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Monthly Archives: April 2009

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!

2009 Draft-Eligible Top College Catcher Tournament (Part II)

Who is the best draft-eligible college catcher in all the land? We’re going to find out tournament-style! Robert Stock shocked the world…or the 400 people who read this site a day…and won a spot in the Final Four yesterday. Today, four more participants face off in our very special Mike Ivie Regional after the jump…

Mike Ivie Regional

Source: Baseball Almanac
Source: Baseball Almanac

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2009 Draft-Eligible Top College Catcher Tournament

Who is the best draft-eligible college catcher in all the land? We’re going to find out tournament-style! First up, the four participants facing off in our very special Steve Chilcott Regional…

Photo Credit: usctrojans.cstv.com

Photo Credit: usctrojans.cstv.com

Steve Chilcott Regional

1. Ryan Ortiz
4. Dan Black

2. Robert Stock
3. Anthony Sosnoskie

The Chilcott Regional, brought to you by the first overall pick of the 1966 Draft and one of only three top picks never to reach the big leagues (Brien Taylor and Matt Bush being the others), is headed up by one of the most athletic catchers in the country, Ryan Ortiz of Oregon State. Ortiz has a slightly above-average arm, but it plays up because of a very quick release. He’s got a big league frame (6-3, 205), but it’s more of a wiry, athletic build than a classic catcher’s body. He has limited upside with the bat because of unimpressive swing mechanics and his setup at the plate leaves plenty to be desired, but he has shown a very mature approach at the plate in his two years starting for the Beavers.

I think Ortiz would be lucky to have a pro career that follows the Eli Marrero/Mitch Maier path –  getting at bats as a super-sub capable of filling the role of backup catcher, reserve corner outfielder, and occasional corner infielder. That’s not a knock, by the way; more young players would be better served by playing up their strengths (in Ortiz’s case, his above-average athleticism and experience at multiple positions on the diamond) and accentuating the positives in their games. Do everything in your power to be a great big league starter, of course, but if things don’t work out as planned then don’t fight a utility future, embrace it.

The challenger, Black, is a totally different animal. His oversized frame (6-4, 220) delivers exactly the kind of punch you’d expect – plus raw power and a plus throwing arm. In my world, a few plus tools beat the heck out of a ton of solid-average ones. In fact, in looking at the little bit of research I did a while back about why so many college catchers fail, I came to the following conclusion:

Catching prospects that fail seem to fall into three central categories: no stand out tools (for some reason players that are supposedly solid in all phases in the game don’t tend to pan out at the position), a string of developmentally damaging injuries (pretty self-explanatory), and more D than O. So all you have to do is find that offensive-oriented catcher with above-average tools and a clean injury history. Easy as that, right? Interesting to note that Jeff Clement, the highest drafted college catcher of the decade, only really fit one of the three criterion – he was an offense first prospect with question marks about all of his non-hit tools and creaky knees. He is still a good prospect, but he’s now 25 years old and back in AAA. Hmm.

Yes, I realize that’s hardly a groundbreaking conclusion, but it’s all I’ve got. Anyway, Black’s two standout tools give him the edge over Ortiz. Simplistic, I know. Sometimes it’s just as easy as that.

Plus raw power and plus arm strength > above-average arm, athleticism, solid contact skills, and below-average power. Black has the higher ceiling (big league starter either at catcher or third base), but Ortiz has the higher floor (his positional versatility is very appealing)In an upset, Black knocks out consensus favorite Ortiz to move on to the second round. Gee whiz, isn’t this fun?

The second matchup isn’t quite as entertaining. I remain a stubborn, stubborn man when it comes to Robert Stock’s catching potential. We’re at the point when almost everybody in the free world sees Stock as a pitcher, but me. You’d think that would be enough to convince me to give up the obsession with his unrealized upside behind the dish, but you have no idea the depths of my stubbornness. I still see the prep version of Stock that tantalized with plus arm strength, plus athleticism, and a projectable frame with lightning quick wrists that had scouts predicting he’d hit for as much power at Southern Cal than Jeff Clement. His mid-90s heat and potential plus curve have scouts believing his professional home will be on the mound, especially now that he’s getting starters innings as a pitcher for the Trojans, but I remain steadfast in my belief that his upside as a catcher hasn’t totally vanished despite three lackluster years at the college level. In a catching crop chock full of players with limited upside, Stock’s true talent level stacks up with all but a select few. Sosnoskie is a little bit like the anti-Stock in that he offers well above-average defense at present, but with a lot less offensive upside. He has shown a good bit of progress with the bat so far in 2009 (leading the Hokies in homers and rocking a 26-15 BB/K ratio), but it may be too little too late to change the perception that he’s a backup catcher at best in the pros. He’s pretty clearly in the lower half of the top 16 college catching prospects, and it will be interesting (to me, anyway) where he’ll eventually stack up against players with similar skillsets on draft day. Anyway, Stock wins this one going away.

