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Bryce Harper

That draft in 2009? Old news. Stephen Strasburg? Forget about him. We have seen the suddenly surprisingly near future – all Bryce Harper, all the time.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

I’m not a fan of writing about straight “news” pieces (there are literally thousands of better websites to go to for that), but I’ve publicly ignored Bryce Harper long enough. The big story that broke over the weekend is that, yes, Nevada high school catcher Bryce Harper has taken the first steps towards locking up his place atop 2010 draft boards everywhere by registering for classes at the College of Southern Nevada. Harper has stated his desire to begin courses at CSN in August, earn his GED in the fall, play for the CSN baseball squad in the spring of 2010, and then, assuming everything goes according to plan, get picked number one overall by the Washington Nationals (thus earning more money in his signing bonus than my overpriced college educated behind will make in a lifetime, by the way) next June. Consider that last bit a sneak preview at the upcoming first edition of the 2010 mock…

One little thing from all the articles re: Harper that have broke over the past few days has left me a bit confused. I’m not quite sure how he plans to attend junior college classes beginning in August before trying to get his GED sometime in the fall. That’s the timeline presented in everything I’ve read about Harper’s story, but it doesn’t seem to add up. What am I missing here? Can you really attend junior college classes before getting a high school diploma (or equivalency)?

[UPDATE – After deciding to be proactive for once, I did about two minutes of Googling in an attempt to answer my own questions. It appears that in many states you can enroll at junior colleges (or in some cases four-year colleges) without first obtaining a high school degree. Interesting. It’s true what they say, you really do learn something new every day.]

Photo Credit: Palm Goon

Photo Credit: Palm Goon

2009 MLB Draft Top 100 Big Board

  1. RHSP Stephen Strasburg
  2. CF Dustin Ackley
  3. LHSP Tyler Matzek
  4. RHSP Mike Leake
  5. RHSP Tanner Scheppers
  6. RHSP Alex White
  7. 3B Bobby Borchering
  8. SS Grant Green
  9. RHSP Jacob Turner
  10. RHSP Shelby Miller
  11. RHSP Aaron Crow
  12. RHSP Kyle Gibson
  13. CF Donavan Tate
  14. LHSP Matt Purke
  15. RHSP Zack Wheeler
  16. OF Everett Williams
  17. LHSP Tyler Skaggs
  18. LHSP Mike Minor
  19. RHSP Sam Dyson
  20. LHSP Chad James
  21. RHSP Garrett Gould
  22. OF Jared Mitchell
  23. C Wil Myers
  24. C Luke Bailey
  25. RHSP Brody Colvin
  26. RHSP Madison Younginer
  27. RHSP David Hale
  28. C Max Stassi
  29. 1B Rich Poythress
  30. LHSP James Paxton
  31. 3B Matt Davidson
  32. RHSP Keyvius Sampson
  33. LHSP Rex Brothers
  34. RHSP Eric Arnett
  35. SS Scooter Gennett
  36. LHSP Chris Dwyer
  37. LHSP Aaron Miller
  38. 1B Jeff Malm
  39. SS David Renfroe
  40. OF Slade Heathcott
  41. 3B Chris Dominguez
  42. SS Daniel Fields
  43. SS David Nick
  44. RHSP Jake Barrett
  45. SS Jiovanni Mier
  46. RHSP Zack Von Rosenberg
  47. RHSP Kyle Heckathorn
  48. RHSP Chad Jenkins
  49. LHSP Andy Oliver
  50. RHSP Matt Hobgood
  51. RHRP Drew Storen
  52. C Josh Phegley
  53. OF Tim Wheeler
  54. C Tony Sanchez
  55. OF Randal Grichuk
  56. OF Jason Kipnis
  57. RHSP Robert Stock
  58. C Mike Ohlman
  59. C Tucker Barnhart
  60. C Josh Leyland
  61. OF Max Walla
  62. 3B Tommy Mendonca
  63. 2B Derek McCallum
  64. OF Cohl Walla
  65. 2B Kyle Seager
  66. LHSP Justin Marks
  67. SS Nick Franklin
  68. C Austin Maddox
  69. OF AJ Pollock
  70. OF Brett Jackson
  71. C Miles Hamblin
  72. OF Todd Glaesmann
  73. OF Kentrail Davis
  74. OF Mike Trout
  75. RHSP Garrett Richards
  76. RHSP Mike Nesseth
  77. RHSP Andrew Doyle
  78. RHSP Ryan Buch
  79. RHSP Michael Heller
  80. SS Billy Hamilton
  81. RHSP Scott Griggs
  82. LHSP Brooks Raley
  83. 2B Robbie Shields
  84. RHRP Jason Stoffel
  85. OF Kent Matthes
  86. OF Angelo Songco
  87. OF Brian Goodwin
  88. RHSP Alex Wilson
  89. OF Marc Krauss
  90. RHSP Victor Black
  91. RHSP Eric Smith
  92. RHRP Joe Kelly
  93. RHSP Sean Black
  94. RHSP Billy Bullock
  95. RHSP AJ Morris
  96. LHSP Matt Bashore
  97. OF Reymond Fuentes
  98. SS Mychal Givens
  99. 1B Jonathan Singleton
  100. LHSP Josh Spence

2009 MLB Draft – First Round Tiers 3.0

There are 32 picks in this year’s first round. How many of those spots are currently accounted for? How many are still up for grabs? Which players are most likely to land the last few spots in the round and which players are such stone cold mortal locks that they can feel safe putting down payments on a whole bunch of fancy new toys? Any player with a chance of going in the first round in June has been broken down into a distinct tier. The tiers are far from perfect (maybe a player is in Tier 4, but should be in Tier 5), but they serve as realistic classifications of where players are currently valued by big league clubs.

Tier 1 —> 1 player

RHSP Stephen Strasburg

Hey, this is pretty easy so far!

