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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Schedule Update

My schedule for the next few weeks isn’t totally set in stone just yet, but I do know that I’ll be on assignment (lots of good amateur ball to watch in August) and won’t be around much this coming week. Fear not, as I’m ready with a nifty little backlog of draft retrospectives that should be up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, really, this announcement isn’t much of an announcement at all, other than to say the summer schedule I’ve slowly tried to phase in (M/W/F) will continue at least through the end of August. Thanks for sticking with the site.

Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Ten High School First Basemen

In simpler, far more innocent times, a young scamp with nothing but a few connections, a love of baseball, and a dream sat down in his mother’s basement to rank a bunch of first basemen a few weeks in advance of the 2009 MLB Draft. If I had to do it all over again I think Singleton would be on top, followed closely by Jeff Malm and then Telvin Nash.

If we forget about my list and look strictly at where the players were selected on draft day, we’d have an order of Nash (3rd Round), Malm (5th), Singleton (8th), Geoffrey Baldwin (11th), Corey Davis (15th), and Ronald Sanchez (16th). Nash, Malm, Singleton, and Baldwin are all covered below, but I had to do some digging on Davis and Sanchez.

Assuming I found the right Corey Davis, he’s coming off a season where he hit .397/.486/.662 with 26 BB and 26/27 SB as a sophomore at Walters State CC. Not bad, right? Sanchez, however, signed out of high school and is currently hitting below .200 without a homer in almost 300 professional at bats so far for Houston. He is far too young to write off completely — a theme you’ll find throughout these rankings — but it’s probably not a positive that he has more errors at first (11) than extra base hits (9) as a pro.

The rankings below are from 2009 and don’t reflect current value. Stats are current as of earlier this week. New commentary comes first and the old scouting blurb is in beautiful navy.

1. Jeff Malm | Tampa Bay Rays | 5th Round Pick (2009)

.308/.439/.633 – 19 BB/27 K – 120 AB

Love it or hate it, Tampa has a developmental philosophy that they stick to almost no matter what. They stand by their strict slow and steady developmental path unlike any organization I can remember. Malm has gone from a short stint in one Rookie league (GCL Rays) in 2009, a longer (200 AB) run with another Rookie league team in 2010 (Princeton Rays), and is now in Short Season ball, where he is flourishing. He’ll be 21 going into what is hopefully his first shot at full season ball next spring. I’ll admit to being pretty stunned Malm couldn’t crack an admittedly loaded Tampa Bay top 30, at least according to Baseball America. I’m a huge Baseball America defender, but, come on, Malm really wasn’t good enough a prospect to rank ahead of Leslie Anderson (28th ranked in organization) on their system-wide first base depth chart?

good size (6-2, 220); plenty of pop to stick at first long-term; above-average defensive player with a fantastic throwing arm; not sure he couldn’t stick in RF if given enough reps with professional instruction and if he puts enough time in the gym; part of a star studded Southern Cal class that will never set foot on campus including Jiovanni Mier, Brooks Pounders, and Matt Davidson; judging solely by the bat and no other tool, he stacks up surprisingly well with other prep players including Myers, Bailey, Borchering, Davidson, and maybe an unnamed outfielder or two to be determined…

2. Colton Cain | Pittsburgh Pirates | 8th Round (2009)

3.13 ERA – 95 IP – 74 K/26 BB – 0.89 GO/AO

Cain is pitching well as a youngster (20 all season) in Low A with the added bonus of still not having a ton of mileage on his arm. His solid 2011 performance was preceded by good performances last year (strong peripherals). I like pitchers like Cain: guys with good enough fastballs to keep getting looks and secondaries that will either click and become legit big league pitches all at once or…not. Of course there is some middle ground between the two outcomes, but not as much as one might think. If you’re patient you may wind up with a three-pitch starting pitcher, but the risk here is fairly self-evident.

first thing that stands about about Cain is his very pretty lefthanded stroke; like a lot of the players on this list has an unusually strong arm for a first base prospect; because of that raw arm strength many scouts like him at least as much on the mound as at the plate; I like him as the prototypical two-way high school player that has the potential to really emerge once he concentrates on hitting full time; Texas commit

3. Jonathan Singleton | Philadelphia Phillies | 8th Round (2009)

.284/.387/.406 – 53 BB/79 K – 303 AB

Long-term readers of the site may remember that I’m a Phillies fan. I try my best to be fair and balanced, but I’m only human. Well this human is an unabashed Singleton fan. He absolutely killed it his first two pro seasons, and is now hitting pretty well after a slow start. I’ve always walked away impressed with his gorgeous swing, excellent balance, and overall approach to hitting. I have no insider knowledge on what the Phillies think about his eventual defensive home, but he looked far more competent in left field than I had expected. Long the subject of trade rumors, wherever he winds up next year — left or first, Philadelphia or Houston — he’ll hit. Bonus points for being likely to start his age 20 season at AA next year.

very real plus power, both raw and present; many rough edges to his game, but he impressed many scouts this spring with his willingness to work towards improving his approach; can get too pull heavy at times, but again that raw power is hard to ignore; intriguing potential pick because he possesses a bat with the clear upside of a first baseman without needing a potential position switch to enhance his value, something that is surprisingly rare among non-elite (high first round) prep first basemen; well above average defender who has gotten better around the bag with every passing year of his prep career; Long Beach State commit

4. KC Hobson | Toronto Blue Jays | 6th Round (2009)

.252/.355/.328 – 51 BB/56 K – 326 AB

Funny how well Hobson’s pre-draft scouting reports match up with his pro performance so far: his approach has always been sound but his power upside remains in question. Hobson still gets high marks for his hit tool and overall approach, so his once high stock has remained mostly unchanged.

not enough foot speed to play anywhere but first base, so the pressure is really on Hobson’s bat becoming a major weapon; gap power that projects to home run power down the line, but his swing mechanics may need retooling after signing to untap power potential; yet another plus arm; Texas A&M commit

5. Telvin Nash | Houston Astros | 3rd Round (2009)

.287/.400/.487 – 26 BB/46 K – 150 AB

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see the raw Nash hitting as well as he so far in 2011. As a righthander with significant power, he’s very much one of the brightest spots in a weak Astros system. For the record, he’s played as much OF as 1B this year.

above-average power potential and a strong arm; outstanding athlete with well above-average foot speed who should be capable of playing a corner outfield spot with little problem; Kennesaw State commit

6. Ethan Bright 

Bright was last seen (by me, at least) putting up a line of .348/.408/.449 (6 BB/16 K) in 89 AB for Hinds CC after his dismissal from Mississippi State. Sorry I can’t offer much more than that, but probably not as sorry as Bright, who has thus far missed out on chance of being the eight player with the last name Bright to be drafted to a big league team.

