01 June 2010

2010 Orioles Shadow Draft - Targets at 3:3

With the signing of Mike Gonzalez this off-season, Baltimore forfeited their 2nd Round pick in the 2010 Rule 4 Draft. That means 82 picks will transpire before the O's get their second crack at the talent pool. In our examination of targets for 1:3, Jon and I both came down on the side of Harper, Taillon and another pitcher (Pomeranz for Crawdaddy; Whitson for me). Keeping in mind the goals Craw and I each laid out in our Draft Strategy piece, the 3rd Round could allow for several different approaches.

After the jump, our three targets for the 1st Round...

Stotle’s Targets


As mentioned before, this is a draft shy on safe middle-infield talent. Accordingly, I'm looking to grab one of the few players considered a good bet to stick. If there isn't anyone there fitting the profile, I'm looking to grab a college reliever, a catcher or a center fielder.

Josh Rutledge, SS, University of Alabama

Depending on who you talk to, this might be considered an overpick, value grab or the perfect spot for the 'Bama shortstop. He shows clean actions in the field and soft, confident hands to the backhand side, up-the-middle and charging. His arm is more than enough (both in strength and accuracy) to play at the pro ranks and he handles himself well around the bag. Rutledge's defensive game has developed nicely in his time at Alabama and his compact line-drive swing has shown enough this spring to give comfort that he'll hit enough to be a regular (though he walks too little and strikes out too much right now). Still, in a draft shy on advanced defensive shortstops, Rutledge could fit nicely here for Baltimore.

Matt Lipka, SS, McKinney HS (Texas)

Lipka is a two-way talent (SS/RHP) and two-sport talent (football), sharing the field with fellow McKinney baseball/football star Zach Lee. While Lee is considered the better "now" talent, possessing a 1st Round fastball/slider combo, Lipka may be the first off the board due to Lee's strong commitment to LSU where he could pitch in the spring and quarterback in the fall. Lipka has a smooth stroke at the plate and plus athleticism and arm strength. His actions are solid at short right now and he should get every chance to stay at the 6-spot, long term. If he were to shift off short, his footwork and first-step actions make second base the likely destination. Lipka is nice upside pick here with a potential above-average hit tool and a high likelihood to provide solid up-the-middle defense.

Kevin Chapman, RHP, Univ. of Florida

If Taillon is indeed the first selection, this may need to be a slot or slightly-above-slot selection (which I believe Rutledge and Lipka could be, respectively). Chapman is a hard throwing fastball/slider arm, sitting 91-93 mph with his heater and touching 94 regularly. His slider is a second potential above-average to plus offering that can be effective both in and out of the zone. He shows solid command of both offerings and has been nearly untouchable in his first full season with the Gators (TJ surgery in the spring of 2008 and light usage in 2009). Chapman has been one of the most dominant relievers in 2010, sporting a .158 BAA to go along with an 8.71 SO/9 and 1.52 BB/9. He could shoot quickly through the minors, contributing to a big league club by the end of 2011.

Crawdaddy’s Targets

For the most part, Nick and I have a similar perspective regarding this draft. At this pick, I think there should be a couple middle infield prospects available. I, as well, would target a shortstop who is likely to stick at that position. Alternatively, I would try to target a potential centerfielder with a good bat. I also would try to avoid drafting a player specifically to fill a role of a relief pitcher when our system is rather thin elsewhere. I do agree with Stotle the Chapman will be going in this vicinity, I just do not think it completely suits our needs. I am on board with Lipka and Rutledge, although I would target two other shortstops at this pick.

Andrelton Simmons, SS, Western Oklahoma St College

Simmons is a latecomer to baseball, having concentrated largely on soccer as he was growing up. He is a raw talent, but his arm and his athleticism have made him considered a near lock in being able to hold down the shortstop position defensively. The big question is whether his approach at the plate can be developed. He may not fall this far as a few teams with multiple sandwich picks may draft him to a reasonable deal. Simmons' arm also carries some projection as a pitcher. He has been clocked as high as 95mph, but his secondary pitches are works in progress. I might be in the minority in seeing him more as a positional prospect. If the bat fails to develop, he could always be flipped back to pitching. That is not something you want to plan for, but it might reduce some of the risk.

Rick Hague, SS, Rice University

Hague's season did not go very well. Last summer's success with Team USA faded slightly this season as he repeatedly made misplays in the field and looked lost at times at the plate. The result was him falling from late first round or sandwich to the third to fifth rounds. I still believe in him. I think his early and mid-season performance was more about pressing than any regression in ability. His drastically improved play the past few weeks seems to agree with that perspective. He currently has a slash line of 352/419/607 with 50 k's in 272 plate appearances. Hague's path should be shorter to the pros than Simmons. Hague might be pushed off short though if any physical development left in his frame reduces his range.