Tier 2 —> 14 players

CF Dustin Ackley/LHSP Tyler Matzek/RHSP Aaron Crow/RHSP Jacob Turner/RHSP Zack Wheeler/OF Donavan Tate

RHSP Tanner Scheppers/SS Grant Green/RHSP Shelby Miller/LHSP Matt Purke/RHSP Kyle Gibson/RHSP Alex White/RHSP Mike Leake/LHSP Rex Brothers

No big surprises in this group, I don’t think. Ackley, Matzek, and Wheeler seem like sure bets to go in the top ten. Gibson and White are two college righties who are seeing their stock slip heading into the big day, but for different reasons. Gibson has had very inconsistent velocity readings this spring (topping out at only 87 MPH in a recent start) and a number of high pitch count games worry scouting directors who may not want to pay big bucks for a jacked up elbow/shoulder (that last bit is totally unsubstantiated speculation, I haven’t read/heard any reliable source openly doubt Gibson’s current health). White’s issues are more performance based, as he hasn’t been the Friday ace that many expected to see this year for the Tar Heels. Both have clearly done enough to warrant high first round grades, but they aren’t necessarily the locks for the top ten like they once were.

Rumors have circulated that Purke could be the obligatory high bonus high schooler who drops down the board, but it would be a stunner to see him fall clear out of the first, if for no other reason than eventually one of the big budget teams would pull the trigger in the mid- to late-20s. Green is another player that many claim is sliding down boards, but his success with wood on the Cape will keep him in the top half of the round (at worst) when it is all said and done. Last, but certainly not least, Donavan Tate (yes, I’ve given in – I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m finally going with Donavan over Donovan…can we get one of those spelling bee kids to make a ruling?). Tate is about a 50/50 shot to go number three overall to the Padres next week, pretty good odds all things considered. However, if San Diego decides to pass, he is in danger of falling way down in the first based on how remaining teams figure to stack their respective boards.

Tier 2 is loaded with “star” quality amateur players – Ackley, Crow, Tate, Scheppers, and Green are just some of the names very familiar with even casual followers of high school and college baseball. The most obscure player on the list is easily the lefty from Lipscomb, Rex Brothers. Yeah, I know that Brothers has been talked about as a first rounder for a few months now, but he is still a name that looks a little funny grouped with the rest of these “star” guys. The high velocity lefty belongs.

Tier 3 —> 9 players

C Max Stassi/3B Bobby Borchering/RHSP Eric Arnett/LHSP Chad James/RHSP Matt Hobgood

OF Mike Trout/OF Everett Williams/LHSP Tyler Skaggs/C Tony Sanchez

The first two tiers are more about safety – in  a world with so few guarantees, I’d feel bad if any of the players on either list wasn’t a first rounder next week, so I played it safe and went with absolutely safe consensus first rounders only. Tier 3 is where things get complicated. I’d put the percentage on each individual player going in the first at around 75%. Going with the prep outfield duo of Trout and Williams over either of the top college guys (Tim Wheeler and AJ Pollock) is a little out there, I’ll admit, but each high school player has the raw tools teams covet late in the first. And with that, we have the theme of Tier 3 – high upside tools. 7 of the 9 players listed are high schoolers. Hobgood and James may or may not have legit first round talent (I think James probably does, but am personally not a huge fan of Hobgood), but they have been linked to enough teams picking in the mid-teens on that they seem likely to be off the board by the supplemental round. We may have been a tad premature in declaring Stassi a stone cold lock first rounder, but he still seems like a safe bet to get plucked by a team late in the first looking to capitalize on the fall of a player many consider to be the top draft-eligible catcher.

Tier 4 —> 4 players

RHRP Drew Storen/OF Tim Wheeler/LHSP James Paxton/C Wil Myers

Tier 4 has players that are safer bets to contribute in the bigs, but with a little less long-term star power. Storen should sneak into the back end of the first round, with Tampa rumored to have interest if he makes it to pick 30. Wheeler is another player that fits the Tier 4 prototype – no standout tool, but very well-rounded with a professional approach. Paxton’s fastball is one of the best in the draft, and Myers’ hit tool is as good as any high school position player.

28 players through 4 tiers. We need five more players to get to that magic first round number of 32. The Nationals seem heavily in on RHSP Chad Jenkins, but they could go in so many directions with that tenth pick that it’s hard to call him a lock of any kind. Washington is in the weird situation where the players they are choosing from with that second first rounder may not be first rounders at all unless they pick them. High school players like RHSP Garrett Gould, SS Jiovanni Mier, 3B Matt Davidson, and C Tommy Joseph could find spots at the back end of the first depending on how the board shakes out in front of them. Likewise, plenty of college talent (OFs AJ Pollock and Jared Mitchell, LHSPs Andy Oliver and Mike Minor, RHP Kyle Heckathorn, and 1B Rich Poythress) could hear their names called early next Tuesday as well.

Any names missing? Any player in a tier too high or too low? Does Strasburg deserve a one tier buffer between himself and everybody else?

Alternate Reality Mock Draft – Name Game

Don’t freak out, this isn’t a “real” mock draft.

We began last month we an Alternate Reality Mock Draft, so it just feels right to kick June off in similar fashion. What the heck is an alternate reality mock draft? So glad you asked. This is how I described it (without actually describing it, of course) last month…

We’re promoting a new feature straight from AA to the big leagues today because, well, it’s Friday and that seems like as good a day as any to trot out something totally random and nonsensical. Alternate Reality Drafts – the name evokes a certain feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like. Something about alternate realities and parallel universes really get the blood flowing.

A “real” mock draft is primed and ready, but it’ll need another quick edit before seeing the light of day. In the meantime, let’s pretend for a second that Bud Selig is utterly incompetent, out of touch, and flat out bad at his job. I know it’s a stretch, but try your best. Now let’s pretend that Bud’s latest executive decision was to announce that all big league clubs could only draft players with last names that share the first letter of the city in which they play. Got it? Good. Ignoring for a minute how utterly stupid and arbitrary such a decision would be, let’s see how this Alternate Reality Mock Draft would look if such rules were in place…

1.1 Washington: RHSP Zack Wheeler – The Nationals just can’t catch a break. Wheeler is a very good prospect, but missing out on a generational talent like Stephen Strasburg is a bitter pill to swallow. At least they’ll save some serious coin, right? Hey, maybe they can use the savings to hire a spellchecker…

1.2 Seattle: RHSP Stephen Strasburg – Hot rumor alert – Seattle’s petition to have MLB adopt my silly draft rule is being faxed to corporate headquarters as we speak…

1.3 San Diego: RHSP Tanner Scheppers – Scheppers may not be a terrible idea for the Padres in the real draft. He figures to be a reasonably easy sign (little to no leverage), but not at the expense of upside (I waffle at times, but I think I’m buying the talk that he has the second best raw stuff of any “college” guy behind Strasburg).

