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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Arizona Diamondbacks

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Arizona in 2016

42 – RHP Jon Duplantier
60 – OF Anfernee Grier
194 – C Gavin Stupienski
227 – RHP Curtis Taylor
255 – 2B Manny Jefferson
279 – C Andy Yerzy
366 – C Ryan January
392 – OF Connor Owings
410 – LHP Colin Poche

Complete List of 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Draftees

1.39 – OF Anfernee Grier

You’d think three years of SEC experience would have me reevaluating my original high school comp for Anfernee Grier (60), but I keep coming back to Devon White every time I see him play. Maybe the body types are a bit off — Grier is plenty graceful, but doesn’t quite give off the same gazelle-like movements of a young White — but I think they two share plenty of traits that could translate to a similar professional upside. Even his doubters would have to admit that Grier has star upside if it all comes together as a pro. It might be rich for some in certain areas, but I think putting above-average future grades on all five of his tools isn’t crazy. Even if you knock a few tools down to average (hit, power, arm), he’s still got a chance to be an outstanding regular and long-term fixture in center field.

If you didn’t know much about Grier until now, then I can imagine you sitting there wondering how a guy with tools like his fell to the thirty-ninth overall pick. Here you go: the aforementioned high school evaluation on this site contained this line — “questionable approach biggest current impediment to success as pro” — which remains as true now as it did then. Grier is such a naturally gifted talented young hitter — his “lightning quick wrists” were also mentioned in that report — that at times his approach at the plate looks like what one might expect out of a hitter unfamiliar with not being able to hit everything even remotely near the plate hard and far. I’m not sure this is a mainstream enough topic to qualify it as a #hottake, but I’ve wondered at times when watching Grier if he was too gifted a hitter for his own good. The confidence he has as a hitter made him a great amateur, but could keep him from being a great pro. Grier will have to learn that just because he can hit almost any pitch in any count it doesn’t necessarily mean that he should. More so than most early-round college draftees, Grier’s pro development is going to hinge greatly on his receptiveness to pro instruction, to say nothing of the quality and patience of those doing the instructing.

Of course, any attempt to change Grier too much could move him away from what made his approach work for him in the first place. The real challenge for Grier and the Diamondbacks going forward will be finding a happy medium between his natural inclination to swing at anything close and a more patient, nuanced approach at the plate. If that can be achieved, Grier is a star. If not, I think there’s still enough in the way of physical talent here to suggest Grier will have a long, fruitful career as a speed/defense backup outfielder. With a high ceiling and reasonable floor, Grier is a quality prospect and deserving first round pick.

2.52 – C Andy Yerzy

I believe in Andy Yerzy (279) as a hitter. I don’t believe in him as a catcher. That puts him in a really tough spot as the former belief isn’t nearly as strong as the latter. Yerzy will hit, sure, but will it be enough for first base? The most honest answer is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but that’s not what you come here for. Forced to give a definitive answer on the long-term future of an 18-year-old hitter from York Mills Collegiate Institute in beautiful Ontario …I guess I’d take the easy way out and say he’s not likely to hit enough to hold down a job at first base at the highest level. That’s playing the percentages, after all. The honest answer remains the silly shrug. I don’t have nearly enough feel for Yerzy as a hitter — what I’ve seen and heard and read, I like — to give a more solid take on his future. I clearly love going on and on and on about players I think I have a good feel for — somebody on the internet recently dissed me as being “too wordy and authoritative,” so I guess that reputation as a know-it-all yakker precedes me — but I’d like to think I also know when to shut up about a guy I don’t have enough information on to give a meaningful opinion about. So I’m going to shut up now.

3.89 – RHP Jon Duplantier

“If Duplantier flops in the pros, I’m out on Rice pitchers forever,” was a thing written here back in April. It’s true. If Jon Duplantier (42) doesn’t make it due to either injury or reduced stuff caused from injury, then I’m swearing off Rice pitchers…until next June. If Duplantier does make it, however, then me calling this one of the best picks in the draft and arguably the best value of any drafted college arm will look pretty smart. On Duplantier from March 2016…

The good news for Rice is that their ace is very clearly the best pitching prospect in the conference. Jon Duplantier is awesome. There are only so many college baseball and draft writers out there and there are a ton of quality players to write about, but it still surprises me that Duplantier has managed to go (kind of) under the radar this spring. I mean, of course Duplantier has been written about plenty and he’s regarded by almost anybody who matters as one of the top college arms in this class – not to mention I’m guilty of not writing about him until now myself – but it still feels like we could all be doing more to spread the word about how good he really is. Here’s what I wrote about him in his draft capsule last year…

175. Rice SO RHP Jon Duplantier: 87-94 FB, 95 peak; good CU; good 73-75 CB; average 82-85 SL, flashes above-average when harder; good command; great athlete; fascinating draft case study as a hugely overlooked injured arm that one scout described to me as “every bit as good as Dillon Tate when on” and another said his injury was a “blessing in disguise” because it saved him from further abuse at the hands of Coach Graham; 6-4, 210 pounds

His fastball has since topped out as high as 97-98 and more consistently sits in the mid- to upper-band of that velocity range (90-94). His command has continued to improve and his breaking balls are both showing more consistency. I’ve heard his change has backed up some – more of a future average pitch at 82-84 than anything – but seeing as that’s just one of three usable offspeed pitches, it’s not the end of the world. Duplantier is big, athletic, and getting better by the day. I don’t know if that all adds up to a first round selection in this class, but it is damn close if not.

Duplantier finished his college season ranked 42nd on my board. The draft’s first round went 41 picks. Damn close to a first round pick indeed. I’m still hopeful that his history of nagging injuries turns out to be more of a blessing in disguise we all look back on and laugh about rather than an ongoing issue that plagues him in pro ball. Get him healthy, get him working on refining his offspeed stuff (average 82-84 CU, average 82-85 SL, average mid-70s CB), get him the reps he’ll need to bump that fastball (87-95, 98 peak) command up a grade, and watch him work. I called it “sneaky top of the rotation upside” back in April, and I think some of that is still there with Duplantier. It’s aggressive, I know, but I believe. There’s just something about pitchers from Rice that I like…

4.119 – RHP Curtis Taylor

I’m really excited to watch Curtis Taylor (227) pitch in the pros. If ninth round pick Tommy Eveld (we’ll get to him) is my Platonic Ideal of what a ninth round pick college pitcher should look like, then Taylor fits the bill for the fourth round. More accurately, he’s what I want in any college pitcher outside of the first few picks in the draft. Size (6-5, 210), projection (cold weather factor), present velocity (90-94, 96 peak), offspeed with promise (slider and splitter), results (11.10 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 in 91.2 IP at the University of British Columbia), and ground balls (around 60% in his debut)…the guy checks every box. There’s number two starter upside here with Taylor.