in what is probably more of a weird coincidence than anything else, Bright has been compared to a couple of Canadian stars – his body has been compared to Justin Morneau’s (6-5, 230) and his bat control has been compared to Larry Walker’s; average power potential for the position (20ish homer peak), but the aforementioned ability to control the zone is intriguing; Mississippi State commit

7. Geoffrey Baldwin | Kansas City Royals | 10th Round (2009)

Baldwin struggled mightily in 2010 (.460 OPS in 174 AB) but much of that can be forgiven as rumors of family issues swirled. In what is likely not a coincidence, Baldwin has not played at all in 2011 and is currently on the Restricted List.

potential plus defense and a well above-average athlete; slow runner who is stuck at first; yes, he’s got a strong arm; with a frame that suggests future growth, Baldwin’s potential alone would probably put him fourth on the list, but it takes a little wishcasting to picture a future where he puts it all together; a Nebraska commit

8. Breck Ashdown 

From undrafted to Oregon State and now to Notre Dame, Ashdown has seen it all. He’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore at Notre Dame and 23 years old by the time the 2012 MLB Draft rolls around.

ML-frame (6-4, 210); potentially above-average defensively with a plus throwing arm; above-average athlete with, you guessed it, above-average speed on the basepaths; bat has been more good than great, but his frame does lead some to believe more power is coming; all told, he’s a well-rounded prospect that does a lot of things well, but doesn’t feature that one stand out tool that makes him look like a sure-fire future big league first baseman; Oregon State commit who may be best taking his plus arm to Corvallis as a two-way player

9. Rudy Flores

.300/.378/.500 – 27 BB/60 K – 230 AB

Flores has shown big power since stepping on campus at Florida International and is now one of the better college first base prospects around. I saw him on tape this past year and came away impressed with his bat speed, pretty swing, and above-average present lefthanded power.

excelled against high level competition, but questions remain about the development of his bat at the professional level; good lefty power, good frame (6-3, 205), and a good arm (high-80s fastball), but borderline top ten round pick who may not get paid enough to sway him from following through on his commitment to Florida International

10. Kelly Dugan | Philadelphia Phillies | 2nd Round (2009)

.268/.320/.348 – 8 BB/24 K – 5/5 SB – 138 AB

After the draft I upgraded Dugan’s ceiling from Casey Kotchman (see below) to a poor man’s Lance Berkman in an attempt to talk myself into the selection (again, Phillies fan here), but he’s three years in and still in Short Season ball. That isn’t encouraging. My man on the scene who has seen a lot of Dugan since he signed has been effusive in his praise — mainly, that everything he hits is right on the nose and he’s got that special line drive sound working for him — but the numbers aren’t pretty. It was a massive overdraft at the time, and it doesn’t look any better with the benefit of hindsight.

my personal dilemma with Dugan is fairly simple…the main reason I have him higher than most is also the thing that scares me from putting him any higher; watch Dugan swing a bat and you can see he has the innate ability to wait, wait, wait…and then snap his wrists through the zone; spin that another way and you can say he lacks appropriate pull power for a first baseman due to a slow bat; a professional conditioning program and a tweak or two to his swing setup could give him that split second of bat speed missing to make him a doubles machine reminiscent of a young Casey Kotchman; I’d take the big money and go forth towards reaching my ultimate dream 99 times out of 100, but if I had a scholarship to play baseball in Malibu for Pepperdine like Dugan has…well, I’d have to think long and hard about that one – we’ll see what he does in a few months

Draft Retrospective: All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09)

I wish I could go back and compare this list with other seniors drafted in 2009, but there doesn’t appear to be a draft database that gets that specific and I don’t have the patience/time/energy to sort through the names myself. It is still pretty interesting to see what some of the top seniors from 2009 are up to now, so let’s dive right in and check on the players from my All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09):

C Preston Clark

Not exactly setting the world in fire with this first name, but I couldn’t dig up anything on Preston Clark after his senior season at Texas.

1B Luke Anders | Texas A&M | San Francisco Giants | 32nd Round (2009)

.251/.346/.423 – 35 BB/63 K – 267 AB

Every organization has a Luke Anders or two bouncing around the minors. He’s a very typical college slugger just a bit too old for his level but still doing just enough with the bat to “protect” some of the younger prospects around him. The line you see above is for a 24 year old in High A, by the way. Not super old for his league, but first base is a really tough position to make an impression and time might be running out on Anders. Also, his last name makes me think of Workaholics, a show I like way more than I probably should.

2B Seth Henry | Tulane | Tampa Bay Rays | Undrafted Free Agent

Henry struggled in both ’09 and ’10 and has since been released. Unfortunate ending, for sure, but I give any undrafted player who manages to catch on with a big league organization a ton of credit for chasing that dream.

3B Chris Dominguez | Louisville | San Francisco Giants | 3rd Round (2009)

.284/.326/.465 – 24 BB/110 K – 391 AB

Dominguez was the most exciting senior hitter on my list at the time, a position backed up by his lofty third round draft selection. His above numbers are his combined line between High A and AA as a 24 year old. I still love the tools — most notably his big raw power and plus-plus arm — and think his floor remains solid four-corners power hitting utility guy.

SS Ben Orloff | UC Irvine | Houston Astros | 9th Round (2009)

.317/.398/.411 – 17 BB/16 K – 8/14 SB – 202 AB

Orloff has played really well this year, as his numbers attest, but it is very curious to me that a 24 year old has gone through the system so slowly. I couldn’t be totally off here, mostly on account of me not knowing anything pertaining to the inner workings of the Houston farm system, but it makes no sense to have Orloff still in Low A.

OF Cory Harrilchak | Elon | Atlanta Braves | 14th Round (2009)

.243/.316/.374 – 31 BB/50 K – 9/16 SB – 305 AB

Harrilchak is an easy player to root for; as a fan of a division rival, consider that the highest of praise. He’ll never hit for much power, but all of his other four tools are at least average and he’s the type of player that will work to have those average tools play up. He’s 23 years old and in AA, but it won’t be too long until he’s a backup outfielder somewhere in the big leagues.

OF Ryan Lollis | Missouri | San Francisco Giants | 37th Round (2009)

.288/.371/.374 – 26 BB/33 K – 5/8 SB – 219 AB

Lollis has a similar line to Orloff, but, unfortunately also like Orloff, he’s spent most of 2011 in Low A as a 24 year old.

OF Matt Long | Santa Clara | Los Angeles Angels | 30th Round (2009)

.304/.386/.531 – 46 BB/64 K – 18/28 SB – 382 AB

Long has hit well as a 24 year old in High A, but it should be pointed out that he is doing this in the very hitter friendly Cal League. Call me crazy, but I think there is enough power, speed, and plate discipline here to make him an interesting sleeper. His defensive ability, of which I have no idea of, could make or break him as he moves up the chain.

