Friday, May 15, 2009

Amateur Draft Top 50 - May 15, 2009

Tyler Matzek may be the first left-hander selected

The draft is less than four weeks away and things are beginning to take shape. A couple of easily drawn conclusions are that it is a draft that should, like last year, favor the college players over the high school players in the early rounds and one of the weakest drafts in recent memory with regards to hitting talent. Outside of Dustin Ackley, I am not sure there is a hitter that is comparable to the top 7 or 8 from last year’s draft. Here is a position by position look at the top players available at this moment.

College Right-Handed Pitchers –

1) Stephen Strasburg, San Diego St – The 9 inning no hitter last weekend, while fanning 17, did nothing but add to the lore that is Strasburg.
2) Kyle Gibson, Missouri – As the Tigers Friday night pitcher last year, Crowe had a 1.166 WHIP and a 117:33 K:BB ratio in 98 1/3 IP. Through Thursday, Gibson has a 1.080 WHIP and a 115:15 K:BB ratio. At 6’6” I think Gibson is just as polished, his three pitches are solid and he has far more projection left.
3) Tanner Scheppers, Independent – His second outing wasn’t as eye-opening as the first but he does appear to be healthy.
4) Aaron Crowe, Independent – Word is that he may be considered as high as #4…I’d still say it’s only 50/50 he goes higher than he did last year.
5) Alex White, North Carolina – Frankly I am concerned with performances like last weekend against NC State. He should be more dominant against a lineup like that. Rebounded nicely though against Boston College.
6) Mike Leake , Arizona State – No pitcher outside of Strasburg has been more consistent. Over his last 8 starts, Leake has a 1.61 ERA, 0.821 WHIP and a 71:12 K:BB Ratio.
7) Kyle Heckathorn, Kennesaw St – He hasn’t dominated slightly weaker competition like we would hope, but he is big with great raw stuff.
8) Chad Jenkins, Kennesaw St – Although he has outpitched him this year, Jenkins is still in Heckathorn’s shadow. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go before Heckathorn though.
9) Sam Dyson, South Carolina – A projectable, draft-eligible Sophmore, made his best start of the year in front of tons of scouts on Thursday as he went 9IP, allowing 4 Hits, 2 ERs and walking 1, while fanning 13, including Poythress twice against Georgia.
10) Kendal Volz, Baylor – It’s been a disappointing season for the big right-hander, but still should be selected high off of previous performance.

High School Right-Handed Pitchers –

1) Jacob Turner, Westminster Academy, St. Louis – Hitting 99mph in a recent start has made Turner the fastest rising pitcher in the draft. He doesn’t turn 18yo until next week and could be the first prep taken.
2) Shelby Miller, Brownswood H.S. TX – The strongest prep arm in this year’s draft.
3) Zack Wheeler, East Paulding High School, Dallas – The most polished high school arm available…the Braves are said to be all over him.
4) Matt Hobgood, Norco HS, CA – 6’4”, 245lbs with a low 90’s fastball has scouts drooling.
5) Brody Colvin, RHP, St. Thomas More, LA – A highly projectable right hander that is moving up the boards rapidly.
6) Madison Younginer, Maudlin HS, SC - Might be rated higher if he wasn’t be used so sparingly right now.

College Left-Handed Pitchers –

1) Rex Brothers, Lipscomb – Only Strasburg has fanned more batters than Brothers this year.
2) Andrew Oliver, Oklahoma State – Overcame early distractions to pitch well recently. I am higher on him than most.
3) Mike Minor, Vanderbilt – Was beginning to fade before throwing a gem against Georgia last weekend.
4) James Paxton, Kentucky – I’ll admit it, this is all about projection as the 6’-4” lefty gets it up there as high as 97mph, but he has been getting scorched for weeks now. Someone will grab him in the first 20 picks, but it will be a risky move.

High School Left-Handed Pitchers –

1) Tyler Matzek, Capistrano Valley-Mission Viejo HS – Finished the regular season with a 1.23 ERA and 84 Ks in 64IP. Matzek has been solid all season.
2) Matt Purke, Klein, TX – There are those that still prefer Purke and his low 90’s fastball, but he hasn’t demonstrated the same consistency as Matzek this year.
3) Tyler Skaggs, Santa Monica HS, CA – Non-arm injuries have slowed him down this year, but he still has his backers.
4) Chad James, Yukon HS, OK – Has come on strong late in the season and is rising up draft boards quickly.

College Catchers –

1) Tony Sanchez, Boston College – Could be an overdraft this year, similar to Castro last season, due to the lack of college catchers.

High School Catchers –

1) Wil Myers, Wesley Academy, NC – Rumors are that teams are considering him in the top 15 picks, but few expect him to stay behind the plate.
2) Max Stassi, Yuba City, CA – Disciplined hitter that lacks true power but he has a great make-up and excellent catch and throw skills.
3) Luke Bailey, Troup HS LaGrange, GA – Was the top prep receiver and a possible top 10 pick in a very strong class before undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of April. Now it will be interesting to see who is willing to take a gamble.
4) Tommy Joseph, Horizon HS, AZ – Has 15HR in 77 ABs on the year.
5) J.R. Murphy, Pendleton School, Bradenton, FL – A solid bat, but has positional questions.

College Outfielders –

1) Dustin Ackley, North Carolina – Played 2 games in CF over the weekend and seemed to handle it fine. If he is a CF he is the second player off the board.
2) Tim Wheeler, Sacramento State – One of my favorite players in the draft. .393/.494/.780 with 18 HRs and 15SBs on the season and is a true CF.
3) A.J. Pollock, Notre Dame – Best all around outfielder in draft, Pollock has been on fire in May. .359/.444/.563 with great plate discipline on the season.
4) Brett Jackson, California – Striking out once every 4 PAs is perhaps more of a negative than his power is a plus.
5) Jared Mitchell, LSU – Speedy, athletic, player who has yet to transfer skills into production.
6) Jason Kipnis, Arizona State – Scouts see him as little more than a good college player…I believe in the results he has produced.
7) Angelo Songco, Loyola-Marymount – .383/.502/.719 with 15 HRs may make him the best all-around hitter on the West Coast.

High School Outfielders –

1) Donovan Tate, Cartersville HS, GA – Son of former college FB standout Lars. Phenomenal athlete. Could go Top 5, possibly #3, if signability concerns are taken care of.
2) Michael Trout, Millsville HS, OK – A fast rising, true 5-tool talent, that will get drafted in the Top 20 picks.
3) Everett Williams, McCallum HS Austin, TX – A pure CF who will have to overcome size concerns, but will be drafted on his tools.
4) Jake Marisnick, Poly HS Riverside, CA – May be the most athletic prepster in the draft and has some production to go with it.

College Corner Infielders –

1) Rich Poythress, Georgia – Arguably the most productive offensive season in college. Not a lot of options with the glove. Concerns because he has been dominated by top pitchers recently.
2) Ben Paulsen, Clemson – Not real toolsy, but the bat is extremely solid. .374/.435/.676 in the ACC.

High School Corner Infielders –

1) Bobby Borchering, Bishop Verot HS, Ft. Myers, FL – Hitting a HR every 7 ABs this season and has a better chance of sticking at 3B than Davidson.
2) Matt Davidson, Yucaipa, HS, CA – The best prep power hitter has been on fire as of late.

College Middle Infielders –

1) Grant Green, USC – Grant could go anywhere from #3 to #16. Much has been made of his ‘poor’ Junior season. Here is the reality…he had a really good Sophomore season and an exceptional Summer showing that created tremendous expectations. Yes, after a slow start, his numbers are down somewhat on the year—a 1.013 OPS vs. a 1.082 OPS in 2008, but since March 10th he has posted a 1.097 OPS. Much has been made about his power not being there, but at his current pace we are talking a total of 14 Total Bases over 205 ABs and his steals and plate discipline are both up from 2008. This is essentially the same offensive season as 2008 that made the 'experts' compare him to Longoria and Tulowitzki. Yes there are questions as to whether he sticks at SS long-term, but my perspective is that even worse case scenario he slides over to 2B, the downside is Rickie Weeks like potential. If he falls out of the top 10 picks he will be the steal of the draft.
2) Robbie Shields, Florida Southern – More offense than defense, but he’s better than Reese Havens who was the 22nd selection last June.

High School Middle Infielders –

1) Jiovanni Mier, Bonita HS LaVerne, CA – Best combination of offense/defense among middle infielders. I really like Mier and expect teams to let him slide more than they should on Draft Day.
2) Deven Marrero, American Heritage HS, Plantation, FL – The younger brother of Chris (Nationals) and Christian (White Sox) and from the same high school that produced Eric Hosmer and won a mythical national championship in 2008, Marrero is a hard-nosed player that will perform higher than his draft position.
3) Mychal Given, Plant HS, Tampa, FL – There is significant controversy as to whether to draft him for his arm or his bat, but the consensus seems to be that it will be the bat. The type of player that may develop better when no longer focusing on both.

The following is a list of what I like to call ‘need’ players. These are players that some team will reach for, possibly in the first round, because the draft class is weak in this area. I personally don’t believe they are top 50 players at this time, but they are likely to be selected in that area:

1) Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford – Looks to be the most successful college closer this year in a draft class that is very lean on them.
2) David Renfroe, SS/RHP, South Panola HS, Batesville, MS – This is a pick that has the Red Sox written all over it, ala Casey Kelly.
3) Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana – I don’t get the rising interest in Arnett. Sure his 11-1 record on the year is fantastic, but his peripherals are suspect.
4) Alex Wilson, RHP, Texas A& M – This class is desperate for college closer talent.
5) Kentrail Davis, OF, Tennessee – Started the year as a possible Top 10 pick, but performance has not matched the hype.

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