Sunday, January 15, 2012

Season 16 Draft Review

Now that nearly all the players who are going to sign have put their name on the dotted line, it's time to take a look at this season's draft, with selected commentary on good, bad, and otherwise particularly noteworthy selections.

1. New York Knickerbockers

Jerry Williams, LHP - Age 18 - $4.00M (MLB Contract) - Rating: - Grade: A+

Comment: In one of the most top-heavy drafts of recent years, Williams is far and away the most obvious choice for #1 overall. The Virginia high-school phenom has virtually no weaknesses as a prospect, and has a legitimate shot at someday challenging Javier Henriquez's status as the best pitcher in the history of The Bigs.

2. New Orleans Voodoo

Rich Williams, RHP - Age 22 - $3.19M - Rating: - Grade: B

Comment: Though the "other Williams" certainly has the makings of a good starter about him - and, as a college senior, won't take long to reach the majors - he's simply not at the same level as many of the other top-10 picks in this season's draft.

3. Salem Sacrifices

Kurt Bunch, 1B – Age 18 - $5.50M – Rating: - Grade: A-

4. Cincinnati Reds

Alex Lira, RF - Age 20 - $3.72M - Rating: - Grade: A

5. Cheyenne Crackers

Dennis Redding, RF - Age 18 - Unsigned - Rating: - Grade: C

Comment: Redding isn't a bad pick for 5th overall - he's nearly a five-star prospect - but the Crackers have decided to spend their prospect-signing budget playing the international market. While they got a very good player out of it (Cuban shortstop Ricardo Gongora), it's still rather unsavory to see an easily signable top-5 pick go unsigned.

6. Milwaukee Manic Maulers

Moises Lima, C - Age 18 - $6.89M - Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: In a draft full of outstanding hitters, Lima may be the very best. He could even turn out to be the best-hitting catcher in the history of the league. But he has two very big hurdles to clear in order to even get a chance: his mediocre game-calling skill, and a troubling health history.

7. Seattle Killer Whales

Bosco Price, RHP - Age 19 - $3.44M - Rating: - Grade: B

8. Mexico City Chupacabras

Ray Presley, SS - Age 18 - $3.35M - Rating: - Grade: A

9. Vancouver Grizzlies

Theo Summers, 3B - Age 18 - $3.25M - Rating: - Grade: A-

10. Boise Drifters

Eddie Harris, C - Age 18 - $3.16M - Rating: - Grade: B+

Comment: Harris, like Moises Lima, is a backstop with awe-inspiring hitting potential - but unlike Lima, he doesn't have a good throwing arm to match. While he's sure to find his way to the middle of a big-league lineup someday, it may be as a DH and not a catcher.

11. Montreal Alouettes

Shawn Heathcott, RHP - Age 20 - $3.07M - Rating: - Grade: B

12. Anaheim Chiles

Matty Palmeiro, LHP - Age 18 - $2.97M - Rating: - Grade: C+

Comment: Palmeiro has a good control and a fastball that can blow hitters away - but there's little else about him that's truly impressive. He's vulnerable to right-handed hitters and doesn't have much in the way of secondary pitches to go with that fastball. He's still a legitimate first-rounder, but for the 12th overall pick, this is a real reach.

13. Oakland East Bay Rays

Trevor Torres, 2B - Age 21 - $2.88M - Rating: - Grade: B-

Comment: It's difficult to really take the measure of a player like Torres. He destroys LHPs, but is average against righties. He projects to be a sure-handed gloveman at 2B, but doesn't have much range for the position. Overall, his individual tools are good enough to warrant a four-star rating - but one wonders if the whole may be less than the sum of its parts.

14. Chicago Cows

Jarrod Laird, 3B - Age 20 - $2.79M - Rating: - Grade: B+

15. Norfolk Destroyers

Danny Zagone, LHP - Age 19 - $2.69M - Rating: - Grade: B+

16. Austin Slackers

Footsie Cooper, CF - Age 20 - $2.60M - Rating: - Grade: B

17. Boston Bambinos

Ismael Pineda, LHP - Age 21 - $2.50M - Rating: - Grade: A-

18. Buffalo Blue Cheese

Henderson Martin, 2B - Age 18 - $2.41M - Rating: - Grade: C+

19. Huntington Riverdogs

Cleatus Velandia, 1B - Age 18 - $2.32M - Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: Velandia may not play the toughest position, but he's one of the best pure hitters in a draft full of them, and projects to be a decent fielder at first base, too. He's a terrific find for the 19th overall pick, and this selection may turn out to be one of the few bright spots in what has been an awful season for the Riverdogs.

