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First Impressions: 2010 MLB Draft Round 2

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!

Round 2

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

Sammy Solis
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.

More Data – April 22, 2010

Random sampling of some of the players I’ve kept track of so far this year…

***

School – Year – Pitcher – % of batted ball outs classified as “ground balls”

San Diego SR RHP AJ Griffin – 31%

Texas Tech JR RHP Chad Bettis – 71%

Texas JR RHP Brandon Workman – 55%

Louisiana State JR RHP Austin Ross – 38%

South Carolina JR RHP Sam Dyson – 64%

San Diego JR RHP Kyle Blair – 50%

San Diego JR LHP Sammy Solis – 56%

California JR RHP Dixon Anderson – 67%

Virginia Tech JR RHP Jesse Hahn – 70%

Arkansas JR RHP Brett Eibner – 43%

Florida State JR LHP John Gast – 67%

***

Stanford SO LHP Brett Mooneyham – 66%

UCLA SO RHP Trevor Bauer – 43%

Vanderbilt SO RHP Jack Armstrong – 61%

2010 Draft-Eligible Pitching: Groundout Percentage

A few side projects that have been holding up things on the site should be wrapped up over the weekend, so expect a return to site normalcy before too long.

As for today’s post, well, it’s exactly what the title says. I’ve been keeping track of as many of the big 2010 names as I can, so if there is anybody you’re curious about, let me know and I’ll check to see if I have the data. I also have some of the biggest names of 2011 and 2012 tracked, so, again, if there is anybody you want to know about, let me know. Some of the names and numbers that caught my eye so far:

North Carolina RHP Matt Harvey – 82%

Florida Gulf Coast LHP Chris Sale – 71%

Texas Tech RHP Chad Bettis – 91%

Texas RHP Brandon Workman – 62%

Mississippi LHP Drew Pomeranz – 61%

Georgia RHP Justin Grimm – 57%

LSU RHP Anthony Ranaudo – 38% (note: all of these are small samples, but Ranaudo’s is especially small — one start — due to his injury)

Ohio State RHP Alex Wimmers – 53%

Georgia Tech RHP Deck McGuire – 43%

South Carolina RHP Sam Dyson – 59%

San Diego RHP Kyle Blair – 36%

San Diego LHP Sammy Solis – 52%

Cal RHP Dixon Anderson – 71%

Virginia Tech RHP Jesse Hahn – 75%

2009 College Baseball Opening Night – A Pitching Retrospective

A look back on the pitching highlights from college baseball’s opening night. It’s not a comprehensive look back, it’s not an ultra-scouty look back, it’s not even an analytical look back. It’s just a quick and dirty review of how an assorted sampling of some of the very best arms in college baseball performed on Friday, February 20th. Before we get to all the recappy goodness, how about a recap of not how baseball players actually played, but of the work some dorky draft website did?

Who among us can resist the allure of the Big Board? The Top 50 College Draft-Eligibles are HERE, HERE, HERE!

How about a look at teams comprised of the best players from each college class, including the most mysterious and overlooked group of them all? The best college players available in 2010 and 2011 were also given the corny “All _____ Team treatment. We couldn’t ignore the men already caught behind the age relative to league minor league eightball, could we? Wouldn’t dare dream of it. Lastly, why not make yourself familiar with players who are actually relevant to this upcoming year’s upcoming draft by reading about the country’s best draft-eligible sophomores (sans middle infielders)…

I promise I won’t keep linking to myself like that. It’s tacky, I know. It’s just that the site is new, readership is slowly coming along and I don’t want anybody left behind, and, well, I’m trying to trick people into reading something other than just the mock draft. I’m not knocking the mock, heck I love it too, but the disproportionate amount of traffic it gets just cracks me up. Enough complaining, let’s get on with the show.

Onward and upward we go, spinning fast and furiously along the college opening night pitching performance review carousel…

Cream of the Crop

Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State): 5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 11 K 4 GO 1 AO 1 LO, 105 pitches
Alex White (North Carolina): 5 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K 5 GO 1 AO 90 pitches
Kyle Gibson (Missouri): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Mike Minor (Vanderbilt): 5.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO
Kendal Volz (Baylor): 6 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K 9 GO 2 AO

Some really super awesome highly reputable website has these players respectively ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 13th in their draft class, so, yeah, you know they are good. I’m not really sure what I can add to numbers that speak so darn well for themselves. Five pitchers, five good to very good pitching performances, five first rounders and millionaires come June. Yawn. Let’s just talk about Strasburg instead of going into all the nitty gritty details of the other quality starts of the quartet of college stars.

