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College First Base Prospects – A Brief(ish) MLB Draft Study
Seven years ago I made an attempt to look at some historical draft trends including this piece on college first basemen and the MLB Draft. The plan this year was to reference it quickly and move on, but the pull of looking at past drafts was too strong. Despite all of my claims of wanting — no, needing — to prioritize generalized 2017 MLB Draft content above all else, I instead sunk far more time than I’d like to admit on updating a post written almost a decade ago. I need help.
2002 – 2011
MLB Draft first base (1B) prospects selected out of college (four-year or junior college) designated as such by Baseball Reference
MLB starters (hitter): 18
MLB starters (pitcher): 2
Total MLBers: 54
(“Starters” is a bit of a misnomer as you’ll see in the list below, but I think it gets the point across so long as you aren’t aggressively literal with it.)
Ryan Shealy, Nick Swisher, Conor Jackson, Adam Lind, Mike Dunn, Steve Pearce, Tyler Flowers, Chris Davis, Lucas Duda, Mitch Moreland, Sean Doolittle, Stephen Vogt, Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Ike Davis, Brandon Belt, Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Bour, CJ Cron, Alex Dickerson
(The overall math doesn’t change much if you want to toss a few of these names out, but I tried to be generous with the “starter” label when possible. Some degree of personal bias — most notably a longstanding belief that Shealy deserved better — also may or may not have crept into this section.)
Basic Math (MLB Impact)
1.8 starting position players/year
5.4 big league players/year
(Averages don’t really work this way, but I’d still argue a reasonable expectation for any given draft class is two long-term starters and three additional big league players out of said class’s college first base prospect pool.)
Basic Math (MLB Draft)
49.1 players from data set drafted each year
10.2 players from data set drafted in top ten rounds each year
Colleges with Multiple MLB Players Drafted and Signed from 2002 – 2011
California – 2
Tulane – 2
Loyola Marymount – 2
South Carolina – 2
Arizona State – 3
Mississippi State – 2
UNLV – 2
(Not sure this tells us anything at all, but seeing schools pop up multiple times while doing this felt noteworthy enough to me to jot down. Once it’s jotted down, it either gets deleted or posted…so why not post it? Schools out west seem disproportionately successful here. Nothing to it probably, but there you go.)
2002 (46 college 1B total; 13 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Ryan Shealy (11-321, Florida)
Starter (non-1B): Nick Swisher (1-16, Ohio State)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Brad Eldred (6-163, Florida International), Paul McAnulty (12-355, Long Beach State)
Notes: Pretty good year for HS 1B as Prince Fielder (1-7), James Loney (1-19), James McDonald (11-331), and Travis Ishikawa (21-637) all provided some value in some way
2003 (42 college 1B total; 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Conor Jackson (1-19, California)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Michael Aubrey (1-11, Tulane), Josh Whitesell (6-177, Loyola Marymount), Carlos Corporan (12-339, Florida Gateway JC)
Note: Not a single HS 1B in this class ever sniffed the big leagues; Corporan made it, but as a catcher
2004 (56 college 1B total; 15 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Adam Lind (3-83, South Alabama)
Starter (non-1B): Mike Dunn (33-999, Southern Nevada CC)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Joe Koshansky (6-170, Virginia), Rhyne Hughes (8-225, Pearl River CC), Tommy Everidge (10-307, Sonoma State), Chris Carter (17-506, Stanford)
Notes: Dunn is a little like a less talked about version of Sean Doolittle (see below); two pretty solid finds at the HS ranks in Mike Carp (9-254) and Kyle Blanks (42-1241)
2005 (48 college 1B total; 7 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Steve Pearce (8-241, South Carolina)
Starter (non-1B): Tyler Flowers (33, 1007, Chipola JC)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Jordan Brown (4-124, Arizona), Jeff Larish (5-150, Arizona State)
Notes: The one and only HS player to make it here was Logan Morrison (22-666)
2006 (44 college 1B total; 11 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Chris Davis (5-148, Navarro JC)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Mark Hamilton (2-76, Tulane), Aaron Bates (3-83, North Carolina State), Brett Pill (7-206, Cal State Fullerton)
Notes: only HS player here to make the highest level was Lars Anderson (18-553); I distinctly remember really liking Whit Robbins back in the day…
2007 (42 college 1B total; 8 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Lucas Duda (7-243, USC), Mitch Moreland (17-530, Mississippi State)
Starter (non-1B) Sean Doolittle (1-41, Virginia), Stephen Vogt (12-365, Azusa Pacific)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Matt LaPorta (1-7, Florida), Joe Mahoney (6-189, Richmond), Steven Hill (13-412, Stephen F. Austin), Clint Robinson (25-756, Troy), Efren Navarro (50-1450, UNLV)
Notes: Doolittle is a reliever and not a starter but you get what I was going for there; tremendous year for HS 1B with Freddie Freeman (2-78) and Anthony Rizzo (6-204) emerging as stars at the position, Giancarlo Stanton (2-76) doing the same in the outfield, and even Andrew Lambo (4.146) eventually getting the call
2008 (51 college 1B total; 11 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Yonder Alonso (1-7, Miami), Justin Smoak (1-11, South Carolina), Ike Davis (1-18, Arizona State)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Brett Wallace (1-13, Arizona State), David Cooper (1-17, California), Allan Dykstra (1-23, Wake Forest), Matt Clark (12-375, LSU), Tyler Moore (16-481, Mississippi State), Xavier Scruggs (19-575, UNLV)
Notes: Eric Hosmer (1-3) was the big star in the class; seven first basemen — six out of college alone — taken in the first 23 picks will blow my mind until the day I die
2009 (57 college 1B total; 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: Brandon Belt (5-147, Texas), Paul Goldschmidt (8-246, Texas State), Justin Bour (25-770, George Mason)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Ben Paulsen (3-90, Clemson), Ryan Wheeler (5-156, Loyola Marymount), Nate Freiman (8-234, Duke), Sean Halton (13-406, Lewis-Clark), Chris McGuiness (13-408, The Citadel), Darin Ruf (20-617, Creighton), Cody Decker (22-654, UCLA)
Notes: Jon Singleton (8-257) is the only HS player so far to reach the big leagues; Rich Poythress (2-51, Georgia) and Tyler Townsend (3-85, Florida International) were top one hundred pick busts
2010 (53 college 1B total; 9 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Reached Majors, Little Value: Andy Wilkins (5-158, Arkansas), Jason Rogers (32-969, Columbus State)
Notes: Christian Yelich (1-23) is the only positive value player in this entire class; top ten college prospects included Hunter Morris, Mickey Wiswall, Blake Dean, Kyle Roller, AJ Kirby-Jones, Tony Plagman, David Rohm, and Aaron Senne
2011 (52 college 1B total; 8 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Starter at 1B: CJ Cron (1-17, Utah)
Starter (non-1B): Alex Dickerson (3-91, Indiana)
Notes: a whopping five HS 1B were drafted in the top ten rounds highlighted by Dan Vogelbach (2-68)
So why stop at 2011? Well, stopping here leaves us with a nice and easy line of demarcation, mainly being the 2012 MLB Draft was the first to go forty rounds rather than fifty. It also gives us a clean ten years of data to look at. Round numbers sure are pretty. Finally, it makes for five years worth of “new” data to look at going forward. It also doesn’t hurt that making judgments on players selected just a few years ago can lead to some embarrassing guesses about their futures…check the link at the top if you don’t believe me. Here’s the data for the past five drafts…
2012 (34 college 1B total; 9 college 1B in top ten rounds)
2013 (42 college 1B Total; 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
2014 (46 college 1B Total, 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
2015 (42 college 1B Total, 8 college 1B in top ten rounds)
2016 (38 college 1B Total, 5 college 1B in top ten rounds)
That comes out to an average of 40.4 college 1B selected in each draft with 8.4 of them going off the board in the first ten rounds. That’s down from the 49.1 and 10.2 results from the ten-year period detailed above. The former result makes sense considering the deletion of ten rounds at the end of the draft, but the dip in top ten college first base prospects off the board is interesting. How does any of this apply (if at all) to this year’s college first base class? Stay tuned…
Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (11-15)
I haven’t seen this year’s college guys perform at a showcase environment for the obvious reason that such events don’t exist, but, boy, after getting the chance to watch some of this year’s high school class up close and personal, I just don’t see how the 2012 college players can stack up. More on this to come, of course, but now back to our regularly scheduled retrospective posting…
We’ve done this before, so you know the drill. Prospects 1-10 can be found at the links below while prospects 11-15 can be found below the links. I’ve also included every high school righthander selected in the 2009 Draft’s first ten rounds…
Matt Hobgood – Zack Wheeler – Jacob Turner – Shelby Miller – Brooks Pounders – Garrett Gould – Bryan Berglund – Tanner Bushue – Jake Barrett – Keyvius Sampson – Matt Heidenreich – Brooks Hall – Daniel Tuttle – Nicholas McBride – Damien Magnifico – James Needy – Zack Von Rosenberg – Matt Graham – Steven Inch – Branden Kline – Daniel Reynolds – Trent Stevenson – Brandon Martinez – Josh Hodges – Brody Colvin – Madison Younginer – Aaron Northcraft – Tom Lemke
…as well as a few interesting names of note taken later in the draft:
Mark Appel – Drew Hutchison – Dane Williams – Pierce Johnson – Luke Bard – Jordan Cooper – Dylan Floro – Michael Heller – Scott Griggs – Tanner Poppe – Matt Koch – Justin Bellez – Keifer Nuncio – Michael Morin – Kyle Hansen – Jeff Soptic – Kenny Giles – Hudson Randall – Jeff Ames – Jeff Gibbs – Buck Farmer – Vince Spilker
I think the trio of Miller, Turner, and Wheeler, plus guys like Gould, Sampson, Colvin, and Younginer combine to give the pro prospects of 2009 a leg up on their 2012 college prospect counterparts, but it is closer than I would have initially guessed. There is still enough untapped upside in the arms of Griggs, Barrett, Hansen, Gibbs, Heller, and Jenkins that the gap between the two classes (well, one class really with two divergent paths), though I suppose you could say the same about a half dozen of the underperforming pros on that last, too. The 2012 college guys have their clear star in Appel, as well as complementary parts that sure seem like good bets to be solid pros in guys like Farmer, Stroman, Kline, Morin, Floro, and, yes, even Randall. It should be noted that this analysis of the 2012 college class does not include any prospect not selected as part of the 2009 Draft. That excludes the undrafted Michael Wacha and the drafted in 2010 Kevin Gausman.
- Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (1-5)
- Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (6-10)
11. Michael Heller | Cardinal Mooney HS (FL) | Pittsburgh Pirates | 29th Round (2009)
After a season lost to injury in 2011, Heller’s biggest challenge in 2012 will be getting enough innings to show big league teams that he is a) 100% healthy and b) still in possession of the big league stuff he showed as a high school standout. This could be nothing more than a passing notion, but lately I’ve been thinking of Heller, through no real fault of his own, as a guy who will show a lot more as a pro than he ever did/will do in college. In other words, I’m still on the bandwagon.
Your scorecard may have a different winner than mine, but here’s how it breaks down.
- Colvin has two inches and ten pounds on Heller (6-4, 190 vs. 6-2, 180)
- The differences in sitting velocity depend on the day – both sit in the low 90s, but Heller’s peak is a little higher than Colvin’s
- Both throw straight mid-70s changeups that show promise, but need real work
- Both feature curves as their top breaking pitch, but Heller’s is a smidge more refined at this point
- They are both plus athletes and good high school hitters, but Heller is better in both phases of the game
12. Brody Colvin | St. Thomas More HS (LA) | Philadelphia Phillies | 7th Round (2009)
3.87 ERA – 79 IP – 56 K/27 BB – 1.52 GO/AO
More was expected of Colvin in 2011, and justifiably so, but he is still holding his own in High A as a 20 year old. Colvin has also not experienced any kind of dip in stuff as he still throws in the low-90s with two above-average secondary pitches. Recent rumblings out of Clearwater point to a possible return engagement in High A next year.
Colvin’s fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s with potential for growth. His arsenal also features a fairly tight 10-4 curve and an effective straight change. He is a strong commit to LSU and many in the know seem to believe Colvin has a better than average shot at winding up in Baton Rogue. However, like every player on the list, strong college commitments can weaken very quickly once high six figure bonuses (or more) are promised. What I think makes pursuing a prospect like Colvin worthwhile for a team is his promising blend of plus athleticism and strong present stuff.
13. Chris Jenkins | Westfield HS (NJ)
I’m not really sure what has happened to Jenkins since we saw him last, but I’ll play the role of irresponsible journalist and go ahead and assume he was injured in 2011. He heads back to Stanford as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012. The talent remains, but, unfortunately, so do the questions — command, delivery, injury risk, possibility he’ll stick with Stanford for another year — that held him back as a prep star. One player does not a trend make, but I’m starting to grow increasingly wary of big guys with iffy mechanics. I know, not exactly a bombshell of a revelation on my part, but as somebody who was tantalized by the promise of good Andrew Brackman back in his Wolfpack days (when he was right, he looked soooooo good), it is the first step to admitting that I’m finally on my way to overcoming my “big pitcher = big upside” obsession.
There is plenty to like about Chris Jenkins, namely a heavy fastball that touches 94 MPH and sits in the low 90s, a potential low 80s MPH power slider, a gigantic frame (6-7, 235), and interest from schools like Stanford and Duke. There is also plenty to dislike about Chris Jenkins, namely his spotty command, and high effort delivery. Jenkins’ raw potential is undeniable, but he is a long way away from unlocking it. I know I previously compared Ethan Carter to Jordan Cooper, but perhaps the better comparison is between the two big righties, Carter and Jenkins. Carter has a touch more polish at present, but very few pitchers, Carter included, stack up with Jenkins when it comes to upside.
14. Ethan Carter | Menchville HS (VA)
1.75 ERA – 77 IP – 78 K/9 BB
Carter has arguably had as eventful a two year run as any other pitcher on this list. He was first kicked off the team at South Carolina (note that in his pre-draft report I mentioned his “sterling makeup” – without knowing all the facts, I’ll just say that this scouting business isn’t easy) following his freshman year. Then he enrolled at Louisburg College, where you can see his 2011 numbers above. Getting the boot from your championship winning college team stinks for a lot of reasons, but it must be especially painful to then see said college team win a second straight national championship without you on the team. Now, and this is the fun twist to our tale, the last I’ve heard is that he has been given the green light to head back to South Carolina for his junior year. Whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen, but that’s the very latest information I have on the ongoing Ethan Carter soap opera. Lost in all this is that Carter has really interesting stuff, impeccable control, and a big league ready frame.
Truth be told, his stuff is probably a tick better across the board than Cooper’s – slightly better present fastball heat, more advanced and varied breaking stuff, and a real changeup. Carter has a chance to fly up this list with a good spring, something that is easy to envision this big righty with sterling makeup doing.
15. Jordan Cooper | Shelbyville Central HS (TN)
8.76 ERA – 12.1 IP – 8 K/6 BB – 1.33 GO/AO
Cooper went undrafted in 2009, instead opting to follow through on his very strong commitment to Kentucky. It was a surprise (at least to me) to see that he signed this year as a 23rd round choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates as a draft-eligible sophomore. He’s currently making the transition to pro ball as a 21 year old in Short Season ball where early reports cite an improved fastball, the tightening of that slurve (now considered a pretty good slider), and more refined change as reasons why his upside as a big league starting pitcher remains within reach.
Cooper doesn’t possess quite the talent of last year’s prized University of Kentucky recruit and Red Sox draftee Alex Meyer, but his own commitment to join Meyer on the Wildcats staff is one to take seriously. He won’t be an easy sign, but armed with a fastball topping out at 91 MPH, a power breaking ball equal parts CB and SL, and a very strong academic record, it figures a team will still make a strong run at him in the first few rounds if they can think they can work out a deal. As much as teams will be working towards gauging Cooper’s signability, the bigger concern over his eventual draft position may be the injury that caused him to miss his sophomore year. Expect to see Cooper’s medical records getting a very close look this spring.
Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (6-10)
We started this thing on Monday, so let’s keep it rolling with the next five prospects today. I appreciate the patience — good Wi-Fi seemingly comes and goes with no respect for logic — while I’m on the road doing the whole watching high school players at showcase thing for little to no money. Same basic caveats as last time: Links to the old scouting reports, such as they were, can be found along the way. New commentary is in black, old commentary is in navy blue, and statistics are all current within the last week. Prospects 1-10 are up now, the rest will come shortly.
6. Keyvius Sampson | Ocala Forest HS (FL) | San Diego Padres | 4th Round (2009)
2.95 ERA – 85.1 IP – 98 K/30 BB – 0.72 GO/AO
Not much to add to the line above other than to just reiterate that Sampson is just plain killing it in Low A as a 20 year old. There is still work to be done here — sharpen up fastball command, show more consistency with secondary stuff — but nothing outside the usual when it comes to any talented young hurler.
Sampson is one of the most athletic pitchers in the draft with a sharp curve that has the potential to be a plus pitch. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has peaked at 95 MPH. That 95 MPH is his peak thus far; it would be a big upset if he doesn’t top that over and over again as his wiry frame fills out. Sampson’s plus athleticism leads to a very fluid, repeatable delivery (see for yourself above). He also features a good curve (80-81 MPH). I’m comfortable slapping a first round grade on him at this point.
7. Brooks Pounders | Temecula Valley HS (CA) | Pittsburgh Pirates | 2nd Round (2009)
4.02 ERA – 53.2 IP – 59 K/9 BB – 1.02 GO/AO
Pounders is pitching quite well out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh’s Low A team at just 20 years of age. His size (6’4″, 270 pounds) is a concern going forward, but as long as he keeps from getting any wider, expect to hear the inevitable Bobby Jenks comps before long. I’m traditionally biased against wide-body pitchers — note the absence of Matt Hobgood, the high school righthander who went fifth overall in 2009, from these rankings, though in fairness he did finish the year as my 50th overall draft prospect, 10th highest among prep righthanders — but I think I still like Pounders more than Baseball America apparently does. They left him off of the Pirates preseason top 30 altogether.