5.149 – 3B Joey Rose

I heard really good college player and potential 2019 first day pick when asking around about Joey Rose for much of the spring. There’s plenty to like such as his easy above-average righthanded power and above-average arm strength at the hot corner, but he’s a long way away from what he could be. I still like Arizona taking a shot on him here in the fifth round. If you think he could be a first round pick in 2019, then why not grab him well before that in a much lower round? Why let college ball have all the fun developing him when you can do it yourself? Got a Matt Rose (Cubs) comp on him after signing, which amuses me because it wasn’t until I wrote it down right this very second that I realized the players had the same last name. They even each have four-letter first names. Could some subconscious association between the two young players be the root of that comparison? Maybe!

6.179 – LHP Mack Lemieux

LHP Mack Lemieux (Jupiter HS, Florida): 84-86 FB; 75-76 CU; 72-74 CB; good command; 6-3, 185 pounds

Those were my high school notes on Mack Lemieux from 2015. Baseball America (among others) have him peaking at 94 MPH after a season at Palm Beach State JC. Between that, his youth (just turned 20), his great pro debut (on the heels of a fine junior college season), significant athleticism, and a cool name, he’s one to watch closely.

7.209 – LHP Jordan Watson

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing in life until you’ve found it. I love this Jordan Watson guy. NAIA or not, striking out 176 batters in 104.2 innings is straight up awesome. And then to follow up that 15.14 K/9 with a 16.43 K/9 in his first 12.2 innings pitched as a pro? I’m firmly on the bandwagon.

Incidentally, Watson’s Science and Arts of Oklahoma baseball team also had a hitter named Yariel Gonzalez who did this as a senior: 457/.508/.796 with 24 BB/9 K and 12/14 SB. He latched on with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent where he kept hitting as a pro. I like this guy, too. We’ll get to the Cardinals draft next Monday, so I won’t drone on and on and on about how well they identify quality amateur talent, but…man, they have a knack for this. Apologies to any Diamondbacks fan who feels slighted by St. Louis co-opting their draft review. You guys drafted well, too!

8.239 – C Ryan January

Recently got a text from a friend who saw Ryan January (366) for Missoula this summer that called him a “lefthanded Alex Jackson, but good.” I’m not necessarily throwing in the towel on the Mariners 20-year-old prep catcher to pro outfielder (and, for the record, neither was my friend), but that still made me laugh. Comparison to the currently stalled Jackson aside, the real takeaway here is that January can play. There are certainly some rough edges surrounding his bat and his overall approach as a hitter remains a work in progress, but there’s no doubting his bat speed, surprisingly deft feel for contact, and the special sound he’s capable of making on impact when he gets a hold of one.

The Alex Jackson mention was serendipitous (retroactively so since it’s been about two months since I got the text, but just go with it) as I’ve actually been thinking about him a lot as I type up these draft reviews. This is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but I’ll share it anyway. I champion future bench players and middle relievers on this site all the time. I think there’s tons of hidden value there, both on the field (duh) and on the margins of the payroll sheets (save money on those homegrown guys, spend savings on bigger stars). You can find these players all over the draft if you look hard enough. However, I don’t like when teams move a questionable defender off a tough defensive spot to an easier one when the player in question doesn’t have special upside with the bat. You’re more likely to get a good player that way, but far less likely to get a great player. That was my dilemma with Alex Jackson back when he was a draft prospect. As a catcher, sign me up. Even if the bat suffers some and he never becomes a great defensive player, it would have been worth it to me to see it through with him behind the plate. As an outfielder, conventional wisdom says that he can focus more clearly on his hitting and his overall offensive game will be the best that it can be. When the best that it can be is truly great, I get it. Bryce Harper is an all too obvious example of this. But a guy like Jackson was never Harper. A guy like Jackson was never all that likely (in my view) to ever be a top ten or so offensive player (at the position) as a corner outfielder. You’ve effectively downgraded the upside from a should-be major potential asset into just another interesting potential regular. You’ve gone from admittedly longer odds of maybe great to slightly better odds of maybe good. Jackson’s bat is good, but is it good enough to give up such a huge chunk of his potential defensive value to find out?

There are way more complicating factors than those stated above. Every player should be judged on his own specific strengths and weaknesses. And Alex Jackson the individual isn’t really the point here; I don’t know enough about him to say the M’s were wrong to move him or not, and I’m willing to defer judgment on their player development staff on that call. For me, moving him wasn’t the issue, but picking him where they did in the draft knowing that moving him was the likely plan was. I’m not saying never move a player from a position that you don’t think he can handle. That would obviously be ridiculous. Not everybody is a catcher or a center fielder or a shortstop. The previously mentioned Bryce Harper is just one of many times it does make sense to make such a switch. Maybe I’m just greedy. I don’t know. “Perfect is the enemy of the good,” they said. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” they said. Who knows what to think these days…

All of this somehow brings us back to Ryan January. As a catcher, he’d instantly be on the short list of highest upside players at the position in all of baseball. If forced to shift to the outfield, his odds of reaching the big leagues would go up — yes, there would be more pressure on the bat, but I think that would be counterbalanced (and then some) by the easier day-to-day existence of a corner outfielder versus a catcher — but the odds of him being a difference-making overall player would go down. I really can’t say for sure if a full-time move to the outfield is worth it in January’s specific case, but it does appear that the Diamondbacks are committed to doing what they can to exhaust all possibilities to find out what it takes to keep him behind the plate for as long as possible. I’m thankful for that. January as a catcher could be a star.

9.269 – RHP Tommy Eveld

I don’t know why I didn’t rank Tommy Eveld in the top 500 of this draft class. Arizona clearly did and they were very smart to do so. So much time and energy on this site has been spent preaching about the advantages athleticism gives young pitching prospects. Somehow Eveld, arguably the most athletic pitcher in this entire class, fell through the cracks. This is what I had on him in March…

Tommy Eveld’s question marks fall more on me than him right now. He’s got a great frame, fantastic athleticism, and legitimate low-90s heat, but beyond that I don’t know a ton about him.

Time marched on and I never got around to filling in my Eveld knowledge gaps along the way. Extreme athleticism, a big-time arm (90-94) with plenty of bullets left in the chamber, a frame to dream on (6-5, 190), offspeed stuff that seemingly got better with every trip to the mound, and tons of missed bats (11.38 K/9 in 53.0 IP) along the way…I’m not really sure what more you could want. Fantastic pick by Arizona here. Eveld is worth getting excited about.

10.299 – OF Stephen Smith

What you see is what you get with Stephen Smith. There’s power, strength, and some athleticism. It’s a potential platoon bat in a corner if it really works and a 4A slugger if it doesn’t. If that worst case scenario comes to fruition, there’s always Japan.

