th) is a gritty college shortstop low on tools but high on energy and fundamentals. While he was drafted as a third baseman, Erik Castro (10th) was Stephen Strasburg's personal catcher at San Diego State, and was the team's best hitter.

Final Summary: While it's hardly a ground-breaking draft, the Astros are definitely moving in the right direction under scouting director Bobby Heck, focusing on athletes and ceiling in order to replenish one of the minor leagues' weakest systems.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1: (36) Aaron Miller, LHP, Baylor
2: (56) Blake Smith, OF, California; (65) Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize HS (KS)
3: (96) Brett Wallach, RHP, Orange Coast CC

Quick Take: Miller barely pitched at Baylor until this year, but when forced into the role due to injuries, he suddenly showed rare velocity for a southpaw, touching 95 mph while flashing a plus slider. His inexperience shows with his lack of command and pitchability, but there's significant upside here. Smith received a good deal of attention as a reliever who can get it up to 98, but his command of the pitch is non-existent, and while he's never put up big numbers as a hitter, he's a big athlete with a lot of tools. Gould had some first-round consideration, and the Dodgers have a long history of taking projectable prep arms from the Midwest. His fastball is in the low 90s, and his curve is outstanding. The son of former Expo and Dodger Tim Wallach, Brett was a two-way star in junior college, but his future is on the mound as he fills the strike zone with an effective three-pitch mix.

Notable Later Picks: Outfielder Angel Sonco (4th) doesn't blow anyone away with his tools, but he put up some big numbers at Loyola Marymount. Catcher Jan Vazquez (6th) has very good defensive skills and is a switch-hitter with a line-drive bat. Like Vazquez, outfielder Jonathan Garcia (8th) is a product of Puerto Rico, and he packs an impressive set of skills into a smallish frame.

Final Summary: Without a first-round pick, the Dodgers seemed to focus primarily on finding tools players who weren't seen as higher picks due to holes in their game or a lack of experience. There will be some big players here, and some big busts as well.

Milwaukee Brewers

1: (26) Eric Arnett, RHP, Indians; (39) Kentrail Davis, OF, Tennessee; (47) Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State
2: (73) Max Walla, OF, Albuquerque Academy (NM); (74) Cameron Garfield, C, Murrieta Valley HS (CA)
3: (105) Jose Prince, SS, Tulane

Quick Take: Arnett was attached to plenty of teams in the second half of the first round, so the Brewers were thrilled that he was still on the board at 26th overall. A 6-foot-5 wide body with 93-95 mph heat, a good slider, and solid command, he probably would have gone higher if he had a longer track record. Davis was one of the biggest disappointments among college players this year, and it was surprising to see him go this high; his performance and his sophomore-eligibility status could be problematic. Heckathorn was another pitcher with first-round aspirations, but he had a very up-and-down spring. When he's on, he's scary, as he's bigger than Arnett and throws harder. Max Walla is one of those Matt Sulentic/Caleb Gindl types, where he doesn't have the physical attributes to project for stardom, but he sure can hit. Garfield was one of the better defensive high school catchers in the county, but not everyone is sold on his bat. Prince has true shortstop tools, blinding speed, and an excellent feel for the strike zone, and he may be underrated by those who focused solely on his lack of power.

Notable Later Picks: Outfielder D'Vontrey Richardson (5th) concentrated more on football than baseball at Florida State, but he's a truly elite-level athlete. Khris Davis (7th) hit in the middle of the order for one of the country's elite programs at Cal State Fullerton, but he's still more potential than reality. Chad Stang (8th) is another toolsy outfielder with exciting athleticism, but a Canadian upbringing and two years at junior college leave him mostly untested.

Final Summary: The Brewers did an outstanding job considering what they had to work with, as their first three selections all had first-round potential at one point or another. After that, they balanced tools with skills, and again, Prince could be a real sleeper here.

New York Mets

1: No pick
2: (72) Steve Matz, LHP, Melville HS (NY)
3: (103) Robbie Shields, SS, Florida Southern

Quick Take: While the Mets opted for the hometown hero by nabbing the Long Island prep star with their first pick, Matz' talent truly belonged here; he's a long, projectable lefty who got up to 93-94 mph this spring. Shields didn't live up to expectations, but he's a solid player with average tools across the board.

