Thursday, March 25, 2010

Season 15 Playoff Preview - National League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

National League

#1 Columbus HoundDogs - 109-53, 1st place NL East
Strengths: Everywhere you look there are strengths in Columbus.  The lineup features a three time reigning MVP,  a Cy Young candidate in Talmadge Young, the Fireman of the Year in Sarma Inge, and a very strong supporting cast everywhere else.  This team is deep.
Weaknesses: Lars looked really hard, and he's not finding any.  The Beagles/Fug Nuts Curse perhaps? 
Keys to Success: If the lineup hits like it is capable of, it will be a long series for opposing pitchers.  The rotation is a bit trickier as Young, Elvis Christman, and Tony Cho are all elite pitchers, but can lose a game here or there, and aren't quite in the same class as the Davey Silvas of the world. 
Team MVP's: 1B Chipper Harper & SP Talmadge Young & RP Sarma Inge
Outlook:  Now that Kazuhiro Ong is pitching in the AL, things are looking pretty good for Columbus.  Their team is so deep it's hard to pick against them, especially considering how their lineup will match up against all the other NL playoff teams rotations.
Odds: 2-1

#2 San Francisco Earthquakes - 99-63, 1st place NL West
Strengths: The Earthquakes have some great young pitching, but with the season ending injury to ace Clyde Ford, the rotation will be leaning heavily on proven playoff performer Ivan Canseco.  The bullpen is very good and has great depth.
Weaknesses: While the lineup is capable, this season they have only shown average production and have shown pretty much no power to speak of at the plate.  The rotation took a huge hit with the loss of Ford, and now isn't nearly as imposing.  Youth is also a factor, as this is the first playoff series for many players on the team save the veterans acquired in trades and those around last season when San Fran made a run.
Keys to Success: Canseco will have to be a rock and carry the rotation and Randall Slaughter will have to step up on the mound as well.  The lineup will have to find a way to move the runners around the horn in a more productive fashion than they showed in the regular season, as Charlie Erving can't do it all by himself.
Team MVP's: 2B Charlie Erving & SSP Ivan Canseco
Outlook:  This is a team that is very dependent on it's pitching, and if Ford were healthy would have had a very imposing 1-2 punch that would have been tough for other teams to compete with.  But only having Canseco weakens this teams playoff prospects considerably.
Odds: 12-1

#3 Sioux Falls Corn Cleats - 90-72, 1st place NL North
Strengths: SXF had some of the best pitching in the NL this season, and is pretty deep in both the rotation and bullpen.  The Corn Cleats are also a great slugging team, and have power throughout the lineup.
Weaknesses: The power focused lineup is otherwise pathetic, and had real trouble hitting the ball for anything other than a home run, and as a result didn't score a whole lot this season. 
Keys to Success: The lineup needs to get some people on base for the home run hitters to have any major effect on the score.  The pitching staff features four #1A type starters in Vance Weaver, Jose Vazquez, Victor Gandarillas, and Eric Holdrige, of which at least two of whom have to bring their good stuff to the mound for this team to win.  They need to feed off the momentum of a second half run that saw them go from worst to first in the division.
Team MVP's: 1B Brace Davey & SP Victor Gandarillas
Outlook: The Cleats are a team that is capable of beating anybody, as was shown by their incredible second half run, or losing to anybody, as was shown by their being in last place at the all star break.  Which team will show up?  If the good one does they could go a long way, if not it's lights out in the wild card round.
Odds: 10-1

#4 Richmond Cohibas - 86-76, 1st place NL South
Strengths: The Richmond lineup was the best hitting NL lineup this season, and is the reason why they are in the playoffs.  MVP candidates Dick Wolf and Geronimo Liriano are having excellent years, as is Benji Ordonez.
Weaknesses:  The Cohibas team defense is below average, and their pitching is suspect beyond Jerry Ross and Harold Austin. 
Keys to Success: Ross and Austin need to be at their best to carry an otherwise average rotation, and Shane Parrish needs to clean up the mess should he be called upon in the bullpen if a starter should falter.  The lineup just needs to keep up the good work they are already doing.
Team MVP's: 1B/LF Geronimo Liriano & SP Jerry Ross
Outlook:  Richmond has a competetive matchup against Atlanta in the first round, and should Ross and Austin win their starts it's a good chance that this team will go pretty far.  If it gets to the Cohibas bullpen though it probably won't be a long playoffs for Richmond.
Odds: 10-1

#5 Atlanta Pitbulls - 96-66, 2nd place NL East
Strengths: Atlanta is a team that is above average in pretty much everything, but not truly elite in any one particular category.  But as a whole this team is very deep across the board in both pitching and hitting, and the top three starters for Atlanta are among the best in the league, and probably the best top three in the NL playoffs.
Weaknesses: As good as the starters are for Atlanta, the bullpen is a bit of an issue, and isn't very reliable. 
Keys to success: Atlanta needs to have their hitters step it up just a little bit, and their starters keep up the lights out work that they have been putting out thus far.  If the starters go deep into the game, that will probably mean Atlanta is going to win.  If the starters get rocked though there isn't much comfort to be had when they leave the game.
Team MVP's: 2B Jamie Beimel & SP Junior Lee
Outlook:  The Pitbulls are one of the more balanced teams in Cobb, and they match up pretty well with Richmond.  If the starters get on a roll and show that they have playoff mettle, then Atlanta could upset Columbus and make it to the World Series.  Or they could just as easily lose to Richmond and be out of it, especially given the teams history.
Odds: 10-1