11.329 – RHP Jake Polancic

Not too pleased that I whiffed so badly on Jake Polancic, a good looking Canadian arm up to 88-92 with his fastball with a promising curve to match. Few teams scout Canada as aggressively as Arizona and Tim Wilken’s arrival only upped the ante on getting as many eyes on prospects from the Great White North as possible.

12.359 – C Gavin Stupienski

Wrote this in March about Gavin Stupienski (194)…

Every June I kick myself for not writing more about unheralded players that I like more before the rest of the world catches on. There’s never enough time once the college season gets going and I always feel guilty about doing quick posts off the top of my head that would better suit the daily “hey, this guy is REALLY good” thoughts that have a habit of coming up about certain prospects. The premise of this post is goofy, but I’d like to think the content stands up enough to be taken seriously. That makes this the perfect platform to express again how much I like Gavin Stupienski. He’s hit during his summers, he hit as a redshirt-sophomore, he’s hitting so far this year…he can hit. There are no questions about his defense behind the plate and he’s a leader on one of the nation’s best mid-major teams. I’m not sure what more you could want. I’m all-in on Stupienski. Add him to the increasingly impressive top ten round catcher pile.

Getting a potential regular catcher (or high-level backup) with pick three hundred fifty-nine is a major win for the Diamondbacks. This really was a great year for college catching. Arizona got themselves a good one.

13.389 – 2B Manny Jefferson

I’m surprised more hasn’t been written about Manny Jefferson (255) on this site considering how much I like him. As a college hitter coming off a breakthrough draft season in spite of an ugly 25 BB/50 K ratio, Jefferson is not exactly my usual cup of tea. One line from my notes on him stands out: “best is yet to come as a hitter.” That’s always some cognitive dissonance when it comes to such claims. For high school players, sure why not. For college prospects carrying years of meaningful data, it’s tough to really buy into the persistent scout chatter about how close a guy is to flicking the switch. Too many smart people were in on Jefferson this spring, so I pushed him up the board here even with the scary BB/K ratio. We’ll see how it all turns out. The difference between real improvement there (long-time big league regular), moderate improvement (see below), and little improvement (AA washout) will make or break his career.

With that moderate improvement in approach, I could see Jefferson settling nicely into a bat-first (power-first, really) utility player role capable of holding his own at literally any spot on the diamond save catcher and probably center. I have a player in mind I really want to comp him too, but for some reason the name keeps escaping me. In lieu of that perfect comp, I’ll throw out a pretty good one instead. I’m thinking Jefferson’s upside is something not unlike former Brewer do-everything Bill Hall.

14.419 – LHP Colin Poche

Old comps die hard, so when Perfect Game busted out an Andy Pettitte comp for Colin Poche (410) many years ago it really stuck with me. Poche is very clearly not Pettitte — few are — but he’s still a solid prospect and a great get here in the fourteenth round. What works for Poche is really good command of a slew of decent to slightly better pitches he can throw in any count or game situation. His low-90s fastball hasn’t yet returned from the Tommy John surgery that knocked him out of the 2015 college season, but he can still be effective living in the upper-80s and occasionally touching 90. Deception, extension, and athleticism are all pretty big points in his favor as well. He’s a prospect teetering on that fifth starter/middle relief line with a chance for a little more if some of his pre-injury stuff ever comes back.

15.449 – RHP Tyler Keele

Tyler Keele is the first of three straight college relievers taken by Arizona known best by their propensity for sinking fastballs and generating ground balls. I have Keele’s breaking ball as more of an in-between slider/curve, but it serves a similar purpose as the slider thrown by both Nick Blackburn and Jake Winston. Keele has a chance to be the best of the trio thanks in part to a usable split-change. The limited batted ball pro data on the three is interesting. Keele did not get many ground ball outs in his debut. Blackburn didn’t pitch enough for it to matter. And Winston got a ton of ground ball outs. Small sample size caveats apply, but so far advantage Winston.

16.479 – RHP Nick Blackburn

These are written out of order, so the Jake Winston thing you’ll read below was actually finished before whatever it is I’m about to write about Nick Blackburn. You can skip to that to get some of my feelings on Blackburn, but the short version is this: sinker/slider college reliever with a chance to be a sinker/slider big league reliever with continued work.

17.509 – RHP Jake Winston

“Better stuff than he’s shown” was a common refrain from those who have seen Jake Winston do his thing over the years for Southern Mississippi. The sinker/slider reliever has solid stuff across the board (87-92, 94 peak with the sinker; above-average slider; good command of both pitches), but lacks that singular put-away pitch to make him much more than a potential mid-relief ground ball guy. There’s nothing wrong with that in the seventeenth round, of course. Winston leaves us wanting more, and that’s something that probably says more about us than it does him.

19.569 – SS Mark Karaviotis

It’s really easy to say you love a pick after said pick goes out and hits a combined .347/.491/.485 in 217 across two levels in his pro debut. Still, I really do love this pick. Mark Karaviotis is a really good prospect who suffered from “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome in his draft year at Oregon. You would think more teams would have been on a true shortstop who kicked off his college career with two seasons of fine on-base showings (.369 OBP in 2014, .407 OBP in 2015), but injuries kept him off the field enough in 2016 that he slipped through the cracks more than his talent should have allowed. He’s not a tools monster in any way — good arm, solid range, average speed, decent pop — but he’s shown a knack for getting on base, coming up with big hits when needed, and playing mistake-free ball. He won’t keep hitting as he did in his debut, but he could very well hit enough to wind up a big league utility guy with the chance to earn some run as a starter depending on his timing. Kudos to Arizona for staying with him and being willing to give him $100,000 to sign. The young college junior (20-years-old all season) had plenty of leverage if he wanted to go back to school.

20.599 – RHP Connor Grey

No reports here on Connor Grey’s stuff while at St. Bonaventure, but he did get a mention on the site for his standout senior year performance: 9.29 K/9 – 3.23 BB/9 – 92.0 IP – 2.84 ERA. He added an even 60.0 innings on quality pitching as a pro on top of that. That kind of workhorse behavior is doubly impressive when you consider Grey’s a compactly built 6-0, 180 pound guy who gets by more on guile than big raw stuff.

22.659 – RHP Kevin Ginkel

Kevin Ginkel has impressive size (6-5, 215) and a slider with serious upside. His pro start was better than his draft year at Arizona. Funny how that works sometimes. I didn’t have any reports on his velocity as an amateur, but apparently he was up to the mid- to upper-90s in his pro debut. Putting that and his slider together adds up to one serious late-round relief steal.

