03 June 2008

Draft Preview -- Beyond 1:4 (Rounds 2-3)

Beyond 1:4 (Unofficial Team USA Edition)

Now that we've taken a look at the seven most likely options for Baltimore at 1:4 and created our Round 1 draft board, let's take a look at some possible targets for the next four rounds. Remember, on Thursday we will be running a Shadow Draft, selecting a player in each of the first five rounds based on players available for each of Baltimore's first five picks. We'll keep track of the Camden Depot Farm System, periodically comparing it to Baltimore's actual system.

We'll quickly run through five potential targets for each round, keeping in mind that there will likely be unexpected players available in each round, and seemingly safe picks selected before Baltimore has a shot at them. While each of these players could be valuable additions to the Orioles's organization, this exercise is really to give us all an idea as to the types of players that should be available at various points in the draft.

Round 2

Anthony Hewitt (OF/SS) Salisbury School (Conn.)
6'1" / 195lbs / B-T (R/R)
Not Scouted
.536 AVG, 1.200 SLG, 56 AB, 9 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 30 R, 10 SB

Hewitt represents the type of player that Boston has landed in recent drafts -- massive upside talent with high signing bonus demands. Hewitt is very much projection at this point, with his arm strength, speed and raw power coming in above-average. Unrefined in the field, he is unlikely to stay at SS, with his speed and arm strength making him a prime candidate for RF/CF. His approach at the plate still leaves much to be desired, as he has struggled with pitch identification and patience against more advanced competition, though scouts seem to be willing to look past this every time they watch him launch a 450 foot homerun into the bleachers. Whichever team is willing to invest the money and developmental time into Hewitt could be rewarded with a future All-Star.

Jordy Mercer (SS) Oklahoma State University
6'3" / 200lbs / B-T (R/R)
Scouted: July 20, 2007 -- USA vs. Cuba (Film)
.323/.369/.498, 263 AB, 12 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR
At 6'3" and 200 pounds Mercer is on the big side for a shortstop, though Baltimore fans should have no trouble wrapping their minds around the idea of big body at the six. Mercer is smooth in the field, ranging well to both sides, and possesses an above-average arm. He has a solid tool set at the plate, showing the ability to hit for average and potential for average power for a shortstop. Mercer should be a fairly safe bet to stay at shortstop throughout his pro career, and should hit enough to be a solid contributor for a Major League club. After the Beckhams, he's the best all-around shortstop in the draft -- he may be a safer bet than Gordon to stay at the six and a safer bet than Tim to become an above-average hitter at the ML-level.

James Darnell (3B) University of South Carolina
6'2" / 210lbs / B-T (R/R)
Scouted: May 23, 2008 vs. Vanderbilt (Film)
.306/.395/.580, 255 AB, 13 2B, 0 3B, 19 HR
Back in February Darnell was almost an after-thought in the South Carolina lineup, with Reese Havens and Justin Smoak garnering most of the pre-season attention. 63 games and 19 homeruns later everyone has been forced to take notice. The 'Cocks thirdbaseman is an elite athlete, and at 6'2" and 210 pounds he already possesses the body of a Major Leaguer. His hands leave something to be desired and there are questions as to whether he can hold down 3b as a pro; like Hewitt his speed and arm strength could land him in RF/CF. Darnell is still raw, but his upside is that of a legit five-tool player at the ML-level. His raw power should play well once he improves his plate discipline.

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

Though a hot-and-cold 2008 has dropped the Red Raider outfielder out of the first round, the skills are all there for Kieschnick to emerge as a middle-of-the-order bat at the ML-level. He has fringe above-average speed and an above-average arm, making him a good fit for right field. Though he's already a pretty big body (6'3" 215 pounds), there is room in his frame to add some muscle without sacrificing mobility. He has shown plus-power potential to all fields and could move quickly once he learns to tame his aggressiveness at the plate. Kieschnick is a talent that could slip into the early supplemental round or late into Round 2 depending on whether or not teams feel he'll be able to improve on his 42/35 SO/BB ratio once he begins his professional development.

Tim Murphy (SP) UCLA
6'2" / 205lbs / B-T (L/L)
Scouted: March 1, 2008 vs. Bethune-Cookman (Film)
3.34/1.26, 102.1 IP, 111 SO, 46 BB, .227 BAA

Murphy boasts an impressive 1-2 punch of a high-80's / low-90s fastball and a high-70s 11-5 two-plane curveball. He spots his fastball well to both sides of the plate, though he'll have to build up his arm strength as a pro, as his velocity dipped a bit as the season wore on. His curve is a fringe-plus pitch that he can either throw for a strike or bury as a chase pitch. His motion is easy and repeatable, though he can sometimes get a little long and lose his release point. Murphy has a lot of projection in him, and should be a safe bet as a back-end ML starter. If he's able to improve the command on his curve and further develop his changeup, there may be #3 upside in there, though it will take some developmental time to reach it.

