A total of 34 players were selected in the first round of the draft this season. More college players than high school players were taken (19 to 15), but talent appeared to be evenly distributed through both scouts.
While there was a lot of starting pitching talent available, there was a considerable lack of top-end talent you would normally expect to find at the skill positions. Consider no shortstops were selected until the 32nd pick. Two stud catchers went in the top ten, but otherwise few standout position players were taken. This draft lacked a Kris Henley-type of outfielder or a Jack Hague-type of infielder from last season’s draft.
Here’s how the draft unfolded, with owner’s comments included.
1. Eric Quinn, SP – New Orleans Wolverines
DWB: Quinn was among the safest selections in the draft, and it’s not hard to see why. The starter has already proven he can go to the mound regularly on just a few days of rest and can pitch deep into ball games. He’s on the cusp of having major league talent, as scouts rated his current stuff among the most developed in the draft. His ceiling is high, but the 22-year-old will need the right coaching and level to get there. If he does, his command and movement on his pitches will make him an effective starter.
scootermcray: Had the number one pick and took Eric Quinn as we desperately needed at least one good starting pitching prospect to start building a future staff around. Debated long and hard about taking the younger Ross Palmer, but had zero in HS scouting so couldn't totally trust the projected ratings I was seeing. Obviously with him going number two, I couldn't have gone wrong either way.
Also gave serious consideration to the already ML-ready slugger Koyie White (#5 overall), but really needed the pitching so Quinn was the safest pick.
White could be a beast so it will be fun to look back in a few seasons at who really was the better pick. Then again, if my ML team doesn't start producing, I may not even be allowed here to see these guys reach the Bigs.
2. Ross Palmer, SP – Syracuse Nephilim
DWB: The 18-year-old has a lot of raw talent for his age, but will require a lot of coaching to reach that lofty ceiling. Scouts believe the big lefty will have two plus-plus pitches in his arsenal and will throw them hard, keeping them down in the zone. He should be equally tough on lefties or righties, but the question remains how much so. The Nephilim will be sure to manage him carefully under the right tutors.
TXLnghrn: With the second pick in the S26 Griffey draft, the Syracuse Nephilim selected high school lefty starter Ross Palmer. Palmer, a big, strong, hard-throwing control pitcher promises to develop two well-above-average pitches (sinker/forkball) and one average pitch (slider). With the proper development, Syracuse expects him to step into a formidable rotation in or around S30, likely as the #2 starter. While happy with the pick, the Nephilim also seriously considered taking college righty Eric Quinn (#1 overall) or superstar slugger DH/C Koyie White (#6 overall).
3. Louie Hujimoto, LF – Chicago Fire
DWB: My scouts missed Hujimoto, a speedy Texan with some decent power for an 18-year-old and a bit of an eye at the plate. His questionable make-up will require some disciplined coaching if he’s to develop to Chicago’s expectations, but time is also on their side.
timgod99: Louie Hujimoto was the second-rated player on our board, though he was close to being the top one. In turning our team over in this rebuild we've been trying our best to acquire as many decent prospects as possible, but throughout the process we haven't been able to land a middle of the order bat. Louie fits that perfectly. We hope he'll rise to the majors fast and be a fixture on the North Side for seasons to come.
4. Juan Bennett, 2B – Arizona Red Hot Chili Peppers
DWB: My scouts also missed Bennett, and as he currently remains unsigned, I have nothing but a mug shot with which to draw conclusions. The diminutive West Virginian is not exactly handsome, but if he can score that $8.5 million from Arizona’s top brass, I’m certain the ladies will look past the beady eyes and mustache.
wylie715: Well, I had 4 first round picks. My first pick is a stud second baseman, but I can't even afford to offer him what he's asking, and even if I could he's dreaming of a pro hockey career, not a baseball career. My other 3 first round picks will probably all make the majors, but none of them will be stars.
5. Koyie White, DH/C – Cleveland Savages
DWB: The switch-hitting White can pick up a pitch better than most of the current Major League talent. When he puts the lumber in motion, he will hit it a mile. He’ll make souvenirs of many mistakes that come across the plate, provided he can get the bat on it.
impressionah: 1st round selection purely picked for his bat. He could hit in the majors today at age 19. White has great power with very good splits and a keen batting eye. His makeup is worrisome which could hinder him reaching full projections regardless of that you can pencil him in for many future 30-home run seasons.
