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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.

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2009 MLB Draft Live Blog

5:45 PM

How ’bout them Pirates? Tony Sanchez at 4 is flat out insanity, sorry. I get that they are hoping to use some of their player development acquisition cash on the international scene, but it seems like a gigantic risk banking on being able to sign the guys they want on the free market like that. What if Miguel Sano backs out of their agreement and they somehow swing and miss on the other top international prospects? Risky, risky, risky.

I mentioned seeing Dustin Ackley more than any other player in the draft in one of the recent mocks, but Tony Sanchez and I go back almost as far. I probably saw Sanchez play about 30 games at BC and nothing about his game ever screamed front-line ML catcher to me. We’ll see.

I can’t be the only one stunned to see Matt Hobgood’s name connected with Baltimore at 5. I never would have guessed he would be the top prep arm off the bard in a billion years. Bizarre pick.

6:00 PM

Christmas in June. They are really holding the draft in Studio 42? What a hideous set. Jim Callis = Bob Saget. I formed that opinion based on a picture I saw long ago, so even when I see him on video like tonight and realize the comp is a stretch, I can’t get the Saget image out of my head.

(more…)

FINAL 2009 MLB Mock Draft 3.0

1.1 Washington: RHSP Stephen Strasburg – San Diego State

Do us a quick favor, will ya? See this franchise here? We need a little help, as I’m sure you know. If it’s not too much trouble, could you, if you’d be so kind, please save baseball in Washington? Simple enough, right? We just need you to sign without too much of a fuss (talk about a PR headache), avoid getting injured in the first few years of your deal (that would be such a buzzkill), and pitch well enough to live up to your reputation as the greatest amateur player of your generation (no pressure!). You’ll be compensated quite handsomely, of course, but terms will be discussed only on the condition of a minimum six-year commitment.

We can’t deny any of the negative press you’ve probably heard about us recently. Yes, it’s true that attendance is way down, our front office/ownership group is in disarray, and we don’t actually have any kind of on field plan in place (I personally love the 14 corner outfielder plan to begin the year), but things aren’t all bad in our nation’s capital. There are building blocks in the organization like Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, and Elijah Dukes, plus you’ll be joined by another top ten draft pick upon signing. We have a new park, a small but fervent fan base, and, really, who among us could possibly resist the temptation of all the chili half-smokes from Ben’s Chili Bowl you can handle? Think about it, Stephen. This is your chance to be the most talked about savior in DC since that other impossibly hyped guy who took charge back in January.

I think he signs for $18.88 million, by the way. Why $18.88 million? So glad you asked. $18.88 million because a) I think he signs for somewhere between $15 and $20 million, but probably closer to $20 million, and b) 8 is my favorite number. How’s that for sound logic? $18.88 million (or whatever the heck he winds up getting) is a relatively small price to pay for relevancy, big crowds every fifth day, and, oh yeah, a damn fine pitcher. He’ll sign, the price won’t be extraorbitant, and the only real concern for Washington will be making sure they spell his name right on the back of his jersey.

1.2 Seattle: CF Dustin Ackley – North Carolina

There is no potential high round pick that I’ve seen in person more often than North Carolina star CF/1B Dustin Ackley. I know what you’re thinking – congratulations, but, really, who cares? I’m not a scout, I’m not an expert, heck, I’m not really anybody worth listening to at all (now that’s a ringing endorsement for this site!). That said, if you are reading this then I’m going to have to assume you love/like/at least tolerate baseball on some level, so you’ll understand when I tell you that with some players…you just know. Watch Ackley swing a bat and you might just get the same feeling I got the first time I saw him swing a bat as a freshman at UNC. Here’s what I wrote about him heading into the season back from Mock Draft 1.0:

Ackley is one of my favorite players in this or any draft because, even though there are a lot of players that you can compare him to, in the end he is still, somehow, someway, a really unique prospect. What position will he play? Where will he fit best in a lineup? Will the power develop? How’s his arm holding up post-Tommy John surgery? How much of his prospect value is tied into the answers of these questions? Maybe his skillset isn’t all that unique (there are plenty of examples of high average, good plate discipline, questionable power bats in this draft), but he certainly offers a weird blend of talents for a guy expected to go so high.