RHP Scott Bittle | Mississippi | St. Louis Cardinals | 4th Round (2009)

8.44 ERA – 5.1 IP – 6 K/8 BB – 0.29 GO/AO

I’m almost too bummed out to write anything about Bittle, one of my all-time favorite college pitchers to watch. He was consistently banged up in college, wound up with a nasty shoulder injury in the pros, and is now 24 and just getting his feet wet in Short-Season ball. At least he was when I originally wrote that earlier this week. He’s since been released. Such a bummer.

RHP Preston Guilmet | Arizona | Cleveland Indians | 9th Round (2009)

1.74 ERA – 41.1 IP – 45 K/7 BB – 0.86 GO/AO

Guilmet’s funky delivery, abundance of offspeed slop, and consistently outstanding strikeout/walk numbers has me looking forward to the Preston Guilmet, MLB reliever era. He turns 24 today and is thus far killing it in High A. Part of me regrets picking him over Adam Warren (Yankees), but I still loyal to my guy.

RHP Louis Coleman | Louisiana State | Kansas City Royals | 5th Round (2009)

1.88 ERA – 43 K/17 BB – 38.1 IP

What can you say about Coleman? He’s currently lighting it up in the big leagues and is hopefully on the precipice of a ten year big league career.

LHP Miers Quigley | Alabama

Sometimes banking on a top prep arm rediscovering what once made them so great doesn’t work out. Swing and a miss…

LHP Chris Rusin | Kentucky | Chicago Cubs | 4th Round (2009)

3.96 ERA – 88.2 IP – 56 K/17 BB – 2.03 GO/AO

Rusin was good in both 2009 and 2010 and is one of the quicker movers on this list now that he’s made it to AAA. Most of his year has been spent in AA, so keep that in mind when looking at his combined numbers above. Between his high draft pedigree, good enough peripherals for a potential reliever, and interesting ground ball numbers, we could be looking at a future big league bullpen piece.

LHP Wes Musick | Houston | Colorado Rockies | 9th Round (2009)

5.34 ERA – 28.2 IP – 31 K/12 BB – 0.77 GO/AO

Musick was dealt back home to Houston in the Matt Lindstrom trade. His ERA may not be pretty, but the K/BB ratio looks good for a young lefty pitching mostly in High A.

Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft – Junior College Prospects

The original list of top 2009 junior college prospects is here. I added current minor league numbers and some quick commentary for each player. There were definitely some misses on the original list, but mostly in the way of omissions, as you’ll read at the end of the post. The ten guys on the actual original list, however, all wound up drafted or at four-year university the next year. That might not sound like much, and maybe it isn’t, but for one of the very first lists I ever put together (and with a relatively early post date of February at that) it wasn’t too terrible.

1. RHP Jake Cowan | San Jacinto CC | Baltimore Orioles | 10th Round (2009)

4.46 ERA – 36.1 IP – 37 K/16 BB – 0.87 GO/AO

The numbers put up in seven starts aren’t bad by any stretch, but the fact that Cowan is 23 years old and still pitching in Short-Season A Ball for the New York-Penn League’s Aberdeen IronBirds isn’t exactly ideal. I’m still a believer in Cowan, though it was interesting to read that he leans so heavily on his curve and change rather than his above-average fastball.

2. RHP Ryan Weber | St. Petersburg CC | Atlanta Braves | 17th Round (2009)

2.68 ERA – 43.2 IP – 32 K/8 BB – 1.76 GO/AO

Weber’s done a solid job at an age-appropriate level — he’ll be 21 next month and in the Low A South Atlantic League — but a recent injury has landed him on the 7-Day DL. It comes at a bad time as he’s been stretched out to start after starting the year in the bullpen. Weber still looks like a future big league reliever to me, though it may take a trade to reach that ceiling. Hard to project any Low A arm into Atlanta’s big league bullpen this far out considering how stacked their young bullpen looks already.

3. RHP Daniel Webb | Northwest Florida State CC | Toronto Blue Jays | 18th Round (2010)

5.97 ERA – 57.1 IP – 45 K/23 BB – 2.16 GO/AO

The Low-A Lansing Lugnuts starter has been on the shelf since early June. Worth noting that he has been much better against righthanders than lefties. Webb still throws hard, but his command problems stemming from an inconsistent release point persist to this day.

4. RHP Kendall Korbal | Blinn CC | San Diego Padres | 21st Round (2009)

I called him Kendal Korban back in 2009. Pretty impressive that I was able to mess up both his first name and his last name, if you think about it. Injuries have set Kendall Korbal back to the point he has yet to throw a professional inning. The always informative MadFriars.com filled in some of the blanks. Cliff Notes version: Tommy John surgery was needed right after Korbal’s signing, rehab didn’t go quite as planned, and he has since been released. None other than Paul DePodesta was pretty excited about him pre-injury:

“20 years old and 6’6″, 210 lbs, Kendall has a fastball that reaches 93 and the makings of solid secondary pitches. He could end up as a starter or a reliever with power stuff.”

I remember command being an issue pre-injury and, as often noted, the comeback from Tommy John surgery often impacts command as much as velocity. Sounds like this could have been the case here. He’s young enough that he could resurface if healthy.

5. LHP Shawn Sanford | Palomar CC 

Sanford transferred to San Diego State, but fell off the map after the 2010 season. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. At first I thought he shrunk a few inches, learned how to throw righthanded, transferred to South Florida, and got himself drafted by the Giants. Wrong Shawn Sanford.

6. LHP Mike Rayl | Palm Beach CC | Cleveland Indians | 15th Round (2009)

2.83 ERA – 82.2 IP – 84 K/13 BB – 0.89 GO/AO

Rayl has put up the best pro numbers of any player on the list so far with over a strikeout per inning and 17 good starts as a 22-year old in Low-A. 6’5″ lefties with consistently strong performances get noticed in time. He won’t reach the heights of his 2009 draft peers — Alex White and Jason Kipnis have both already reached the big leagues — but shouldn’t be completely dismissed as a future bullpen arm down the line.

7. LHP Chad Bell | Walters State CC | Texas Rangers | 14th Round (2009)

3.35 ERA – 37.2 IP – 34 K/15 BB – 1.29 GO/AO

Finally we get a prospect playing above Low-A ball! Bell has pitched well out of the bullpen for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in High-A. Interesting to note that he has rarely been called in to pitch just one inning (or less) instead often going two full innings or more. I had Bell pegged as a pitchabilty lefthander with just barely enough stuff to survive going forward, but an uptick in fastball velocity (sitting 88-92 with the chance for more), a much improved curveball, and a reliably steady change make him a worthy challenger for big league innings down the road.