The first thing to jumps out about Pounders is his size; he has a gigantic frame (6-5, 220), but, more than just that, he really knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage on the mound. He pitches from a downward plane with a heavy fastball (90-94 MPH) that he can put anywhere he wants.
I also love the prep archetype that Pounders fits to a tee. My favorite story about a young pitcher is the one about the guy who “really knows how to pitch,” but then suddenly sees his velocity jump. It’s tricky to find a young pitcher who can be effective without his best stuff, so the players who learned how to pitch before developing the plus stuff can be extremely valuable properties. Pounders showed that advanced feel for pitching back when he was topping out in the mid-80s; now that he throws in the low- to mid-90s, he can apply the lessons he has learned with his new found ace stuff. In Pounders’ case, true ace stuff equals the aforementioned plus fastball, a true spinning slider with plus potential, a curveball that should at least be an above-average pitch, and an effective sinking changeup.
8. Daniel Tuttle | Randleman HS (NC) | Cincinnati Reds | 5th Round (2009)
4.59 ERA – 80.1 IP – 85 K/30 BB – 1.36 GO/AO
Tuttle seemed to be pitching effectively through 11 starts in Low A. That’s the good news. The bad news is he is currently on the Restricted List for the Reds Rookie League team as he serves his 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a second for testing positive for a second time for a “drug of abuse” on July 19th.
Finally, some real separation. The pitchers from this point on all offer something unique that sets them apart from the rest of the field. Tuttle’s breaking ball, a plus 10-4 slider with tight spin, is the pitch that sets him apart. The slider/sinker combo should serve him in inducing groundballs going forward, and a solid changeup makes for a usable fourth pitch. Prep pitchers with two plus pitches (the slider and a fastball that sits 90-94 MPH) tend to go high on draft day, and Tuttle should be no exception.
9. Mark Appel | Monte Vista HS (CA)
3.56 FIP – 110.1 IP – 7.42 K/9 – 2.20 BB/9
Mark Appel…for some reason that name rings a bell. Couldn’t be that he is considered the current favorite to land atop Houston’s draft board as the 2012 MLB Draft’s first overall pick, could it? Appel’s plus-plus fastball, plus slider, and emerging changeup, all in addition to a big league frame, repeatable delivery, and great athleticism, help build him a case as the top pitching prospect to come out of this class. I’d have him ahead of a few big names like Wheeler, Sampson, and, yes, Hobgood and at least as high as third best at this point, but would find it very difficult to pass on either Miller or Turner if given the choice between the three.
Appel’s strong verbal commitment to Stanford will drop him down draft boards, but he is a great athlete, with a wiry frame with room to fill out, an impressive hard slider, solid change, and the ability to play around with his fastball (mostly by cutting and sinking it). The Cardinal normally get their man, so Appel’s signability will be something to keep on eye on.
10. Matt Graham | Oak Ridge HS (TX) | San Francisco Giants | 6th Round (2009)
7.34 ERA – 41.2 IP – 23 K/29 BB – 2.13 GO/AO
Graham was, to literally put it as nicely as I can think of, pitching not so well in both Low A and then back down in Short Season ball. His fall from grace reminds me a bit of a more extreme version of what happened to current Royals prospect and fellow one-time draft favorite Tim Melville. On the bright side, there’s still plenty of time for Graham to turn it all around!
Matt Graham holds a special place in my heart as the most difficult player to find a spot for in the rankings. Last year at this time it wasn’t strange to see Graham listed on lists of the top ten amateur players in the country. Fast forward twelve months and it is debatable as to whether or not he is a top ten righthanded high school pitcher. Graham’s slide coincided with the disappearance of his good stuff, most notably a big decline in fastball velocity. He followed the disappointing end to his junior season with a strong rebound on the summer showcase circuit. If his resurgence continues into the spring, expect to hear a lot of buzz surrounding the sturdy Texan with a potential plus fastball, good curve, and a heavy sinker.
Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Fifteen High School RHP (1-5)
Much has changed in my life since 2009. When I started the site I was fresh out of college, back at home for a brief stay (no, not in my mother’s basement…we don’t have a basement, so there!), and looking for work. I enjoyed working on the site in my ample free time and was generally a pretty happy camper. Now I sit here gainfully employed, paying rent as often as I remember to, and, against all odds, still quite happy to while away my rare scraps of free time trying to put up something interesting to read on the site. The more things change, the more things stay the same, you know?
One thing that has definitely changed, both with the site and in my life in general, has been the degree of wimpiness I approach “scary” things with. The older, wiser me has no time to waste on self-doubt anymore. I would once freak out if Baseball America didn’t rank a guy I had in my top twenty in their top hundred, choosing to assume that, as the industry leaders, they obviously knew something I didn’t. Honestly, with their resources and collective brain power, they often do know something I don’t. Often is the operative word there; often is much different than always. Nowadays I’m less inclined to automatically jump to the conclusion that they have to be right and I have to be wrong. It is much more fun to take position that, hey, maybe I’ve heard something that hasn’t yet made it to the mainstream than always assuming the other way around.
These were good rankings and I wish I had stuck with them more than I did. Instead, I waffled and switched things up without really thinking things over, at least not in the way I do so now. My top 13 high school RHSPs by draft day were, in order: Jacob Turner – Shelby Miller – Zack Wheeler – Garrett Gould – Brody Colvin – Madison Younginer – Keyvius Sampson – Jake Barrett – Zack Von Rosenberg – Matt Hobgood – Ryan Buch – Michael Heller – Scott Griggs. A solid list, sure, but not one that I could justify to my liking if ever called out on it. How much did I really know about Garrett Gould, outside of the fact both Baseball America and Perfect Game had him as a late rising helium guy, before I shot him up my draft board? Why not stick to my guns a little bit more and stand by the prospects that I did the legwork on myself? I’m not saying it pays to be stubborn and ignore new information as it comes — that’s ridiculous, obviously — but I do think the rush to alter rankings based on what the industry leaders put out is a temptation that did me far more harm than good back in the day. I remember specifically boosting Gould and Younginer, deserving prospects both by the way, based almost exclusively on what I read about them from Baseball America in the two weeks leading up to draft day. I’m transparent enough to admit I’m still a huge fan of the work done by the team at Baseball America (and Perfect Game…and countless other excellent independent sites run in a similar fashion to this one) and consider their scouting updates an invaluable resource that helps confirm or deny reports I’ve put together myself. I guess that right there is progress in and of itself; using Baseball America as a last resort to confirm or deny original reports I’ve worked to obtain is a step above relying on them as my sole provider for information (with ample citing, of course!) like I used to.
Links to the old scouting reports, such as they were, can be found along the way. New commentary is in black, old commentary is in navy blue, and statistics are all current within the last week. Prospects 1-5 are up now, the rest will come as the week progresses.
1. Shelby Miller | Brownwood HS (TX) | St. Louis Cardinals | 19th Overall (2009)
2.57 ERA – 112 IP – 139 K/38 BB – 0.77 GO/AO
Miller had an even split of 53 innings in High A and 53 innings in AA when I sat down to write the first draft of this piece. It takes very little to amaze a simple fellow like me, so I was pretty geeked to use that perfectly equal innings comparison as a jumping off point in the Miller discussion. Sadly, that original draft is in the internet ether somewhere, on account of WordPress not being able to handle switching from Full Screen mode to whatever they call it when you aren’t in Full Screen mode. I was so mad that I lost an hour’s worth of work that I put this on the shelf for a few days, only to return to see Miller now has a much less exciting to compare 53 innings in High A and 59 innings in AA.
There might be a team or two in the minors that can look at the Cardinals minor league pitching depth with a feeling other than outright envy, but no more than that. Miller’s development from stud prep arm to stud pro arm makes him one of the crown jewels of St. Louis’ minor league staff. He joins Carlos Martinez and Tyrell Jenkins in the system as potential top of the rotation starting pitchers. His fastball has jumped in velocity (as expected) and is now seen as a plus-plus pitch, and both his curve and change look like legit big league out pitches at times. The competition for best high school pitching prospect rages on to this day, but Miller remains the best long-term bet from where I’m sitting (a bright red IKEA couch I kind of hate).
Miller’s fastball sits between the upper 80s and the low 90s (88-92), and he is capable of dialing it up to 93/94 MPH when necessary. His frame is reminiscent of those of Matt Graham, Scott Griggs, Daniel Tuttle, and Zack Wheeler (remember how there is a thin line separating all of these righties?), so everything positive suggested about those other players’ bodies filling out accompanied by velocity pick-me-ups apply to Miller as well. This is a pretty good class of high school pitching when it comes to velocity, so it’s easy to lose sight of how rare it is to see a high schooler with such a fine combo of mid-90s heat, workable (or better) secondary stuff, and better than average command. Take a look at big league starting pitchers with legit mid-90s peak velocities some time. I bet you’ll be surprised at the disparity between fastball speed perception and reality. I know I was.