1.4 Pittsburgh: LHSP Matthew Purke – The Pirates have very few options here at pick number four (AJ Pollock being the only other potential first rounder with the magic letter leading off his last name), but Purke isn’t a bad consolation prize for a franchise in need of impact talent.

1.5 Baltimore: 3B Bobby Borchering – Slim pickings here for Baltimore, but they make the most of it by taking one of my absolute favorite bats in this entire draft. They have to hope that this pick works out a little better than the last time they drafted a high school infielder in the top ten…

1.6 San Francisco: LHSP Tyler Skaggs – After losing out on two electric arms, the Giants can only curse their bad luck and settle for a high upside prep arm. Max Stassi was also considered, but the Giants couldn’t justify using back to back high first rounders on catchers. Skaggs actually reminds me a little bit of a Madison Bumgarner/Tim Alderson mashup, so maybe there will be a happy ending in San Fran after all.

1.7 Atlanta: CF Dustin Ackley – If Seattle was the clear big winner in this format, then Atlanta is a close second. Ackley is a perfect fit for a Braves team loaded with young talent, but desperate for a fast moving bat. Ackley could slide right into the big league lineup by late summer; he would easily be the best hitter in their outfield from day one one, a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.

1.8 Cincinnati: RHSP Aaron Crow – A fake mock pick that could imitate the real thing, the Reds would be more than happy to land the near ML-ready groundballing righthander. The Reds thank their lucky stars that they pick ahead of the Rockies, knowing that the pickings are slim after Crow. Who would be next on their list? Brody Colvin is one of the few names I can come up with off the top of my head…

1.9 Detroit: RHSP Sam Dyson – Dyson over 3B Matt Davidson only because of Detroit scouting director David Chadd’s love of high velocity pitching. Dyson’s stock has yo-yoed all spring long, but the raw stuff is pretty sensational and worth the gamble at this spot. If he had performed better this season, this pick could have had an outside shot of happening in real life, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

1.10 Washington: RHSP Alex White – It’s not quite Strasburg, but a Wheeler/White combo is intriguing in it’s own right. If the Nationals were still in Montreal, they could have had a 1-2 punch of Tyler Matzek and Shelby Miller. Wheeler and White or Matzek and Miller – which is the better combo? I think I’d take the latter, but it’s close.

Monday Bullets

A few quick bullet points to start the week off right. I’ll apologize in advance for the fact that they are almost all meta-bullets…I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and this seemed like as good a place as any to unclog some of my jammed up thoughts. Sorry again, that’s a gross metaphor. Here’s what I came up with so far…

  • I’ve gotten to as many comments as I can, but there are still a few left that I’m looking forward to responding to. I make it a point to respond to every comment I get, so if you have been eagerly anticipating a response then most of you will be pleasantly surprised that I’ve finally caught up. If you could care less about me responding, well…carry on. If you want reach me via email instead of through the comment section, that’s fine by me. Get in touch at thebaseballdraftreport @ gmail.com (no spaces though).
  • My confession: This site wasn’t designed with 2009 in mind. I’m a long-range planner, believe it or not, so when I first decided to get in on this I knew deep down that there wouldn’t be enough time between my start up in February and the draft in June to sit down and publish all of the information I’ve been collecting. In fact, that’s the problem that is killing me right now – information overload. I’ve got lots of information, information that I think is good and worth sharing, but not enough time to sift through it, organize it into a string of cohesive thoughts, and then pretty it up so that it’s ready to be published for the masses to tear it apart (I do love that last part). On top of that, I want to evolve past being primarily a hunter-gatherer of information and settle into a website with roots – we’re talking more firsthand accounts, guest pieces from people way smarter than I’ll ever be, interviews and analysis from inside sources, and more in-depth scouting reports. In the meantime, I’m faced with the dilemma of picking and choosing what is most important to get out in front of the ’09 Draft. I still think positional lists are useful, so that’s something I want to cover. Mocks aplenty, of course. I want to bust out my own personal big board (with the accompanying lists of my own personal favorites), plus a consensus big board that hopefully will reflect how the first 100 picks or so will go down. There may be more of a post-draft focus this year because it’ll be easier for me to deal with less time sensitive material – I can digest each team’s picks and do that instant-grading thing that so many columnists tear apart every year (I still love it and I always will – who doesn’t enjoy reading post-NFL Draft report cards?). Any other definite features that I should add but am forgetting? I don’t want the site to get bogged town into solely worrying about who will go where in the first round, but I get easily frustrated when I realize there isn’t enough time for me to report on every draft eligible player that I have info on. That’s when I fall back on just worrying about the first round, something I know I don’t want to do. But if I begin talking about my favorite high school third basemen from Utah, then I know I’ll eventually get mad at myself for not having enough time to talk about my favorite (insert position) from (insert state) from (insert age grouping). It’s hard to run a website when you are crazy, you know? I need a plan…
  • I seriously have a little black book chock full of…wait for it…brief scouting reports of players from the draft. Give me a second to reflect on how cool that makes me. It would be one thing if the book wasn’t literally little and black, but it is. Oh, it is. If it was a normal sized notebook with Hannah Montana or someone on the cover, that would be alright. But, no, it had to be little and black. I am that suave, sophisticated, charming ladies man that you see out and about hitting up the local nightlife. Me and my little black book. I value it quite highly, even though on more than one occasion I have been stopped by a stranger who wanted to know if I always carried a bible around with me. Do kids today still have little black books? I guess they probably have evolved into little BlackBerries, right? Man, now I sound like Andy Rooney. I’m too young to sound this old. Did kids ever actually use little black books? That always seemed like more of a TV/movie device than anything else, but maybe I was just never big time enough to know any differently. Anyway, yes, I do have a little black book full of draft notes. That has all of my positional rankings in it. I think it’s about time I just get into those – no more messing around with other things, no more getting distracted with my job or my moving into a new place, none of that. So, if you made it this far in this rambly disjointed mess of a post, get ready for a week or so of rapid fire position-by-position lists of the top draft prospects for 2009. This is the short-term plan, but it is, like so much of what I do here, subject to change at a moment’s notice.
  • Lastly, Strasburg/Ackley as the first two picks? Is this something we can all agree on? Strasburg is a slam dunk, we know that much, but is Ackley such a clear front runner for the second spot that we can finally begin to pencil him in with confidence?