8. LHP Patrick Corbin | Chipola CC | Los Angeles Angels | 2nd Round (2009)

3.84 ERA – 119.2 IP – 111 K/26 BB – 1.34 GO/AO

Now we’re cooking. Tyler Skaggs may have been the centerpiece that went to Arizona in the Dan Haren, but Corbin is no slouch. I suppose you don’t need me telling you this, considering his lofty draft status and Baseball America’s top ten prospect ranking (9th on Arizona’s list, to be exact). I thought he’d fit best in a big league bullpen back in the day, and I still kind of do, but the possibility that he can take his darting fastball, above-average slider, and much improved changeup to a big league rotation is now very real. His strong AA performance keeps him on track to make his big league debut at some point in 2012.

9. LHP Kevin Gelinas | Central Arizona CC

Not only did I like Gelinas as a junior college pitcher, I liked him as a college pitcher after he transferred to UC Santa Barbara. His is a sad story, however, as the once promising and twice drafted (’09 and ’10) lefthander couldn’t stay healthy enough to make it three years in a row. I’ve looked in to see if he had latched on as an undrafted free agent anywhere, but haven’t found anything positive to report. Injuries, man – hate ‘em.

10. OF Runey Davis | Howard CC | Chicago Cubs | 12th Round (2009)

.353/.461/.600 – 16 BB/27 K – 85 AB – 4/6 SB

Two subpar years have all been erased by Davis’s recent dominant run for the Idaho Falls Chukars. Alright, not really…but it’s a start. Davis was let go by the Cubs and added to the Royals squad this past March, but his quality 2011 numbers have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt considering his age (22) and current level of play. If his speed plays as well as I thought then he could still make it to the bigs somewhere, someday considering the way teams tend to be patient with true centerfielders with plus tools.

*****

The next five players on my original list were OF David Stewart (Grayson County CC), RHP Brett Bruening (Grayson County CC), RHP Rey Cotilla (Miami-Dade CC), C Miles Hamblin (Howard CC), and RHP Jason Townsend (Chipola CC). Out of those five, I’d say Townsend, who wound up a 31st round pick of the Pirates by way of the University of Alabama, qualifies as the most promising prospect.

Limiting my search to the top five rounds only, I found six other junior college players worth mentioning: Evan Chambers, Keon Broxton, Brett Wallach, Randy Henry, Mycal Jones, and Darrell Ceciliani. Broxton and Jones are the best prospects of the bunch, though neither inspired me to write anything more about them now.

Week Ahead

More 2012 thoughts to come (plus responses to anybody who hit me up via email or in the comment section), but I wanted to start the week off with something totally different. I’ve already spent tons of time this summer doing homework so I could best look forward to next year’s draft class, but now want to switch it up and look back at prior draft classes to see what has happened to some of the big names of the past two years. The year-round nature of a draft site doesn’t always allow for much retrospection, so I figured it would be interesting to take advantage of the mid-summer lull by digging into the archives in sort of a “Where Are They Now” kind of way.

First up, a look at what the top junior college prospects of 2009 are up to now. Thrilling, I know. Should be ready by mid-day…

College First Basemen: 2008 to 2012

As I sat down over the weekend to at least begin to attempt to justify some of the odder placements from last Friday’s 2012 initial top 100 list, I found myself struck with the weirdest case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. There was plenty to talk about — a defense of Lance McCullers at the top, the super high top ten rankings of a pair of college guys from Texas schools, a higher than usual number of draft-eligible sophomores primed to crash the first round — but for some reason my mind kept coming back to 2008, the year I started to look at the draft less in terms of specific players I had personally seen play and more in a comprehensive, 30 team/50 round way. I’ve also always been a sucker for a good hook, so the allure of any type of draft-related “Year of the _____” appealed to me. The 2008 draft was built up as the “Year of the First Baseman,” and, though the results have been predictably mixed thus far, on balance I think the hype has been justified. I became so stuck on this one thought — early round first basemen of the recent past and how they stack up to the four first basemen on my top 100 — that I couldn’t get to anything else.

What I think I’ve always been fascinated about with respect to first base prospects is the high stakes gamble that comes with taking a first baseman early on draft day. If your athletic five-tool up-the-middle draft prospect doesn’t hit as expected, you’ve still got — wait, let me get my calculator — four tools, including defense and the ancillary positional value boost, remaining. If your first base prospect doesn’t hit (and hit a ton), then you’re left with nothing but regret. I also like the fact that college first baseman represent arguably the safest possible investment early on in the draft. Close reading shows that we’ve gone from “high stakes gamble” to “safest possible investment” in a single paragraph. Studies (that I can’t seem to be able to Google up right now) have shown that elite college hitters (with the numbers to back up said “eliteness”) tend to translate very well to the pro game. That’s what made 2008 so thrilling for me, I guess. Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso had that power/plate discipline blend that made them look like ready-made big league regulars even on draft day. College teammates Brett Wallace and Ike Davis both seemed likely to settle in as starters as well. It wasn’t crazy to think Allan Dykstra and David Cooper would be hitting 25+ bombs a year. If any of their bats betrayed them, however, then poof! any hope of a real big league career would be gone.

As I’ve written before, this past year didn’t have a Smoak, Alonso, or even a Wallace, at least not until it became clear CJ Cron wouldn’t be capable of donning the tools of ignorance as a pro. Even still, Cron, as impressive a hitter as he is, was seen as a prospect closer in pre-draft stature to Davis than one of ’08’s bigger names. A comparison, rough as it is, between Baseball America’s very early draft preview (taken from the Prospect Handbook published in January each year) and this year’s current rising group of first base prospects (according to me) provides some context to the discussion. Included are only players who wound up as first, supplemental first, or second round picks:

Draft Year: Player Name (ranking)

2008: Smoak (3), Alonso (5), Dykstra (24), Wallace (28), Cooper (55), Davis (68)

2009: Rich Poythress (33)

2010:

2011: Cron (40)

2012: Jayce Boyd (25), Christian Walker (27), Richie Shaffer (38), Max Muncy (69)

The upcoming draft won’t have six college first baseman taken in the first round nor will it have two (or three, depending on how some felt about Wallace at the time) potential franchise cornerstones who happen to play first, but it does have a handful of young men who just might have enough bat to play first base everyday at the highest level. Without getting too deep into the scouting profiles of Boyd, Walker, Shaffer, and Muncy (plenty of time for that in the next 11 months, plus I’ve already gone into some detail on Boyd here and Shaffer there), I thought a “quick” look at how all twelve of these college first basemen stack up from both the statistical and scouting sides could be interesting.

To keep the comparisons going, I’ve provided the basic information for all eight of those first, supplemental first, and second round college first base picks from the past three drafts, plus the four players listed in my early top 100 for 2012. All stat lines are raw, unfortunately, as we don’t have access to park/league/schedule adjusted stats going back a few years. Keep in mind that the batting lines are also really tough to compare on account of the BBCOR bats debuting in 2011. Also included are quotes taken from the aforementioned Baseball America Prospect Handbook, as chosen by yours truly. All quotes for the prospects from 2008 and 2009 are from the prospect’s first year out of college. The CJ Cron entry has quotes pulled from Baseball America’s draft preview, and the quotes on the current college players are ones that I’ve managed to get on record from the always entertainingly nebulous “industry insiders.”