Notable Later Picks: Not only does fifth-round pick Damien Magnifico have a great name, he also has a great arm, and he got into the mid-90s at times this spring. Right-hander David Buchanan (6th) is another big-time arm-strength guy, but he's very raw. Catcher Taylor Freeman (8th) combines good catch-and-throw skills with intriguing power.

Final Summary: While the Mets took solid picks all around, it's hard to have an impact draft when you don't select until 72nd overall. It's also a point of confusion as to why the team doesn't use their resources to spend on signability players who drop.

Philadelphia Phillies

1: No pick
2: (75) Kelly Dugan, OF, Notre Dame HS (CA)
3: (106) Kyrell Hudson, OF, Evergreen HS (WA)

Quick Take: Dugan was a late-spring riser on draft boards; he's a switch-hitting corner outfielder with size and power, but some saw him as simply a mistake-crusher who struggles against breaking stuff. Hudson is a classic Phillies pick, in that he's a monster athlete with fantastic upside, but he rarely impresses in-game.

Notable Later Picks: Seventh-round pick Brody Covin will require a significant bonus to sign, but he's a high-ceiling right-hander who already has two plus pitches in his fastball and curve. Infielder Adam Buschini (4th) put up some big numbers at Cal Poly, and he surprised scouts by proving to be a capable defender at second base. First baseman Jon Singleton (8th) has crazy raw power, but isn't that much of a hitter.

Final Summary: While the Phillies were hamstrung by their lack of picks, they did focus on upside with what they had while grabbing a few signability guys like Colvin in an attempt to upgrade their position.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1: (4) Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College; (49) Victor Black, RHP, Dallas Baptist
2: (53) Brooks Pounders, RHP, Temecula Valley HS (CA)
3: (84) Evan Chambers, OF, Hillsborough CC

Quick Take: By any measure Sanchez was an extreme overdraft, but the Pirates hope that he can develop into a plus-plus defender and team leader who hits 15-18 home runs per year. Black is a big right-hander with true power stuff, but his secondary offerings and command are inconsistent. Pounders is another huge righty with upside who sits in the low 90s and has a good slider. Chambers is built like a running back at 5-foot-9 and 220 pounds, but his tools are impressive, and he's less raw than most pure athletes.

Notable Later Picks: The Pirates didn't shy away from slot-busters in the later rounds, especially the bigger, more projectable arms from the high school ranks. Sixth-round pick Zack Von Rosenberg and seventh-round selection Trent Stevenson are both 6-foot-6 righties with lots of upside, while eighth-rounder Colton Cain is a 6-foot-3, 225-pound southpaw with a football body and mentality.

Final Summary: It's hard to make any excuses for the Sanchez pick, but the Pirates definitely tried to play catch-up in the later rounds, not shying away from some of the higher price tags that were out there.

St. Louis Cardinals

1: (19) Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX)
2: (67) Robert Stock, C, Southern California
3: (98) Joe Kelly, RHP, UC Riverside

Quick Take: The Cardinals suddenly became attached to all of the high-price high school arms in the days leading up to the draft, and they ended up taking the most affordable of the four in Miller, who arguably had the best pure arm of any of them. Stock is very hard to evaluate because of his age. On the surface, his season wasn't especially impressive, but because he's 19, it should be looked at as it would be if it were that of a freshman, so there is potential there. Besides, he gets to the mid-90s on the mound and could move there if the hitting doesn't work out. Kelly is a pure fastball guy with great velocity, but it comes with too much effort, and his secondary pitches are suspect.

Notable Later Picks: Right-hander Scott Bittle (4th) has borderline first-round talent, as well as a medical history that would take a full ream of paper to print out. Shortstop Ryan Jackson (5th) is a plus-plus defender with offensive skills that lag behind-he might be the next Adam Everett. Eighth-round pick Jason Stidham was a steady performer at Florida State, but he has little chance to stay at shortstop.