6. Henry Aubrey, 2B – Charlotte Tar Heels
DWB: Aubrey is a natural athlete. He does nothing particularly exceptional, but there are few holes in his game. The rangey second baseman should also hit for decent power, motor around the bases with decent speed, and have a decent eye for the strike zone. You normally want a little more zing out of a sixth overall pick, but Aubrey has all the tools to succeed.
tk21775: Defensively will be able to handle 2B and provide some speed around the bases, average bat for the position with a little more power than I get out of 2B.
7. Travis Bittle, SP – San Diego Dragons
DWB: Concerns about his health may have scared some teams away from the starting pitcher, but San Diego could have landed the most talented pitcher in the draft. With proper coaching, Bittle’s sinker should turn into a plus-plus pitch, backed up by a decent slider. Batters will find that Bittle conceals the ball well, and has enough movement on those pitches to frustrate batters from putting any good wood on the ball. The 22-year-old will need the best coaching to hit those lofty expectations, and so should likely start his career well into the farm system. After all, he’ll be pitching for the big league club in two seasons or so.
bobby1978: Travis Bittle is the ace that falls in your lap. Looking at his overall ability he has everything that it takes to turn around a franchise. Landing at #7 the surprise was well worth it. Although most in front of the Dragons drafting may have put more on his very low health rating, if he can stay healthy and can progress like his makeup shows he can, the reward was worth the risk.
8. Harold Wathan, RF – Honolulu Beach Bums
DWB: The 20-year-old switch hitter has an advanced eye for the strike zone that should only improve, but it’s his ability to drive the ball that left scouts drooling. It’s too bad then that Wathan’s awkward stance at the plate leaves a hitch in his motion – and him struggling to make contact at times. Pitchers will be thankful for this weakness rather than see a constant barrage of frozen ropes off his bat.
gccoach: He looks like a solid ML corner outfielder or first baseman that should hit 30+ HR a year. He may be the replacement to Ike Cunningham in a couple seasons.
9. David Romano, C – Pittsburgh Ponies
DWB: Catchers normally come in two varieties: offensive guys who win the game with their bat despite their limitations defensively, or master pitch callers who struggle to make a contribution at the plate. Romano is a bit of a hybrid, and therefore goes in the top ten. The fence power is clear but he’ll be a competent defender as well. A fine pick here.
travisg: If he signs, David Romano should provide elite power and competent defense from the catcher position. His durability and makeup are both above average, but scouts question how much development he has left as a college senior.
10. Brady Turner, SP – Boston Black Sox
DWB: Brady has demonstrated he has good command and is an effective pitcher against either bat. He’s also blessed with quite a repertoire of pitches. While none of them will be overpowering, he will throw all five very well and keep hitters off-balance. There are questions as to how deep into a ball game he can go as a starter, but I’m certain the Black Sox wouldn’t mind using him in long relief either.
11. Jimmy Lester, CF – Kansas City Twisters
DWB: Unfortunately my scouts missed Lester and as he remains unsigned, we’ll just have to trust disaacs’ opinion, below. All I’m able to note is that he has Vulcan ears.
disaacs: Unfortunately, we only saw three elite players in this draft, and Lester was not one of them, as he was number four on my list behind Palmer (second overall), White (fifth overall), and Bittle (seventh overall). He'll be alright, but will likely only end up as a backup player at the ML level with some pinch-running ability, if he even makes it there. The likelihood, however, is that he'll end up as solely a AAA-level player, unacceptable for a first-round pick.
12. Jon Johnson, SP – Toledo Tigerhorns
DWB: There’s a lot to like about this 22-year-old lefty: he can start regularly, pitch fairly deep into a game, throws hard and has a nice “out” pitch. To truly become an effective starter, he’ll need to maximize the short amount of time he has on the mound with some good coaching behind him.
ozzzball19: First round pick Jon Johnson was a senior pitcher out of a small school Eureka College. I was looking for pitching with the first pick and he was the highest I had rated that was still available at number twelve. I would project him as a “middle-of-the-rotation” type starter as he progresses through the minors. He will make his debut with the Low A farm club.
13. Jake Frazier, 2B – Hartford Honey Jammers
DWB: Should he develop to expectations, Frazier should bring some offense to the infield for the Honey Jammers. He’s blessed with good power and should have a crisp eye for the strike zone. If his glove work fails to develop, his power will find him welcome in the outfield.
