SEASON 23 DRAFT ANALYSIS A.L. North Ottawa Hosers Choosing not to allocate much time or resources to scouting, the Hosers went into the draft fairly blind. They managed to land stocky right-hander Dwight Venafro with their top selection and he could become a solid pitcher down the road. Mixing up his repertoire with five pitches, Venafro needs to keep hitters off balance to succeed, as he doesn't have over-powering stuff. Time will tell if he'll find a rotation spot or settle into the bullpen, and his long-term value will likely depend on how he responds to his coaches. Not a wasted pick for Ottawa, but as their only “ray of hope” in this year’s draft, the Hosers will likely stay focused on guiding the pro team through another winning season. Grade: C- Sioux Falls Screw Balls Waiting for them at pick #18 was one of the more intriguing players in the draft. Towering lefty Aramis Quixote tests off the charts in some areas, while demonstrating some serious control problems throughout his time at the University of Mississippi. His coaches rave about his conditioning and his ability to pitch to both lefties and righties when his command is working. "He could throw over 250 innings per season if he can stay focused and stop walking hitters!" There is some concern that his fastball won't be a major league calibre "out pitch" and some worries that he could have trouble with the long ball, especially when behind in the count. However, his potential is too great for the Screw Balls not to take a gamble at this stage in the first round. Quixote is a hard worker and will give them everything he's got in the tank - which is quite a bit. Sioux Falls heavily focused on pitching through most of this season's draft, and they came away with a few others who may develop into serviceable arms. If Trent Jay can develop a fastball, or if Thom Glaus or Ed Duffy can learn to pitch to righties they could find a role with "the 'Balls". Grade: B Syracuse Blue Sox Speaking of a pitching-heavy draft approach, the Blue Sox selected pitchers with their first ten selections. Unfortunately, it appears that talented first-rounder Elvis Burks will stay in college leaving a gap at the top of the Syracuse draft board. Hard throwing lefty Ismael Vazquez has many tools to succeed, but doesn't seem to have the stuff to dominate at the pro level. He'll need to work his way through the system. 22 yr old Tony Guerra has a major league change-up, and is tough on left-handed hitters. He's started rookie ball as the team's closer, and could do well in that role if he doesn't get victimized by righties (especially when he reaches the higher levels). With their fourth selection, Andrew Snider might be the best draft value yet, with major league potential that stems from his above average control and a stand-out curveball. He's been tagged as a fly ball pitcher, however, so long term success with rely on Snider keeping those inside the park. Grade: B- Toronto Trout With the 23rd pick, the Trout chose reliever Henderson Buckley, one of the top few natural relief pitchers in this season's draft. Typically, a reliever's value is slightly lower due to the fact that he'll usually pitch fewer innings than a good starter, so determining exactly when to spend a pick on relief is a point of strategy. Buckley was certainly one of the best pitchers available when Toronto came to pick, and they feel that they've landed an integral part of their future bullpen. A notoriously slow worker, Buckley takes his time walking on and off the field; inches around the mound getting comfortable and takes his time between pitches. As slow-moving as he can be, his pitches are anything but slow, showing an impressive five-pitch repertoire with serious zip and control to keep hitters off balance. Buckley can keep his sinker fast and low to induce ground ball outs, and barring some “delay-of-game” warnings from umpires he should shine when he arrives in Toronto. Grade: B+ A.L. East Boston Red Sox Lanky 18 year old lefty Geraldo Cruz is known for keeping the ball low and achieving ground ball outs. This is an appealing skill in a park like Fenway, where the Redsox would like to see their 6th overall pick join the rotation a few seasons down the road. Cruz has the unlikely combination of low velocity and control trouble, but he should be able to overcome those issues to be a solid major leaguer. He's the only prize asset for Boston in this season's draft, and at #6 overall, while he looks pretty darn good - it's certainly not a slam dunk pick. Grade: C Durham County Ramblers the #3 overall pick was spent on J.P. Dixon, probably the best power hitter among this season's crop. Without a doubt best suited as a DH, Dixon's potential fielding embarrassments will be far overshadowed by his prowess as a slugger that will fit nicely in the Durham Athletic Park. Dixon is going to be a fearsome home run threat once he matures into a pro, and if he can also hit for average he'll grab some serious headlines. 