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).

1 comment:

  1. KC Royals should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here: