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

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

C Preston Clark

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

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

.251/.346/.423 – 35 BB/63 K – 267 AB

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

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

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

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

.284/.326/.465 – 24 BB/110 K – 391 AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.88 ERA – 43 K/17 BB – 38.1 IP

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

LHP Miers Quigley | Alabama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft – Junior College Prospects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. LHP Shawn Sanford | Palomar CC 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. LHP Kevin Gelinas | Central Arizona CC

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

College First Basemen: 2008 to 2012

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

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

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

Draft Year: Player Name (ranking)

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

2009: Rich Poythress (33)

2010:

2011: Cron (40)

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richie Shaffer | 2012 | ranked 38th | Clemson University

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

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

Max Muncy | 2012 | ranked 69th | Baylor University

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

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

Mike Trout (and Kyle Seager)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex White’s Debut

Cleveland’s Alex White made a pretty successful big league debut (6 IP 6 H 2 ER 4 BB 4 K – two of the walks were intentional) on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Per Fangraphs, he threw around 75% fastballs (both two-seamers and four-seamers), 6% splitters, and 18% sliders with the two fastballs the most successful of his four distinct offerings. In light of his solid debut, I thought a quick retrospective on White was in order. It can be a lot of fun to check in on draft prospects as they evolve into minor leaguers and eventually grow into big leaguers. It was a good idea…in theory. I say that because Alex White’s path the big leagues is a unique one. For White there hasn’t been a whole lot of evolving and growing, at least not on the surface. I don’t mean to downplay all of the work he has put in over the past few years, not do I want to make light of the personal growth and subsequent effect that has had on his professional prospects. I just think it is funny that not much has changed about White over the years from a scouting standpoint. This can be construed as either a positive (stuff has remained above-average across the board, plus he’s had no velocity loss) or a negative (no meaningful improvement in his stuff, with the exception of a slight improvement with his split), depending on how you world view. I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, so I think it is pretty cool that White has stayed true to himself. Sinkers, sliders, splitter. They helped get him drafted out of high school, they helped get him drafted in the first round out of college, and now they’ve helped him reach the big leagues after less than 200 innings pitched in the minors.

Big Board Standing

White started the 2009 draft cycle as the second overall ranked player on my board. His stock held more or less steady throughout the year, dropping only four spots to sixth overall. By June, White was behind only Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Tyler Matzek, Mike Leake, and Tanner Scheppers on the board.

Mock Draft Prognostication  

White wound up going fifteenth overall to Cleveland despite the fact that in each of three 2009 mock drafts he was a top ten pick. I started with him going ninth overall to Detroit, then moved him up to fourth (Pittsburgh), and then finally settled on him winding up with Baltimore at the fifth spot. Three hacks at it, three empty swings.

Commentary (from 2/2009)

A big, strong righthanded pitcher, Alex White stands alone as the best starboard thrower non-Strasburg division in the upcoming draft. Originally a Dodgers draft pick out of high school (413th overall), White has, if nothing else, the Logan White Seal of Approval™. His rumored asking price was somewhere between $850,000 and $1.4 million back in 2006, a pretty good chunk of change to be sure, but it’s still safe to say he made a wise fiscal decision by passing up the pros. Think about all of the good that came from White’s decision to pass on the Dodgers offer. By opting to bet on his talent, he wound up with three partially paid years at one of the nation’s finest universities. At Carolina, White has been able to enjoy the beautiful surrounding area (hard to beat being college-aged and living in Chapel Hill), play at a gorgeous renovated ballpark, and experience all of the, ahem, perks of being a top student-athlete at a southern college campus. To do that all while learning from a top notch coaching staff that has helped him continue his development towards becoming a high first rounder cashing a paycheck that could triple his original salary demands as a high schooler. Alex White: living proof that in these turbulent economic times, the best financial decision we can make is to invest in ourselves. The Baseball Draft Report: come for the baseball, stay for the life lessons…and crazy run-on sentences.

White’s sinking 2-seam fastball regularly registers in the low 90s. White’s straight but heavy 4-seam fastball comes in faster, as he is able to pump it up into the mid-90s. He fits in with many of the other players on this list because he partners up that fastball with the occasionally slurvy slider that is a true weapon. The slider sits in the low 80s and works best when it bears in on the hands of lefthanded hitters. White also throws a good splitter that helps him get both swings and misses and plenty of ground balls. There isn’t a whole lot to find fault in with his actual stuff and he has top of the rotation potential assuming good health.

