15 June 2010

Most managers in a single season for baseball: Part I - AL

With Juan Samuel reaching his 10th game and managerial veterans like Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge casting their shadow over Camden Yards, the Orioles might do something that has been done fewer times in Major League Baseball than perfect games pitched. In fact, it is something the franchise has done before, but as the St. Louis Browns. This feat? To have at least three managers rack up 10 decisions or more in a single season.

Today is the first part of a two part series looking at the oddity of single seasons with multi-manager teams. Some of these events were caused by illnesses, extended interim managers, unique ideas, or an impatient front office.

After the jump, we will start of with the Baltimore Orioles history . . .

14 June 2010

BORT Chat Monday at 8pm: Draft Review and Things

Case for claiming Jake Fox

Susan Slusser tweeted last night that the Oakland Athletics can no longer afford to be patient with Jake Fox and are designating him for assignment.  This is a move to take him off the 40 man roster, so every other team in baseball will have a shot at him.  The Orioles have the first right of claim.  The Athletics need to do this because Fox is out of options.  His has been somewhat miserable at the plate this year with a 591 OPS.  He has played left field, catcher, and backed up a few games at third base.  In the minors he has also had some experience with first base.

What I am suggesting is pretty simple . . . the Orioles need to claim Fox and designate Garrett Atkins.  At this point, Atkins has not shown any improvement at the plate and looks stiff over at first base.  Taken along with his three year precipitous decline, I see absolutely no upside to keeping him.  He cannot hit and he cannot take the field.  Jake Fox is actually hitting better than Atkins.  He has also shown good power as well.  He has shown some ability to play catcher and first base, which would be very valuable to the Orioles.  Fox is also right handed just like Atkins, so he fills that role as well.  At 27, Fox is not an up and coming prospect, but he could, maybe, just maybe, have some upside in either his bat or his ability to catch.  These are unknowns to explore.  Everything about Atkins we know and none of it has been very useful.

Now, I am not going to kick and scream if the Orioles pass on Fox, but it would be disappointing.  Why?  Because I think it will be a sign of embracing a player, Atkins, not because of his abilities, but because of his salary.  The cost is sunk and no one is going to take him off the Orioles' hands.  It should be time to own up to that and take chances on the waiver wire.

12 June 2010

Trade Market Options: NL West Edition

This is a continuation of a series exploring options in the trade market for the Orioles. The Orioles most useful available talent (i.e. Millwood, Guthrie, Wigginton, Scott) could probably net a return of one B level prospect and some C level secondary prospect. This series will review the teams arguably in contention and how well they match up with what the Orioles have and what the Orioles would want.

NL East
NL Central
NL West
AL East
AL Central
AL West

NL West after the jump...

Trade Market Options: NL Central Edition

This is a continuation of a series exploring options in the trade market for the Orioles. The Orioles most useful available talent (i.e. Millwood, Guthrie, Wigginton, Scott) could probably net a return of one B level prospect and some C level secondary prospect. This series will review the teams arguably in contention and how well they match up with what the Orioles have and what the Orioles would want.

NL East
NL Central
NL West
AL East
AL Central
AL West

NL Central after the jump...

Trade Market Options: NL East Edition

NL East
NL Central
NL West
AL East

AL Central

AL West

After the jump, a list of B level prospects for each team in the NL who PECOTA projects as having at least a 10% chance to make the playoffs.

10 June 2010

Orioles and the 2011 1st overall selection . . .

Just a graph today, looking on to next year.

This is based on the PECOTA updated season projections and then apply a binomial distribution to the resulting data.

Onward and upward.

09 June 2010

Thoughts on the Orioles 2010 draft.

I doubt I am going to hear I name I recognize today, which is sad for me. Yesterday was full of moving into a new apartment. After figuring it all together, I climbed 164 flights of stairs. That is more vertical distance than the Sears tower while carrying things all greater than a 30lb rucksack. Anyway, I digress.