His offspeed stuff is quality, with a mid-70s curveball (potential plus pitch alert) and an 80 MPH changeup. I’ve heard of a slider being worked on, but don’t have any concrete information to actually comment on it. His command is good, not great, but good command out of a high school pitcher is a fine jumping off point.
Miller’s delivery looks clean and his arm action loose and easy, but what stands out about his mechanics is his tremendous balance. His excellent mechanics help lead to one of Miller’s standout attributes – his uncanny ability to hold velocity late into ballgames. Reports have Miller hitting his peak velocities (93/94 MPH) even as his pitch counts vaulted past the century mark late in the season. We talked earlier about having a special skill that helps you stand out – great velocity and the ability to muscle up enough to hold it late into games is one of Miller’s defining characteristics as a young prospect.
2. Jacob Turner | Westminster Academy (MO) | Detroit Tigers | 9th Overall (2009)
3.48 ERA – 113.2 IP – 90 K/32 BB – 1.22 GO/AO
Turner is sort of the anti-Shelby Miller. Before jumping all over me for that, I promise the comparison is not based on anything between the lines. As outlined above, Miller is but one part of the Cardinals three-headed monster of potential big league impact righthanded starting pitchers. Turner, on the other hand, is the cheese that stands alone in a Detroit farm system bereft of anything resembling a righthanded starting pitching prospect. The numbers above show what Turner has accomplished in his Age 20 season in AAA. They numbers don’t reflect how well he acquitted himself (5.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 6 K) in his big league debut on Saturday in a loss to the Angels. His repertoire is similar to Miller’s, from the plus-plus fastball to the promising curve and change. Come to think of it, not much has changed from Turner’s high school days, at least in terms of future stuff grades: fastball has always been a weapon, curve still has plus upside, and change is well on its way to becoming a nasty third offering.
Also, and please don’t judge me, I couldn’t help but notice that Turner’s full name is Jacob Edward Turner. If nothing else, he’ll have a built-in tween audience once he reaches the big leagues to stay. For now, he’ll head to AAA.
- Good size? Is 6-4, 205 good enough? Check.
- Good athlete? Solid, if not spectacular. Check.
- Clean mechanics out of a ¾ delivery? Check.
- Fastball velocity? How does a peak velocity of 93-94 MPH sound?
- Good command? Check.
- Off-speed repertoire? Curveball is already a plus pitch and circle change should be an average big league offering, at worst.
- College scholarship from a school that knows pitching? If North Carolina wants you to pitch for them, you’re probably a good one. If you decided to Carolina only after turning down Vanderbilt, you’re almost certainly a good one. Those two universities have coaching staffs that really know their pitching. Check.
3. Mychal Givens | Plant HS (FL) | Baltimore Orioles | 2nd Round (2009)
.231/.298/.282 – 372 AB – 24 BB/55 K – 13/21 SB
It’s probably a bit premature to say I was wrong for ranking Givens the third best high school pitching prospect in the country back in 2009, but…alright, I’m not sure how to finish this sentence. There’s still ample time for Givens to turn it around, either as a middle infielder or after a conversion to the mound (fingers crossed!), but his first two pro seasons have been undeniably rough.
His first full year was all but lost due to a busted thumb. This year he flunked in a trial at Low A to start the season, but is now doing better in Short Season ball where he is back playing SS after sliding to 2B in deference to better prospects Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop while playing for Delmarva. The positive spin here is that, due to his injury in 2010, he’s developmentally right where he should be, despite being older than you’d like in Short Season ball.
I can’t help but wonder what kind of prospect Givens would be if given the chance to develop as a professional pitcher instead of a position player. His fastball made such an impression on me when I saw him in high school, I thought it could almost single-handedly get him to the big leagues, at least as a reliever.
Givens has arguably the top fastball in this year’s high school class. His speedball has been clocked anywhere from 96-98 MPH. The beautiful thing is that his best pitch defines the term “velocity” in that the vector physical quantity of the pitch covers both the speed and direction of the baseball. Givens’ fastball isn’t just fast, it sinks and moves all over the place. Givens’ slider and change both need much refinement, but his overwhelming fastball and overall pitching aptitude — he plays short when not pitching and may be the top prep middle infielder in his class, yet still shows good feel on the mound – make him a premium prospect. As of now, Givens’ reminds me a little bit of Kyle Drabek, minus Drabek’s excellent spike curve.
4. Zack Wheeler – East Paulding HS (Texas) | San Francisco Giants | 6th Overall (2009)
3.99 ERA – 88 IP – 98 K/47 BB – 1.35 GO/AO
The numbers are from Wheeler’s time with the Giants High A team. He’s now with the Mets organization after being dealt by San Francisco for star outfielder Carlos Beltran. Beltran is an awesome talent and an excellent pickup for the offensive starved Giants, but Wheeler was a pretty price to pay for a two plus month rental. In what seems typical of high round prep pitchers, Wheeler’s fastball is already a well above-average big league offering, but his secondary stuff (curve looks alright, change/splitter has a ways to go) has stagnated as a pro. I’ve always been bullish on young pitchers with outrageous athleticism and plus fastballs, so consider me a fan of the newest member of the New York Mets family.
Zack Wheeler has the kind of frame that scouts everywhere love to dream on. He’s a lanky 6-4, 180 (lanky, but athletic – Wheeler can get above the rim and throw down 360 dunks) with plenty of room to fill out, and, if things go according to plan, capable of adding some serious velocity. If Wheeler was throwing in the high-80s, he’d be a very intriguing prospect based on the prospect of physical maturity and increased heat alone. However, the kid is already sitting comfortably in the low-90s (91-92) and has hit 94-95 MPH on the gun out of the bullpen at the summer showcases. Add a couple of ticks to that fastball and you are really on to something. Wheeler’s very good curve, power slider, and burgeoning splitter all complement the fastball well.
5. Scott Griggs | San Ramon Valley HS (CA) | Seattle Mariners | 34th Round (2009)
2.44 FIP – 17.2 IP – 11.21 K/9 – 10.19 BB/9
Griggs is one of my favorite college arms eligible for the 2012 Draft, but even I have to admit that his generous placement on my big board is highly speculative at this point. He’s currently 43rd on said list of top 2012 MLB Draft talents. His fastball remands an explosive pitch, and both his curve and change — apparently FB/CB/CU were the cool pitches back in 2009 — flash above-average (or better in the case of the change) at times. Funny that I praised his command back in high school when one of the biggest concerns about him after two years of college is whether or not he’ll throw enough strikes as a pro. I realize command and control are different things, but, hey, still funny to me.
Scott Griggs pitches in the low-90s, peaking at 95 MPH, with an above-average change that should be a plus pitch before long. What makes Griggs stand apart from the rest of the crowd (besides the big-time heater) is his impeccable command. This isn’t run of the mill “good for a high schooler” command, this is major league quality, plus potential command. Another quality that I like about Griggs is his sneaky, deceptive delivery. He hides the ball well allowing his already fast fastball to appear, well, even faster.
Draft Retrospective: 2009 MLB Draft Top Ten High School First Basemen
In simpler, far more innocent times, a young scamp with nothing but a few connections, a love of baseball, and a dream sat down in his mother’s basement to rank a bunch of first basemen a few weeks in advance of the 2009 MLB Draft. If I had to do it all over again I think Singleton would be on top, followed closely by Jeff Malm and then Telvin Nash.
If we forget about my list and look strictly at where the players were selected on draft day, we’d have an order of Nash (3rd Round), Malm (5th), Singleton (8th), Geoffrey Baldwin (11th), Corey Davis (15th), and Ronald Sanchez (16th). Nash, Malm, Singleton, and Baldwin are all covered below, but I had to do some digging on Davis and Sanchez.
Assuming I found the right Corey Davis, he’s coming off a season where he hit .397/.486/.662 with 26 BB and 26/27 SB as a sophomore at Walters State CC. Not bad, right? Sanchez, however, signed out of high school and is currently hitting below .200 without a homer in almost 300 professional at bats so far for Houston. He is far too young to write off completely — a theme you’ll find throughout these rankings — but it’s probably not a positive that he has more errors at first (11) than extra base hits (9) as a pro.
The rankings below are from 2009 and don’t reflect current value. Stats are current as of earlier this week. New commentary comes first and the old scouting blurb is in beautiful navy.
