Posted on: April 5, 2010 11:37 am
As usual, if you disgree with my picks below, please let me know in the comments section. What do you disagree with? Who did I leave off? Who am I too optimistic about? Why do you feel this way? I'd love to get some back-and-forth with you about this. It's baseball season! I want as much baseball discussion as I can get. So, please comment.
East: New York Yankees
I absolutely love the Rays (see below), however, I'm still going to pick the Yankees over 162 games... even if they're starting 0-1. They're rotation is great, again. C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte are all held over from last year's championship team and they've added Javier Vazquez and Phil Hughes at the back-end. Hughes is at least, at the very least equal to Joba, who was the third starter at the start of last season. Hughes features more upside in the rotation than Joba though... and I think he'll live up to it, this year. Vazquez was fourth or fifth in the NL CY Young voting last season (thank you Keith Law), this is his second time putting on pin stripes, hopefully they'll suit him better this time around, they should. The bullpen, as evidenced last night, could be messy. They've lost Hughes and Phil Coke from last year. However, Rivera and Joba are the 8th and 9th guys, 'nough said. The lineup is lightly weaker than last year. Question to those reading: Which set of hitters would you prefer? A) Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Nick Johnson, or B) Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. The Yankees of course have a great team. However, I don't like that they aren't clearly an definitively better than last year... they might be slightly worse.
Central: Minnesota Twins
The Twins are pretty consistently the best, of what I believe to be, the worst division in baseball. The Royals and Indians aren't going to compete (Royals=duh! but the Indians usually compete too). So, it could be any one of three teams, the Twins, the Tigers and the White Sox. Since I haven't gotten over the 2005 World Series, I threw out the White Sox. Finally, I flipped a coin. It turned up tails, which starts with a "T" and is five letters long. So, the Twins it is. I'm kidding, of course. The Twins have a good lineup, featuring reigning MVP, Joe Mauer and former MVP, Justin Morneau. Their pitching staff is also solid, even if they lack a big name starter. The Twins also always seem to get the most out of their roster, unlike the Tigers. So, I'll give them the division again, although, they'll be booted from the playoffs by the Rays in the first round.
West: Texas Rangers
The AL West is going to be competative, all four teams could finish above .500. However, I like the Rangers most of all. Perhaps, most because the other teams, although good, have some bigger questions. Mariners: Who is going to pitch well after Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee? Who is going to drive in Ichiro and Chone Figgins? Angels: Why would they lose all their free agents and do nothing about it? A's: Who is going to hit for power? Will Sheets and Duscherer (I'm too lazy to look up the spelling, I apologize) hold up? Be effective? The Rangers are super young. With a ton of talent. Names to watch: Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Julio Borbon, Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, etc. Not to mention verterans: Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler and Rich Harden. However, they too will likely fall to an AL East team in the playoffs.
Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
My World Series winner. The Red Sox' lineup is just too weak, in my opinion. The Rays, like the Rangers, have way too much young talent to be ingnored. Evan Longoria is going to be the AL MVP. He is terrific at all facets of the game. He is a leader. He will have a ring by season's end. B.J. Upton will return to form. Carlos Pena simply mashes. Ben Zobrist (former Astros farmhand) was a terrific surprise and will look to silence any doubters. Jason Bartlett is there to solidify the defense--which is good too, with Longoria and Pena as well. Their rotation may be a little underwhelming when compared to the Yankees or Red Sox, but it's still young and has a ton of potential. They also have lot's of prospects knocking on the door, if they haven't already burst through. Guys to watch (rookies and not): David Price, Wade Davis, Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson.
I like the Braves in this division too, thus picking them to go to the World Series, but the Philles will be better over 162 games. Halladay makes them just a little bit better than last year. They're the favorites in the NL, even though they're mostly the same team... a lot like the Yankees.
Holliday will be hitting behind Pujols for an entire season and they play in the NL Central (which I love, btw, obviously huge Astros fan here, getting pumped for 7pm, Oswalt v. Lincecum on ESPN2), 'nough said. They're pitching staff will be a little better with Jaime Garcia assuming fifth starter duties. Most everything else is the same as last year. If the Cubs--for once--live up to potential they could compete. Otherwise, the Reds have the best chance of taking it from the Cardinals, but that's a long long shot.
I love this Rockies team and have for awhile. Why? Troy Tulowitski is one of the top 10-15 players in the game. Ian Stewart can mash. Can you believe Clint Barmes hit 23 homeruns last year? I love Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez at the top of the order... Gonzalez, one of the most underrated young players in the game could hit .300 with 25 HRs and 25 SBs this season. I still like Todd Helton as a little above average NL first basemen. Brad Hawpe's not too shabby with the bat either. Best part of this team: there are probably five or more above average bats I haven't named. The pitching could be an issue, but they have some talent on the farm in that area. I mean you Christian Friedrich and Jhoulys Chacin.
Wild Card: Braves
This team has a good fusion of young and veteran players. A legendary manager going into his final year. They make the best of their roster. I'm too tired to write anything else.
Rays defeat Braves
Posted on: June 13, 2009 2:56 pm
C - Joe Mauer Min
How could it be anyone else?
1B - Justin Morneau Min
Best numbers among AL first basemen, eat is Teixeira. This is despite rare appearances on ESPN.
2B - Robinson Cano NYY
Best numbers among AL second basemen, better than Kinsler, better than Pedroia.
3B - Evan Longoria TB
SS - Jason Bartlett TB
Better numbers than Jeter despite less at-bats.
OF - Jason Bay Bos
He is far and away the best outfielder in the AL this year.
OF - Carl Crawford TB
There are probably five or more guys worthy of the final two outfield spots. I like Crawford because of his average and speed.
OF - Adam Jones Bal
Jones is already overshadowed by the rest of the league, being an Oriole. But, he is also overshadowed by the popular Nick Markakis and rookie Matt Wieters. This is my subtle nod to Jones' performance this season, and further proof the Orioles made a killing in the Bedard trade.
C - Brian McCann Atl
This is such a pathetic group, but someone does have to start, right? I think Brian McCann is the most talented, so I closed my eyes and penciled in his bubble.
1B - Albert Pujols StL
Year in and year out this position is so close, and so many of the players are deserving. I want to make note of the great performances from Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder, but Pujols is clearly at the top.
2B - Chase Utley Phi
One of those rare occurrances where numbers = popularity.