The Daily Aztec had an interesting look at the high school career and subsequent recruitment of the San Diego State ace. I’m not sure what kind of dough Rusty Filter is making, but now might be a good time to ask for a raise. The San Diego Union-Tribune has some pretty cool Strasburg related notes in a recent article, including some pretty weird quotes from an anonymous Phillies scout (“He’s definitely a two-pitch pitcher”…I think it’s meant as a compliment, but I hope the scout realizes he isn’t just a two-pitch pitcher, you know?) and a old flat out admission that I must have missed initially from Jim Bowden that Strasburg will be a National pending something terrible happening. Last but certainly not least, Rich Lederer was actually at the game and offered up this first-hand report of what ole Strasburg looked like on opening day. If you aren’t the type to typically click on a link (like me), I suggest changing your tune and following that one, if you have any interest in the best college player in the country anyway.

You know what I just realized? Every time I try to type out Strasburg’s name, every single time, I make the same typo. Stephen Starsburg. My fingers won’t let me type it any other way without really, really concentrating. I wonder if my hands know know something my fingers don’t…

(In the effort of full disclosure, in the first typing of the paragraph above I inverted letters in both the words “hands” and “know.” So, maybe it’s not a sign of wonderful things to follow for young Strasburg. Maybe it’s just as simple as me being a poor typist…)

Starter or Reliever?

Louis Coleman (LSU): 5 IP 2 H 2 BB 8 K 2 GO 4 AO 74 pitches
Ryan Berry (Rice): 4.2 IP 4 H 5 ER 5 BB 3 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Preston Guilmet (Arizona): 4 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 2 AO
Brad Boxberger (Southern Cal): 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 6 BB 11 K 2 GO 2 AO 120 pitches

As you can probably ascertain from their lines, all four of the young men listed above started the first game of the season for their respective college teams. Reports have Boxberger’s velocity falling off quickly after the first inning (and again after the second inning), a trend that jives well with his scouting reports heading into the season. While it’s almost always a good thing to exhaust every avenue, boulevard, and throughway that leads to a pitcher starting rather than relieving, you’ve got to wonder if it’s the right thing for a college coach to have a pitcher with professional aspirations tied to potentially being an elite reliever someday throwing 120 pitches in a game. Who am I kidding? You don’t even have to wonder. It’s bad. Research shows us this. Even if you are on the side of the debate that says pitchers are babied and pitch counts are overrated, come on – 120 pitches in the first game of the season? What’s the point? The fact that Boxberger is looked at as a potential reliever by scouts is just icing on the shortsighted, irresponsible cake. If you as a manager can help it, no pitcher should throw 120+ pitches in a single game ever, let alone on February 20th, right? It’s not good for the player and, if you stop and think for a second, it’s not good for the team, either. Is squeezing one extra inning (or two) out of a starting pitcher in a non-conference game so early in the season worth the potential damage an injury or even fatigue could have on the ballclub? Maybe there is more to the story that I simply don’t know, but from where I’m sitting Chad Kreuter has some answering to do.

Phew, I feel a bit better now. As for the other guys, both Berry and Guilmet are no doubt about it college starters who may be converted to relief as professionals. Louis Coleman is an interesting case because he may actually have just good enough stuff to survive professionally as a swingman/special usage long reliever if he shows he can start for LSU. That’s arguably an upgrade over simply topping out as a generic middle reliever, depending on your own personal philosophy on bullpen usage.

Draft-Eligible Youngsters (Sophomores)

Brooks Raley (Texas A&M): 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO 79 pitches
Jeff Inman (Stanford): 7 IP 9 H 5 ER 1 BB 3 K 12 GO 4 AO

Hard not to be impressed by Raley’s debut effort, all the way down to the efficient way he went about his business. Inman’s numbers aren’t nearly as pretty, but the strong groundballing start is promising. The groundball numbers fit his scouting profile (strong sinker), but the lack of dominance (namely the poor K/IP rate) is something that needs a turn around this season if Inman wants to get into the first round – a spot in the draft that some think he can rise up to. I don’t buy Inman as a first rounder at all, so I’ll amend that last statement to say I personally he’ll need to show he can put hitters away in college if he wants to be a first three rounder this spring.