1. Jeff Malm | Tampa Bay Rays | 5th Round Pick (2009)
.308/.439/.633 – 19 BB/27 K – 120 AB
Love it or hate it, Tampa has a developmental philosophy that they stick to almost no matter what. They stand by their strict slow and steady developmental path unlike any organization I can remember. Malm has gone from a short stint in one Rookie league (GCL Rays) in 2009, a longer (200 AB) run with another Rookie league team in 2010 (Princeton Rays), and is now in Short Season ball, where he is flourishing. He’ll be 21 going into what is hopefully his first shot at full season ball next spring. I’ll admit to being pretty stunned Malm couldn’t crack an admittedly loaded Tampa Bay top 30, at least according to Baseball America. I’m a huge Baseball America defender, but, come on, Malm really wasn’t good enough a prospect to rank ahead of Leslie Anderson (28th ranked in organization) on their system-wide first base depth chart?
good size (6-2, 220); plenty of pop to stick at first long-term; above-average defensive player with a fantastic throwing arm; not sure he couldn’t stick in RF if given enough reps with professional instruction and if he puts enough time in the gym; part of a star studded Southern Cal class that will never set foot on campus including Jiovanni Mier, Brooks Pounders, and Matt Davidson; judging solely by the bat and no other tool, he stacks up surprisingly well with other prep players including Myers, Bailey, Borchering, Davidson, and maybe an unnamed outfielder or two to be determined…
2. Colton Cain | Pittsburgh Pirates | 8th Round (2009)
3.13 ERA – 95 IP – 74 K/26 BB – 0.89 GO/AO
Cain is pitching well as a youngster (20 all season) in Low A with the added bonus of still not having a ton of mileage on his arm. His solid 2011 performance was preceded by good performances last year (strong peripherals). I like pitchers like Cain: guys with good enough fastballs to keep getting looks and secondaries that will either click and become legit big league pitches all at once or…not. Of course there is some middle ground between the two outcomes, but not as much as one might think. If you’re patient you may wind up with a three-pitch starting pitcher, but the risk here is fairly self-evident.
first thing that stands about about Cain is his very pretty lefthanded stroke; like a lot of the players on this list has an unusually strong arm for a first base prospect; because of that raw arm strength many scouts like him at least as much on the mound as at the plate; I like him as the prototypical two-way high school player that has the potential to really emerge once he concentrates on hitting full time; Texas commit
3. Jonathan Singleton | Philadelphia Phillies | 8th Round (2009)
.284/.387/.406 – 53 BB/79 K – 303 AB
Long-term readers of the site may remember that I’m a Phillies fan. I try my best to be fair and balanced, but I’m only human. Well this human is an unabashed Singleton fan. He absolutely killed it his first two pro seasons, and is now hitting pretty well after a slow start. I’ve always walked away impressed with his gorgeous swing, excellent balance, and overall approach to hitting. I have no insider knowledge on what the Phillies think about his eventual defensive home, but he looked far more competent in left field than I had expected. Long the subject of trade rumors, wherever he winds up next year — left or first, Philadelphia or Houston — he’ll hit. Bonus points for being likely to start his age 20 season at AA next year.
very real plus power, both raw and present; many rough edges to his game, but he impressed many scouts this spring with his willingness to work towards improving his approach; can get too pull heavy at times, but again that raw power is hard to ignore; intriguing potential pick because he possesses a bat with the clear upside of a first baseman without needing a potential position switch to enhance his value, something that is surprisingly rare among non-elite (high first round) prep first basemen; well above average defender who has gotten better around the bag with every passing year of his prep career; Long Beach State commit
4. KC Hobson | Toronto Blue Jays | 6th Round (2009)
.252/.355/.328 – 51 BB/56 K – 326 AB
Funny how well Hobson’s pre-draft scouting reports match up with his pro performance so far: his approach has always been sound but his power upside remains in question. Hobson still gets high marks for his hit tool and overall approach, so his once high stock has remained mostly unchanged.
not enough foot speed to play anywhere but first base, so the pressure is really on Hobson’s bat becoming a major weapon; gap power that projects to home run power down the line, but his swing mechanics may need retooling after signing to untap power potential; yet another plus arm; Texas A&M commit
5. Telvin Nash | Houston Astros | 3rd Round (2009)
.287/.400/.487 – 26 BB/46 K – 150 AB
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see the raw Nash hitting as well as he so far in 2011. As a righthander with significant power, he’s very much one of the brightest spots in a weak Astros system. For the record, he’s played as much OF as 1B this year.
above-average power potential and a strong arm; outstanding athlete with well above-average foot speed who should be capable of playing a corner outfield spot with little problem; Kennesaw State commit
6. Ethan Bright
Bright was last seen (by me, at least) putting up a line of .348/.408/.449 (6 BB/16 K) in 89 AB for Hinds CC after his dismissal from Mississippi State. Sorry I can’t offer much more than that, but probably not as sorry as Bright, who has thus far missed out on chance of being the eight player with the last name Bright to be drafted to a big league team.
in what is probably more of a weird coincidence than anything else, Bright has been compared to a couple of Canadian stars – his body has been compared to Justin Morneau’s (6-5, 230) and his bat control has been compared to Larry Walker’s; average power potential for the position (20ish homer peak), but the aforementioned ability to control the zone is intriguing; Mississippi State commit
7. Geoffrey Baldwin | Kansas City Royals | 10th Round (2009)
Baldwin struggled mightily in 2010 (.460 OPS in 174 AB) but much of that can be forgiven as rumors of family issues swirled. In what is likely not a coincidence, Baldwin has not played at all in 2011 and is currently on the Restricted List.
potential plus defense and a well above-average athlete; slow runner who is stuck at first; yes, he’s got a strong arm; with a frame that suggests future growth, Baldwin’s potential alone would probably put him fourth on the list, but it takes a little wishcasting to picture a future where he puts it all together; a Nebraska commit
8. Breck Ashdown
From undrafted to Oregon State and now to Notre Dame, Ashdown has seen it all. He’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore at Notre Dame and 23 years old by the time the 2012 MLB Draft rolls around.
ML-frame (6-4, 210); potentially above-average defensively with a plus throwing arm; above-average athlete with, you guessed it, above-average speed on the basepaths; bat has been more good than great, but his frame does lead some to believe more power is coming; all told, he’s a well-rounded prospect that does a lot of things well, but doesn’t feature that one stand out tool that makes him look like a sure-fire future big league first baseman; Oregon State commit who may be best taking his plus arm to Corvallis as a two-way player
9. Rudy Flores
.300/.378/.500 – 27 BB/60 K – 230 AB
Flores has shown big power since stepping on campus at Florida International and is now one of the better college first base prospects around. I saw him on tape this past year and came away impressed with his bat speed, pretty swing, and above-average present lefthanded power.
excelled against high level competition, but questions remain about the development of his bat at the professional level; good lefty power, good frame (6-3, 205), and a good arm (high-80s fastball), but borderline top ten round pick who may not get paid enough to sway him from following through on his commitment to Florida International
10. Kelly Dugan | Philadelphia Phillies | 2nd Round (2009)
.268/.320/.348 – 8 BB/24 K – 5/5 SB – 138 AB
After the draft I upgraded Dugan’s ceiling from Casey Kotchman (see below) to a poor man’s Lance Berkman in an attempt to talk myself into the selection (again, Phillies fan here), but he’s three years in and still in Short Season ball. That isn’t encouraging. My man on the scene who has seen a lot of Dugan since he signed has been effusive in his praise — mainly, that everything he hits is right on the nose and he’s got that special line drive sound working for him — but the numbers aren’t pretty. It was a massive overdraft at the time, and it doesn’t look any better with the benefit of hindsight.
my personal dilemma with Dugan is fairly simple…the main reason I have him higher than most is also the thing that scares me from putting him any higher; watch Dugan swing a bat and you can see he has the innate ability to wait, wait, wait…and then snap his wrists through the zone; spin that another way and you can say he lacks appropriate pull power for a first baseman due to a slow bat; a professional conditioning program and a tweak or two to his swing setup could give him that split second of bat speed missing to make him a doubles machine reminiscent of a young Casey Kotchman; I’d take the big money and go forth towards reaching my ultimate dream 99 times out of 100, but if I had a scholarship to play baseball in Malibu for Pepperdine like Dugan has…well, I’d have to think long and hard about that one – we’ll see what he does in a few months
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.
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.
Draft Prospect Retro – Northeastern’s Adam Ottavino
Busy, busy, busy week ahead. To get things started, a blast from the past in honor of Adam Ottavino’s Saturday big league debut. Ottavino will always have a special place in my heart because he was the starting pitcher of the only no-hitter I have ever witnessed in person. 18,431 baseball games watched in person (estimated), and only one no-hitter. Good story, huh? Anyway, here’s something originally published June 1, 2006 because a) it’s topical, b) it’s an excuse for me to put up that sad excuse for the above live action baseball photo taken by yours truly, c) it’s a holiday and this took me 10 minutes to put together, and d) an easy post like this buys me another day to finish up working on my rankings of top college outfielders and pitchers. Sneaky! Anyway, here it is…
There is a lot to like about Northeastern righthander Adam Ottavino. He’s got a major league body already, throws with a loose and easy arm action, is capable of hitting 93/94 MPH with his fastball (sits at 89-92), and mixes in a plus slider along with an emerging curve. His 6’5”, 215 pound frame and imposing presence on the mound make him look like a major leaguer and his workload this year at Northeastern shows he is capable of becoming a big league innings eater.