Ackley was an excellent prospect heading into the season, but, as you can see, there were questions about his game that needed to be answered this spring. Let’s see how he did, shall we?

Q: What position will he play?

A: He’s a centerfielder until he proves otherwise. A legitimate case could be made for a pro transition to second base, something the coaching staff at UNC believes he could handle with relative ease. The worst case scenario defensively is that he’ll settle in at either an outfield corner or first base, but the team that drafts him can take comfort in the fact he’ll at least be a well above-average defender at any of the three spots in question.

Q: Where will he fit best in a lineup?

A: To answer this question, let’s examine my string of Ackley comps and see if a pattern develops. Now obviously I’m incredibly high on Ackley’s upside, so these player comps may be a little more optimistic than some seen elsewhere. I tried to use as many contemporary comps as I could, but the one “old-timer” I heard referenced by scouts in the stands down in Chapel Hill was Fred Lynn. I liked that one a lot, even though my knowledge of Fred Lynn is limited to box scores, highlight videos, and stories from those who actually watched him play. As for the more recent comps, feel free to try any of these out for a spin and see what you like: Paul O’Neill, Bobby Bonilla with more speed/patience, Brian Giles at his Age 28 to 31 power peak, Bobby Abreu minus some strikeouts, John Olerud with speed, Bernie Williams, Roberto Alomar, and, my personal favorite, Chase Utley. To finally get back to answering the question, he’ll hit third as a pro.

Q: Will the power develop?

A: He’s not currently. nor will he ever be, a prototypical power hitting slugger, but his compact yet emphatic line drive stroke, wiry strong build, and ability to consistently square up on all pitch types portend well above-average power numbers to come. There is also the matter of that 2009 slugging percentage (.781), a number even more impressive taken in context – Boshamer Stadium, Carolina’s newly renovated home, is a moderate pitchers park. Nobody will make the argument that college statistics have the kind of predictive value that minor league stats have, but at some point the results must be acknowledged as something worth talking about. For Ackley’s ultimate power upside, I think the Chase Utley comp works pretty darn well.

Q: How much of his prospect value is tied into the answers of these questions?

A: Ha, trick question! You can reword the question into this statement: Ackley’s prospect stock was directly tied to his defense, his power, and his health. To steal what is apparently a perpetually funny phrase from sixth graders everywhere, “NO DUH!” Of course his stock was tied to those things…every player in every year is evaluated similarly, right? The question isn’t worthless, however, when we consider potential negative “what-if” scenarios. What if Ackley was tied to first base going forward, but still had the monster 2009 offensively? Would he still be in the running for the second overall pick if he was strictly a first baseman? What if he was totally healthy and playing every day in CF, but put up a .417/.520/.571 line instead of his actual .417/.520/.781? Would the questions about his power scare teams off from taking him in the top five? Top ten? Who knows?

Here is what I do know, or at least thing I know: Dustin Ackley is a future .300/.400/.500 hitter capable of providing above-average defense at an up-the-middle defensive position. It stinks that Seattle missed out on Strasburg, but Ackley is a prospect worthy of the number two overall pick in this or any draft year.

1.3 San Diego: OF Donavan Tate – Cartersville HS (Georgia)

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a Padres fan right about now. The days leading up to such a pivotal draft should be tense but in a good, exciting way; it certainly should not be as stressful and panic attack inducing as it would appear to be for fans of the Pads. Maybe I take my own personal baseball fandom too far, but reports that the Padres may take Vanderbilt LHSP Mike Minor third overall would have me breathing into a paper bag if I was a fan of the team. Then again, if I was a Padres fan then chances are I would be a resident of San Diego. If that was the case, I’m not sure I’d be in a position to complain about too much.