23.689 – C Luke Van Rycheghem

I know very little of Luke Van Rycheghem. The Canadian does have a name very well-suited for hockey. I could see it really working as a defenseman. Maybe I’m thinking of Luke Richardson (who, incidentally, I hadn’t thought of in at least a decade before now) combined with James van Reimsdyk. Anyway, Van Rycheghem is a big (6-3, 210) and strong former catcher now being asked to worry first and foremost about hitting it long and far as a first baseman.

24.719 – RHP Riley Smith

On Riley Smith from January 2016…

JR RHP Riley Smith is the biggest wild card on the staff. His raw ability suggests he could be the highest drafted arm off of this staff in 2016, but there’s always some risk in projecting a college arm who hasn’t done it at this level that high. I’ve always preferred talent to experience, so count me very much in on Smith heading into his draft year.

The former LSU Tiger remains a big old wild card to me. His draft season was an unmitigated disaster (4.59 K/9 and 5.05 BB/9 in 19.2 IP), but the arm talent (89-93 FB, 95 peak; pair of interesting low-80s offspeed pitches) was obviously enough for Arizona to look past his struggles. So far, so good for Smith in the pros: 8.35 K/9 and 1.11 BB/9 in 32.1 IP (2.51 ERA).

25.749 – OF Myles Babitt

I love the MLB Draft. Where else do you see a player drafted from Cal State East Bay by way of the Academy of Art? Myles Babitt is a fascinating guy who has put up tons of weird, fun numbers over the years. His draft season saw him hit .308/.410/.400 with 22 BB and 5 K. That’s an insane BB/K ratio. He followed it up by hitting .300/.406/.322 with 16 BB/14 K in his pro debut. I don’t know what’s crazier there: is it the still great BB/K ratio or the comically small ISO? There’s no way that Babitt’s golden approach and whatever the opposite of golden (rusty? dull? Yahoo Answers says purple is the opposite color to gold, so maybe that?) power output can continue to coexist in pro ball, right? Or are we looking at the Willians Astudillo of the outfield? Either way, I’m excited to find out. Worth pointing out that Myles is the son of Shooty Babitt, a former Arizona and current New York Mets scout.

26.779 – 1B Tanner Hill

A friend of mine really likes Tanner Hill. He called him the next Tyler White. I don’t personally see it, but there you go.

27.809 – RHP Gabe Gonzalez

Gabe Gonzalez checks a lot of boxes: size (6-5, 220), fastball (90-94 FB, 95-96 peak), breaking ball (above-average yet inconsistent SL), and a track record of missing bats (8.11 K/9 in 2015, 10.41 K/9 in 2016). He’s still searching for a consistent slower third pitch to use — he’s used both a splitter and a forkball as a means of changing up speeds in the past — and his control remains spotty at best (4.77 BB/9 in 2015, 5.89 BB/9 in 2016), but there’s a lot to work with.

31.929 – RHP Williams Durruthy

Williams Durruthy has top ten round arm talent and undrafted free agent levels of control. The Diamondbacks split the difference with his thirty-first round selection. At his best, Durruthy is spotting a low-90s heater and a legitimate plus cutter. At his worst, he’s walking every hitter in sight. A phrase I heard more than once about Durruthy this spring: “too much movement for his own good.” If Arizona’s pro coaching can help him harness his stuff, he’s got real late-inning reliever upside. That’s a hefty “if,” admittedly, but betting on talent that can’t be taught in the latter stages of the draft is just good sense.

32.959 – RHP Trevor Simms

The highly athletic and well-traveled Trevor Simms has a good (90-95 MPH) yet wild right arm that should get him his share of chances over the next few seasons. He’ll need to act fast, however, as he’ll enter his first full year as a 25-year-old in A-ball.

33.989 – SS Paxton De La Garza

A very impressive debut for Paxton De La Garza has put the righthanded middle infielder from Angelo State on the deep sleeper map. His numbers as a Ram were good, so you can see what Arizona must have seen in him. I approve.

34.1019 – OF Connor Owings

Wow. A highly productive player from the national champions who can play multiple positions and run a little bit falling to the thirty-fourth round? Nice grab by Arizona here taking Connor Owings (392) this late. There’s a chance they only pulled the trigger because of the family ties at play — brother Chris is a 2B/SS/OF for the big club — but whatever the reason for taking Owens was, the fact remains he’s now part of the Diamondbacks organization and that’s a good thing for them.

35.1049 – OF Billy Endris

On Billy Endris from March 2016…

Further down the list is another Florida Atlantic product, Billy Endris. Endris is a good college player who has built a decent case over the last year plus that he’s got enough to warrant a late look in the draft.

His senior year was lackluster enough that I’m surprised that prediction came true. Still cool for him to be drafted. They can never take that away from him.

36.1079 – LHP Rob Galligan

Maybe a matchup lefty. Have him as a mid-80s guy with a nice curve and good size in my notes. Senior year numbers were wild (6.57 BB/9), but not really indicative of his decent overall control.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Jordan Wiley (San Jacinto), Nelson Mompierre (Missouri), Welby Malczewski (Auburn), Brandon Martorano (North Carolina), Hunter Kiel (LSU), Edmond Americaan (Chipola JC), Cameron Cannon (Arizona), Bowden Francis (Chipola JC), Jacob Olson (West Georgia Tech)

2012 MLB Trade Deadline Deals and the Draft (UPDATED)

There figure to be at least a few more trades in the remaining hours between now and the trade deadline at 4:00 PM EST, so I’ll do my best to keep this post updated with whatever short and sweet notes I have on any recent draft prospects who have been dealt.

UPDATED: It is well after 4 PM, so here we go…

Bobby Borchering

Borchering is a player I once called one of my “absolute favorite bats” of the 2009 draft class. I also said he was an “outstanding pick” who I believed had the “best bat of any prep player.” He was the seventh best player in the 2009 MLB Draft, according to yours truly. So, what happened? Could a genius prognosticator possibly get it so wrong? Or is something more nefarious afoot? Probably the former, but let’s investigate anyway.

First, I should say that I remain a Borchering fan. I think he gets a bad rap in the prospect community for certain aspects of his game that aren’t entirely fair, but even a blind loyalist like myself finds it hard to argue with what seem to be the two biggest complaints concerning his game. Borchering’s strikeouts (28.1% of his career minor league at bats have ended in the sad, head shaking walk to the dugout) and subsequent lack of contact skills are obviously major concern one. Additionally, his defense at third, once thought to have the chance to be at least average in time (I said the following: “he’ll stick as a big league third baseman at least until his free agent years”), is now more appropriately graded as N/A, as any possibility of Borchering playing third base seems to out the window at this point. If he can hang in LF, however, then I think he could still reach the bigs as a potential power source capable of having some value through at least the end of his cheap rookie contract. If he had a discernible platoon split, preferably against lefthanded pitchers, then he’d make a really interesting, inexpensive platoon in left with the guy he was traded to Houston with.

