Monday, June 29, 2009

This Week on The Auteurs 2...

Because you demanded it, I'm posting a second round of Auteur debating for all of my cinema loving readers to again enjoy...


Enjoy readers!

Best Film to Watch on Father's Day:

What about that horrible movie starring John Travolta as the jilted dad who has to put up with his son and ex-wife shacking up with the villianous Vince Vaughn? I think it was somewhat recent.


In fact, scratch that! I got it. The 1980’s classic starring Peter “Robocop” Weller and Teri Garr….. “First Born”

Rate the Woody Allen Films You've Seen:

@ Fredo This is tough:
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Hannah and Her Sisters
Annie Hall
Husbands and Wives
Sweet and Lowdown
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Match Point
_______________________________________ (great movies)

Stardust Memories
“Oedipus Wrecks” from New York Stories (in fact this was the first Woody Allen film I ever saw)
Bullets Over Broadway
Manhatten Murder Mystery
Anything Else
Broadway Danny Rose (although I do want to see this one again)
Take the Money and Run
Vicky Christina Barcelona
_______________________________________ (his okay movies)

Everyone Says I love You
Mighty Aphrodite
Deconstructing Harry
Radio Days
Cassandra’s Dream
Another Woman
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*
Small Time Crooks
Melinda and Melinda
Shadows and Fog
Love and Death
Hollywood Ending
Curse of the Jade Scorpion
_________________________________________ (his horrible movies)

Marie Antoinette: Yay or Nay?:

@ Berjuan
The more I think about MA the more I like it. I’ll admit I found myself very underwhelmed after seeing it for the first time. Of course the bad reception it received when it debuted at Cannes may have tarnished my intial feelings (along with every other movie reviewer) but Coppola’s decision to avoid politics and concentrate on the aesthetics actually makes sense when dealing with such a vapid character/historical figure who probably found politics and sociology to be rather boring.

Instead of making an overtly political film or presenting MA as a victim deserving of complete sympathy, I think Coppola was more interested in celebrity culture and how the trappings of being born famous can be corrupting. It’s a theme and attitude that still resonates even if its just the clothes and music that changes.

Favourite Films of the Decade (So Far):

In no particular order:

The Dark Knight Returns
No Country for Old Men
Mulholland Drive
Fog of War
Casino Royale
Kill Bill (vols 1&2)
Let the Right One In
Lost in Translation
Freaks and Geeks (First and only season)
The Wire (entire series)
The Office (original UK version; both seasons)

I know I added a few TV series but to me this decade was a boon for television in its ability to really transform itself into a viable medium in terms of storytelling and direction – a lot of which began in the 90’s where TV creators/showrunners became famous and found respect as “auteurs”

This is F***ing Ridiculous:


Notable First Films:

Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter
Terence Malik’s Badlands
John Huston’s Maltese Falcon
Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap
Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali
Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night
Michael Moore’s Roger and Me
Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows
Steven Spielberg’s Duel (if we’re not counting student films and TV episodes)
Quentin Tarantino’s Reservior Dogs
George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane

Regarding acting performances here are a few off the top of my head:

Brigitte Helm in Metropolis
The Marx Brothers in The Cocoanuts
Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde
Anna Karina in A Woman is a Woman
Natalie Portman in The Professional
Eddie Murphy in 48 HRS

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot more, so forgive me…

A Note to My Dear Readers...

If anyone is interested in the fundamental concept of baseball, especially the fragile and combustible dichotomy that exists between pitchers that are deemed "starters" and "closers" then I suggest you follow this link that I published over at Pinstripe Alley analyzing Philip Hughes brief career as a Yankee reliever.

I promise the piece is both brief and so very rewarding!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This week on The Auteurs...

For those who don't/refuse to follow me on The Auteurs, here is a little something that I auteurized on their forum this week:

In regards to the Dead Trilogy:

@ Josh
I agree on it being entirely subjective. That’s the beauty of zombie films; they work under any kind of sub-genre and topical commentary because to us death can symbolize many things – from the fear of its finality to the death of an idea or the sense of feeling powerless to a force more powerful than one can imagine. It’s something both frightening and absurd.

For me, NIGHT still resonates as a tightly told and completely subversive horror movie. To this day I still find it very horrifying in its simplicity and its ability to transcend the time it was made (sorry, Josh, although I agree with 99% of what you said I don’t agree with the notion that NIGHT is dated. Most of the metaphors are still very relevant today).

Regarding DAWN, I’ll always admire Romero’s bravery in his attempt to top his 70’s horror colleagues by creating the ultimate horror expression of 1970’s America. It has Nixon’s paranoia and Carter’s admirable yet failed optimism and the humor and manic sense of action devolving into ambivalence is perfect.

Finally, DAY is probably the most densely layered and for that many fans consider it a classic. When Romero made this one he wasn’t praised in the same manner he is today and I think it was this lack of acclaim that allowed Romero to take further chances. We all know the production of DAY was littered with budget battles since the process of American filmmaking was much more restrictive during the 1980’s (if you were making a horror film not immediately marketable to teenagers you’re probably looking at a major uphill climb). However, the chances Romero took i.e. the satirizing of America’s hero worship of Rambo and the military complex, the progression of zombie sympathizing (the portrayal of Bub was perfectly funny and tragic and made me wish Romero would further this by making a Dead film completing told from a zombie(s) point of view), the inclusion of the “gay” couple (I know it was never said but I always got the sense that the two men living together and represented sanity from the male perspective were gay), as well as the final shot of the survivors on the beach living in perfect peace almost immediately after the zombie attack (?)… I had a discussion with a film professor of mine that made the argument that this shot represented the human POV of life after death and that we should take it as Romero offering us the idea that life as a zombie isn’t necessarily negative since if one believes that our consciousness is separate from our body who knows where that could take us after death. It’s an interesting theory and one I’m not sure Romero ever addressed.