3B - Ryan Zimmerman Was
David Wright's numbers are slightly better, but if Zimmerman played for a better team his would blow away the competitions. Plus you have to give Zimmerman for signing an extension with the worst team in baseball. Could Zimmerman, Strasburg and Bryce Harper make Washington competitive? Even I have my doubts.
SS - Miguel Tejada Hou
The numbers are very close between Tejada and Han Ram, but if Tejada is the All-Star starter, his trade value may go up, right?
OF - Raul Ibanez Phi
There is no better hitter in baseball this year.
OF - Carlos Lee Hou
He has All-Star starter's numbers.
OF - Hunter Pence Hou
His numbers are probably 5th best among outfielders, but he's the best right fielder in baseball, and his perpetual joy on the baseball field would be awesome to see in the All-Star game.
Posted on: June 8, 2009 9:16 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 3:44 pm
Hello, welcome to my 2009 MLB Mock Draft. This is where I will try to predict every pick for the first several rounds. With the recent news of Kyle Gibson’s stress fracture and other stock changes, I have just completely remade my mock draft, before I even released the first version. I had originally planned to mock all the day one picks, the first one hundred and eleven. But, because I have had to change many picks, I am not sure I will be able to get that many done by the draft tomorrow. I will however, mock as many picks as possible and provide sufficient information on each pick. I will continue working on this and update it, as I finish each round. My goal is to predict 20% of the picks I mock. I hope those of you who read my write up enjoy, please comment, and come back tomorrow for my thoughts on the draft itself. Later in the week, I will be reviewing the draft, so look for that as well.
Scouting reports come from a number of sites, most prominently Baseball America, PGCrosscheckers.com, John Sickel’s site minorleagueball.com and milb.com.
There are a couple places in the draft I want to point out now, for when I come back to grade - how many picks I got right - my mock. Where ever a team is picking back-to-back, notably Arizona at 16 and 17 and the Angels at 24 and 25, if I guess a guy at one of those two spots and he is picked by that team at the other spot, I’m counting it. Also, in the first round supplemental, I am counting any player I guess the correct team for. If Nick Franklin goes to the Angels in the supp. no matter what pick, I’m counting it. I think that’s fair, right? Anyways, enjoy.
I have decided I am going to post what I have on the blog, and add to it, as it gets done.
1. Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg RHP San Diego State
Strasburg is the number one pick of the 2009 MLB draft. My official prediction for how much he signs for… $21.5 million. Strasburg is the best prospect in the draft era, and would fit into a big league rotation immediately. I would love for the Nationals to send him to AAA, so I can see him in Syracuse, and give you all my own scouting report of him. He throws his fastball in the high 90s and can touch 103 mph. He also throws a hammer breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80s and a changeup he throws in the low 80s. I worry a little; I think its possible Strasburg blows out his arm at some point, a la the guy a lot of people compare him to, Mark Prior. With a comp. of Mark Prior, who wouldn’t worry? Anyways I seem to be in the minority on this.
2. Seattle Mariners: Dustin Ackley OF North Carolina
If Strasburg is on the first tier of prospects by himself, I would say Ackley is on the second tier, all by himself. He is clearly the best hitter, having “plus, plus hittability”, according to milb.com’s draft report. He adds plus speed and range in centerfield. Ackley has dispelled any thoughts that he wouldn’t be able to play centerfield, following Tommy John surgery last summer, which had him saddled at first. The main question on Ackley is how much power he’ll hit for, and although I don’t think he needs too much to be an effective major league hitter, he certainly hit 20-30 homeruns. There was some talk about the Mariners wanning on Ackley and considering Aaron Crow or Tanner Scheppers, but I don’t buy it, Ackley’s the guy. What I think the Mariners are getting in Ackley is a future no. 3 hitter, who is going to play centerfield, hit .300+ with a .400 OBP, and be a 20-20 guy (Curtis Granderson better OBP?), not bad, eh?
3. San Diego Padres: Donavan Tate OF Cartersville HS (Georgia)
After the first two picks things get very interesting, very fast. It seems as though the Padres have narrowed this selection to three guys: Tate, Aaron Crow and Mike Minor. Although, if I were running this draft, I would take Tyler Matzek, who I believe is the third best prospect in the draft. Crow would also be a good pick, but Minor is a clear overdraft. If Ackley falls, the Padres WILL take him. Tate has, perhaps, the highest ceiling in the draft. However, he is also going to cost a lot of money, close to six million? Tate has a strong commitment to North Carolina, where he would play both football and baseball – his father Lars Tate was an NFL player. There are also questions about Tate’s hit-ability. I like Tate at this spot for two reasons: 1. He’s the guy available with the most upside and San Diego’s system could really use some upside, particularly up the middle 2. If Tate doesn’t go number three, I don’t know where he goes, so I instead of forcing a headache upon myself, I’ve decided to take the risk, along with the Padres, and take Tate.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Aaron Crow RHP Fort Worth (University of Missouri)
As previously stated, I’m fairly certain about the first two picks, however, every other pick is far from certain. Rumors have swirled around the Pirates, involving a sign-ability pick here. Names discussed include: Tony Sanchez and Bobby Borchering. The Pirates would like to save money because they are rumored to be the favorites to sign Dominican Miguel Angel Sano a SS, the rumored price is four million. Apart from those rumors the Pirates are known to like college pitchers and the top arm on my board is Aaron Crow, who has little negotiating power and should sign around slot. If Crow’s name sounds familiar, it should, he was the number nine pick in last year’s draft, and went to an independent league, along with Tanner Scheppers, after failing to sign, I had him going number ten to my Astros. Crow throws a low-to-mid 90s sinking fastball, a plus slider and an at least average changeup, which is his biggest improvement from last year. Personally, I like Crow and think he has front of the rotation upside, as a reliever he could pitch in the major’s later this season and could be in a rotation next.
5. Baltimore Orioles: Tyler Matzek LHP Capistrano Valley HS (California)
As previously stated, Matzek is the third prospect on my board, and although Zach Wheeler seems to be the popular pick here of late, I still like Matzek – and I love the idea of Wheeler seven to his home state Braves. Matzek throws his fastball up to 95 mph, but sits in the low 90s. He throws two at least average breaking balls, a curveball he throws in the mid 70s and a slider in the mid 80s. He also throws a changeup, but hasn’t needed it yet. Matzek may not be a true no. one starter type, but he has good 2/3 starter upside, with much more polish than you would expect from a HS pitcher. The Orioles usually draft the best player available (BPA) and don’t shy away from guy with perceived signability problems. I do think the Orioles would love to add a good position player to their system, but there is no one of value here, so the Orioles will be “forced” to add to their already stellar crop of pitchers.