#6 Wichita Wankers - 95-67, 3rd place NL East
Strengths: The Wankers had the best pitching in the National League largely based on the performances of Davey Silva and Erubiel Owen, both up for the Cy Young award this season.  The offense was very good as well, clubbing a league leading 255 homers despite playing in the cavernous Wichita park.  The lineup is downright dangerous.
Weaknesses: Outside of Silva and Owen, the pitching staff is vulnerable and average at best and can be exploited.
Keys to Success: The lineup has to keep terrorizing opposing pitchers and helping chicks dig the long ball.  Silva needs to win every start or this could be a short playoffs for Wichita with no other proven playoff performers. 
Team MVP's: CF/2B Dorian Woolf & SP Davey Silva
Outlook: If the Wankers offense can get to the opposing pitching and steal a game or two when Silva isn't pitching, Wichita has the potential to go very far.  Like every other NL team in the playoffs, they have trouble matching up with Columbus, but have the potential to pull of the upset.
Odds: 10-1

Season 15 Playoff Preview - American League

Lars the Greek - Cobb Times Herald

American League

#1 Dover Dingos - 106-56, 1st place AL East
Strengths: The Dingos team depth is among the best in the entire league, and they have a very balanced lineup with no real weaknesses.  Their team defense is very solid as well, and CF Harpo Hurst is among the best in the game at that position. 
Weaknesses: While the starting pitching is solid, it lacks the true #1 SP that is often necessary in the postseason.  Alfonso Vega and Micah Conigliaro posted career years, but neither one of them stacks up well on paper vs. the likes of Dean Hernandez, Kaz Ong, or Ruben Gonzalez. 
Keys to success: Shawon Lee, Domingo Palaez, and Albert Burnett form a very effective power trio and Mitchell Marshall is great at setting the plate, and they will need to continue their regular season effectiveness into the playoffs for Dover to have a shot.  On the mound Ralph Hill will need to step up and be an effective 3rd option, because the likelihood that Vega or Conigliaro will lose a game against the cream of the AL pitching is pretty good. 
Team MVP's: C/DH Shawon Lee & SP Alfonso Vega
Outlook:  Dover has a good chance of advancing to the World Series, but the road won't be easy, and AL #1 seeds have a habit of falling to Cleveland the
Odds: 6-1

#2 Florida Almendares - 102-60, 1st place AL South
Strengths: Florida is the best defensive team in Cobb World, posting an astounding .990 team fielding percentage this season.  The Almendares starting pitching is top notch, and Eric Collins is the type of pitcher who can match up against anyone else in the league.  The lineup hits for contact and average quite well.
Weaknesses: The one glaring weakness in Florida's resume is the overall lack of pop in the lineup.  They don't hit a whole lot of home runs and depend on moving the base runners around to score, which is difficult to do in the playoffs against the top pitchers in the league. 
Keys to Success: The pitching staff has to keep producing as they have been, and the defense needs to keep preventing unearned easy runs for the other team.  If they can do that they will be in every game.
Team MVP's: RF Harry Rios & SP's Eric Collins & Danny Beamon
Outlook: Lars thinks that Florida has what it takes to go to the World Series out of the AL.  Of course it all comes down to whether or not they can derail the Cleveland juggernaut.
Odds: 4-1

#3 Tacoma Jerry Gang - 97-65, 1st place AL West
Strengths: Pitching, pitching, and more pitching!  Tacoma had the best staff in Cobb World this year, and not just because they pitched half their games in the forgiving confines of Cheney Stadium.  Tacoma's imposing 4 man rotation was very good this year, and all four pitchers are playoff capable.  The lineup wasn't too bad either, finishing in the top half despite playing half their games at home. Tacoma was also a top 4 fielding team in Cobb as well.
Weaknesses: It's hard to find a true weakness on this team, but if one had to be chosen it would be how they match up vs. Cleveland, their 1st round opponent, and their historical lack of playoff success the last few years despite having a very good team on the field. 
Keys to success: The pitching is going to have to keep doing what they have been doing all season long, and the lineup will need to step up and produce against the proven and playoff tough Cleveland pitching staff, and steal a game against Gonzalez or Bill Palmer.
Team MVP's: 2B Alex Presley & SP Darren Howry
Outlook: If Tacoma had drawn any other team but Cleveland, he would be picking them to win.  But Lars has learned the hard way that when it comes to playoff baseball, Cleveland is one team you don't bet against.  But if Tacoma can get past them, the skies the limit.
Odds: 10-1

#4 Pawtucket G-Maniacs - 88-74, 1st place AL North
Strengths: Dean Hernandez.  Beyond him, the G's were actually a top team in pitching, hitting, and fielding this season.  But really it all comes down to Dean Hernandez, he is irreplaceable for this team.
Weaknesses:  Despite being good in all statistical categories, the G's only managed 88 wins and are the worst team in the AL playoffs.  So somewhere something went wrong.  Looking more closely at the numbers, the young pitching of Hulk Boone and King Gonzalez was inconsistent, as was the aging David Rosado in the closer spot.  Joseph Funaki, a key power hitter for Pawtucket had a down year as well. 
Keys to Success:  Dean Hernandez needs to win his starts, or the kids need to step up and pitch better than they did in the regular season.  Rosado needs to discover some of that old magic, or the starters efforts will be for naught.
Team MVP's: DH Ajax Worley & SP Dean Hernandez
Outlook:  Dean is great, but despite that Pawtucket will have trouble stacking up to the rest of the teams in the AL playoffs this year.  Their first round draw vs. an excellent Nashville squad is brutal. 
Odds: 25-1