What does the draft, so far, mean to me? After the jump, I go pick to pick and have a short write up for each that I am aware of . . . I'm somewhat limited in my knowledge.

08 June 2010

Shadow Draft: Round 3 through Round 10

Camden Shadow Draft only had one pick yesterday, Chipley HS (Fla.) RHP Karsten Whitson.

Today we get eight picks, one in each round from 3 - 10:

3:3 - Josh Rutledge, SS, Univ. of Alabama
4:3 - Garin Cecchini, SS/3B, Barbe HS (La.)
5:3 - Tyler Holt, OF, Florida St. University
6:3 - Tony Thompson, 3B, Univ. of Kansas
7:3 - Robert Aviles, RHP, Suffern HS (N.Y.)
8:3 - Mario Hollands, LHP, Univ. of California - Santa Barbara
9:3 - Jordan Cooper, RHP, Wichita St. Univ.
10:3 - Matt Roberts, C, Graham HS (N.C.)

We'll do a full recap, but some quick thoughts:

1:3 - Love Whitson up top; expect him to be signable in the Zack Wheeler range
3:3 - Rutledge is the advanced middle-infielder we were hoping for at 3:3
4:3 - Couldn't pass on Cecchini here; will take around $1.5 million to sign, but legit Top 2 Round talent (may be shifting to 3B)
5:3 - In hindsight now a little nervous about signability giving how far down he went in the real draft, but we have some extra jingle in the budget
6:3 - I (Stotle) had a "big corner bat" on my list and Thompson certainly qualifies; might shift to 1B but potential for plus power
7:3 - "Dream Draft" was Aviles in the 9th, but couldn't risk him dropping futher (good thing because he was picked in this round in the actual draft!)
8:3 - Needed to get back to signable picks and Hollands was a favorite of Craw's
9:3 - Another college arm that could fit in the pen or slot in as a back-ender
10:3 - Tough sign, but wanted to take a stab at a prep catcher; likely headed to UNC

07 June 2010

After Day 1: Crawdaddy's top 35

Orioles have the 35th pick tomorrow. After the jump, my top 35.

1. Stetson Allie, rhp, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio
2. A.J. Cole, rhp, Oviedo (Fla.) HS
3. Brandon Workman, rhp, Texas
4. Austin Wilson, of, Harvard-Westlake School, Los Angeles
5. Brett Eibner, rhp/of, Arkansas
6. Chad Bettis, rhp, Texas Tech
7. Yordy Cabrera, ss/rhp, Lakeland (Fla.) HS
8. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Virginia Tech
9. James Paxton, lhp, Grand Prairie (American Assoc.)
10. Ryan LaMarre, of, Michigan
11. A.J. Vanegas, rhp, Redwood Christian HS, San Lorenzo, Calif.
12. Micah Gibbs, c, Louisiana State
13. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Grandview HS, Centennial, Colo.
14. LeVon Washington, of, Chipola (Fla.) JC
15. Jarrett Parker, of, Virginia
16. Jedd Gyorko, ss, West Virginia
17. DeAndre Smelter, rhp, Tattnall Square Academy, Macon, Ga.
18. Sammy Solis, lhp, San Diego
19. Ryne Stanek, rhp, Blue Valley HS, Stilwell, Kan.
20. Jordan Swagerty, rhp, Arizona State
21. Aaron Shipman, of, Brooks County HS, Quitman, Ga.
22. Addison Reed, rhp, San Diego State
23. Hunter Morris, 1b, Auburn
24. Austin Wates, of, Virginia Tech
25. Derek Dietrich, ss, Georgia Tech
26. Tony Wolters, ss, Rancho Buena Vista HS, Vista, Calif.
27. Jacob Petricka, rhp, Indiana State
28. Kevin Chapman, lhp, Florida
29. Drew Cisco, rhp, Wando HS, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
30. Will Swanner, c, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif.
31. Tyler Holt, of, Florida State
32. Jared LaKind, 1B/OF, Cypress Woods HS TX
33. Stefan Sabol, c/of, Aliso Niguel HS, Aliso Viejo, Calif.
34. Andrelton Simmons, ss/rhp, Western Oklahoma State JC
35. Marcus Littlewood, 3b, Pine View HS, St. George, Utah

2010 1st Rd Open Thread

During the first round and supplement rounds, I'll be keeping a loose open post.