Michael Lorenzen, OF, Fullerton HS (California)


If any of these shortstops are not available, I would turn to finding a centerfielder. Typically, my focus on prep positional players are focused on middle of the field players (i.e C, 2B, SS, CF). I look for athleticism and upside to a swing. Lorenzen is rather athletic and has a strong arm. With some work, he certainly has the tools to be able to play centerfield as a pro. The main obstacle for him will be his bat. Within the scouting world, there is a good deal of debate about how his hitting tools will develop. I am not certain how well he will be able to hit, but he has a nice lift in his swing. I think as long as he can maintain a high contact rate (which is tricky) that his power will begin to emerge. This will not be a safe pick, but I think the risk is warranted.

Schedule
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).

31 May 2010

2010 Orioles Shadow Draft - Targets at 1:3

The first pick can set the tone for an entire draft, and for the third straight year the Baltimore Orioles will have a chance to make a strong statement with a Top 5 overall selection. With each of the first five rounds, Jon and I will step through three targets apiece. In preparation for the last five rounds of the Shadow Draft (5th - 10th) we will offer-up two picks a piece. Remember, we are selecting these targets with a general eye towards the needs we identified in the Draft Strategy piece, keeping in mind the players we think will be available in each round.

After the jump, our three targets for the 1st Round...

Stotle’s Targets


This is an easy question for me, as my draft board has a fairly distinct cut-off with three talents a notch ahead of the rest of the pack.

Bryce Harper, C, College of Southern Nevada

All signs indicate that Harper is bound for the Nationals system (barring a breakdown in negotiations this upcoming summer). I’m sure you know all about the young phenom already, but the big takeaways are: 1) he tested out of high school two years early to test himself against JuCo competition (so he is a high school junior playing with a wood bat against competition around three to four years his senior); 2) though a catcher now, he has the athleticism to profile at 3B, or worst case RF; 3) he projects to true “80” power (the highest grade on the scouting scale), an “80” arm and an above-average hit tool with average footspeed; and 4) he dominated his competition this spring (stats here). Harper is the clear #1 in the class and if he somehow slips to BAL he should be scooped-up. PnR Scouting Report with video on Harper here.

Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (Texas)

Though a clear step behind Harper, Taillon is an easy #2 on my draft board. The big Texas righty has a workhorse build (6-7/230) and elite stuff, including two plus offerings now. His fastball sits in the 94-96 mph range and has been clocked by some as high as 98 mph this spring. His curve is a low-80s power breaker that could be plus-plus down the line and already shows 2-plane action and hard late bite. His mid-90s slider is another potential above-average pitch and his low- to mid-80s change is raw but promising (particularly with his arm speed). PnR Scouting Report with video on Taillon here.

Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (Fla.)

Some have faultered on Whitson this spring, but I still believe he is the best high school arm behind Taillon by a fair amount. He has now low- to mid-90s heat with a heavy fastball, and a hard slider that can flash above-average to plus right now. Though his landing concerned me some down in Jupiter, reports from the spring have him commanding his offerings well. Even if he isn’t an elite command guy, his raw stuff should play very well in and out of the zone so long as he can generally throw to the quadrants. He has a nice frame upon which to hang some strength and his arm action is fairly easy with only the slightest hint of recoil. PnR Scouting Report with video on Whitson here.

Crawdaddy’s Targets

My philosophy as it applies to the draft is diversification. I prefer spread risk over a variety of selections in order to increase the chances of developing Major League talent. This perspective can result in me passing over better talents in order to secure a slightly less talented prospect and retain money to spend on overslotting. This process worked relatively well last year given what we knew. Stotle and I both had Matzek over Wheeler, but we settled in on Wheeler as we put a good deal of faith in the public stance Matzek was taking over his bonus demands and signability. With the extra resources available, we then were able to select fallings talents like Ian Krol and Brody Colvin.

We both agree that Harper and Taillon are elite talents, both worthy of the selection at 1:3. Taillon does pose some risk as he is a prep pitcher who will likely demand a figure north of 7MM as well as a Major League contract. My risk averse side makes me question whether a 40 man roster slot should be secured for Taillon, but I think it is a worthwhile risk. Taillon has a fastball and a curveball that can play at the MLB level right now in a limited role. There is also not much projection left on his frame. He should be a pretty easy pitcher to project. Also, scouting typically does well projecting right handed prep pitchers. With that in mind, if he is available at this slot, I would concur and take him.