With the top pitcher and hitter both off the board, the Padres will be faced with the challenge of sorting through a collection of two classic categories of player: high risk/high reward (Donavan Tate, Tyler Matzek, Kyle Gibson, and Zack Wheeler) and safe/signable (Aaron Crow and Mike Minor). It’ll be the job of Bill Gayton and his scouting staff to find the player that offers them the best blend of each category – reasonable upside, a high floor, and a sure bet to sign for the right price. That’s the hope, anyway. The reality could very well be that the safest route (an overdraft like Minor) is the path ownership forces upon the baseball side and it’s as simple as that. My worry about this pick is that it becomes less about the players involved and more about the unfortunate San Diego draft idealogy. Let’s take a closer look at the three most likely players involved and where they fit in with this idealogy.

If Tate is the pick, as I’m predicting in this version of the mock, then we’ll know who has one of the most influential scouting voices on the San Diego staff. Baseball Prospectus claims Padres VP of Scouting and Player Development Grady Fuson is lobbying hard for OF Donavan Tate, a report that has been verified by just about every other draft publication since. Tate’s upside is through the roof (I think the Carlos Beltran comp is a bit much, but a poor man’s version of Beltran is still pretty exciting) and the ability to spread his signing bonus out as a two-way athlete ought to be enough of an enticement for San Diego to get a deal hammered out.

In the past two weeks or so, the aforementioned Mike Minor has emerged as the hot signability pick that could become a reality if the Padres opt to draft on the cheap. If Minor is the guy, then you’d better believe the pick will get panned by pundits everywhere, but I don’t think it’s as big a talent stretch as some seem to believe. I’ve been hard on a potential Minor selection, but I want it to be clear that it would be more about what it would represent than the actual player being picked. No, Minor is not the third best prospect in this year’s class, but I still think he’s a first round talent that will be better as a professional than he was as an amateur.

If the Padres decide to go with Crow, the chain reaction will be a sight to behold. The Pirates have Crow at or near the top of their board, so they may be forced to go to their Plan B. Let’s say that Plan B includes one of the high profile high school arms (Tyler Matzek?). That wouldn’t sit well with either one of the next two drafting teams because Baltimore (another team that could have Matzek atop their board) and San Francisco (Matzek, Jacob Turner, and Zack Wheeler just to name a few) both are reportedly to be leaning heavily towards high school arms as well.

The rest of my final 2009 MLB Mock Draft after the jump… (more…)

2009 MLB Draft – First Round Tiers 3.0

There are 32 picks in this year’s first round. How many of those spots are currently accounted for? How many are still up for grabs? Which players are most likely to land the last few spots in the round and which players are such stone cold mortal locks that they can feel safe putting down payments on a whole bunch of fancy new toys? Any player with a chance of going in the first round in June has been broken down into a distinct tier. The tiers are far from perfect (maybe a player is in Tier 4, but should be in Tier 5), but they serve as realistic classifications of where players are currently valued by big league clubs.

Tier 1 —> 1 player

RHSP Stephen Strasburg

Hey, this is pretty easy so far!

Tier 2 —> 14 players

CF Dustin Ackley/LHSP Tyler Matzek/RHSP Aaron Crow/RHSP Jacob Turner/RHSP Zack Wheeler/OF Donavan Tate

RHSP Tanner Scheppers/SS Grant Green/RHSP Shelby Miller/LHSP Matt Purke/RHSP Kyle Gibson/RHSP Alex White/RHSP Mike Leake/LHSP Rex Brothers

No big surprises in this group, I don’t think. Ackley, Matzek, and Wheeler seem like sure bets to go in the top ten. Gibson and White are two college righties who are seeing their stock slip heading into the big day, but for different reasons. Gibson has had very inconsistent velocity readings this spring (topping out at only 87 MPH in a recent start) and a number of high pitch count games worry scouting directors who may not want to pay big bucks for a jacked up elbow/shoulder (that last bit is totally unsubstantiated speculation, I haven’t read/heard any reliable source openly doubt Gibson’s current health). White’s issues are more performance based, as he hasn’t been the Friday ace that many expected to see this year for the Tar Heels. Both have clearly done enough to warrant high first round grades, but they aren’t necessarily the locks for the top ten like they once were.

