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MLB Draft 2009 – A Closer Look at Round 41

Now that the 2009 MLB Draft has come and gone (and, alas, so has the crazy traffic of early June), it’s time to get down to business in breaking down the best and the brightest from the ’09 draft class. After much thought, I’ve decided that the best way to get me back engaged with the 2009 MLB Draft was to randomly pull out a couple of rounds here and there in an effort to take a closer look at some of the most interesting prospects. I’m not sure how extensive this feature will be (there are still team by team report cards to do, as well as that 2010 mock draft and a slew of other summer-time goodies), so consider this more of a free-flowing sampling of what I’m hoping to accomplish rather than a rigid model. In the future we may want to look at multiple late rounds in a group because, well, if we keep up the hearty pace of profiling one round every weekday then this thing will drag on until the end of summer…and we’re far too busy with other exciting content for that, right?

3 Names to Remember or: Have Fun at School, See Ya in 2012

41.122 – Washington Nationals selection OF Dane Opel (Edwardsville HS, Illinois) – plenty to like about Opel including his potential plus defense in the outfield and a definite plus throwing arm; bat tool is still a little underdeveloped, but he’s got time to put it all together at a good school like Missouri; Opel has shot up in both height and weight since breaking onto the scene as a sophomore at Edwardsville, so it’ll be interesting to see if he keeps packing on the muscle if/when he grows another few inches while at school; Missouri commit

41.1234 – Texas Rangers selection LHP Forrest Garrett (Norcross HS, Georgia) – Garrett is a gigantic sleeper who has definite early round potential in 2012; his projectable frame should allow him to bump his already above-average fastball a few notches (sitting high-80s to low-90s), but his real money maker will be a potential plus changeup; throw in a curve with above-average potential and you’ve got yourself a three-pitch lefty with present solid command and a very bright future ahead; LSU commit

41.1247 – Philadelphia Phillies selection OF Jeff Gelalich (Bonita HS, California) – the tools-laden outfielder brings  a solid all-around mix to the field including a sweet lefthanded stroke, good speed, and a strong, accurate outfield arm; UCLA commit

Closest to the Major Leagues

41.1225 Pittsburgh Pirates selection UTIL Tyler Cannon (Virginia) reminds me of a better version of Missouri’s Greg Folgia, a player picked a round higher by the Indians. Cannon is solid in all phases of the game, but lacks fluidity on defense at any position. Between his lack of a defensive home and his steady, but unspectacular bat, Cannon has many believing his professional role will be that of a super-sub capable of playing literally every position on the diamond, including catcher. His college counting stats (through his first two seasons) match up with Eric Bruntlett’s in almost an eerie way, but, as you can see, the comparison falls apart when you see what each player’s rate stats look like:

Tyler Cannon College .265 .337 .350 687 121 452 83 120 24 4 2 64 22 7 43 91 0.02 0.20 0.69 0.53 0.18
Eric Bruntlett College .330 .438 .441 879 130 449 112 148 34 2 4 72 22 7 75 65 0.03 0.26 0.86 0.55 0.17

Anyway, I’d say that the Bruntlett comp may actually be a tad optimistic at this point. Cannon’s collegiate track record isn’t quite as strong as Bruntlett’s and he lacks Bruntlett’s tremendous Civil War reenactor style beard, but I’d bet on enough marginal improvements as he progresses into his mid-20s to see him getting a chance as a AAAA utility guy good enough to position himself as a potential callup when injuries to the more talented players occur.

41.1223 – Seattle Mariners selection RHP Kyle Witten (Cal State Fullerton) could benefit from scrapping a few of his iffy secondary offerings and re-inventing himself as a professional in the mould of agroundballing reliever who throws sinkers, sliders, and splitters. Velocity isn’t a problem for the big righty (he has touched 94 with frequency), but his performance this year for an excellent Fullerton team didn’t exactly light the world on fire. The raw power stuff is undeniable, but harnessing it has been an issue. This year marks the third time Witten has been drafted; could he return to school one more season with the hopes that a big senior year makes his fourth go-around with the draft a charm?

41.1227 – San Francisco Giants selection RHP Gary Moran (Sonoma State) has dominant enough numbers to warrant at least a mention here in the 41st round. Also worth a mention, Moran is a giant. Check out the line that the 6-8, 265 pound righthanded pitcher put up this year for the season:

Player                 ERA   W-L   APP  GS  CG SHO/CBO SV    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  2B  3B  HR   AB B/Avg   WP HBP  BK  SFA SHA
38 MORAN, Gary......  1.37   7-2    13  13   0   0/2    0  78.2  57  16  12  10  71   8   2   0  281  .203    4   8   0    3   7

Moran won’t blow you away with radar gun readings, but he throws a heavy fastball that bores in on righthanders to get plenty of groundball outs. He also has an above-average curve and, as supported by his numbers, sparkling control. Moran isn’t the usual late round college flier (he’s been drafted twice before), so don’t be shocked to see late round success story Gary Moran pitching out of a big league bullpen near you someday.

Highest Upside

Garrett is a personal favorite of mine (something about those plus changeups just gets to me), but an argument could easily be made for Opel, a guy who should see plenty of at bats right from the start at Missouri.

Potpourri

41.1226 – RHP Mason Magleby (picked by Baltimore out of Del Oro HS, California) has already come out and said that he is heading to the University of Nevada to play football. Baltimore’s loss is the Wolfpack’s gain, I guess.

41.1244 – 1B Travis Ozga (picked by the New York Mets out of Florida Atlantic) has easily the best last name in all the draft. As far as I know, we aren’t related…unless Travis goes on to light it up as a professional, of course. In that case, my long lost brother better look me up…

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