One of my big concerns after watching him pitch is the way his throwing motion differs when he going from his fastball to any of his off-speed stuff – the Hofstra hitters completely sat on his curve in the top of the sixth at the May 5th game I was at. I realize this is an obscure reference and an extremely small sample size, but it is an example of the larger problem I noticed in the three games I scouted him. This is his May 5th six inning breakdown (from the Northeastern website):
Hofstra 6th – Caputo singled to left field (2-2). Caputo advanced to second on a passed ball. Kougasian struck out swinging (3-2). Caputo stole third. Walsh singled up the middle, RBI (1-1); Caputo scored. Stern doubled down the lf line (0-1); Walsh advanced to third. Oliveri singled to right field, 2 RBI (2-2); Stern scored; Walsh scored. Panzarella grounded into double play 3b to 2b to 1b (0-0); Oliveri out on the play. 3 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
In that Hofstra-NEU game, I was able to stand with the scouts behind home plate and get a first hand look at their radar gun readings and pitch charts. His breakdown in that game (again, this is just one game, but it is reflective of Ottavino’s bigger picture as a pitcher):
I’m as high on Ottavino as almost any other righthanded college arm in this draft – he’ll be a major league pitcher someday. Whether he becomes a back of the rotation workhorse innings eater, a late inning setup man, or something bigger and better (maybe a 2/3 starter or closer) remains to be seen. If I was a betting man, I’d say he reaches that high end projection and becomes one of the first few pitchers to reach the major leagues out of this draft.
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:
Tyson Van Winkle
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.
College Second Basemen: A Brief History
Breaking news! College second basemen selected in the first 20 rounds of the MLB Draft need to show exceptional ability in one of three offensive categories – power, plate discipline, or speed. I know, I was shocked to find out that big league clubs value those things as well. A quick study of early round college second basemen shows that 78% of college 2B taken in the top 20 rounds over the past three years showed standout skills in one of the three aforementioned areas.
Caveats for this quick and dirty study include a) small sample (only three years worth of data), b) unscientific standards (power = minimum .550 SLG; plate discipline = more walks than strikeouts; speed = 20+ stolen bases), and c) 2010 statistics were park and scheduled adjusted (thanks, College Splits!), but 2007-2009 statistics were left as is.
Tomorrow we’ll look at players in the 2010 draft class that fit the criteria, as well as a top 20…or 25…or 30…list of top college 2B prospects. To just give an idea of what information can potentially be teased out with these quick studies, three “big” name players that don’t currently (as of 4/26/10) surpass any of the three statistical benchmarks include Alabama JR 2B Ross Wilson, California JR 2B Brian Guinn and Central Florida JR 2B Derek Luciano. That’s not to say that the positive scouting reports on each will be ignored, but it’s something to at least consider going forward. On the flip side, there are three or four 2010 draft-eligible college second basemen with the chance to hit the over on all three statistical benchmarks. Identities revealed tomorrow.
Until then, check out the complete list of college second basemen taken in the top twenty rounds over the past three drafts. Slash stats are obvious (AVG/OBP/SLG), but the other two sets of numbers are BB/K and SB/SBA. Players that did not hit any of the three benchmarks are in bold. Players that hit on all three benchmarks denoted with the triple star (***) badge of honor.
California JR 2B Jeff Kobernus: .341/.385/.544 (17/25; 20/24)
North Carolina JR 2B Kyle Seager: .393/.487/.592 (45/38; 13/14)
Minnesota JR 2B Derek McCallum: .409/.485/.741 (30/34; 6/6)
Cal Poly JR 2B Adam Buschini: .422/.484/.730 (21/26; 13/15)
LSU JR 2B Ryan Schimpf: .336/.449/.668 (44/50; 18/25)
*** Western Carolina JR 2B Nick Liles: .367/.421/.571 (21/21; 24/30)
Rice JR 2B Brock Holt: .348/.427/.560 (34/35; 11/16)
Pittsburgh JR 2B Chris Sedon: .398/.453/.796 (13/41; 19/25)
Southern Mississippi SR 2B James Ewing: .308/.384/.418 (26/19; 3/5)
*** New Mexico JR 2B Mike Brownstein: .414/.486/.611 (34/23; 20/26)
Belmont JR 2B Daniel Wagner: .323/.359/.523 (13/27; 24/28)
Coastal Carolina SR 2B Tyler Bortnick: .363/.461/.566 (38/33; 10/15)
Arkansas SR 2B Ben Tschepikow: .317/.398/.513 (31/33; 17/23)
UC Santa Barbara JR 2B Matt Valaika: .343/.413/.545 (13/16; 1/2)
*** Miami JR 2B Jemile Weeks: .363/.452/.641 (35/38; 22/23)
New Orleans JR 2B Johnny Giovotella: .354/.470/.591 (53/25; 19/26)
Virginia JR 2B David Adams: .286/.384/.411 (41/39; 16/19)
Stanford JR 2B Cord Phelps: .351/.445/.587 (41/38; 6/10)
Delaware JR 2B Alex Buchholz: .319/.401/.515 (15/24; 4/6)
*** Cincinnati JR 2B Josh Harrison: .378/.437/.559 (25/20; 32/40)
California SR 2B Josh Satin: .379/.500/.723 (47/45; 6/9)
Tulane JR 2B Anthony Scelfo: .322/.453/.578 (54/46; 8/11)
Auburn JR 2B Matthew Hall: .279/.342/.411 (19/41; 7/10)
Belmont Abbey College SO 2B Alex Castellanos: .390/.452/.683 (15/22; 9/14)
Vanderbilt SR 2B Dominic De la Osa: .297/.410/.506 (36/54; 27/33)
Mississippi State JR 2B Michael Turner: .217/.217/.348 (0/1; 0/0)
Nebraska SR 2B Jake Opitz: .339/.434/.568 (37/26; 13/15)
Texas A&M SR 2B Blake Stouffer: .258/.399/.378 (47/48; 17/21)
Fresno State JR 2B Erik Wetzel: .365/.452/.495 (44/42; 12/18)
Florida Atlantic SR 2B Daniel Cook: .293/.410/.556 (21/16; 3/7)
UCLA SR 2B Alden Carrithers: .377/.484/.543 (40/32; 17/23)
Georgia Southern SR 2B Jeremy Beckham: .333/.434/.386 (26/22; 24/29)
Tennessee SR 2B Andrew Simunic: .297/.379/.370 (23/25; 20/23)
UC Irvine SR 2B Ben Orloff: .358/.414/.409 (21/16; 18/23)
Long Beach State JR 2B Jason Tweedy: .306/.370/.430 (10/26; 2/3)
Southern Mississippi SR 2B Trey Sutton: .315/.409/.457 (20/20; 3/5)
Arizona State JR 2B Eric Sogard: .394/.488/.619 (39/23; 18/23)
*** Florida State JR 2B Tony Thomas: .430/.522/.733 (43/39; 31/36)
Loyola Marymount JR 2B Eric Farris: .349/.418/.466 (23/14; 33/42)
South Carolina JR 2B Travis Jones: .318/.416/.594 (28/46; 13/17)
Auburn JR 2B Russell Dixon: .313/.379/.470 (14/40; 0/2)
Wichita State JR 2B Damon Sublett: .354/.462/.496 (49/40; 14/16)
UC Irvine SR 2B Cody Cipriano: .339/.433/.605 (35/50; 10/15)
New Mexico JR 2B Jordan Pacheco: .397/.511/.580 (43/28; 7/10)
Mississippi JR 2B Justin Henry: .381/.450/.496 (30/21; 22/28)
Southern California JR 2B Matt Cusick: .324/.415/.412 (31/17; 10/15)
Tulane JR 2B Brad Emaus: .329/.439/.443 (41/23; 3/7)
Missouri State JR 2B Matt Lawson: .270/.313/.352 (13/43; 17/22)
Southern Indiana JR 2B Darin Mastroianni: .409/.484/.549 (31/22; 64/67)
Mississippi State SR 2B Jeffrey Rea: .343/.417/.412 (29/20; 13/17)
Texas SR 2B Nick Peoples: .329/.421/.488 (19/34; 18/23)
Tampa JR 2B Ryan Kennedy: .387/.485/.641 (42/18; 7/11)
Western Carolina SR 2B Kenny Smith: .390/.451/.759 (30/20; 14/16)
Louisville SR 2B Logan Johnson: .364/.488/.663 (35/29; 9/13)
College First Basemen: A Brief History
- If recent draft trends hold, there will only be 1 or 2 major league quality bats capable of holding down a big league starting job out the entire pool of 2010 college first basemen.
- An additional 2 or 3 major league quality bench contributors are likely to emerge from the pool of 2010 college first basemen.
- College first basemen of America, take note: It really helps to be versatile defensively. A quick perusal of the list reveals the vast majority of MLB starting players listed below now play a big league position other than first base.
- With 6 college first basemen taken in the first 23 overall picks, the 2008 MLB Draft was as much as an abberration as it seemed at the time. That said, the end results (only 1 or 2 major league quality bats capable of holding down a big league starting job) may yet fall in line with recent draft history. I’d personally bet the over, but with far less confidence than I had back in June 2008.
- Between 40-60 college first basemen will be drafted in 2010.
- Between 5-15 of those college first basemen will be drafted in the first ten rounds in 2010.
- Players are listed according to the position announced at the time of the draft according to the invaluable resource Baseball-Reference.
- Individual players were not listed from the three most recent MLB Drafts (2007-2009). We’ll let their more recent professional careers breathe a little bit before deciding who will make it as big league ballplayers or not.