Rumors have circulated that Purke could be the obligatory high bonus high schooler who drops down the board, but it would be a stunner to see him fall clear out of the first, if for no other reason than eventually one of the big budget teams would pull the trigger in the mid- to late-20s. Green is another player that many claim is sliding down boards, but his success with wood on the Cape will keep him in the top half of the round (at worst) when it is all said and done. Last, but certainly not least, Donavan Tate (yes, I’ve given in – I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m finally going with Donavan over Donovan…can we get one of those spelling bee kids to make a ruling?). Tate is about a 50/50 shot to go number three overall to the Padres next week, pretty good odds all things considered. However, if San Diego decides to pass, he is in danger of falling way down in the first based on how remaining teams figure to stack their respective boards.

Tier 2 is loaded with “star” quality amateur players – Ackley, Crow, Tate, Scheppers, and Green are just some of the names very familiar with even casual followers of high school and college baseball. The most obscure player on the list is easily the lefty from Lipscomb, Rex Brothers. Yeah, I know that Brothers has been talked about as a first rounder for a few months now, but he is still a name that looks a little funny grouped with the rest of these “star” guys. The high velocity lefty belongs.

Tier 3 —> 9 players

C Max Stassi/3B Bobby Borchering/RHSP Eric Arnett/LHSP Chad James/RHSP Matt Hobgood

OF Mike Trout/OF Everett Williams/LHSP Tyler Skaggs/C Tony Sanchez

The first two tiers are more about safety – in  a world with so few guarantees, I’d feel bad if any of the players on either list wasn’t a first rounder next week, so I played it safe and went with absolutely safe consensus first rounders only. Tier 3 is where things get complicated. I’d put the percentage on each individual player going in the first at around 75%. Going with the prep outfield duo of Trout and Williams over either of the top college guys (Tim Wheeler and AJ Pollock) is a little out there, I’ll admit, but each high school player has the raw tools teams covet late in the first. And with that, we have the theme of Tier 3 – high upside tools. 7 of the 9 players listed are high schoolers. Hobgood and James may or may not have legit first round talent (I think James probably does, but am personally not a huge fan of Hobgood), but they have been linked to enough teams picking in the mid-teens on that they seem likely to be off the board by the supplemental round. We may have been a tad premature in declaring Stassi a stone cold lock first rounder, but he still seems like a safe bet to get plucked by a team late in the first looking to capitalize on the fall of a player many consider to be the top draft-eligible catcher.

Tier 4 —> 4 players

RHRP Drew Storen/OF Tim Wheeler/LHSP James Paxton/C Wil Myers

Tier 4 has players that are safer bets to contribute in the bigs, but with a little less long-term star power. Storen should sneak into the back end of the first round, with Tampa rumored to have interest if he makes it to pick 30. Wheeler is another player that fits the Tier 4 prototype – no standout tool, but very well-rounded with a professional approach. Paxton’s fastball is one of the best in the draft, and Myers’ hit tool is as good as any high school position player.

28 players through 4 tiers. We need five more players to get to that magic first round number of 32. The Nationals seem heavily in on RHSP Chad Jenkins, but they could go in so many directions with that tenth pick that it’s hard to call him a lock of any kind. Washington is in the weird situation where the players they are choosing from with that second first rounder may not be first rounders at all unless they pick them. High school players like RHSP Garrett Gould, SS Jiovanni Mier, 3B Matt Davidson, and C Tommy Joseph could find spots at the back end of the first depending on how the board shakes out in front of them. Likewise, plenty of college talent (OFs AJ Pollock and Jared Mitchell, LHSPs Andy Oliver and Mike Minor, RHP Kyle Heckathorn, and 1B Rich Poythress) could hear their names called early next Tuesday as well.

Any names missing? Any player in a tier too high or too low? Does Strasburg deserve a one tier buffer between himself and everybody else?

Alternate Reality Mock Draft – Name Game

Don’t freak out, this isn’t a “real” mock draft.