2010’s

Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 13 K 3 GO 4 AO
Chris Hernandez (Miami): 6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K 11 GO 1 AO 95 pitches
Sammy Solis (San Diego): 6 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K 7 GO 1 AO

Let’s combine these lines real quick and take a moment to bask in all it’s young pitchery glory:

19 IP 10 H 2 ER 4 BB 29 K 21 GO 6 AO

That’s good for an ERA of 0.95, a K/9 of 13.74, and a GO/AO ratio of 3.5. Even that Strasburg guy would be jealous of numbers like that. Hernandez is a fascinating prospect (I say that about a lot of guys, don’t I?) in that he has put up tremendous results at Miami in his young career, but lacks traditionally dominating stuff. Perhaps the 11/1 groundball to flyball number is a bit of a clue to how he has been so successful. If I get the time/patience/energy, I’ll have to go through the Miami game logs from last year and see what his 2008 ratio looked like.

New on Campus

Austin Dicharry (Texas): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO
Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt): 3 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K 5 GO 0 AO

Two pretty sharp collegiate debuts for two of the finest young righties the class of 2011 has to offer. Gray’s 3 innings out of the Vandy pen were especially good, as 8 of his 9 outs recorded were either grounders or strikeouts and his lone walk was an intentional one. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a college hitter getting the 1-2 punch of Mike Minor and Sonny Gray all in one afternoon. My head might literally explode. That may sound gross, but keep in mind I’d hopefully be wearing a helmet at the time, so much of the splatter would be contained. I’m not sure how talking about exploding head splatter is any less gross (or anyway related to baseball), so we’ll just quietly pretend I didn’t say that and move on. Oh, and while we are pretending we have to also pretend I don’t have a functional delete key, thus explaining why I decided to keep such a stupid couple of sentences rather than delete them. Make-believe is fun!

Real Deal College Relievers

Scott Bittle (Mississippi): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K 1 GO 1 AO
AJ Griffin (San Diego): 2.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K 2 GO 1 AO
Jason Stoffel (Arizona): 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K 0 GO 1 AO
Robert Stock (Southern Cal): 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO 12 pitches

I probably should have this group directly after the “Starter or Reliever” group, but that would require many seconds of copying and pasting that I can ill afford to spend on something so tedious. You see, I’m far more important to be bothered with such foolishness. It’s a much better use of my time to wonder aloud (in print) “What the heck happened to Jason Stoffel on Friday?” I also need the extra seconds to spend time pontificating about the wonderful debut of Robert Stock. Consensus opinion may have turned on you, buddy, but I still think you’re a keeper. Not too many players can get on base three times (including 2 hits, one a double), throw out two runners trying to steal second, and pitch a perfect ninth inning throwing low-90s heat. All that and he’s still only 19? Sign me up.

Random Lefties For Whom I Could Think of No Other Clever Unifying Characteristic

Rob Rasmussen (UCLA): 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Tanner Robles (Oregon State): 5 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 2 K 7 GO 4 AO 1 LO
Nick Hernandez (Tennessee): 5 IP 9 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K 4 GO 5 AO

A mixed bag, for sure, but since when are lefthanders anything but? Robles and Hernandez went head to head, with nary a player coming out ahead of the other. Is that the correct way to use “nary”? And I am supposed to put the question mark outside the quotation marks, right? I know a period goes inside, but I’m pretty sure I remember the question mark being an oddball. Not unlike our quirky group of lefties here, see? Ah, full circle. Love that symmetry.

All Sophomore Prospect Team (Class of ’10)

A handy tip for those who have a hard time meeting self-imposed deadlines – making your schedule public makes it a heck of a lot easier to stick to. Remember this?

Monday: (2/16): All Freshman Prospect Team
Tuesday (2/17): All Sophomore Prospect Team
Wednesday (2/18): All Senior Prospect Team
Thursday (2/19): All Draft-Eligible Sophomore Prospect Team AND All Junior Prospect Team
Friday (2/20): College Opening Day Hip-Hop Pizza Party featuring the debut of The Baseball Draft Report 2009 College Prospect Big Board

No matter what happens this week, I’m sticking to this darned schedule. If today is Tuesday, that means it is All Sophomore Prospect Team Day! The players listed below are all, as far as I know, draft-eligible as of the 2010 season. There are no redshirt sophomores on the list — the 2009-eligible sophomores will get their own list — only players eligible for the 2010 draft. Something about this class really appeals to me, so I went a little overboard with some of the writeups. Enjoy the All Sophomore Prospect Team after the jump…

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