After those two, this year has the chance for Stotle and I to argue over the next spot on the board. The third pick is a toss up for me. I agree with the ceiling presented earlier for Karsten Whitson. I think he can be special, but there is a decent amount of development that needs to occur. Likewise, I think well of Drew Pomeranz (LHP, University of Mississippi). Pomeranz lacks the ceiling that Whitson has, but he is a pitcher who should be able to slice through the minors quickly (~2 years) and help out on a Major League squad as a mid-rotation starter. That level of safety is typically not something many want in a top three pick in the draft. The draw is typically for a pitcher who can be a top of the rotation arm. There is a slight chance that with an improvement in command Pomeranz could be that, but I doubt anyone thinks it will happen. The real question comes down to this: who is willing to sign for less? For me their value is pretty similar. As such, I would look to see who would let me throw down money later for falling talent.


Schedule
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).

30 May 2010

Gearing up for the draft . . .

Here is the schedule for this and next week:

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
Monday from 11am to 1pm - Orioles Draft Chat

Then as Nick moves over to PNR Scouting to do the live draft commentary . . . I will be here on my own giving mine. I will be slicing and dicing what I know of the Orioles real selections and we will also be presenting our shadow picks live.

In the days and weeks after the draft, we will continue to provide analysis of the picks.

28 May 2010

Shadow Draft: 2010 Game Plan


It’s just about that time of year when Camden Depot puts on its Shadow Draft hat and takes a stab at the Rule 4 Amateur Draft. As a reminder, Jon and I will be making a selection at each Orioles pick for the first ten rounds of this June’s draft. Thus far, Camden Depot has made fifteen selections (five in 2008 and increasing to ten in 2009). Here are the results thus far -- the current “Shadow System” (reminder, the system would include all O's picks except those that would have been made below -- so, for example, the Shadow System does not have Xavier Avery since Tim Melville was selected in the same slot):

Year (Round) - Player
2008 (1) - Brian Matusz, LHP, Univ. of San Diego
2008 (2) - Tim Melville, RHP, Holt HS (MO)
2008 (3) - Roger Kieschnick, RF, Texas Tech
2008 (4) - Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA
2008 (5) - Brian Humphries, OF, Granite Hills HS (CA) (ATTENDING PEPPERDINE)
2009 (1) - Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA)
2009 (2) - Todd Glaesmann, OF, Midway HS (TX)
2009 (3) - Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville University
2009 (4) - Dustin Dickerson, 1B, Baylor Univ.
2009 (5) - Ian Krol, LHP, Neuqua Valley HS (IL)
2009 (6) - Brody Colvin, RHP, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
2009 (7) - Madison Younginer, RHP, Mauldin HS (SC)
2009 (8) - Kendal Volz, RHP, Baylor Univ.
2009 (9) - Ryan Berry, RHP, Rice University
2009 (10)- Sam Dyson, RHP, Univ. of South Carolina (BACK TO SOU. CAROLINA/2010 ELIGIBLE)

After the jump, Jon and I will be laying-out what we think our strategy for the 2010 draft should be, focusing on areas of need and the best way to fill those while taking the best talent available..

Stotle’s Plan
This draft is heaviest on high school arms (RHP) and the big strategical question is how to best compensate for not having a 2nd Round pick this year. Looking at the Shadow System, the Shadow O’s need bats in a big way. Unfortunately, I don’t see a good fit for that in Round 1, which means we will need to get a little creative. My “wants” checklist for the draft is loosely set at the following:

2 MIF (best available; college/HS)
1 HS Catcher
1 Potential power bat at a corner (college/HS)
1 Potential CF (college/HS)
4 arms (mix upside HS and power college arms)

The Shadow Orioles are weak up-the-middle and there are some good opportunities for centerfielders at different points in the opening rounds. The HS catching crop is solid and should offer some value at multiple points, as well. Plenty of arms to pick from, so I expect to load-up on a couple in Rounds 7-10 (either power college arms profiling to relief of HS arms dropping for signability). The middle-infielders will be the biggest challenge, as both SS and 2B are thin. Still, I think there is the potential to grab at least one, and the goal should be to grab two if the opportunity is there. If not, the fall-back should be a second potential power corner bat. Of course, past pick 1:3, a lot will be determined by what players are available and we should not sacrifice quality simply to try and shoehorn picks from a particular group.