Actual Orioles Selection
1:3 Manny Machado, ss, Brito Miami Private HS

Shadow Orioles Selection
1:3 Karsten Whitson, rhp, Chipley (Fla.) HS

Comments after the jump.

2010 Camden Depot Draft Chat

After stepping through our targets for each of the first ten rounds of the Rule 4, based upon who we believe to be available and various spots, and keeping in mind the Draft Strategy piece we stepped through around a week ago, here is our "Dream Draft". No comments provided with picks, as we can discuss this and everything else "Draft" starting at 11am!

1:3 - Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (Texas)
3:3 - Josh Rutledge, SS, University of Alabama
4:3 - Matt Roberts, C, Graham HS (N.C.)
5:3 - Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Fullerton Union HS (Calif.)
6:3 - Brian Guinn, 2B, University of California - Berkley
7:3 - Austin Southall, OF/1B, University HS (La.)
8:3 - Mario Hollands, LHP, University of California - Santa Barbara
9:3 - Robbie Aviles, RHP, Suffern HS (N.Y.)
10:3 - Matt Bischoff, RHP, Purdue University

On to the Chat, then on to the Draft!

06 June 2010

Mining previous drafts: Dave Ritterpusch

Yesterday an article was posted on Cardinals sensation Jaime Garcia. Garcia was an Orioles draftee, but he was unable to perform well on an Orioles test that was poorly translated into Spanish. Despite the complaints by the scout who had developed a relationship with Garcia and new draft coordinator Joe Jordan wanting to sign him, the Orioles refused and the story is . . . it was based on the results of that test.

So, that reminded me of Dave Ritterpusch. He was a scouting director for the Orioles from 1973 to 1975 under Frank Cashen. He was very much intrigued by psychoanalysis and how it was implemented in corporate America. Ritterpusch idea was to take what was known from these tests and apply them to baseball players. The approach was to take a modified version of the Winslow Success Profile exam (this version is now called the Athletic Success Profile) and determine which components were applicable for baseball.

After the jump, an explanation of the Winslow Success Profile and his reintroduction in the Orioles decision making process in during the Beattie/Flanagan tenure.

Chilling until tomorrow.

The first round and supplemental first round of the draft is tomorrow. The Orioles pick third and then we can all pay attention to other things. Well, unless you are me and are actively interested in the draft and where these amateurs are going. Today, I am going to go over a few updates on the draft and go over the John Sickels community mock draft I took part in yesterday.

The team that most affects the Orioles' selection is the Pirates. Bryce Harper to the Nats is a foregone conclusion. The real question is whether hulking power pitcher Jameson Taillon or Miami prep SS Manny Machado goes second. Kieth Law flapped his wings on Friday with talk of the Pirates leaning toward Taillon and now everyone else is following. Conditional language is being used, but it would be a bit of a surprise right now if the first four picks in the draft are not:

1. Washington Nationals - Bryce Harper, c, JC of Southern Nevada
2. Pittsburgh Pirates - Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
3. Baltimore Orioles - Manny Machado, ss, Brito Miami Private HS
4. Kansas City Royals - Yasmani Grandal, c, Miami

After that, I think there is some considerable guesswork. Frankie Piliere is a good source for up to date information about the draft (Piliere used to run the site SaberScouting with current Orioles front office employee Kiley McDaniel). If you have been paying attention to what Stotle and I have been writing, we would not exactly be upset, but we would be disappointed in the Orioles selecting Machado. Stotle's board is in full view at his draft devoted site, PnR Scouting. You should bookmark that site as he will be quickly updating it close to a pick by pick basis. Very impressive.