Free_Barry: Nice bat who should hit for massive power in my home park. I had him projected as a sure-fire second baseman prior to the draft, but now it appears that he will be a future left fielder.
14. Tito Hall, SP – Cincinnati Centipedes
DWB: Another starting pitcher comes off the board with the 14th selection, as the Centipedes grab the command-challenged Hall. The good news his four-seamer should blossom into a plus-plus pitch, with enough movement on his pitches to be effective against major-league hitting.
mcgupp: The Cincinnati centipedes were pleased to land two starting pitchers in the first round. Tito Hall is a righty with good splits against both sides of the plate and a great ability to get groundballs. We think he will sign.
15. Virgil Lima, SP – Oakland Ohlone
DWB: This pitcher reminds me a lot of Jon Johnson, who was selected with pick number twelve. Lima’s decent command, velocity and ability to induce a ground ball will offset his borderline effectiveness. He also has a nice selection of pitches, none of which will bamboozle batters but will get the job done.
Reps: I had him ranked second on my board. I’m happy to get him at number fifteen. He is certainly no stud but he projects to be a decent starter and the fact that he is a lefty with decent durability doesn't hurt. Health and control were plusses and I am always in need of pitching.
16. Mikey Faulk, 3B – Toronto Valiants
DWB: My scouts missed Faulk, but the 22-year-old looks like he has the profile to become a slugging third baseman should he develop to potential. He already has the prerequisite power needed, and needs just a bit of polish on his ability to tag right-handed pitching. If there’s any weakness in Faulk’s offense, it’s in his inconsistency to make contact at the plate.
gophilsgo: The Toronto Valiants changed tactics this year, acting aggressively to try and deliver a needed jolt to their farm system. The team struck early in the international market, signing starting pitching prospect Javier Tavarez to a lucrative deal. The move was deemed necessary as starting pitching is notoriously hard to draft and develop, but did take a toll on available funds.
The team carried three draft picks into the first round, but had to wait until the 16th pick to nab their first. GM gophilsgo decided to go for one impact player rather than trying to spread out the available bonus cash for a deep rookie league team. The player was SS Mikey Faulk out of St. Joseph's University. While other scouts project him as eventually moving to 3B or CF, the Valiants are hoping the 6'3 Faulk can stick at shortstop. Faulk is the sort of balanced, polished collegian who does a number of things well, even if he doesn't have that one eye-popping skill. Concerns about his speed persist, but Valiants scouts rave about the way digs in against RHPs and his overall makeup.
The Toronto front office has talked about "fast-tracking" some players this off-season, meaning Faulk's climb to the Rogers Centre may not be as slow and deliberate as that of current Valiants like Tony Kydd and Rabbit Lambert.
17. Benito Galvez, 2B – Portland Porcupines
DWB: Galvez is a blazing speedster – the fastest player in the draft. But as my scouting missed this player, I can only guess at his ceiling. He will require a fair bit of development if he’s going to be able to drive the ball against right-handed major league pitching. His mechanics are all there however, as he should have a decent eye for the strike zone and will make contact fairly consistently with above average power. It’s a shame his base-running savvy isn’t higher.
bradkoesters: The Porcupines were excited to draft as high as they did, and feel as if they got an impact player if Galvez can develop his defense enought to play second base. With an above average eye, good splits and top notch speed, he looks as if he is a top of the line-up type of guy. He will take a lot of development to reach those levels, but he immediately becomes my top one or two prospect.
18. Todd Springer, RP – Charlotte Tar Heels
DWB: A nice-looking chap with a fine smile and demanding a reasonable amount of money to sign. That’s all I know of him.
tk21775: Good control, decent splits, won't be anything too special although he looked better on my draft board.
19. Tony Ortiz, SP – Charleston Chewbaccas
DWB: My scouts missed this guy too. Relying on my limited advanced scouting, Ortiz looks like a nice starting pitcher prospect with slow change-up and a bloop curve. He keeps the ball down in the zone however, and throws with decent velocity.
mlhutch: I see Ortiz as a #3-5 type SP. He will be on the low end of stamina and durability but I still think I can get 160 innings out of him as a starter. He has very nice control, splits, velocity, and g/f ratio. He pitches, however, are going to be a challenge. Overall, it is a solid pick for my spot in the draft.
