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Guessing the 32 names expected to go in the first round two and a half months in advance probably isn’t an activity that makes a whole lot of sense, but, hey, why start making sense now?
Last year I threw out 30 names that I thought would be first rounders in 2009. Remember that? Good times. I hit on a whopping 17 of them. I’m not sure what the success rate should be, but I get the feeling that 17 of 30 isn’t particularly good. The players I had in the first round who weren’t first rounders in the end included Tyler Skaggs, Tanner Scheppers, Luke Bailey, Austin Maddox, Rich Poythress, James Paxton, DJ LeMahieu, Kentrail Davis, Trent Stevenson, Alex Wilson, Ryan Berry, Andy Oliver, and Jason Stoffel. The majority of those misses make me feel like a real dope in hindsight.
Poythress, LeMahieu, and Davis were all non-elite college bats that I pushed up the draft board in large part to being near the best of a weak college crop of hitters. Lesson #1: Teams will let the draft board come to them early on rather than reach for the better players at the draft’s weakest positions. Stevenson (hopped on his bandwagon after reading a lot of positive early season buzz), Wilson (another early season helium guy and the reason I was too scared to put Barret Loux on the list), Berry (really liked his glasses), Oliver (didn’t really like him, but succumbed to peer pressure), and Stoffel (figured big league teams would reach on a reliever in the late first) were all part of my pitching misses.
Skaggs, Scheppers, Bailey, Maddox, and Paxton aren’t misses I’m too stressed out about for a variety of reasons, mostly because I think they are all darn good prospects that are better than some of the players taken in the first round. Yes, I think quite highly of myself, why do you ask? Skaggs’s prospect stock was hurt by a better than usual lefthanded pitching crop, Scheppers and Bailey both had major injury concerns, Maddox fell at least partly because of signability concerns, and Paxton’s stock shot up late in the draft season, but never made it quite high enough to get into the first.
Enough about 2009, let’s see if we can do better here in 2010. First up, the best of the best. I’d call them locks if I had more of a backbone, but will instead hide behind the quotes. “Locks” it is.
2010 MLB Draft First Round “Locks”
C – Bryce Harper
SS – Christian Colon, Manny Machado, Yordy Cabrera
3B – Zack Cox, Nick Castellanos
OF – Bryce Brentz, Austin Wilson
RHP – Deck McGuire, Jesse Hahn, Anthony Ranaudo, Jameson Taillon, AJ Cole, Karsten Whitson, Dylan Covey
LHP – Drew Pomeranz, Chris Sale
I originally wanted to leave it at the locks and call it a day, but what’s the harm in stretching this out to attach 32 names to the 32 first round spots? My next set of guesses includes the following names:
SS Justin O’Conner, CF Chevy Clarke, OF Josh Sale, RHP Stetson Allie, RHP DeAndre Smelter, RHP Kaleb Cowart, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Brandon Workman, RHP Alex Wimmers, and LHP James Paxton
17 “locks” plus the 11 new names brings us to 28 potential first rounders so far. Four more to go. Hmm. Let’s see what four names we can pull out of the old magic hat here…
College Catcher, C Stefan Sabol, CF Angelo Gumbs, RHP Cam Bedrosian
Wouldn’t it be weird if there was a draft-eligible player by the name College Catcher? It would be like my favorite player in the non-Jordan licensed NBA Live 97, Roster Player. To add to the realism, I’d always look at the R.Player in the lineup and just pretend his first name was Reggie. Anyway, College Catcher isn’t actually a real person, but if he was real than I’d mentally change his name to Charlie Catcher whenever I’d see C.Catcher in the lineup. So who will be the 2010 draft’s Charlie Catcher? Odds are good that at least one of the two big college catchers from the junior class will go in this year’s first, I think. That’s why I wimped out and hedged my bets by reserving a first round spot for “college catcher of your choosing.” Feel free to pencil in Miami’s Yasmani Grandal and/or LSU’s Micah Gibbs if that’s the direction you see things going this June. Contrarian that I am, my pick isn’t one of the two junior catchers but rather UC Riverside’s sophomore draft-eligible backstop Rob Brantly. What a twist!
