Site Update!

It’s not a good idea to put your laptop under a poorly constructed do-it-yourself IKEA dresser that’s been wobbly since day one. All it took was one pair of socks to alter the balance just enough and…boom! As a relentlessly positive thinker, I can at least consider myself lucky that it was only the screen that suffered damage. Silver lining!

Continuing my theme of positivity, this is now officially the first post coming live from my shiny new computer. Said computer is now the biggest single financial commitment I’ve made as a young adult. The incredibly fascinating complete list: 1) Fancy New Laptop, 2) Played Out Smashed Laptop, 3) Already Too Small TV, 4) Gaudy Bright Red Couch, and, easily my least favorite “big” purchase ever, 5) Sucky Vacuum Cleaner. I wonder what that list says about me? Enemy of dirt, completely electronic dependent, and a big fan of sitting? Sounds about right. Anyway, getting back to the point at hand, the new computer is up and fully operational. As far as a return to regular posting, well, that’s not going to be quite as smooth a transition. As mentioned, only the screen on the old laptop suffered damage. That means the important data, three years or so worth of notes on 2011-2013 draft prospects, is all locked away in the hard drive safe and sound. Once I figure out how to get all my old files from the old laptop to the new laptop, things will be up and running once again. Could be a few days, could be a week, could be a little be longer than that. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later…

2010 College World Series – Florida State’s 2011 MLB Draft Players of Note

I’m a little bit at a loss as I try to decide my next move with the site. 2010 draft recaps, 2011 early previews, college team profiles…I’m not really sure what I want to do. In the meantime, here’s something quick on one of the eight remaining teams in the 2010 College World Series. Ideally I’d do one of these for every team. We’ll see. Also, comments and emails will be answered over the next few days.

2011 MLB Draft Players to Know – Florida State

SO LHP Sean Gilmartin (4.73 FIP; 9.12 K/9; 2.68 BB/9; 100.2 IP)

SO 2B Sherman Johnson (.335/.449/.513; 44/36 BB/K; 7/10 SB; 224 AB)

SO RHP Hunter Scantling* (5.00 FIP; 7.98 K/9; 2.66 BB/9; 44 IP)

SO OF James Ramsey (.291/.443/.539; 48/41 BB/K; 10/11 SB; 206 AB)

JR RHP Daniel Bennett* (3.56 FIP; 10.06 K/9; 3.18 BB/9; 34 IP)

SO LHP Brian Busch* (4.36 FIP; 8.74 K/9; 3.99 BB/9; 70 IP)

JR 3B Stuart Tapley (.281/.419/.454; 40/57 BB/K; 7/9 SB; 185 AB)

JR RHP Tyler Everett* (3.46 FIP; 7.92 K/9; 4.47 BB/9; 44.1 IP)

JR C Rafael Lopez (.290/.405/.427; 20/29 BB/K; 0/0 SB; 131 AB)

JR C Parker Brunelle (.222/.297/.395; 8/13 BB/K; 0/1 SB; 81 AB)

JR RHP Andrew Durden* (3.84 FIP; 7.71 K/9; 4.82 BB/9; 9.1 IP)

JR LHP Tye Buckley* (5.27 FIP; 5.40 K/9; 8.78 BB/9; 13.1 IP)

JR LHP Robby Scott* (2.19 FIP; 10.80 K/9; 7.20 BB/9; 5 IP)

JR OF Robby Stahl (.000/.250/.000; 2/3 BB/K; 0/0 SB; 5 AB)

JR OF Jack Posey: Fall 2009 Tommy John surgery

Gilmartin throws an upper-80s fastball with the potential for three average or better secondary pitches (low-70s curve, mid-70s changeup, slider) in time. Johnson, a former walk-on, is one of my favorite college position player sleeper prospects heading into 2011. He’s taken to the patented ultra-patient Florida State approach like he’s been doing it all his life while still showing off tremendous bat control and an advanced feel for what opposing pitchers want to do against him. He’s also got the defensive tools to be well above-average at both second base and third base, though he could ultimately work best as a smooth fielding shortstop. If nothing else, his defensive talent at multiple infield spots makes a utility future seem like a decent floor projection. I won’t lie and claim to have a comprehensive knowledge of all 2011 college middle infield prospects at this point, but I’d be hard pressed to come up with as well-rounded a player as Johnson. The rising junior has enough of every tool to succeed at the next level. Scantling is huge (6-8, 270 pounds) and athletic, but his stuff still doesn’t quite match his imposing frame. That could change in a hurry, but for now he’s still sitting in the same upper-80s with iffy breaking stuff that he was at back in high school. It’ll be interesting to see if he’ll get more consistent innings as a starter or if Florida State opts to keep him coming out of the bullpen in 2011. Ramsey is generally seen as one of the better 2011 college outfield prospects, but at this point in his development he’s little more than an above-average bat to me. His arm is currently average at best and his range in the outfield is below-average. In addition, he’s a decent runner who picks his spots on the bases well. College players limited to leftfield need to be able to hit a ton to make it in pro ball.

Bennett has been counted on in many big spots as the Seminoles primary non-closer relief pitcher. His deceptive sidearm delivery, above-average fastball, and impressive junior year peripherals make him one to watch. The former Tallahassee Community College standout should get first crack at reclaiming the closer’s job he lost to Mike McGee this season in 2011. Busch won’t wow you with his stuff, but he does have a decent curveball and good command. Tapley is a favorite among coaches, scouts, and fans for his superior work ethic, hustle, and on-field demeanor, so it’s easy to believe he could be in store for a quick return trip back up teams’ draft boards with a big senior season. He’s not a third baseman long-term, but a utility future could be in the cards if he can show any kind of aptitude at second. If that doesn’t work, he could be a four-corners bench bat type. Tapley was one of the last few cuts from my 2010 list of top 30 college third basemen, for what it’s worth.

Everett has done a good job over the years for the Seminoles, but has done it more with pitchability than stuff. Lopez is a really good defender with a strong throwing arm, but little projection with the bat makes his best case scenario that of a backup catcher. It seems there were plenty of 2010 surprise senior breakout players among college catchers, so maybe there is hope for Lopez after all. Brunelle, a top high school prospect way back when, has disappointed since enrolling at Florida State. He’s still an outstanding athlete with a line drive swing, so there may still be some hope he’s another late blooming catching prospect. Unfortunately, the lack of power and an average at best throwing arm represent two major strikes against him. I liked Durden more as a position player out of high school, but he’s shown enough on the mound in limited action to be worth a look as a potential mid-round senior sign relief project. Buckley has received some positive buzz as an effective LOOGY out of the pen, but his numbers leave much to be desired. Scott, Stahl, and Posey all received little to no playing time in 2010. Posey’s excuse, Tommy John surgery in late 2009, is understandable.

Philadelphia Phillies 2010 MLB Draft Review

There’s no way I can keep up the pace on this draft review’s when they are this detailed. I did, however, enjoy a great deal of the research that went into it, so maybe a condensed “notes” type of write up for each team might be the best way to try these going forward. Or maybe I’ll scrap the whole thing (like last year!) and just move forward with 2011 prospects. Decisions, decisions…

Players are first listed in their actual draft order. I’ve followed that up with my personal ranking, with comments on as many players as I could get to.

