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The opinions below are all extremely preliminary and completely off the cuff, but, hey, isn’t that what the days directly following a draft are all about? I’m not sure how many rounds I’ll be able to get to because these take way longer than I had initially hoped, but I’m happy to keep them up if well received. Figuring out interesting post-draft content completely vexes me, so any and all ideas for draft recap stuff are welcomed. Me, I’d rather get started on the 2011 MLB Draft than anything else, but I realize how silly it is now to work all year towards covering every draft angle only to drop it the minute after draft day. There’s no closure that way. Help me help you get some closure!
Five (5) Favorite Value Picks (all rankings are in order of selection; personal ranking for each category listed in parentheses)
2.51 Washington Nationals – San Diego LHP Sammy Solis (2)
2.54 Kansas City Royals – Arkansas OF/RHP Brett Eibner (3…4 if he plays the outfield instead of pitches)
2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman (1)
2.76 Colorado Rockies – Texas Tech RHP Chad Bettis (5)
2.82 New York Yankees – Torrance HS (CA) OF Angelo Gumbs (4…3 if Eibner’s definitely playing the OF)
I feel like I’ve spent much of the past few weeks writing about college pitching, so I’ll leave the first four names on the list alone for now. Gumbs makes the list because he’s a toolsy prep position player who can, hang on to your hats, actually hit. Amazing how often something so seemingly inconsequential like making consistent hard contact with the bat can be. I also like Gumbs for his advanced plate discipline for a high school prospect and, as mentioned, five average at worst tools. If you didn’t like the Cito Culver first round pick for the Yankees, I’m here to say that Gumbs in the second more than makes up for it. Quality player.
Four (4) Questionable Picks
2.55 Cleveland Indians – Chipola JC (FL) CF LeVon Washington (4)
2.56 Arizona Diamondbacks – Nitro HS (WV) RHP JR Bradley (2)
2.64 Milwaukee Brewers – Alabama JR RHP Jimmy Nelson (1)
2.70 Atlanta Braves – Western Oklahoma State FR SS Andrelton Simmons (3)
Washington isn’t here because he’s a bad player by any means, but simply because he’s an overdraft at the early part of the second round. Bradley’s arm strength and plus control should help him through the low minors, but his secondary stuff needs a complete overhaul. Nelson’s upside isn’t on par with many of the prospects drafted around him. Simmons remains a big glove, little bat player who would be best served making the inevitable switch to the mound sooner rather than later. In other words, he’s Mychal Givens 2.0.
Three (3) Closest to the Show Picks
2.68 Detroit Tigers – Arkansas SO LHP Drew Smyly (2)
2.81 Los Angeles Angels – Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman (1)
RHPs Jacob Petricka, Bettis, Jordan Swagerty, and Perci Garner all should be quick movers as relief prospects often tend to speed through the minors, but, and I acknowledge the possibility I’m going overboard here, each pitcher has shown just enough of a third pitch in college to at least warrant a crack at starting out in the rotation. Their new teams may not agree with that assessment, but I’m stubborn enough that I’m going to believe in each guy as a potential big league starter despite mounting against my case. Other candidates for first to the big leagues include potential fourth outfielders Ryan LaMarre and Todd Cunningham, as well as 2B Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko’s advanced bat could help him speed through the low minors, but, anecdotal evidence alert, many of the players he has been compared to (Dan Uggla is the first that pops into my head) were slow to develop, one level at a time prospects. If you don’t buy that, then perhaps Gyorko’s iffy glove, or more specifically the numerous minor league ground balls he’ll have to take to get his glove ready for the majors, will be what keeps him down in the minors longer than expected.
Solis has the stuff and pitchability to advance in a hurry, but Washington may want to allow him some extra time to make up for college innings lost to injury. I went with Smyly over the more highly rated lefthanded pitching prospect Rob Rasmussen because of Detroit’s tendency to push young pitching. Call it an educated hunch. Tillman is the only college reliever taken in the round without any shot at starting professionally. The very quick pre-draft scouting report on Daniel Tillman, my 39th highest rated college righthanded pitching prospect:
Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman: 91-94 sinking FB, peaking 95-96; hard plus SL; 6-1, 185 pounds; dominant K numbers out of bullpen (56 K’s in 39.2 IP) ***
Two (2) High Risk Signability Picks
2.58 Houston Astros – Garey HS (CA) RHP Vincent Velasquez (2)
2.80 Toronto Blue Jays – University HS (FL) LHP Justin Nicolino (1)
The earlier the round, the more difficult it is to find players who aren’t likely to sign. Velasquez has a moderately strong commitment to Cal State Fullerton while Nicolino’s scholarship to Virginia ought to take a legitimately overslot deal to get his name on the dotted line. Both should sign without much of a problem, but that’s coming from a guy who thinks all of the names taken in round two will get deals done before too long.