In regards to Horror on Criterion:

I would love for a really good edition of the 1932 Rueben Mamoulian version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I also think it would be a lot of fun if Eclipse would release a set of essential Hammer horror films.

@ Robert
Yes!!! On Martin being included! I’m kind of on a Romero kick and I rushed over here to say that Martin (quite possibly the most un-vampire of all vampire films) be included with all the bells and whistles.

In regards to Top 20 Horror Films:

@ Fake Shemp
Horror movies do not blow and here’s why:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Night of the Living Dead
The Thing (1982 Carpenter version)
Friday the 13th Part 2
It’s Alive
Day of the Dead
Let the Right One In
Silence of the Lambs
The Fly (the Cronenberg one)
Halloween (original, obviously)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the sexed up pre-code Mamoulian version)
The Bride of Frankenstein
Cabin Fever (sorry film snobs)
Rosemary’s Baby
Island of Lost Souls (1932 version)
Dawn of the Dead (original version; although the remake wasn’t bad either)
Near Dark
Helter Skelter (the Manson documentary from the 70's that scared the shit out of me as a kid)
The Exorcist
Horror of Dracula
Curse of Frankenstein

In regards to Which director NOT currently represented in the Criterion Collection do you want to see included:

Nicholas Ray – Bigger Than Life
Pedro Almodovar – Talk to Her
Satyajit Ray – Apu Trilogy (Eclipse)
Alejandro Jodorowsky – El Topo
Leo McCarey – Make Way for Tomorrow (strong rumor of this happening)
Michael Cimino – Heaven’s Gate

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another 2009 MLB Mock Draft Part III: The Brief Update

Yesterday I slightly revised my draft and had it posted over at Driveline Mechanics. Here is the link.

Looking over what I posted here I decided to tweak a few things before I publishing over there. First, I included Kyle Gibson (despite his recent injury) since his status shouldn't be too downgraded compared to earlier doom and gloom reports that he damaged his elbow or shoulder.

The other possibility that is gnawing at me are reports that Matt Purke will be demanding Josh Beckett and Rick Porcello type of money come draft day. I like Purke but his status as a raw LHP puts him nowhere near the talent of either of those guys. This demand is ridiculous and definitely moves him out of the first round (unless the Yankees think of grabbing him with the 29th pick but - despite their desire for left-handed pitching - I don't think Purke is elite enough to waste a compensation pick on). The only team I could see taking him would be the Dodgers in the supplemental round but with his commitment to TCU thrown around as leverage - it's not like the Dodgers will get any value by grabbing him late.

Anyway, I'm excited for tomorrow.... can't you tell?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another 2009 MLB Mock Draft Part II: The Supplemental Round

This post will focus on the supplemental round, a round that is in "limbo" as the insiders of baseball see it. This isn't the first round nor is it the second, it just sits there between the two and serves as compensation for teams who lost important and vital players via free agency.

Editors note: to avoid any confusion please note that the names in parathesis immediately following the team name are the last names of the free agents lost.

33. Seattle Mariners (Ibanez) – Tyler Skaggs, LHP Santa Monica HS (CA)

After taking two offensive players in the first round it would only seem logical that the Mariners dip into pitching and Tyler Skaggs, a prep LHP from California, would make sense. Skaggs has a projectable body and has a quick arm with a decent fastball (around 92 mph) that could see an increase in velocity as he further develops. On the negative side, his curveball has excellent break but it is slow (72-74 mph) and he does have the tendency to slow his arm down a bit when delivering it.

Scouts cite his delivery as being erratic and this can affect his control from time to time (causing his fastball to elevate). Skaggs is an attractive commodity for teams looking to grab a high upside player that can be easily signed.

34. Colorado Rockies (Fuentes) – Slade Heathcott, OF Texas H.S.

After investing in two quality pitchers in the first round and not having selection until 25 picks later, I think the Rockies would benefit by taking a high upside bat. Slade Heathcott is another high ceiling 5 tool capable player. He’s considered an above average hitter left-handed hitter while projecting above average power to all sides of the field. Defensively, Heathcott possesses an arm that is above average from the outfield and despite recovering from ACL surgery last season but has shown no signs in decreased foot speed.

He also projects as a quality LHP with a two-seam fastball clocking in between 88-91 mph and a four seamer that has touched 95 mph. He also throws a curve and changeup that grades as average. The only negative surrounding Heathcott is his commitment to football and if he is ready to give up his status as a two-sport athlete. He is currently committed to attending the University of Texas in the fall.