1.27 | LHP Jesse Biddle | Germantown Friends HS (PA)

2.77 | RHP Perci Garner (SO) | Ball State

3.108 | C Cameron Rupp (JR) | Texas

3.141 | LHP Bryan Morgado (JR) | Tennessee

5.171 | RHP Scott Frazier | Upland HS (CA)

6.201 | OF Gauntlett Eldemire (JR) | Ohio

7.231 | RHP David Buchanan (JR) | Georgia State

8.261 | SS Stephen Malcolm | San Joaquin Delta JC (CA)

9.291 | OF Brenton Allen | Gahr HS (CA)

10.321 | LHP Mario Hollands (JR) | UC Santa Barbara

11.351 | RHP Garett Claypool | UCLA

12.381 | RHP Tyler Knigge | Lewis-Clark State

13.411 | 3B John Hinson (SO) | Clemson

14.441 | C Chance Numata | Pearl City HS (HI)

15.471 | 3B Jake Smith (SR) | Alabama

16.501 | RHP Craig Fritsch | Baylor

17.531 | RHP Mike Nesseth (JR) | Nebraska

18.561 | 1B Jeff Cusick | UC Irvine

19.591 | 1B Daniel Palka | Greer HS (SC)

20.621 | RHP Kevin Walter | Legacy HS (CO)

21.651 | RHP Jonathan Musser | Dowling Catholic HS (IA)

22.681 | RHP Jonathan Paquet | St. Lawrence JC (Quebec)

23.711 | RHP Jake Borup (SO) | Arizona State

24.741 | RHP Chad Thompson | Orange Coast CC (CA)

25.771 | RHP Matt Hutchison | UNLV

26.801 | OF Chris Duffy (SR) | Central Florida

27.831 | 2B Matt Payton | Western Kentucky

28.861 | OF Brian Pointer | Galena HS (NV)

29.891 | RHP Patrick Lala | Kirkwood CC (IA)

30.921 | LHP Nick Gonzalez | Leto HS (FL)

31.951 | C Jim Klocke | Southeast Missouri State

32.981| 3B Carlos Alonso | Delaware

33.1011 | C Bob Stumpo | West Chester

34.1041 | 1B Pat Murray | Lewis-Clark State

35.1071 | RHP Eric Pettis | UC Irvine

36.1101 | LHP Neal Davis | Virginia

37.1131 | RHP Marshall Schuler | Colorado School of Mines

38.1161 | OF Keenyn Walker | Central Arizona JC

39.1191 | OF Justin Cummings | Santa Fe CC (FL)

40.1221 | LHP Jeff Harvill | Evangel Christian Academy (LA)

41.1251 | OF Taylor Zeutenhorst | Sheldon HS (IA)

42.1281 | 1B Tim Chadd | Bishop Carroll Catholic HS (KS)

43.1311 | LHP Jimmy Hodgskin | Bishop Moore HS (FL)

44. 1341 | RHP Jesse Meaux (JR) | UC Santa Barbara

45.1371 | LHP Mike Francisco | Villanova

46.1401 | C Tyler Ross | Collier HS (FL)

47.1431 | LHP Ethan Stewart | New Mexico JC

48.1461 | LHP Kyle Ottoson | South Mountain JC (AZ)

49.1491 | LHP Kyle Hallock | Kent State

50.1521 | 3B Damek Tomscha | Sioux City North HS (IA)

***

1.27 | LHP Jesse Biddle | Germantown Friends HS (PA)

  • 1st ranked high school lefthanded pitching prospect

There’s little evidence to suggest that this pick was made either due to signability or with positive PR in mind, but that certainly hasn’t stopped some Phillies fans and national pundits from disparaging the Phillies’ choice of Jesse Biddle in the first round. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, no doubt, I just happen to strongly disagree. The Phillies, despite what is often said about them wanting toolsy high school outfielders and only toolsy outfielders early in the draft, are an organization that has made tremendous strides this past decade by drafting naturally gifted players with plus tools (though not necessarily “toolsy”) who have previously fell much further down the draft board than predicted before falling into Philadelphia’s lap. The poster boy for such a pick is current Phillies LHP Cole Hamels, a player who fell in the draft because of injury and makeup concerns. RHP Kyle Drabek, current Blue Jays minor leaguer and key to the Roy Halladay trade, is another example. Those are the two highest profile, and biggest success stories, of the group. The approach didn’t work as well with 2007’s selection of LHP Joe Savery, a pick I loved at the time. If he recovers from the labrum surgery, he’ll be the steal of the first round, I thought. If he doesn’t, well, then you’re out a mid- to late-first round pick. That’s a big blow, obviously, but one that can be softened with a few choice overslot prep prospects in the mid- to late-rounds.

Picking in the second half of the first round year after year is a real challenge for any pro sports franchise, and the best way to succeed is by thinking outside the box and taking calculated gambles on talented players sliding down the board. You don’t get obvious talents like Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek where the Phillies got them without good reason; Hamels fell due to injury concerns and Drabek slipped due to worries about his bad makeup. Joe Savery’s arm, if healthy is major league quality, but it was no surprise to see him slip in the draft because of the questions concerning his recovery from surgery to remove a bone growth from his labrum. The Phillies gambled on the pre-injury Savery returning, and lost. Targeting these kinds of players comes with a high risk factor, but when you trust your scouts it’s not a bad approach to take at the back end of the first round.

What held Biddle’s draft stock back wasn’t injury or questions about makeup, but plain old geography. It may be naïve to think that players in non-traditional baseball locations remain undervalued prospects, but there’s a certain logic to the idea that is often overlooked. Simply put, there is less of a window of opportunity to see players in cold weather locations. By the time positive reports from area scouts and crosscheckers make their way to the big guns (national crosschecker and/or scouting director) in the front office, there isn’t enough time left in the season to go out and see these prospects up close and personally. Many scouting directors are uneasy giving the green light on a first round pick without seeing the prospect personally, or, at minimum, having his second-in-command on site at some point.