20. Vancouver Grizzlies

Felipe Romano, LHP - Age 19 - $2.22M - Rating: - Grade: B-

Comment: If you're feeling a sense of deja vu about this pick, it might be because this isn't the first time the Grizzlies have used a late-first-round draft pick on a left-handed pitcher with fair-to-middling potential named "F. Romano". (Francis Romano, their season 13 first-rounder, was traded to Mexico City earlier this season.)

21. Madison Snappers

Ray Neal, RHP - Age 21 - $3.62M - Rating: - Grade: D

Comment: Neal is a classic "innings-eater" - he doesn't have very good stuff, but he'll easily throw 110+ pitches every time out, and can often do so on short rest if it's necessary. While players like Neal will always have a place in the majors, he's really not first-round material, nor is he worth his over-slot signing bonus.

22. Memphis Ptah

Gerrit Donnelly, 2B/CF - Age 21 - $2.04M - Rating: - Grade: B-

23. Salt Lake City Shakers

Bump Werth, LF - Age 19 - $1.94M - Rating: - Grade: B

24. Fargo Dirtbags

Adam Bailey, P - Age 18 - Unsigned - Rating: N/A - Grade: N/A

Comment: Bailey is demanding a staggering $5.5 million to sign with Fargo, and that's money that the Dirtbags simply don't have right now as they've spent an even more staggering $113.3 million on player salaries. While it looks like Bailey (whom our scouts never got a chance to see) will go unsigned, that's just another cost of doing business for a team in hot pursuit of a pennant.

25. Monterrey Sultans of Swat

Esteban Cubillan, 2B - Age 19 - $1.75M - Rating: - Grade: A

Comment: While Cubillan's potential as a fielder may be questionable (his range is far better suited to a corner outfield position), his potential as a batter is unimpeachable. He hits well for both contact and power, and is well-disciplined at the plate - overall, he could be the one of the biggest steals of the first round.

26. Boise Drifters

Marc Sabathia, RF - Age 18 - $1.66M - Rating: - Grade: B

27. Atlanta Bandits

Bill Munro, RHP - Age 21 - $1.57M - Rating: - Grade: A+

Comment: If Cubillan isn't the steal of the first round, then Munro definitely is. He has throws three high-quality pitches including a fastball that clocks in at well over 90 MPH, all of which he can control well, and simply tears up right-handed hitters. Though he lacks the stamina of a truly great starter, he could be a brilliant 5- or 6-inning pitcher.

28. Helena Shadow Wolves

Eli Cruz, RHP - Age 19 - $1.47M - Rating: - Grade: C-

29. Buffalo Blue Cheese

Lyle Hundley, RHP - Age 18 - $1.38M - Rating: - Grade: B-

30. Buffalo Blue Cheese

Rollie Bolden, RHP - Age 18 - $1.29M - Rating: - Grade: C

Comment: With two straight picks (both compensatory selections), Buffalo drafts two remarkably similar pitchers - both are hard throwers, both have some terrific pitches, and both struggle with their control. Bolden is probably the "safer" pick, but Hundley may have bigger upside. It'll be interesting seeing them develop side-by-side in the same organization.

31. Pawtucket Patriot

Les Clark, 2B - Age 21 - $1.19M - Rating: - Grade: B+

32. Charleston Chew

John Chen, SS - Age 19 - $1.10M - Rating: - Grade: B-

33. Washington Blue Coats

Bobby Isringhausen, LHP - Age 18 - $1.00M - Rating: - Grade: B

Comment: Washington brings round one to a close with one of the draft's most interesting pitchers. Isringhausen is a control artist who keeps the ball on the ground and boasts a wide variety of offspeed pitches - and can also blow a fastball by hitters when he needs to. If not for mediocre L/R split ratings, he'd be one of the top pitchers in the draft- but he'll have to settle for just barely squeaking into the first round.

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