35. Arizona Diamondbacks (Hudson) – A.J. Pollack, OF Notre Dame

With another pick coming later in this round, Arizona would be smart to grab the best available bat. A.J. Pollack is an excellent option for a team looking for a polished college bat. Scouts have praised his good approach to the plate along with his ability to recognize pitches well. Pollack does, however, struggle with power and some think at best he’ll be a 10-15 HR guy. Those power numbers shouldn’t scare off a team looking to develop a prototypical leadoff hitter and Pollack does fit that scheme since he is graded as a very fast runner and should be a base stealer in the pros. He is adjusting to CF well and is athletic enough to stay there. Scouts think he has the ability to play 2B which would make him more attractive to speculating teams.

36. Los Angeles Dodgers (Lowe) – Colton Cain, LHP Waxahachie HS (TX)

The Dodgers love to draft and develop young pitchers and with their first pick in the draft they may dig into their pocket books and grab Colton Cain, a young lefty out of Texas. Cain is not as polished as the other prep LHPs but he is tall and does have a solid frame (but at 220+ lbs he could run into weight issues in the future) along with an excellent 94 mph sinking fastball.
Scouts find that he has good command of his fastball on both sides of the plate but it’s his additional offerings that are very interesting. Since learning how to pitch last year, Cain has been developing his curveball that some scouts say have plus potential as well as having a plus slider in his future. He has a “feel” for a changeup and if that pitch takes off, he’ll be something special. Cain has committed to U. of Texas for football and baseball and it will take a lot of bonus money to sign him. High risk/high reward and I believe worth the gamble.

37. Toronto Blue Jays (Burnett) – Keyvius Sampson, RHP Forest HS (FLA)

Without another pick until the middle of the second round, taking a pitcher here would benefit the Blue Jays. Keyvius Sampson is an athletic pitcher with a solid frame and a quick arm that produces a fastball that has touched 96 mph and power curve that projects as a plus, Sampson also has a feel for changeup that will be critical to his development.

The drawback to Sampson is his arm slot that differs with each pitch. To be effective Sampson will need to learn a consistent arm slot or learn to throw other pitches with varying arm angles in order to gain command. Regardless of his positives and negatives, Sampson will be a project that could pay benefits in a few years.

38. Chicago White Sox (Cabrera) – Rich Poythress, 1B Georgia

Chicago might take a flyer on last year’s first rounder Gordon Beckham’s teammate. Poythress is a big burly guy who resembles a Matt LeCroy or Sean Casey type, his swing isn’t very pretty and is more strength-generated – a good power pitcher should handle him well. He has below-average speed and is not much of a defender. Although the video below can argue otherwise:

He is currently putting up monster numbers in the SEC and it’s his approach at the plate that draws his fans. Poythress can also be valuable in terms of pitch recognition and his ability to draw walks should attract a good number of teams. But his status as a pure power bat will be debated and decided in a few years.

39. Milwaukee Brewers (Sabathia) – Alex Wilson, RHP Texas A&M

As much as I wanted the Brewers to grab a bat like Brett Jackson I decided after looking over their prospect depth chart that another pitcher would serve their organization better. Alex Wilson would be an intriguing pick if still available. He is coming off his first year after TJ surgery and his prognosis looks good as, this season, scouts have reported that his sinking fastball can hit 95 mph while riding in on lefties. He also has a plus slider as another out pitch and has a changeup (which he admits still needs work) in his arsenal along with good command. What keeps him back is his laborious delivery (hip rotation is a bit off) and ¾ arm slot could point to more potential problems in the future – some teams have flirted with the idea of making him a closer.

40. Los Angeles Angels (Teixeira) – Matt Davidson, 3B Yucaipa HS (CA)

Looking over the prospect depth chart, the Angels could benefit by adding another bat and (again) as much as I wanted to type Brett Jackson’s name here I couldn’t avoid the fact that Matt Davidson would make so much more sense. Davidson looks mature for a high school player, he stands at 6’2” and weighs a solid 225 lbs and has the plus power potential which has intrigued scouts during his last few HS seasons. What keeps him away from Borchering-status is his tendency to be overpowered by quality pitching, it’s a weakness that needs to be addressed but it’s not a consistent problem and many scouts blame it on him pressing and opening up his swing too early (has a slight uppercut in his swing).

His glove at 3B is so-so (his range is good but his arm is below average) and will probably move to a corner OF position or 1B in the future. Another negative is his below average running speed and a verbal commitment to USC which could slightly drive up his asking price.

41. Arizona Diamondbacks (Cruz) – Brad Boxberger, RHP USC

In this slot I’m expecting the Dbacks to grab a safe college pitcher, Boxberger has long been praised for having excellent velocity (95 mph fastball) but stamina issues have haunted him in the past. He has shown some progress working deep in innings but control and command can be an issue (giving him a high frequency of walks). Boxberger is considered a good “polished” college pitcher and repeats his delivery well and changes speeds well with a good slider and curveball.

Right now scouts think his cutter is a capable major league ready “out” pitch. He is improving as a pitcher and at worst he would make an excellent reliever.

42. LA Angels (F. Rodriguez) – Brett Jackson, CF University of California

The Angels having another pick in this round sold me on them taking Brett Jackson. Scouts praise Jackson as one of the top college bats and shows excellent power for a leadoff hitter. Hitting from the left side, he does swing more slap-heavy and shortens his swing for contact but his size (6’2” 210 lbs) points to someone with more power in his future. One troubling aspect of Jackson’s game is his propensity to strikeout – he has fanned 58 times out of 206 ABs. Jackson is an excellent runner and has good instincts for base stealing. On the field, Jackson shows good range and an average arm but some scouts question how long he’ll stay in CF – if he moves to a corner he’ll have to show more power. He is usually compared to Aaron Rowand.