Tangent aside, it’s time to actually talk about Jesse Biddle. Biddle’s plus fastball and above-average slider give him two pitches that he can use right away to get professional hitters out. It’ll be the success of his third pitch, a potential plus changeup a long ways away from being big league ready, that’ll make this pick. His quick scouting report looks like this:

regularly 90-91 with FB, peaking 92-94 with late movement at this best; dipped to upper-80s in early part of spring, but fastball heated up with the weather; rapidly improving 73-77 CU seen almost exclusively in bullpen sessions (rarely used in games) with plus potential, but it’s a pitch very far off from reaching that upside; upper-70s SL with curve-like break that should be above-average pro pick with added velocity; loopy low- to mid-70s CB likely to be shelved professionally, but could have big league average potential if the Phillies opt to push Biddle as a four-pitch guy; 6-5, 230 pounds

5.171 | RHP Scott Frazier | Upland HS (CA)

  • 17th ranked high school righthanded pitching prospect
    • High school arms with three potential above-average pitches aren’t normally still on the board in the fifth round, so consider the selection of Frazier analalgous to the Brody Colvin pick from last year. The signing of Frazier could make or break this year’s Phillies draft class, just like Colvin’s decision to turn pro last year did. Frazier’s quick scouting report:

      91-95 plus sinking FB; both mid-70s CB and low-80s CU have above-average potential; Pepperdine commitment (like first pick Kelly Dugan in 2009), but absolutely thought to be signable for the right price; Phillies connection – worked with former Phillies pitcher David Coggin to smooth out delivery and sharpen breaking stuff in offseason; 6-6, 200 pounds

      2.77 | RHP Perci Garner (SO) | Ball State

    • 28th ranked righthanded college pitching prospect
      • Garner has darn near everything I personally like in a pitching prospect. Good fastball, power curve, emerging splitter, plus athleticism, good size, fresh arm, groundball tendencies…what more do you want? Garner’s scouting report:

        easy 96-97 peak FB, sits comfortably 91-94; above-average mid-80s CB with plus potential; usable SL with average upside and intriguing splitter that works as CU; outstanding athleticism; two years on the football team puts him below the standard learning curve, and his rawness can either be seen as a positive (untapped potential, less wear and tear on arm) or a negative (inconsistent mechanics, iffy command); 6-2, 225 pounds; (3.29 FIP; 10.46 K/9; 4.38 BB/9)

        6.201 | OF Gauntlett Eldemire (JR) | Ohio

      • 8th ranked college outfield prospect
        • In a draft where the Phillies resisted the urge to take a super-toolsy high school outfielder (Brenton Allen excepted), they instead decided to pop one of the rawest, toolsiest college outfielders of recent memory. That’s a little funny, right? I hesitate to even say the name, especially because I genuinely like Eldemire as a prospect, but the player he most resembles at the plate (currently, at least) is former Phillies first rounder Greg Golson. To be fair to Eldemire, the Ohio product arrives as a professional with a great deal more polish than Golson did out of high school, but, then again, there is a certain undeniable rawness to just about everything that he does as a hitter. That’s alright for now because of Eldemire’s near plus speed, plus power upside, above-average range in center, and a decent throwing arm. His long swing will need to be reworked, but it’s fun thinking about what a super athletic outfield of Eldemire, Anthony Gose, and Domonic Brown could do to flyballs in South Philly.

          46.1401 | C Tyler Ross | Collier HS (FL)

          • 8th ranked high school catching prospect

          Ross is great value at this point in the draft, no getting around it. The LSU commitment is scary, but, thanks to Brody Colvin signing last year, the precedent has been set. Ross has been the map for a while now, so it’s interesting to chart his progress over the past few months. When his name first started popping up, it was always with respect to his plus raw power and exceptionally fast bat speed. As the spring progressed, reports on Ross shifted toward the positive strides made in his defensive game. He’s not a finished product behind the plate by any means, but the acknowledgment of really strong defensive tools is now out there. Plus raw power, strong arm, and good defensive tools behind the plate all wrapped up in a ready for professional ball 6-3, 210 pound frame? No wonder both the Bayou Bengals and the Phillies want the guy.

          24.741 | RHP Chad Thompson | Orange Coast CC (CA)

          Thompson is huge (6-8, 215) with an explosive low-90s FB (90-93) peaking at 94-95, nasty splitter, upper-70s circle change with serious sink, and a raw mid-70s curve that needs polish. There are also rumblings that he now throws a good forkball, but, haven’t not seen him personally since high school, I can neither confirm nor deny its existence. If Thompson’s elbow is structurally sound after last May’s Tommy John surgery, the Phillies have a major sleeper on their hands.

          20.621 | RHP Kevin Walter | Legacy HS (CO)

          • 55th ranked righthanded high school pitching prospect

          Walter is able to differentiate himself from so many of the players listed below him and so many of the high school pitchers selected overall this year by showing the potential for three above-average pitches from the start of his pro career on. His fastball gets up to 92 (sits upper-80s), but it’s believed there is more velocity to be had in his 6-6, 220 pound frame. In addition to the heater, Walter throws a hard potential plus curveball and a slider with above-average upside. He’s also flashed a promising looking cutter on occasion.

          3.108 | C Cameron Rupp (JR) | Texas

          • 8th ranked college catching prospect

          Now we’re finally getting to some college catching prospects with legit plus tools. In Rupp’s case, it’s plus raw power and a plus throwing arm. The raw power is hard to argue with, though there is some concern it’s more of a pure physical strength power rather than quick wrists and a classic swing kind of power. Rupp’s arm strength has been called simply average to above-average in some places, but, for me, his arm becomes a plus tool when you combine his above-average throwing power with his incredibly precise throwing accuracy. So far, so good, right? As for the other three tools, well, that’s more of a mixed bag. His running speed is well below-average and his long swing has enough holes against breaking pitches to keep him from ever having anything more than a league average bat. His defense, however, gives him a third above-average tool, due in large part to his surprisingly nimble lateral movement behind the plate. The industry comp of Rod Barajas is a good one, but I think Rupp’s ceiling is closer to Chris Synder’s. Low batting average, solid defense, and above-average power for the position could make Rupp a solid big league starter or, at worst, one of the league’s better backups.

          43.1311 | LHP Jimmy Hodgskin | Bishop Moore HS (FL)

          • 88-91 FB, 94 peak; plus FB command; good CU with plus potential; 75-78 CB coming along quickly, could be above-average in time; 6-2, 190 pounds

          Hodgskin’s college commitment doesn’t look all that imposing at first (sorry Troy fans), but there was plenty of pre-draft noise that it was much stronger than initially thought. His freefall on draft day certainly lends credence to those rumors. If he does get signed, you’re looking at a potential impact three-pitch big leaguer. Hodgskin’s fastball (sitting 88-91, peaking 93-94) is already a plus pitch, due in large part to his pinpoint command. If he can continue to develop an already above-average changeup and a quickly improving upper-70s curveball to go with said fastball, watch out. I know his profile is littered with “if’s,” but let me throw one more out there before wrapping this up. If Hodgskin doesn’t sign with the Phillies, he could emerge as a first day pick in 2013.

          13.411 | 3B John Hinson (SO) | Clemson

          • 19th ranked third base college prospect

          The pre-draft report on Hinson still works:

          John Hinson was a tough player to rank because of his status as a redshirt and thus draft-eligible sophomore and his positional versatility across the infield. He was an easy guy to rank this high because of the really nice things that anybody who has seen him play this year had to say about him. Hinson was a highly touted prospect out of high school who was considered advanced enough after his freshman year to be asked to play for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. Back surgery cost him all of his 2009 season, but the fully recovered version of Hinson put up a 2010 statistical line that reads a lot like Pittsburgh’s Joe Leonard’s work this season. A plus hit tool combined with above-average speed and power will get you far professionally, but people smarter than myself that I talked with told me some teams question his ability to play any one particular spot in the infield with the consistency needed of a regular. Based on the limited looks of Hinson that I’ve seen, I can’t say that I necessarily agree with that assessment, but his defensive skillset (good athlete, iffy arm) may make him better suited for second base than third. At either spot, he’s got the bat to make him a potential regular with a couple breaks along the way.