Anyway, Stotle has Machado at 10. I have him at 6. In fact, here is my final board (and, yeah, it has changed since last week very slightly):

1. Bryce Harper, c, JC of Southern Nevada
2. Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
3. Chris Sale, lhp, Florida Gulf Coast
4. Karsten Whitson, rhp, Chipley (Fla.) HS
5. Zack Cox, 3b, Arkansas
6. Manny Machado, ss, Brito Miami Private HS
7. Deck McGuire, rhp, Georgia Tech
8. Drew Pomeranz, lhp, Mississippi
9. Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton
10. Nick Castellanos, 3b, Archbishop McCarthy HS, SW Ranches, Fla.

Now, Machado has been mentioned in the same breath as Alex Rodriguez. I think this has more to do with poor association. Both are coming out of Miami as preps, both have some power, and, honesty, I think them both being Hispanic is what is drawing those comparisons. Go through enough profiles and it becomes clear that unconscious racial associations are everywhere, but that is starting another conversation. Back to Machado, he is a big shortstop. He does have some power potential. He shows a good hit tool. I don't think he is anywhere near Arod. I think in last year's draft he would have gone about the same time as Grant Green. The year before, he easily would have gone after Gordon Beckham was selected. So, yes, Tim Beckham would have been viewed as a much better SS prospect than Machado. Why? The power that looks plus for short will be maybe above average at third base. Most disagree with me, but I just see his body filling out and that range collapsing. At third base, I see Zach Cox as a better bet to meet his potential.

That is really the problem I have. I think much of the value place in Machado is directly tied to him sticking at shortstop. The backup plan of him working at third is sustainable, but you will be paying a premium for the chance he could stick at short. Is that premium worth 3MM. The difference between Cox and Machado in signing bonus will probably be that amount. To be conservative, maybe 2MM. To me it is not worth that. So would I want Zach Cox? Actually, no. Last week, I suggested Drew Pomeranz, but now I am firmly in Chris Sale mode. Pomeranz' slight issues with command and he only has two solid pitches at the moment with his fastball and curveball. He is going to have a bake more in the minors than I thought. That changeup will have to come around. Sale has a nice 2 seamer and induces a lot of groundballs. His slider is progressing along well and I would consider it a plus pitch. He also has shown great touch for his changeup, but will need some work with his arm action to conceal it better. Sale would normally be a fringe top 10 pick in a normal draft year, but he would be my pick here and give me room to select about 3 overslots last in the draft. I would prefer something like Sale, Kevin Ziomek, Bobby Wahl, and Christian Yelich over just Manny Machado.

After the jump, summary of the John Sickel's community mock draft.

Community mock drafts are often a useless endeavor as it is more about advertising for the website than actually putting together a prediction. Participants vary widely in knowledge and predictably follow the main free list available . . . BA's draft chart. Personally, I put my draft board together by using BA, PnR Scouting, PG Crosschecker, and Keith Law as my 'scouts.' From there I draw up a composite board. I then make a likely targets list and view video and individual writeups on those players, massaging the list. So, I tend to view things differently than most on the boards. Also, some participants view the mock draft as an exercise in showing how well they can work the draft and others tend to view their draft budget as unreasonably high. So, yeah, community mocks are often worthless by ignoring budget and historical trends of certain team's scouting departments.

My picks . . .

1:3 Manny Machado, ss, Brito Miami Private HS
Shocking, eh? Well, part of the community mock experience is creating a thread on that site and taking in a consensus. Taillon was taken by the Pirates before me and the group who was in the Orioles thread felt very strongly about Machado. I would have taken Chris Sale, personally. But, I am not trying to personally outsmart the Orioles. The Orioles seem locked in on Taillon or Machado. With Taillon gone, Machado was the accurate pick in my estimation. He fills a minor league need in that he is a positional player and a middle infielder. Selecting him will mean that we would need to be more responsible in the following picks.

3:3 Kevin Chapman, lhp, Florida
Relief and, particularly, left-handed relief is in dire need in our system. To quote our piece from last week:
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.