43. Cincinnati Reds (Affeldt) – Chris Dwyer, LHP Clemson

I know the Reds have placed a premium on left-handed pitching but with Matzek gone by the time they selected eighth I figured they would take Alex White over Matt Purke. I could be wrong so with this pick it would be obvious they’d grab the best LHP available. Scouts don’t know what to make of this 21 year old freshman genius; he obviously has the athleticism but book smarts? I don’t know. It’s been reported that Dyer is a regular Daniel Desario, with news that he was held back a grade in elementary school and was “talked into” adding another year of high school to his already impressive academic transcript. On a side note, I wonder if Dwyer was ever faced with taking a big test and resorted to doing this.

Anyway, enough of me being a smartass – besides he’s getting the last laugh since he’s set to receive a high six-figure bonus while I’m sitting here, like a schmuck, blogging about it…

But on a professional and serious level, Dwyer’s delivery looks clean but he has struggled with his command causing his fastball to elevate and become hittable. He can dial up his fastball to 95 mph but it does come in rather straight but his curveball is decent and has plus capability and comes in between 78-80 mph. Dwyer has been up and down this year at Clemson struggling with command during big games but as a lefty to two capable pitches some team will grab him early.

44. Texas Rangers (M. Bradley) – Madison Younginer, RHP Mauldin HS (SC)

In terms of raw talent I like Younginer a lot. He has been recruited by Clemson as both a pitcher and offensive player so it may take a little more money to pry him away. Most scouts like what they see but they still consider this kid to be a bit unknown in terms of projectability. He has been used mainly in the bullpen but he can get his fastball consistently in the mid-90’s with a power curve that projects as a plus. Younginer is very raw and tends to be a bit of a "head-jerker" in his delivery but he has lots of upside. Concerning his delivery, he needs work on repeating his slots and watching his arm action. He also tends to throw long which can be attacked by good hitters. Scouts have said he does work on a changeup on the side but hasn’t found the need to use it in games.

45. Arizona Diamondbacks (Lyon) – Aaron Miller, LHP/OF Baylor University

The more you read about Aaron Miller the more you like. He probably has the best swing among all college bats but his progress as an LHP the past few seasons has made teams think pitcher first, hitter second (if he fails to develop or gets injured a la Rick Ankiel).

Miller has a fastball that sits between 91-94 mph and has an excellent slider which is devastating against left-handed bats. Miller has the size that can house more muscle (currently he is listed at 6’3” 200 lbs) and most scouts think his command will improve once he focuses on pitching full time. At this stage, Miller is a solid pick.

46. Minnesota Twins (D. Reyes) – Victor Black, RHP Dallas Baptist

Minnesota can afford to develop a few starters in their organization and Black should be an easy sign. This season, Black made a big jump by improving his velocity (can top off at 96 mph) and command. His fastball could use a little more movement but it is consistent and his stamina allows him to throw it deep into games. Black also utilizes a good slider and his changeup has shown signs of being effective this year. Scouts love his durability and his size (6’4” 204 lbs) and should develop into a capable starter for the Twins.

47. Milwaukee Brewers (Shouse) – Drew Storen, RHP Stanford

Storen is too good to pass up at this point and with two consecutive picks in the middle of the second round, the Brewers can afford to take a fringy bat then. Storen was used primarily out of the bullpen in college due to command issues. He has a fastball in the 91-94 mph range with good movement along with a hard breaking ball. Scouts say he has a feel for a changeup even though he hasn’t used the latter pitch much out of the pen.

Storen believes he can still start but he will have to work on his command and possibly tweak his delivery. The team that takes him will probably develop him as a starter and then go from there.

48. Los Angeles Angels (Garland) – Jiovanni Mier, SS Bonita HS (CA)

Except for Heckathorn it’s been all bats for the Angels but with a scarcity in middle infielders and the Angels own lacking of quality SS prospects – it only makes sense for them to take Mier. Scouts are high on the lanky Mier due to his solid approach at the plate. He has quick hands and a tight swing but right now he lacks power. Scouts see him developing into a #2 hitter with 10-15 HRs per year when he fills out a little bit. On the defensive side, he has excellent instincts and a strong arm to stick at short.

49. Pittsburgh Pirates (Scheppers) – Nick Franklin, SS Lake Brantley HS (Florida)

Sure, the Pirates could use a serviceable catching prospect but with another early pick in the second round they should have a number of choices available by then. Franklin has the ability to go earlier but with Mier already taken, Franklin becomes all the more valuable. Scouts praise Franklin for his potential to be a five-tool talent, but the only problem is: he isn’t blowing anyone away with his skills. He is a solid defender with a strong arm and good range. He makes contact well and has the potential to develop excellent power. He stands at 6’1” and is a bit lanky but his speed and “solid” baseball skills and athleticism show promising potential.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another 2009 MLB Mock Draft (with expert commentary and video!)

It has been my obsession for the past two weeks to finish up on my personal notes and project how the first few rounds of this month's Major League Baseball draft will carry out from June 9th until the 11th of this year.

To my estimation, this will probably be one of 55,000 mock drafts posted here on the international internets but, hopefully, my readers will taste the difference and deem my mocking as the best. Let's finally begin:

1. Washington Nationals – Stephen Strasburg, RHP San Diego State University

No surprise here since everyone involved or formerly involved with the organization have made their intention to grab Strasburg public knowledge. Although, the real surprise will be if the Nationals give in and pay Strasburg the money he feels he is owed.