One (1) Player You’d Bet Your Internet Reputation On Pick
2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman
Workman over Solis by a fairly slim margin. Both profile as above-average, middle of the rotation or better big league starters. Excellent value for a second round pick, I think. Brandon Workman’s quick scouting report:
Texas JR RHP Brandon Workman: low-90s FB with serious sink, peak 95-97; plus high-70s CB; sinking CU with legit promise; usable low-80s SL; two biggest issues out of high school (mechanics and poor control) both ironed out after three years in Austin; 6-5, 225 pounds (4.30 FIP; 9.43 K/9; 1.89 BB/9)
That last part is what makes me happiest. Well, not the last last part (his park/schedule adjusted stats) or even the one before that (his size), but the one before that. How can you not root for a player who legitimately improved after three years of college? Look, I love college baseball. Countless interesting names to watch per major college team, heated rivalries, and the ultimate marriage of meaningful regular season play and dramatic postseason format all with the beautiful soundtrack of ping after ping in the background. How can you beat that? I love college baseball, but I can still admit that I hate the way certain college coaches worry more about winning one game than the long-term health and well being of their players. I know college athletics is big business, but I’m still of the belief the main purpose of college is to best prepare the youth of the country for life after college. If that’s the goal, then maybe having your prized starter throw 140+ pitches or start twice in a four day span or come out of the bullpen 48 hours after pitching a complete game or any number of the countless questionable decision isn’t the best way to prepare said prized starter for a successful career after graduation. Nothing frustrates me more to see a young arm abused before even getting the chance to play professional baseball. HOWEVER, it’s very rare that college coaching staffs receive any credit for player development. The perfect example of this was on the MLB Network telecast of the first round two nights ago. The talking heads couldn’t get over how many college players had gone undrafted out of high school. They credited big league scouting staffs for finding such players later rather than sooner. Right. How about giving some credit to the college coaching staffs that helped bring along these diamonds in the rough? Workman was an excellent prospect coming out of high school. He’s a better prospect now. Some of that should be attributed to his natural developmental growth curve, some should be given to the hard work and smarts of the player itself, and some is totally unknown, if we’re really being honest. But to only highlight college coaches when something bad happens and not acknowledge the many ways they help certain players grow is just plain silly. Workman improved for a lot of reasons; for me, there’s no doubt the Texas coaching staff has certainly been a major contributing factor in his improvement.
Same warning as last year before we go on…
Don’t freak out, this isn’t a “real” mock draft.
We did this last year, and we’re trying it again here in 2010 as a Friday feature leading up until the draft. Alternate Reality Mock Drafts. I’ve got some pretty fun ones planned this year, but we’ll kick things off with perhaps the most nonsensical version – the Name Game. 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 Nationals: OF Austin Wilson – Harvard Westlake HS (California)
Missing out on Harper stings, but the Nationals do the best they can to recover by going with the high upside outfielder over an impressive field of righthanded pitching prospects. Wilson instead of Karsten Whitson, Brandon Workman, and Alex Wimmers is a gamble, but one that could give Washington close to 1-1 value if the stars align. I also like Wilson in this spot because it would present one of the most interesting signing decisions that I can remember. Does Wilson, the Stanford commit who seems like at least a 50/50 shot to wind up on campus next fall, stick to his academic guns in the face of the highest honor an amateur ballplayer can achieve? The pressure, prestige, attention, and cold hard cash that comes with going first overall would really test Wilson’s signability.
Last Year’s Pick: RHP Zack Wheeler
1.2 Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP James Paxton – Kentucky
Drew Pomeranz has emerged as a front runner for the Pirates pick in the real world, but I’ll change things up and go with my favorite 2010 lefthanded pitcher for the sake of updating his current playing status. I mean, Pomeranz has gotten plenty of digital ink spilled his way in recent days and I’m sure, nice guy that he is and all, he wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight just this once with a fellow SEC lefty in need of some love. Paxton will pitch this season for the Grand Prairie AirHogs. His season begins May 14. His manager will be none other than former big leaguer Pete Incaviglia. I see no way that this ends in anything other than excellence for all involved.
Last Year’s Pick: LHP Matt Purke
1.3 Baltimore Orioles: RHP Cameron Bedrosian – East Coweta HS (Georgia)
Surprisingly slim pickings here, but Baltimore bypasses the alliterative choice in Bryce Brentz — why take the Markakis knock-off when you’ve got the real deal already? — to take a personal favorite of mine, Cameron Bedrosian. Kyle Blair, another favorite of mine, also received some thought here. Some insight into my thought process on this pick. First, I thought about Brentz, then I thought about Bedrosian, then back to Brentz, then Blair, and finally back to Bedrosian. All that thinking made me tired and cranky, so…that’s about all I’ve got for Baltimore. On the plus side, at least I didn’t make any snide remarks about Billy Rowell like I did last year. Progress!
