08 June 2008

2008 Shadow Draft

How The Draft Was Run

The intent was to do this during the draft in conjunction with each of Baltimore's first five selections. Though our draft day coverage was cut short due to the demands of the real world, the Shadow Draft has been run. Each pick was made without taking into account the actual happenings in later rounds -- in other words we did not note where various players went and then draft accordingly (we'll point out players we missed out on and overdrafts we may have made). We will follow the careers of these players, occasionally comparing their progress with the progress of the actual players drafted by Baltimore. And now, on to our draft!

1:4 -- Brian Matusz (SP) University of San Diego
6'4" : 200 lbs : B/T (L/L)
1.71/1.00, 105 IP, 22 BB, 141 SO, 83 H, .211 BAA
Scouted: Film

Brian Matusz makes history as the first member of the Camden Depot Shadow Farm System, and what a building block he'll be. Since we've already provided a fairly in-depth scouting report (linked above) and will be examining Matusz in our Orioles recap, we will not spend much time on him here. He has the potential for four above-average Major League pitches and some tweaks to his motion could increase his velocity (it currently sits anywhere from 88 to 92). He'll move quickly through the system and while many place him as a future #2 we are confident that with some work he could be a staff anchor.

Actual Draft Slot: 1:4 (Baltimore Orioles)

MLB Scouting Video: Available at the Orioles Draft Recap

Notes: Many of our readers insist that Justin Smoak was the pick we should have made. While Smoak should be an excellent producer, we felt a polished lefty with room for growth and an advanced repertoire on the mound was more valuable to our system. A case can be made for each but we are satisfied Matusz was the correct pick, here.

2:4 -- Tim Melville (SP) Holt High School (Missouri)
6'5" : 210 lbs : B/T (R/R)
3.00/1.00, 47 IP, 15 BB, 72 SO, 32 H
Scouted: Film

It's difficult to know whether Melville tumbled due to an uneven showing this past high school season or because of signability concerns. Either way, we couldn't let the opportunity to land a second preseason top 10 selection pass us by. Melville is a big body who already possesses above-average arm strength. His arsenal consists of a low 90s fastball, an inconsistent knucklecurve with good depth and plus-potential and a changeup that is currently a "show me" pitch. Mechanically, he is sound, though there is certainly room for improvement. He doesn't do a good job of centering over the rubber, instead tending to start towards home before the apex of his leg kick. There is plenty of room in his frame for him to thicken and, accordingly, add even more velocity. He's far from a finished product, but the upside is undeniable and his tool set and raw stuff is first rate. Melville will be a tough sign, but we have plenty saved after cutting payroll -- we saw this as our chance to make this draft a success with two picks alone.

Actual Draft Slot: 4:3 (Kansas City Royals)

MLB Scouting Video: Available at the Royals Draft Recap

Notes: Though Melville would have been available at 3:4, it turns out not to matter as we likely would have selected Kieschnick here anyway.

3:4 -- Roger Kieschnick (OF) Texas Tech
6'3" : 215 lbs : B/T (L/R)
.305/.407/.632, 220 AB, 15 2B, 3 3B, 17 HR, 35 BB, 42 SO
Scouted: July 20, 2007 -- USA vs. Cuba (Film)

Roger Kieschnick is a great get for our system in the third round. We were close to selecting him at 2:4 and were thrilled to find him still on the board one round later. Again, our focus was trying to identify potential first round talents and Kieschnick more than makes the grade. His largest shortcoming this season was being a little too aggressive at the plate, striking out 42 times while walking only 35. He was successful at the plate last season (posting a batting average 50 points higher than this season), but his '08 struggles have (unfoundedly, we think) forced scouts to question his offensive approach.

Further, we disagree with scouts who have said there isn't enough in his lower half to generate power at the next level. He opens his hips a little early and gets the bat head out in front, limiting some of his power to "pull-side". Still he was able to generate adequate power this season (over half of his hits went for extra bases) as well as with a wood bat last summer with Team USA (over a third of his hits went for extra bases). We're confident there is plus-power potential here. His bat is otherwise clean through its swing plane, though some looseness in his lead arm would allow him to better get inside the ball and drive it to the opposite field. Defensively, Kieschnick flashes a plus-arm and takes clean lines to the ball, making him an excellent fit in right field. He also flashes above-average speed. He is a potential five-tool outfielder with moderate questions surrounding his swing -- an easy pick for us at 3:4.