I do think though that the mock yesterday was reliever averse to the extreme. They lasted way too long on the boards. I wonder if Chapman will be snatched up in the second round by a team with several selections, such as the Angels or Astros.

The draft ended after the third round, but Sickels and a few of us did one more round.

4:3 Will Swanner, c, La Costa Canyon HS, Carlsbad, Calif.
You might wonder why I would go with a slightly above slot catcher when we have Wieters, Joseph, Dalles, and Ohlman in the system. Personally, I think you can never have enough catchers. Particularly, when all of these catchers I mentioned are offensive oriented. Chances are they are not long term catching solutions and will be shifted off at some point in their careers. So, you should take on several in your system and see who sticks and who shifts. The following is part of a nice writeup found over at PnR Scouting:
Swanner isn't an elite backstop, but he shows an impressive collection of tools that could be shaped into an above-average overall pro player with some further instruction. His bat projects well in the power department and he has an ability to square the ball across the quadrants that bodes well for his future contact ability. Behind the plate, he's steady in all aspects and could be above-average if he can quicken his release some. The arm strength is average, but plays-up due to his accuracy, which stems entirely from his balance and advanced catch-and-throw actions. Swanner is a well-balanced collection of tools at a position where it's often difficult to find a player that isn't heavily slanted to either the offensive or defensive side of the spectrum. If the unpredictable world of prep catchers is the stock market, Swanner represents a conservative mutual fund -- odds are he won't let you retire at 30, but you feel comfortable that your investment is going to yield solid returns in the long run. Particularly at a premium position, that's an investment worth making.

The mock draft ended there, but I did put together a top three for the next round. Having taken on a middle infield prospect, advanced left handed relief, and a HS catcher . . . we have addressed most of our need areas. I'd say we still have middle infield, power, and starting pitching as targets. With that in mind, here is my top three selections for pick 5:3.

Jared LaKind, 1B/OF, Cypress Woods HS TX
LaKind has a good, but not great arm as evidenced by a no hitter he threw. His pro future lies in his bat. He is a big guy and stands to add some more weight on his frame. From what I hear, he looks for his pitches (I would not call him a mistake hitter), gets good contact, and may have 30-35 HR potential in his future. He looks like a solid selection in the 5th round. That said, he is not in many top 200s. He is 71st on my board and would be a great value pick here.

Bobby Wahl, RHP West Springfield HS VA
Wahl would be an above slot selection. Here is an excerpt from PnR's writeup:
Wahls is a fun collection of current skill and projection and has taken a nice step forward this spring. Though his stuff isn’t as overpowering as the more highly touted high school arms, he has already seen the beginning of the jump in velo projected last November when this report was originally filed. He flashes a legit four-pitch mix and shows enough feel for pitching for his arsenal to project well across the board. In addition, he has worked this spring at adding a cutter to his repertoire. His frame has room for growth, and his flexibility and body control should help him work through the transition. Wahl is set to attend Ole Miss, should he by-pass a shot at starting his professional career this upcoming summer. Were he to log three seasons with the Rebels, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him among the better draft-eligible college arms come 2013. His spring performance was solid and the growth in the quality of his arsenal is exactly what scouts were looking for. While he is still a ways from a finished product, Wahl is heading in the right direction and at an impressive pace.

Wahl is 102nd on my board.

Daniel Tillman, rhp, Florida Southern
Some might bristle at the Tillman here as I took a reliever in Chapman in the third. Tillman is a good talent though with a fastball that jumps into the mid 90s and he has good command of that. He also has an above average curve that flashes as plus. He had a great Cape Cod season last summer and did nothing to disuade anyone from thinking he could be a fast moving reliever. It is possible the Orioles do not see slot driven advanced relief pitchers as a need, but I think in these mid-rounds they can be high value picks. For instance, over three years you could potentially pickup six advanced relievers in the mid-rounds for less than 3MM, which is more than half of what we are paying for a single year of Mike Gonzalez. It is difficult to pick up a reliever when there might be an exciting overslot available, but it certainly is sometimes the most prudent thing to do. That said, having already picked up Chapman, I would go after the two higher players left on my board. Tillman checks in at 115.