#5 Nashville Rebel Riders - 100-62, 2nd place AL South
Strengths: The Nashville lineup is the best in the AL playoffs, at least according to the numbers, and boasts two MVP candidates in Pedro Franco and Eddie Guardado.  Kazuhiro Ong is pitching for Nashville, which is bad news for the rest of the AL.
Weaknesses: Outside of Ong, the rest of the rotation is capable but not imposing.  The bullpen is also only average and will give up the occasional game.
Keys to Success: Ong needs to win his starts, and then the rest of the rotation will only need to get one game, which they should be able to do.  The lineup needs to eat up the inexperienced pitchers they come across, and try to steal a game from the aces they will face. 
Team MVP's: DH Pedro Franco & SP Kazuhiro Ong
Outlook:  If Cy Young candidate Kaz Ong pitches like he always does in the playoffs, the odds of Nashville advancing are pretty good.  With the lineup they have, Nashville will be in every game, even against the elite pitchers in the league.
Odds: 4-1

#6 Cleveland Steamers - 98-64, 2nd place AL East
Strengths: Experience, and loads of it.  Ruben Gonzalez and Bill Palmer are some of the greatest playoff pitchers in the history of the game.  Their starting lineup is very good, and has more power than any other AL playoff team.  Trevor Seelbach is an ace in the bullpen.
Weaknesses: They aren't very deep, and if Gonzalez or Palmer misses a step they suddenly become very vulnerable. 
Keys to Success: Gonzalez, Palmer, and Seelbach keep up the good work, and the lineup takes care of the rest.  Really, the same formula that has taken them to the World Series the previous five seasons. 
Team MVP's: RF Vinny Jang & SP Ruben Gonzalez & RP Trevor Seelbach
Outlook: Until they get beat by an American League team in the playoffs, it's hard to pick against Cleveland in the post season.  Lars thinks that this year is probably more of the same.
Odds: 2-1

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Season 15 Draft Recap - Syracuse through Wichita

Phillip Dickson
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: Cozad, NE
Position(s): RF
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Syracuse Beagles
--Picking at #30 there wasn't going to be much left in the draft for Syracuse to choose from, and sure enough that was the case as the Beagles were left picking RF Phillip Dickson, a player with all the skills of a CF save range and glove, which defensively puts him in a corner OF spot, where his speed and average bat won't help much.  Supplemental pick LF Maximo Clemens is an average player at best, and is in all likelihood going to enjoy a nice minor league career while never seeing major league time.  2nd round pick Kenta Yosida was projected to be a SS, but has the glove of a 3B and a weak bat.  5th round pick William Jones has a decent glove for a SS, but is otherwise unimpressive.  All told this draft hooked some minor league players, but really nobody who could score a spot on a ML roster.
Grade: D

John Lo
Jerry Gang
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Holstein, IA
Position(s): P (P)
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Tacoma Jerry Gang
--Thanks to their awesome regular season record, the Jerry Gang had the pleasure of picking at the bottom of the order this year in the draft, and for having the #32 pick, they actually did alright in selecting John Lo.  Lo is a capable RP with two good pitches, very high control, good splits vs. righties, and good stamina in durability.  He lacks velocity, but otherwise is pretty solid, especially for where he was selected in the draft.  Supplemental pick SS Gil Spahn projects to have an elite glove, but his bat is anemic.  The rest of the Jerry Gang's draft saw them pick up two weak hitting but elite defensive catchers, a capable RP in Hack Kaufman who will be great in the minors but probably struggle at the major league level, and an average minor league SS with a great name in Bum Thornton.  All told not a great draft, but one that was probably as good as could be had under the circumstances this season.
Grade: C

Frank Zaun
Blue Jays
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: New Orleans, LA
Position(s): LF
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Toronto Blue Jays
--Toronto was picking high at #6 this season, and sacrificed their 2nd round pick for a Type A free agent signing, so their draft was going to pretty much come down entirely to the player they could get in the 1st round.  Fortunately they managed to snag one of the few good hitters in this draft class in LF Frank Zaun.  Zaun is a solid slugger with nice power, and is great vs. righties and has a very nice batting eye.  His contact and skill vs. lefties are only average, but better than most other players in this years draft.  He is durable and fit, and should be a very solid addition to a franchise looking to add positional depth to their system.  3rd round pick SP Jacob Slocum was a great value pick for the round, and could be a ML RP or spot starter someday, as could 4th round pick SP Rollie Bowman.  This was a pretty good draft all things considered, especially given the talent level this year.
Grade: B+

Bip Lake
Age: 18B/T: S/R
Born: Gladstone, MI
Position(s): P (SP3)
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Trenton Lions
--The Lions were looking to add some pitching in this years draft, and succeeded with the selection of Bip Lake at #14 overall.  Lake is a solid pitcher across the board, with above average skills just about everywhere you look, but won't blow you away with any elite skills either.  He projects to be a #3-#5 starter in the majors, but a capable one who will keep his team in most of the games he pitches.  While he may not be great, he was probably the 4th or 5th best starter taken in this years draft.  Of the remainder of Trenton's top round picks, none of them that signed will ever impress in the majors, but will be solid minor league players for sure.  A slightly above average draft by this years standards, but not overly impressive historically speaking.
Grade: C+