6. San Francisco Giants: Tanner Scheppers RHP St. Paul (Fresno State)
Scheppers is a tough guy to slot in. Many experts have him falling out of the top ten and in some cases out of the first round, because of fear for that same shoulder problem that made him fall last year. However, because I am mocking through the first supplemental, I would hate to have to guess how far Scheppers is going to fall, I mean, I already have to do that for Kyle Gibson, so I’m not going to torture myself and do it for Scheppers too. I like this fit. Although, I haven’t seen many people agree with me, that’s ok though. Scheppers has put together a good showing in St. Paul and should be close to major league ready. He profiles as a top of the rotation starter, but does come with injury risk. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s and can put “cut and sink” onto it (according to milb.com). He also throws a power curve and changeup. Like the Orioles, I think the Giants would love to add a bat and could be a possibility for Tate should he fall past the Padres, but without sufficient value on my board the Giants will also add to their “stellar crop of pitchers”. Jacob Turner and Zach Wheeler are also candidates.
7. Atlanta Braves: Zack Wheeler RHP East Paulding HS (Georgia)
I hope the Brave appreciate me dodging two bullets (the Orioles and Giants) to deliver them their prized Georgia arm. Wheeler was the guy I liked at the beginning of the year for the Astros, but since, has had his stock rise more than just about anyone in the draft. Wheeler has a perfect pitcher’s body at 6’4 170, and also fits Atlanta’s mold as a prep local product, as an added bonus, he’ll sign for slot! Wheeler already throws up to 95 mph and still has plenty of projection. He also throws an above average curveball and the makings of an average change. The sky is the limit for Wheeler, who has one of the highest upsides among the HS pitchers in this draft, but he also has some mechanical problems.
8. Cincinnati Reds: Alex White RHP North Carolina
This is where I had Gibson slated for awhile, dubbing him the Yonder Alonso of this draft. However, due to the stress fracture, the Reds are unlikely to take him – although they could – and I don’t have to explain my Gibson = Alonso comparison. White has been up and down, but I still believe he has the highest upside amongst college pitchers NNS (not named Strasburg). I actually really like White and believe he would be a steal here. Leake and Grant Green are also possibilities. White throws a low 90s fastball, which gets up to 95 mph; his 2-seamer has great movement to it. His slider is also a plus pitch, he throws a splitter as an off-speed pitch, as well as a below average curveball.
9. Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner RHP Westminster Christian Academy (Missouri)
Jacob Turner wants Rick Porcello money, well; why not give him to the team with a Rick Porcello void in their minors? Turner has a large frame at 6-5 220 and is already throwing in the mid-low 90s. He also throws a mid 70s slider. He hasn’t really needed a changeup in high school. Matt Purke is now being rumored
10. Washington Nationals: Chad Jenkins RHP Kennesaw State
Jenkins is a bit of an overdraft, but not too badly, since many think he could go to the Blue Jays at twenty also. The Nationals have also been attached to Mike Trout and others with this pick. The idea being to sign someone at or below slot since Strasburg is going to cost $21.5 million. Jenkins throws his fastballs, two and four seamers, in the low 90s. He adds a low 80s slider and changeup.
11. Colorado Rockies: Mike Leake RHP Arizona State
Leake was the big mover during the college season, as he moved up probably a round. He led division I in a couple statistical categories – so eat it Strasburg. However, Leake profiles as a 3/4 starter, with a high floor. He throws a high 80s/low 90s sinking fastball, he adds a high 70s/low 80s slider and plus changeup. He command is plus, plus. He’s short, but athletic for a pitcher. The last four drafts, 78% of the Rockies’ top 137 picks have been college players, 50% have been college pitchers. Mike Leake is a nice complement to Christian Friedrich (last year’s first rounder), and gives the Rockies a nice trio of advanced pitchers (throwing Jhoulys Chacin into the mix). Plus they need all the pitching help they can get – although all three of the pitchers I listed profile towards the middle of the rotation.
12. Kansas City Royals: Wil Myers C Wesleyan Christian Academy (North Carolina)
After a couple years of paying for high priced talents: Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, etc, the Royals are looking for a bargain at a premium position (C, SS, CF), and rumors include Tony Sanchez, the top college catcher. However, I like the higher upsided (yes, upsided, I like the way it sounds) Myers. Myers has raw power and all the tools to become a solid defensive catcher, with a good arm. He is also very athletic for a catcher, with above-average speed.
13. Oakland Athletics: Grant Green SS Southern California
Before the season, Grant was expected to be one of the first three picks in the draft. However, he has played his way down, as many now question his ability to stay at short, as well as his power. Green does, however, have good hitting ability, and average to above-average speed. His arm is also at least average, leaning above-average slightly. However, (milb.com) he has some trouble ranging up the middle and his power is more line-drive power than anything else, but he could hit 15-20 homeruns. Oakland’s MO is established college players, which makes it Green or Brothers in my book. The A’s are also attached to Donavan Tate, should he fall, and his reported $6 million price tag, so signing Green should be no problem. By the way, I love me some Green. I think he’ll stick at short, and be a near .300 hitter with 15-20 homeruns… that’s enough.
14. Texas Rangers: Shelby Miller HS Brownwood HS (Texas)
If there was a lock this late in the draft, it’d be Miller to the Rangers. It fits there MO, he’s local, it works. He throws in the mid 90s with a good curve in the mid 70s, but he has some command issues. He’s plenty projectable. Let me double check if this makes sense: Texas usually takes the BPA; money shouldn’t be a problem and they like their fire-ballers, yep, Miller does makes sense.
15. Cleveland Indians : Mike Minor LHP Vanderbilt
Mike Minor has been rumored all over the first round, but there is no clear consensus on who that one team is who takes him. The Indians want Miller, but he won’t get there. So, it will be the best college player on their board. The question is who is the top college arm on their board? It could be Minor, Rex Brothers, James Paxton or Eric Arnett. I picked Minor. Mainly because he would fall in my mock if I didn’t put him here (if he doesn’t go here, my prediction is 19 to the Cardinals. Minor is a low ceiling/high floor starter. He throws a low 90s fastball, along with both a slider and curveball, and a good enough changeup. He probably has 4/5 starter upside.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks : Rex Brothers LHP Lipscomb
17. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bobby Borchering 3B Bishop Verot HS (Florida )
Here’s the first pair of D’back picks. They like to go high upside HSers early, followed by college floor. Borchering has one of the best bats in the draft. He is switch hitter with great bat speed and raw power from both sides. Many believe he will have to eventually move to first but, I think he could stay at third. His speed is average or a little below. His arm is about average as well.