You may be wondering “what’s the point?” after reading though the comparison below. Truthfully, I’m not sure there is one. I had originally hoped some wonderful epiphany about college first base prospects would come to me, either in the form of a statistical trend or a certain scouting similarities. Heck, you know as much as I like to “force” comps that I’m dying to match up some of the 2008-2011 players with a 2012 counterpart, but I’m really not sure I see a fit. As it is, I think what we have here is context.

*****

Yonder Alonso | 2008 | Cincinnati | 1.7 | University of Miami

FR – .295/.373/.492 – 32 BB/37 K – 244 AB
SO – .376/.519/.705 – 64 BB/31 K – 210 AB
JR – .370/.534/.777 – 76 BB/35 K – 211 AB

  • “rare hitter who has both plus power and the swing and pitch awareness to hit for a high average as well”
  • “allergic to strikeouts”
  • “yet to prove that he can recognize and hit a quality breaking ball”
  • “below-average athlete and runner”
  • “soft hands and adequate range should allow him to develop into at least an average defender”

Justin Smoak | 2008 | Texas | 1.11 | University of South Carolina

FR – .303/.407/.586 – 40 BB/39 K – 244 AB
SO – .315/.434/.631 – 54 BB/40 K – 260 AB
JR – .383/.505/.757 – 57 BB/28 K – 235 AB

  • “well-above-average power”
  • “Gold Glove potential at first base”
  • “below-average speed”
  • “projects as a middle-of-the-order power hitter”

Brett Wallace | 2008 | St. Louis | 1.13 | Arizona State University

FR – .371/.439/.583 – 17 BB/26 K – 151 AB
SO – .423/.500/.719 – 37 BB/34 K – 253 AB
JR – .410/.526/.753 – 48 BB/33 K – 239 AB

  • “one of the best pure hitters in the minors”
  • “balanced, level swing creates consistent line drives”
  • “Think batting champ with the ability to be a big bopper”
  • “average arm and surprising footwork”
  • “below-average athleticism, speed, and agility”

David Cooper | 2008 | Toronto | 1.17 | University of California

FR – .305/.337/.404 – 9 BB/18 K – 151 AB
SO – .382/.450/.627 – 30 BB/21 K – 204 AB
JR – .359/.449/.682 – 37 BB/35 K – 220 AB

  • “tremendous barrel awareness and excellent hand-eye coordination”
  • “should produce high batting averages”
  • “could develop average power and hit 18-20 homers per season”
  • “below-average athlete and poor runner”
  • “offers limited range and slow reactions at first base”

Ike Davis | 2008 | New York Mets | 1.18 | Arizona State University

FR – .329/.387/.542 – 20 BB/58 K – 240 AB
SO – .346/.400/.532 – 26 BB/39 K – 231 AB
JR – .385/.457/.742 – 31 BB/34 K – 213 AB

  • “considered a slick defensive first baseman – the type who could contend for a Gold Glove some day”
  • “strong arm”
  • “below-average speed”

Allan Dykstra | 2008 | San Diego | 1.23 | Wake Forest University

FR – .324/.479/.670 – 51 BB/32 K – 185 AB
SO – .310/.479/.615 – 57 BB/33 K – 226 AB
JR – .323/.519/.645 – 62 BB/45 K – 186 AB

  • “plus-plus raw power and plate discipline”
  • “should hit for some average as well”
  • “above-average arm”
  • “below-average athlete, runner, and defender at first base”

Rich Poythress | 2009 | Seattle | 2.51 | University of Georgia

FR – .282/.354/.410 – 17 BB/31 K – 156 AB
SO – .374/.461/.626 – 46 BB/40 K – 265 AB
JR – .376/.473/.764 – 42 BB/39 K – 237 AB

  • “power is his standout tool”
  • “controls the strike zone and doesn’t try to pull everything”
  • “ought to hit for a decent average”
  • “below-average range and fringy arm”
  • “doesn’t have much speed”
  • “Some scouts who saw him in college wonder if his power will play against better velocity”

CJ Cron | 2011 | Los Angeles Angels | 1.17 | University of Utah

FR – .337/.380/.557 – 14 BB/31 K – 246 AB
SO – .431/.493/.817 – 17 BB/23 K – 197 AB
JR – .434/.517/.803 – 31 BB/21 K – 198 AB

  • “doesn’t move well at first base and is a bottom-of-the-scale runner”
  • “above-average hitter”
  • “legitimate 80 raw power that translates into at least above-average usable power”

*****

Jayce Boyd | 2012 | ranked 25th | Florida State University

FR – .326/.394/.507 – 27 BB/38 K – 227 AB
SO – .335/.415/.515 – 34 BB/32 K – 233 AB

  • “plus raw power, maybe a touch less”
  • “potential award winner with glove at first base”
  • “such a naturally gifted hitter that he could probably do it with his eyes closed”

Christian Walker | 2012 | ranked 27th | University of South Carolina

FR – .327/.384/.518 – 18 BB/18 K – 226 AB
SO – .361/.442/.556 – 32 BB/26 K – 241 AB

  • “plus hit tool with enough strength and loft to hit 20+ homers at next level”
  • “currently a shaky defender, but upside to be average”

Richie Shaffer | 2012 | ranked 38th | Clemson University

FR – .323/.415/.525 – 18 BB/36 K – 158 AB
SO – .315/.438/.577 – 44 BB/53 K – 222 AB

  • “recovered from broken hamate to show true plus power”
  • “good present defender with the chance to be excellent”
  • “strong arm”

Max Muncy | 2012 | ranked 69th | Baylor University

FR – .300/.374/.500 – 24 BB/48 K – 230 AB
SO – .322/.428/.511 – 37 BB/36 K – 227 AB

  • “far from the prototypical slugging first base prospect”
  • “good athlete, good defender, average runner”
  • “line drive machine who specializes in squaring up and making consistent solid contact”
  • “development of power will make or break him…bat currently profiles as much better at his high school position [catcher]“

2012 MLB Draft Top 100 Prospect Big Board or:

(February 15, 2012 EDIT – Since this is the site’s current most Google friendly landing spot, I believe a “thanks for stopping by, stranger” is in order. So, thanks for stopping by, stranger. I also want to apologize for the dated list. What you see below was originally published in July of last year, so expect to see a whole host of changes in the upcoming updated big board to be released shortly.)

(May 21, 2012 EDIT – Be sure to stop over to the 2012 MLB Draft Rankings Index for more up to date information and rankings. Players are added literally every day of the week, so check in early and often…or not, I get paid the same (not at all!) either way.)