20. Dennis Komatsu, SP – Cincinnati Centipedes
DWB: The 19-year-old lefty will naturally be tougher on lefties than righties, but he’ll need to maximize his progress against right-handed hitting to be an effective starter. Fortunately he has a nice curveball and a plus-plus four-seamer going for him. The pitcher throws hard and can induce a lot of ground balls, which should help translate into a successful career.
mcgupp: Komatsu is a lefty with a great hard curve and fastball. Better against lefties, he will still be a great addition to the staff in a few seasons. They will be two strong pieces for the Centipedes to rebuild around.
21. Dexter Wallace, CF – Scranton Steamers
DWB: The 20-year-old will never win that coveted gold glove in centerfield, but he will cover quite a bit of ground out there tracking down fly balls. At the plate, Wallace has a decent amount of power and a knack for seeing mistakes coming his way. He’s a nice find this late in the round.
22. Tom Milledge, 1B – Charlotte Tar Heels
DWB: Obviously the Charlotte Tar Heels and the Megalomaniacs scouted vastly different parts of the country. Given Charlotte had three selections in the first 22 picks, I was hoping to learn more about the future of the franchise but two of the three remain unsigned and therefore away from my prying eyes.
tk21775: Great contact and decent splits, although not quite the power I like out of this position but he'll be a very nice hitter.
23. Brian Tapani, RP – Buffalo Megalomaniacs
DWB: The second relief pitcher taken, Tapani is adept at throwing three choice pitches and throws effectively against right-handed hitting to boot. The only knock against him will be how often he can make appearances out of the bullpen, as he tires quickly and easily. His makeup is a little questionable as well, making me wonder if he’ll develop to potential. Overall, I think he’ll make an impact in the bullpen.
24. Daniel Hogan, LF – Las Vegas Lunar Landers
DWB: What’s not to like here? Hogan is a durable athlete who should develop into a guy with a fine eye for the strike zone, good power and be able to handle pitching from either side of the plate. He doesn’t have the power you normally like to find from a corner outfielder, but he’s a nice pick this late.
hallgren: I was happy to get somebody serviceable at 24, I don't love Hogan because he doesn't do any one thing well, but he is a decent piece on a 25 man roster.
25. Octavio Villarreal, RP – Mexico City REDS
DWB: The high school kid from Oklahoma has some work to do on his command, but for an 18-year-old he’s well on his way to mastering that sinker and slider and should be able to throw them effectively, especially against right-handed batters. The REDS have to be pleased with his ability to keep the ball down as well.
mrx39: Potential major league closer.
26. Shooter Miller, SP – Hartford Honey Jammers
DWB: The Honey Jammers grab a pitcher late in the first round with the addition of Shooter Miller. The five-pitch starter will need to be well coached to develop to potential, and management is probably concerned with how high his ceiling really is. That said, if he can develop some control to go with how hard he throws and his ability to keep the ball in the yard, he’ll find success at the Major League level.
27. Willie Izturis, SP – Chicago Toll Roads
DWB: The Toll Roads grab a pitcher much like Miller in terms of his development, but much younger. The 18-year-old requires a fair bit of polish and scouts believe his career will hinge on his ability to conceal his delivery and add some movement to his pitches, especially against right-handed hitting. The south paw throws hard and his four pitch arsenal, while containing nothing special, looks to be of major league quality.
28. Francis Corbin, 2B – Indianapolis Indians
DWB: Corbin’s fast and has a decent eye at the plate for a high school draft pick. He’ll need to work on that glove extensively if he plans on playing in the infield at the Big League level, but should he be coached up to expectations, Corbin should have a shot at making it to The Show.
rbedwell: Drafting at 28 and with only high school scouting to draw on, Francis Corbin was the best available player for the Indians in this year's draft. Corbin is a good all-around ballplayer, but probably lacks that one or two outstanding skills he would need to be a productive starting player in the A.L. "He should eventually be a valuable bench player, a good depth guy," said Indianapolis G.M. Ralph Bedwell. "Good speed and a good batting eye."
