The 2011 MLB Draft, with a class marked by a deep class of future stars, is about to come to a close. After an exciting and surprising first 60 picks on June 6th, round 2-30 were completed last night. While this segment of the draft isn’t quite as exciting as the first round, at least in term’s of starpower, many of the nation’s top high school players and toughest signs fall into this category. With over a thousand of players being selected in this part of the draft, it’s important for clubs to know their scouting reports and to keep their budget in mind. If their front office personnel can make savvy picks, rebuilding clubs can re-tool their farm system with young talent while contending clubs– who likely had few picks early in the draft– can still leave the draft with at least a few intriguing prospects.
In our previous “Winners and Losers” report, we named the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks as the two biggest winners of the draft’s first round. On the other hand, we also named the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees as the biggest losers of the day. Results from rounds 2-30 weren’t much different from the first day’s picks however, as many teams continued with ugly strategies and weren’t able to resurrect their weak draft. The Nationals and Diamondbacks continued their great streaks while the Blue Jays and Cubs completely turned their drafts around.
After grabbing the classes’ top hitter in Anthony Rendon with the 6th overall pick and getting great value picks with hard-throwing Alex Meyer (23) and five-tool Brian Goodwin (34) with their first three selections, the Nationals continued their great draft– grabbing a handful of talented arms in the middle rounds. GM Mike Rizzo managed to get his hands on Matt Purke, a southpaw out of TCU who was ranked among the drafts top 10 prior to recent injury woes, all the way down at the 96th slot. While Purke’s arm troubles keep him from rating as a top prospect, he has the talent to be an ace pitcher in the MLB. When he’s at his best, Purke throws four above-average pitches with quality command including a 90-94 mph fastball and one (arguably) the best curveball among this year’s class of lefthanders. Even if his arm needs time to heal, or even surgery, the Nationals still made a great pick here. As a team locked in the middle stages of rebuilding, they have the luxury of time and patience.
Mike Rizzo and the Nats’ front office continued to make great value picks into the middle rounds of the draft while also addressing his organization’s need for young arms. Washington picked up two smart, polished college pitchers out of Vanderbilt and Notre dame when they selected Taylor Hill and Brian Dupra. Both righties have good pitchers frames, heavy low-90s fastballs and innings eater/mid-rotation potential. Both pitchers are high floor guys who are close to the MLB and their durable profiles will be a great complement to the National’s crop of electric talents in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Alex Meyer and Matt Purke.
While Rizzo’s great picks in the early rounds afforded could have allowed them to budget themselves for the remainder of the draft and fill their minor league system with organizational guys, the Nationals’ front office didn’t pass up the opportunity to continue drafting for talent. They grabbed tall (6’5″) projectable, lefthander Kylin Turnbull in the fourth round, first-team All-ACC slugger Matt Skole in the 5th, big-bodied power arm Dixon Anderson in the 9th and toolsy 6’8″ righthander Hawton Buchanan 557th overall. Anderson has a mid 90s fastball and high ceiling, while Skole has plus raw power. Both Turnbull and Buchanan are tall, raw pitchers who flash lows 90s heat with plenty of room for more if they can add some strength to their lanky frames. The Nats’ also took South Carolina lefthander Bryan Harper, brother of their top prospect Bryce Harper, in the 30th round.
Despite their stretch-pick of Cory Spangenberg at 10th overall, the Padres have done a good job of consistently taking one of the consensus top talents left on the board on each of their turns. Spangenberg wasn’t the tenth most talented player in the draft, but he isn’t a gross overdraft either and he’ll likely be a solid everyday major league infielder. The Padres followed their first selection with three of the nation’s top high school players in Joe Ross, Michael Kelly, Brett Austin who would all be immense additions if the Padres pony up the cash to get them to ignore their college commitments. They also grabbed athletic shortstop Jace Peterson– a defensive back on McNeese State’s football team– who has Jose Offerman potential as a burner infielder.