Commentary 2.0 (from 6/2009)

But I won’t knock the real Indians taking Alex White at 15. Sensational pick. White came into the year as the frontrunner to go number two overall to Seattle, so you know he’s naturally gifted. I buy the talk coming out of Carolina that suggested his struggles on the mound this year were due largely to nagging injuries. Get him healthy and watch him take off – White has the upside of a really good big league number two starting pitcher.

Quick Comparison – 2010 College Catchers vs 2009 College Catchers

Given the choice of a random sampling of college catching prospects from 2010 and 2009, what side of the ’10 vs ’09 debate will you fall on? It’s been said that 2010 is the better year for college catching, a sentiment I agree with for what it’s worth, but why not actually put conventional wisdom to the death with a head-to-head comparison? Originally I had planned to pick players 1-5-10-15-20-25 from each draft class (2010 based on my rankings, 2009 based on draft order) and compare, but the presence of Bryce Harper would make the entire exercise even more pointless than it probably already is. Instead, we’ll compare 2-7-12-17-22-27. Also, I may have miscounted with the 2009 draft class, but, really, the comparison is unscientific enough already, what’s the harm in mixing things up even further?

Full 2010 college catcher rankings tomorrow. Maybe an Alternate Reality Mock Draft, too. Real Mock Draft is almost done, should be ready to be published early next week. Additionally, comments and emails will be answered in the next 48 hours. Please, do try to contain your excitement. As for our college catching comparison, here’s the quick breakdown:

2010

Yasmani Grandal
Cody Stanley
Tommy Medica
Xorge Carrillo
Tyler Bullock
Jeremy Mayo

OR

2009

Josh Phegley
Tobias Streich
Carlos Ramirez
Tyson Van Winkle
Michael Thomas
Jeremy Gillan

Personally, I like Grandal better than Phegley, Stanley over Streich, and Ramirez more than Medica. 2 wins for 2010, 1 win for 2009. After that, things get pretty close to even with each matchup. Xorge Carrillo gets the edge over Van Winkle in the battle of hilariously named prospects, Bullock (offense!) wins by the slightest of margins over Thomas (defense!), and Mayo/Gillan is a true pick-em. 4 wins for 2010, 1 win for 2009, 1 too close to call. Admittedly not the most scientific way to determine a particular year’s draft strength, but it’s at least one more tiny data point for the pro-2010 crowd.

Mike Leake’s Debut

I hate being that guy who always quotes himself, but, well, allow me to quote myself:

Leake possesses a good fastball (sitting 88-92, peak 94), plus slider, above-average changeup, usable curve, plus command, plus control, plus athleticism, and, perhaps my personal favorite positive, intriguing potential with the bat. Can’t wait to see what he does with the Reds this season.

Ignore all that pitching stuff (6.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 7 BB 5 K with 106 pitches — 57 for strikes — and 6 GO to 6 AO) and focus on the bolded part only. There are embarrassingly few things on this mortal earth that I love more than pitchers capable of handling the bat. Reading this quote made me all kinds of happy:

“I was almost more excited to hit today than pitch,” Leake said.

Again, ignore that totally unimportant pitching part (6.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 7 BB 5 K with 106 pitches — 57 for strikes — and 6 GO to 6 AO) and focus on what really matters. At the plate, Mike Leake went 2-2 with a pair of singles. That’s good for a 1.000 batting average, people! I’ve read that Leake’s hat is heading to the Hall of Fame, but if it were up to me you’d better be sure it would be his batting helmet making its way to Cooperstown instead.

On a slightly more serious note, here’s the current plan outlining what is in store this week. All entries are subject to change, and, as always, requests are always encouraged.

Plan of Attack for Week of April 12, 2010

  • Who Will Be Drafted? Atlantic 10 Edition
  • Positional Rankings (position TBD…college lefties, maybe?)
  • Alternate Reality Mock Draft (expect this on Friday, the only day of the week I actually have planned out already)
  • Mystery Draft 2.0
  • More Data!
  • Responses to all comments that I missed this past week