Stephen Strasburg’s Final Out of No Hitter

Video courtesy of farmsystem

2009 First Round Mock Draft 2.0

Another week, another mock. Let’s see what we see…

1.1 Washington – RHSP Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State)
1.2 Seattle – 1B/OF Dustin Ackley (North Carolina)
1.3 San Diego – RHSP Aaron Crow (Missouri/Fort Worth Cats)
1.4 Pittsburgh – RHSP Alex White (North Carolina)
1.5 Baltimore – SS Grant Green (Southern Cal)

I still have no idea which way Seattle is leaning with the second pick. Any one of Ackley, White, Tate, Matzek, or Scheppers could be the guy. Green’s stock is falling faster than [insert fast falling stock symbol here], but I still think it’s a tad reactionary to have him falling more than a few picks from the top considering the total absence of quality bats at premium positions in this year’s draft. Heck, I was one of Green’s biggest detractors heading into this season so if anybody could support a slip in his stock it’s me. About a month ago I said this:

It’s not quite a fully developed idea, but I’ll just throw it out there here so I can have it on the record…Grant Green (Southern Cal, SS) and Jason Donald (Arizona, Phillies, SS/3B/2B). Am I crazy in thinking they have similar enough profiles to compare the two?

I like Grant Green and I like Jason Donald, but I’m not sold on either player being “worth” the fifth overall pick. However, and this is worth pointing out time and time again, the top of the draft has so few interesting bats that there is some justification for reaching for a potential plus bat at a key defensive position.

1.6 San Francisco – OF Donavan Tate (Cartersville HS – Georgia)
1.7 Atlanta – RHSP Zack Wheeler (East Paulding HS – Georgia)
1.8 Cincinnati – RHSP Kyle Gibson (Missouri)
1.9 Detroit Tigers – LHSP Tyler Matzek (Capistrano Valley HS – California)
1.10 Washington – RHSP Tanner Scheppers (Fresno State/St. Paul Saints)

How do you spell Tate’s first name? I’ve literally seen a 50/50 split (or darn close anyway) in the major publications when it comes to his spelling. Off the top of my head, I think Baseball America and Pefect Game both call him Donavan, but MLB.com claims he goes by Donovan. Even the great Google comes up empty – 824,000 hits for “Donovan Tate” and 870,000 “Donavan Tate” in a race too close to call.

I debated far too long about Atlanta’s pick, but there is too much noise about Atlanta loving Wheeler to go against the grain. Brian Sabean was at a recent Cartersville start to watch Wheeler throw, so it’s entirely possible he’ll be off the board at pick six. In a way that would be convenient because we can then just flip the Giants and Braves picks with little shaking up of the draft board.

Strasburg & Scheppers…that’ll do nicely. I like the Nationals popping Scheppers here because there is absolutely no chance he won’t sign a fair deal, he has no other options besides professional baseball. The question for me is whether or not he’ll be sitting there for them to debate the pick…

1.11 Colorado – RHSP Mike Leake (Arizona State)
1.12 Kansas City – RHSP Shelby Miller (Brownwood HS – Texas)
1.13 Oakland – 3B Bobby Borchering (Bishop Verot HS – Florida)
1.14 Texas – LHSP Matt Purke (Klein HS – Texas)
1.15 Cleveland – LHSP Mike Minor (Vanderbilt)

A prep superstar sandwich with delicious high floor (and high fiber!) college pitcher bread. The Royals and Rangers would both be ecstatic (I’m guessing) if the draft actually went like this, though I now wonder if the two Texan high schoolers might be flip flopped.

1.16 Arizona – LHP/OF Brooks Raley (Texas A&M)
1.17 Arizona – C Max Stassi (Yuba City HS – California)
1.18 Florida – LHP/1B Colton Cain (Waxahachie HS – Texas)
1.19 St. Louis – LHSP Andy Oliver (Oklahoma State)
1.20 Toronto – LHSP James Paxton (Kentucky)
1.21 Houston – LHSP Rex Brothers (Lipscomb)

How’s that for a run on lefthanded pitching? That’s 7 out of 8 lefties if you’re scoring at home, with the run only being broken up by the presence of new top 2009 catcher Stassi. Cain is the real wild card in all of this, but he is only this high up because Florida is such a difficult team for me to project. Cain would be a big stretch at 18, but a high upside, athletic high school arm makes sense in the spot.

1.22 Minnesota – OF Jared Mitchell (Louisiana State)
1.23 Chicago White Sox – RHSP Kyle Heckathorn (Kennesaw State)
1.24 Los Angeles Angels – LHSP Tyler Skaggs (Santa Monica HS – California)
1.25 Los Angeles Angels – 3B Matt Davidson (Yucaipa HS – California)

Mitchell to Minnesota would be a re-draft (they took him out of high school in 2006), so we know he fits their typical draft demographic beautifully. It’s possible that Mitchell fits the Twins model too well, seeing as they already have about a half dozen players with similar skillsets already in the system – it would almost be overkill at this point to draft another.

1.26 Milwaukee – OF Mike Trout (Millville HS – New Jersey)
1.27 Seattle – RHSP Jacob Turner (Westminster Academy – Missouri)
1.28 Boston – RHSP Sam Dyson (South Carolina)
1.29 New York Yankees – RHSP Alex Wilson (Texas A&M)
1.30 Tampa Bay – 1B Rich Poythress (Georgia)
1.31 Chicago Cubs – SS Jiovanni Mier (Bonita HS – California)
1.32 Colorado – OF Kentrail Davis (Tennessee)

Turner to the Mariners makes sense, if they are as willing to pony up the bucks as they have intimated. Projecting the top AL East teams is a killer, but it’s not much more than a coincidence that all three wound up with college players – Dyson and Wilson are high upside arms that would represent good value late in the first, but carry significant injury risk going forward. Poythress is a really hard player to squeeze in, but he’d be a really nice fit for a team in need of another big bat to balance out an already strong lineup, slotting in as either Pena’s successor at first or a DH option down the road. Davis is another player that probably shouldn’t be as high as he is in a vacuum, but in a draft like this he’ll get a substantial bonus because he has shown he can at least hit a little (we’re setting the bar low for bats this year, unfortunately).