2nd rounder Bret Mordecai is a decent outfielder who could have a role for the Ramblers if he improves his batting eye, while 3rd rounder Ralph Simmons is a versatile fielder with great power who could do some damage for Durham if he can even slightly learn to hit righties. Grade: A Jacksonville Sunbirds With second bagger Johnny Seay joining Dixon in the A.L. East, it promises to be a tough division for flyball-prone pitchers in the years to come! The rangy second baseman is a good athlete with decent wheels and natural power. He has the potential to be an impact player for Jacksonville if they can keep him focused and on track. The main criticism of Seay is his affinity for the nightlife and lack of interest in maintaining an off-field training program. He doesn’t learn about opposing pitchers’ tendencies or work on subtle nuances that could take the talented 22 yr old to the next level. The Sunbirds are hoping that he makes it to AA without being checked into AA, and if he stays on track he could easily become a regular on the home run leader list. The signings of Norm Hutton and Ed Towers put the next Jax draft choice in the 4th round, where they took outfielder Claude Gabriel, who despite home run power will have a tough road to make the pro club. Grade: B New York Crunch This season the Crunch had five picks in the top hundred and chose five hitters with those picks. Their top selection was 21 year old Boone “Bulldog” Dixon, a tenacious infielder who despite being drafted as a shortstop might be better suited at third. At 5’7” the University of Mississippi junior has classic “small dog” syndrome, and one would guess that Dixon sees himself as 6’5” 230. There is no quit in the bulldog, as his efforts on the field can exceed his skill level at times. He has decent power for his stature, and should be a sound defender when he settles into a position. The second “Dixon” in this year’s draft (his younger brother is Durham slugger J.P.) will need work a little harder to grind out a niche as a pro. Max Vasquez, Bernard Adams, Marshall Lowry and Steve Hudson are all quality draft choices: players with some value, but none is a lock for success. Vasquez is a decent fielder who struggles against righties, Adams struggles in the field but has offensive potential (except against lefties), Lowry is a poorer version of Adams (but can’t hit righties instead of lefties), and Hudson’s redeeming quality is his power, though he’s a long-shot to retain anything more than fleeting value. If Dixon and one other become ML regulars (Adams is the most likely) then the Crunch will have squeezed the most value out of their picks. Grade: B- A.L. South Charlotte Designated Drinkers Few teams can sit back after draft day and feel as confident in the value of their picks as the DD's. Choosing 19th, Charlotte was pleased to see second bagger Stephen Butler still on the board. Butler is a complete ballplayer, offering a great blend of athleticism and baseball intelligence. He has decent power for his small stature, great plate discipline and a high compete level. Time will tell if Butler has the range to be effective at second, but he's demonstrated slick glove-work and should improve as he goes. Many considered him a top ten pick going into draft day, so Charlotte did quite well in round one. Their subsequent picks were as good or better, as starting pitcher Russ Rusch and slugger Jimmy Romano both look like legit draft day steals! Rusch is an 18 year old southpaw with a craftiness that makes up for the lack of blast on his heater. He's very tough on lefthanded hitters, and if he can put righties away with consistency, he should be a solid #1 or #2 starter. Romano is a California boy with a potential all-star bat if he continues on his current trajectory. He has a little trouble with lefties, but his power presence in the heart of the batting order will make him very hard to platoon. His make-up at first base is awkwardly adequate, so there's a chance that a DH role could help him focus on being an offensive leader. Even 80th overall pick Renyel Estrada could become a useful piece of the pitching staff if he gets his control problems figured out. Charlotte did very well this time around, obtaining great value with the picks they had. Grade: A+ Florida GATORs Scouts have been watching shortstop Anthony Green since he starred in the little league world series, and he's continued to represent his age group at the national level as one of the slickest up and coming shortstops in the country. His mastery of his position is impressive to be sure, and his professionalism and sportsmanship are without question, but his stock has fallen slightly in the past year or two. At one time Green was seen as an automatic first overall pick, but his ability as a hitter to adjust to major league pitching has come into question. He has a great sense of the strike zone and is an excellent contact hitter, but the former prodigy might not have the build or upper body strength to be a consistent threat at the pro level. The GATORs couldn't pass on Green as he slipped to them in the 8 spot, and time will tell if he can prove doubters wrong about his long term offensive value. Nonetheless, Florida has drafted a marketable and polished shortstop for their future. With pitcher Kendry Martin on the bubble in regard to his effectiveness and worth as a big league starter, the hopes for Green are quite high with management. Grade: B+ Louisville Lobsters Before entering into a conversation about the Lobsters’ draft results, we must discuss the Ezeqiuel Manzanillo signing. The 18 year old Dominican shortstop is the real deal, and he’ll be a regular in the Louisville lineup before long. The signing took a great deal