Brothers is a guy I like a lot. He throws his fastball in the mid 90s, he also throws a good slider, with a lot of movement, hasn’t thrown his changeup too much. He’s a rare lefty that can dial his fastball up to 96/97 mph and I think his ceiling is 2/3 starter if he develops his changeup.
18. Florida Marlins : Chad James LHP Yukon HS (Oklahoma )
Chad James is the guy I’m hoping falls to the ‘Stros at 21, but it’s unlikely he will as he is coveted by the D’backs, Marlins, Cardinals and Blue Jays. The Marlins develop HS pitching very well, so James makes sense here. If Borchering gets to here, I could see the Marlins taking the in-state third basemen. James is a lefty with a low 90s fastball, he has touched 95 mph. He also throws an above-average power curve and above-average changeup. He has plenty of projection. I seriously don’t know why James isn’t considered one of the elite HS arms, but one team will benefit as a result in the 16-22 range.
19. St. Louis Cardinals : James Paxton LHP Kentucky
Word is the Cardinals are leaning left-handed pitcher, the options being: Minor, Brothers, James and Paxton. One of them will fall, and in this scenario it’s the Boras corp. client, Paxton. Paxton throws in the mid-to-high 90s, along with a hard slider and a change, which isn’t worth praising. I don’t like Paxton, lack of a real changeup, command, questionable mechanics, Boras, but it seems like the Cards do, so he’s the pick.
20. Toronto Blue Jays: Eric Arnett RHP Indiana
This was a tough one. I’ve been hearing college arm. The Jays would have liked Jenkins, Minor or Brothers, but none of them fell. I also think Chad James is an option, although history would show the Jays shy away from HS arms in the early rounds, and Matt Hobgood is still an option. Kyle Gibson, post-injury, has been rumored here and I think Mike Trout or Tim Wheeler are options here. Trout has one of the highest upsides amongst position players and Wheeler is the next best college bat. I went with the college arm route and took Arnett, although I am far less than confident with that pick. Arnett is a 6’5” righty, who throws in the mid 90s, he also throws a slider in the high 70s/low 80s which can get batters out. His changeup needs some work. I’m not in love with this selection, but that’s mostly because I’m not in love with Arnett, who has risen this season, after an increase in velocity. I also am not high on his secondary pitches or command, but he has to go somewhere in the first round… I guess, and he could go as high as 15.
21. Houston Astros: Slade Heathcott LHP/OF Texas HS (Texas)
I have gone over this pick again and again. I have changed my mind many times, and I still have no clue. I have studied Astros drafts, particularly last year’s. I have looked at the pool of names, over-and-over again, but still nothing looks right. What does look right is Chad James. He’d be perfect. He’s the top guy on my wish list, but I really don’t think he’s going to last here, and I decided to adhere to my integrity as a blogger (ha) and have him go earlier. I also like Rex Brothers, but he also will probably be gone. There are other names in consideration here: Matt Hobgood would make sense as the next best HS arm, Jared Mitchell is the best athlete, I call Tim Wheeler “the Jason Castro of this draft”, and I started a recent buzz about Mike Trout. Seriously, I participated in John Sickel’s mock draft on Saturday and took Trout with his pick, and since then, a bunch of people have started talking about Trout to the Astros. I would love to see it, but I’m afraid Houston isn’t taking an OF from New Jersey and people just went to John’s website saw the pick, and liked… maybe I’m just being ethnocentric, I don’t know. Anyways, the guy at thebaseballdraftreport.com said, “ a great tip though for any young mockers out there – go with as many off the wall picks as possible because, on the off chance you get lucky and nail one of them, you’ll be lauded as a prophet. Mock drafts almost work counter to basic human nature as people often forget the bad picks, but clearly remember the good ones.” (By the way I suggest thebaseballdraftreport.com to anyone interested in the draft, lots of good insight) I like this idea. Houston is my favorite team, so I am going to hook them up with one of my favorite draft prospects, Slade Heathcott and actually it could happen... Heathcott has one of the five highest upsides in the draft (among position players). However, he has signability issues and character issues, which is why most teams are considering him for the second and third rounds. The Yankees, among other teams are thinking about nabbing Heathcott in the first, due to the lack of solid options. The Astros are also high on Heathcott, plus the all important, Texas factor. So, why can’t the Astros jump on Heathcott? One thing I can tell you about Bobby Heck and the current Astros draft philosophy is, they do not care about the consensus. They will take whoever they believe to be the BPA, and it could be Heathcott. Look at Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles from last draft? Now go look at how they’re doing in their first full season… Jason Castro, by the way, for all you Astros fans, was called up to AA Corpus Christi and will be ready for Wednesday’s game. Heathcott is a five-tool outfielder. According to milb.com, he has “plus hitting ability”, “plus power to all fields”, above-average speed, plus arm strength and a plus defender. I am going to try hard, to will this pick into reality.
22. Minnesota Twins: Jiovanni Mier SS Bonita HS (California)
The MO on the Twins: HS bats, college arms. Mier is the kind of toolsy player they like and with the first couple of tiers of college pitchers gone; he seems like an obvious choice. Mier is the top HS shortstop amongst a deep class. He has all the defensive tools to stay at short too. He also has some hitting ability, with a little power to go with it.
23. Chicago White Sox: Andrew Oliver LHP Oklahoma State
Oliver throws a mid 90s fastball along with a plus changeup, but he does not really have a breaking pitch yet. He is also a Boras corp. client, but that shouldn’t bother the Chi Sox. The White Sox have, however, been attached to several of the toolsy outfielders still around: Trout, Everett Williams and Reymond Fuentes.
24. Los Angeles Angels : Tyler Skaggs LHP Santa Monica HS (California)
25. Los Angeles Angels : Mike Trout OF Milville HS (New Jersey)
Another back-to-back pick, remember if Skaggs goes 25 or Trout goes 24, I’m still counting it as a correct pick. The Angels, like the D’backs have an abundance of early round pick, so they could do almost anything with them, but based on their philosophy and lack of talent in their system, they’ll go HS, HS, HS, early and often. Skaggs is a California arm. He throws a low 90s fastball, but should add more velocity as he matures; he is 6’5” 180 and offers plenty of projection, and some. Skaggs also throws a plus curveball in the low 70s.