How I Learned to Stave Off Baseball Withdrawal and Love the All-Star Break

As much as I hate not having meaningful baseball to watch for three whole days right smack dab in the middle of summer, I can’t deny that my productivity gets an unusual spike in mid-July every year. Behold below, the fruit of this year’s All-Star break labor. I typically hate running lists without any kind of explanatory remarks, but I didn’t want to hold up publishing this out of fear that the extra time “adding commentary” would actually wind up as time spent adding, subtracting, and rearranging names. Perhaps some justification will come next week and/or in the comments section if the opportunity arises.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ranked list of 2012 draft prospects floating around the internet. That leaves me very vulnerable to looking clueless once the industry leaders start putting together their rankings — keeping my fingers crossed that Baseball America’s first 2012 draft ranking doesn’t include a player in their top ten that I completely whiffed on in my top hundred — but also puts me out ahead of any of the classic “you’ve just taken BA/PG’s lists, changed a few names, and called it a day” complaints that crop up in my Inbox from time to time. If there is something egregious in my ranking, whether it be the placement of a player or a prospect’s omission, feel free to let me know so we can make the next overall ranking that much better. I’ll spare you my old rant about rankings being living, breathing, evolving organisms, especially when published eleven months ahead of draft day.

As for the list itself, well, I shudder to think about how silly it will look by next spring. The amount of projection that goes into a project like this is ridiculous. Performance matters, of course, but much more weight is given to tools, athleticism, body type, swing mechanics, and, for pitchers, raw stuff and throwing motion. The high rankings of UCLA SO RHP Scott Griggs and Vanderbilt SO LHP Sam Selman are two great examples of projection over production, while the absence of Florida SO RHP Hudson Randall (a player who didn’t miss the list by as much as had expected, by the way) shows why sometimes production isn’t the end-all, be-all in ranking prospects.

Lastly, this list is just one man’s opinion. Based on firsthand observations, statistical research, crosschecking with old allies in the business, and reading publicly available scouting reports, I’d like to think it is a pretty well-informed opinion. Like all of my rankings, the emphasis is on where I’d draft each player and not where I necessarily think each player will be drafted. Here we go…

  1. RHP Lance McCullers (Jesuit HS, Florida)
  2. Stanford SO RHP Mark Appel
  3. OF Nick Williams (Galveston Ball HS, Texas)
  4. 3B Trey Williams (Valencia HS, California)
  5. LSU FR RHP Kevin Gausman
  6. Florida SO C Mike Zunino
  7. RHP Lucas Giolito (Harvard Westlake HS, California)
  8. TCU SO C Josh Elander
  9. Texas Tech SO OF Barrett Barnes
  10. Arizona State SO SS Deven Marrero
  11. Texas A&M SO RHP Michael Wacha
  12. Georgia Southern SO OF Victor Roache
  13. RHP Walker Weickel (Olympia HS, Florida)
  14. RHP Taylore Cherry (Butler HS, Ohio)
  15. OF Albert Almora (Mater Academy, Florida)
  16. SS Addison Russell (Pace HS, Florida)
  17. James Madison SO OF Johnny Bladel
  18. Rutgers SO 3B Steve Nyisztor
  19. Kentucky SO LHP Taylor Rogers
  20. Arkansas FR RHP Ryne Stanek
  21. Texas A&M SO OF Tyler Naquin
  22. Stanford SO SS Kenny Diekroeger
  23. RHP Ryan Burr (Highlands Ranch HS, Colorado)
  24. SS/RHP Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
  25. Florida State SO 3B/1B Jayce Boyd
  26. RHP Clate Schmidt (Allatoona HS, Georgia)
  27. South Carolina SO 1B Christian Walker
  28. Jacksonville SO OF Adam Brett Walker
  29. Stanford SO OF Jacob Stewart
  30. Florida Atlantic SO RHP RJ Alvarez
  31. OF Vahn Bozoian (Ayala HS, California)
  32. RHP/1B Joey Gallo (Bishop Gorman HS, Nevada)
  33. Florida SO LHP Brian Johnson
  34. Florida SO SS Nolan Fontana
  35. Georgia Tech SO RHP Buck Farmer
  36. RHP Lucas Sims (Brookwood HS, Georgia)
  37. RHP/1B Kayden Porter (Spanish Fork HS, Utah)
  38. Clemson SO 1B Richie Shaffer
  39. St. John’s SO OF Jeremy Baltz
  40. RHP Tyler Gonzalez (Madison HS, Texas)
  41. LHP Hunter Virant (Camarillo HS, California)
  42. Stanford SO 3B Stephen Piscotty
  43. UCLA SO RHP Scott Griggs
  44. Duke SO RHP Marcus Stroman
  45. Virginia SO RHP Branden Kline
  46. RHP Ty Hensley (Santa Fe HS, Oklahoma)
  47. 3B David Thompson (Westminster Christian HS, Florida)
  48. OF Anthony Alford (Petal HS, Mississippi)
  49. RHP Carson Fulmer (All Saints’ Academy HS, Florida)
  50. North Carolina SO RHP Michael Morin
  51. Arizona State SO RHP Jake Barrett
  52. Vanderbilt SO LHP Sam Selman
  53. UCLA FR RHP Eric Jaffe
  54. Buffalo SO C Tom Murphy
  55. OF Josh Henderson (Home School, Virginia)
  56. Connecticut SO 2B LJ Mazzilli
  57. OF Rhett Wiseman (Buckingham Browne & Nichols HS, Massachusetts)
  58. SS CJ Hinojosa (Klein-Collins HS, Texas)
  59. Arizona SO RHP Kurt Heyer
  60. St. John’s SO RHP Kyle Hansen
  61. Samford SO LHP Lex Rutledge
  62. Stanford SO OF Tyler Gaffney
  63. Vanderbilt SO OF Connor Harrell
  64. OF Jesse Winker (Olympia HS, Florida)
  65. RHP Jamie Callahan (Dillon HS, South Carolina)
  66. Maine SO RHP Jeff Gibbs
  67. LHP Max Fried (Montclair Prep HS, California)
  68. Virginia Commonwealth SO RHP Blake Hauser
  69. Baylor SO 1B Max Muncy
  70. 3B Corey Oswalt (James Madison HS, California)
  71. College of Charleston FR OF Daniel Aldrich
  72. TCU SO OF Kyle Von Tungeln
  73. Florida SO LHP Steven Rodriguez
  74. 3B Austin Dean (Klein HS, Texas)
  75. Mississippi State SO RHP Chris Stratton
  76. Miami SO SS Stephen Perez
  77. 2B/C Alex Bregman (Albuquerque Academy, New Mexico)
  78. C Chris Harvey (Germantown Academy, Pennsylvania)
  79. 3B Rio Ruiz (Bishop Amat HS, California)
  80. California SO LHP Justin Jones
  81. LHP Matt Crownover (Ringgold HS, Georgia)
  82. Texas SO LHP Hoby Milner
  83. SS Gavin Cecchini (Barbe HS, Louisiana)
  84. RHP Carson Kelly (Westview HS, Oregon)
  85. Coastal Carolina SO RHP/SS Josh Conway
  86. LHP Matthew Smoral (Solon HS, Ohio)
  87. Clemson SO RHP Dominic Leone
  88. Oklahoma State SO LHP Andrew Heaney
  89. Monmouth SO RHP Pat Light
  90. RHP Cody Poteet (Christian HS, California)
  91. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi FR RHP Justin Meza
  92. SS Jesmuel Valentin Diaz (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy)
  93. College of Charleston SO LHP Christian Powell
  94. Oregon SO LHP Christian Jones
  95. Cal State Fullerton SO RHP Dylan Floro
  96. 1B Keon Barnum (King HS, Florida)
  97. Arizona State SO RHP Brady Rodgers
  98. Texas SO OF/C Jonathan Walsh
  99. Georgia Southern SO RHP Chris Beck
  100. Arkansas SO RHP DJ Baxendale