of financial resources from other facets of the team’s developmental budget, making them unable to come to terms with their top choice Greg Scott. Scott, another shortstop, might also have taken exception to the 28 million dollar bonus the club gave Manzanillo. Either way, the Lobsters will move on without Scott and need to be happy with their second choice in the draft, lefthander Kirk Taylor who they took four picks after Scott. Fundamentally sound in all areas, Taylor projects as a big part of the future bullpen. Potentially a closer, or at least a pitcher who doesn’t shy away from high pressure situations, Louisville is elated to land a significant pitcher to go along with their International prize. Grade: B+ Nashville Catfish Choosing 7th overall, Nashville opted for Vincente Hernandez, an 18 year old center fielder from the Bronx. A patient, healthy, contact hitter, Hernandez displays good instincts in the outfield and despite lacking enough home run power to make him a star slugger, he has a natural blend of speed and athleticism that should make him a solid pro down the road. The Catfish then chose four more players who could prove to be decent value from their position. Not able to handle great defensive responsibilities, outfielder Joel Roth looks to have the power that Hernandez lacks, and if he can round out the rest of his offensive skill set he should provide some punch to the lineup. Pitchers Dustin Worley, Joe Cooke and Quilvio James all look like potential big league starters. Cooke and James have a few more question marks, but Worley looks like he could be a very solid addition. Grade: A A.L. West Las Vegas Numa Numa Signing Boots Cash, Pedro Rojas and Jesus Astacio meant that Vegas had little chance to make waves with this season’s draft. They did wind up with three supplemental picks (between 43-56), and of those choices, catcher Rolando Silva is worth mentioning. Scouts who saw him play at the University of Miami were quick to notice Silva’s great ability to draw the base on balls. He protects the plate well, does well in clutch situations and hit over .400 against lefties over his four years for the Hurricanes. The questions about Silva are about his ability to be a regular catcher at the pro level. His defense is adequate at best and there have been suggestions that he would do better in a different role – but if he makes his bat indispensable, the Numa Numa will find a way to get him to the plate. Grade: C+ Oklahoma City Rodeo Clowns Without much hype around this season’s draft class, the Clowns beat writers have found cause to focus on awkward 18 year old Delino Owen. If nothing else, Owen has fantastic speed which will he struts in the field as well as on the bases. OKC would love to see Owen turn into an important part of their offence, but he really needs to fine tune his approach at the plate to become a high OBP table-setter atop the lineup. He’ll never have great power, so he’ll need to learn to hit consistent line drives and learn to be more selective with his swings. Also inconsistent with his glove-work at second base, Owen will see his value drop if he needs to move to an easier position. Fortunately, he has plenty of time to develop and at this point he’s worth keeping an eye on. Grade: C Salem Sanguillens The Sanguillens came away from the draft with a few head scratchers. Top selection was Bubbles McGraw at #15 and it might appear that there was a bit of a premium because the man’s name is “Bubbles”. He’s a tiny guy with a fantastic glove at shortstop, a unique personality in the locker room and some decent baseball skills in general. His offensive upside, however, does seem a bit limited for a first round pick, and without game-breaking speed he seems one-faceted. Salem then chose three catchers among their next four picks, none of whom will challenge current rookie Wilfredo Martinez behind the plate, or AA catching prospect Reagan Beaulac for his offense. In general, the Sanguillens are already looking forward to next season’s draft. Grade: D Scottsdale Fighting Chokes With the number four overall choice in the draft, Scottsdale played it reasonably safe and chose shortstop Ryan Wright. They didn’t land a future superstar, but Wright should have a steady career as a good hitter who can play responsibly at short or move to other positions if the need arises. Wright should be a very good everyday player, as he really has no glaring flaws in his game aside from a few nagging injuries that the Chokes hope are in his past. Pitcher Bert Kerr and utility man Mark Chang both stand a chance to carve out a role if they develop well. Grade: B N.L. North Chicago Crushers With yet another high first round choice, the Crushers continue to focus on pitching, selecting stocky 22 year old righty Don Creek. Creek was certainly at the top of many draft boards, with the only red flags arising from the potential for a tired arm. He’s cleanly the most consistent and talented pitcher across the board, with great control, movement and power in his repertoire. Creek is going to be a very, very good pitcher in this league, the only question is whether he has the innings in him to be a starter and whether he can stay healthy. Obviously his value is exponentially higher as a healthy starter than as an injury prone bullpen jockey. If he can throw 7 innings every five days, the