Crawdaddy’s Plan
I largely concur with Stotle's plan. Our system is in need of positional talent. A particular need is the middle infield and center field. As the draft appears to be rolling out, the smart money appears to be on pitching in the first round as opposed to positional talent. Waiting until next time before going too deep into it, I don't really buy into the Manny Machado evaluations that see him as a legit elite talent. The likely path will be focused on pitching in the first round and then seizing on any talent that may slip to rounds three to five due to signability. Although my belief is that you draft according to the talent available, my wants could be described as such:

3 MIF (which will be difficult in a thin class, at least one college level and one HS)
1 HS Catcher
1 Potential CF (college or HS)
4 arms (1-2 LHP college/HS, looking for falling talent)

Assuming that the Orioles draft budget is in the 9-10MM range, what happens in the first round will greatly affect what happens later. For instance, if the first round results in a 7-8MM signing, then the rest of the draft goes for slot. Drafting for slot could hurt our chances of securing any falling talent. I think this may not be all that bad as my feeling right now is that there will be a slightly lower amount of good high risk opportunity in this year's draft as opposed to last year. More than likely, what will happen is that we will be able to secure 4 arms (most or all right handed), 1 MIF, 1 HS catcher, and 3 OFs.

Schedule
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


27 May 2010

Reviewing the Class of 2006 International Free Agents: Dominican Republic


This will be the first of several pieces on MLB free agent signings from 2006. I was able to put together a rather comprehensive list of the major signings (28 total). The first part (this current post) will focus on the Dominican Republic. The second will be on Venzuela. The final piece will focus on the rest that I have listed in Pacific and Netherlands.

Dominican Republic

11 players, 19.93MM spent

1. Angel Villalona, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Villalona was a heavily sought after prospect with many of the big players in the DR bidding for his services. He profiled as a bat with plus power and a good hit tool. The Giants, who had been in contact with him since he was 13, was able to secure Villalona for a signing bonus of 2.1MM. It was thought that the Mariners outbid the Giants, but Villalona was loyal to the contacts made with San Francisco. At 16, Villalona was aggressively pushed into rookie ball and short season A ball. He was roughly three years younger than the competition, but was able to perform on level. BA listed him as the 33rd best prospect in baseball. At 17, he played full season A ball, showing plus plus power, but no ability to take a walk. The plate discipline issue was a concern and he fell to 44th. In 2009, he had injury issues and no improvement to his walk rate. He also was arrested for the murder of a man in the DR. The civil part of the trial was settled, but the criminal phase continues. If/when Villalona returns, there are concerns about his plate discipline. It should be considered though that he was quite young for the leagues he was playing in.

2. Esmailyn Gonzalez, SS, Washington Nationals
As everyone probably remembers, Esmailyn Gonzalez was four years older and went by another name. The 1.6MM spent on him was a waste and illuminated some sketchy goings on in the Nationals international scouting department, if not all of baseball. Needless to say, this one did not work out.

3. Carlos Triunfel, SS, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners signed Triunfel for 1.3MM. He is the most successful of the 2006 DR class. He was listed on BA's top 100 prospects prior to 2008 and 2009, but was left off the list this past year as he struggled in a handful of at bats and was lost for the season at AA. He is now starting at SS for AA West Tennessee, but he is filling out and will see a shift over to third base. There is still power potential in his swing, but he needs to be performing at a higher level than he is currently. It may take a while after last year's abbreviated play for him to get back on track. He probably ranks at about a C+ level if he cannot stay at short.

The rest of the DR class after the jump.


4. Francisco Pena, C, New York Mets
The Mets paid three quarters of a million dollars to sign Pena. He is a rather large target behind the plate, but is severely lacking in his footwork. He shows a lot of power in batting practice, but has had difficulty transfer that into games. His main problem is a lack of contact. Last season as a 19yo, he ops'd 588 in HiA. He currently is in extended spring training trying to overcome a foot he fractured in Spring Training.

5. Engel Beltre, OF, Boston Red Sox
Engel Beltre was signed for 600k and was traded a year later to the Rangers in the Eric Gagne deal. As with many of the players, he has been one of the younger players in the leagues he has played in and has shown no ability to take a walk. His second walk through at hiA has resulted in a much higher successful contact rate and a significant reduction in strikeouts. Gap power is there, but he is not well skilled at using his speed on the basepaths. He is a top ten organizational talent.

6. Oscar Tejeda, 2B/SS, Boston Red Sox
Tejada was signed for a half a million dollars. He is currently in HiA ball and may be breaking out this season. His contact rate and his power have suddenly appeared. He has little plate discipline, but a high batting average and above average power could making him a useful utility player or fringe starting 2B.

7. Emmanuel Solis, 3B, Texas Rangers
Solis was also signed for 500k. He displayed plus power and a strong arm. After a season in the DSL, he was promoted to rookie league ball and completely failed. He played DSL a second time as a 19 year old and performed on average. In 2009, he split time between rookie league and short season A ball. He had no success and was released.