Enough about the future, let’s go back to that aggressive draft ranking. Borchering as the seventh best player in the draft looks bad now, but, in my admittedly weak defense, the 2009 MLB Draft class was really, really shallow in hitting. In fact, I only had three position players among the top dozen 2009 prospects: Ackley (2nd overall) first, then Borchering (7th), and then Grant Green (8th). Further down the list you have the following: Donovan Tate (13th), Everett Williams (15th), Wil Myers (23rd), Luke Bailey (24th), Max Stassi (28th), Rich Poythress (29th), Matt Davidson (31st). Jason Kipnis (56th), Kyle Seager (65th), Nick Franklin (67th), Brett Jackson (70th), Billy Hamilton (80th), and Jonathan Singleton (99th). There was a decent hitter that I ranked 74th that year, but I’m not sure if Mike Trout has amounted to much of anything as of yet. Looking back at some of those names, I’m not quite sure how weak the draft class really was in hitting. It isn’t easy to compare recent drafts because so many players still have unfinished business developmentally, but a top group of Trout, Myers, Kipnis, Ackley, Singleton, Franklin, Hamilton, and, depending on your personal taste, some combination of Seager, Green, and/or Jackson really isn’t that bad. To take it a step ahead, though my faulty memory will surely leave a few names out, of the guys I didn’t rank in that top 100, both Brandon Belt and Paul Goldschmidt have shown promise as hitters as well.

Marc Krauss

Outside of ranking Krauss as the 89th best prospect in the 2009 Draft, I didn’t really write about the former Ohio star all that much. I remember liking his approach quite a bit, but being concerned that he might fall into the “tweener” trap that plagues so many bat-first corner outfield prospects. Without much value on defense, on the base paths, and, arguably, in the power department, there’s a lot of pressure on hitting/on-base ability to be legitimately great if you want a big league future. His 2012 AA performance has been encouraging, so I think there’s definitely hope he can make it in another year or so as a big league ready platoon (he has always drilled righties) bat.

Thomas Collier

Embarrassing admission alert: sometimes I completely forget about some of the players that I’ve written about. My dino-sized brain just can’t retain the baseball minutiae that it was able to hold. I remember liking Collier, so that’s good, right? Here’s what I said last year:

If one player stands out as a potential late round steal for Detroit, it’s San Jacinto JC RHP Tommy Collier (Round 22). Collier throws two plus pitches already, and, if healthy, has the chance to unleash his nasty slider once again. 

You can never rule out minor league pitchers with hard fastballs and plus sliders eventually hanging on to pitch relief innings in the big leagues someday. Collier fits that mold.

Leon Landry 

Wrote this back in the very earliest days of this site way back in December 2009:

JR OF Leon Landry (2010) had better be prepared for the onslaught of Jared Mitchell comps sure to be thrown his way this spring. The comparisons between the two football playing outfielders work in some ways (both players have plus speed and are ridiculous athletes, but each guy had a below-average arm), but fall apart in other areas, most notably in the power department. Landry has already shown as much present power through two seasons of collegiate development as Mitchell did through three. A more interesting crop of first round caliber talents in 2010 may push Landry’s draft position down past where Mitchell went in 2009 (23rd overall), but I’m willing to go on the record and say that his forthcoming monster junior season will catapult his overall prospect stock past his former two sport teammate’s. He’s a potential plus defender in center with good range but a below-average arm for the position.

I was about 100 picks off with my bold first round prediction for Landry as he wound up getting selected with the 109th overall pick to the Dodgers in 2010. He’s shown some power this year, but the gain in slugging from 2011 to 2012 (200 points!) might just have a little something to do with Landry spending the current season in the Cal League. This was his updated report written just before the draft in the spring of 2010:

14. Louisiana State JR OF Leon Landry (plus speed; plus athlete; raw in all phases; big power potential; legit defensive tools, but extremely inconsistent tracking balls in the air; 5-11, 195 pounds)

I think much of what was said then holds true today. Landry’s strengths remain his speed and, Cal League mirage or not, power upside. Mr. Obvious is hear to note that, yes, those are both pretty good strengths to have. I’m curious about whether or not he’s made any progress in the two areas of his game that concern me the most: rawness at the plate and rawness in the field. Landry’s weak BB-rate is a pretty good indicator of his continued rawness at the plate, though there could be underlying scouting observations (e.g. pitch recognition skills) that would tell a more colorful story. His rawness in the field is probably the most interesting single facet of the game at this point in his development: if he can play a competent or better CF, then he’s a future big leaguer, exact role (platoon partner to fifth OF) to be determined. If he’s limited to LF, things get dicey.

Seth Rosin

I miss February 2010, a far simpler time when a comparison to Boof Bonser had relevance on a draft website. Here’s Rosin’s first appearance on the site:

JR RHP Seth Rosin (2010) is build like a tank (6-6, 245) with the heavy artillery (sinking fastball at 88-92 MPH, peaking at 94) to go to battle. He’s secondary stuff (inconsistent mid-70s CB and a low-80s CU that needs a ton of work) currently lags behind, but I know of plenty scouts who believe both pitches will develop into at least usable options by the time he hits the high minors. Those scouts see him as a possible back of the rotation starter down the line, but I think his ceiling is closer to that of Boof Bonser. I know Bonser has 60 big league starts to his credit, but they were largely ineffectual innings. Now that he has switched to the bullpen in Boston, I’ve got a hunch that Bonser’s stuff will play up and make him an effective reliever going forward. Rosin’s future could very well play out the same way. Ineffectual fifth starter or dependable middle reliever? You make the call.

There was some good discussion in the comments section that fleshed the idea out with a little more depth:

The comparison to Bonser wasn’t meant to insult Rosin. Heck, Boof was a first round pick back in 2000, a draft spot that Rosin can only dream about. When I see Rosin, I see a pitcher without a current above-average or better secondary pitch at present. Bonser’s slider was/is miles ahead of Rosin’s curve. I acknowledged that many believe he’ll develop the offspeed stuff to pitch in the big leagues as a starter, but that’s something I’d need to see this spring before ranking him any higher on my personal board.