Crushers are going to be winning a lot more games a few seasons from now. Grade: A Detroit Tiger Sharks With Josh Baker as their top draft choice, the Tiger Sharks didn’t really take a player who will be a leader for their franchise. Baker is a quiet player on and off the field, giving them a serious second baseman, a spray hitter with some speed and enough gamesmanship to compete hard every day. Baker looks like a quality player, though maybe he was taken ten picks too early. Detroit’s next few picks look like better value for their draft positions, as Graeme Huskey has a great sinker and should be a steady pitcher in the mid-late innings; Neil Redman is a gem of a defensive shortstop, albeit very light- hitting; and slugger “Big Vic” Domingo has crazy major league power if he can learn to hit a little bit smarter. At the end of the day, some interesting bits for the motor city. Grade: B Montreal Maroons The Maroons threw everything they had at scintillating Dominican closer Eliezer Perez. Perez will be a good pitcher for Montreal in a couple of seasons. The same can’t be said for any of their draft picks, most of whom will grow up to be lawyers and teachers and salesmen and such. Grade: F Philadelphia Pheremoniacs Without a pick until #57, Philly didn’t have high expectations this time around. They were fairly smart with how they used these “secondary” selections and for the most part converted them into something reasonably useful. Esteban Guerrero is a fantastic defender at second base and despite being a bit pedestrian at the dish, might hit lefties well enough to platoon (or at least have decent value off the bench). Charlie Purcell is a hard working relief pitcher who likely already has the stuff to succeed at AAA. If he’s able to take it up a slight notch in the next few seasons, he could find himself with a major league audition. Herm “Sobie” Sobolewski might have the paunch and ‘stache of a seventies detective, but he actually looks to be an above average major league hitter if he can quit smoking colts and his knees let him keep catching. The Pheremoniacs did as well as could be expected with a limited hand in this season’s draft Grade: B N.L. East Baltimore Barons At pick #25, the Barons were pretty happy to find Jordan Keppel still available. A steady pitcher with a low 90’s fastball, Keppel frequently finds the strike zone and can make hitters miss when he mixes things up. He projects to be at least a mid rotation starter for the Barons, with no real red flags except perhaps that sometimes when he gets hit, he gets hit hard. He should be a good compliment to Mel Darr and Maicer Calles in the Baltimore rotation. Grade: B+ Cincinnati Red Army With two picks in the top 30, the Red Army opted to focus on pitching and landed towering 6’5” 18 year old righty Joe Hissey as well as medium-sized southpaw Mark Zhang. Hissey looks like the real deal, though he’s a bit raw and will likely take at least three or four years to develop through the Cincinnati system. Hissey needs to improve against left-handed hitters and would do well to figure out how to induce a few more ground balls. Zhang has a deadly low sinker and a good curve, and frequently surprises radar guns and opposing hitters alike with his varied arsenal and pitching IQ. Zhang needs to throw hard to be successful, but sometimes this results in wildness and he’ll need to avoid meltdowns if he’s to succeed at the major league level. Both pitchers represent good value for their draft slot. Grade:A New York New Jerseys In the twelve slot, the NYNJ’s opted for community college slugger Richie Knight. Knight is only 5’8” but has a strong and compact build, a swift home run swing and a good overall hitter’s mentality. He’s able to make adjustments the second time he sees a pitcher, and is always learning and figuring out ways to improve. He should hit an effortless .280-20-80 and could potentially improve on that in the right environment. The downside to Knight is his defense. While he doesn’t have poor foot-speed, his reaction time to balls-in-play could be problematic in the outfield – it might be safer to get him used to first base. Grade: B Atlanta Spartans With the #29 pick, the Spartans chose slick defensive centerfielder Sparky Wilson. Some scouts don’t like Wilson’s offensive upside, as despite his decent speed and 10-15 home-run potential, he likely won’t be able hit for decent average. His natural defensive ability might make it worth it for Atlanta to find room for him at the bottom of the order. Pitcher Jeff Anderson and shortstop Heinie Leyritz will both struggle to succeed as they ascend towards the pro ranks. A forgettable draft year for the successful franchise. Grade: D+ N.L. South Charleston Cannons Outfielder Ezdra Paredes will strike out a ton. He can’t lay down a bunt to save his life. He’ll also drop a few balls in the outfield. These are likely the reasons that kept Paredes from being a consensus top ten pick, and saw him slip to the Cannons in slot #17. With a good outfield arm and tons of natural hitting ability, Paredes will have a good chance to make a few teams regret passing him over. Though he can hit for power, it isn’t his main offensive strength. Paredes drives the ball well to all fields and can earn a few free passes as well. He’ll need good coaching to reach his maximum potential, but