Stephen Strasburg (Again) and Site Updates (Again)

Another weekend, another dominant Stephen Strasburg performance.

Against a nationally ranked TCU team that we talked about before: 7 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 14 K

His season numbers are silly: 70.1 IP 45 H 13 BB 135 K (7 WP 2 HBP 1 BK)

I’ve run out of things to say about him because, really, the numbers speak for themselves. I really can’t wait for his first start at Nationals Park when all the baseball world’s eyes will rightfully be watching the debut of the most acclaimed amateur baseball prospect ever.

_____

Busy week ahead, so it only makes sense to get some of the bookkeeping out of the way early. A few quick things before we move on to bigger and better…

  • 4 correct picks on the NFL Draft mock from Friday. 4 out of 32. I picked winners at a 12.5% success rate. Boy, is that bad. The worst part is I can’t promise the final MLB mock will be any better. Maybe I’ll dig up the one I did elsewhere last year and see how poorly I did…probably wasn’t much better than 12.5%.
  • What do you think of the new site layout? I had a focus group of one help me pick it out, but I’m curious to hear if the switch is for the better or if more tweaking should be done. Come to think of it, the switch may not be noteworthy enough to comment on…I’m not sure I’d comment on somebody else’s site redesign at this stage in the game (we’re only two and half months in after all) for fear of getting invested in a site only to see it disappear like so many others seem to do. Then again, maybe I’m just weird like that. I probably shouldn’t equate commenting on a redesign with an emotional investment, but that’s exactly what I just did.
  • I’m finally getting around to throwing up some links on the righthand sidebar. If you have a link that you think should be there, let me know. Same thing goes if you have any ideas for useful baseball related sites that I’ve yet to link to, as well as any team specific sites that don’t already have a link. The idea is to get a good, informative team site for all 30 MLB squads, but it’s harder to find good, informative team sites that place an emphasis on prospect development and the draft (Phuture Phillies and Future Redbirds, no relation, are two of the prototypes for this model) than I originally had thought. I started putting up a few already, but decided to wait and see for a little bit in case anybody out there has any insight into what direction I should go with the others.

What A Jackass

I really, really, really hope this doesn’t become a recurring feature here, but I’m just about positive that it will be. It’s time to look back through the archives and have a good laugh at something stupid stuff I’ve said. The only hard part is narrowing down which dumb thing to choose…

This particular rambling thought was from March 1, 2009. It’s not necessarily the dumbest thing ever put in print (notice my wonderful use of qualifiers and hypotheticals), but it’s certainly looks silly in hindsight. Behold my genius after the jump…

(more…)

2009 MLB Draft – First Round Tiers 2.0

Another week, another crack at separating the first round of the upcoming draft into tiers. Alright, that’s not entirely true — it’s been almost three weeks since we first did this — but calling this a triweekly isn’t nearly as catchy, plus it’s way more confusing. Did you know triweekly can either mean “three times a week” or “every three weeks?” How can a word mean such different things and get away with it? English, what a silly language…

This is a modified, way wimpier version of the tiered breakdown from three weeks ago. I’m sticking to players that are stone cold locks to go in the first round only. I have the utmost confidence that the following players will be first rounders in June.

  • Tier 1 –> 1 player

Strasburg

  • Tier 2 –> 9 players

Dustin Ackley/Kyle Gibson/Aaron Crow/Alex White/Grant Green
Shelby Miller/Tyler Matzek/Matt Purke/Donovan Tate

  • Tier 3 –> 6 players

Mike Leake/Tanner Scheppers/Rich Poythress

Luke Bailey/Zack Wheeler/Tyler Skaggs

That’s my new line of demarcation. 16 players that seem like sure bets to go in this year’s first round. If I wanted to get it up to an even twenty, I’d add the LSU duo (LeMahieu and Mitchell), my new favorite prep position player (yes, I’ve finally come around to Bobby Borchering), and this week’s fastest riser, lefty Rex Brothers of Lipscomb.  I’m hesistant to call any of those players locks at this point, but I reserve the right to be a wimp for now.

Where am I wrong? Which player listed won’t be a first rounder? (Tyler Skaggs?) Are there any names left off the list that will be guaranteed first rounders that I missed? (Max Stassi? Matt Davidson? Andy Oliver? Austin Maddox? Brett Jackson?)

First Five Picks Explained

Nothing else prepared for a Monday morning, so why not a teeny bit of explanation on the first five picks guessed at on the latest top ten mock?

1.1 Nationals/Strasburg

A gimme, right? The seven syllable line about the money (“Twenty mil sounds about right”) is about where I stand as far as where any potential Strasburg/Boras bonus demands will lead. He’ll smash the old draft signing bonus record, sure, but it will far way short of any of the big numbers being floated between now and the draft itself. In other words, twenty mil sounds about right…

1.2 Seattle/Ackley

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – something good is brewing in Seattle and it begins with the huge emphasis the new regime has put on stockpiling quality defensive players. To project Ackley to Seattle is to give up the dream that he’ll ever be the centerfielder; having seen him play on multiple occasions, I’m pretty confident in claiming that, at best, he’d be nothing more than a league average defender if forced to play CF. If Seattle loves the bat as much as I do, they’d be wise to call him a LF/1B from the start and just let the man hit.

1.3 San Diego/Crow

No real indication about which way the Padres are leaning, but the front office did publicly comment on the dearth of pitching in the system as recently as a few months ago. I know that’s the not the best reason in the world to have them pass on Grant Green, a player who would fill a gigantic organizational need, but it’s all I’ve got right now. In my head, this pick came down to Crow or Tyler Matzek.