I still worry some about Rosin’s lack of a consistent second pitch, but his fastball, in terms of both his always excellent command and his professional uptick in velocity, has been so damn good that I’m not so sure he can’t find a niche in the big leagues based on his plus heater alone. I just so happened to be Gchatting with a pal as the Phillies/Giants trade went down. He asked for my thoughts, so here they were…totally uncensored, unedited, unformatted, and unsomethingsomething:

as for rosin, he’s 23.5 years old and still in high-A but ready for AA
real good fastball (velocity up in relief like most guys, so he’s mid-90s more regularly now), secondaries still lag behind (have heard the CU is ahead of the breaking ball — now a SL — but the SL has more of a chance in the long run), and, yeah, he’s still a real big dude (6-6, 250)
2:15 PM real good minor league numbers, too
2:16 PM like i said, should go right to Reading…if he does well there, he could be fighting for a spot in the big boy bullpen next spring

There you have it, folks: a glimpse into the inner-workings of a draft madman. I failed to originally mention to my buddy that Rosin has been pitching as a starter as of late. Many consider this an important detail — they aren’t wrong — but, for me, Rosin’s always been one of those fringe starting pitching prospect/really good middle relief prospect. Let him start now to get him the innings that could help him hone his offspeed stuff, but realize that his most likely destination is the seventh inning. Frequent readers know I like to comp players to death (legal notice: no player has literally died due to a comp), so it should come as no surprise that I think Rosin sounds a lot like another new Phillie reliever from a four-year university who was once selected within the top four rounds (breath) and just so happens to have a history starting in the past (breath) but has seen his career move forward as he developed a more well-rounded aresenal of pitches (breath) yet still remaining focused on his FB/SL combo, Josh Lindblom. My high school English teacher would be so proud/horrified at that sentence. Anyway, Rosin is Lindblom who is current injured Phillies reliever Mike Stutes. Comps on comps on comps on comps.

And, finally, the original Rosin/Minnesota baseball post inspired what I still consider to be the greatest comment I’ve ever gotten. I’ve reddened up the font a bit so that the full fury of his comment could be realized:

First of all I would just like to say that It is really sad that I would even acknowledge the moron that would write something with such little to no validity to anything that he would say. This guy prob just thought it would be a good idea to google search the guys on the Minnesota team and come up with no information outside of that. Also prob got cut from a high school baseball or if he did make the team he is prob that guy that thinks he is good enought to play college but never got asked let alone talked to any big league team Yet if you ask all his fat beer bellied never played a sport friends he told them he should be playing for the twins. Sorry about it worthless blogger. Get a job and move out of your parents basement.

Let’s move on.

Tommy Joseph

I like Tommy Joseph, I really do. Unfortunately, I don’t love him as much as everybody wanted me to today. Maybe I’m nuts, but it sure seemed like every reporter rushed to praise Joseph through the words of their unnamed “Rival NL Executive,” capped off by the always funny in his special little way Jon Heyman tweeting that he was told Tommy Joseph was “GREAT,” a sentiment that can only really be read in the voice of Tony the Tiger. I think Joseph is GOOD, and good is nothing to be down about. Truthfully, even getting me to the point where I’m cool with calling Joseph GOOD took some time. All week long, in anticipation of Hunter Pence winding up a Giant, I had prepared myself to stay calm if Joseph was the prospect centerpiece of a Phillies/Giants trade. “He’s nothing but a younger, slightly better version of a player already in their system (Sebastian Valle),” I thought. On top of that, I’ve never personally understood all of the Valle hype — raise an incredulous brow if  you must, but Baseball America did have him as the third ranked Phils prospect heading into the season — so I’ve been at a loss in trying to figure out why I should be happy the Phillies seemed so intent on acquiring his (younger, slightly better) doppelgänger? So how did a stubborn guy like me begin to soften his anti-Joseph stance? Read below:

Tommy Joseph (Arizona) – 6-1, 210 catcher from the same high school as Tim Alderson and Brandon Wood who has scouts buzzing this spring; some have him as a late first rounder and a top three overall catching prospect; big arm and tons of power; I want to put him higher, but still haven’t seen/heard/read enough to be sold on him –  if somebody has a compelling case, I’d love to hear it (that’s not me being snarky, I mean it – fill me in!); Arizona commit who has been compared to Ryan Doumit with more playable power

That was one of the earlier things I did on this site. The scouting notes are largely inconsequential compared to the larger context surrounding them. There was much wisdom in my younger self. “Still haven’t seen/heard/read enough to be sold on him” showed the values of patience, honesty, and abject transparency. “If somebody has a compelling case, I’d love to hear it” was an example of the importance of open-mindedness and the willingness to learn what we don’t already know. “Ryan Doumit with more playable power” was, well, honestly that was actually just a way of shoehorning Doumit into the conversation. Cool name, solid player, and the creepiest soulless black eyes you’ll ever have the privilege of staring into. Observe:

Not a day goes by when I don’t try to casually mention Ryan Doumit and his eyes of darkness in my everyday life. Now that this stroll down memory lane has taken a horrible turn, let’s just skip ahead to my initial unedited Gchat response:

maybe i’m just down on him because he’s just not my sort of catcher
ruiz is pretty much my ideal for the position – body type, athleticism, thinks like a pitcher, well-rounded offensive game
1:57 PM joseph, and valle for that matter, are both just a little too one-dimensional for me: huge power, but little patience and questionable defense
  that said, joseph’s power might be so good that it overcomes other shortcomings. plus, all the reports on his defense are exciting – they say he’s really, really improved back there
1:58 PM so what the hell…i’m on board

Analysis!

Zack Cox

I ranked Cox as the 36th best prospect available in the 2010 MLB Draft. On one hand I wasn’t as overboard in love with him as some seemed to be at the time. On the other hand, there’s no escaping the fact that I thought he’d be a really solid professional third baseman in relatively short order. On a different hand, I overshot the mark on arguably every single one of his tools, especially his hit tool, raw power, and foot speed. On my last hand (yes, I have four hands), I’m not quite ready to jump off the Cox as solid big league third baseman bandwagon just yet. Cox has moved quickly as a pro and I think a consolidation year is in order. Let him finish the year in AAA, then give him another half year at the same level in 2013. If the Marlins are patient, they might yet get the player many thought Cox could be. Here’s what I wrote on Cox before the draft in 2010:

Easily confused fellow that I am, I don’t quite understand the negativity surrounding Cox’s power potential that has come to the surface this season. It seems to me that he can’t really win with some people. Last year people oohed and aahed as he flashed prodigious raw power, but disappointed in the plate discipline department. This year he’s taken a much more patient, contact-oriented approach, but is getting heat for not hitting for the same power as he did his freshman year. I realize slugging .600+ and socking 20 extra base hits in college (like Cox has done so far in 2010) isn’t quite the feat it appears to be at first blush, but it’s still a decent indicator that the guy hasn’t been reduced to a singles only hitter this year. Now imagine the possibility that good professional coaching can help Cox unlock the secret of maintaining his gains in plate discipline and a high contact rate while simultaneously helping him rediscover the big power stroke of his first collegiate season. Sounds pretty good, right?