On day two, the Padres continued to take the ideal approach of drafting for talent. To follow-up their pick of Austin in the first round, the Padres grabbed Austin Hedges, the top defensive catcher among the nation’s class of high schoolers. While it will be tough to pry Hedges away from his UCLA commitment, his potential as a Gold Glove catcher makes him worth a gamble. Because the Padres saved on last years draft when their first round pick turned down their offer, they should have plenty of money to sign at least one of Brett Austin and Austin Hedges.
After their streak of signing five of the nation’s top high school ballplayers in their first six picks, the Padres then used their next three picks to grab college arms advanced in their development. Padres GM Jed Hoyer gave his club two polished, high-floor arms when he selected Matt Andriese 112th and Mark Pope 173rd. Neither Andriese nor Pope have power stuff, but each have solid command and good feel for their advanced offspeed pitches. Both righties should be good back-end starters in the big leagues. Hoyer made a great value pick when he selected toolsy Valpairoso outfielder Kyle Gaedele– blessed with an intriguing combo of power and speed– at 203rd overall.
The formidable Padres bullpen’s future got a bit brighter when Hoyer added a few exciting relief prospects yesterday. Cody Hebner, who was selected in the 5th round (143rd)– between Andriese and Pope– has a power mid-90s fastball and a good slider. While he probably won’t be a major league closer, Hebner’s power repertoire, good athleticism and great arm speed makes him a good bet to be a successful back-end reliever. Burch Smith and Matt Stites, selected 443rd and 533rd respectively, both have low 90s fastballs, quick arms and solid breaking stuff.
The Giants’ first overall selection, shortstop Joe Panick, was a bit of a stretch. The rest of the Giants draft class however was one of the MLB’s most solid. As expected, GM Brian Sabean and the San Francisco front office avoided tough signs and expensive high school gambles and went the conservative route, opting for more advanced college talent. Sabean drafted premium college prospects Andrew Susac, Ricky Oropesa, Bryce Bandilla, Chris Marlowe and Josh Osich in bargain slots and stocked the Giants farm system without breaking the bank. San Francisco is ready to compete now and the team could use some power bats and some extra arms. The clubs 2011 draft did a great job of addressing both of these issues, and many of the Giants picks should be ready to help the big club sooner rather than later.
The Giants selected Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac and USC first baseman Ricky Oropesa with their second and third round picks, doing a great job of addressing their system’s need for high-ceiling bats. While a broken hamate bone slowed him down this past season at Oregon State, Susac is this classes’ most advanced college catcher and offers a great mix of tools on both sides of the plate. Susac is an athletic catcher with good receiving skills and a strong arm. Offensively, he’s a solid hitter with an intelligent approach and above-average power potential.
From the left side, USC’s Ricky Oropesa has plus-plus raw power. He’s blessed with one of the strongest arms among college infielders and has experience at third base. While Oropesa isn’t a good athlete, has below average speed and needs to hone his plate discipline, he has rare power and can hit long home runs to all fields. Oropesa isn’t far behind C.J. Cron in terms of offensive ability and if the Giants coaching staff can polish some of his rough edges, they could end up with an impact-level slugger fit to protect Brandon Belt and Buster Posey in the middle of their order.
Staying true to his past draft strategies, Sabean made sure to stock up on advanced college arms. Power lefthanders Bryce Bandilla and Josh Osich were great values– particularly Osich who was projected to go in the top 50-60– out of the 4th and 6th rounds. Both pitchers have the size and stuff to be either mid-rotation starters or back-end relievers. The Giants were also able to get big-armed Oklahoma State reliever Chris Marlowe at a value slot (177). Despite his 6’1″ stature, Marlowe is an advanced power reliever, armed with mid 90s heat and a plus to plus-plus curveball. All three of Osich, Bandilla and Marlowe are close to the major leagues and at least one of them could be in San Francisco by the end of 2012.
The Red Sox followed their four great first round selections with a very solid and toolsy group of picks in the middle rounds of the draft. They stole five-tool outfielder Williams Jerez– a player developed on a Yankees-sponsored team– out of New York’s hands. They grabbed another toolsy high school outfielder in Senquez Golson in the 8th round. Golson is one of the drafts fastest players and his broad-shouldered frame and solid swing suggest he’ll grow into some power. Jordan Weems is an underrated high school catching prospect while Cody Kukuk is a projectable lefty with intriguing potential.