On the talent side, Strasburg has been labeled as the best college pitcher to enter the MLB in the modern draft era which dates back to 1965. His numbers and pure stuff are truly unique and he could easily be named as a #2 Sp on most teams.

2. Seattle Mariners – Dustin Ackley, CF/1B North Carolina

If Ackley is capable of playing CF then he’s a sure top-3 choice. Considered the best pure hitter in the draft, he has the contact and eye to be a consistent .300 hitter, however, his power is sub-par (averages 30 ABs per HR) and his swing and frame ( he is 6’1” but his small shoulders limits his frame) doesn’t allow for much development in that department. However, the last few weeks we've seen a significant power surge from Ackley further pointing to the argument some scouts have made concerning his unattractive yet deceptive swing.

Looking at the video, Ackley's swing and bat control are perfect but it’s how he finishes his swing that leaves many to question his power potential. Upon examination, one can see a slight uppercut in his swing that can pick the ball up and his open stance does allow him to pull the ball easily and he goes to all points of the field well. He was limited in ’09 to playing 1B after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but has experience playing the OF.

3. San Diego Padres – Aaron Crow, RHP Fort Worth Cats (Ind. League)

There is a lot of talk about Kyle Gibson going before Crow but I have a feeling the Padres will pinch their pennies and grab a polished/high ceiling player that is much more "obtainable" this season. I'm sure Crow and co. will try to use the #3 spot to leverage even more money than last season and negotiations will drag until the deadline but for Crow not to sign and go back slinging it in the Independent League while waiting for 2010 will obviously be detrimental.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates – Tyler Matzek

considered to be the top LHP in this draft. His fastball is a plus offering hitting 95 mph with some sink and his slider has bite but his curveball can a bit slurvy at times and is considered an intriguing work in progress. His frame is perfect for putting on more weight as he matures and his legs and hips seem very strong. With three capable plus offerings as a LHP, Matzik should be an easy top 10 choice but there are rumors that he may be expensive to sign.

5. Baltimore Orioles – Jacob Turner, RHP Westminister Christian HS (MO)

The Orioles will be targeting the best available with preferences for pitching or a solid corner bat and since the O's don't have a pressing need for a young future CF, I think the Jacob Turner will be the obvious choice.

many love his smooth, easy delivery and three solid pitches. His plus fastball registers between 90-94 mph with good sink and his curveball has plus potential (can be slurvy at times). Turner also has a feel for the changeup but doesn’t need to use it much at his current level. Entering the draft at 6’4” and 220lbs, Turner has the prototypical pitcher’s frame.

6. San Francisco Giants - Donavan Tate, CF Cartersville HS (GA)

From a player development standpoint, Tate's swing has a soft front which has caused him trouble hitting the ball squarely. Many scouts believe this flaw can be reversed as soon as Tate commits to baseball full-time. The video below shows Tate hitting after 1:04 in.

Although considered the top prep player in the country, Tate remains a project and I believe his status as a high risk/high reward player will be attractive to the Giants who have a history gambling (with success) over the past few drafts. Tate Has 5-tool talent and a lot of upside and is also an above average defender and should be a solid CF for some time. Some scouts have described him as a man playing among boys.

7. Atlanta Braves – Zach Wheeler, RHP East Paulding HS (GA)

Looking over the past few drafts, the Braves tend to favor prep talent from the southeast and this year should be no different. Wheeler has a lot of upside with a plus two-seam fastball that sinks in the zone and can top off at 98 mph but his curve needs work as it does tend to show plus potential. His command does tend to suffer with an inconsistent delivery but scouts believe this flaw can be easily fixed. His body type is perfect and Wheeler is especially good at using his legs and has excellent arm strength.

8. Cincinnati Reds - Matt Purke, LHP Klein HS (TX)

Cincinnati will be looking for quality LHP early and with Matzek already gone I can see them selecting a high upside prep arm like Matt Purke.

Most scouts praise Purke for his maturity on the mound and is considered the second best high school LHP. He has a projectable frame (stands 6’3” 180 lbs) and throws a heavy sinker along with a four-seamer that can consistently hit 94-95 mph which should play well in Cincinnatti's bandbox. He also has an impressive curve (2-7 break) that he can throw with confidence. A major negative can be seen in his delivery. Looking at the video, Purke mainly uses his upper body while pitching. Being an “upper body” pitcher combined with his three-quarter arm slot can lead to overcompensation and possible arm injury.

9. Detroit Tigers – Grant Green, SS USC

Detroit never shies away from grabbing the best available despite questions of signability. It’s worked in recent drafts with pitchers Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello falling into their lap after being passed up due to money concerns and now both are key members of their current rotation. If Green is still available I can’t imagine the Tigers passing him up especially with no blue chip SS prospect due to come up in their organization.