1.4 Pittsburgh/Green

Seriously, Green could be joining fellow up the middle talents like BJ Upton and Matt Wieters if anybody running this club had any common sense. Fans at PNC Park could be getting excited about adding another potential impact bat to a lineup that, in our bizarro world, would soon feature Upton/Wieters/Pedro Alvarez. I had an alternate haiku that managed to feature both Operation Shutdown (which is mentioned in Derek Bell’s wiki page, but really deserves a special entry) and Daniel Moskos, but decided to spare any Pirates fan and left it on the cutting room floor.

1.5 Baltimore/White

Who knows if Baltimore really believes that the best way to beat the big spenders and savvy front offices of the AL East is by getting as much young pitching as possible, but with Green off the board it is hard to see the O’s taking anybody but a pitcher this early. Matzek, Kyle Gibson, and Shelby Miller all make sense, but White’s blend of big game college experience and untapped potential will be enough for them to overlook his sometimes questionable mechanics.

Quick Friday Top Ten Mock

Bad Haikus...

1.1 Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg

High card in the deck
Twenty mil sounds about right
More hype than Barack

1.2 Seattle Mariners – Dustin Ackley

Z’s first draft as boss
Will defense dictate the pick?
No, instead Gwynn twin

1.3 San Diego Padres – Aaron Crow

Pads secret code
Yes, “the Crow flies at midnight”
Sorry, that was lame

1.4 Pittsburgh Pirates – Grant Green

Recent failures sting
Imagine this young core group
Green, Wieters, Upton…

1.5 Baltimore Orioles – Alex White

O’s new strategy
Slay East goliaths on mound
White needs his slingshot

1.6 San Francisco Giants – Donovan Tate

First prep player popped
Same tools as Carlos Beltran
Football? Zero chance

1.7 Atlanta Braves – Tyler Matzek

Home state player gone
Choice of prep port or starboard
Can’t beat the upside

1.8 Cincinnati Reds – Kyle Gibson

A perfect marriage
Groundballs and overworked arm
Fits ballpark, Dusty

1.9 Detroit Tigers – Shelby Miller

Grab righty and pray
System as down as GM
Cars and Dombrowski

1.10 Washington Nationals – James Paxton

Signability
Target rising college guy
Hey, I’d sign for slot!

Strasburg 4/8/2009

With the holiday weekend causing a scheduling shift around college baseball, usual Friday starter Stephen Strasburg takes the hill on a Thursday to lead off San Diego State’s series at UNLV. We all know what Strasburg has done to this point, but it never hurts to throw out his season numbers so far – unless, of course, you’re a fan of the Mariners…

On the season, Strasburg has struck out 94 batters while only walking 10 in 48.1 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a whopping .160 against him so far (27 for 169). He’s good.

He’ll be facing a decent UNLV lineup, but one built on very few interesting pro prospects. In fact, Strasburg has faced UNLV once already this year and put up the following line: 7 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 14 K. Again, he’s good.

This time, however, Strasburg will be going to UNLV’s Earl E. Wilson Stadium, a hitter’s paradise with a park factor of 121. How will he fare the second time up against the Rebels? How will he adjust to pitching in an even friendlier hitting environment than his own home park? We’ll know soon enough. Until then, a look at the three best UNLV hitting prospects that Stephen Strasburg will face tonight…after the jump

(more…)

College Righthanded Starting Pitching Prospects – Comparing 2008 to 2009

If semi-incoherent ramblings about a very specific and unimportant topic with no readily apparent conclusion or point is what gets you going, be prepared to start your week off with something special. If not, congratulations – you’re normal. I’ve got a hunch that anybody out there willing to read some dummy’s baseball draft website probably isn’t “normal” anyway (and I say that with nothing but love), so why not just give in and see where our aimless thoughts will lead us today…

The top 15 righthanded starting pitching prospects as listed on this site, in descending order:

Jeff Inman, David Hale, Jake Cowan, Sean Black, Sam Dyson
Alex Wilson, Kyle Heckathorn, Mike Nesseth, Kendal Volz, Mike Leake
Aaron Crow, Tanner Scheppers, Kyle Gibson, Alex White
Stephen Strasburg

An updated list might look a little something like this:

Strasburg
Gibson/White/Crow
Leake/Scheppers
Dyson/Wilson/Berry
Volz
Nesseth/Heckathorn/Black/Cowan/Hale
Inman

The tiers align with the first round board tiers from last week, with the exception of Dyson rising up to join Wilson and Berry. Volz and Inman are especially difficult players to place, so they got their own private tiers – it’s the perfect solution for a lazy writer like me, really. Nesseth, Heckathorn, Black, Cowan, and Hale are all players that are personal favorites from my initial top 15, but have such mixed opinions that I’m lost on where to slot them in. I guess what I think is most important to take away from the bottom three tiers is that Volz is a clear step above the Nesseth/Heckathorn/Black/Cowan/Hale group (in the eyes of scouts) and Inman has dropped enough that he is clearly below the group (in my eyes). Further complicating the matter is Nesseth’s switch back to the Nebraska bullpen, but I’ll leave him in with this group for now because I still think his stuff works as a starter professionally.

Players considered for the list, but left off for now include Blake Smith (Cal), Scott Bittle (Mississippi), Jorge Reyes (Oregon State), AJ Griffin (San Diego), and Brad Stillings (Kent State). Smith’s status as a two-way player vexes me, Bittle’s stuff may actually work better as a starter/swingman in the long run, and Griffin is a gigantic personal favorite that will see his stock fly up my own personal rankings when I do my next revisions.

Notable players still missing from the list are the righty college relievers – Ben Tootle (Jacksonville State), Jason Stoffel (Arizona), Brad Boxberger (Southern Cal), and Brian Pearl (Washington) all profile best as relievers. Perhaps I can be convinced otherwise (Boxberger and Pearl might have stuff that would translate; Tootle and Stoffel are much better fits in the pen), but for now all four would strictly be drafted as relievers if I was running the show.