Trout, like I’ve said is one of the ten best bats in the draft and I’ve heard it said that he is the most likely guy in the class to join the 30-30 club. He’s a five-tooler with solid defensive skills and a plus arm.
26. Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Gould RHP Maize HS Kansas
Gould just looks like a Brewers pick. I get a Jake Odorizzi vibe from him, in fact. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and can get into the mid 90s a little. He also throws a plus curve and a decent enough changeup. Gould also has that all important, no not “Texas factor”, projection thing. He’s 6’4” 190 after all.
27. Seattle Mariners: Drew Storen RHP Stanford
Storen is the top closer in the class, but I think he’ll be drafted as a starter, and the Mariners seem like a team that would do it. He throws his fastball in the low 90s with good movement. He also throws his curve in the low 80s and has an effective changeup. That three pitch mix makes me think starter. The Mariners are big on college players in the draft, by the way.
28. Boston Red Sox: Matt Purke HS Klein HS (Texas)
Purke is easily one of the fifteen best players in the draft, but he wants so much money and there are only so many teams that are going to pay $5 million + for a prospect. Which means someone is going to fall and the likely candidate is Purke. So, some team at the bottom of the draft will luck out, possibly the Red Sox. Purke throws his fastball in the low 90s, touching 95. I’ve said that a lot, I mean, a lot of pitchers throw in the low 90s touching 95. He throws his curve in the high 70s and has a good changeup. He also has good command and a projectable body.
29. New York Yankees: Matt Hobgood RHP Norco HS (California)
New York needs talent and s high school arm as good as Hobgood’s should be tough to pass up. SS/RHP David Renfroe (this year’s Casey Kelly and Slade Heathcott have been rumored here. Hobgood throws his fastball in the low 90s, he also throws a plus curve in the mid 70s, according to milb.com it could be the best curve among HS pitchers in the class. He doesn’t have a changeup though, so he’ll need to work on a third pitch.
30. Tampa Bay Rays: Max Stassi C Yuba City HS (California)
The Rays’ position of need on the farm is at catcher, and with Stassi available need happens to coincide with the BPA. Stassi has great instincts and makeup; he also has all the defensive tools behind the plate and an average arm. His bat should be good and he has some power.
31. Chicago Cubs: AJ Pollock OF Notre Dame
The last four years, 85% of Cubs picks in the top 149 pick have been college players. Pollock happens to be a personal favorite of mine, and it is tough to let him go to the Cubs, but the pick makes sense. Pollock has a very advanced approach at the plate, and has gap power. He is an above-average runner with great instincts. He is a good fielder in center with an average arm.
32. Colorado Rockies: Tim Wheeler OF Sacramento State
Kyle Gibson is rumored here but I’m not quite buying it. Although, interesting move for the Rockies, if it happens, more on that later… again, if it happens. Wheeler makes sense as the BPA and a college player; remember what I said about the Rockies and college players? Wheeler makes good contact, with some power at times, and has plus speed. He also has an average arm, but plus range in center. That’s the first round.
Compensation Round A
Now that we’re done with the first round, the blurbs are going to be much shorter and to the point.
33. Seattle Mariners : Matt Davidson 3B Yucaipa HS (California )
Davidson has some of the greatest power potential in the draft, but like Borchering may have to move off first. Personally, I think he can stay at third, though. Seattle tends to lean college, but Davidson’s power bat may be too much to pass up and this pick would continue a stellar draft for the Mariners.
34. Colorado Rockies : Alex Wilson RHP Texas A&M
The Rockies pick for a third time and I have them once again taking a college right hander. Wilson, however, is not much like their first pick Mike Leake. He has a mid 90s fastball, a sometimes plus slider he throws in the mid 80s a curveball and changeup, although the latter two aren’t nearly a useful as the first two. Wilson pitched from the Texas A&M bullpen the second half of the season, but he still profiles as a starter with a pretty high ceiling.
35. Arizona Diamondbacks : Brett Jackson OF California
Jackson is another personal fav. He has a lot of raw power and some hitting ability, but strikes out a lot. He also is an above-average runner. He has a plus arm and is a decent fielder in center.
36. Los Angeles Dodgers : Madison Younginer RHP Mauldin HS (South Carolina )
The Dodgers didn’t have a first round pick, so should go for a lot of upside with this pick… how about Younginer, who was a reliever in high school, but will be tried out as a starter in pro ball. He has a mid 90s fastball and projection.
37. Toronto Blue Jays : Jared Mitchell OF Louisiana State University
Mitchell is one of the very best athletes in the draft, and was a possibility for the Astros in round one. His ceiling is a Carl Crawford type outfielder with more power.
38. Chicago White Sox : Rich Poythress 1B Georgia
Poythress is one of the best pure hitters in the draft. Again I opt against the toolsy OF rumors and I really don’t know why.
39. Milwaukee Brewers : Tommy Joseph C Horizon HS (Arizona )
Joseph has enormous raw power and a chance to play behind the plate, with a plus arm. He seems like a fit for the Brewers to me.
40. Los Angeles Angels : Reymond Fuentes OF Puerto Rico
Fuentes is one of the toolsy outfielders the White Sox are after. However, I think he’s a better fit for the Angels.
41. Arizona Diamondbacks: Mychal Givens SS Plant HS (Florida)
Givens throws 97 mph off a mound, but it seems like most teams now like him as a high upside HS shortstop. Is he a possible five-tooler?
42. Los Angeles Angels: Nick Franklin SS Lake Brantley HS (Florida)
I really like this pick. Franklin does just about everything well, with great makeup and the ability to stay at short long term.
43. Cincinnati Reds : Marc Krauss 3B/OF Ohio
I don’t know that much about Krauss, he is one of the college ranks’ best power hitters , that’s about it. I just love the prospect of the Ohio to Ohio connection here.
44. Texas Rangers : Everett Williams OF McCallum HS (Texas )
Williams is another toolsy outfielder, with good power potential and speed. The Astros were at one time considering him in the first, but have since soured on him a little.
45. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jason Kipnis OF Arizona State
Arizona will take guys from Arizona State, they would love Leake, and Kipnis will sign for slot, an essential for teams with so many early picks. Kipnis has about average tools across the board.