Green has become a rather controversial player in this draft due to his slow start after a productive 2008 season. Over the past few months his offensive stats are back to normal but there are still a lot of negatives to factor in. First, Green has excellent power and makes reasonable contact despite his BB% being a bit low. This season Green has improved his bb/rate to a more respectable 10% but his k/rate has increased to 20% which can project a low BA in the pros. Another major negative is his BABIP, a closer look at this number reveals a .472 BABIP which is abnormally high given the PAC-10 average is .333. This does point to luck being a major contributor to his recent surge and does give validation to the scouts skeptical about Green’s transition to the pros. On the defensive side, he has made 15 errors this season at short but many say they were uncharacteristic and came early in the season during his hitting slump. If Green’s glove can play then, despite these negatives, he is still a first round pick even with Scott Boras being another factor.

10. Washington Nationals – Mike Minor, LHP Vanderbilt University

Despite Washington’s insistence that they will pursue the best available at #10, their organizational philosophy will dictate otherwise. Most experts feel they will go after a polished college pitcher with minor upside, on paper Mike Minor isn’t the type of pitcher to wow anyone but as a LHP with three serviceable pitches he will be sought after.
His fastball sits around 90-92 mph and tends to run in on righties. Minor also has a good slider that has a tight break and a good feel for a changeup that he doesn’t use that often. His command was a bit iffy early on in the season but it has improved as the season has worn on. Minor has good size and frame and with his mature mound presence; the only major red flag is his usage esp. last season – reports have come in that Minor suffered from a tender elbow last offseason but this season he has been healthy.

11. Colorado Rockies - Alex White, RHP University of North Carolina

With two picks in the first round, I expect the Rockies to grab what they feel is the best available college pitcher early. Alex White has struggled a bit down the stretch but he is hailed for throwing a quality fastball (between 91-94 mph); he also throws his plus slider with confidence along with a plus splitter. His curveball is considered ok along with a changeup he rarely uses. Some scouts point to a flaw in his delivery where he tends to throw across his body and his lead foot tends to land on the right side of the rubber causing him to release the ball slightly early.

Of course these are correctable with proper coaching in the big league level but one thing that gnaws at me is his build. On paper, White possesses the perfect pitcher build (6’3” 200lbs), his shoulders are wide enough to hold more muscle but his legs and hips are incredibly narrow for the average pitcher. For pitchers, legs and strong hip rotation are essential and considered to be their core muscles – if a pitcher is lacking in one or more of these groups (see Chin-Ming Wang’s problem earlier this season) then one’s arm strain is maximized and consistency becomes elusive. For me, these negatives keep White from being a top-5 pick and with proper mechanical adjustment I can actually see White with his plus fastball and slider projecting as a capable closer.

12. Kansas City Royals - Shelby Miller, RHP Brownwood HS (TX)

Kansas City tends to select prep players early and Miller has all the tools of a solid HS pitcher, he throws 93 mph consistently (and can reach up to 98 mph) with a deceptive sinking fastball and excellent release. His curveball has the potential to be a plus pitch and comes in around 73-78 mph. He stands at 6’3” with a projectable frame and looks athletic.

The only problem is his command especially with his curveball – his fastball does have the tendency to stay up in the zone. He could also be helped by developing his changeup (which he has “attempted” which is common among most high school arms) as a third pitch in the future. Miller is a solid early first round project and has helped himself with very good recent outings during the Texas state championships.

13. Oakland Athletics - Mike Leake, RHP Arizona State University

Oakland traditionally goes after college talent in the first few rounds. If Mike Leake is still around I would expect them to take this near mlb-ready RHP, Leake has a feel for 4 different pitches and consistently pounds the strike zone with his 92-94 mph sinker. Many scouts have questioned his size (allegedly 6’) and it’s the only factor that keeps him away from being a top 5 pick since many love his poise and competitive spirit. He has excellent command, good sinking fastball, hard slider and a plus changeup. I see him as a durable #2 SP but if he works on his curveball his upside will be higher. If all goes right, look for Leake to help anchor a good Oakland staff in 2011.

14. Texas Rangers – Tanner Scheppers, RHP

The Texas front office has made it public that they would love to grab a pitcher and if declared fully healthy I expect them to take a shot at Tanner Scheppers. Considered a top 10 pick last season, Scheppers ran into shoulder trouble before the 2008 draft. The Pirates took a chance and selected him in the second round but Scheppers refused to be undersold.
Many scouts who have watched him recently say he is pitching well and has improved his delivery. His 2008 scouting report states when healthy he can touch 98 mph with his sinking fastball and has an above-average power curve. Scouts who have watched him this year feel that his changeup does come in a little fast (88 mph) and it’s still considered a work in progress.

15. Cleveland Indians – James Paxton, LHP University of Kentucky

Cleveland is another organization that likes take college players early and I think Paxton would be a good selection here. A tall lefty with a sinking fastball that ranges from 92 to 98 mph, Paxton has had command issues esp. to the third base side of the plate. He does have a hard slider and has flashed a changeup now and then. Despite his height (6’4”) Paxton doesn’t have much of an athletic body, but his delivery is consistent and if his changeup develops into a potential out pitch, he could become #1 material.

16. Arizona Diamondbacks - Wil Myers, C Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC)

May look like a slight stretch but with four picks in the first and supplemental rounds, Arizona has the leverage to get creative. Since I have Myers as the best upside catcher available, I figure Arizona will be shopping for one and Myers could be gone come supplemental time. What makes Myers valuable is his excellent athleticism along with the agility and arm to stick behind the plate. He also has the potential and bat speed to hit for power. His one glaring offensive weakness is that he tends to pull the ball excessively which leaves him susceptible to pitches on the outer part of the plate. Again: Myers with his size and projectable frame is one of my favorite prep catchers, he blocks the ball well, has excellent power and his instincts and skills as an athlete should reward the team that drafts him.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks – Rex Brothers, LHP Lipscomb University

The other half of their first round picks will probably go to pitching and Rex Brothers who has a plus 4-seam fastball that clocks in at 97 mph would make a fine pick. He also has a plus slider and both are certified out pitches. Right now he has a feel for the changeup but it’s still in its development stage.

