1 – Stephen Strasburg – Washington – SP
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you probably know that Strasburg is backing up all of the hype so far. He’s currently in Double-A and sporting a 0.52 ERA through 4 starts. The only knock so far is that the Nationals haven’t let him go more than 5 innings in a start, but that’s not Strasburg’s fault.
2 – Dustin Ackley – Seattle – 2B
The expectation for Ackley was that he may struggle adjusting to second base, but will hit no matter where he plays. The result has been the exact opposite. Ackley has struggled to hit in Double-A, batting just .132 so far, but scouts aren’t too worried. He has still maintained his solid eye at the plate, walking 13 times to his 14 strikeouts. What has been impressive, however, is his transition to second base, as Ackley has apparently made without too many bumps in the road. He has 4 errors in 18 games at the keystone, but his actions are smooth and he looks comfortable.
3 – Donavan Tate – San Diego – CF
Signed late…hurt himself jogging in instructional camp…broke his face (literally) in an ATV accident in the off-season…still recovering, has yet to play this season. Not a good start for a Padres team that desperately needs a good first round draft pick after some serious busts the past few years. Tate still has all the athleticism in the world, but he’ll have to get on the field to use it.
4 – Tony Sanchez – Pittsburgh – C
Considered a reach at the time, Sanchez is proving to be a great pick by the Pirates. Sanchez has done nothing but hit as a pro (.324/.430/.555 in his minor league career) and gets solid reviews for his defense. He’s tearing up the Florida State League at the moment, so he should get a promotion to Double-A this season, which will be his final test.
5 – Matt Hobgood – Baltimore – SP
Hobgood is a great example of why team’s should be able to trade draft picks. A big, burly RHP, Hobgood was considered a first round talent, but not a top-5 pick by both teams. The Orioles, however, identified him as a player they liked that also fit their budget. It’s not like they reached for a 3rd rounder. But after back-to-back years shelling out huge bonuses for Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, they decided they didn’t want to blow another $5 million on a draft pick. So Hobgood fit their combination of potential and price. It’s not their fault they had the 5th pick? Wouldn’t they have traded down to, say, #25 in the draft and taken Hobgood if they could? Probably. But instead, they take a guy they wanted and get labeled as having reached in the draft. It’s unfair, especially to Hobgood who likely needs innings and refinement after playing both ways in high school. He’s currently learning on the fly in the Sally League with a 4.57 ERA.
6 – Zack Wheeler – San Francisco – SP
A little old for a prep pick, Wheeler did not play after signing last season and instead made his pro debut in the Sally League this year. Control has been the only issue so far, as Wheeler has issued 11 walks in 13 IP, but he is missing bats (15 K’s) which is a good sign.
7 – Mike Minor – Atlanta – SP
Another potential reach if you think the best draft pick is the pitcher with the highest ceiling, but Minor was supposed to be a polished left who wouldn’t be that far away. That’s been about right so far, but Braves’ fans may argue the logic of taking a pitcher who will probably never be better than a mid-rotation starter this early in the draft. In the Braves defense, they’re not usually drafting this early, so maybe they weren’t sure how to handle it. Either way, Minor is showing that polish and is handling a Double-A assignment well so far, but is actually missing bats at a higher than expected rates while struggling with command. 25 strikeouts in 20 2/3 IP is good, but 14 walks is too many. If he can get the command under control without sacrificing the stuff, then his ceiling could be higher than expected.
8 – Mike Leake – Cincinnati – SP
Leake you have undoubtedly heard of, because he’s already in the majors. He skipped the minors altogether and is in the Reds’ rotation with a 2-0 record to boot. The only question that remains is how the league will handle him the second time around.
9 – Jacob Turner – Detroit – SP
Turner may be the most talented pitcher in the draft, or at least have the highest ceiling. The prep righty fell because of concerns over contract demands, something which has never scared off the Tigers, and is the reason they currently have Rick Procello and Justin Verlander in their rotation. Turner was toying with the Midwest League in his first professional assignment before he went on the shelf with some stiffness in this throwing arm. The Tigers don’t seem too concerned and are probably just erring on the side of caution with such a young arm.