Round 3

Ryan Flaherty (SS) Vanderbilt University
6'3" / 210lbs / B-T (L/R)
Scouted: July 20, 2007 USA vs. Cuba; May 24, 2008 vs. Ole Miss
.324/.411/.543, 256 AB, 10 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR

Son of ABCA Hall of Fame Coach Edward Flaherty, Ryan is the consummate professional in going about his preparation for and performance in his games. Though he likely does not have the range to stay at shortstop at the next level, he should have no trouble sliding over to second base, as he did this past summer with Team USA. He is smooth and confident in field and his lanky frame is not expected to fill in a great deal, though more strength should come. The benefit is he should have no trouble sticking at the four spot. The drawback is there probably isn’t much power coming down the line. He profiles anywhere from a #1 or #2 hitter to a hitter in the bottom third of the order, depending on his development. He should hit for average and play a fringe-above-average second base as a pro. His make-up is hailed as top-notch.

Cody Satterwhite (SP) University of Mississippi
6'4" / 210lbs / B-T (R/R)
Scouted: July 20, 2007 USA vs. Cuba; May 24, 2008 vs. Vanderbilt
5.40/1.62, 71.2 IP, 53 SO, 36 BB, .297 BAA

Satterwhite will be an interesting selection this year. He has been dominant out of the pen in past seasons, but struggled a bit in the Ole Miss rotation in 2008. He has electric stuff, with a fastball sitting in the low-90s as a starter and mid- to upper-90s out of the pen. He can flash a curveball, slider and changeup as well, though his command will need improvement at the next level. He is an excellent example of mild-risk/high reward. He could be an effective reliever by simply focusing on his fastball and one of his breaking pitches, but the potential is there for him to be an impact pitcher at the ML-level. His has the size and strength to hold up as a starter – it will be up to his new organization to tap into his immense potential.

Scott Bittle (CP) University of Mississippi
6'1" / 212lbs / B-T (R/R)
Not Scouted
1.63/0.89, 66.1 IP, 118 SO, 27 BB, .142 BAA

Bittle leads all of college baseball with a staggering average of 16.02 strikeouts per nine innings. In fact, despite pitching out of the pen, Bittle currently ranks fifth overall in strikeouts. Though he doesn't blow away scouts with his velocity (his fastball sits in the 88-91 mph range), his cutter is a legit 2-plane pitch clocking in the mid-80s. He also mixes in a solid changeup that plays up because of the effectiveness of his cutter. He commands his arsenal to both sides of the plate and is especially effective with his cutter down in the zone, starting it at the knees and dropping it out of the zone. He should move quickly through the minors, as he has a firm grasp on his pitches as shows above-average command.

Adrian Nieto (C) American Heritage High School (Florida)
6'0" / 200lbs / B-T (R/R)
Not Scouted
.372 AVG, 1.200 SLG, 86 AB, 16 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 31 R, 6 SB
Nieto is the complete package behind the plate. Soft hands, clean exchange from glove to hand and excellent footwork. He has experienced arm troubles over the past two seasons, but when healthy he displays plus-arm strength and fringe-above average accuracy. He has above-average power from pole-to-pole, but will have to improve his pitch identification and his ability to make consistent solid contact in order to fully realize that power. He benefited a great deal from hitting behind fellow 2008 future-draftee Eric Hosmer, often hitting with runners on and seeing a lot of fastballs. The two helped American Heritage to a Florida State Title and likely Baseball America’s top high school ranking for 2008. He will likely take at least four years to bring along, making him a solid candidate to step in eventually if Wieters has to move out from behind the plate.

Video Posted from Adrian's Gallery on Takkle.com

Jordan Danks (OF) University of Texas
6'5" / 210lbs / B-T (L/R)
Scouted: July 20, 2007 USA vs. Cuba; March 29, 2008 vs. Nebraska; May 25, 2008 vs. Kansas State
.321/.444/.564, 234 AB, 22 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR

Perhaps the best collegiate athlete in the draft, Danks has a Major League tool set and a wealth of untapped potential. Despite being one of the best prep power bats in the 2005 draft (a class that included Jay Bruce, Cameron Maybin and Justin Upton) Danks has only managed 12 HR in three college seasons. While scouts are at a loss as to his power-shortage, there is little doubt that a middle-of-the-order bat buried in this athletic centerfielder. The question is whether or not the risk is worth a second or third round pick (which is likely where Danks will go). Danks is effective and shows good baseball instincts in the outfield. He tracks the ball well in centerfield and has an adequate arm to stay there. As an aside, his brother John is enjoying some success in his sophomore Major League season as a part of the starting rotation for the first place Chicago White Sox.

6/4 am Potential Targets for Rounds 4-5
6/4 Noon Mail Bag
6/4 pm Final War-Room Review
6/5 Camden Depot Shadow Draft and Live Draft Coverage
Don't forget to keep the great questions coming for this Wednesday's Mailbag.

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