Edwin Kaye
Age: 20B/T: R/R
Born: Monroe, IA
Position(s): SS/3B/2B/CF
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Vancouver Grizzlies
--Selected at #22 overall, SS Edwin Kaye is a bit of an oddball player, an elite fielding SS with great power and a bat that seems more suited to a platooning corner outfielder.  He doesn't have much speed, is brutal vs. right handed pitching, but is otherwise a very nice bat for a SS.  His range and bat might make him more suited to the hot corner, but he will be a capable player at any IF position, or CF.  Really, a nice player to have in the system, he's very versatile and can fill a lot of holes.  Just don't expect him to hit above .250, and don't bat him vs. righties if it can be avoided.  Supplemental pick SS Clint Coles is a more traditional SS, great with the glove, speedy, and unable to hit his weight.  He'll still be a nice ML backup and pinch runner though, as will 3rd round selection SS Raul Toca.  The Grizzlies other top round selections are pretty much minor leaguers.  But all told Vancouver has to be happy with what the got out of a lacking draft.
Grade: B

Hooks Surtain
Age: 19B/T: L/L
Born: Scottsboro, AL
Position(s): P (T2B)
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Wichita Wankers
--Wichita management must be weeping at this moment, as this was the year they had seven 1st round picks, fifteen in the top five rounds, and the draft class was as bad as it has ever been.  Did they manage to salvage anything out of the draft?  Let's take a look pick by pick.  #25 over all SP Hooks Surtain has good control and great pitches, but average splits, and probably projects to be either a #5 starter or a long man in the majors.  #27 overall SP Omar Arredondo has elite control, better splits than Surtain, but only three pitches of which two are good.  He has the same ceiling as Surtain.  #39 overall SP Rich Chisenhall is a AAAA pitcher who will get a taste of the majors but probably never stick to a roster.  #44 overall SP Sam Barkley would be nice if his control weren't so horrible, as it is now he's probably a minor leaguer for life.  #45 C Brad Guiel is a definite big league prospect, his excellent bat and capable glove will make him a ML regular at some point in his career, and getting him at #45 overall was a great value pick.  #46 2B Richie Hermanson will be average in the field and at the plate, and will probably top out at AAA.  #58 C Doc Vernon is another excellent pickup a the catcher position for Wichita, he can really hit and has a better glove than Guiel, probably the steal of the draft.  Unfortunately for Wichita, none of their subsequent picks really has any major league potential.  So all told the Wankers netted two legit major league catchers, two #5 starters/long relievers, and a bunch of minor leaguers out of fifteen picks.  That really isn't that good. 
Grade: D

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Season 15 Draft Recap - Omaha through Sioux Falls

Carl Snell
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: West Union, OH
Position(s): 1B
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Omaha Sluggers
--Heading into the draft, Omaha had to be hoping for something good with the #12 overall pick.  What they came out with was a 1B with great skills vs. righties and a top batting eye, but otherwise lackluster abilities at the plate, especially for a power position.  Snell has one of the oddest fielding skill sets that have ever been seen in a 1B prospect, with range, accuracy, and arm strength that could put him in the SS category, if only his glove didn't project to the upper 30's.  Snell is truly a freak player without a true position.  Supplemental pick Chili McGowan is a 2b with a hitting skill set more appropriate for a 2B, and the Sluggers other Supplemental round pick didn't sign, and the Sluggers didn't have any other top picks to make due to free agency signings.  All told this has to be considered a disappointing draft when you consider the placement of the picks and the talent returned, even in a poor draft class such as this.
Grade: D

Connie Strange
Age: 18B/T: L/R
Born: Reno, NV
Position(s): 2B
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Pawtucket G-Maniacs
--The G-Maniacs were picking surprisingly early this season at #19 overall, but their draft pick was the type of player who usually gets taken around 32-50 in the draft.  2B Connie Strange projects to a high overall rating, but his bat is only above average, although capable at the major league level.  Strange's glove should allow him to sub for CF if his range develops fully, and he has some very nice speed, although he is not so good in the head when it comes to base running.  Supplemental pick 1B George Ingram was a very nice pickup at #37 overall and has much higher potential than many of the players selected before him.  He is a nice hitting 1B with enough power to muster around 20 HR's a season.  Supplemental pick SP Jason Wright is a marginal ML prospect, and after him there wasn't anybody worth writing about in the Pawtucket draft.  All told this was a very average draft for the G's.
Grade: C+

Stone Cronin
Age: 18B/T: L/R
Born: Covington, OH
Position(s): 2B
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Richmond Cohibas
--#17 pick 2b Stone Cronin is about everything you would expect in a starting 2b.  He has a capable but not great glove, good speed with average base running skills, good contact, average power, decent splits, and a batting eye that leaves something to be desired.  He should be a regular in the majors at some point, but the odds of him ever being an all star are slim.  Richmond had a host of supplemental picks, the first one being RP Sam Fingers, who has definite ML potential and is great vs. lefties with three quality pitches and good control.  At #61 overall, supplemental pick SP Kane Rando might be the best value in the draft, as he could be a back end of the rotation starter for most teams in the majors.  #62 overall 2b Sean Breen is probably destined for a bench role in the bigs, but at least he is a quality prospect.  No one else in the top 5 rounds for the Cohibas projects to be a major leaguer, but props to Richmond for signing hands down the best name of the draft, CF Sticky McFeely, who is worth a whole letter grade by himself.  This was a pretty decent draft in a poor class. 
Grade: B