The Phillies did a good job of maximizing the few picks they had early in the draft. The system could use a boost in its stock of infield prospects and tools-players and GM Ruben Amaro did a great job of addressing this very issue. The Phillies selected the draft’s fasted player, Roman Quinn 66th overall and then grabbed two high-ceiling third baseman, Harold Martinez and Cody Asche out of the bargain bin at 90th and 151 overall. They also added a future bullpen weapon, Colton Murray.
Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks front office have done a great job re-stocking the organizations’ system of prospects. Towers got great value with his picks while also addressing the team’s biggest need– pitching. After drafting Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley in the first round, the D’Backs nabbed other advanced college arms in Anthony Meo, Evan Marshall, Matt Price and Kyle Winkler. They also drafted Justin Bianco and Ben Roberts, a couple of exciting, high-ceiling, athletes. Bianco has raw plus to plus-plus wheels and a solid left-handed bat while Roberts is a premium athlete with plus raw power.
To supplement the additions of Bauer, Bradley and Chafin– three pitchers that should be their rotation leaders for years to come– the D’Backs continued to stock up on quality arms with picks of Anthony Meo, Evan Marshall, Matt Price and Kyle Winkler. Meo and Winkler are particularly exciting prospects with heavy mid 90s heat. Meo’s groundball-and-strikeout-oriented repertoire fits Arizona’s homerun-heavy ballpark perfectly as he throws a heavy 90-95 mph fastball, a hard cutter and a knockout slider. While his command needs some work, his stuff will make him either a mid-rotation workhorse or an electric bullpen weapon.
Pitching with the USA Youth National Team, Kyle Winkler helped his team win the 2006 Pan American Games Championship in Venezuela. While his small-ish stature (standing at 5’11″) and recent injury troubles caused his stock to drop out of the first round, Winkler’s advanced, power arsenal, deceptive delivery and solid command make him a premium prospect. Like Meo, he throws a hard-sinking, low-to-mid 90′s fastball and a tight slider. He also throws a future-average changeup and his command is at least major league average. If he can overcome some recent nagging injuries, he could be one of the drafts biggest steals.
South Carolina’s Matt Price and Kansas State’s Evan Marshall are both future bullpen arms. Both pitchers have solid low 90s heat and good sliders and both are a good bet to compete for a bullpen in Arizona by Spring 2013.
Rounds 2-30 Losers
(Daniel Norris (74), John Stilson (108), Andrew Chin (169), Anthony DeSciafani (199), Christian Lopes (229), Andrew Suarez (289), Matt Dean (409), Cole Wiper (439), Aaron Nola (679), Jake Eliopoulos (1309))
After flubbing many of their early picks by selecting a bunch of pricy, difficult signs, the Blue Jays continued this trend in day two. While they selected one of the draft’s top talents, Daniel Norris with the 74th pick, they’ve dug themselves into a deeper hole financially. Norris, a Clemson University commit, is probably the most difficult sign of the draft and even if he does decide to play for the ‘Jays, he’ll demand a very hefty signing bonus. Many teams wouldn’t hesitate to meet Norris’ demands, but because Toronto has focused their draft almost entirely on expensive, difficult signs, it’s difficult to believe that their smaller market budget will be enough to lure the young phenom.
While general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the Jays’ front office did make a few good picks– they managed to grab talented Texas A & M closer John Stilson in the third round– they spent the majority of the draft digging themselves in a hole. The talent they did get in Tyler Beede, Jacob Anderson, Dwight Smith Jr. Daniel Norris, Andrew Suarez, Matt Dean and Aaron Nola will be tough to negotiate with and (almost certainly) overpriced; Dean and Norris especially, won’t sign for less than top-20 money.
Outside of possibly saving money for their other signings, the majority of the clubs mid-round picks didn’t help matters either. Anthopoulos selected either low-ceiling guys (Christian Lopes, Anthony DeSciafani) or guys who have serious injury concerns/ have seen better days (Andrew Chin, Jake Eliopoulos).
