Feb 28, 2008

AL Draft Review

AL North

Cleveland chose live-armed starter Frank Hyun with the 15th selection. He flashes good stuff and baffles left-handed batters, but control is a serious issue and is being scouted to play pro hockey. If he signs, he projects as a quality back-of-the-rotation pitcher. Right-hander Thomas Selby should accumulate tons of strikeouts, but hitters will hit him hard if they can make contact. He'll likely top out in AAA. Third-rounder Art Peterson and fourth-rounder Junior Peron draw similar scouting reports as Selby, but both are left-handed. Grade: C-

Montreal picked collegiate left-hander Tyler Bailey, who could be plugged into the middle of a rotation as soon as next season, with the 28th selection overall. He won't win any awards, but he projects as an above-average starter despite average control. Sandwich pick Herbert Alexander projects as a fine leadoff man and average defender at 2B, and provides terrific value at pick 44. Pitcher Matt Blair is a signing risk at pick 72, and starters Dale Lewis, Mac McFeely and Wade Meyers are marginal prospects, at best. Grade: B

Pittsburgh whiffed with their first-rounder, selecting high school SS Pedro Franco at 31. His range and arm are both below-average to go along with his unremarkable hitting skills, and some scouts believe better players were selected later. Juco lefty Matt McConnell is a solid second-round pick and projects as a quality setup man, and catchers Jacque Stone and Dan George add to the Ponies' minor-league glut of quality backstops. Fifth-rounder Craig Crede could one day provide some pop from a ML bench. Grade: C+

Free-agent signings stripped Trenton of their first two draft picks, and the team's first selection, left-hander Chris Bird, projects as a journeyman reliever. Right-hander Jack Ramirez is an intriguing SP prospect, but he'll need to show dramatic improvement to stick in the majors. Speedy LF Stuart Carmona could become a valuable role player, but he lacks the bat speed to earn steady playing time. Grade: C-

AL East

Charlotte's first pick, left-hander Ernest Brock, should rocket through their system and lock down the closer's job for a decade. Some have questioned his dedication to the game, but the talent is real and quite advanced for an 18-year-old. He's an incredible value at pick 23. Second-rounder Antone Ryan doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but he does everything well. He projects as a below-average defensive 2B or above-average LF. Late-blooming left- hander Dave Benson is a a step below Brock, but he could eventually close for another team or set up his fellow draftee, and represents another high-value pick at selection 99. Fourth-round LF Trent Whitehead is another solid prospect who'll be good enough to win a ML job but not quite good enough to lock one down long-term. Right-hander Nate Wagner projects as an average ML long reliever. Sixth-rounder Cameron Lewis has the defensive skills to ride an ML bench, and C/DH Rob Chase is a fantastic value in the seventh round. Grade: A+

New York selected promising closer prospect Vernon Mora with the 10th selection, but he decided to forgo his signing bonus and accepted a college scholarship. Third rounder Johnnie Richardson has not yet signed, either, but even his electric stuff can't overcome woeful control. Starters Theodore Cochran and Wayne Forsch will likely top out at AAA. Seventh-rounder Ken Lofton has Gold Glove potential at 2B or CF, but his bat is just barely good enough to qualify for a starting job. Too many risky picks and not enough reward. Grade: D+

Philadelphia chose on-base machine Geraldo Rosado with selection #20. The RF lacks the high-end speed and baserunning skills to become an elite leadoff man, but he'll likely contend for the batting title from the first or second spot in the order. After that outstanding selection, three signing risks were chosen in SS Keith O'Brien, LF Weldon Black and RF Jack Crawford. Black's speed and baserunning skills could earn him a starting job and Crawford displays impressive bat speed, but none of the three has signed yet. 2B Norm Bettancourt might eventually log some ML service time and seventh-round 3B Mule Peters could provide some solid platoon value. Grade: B-

St. Louis rolled the dice on a pair of signing risks with their first two selections. Scott Terry uses an incredibly deceptive delivery to baffle lefties and righties alike, but some scouts question whether he's got the stuff to be effective as a starter. However, the fourth pick overall has not yet signed, presenting a possibly sickening scenario, but his agent has indicated he might be willing to skip college for the right price. C Luke Blair represents another solid pick, if he decides to accept the team's offer, and undersized lefty SP Trace Hutton is a steal in the third round. Slugging 1B Stu Banks is a solid value in the fourth stanza and fifth-rounder Vic Cruz should stick in the majors as a LF or 1B. Sixth-rounder Domingo Garces flashes exceptional leather, but his bat will keep him on the bench if he makes the ML. Grade: B

AL South

Charleston gave up its first-round selection in free agency, but the team fumbled its second-round choice by selecting hittable SP Alex Hasegawa. The rubber-armed lefty possesses decent control, but many scouts feel he tips his pitches and lacks an out pitch and will likely top out in AAA. College lefty Alan Damon, who projects as a ML back-end SP, provides solid value in the third round, but he was available there because he's also considered a solid NBA prospect. Lefty SP Vernon McCormick is similar to Damon, but only 18 years old and already pitching in rookie ball. Another 18-year-old lefty, Nerio Sweeney, is unlikely to reach the ML. Fifth-rounder Stevie Snow possesses phenomenal power and a keen eye, and he'll likely smack 40 HR more than once. Grade: C