Bert Howell
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Wakonda, SD
Position(s): 2B
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Seattle Pilots
--Picking #4 overall the Pilots had the chance to nab one of the few elite prospects in this years draft.  They succeeded in selecting 2b Bert Howell,  a gifted fielding 2B who could probably do just as well in CF.  Howell's bat is pretty good for this draft as well, with an exceptional batting eye.  Howell also has elite speed and decent base running capabilities, and the durability to play 162 games.  He is very similar in projected skills to current major leaguer Peter Mullin of the Toronto Blue Jays.  2nd round pick C Stump Janish has a great name and even better catching skills, with elite fielding and pitch calling abilities.  His bat is ok, although he can't hit righties to save his life, but his glove makes up for that deficiency.  The rest of the Seattle draft brought on board some good minor leaguers, but no other players with big league potential.  This draft went about as good as could be expected for Seattle, but wasn't very deep.
Grade: B+

Gil Wigginton
San Francisco
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Clifton, IL
Position(s): SS
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San Francisco Earthquakes
--How bad was San Francisco's draft?  So bad that they didn't even bother signing their first round pick, #20 overall, even though SS Terry Cannon was offering to sign for slot money.  2nd round pick SS Gil Wigginton might make it as a backup SS in the bigs someday, and 3rd round pick CF Jose Duran has a nice glove and good skills vs. righties, although his low contact and batting eye will lead to some .200 batting averages.  Despite the fact that their few signed top round picks were actually decent value for where they were taken, not getting anything, even a compensation pick from the #20 overall, is just an unforgivable draft sin.
Grade: F

Al Ramos
San Jose
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Anniston, AL
Position(s): 2B
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San Jose Tigers
--Even in a draft filled with flawed players, CF/2B Al Ramos is exactly what a #10 draft pick should be, an elite hitter for the position with a great glove and range.  Ramos has more power than most CF's, and is very good vs. lefties.  He is also a very durable everyday player, and should hold down a lineup spot in the outfield for many seasons.   It's a good thing the Tigers drafted Ramos, because the rest of their draft is filled with minor league filler and potential diamonds in the rough.  But having at least one elite ML player makes up for a lot in a draft like this one.
Grade: B-

Davey Koch
Sioux Falls
Corn Cleats
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Pocola, OK
Position(s): P (P)
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Sioux Falls Corn Cleats
--Picking at #7 overall, the Corn Cleats selected a top of the rotation starter in SP Davey Koch.  Koch has the most impressive control of any pitcher in this years draft, good splits, elite velocity, and a good pitch selection.  He projects to be a 1a level starter in the bigs.  Supplemental pick CF Ralph Starr should be a quality major leaguer as well.  He has elite defensive capabilities, is a very good base runner, and picks up right handed pitching very well.  The rest of his bat is suspect, but he is a quality player regardless.  The rest of the Corn Cleats draft brought on some minor league guys but no other big league projected players.  Not a bad draft though considering the level of talent available. 
Grade: B+

Season 15 Draft Recap - Louisville through New York

Bennie Duvall
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Hibbing, MN
Position(s): P (P)
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Louisville Dogs
--Picking #11 this year the Dogs did very well in selecting SP Bennie Duvall.  Duvall is one of the top 2-4 pitchers in the draft this season, and for him to drop to #11 was unexpected.  Duvall is #1 starter quality elite across the board with the exception of his tendency to give up the fly ball, and his potential injury worries.  He isn't nearly as fragile as the top overall pick though, so really he is a very good bet for the Dogs, and about as good of a first round pick that could be had this season.  Supplemental pick CF Chet Patrick was a very good value selection at #51 overall as well, and has ML potential on the field and major league gap toothed smile.  The two other top round signees by the Dogs are just minor league types, but capable and productive ones.  Overall this was a very good draft for Louisville, adding two quality prospects, including a #1 starter in a spot where he probably shouldn't have been, which is worth its weight in gold.
Grade: A-

John Miller
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Yuma, AZ
Position(s): P (P)
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Montgomery Burns
--Montgomery had the #3 pick overall, and while usually a pick that high isn't used on a reliever, in this instance it was justified with the pick of closer John Miller.  Miller is a two inning shut down closer, with three good pitches and incredible splits and control.  He is a total workhorse who will shorten the game significantly, which will make the starters win totals much better in the future.  This was a great pick in a near talentless draft.  Montgomery also had the #18 pick in the draft this year as well, but were unable to sign C Gerardo Alou.  Alou was good, but Montgomery should be able to do as well or better next season with the #18 pick Type D pick.  Still, missing out on a catcher with defensive skills in the 80's who can also hit very well hurts.  The Burns had a high supplemental pick as well, #33 overall, and used it to take 2B Milt Slaughter, an above average fielder with a good batting eye and capable bat elsewhere.  He should make a good role player at the ML level.  2nd round pick 2B Eric Sutton was a tremendous value pick for this draft, projected to the high 70's overall, which was quite a score this year at that draft position.  He won't be an all star, but Sutton will be a capable role player and spot starter in the majors.  4th and 5th round picks C Michael Campbell and SS Orlando Sandoval also both have major league potential as well thanks to their positional skill sets.  Even without the signing of Alou, this draft is one of the best, if not the best of the year.
Grade: A+