Sabol is a favorite due to his strong bat and great athleticism, but I’m reminded of my fondness of Austin Maddox last year and I get a little gun-shy. Sabol is a much better athlete and runner, but the two share enough similarities with the bat to give me pause. Gumbs gets a mention for two reasons. First, and I’ll be as succinct here as possible, all five tools are first round quality. Easy enough. The second reason I’m sticking here is my belief he fits the mold of the type of player the Phillies could target at pick 27. Then again, Philadelphia’s front office recently came out and specifically mentioned third base and catcher as positions of organizational need that will be addressed this June. Bedrosian’s long been a favorite, so might as well stick with him.
- Jameson Taillon (The Woodlands HS, Texas)
- AJ Cole (Oviedo HS, Florida)
Both Taillon and Cole have already had their moment in the sun. Check out a scouting profile on AJ Cole written by some wonderfully handsome writer right here. Click here for an equally insightful profile of Jameson Taillon. If you are far too busy and important to read all those silly words, I’m happy to provide a quick summary. AJ Cole is really good now, and he could be really, really good in the future. Jameson Taillon is really, really good now, and he should stay really, really good in the future. I compared Cole’s upside to Justin Verlander and Taillon’s to Josh Johnson. Too positive? Probably seems that way, but remember we’re talking upside here and, again, remember that AJ Cole and Jameson Taillon both have the potential to be very, very good.
- Cam Bedrosian (East Coweta HS, Georgia)
- Dylan Covey (Maranatha HS, California)
- Kaleb Cowart (Cook County HS, Georgia)
- Stetson Allie (St. Edward HS, Ohio)
- Karsten Whitson (Chipley HS, Florida)
Taillon vs Cole is the marquee prep pitching battle, but the undercard that will decide which high school pitcher goes third will probably wind up being one of the most entertaining subplots of the 2010 draft season. I’ve already done close to a complete 180 spin on my rankings of the non-Taillon/Cole arms and it’s still December. Allie and Whitson positioned themselves as the favorites early on. Covey and Cowart followed those two very closely behind. Also in the mix was the short righthander with the familiar last name, Cam Bedrosian. Previously, I had them ranked Whitson, Allie, Bedrosian, Covey, and then Cowart. Now, as you can see, things are a little different.First, I’ll willingly admit I like Bedrosian more than most talent evaluators do a the moment. One of the reasons I think I like him more than others is simple – short righties don’t scare me. I know I’ve made the Bedrosian/Kyle Drabek comparison before, and I’m happy to mention again in print here. Bedrosian’s 6-0, 195 pound frame doesn’t bother me much at all because it is compact and muscular in all the right places, most notably the legs. His arm action is a thing of beauty with a consistent landing spot and a very smooth, repeatable delivery. Bedrosian’s fastball is a potential plus big league offering, already sitting 90-93 and hitting 95-96, and his curve is on the very short list of the very best high school secondary pitches I’ve had the pleasure of watching. Beyond those two plus/potential plus pitches, Bedrosian can mix in a mid-70s CU and a really exciting high-80s splitter that could grow into a big league strikeout pitch in time. Power stuff (FB, hard CB, SF) combined with at least the occasional appearance of that changeup makes Bedrosian a rare bird among young pitchers. I’m often quick to dismiss bloodlines as a reason for liking one prospect over another, but Bedrosian’s cerebral approach to pitching has pretty clearly been influenced by having a former professional ballplayer as a father.Covey, Cowart, Allie, and Whitson form a pretty logical quartet of high school arms. All four are big fellas (Covey is the shrimp of the group at a round, but athletic 6-2, 200 pounds), with big fastballs (all four have hit at least 95 on the gun at one point or another), and big questions that could define them come draft day. Covey, my current favorite of the four, has the easiest questions (inconsistent mechanics and command, plus a less than idea young pitcher body type) to answer going forward, especially when you consider how far he has come to answer one of those questions (his command has looked sharper every time I’ve seen him) already. Whitson, currently ranked fourth in this little subgroup, has a potential dynamite 1-2 punch with his fastball (sitting 91-93, hitting 95-96) and slider (works best in the mid-80s, but has shown up as a less effective slurvy high-70s CB at times), but I think his mechanics will need something pretty close to a complete overhaul as a professional. Cowart has grown on me just as much as a hitter than as a pitcher lately, but his potential on the mound is still vast. Cowart is as likely as anybody on the list to shoot up to the top of the subgroup and could, I stress could, actually challenge the more established top two if everything breaks right. Everything Cowart throws moves downward, from his sharp high-80s slider to his low-80s split-fingered changeup. Allie has the most electric arm of the foursome, but has been plagued by up and down command and control throughout his career on the high school showcase circuit. He also doesn’t have quite the secondary stuff as some of his contemporaries.
