The final preview piece leading-up to Monday's "Dream Draft", chat and (of course) the ACTUAL draft is a quick look at some targets for the last five Baltimore picks in the first ten rounds. There are some interesting names that could slot in nicely to the Shadow System, including some interesting senior signs. Keeping in mind the goals Craw and I each laid out in our Draft Strategy piece, here are our suggestions for some potential targets, Rounds 6 - 10...
My best guess is that out of my pre-draft "want list", the first four selections have a good chance of delivering either 1) two arms, two middle-infielders, 2) two arms, one catcher, one middle-infielder, or 3) two arms, one center fielder, one middle-infielder. For the last five slots, I see some intriguing college arms, college outfielders, and high schoolers of varying levels of signability (and closer to "cookie dough" than "partially baked"):
Target at 6:3: Matt Price, RHP, Virginia Tech
Price has a big arm, but as a sophomore with only quasi-refined secondaries he is far from a lock to go in the first five rounds. His fastball gets downhill and shows some armside life. His 76-78 curve is a soft downer that can slide over to 11/5. It's inconsistent but shows solid spin -- with his arm speed it could grow into an above-average offering. His change is generally 82-84, flashing some fade and drop, and is ahead of his curve from a consistency standpoint. Price will cost a few extra bucks to buy out of his junior year, and there is some risk his thin frame doesn't hold-up as a starter, but there is solid upside combined with a nice fallback as a potential late-inning arm.
Runner-up at 6:3: Brian Guinn, 2B, University of California - Los Angeles
Guinn is a glove-first middle-infielder that gets good reads off the bat and shows a high level of athleticism in the field. At the plate, he relies on what I call a high degree of "slapability". With some offensive growth, he could develop into a solid regular.
Target at 7:3: Matt Szczur, OF, Villanova University
Szczur, like Price, may carry some signability questions (due to his talents on the gridiron as a true "burner" at wideout). He carries that speed over the baseball diamond, where he covers huge expanses of outfield. He has the "Gary Brown's" -- that is, he doesn't strikeout but he doesn't walk, either, making him a longshot at the top of a Major League batting order. Still, there is some upside in the bat and with his speed, and he finished the spring with a not-too-shabby slash line of .443/.487/.667. He could be a valuable 4th outfielder or a solid defender in left or center hitting in the bottom third.
Runner-up at 7:3: Connor Powers, 1B, Mississippi State University
Powers stays true to his name, with "power" being the lone above-average tool in his arsenal. He has enjoyed a solid spring with MSU, slashing .379/.483/.696 and belting 16 homeruns. He's a below-average defender at first base, but could prove adequate with more reps and some pro instruction. His upside is a #5 or #6 hitter capable of .270/.350/.490, 18-23 HR seasons.
Target at 8:3: Alan Oaks, RHP, University of Michigan
A relative newcomer to the mound, Oaks resembles a taller Matt Hobgood, both in build and with a heavy low-90s fastball. He sports a compact delivery but needs some tweaking in his mechanics, as he can fail to finish and also tends to drift (rather than centering over the rubber as he reaches the apex of his leg kick). His breaking ball is a sharp downer that some call a slider but looked to me like more of a curve coming out of his hand. Either way, there is potential for it to develop into an average or slightly above-average offering. There's lots of raw talent to work with here, and Oaks offers the upside of a solid #4 innings-eater, perhaps more with some luck.
Runner-up at 8:3: Krey Bratsen, OF, Bryan HS (Texas)
Assuming the previous rounds exclude a center fielder, I'd strongly consider popping Bratsen here if he's still around. His commitment to Texas A&M and his raw approach at the plate will likely keep him out of the early rounds, but his true "80" speed, above-average arm strength (with carry and accuracy) and natural bat speed make him a potential 4-tooler, only lacking in power. I'd consider trying to buy him out from A&M and shaping him from the ground up into my future center fielder.