We began last month we an Alternate Reality Mock Draft, so it just feels right to kick June off in similar fashion. What the heck is an alternate reality mock draft? So glad you asked. This is how I described it (without actually describing it, of course) last month…

We’re promoting a new feature straight from AA to the big leagues today because, well, it’s Friday and that seems like as good a day as any to trot out something totally random and nonsensical. Alternate Reality Drafts – the name evokes a certain feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like. Something about alternate realities and parallel universes really get the blood flowing.

A “real” mock draft is primed and ready, but it’ll need another quick edit before seeing the light of day. In the meantime, let’s pretend for a second that Bud Selig is utterly incompetent, out of touch, and flat out bad at his job. I know it’s a stretch, but try your best. Now let’s pretend that Bud’s latest executive decision was to announce that all big league clubs could only draft players with last names that share the first letter of the city in which they play. Got it? Good. Ignoring for a minute how utterly stupid and arbitrary such a decision would be, let’s see how this Alternate Reality Mock Draft would look if such rules were in place…

1.1 Washington: RHSP Zack Wheeler – The Nationals just can’t catch a break. Wheeler is a very good prospect, but missing out on a generational talent like Stephen Strasburg is a bitter pill to swallow. At least they’ll save some serious coin, right? Hey, maybe they can use the savings to hire a spellchecker…

1.2 Seattle: RHSP Stephen Strasburg – Hot rumor alert – Seattle’s petition to have MLB adopt my silly draft rule is being faxed to corporate headquarters as we speak…

1.3 San Diego: RHSP Tanner Scheppers – Scheppers may not be a terrible idea for the Padres in the real draft. He figures to be a reasonably easy sign (little to no leverage), but not at the expense of upside (I waffle at times, but I think I’m buying the talk that he has the second best raw stuff of any “college” guy behind Strasburg).

1.4 Pittsburgh: LHSP Matthew Purke – The Pirates have very few options here at pick number four (AJ Pollock being the only other potential first rounder with the magic letter leading off his last name), but Purke isn’t a bad consolation prize for a franchise in need of impact talent.

1.5 Baltimore: 3B Bobby Borchering – Slim pickings here for Baltimore, but they make the most of it by taking one of my absolute favorite bats in this entire draft. They have to hope that this pick works out a little better than the last time they drafted a high school infielder in the top ten…

1.6 San Francisco: LHSP Tyler Skaggs – After losing out on two electric arms, the Giants can only curse their bad luck and settle for a high upside prep arm. Max Stassi was also considered, but the Giants couldn’t justify using back to back high first rounders on catchers. Skaggs actually reminds me a little bit of a Madison Bumgarner/Tim Alderson mashup, so maybe there will be a happy ending in San Fran after all.

1.7 Atlanta: CF Dustin Ackley – If Seattle was the clear big winner in this format, then Atlanta is a close second. Ackley is a perfect fit for a Braves team loaded with young talent, but desperate for a fast moving bat. Ackley could slide right into the big league lineup by late summer; he would easily be the best hitter in their outfield from day one one, a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.

1.8 Cincinnati: RHSP Aaron Crow – A fake mock pick that could imitate the real thing, the Reds would be more than happy to land the near ML-ready groundballing righthander. The Reds thank their lucky stars that they pick ahead of the Rockies, knowing that the pickings are slim after Crow. Who would be next on their list? Brody Colvin is one of the few names I can come up with off the top of my head…

1.9 Detroit: RHSP Sam Dyson – Dyson over 3B Matt Davidson only because of Detroit scouting director David Chadd’s love of high velocity pitching. Dyson’s stock has yo-yoed all spring long, but the raw stuff is pretty sensational and worth the gamble at this spot. If he had performed better this season, this pick could have had an outside shot of happening in real life, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

1.10 Washington: RHSP Alex White – It’s not quite Strasburg, but a Wheeler/White combo is intriguing in it’s own right. If the Nationals were still in Montreal, they could have had a 1-2 punch of Tyler Matzek and Shelby Miller. Wheeler and White or Matzek and Miller – which is the better combo? I think I’d take the latter, but it’s close.

