Assessing Day One from the NL West

Your going to read a lot about the Rockies picks in the coming days, but before any of these prospects take the professional field, I thought I'd make a quick and probably highly inaccurate assessment of how our divisional rivals did on their drafts yesterday. I think I'll wait to assess the other 44 rounds until after a clearer picture emerges with the post-draft signing period of who's actually going to make it onto these teams, and even then don't expect the same pick by pick detail, this was tricky enough.

 

Arizona

26 Daniel Schlereth LHP Arizona

A solid late inning reliever who could be their version of Brian Fuentes very soon. Arizona’s had a weakness in left handed relief the last couple of seasons as evidenced by the success divisional sluggers like Brad Hawpe and James Loney have had against them. It was a solid choice at the slot that happens to fill a glaring need.

43 Wade Miley LHP Southeastern Louisiana   

Finesse lefty in the Keith Weiser mode.

73 Bryan Shaw RHP Long Beach State

Fastball/slider reliever who benefitted from a pitcher’s haven in college. His ceiling seems to be middle relief, as he doesn’t have the stuff of Arizona’s current bullpen or of Schlereth. I think the Snakes may have flubbed this one.

104 Kevin Eichhorn RHP/SS Aptos HS CA

This might be the second best pick of the draft for the D-backs thus far. The son of Mark Eichhorn has a small chance of developing into a decent mid-rotation starter, but at the very least his stuff should play up in the bullpen where he’d have a ceiling higher than Shaw’s and be a prototypical set-up man.

138 Ryne White OF Purdue

White played first in college but lacks the size or pop for the position in the professional ranks. He’d be fourth outfielder incapable of playing center, but a decent bench bat that can make contact and draw walks. A safe, low ceiling pick.

168 Collin Cowgill OF Kentucky

This one’s a little more interesting, as Cowgill packs a lot into a smallish frame. He plays center in college, and while he lacks the speed for the position, he’s got tremendous instincts that make up for it and a quick first step. He reminds me of Asheville’s Michael Mitchell in this regard, although Cowgill would have more power while Mitchell has better baserunning skills.  His arm’s average. Should he make the majors it would be as a defensive super-sub who could play all three outfield positions.

198 Justin Parker SS Wright State

D-backs top prospect Jarrod Parker’s brother, Justin was drafted by a shortstop but I don’t think any scouts feel he could stick at the position in the pros. Again, he’s a player that’s close to his ceiling, should move quickly, but won’t make a big impact or a starting lineup in the MLB.

Overall Assessment:

 An ultra-conservative draft designed to fill the D-backs bench quickly, rather than restocking a trade depleted farm system. Only Schlereth seems to have a ceiling comparable to or above average MLB players at his position, and everybody else selected here pales in comparison with players already on the D-backs. This isn't a draft for the MLB future so much as it's a draft trying to shore up organizational depth in the present. The Snakes after this season are almost certain to have the least impressive crop of prospects in the division with the gains being made in San Diego and San Francisco. The funny thing with drafts like this is that Scouting Directors don’t realize that the risk of polished college players not panning out actually increases considerably when their ceilings are so low that they only amount to potential fringe players to begin with. It’s probably bad news for the Snakes that this draft makes me as a biased Rockies fan about as excited and happy as our own draft makes me.

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Los Angeles:

15 Ethan Martin RHP Stephens County HS, Toccoa, GA

There was some confusion at first about whether the Dodgers selected Martin as a third baseman or a pitcher, it turns out that Bud Selig or one of his minions made the blunder before he took the podium and read Martin’s name, as LA really intends for Ethan to go to the mound in their system. I’m actually in the minority in the opinion that I see a better future for him as a position player. He’s got a flat, mid-90’s fastball that lacks the movement of some other RHP’s in this draft, but a decent breaking pitch and a changeup that scouts like. To me, it still says mid-rotation starter without more dive on his fastball, but more likely a high leverage reliever. As a third baseman, his total package of tools is starter worthy on a contending team, and I see him growing into a regular plus five or six win player there, versus becoming just a plus three or four win player on the mound. I know a lot of people see his pitching ceiling as higher, I can only see that if he develops a two seamer or a cutter to show a little more hard break.