10 – Drew Storen – Washington – RP
Overshadowed by Strasburg-apalozza after the ’09 draft, but Storen could be in Washington first. This is aided both by the fact that he is a closer and because he signed right after the draft and played last season. He has had nothing but success as a pro, and Storen has even put to rest the command issues that justified his permanent spot in the bullpen in the first place. It’s really only a matter of time before he is the Nationals’ closer, and it should be towards the end of 2010, especially if the Nats trade Matt Capps to a contender at the deadline.
11 – Tyler Matzek – Colorado – SP
Not much to report on Matzek yet, as he did not play last year after signing and has yet to appear this season. He’s not injured – the Rockies just don’t want to send him to throw in cold weather so they’ve kept him in extended spring training until the weather warms up or short-season ball begins. We should get a look at Matzek soon.
12 – Aaron Crow – Kansas City – SP
Crow was a known commodity in this draft because the Nationals took him in 2008 when he was one of the top college pitchers available but didn’t sign. He pitched independent ball and re-entered the draft and the Royals nabbed him, knowing he wouldn’t be too far from the majors. They assigned him to Double-A, which has been a little rough on Crow who hasn’t missed too many bats and is winless in 4 starts. He’s still the closest Royal prospect to the majors though and should be fine. He could spend the entire season in Double-A.
13 – Grant Green – Oakland – SS
The A’s like their college hitters and they got a good one in Green, who batted .316 in High-A last year after signing. What he didn’t display was any power, but he has hit 7 extra-base hits so far this season in a repeat of the California Leauge. Scouts have compared him to Troy Tulowitzki, but he’ll have to hit some more home runs to justify that comparison.
14 – Matthew Purke – Texas – SP
Did not sign.
15 – Alex White – Cleveland – SP
A big UNC pitcher whose college production didn’t always match his potential, the Indians took a chance on White and he’s off to a good start this season. White jumped straight to the Carolina League which is good for building a pitcher’s confidence and White is currently sitting on a 3.86 ERA through 4 starts. Control is his only issue, but he’s missing bats so the stuff is there. At worst, he should be a power reliever.
16 – Bobby Borchering – Arizona – 3B
If you haven’t already noticed, comparisons are everything, and the immediate comparison for Borchering was Chipper Jones. A prep prospect could do a lot worst then a Hall of Famer for a comparison. But you have to consider the fact that there are only so many switch-hitting third basemen, and the possibility that the comparison may not be as influenced by the talent level as much as the obvious characteristics of the position. That being said, Borchering is a legit prospect whose Chipper comparisons may not be fair, but still support what kind of prospect he is.
17 – A.J. Pollock – Arizona – CF
A.J. was supposed to be a polished hitter who didn’t excel at anything but was good at everything. After signing, he wasn’t horrible at anything, but he didn’t exactly take advantage of inexperienced competition in the Midwest League the way many college players do. His .319 batting average was solid, but 16 walks and 36 strike outs in a half a season isn’t the ratio the D-Backs were hoping for from a college signee. He’s a potential leadoff hitter, but he hasn’t played yet in 2010 because of a fractured growth plate, so his development is still up in the air.
18 – Chad James – Florida – SP
James supposedly had one of the best changeups in the 2009 draft, but for a pitch that typically has success against minor league hitters, James hasn’t exactly dominated. James didn’t pitch last year after signing, so his 3 Sally League starts this season are all we have to go on. Unfortunately, he’s 0-for-3 in those starts. He has, however, struck out more than a batter per inning, which almost off-sets his batter walked every other inning. James is still raw but also still has lots of time to develop, so the jury is still out.
19 – Shelby Miller – St. Louis – SP
Miller was among the top prep pitchers, and the Cardinals needed a top prospect as much as any organization. Miller has shown a plus fastball and the ability to miss bats, but he’s also been hit around a little bit. At only 19 in the Midwest League, there’s really little he can do wrong from a performance standpoint, so as long as he continues to throw hard, he’ll be fine for now. He’ll eventually have to show some more command, but that will come with time…or so the Cardinals hope.