05 June 2010

Looking at the Orioles and Rays Prep Focus

The following maps show the intensity of draft focus for the Orioles and Rays as measured by the percentage of prep players drafted from each state over the past five years.

After the jump, a comparison graft between the Rays and O's.

04 June 2010

2010 Orioles Shadow Draft -- Targets for 6:3 Through 10:3

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...

Stotle’s Targets

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.

Crawdaddy's Targets

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).

03 June 2010

2010 Orioles Shadow Draft - Targets for 5:3

The first three picks have lined-up pretty well with some reasonable targets allowing us to grab in areas of need without sacrificing level of talent. Keeping in mind the goals Craw and I each laid out in our Draft Strategy piece, the 5th Round could be a spot to grab some falling signability players, or medium risk/medium reward college talent.

After the jump, our three targets for the 5th Round...

Stotle’s Targets

My best guess is that Lorenzen (the third target listed at 4:3) will not be the selection there. That is, that one of Hague/Roberts will be available. Assuming that is the case, both 3:3 and 4:3 should be pretty close to slot - maybe a slight bump above. That opens-up 5:3 for a nice stab at a talent that may have fallen, or a slightly underdeveloped player with big upside. For your consideration, a target representing each, as well as one easier sign in case Lorenzen ends-up being the "get" at 4:3:

Bobby Wahl, RHP, West Springfield HS (Va.)

Wahl is a projectable righty with a wide, workhorse frame that has just started to fill-in. He sports a four-pitch mix (FB/CB/SL/CH) with a fifth (CT) on the way, and all show at least average projection, with his slider and fastball both potential plus pitches. His velocity was generally high-80s through the summer and fall, bumping to the 89-91 mph range this spring and touching 93/94 on some guns. A commitment to Ole Miss means it will likely cost some money to pry him away at this point in the draft (where slot is considerably lower than he could get three years from now), but Baltimore is in an excellent position to make a strong move at a promising, semi-homegrown talent. With the projection remaining, Wahl could be a legit mid- to front-end starter when all is said and done, and would likely start-off a step behind (level-wise) the likes of a Taillon or Whitson. If you're still not sold, his favorite player growing-up was none other than the Iron Man. PnR Scouting Report on Wahl here.

Austin Southall, 1B/OF, University HS (La.)

Southall has a strong lefty swing with potential above-average hitting and power awaiting him after some refining. His run through the showcase/tournament circuit was strong and his spring was solid, but a reportedly strong commitment to LSU means it could cost a little more money to sign him then his current skillset might suggest. He moves fairly well in the outfield corner, and has more than enough arm for right field, but in all likelihood he tops out at an average defender. That means the bat will really have to carry him. I look at this as an opportunity to take a potential Top 100 bat, capable of both hitting for average and power down the line, before it reaches its max value. There is risk, to be sure, but I like the gamble here - particularly with some safe slot talent to scoop up in the rounds ahead. My video of Southall down in Jupiter, Fla. last October here. Includes a homerun to right/center.

Bobby Doran, RHP, Texas Tech

Doran is a big, physical righty with the repertoire to potentially stick as a starter, but also a two-pitch combo that could play well in the pen should he wind-up there. His fastball can get up 93/94 mph, but is more regularly in the 90-92 mph range (and he can hold that velocity deep into starts). His best secondary is a mid- to upper-70s 2-plane curve that flashes above-average and shows good shape. A bit of an uneven season likely keeps him out of early round consideration, but I caught him down in Houston where he handled a solid Rice offense to the tune of 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB and 5 SO, and he topped that outing later in the year against Missouri, posting 8.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB and 16 SO. The PnR Scouting video from the Houston College Classic can be seen here.