8. Carlos Urena, LF/1B, New York Yankees
Urena was paid 350k. He has been unable to achieve any measurable success after three seasons in the DSL. As a 20 year old, he is probably in extended spring training and awaiting a rookie league to begin. If he does not show off his potential this summer, he will probably be released.

9. Robert Rodriguez, RF, Seattle Mariners
The Mariners invested almost 300k in signing Rodriguez. He has not shown much ability in rookie ball. Last year was rough between his 502 ops in rookie ball and testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. He is currently still on roster and serving out a 50 game suspension. If he does not show anything this year, he will probably be released.

10. Damian Taveras, C, New York Yankees
Taveras signed with the Yankees for 200k. Like Rodriguez, he was also caught for using a performance enhancing drug as had to sit out 50 games in 2008. In 2009, he showed remarkable plate discipline and secondary power. He currently is awaiting rookie league ball to begin. He is new to catching and will need a great deal of instruction, but he may be a diamond in the rough for the Yankees. This season will be a better indication of what his abilities may be.

11. Rey Lebron, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Lebron signed as a promising corner outfielder with a plus arm. After two seasons in the DSL, he showed absolutely no talent in making contact with a baseball, so he was converted into a pitcher last season. He logged in 3 quite uneven innings last season and is still undergoing instruction. I do not have any information how successful the transition is currently going.

Summary:
I'll ignore the Gonzalez incident and pretend that Villalona is not on bail. As such, we are looking at 10 prospects who signed for more than 100k coming out of the DR in 2006. Villalona, Triunfel, and Beltre are all capable of playing on level ball at AA while being about 2-3 years younger than the competition. This is impressive, but there comes a point where youth needs to start fulfilling potential and the lag in plate discipline is concerning. Without the ability to take a walk, the margin of safety for a contact oriented approach is rather thin. Any of the three (if Villalona could play) could break out with a giant season and that would not be surprising. Of the other, Oscar Tejeda and Damian Taveras are interesting, but nothing near a sure prospect. Tejeda may establish himself this season if he keeps his offensive performance up. Taveras needs a successful transition to rookie ball. The other five players look to be near lost causes.

26 May 2010

Updated Composite Rankings for Draft

Baseball America came out with there rankings, so they are added along with updates from Keith Law, PG Crosschecker, and PNR Scouting. Again, rankings are averaged and are presented along with a standard deviation to show how much agreement is in the placement. As expected, only Bryce Harper's rank agreed upon. Click on the graph to make it larger and more legible.



After the jump, the graph above in a list format.


Top 20
1. Bryce Harper
2. Jameson Taillon
3. Manny Machado
4. Drew Pomeranz
5. Deck McGuire
6. Karsten Whitson
7. Zack Cox
8. Christian Colon
9. AJ Cole
10. Dylan Covey
11. Chris Sale
12. Yasmani Grandal
13. Josh Sale
14. Matt Harvey
15. Kaleb Cowart
16. Brandon Workman
17. Anthony Renaudo
18. Nick Castellanos
19. Michael Choice
20. Bryce Brentz

25 May 2010

What is Kevin Millwood Worth?

As has become all too apparent, the Orioles are going nowhere. What is also a given is that Kevin Millwood is unlikely to be offered arbitration as he is is earning 12MM (3 from Texas and 9 from Baltimore) and will not be offered anything near that amount. On the free agent market, he is probably worth about 7-8MM. If the Orioles offered him anything, he would most likely accept and leave the Orioles with a rather large price tag on a declining talent. His place on the squad this year made sense as it has given the rotation another veteran leader . . . and, perhaps more importantly, given the Orioles a dependable arm that can save the bullpen.

In AAA Norfolk, both Chris Tillman and Jake Arrieta have performed well enough to audition in the Majors. One being promoted would push David Hernandez back into the relief role for which he is better suited. For the other to get into the rotation, it will require an opening. That might be accomplished by trading Millwood. So, this begs the question . . . what can we get for him?

Looking at deals for pitchers like Joe Blanton and Scott Kazmir, we may be looking at something a little less than the Blanton deal and on par with the Kazmir trade. Millwood is a veteran and performing well, but he is a free agent after the season and is an expensive addition on the short term. So, I think it is possible the Orioles could pull back a B/B- prospect along with a C+/C prospect.

After the jump, who may be in the market and what could they offer that the O's need?