20 – Chad Jenkins – Toronto – SP
Clubs used to just look for guys who threw hard. But after years of drafting pitchers who threw 100-mph fastballs that were straight as an arrow, teams have learned that velocity isn’t everything (or at least that’s what they’re saying). Jenkins can hit the mid-90’s when he wants, but he’s primarily a sinker-ball pitcher. Basically he’s a fat guy who throws hard sinkers, and that’s ok. Because if you can match one other above-average pitch with a solid sinker, you have a starting pitcher. And that’s what Jenkins has – a plus sinker and an above average slider, which when coupled with good command has the potential to be a solid pitcher. So far he’s commanded his pitches well with a 22-to-5 strikeout to walk ratio, so he’s off to a good start. But he’s only pitched in the Low-A Midwest League so far, so we’ll see how he does at a higher level as he advances.
21 – Jiovanni Mier – Houston – SS
Jio (as they affectionately call him around Houston) is the face of a desperate Astros farm system and is their Jeter-wannabe. From a skill-set standpoint, the 5-time world champion might not be a bad comparison, as long as the standard isn’t that high. Mier will remain at shortstop, which is a plus, and has shown a good eye at the plate and a penchant for making contact, as long as they don’t rate Jio by rings. Mier is struggling slightly in his first full season, but as long as he’s still walking as much as he’s striking out, Astros’ fans shouldn’t worry too much.
22 – Kyle Gibson – Minnesota – SP
His arm is fine…just so everyone knows. If only I had announced that in June, Gibson might have been a top-5 pick. Gibson was one of the top college pitchers, but a late-season arm injury knocked him down in the first round. The Twins took a chance on Gibson, and he responded with 2.49 ERA in his first 4 starts before tossing a 9-inning one-hitter on Thursday. He didn’t pitch last season, but he’s good to go in 2010 and he shouldn’t be long for A-ball before a promotion to Double-A with an eye on Minnesota in 2011.
23 – Jared Mitchell – Chicago (AL) – CF
Oh the talent. What I wouldn’t give for talent like Mitchell’s. You probably know Mitchell from the College World Series last season. In case you were only slightly paying attention, he was the center fielder for LSU who was getting all the attention because he was also a member of their national championship football team. Talk about athleticism, Mitchell was able to excel at the highest level of college baseball without even dedicating himself to the sport. So naturally, you’d expect him to get by on athletic ability rather than baseball skills, right? It makes sense, until you see his advanced eye at the plate and 23 walks in 115 AB’S after signing last year, and you realize that this athlete extraordinaire is also a baseball player. Unfortunately for both the White Sox and fans of the game, Mitchell blew out an ankle this spring and will miss most of the 2010 season. Assuming he can regain most of his athleticism, Mitchell figures to be a top-of-the-lineup figure on the South Side very soon, but that’s dependent on how he recovers from injury.
24 – Randal Grichuk – Los Angeles (AL) – LF
The best of times and the worst of times? Maybe we’re not quite at a Tale of Two Cities level yet, but Grichuk went off last season in the short-season Arizona League with 30 extra-base hits in a strong half-season, but in his full-season debut in the Midwest League, he’s hit just .183. He hasn’t walked enough and strikes out a ton, so he’ll have to display every bit of the power the Angels expect him to have if he wants to advance.
25 – Mike Trout – Los Angeles (AL) – CF
There’s not much not to like about Trout. He was the only player to show up to the first ever televised and publicized MLB draft (if you were a first round pick, wouldn’t you have gone? seems like a no-brainer to me) and he’s done nothing but rake since. Apparently Trout just hits and runs like it’s second nature (and you’re surprised he’s from Jersey?). So far he’s a career .358 minor league hitter, so there’s little to complain about. If he keeps it up, Trout may reach High-A ball this season around his 19th birthday, which would be quite an accomplishment.
26 – Eric Arnett – Milwaukee – SP
For a college pitcher, Arnett’s performances so far in professional ball haven’t been all that comforting for Brewers’ fans. He’s been hit hard in his 2010 Midwest League assignment, which is not a good sign for a college pitcher. Unfortunately for the Brewers, there aren’t a whole lot of other options at this point for Arnett. The Brewers have to hope he will turn it around soon, but if this entire year turns out to be a bust, Arnett could find himself in the bullpen in order to advance.