Final Summary: Miller could be a case of highway robbery at #19, and the Cardinals definitely focused on the higher-ceiling types with the majority of their high picks. They've been a successfully drafting team of late, and 2009 should continue that trend.

San Diego Padres

1: (3) Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (GA)
2: (52) Everett Williams, OF, McCallum HS (TX)
3: (83) Jerry Sullivan, RHP, Oral Roberts

Quick Take: While some had questions about his bat, nobody matched up with Tate when it came to his combination of size, skills, and ceiling-in fact, nobody even came close. Williams is another premium athlete who many thought could go in the first round. He's a little on the short side, but he generates significant power in his swing and has well above-average speed. Sullivan is a command/control righty who hits his spots and mixes his pitches well.

Notable Later Picks: Fourth-round pick Keyvius Sampson is another potential slot-buster who many believed would go within the first 50 picks. He's not as big and projectable as most high school arms, but he can already bump it up to 95 mph. Righty James Needy (6th) is the opposite of Sampson, as he's 6-foot-6 and skinny, but his ready-now stuff falls a bit short. First baseman Nate Freiman (8th) is a 6-foot-8, 240-pound monster with 80 raw power, but most question his ability to hit for average.

Final Summary: One of the most stoic, nondescript teams of the decade when it comes to the draft, the Padres did a complete 180-degree turn this year. Whether or not it will work out will take years to determine, but give them credit for at least altering a course that wasn't getting them very far.

San Francisco Giants

1: (6) Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA)
2: (55) Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ)
3: (86) Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville

Quick Take: Like the Hobgood selection by Baltimore, Wheeler wasn't the best high school arm on the board as much as he was the best affordable arm at that point. He does have everything you look for in a pitching prospect; he's long, loose, and already gets up to 95 mph, but his secondary stuff will need development. Joseph's power is outstanding, and while you want to see how long he can stay behind the plate due to his plus arm strength, his receiving skills are quite poor. Dominguez is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound monster with 80 raw power and arguably an 80 arm, but he's as likely to strike out 200 times in a season as he is to hit 35 home runs.

Notable Later Picks: Fourth-rounder Jason Stoffel began the year as the best college reliever in the draft, but the right-hander just didn't flash the same plus fastball/slider combination that he did last year. Fifth-round pick Brandon Belt is a 6-foot-5 first baseman with a downright pretty swing, but scouts are baffled by his consistent lack of power. Infielder Nick Liles is a good athlete with plus speed and gap power.

Final Summary: While it hardly matches the cornucopia of last year's bounty, this is still a solid class, though like many teams in the top ten, passing on those big high school arms may come back to bite the Giants.

Washington Nationals

1: (1) Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State; (10) Drew Storen, RHP, Washington
2: (50) Jeff Kobernus, 2B, California
3: (81) Trevor Holder, RHP, Georgia

Quick Take: By this time, you surely know who Strasburg is-some combination of the best college pitcher ever drafted and the Second Coming. His fastball sits at 96-98 mph, touched 103, and his slider is a true plus-plus offering, while his command rates as at least a 70. No sane person thinks that he'll be anything less than a star. Storen was a signability pick at 10th overall, but not the best available selection. Instead of making an upside bet there, they took a safe reliever whose ceiling ends with a role in the seventh or eighth inning. On a team full of prospects, Kobernus outplayed all of them, and some impressive workouts moved him up. He's a plus runner with a good bat, but his power falls a little short. Holder was a massive overdraft to save money, and most teams saw him as a 10th- to 15th-round talent and little more than a polished strike-thrower.

Notable Later Picks: Right-hander A.J. Morris (4th) had some of the best numbers in the country at Kansas State, but he's a sinker/slider type who projects best as a fourth starter. While he'll need patience and coaching, sixth-round pick Michael Taylor has all of the tools to stay and shortstop and hit there. Another Georgia product, Dean Weaver (7th) is a reliever with above-average velocity and a nice slider.

Final Summary: The success or failure of this draft rests solely on the sizable shoulders of Stephen Strasburg.

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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