- Designations between “Starters” and “Bench Contributors” (or in some cases, “Potential Bench Contributors”) are subjective in nature; players were given the benefit of the doubt in many cases, with bonus points awarded to guys who have either been a) valued enough by big league teams to receive get big league trials as starters or b) actively pursued via trade or the waiver wire. The most subjective classifications on the list are affixed to players drafted most recently; to remedy this to some degree, please feel free to disregard the mention of Strieby, Robbins, and Cooper as “Future Bench Contributors” if you disagree with those particular assessments.
- Re-drafted players count twice because each draft year is looked at as one singular entity. This method is less helpful when solely looking back at past drafts, but comes in handy when forecasting future draft outcomes, which is the real goal of the activity.
2002 (46 college 1B total; 13 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- Starter: Nick Swisher (1-16; Ohio State)
- Bench Contributor: Brad Eldred (6-163; Florida International)
- Bench Contributor: Ryan Shealy (11-321; Florida)
Notes: Swisher was highest drafted college 1B; Prince Fielder was highest drafted 1B overall; so-called “Moneyball” draft
2003 (42 college 1B total; 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- Starter: Conor Jackson (1-19; California)
Notes: Michael Aubrey was highest drafted college 1B (1-11; Tulane); Andy D’alessio (who went on to Clemson) was highest drafted high school 1B
2004 (56 college 1B total; 15 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- Starter: Adam Lind (3-83; University of South Alabama)
- Bench Contributor: Steven Pearce (10-305; South Carolina)
- Bench Contributor: Tommy Everidge (10-307; Sonoma State)
Notes: Michael Ferris was highest drafted college 1B (2-60; Miami Ohio); Daryl Jones was highest drafted high school 1B
2005 (48 college 1B total; 7 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- Future Starter: 33-1007 Tyler Flowers (Chipola JC)
- Potential Bench Contributor: 5-150 Jeff Larish (Arizona State)
- Bench Contributor: 8-241 Steven Pearce (South Carolina)
- Potential Bench Contributor: 8-246 Aaron Bates (North Carolina State)
Notes: Stephen Head was highest drafted college 1B (2-62; Mississippi); Henry Sanchez was highest drafted high school 1B
2006 (44 college 1B total; 11 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- Starter: Chris Davis (5-148; Navarro College)
- Starter: Matt LaPorta (14-433; Florida)
- Potential Bench Contributor: Aaron Bates (3-83; North Carolina State)
- Potential Bench Contributor: Ryan Strieby (4-112; Kentucky)
- Potential Bench Contributor: Whit Robbins (4-119; Georgia Tech)
- Potential Bench Contributor: Craig Cooper (7-213; Notre Dame)
Notes: Mark Hamilton was highest drafted college 1B (2-76; Tulane); Kyle Orr was highest drafted high school 1B
2007 (42 college 1B total; 8 college 1B in top ten rounds)
2008 (51 college 1B total; 11 college 1B in top ten rounds)
Notes: Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Brett Wallace, David Cooper, Ike Davis, Allan Dykstra were all college 1B picked in the top 23 overall selections; the next three four-year college 1B after the sextet of first rounders included luminaries such as Mike Sheridan, Jeremy Hamilton, and Steven Caseres
2009 (54 college 1B total; 10 college 1B in top ten rounds)
- 46 + 42 + 56 + 48 + 44 + 42 + 51 + 54 = 383
- There were 383 total college first basemen drafted from 2002-2009 (8 drafts)
- 383/8 = 47.875
- Roughly 48 college first basemen were drafted on average in that span
- 13 +10 + 15 + 7 + 11 + 8 + 11 + 10 = 85
- There were 85 total college first basemen drafted from 2002-2009 (8 drafts) taken in the first ten rounds
- 85/8 = 10.625
- Roughly 10.5 college first basemen were drafted in the first ten rounds on average in that span
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
Mike Leake = Big Leaguer
A look back through the archives at what has been written at this very site about the newest member of the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation. The evolution of former Arizona State prospect and current big leaguer Mike Leake as seen through the lens of a nobody amateur draft prognosticator…
Leake was ranked 11th on my first ever published list of draft-eligible college players. Not bad, right? Just ignore the fact that he was sandwiched between Indiana’s Josh Phegley (a player I still like, but clearly not a prospect on Leake’s level) and the pitching version of Long Island’s James Jones, a player eventually drafted by Seattle as a toolsy outfielder. My evaluation of him at the time included the following defense of the “controversial” at the time ranking of Leake over Baylor’s Kendal Volz:
Leake over Volz is a little strange, but it came down to present plus command and movement over potential power plus stuff across the board.
One week later I noted the way Leake outdueled fellow future first round pick Kyle Gibson. Leake’s numbers that day: 8 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K (11 GO/2 AO). Also noted at the time was Leake’s stellar groundball numbers: 19 of his 23 batted ball outs at that point in the season came on the ground.
This is where things starting to get hot and heavy with the Leake lovefest. His ranking (6th on a list of 2009 draft-eligible righthanded college pitchers) may not seem all that impressive, but keep in mind that meant only Aaron Crow, Tanner Scheppers, Kyle Gibson, Alex White, and Stephen Strasburg were ahead of him. Not a bad list of pitchers to fall behind, all things considered. His quick scouting report at the time looked like this:
Leake literally has everything I look for in a pitching prospect. Let’s do it bullet point style:
- Plus athleticism – has played first, second, short, and every outfield position as a Sun Devil
- Ability to handle the bat – hit .340/.500/.574 in 47 at bats last season (12/9 walk to strikeout ratio)
- Groundball inducing stuff – so far this season, 19 of his 23 non-K outs recorded have come on the ground
- Plus secondary pitch – slider works better as another groundball inducing weapon, but it also creates plenty of swings and misses
- Above-average third pitch – his changeup is nearly as good as his slider
- Plus command – his ability to spot any of his three pitches has earned him universal praise from scouts
- Plus control – roughly 1.75 BB/9 in his college career
- Plus makeup/competitiveness – only good things have been said by scouts, coaches, teammates, and parents about Leake’s drive to succeed and strong work ethic
What Leake is missing is an ideal frame (he’s 6-0, 180), an overpowering fastball (sits 89-92), and a whole lot of room for growth. I’d argue the last point a bit because I think any two-way player stands to gain a little something once they begin to focus solely on one aspect of the game, but, on the whole, those negatives are fair criticisms of Leake’s game. Fortunately, a blazing hot fastball and a “prototypical pitcher’s frame” each fall very low on the list of things I care about. A high radar gun reading on a fastball is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but good fastball movement (something Leake has in spades) trumps good fastball speed every time. There is something to be said about a physical frame that needs filling out eventually producing a better fastball down the road, sure, but many college pitchers are what they are by their junior seasons anyway. The backlash against short righthanders is not grounded in empirical research, so I tend to actually look at short righthanded pitching as being a potentially undervalued asset in the draft every year. Yes, I just spun Leake’s lack of height as a positive. Your mileage might vary with that part of the assessment.
One industry comp and one personal comp for Leake before we wrap this thing up. First, my slightly off the wall comparison – highly-touted Japanese prospect Yu Darvish. Darvish has four inches on Leake and throws a knuckle-curve, but they have similar stuff (sinker, slider, change) otherwise. The better comparison may be the more common one – a lesser Tim Hudson, right down to the two-way talent shown at the college level. You could do worse than a poor man’s Tim Hudson come draft day.
My first prediction of where Leake would wind up drafted came at the end of the piece. Wasn’t quite on the money, but the guess worked pretty well for an early March estimate:
There will be sexier options on draft day for teams picking in the mid- to late first round, but there may not be as sure a bet to be a dependable major leaguer as Leake. I bet he is a target of teams with multiple high picks (Arizona) and mid-market franchises picking in the late teens/early twenties (St. Louis, Toronto, Houston).
When I updated the college big board with report card grades (a good idea for 2010 come to think of it), Leake received high praise:
11. Mike Leake – RHSP – Arizona State – One of the easiest grades to assign, Leake’s been phenomenal through three starts so far… A+
I can’t believe there is any doubt that Mike Leake has a first round caliber arm. His latest outing was excellent: 9 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 15 K in a win over rival Arizona. His season numbers are pristine (48/7 strikeout to walk numbers in 40 innings of 1.35 ERA pitching) and his scouting reports have been positive all spring long.
Leake may be my favorite prospect in all the draft, but I’m not sure how much my opinion matters to teams drafting in the first round…yes, he’s a very good prospect and an almost sure-fire first rounder, but I don’t want my inflated opinion of him getting in the way of properly assessing his relative value.
Predicted Leake would go to Colorado with the 11th pick in the first round one month ahead of the draft
Stuck with Leake to Colorado with the 11th pick in last mock before the big day
Fourth on my last Big Board leading up to the draft! Fourth! My love of Leake as a prospect seemingly grew with every passing week. Nothing has changed from the glowing scouting report posted above. 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.