*****

For my money, the 2009 college righthanded pitching class absolutely trounces the 2008 class in terms of both quality and depth. However, the comparison between the two years is a tricky one to make because, and I really believe it’s as simple as this, the 2008 pitching class was an extremely weird one. The proponderence of college relievers made it an unusual draft at the time, but it’s gotten even weirder as we begin to see the long-term plans some of the big league teams have for their drafted relievers. Andrew Cashner, Joshua Fields, Ryan Perry, and Carlos Gutierrez were all college closers drafted in the first round. Of the four, it appears that only Fields and Perry are totally locked into their roles as professional relievers; Cashner and Gutierrez both may have the stuff to work better as pro starters. How do we then judge this class of pitching prospects? Are all four labeled as relievers? Does their eventual professional position carry more weight than their college position? How do we reconcile the fact that we don’t actually know the eventual landing spot of players like Cashner, Gutierrez, or Brad Holt? They may be given every shot imaginable to start, yet may work best as relievers in the long run. To simplify my life, I’m only going to evaluate players that were clearly scouted and drafted as starting pitchers.

The 2008 class was also a weird one because of the huge numbers of very talented players who slid down the board into the mid-rounds. These players were all almost cut from the exact same cloth – gigantic frames, big fastballs, questionable control and collegiate performance, and an inability to stay healthy. For this reason, it is my belief that this comparison would have been more enlightening if done with a pre-draft ranking of the available talent. Players like Chris Carpenter, Scott Green, Brett Hunter, Erik Davis, and Luke Burnett, to name a few, may have ranked higher on such a list. Kyle Heckathorn and Mike Nesseth, be forewarned.

2008 Top 15 College Righthanded Pitchers (7 college relievers, denoted with *)

Aaron Crow, Andrew Cashner*, Joshua Fields*, Ryan Perry*, Carlos Gutierrez*, Shooter Hunt, Brad Holt, Lance Lynn, Bryan Price*, Tanner Scheppers, Tyson Ross, Josh Lindblom*, Cody Adams, Aaron Shafer, Cody Satterwhite*

To this point, Cashner, Lindblom, and Price have all been tried as starters; Gutierrez and Satterwhite have so far only pitched out of the pen. I should also note that I was inconsistent in the way I included unsigned players (by memory, I think I only left out Scott Bittle), but I felt that excluding Crow and Scheppers would only create an unfair representation of the 2008 draft’s true talent level.

2008 Top 15 College Righthanded Starting Pitchers

Aaron Crow, Shooter Hunt, Brad Holt, Lance Lynn, Tanner Scheppers, Tyson Ross, Cody Adams, Aaron Shafer, Stephen Fife, Bobby Lanigan, Drew Liebel, Chris Carpenter, Aaron Pribanic, Scott Green, Vance Worley

Of that group, Holt, Fife, and Green may be future relievers, but all three were drafted as starters. College relievers excluded from this list, in addition to the names in the previous group, were Bryan Shaw, Zach Stewart, and Craig Kimbrel.

After all that, we’re left with comparing the following two pools of players. In one corner, we have the 2008’s:

Aaron Crow
Shooter Hunt
Brad Holt
Lance Lynn
Tanner Scheppers
Tyson Ross
Cody Adams
Aaron Shafer
Stephen Fife
Bobby Lanigan
Drew Liebel
Chris Carpenter
Aaron Pribanic
Scott Green
Vance Worley

Their challenger, the 2009’s (don’t read too much into the exact order, I just threw it together quickly):
Stephen Strasburg
Kyle Gibson
Alex White
Aaron Crow
Mike Leake
Tanner Scheppers
Sam Dyson
Alex Wilson
Ryan Berry
Kendal Volz
Mike Nesseth
Kyle Heckathorn
Sean Black
Jake Cowan
David Hale

Crow was king in 2008, but will slot in anywhere between second and fourth this year. Hunt is a quality arm and was a real steal to go as late as he did, but he isn’t in the same prospect class as Gibson, White, Leake, or a healthy Scheppers. I like Dyson, tentatively slotted 7th on the 2009 list, better than I do any of the 2008’s save Crow. If I had to do an overall ranking

Strasburg/Gibson/White/Crow/Leake/Scheppers/Dyson/Hunt/Wilson/Berry/Holt/Volz…and then things get especially murky. From that point on, however, the list would be more about trying to figure out where exactly to squeeze in the 09’s (namely Heckathorn, Hale, and Nesseth) than finding spots for the 08’s (as much as I like guys like Ross and Worley, I’m not sure I could put them over a Black or a Cowan with confidence). There are plenty of slightly later round picks from 2008 (Ethan Hollingsworth, Dan Hudson, Colby Shreve, DJ Mitchell, Michael Stutes) that would also muddle up the picture of what my pre-draft top 15 would look like, but I’ll stubbornly stick with judging the top ranked players from past years based on draft order for now. A comparison between the 2009’s and 2010’s will be better next season because I can compare and contrast my own pre-draft rankings, lists that hopefully give a better idea of talent-level than draft order (which is often skewed by signability and simple team preference).

If you were to include the college relievers from the 2008 class, the overall talent gap would close. Lindblom and Cashner were both players viewed as strong candidates to be switched to the rotation, so if we pretended they were drafted as such, they would compare favorably with Dyson and Wilson as starting pitching prospects. Come to think of it, I wonder if there is a comp to be made between Lindblom and Dyson. That might be worth looking into…but now I’m merely thinking out loud, a sure sign it’s time to wrap this up.

In conclusion…wait, I have no real conclusion. Hmm. In conclusion, 2009 looks like a better year for top end college righthanded starting pitching, but when the 09’s are headed up by Stephen Strasburg and three other potential top ten picks, that’s hardly much of a conclusion at all. I’m willing to concede that the depth between the two classes is pretty close in talent-level, but I’d still give the edge to 2009…though there is still plenty of time left between now and June to sort out who constitutes the “depth” of which we speak of in the 2009 Draft. My real conclusion is actually 100% unrelated to college righthanded pitching prospects. I thought of a pretty good comp for a potential top ten pick the other day, but I’m not all the way there with it just yet, if you know what I mean. It’s not quite a fully developed idea, but I’ll just throw it out there here so I can have it on the record…Grant Green (Southern Cal, SS) and Jason Donald (Arizona, Phillies, SS/3B/2B). Am I crazy in thinking they have similar enough profiles to compare the two?