- AJ Vanegas (Redwood Christian HS, California)
- DeAndre Smelter (Tattnall County HS, Georgia)
- Drew Cisco (Wando HS, South Carolina)
The potential of Vanegas’s four-pitch mix (FB, CB, CU, SL) is very appealing, as is his superb fastball command and his ability to add and subtract off of the pitch. Smelter is a plus athlete with plus command and a potentially devastating 82-84 mph splitter. Cisco, like Bedrosian a player with outstanding pitching instincts and a strong background of being around the game, is the kind of player that scouts will keep finding a way to ding (fastball is a little too short, secondary stuff isn’t quite top notch quality), but will continue to get results. Or at least that’s what I think will happen this spring. Cisco’s fastball has hit 92 in the past, but sits 88-90 with the pitch. He has a curveball at 74-77 that is already an above-average pitch in addition to a low-80s CU that has above-average potential. Three potentially above-average pitches (fastball grade gets a boost due to impressive movement and pinpoint command) make Cisco one of the most professional baseball ready arms in all of high school baseball.
Finally got around to updating the signings thread, check it out via the link at the top if so inclined. Because I feel bad about the general lameness of this post (hey, I updated something! = lame), here’s a comment that serves as a quick teaser to some of the 2010 stuff on the way. We’re talking 2010 prep arms here:
Cole and Taillon are 1-2, no doubt, but Whitson, Allie, and Covey are all getting potential first round buzz. I personally loved what I saw on video of Cam Bedrosian. Another big personal favorite of mine is Jesus Valdez, super projectable and already armed with a fastball with sick late life.
I’m also the guy that was telling anybody that would listen (my mom) that Mike Burgess would go higher than Jason Heyward at around this point in the process, so my track record of early projections hasn’t been so great. Hey, I try…
Ha, I actually found my original quote re: Burgess vs Heyward. The internet is a magical place…
As for the question at hand, I personally like Burgess best at this point. The combination of raw power, explosive (though inconsistent) swing mechanics, 94 mph arm strength, playable speed (6.9 60), and baserunning instincts well beyond his years make for a heck of a total package. Heyward and Vitters are both excellent prospects in their own right and any argument supporting either would definitely have merit.
Speaking of Vitters, I’ve really been impressed with him and the group of high school third basemen in general this season. My favorite of that group and minor sleeper come draft day is Victor Sanchez from California. I don’t think I’ll be able to go see any of the top HS third basemen this year in person, but I’d be very interested to see how they stack up against last year’s consensus top high school infielder, Billy Rowell (a player who I was lucky enough to see in person multiple times).
I feel like that quote encapsulates so much of what I’m all about when it comes to the draft. Poor projections (Burgess over Heyward), being too quick to look too far into the future (talking about Sanchez, a prime 2010 draft, back in 2007), and bragging about getting to see a player in person (yes, because seeing Rowell a bunch in high school makes me an expert!). I hope I’ve grown a bit since then, but…I doubt I have. Eh, personal growth is so overrated.