As arguably the draft’s top position player prospect, much has already been written about Cox’s toolset. The cliff notes version is this: potential plus bat, above-average present power but plus projection, 45/50 runner, plus arm, good defender. His worst tool is probably his speed, and, as you can see, even that project to be around average. I think Cox’s ceiling is below that of your typical top half of the first round college bat, but he’s still a relatively safe pick to be an above-average regular third baseman for a first division club.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2011 MLB Draft in Review

Arizona Diamondbacks 2011 Draft Selections

I probably shouldn’t have started with Arizona because starting with Arizona doesn’t give me any real perspective on how they did when compared with the 29 other teams. This would obviously be a problem with whatever team I chose to begin with, but Arizona’s draft was so strong that I’d really like to be in a position to call it one of my favorites. In a vacuum, however, I can freely say that Arizona did an excellent job selecting a mix of players, especially on the pitching side, that fill up that sweet spot on the high upside/high probability of reaching upside matrix.

UCLA RHP Trevor Bauer (4th ranked draft prospect), a future top of the rotation arm already at AA and on the verge of a big league promotion, is emblematic of that high upside/high probability of reaching upside sweet spot. Broken Arrow HS (OK) RHP Archie Bradley (6th ranked draft prospect) is less of a sure thing, but offers similar top of the rotation upside.

UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer: 88-92 FB, peak 93-94; began to hit 95-96 this past fall, has said he’ll hit 98 at some point; currently sitting 91-93, 95 consistent peak; plus 72-78 CB that he leans on heavily; good 80-84 CU; any one (and often more than one) of his 78-82 SL, cutter, 84-89 screwball/reverse slider, or 84-86 splitter is a plus pitch on a given day

RHP Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma): 89-93 FB, hitting 94-97; power knuckle CB 80-86 with plus potential that improved drastically throughout spring; good SL; emerging circle CU; very easy 95 peak every outing; rumors of a 101 one-time peak in state title game; 6-4, 220 pounds

Kent State LHP Andrew Chafin (19th ranked draft prospect) has the three pitch mix, delivery, and frame to start as a big leaguer, with the fallback plan as a shutdown fastball/slider reliever. If you’re scoring at home, and, really, why wouldn’t you be, that’s three top 20 draft prospects selected with Arizona’s first three picks. Having two picks in the top seven help, no doubt, but nabbing Chafin with pick 43 could make the Arizona scouting department look really, really smart in short order.

You can certainly make the argument that focusing on so much pitching early in a pitching rich draft makes the Diamondbacks susceptible to a draft that winds up short on hitting talent. I get that, but ultimately think the opportunity to add three arms of this quality was just the talent/excitement infusion the franchise needed back in June. It also doesn’t hurt that all three players will probably take different routes to the big leagues: Bauer should move quickly, Bradley will take the typical elite prep arm path (maybe a touch quicker), and Chafin could either come quickly or slowly, depending on how Arizona views his progress from last year’s Tommy John surgery. I might be alone in thinking any of that is important, but I like the idea of staggering the arrival of young arms when possible.

Kent State SO LHP Andrew Chafin: missed 2010 after Tommy John surgery; 89-93 FB, 94-95 peak; potential plus 81-83 SL that is a big league ready pitch; very good CU; command slowly coming on after surgery

And that’s not all! Arizona landed a fourth premium pitching prospect in as many picks by selecting Coastal Carolina RHP Anthony Meo (130th ranked draft prospect) in the second round. I’m typically of the “start him until he proves he’s a bullpen arm” mindset, but Meo’s stuff and delivery are tailor-made for relief work.

Coastal Carolina JR RHP Anthony Meo: last summer showed 89-94 FB with good life; now sitting 92-93, 96-97 peak that comes often; flashed plus 78-85 SL that is now plus-plus SL up to 87-90; 82-86 CB; occasional average straight 84-85 CU; 6-2, 185

I wonder if Justin Bianco’s third round selection was impacted in some part of a cross promotion with famous Phoenix pizza joint Pizzeria Bianco. Terrible joke aside, Bianco’s lack of a clear plus tool makes me less than enthused to see the high school outfielder go so early. Important note: this isn’t a bad pick just because I don’t like it. I know full well I’m just a guy with a laptop and some free time who cannot compete with the depth and scope of their resources. Every team picks players they know way more about than I could possibly imagine, and I respect even apparent “overdrafts” because often teams know things – including information about the individual prospect in question as well as intel on what other teams think of their guy and where he is likely to be drafted – the general public (like me!) is not privy to. That said, I still wouldn’t have taken Bianco in the third and don’t like the pick. Wish him well, as always, but don’t like the pick.

Kansas State RHP Evan Marshall was one of the many Big 12 relievers to go off the board early, and his future as a potential plus fastball/plus slider bullpen arm seems like one he’s got a good shot to achieve. Marshall has gotten off to a very fast start as a pro, striking out a batter an inning and getting groundballs consistently. Colegio Vocacional Para Adultos (PR) C Michael Perez was a pre-draft miss on my end. He has two things that all teams look for in young catchers: above-average athleticism and a strong, accurate arm. I don’t love the bat, but the defense profiles well.

Kansas State JR RHP Evan Marshall: 93-94 FB, 96 peak; plus SL; 6-1, 210

I’ve never really bought into South Carolina RHP Matt Price as a prime pro prospect, even though I enjoy watching him close out games for the Gamecocks. Sentinel HS (MT) OF Ben Roberts (101st ranked draft prospect) was obviously strong value in round 7 (pick 214), but part of that undoubtedly had to do with eventually unsigned outfielder’s signability. Three years at Washington State will go a long way in determining whether or not the raw (no surprise there, right?) Roberts has the speed and arm to stick in center (as I believe) or if he is destined to play left field or first base long-term. If nothing else, I’ll always remember Roberts as being one of the pioneers of what looks like a promising few years – 2012 looks stacked, relatively speaking – of Montana prep prospects. Who would have thought?

South Carolina SO RHP Matt Price: no plus pitch; really like his low-80s SL; CB; 89-92 FB; also like his CU quite a bit

OF Ben Roberts (Missoula Sentinel HS, Montana): plus speed; plus arm; CF defense; 6-4, 200 pounds

Fresno Pacific RHP Jesse Darrah is another potential reliever for me, but could have the three pitches (FB/CU/CB) to work as a starter. He’s done a good job as a pro so far (56 K in 51 IP), so, sample sized be damned, there is some sleeper upside here. I’m pretty stunned Connellsville HS (PA) SS John Leonard signed; guess I’ll need to fire one of my tipsters as pre-draft insider scoop on his signability was apparently way off the mark.

