17 August 2010

Shadow Draft Wrap: Looking at the Official 2010 Shadow Draft Class

The Camden Shadow Draft hit our first real hiccup in its three years of running, as 1st Round selection Karsten Whitson (RHP, Chipley HS (Fla.)) opted to attend the University of Florida rather than begin his professional career. Below is a summary of each pick, their signing status as of the signing deadline, and a few thoughts on their addition to the system (or lack thereof):

Player Notes:

1:3 - Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (Fla.) - Needless to say, the failure to ink Whitson to a pro contract is a huge disappointment. The same, having two potential top five picks in the stacked 2011 Draft Class is a nice consolation prize -- one that may even lead to a safer talent being added to the system without sacrificing ceiling. That, of course, is looking for the silver lining, as Whitson is a legit potential front-end arm with good "now" stuff and room to develop into an even more impressive arm in the near future. He heads to the University of Florida where he will join returning weekend starters Brian Johnson (rising soph., RHP), Hudson Randall (rising soph., RHP) and Alex Panteliodis (rising jr., RHP) as likely SEC and Omaha favorites. He could see action in the rotation right away or slide into high-leverage relief work to shore-up the pen.

Signing Bonus: N/A
Total Class Outlay: $0

3:3 - Josh Rutledge, SS, Univ. of Alabama - Rutledge signed for $295,000, which is right around where we valued him. His best tool is his glove, which carries a high level of value in a system light on true up-the-middle infield talent. His strong junior year at the plate helped to assuage some fears that he will not hit as a pro, While the start at Aberdeen has been unimpressive, I'd caution against reading too much into 40-some at bats.

Signing Bonus: $295,000
Total Class Outlay: $295,000

4:3 - Garin Cecchini, SS/3B, Barbe HS (La.) - Cecchini elected to forgo attending LSU, opting instead to join the Boston Red Sox upon receiving around $1.3 million. Good news for us, as he helps soften the blow of losing Whitson and adds some positional depth to the lower-minors in the Shadow System. Cecchini is a potential impact bat with plenty of arm for the left side of the infield. Time will tell if the range plays at the six-spot, long term, but either way he is an excellent get in the 4th Round. On draft day I noted that I expected it to take around $1.5 million to sign the Barbe HS talent -- happy to see that again our valuation was on the mark.

Signing Bonus: $1,310,000
Total Class Outlay: $1,605,000

5:3 - Tyler Holt, OF, Florida St. University - Considering Holt lasted until the 10th Round on draft day, I was not certain that this signing was going to get done. Fortunately, the former-FSU lead-off hitter and center fielder opted to start his pro career, rather than head back to Tallahassee, signing with Cleveland for $500,000. Detractors note Holt's slap-to-gap approach at the plate and question whether he will be able to make the necessary adjustments to keep-up with increasingly talented arms. Holt is not a sure thing, but there is potential here for a future top-of-the-order bat with solid outfield defense -- a fine pop at this point in the draft.

Signing Bonus: $500,000
Total Class Outlay: $2,105,000

6:3 - Tony Thompson, 3B, Univ. of Kansas - Evaluators were generally split on Thompson, with some seeing nothing more than a potentially average first baseman that may or may not hit enough to carve out a career at the Major League level. I see a little more here, including a potential 25 HR bat with an outside chance to stick at the hot corner. Thompson was mightily slowed this spring due to a hairline fracture on his kneecap, and his pre-injury power did not return before season's end (and has yet to resurface in short-season ball). We'll see where he's at once he tackles full-season ball after a restful fall/winter.

Signing Bonus: $125,000
Total Class Outlay: $2,230,000

7:3 - Robert Aviles, RHP, Suffern HS (N.Y.) - Aviles suffered a huge disappointment at the end of his season when he became aware that he would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, undoubtedly costing him a huge sum of money (likely just over seven-figures). When healthy, Aviles can get it up to the low-90s with his fastball and possesses one of the stronger off-speed offerings in the 2010 prep ranks. His curve is inconsistent but flashes good spin and could be an above-average offering in time. He could be back in time to log some innings next summer, but 2012 will be the first year to really watch closely. With a number of arms already in place in the system, Aviles is a nice addition that will not need to be rushed (and could be more than worth the wait).

Signing Bonus: $150,000
Total Class Outlay: $2,380,000

8:3 - Mario Hollands, LHP, Univ. of California - Santa Barbara - Hollands was Jon's pick and, I think, a good one. He is a fairly safe bet to provide some value out of the pen as a lefty arm but also has the repertoire to potentially hold down a spot in the back-end of a Major League rotation. Hollands throws two fastballs and two breaking balls in addition to a solid average change-up, and can mix each offering in a multitude of situations. Hollands should log some time in the rotation as he moves through the low-minors, and will stick as a starter for as long as the results are there.

Signing Bonus: $125,000
Total Class Outlay: $2,505,000

9:3 - Jordan Cooper, RHP, Wichita St. Univ. - Cooper, like Hollands, has a shot to provide starter value with a fallback as a bullpen arm off the strength of his sinker/slider combo. He isn't a sexy pick, but rather a solid addition at the end of the single-digit rounds. Cooper signed with the Indians in this same round for $125,000 -- another very good valuation on our part, nailing the round and approximate price.

Signing Bonus: $125,000
Total Class Outlay: $2,630,000

10:3 - Matt Roberts, C, Graham HS (N.C.) - Roberts was one of the best defensive catchers in the high school class and a long shot to sign here once we saw him drop to the 38th Round on Day 3 of the actual MLB Rule 4 Draft. In hindsight, Will Swanner (C, La Costa Canyon HS (Calif.)) would have been the better choice here, as he ended-up signing for just under $500,000 and was rated much higher on our draft board -- just a miscalculation in signability on our part. As you might expect, Roberts elected to put-off pro ball and head to Chapel Hill this fall. He could see significant time next spring and could emerge as an early-round pick in three years provided his bat develops.

Signing Bonus: N/A
Total Class Outlay: $2,630,000

Final Thoughts:

The loss of a 2nd Round pick really hurt this class and magnifies the loss of not being able to sign Whitson. I touched on the fact that the Top 5 pick in the 2011 Draft Class could actually turn out a fair amount better, the preference is always to sign our guy -- particularly when drafting this high. The bigger disappointment, to me, is the fact that we overestimated the cost of signing some of the overslot guys to the point that even if Whitson had been signed for around $3.5 - 4 million, we would have left around $1 - 1.5 million on the table. An arm like Justin Grimm (RHP, Univ. of Georgia) could have been a nice addition and we had plenty of room for him.

Overall, I'm pleased but not thrilled with this year's Shadow Draft haul. There are a number of solid picks with good value, but we missed-out on ceiling by losing the best overall pick by a fair amount. The best takeaway for me is that we did manage to address the shortstop position, in addition to adding a potential power corner bat and center field/lead-off hitter. The arms are solid, and regardless of how Aviles develops he is an incredible investment at $150,000.

I'll be breaking down the actual Orioles Draft Class next week at www.DiamondScapeScouting.com and will post the piece simultaneously over here.

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