Shadow Drafting – 2007, 2008, and 2009
A quick look back at some of my own brief forays into shadow drafting for the Philadelphia Phillies. This is almost surely one of those pieces that interests me way more than it could ever interest anybody else, but I think it has some value in that it give some sort of idea of which style of player I’ve liked over the past few years. I’d say grabbing guys like Main, Griffith, Melville, and Seaton all within the first two rounds the past two years would qualify as a bit of a draft trend, as would the selections of Jackson, Hood, and Westmoreland. Who knew I was so in love with prep righthanded pitching and super toolsy high school position players? I wouldn’t have said I feel all that strongly about either type of player, but it’s all right there in black and white. Interesting.
1.19 – RHSP Michael Main (LHSP Joe Savery)
1S.37 – SS Justin Jackson (C Travis D’Arnaud)
2.83 – RHSP Nevin Griffith (3B Travis Mattair)
(Republished from another archived Gmail – yes, this is what I email people about…sad, but true)
I tried my hand at the shadowing the Phillies draft this year in real-time. This was what I would have done and not necessarily what I would have guessed the Phillies would do. You can look at it two ways – where the guys wound up getting picked today (semi-useful, but not really) or what will become of these guys years down the road (the better way, but who’s got the patience?). I freaking love Seaton and thought the Phillies would be all over him – they trust their area scouts in Texas above pretty much any other region. I think I like Hood more than Collier personally, but it’s really close. Putnam dropped because of injury or something, Melville due to signability. Westmoreland has a Rocco Baldelli comp (maybe only since both are from Rhode Island), Martinez was a first rounder two months ago who stunk up the joint his senior year and will now most likely go to Miami for college ball, and St. Clair was a teammate of Savery’s at Rice who I’ve been a gigantic fan of for three years now. Amazingly enough, the Phillies and I were of the same mind when it came to picking Hamilton and Shreve…weird stuff, but I like the picks, especially the selection of Shreve, a first round caliber talent who could be the steal of the entire draft (I don’t say that lightly).
1.24 Tim Melville RHP
S.34 Ross Seaton RHP
2.51 Destin Hood OF
2.71 Zach Putnam RHP
3.102 Ryan Westmoreland OF
3.110 Harold Martinez 3B
4.136 Cole St. Clair LHP
5.166 Jeremy Hamilton 1B
6.196 Colby Shreve RHP
Now, real life:
1.24 Anthony Hewitt 3B
S.34 Zach Collier OF
2.51 Anthony Gose OF
2.71 Jason Knapp RHP
3.102 Vance Worley RHP
3.110 Jonathan Pettibone RHP
4.136 Trevor May RHP
5.166 Jeremy Hamilton 1B
6.196 Colby Shreve RHP
I can’t decide if I want to continue doing the Phillies (their first pick is a loooooong wait from the front of the draft) or if I want to choose a different team this year to mix things up. Ideally, the team would have picks in nearly every round at or around the mid-point of each round. This may be a gametime decision.
From the Vault: Woefully Inaccurate 2008 and 2007 MLB Mock Drafts
And now for something totally different…from deep down in my own personal archives (aka a recovered document from my Gmail account), my final mock draft of the 2008 MLB Draft. Yes, in the span of one year I’ve gone from emailing friends and family about the draft to writing about it on a near-daily basis on this little website. Is that progress? Or a sure sign of my mental deterioration? Time will tell!
If you can forgive the Phillies-centric notes, check out how wonderfully wrong I was once things got tricky after pick six in my projected first round of last year’s mock. I figure it’s only fair to give everybody out there a head’s up on my spotty track record in projecting the first round. Enjoy.
I feel pretty good about the first four, but after that all hell breaks loose. White Beckham to Cincy feels right, but beyond that the rest of my top ten could all be wrong-o. Posey is the guy who really makes the top half of the draft funky – he’s the best player to likely fall out of the top four (and in my mind either the second or third best overall anyway), but his bonus demands really make him a wildcard. I have no feel where Hunt will go, but Jim Callis (the best in the world when it comes to forecasting the first round) has him falling to the Phillies at 24. I’ve seen a lot of him on TV this season and he’d be great value at that spot. Picks 11-15 I feel good about, but they’ll of course depend on who rises and falls in the top ten. I’ll say if the board breaks the way I think it will (more or less), those projections will all be on the money. Cubs taking Melville works for me, as does my semi-surprise pick of Perry to Seattle. I have no clue what the Mets are thinking this year – probably a college reliever, catcher, or high upside high schooler combination of some sort, but getting the names to work was a pain. Cashner and Castro fit the reliever/catcher pattern, so that’s what I came up with. Finally, the 24th pick. I have no idea what names the Phillies are targeting for real – normally I can fake the fact that I’m sort of plugged into the home nine’s thinking, but this year is a mystery. When faced with a challenge like that, we work in generalities – big strapping young RHPs and toolsy athletic types, with a supposed 2008 inclination towards getting a more polished college bat who may drop. Hunt fits the first profile (big, raw RHP – even though he is a college kid, he has considerable upside), but other names to consider include high school righthanders Ethan Martin, Tim Melville, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Meyer. They’ve also been linked to high school bats Hewitt, Zach Collier, and Casey Kelly and the possibility they go college reliever is always out there (I don’t buy the reliever talk at all, but we’ll see). The surprise pick of a college bat would most likely wind up one of the Arizona State guys (Brett Wallace or Ike Davis) or 3B Conor Gillaspie. Ultimately, my giant surprise pick has them going with one of the draft’s most controversial players: Gerrit Cole. Cole is a mess – mechanics are scary, all kinds of reported makeup problems, and he’s a client of Scott Boras. He also has the best fastball in the entire draft and, from a talent alone perspective, would be a giant steal at 24. The first two negatives (mechanics and makeup) won’t worry the Phillies as much as they will other teams (I think), but the last one (Boras) could be a deal breaker. Cole could also be snapped up by the Mets, Cubs, or Tigers right before the Phillies pick. If that’s the case, any of those other guys mentioned (most likely a high school bat, based on the board) could be the man.
1. TB: SS Tim Beckham
2. PIT: 3B Pedro Alvarez
3. KC: 1B Eric Hosmer
4. BAL: LHSP Brian Matusz
5. SF: C Buster Posey
6. FLA: C Kyle Skipworth
7. CIN: SS Gordon Beckham
8. CWS: 1B Justin Smoak
9. WAS: RHSP Aaron Crow
10. HOU: RHSP Shooter Hunt
11. TEX: RHSP Ethan Martin
12. OAK: 1B Yonder Alonso
13. STL: LHSP Christian Friedrich
14. MIN: SS Brett Lawrie
15. LAD: OF Aaron Hicks
16. MIL: SS Casey Kelly
17. TOR: 1B Brett Wallace
18. NYM: RHRP Andrew Cashner
19. CHC: RHSP Tim Melville
20. SEA: RHRP Ryan Perry
21. DET: RHSP Jake Odorizzi
22. NYM: C Jason Castro
23. SD: OF Ike Davis
24. PHI: RHSP Gerrit Cole
25. COL: SS Anthony Hewitt
26. ARI: RHRP Josh Fields
27. MIN: 2B Jemile Weeks
28. NYY: 1B David Cooper
29. CLE: OF Zach Collier
30. BOS: 1B Allan Dykstra
UPDATE! I found my 2007 mock draft as well! This one was actually published for all to see at my old Phillies blog. The 2007 first round, according to me:
1. Tampa – LHSP David Price
2. Kansas City – 3B Josh Vitters
3. Chicago (NL) – RHSP Jarrod Parker
4. Pittsburgh – C Devin Mesoraco
5. Baltimore – LHSP Ross Detwiler
6. Washington – C Matt Wieters
7. Milwaukee – UT Mike Moustakas
8. Colorado – LHRP Dan Moskos
9. Arizona – RHSP Phillippe Aumont
10. San Francisco – LHSP Madison Bumgarner
11. Seattle – LHSP Nick Schmidt
12. Florida – CF Julio Borbon
13. Cleveland – RHSP Blake Beavan
14. Atlanta – OF Jason Heyward
15. Cincinnati – 3B Kevin Ahrens
16. Toronto – 3B Matt Dominguez
17. Texas – RHSP Rick Porcello
18. St. Louis – OF Kyle Russell
19. Philadelphia – RHSP Michael Main
20. Los Angeles – RHSP Matt Harvey
21. Toronto – C J.P. Arencibia
22. San Francisco – 1B Beau Mills
23. San Diego – 3B/OF Todd Frazier
24. Texas – RHSP Chris Withrow
25. Chicago (AL) – SS Justin Jackson
26. Oakland – 1B Matt LaPorta
27. Detroit – RHSP Andrew Brackman
28. Minnesota – OF Michael Burgess
29. San Francisco – SS Pete Kozma
30. New York (AL) – LHSP Joe Savery
Another awful mock if I do say so myself. To somewhat save face, I did say this the morning of the draft:
I have zero doubt that Wieters can stick behind the plate – he excels in all phases of the game defensively, with his rocket arm standing out as a plus plus tool. At the plate, his bat is good enough to play anywhere on the field.
I think Matt Wieters is the best player in the draft this year.
It wasn’t going out on the biggest limb (or would it be tiniest?) ever, but it was at least mildly controversial to suggest he was a better player than David Price back in June of 2007. Heck, it’s still mildly controversial. Alright, that’s it – no more mocks until the first 2010 one is unveiled, I promise.