Last Year’s Pick: 3B Bobby Borchering
1.4 Kansas City Royals: RHP Dan Klein – UCLA
Nary a first round lock in the K player pool, although the emergence of Klein at least gives the Royals a potential successor to Joakim Soria if/when they either trade him or move him to the rotation. In fact, and I promise I’m not just doing this for the sake of convenience, but Klein’s four-pitch mix (change, curve, slider) and low-90s fastball actually remind me a little bit of the erstwhile Royals closer. Soria’s curve is better than Klein’s, Klein’s change is better than Soria’s, but each player has done impressive things at the back end of the bullpen with the stuff more typical of a successful starting pitcher. Haven’t heard any talk of Klein moving to the rotation yet, but it’s something that wouldn’t surprise me as we get closer to the day of the draft.
Oh, and again I’m not saying this just to make the small but vocal Golden Gophers reading contingent happy, I strongly considered Mike Kvasnicka for this spot before settling on Klein.
No Pick Last Year
1.5 Cleveland Indians: 3B Zack Cox – Arkansas
More depth with the C’s than just about any other letter here in the top ten. I’m going off my own personal big board by jumping Cox over four, count ’em four, prep players I like more. With apologies to Nick Castellanos, AJ Cole, Dylan Covey, and Kaleb Cowart, Zack Cox just feels like the best fit based on what Cleveland has done in the past. I know I’m shuffling some players around here, but I like the thought of a LaPorta-Chisenhall-Cabrera-Cox infield.
No Pick Last Year
1.6 Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Stetson Allie – St. Edward HS (Ohio)
This pick was Robbie Aviles for a solid week in my head before I was reminded of the existence of Stetson Allie in conversation last night. In said conversation it was intimated to me that Allie’s commitment to North Carolina is a lot stronger than has been reported. I don’t typically pass along any sort of insider information like that because, well, I don’t typically have access to it (nor do I think anybody should listen to some dummy like me just because I like to pretend I’m some great big draft authority), but there you go. I’m putting ten bucks on Allie winding up in Chapel Hill, but, really, and I can’t stress this enough, what the heck do I know?
No Pick Last Year
1.7 New York Mets: RHP Jimmy Nelson – Alabama
Nelson is a fastball-slider pitcher with the modest upside of a generic big league middle reliever. For a team picking seventh overall, that would most certainly qualify as bad news. Good news for the Mets, however, comes in the form of the money saved with Nelson’s significantly underslot bonus. That’s important, you see, because (as I assume) Fred Wilpon will happily tell you, the Earth will fly right off its axis and crash straight into the Sun if any Metropolitan draft pick is signed to an overslot contract. Anything to keep a smile on the face of the Commish, right?
No Pick Last Year
1.8 Houston Astros: C Bryce Harper – Southern Nevada
Without piling on too much, I’ll just say that I’m pleased to see something go Houston’s way in this version of the mock. To paraphrase a bad joke I made when doing this last year, no truth to the rumor that the Astros organization is petitioning Major League Baseball to adopt my silly draft rules in time . To take the bad joke a step too far, Houston may want to rethink making the Name Game rule permanent. It would be a real shame to miss out on Anthony Rendon after they get the number one pick next year…
No Pick Last Year
1.9 San Diego Padres: LHP Chris Sale – Florida Gulf Coast
Sale is the right pick, but Sammy Solis would have been a much cuter pick. San Diego to San Diego? Torero to Padre? Cunningham Stadium to Petco Park? All too perfect. As it stands now, Sale to San Diego is actually not a bad pick for a real life mock draft, assuming he is still on the board.
Last Year’s Pick: RHP Tanner Scheppers
1.10 Oakland Athletics: SS Justin O’Connor – Cowan HS (Indiana)
Prep players from both Ohio and Indiana represented in the top ten of a mock. As somebody who has always lived somewhere cold, I appreciate players from chilly locales succeeding, even if it’s only in my Alternate Reality Mock Draft. I know the momentum connecting O’Connor and catching is pretty much unstoppable at this point, but I wonder why it doesn’t seem like anybody has stopped and asked, hey, why not just let him keep playing shortstop, a pretty darn important position in its own right, until he can’t play it anymore? I suppose many don’t think he can stick there as a pro, but I think he’s got the tools to play up the middle professionally. I don’t hate the catcher idea (quite the opposite, really), but O’Connor is a shortstop in my mind until proven otherwise.