4. Dan Black
2. Robert Stock

Two of my top five catchers (spoiler alert!) square off in the Chilcott Regional Final. No need to change my stubborn ways now, right? The winner is Stock but only by the tiniest of margins. It’s downright silly to compare any player to Baltimore phenom Matt Wieters, and it’s even sillier to compare the loser of a competition like this to such a stud prospect, but the scouting reports on Black all read like very poor man’s versions of Wieters. I’m not even sure what a comp like that means (what can we really expect out of a very poor man’s version of Wieters?), but it is just too sexy a comparison to ignore. Even still, give me Stock and that upside that only I still believe in, fool that I am. Welcome to the Final Four of College Catchers, Robert Stock.

Harry Kalas 1936-2009

At face value the passing of Harry Kalas is in no way related to the upcoming MLB Draft, but there is no way I could ignore the passing of the man who is as much a reason for this site existing as anybody else in my life. I originally fell in love with baseball for two simple reasons, reasons that are typical of many fans of the sport who grew up in the Delaware Valley – family and Harry Kalas. My family’s love of the game helped me fall in love with baseball in the first place, but I stayed a fan through the lean years of the mid-90s because of Kalas; he made every game worth listening to and helped turn my love of the game into full-fledged obsession.

I was at Game 5 last season when the Phillies won the World Series, so I missed HK’s call of the last out. The days following the win were such a blur that I didn’t get a chance to sit down and listen to that final call until finally hearing it by accident on the radio in the car. At that point I had no choice but to pull over and just take a minute to reflect on how the call I waited my whole life to hear, the call that I had played in my head hundreds of thousands of times over the years, the call that only I knew only one person in the world could possibly voice, had somehow been even better than I could have ever imagined. Even though I was in South Philadelphia on October 29th, 2008 to witness Eric Hinske wiff on a picture perfect Brad Lidge slider with my own two eyes, it wasn’t real until HK told me so.

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The Field of 16 – Top College Catching Prospects

It’s about time we got back to doing some positional rankings around these parts, don’t you think? We covered the top prep righthanded pitching prospects here, here, here, and here, as well as the top college righthanded starting pitching prospects here, here, and here. After a bit of a break, it’s time to jump back in this time with college catching prospects, a topic danced around but never ranked both here and here. Because straight rankings can become a little tiresome after a while, I decided to do something different with the catching prospects. Will it be cool? Will it be super lame? Will it be more confusing and time-consuming than it’s worth? Stay tuned! The top 16 college catching prospects in all the land after the jump, as well as the unveiling of just how we’ll be ranking them this time…

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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

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Unranked Ranking of 2009’s Top Twenty Prep Prospects

I’m still trying to get a feel when some of this year’s top prep talent will go off the board this June, so excuse me if this post comes across as little more than just some nut thinking aloud. The tiers below the jump are even more arbitrary than earlier iterations of the tier system, but they exist primarily as a means of separating the top talent while still allowing plenty of wiggle room in the future. Between not having any kind of worthwhile stats to go on, conflicting scouting reports, and fewer opportunities to actually see the guys play, evaluating the draft stock of high schoolers can be a real pain. Saying that one high school lefty is beyond a shadow of a doubt a superior prospect than another similarly ranked prospect is a fool’s game at this point in the process. (IMPORTANT NOTE: I am a fool who enjoys engaging in fool’s games very much, far more than I should probably, so expect plenty of Player X is better than Player Y talk on this site in the future…just not with high schoolers two months before the draft).

Instead, you get tiers for now. It’s mostly just an organizational piece for me, or a way of creating a launching pad (I love the mental imagery that evokes) for future high school draft talk. For now, mull over a quick top twenty of 2009 high school draft prospects – consider it a mix of where industry insiders have players ranked (Stevenson and Hobgood being two players with tons of helium right now that I’m not buying as elite prospects just yet) and a personal set of rankings chock full of my own special herbs and spices (as of now, I’m one of the very few on board with believing a player nicknamed Scooter is a top two round talent). It’s a difficult happy medium to reach, going with the consensus while also interjecting your own — hopefully informed — personal take, but ideally the end result is something worthwhile. Remember, the end goal here is simple…as the great Herm Edwards once said, “WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!”

Unranked ranking of the top twenty prep talents of 2009 after the jump

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