Early 2012 MLB Draft Trends

A few trends that I’ve noticed while doing some 2012 draft prep work while I finish putting the final touches on a super early 2012 MLB Draft top 100 big board…

  • Prospects from non-traditional baseball prospect producing schools will rise up. Big boys from the power conferences like Florida and Stanford, to name just two, will be well represented, but there is high round talent to be found at schools like Georgia Southern, James Madison, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Samford, Maine, and Monmouth as well.
  • No high school right handed pitcher has ever gone first overall in the MLB’s Rule 4 Draft, but 2012’s lack of certainty at the top and strong group of high school pitching represents the best chance of this happening in recent memory. Lance McCullers has the requisite big fastball and alarmingly advanced secondary stuff to make a run for the draft’s top spot. Of course, with over a dozen potential first round high school right handers nipping at his heels (I do love Taylore Cherry), he’s far from guaranteed the top spot at his position’s ranking, let alone the overall number one post.
  • Speaking of high school pitching, it’s very doubtful that we wait until the last pick of the first round for a prep lefty to go off the board, as in 2011. Matt Smoral, Matt Crownover, Max Fried, and Hunter Virant stand out as potential first round high school southpaws.
  • Strong up-the-middle talent will headline the top available college bats on draft day. 2011 was a good year in this area, but players like Mike Zunino and Deven Marrero are ahead of the previous class’ top prospects at this point in everybody’s respective development. Like last year, there is also a strong group of outfielders with the tools to stay in center professionally.
  • The words “athleticism,” “athlete,” and “athletic” are all peppered across the early scouting reports of the high school players to watch.
  • Another big year is expected from college prospects from the West Coast…sort of. The Pac-10 looks stacked yet again (Stanford, Arizona State, and UCLA are all especially interesting), but the Big West appears rather weak. Some guys will pop up, of course, but down years (from a prospect sense only) from powerhouses Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State hurt the overall draft outlook of the conference.
  • This year’s college pitching group is, at this point, average or slightly above-average in terms of overall talent, but, man, looking at some of my preliminary rankings of the 2012 guys makes me really miss/appreciate what we had in 2011. I’m sure I’ll warm up to more ’12 prospects as the months roll by, but players currently ranked in my top five this year (Mark Appel and Kevin Gausman excepted) might not have cracked the top dozen or so last year.
  • Texas and California look about as good as we’ve come to expect (for better or worse) in terms of impact high school talent, but Florida and Puerto Rico both look outstanding, both in terms of high-end talent and depth. A handful of “cold weather” states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts also show the early possibility of producing multiple early round selections.
  • Finally, and most excitingly, there is little to no consensus to be found on almost any prospect position group in the 2012 draft class. Part of this is timing — hard to make any firm commitments to players eleven months ahead of draft day — but the wide open nature of the 2012 prospect group is in stark contrast to the top heavy classes of the past three years. Strasburg, Harper, and Rendon (whoops) were all far ahead of the pack even at this point in their respective draft years. Not only is figuring out the top overall prospect a guessing game, but so is figuring out the top college position player, top college pitcher, top high school position player, and top high school pitcher. A case can be made for a half dozen players, at least, in each grouping at this point.

Marcus Stroman

Duke SO RHP/SS Marcus Stroman | 13.01 K/9 – 2.80 BB/9 – 2.18 FIP – 64.1 IP

A lazier man than I might make a post-surgery, non-curve throwing Tom Gordon comp here. True, the Tom Gordon comp that has followed Stroman around since his high school days makes a lot of sense in some valid ways (undersized, athletic, dynamite fastball/slider combo), but I think we can do better. Somebody who has seen a lot of Stroman over the years told me recently that he saw a little bit of Kelvim Escobar in Stroman, with the caveat that the young Duke righthander doesn’t have a third pitch anywhere close to either Escobar’s changeup or splitter. Speaking of which, how about that Kelvim Escobar? The Angels and Blue Jays righthander threw both a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, a slider, an occasional curve, and, as mentioned, a change and a splitter. I could be totally out of my mind here, but I can’t think of too many pitchers that threw both a change and a split. A quick check of Fangraphs invaluable leaderboard page shows that of the sixty-five active pitchers listed as having thrown a splitter so far in 2011, only fourteen have also thrown a changeup. Hardly conclusive evidence one way or another, but I found it all very interesting. I could be alone on that, of course.

Two other comps that I really, really like for Stroman: Al Alburquerque and Fautino De Los Santos. I know comps can be dangerous, but I’d really like to think the comparisons here are instructive. It comes down to repertoire (plus fastball, plus slider), body type (Alburquerque might actually be smaller than the 5-9, 180 pound Stroman), and arm action/delivery. Stroman’s arm works really well and his delivery is mostly clean, especially when he throws from the stretch. He’s maybe a little stiffer than you’d like to see in his landing leg, but good pro coaching and/or more reps on the mound should fix this and, with luck, could even unlock an extra mile or two to his fastball. As is, Stroman’s fastball (sitting 93-95 MPH at his best) is already a legit weapon. His tight slider (81-85 MPH) is another big league pitch, above-average even on his worst day and a mesmerizing plus-plus offering at his best. What separates his slider from so many others at the amateur level is his outstanding command of the pitch. Stroman is capable of using his breaking ball in a variety of effective ways. He’ll go to the slider as a chase pitch on occasion, but more often throws it knowing he can get swings and misses on pitches around the strike zone, or, at worst, called strikes on either corner of the plate.

