04 June 2008

Draft Mailbag (June 4th)

The Round 4, Round 5 and Singability Fliers post will be up shortly (there were two last minute changes, one bumping a player from 4th round consideration and one bumping a player up to 4th Round consideration after re-watching some tape), but I wanted to post our Mail Bag at noon, as scheduled.

Thanks for the great questions, we're posting our six favorite so as not to run the piece too long (sorry for those questions we could not get to this time around):


Who do you think are the most overrated position player and pitcher for college and high school? -- Dewon

Generally, I question the high school players that jump a great deal due to late season performance or "buzz". This year, I think Brett Lawrie (IF/C) Brookswood SS (Brit.Co.) is a prime candidate. He has great raw power and a keen eye but no position he can play at the ML-level, so far as I can tell. He may settle in as an outfielder, but he is not far enough along as a catcher to start learning it at the pro level (not to mention teams will likely not have enough patience to hold his bat back).

I'll take Kyle Lobstein (SP) Coconino HS (Ariz.) as my overrated HS pitcher. He is still lining up as a supplemental round pick on most boards -- I just don't see his stuff playing at the higher levels. His fastball hasn't improved as was expected, still sitting in the mid- to upper-80s. His curve shows promise, as well, but he hasn't been able to put everything together against stronger competition. It will likely take first round money to sign him away from the Arizona Wildcats, and I don't think he is worth that right now.

College, I'll go with Gordon Beckham (SS) University of Georgia solely because he will likely go in the top 10 and I feel he is closer to a mid-round talent. Tanner Scheppers (SP) Fresno State could be an overdraft, as well. Teams rightfully fell in love with his stuff this year and may be overlooking potential complications with his shoulder if they grab him in the first round. He'll be a high risk/high reward guy with the shoulder problems -- personally, shoulders scare me.


I hate it when I read that a pitcher is projected to be a “back-of-the-rotation guy.” What criteria are typically used when placing that label on a player? -- Paul

Usually this describes a pitcher with good command but fringy stuff. That means it's likely been good enough to play well at the pitcher's current level but doesn't necessarily project to be enough to dominate Major League hitters. Back-end guys also tend to project as "workhorses"; the ability to eat some innings is added value for a pitcher that doesn't possess front-end stuff and is key in helping to land them a spot in a rotation. There is little value in having a back-end guy that also puts a strain on your bullpen (though obviously there are teams across baseball with this very problem). Keep in mind that it is no easy feet to find a dependable #4 or #5 -- nabbing one in the third round and up, especially one that could be contributing within two years or so, is a solid get.

Of all the guys you think the Orioles may select . . .what do you think could be the biggest stretch? As in who is the lowest guy on your board that the Orioles might select? -- Mike

This sort of ties in with our first question. Personally, I think Gordon Beckham would be a big overdraft at #4, for reasons stated in our Scouting Report (linked in the answer to the first question). Aside from Beckham, I think you can make a valid case for any of the other six we examined. I don't imagine Baltimore will drop out of that crop of players for 1:4.


Whats the time table of the top 5 guys in the draft to make it to the majors? -- Scott

I am going to assume that all sign late (as generally happens with the top picks) and will thus start their careers next spring. Using our draft board, the time table should look something like this:

1. Alvarez -- April 2010 / June 2010
2. T-Beckham -- September 2012 / April 2013
3. Matusz -- April 2010 / June 2010
4. Posey -- June 2010 /September 2010
5. Smoak -- June 2010 /September 2010


This is more of a general question rather than something O's-specific:I am curious to know your opinion on the strategy employed by some teams like the Yanks who target high-ceiling players with injury history. As we saw with Andrew Brackman last year and we may see again with Tanner Scheppers (Fresno State) or Brett Hunter(Pepperdine), what are the dangers associated with such a strategy and do the risks outweigh the benefits (or vice versa)? -- MJ

I think grabbing someone like Brackman who's injury is a known quantity (the Yankees knew he would require TJ Surgery) is fine, especially when the recovery rate is so high. For Someone like Scheppers, with a shoulder injury, I think the risk is a little greater. Unless I had extra picks in the first two rounds, I don't think I take a gamble unless I know exactly what's going on with Scheppers's shoulder. Hunter is an interesting case. His delivery is unorthodox so I question whether arm problems won't sprout up later, even though his elbow issues should not prevent his being drafted. Short answer, I think you have to let the injury and your draft situation dictate what a reasonable slot would be for a player. I think the Yankees were wise to grab Brackman; I like Scheppers in the second round and Hunter in the late third round.


Is it easier to project pitchers or hitters? -- Paul

We'll close with another one from Paul since I think it is a particularly poignant question in understanding the draft. Projection is an art regardless of whether the player is a pitcher or a positional talent. Because the Major Leagues are so far away for most of these kids, you really have to try and create an image in your head as to what a certain player will look like in three years, then try to figure out how that player will handle himself. That said, pitchers present a unique challenge. They are a much better bet for injury and they generally have more developmental requirements to compete at the Major League level. Most amateur arms have the tool set to be successful, but are still a ways off in developing their secondary stuff, developing control, developing command of their pitches in the strike zone and generally learning the mental approach required to get out professional hitters. Add to this that high school, travelling team and college coaches are hired to win games, not nurture the gradual development of their pitchers' arms, and you have a plethora of pitfalls waiting to halt the growth of any prospect pitcher. The large number of uncertainties surround minor league pitchers have sprouted a corny saying that you'll probably read or hear if you follow the MiL: TINSTAAPP, which stands for "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect". I disagree with this, but the sentiment is right -- the attrition rate is too high for any team to definitively depend on a pitching prospect to reach the ML, let alone dominate there.

Thanks for the great questions. We here at the Depot look forward to the next time we get together for something like this. Until then, always feel free to drop us a line with questions, comments, complaints and suggestions. All are welcome!

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