TCU RHP Kyle Winkler (78th ranked draft prospect) is a legit steal as a 10th rounder (304th overall). Health concerns and rumored bonus demands dropped him down draft boards, but plus pitchability, crazy fastball movement, and an array of quality offspeed offerings (I’m partial to the slider and changeup, but I know some think he should rely more heavily on the cutter) make him the poor man’s Trevor Bauer. For the record, we’re talking super-duper poor bordering on foreclosure here: Bauer is a potential ace and Winkler’s ceiling ranges from mid-rotation innings eater to late inning (but likely not ninth inning) reliever.

TCU JR RHP Kyle Winkler: 89-92 FB; peak 93-94; FB is plus pitch because of movement; loses velocity early, falling to upper-80s; good deception in delivery; plus 86-88 sinker; decent 88 cutter; decent 75-76 CB that has largely been phases out in favor of cutter and SL; 81-83 SL that needs tons of work; SL gained velocity and now flashes plus-plus at 85-89; quality low-80s CU with plus upside, now more consistently plus; 5-11, 195 pounds

Illinois SS Josh Parr (Round 12) has the speed and defensive chops to sneak his way into the big leagues as a utility infielder someday. I’m still not a fan due to his penchant for high strikeouts and low walk totals, but there are some physical tools to work with here.

Parr is a really good athlete with plus defensive tools, but his inability to control the strike zone presents a concern going forward. There is enough rawness in his hitting approach to think he is due for that big sophomore to junior year breakout at the plate. He definitely has the potential to make me look stupid for not finding a spot for him earlier. 

Early on in a pitching-rich draft, Arizona focused on pitching. In the middle rounds of a draft with an unusually high number of quality west coast college position player prospects, the Diamondbacks focused on, you guessed it, mid-round west coast college position player prospects. The odds of landing an above-average big league player from a four-year college are obviously not high, but there are always some solid depth pieces to be found that could serve a role in professional ball down the line. Players such as UCLA C Steve Rodriguez (Round 15), Fresno State SS Garrett Weber (Round 22), Oregon State 3B Carter Bell (Round 29), Cal Poly 2B Matt Jensen (Round 31), and Stanford C Zach Jones (Round 34) all qualify as high character, potential big league backup types. I’ve never been crazy about Rodriguez (pro: very good defender who has handled big league quality pitching/con: anemic bat), but Weber and Bell (pro: potential late bloomer/con: not enough range for short) offer enough defensive versatility to give off a slight glimmer of a bench role. Of the group, oddly enough, I prefer the two players drafted past the thirtieth round, Jensen and Jones. As you’ll see in my pre-draft note below, I thought Jensen could come back for a senior try and become a top ten round player in 2012. That’s not bad value for a 31st round pick. Jones may not be a “good” prospect by most traditional measures, but I value uniqueness in ballplayers and he is certainly a catcher who breaks the mold.

I really wish I could explain what happened to Jensen this year, but I’ve got nothing. Still really like his bat speed and power upside, and he has apparently made strides as a defender. A big senior season, either back at second or on the mound, could get him drafted in the top ten rounds like his talent probably warrants.

JR C Zach Jones (2010) is a bit of an enigma – a potential above-average defender behind the plate who doubles as an outstanding athlete and fantastic baserunner. I like guys who break the mold, and players who can legitimately catch AND steal double digit bases are a rarity. I also like guys who can hit, something Jones hasn’t proven he can do. His defense may be enough to get him drafted, but it won’t be until very late…and it may not be until his senior year.

North Carolina State OF Brett Williams (Round 25) will return to what is looking like a potentially dangerous Wolfpack squad. I’ve always had a soft spot for both junior college studs (like Williams before transferring to Raleigh) and underdog universities (so tough to compete in the shadow of those other Triangle schools), so I’ll be watching the well-rounded (and much discussed in the comments section) Williams’ 2012 performance with great interest. An outfielder from a southern school that did sign is Vanderbilt OF Joe Loftus (Round 46). From a tools standpoint I prefer Loftus to Williams, but Williams clearly outperformed Loftus on the field in 2011. In a somewhat unexpected wrinkle, Loftus is expected to see time at third base as a pro.

Not sure how signable Loftus is as a 46th rounder because his blend of arm strength, athleticism, and untapped raw power make him an unusually talented late round pick. If he returns to school, he could easily jump up 25+ rounds with a big senior season.

Liberty 3B Tyler Bream (Round 42) is another surprise junior sign who seemed likely to test the waters again as a senior in 2012. Disappointing junior year aside, the above-average raw power and strong arm play. I’m not sold on his future at the hot corner, and there are already rumors (unconfirmed!) that he’s seen as a potential catching convert within the organization, if he shows quick enough feet this fall and winter. Late in the draft it makes sense to take fliers on tough signs out of high school (which almost every team does) and college performers with interesting tools coming off down years (still not enough love for these guys). I liked Central Florida 3B Derek Luciano (Round 44) a lot more a few years ago when I thought he could stick up the middle. Luciano’s college teammate Central Florida 1B Jonathan Griffin (Round 21)

His name makes me think slick fielding, speed middle infielder, but in reality Luciano is a below-average runner and inconsistent fielder who will have to rely on his lefthanded power if he wants to make it in pro ball. His good, but not great 2010 season has tempered some of the pre-season enthusiasm surrounding his prospect stock.

The Diamondbacks top two picks (Bauer and Bradley) look like slam dunks to start in the big leagues someday. After that, however, there is a lack of starter quality arms. Chafin is a good bet to start and Winkler has a shot, but Meo, Marshall, and Darrah look like relievers to me. Of those seven arms, only one (Bradley) is a high schooler. Surely Arizona took some gambles on a few high upside prep pitchers, right? Meet Ryan HS (TX) LHP Adam Choplick (Round 17) and Steele Canyon HS (CA) RHP Michael Cederoth (Round 41 and my 147th ranked draft prospect). Unfortunately for the D’Backs, neither signed. Choplick is a monster with stuff that didn’t wow this spring on account of his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He seemed like a worthwhile risk in the 17th round, but will head off to Oklahoma in the fall. Cederoth is another talented but raw arm trying to make his way back from some high school injuries. I’d love to know what his price tag was and what Arizona wound up offering because arms like Cederoth’s don’t grow on trees. Thank goodness for that…just thinking about trees with arms for branches creeps me out. Arizona did manage to ink Holy Cross LHP John Pedrotty (Round 13), a crafty lefty who looks more like a middling relief piece than a future starter to me. His lack of a true out pitch is my biggest hang up.

RHP Michael Cederoth (Steele Canyon HS, California): 87-90 FB jumped up to 90-93 with 95-96 peak; average CB; 72 SL; good 86-88 cutter; very raw; violent delivery; 6-5, 185