29. Emmett Leach, SP – Tacoma Mongols
DWB: Leach is a bit of a gem to find so late in the first round. His control and effectiveness against right-handed hitters is fairly well developed, and the 20-year-old is still young enough for the coaching staff to wring a few more years out of him before sending him to the parent club. His change-up, curve and cut fastball will require a bit of work, but he should still be able to get by on his out-pitch.
kthomson: The Tacoma Mongols selected Emmett Leach with the 29th pick. Hailing from New Jersey and playing college ball in New York, he is a tri-state product like the Mongol GM. He is a ground-ball finesse pitcher with great control. His arm isn't overpowering and the Mongol coaching staff is going to try and convince him to simplify things and drop 1 or 2 of his pitches. Considering where we drafted we are very happy to get him and look forward to the day when he takes the mound in Tacoma.
30. J.A. Smith, RP – Salt Lake City Awesome
DWB: The youngster from San Francisco is a raw talent, and like a lot of other pitchers in this draft has the ability to throw the ball hard and keep it down, inducing a lot of ground balls. Smith will need a lot of coaching to be effective against right-handed hitting, but he has the work ethic to get there. The only real question will be how often he can make appearances out of the bullpen. It won’t be every night. Still, he’s a nice pick late.
31. Don Browne, SP – Cheyenne Duck Snorts
DWB: The young lefty will keep the coaching staff busy with his command issues, and more than often leaving the ball belt-high over the plate. Scouts were excited about his blazing fastball however, and his five-pitch repertoire gives him a decent pitch selection from which to choose. Browne has more than a shot making the Big League club, which is all you can ask of such a late pick.
bajoraa: The selection of compact left-hander Don Browne sparked mixed reactions in the Duck Snort draft room. Proponents saw Browne as a potential workhorse who could be slotted SP2/3 and provide 250 reliable innings per year -- the kind of player not typically available at Cheyenne's late first round draft slot. Detractors cited Browne's raw control as a risk that might result in Browne fizzling out before ever getting the call to the big leagues. The rookie league pitching coach asked for someone to pass the scotch.
32. Kirt Acoste, SS – Arizona Red Hot Chili Peppers
DWB: As hard as Acoste works, it’s unlikely the coaching staff in Arizona will be able to infuse enough magic into his glove to turn the high school prospect into a major league defensive shortstop, and he lacks the power you would like to see from the hot corner. It’s too bad, as he could have found a niche playing against left-handed pitching and spelling a starter.
33. Quilvio Ortiz, SP – Buffalo Megalomaniacs
DWB: If the 19-year-old pitcher can turn his sinker into a plus-plus pitch, the rest of his assets – his command, velocity and ability to keep the ball in the yard, could find him a home at the Major League level as a long reliever.
34. Max Duran, SS – Portland Porcupines
DWB: For a high school player, Max is a special defensive player. He has the raw talent and years ahead of him to work himself into a starting gig, or even come off the bench against south paws. The Porcupines have to be pleased to find this kind of talent late.
bradkoesters: I was pretty happy to get a player like Duran with the last pick in the first round. He is a long way from his projections but I don't see an issue with him developing into an above average shortstop. He is already close to the range needed as well as arm strength. If we can get to above average defensively, although he will struggle with righties his high batting eye will make him a valuable eight-hole hitter. Combine that with good speed and a potential durability rating of 95, he should become a stalwart for years to come.
Some commentary for debate and fun:
1. Best top ten pick in the draft? It’s hard to argue with any of those selections: Quinn and Palmer going at #1 and #2 respectively really can’t be debated. White going at #5 had to be a nice surprise for Cleveland. From my perspective, it comes down to a split decision – Bittle going at #7 to the Dragons and Romano going at #9 to the Pirates. Bittle’s health concerns may have scared a few teams away, but if he develops to expectations without an injury, San Diego’s risk reaps a huge reward. You also have to love Romano’s combination of offense and defense – I really think fans in Pittsburgh awoke that morning with a smile when they realized they landed this kind of talent.
2. Disappointing pick in the top ten? Has to be Arizona’s failure to sign Bennett at #4. Given the lack of cash in the bank, they took a risk by selecting a player with such lofty demands and the gamble in this case did not pay off and they won’t get a type D either.
3. Best mid-round selection, pick 11 through 24? Many honorable mentions here, as this was a tough draft and the talent thinned rapidly through this round. I liked the selections of Hogan at #24, Johnson at #12 and Hall at #14, but my vote ends up falling to Lima at #15.
4. Best late-round selection, pick 25-34? The one that most stands out to me is the selection of Shooter Miller at #26 by the Honey Jammers, who had to be happy he fell through the cracks.