1. Washington Nationals

PECOTA puts the Nationals at a 6% chance of making the playoffs. This ignores any effect Stephen Strasburg could have on the team. Strasburg's addition could potentially add three or so wins over Craig Stammen. The difference in talent is that great between the two. I have their playoff odds increasing to 12% with that move. Strasburg alone puts the Nats in the conversation, but leaves much to chance. Atilano is another pitcher in the rotation that needs to be replaced. Kevin Millwood would provide a major boost to this rotation and be what Jason Marquis was supposed to be. Trading for Millwood would also be a gain of two to three wins over Atilano. That would put the Nats at 19%.

The Nationals have a thin system, but they do have some redundancies. They have seemed to have found a starting SS in Ian Desmond. This could open up AA shortstop Danny Espinosa for being dealt. He certainly can stay at shortstop. He shows good athleticism and his hit tool should be good enough for that position. He has an outside chance of being above average. A second pitcher who could be offered would be someone like RHP Bradley Myers who would be similar to someone like Steve Johnson in our system. Myers' pitches are not special, but he seems to get the job done.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are flailing, but they seem to believe they are a better team than I think they are. The NL West is very competitive, so any addition could make or break a team. PECOTA at this point has them sitting at a 2.5% chance of making the playoffs. Millwood filling in would increase the competitiveness of the team by about 2 games. That probably does not help them much. The Orioles could target someone like Brandon Allen here. Allen could immediately step into first base for the Orioles and solve that issue. The Diamondbacks might be able to just stick with Adam LaRoche who has performed well in the desert.

3. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are in dire need for a pitcher to boost their rotation. Homer Bailey needs to heal and probably get some time in AAA. PECOTA has them at 52% making the playoffs. Millwood replacing Bailey would set the Reds at 60%. That would be very beneficial to that club and would probably make it worth it to spend the 4-5MM on Millwood. They do have redundancies where the Orioles need help. The two main names to focus on would be Todd Frazier and Yonder Alonso. Alonso is in AAA right now and could potentially play for the Orioles next year at first. He has a good eye and strong bat . . . he also has major issues hitting left handers. Having both him and Josh Bell in the lineup could spell trouble. Todd Frazier could fill in at third or potentially at second. He has a good eye and should be able to hit in the majors. The Orioles would certainly jump for Alonso, but they could probably make do with Frazier. That said, I think based on the Reds needs . . . Frazier is more of a long term fit for them since they have Joey Votto at first.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

PECOTA has the Dodgers at 54% and I have a Millwood addition giving them a boost to 63%. Money seems tight with the organization, but a one year increase in payroll or if the Orioles throw in some cash . . . they might be able to add Kevin to their roster. The Dodgers have two shortstops in their system. Ivan DeJesus Jr. is considered to be less of a talent than Dee Gordon. He suffered a broken leg last year and lost some development time. He is back in AAA this year. He is probably the piece the Dodgers would be willing to deal in exchange for Millwood.

5. Detroit Tigers

This year the Tigers have Verlander and Bonderman . . . and a bunch of question marks. The addition of Millwood would settle down that rotation and give the Tigers much more stability. That move (~3 wins) would increase PECOTA's prediction of 43% to mine of 59%. The Tigers system has been thinned out over the years with a few uneven drafts and trades, but they do have some parts to offer. Ryan Strieby can play first base and might be an average bat there. He probably is not special and the Tigers have redundancies everywhere he can play. With such a low end pick, he would have to be teamed up with a higher level prospect like Casper Wells or Cody Satterwhite. This probably is not the team the Orioles would want to target.

6. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

LAAA is not a great fit either, but they do believe they have a shot at the playoffs. Replacing Kazmir with Millwood would probably get them a few more games and raise them past the 10% mark. The Angels' system does not match well up with the Orioles, but I could see something based on a solid arm like Trevor Reckling and then accompanied by probable bust Brandon Wood.

18 May 2010

2011 Draft Order - top 15

Sort of an addendum to the previous post. Click on the jump and see how PECOTA predicts the 2011 draft order.

1. Baltimore Orioles
2. Houston Astros +6.9 games
3. Kansas City Royals +8.4
4. Pittsburgh Pirates +9.7
5. Chicago White Sox +11.1
Seattle Mariners
7. Milwaukee Brwers +11.2
8. Arizona Diamondbacks +11.6
9. Cleveland Indians +12.9
10. Chicago Cubs +13.3
11. LA Angels of A +13.5
12. New York Mets +14.9
13. Toronto Blue Jays +16.8
14. Atlanta Braves +17.2
15. Washington Nationals +17.5

2010 Season Wis Update: Week 7 or something

The lines are beginning to peter out now.




Depressing to be an O's fan.

13 May 2010

AL Not Embracing Any Smallball

Another simple graph today. I thought it might be interesting to look at how the prevalence of sacrifice hits have changed over the years. Conventional wisdom seems to state that there has been a great embrace of small ball . . . well, that does not seem to correlate to the incidence of sacrifice hits.