          My opinion on Hinson has actually grown in the past few weeks, and not just because my favorite team drafted him. He’s got a relatively high floor (easy to see him as a big league utility guy with pop) with the upside of a league average third baseman. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of influence Hinson’s father has on negotiations.

          3.141 | LHP Bryan Morgado (JR) | Tennessee

          • 11th ranked lefthanded college pitching prospect

          I wrote up a few draft reviews last year before getting bored of the format and deciding to scrap the whole thing. Here’s part of last year’s unpublished White Sox draft review:

          Loved Chicago’s selection of one of the most difficult draft-eligible sophomore signs around, Bryan Morgado (Round 3) out of Tennessee. I know it’s been plenty of time (almost three full years) since the flyballing Morgado’s Tommy John surgery, but different pitchers recovery from elbow reconstructions in different ways. Taking the chance that Morgado is a slow healer who needed the extra time to regain the stuff he once flashed as a Miami area prep star is one well worth taking at this point in the draft. However, the gamble wound up working too well as far as the White Sox were concerned. Morgado’s performance on the Cape drove up his price past the point Chicago was willing to pay. The selection was a risk that didn’t pay off, but at least the White Sox were smart enough to take Morgado in a round where they’ll be compensated with a replacement draft pick next year for their troubles.

          Quick notes on Morgado from his 2010 season:

          88-92 FB, peak 94 as starter, but has gotten it up to 96-97 in relief; inconsistent low-80s SL that flashes plus, but is too frequently an average pitch; SL has been far sharper when used in short inning appearances; average at best 78-81 CU; has thrown a different breaking ball (really nasty CB) than the slider in the past that he got away from this spring, but could rediscover if asked to start professionally; if he has to move to the bullpen full-time, lefties slugged a mere .339 against him in 2010; I’m typically gung-ho about having all pitchers who are legitimate prospects start in the rotation, but Morgado’s stuff really seems to play up much, much better in relief; 6-3, 205 pounds (4.40 FIP; 10.27 K/9; 4.48 BB/9)

          7.231 | RHP David Buchanan (JR) | Georgia State

        • 38th ranked righthanded college pitching prospect
          • Have to love any pick that has the added bonus of making Mets fans upset. I kid, of course; despite protestations to the contrary, Mets fans and Phillies fans are 99% similar minus a linebeard here or there. Anyway, Buchanan (4.36 FIP; 8.30 K/9; 4.23 BB/9), an unsigned sixth round pick of the Mets in 2009, sits low-90s with his fastball, peaking at 96. His curve is a potential plus pitch and his changeup has gotten better with every outing this spring. He’ll move relatively quickly if asked to relieve, but the three-pitch mix could have the Phillies thinking starter.

            12.381 | RHP Tyler Knigge (JR) | Lewis-Clark State

            The Phillies recently developed pipeline to Lewis-Clark State could finally pay off with the selection of Knigge. His big fastball (94 peak) and solid hard mid-80s slider give him the look of a potential big league reliever.

            50.1521 | 3B Damek Tomscha | Sioux City North HS (IA)

            • 11th ranked high school third base prospect

            Tomscha is a deep sleeper who has plenty of fans within the scouting community. I’m not a member of said community, but count me in as a fan all the same. As a high school guy without high school ball in Iowa, Tomscha’s upside was severely underrated this spring. He’s a really good athlete with a pretty swing, plus arm, and good raw defensive tools. My high pre-draft ranking was probably a bit of overcompensating for his lack of national love on my end, but it should definitely be noted that this your typical 50th round flier. Tomscha’s legit.

            9.291 | OF Brenton Allen | Gahr HS (CA)

            • 34th ranked high school outfield prospect

            Allen and Brian Pointer are the two toolsy high school outfielders that everybody was waiting for, but, as mentioned in the Pointer profile, it’s only Allen who really fits the typical Phillies mold. He’s incredibly raw, especially at the plate, but his plus raw power and plus speed alone make him a potential impact player. Allen’s solid arm and good athleticism should help him develop into an above-average defender over time, but it’ll be the development of his bat that will make or break him as a prospect. The gap between what he is and what he could be is vast, no doubt about it, but Allen is definitely a player that is easy to dream on.

            41.1251 | OF Taylor Zeutenhorst | Sheldon HS (IA)

            Zeutenhorst, yet another high school prospect from Iowa, is already being discussed as a potential catching conversion if/when he signs. He reminds me a great deal of Mike Kvasnicka. Both guys have underrated speed (Zeutenhorst is a slow accelerator, but moves pretty well for a big guy once he gets rolling), above-average athleticism, a big throwing arm, and plus raw power. Buying him out of his Iowa commitment won’t be easy, but I think it gets done before summer is out.

            28.861 | OF Brian Pointer | Galena HS (NV)

            • 37th ranked high school outfield prospect

            A really strong Oregon State commitment probably precludes Phillies fans from getting too excited about Pointer ever donning a Crosscutters or BlueClaws jersey. He strikes me as a weird Phillies pick in that he’s a high school outfielder who isn’t all that toolsy. Sure, he’s really well rounded with no obvious long-term weaknesses to his game, but the lack of one standout tool is surprising. I actually like Pointer’s upside more than most, but that’s an opinion based on my belief he has enough speed and range to stick in center. If he has to move to a corner, his average bat doesn’t look quite as exciting.

            30.921 | LHP Nick Gonzalez | Leto HS (FL)

            Nick Gonzalez came on strong this spring, finishing up the high school season throwing fastballs consistently in the upper-80s (88-90 regularly) with an advanced changeup and the makings of a good breaking ball. His size (6-4, 220 pounds) and physicality suggest there is more velocity to come, but it remains to be seen whether Gonzalez will be doing his developing at South Florida or with the Phillies.

            19.591 | 1B Daniel Palka | Greer HS (SC)

            Palka’s commitment to Georgia Tech appears too strong to buy out for a realistic 19th round overlot deal, but he could be a fallback option for the Phillies if a few of their mid-round pitchers don’t take the money and run. As a Phillies fan, I’d love to see a deal struck with Palka; his plus power upside and advanced bat for a high school prospect are both really appealing. As a baseball fan, however, I’d actually be intrigued to see what kind of player he’d develop into after three years as a Yellow Jacket. He’s a good enough athlete to move around between the outfield corners and first base, and his plus throwing arm could help him see some time out of the bullpen if he decides to go the college route.

            21.651 | RHP Jonathan Musser | Dowling Catholic HS (IA)

            • 54th ranked righthanded high school pitching prospect

            Musser is another example of an Iowa high school player dependent on showcasing his stuff in the summer circuit. Unfortunately for both Musser and the Phillies, he won’t be ready to throw for a few more weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury. Once he is able to get going he’ll have the chance to show off his 89-91 fastball, good curve, and promising changeup. I sense a trend developing here…

            16.501 | RHP Craig Fritsch (JR) | Baylor

            • 118th ranked righthanded college pitching prospect

            Fritsch, taken one round before fellow Big 12 four-year junior righthander Mike Nesseth, is a talented arm who never quite lived up to the lofty expectations of his recruiting class at Baylor. His low-90s fastball (peaking 94), average at minimum slider, and decent changeup give him the requisite three pitches necessary to give starting a shot in pro ball. His junior numbers (4.20 FIP; 8.39 K/9; 2.94 BB/9) and previous draft pedigree (8th round in 2009) intrigue.