Charleston should be pleased with their first rounder. Relief pitcher Trey Sappelt is a project, but he should flirt with major league success of some sort. Shortstop Wes Weaver can’t really hit, but he’s a special defensive player. The Cannons have some new pieces to work with . Grade: A- Mexico City Jalapenos With six picks in the top 60, the Jalapenos had a chance to add some good youth in this draft. Their top two selections were outfielders, Dusty Rigby and Chad Hernandez. Rigby could be the more well-rounded athlete, bringing some speed, defense and a decent bat, but Hernandez is the better pure hitter of the two. While Rigby has no glaring weaknesses, he doesn’t have star potential and will need to clearly define a role for himself to be successful. Hernandez is small and slow, but he’s an above average contact hitter with surprising power and a strong outfield arm. Both players are worth watching as they progress through the M.C. farm system. Catcher Chili Evans has moderate pop in his bat, but his skill behind the plate is lacking. Groundball pitcher Dan Corder could turn into a good mid-rotation workhorse and possibly better. Shortstop Harry Kaye is a good defender with a fantastic arm, and though he’s light-hitting he shouldn’t embarrass himself at the plate. Overall, a solid showing for the Jalapenos. Grade: B Montgomery Burns Not selecting until pick #30, the Burns were pleased with 20 year old sinker-forkballer Chad Richard, a patient righty with decent control and a five pitch arsenal. Richard has a much better success rate against right-handed hitting, and he could be pressed into bullpen work if he’s not able to pitch six innings every fifth game. Scouts project him to gain another 15 pounds by the time he’s major league ready. Second rounder Louis Redding has great control of his fastball-curveball combo, but despite throwing at a very limited velocity he doesn’t have the stamina to face more than a couple of batters before hitting the showers. He could be an effective role player in the Montgomery bullpen if they have the depth to roster a pitcher who can’t give them many innings. Third rounder Willie Villa could be another long term bullpen option for the Burns in a draft that could have gone better or worse. Grade: C San Antonio Banderas es Zorro The only significant selection for San Antonio this time around was a big one: the #1 overall pick, Steven Soriano out of CCU. Soriano is possibly the most ML-ready player in the draft, showing a great contact bat and the ability to work deep into counts and drive the ball to all fields. The only questions about Soriano’s future might be whether his range will be good enough to stick with his familiar second base position or if he’d be better suited somewhere else. He’s a lock to be a star player in San Antonio, and he gives them not only a marketable face for the fans to get excited about, but also a leader on and off the field. If he can learn better plate discipline, he should be a force to be reckoned with. Grade: A N.L. West Helena Phantom der Nacht For Helena, taking infielder Al Barber is a bit of a head-scratcher, as the Phantom infield is sewn up quite tightly with great young talent already. Barber brings versatility in the field, as he can play a number of positions. His defense in adequate, but not outstanding, so maybe he’s suited for a utility role? There’s some power in his bat, though he doesn’t have the complete offensive pedigree necessary to be a hitting star. His contact and batting eye could both use some work, but Helena could have done worse at #28. Grade: C- L.A. Dead Bunnies For anyone who didn’t think that Don Creek was the best pitcher in the draft, Kane Neill was likely their choice. The Dead Bunnies have acquired a great young 20 year old lefty who hasn’t even finished growing yet! Boasting five good pitches and pinpoint accuracy, Neill held left-handed college hitters to a paltry .125 batting average. His ultimate success will be determined by the righties, and if he can hit the strike zone with the consistency that he’s capable of, L.A. should have a great work-horse to round out their young rotation. They’re hoping that Neill will be able to throw well over 200 innings per year in his prime. Grade: A+ San Fransisco Streets With Murray Posey at #5 in the draft, the Streets have found themselves a great hitter and solid fielder. Posey can play second, but might be better suited at third. He has major league ready power and should develop into a fearsome heart-of-the-order hitter. The strikeouts will be there, but they’ll be countered by his run production. It will be tempting to rush Posey through the system, but the SF brass should be careful to coax the maximum potential out of their newest prospect. Grade: A Vancouver Vampire Bats At pick #21, the V-Bats opted for speedy defensive centerfielder Horacio Valbuena. Despite his lightning legs and gold glove potential, the Vancouver scouts had thought Horacio to have better offensive potential than they now realize. He’ll need to get on base in order to use his world-class “jets” and it remains to be seen if he has that in him. Second selection Elvis Pedersen could help the team as a depth starter or long relief man, but generally not much to look forward to out of this Vancouver crop. Grade: C-

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