Target at 9:3: Steven Maxwell, RHP, Texas Christian University
Maxwell won't blow you away with his fastball, but he comes with a solid four-pitch mix and commands well to the quadrants. Questions about whether he projects to miss enough bats will likely keep him from going too early, but his advanced feel for pitching and laserbeam focus on the hill could help him to sneak into one of the last few single-digit rounds. I saw Maxwell several times this year, including live down in Houston -- video here. His fastball generally 88-90 mph, and he does an excellent job of keeping hitters off-balance with an upper-70s change-up and a slurvy breaking ball.
Runner-up at 9:3: Brett Weibley, RHP, Kent State University
Weibley had a strong summer on the Cape, punching-out 26 hitters in 22 IP while allowing just 5 BB. He's a thick 6-3/225 that sits low-90s but was gunned up in the 94-96 mph range as recent as last summer. His command is below average, in part due to a high-effort delivery, and he lacks a second put-away pitch (currently limited to a slurvy breaking ball with inconsistent bite). A two-way player at Kent State, Weibley should progress more quickly once he is focusing on solely on pitching.
Target at 10:3: Matt Bischoff, RHP, Purdue University
Bischoff posted a highly impressive 9.00 SO/9 and 1.33 BB/9 over 13 starts and 95 innings this spring, routinely working into the late innings. He is a professional on the mound and rarely gets rattled, which should play very well out of the pen (which is the likely destination given his sub-6' frame and high-effort delivery). Bischoff is upper-80s as a starter but has the quick arm and arm strength to sit 90-92 in relief, as well as the athleticism and feel to add and subtract with his fastball (in each of my two viewings this year, this ability to add and subtract jumped out as one of his best weapons in keeping hitters off-balance). His best secondary is a low-80s slider with tilt and late bite, with his arm slot and arm action matching that of his fastball's. His small arm circle and quick arm allow his fastball and slider to get in on the hitter quickly, with a high degree of difficulty in distinguishing the two. He also mixes-in a straight change that serves as little more than a change-of-pace pitch, but he'll flash it several times over a start to remind hitters he has it. He's also fairly quick to home, clocking in around 1.25-1.32 seconds. Bischoff is a favorite of mine in the draft class and could provide excellent value and modest developmental investment in the 10th Round.
Runner-up at 10:3: Rett Varner, RHP, University of Texas - Arlington
After a solid showing in the Texas Collegiate League last summer, Varner was on display this spring with projected high-round outfielder Michael Choice manning center field, behind him. Varner is a low-90s guy that can creep-up to the 95/96 mph zone and could potentially sit 93-95 were he to switch over to relief as a pro (which is a real possibility given his current secondaries -- an average change-up and a slurve with inconsistent shape but can flash some late bite). He pitches well to the bottom of the zone but also shows an understanding of how to elevate his fastball when necessary. While it could take some time to develop him as a starter, he could move fairly quickly as a fastball/off-speed bullpen arm, capable of late-inning work down the line.
This one is an awfully long post today and one where I begin to feel my knowledge beginning to tighten up. I had a list of names I was considering at different rounds here and consulted with Nick to figure out which were likely and which were . . . less than likely. It probably is not as big a deal as I think it is because the boards for different teams at this point vary wildly from club to club. It is not uncommon for teams to later admit that they were finding players in rounds 6-10 who fit in with their assessment as second round talents. Unexpected drops and the beginnings of feeling the draft budget restricting can often cause these things to happen. That said, it would not surprise me to see a couple of our targets from the previous couple rounds still showing up yet to be drafted. I expected our first four picks will snag us two pitchers, a middle infielder, and either a catcher or an outfielder. That will leave me primarily focusing on pitchers, but also paying attention to other talents that might be available on the field and I will not address any of Nick's picks. I think all of his are good value targets, but I would like to present you with a few more names.
Target at 6:3: Phil Gosselin, 2B, Virginia
Gosselin provides some middle infield depth and at slot value. His major assets in college have been his speed and contact rate. The speed should transfer over to the pros, while his batting approach will need some adjustment. He shows some power in the college ranks, but I think the swing will need to be retooled in order to hit with a wooden bat. His defense is said to be sound, but not exceptional at second.
Runner Up at 6:3: Pat Dean, LHP, Boston College
I probably need to stop focusing on lefthanders. If the right lefties have not shown up in the previous rounds, Dean might be a guy to pay attention to. He sits around 90 and has good command of his fastball. He also manages to mix in a promising slider and an attempt of a change up. Most likely destined to middle relief if he makes the majors, there is an outside chance he might last a while in the minors as a starter.