            14.441 | C Chace Numata | Pearl City HS (HI)

            I may be too high on Chace Numata, but all of the scouting profiles on him I’ve looked at read like a poor man’s Justin O’Conner. Plus athleticism and two potential plus pitches (92-94 FB; CB with great break) on the mound give the Phillies options if Numata doesn’t work behind the plate as expected, but considering I’ve also heard the name Carlos Ruiz in association with Numata’s upside, I’d say his likelihood of sticking behind the dish is pretty high.

            40.1221 | LHP Jeff Harvill | Evangel Christian Academy (LA)

            Harvill’s upper-80s fastball (peaking at 91) is only the beginning. His best pitch is probably a good, hard curve that flashes plus. He also throws a good cut fastball and a changeup that has the potential to be above-average with time. Combine all that with good athleticism and a projectable frame (6-2, 180) and you’ve got a player well worth trying to keep away from Arkansas.

            29.891 | RHP Patrick Lala | Kirkwood CC (IA)

            Gauntlett Eldemire, Patrick Lala, Bob Stumpo, a pitcher from the School of Mines…what the heck is going on here? Lala, unbelievably not the owner of this draft class’ best name/back story, is another below the radar big fastball (95 peak) righthanded pitcher. His plus arm strength makes him similar to Marshall Schuler, but, unlike Schuler, he’s got the option of further his baseball education if he so chooses. Lala’s Iowa commitment is reportedly pretty strong, but an impressive summer showing could convince the Phillies to pony up the greenbacks necessary to buy him out. You’re typically looking at future relievers with non-high school pitchers this far down in the draft, but Lala’s ability to throw four pitches (FB, CB, SL, splitter that works as CU) make him a likely candidate to start professionally.

            38.1161 | OF Keenyn Walker | Central Arizona JC

            Walker has more tools than your typical 38th round pick, so it sort of goes without saying that his signability is in question. I like him more than your typical toolsy junior college outfielder because of his history dating back to his high school days as a guy with serious thunder from the left side. Whether or not that power plays professionally remains to be seen, but his plus athleticism, good speed, and strong arm will all help if the bat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

            15.471 | 3B Jake Smith (SR) | Alabama

            • 20th ranked third base college prospect

            Players coming off of more accomplished collegiate seasons precede Smith on this list, so take this aggressive ranking as a show of good faith that the Alabama senior’s tools will trump his up-and-down college career (.286/.345/.504; 21/61 BB/K; 23 extra base hits) when it comes to his success or failure in the pros. Hey, speaking of aggressive, one of Smith’s biggest current issues is a tendency to get too aggressive at the plate, jumping out at pitches before they reach his happy zone. He’s gotten away with it to some extent in college, but hacking at anything 16 inches (give or take) off, up, or away from the plate is no way to advance up the minor league ladder in the enlightened age of baseball we’re lucky to be living in. Smith’s tremendous raw power and excellent defensive tools play in any era of baseball, but he’s been slow to recover from a serious ankle injury. I get the feeling based on all of the above that we’re talking about another four-corners backup type here, but one with plus defensive possibilities at the hot corner.

            8.261 | SS Stephen Malcolm | San Joaquin Delta JC (CA)

            Malcolm brings two plus tools to the table (arm and speed), making his selection a welcome change from the recent string of uninspiring collegiate middle infielders picked by the Phillies. He also has above-average power to the gaps (good news!) and a Virginia Tech commitment (not so good news…). The Hokies could have a hole at short if Tim Smalling signs, so Malcolm will certainly have the necessary leverage to play hardball with the Phils if he so chooses.

            23.711 | RHP Jake Borup (SO) | Arizona State

            Borup’s a 23-year old draft-eligible sophomore fluent in Spanish after spending two years on a mission in West Virginia. He’s been used strictly out of the bullpen for the Sun Devils, but could have the three pitch repertoire (89-92 FB; good 79-81 SL; raw, but quickly emerging CU) and size (6-5, 200) needed to start professionally. He’ll have to move quickly, especially if converted to the rotation, but it’s nice to add a mature guy with little mileage his arm good to the system with the floor of a potential reliever to the system.

            17.531 | RHP Mike Nesseth (JR) | Nebraska

            • 245th ranked righthanded college pitching prospect
            • 76th ranked overall prospect heading into 2009 MLB Draft

            I’ve long been on the Mike Nesseth bandwagon, so it’s cool to see him finally get his shot with the Phillies. Here’s a quick profile on him from a 2009 season preview:

            Nesseth’s scouting profile reminds me a little bit of a less refined version of Baylor RHP Kendal Volz. Between a mid-90s fastball with great sinking action, hard low-80s slider with loads of potential, and at least some feel for a changeup, Nesseth shows enough variety with his arsenal to warrant a high grade even as a draft-eligible sophomore. His track record doesn’t have a whole lot of meat to it, but when he has pitched, he has produced. Nesseth put up huge strikeout numbers in his debut season with the Cornhuskers, but did so out of the bullpen. Naturally, this raises questions about where he’ll stick as a professional. His excellent summer ball performance in the rotation leads me to believe he can start as a professional. If a team agrees with that assessment, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him popped late in the first round. If not, he’ll get thrown into the mix with a large group of college relievers jockeying for position in the supplemental and second rounds.

            Yeah, so a lot has changed from preseason 2009 to now. Nesseth (4.59 FIP; 7.07 K/9; 3.86 BB/9) is no longer considered a starting convert, both for reasons of ineffectiveness and injury, but still flashes above-average reliever stuff when healthy. At his best, he’s got a wicked mid-90s fastball with sink (peaking 96-97) and a slider that flashes plus. At his worst, however, his velocity dips into the upper-80s/low-90s and he loses all command of his breaking stuff. As a mid-April victim of Tommy John surgery and fourth year junior, it’s largely unknown what it’ll take to sign him, but early rumors out of Nebraska indicate he could be a surprisingly difficult sign. I’m not sure I’m buying that, just passing it along.

            22.681 | RHP Jonathan Paquet | St. Lawrence JC (Quebec)

            Paquet is reportedly a very tough sign, intent to take his upper-80s FB (peaking at 92), raw secondary stuff, and projectable frame (6-4, 180) to St. Petersburg JC and try again in 2011. Seems like the best move for all parties involved, though recent rumblings indicate a deal is close.

            26.801 | OF Chris Duffy (SR) | Central Florida

            • 41st ranked college outfield prospect

            Duffy is a big fella with an even bigger hit tool (.451/.543/.854; 33/35 K/BB; 40 extra base hits; 3/5 SB) and average raw power. There’s some concern that he’s got too much of an aluminum bat swing to be successful as a professional, but with numbers like the ones he put up, it absolutely doesn’t hurt to find out firsthand.