27 – Nick Franklin – Seattle – SS
What? The Mariners had a second 1st round pick? Somehow this pick seems almost forgotten, but Franklin has out hit both of the shortstops picked ahead of him so far in their respective careers. Franklin showed signs of being a solid hitter after signing last year, but this year he has added power to the repertoire this season with 10 extra-base hits in 19 games. If he can stick at short stop, he’s got enough bat to be an All-Star at the position.
28 – Reymond Fuentes – Boston – CF
Say what you want about the Red Sox’ spending, but they also know how to draft. Fuentes is an example of this, as the cousin of Carlos Beltran figures into the Sox’ future as a potential leadoff hitter and center fielder (perhaps by 2012-13). Fuentes has all the tools but is struggling in his first full season. The Sox aren’t worried and you shouldn’t be either, as Fuentes has enough talent to overcome a few bad weeks. That being said, he does need to work on his plate discipline if he ever wants to be a regular in the Red Sox’ lineup.
29 – Slade Heathcott – New York (AL) – CF
Sometimes I feel like the Yankees take high-risk prospects just because then can, or maybe because they feel obligated to. Not too far removed from the Andrew Brackman venture, the Yankees risked a first round pick on Heathcott who had both injury and makeup concerns. The Yankees can take these risks and so far we don’t even know what to make of the Heathcott pick, as we’ve only seen 11 plate appearances of production so far, and they were all last year.
30 – LeVon Washington – Tampa Bay – 2B
Did not sign.
31 – Brett Jackson – Chicago (NL) – CF
Jackson’s athletic ability has never been questioned, but his ability to make contact was. While he’ll never be mistaken for a contact hitter, Jackson has not had overwhelming contact issues and has produced at every level so far. Currently in the Florida State League, Jackson has managed to walk more than he has struck out in his first full season while also batting close to .300 and playing a solid center field. Jackson was a college hitter so he has the potential to move quickly depending on how his contact rates progress through the minors.
32 – Tim Wheeler – Colorado – CF
Wheeler got as much experience in 2009 as any other draftee, and while his performance last year wasn’t overly impressive, it may be helping his play this season. Wheeler has as many walks as strike outs as walks this season, but has yet to hit for any power as a pro, which will have to come if he ends up having to shift over to a corner OF spot as most scouts expect he will have to do at some point.
Other Notable Draftees
Other Notable Draftees
1s (35) – Matt Davidson – Arizona – 3B
Davidson was the D-Backs 3rd pick in the top-35, and had a reputation as a potential impact bat. That may still be the case, but his 21-to-1 K/BB rate this season has to scare anyone who values a good approach at the plate. Davidson should spend the entire season in Low-A ball so he may be able to get away with that kind of free swinging, but he’ll have to be more patient as he advances through the minors.
1s (44) – Tanner Scheppers – Texas – SP
Scheppers was a top-10 pick entering the 2008 draft before an injury. The Pirates took him but weren’t able to sign him and he re-entered the draft in 2009. The Rangers took a chance on him with a supplemental pick and if he remains healthy, he could be the steal of the draft. He’s dominating in relief in Double-A this season (3 hits allowed in 10 innings with an K/BB ratio of 18/0…you’re reading that right) so he could be in Texas in a relief role soon, but he’s a potential starter down the road if the Rangers give him a chance to work into the role.
2 (52) – Everett Williams – San Diego – CF
Great athleticism, but can he hit? That’s the question that the Padres answered yes in 2009. He hit in a brief stint last season, but hasn’t done much after getting a late start this year. He’s a good athlete with good speed, but no great tools, so he’ll have to hit to make the Padres’ pick worth while.
3 (91) – Wil Myers – Kansas City – C
Myers bat isn’t a question, but the Royals decided to immediately convert the prep star to catcher, a consensus that many scouts agreed with. While Myers is still learning the position, he had no problem hitting last year. In his first full season, however, he has struggled with contact, but displayed decent power. The contact is expected to return with no issue, and assuming Myers can stay behind the plate, his bat could make him an impact player. If he has to move positions, his value could be compromised.
4 (122) – Max Stassi – Oakland - C
Stassi is a classic case of 1st round money going to a later-round pick, as the A’s decided his bat was worth buying out of a college commitment. Stassi has backed up that confidence so far, demonstrating even more power in 2010 than he did after signing last year, with only his 27-to-9 K/BB ratio serving as a concern.