46. Minnesota Twins : Sam Dyson RHP South Carolina
Dyson is a draft-eligible sophomore (Drew Storen is too actually), which means he has added leverage and could potentially be tougher to sign as a result. He has a mid 90s fastball and mid 80s slider.
47. Milwaukee Brewers: Kentrail Davis OF Tennessee
Davis is also a draft-eligible sophomore, he was supposed to be a first rounder at the start of the season, but was only ok. Many believe he would benefit greatly from a junior season. Davis could have a good power/speed combo, but some think he won’t be able to play center in the future, hurting his value.
48. Los Angeles Angels: Kyle Gibson RHP Missouri
Here’s where I have Gibson. It’s really just a stab in the dark. Many think Gibson will still find his way in the first round, but I don’t really want to see a team waste a pick. The Angels have money, multiple picks and are in need of great value. When healthy, Gibson throws a low 90s/high 80s fastball with one of the best sliders in the draft and above-average changeup with above-average command.
49. Pittsburgh Pirates : Tony Sanchez C Boston CollegeTony Sanchez is the top college catcher, and is unlikely to fall this far, but he could. If he does, it would work out greatly for the Pirates, who were considering him for the first round. Sanchez has some hit ability, some power, average speed, a decent arm and good skills behind the plate. He’s a prospect you shrug your shoulders at, because, other than his ability to stay behind the plate, no tool really stands out, which is probably why he’s slipped in my mock. But, those tools in a catcher are very useful. The Pirates like to take college players, they could use a catcher in their system (who couldn’t) and Sanchez would be the BPA here. That’s the first sandwich round.
26 More Picks I'm banking on...
51. Seattle Mariners: Kyle Heckathorn RHP Kennesaw State
52. and 83. San Diego Padres: Ryan Jackson SS Miami and Jeff Kobernus 2B California
I'm not distinquishing which I like in the second and which I like in the third, so if either go at either, I'm counting it. Kobernus reminds me of Matt Antonelli, while Jackson is Adam Everett, great defense, possibly little to no offense.
54. Baltimore Orioles: Stephen Perez SS Gulliver Prep (Florida)
55. San Francisco Giants: Brody Colvin RHP HS Louisiana
56. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jake Marisneck OF HS California
59. Colorado Rockies: Blake Smith OF California
61. Chicago White Sox: Billy Hamilton OF/SS HS Mississippi
Here's where I'll finally take that toolsy outfielder.
62. Texas Rangers: Zach Van Rosenberg RHP HS Louisiana
64. Arizona Diamondbacks: Kent Mathes OF Alabama
Mathes should be a hot commodity seeing how he has no leverage, being a senior and all, a team with multiple picks, the D'backs, could use the financial relief they'd get by taking him. Plus he's got the talent to be a high pick.
66. Florida Marlins: Dane Williams RHP HS Florida
67. St. Louis Cardinals: Randal Grichuk OF HS Texas
68. Toronto Blue Jays: Brooks Raley LHP/OF Texas A&M
69. Houston Astros: David Renfroe SS HS Mississippi
Remember Derek Dietrich!!!
72. New York Mets: Brian Goodwin OF HS North Carolina
73. Milwaukee Brewers: David Holmberg RHP HS Florida
75. Philadelphia Phillies: Todd Glaesman OF HS Texas
76. New York Yankees: Steve Matz RHP HS New York
78. Tampa Bay Rays: LeVon Washington OF HS Florida
85. Baltimore Orioles: Chris Owings SS HS South Carolina
96. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bryan Berglund RHP HS California
98. St. Louis Cardinals: Robbie Shields SS/2B Florida Southern
99. Toronto Blue Jays: Bryan Morgado LHP Tennessee
107. Boston Red Sox: Mike Belfiore RHP Boston College
111. Houston Astros: Jonathan Walsh C HS Texas
At some point. Los Angeles Angels: Trayce Thompson OF HS California
Those 26 picks bring up to a grand total of 75, enjoy the draft.
Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, MLB Draft 2009, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals
Posted on: November 21, 2008 3:17 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2008 6:25 pm
NL East Top 15 Prospects Wrap Up
Top 15 Prospects: NL East Team Rankings
5. New York Mets – 46%
2. Atlanta Braves – 65%
1. Florida Marlins – 84%
Top 25 Prospects of the NL East
Havens was taken in the sandwich portion of the first round of the 2008 draft. Havens is a likely second basemen in the future, he will play good defense there, and hit for a solid average, and some power.
24. Michael Burgess OF Was
A bad 2008 season, but still has a lot of tools, specifically his power, and arm strength.
23. Eddie Kunz RHRP Nym
Already has made his debut for the Mets, the Mets are looking externally for their next closer, but Kunz will be back towards the back-end of their rotation again in 2009. If he shores up his command he could make for a great closer.
22. Freddie Freeman 1B Atl
Really young, but has been one of the best offensive players in his league thus far. I jumped him up to the fourth ranked prospect in the Braves’ organization since last ranking their prospects.
21. Sean West LHSP Fla
West is the best starting pitcher in the Marlins’ system. He throws a mid 90s fastball with some movement, and a power breaking pitch. Some scouts think he is headed to the bullpen because of his awkward arm action but, I still think he can be a number two or three starter.
20. Jon Niese LHSP Nym
Niese has a killer curveball. I also see him as a number three starter.
19. Zach Collier OF Phi
Collier is athletic, and a potential 5-tooler from the 2008 draft. Collier has a ton of ability, but he is too raw right now to get a good read on him for the future.
18. Kyle Drabek RHSP Phi
Drabek has outstanding stuff, and he has recovered from Tommy John Surgery. I expect him to soar through the Phillies system, and this list next season.
17. Logan Morrison 1B Fla
You said it, and I listened. I have moved Morrison up to the 7th top prospect in Florida's system. Which allows him to be moved onto this list.
16. Chris Coghlan 2B Fla
Coghlan does most things well – except hit for power. That will make him an above-average second basemen, as early as next season if Uggla is moved from second, or traded.
15. Lou Marson C Phi
Had a breakout season offensively, and has always had the defensive capabilities to be a major league catcher. There is not anyone in Philadelphia standing in his way.
14. Kyle Skipworth C Fla
A four-tool catcher, Skipworth was taken with the sixth pick in the 2008 draft. He has a ton of raw power, and should become one of the best offensive catchers in baseball one day. He is extremely raw, so expect the Marlins to take their time with him.
13. Ryan Tucker RHRP Fla
The best reliever on this list, Tucker has great velocity, and command. Although, is going to start the season replacing as the Marlins’ closer, I expect Tucker to finish the season with the job.