Stroman is a high level relief prospect follow who has done nothing but produce on the biggest of stages. His timeline since entering school – excellent freshman season, perfect (literally) summer on the Cape (35 K – 3 BB – 0.00 ERA – 27 IP), another great season as a sophomore, and now a breakout summer pitching for the Collegiate National Team – shows his track record of dominance is on par with any pitcher in the 2012 college class. The present stuff is enough to warrant early round consideration, and the possibility of a third pitch — he’s shown a change, but He is also a tremendous all-around athlete who plays a mean defensive shortstop on days he doesn’t pitch. In what may or may not be considered ironic (Alanis Morissette has me forever confused on the word’s definition; I’m almost positive coincidental would be the better word choice, but it was two syllables too long), I’ve heard a Dee Gordon, Tom’s son, comp on Stroman as a fielder at short. That’s what we call coming full circle.

Mike Trout (and Kyle Seager)

The man in the title lucky enough to escape the parentheses who just so happened to get the call to the big leagues today also just so happens to be my biggest draft miss since I started this site back in 2009. Mike Trout was ranked 74th on my final 2009 MLB Draft big board, behind such luminaries as Todd Glaesmann and Miles Hamblin. Hey, at least I had him ranked ahead of Brooks Raley!

Besides the always super fun attempt at self-depreciation, the reason I bring up my low ranking of Trout is to see if there is something that I can learn from in all of this. My issues with Trout were pretty simple: I didn’t believe in the bat (looked really sluggish through the zone), I didn’t think his speed was on the same level as others (inexcusable considering I saw him play live and in color, but I had him timed as above-average at best), and, most embarrassing, I could never get past the popular at the time, but silly in hindsight Aaron Rowand comp that engulfed my brain. That last point could be an example of why player comps are dangerous and how they often do more harm than good; I’d agree to a certain extent, but feel obligated to stress once again that comps should be used as a starting point alone. True, when I was younger and stupider I often took comps too far; Mike Trout as an Aaron Rowand clone is Exhibit A. Now that I’m older and wiser I can appreciate the way all comps must be used in proper context: I know now to consider a) who is providing the comp and how serious they are about the similarities, b) whether is it a potential outcome, body, tool, or skill comp, and c) what are the major differences between the players being compared (call this fact-checking the veracity of the original comp). I remember telling a buddy that Trout reminded me of a speedier Jay Payton, for what it’s worth. Probably shouldn’t quit my day job anytime soon…

Besides falling behind such stars as Glaesmann and Hamblin, Trout was also behind another player recently recalled to the bigs, Seattle’s Kyle Seager. Seager was my 65th ranked player that year. I won’t argue that Seager will be a better ballplayer than Trout as a big leaguer, but I am just crazy enough to stand by my original pre-draft ranking of the two prospects. I already laid out my wrong-headed assessments of Trout during his high school days. Seager, on the other hand, was a personal favorite from day one. This was written in March of 2009:

Batting stance is reminiscent of Chase Utley’s, but comparing a player not likely to even go in the first round with a top ten big league position player isn’t fair to anybody; instead, Seager reminds me a little bit of a better version of former ASU shortstop and current Phillies prospect Jason Donald – Seager is the better hitter, but Donald had the defensive edge; Seager’s well-rounded game (great plate discipline, slightly above-average power, good baserunner, high contact rate) make him a personal favorite of mine and as good a bet as any college hitter to settle in to a long career as a league average (at least) big leaguer.

If we can ignore the fact that I was comparing every collegiate middle infielder to Jason Donald at the time (pretty sure Grant Green also got the Donald treatment at some point), we still can see that all of his offensive positives from his college days (great plate discipline, slightly above-average power, good baserunner, high contact rate) apply as a professional. I really like Seager, both as a player and a person, and I look forward to watching his career unfold.

As much as I like Seager, his third round draft status keeps him from the following list. These are the first/supplemental first round picks in 2009 that have already reached in the big leagues. My pre-draft ranking is in parentheses: RHP Stephen Strasburg (1st), 2B Dustin Ackley (2nd), RHP Mike Leake (4th), RHP Alex White (6th), RHP Aaron Crow (11th), LHP Mike Minor (18th), LHP Rex Brothers (33rd), LHP Andy Oliver (49th), RHP Drew Storen (51st). Pretty crazy, right? That’s nine out of forty-nine possible players already in the bigs just two short years later.

As a final aside, Washington was rumored by Baseball America to have strongly considered taking either Trout or Wil Myers with the tenth overall pick. Storen has done what has been expected of him so far, but, damn, it is easy to love a Werth-Trout-Harper outfield for the next half decade and beyond.

Still Alive

Been a pretty crazy couple of weeks as I was unexpectedly called upon by an out of the blue third party (more on this to come if I get it cleared, but no guarantees) to head down and check out the Prospect Classic and other assorted games and practices from both the great state of North Carolina and Florida. Sorry for just falling off the map like I did, but internet access and downtime were both harder to come by than usual. I’m also sorry that my terrible College World Series prediction was up on the main page for a week and a half. A few disorganized idle thoughts from my time away…

I have no idea how best to disseminate the mountain of notes I accumulated during my time away from the site, but the information on prospects and contacts with scouts, college and high school coaches, and fellow draft and prospect obsessed internet peons give me lots to work with as we begin our 2012 MLB Draft discussions in earnest over the coming months. Speaking of my fellow draft and prospect obsessed peons (said with nothing but love, of course), one of my big takeaways from the events over the past few weeks was the realization of just how many people are now doing what I do and, quite frankly, doing it just as well, if not a billion times better. I didn’t get the chance to meet a few of the guys that I would have liked, but was still blown away at the passion shown for by those that I was lucky enough to talk to. I really have to update the links on the side of the page to reflect all of the wonderful additions to the internet draft community.

I’m also now back to square one when it comes to how I want to approach the summer months in terms of content for the main page. There is still much work to be done with respect to the accumulation of information (i.e. watching more games and video, talking to people in the know, sifting through notes) and the overall design of the site (I’m a restless tinkerer by nature), but I don’t want to ever go more than a two days (give or take) without some form of worthwhile content. Lots of 2012 college stuff (I like the conference profiles), lots of 2012 high school stuff (still unsure how best to lay this out), maybe some reflective stuff (perhaps on individual players breaking through to the big leagues and a look at how bad some of my rankings have turned out), and, because I’m just a little crazy, a 2012 mock draft with a money-back guarantee to be 100% accurate. I’m going to let all of those thoughts marinate for a day or two, but be sure to check back on Friday for some new content.

I don’t say this nearly enough, but thank you to the readers and email subscribers who have continued to check in daily even after I’ve gone off the grid during arguably the slowest point of draft season. It is exciting to get tens of thousands of hits on draft day thanks to search engine driven traffic, but I take much greater pride in couple hundred readers that click right through every day even after all the thrill of early June draft mania is gone.

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