            18.561 | 1B Jeff Cusick (SR) | UC Irvine

            Cusick’s big senior season (.422/.493/.642; 27/10 BB/K; 33 extra base hits) helps him get his foot in the door. A pretty swing and fantastic batting eye could help him walk right in. I personally route for players like Cusick. Really, who doesn’t like guys who take a professional approach to every single at bat and play slick defense? His upside is limited — the history of senior college first base success stories is short and sad — but Cusick has a shot to hang around the minors long enough to perhaps someday get the call as a bench bat.

            10.321 | LHP Mario Hollands (JR) | UC Santa Barbara

            • 28th ranked lefthanded college pitching prospect

            Hollands’ fastball could be the pitch that makes or breaks his professional career. When he’s hitting the low-90s with regularity, his mid-80s slider and decent change really play up. When that fastball dips into the upper-80s, his effectiveness goes down across the board. Gambling on Hollands (4.35 FIP; 7.22 K/9; 2.57 BB/9) regaining some of that arm strength isn’t a bad idea in the tenth round.

            37.1131 | RHP Marshall Schuler (SR) | Colorado School of Mines

            The selection of Schuler is a decisive victory of scouting of stats. Schuler’s fastball (94 peak with serious sink) put him on scouts’ radars, ugly numbers for the awesomely named Colorado School of Mines notwithstanding. We talked earlier about the crazy thorough job scouts do and the selection of Schuler is definitely a point in the favor of those who argue “if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.” It’s exciting to grab a pitcher with such impressive arm strength this low in the draft, but the Phillies might want to think about sending a canary to see Schuler throw once or twice before signing day, just in case.

            11.351 | RHP Garett Claypool (SR) | UCLA

            • 172nd ranked righthanded college pitching prospect; 89-91 FB

            Claypool is a pretty generic righthanded upper-80s/low-90s fastball college arm with a chance to contribute in middle relief with a few breaks along the way. Good numbers (4.60 FIP; 8.77 K/9; 2.05 BB/9) for a good program with a positive recent track record of developing good pitching certainly help. Cool superhero sounding name doesn’t hurt either.

            25.771 | RHP Matt Hutchison (SR) | UNLV

            Hutchison was a disaster for three years at UNLV (starting as a freshman and sophomore), but came on strong out of the bullpen (4.13 FIP; 7.09 K/9; 3.20 BB/9) his senior season. Organizational player.

            27.831 | 2B Matt Payton (SR) | Western Kentucky

            Payton (.333/.412/.544; 22/41 BB/K; 6/9 SB) is an undersized middle infielder coming off a solid season with the bat who qualifies as the second base equivalent of Jake Smith. His history of a hacker at the plate gives me pause, but his defensive tools are good and his power to the gaps is intriguing enough to at least think of him as a potential utility guy. I wouldn’t bet on him getting out of A+ ball, but, hey, you never know.

            31.951 | C Jim Klocke (SR) | Southeast Missouri State

            Klocke (.357/.426/.617; 22/12 BB/K; 34 extra base hits) will battle with Stumpo for at bats as the progress through the lower minors, but doesn’t really have the upside (or, as Marti Wolever says “topside”) to realistically expect much more than that.

            32.981| 3B Carlos Alonso (SR) | Delaware

            Alonso has a good glove who could contribute at third base (his natural position), second base, or catcher professionally. He’s got decent speed and enough promise with the bat to at least give some hope of a utility player future if everything breaks right. Like Jeff Cusick and Pat Murray, he’s a corner college guy with more walks than strikeouts and good, but not great power (.336/.414/.615; 24/21 BB/K; 33 extra base hits).

            34.1041 | 1B Pat Murray (SR) | Lewis-Clark State

            The Phillies have been hot on the trail of Pat Murray (.366/.439/.652 (24/12 BB/K; 27 extra base hits) for a long time now, and it appears that this is the year they’ll finally get their man signed to a contract. He’s very similar to Jeff Cusick, as both players are college first basemen known more for their outstanding plate discipline than their power. Combine the picks of Murray and Cusick with past selections of Darin Ruf (2009) and Jeremy Hamilton (2008), and you’ve got yourself a pretty clear draft pattern of patient, relatively athletic, above-average defensive first base prospects with limited raw power.

            45.1371 | LHP Mike Francisco (JR) | Villanova

            For a late-round pick, Francisco has pretty good stuff. His performance at Villanova (3.86 FIP; 12.12 K/9; 4.15 BB/9) out of the bullpen was dominant at times. He’s obviously a long shot to ever make it to the big leagues, as all 45th rounders are, but Francisco throws a good fastball (88-91) along with a pair of decent breaking balls (slider and cutter).

            36.1101 | LHP Neal Davis (SR) | Virginia

            Not much has changed in Davis’s game since early spring (minus another disappointing season), so I’m free to rerun this preseason scouting report…

            SR LHP Neal Davis (4.88 FIP; 5.19 K/9; 3.63 BB/9) goes into his senior season as Virginia’s top lefthanded relief pitcher, a player able to skillfully mix and match fastballs, sliders, and changeups to get hitters out. His most recent season was arguably his least successful – certainly his least dominating – so he heads into 2010 with plenty to prove. His big league frame (6-6, 210) and past success in a highly competitive conference (he struck out nearly a batter an inning [39 in 40] while only allowing 7 earned runs in 40 relief innings [1.58 ERA] in 2008) combined with intriguing stuff (sits in the high-80s to low-90s with the fastball and has an above-average mid-70s slider) make him another second half of the draft option for a team looking for a warm A-ball body on the cheap. I know I do this a lot, but I’d be remiss to write this much about Davis without mentioning the possibility that his stuff and frame would actually play well as a starting pitcher professionally.

            Despite my preseason optimism, it appears that Davis’s most likely path to the pros is as a lefty out of the bullpen. His velocity was down when I saw him, but his slider remained sharp. He’s a long shot, but not a terrible senior sign this late in the draft.

            47.1431 | LHP Ethan Stewart | New Mexico JC

            Experience with the Canadian junior national team has helped Stewart get some additional exposure over the years, but it’s his above-average arm strength for a lefthander (upper-80s FB, peaking 91). The Phillies took a chance much higher in the draft last year on Canadian Steven Inch; perhaps the showing of international diplomacy from 2009 will help in negotiations.

            48.1461 | LHP Kyle Ottoson | South Mountain JC (AZ)

            Ottoson’s strong commitment to Arizona State makes him another difficult sign. He doesn’t have a present above-average pitch, but throws three pitches (85-88 FB; 76-79 KCB; low-70s CU) for strikes.

            39.1191 | OF Justin Cummings | Santa Fe CC (FL)

            Cummings, arguably one of the five fastest men in the 2010 draft, was picked despite not playing in 2010. Can’t teach speed, I guess. He’s also got a decent arm that should play in center, but probably doesn’t have an upside that exceeds that as a fifth outfielder/defensive sub/pinch runner.

            49.1491 | LHP Kyle Hallock (JR) | Kent State

            Hallock is considered a very willing sign who will be watched closely by the Phillies this summer as he participates in the Great Lakes Summer League. If the Phillies want him, he’ll sign. If not, he’ll head back to Kent State and hope to boost his stock heading into the 2011 draft.