2009 MLB Draft – First Round Tiers

It’s April now. The weather is slowly getting warmer here in the northeast (finally), Major League Baseball’s Opening Day is just days away (finally), and the Rule 4 Draft’s first round is slowly beginning to take shape. I’ve been lax in publishing any of my macro draft projections, but it seems like as good a time as any to put this first look at the first round out there for all the world to see. And for those of you that only visit these parts for the mocks — something I do for plenty of NFL and NBA sites, so believe me when I say I’m passing no judgment — consider this a precursor to the eventual April mock draft (coming soon!) and, who knows, maybe a helpful resource to aid in putting together a mock of your own.

There are 32 picks in this year’s first round. How many of those spots are currently accounted for? How many are still up for grabs? Which players are most likely to land the last few spots in the round and which players are such stone cold mortal locks that they can feel safe putting down payments on a whole bunch of fancy new toys? Any player with a chance of going in the first round in June has been broken down into a distinct tier. The tiers are far from perfect (maybe a player is in Tier 4, but should be in Tier 5), but they serve as realistic classifications of where players are currently valued by big league clubs.

  • Tier 1 —> 1 player

RHSP Stephen Strasburg

This guy is so far and away the best prospect in this draft that he gets his own tier…but you knew that already.

Confidence Level —> Couldn’t be higher

  • Tier 2 —> 10 players

College: OF/1B Dustin Ackley, RHSP Kyle Gibson, RHSP Aaron Crow, RHSP Alex White, SS Grant Green
Prep: RHSP Shelby Miller, LHSP Tyler Matzek, LHSP Matt Purke, LHSP Tyler Skaggs, OF Donovan Tate

The only tier split up into distinct college and prep sides, Tier 2 includes 10 players that are “write it down in that super never disappearing pen that S. Epatha Merkerson advertises for” kind of locks for the first round. Seattle has to be hoping against hope that one of these players will separate himself from the group because, at this point anyway, you could make a legitimate argument for literally any of the players on the list going to the Mariners at pick number two. I’d love to hear the arguments in favor of any of the prep pitchers going that high (none of the four players are quite talented enough to warrant taking a chance on that high, I think), but the other 6 players all could conceivably wind up in the Pacific Northwest.

Confidence Level —> Bet more than you have on any odds that these players will be first rounders

  • Tier 3 —> 5 players

RHSP Mike Leake, RHSP Tanner Scheppers, C Luke Bailey, C Austin Maddox, 1B Rich Poythress

These players just barely missed the previous tier, so know that if I was a bolder prognosticator I would have had them in that group without reservation. Of course, there are reasons why each player doesn’t get the Uniball pen Youtube video of approval. Leake may be my favorite prospect in all the draft, but I’m not sure how much my opinion matters to teams drafting in the first round…yes, he’s a very good prospect and an almost sure-fire first rounder, but I don’t want my inflated opinion of him getting in the way of properly assessing his relative value. Same story for Scheppers, another personal favorite.

Bailey and Maddox are hard to place on a draft board because, well, they are high school catchers. In a typical year it’s hard to figure out how early teams are willing to take a chance on a prep backstop, but it’s even wilder this year because of the excess of quality high school catchers expected to be taken early. Poythress is another player tricky to place, but for the opposite reasons. He is an established college first baseman, a position with an absurdly high success rate when taken early in the draft. However, this year’s draft is so devoid of quality bats (especially advanced bats) that it is hard to narrow down exactly what range he’ll go in – will teams overdraft a hitter knowing they are less likely to find a good one later? Or will teams instead focus on the strength of the draft — pitching, pitching, and more pitching — and go best player available, thus pushing hitters down the board?

Concerns aside, these players are still top-level prospects who should feel confident enough in their draft stock to begin daydreaming about their big first round pay days ahead.

Confidence Level —> As high as it gets without being a stone cold lock

  • Tier 4 —> 8 players

LHSP James Paxton, LHSP Mike Minor, SS DJ LeMahieu, OF Jared Mitchell, OF Kentrail Davis, RHSP Trent Stevenson, RHSP Zack Wheeler, RHSP Jacob Turner

Much like the group prior, these latest 8 prospects should feel really good about getting the chance to hear their names called on draft day. We’re up to 24 overall players through 4 tiers with definite consensus first round grades at this point in the process. The biggest reaches on this group are the two fastest risers of the bunch – Paxton and Stevenson.

Confidence Level —> Beginning to waver slightly, but still feeling good about 7 of the 8 players listed winding up as first rounders…which player or two (or three) doesn’t make the cut is anybody’s guess

  • Tier 5 —> 6 players

RHSP Alex Wilson, RHSP Ryan Berry, LHSP Andy Oliver, OF Brett Jackson, RHRP Jason Stoffel, RHSP Matt Hobgood

With the inclusion of Tier 5, our grand total of potential first rounders is now up to a nice, round 30. There are 32 first round spots up for grabs this year. Of note, Wilson and Berry are both Texas-based college guys that have risen in tandem up the boards this spring, Oliver has seen a dip in his stock but could still easily be a tier or two higher (I’m doing my best to be conservative here), and Stoffel is another hard to judge player based on the position he plays.

Confidence Level —> Nobody predicts who will go in the first round over two months ahead of time, so confidence is low that these are the right names. However, and remember this is me going out on a limb (something I’m too big a pun to normally do), at least three of the five college guys will be first rounders. Bold, right?

  • The Rest…

3B/OF Matt Davidson, 3B Bobby Borchering, C Max Stassi, SS Jiovanni Mier, OF/2B AJ Pollock, OF Brian Goodwin, RHSP Kendal Volz, RHSP Sam Dyson, LHSP Brooks Raley, SS Robbie Shields, SS Ryan Jackson, RHSP Mychal Givens, RHRP Brad Boxberger, C Josh Phegley, C Tony Sanchez, RHSP Keyvius Sampson

16 other names in the mix as potential first rounders bringing our final tally to 46 players duking it out for 32 spots. If I had to bet, I’d say Borchering and Mier wind up as first rounders based little more on the fact that a) the first round needs more high schoolers, and b) the first round needs more hitters, especially if said hitters can defend at important infield positions.

Who am I missing? Who do I have that won’t wind up a first rounder come June?

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