Target at 7:3: Dixon Anderson, RHP, California
Anderson is a sophomore and might require a little more than slot to sign. He is mainly a fastball pitcher, alternating between 2 and 4 seamers, and has shown the ability to sustain a fastball in the low 90s over several innings and creep into the middle 90s. As a pro, I see him slotted as a sinker-driven relief pitcher. He has a curve that needs to be developed in the minors. He also uses a splitter, but has little feel for it. It would not be surprising to see that ditched and replaced with a changeup.
Runner Up at 7:3: Matt den Dekker, CF, Florida
He profiles as an above average defensive centerfielder with good speed. His hitting tools are highly suspect. There is an outside chance he becomes more, but a defensive oriented center fielder is a good get for organizational depth.
Target at 8:3: Mario Hollands, LHP, UC Santa Barbara
Hollands looks like he has the potential to be a big hulking power pitcher, but he usually sits around 90. Compared to last season, he has refined his mechanics and is getting more out of his fastball and occaisionally can touch the low-mid 90s. Command is a major issue as well as getting more consistency with his slider and change. I think with the developmental system in place in the Orioles system, Hollands could stand to further refine his mechanics and perhaps add a tick or two to his fastball. That difference could unlock a good bit of potential. He seems to me to be a good risk.
Runner Up at 8:3: Phil Wunderlich, 3B, Lousiville
Wunderlich shows below average discipline, but makes up for it with his contact rate and power. What is intriguing is that he does not strike out either with only 15 ks in 261 plate appearances. That is impressive. He also shows a 340 ISO and some smarts on the base paths. I doubt though he sticks at 3B much longer due to his size and he might have some trouble showing enough bat for first, but he would be a good risk here and introduce some power into the organization.
Target at 9:3: Vincent Velasquez, RHP, Garey HS (California)
Me putting Velasquez here might be confusing to some as he is a talent that some expect to go off the board much earlier than the ninth round. I have him here as a sign and follow player. Velasquez was unable to play last season after suffering an elbow injury last year. That and somewhat high bonus demands have most likely removed him from consideration on many draft boards. I think there is potential here to get in early on a sandwich talent for second or third round money here. Or higher if the summer proves him to be a valuable commodity. Velasquez has shown low 90s heat and a very advanced change up for his age. He has also shown some feel for a curve.
Runner Up at 9:3: Cole Leonida, C, Georgie Tech
If a catcher has yet to be selected, Leonida would be a good fit. He should fall in around slot here. His future as a backstop is somewhat in doubt. He is bat first and shows good power, but his defense needs a great deal of work. The bat is promising though.
Target at 10:3: Roberto Pena, C, Eloisa Pascual HS (Puerto Rico)
Pena profiles as a top notch defensive catcher. Great altheticism and good footwork to go along with a gun of an arm. The big knock on him has been his bat, which has not come along and will probably result in him falling into the 7-12 round range. As a catcher though the difference between average production and the baseline is pretty minimal, so a player like him will be given every opportunity to lean how to hit. That said, several teams that are typically in on Puerto Rican talent might be apt to snatch him up as early as the 5th round.
Runner Up at 10:3: Aaron Meade, LHP, Missouri State
Ok, so I a bit obsessed about left handed pitchers. Meade is someone who will work a 90s fastball with an average slider and an average change. He will probably be a marginal talent, but has some growth if he can refine his mechanics and increase his stamina. I like the upside and at worst, it would be nice to get more left handers in the system (I imagine Stotle might have strained something with all the eye rolling my focus on lefties has caused).
Monday (5/31) - Three Suggested Targets (1:3)
Tuesday (6/1) - Three Suggested Targets (3:3)
Wednesday (6/2) - Three Suggested Targets (4:3)
Thursday (6/3) - Three Suggested Targets (5:3)
Friday (6/4) - Quick Hits: Two Targets Each (6:3 - 10:3)
Monday Morning (6/7) - Dream Draft; Orioles Draft Chat (11am - 1pm EDT).