Ernie Brow
Rebel Riders
Age: 18B/T: S/R
Born: Oak Park, CA
Position(s): RF
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Nashville Rebel Riders
--About the only really nice thing that can be said about RF Ernie Brows status as a first round pick is that he has a very nicely trimmed goatee.  Otherwise this supplemental round selection is probably destined to top out at AAA at best.  SP's Leon Jackson, Andrew Thomas, and Ted Chase were good value selections for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rounds though, and could actually see ML duty at some point in their careers.  But on the whole this is a pretty forgettable draft for Nashville.
Grade: D-

Matt Malloy
New York
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: Hamburg, NY
Position(s): RF
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New York Expos
--At #9 overall the New York Expos managed to nab one of the few genuine quality hitters in this years draft in RF Matt Malloy.  Malloy is a tremendous slugger who absolutely owns lefties.  The rest of his hitting skills are capable, although he will strike out every now and again, but that is to be expected for a projected #4 hitter.  He has a perfect skill set for the RF position, and should be able to be a nearly every day player in the bigs.  This was a great pick for New York.  Supplemental pick SP Tim Sisler is intriguing, as he has some very good skills and great pitches, but his control issues will probably prevent him from having consistent major league success.  But he was still probably the best player on the board at that point in the draft, as there really wasn't a whole lot to choose from.  The only other pick of note was 5th round selection C Juan Sot, a great platoon option vs. lefties.  The New York draft had some definite ups and downs, but scored more hits than misses.
Grade: B

Don Sherman
New York
Pick Pockets
Age: 22B/T: L/L
Born: Bremen, IN
Position(s): P (SP4)
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New York Pick Pockets 
--At #21 overall there wasn't much left for the Pick Pockets to select on the draft boards, but they managed to pilfer SP Don Sherman into their organization.  Sherman is a bit of an oddball SP, a lefty with average control, great vs. lefties, so-so vs. righties, excellent GB/FB ratio, velocity, one stellar pitch, one good pitch, and one bad pitch.  All told he'll probably be the kind of pitcher who will throw a CG shutout one game only to get lit up the next.  But he is a ML quality pitcher.  Of the rest of the Pick Pockets top five round selections (all pitchers), only supplemental pick RP Alfredo Castro has any real major league potential.   All told, this was a slightly below average draft.
Grade: C

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Season 15 Draft Recap - Hartford through Los Angeles

Cal Nicholson
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: Santa Cruz, CA
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Hartford Whalers
--With the #8 pick overall, Hartford expected to get a stud player of epic proportions, and they nearly did in C Mitch Titan.  But ultimately Titan's salary demands were bigger than Cronos' appetite, and he refused to sign with the Whalers.  But you can't fault Hartford for swinging for the fences in a very poor draft, and as a reward they are guaranteed the #8 pick next season in what will hopefully be a more fertile draft pool.  What they ended up with as a consolation was supplemental pick RP Cal Nicholson, who is very similar in quality to Cleveland's #1 overall pick, but with slightly better splits and much better velocity.   Nicholson has the potential to be a very good ML RP vs. lefties.  Supplemental pick SP Jose Estrada has ML long relief potential, but isn't the type of player one usually expects at #34 overall.  2nd round pick SS Les Spivey, cousin of Dover #1 pick SS Howard Spivey, is only slightly less talented than his higher round counterpart.  One could actually put them on a comparison chart and see them come out nearly the same, so this has to be considered a great value pick for Hartford, and an indictment on Dover that the essentially the same player could have been had 62 picks later.  The rest of Hartford's draft is pretty average, but all told this was one of the more successful drafts in the sense they guaranteed themselves a high pick next year and still made out with two potential ML players.
Grade: B+

Kent Milton
Iowa City
Corn Dogs
Age: 20B/T: S/R
Born: Sturgis, MI
Position(s): SS
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Iowa City Corn Dogs
--Usually the #16 pick will get you somebody really great, but not this year.  What Iowa City ended up with was a very serviceable player in SS Kent Milton, but not the potential all star they were probably hoping to get.  Milton does have a very nice glove, and his hitting skills should net him a place in the line up, especially in the National League.  But he's not a great hitter by any stretch, and will need to develop his glove for a while in the minors before he's ready to go in the majors.  Milton reminds the Cobb Times Herald quite a bit of current ML SS Mickey Corino, who has some gold gloves to his name.  2nd round pick RF Trey Ventrella has great splits and batting eye, but his contact and power are abysmal, and more suited to the SS or CF position, which means he will probably spend most of his career in the minors as his glove just isn't good enough to move to another position, and corner OF spots are usually reserved for better hitters. After Ventrella the Iowa City draft got some good minor leaguers, but nothing else of real note.
Grade: C+

Shane Lindblom
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: Belmont, NC
Position(s): P (SP3)
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Jackson Pollocks
--Jackson's top pick this year was a 4th rounder, so really not much was expected.  But the Pollocks managed to grab a great value pick in Shane Lindblom.  He'll probably never reach the majors, but he should have a very nice minor league career and might earn a shot someday as an injury replacement thanks to his very high control.  But with the massive talent drop this year Jackson did much better by signing Dennis Ashby and Ken Puffer than taking the picks they would have gotten otherwise.
Grade: D- for the picks, A+ for nearly missing this draft entirely.