61 Josh Lindblom RHP Purdue

This definitely isn’t a typical Logan White draft as you’ll see, starting with this pick of a college reliever. I usually prefer scouting directors taking these guys in rounds two or three rather than say, eighth overall (I’ve got to say, though, that Casey Weathers has a higher ceiling than all the college relievers of 2008), so it’s a good selection. Lindblom should move fast.

93 Kyle Russell OF Texas  

The Rockies and Dodgers have had remarkably similar drafts through six rounds, as Lindblom’s the same type of overlooked reliever as Weatherford, and Russell’s the same type of overlooked power player that Chris Dominguez is. In this case, I like ours better should we come up with the funds to sign him.

127 Devaris Strange-Gordon RHP Seminole (Fla.) CC

Tom Gordon’s son is remarkably underdeveloped considering his athlete father, and has a lanky body more reminiscent of some undernourished Latin American signees. That said, he’s got quick wrists at the plate and across the board plusses on the defensive scales. Right now he looks like a light hitting shortstop, but there’s enough projection there to keep an eye on.

157 Jon Michael Redding RHP Florida CC-Jacksonville

He’s an LSU recruit, who might be tough to sign, but the Dodgers usually are among the best at hauling their guys in. 89 mph fastball with some movement, average pitches otherwise and good mechanics. He’d be a weekend starter for one of the best D-1 programs, and in the pros has a potential ceiling as a solid workhorse mid-rotation starter but this type will more typically wind up as a bottom of the rotation innings eater.

187 Tony Delmonico SS Florida State

He mixes a plus arm and plus footwork with a lead glove on defense, his bat’s not good enough to move, though, so the Dodgers will have to correct that one flaw to draw his utility infielder potential out. Strange pick for LA as there’s not much projection here at all.

Overall Assessment:

This went far astray from a typical Logan White draft with only one high school player selected in the first six rounds. I think it was probably the right call, but the Dodgers just don’t seem to be quite as effective at uncovering college talent as they are at finding the prep gems. Russell’s the only player that jumps out here at the moment besides Martin, and with my feeling that Ethan’s in the wrong position, it leaves me less impressed by this Dodger draft than I typically am.

 

 

San Diego:

23 Allan Dykstra 1B Wake Forest

I’m not sure what to think about Dykstra. He’s certainly got the stats, but scouts have given pretty drab reviews. He’s not at the level of other first basemen in this draft, and might be a disappointment when compared to a guy like Ike Davis, taken just a couple of slots before.

 42 Jaff Decker OF/1B Sunrise Mountain HS, Peoria, AZ

The Padres must feel that they’ve got a pretty good shot at getting him to leave his Arizona State commitment by taking him so early. I think there’s some upside here, but maybe not enough with too much risk for this selection. I doubt Decker has the capability to be a star, but he should at least have some MLB value.

 46 Logan Forsythe 3B/OF Arkansas

Forsythe combines the hitting ability of Darin Holcomb with added athleticism and about four more inches, which apparently makes all the difference. He’s a grinder, and should take to instruction, so if he hits bumps along the road, look for him to correct them. In the end I don’t know if he’s much more than a utility player or if he can really reach the Mike Lowell comps given to him. It’s a decent pick for the slot, however.

69 James Darnell 3B South Carolina

Nice pick. I think the Pods got a bit of a steal here, Darnell could play just about anywhere and has power that’s legit.

101 Blake Tekotte OF Miami (FL)

Paul Depodesta on his blog calls Tekotte “a true leadoff hitting centerfielder who is an above average runner and defender. The best part is that he’s also a hitter.” His absolute ceiling could be as a legit leadoff MLB guy, but he actually reminds me more of a Chris Duffy type that might not actually be good enough for starting on a contender.

111 Sawyer Carroll 1B Kentucky

Carroll is a big outfielder with a loopy swing that came into some power suddenly this season. The Padres obviously like the swing enough to think it plays at first base. I don’t, especially not at PETCO, since a lot of those newfound HR’s barely cleared the fence from what I’m told. His selection seems to be the Padres trying to hedge their bets with the Dykstra pick. I don’t know if either really pan out.