Houston pulled up a chair to the buffet, selecting an gluttonous six times between picks 11 and 66. Scouts are mixed on right-hander Herbert Kotsay's ceiling, projecting him as high as a ML #2, but some scouts believe he's more of a #5. But all agree he'll make the show. Right-handed closer Tony Summers can be hit by left-handers, but his excellent stuff and high stamina will make him an elite setup man. Lefty SP Willis Beimel needs to show dramatic improvement to be effective in the ML, and is a bit of a reach at pick 39. All three second-rounders, including pitcher Deivi Reyes and RF Julian Bennett, remain unsigned, and right-hander Bill York is not a prospect and a poor selection at pick 54. Third-round CF Kelly Ingram should become a fine defensive backup and possible platoon starter. Fourth-round 2B Rob Brown remains unsigned and Alberto Calderon lacks enough tools to be anything more than a 25th man, if that. Grade: C

Little Rock picked up one of the draft's top pitching prospects, right-hander Alex Pulido, with the fourth selection overall. He has true top-of-the-rotation potential, and the collegian is already highly developed and should be ready to pitch at the ML level within two seasons. With their sandwich pick, #40, the club snagged outstanding defensive 2B Lorenzo Montero, who projects as a possible two-hole hitter. Third-rounder Tomas Javier fields like a 3B and hits like a backup SS, and fourth-rounder David Aparicio lacks true ML hitting skills. LF Pedro Gonzalez has the speed and baserunning ability to become a useful role player. Sixth-round RF Dutch Mench and seventh-round 1B Moises Olivo are an intriguing pair of contact hitters who could hit .300 in the right situation. Grade: B+

Texas turned in a solid choice, left-handed SP Ernest Omlansky, with the second selection overall. He lacks the sort of arsenal you expect in an ace, but most scouts agree he could become a quality #2 starter for many years. Sandwich pick Gus Knott is an outstanding defensive CF with a ML-quality bat, but some scouts think he could be most effective as part of a platoon. Second-round 3B Stevie Hogan exhibits the kind of power you can't teach, but his average batting eye will likely keep him from batting fourth. Gregory Levis, another second-rounder, shows Gold Glove potential, and he can get on base and cause trouble once he's there. Third-rounder Malcolm Baldwin is one of the draft's most intriguing prospects, as a rubber-armed long reliever who some scouts say could potentially start. Right-handed reliever Al Rivera doesn't do anything especially well, but he has no glaring flaws and is a good value at pick 110. Fifth rounder Gerald Lush could peak as a decent fourth OF. Grade: A-

AL West

Albuquerque selected SS Bart Pride, who lacks the range to put his gorgeous arm and glovework to full use, with the 17th pick. His bat won't make up for that glaring deficiency, but Pride should be an effective MLer nonetheless. Left-hander David Otanez appears unlikely to sign, but third-round RF Lyle Millwood can do nearly everything but take walks consistently. 3B Chris Miller, a fourth-rounder, could stick in the ML as a backup and fifth-round RP Les Bradley will have to learn to fool hitters to be an effective in the ML. Seventh-round 3B Cody Douglas could find a bench role and 1B Martin Hall could become a middle-of-the-order slugger. Grade: C-

Cheyenne snagged righty Harvey Carr with the 26th selection, and most scouts believe he projects as a #2 or #3 starter. Second-round pitcher Donald Lim remains unsigned, but third-round righty Bonk Stevenson shows plenty of skills but lacks the durability to take the ball every day. Fourth-round 3B Joseph Kuo should develop into a solid starter and represents an outstanding value. 1B Octavio Navarro could blossom into a quality #5 hitter, a fine value for a fifth rounder. Grade: B+

Colorado made a risky selection at #21 with pitcher Billy Haynes, who remains unsigned, and second-round right-hander Lonny Sele projects as a fifth starter at best. Third-rounder Stan Jackson could stick as a fourth OF, but fourth-round SP Ryan Fordyce lacks the skills to break into the ML. Cam Tucker is a fine defensive C, but his bat should keep him in the minors. Sixth-round righty Howard Darwin could hold down the back of a ML rotation one day. Grade: C-

Salem spent the fifth pick in the draft on mustachioed LF Wayne Morris, who's already tearing up AA. He should fill a spot in the middle of the lineup as soon as next season. Righty Brendan Cashman struggles with control, but his pitching skills should still make him an effective ML SP. 3B Austin Riske is a solid value in the third stanza, and fourth-round RF Milt Baker could become a solid cleanup hitter and an outstanding value if he fully develops. Fifth-rounder Trevor Leonard could develop, at best, into a solid back-end starter and, at worst, into a good long reliever. Seventh-rounder Doc Davis lacks the bat to go along with his fine defensive skills, but he could find a spot on a ML bench anyway. Grade: A-

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