Wade Stowers
Kansas City
Age: 22B/T: L/L
Born: Lincoln, AL
Position(s): P (SP1)
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Kansas City Express
--Kansas City was picking #2 this year, and was expecting big things from the pick. They ended up with SP Wade Stowers, a sure fire stud in the making with all the right ingredients for total dominance, assuming he doesn't stub his toe on the turf and start a devastating chain of injuries that could forever ruin his promising career.  Indeed, it seems as if Stowers suffered from polio or pneumonia as a youth, as his general health is quite frail and is a major red flag.  But considering the other players that could have been chosen this year, Stowers is actually the better gamble.  2nd round pick 2B Jerry Walters is a capable fielder with a capable bat.  He'll never impress, but will be a more than capable backup in the bigs.  No other top picks signed for Kansas City this season.
Grade: B (would have been an A if Stowers weren't the pitching equivalent of Wiki Vasquez)

Samuel Baker
Los Angeles
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: New Berlin, IL
Position(s): SS/IF/OF/DH
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Los Angeles Leopards
--Following last seasons disaster the Leopards earned the #1 pick in the draft, and used it on a player who was clearly the best overall in the draft, SS Samuel Baker.  But as is consistent with the players in this years draft he has some problems too, which is hard to believe for a player projected near 90 overall.  His glove is elite, as are his arm strength and accuracy, but his range only projects to an 80, which means he will probably top out in the mid to upper 70s, which for a ML SS isn't the greatest.  Bakers bat is also only just above average, with good power, but only upper 60's elsewhere, which means he'll probably hit only .260 in the majors.  But he does have great health, durability, temper, and makeup, which means he should be a blast in the locker room on a daily basis.  Neither of the two other top round picks that signed for LA will ever amount to much.  LA also managed to not sign a supplemental pick this year as well, which makes this a pretty disappointing draft for the Leopards.
Grade: C+ (Baker is good, is he really worthy of the #1 pick?)

Season 15 Draft Recap - Charlotte through Florida

Jack Holt
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: San Jose, CA
Position(s): 2B
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Charlotte Thunder
--The Thunder sure picked a bad year to have multiple compensation picks due to free agent losses.  As a result they only signed two of their six 1st and 2nd round picks.  The first signing was #13 overall, SS Jack Holt.  The Thunder wisely moved him to 2b right off, as is the theme in this draft, Holt was flawed for his projected position, having great fielding stats save for his glove, which only projects to a 70, not nearly good enough for an ML SS.  His bat is pretty nice for a SS, but only average for a 2B.  So the end result is that Charlotte got a light hitting 2B who should be great defensively at that position.  The Thunders other signed 1st round pick, CF Jose Reyes, was taken at #43 overall.  He is a fine defensive CF, and has great ability to hit lefties and is a top baserunner.  His lack of contact skills and inability to hit righties well could limit him to platoon duty in the majors however.  The rest of the Thunders draft produced some capable minor leaguers, but nobody who is truly capable of making the big leagues otherwise.  This draft has to be considered a disappointment for the Thunder considering the volume of high picks they had going in vs. the return they got coming out.
Grade: C-

Galahad Hutchinson
Age: 22B/T: L/L
Born: Tracy, CA
Position(s): LF
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Columbus HoundDogs
--The HoundDogs took a gamble by sacrificing their first round pick to sign free agent SP Tony Cho.  In hindsight that turned out to be a pretty good move, as the talent they probably could have signed at #27 overall wouldn't have been very good.  What they ended up with in the 2nd round onward was a draft that pretty much is unremarkable and average at best.  None of their picks will make the majors, although Galahad Hutchinson and Cookie Coleman do have very cool names, some of the best in the draft.  But in the ranks of draft history, this one is pretty forgettable.
Grade: D- for their picks, A+ for getting Cho instead of a chump who probably would have never made the majors

Sherm Truman
Age: 19B/T: L/L
Born: Allentown, PA
Position(s): P (P)
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Cleveland Steamers
--Usually when you draft a relief pitcher who will in all likelihood top out at Setup B role on the big league team, it isn't a good thing.  But with the talent in this years draft it was actually as good as could be expected at #29 overall in the draft, and the Steamers ended up with Sherm Truman as a result.  Truman's best quality is his durability  and stamina, but his pitches in combination with a lack of velocity and tendency to give up the fly ball will probably keep Truman from ever being an effective big league pitcher.  Supplemental pick CF Juan Espinosa however is a keeper, and has a chance to be an elite defensive CF at the ML level, with a bat that is good enough to justify a spot in the lineup.  His high contact bat and elite baserunning abilities make him a legit prospect, although he is a very light hitter and will probably only manage a .270 average and .650 OPS at best in the bigs.  The rest of the Cleveland draft brought on board some very good minor leaguers, but no other big league talent.  Not a great draft at all, but certainly better than some others this year, with the Espinosa pick keeping this from being a total waste.
Grade: C-