12. Matt Dominguez 3B Fla
One of my favorite prospects in all of baseball Dominguez is an exceptional fielder, he also mashed in his first pro season, hitting an unexpected 18 homeruns, while also hitting for a .296 average, and striking out only 68 times.
11. Ike Davis 1B/OF Nym
Another 2008 draftee, Davis has plus, plus power potential. I would love to see him as a corner outfielder, but he may be trapped at first, we’ll see. He should move through the system though.
10. Fernando Martinez OF
I am not high on Martinez. He has lost a lot of his value, as he is not an exceptional fielder, and has not shown power in the minors. He still has a lot of potential, but his clock is ticking.
9. Chris Marrero 1B Was
A great hitter, but was hampered by injuries in 2008. He is also saddled to first base.
8. Jordan Zimmerman RHSP Was
I love this guy. He had a great statistical year in 2008, and throws a plus hard sinker, as well as three other average pitches. He is a front of the rotation starter.
7. Tommy Hanson RHSP Atl
Hanson throws a mid 90s fastball, and a plus, plus curveball. He is only 22, and already pitching well in AA. Hanson struck out 163 batters during the 2008 season.
6. Jordan Schafer OF Atl
Is no longer one of the best prospects in baseball, but Schafer is still a gold glove defender, with a lot of upside on offense – he could be a 20-20 guy every year.
5. Ross Detwiler LHSP Was
Detwiler is still a little raw, but has ace type stuff, with a large arsenal of pitches. He should be starting for Washington by 2010.
4. Carlos Carrasco RHSP Phi
Another personal favorite, Carrasco finished the season in AAA at the age of 21. He had a great season overall, and has absolutely dominating stuff, including a plus, plus changeup, and top notch fastball.
3. Mike Stanton OF Fla
Stanton hits a lot of homeruns, but strikes out even more frequently. He is extremely athletic in the outfield. He is still only 19, so he has plenty of time to refine his game. He has a lot of potential.
Still one of the best prospects in baseball, Maybin will be starting for the Marlins at some point next season. He still is a little bit of a mystery to me, and strikes out a lot.
I have nothing bad to say about Heyward. He is only 19, but you can already get a good idea of what he is going to be in the big leagues. I said it in my Braves article, and I will say it again here .300 batting average, 30 HRs, 20 stolen bases, while playing great defense. What else can you ask for?
NL East First Team All-Prospect
SP Carlson Carrasco
NL East Second Team All-Prospect
SP Kyle Drabek
Posted on: October 16, 2008 5:38 pm
[Ok, so I have no idea what these "<o:p></o:p>" are, but they aren't too distracting, so please just ignore them]
I’ve created this segment because I love watching young players grow through the system, and contribute at the big league level. Baseball’s minor leagues are the #1 source for most team’s additions. I get the impression that most baseball fans do not have a great understanding of you their team’s next great star is, so, I’m here to clue in.
The impact a great farm system, and great prospects, is currently taking center stage in the baseball universe. The Rays have overcome incredible odds to go from last place, last year, to the cusp of the World Series. How did they do it? The catalysts name is Evan Longoria. The top prospect in Tampa Bay’s farm to start 2008, became the leader of this Rays team, and has come up with big hits all year. Behind Longoria are players like B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, James Shields, and of course Scott Kazmir, all guys among the Rays best prospects few years ago.
Over the next couple of months I’m going to go team-by-team dissecting the organizations farm system, and pulling out each of their top 15 prospects; starting with the NL East and the Atlanta Braves. Once Baseball America starts to release their top 10 lists I will come back to each team and compare and contrast their list to mine. Come to see an assessment on your favorite team’s future, stay because you are just as interested in prospects as I am. If you ever feel as though I have left someone off, or you disagree with my placement of a prospect, or anything else of that nature, please comment, get your opinion out here, and I’ll consider your thoughts.
**As a disclaimer I just wanted to say a few things. First, I rank players based on their potential talent first and foremost, other factors include: age, what level they play at, their 2008 statistics, team needs, and my own gut feeling. The reason I decided on a top 15 list, despite the fact that many team’s good-decent prospects I can count on one hand, was because some team’s do go 15 or more prospects deep, and I wanted to get to include them as well – the Braves are a great example of this, they go 15-19 prospects deep, and it was tough enough for me to narrow it down to 15, let alone 10. Throughout the offseason trades are bound to happen. I currently have every team’s top 15 lists, but they may be forced to change due to trades. I will try my best to make the appropriate adjustments, and even update lists I’ve already posted as prospects come to and from teams. Also, other than Michael Inoa, I have no 2008 internationally signed players; I also do not feel as though they will be missed. Finally, I would like to say that I am not a professional, I do possess a good amount of information, but I will make mistakes, few, but they will be there. There are also some prospects I may not go into full detail about, but I will hit the mot important players, in my opinion of every organization. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this series, and consistently come here to read it. Good Luck to Everybody’s Favorite Team’s Offseason… go Rays.
Minor League notations in descending order
*AAA/AA signifies triple A, and Double A respectively… duh
*A+ signifies high A ball
*A- signifies low A ball
*A signifies a prospect played at both high, and low A ball throughout the course of the season
*a signifies short-season A ball
*R signifies rookie league
Atlanta Braves Top 15 Prospects
1. Jason Heyward OF-RF Age: 19 Minor League Level last year (MLL): A <o:p></o:p>
Heyward is the letterhead of the Braves farm system. He is only 19, but has already developed excellent plate patience, striking our only 78 times last year, and walking 51 times. Once Heyward arrives at the big leagues he’ll consistently hit .300+, with 30 HRs, and 20 SBs. He plays good defense, but due to the logjam of Braves OFs, many of whom are excellent defenders, he’s likely to settle in at LF.
2. Jordan Schafer CF Age: 22 MLL: AA<o:p></o:p>
Schafer is probably the most well known Braves prospect. Schafer doesn’t hit for a great average, .261 BA in 2008, but also does not massacre his swing by striking out. He has plus power potential, but hit only 10 in 2008. Schafer does have gold-glove defense, and will be the Braves CF as early as Opening Day. However, he is terribly inconsistent on offense, and should spend the entirety of 2009 in AAA.