(Sam Stafford (88), Greg Bird (179), Jake Cave (209), Phil Wetherell (269), Daniel Camarena (629)
While their AL East rivals–the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles, were busy stocking their farm systems with future stars– the Yankees took a pass on the deep and talented 2011 draft. After forfeiting their first two picks of the draft by signing type A and type B free agents Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano this past winter, the Yankees’ weren’t able to make their opening selection in this year’s draft until they made a decent value pick of Dante Bichette Jr. at 51 overall. After Bichette, they Yankees missed out on numerous top-tier talents and opted for raw high school arms and low-ceiling future organization guys. They missed out on 5-tool talent Williams Jerez– who was drafted in the second round by the Red Sox– despite Hank Steinbrenner’s sponsoring a summer league team the young outfielder played for. They also failed to draft talented southpaw Matt Purke, despite the system’s dire need for lefthanded arms and the extra budget room they had available due to their lacks of picks. Purke, who was considered the top lefthanded pitcher in the draft prior to injury concerns somewhat clouding his future, fell into the Nationals hands at 96 overall.
Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office managed to draft only three players ranked in Baseball America’s “2011 Draft Top 200″ (prospects), with the highest being Dante Bichette Jr. who was ranked 108th. While they did draft two young lefties, Jake Cave (209) and Daniel Camarena (629), both players are extremely raw high school picks who are years away from MLB relevance. In fact, Cave and Camarena aren’t even sure of their future positions on the baseball field and both could end up as corner outfielders.
(Alex Santana (73), Pratt Maynard (103), Ryan O’Sullivan (134), Scott McGough (164), Scott Barlow (194), Jesus Valdez (524))
As expected, the Dodgers didn’t have the available budget to spend on this season’s draft. They burnt their 16th overall pick on Stanford closer Chris Reed– the biggest stretch of the first round– and then used the remainder of their early picks on relatively cheap, easy signs. While Scott McGough, Ryan O’Sullivan and Pratt Maynard were decent value picks, they don’t fit any of the system’s needs. Out of North Carolina State, Maynard is a fringy defensive catcher without the bat to profile as a regular at a corner position while McGough is a bullpen arm selected by a team heavy on bullpen arms. O’Sullivan could be a solid innings-eater/back-end starter but makeup issues and his lack of innings this past spring suggest he’s at least a couple of seasons away from the big leagues.
In the three-year period team president Nolan Ryan has been overseeing the Rangers draft, the team hasn’t ever been shy about drafting tough-signs and flashy high school arms. The Rangers ’11 draft was no different, but may have been a little bit too much of a gamble. The Rangers are contenders now and ideally their draft would either save them money for mid-season trades and free agent signings or they should focus on advanced college players that are ready to help them sooner rather than later. The Rangers took Kevin Matthews 33rd overall, an athletic 5’10″ high school lefty with a strong commitment to Virgina Tech. While Matthews was a stretch at 33– especially considering Texas passed up talented high school lefties Henry Owens, Andrew Chafin, Grayson Garvin, Adam Conley and Daniel Norris– his strong commitment to Virginia Tech will keep him from being a bargain.
The remainder of the Rangers selections followed the trend they began their draft with. While boom-or-bust five-tool athlete Zach Cone (37th overall) has superstar potential, his pitch recognition and baseball skills are raw and he’s three-to-five years away from helping the Rangers. Speedster Desmond Henry and premium athlete Derek Fisher flash superstar tools but will also demand plenty of money. Henry has Michael Bourne potential, but like Cone, he too is particularly raw. Fisher has a great approach at the plate, plus speed and he flashes plus raw power but he’ll probably come with a first or second round price tag.
In terms of talent, the Rangers did just fine, but they could have done better in terms of fit and value. They passed up more polished college outfielders like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kes Carter– who could help the big club with just a season or two of development– only to draft a handful of raw high school tools-guys. The high school southpaws they drafted weren’t even the best available and the Rangers are already stocked in terms of pitching.