            33.1011 | C Bob Stumpo (SR) | West Chester

            Local player (.305/.390/.503; 25/22 BB/K; 19 extra base hits) who could serve as Rookie ball or low-A depth while the Phillies sort out what they have out of their younger, more promising catching prospects. My notes on him only included the following: “above-average arm.” Alright then.

            35.1071 | RHP Eric Pettis (SR) | UC Irvine

            This may go without saying, but the longer a player is on the radar, the more notes I tend to accrue. That’s why I find it somewhat odd that my notes on Pettis, a college senior, only include the following: “rubber armed, limited upside.” Pettis could be a useful organizational strike throwing arm (3.68 FIP; 6.66 K/9; 1.88 BB/9), but that’s about the extent of his professional utility.

            42.1281 | 1B Tim Chadd | Bishop Carroll Catholic HS (KS)

            Tim Chadd’s, Detroit’s scouting director David Chadd’s nephew, was curiously not picked by the Tigers, baseball’s foremost pro-nepotism organization. I know very little about Chadd as a prospect, but I don’t take that as a particularly good sign of either his ability or his willingness to forgo college.

            44.1341 | RHP Jesse Meaux (JR) | UC Santa Barbara

            Meaux simply does not miss enough bats (5.21 FIP; 3.58 K/9; 1.65 BB/9) to have much of a professional future. His low-90s fastball has good enough sink to consistently get him groundball outs, but the lack of anything resembling a strikeout pitch will make him susceptible to good, patient hitters going forward.

            2010 MLB Draft – By the Numbers

            1,525 Overall Players Selected

            • 136 Catchers
            • 71 First Basemen
            • 54 Second Basemen
            • 126 Shortstops
            • 61 Third Basemen
            • 264 Outfielders
            • 222 Lefthanded Pitchers
            • 582 Righthanded Pitchers

            We’ll get to just about all 1,525 of those players over the next few weeks. I don’t have a plan on how to do that exactly, but I’m sure we’ll figure it all out eventually. I remember getting lots of good ideas on post-draft coverage last year that I want to at least attempt to implement this year, so hang tight for that. In the meantime, as I attempt to get through responding in the backed up comment section and my email inbox, any and all suggestions on what kind of content would be best going forward are appreciated.

            First Impressions: 2010 MLB Draft Round 2

            The opinions below are all extremely preliminary and completely off the cuff, but, hey, isn’t that what the days directly following a draft are all about? I’m not sure how many rounds I’ll be able to get to because these take way longer than I had initially hoped, but I’m happy to keep them up if well received. Figuring out interesting post-draft content completely vexes me, so any and all ideas for draft recap stuff are welcomed. Me, I’d rather get started on the 2011 MLB Draft than anything else, but I realize how silly it is now to work all year towards covering every draft angle only to drop it the minute after draft day. There’s no closure that way. Help me help you get some closure!

            Round 2

            Five (5) Favorite Value Picks (all rankings are in order of selection; personal ranking for each category listed in parentheses)

            2.51 Washington Nationals – San Diego LHP Sammy Solis (2)
            2.54 Kansas City Royals – Arkansas OF/RHP Brett Eibner (3…4 if he plays the outfield instead of pitches)
            2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman (1)
            2.76 Colorado Rockies – Texas Tech RHP Chad Bettis (5)
            2.82 New York Yankees – Torrance HS (CA) OF Angelo Gumbs (4…3 if Eibner’s definitely playing the OF)

            I feel like I’ve spent much of the past few weeks writing about college pitching, so I’ll leave the first four names on the list alone for now. Gumbs makes the list because he’s a toolsy prep position player who can, hang on to your hats, actually hit. Amazing how often something so seemingly inconsequential like making consistent hard contact with the bat can be. I also like Gumbs for his advanced plate discipline for a high school prospect and, as mentioned, five average at worst tools. If you didn’t like the Cito Culver first round pick for the Yankees, I’m here to say that Gumbs in the second more than makes up for it. Quality player.

            Four (4) Questionable Picks

            2.55 Cleveland Indians – Chipola JC (FL) CF LeVon Washington (4)
            2.56 Arizona Diamondbacks – Nitro HS (WV) RHP JR Bradley (2)
            2.64 Milwaukee Brewers – Alabama JR RHP Jimmy Nelson (1)
            2.70 Atlanta Braves – Western Oklahoma State FR SS Andrelton Simmons (3)

            Washington isn’t here because he’s a bad player by any means, but simply because he’s an overdraft at the early part of the second round. Bradley’s arm strength and plus control should help him through the low minors, but his secondary stuff needs a complete overhaul. Nelson’s upside isn’t on par with many of the prospects drafted around him. Simmons remains a big glove, little bat player who would be best served making the inevitable switch to the mound sooner rather than later. In other words, he’s Mychal Givens 2.0.

            Three (3) Closest to the Show Picks

            Sammy Solis
            2.68 Detroit Tigers – Arkansas SO LHP Drew Smyly (2)
            2.81 Los Angeles Angels – Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman (1)

            RHPs Jacob Petricka, Bettis, Jordan Swagerty, and Perci Garner all should be quick movers as relief prospects often tend to speed through the minors, but, and I acknowledge the possibility I’m going overboard here, each pitcher has shown just enough of a third pitch in college to at least warrant a crack at starting out in the rotation. Their new teams may not agree with that assessment, but I’m stubborn enough that I’m going to believe in each guy as a potential big league starter despite mounting against my case. Other candidates for first to the big leagues include potential fourth outfielders Ryan LaMarre and Todd Cunningham, as well as 2B Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko’s advanced bat could help him speed through the low minors, but, anecdotal evidence alert, many of the players he has been compared to (Dan Uggla is the first that pops into my head) were slow to develop, one level at a time prospects. If you don’t buy that, then perhaps Gyorko’s iffy glove, or more specifically the numerous minor league ground balls he’ll have to take to get his glove ready for the majors, will be what keeps him down in the minors longer than expected.

            Solis has the stuff and pitchability to advance in a hurry, but Washington may want to allow him some extra time to make up for college innings lost to injury. I went with Smyly over the more highly rated lefthanded pitching prospect Rob Rasmussen because of Detroit’s tendency to push young pitching. Call it an educated hunch. Tillman is the only college reliever taken in the round without any shot at starting professionally. The very quick pre-draft scouting report on Daniel Tillman, my 39th highest rated college righthanded pitching prospect:

            Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman: 91-94 sinking FB, peaking 95-96; hard plus SL; 6-1, 185 pounds; dominant K numbers out of bullpen (56 K’s in 39.2 IP) ***

            Two (2) High Risk Signability Picks

            2.58 Houston Astros – Garey HS (CA) RHP Vincent Velasquez (2)
            2.80 Toronto Blue Jays – University HS (FL) LHP Justin Nicolino (1)

            The earlier the round, the more difficult it is to find players who aren’t likely to sign. Velasquez has a moderately strong commitment to Cal State Fullerton while Nicolino’s scholarship to Virginia ought to take a legitimately overslot deal to get his name on the dotted line. Both should sign without much of a problem, but that’s coming from a guy who thinks all of the names taken in round two will get deals done before too long.