3. Tommy Hanson RHSP Age: 22 MLL: AA/A<o:p></o:p>
I become visibly angry when people rank Hanson lower than third. In AA, and A ball this past season he threw in 138 innings, while posting a 2.41 ERA, and striking out 163 batters, 163! That is a K/9 of 10.6. Hanson throws his fastball in the 92-95 range, and complements it with what I believe to be a plus-plus curveball. He is not going to be an elite ace, but he could be one of the better number twos.
4. Josh Anderson CF Age: 26 MLL: AAA<o:p></o:p>
Anderson is one of my favorite prospects in all of baseball. You can tell he used to be part of the Astros’ system because he is probably a little high on my list, but I do feel he deserves it. Anderson has hit .300 at every level since being drafted by Houston, including hitter .300 in September for the Astros, and again this season when he was with the Braves. He also plays good defense, having great range in center thanks to his elite speed. Anderson has also been one of the minors’ top base stealers his entire professional career. He strikes out too much for a guy with limited power, and does not draw as many walks as you would like from a prospective lead off hitter, but, other than those flaws he is a great player. Last offseason he was shipped to Atlanta after the Astros traded for Michael Bourn. If a major league club ever gave him the opportunity to start, and have consistent playing time, I think he would be a solid center fielder, or right fielder, or left fielder, for that matter.
5. Frederick Freeman 1B Age: 19 MLL: A-
Freeman hit for an average of .316, a slugging % of .521, and an OPS of .899 in low A Rome, and he did it at the age of 18. Freeman also knocked 18 HRs, while only striking out 84 times. Freeman was a second round pick in 2007, and should be Atlanta’s everyday first baseman by 2012, at the age of 22.
6. Brandon Jones OF Age: 25 MLL: AAA<o:p></o:p>
Brandon Jones spent time with the major league club in 2008; he just didn’t get 130 at-bats in. I am not high on Jones; his ranking is propelled by his ML readiness. I think Jones will be a good fourth outfielder, but he is simply not effective enough to be an everyday starter, particularly over Anderson. Others will say Jones is a better player than Anderson, he has a wider range of tools, but Anderson is better at the ones he possesses – speed, defense, making contact with the ball.
7. Gorkys Hernandez CF Age: 21 MLL: A+ <o:p></o:p>
Yes, another outfielder. Hernandez has some good tools. He has more power than Anderson, and will probably end up hitting for a better average than Jones one day, Hernandez also has good speed – again less than Anderson, but more than Jones. Hernandez’ greatest tool is his defense, as he may be the best defensive outfielder not at the major league level. I like Hernandez, but it is tough to tell what the future holds for him in Atlanta. He would be graduating to the majors certainly after Schafer, and around the same time as Heyward.
8. Brent Lillibridge SS Age: 25 MLL: AAA<o:p></o:p>
Lillibridge has become a complete bust, or at least with his bat. He remains a great fielder, but had an On-Base-Percentage under .300 in 2008 at AAA, that is not going to cut it in Atlanta. Still, he stays in the top 10 because of his defense, and he’s the best non 1B infield prospect has.
9. Charlie Morton RHSP Age: 24 MLL: AAA<o:p></o:p>
Morton is a guy I am really high on. He pitched well at AAA, before pitching some in the majors, accumulating a 2.05 ERA and 72 Ks over 79 innings pitched. Even more impressive to me is that he allowed ZERO, (0), home runs in that span of 79 innings.
10. Jose Teheran RHSP Age: 17 MLL: N/A<o:p></o:p>
If I was ranking based upon potential alone Teheran would slide in right behind Schafer, and Heyward. But, he slides all the way back to no. 10 because he has very limited playing experience, and it is so tough to look 5-7 years the road when it comes to pitchers. Teheran does possess ace-like stuff, his fastball hits the mid-90s, and he’s only 17, so as he develops that velocity will probably rise.
11. Cole Rohrbough LHSP Age: 21 MLL: A<o:p></o:p>
Cole’s is a strikeout artist lefty. In 2008 he K’d 104 batters in 90 innings. He throws two quality pitches a moving fastball, and a hammer curve.
12. Jeff Locke LHSP Age: 21 MLL: A-<o:p></o:p>
Another left-handed pitcher, who happens to be the same age, and around the same level as far as development is concerned. Locke throws a plus fastball in the low to mid 90s, with late movement. He also throws a developing curveball that projects as a plus pitch.
13. Kala Ka’aihue 1B Age: 23 MLL: AA<o:p></o:p>
Not to be confused with Kila, his not twin brother with the Royals – although I do believe they were born on the same day, just different years, or so the legend goes. Kala has a very advanced approach to the plate; he walked 88 times in 2008 posting a .417 OBP, despite only hitting a .274 BA. Kala also has some power hitting 14 HRs, along with the resulting 119 strikeouts. Kala will be ready for the major league team some time in 2009 pushing him one spot ahead of another first basemen…
14. Cody Johnson 1B/LF Age: 20 MLL: A-<o:p></o:p>
Johnson is one of the most intriguing prospects in Atlanta’s system. Atlanta has considered putting him in the outfield, but due to quantity of future major leaguers there in the organization, Johnson will most likely stay at first base. The thing to like about Johnson is his unmatched power numbers. He hit 29 HRs in low A in 2008, unfortunately accompanying that power are the predictable strikeouts, 177, and low average, .307 OBP. If Johnson learns some patience at the plates, and learns to hit for contact as well as power, he could shoot up this list, much like Lars Anderson of the Red Sox – that is a pretty big if though.
15. Brett DeVall LHSP Age: 18 MLL: R<o:p></o:p>
DeVall is Atlanta’s 2008 top draft pick. He throws three pitches, and can command all three, as a player out of high school. His fastball only clocks at about 91 mph, but could increase as he matures, and fills out. His curveball, and change up could both develop into above-average to plus pitches.
Strengths: Depth. The Braves have five or six guys who could become more than reliable starters at the major league level. They also have three great first base prospects, a position of weakness in Atlanta. Biggest of all is their outfielders, who possess a diverse collection of tools. The Braves are also not lacking in talent with two of the best prospects in baseball in Heyward, and Schafer.
Weaknesses: The infield. There are not many capable infielders in this organization other than first basemen; there is the aforementioned Lillibridge, and the not mentioned Van Pope, who is a great fielding third basemen. This is especially troubling seeing how Chipper is soon to retire – 2-3 years maybe, but soon as far as raising capable replacements is concerned. There also will not be much depth behind Kelly Johnson, and Yunel Escobar, neither of whom inspire visions of a World Series anyway – or at least in my opinion.
Next up: Florida Marlins