Brothers is still learning how to pitch effectively and his control is showing improvement, some scouts still think he’s too green while others have him rated much higher than I do. His delivery does require some effort and if he doesn’t produce an effective changeup he may be better served coming out of the bullpen.

18. Florida Marlins - Matt Hobgood, RHP Norco HS (CA)

I like Matt Hobgood a lot. He’s a big strong righty with an explosive fastball and a plus 11 to 5 curve, some scouts say Hobgood’s curveball is the best among prep pitchers this year. His slider is a little slurvy but it’s serviceable, however, some say he has no feel for a changeup. Hobgood should go early but he is still a project especially in his delivery which does have a bit of a hard landing that can cause his fastball to stay up in the zone (some scouts say it’s fixable since he mostly throws hard as a way to attract the radar gun).

Hobgood will also have to tweak his delivery in that his release point since his fastball is easy to see coming out of his hand and it does tend to come rather straight. Also, as you can see in the video, his delivery tends to cause him to stand straight up. More flex in his back leg would benefit him in helping to keep his fastball down. Regardless, Hobgood is confident and not afraid to come after hitters but without a serviceable third pitch (i.e. changeup) and without the necessary tweaks to his delivery, Hobgood’s ability to become a #1 starter may be a stretch.

19. St. Louis Cardinals - Chad Jenkins, RHP Kennesaw State University

St. Louis usually plays it safe and goes for college talent(except for maybe last year when they gambled on taking the Walrus, which I do feel was a great pick) and this year I see them grabbing Chad Jenkins. Some scouts are skeptical of the quality of talent Jenkins has faced but he does have excellent command (only 15 BBs in 92 IP) and a good sinking fastball that sits at 92 mph. He also has a decent slider and his changeup is still a work in progress and, unfortunately, doesn’t project to be much of a pitch.

20. Toronto Blue Jays – Bobby Borchering, 3B Bishop Verot HS (Florida)

Toronto loves to draft offensive players and if Bobby Borchering is still around it would be very tough for them to pass him up. Borchering is considered the top prep bat in this draft, I know Donavan Tate has a little game but as a pure hitter it would be a crime if Borchering never saw the big show. Focusing on the negatives, his glove stinks (most HS non-SS do) but his bat can play anywhere. He has excellent power and bat speed and can hit from both sides of the plate, although he can struggle against good breaking balls (but who doesn’t?). He projects as a future 1B or LF and should hit in the middle of the lineup.

Anyway, check out the video below and revel in the pure awesomeness 0:46 in:

21. Houston Astros - Chad James, LHP Yukon HS (OK)

I slotted Chad James here because Houston has a tendency to overdraft in the early rounds and James seemed like a semi-safe overdraft. However, if I had any say in their front office I would definitely advise against grabbing an LHP early since Houston’s park already does a great job in neutralizing left-handed bats. On the talent side, James is a big projectable lefty with a solid frame and a 93-94 mph fastball. His curveball flashes some potential but its consistency is lacking. James has a feel for a changeup but doesn’t use it in games.

Scouts say he can throw three different pitches for strikes but his delivery has kinks and would need to be smoothed out. Considered a good athlete, James has the making to be a power LHP with three good pitches but he will take time to develop.

22. Minnesota Twins - David Renfroe, SS South Panola HS (MISS)

Minnesota tends to go after high upside prep talent and Renfroe is an excellent athlete with the size to get bigger. He doesn’t exactly have the range to stick at short but his hands and arm are excellent and with his powerful bat and excellent bat speed he should make the move to 3B with no problems. His speed is also above-average. If he stays at short he’ll be incredibly valuable and have the skills to be a 30-20 .300 hitter.

23. Chicago White Sox – Eric Arnett, RHP Indiana University

The White Sox is another organization that grabs college players early, this draft I see them picking Eric Arnett who made a big jump his junior season as his fastball increased from 92 mph to 96 with excellent sink. Some scouts have criticized Indiana’s decision to keep him off his changeup and instead he’s been throwing a splitter which is so-so and tends to flatten out (along with his slider at times).

His delivery has been inconsistent but scouts believe his change has plus potential and could propel him to an elite SP. Arnett isn’t afraid to pitch to contact and trusts his sinking fastball to get him infield outs. His control greatly improved this year but watch his effectiveness and overuse. Arnett tends to throw a lot of pitches and the wear and tear could cost him which isn’t good for a work in progress.

24. Los Angeles Angels - Tim Wheeler, OF Sacramento State

With two consecutive first round picks one would have to assume they will dip into both pitching and offense. I’m split between them selecting either Michael Trout or Tim Wheeler, both players fit their needs and offensive schemes but in terms of polish and being near MLB ready I think the Angels will go with Wheeler. One of the more interesting OF prospects, he has plus speed and could become a consistent SB threat in the future. Wheeler makes consistent contact from the left side and has a good eye and pitch recognition. His size 6’4” and frame has scouts wondering how much power capability he has, in the past he wasn’t known to be a power threat but this year he has displayed power consistently and that has caused his value to skyrocket. All this and the tools necessary to become a proficient CF makes him a first round talent.