Crawdaddy’s Targets

I've probably been aggressive in rounds 3 and 4 to make up for the loss of a second rounder selection. Assuming Taillon was selected in the first, this means that I need to start targeting players for slot. As such, players like Bobby Wahl will not be targeted here. If Taillon is not selected in the first or if the third and fourth round picks look like slot players, then this pick might be different. Regardless, I will focus on three slot players that fill needs for the shadow organization.

Jimmy Hodgskin, LHP, Bishop Moore HS (Florida)

I like Hodgskin. He flashes 90/91 with his fastball, but works in the high 80s. It is a pretty average pitch. What makes it work though is that he has a plus caliber changeup that is very advanced for his age. The difference in velocity between the two is just greater than 10mph and the arm action for either pitch is very similar. What prevents him from being considered from going higher, besides the speed of his fastball, is that he has not shown much feel for his breaking ball. His curve is very inconsistent, meaning that he rarely seems to know where it is going. If he can develop his curve to be an average offering, he may be able to carve a career as a backend rotation arm. Otherwise, he stands a good chance to be a solid middle reliever.

Scott Alexander, LHP, Sonoma State

Alexander has been a prospect that many have followed due to his above average fastball that runs into the mid-90s and adequate secondary offerings in the form of a slider and a changeup. Two issues have haunted him. One, injuries. Alexander lost a good deal of developmental time in High School with bicep tendinitis. It is also rumored that injuries suffered last summer resulted in Alexander losing his spot in the Pepperdine rotation and was the impetus for his move to Sonoma State. As far as I know, though, that has not be validated. The other problem Alexander has is that although his pitches are fierce, he does not have much command over them. He is prone to high pitch counts and extreme bouts of wildness. That said, there is an off hand chance he could be a very valuable left hander coming out of the pen if he cannot greatly improve his command.

Cito Culver, SS, West Irondiquot HS (New York)

Culver would be an excellent addition to the organization and help out with depth up the middle. Culver is athletic with plus speed and a strong arm that reached into the low 90s when pitching. Hailing from New York, he has less experience than players from the warmer states down south with their year round baseball. As such, he movements are a little rough at shortstop and his hitting mechanics need some work. He was able to maintain a high level of contact this past season, which is somewhat promising. At the moment, he is committed to the University of Maryland - College Park. I think fifth round slot money would buy him into the professional ranks. I think he has a good chance of becoming a solid utility player with a focus on defense. If his bat comes around, then he just might be a starter.

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).

02 June 2010

2010 Orioles Shadow Draft - Targets at 4:3

Based on the targets listed in the prior two pieces (Targets for 1:3 and Targets for 3:3), it looks like the Shadow Draft is highly likely to go one of two ways through the first two picks: 1) high school pitcher and shortstop, or 2) high school pitcher and high school center fielder (Lipka offers double value, with center field being the likely landing place if he doesn't stick at short). Keeping in mind the goals Craw and I each laid out in our Draft Strategy piece, the 4th Round should offer a number of strategic avenues.

After the jump, our three targets for the 4th Round...

Stotle’s Targets

So far, this exercise has lead me to be cautiously optimistic that the first two picks could net a legit high school power arm and a long term shortstop, even with 82 players between those bookend selections due to the loss of Baltimore's 2nd Round pick. Accordingly, I'm looking here to possibly add a second middle-infielder (no small feet for a draft shy on them). Otherwise, I either grab one of the "2nd Tier" high school backstops or make my first stab at a potential overslot sign in the outfield.

Rick Hague, SS, Rice University

Craw already stepped through an into to Hague in the "Targets for 3:3" piece. I would just add that in around a dozen viewings of the Rice shortstop between last summer with Team USA and throughout the spring with Rice, I am convinced he can be a shortstop at the next level. He isn't flashy, but I believe he is unfairly knocked as "stiff" where his actions are to my eyes simply more deliberate than you would generally see from a potential "high round" shortstop. His largest troubles come on the accuracy of his throws, and in particular when he sets-up. A disproportionate amount of errors I witnessed came after tough at bats, or during games where he is struggling offensively, which also leads me to believe some of this may simply be Hague needing to get outside of his own head some. Even if my read is off, and Hague is destined to be a tweener -- relegated to third base without the bat to back it up -- it's a worthwhile gamble to take here around pick 118. PnR Scouting Report on Hague here (from the end of the summer - to be updated over the next four days).