It would be interesting see what conditions these were hit under. I poked my nose through the rather basic classifications provided at Baseball Reference and found no real difference of bunting occurring during better scenarios (i.e. man on 2nd, no outs).

12 May 2010

Comparison of the Last Three Drafts



One of the problems with drafts is that it is always difficult to recognize how one year might different from the next. How does Bryce Harper compare to Stephen Strasburg? How does this year shape up with 2008? These are important questions to ask and devising some sort of answer helps us determine value by relating it to other experiences. Today's graphic does exactly that.

Stotle and I put our heads together and compared our notes over the past three years to determine our top 30 ranking for the past three drafts. The values placed on each player are the values they held on draft day or, in the case of the 2010 class, value they currently hold. This crosses out all of the 20/20 hindsight as he have all of our notes from these past three years. Also included in the table are valuations of each year's top 5 worth.

After the jump, the table, and some commentary.


From the table, you can see that the 2008 draft class had a number of elite talents (roughly the top ten of this rankings table). Not were considered in the class of Strasburg or Harper, but there was great value. It was the kind of draft that very much benefited teams outside of the first couple picks as a team would still be getting great talent, but at a slightly lower cost.

This was not the case last year where if you were outside of the first pick and were worried about Matzek's public stance on going to Oregon, you might cut your potential losses and draft a second tier talent. 2009 was a very top heavy draft. Strasburg's perceived value exceeds anything available in either the 2008 or 2010 drafts. The closer comparison is the 2010 draft, which appears to be 2009's weaker sister. Bryce Harper is a less valuable Stephen Strasburg. Jameson Taillon is a less valuable Tyler Matzek. 2010 though is clearly behind 2009 in talent in the first round. The 2009 season had a strong crop of second tier talent. This year not so much.

Be sure to click on the image below to make it larger.



The next draft posting will put this year's draft prospects' value against the accumulated value of those selected in the 2008 and 2009 draft.

11 May 2010

2010 Season Wins Update: Week 6

And here is our weekly record update. As you can see, all three projection systems were slightly depressed from the last week. Not as badly as the Astros though who have narrowed the Orioles projected first pick lead to six games.




After the jump, the somewhat unneeded playoff odds.

PECOTA odds: 0.003%
Camden Depot odds: 0.014%

09 May 2010

Beneath the Surface: Frederick Keys Update


I think the big story here in Frederick is LJ Hoes. After being drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft, Hoes made quite a statement in the GCL with a slash of 308/416/390. As an 18yo, the lack of power was forgiven with the contact rate and walk rate taken notice. Hoes was also being introduced to second base. Keith Law mentioned Hoes as a favorite to break into his top 100 prospect list in 2009. We saw him as the 10th best prospect in the organization.

In 2009, Hoes was challenged with much adversity. The Orioles, impressed with what they saw in short season ball and spring training, decided to challenge Hoes in the South Atlantic League. At 19, he was one of the youngest players in the league. Performance-wise, it was rather horrific. The year before he earned 30 walks over 191 plate appearances. In Delmarva, he managed 23 walks in 465 plate appearances. He also showed less power. His final slash was 260/299/318. His defense was poor, but was a definite improvement from the season before. During the summer, he also had to deal with losses in his family. It was a very difficult season for him. The loss of plate discipline concerned me enough to drop him from 10th to 17th in our organizational rankings. The developmental staff was impressed though and thought he deserved to be promoted to HiA Frederick for the 2010 season.

In 2010, Hoes has basically made many of us look like we made a hasty judgment. No one had given up on him, but perhaps we too quickly downgraded him. The needed gap power has yet to arrive, but everything else came back in his performance. He currently is sitting at 301/429/398. He is getting good contact on the ball and is working the count. He is on pace to cut his error rate by more than half and his range has appeared to expand (small sample size) by about 25% (which means that his placement and footwork is better). If he continues to do this well, I know I will be arguing with Stotle about putting Hoes in our top 5 next season. I believe these traits are real and with a little more age on him, I think he will see a slight increase in his gap power. I imagine the year after next, Hoes will be in the top 100.

More thoughts after the jump.


Pitchers

Brandon Cooney - 63.4%GB, 9.8%LD, 9.5 k/9, 2.62 FIP
Impressive relief candidate.

Bats

Xavier Avery - LF/CF - 309/369/418, 384babip
Swing improving with more line drives, great contact, promising.
Kyle Hudson - LF/CF - 240/363/269, 316babip
Great fielder, no arm, great eye, no bat, great speed, poor baserunning. Going to be difficult for him.
Joe Mahoney - 1B - 277/333/479, 319babip
SB are gone and power appears to be back, sleeper who has a chance to break out.
Greg Miclat - SS - 314/397/392, 364babip
Some fielding troubles, offensive numbers appear unsustainable.
Billy Rowell - 3B/DH - 328/415/503, 434babip
Beginning to be noticed again, but without position and some batted ball luck.
Ronnie Welty - RF - 247/333/495, 296babip
Batting average should rise, good defense, interesting prospect.

2009 AL FIP Divided into Tiers

The following is a simple graph of last year's starting pitchers grouped by innings and then subdivided into fifths.



A crude way to interpret the above graph is to view every 0.25 in FIP as equal to about 5 runs over the course of a season. In other words, if your fifth starter throws a 4.75 FIP instead of someone with a 5.25 FIP (league average 5th tier starter), your team should win one game more.

Nothing after the jump.


07 May 2010

05 May 2010

Welcome Back, Koji

Koji Uehara is activated and Alberto Castillo is sent to Norfolk.




Yes, my skills with altering pictures are pretty horrific.

04 May 2010

Season Wins Update: Week 5

The sweep against the Red Sox has caused all of the prediction models to respond positively. For the PECOTA model, this reduces the Orioles 2011 Draft pick lead from 11.2 to 7.3 games. Based on how the season should shake out, I think that PECOTA will probably take us out of the number one position around June 20th.



Click picture to make larger.

After the jump, playoff odds.

PECOTA now is more pessimistic than Camden Depot.

PECOTA: 0.03% chance of making playoffs.
Camden Depot: 0.08% chance of making playoffs.

Regardless, no one should be making October plans.

03 May 2010

A month in and looking at the minors . . . Delmarva

Delmarva's roster was largely short on established positional talent, but pretty thick with high upside arms. The big story, as we expected it to be, has been how 2009 1st round draft pick Matt Hobgood would fare in his first season of full season professional baseball. He has been good with a glimpse of top 50 prospect greatness. In one game, he went seven innings while allowing only two singles and a walk to go along with six strikeouts. That was superb. His other starts have been somewhat inconsistent as he does not miss enough bats (6.0 k rate) and walks too many (3.5 bb rate), but this is, of course, only after 28.2 innings.

I figure he will show better as the year progresses and will be a top 100 prospect at the end of the year, but I doubt he will break the top 50. There just is not enough projection in his frame to anticipate any increase in speed, so his value is dependent upon him refining his repertoire and missing more bats as he progresses. Now, Zach Britton was able to take the same trajectory, but it is certainly something that should not be taken as a given. There is much to be happy about though as his four seamer has been solid (reaching 95mph in his last start) and his curveball has been generating a good deal of movement at times. The stats to date are solid too as his FIP is below 4 and he is getting >50% grounders and around 15% line drives. It is still early and we will know a lot more in another month or so.

After the jump, short notes on some notable arms and bats.


Pitchers

Jesse Beal - 53.1%GB, 14.8%LD, 6.0 k/9, 3.73 FIP
Good line, needs to further establish himself.
Ryan Berry - 56.5%GB, 12.0%LD, 7.8 k/9, 2.99 FIP
Excellent line, probably will be promoted mid-season.
Robert Bundy - 34.6%GB, 11.5%LD, 11.2 k/9, 5.76 FIP
In relief role, promising stuff, but is getting hit hard.
Jake Cowan - 51.2%GB, 20.9%LD, 8.2 k/9, 3.19 FIP
Polished pitcher for A ball, LD rate a concern at higher levels.
Randy Henry - 50.0%GB, 13.3%LD, 16.2 k/9, 2.29 FIP
In relief role, should eventually transfer to starter. Promising.

Bats

Brian Conley - RF - 362/470/594, 471babip
Towson product excelling in Delmarva, somewhat old for league.
Stephen Bumbry - CF - 304/360/449, 488babip
Quite athletic, good contact skills, plate discipline is woefully inadequate.
Justin Dalles - C - 370/452/630, 381babip
Seasoned has been abbreviated due to concussion, shown an excellent bat. Promising.
Tyler Kolodny - 1B/3B - 267/347/605, 309babip
Kolodny's bat is too advanced for this league, but he still strikes out too much.
Michael Ohlman - C/DH - 156/263/188, 200babip
One of the youngest players in A ball. Ohlman has struggled greatly.
Garabez Rosa - SS - 333/354/533, 387babip
Gap power, should stick at shortstop, needs to maintain his contact rate to succeed.
Tyler Townsend - 1B
Injuries have limited him to only three games.