2009 First Round Mock Draft 2.0

Another week, another mock. Let’s see what we see…

1.1 Washington – RHSP Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State)
1.2 Seattle – 1B/OF Dustin Ackley (North Carolina)
1.3 San Diego – RHSP Aaron Crow (Missouri/Fort Worth Cats)
1.4 Pittsburgh – RHSP Alex White (North Carolina)
1.5 Baltimore – SS Grant Green (Southern Cal)

I still have no idea which way Seattle is leaning with the second pick. Any one of Ackley, White, Tate, Matzek, or Scheppers could be the guy. Green’s stock is falling faster than [insert fast falling stock symbol here], but I still think it’s a tad reactionary to have him falling more than a few picks from the top considering the total absence of quality bats at premium positions in this year’s draft. Heck, I was one of Green’s biggest detractors heading into this season so if anybody could support a slip in his stock it’s me. About a month ago I said this:

It’s not quite a fully developed idea, but I’ll just throw it out there here so I can have it on the record…Grant Green (Southern Cal, SS) and Jason Donald (Arizona, Phillies, SS/3B/2B). Am I crazy in thinking they have similar enough profiles to compare the two?

I like Grant Green and I like Jason Donald, but I’m not sold on either player being “worth” the fifth overall pick. However, and this is worth pointing out time and time again, the top of the draft has so few interesting bats that there is some justification for reaching for a potential plus bat at a key defensive position.

1.6 San Francisco – OF Donavan Tate (Cartersville HS – Georgia)
1.7 Atlanta – RHSP Zack Wheeler (East Paulding HS – Georgia)
1.8 Cincinnati – RHSP Kyle Gibson (Missouri)
1.9 Detroit Tigers – LHSP Tyler Matzek (Capistrano Valley HS – California)
1.10 Washington – RHSP Tanner Scheppers (Fresno State/St. Paul Saints)

How do you spell Tate’s first name? I’ve literally seen a 50/50 split (or darn close anyway) in the major publications when it comes to his spelling. Off the top of my head, I think Baseball America and Pefect Game both call him Donavan, but MLB.com claims he goes by Donovan. Even the great Google comes up empty – 824,000 hits for “Donovan Tate” and 870,000 “Donavan Tate” in a race too close to call.

I debated far too long about Atlanta’s pick, but there is too much noise about Atlanta loving Wheeler to go against the grain. Brian Sabean was at a recent Cartersville start to watch Wheeler throw, so it’s entirely possible he’ll be off the board at pick six. In a way that would be convenient because we can then just flip the Giants and Braves picks with little shaking up of the draft board.

Strasburg & Scheppers…that’ll do nicely. I like the Nationals popping Scheppers here because there is absolutely no chance he won’t sign a fair deal, he has no other options besides professional baseball. The question for me is whether or not he’ll be sitting there for them to debate the pick…

1.11 Colorado – RHSP Mike Leake (Arizona State)
1.12 Kansas City – RHSP Shelby Miller (Brownwood HS – Texas)
1.13 Oakland – 3B Bobby Borchering (Bishop Verot HS – Florida)
1.14 Texas – LHSP Matt Purke (Klein HS – Texas)
1.15 Cleveland – LHSP Mike Minor (Vanderbilt)

A prep superstar sandwich with delicious high floor (and high fiber!) college pitcher bread. The Royals and Rangers would both be ecstatic (I’m guessing) if the draft actually went like this, though I now wonder if the two Texan high schoolers might be flip flopped.