Actual Draft Slot: 3:5 (San Francisco Giants)

MLB Scouting Video: Available at the Giants Draft Recap

Notes: After passing on Kieschnick in Round 2, we would have considered James Darnell (3B) University of South Carolina here had he still been around. Dave Adams (2B) University of Virginia was the target for Round 4.

4:4 -- Brandon Crawford (SS) University of California - Los Angeles
6'2" : 200 lbs : B/T (L/R)
.302/.394/.491, 13 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 31 BB, 59 SO
Scouted: March 1, 2008 vs. Bethune-Cookman (Film)

Sticking with the theme of first round upside, Brandon Crawford is an easy selection at 4:4. Our hope was that David Adams (2B) University of Virginia would fall past the third, but Crawford is a fine consolation prize. The two middle-infielders were attractive for similar reasons -- both displayed future first round talent in their freshman and sophomore years before suffering through down junior campaigns. Crawford struggled last summer in the Cape Cod League, and his uncertainty at the plate carried over through the start of the season. Dating back to the Cape, he has been pressing rather than letting his game flow naturally. As his struggled continued, he pressed harder -- regularly lunging at pitches and frequently showing signs of frustration. He has demonstrated a potential for plus-power, but he'll have to improve his contact rate to realize it.

Though uncomfortable at the plate this year, Crawford was again clean and true in the field. He ranges well to both sides and charges the ball well. His footwork is advanced and his plus-arm will easily play at the next level. Even if his bat doesn't mature, his floor is a great utility option with the ability to play any infield position at the next level -- fine value in the fourth round. If he's able to find his swing, he could be a solid everyday player. Now that he is starting his pro career, he should be able to put his struggles behind him and just focus on playing. With lowered expectations, some of the spotlight should be off him, allowing him to develop at his own pace.

Actual Draft Slot: 4:5 (San Francisco Giants)

MLB Scouting Video: Available at the Giants Draft Recap

Notes: Crawford is a high risk pick, but in our estimate a reasonable risk for the fourth round. We would have preferred the offensive upside of David Adams but are confident Crawford will be a nice start to building solid speed and defensive depth up the middle.

5:4 -- Brian Humphries (OF) Granite Hills High School (Calif.)
6'3" : 190 lbs : B/T (L/R)
.390 AVG / .602 SLG, 98 AB, 8 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR
Scouted: Film

We fell in love with Brian Humphries's tool set and frame (which we project could eventually produce plus-power at the Major League level). He has an average arm in CF, fringe-above-average speed and fringe-above-average defense. As he fills out his frame and becomes more comfortable with his size, he should show steady improvement in his consistency in the field (which has been a red flag for some scouts).

His offensive game is unrefined, but his size and above-average hand-eye coordination has produced flashes of brilliance at various showcases. He tends to hit off of his front foot a bit too much, and his swing tends to get a little tight and herky-jerky from stride to contact. Humphries is committed to Pepperdine, so this is another signability pick that we believe is worth the investment. Baseball America agrees that three years from now Humphries could be among the top talents in the 2011 draft -- we'd like that development to happen in our farm system rather than at Pepperdine.

Actual Draft Slot: 19:30 (Boston Red Sox)

MLB Scouting Video: Available at the Red Sox Draft Recap

Notes: Humphries's drop to the 19th round was likely tied to signability issues. As noted above, our approach was to identify the best talent available and pursue it aggressively.

Grading Ourselves

While this may not be the way that Major League teams approach the draft, we considered Baltimore's reduced payroll to be an excuse to up our draft budget by a couple of million dollars. Matusz has been rumored to be be highly signable (for close to slot) as he's apparently eager to get his pro season started. There should be enough in our budget to aggressively pursue Melville. I'd go so far as to offer top 10 money, which I firmly believe to be enough to keep him out of Chapel Hill. Prior to the start of the season, there was no indication that his commitment was rock solid.

Kieschnick and Crawford represent high upside picks that we feel are not as risky as the stats may make them out to be. Both have shown a track record of success prior to their respective hiccups in 2008. Both have tool sets that should allow them to provide value both in the field and at the plate, regardless of if they fully realize their ceiling with regards to both aspects of their games.

Humphries represents our attempt to land a first round talent three years before he's developed into that talent. Again, there was no indication entering the season that Humphries was unsignable, though it will certainly take an aggressive offer. He has the frame and base skill set to ultimately develop into an above-average Major Leaguer (though his tools are all only fringe-above-average right now).

Let us know what you think -- we'll update you as soon as our players sign!

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