Howard Spivey
Age: 20B/T: R/R
Born: Jacksboro, TX
Position(s): SS/3B/2B/OF
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Dover Dingos
--With the #26 pick in the draft, the Dingos selected a top defensive SS in Howard Spivey.  Spivey also has some good contact at the plate and a decent eye, but is slow as molasses and couldn't hit a right hander if the game were slow pitch softball.  Supplemental pick Keith Sveum was good value for his location in the draft, and if his splits were a little higher would be a potential all star.  But as it is he will need to develop fully in order to just be a long reliever in the majors.  If he matures he looks to be kind of like a Zeus Stewart type of pitcher.  2nd round pick 1b J.P. Gibbons was good value for the location as well, but his bat isn't quite good enough to be a regular in the majors.  The rest of the draft for Dover featured some good minor leaguers who were good value picks, but none of them will ever see a ML roster.  Despite the flawed nature of their top two picks, this draft was par for the course this year in terms of talent.
Grade: C

Jordan Walker
Age: 21B/T: L/L
Born: Lomira, WI
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Florida Almendares
--Florida spent a gazillion dollars on scouting this year, almost to see it go to waste thanks to a flurry of type A free agent signings.  But then they got lucky and scored a compensation pick of their own, at #60 overall in the 1st round.  They used their scouting smarts to select RP Jordan Walker, who has some of the best splits in the draft, and projected control near 100, which is as good as you can get.  He also has one of the best pitch selections in the draft.  But how did he drop to #60 then?  His extremely limited stamina and durability is the culprit.  He's limited to basically 40 innings a year tops, but they should be 40 very good innings for what it is worth.  The Almendares only signed one other top round pick, and he is only going to be good in the minors.  Despite their huge scouting investment, Florida has to be happy they didn't have to depend on it this year thanks to the very poor talent pool. 
Grade: D+ for the picks, A+ for the free agent signings that prevented them from having to draft.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Season 15 Draft Recap - Anaheim through Chicago

Orval Edmonds
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: New Market, AL
Position(s): SS/2B
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Anaheim Sharks
--Picking at #28 in a very weak draft meant that Anaheim didn't have much to choose from in the way of talent.  What they ended up with was Orval Edmonds, the prototypical high health/durability 2B who is average at pretty much every other category.  Edmonds will be just good enough to make an ML team eventually, but will probably just end up being a journeyman. Supplemental pick SP Lawrence Lofton has good ML potential as a long man or #5 starter thanks to his high control, and was as good as you could get at #90 overall.  3rd rounder Abraham Hill is a high end minor leaguer, as is 4th rounder Roosevelt Motte.  Considering how horrible the talent in the draft was this season, this actually isn't a bad draft.  But still, none of these guys are likely to impact the major league club in Anaheim.
Grade: C+

Brian Gang
Age: 18B/T: L/L
Born: South Glens Falls, NY
Position(s): P (SuA)
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Atlanta Pitbulls
--As their team starts to produce winning records, the management in Atlanta is starting to discover that drafting at the end of the first round is a whole new ballgame.  What they ended up with this year was RP Brian Gang, taken at #24 overall.  Gang has very limited stamina and durability, but has great skills elsewhere across the board.  He projects to play like current ML relief pitcher Jose Rios, which means ATL should get about 40 high quality innings a year out of Gang if he matures fully.  Supplemental pick RP Ross Brownson is a tweener pitcher, best suited to long relief thanks to his mid level stamina and durabilty.  He has great pitches and control, which should offset his average splits.  He has a good future as a ML setup pitcher.  The rest of the pitchers taken in Atlanta's first five rounds will make excellent minor leaguers.
Grade: C+

Johnny Prince
Age: 18B/T: R/R
Born: Huxley, IA
Position(s): P (SuA)
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Boston Loggers
--When can not signing the #5 overall pick be considered a success?  This year!  Thanks to the horrible talent pool, the best Boston was able to draft was above average 1B Don Elster, who rejected the Loggers initial contract offer, thus ensuring that Boston will be able to have the #5 pick in next years draft, which will hopefully have better talent.  That left them with their top pick being #48 overall RP Johnny Prince, a minor leaguer who may get a sniff of the majors should a catastrophic injury wave hit the ML squad of his franchise.   3rd rounder C Johnny Worrell is actually a viable ML talent thanks to his great bat and decent backstopping skills.  Otherwise Boston brought home some good minor leaguers, but not much else in the way of ML talent.
Grade: D for this years talent, but an A for securing a high pick next season.

Edgar Romero
Age: 20B/T: L/L
Born: Scott City, KS
Position(s): CF
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Chicago Sabercats
--Back in the good old days picking #15 meant you were going to get a stud player of the likes of Benito Rodriguez or Lyle Crudale.  But with this draft it meant signing CF Edgar Romero, who while having some very nice qualities, isn't a player of the calibur of those mentioned.  What Romero does have is an elite glove and a great batting eye, and pretty good speed.  What he lacks is the range that is necessary for a CF in larger parks, and the rest of his batting skills are only average.  But he could easily be a top tier defensive 2B for certain, and considering the talent in the draft was probably the best that was available to Chicago at his place in the draft order.  The next two picks for Chicago, RPs Wellington Mendez and Don Long, both have great control and decent pitches, but have a few flaws that might impede their progress.  The rest of Chicago's top picks were good minor leaguers who could fill in for the ML squad if it were desperate. 
Grade: C+