135 Jason Kipnis OF Arizona State

The guy’s numbers are pretty much flawless at one of the nation’s top schools in a tough conference. The one blemish in his line came in April when he was suffering from a viral infection. Other than that, he’s just gone out and produced week after week.  Baseball America talks about a bat wrap that could slow his bat down in the professional ranks. As this article about the flaw mentions, however, some players with extremely quick reflexes such as Gary Sheffield, Carl Yastremski or Julio Franco, actually benefit from a bat wrap, as it keeps them from getting out front of pitches.  Kipnis has thrived up to a pretty high level even against some hard throwers such as UCLA pitcher and Rangers draft pick Tim Murphy, whom he homered off of May 2 so it's not too big a stretch to envision him making it the rest of the way. This is really a long way of saying that I like the gamble taken by the Padres here.

165 Anthony Bass RHP Wayne St

After six corners and a Tekotte, the Friars finally chose a pitcher, and it’s one of my favorite Padres picks of the early draft. Bass throws his fastball consistently in the low nineties with movement and has a sharp curve that belies his status as a Div-II player. He hasn’t gone up much against top competition, but he has stuff that suggests he could with little difficulty. I like the swing and miss potential of Bass better than that of  Ethan Hollingsworth, who the Rockies drafted earlier at 137 and think Bass could potentially top out as a mid-rotation type while Hollingsworth will be lucky to be a #4 at the big league level.

 195 Cole Figueroa SS Florida

Tricky sign, and not enough payoff for it to be worth the effort and money for this draft eligible sophomore.

Overall Assessment:

I’m impressed by what the Padres did here, as this seems at first glance to be the kind of safe draft Arizona was going for but with a much higher caliber of player. I’m particularly smitten with the Darnell, Kipnis and Bass picks as they have some decent ceilings of potential, but also high floors that leave them valuable even if things don’t pan out. The Padres eschewed premium positions and pitchers but got some athletes and the one pitcher that they did draft, Bass, has as much upside to me as any RHP drafted in the division on the first day, with only Ethan Martin being a possible exception.

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San Francisco:

5 Buster Posey C Florida State

Some people really like Posey, but anytime an amateur entry player asks for as much money as he’s asking for, it sort of turns me off and I can no longer evaluate without personal bias getting in the way. He’s had a great year for a college program that tends to manufacture overhyped expensive baseball players like it was a factory designed to that end. The Drew brothers, John Ford Griffin, Paul Wilson, Tony LaRussa and Bruce Bochy. Hey wait a sec.., anyway, maybe Posey will like those last two have a career as a manager in front of him, and maybe he’ll be a productive player, but I don’t see him becoming a star or living up to the contract he’s going to get.

37 Conor Gillaspie 3B Wichita State  

Gillaspie’s a solid hit for average but not power type of player at the pro level.

82 Roger Kieschnick OF Texas Tech

Kieschnick’s a solid hit for power, but not average type of player at the pro level.

117 Brandon Crawford SS UCLA

It’s a nice risk pick with some upside, but oftentimes –as people do with their investments- teams don’t pull the plugs as quickly as they should when the risk proves bad. Crawford's already had considerable opportunity to realize his potential, the clock on that will run out fast if he doesn't hit the pro ranks running, I would think.

147 Edwin Quirate RHP Cal State Northridge

177 Eric Surkamp LHP North Carolina State

Two low ceiling college arms that the Giants will use to fill minor league innings and beat up on younger competition. Surkamp has a little more upside, but his secondary stuff lacks command and won't work against advanced hitters.

Overall Assessment:  My snark above on Kieschnick doesn’t do him justice, he’s actually got the highest offensive ceiling of this bunch, but I want to get this finished and posted. Overall, while I like the Giants first four picks, they really don’t live up to the standard of 2007. It’s a decent, unspectacular first day.

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I’d rank our four rivals first day of the 2008 draft this way:

  1. San Diego
  2. San Francisco
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Arizona

Clearly I play favorites when it comes to Colorado, so I won’t rate the Rockies with the rest, but in my purple haze I think our team’s draft stacks up well with the Padres, particularly considering we had fewer early picks. Really, however, San Diego just sort of overwhelms with numbers there at the top, and with some good looking sleeper picks like Bass and Kipnis, I think I have to concede day one to San Diego. I would put us ahead of the Giants at number two on the upside strength of Friedrich and Dominguez and the security of almost certain MLB value in most of our picks even on the low end of expectations. Looking at these downsides shows that only Posey and Gillaspie grade at near certain MLB value for the Giants, with a pretty high risk of total flameout with several of their picks. Like I say, though, I'm biased, so I can see the argument that the upsides of Posey, Kieshnick and Crawford trumps us.

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