            One (1) Player You’d Bet Your Internet Reputation On Pick

            2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman

            Workman over Solis by a fairly slim margin. Both profile as above-average, middle of the rotation or better big league starters. Excellent value for a second round pick, I think. Brandon Workman’s quick scouting report:

            Texas JR RHP Brandon Workman: low-90s FB with serious sink, peak 95-97; plus high-70s CB; sinking CU with legit promise; usable low-80s SL; two biggest issues out of high school (mechanics and poor control) both ironed out after three years in Austin; 6-5, 225 pounds (4.30 FIP; 9.43 K/9; 1.89 BB/9)

            That last part is what makes me happiest. Well, not the last last part (his park/schedule adjusted stats) or even the one before that (his size), but the one before that. How can you not root for a player who legitimately improved after three years of college? Look, I love college baseball. Countless interesting names to watch per major college team, heated rivalries, and the ultimate marriage of meaningful regular season play and dramatic postseason format all with the beautiful soundtrack of ping after ping in the background. How can you beat that? I love college baseball, but I can still admit that I hate the way certain college coaches worry more about winning one game than the long-term health and well being of their players. I know college athletics is big business, but I’m still of the belief the main purpose of college is to best prepare the youth of the country for life after college. If that’s the goal, then maybe having your prized starter throw 140+ pitches or start twice in a four day span or come out of the bullpen 48 hours after pitching a complete game or any number of the countless questionable decision isn’t the best way to prepare said prized starter for a successful career after graduation. Nothing frustrates me more to see a young arm abused before even getting the chance to play professional baseball. HOWEVER, it’s very rare that college coaching staffs receive any credit for player development. The perfect example of this was on the MLB Network telecast of the first round two nights ago. The talking heads couldn’t get over how many college players had gone undrafted out of high school. They credited big league scouting staffs for finding such players later rather than sooner. Right. How about giving some credit to the college coaching staffs that helped bring along these diamonds in the rough? Workman was an excellent prospect coming out of high school. He’s a better prospect now. Some of that should be attributed to his natural developmental growth curve, some should be given to the hard work and smarts of the player itself, and some is totally unknown, if we’re really being honest. But to only highlight college coaches when something bad happens and not acknowledge the many ways they help certain players grow is just plain silly. Workman improved for a lot of reasons; for me, there’s no doubt the Texas coaching staff has certainly been a major contributing factor in his improvement.

            2010 MLB Draft: Initial Round Two Thoughts and Shadow Draft

            Just a few very quick notes on a select number of interesting round two choices. More to come later…

            Washington Nationals – San Diego LHP Sammy Solis

            First, the quick Sammy Solis (#3 on my list of ’10 lefthanded pitchers) scouting report…

            90-92 FB pre-injury, now sitting more regularly 87-89, but pitch maintains serious late life through zone; plus 77-78 CU; excellent 71-75 CB when on; 76-78 mystery pitch that has been identified as either a harder CB with bite or the beginnings of a SL; coming back from ruptured disc in back; 6-5, 228 pounds; (4.07 FIP; 9.88 K/9; 2.09 BB/9)

            Absolute home run of a selection, I think. Good enough FB, plus CU, and CB that flashes well above-average at times all packed into a durable frame with relatively low college mileage on his arm. Easy to start dreaming about a Nationals rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Sammy Solis at the top and a lineup featuring Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Derek Norris, with Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa consistently catching the ball up the middle…

            Pittsburgh Pirates – St. Edward HS (OH) RHP Stetson Allie

            I suppose the question as to whether or not the Pirates were going to play it safe or keep gambling on mid- to late-round prep pitching has been answered for now. I ignored too many red flags with Allie (iffy secondary stuff and poor control) in my final draft ranking and if I could do it all over again I would have had him slotted much lower. As it stands, he’s not a bad gamble here in the top of the second.

            Tampa Bay Rays – Georgia Tech 3B Derek Dietrich

            Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman

            I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, but this excites me. Tampa and Boston continue to just absolute kill it through the first two rounds. Derek Dietrich and Brandon Workman are two of my favorite college prospects. I like Dietrich’s relatively low floor as a potential starting big league third baseman and I love Workman’s front of the rotation stuff, as outlined in this handy dandy scouting report:

            Texas JR RHP Brandon Workman: low-90s FB with serious sink, peak 95-97; plus high-70s CB; sinking CU with legit promise; usable low-80s SL; two biggest issues out of high school (mechanics and poor control) both ironed out after three years in Austin; 6-5, 225 pounds (4.30 FIP; 9.43 K/9; 1.89 BB/9)

            Workman was #2 on my list of ’10 righthanded pitchers, for what it’s worth. I wonder if Tampa thinks a) Dietrich can stick at short next to Longoria b) handle second base professionally, or c) they were in a position to draft a quality bat and figured it never hurts to stockpile assets, position be damned. I lean towards that last option, but who knows…

            I missed terribly on Andrelton Simmons, it appears. Never in a million years would I have slapped a second round grade or higher grade on him, but Atlanta clearly valued his defense highly enough to roll the dice he’ll bat will wake up someday.

            I’m skipping ahead to do my annual Phillies shadow draft. Here’s what I would have done if given their allotment of picks…

            Philadelphia Phillies Shadow Draft

            1.27 – Harvard Westlake HS (CA) OF Austin Wilson
            2.77 – Oviedo HS (FL) RHP AJ Cole
            3.108 – San Diego JR RHP Kyle Blair
            4.141 – Florida State JR OF Tyler Holt
            5.171 –  Tattnall Square HS (GA) RHP DeAndre Smelter
            6.201 – San Diego JR 3B Victor Sanchez
            7.231 – Barbe HS (LA) 3B Garin Cecchini
            8.261 – Archbishop Mitty HS (CA) SS James Roberts
            9.291 – Vanderbilt JR C Curt Casali
            10. 321 – Louisville SO OF Stewart Ijames

            Wilson and Cole at the time are meant to act as insurance for one another. In a perfect world, both would be signed and in uniform within a few weeks, but, knowing full well both are major signability concerns, I’d live with getting one to sign on the dotted line. I know I’m way higher on both than just about anybody else, but I think landing either gives you a legitimate top half of the first round talent with your first pick. I’m sure there is more to say about this and much more, but it’s time to go watch Mike Stanton play baseball.

            Day Two Update

            Between begin gainfully employed at a job I hate calling out of (haven’t missed a day in two years there!) and the far too tempting opportunity to see Mike Stanton’s big league debut tonight against the Phillies, Day 2 draft coverage will be postponed just a tad. Ah, but how can you possibly postpone coverage of a live event? Do you have no conception of the limits of time and space? Ha, I laugh in the face of such obstacles. See, even though I’ve already missed about 200ish picks or so, my plan is to dive right into MLB.com’s Draft Tracker and go round-by-round as if I were following it live. The draft obsession truly knows no bounds. Check in here periodically between now and whenever I hop on the subway to catch the game with a few thoughts on today’s earlier rounds. Check in later (hopefully) to get more of the same.