1.16 Arizona – LHP/OF Brooks Raley (Texas A&M)
1.17 Arizona – C Max Stassi (Yuba City HS – California)
1.18 Florida – LHP/1B Colton Cain (Waxahachie HS – Texas)
1.19 St. Louis – LHSP Andy Oliver (Oklahoma State)
1.20 Toronto – LHSP James Paxton (Kentucky)
1.21 Houston – LHSP Rex Brothers (Lipscomb)

How’s that for a run on lefthanded pitching? That’s 7 out of 8 lefties if you’re scoring at home, with the run only being broken up by the presence of new top 2009 catcher Stassi. Cain is the real wild card in all of this, but he is only this high up because Florida is such a difficult team for me to project. Cain would be a big stretch at 18, but a high upside, athletic high school arm makes sense in the spot.

1.22 Minnesota – OF Jared Mitchell (Louisiana State)
1.23 Chicago White Sox – RHSP Kyle Heckathorn (Kennesaw State)
1.24 Los Angeles Angels – LHSP Tyler Skaggs (Santa Monica HS – California)
1.25 Los Angeles Angels – 3B Matt Davidson (Yucaipa HS – California)

Mitchell to Minnesota would be a re-draft (they took him out of high school in 2006), so we know he fits their typical draft demographic beautifully. It’s possible that Mitchell fits the Twins model too well, seeing as they already have about a half dozen players with similar skillsets already in the system – it would almost be overkill at this point to draft another.

1.26 Milwaukee – OF Mike Trout (Millville HS – New Jersey)
1.27 Seattle – RHSP Jacob Turner (Westminster Academy – Missouri)
1.28 Boston – RHSP Sam Dyson (South Carolina)
1.29 New York Yankees – RHSP Alex Wilson (Texas A&M)
1.30 Tampa Bay – 1B Rich Poythress (Georgia)
1.31 Chicago Cubs – SS Jiovanni Mier (Bonita HS – California)
1.32 Colorado – OF Kentrail Davis (Tennessee)

Turner to the Mariners makes sense, if they are as willing to pony up the bucks as they have intimated. Projecting the top AL East teams is a killer, but it’s not much more than a coincidence that all three wound up with college players – Dyson and Wilson are high upside arms that would represent good value late in the first, but carry significant injury risk going forward. Poythress is a really hard player to squeeze in, but he’d be a really nice fit for a team in need of another big bat to balance out an already strong lineup, slotting in as either Pena’s successor at first or a DH option down the road. Davis is another player that probably shouldn’t be as high as he is in a vacuum, but in a draft like this he’ll get a substantial bonus because he has shown he can at least hit a little (we’re setting the bar low for bats this year, unfortunately).

2009 MLB Draft – First Round Tiers 2.0

Another week, another crack at separating the first round of the upcoming draft into tiers. Alright, that’s not entirely true — it’s been almost three weeks since we first did this — but calling this a triweekly isn’t nearly as catchy, plus it’s way more confusing. Did you know triweekly can either mean “three times a week” or “every three weeks?” How can a word mean such different things and get away with it? English, what a silly language…

This is a modified, way wimpier version of the tiered breakdown from three weeks ago. I’m sticking to players that are stone cold locks to go in the first round only. I have the utmost confidence that the following players will be first rounders in June.

  • Tier 1 –> 1 player

Strasburg

  • Tier 2 –> 9 players

Dustin Ackley/Kyle Gibson/Aaron Crow/Alex White/Grant Green
Shelby Miller/Tyler Matzek/Matt Purke/Donovan Tate

  • Tier 3 –> 6 players

Mike Leake/Tanner Scheppers/Rich Poythress

Luke Bailey/Zack Wheeler/Tyler Skaggs

That’s my new line of demarcation. 16 players that seem like sure bets to go in this year’s first round. If I wanted to get it up to an even twenty, I’d add the LSU duo (LeMahieu and Mitchell), my new favorite prep position player (yes, I’ve finally come around to Bobby Borchering), and this week’s fastest riser, lefty Rex Brothers of Lipscomb.  I’m hesistant to call any of those players locks at this point, but I reserve the right to be a wimp for now.

Where am I wrong? Which player listed won’t be a first rounder? (Tyler Skaggs?) Are there any names left off the list that will be guaranteed first rounders that I missed? (Max Stassi? Matt Davidson? Andy Oliver? Austin Maddox? Brett Jackson?)