25. Los Angeles Angels - Kyle Heckathorn, RHP Kennesaw State University

Heckathorn has the build of a Kyle Farnsworth but, unfortunately, pitches like him as well. He has a big straight fastball that can touch 96 mph. He has the potential for a power slider but his command is rocky and he tends to get his pitches up. His poise on the mound is a little shaky as he tends to get emotional and excitable causing him to lose focus and overthrow. Scouts have seen some promise in his changeup (great arm speed) which has some sink to it as well as a slider that can be developed into an out pitch.

Heckathorn is known to pound the strike zone and his lack of any true offspeed offerings leads me to believe that he may find himself very hittable as he progresses as a starter (esp. in later innings) which leads me to consider him as a future closer.

26. Milwaukee Brewers – Andrew Oliver, LHP Oklahoma State

Milwaukee is another team looking to grab a pitcher and Andrew Oliver could be a fit. He has an excellent fastball that ranges from 92-97 mph with good sink and rides in on hitters. Oliver also has plus command and a plus changeup giving him a repertoire to get out hitters now. His lack of a third pitch keeps him back but any lefty with his arsenal is a rarity. Oliver has struggled this season due to legal concerns involving the NCAA but he should be easy to sign making him more attractive to the organization.

27. Seattle Mariners – Jared Mitchell , CF LSU

With a new front office that in their short history has focused on pitching and defense, my guess is that they'll gamble on the offensive/defensive side and go after Jared Mitchell now and focus on pitching later (since they have the first pick in the supplemental round which is 6 picks later).

I know they already grabbed Ackley second, but Mitchell can serve as insurance and as a potential 5 tool talent with a very high ceiling the Mariners can afford to be patient. Mitchell has plus speed and plus power but always struggled to hit for average until this season. Mitchell improved his plate discipline but still strikes out too much. His swing does tend to uppercut a bit much but his athleticism and ability to play CF well draw teams to this raw project as he commits to baseball full-time.

28. Boston Red Sox – Max Stassi, C Yuba City (CA)

It’s obvious that Boston is looking to shore up their catching and they may get what they want by selecting Max Stassi. Being considered one of the elite prep catchers, Stassi comes from a baseball family and his instincts and leadership skills are excellent behind the plate. His swing is balanced and even though he doesn’t have plus power he can still go deep. Stassi stands at 5’10” and could add more muscle since his speed isn’t a factor. The only drawback is the shoulder tendinitis he suffered from earlier this season but, so far, it’s not considered serious.

29. New York Yankees – Michael Trout, CF Millville HS (NJ)

The Yankees are one of the teams that can afford to pursue expensive talent and since I have the high priced question marks like Green, Tate, and Crow already off the board – and with no other pick until the middle of the second round my guess is that they’ll go after speed and offense and select Michael Trout. With an organization already grooming Austin Jackson, the organization would be comfortable grooming Trout in hopes that he will reach his high-ceiling. Trout doesn’t look like your typical CF (6’1” 195 lbs with a stocky build) but he does have the first step quickness to be a base stealer and a good fielder. Trout’s bat has a smooth balanced stroke and shows flashes of good power in the future. He is still raw as he learns to switch-hit and could be a steal in the draft.

30. Tampa Bay Rays – Tony Sanchez, C Boston College

With young developing talent in almost every major position this team should have the opportunity to select a promising catcher. Tony Sanchez should be a safe and promising pick. Sanchez has the prototypical catcher’s physique and with his quick feet and agility he’ll have no problem staying behind the plate. He has quick bat speed but doesn’t project to hit more than 15 HRs a year but he has a good work ethic with average running speed.

31. Chicago Cubs – Everett Williams, OF McCallum HS (TX)

Apparently the Cubs have a reputation for slavishly selecting players in the first round that hail from the Midwest. Looking over the past five years the Cubs have used their first round choices on players nowhere near the flyover states. But with every analyst worth their slat predicting that the Cubs will select Notre Dame product AJ Pollack if available (he is), my guess is that they will be turned off by his lack of power and select the Texas project Everett Williams instead. Williams is much more highly regarded than I see him, yes he is a polished runner and plays the outfield well in terms of range although but his arm is rated as below-average. He is small (5’10”) and although he swings the bat well and has shown plus power, he does have a tendency to strikeout often. Scouts are mixed as to whether he is an everyday player but the consensus believes his athleticism can help him make the necessary adjustments.

32. Colorado Rockies – Garret Gould, RHP Maize HS (KS)

This should be an interesting pick and with excellent young players established up the middle, I think the Rockies should use their early picks to shore up pitching (especially with their previous pick being possibly expensive). Garret Gould would make a fine choice here. He’s considered an easy sign and his increased fastball velocity (91-94 mph) and emerging changeup has impressed many scouts. Gould also possess a quality curve that could develop into a true power pitch. He stands at 6’4” and should develop even more muscle on his 200 lb frame. The one glaring negative seen by scouts concerns his maximum effort delivery causing many people in player development thinking he’ll be better suited for the bullpen (which would be a waste and improbable if his changeup and curveball further develops).

* Soon I will predict the supplemental rounds (stay tuned).