Matt Roberts, C, Graham HS (N.C.)

Roberts fits well in the 4th Round as an advanced receiver with good catch-and-throw skills but some development still left in the bat. He would be an excellent talent to introduce to the low minors, set to move through the Shadow System with the likes of Taillon/Whitson (this year's 1:3 pick), Zack Wheeler and Ian Krol (2009 Shadow Picks). He could profile as a glove-first catcher with positive defensive value and a solid average hit tool with below-average power -- enough to be a valuable regular. There's upside of some increased pop here, as well, if he can hang a little more size on his frame and if his athleticism allows him to incorporate swing tweaks once exposed to advanced pro coaching.

Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Fullerton Union HS (Calif.)

I am a big believer in Michael Lorenzen (having him comfortably in my Top 100 dating back to my extended looks at him down in Jupiter, Florida last October). He was dinged some by mainstream publications due to reports that area scouts were down on the California prepster after a slow start at the plate this spring. If by chance he is still around (which could be a possibility if he hints that he's looking for, say 2nd Round money to be bought out of his commitment to Cal. St. Fullerton), I'd gladly snatch him up here and treat it as a summer follow. If all checked out with workouts and his progress through the summer, I'd put up 2nd Round money to get him into the system. The PnR Scouting Report on Lorenzen isn't yet posted, but when it is you'll be able to find it here.

Crawdaddy’s Targets

As one would expect, I very much like Hague and Lorenzen a round after I suggested targeting them. For my targets I'll focus some more on our lack of depth at middle infield, left handed pitching, and my own choice of high school catcher. These are all players I have identified as second or third round talents who may fall and be available for slightly above slot. It is my view that without a second round selection this year, some risk should be taken in these rounds to make up for the loss of that pick.

Sean Coyle, 2B, Germantown Academy (Pennsylvania)

Ideally, we would want to find a true shortstop here, but there is no point selecting one for the sake of selecting one. At this point in the draft some value picks might emerge. One such might be Sean Coyle. With a strong commitment to North Carolina and a needed shift off shortstop to second base, his asking price might be more than what several teams are willing to pay given the other talent available before this pick. With our Orioles lacking a second round pick, a falling talent like Coyle might be a good risk to take. As a second baseman, he profiles as a right handed bat with an above average approach at the plate. He has shown potential for gap power and the ability to go with the pitch, using the entire field. His main asset is plus speed and is thought to be a smart base runner.

Rob Rasmussen, LHP, UCLA

In our shadow system, we have only drafted one lefthanded pitcher (Ian Krol), so we do have an organizational need for a lefthanded pitching. I would try to find a more polished left handed arm that might have fallen into this range. There is a good deal of debate on Rasmussen with people pegging him as a safe projectable sandwich round pick for a team with several early selections to him being chosen as far back as in rounds 5-7. If he has bought into the idea of being selected in the sandwich or second round, he may prove to ask for more than I think he is worth. He throws four pitches with regularity: fastball, curve, slider, and change. He shows good command and use of his fastball and curve, but the other pitches appear more as change of pace offerings. None of them are thought to have plus potential. He could wind up as a backend starter if he is able to improve his changeup, but could also play up as a left handed relief pitcher using his fastball and curve.

Will Swanner, C, La Costa Canyon HS (California)

Swanner is a prospect that Nick will probably say I am being wishful thinking he will still be around in the fourth round. Although there is some depth to HS catching this year, it is not exceptionally deep. There does seem to be some difference of opinion on Swanner and no doubt some teams are as high on him as Nick is as shown in his PnR writeup on the player. The dig on him that might cause him to drop is that he may have to switch from behind the plate to the outfield and whether his bat will develop well enough for him to be able to start in the corners. A conservative team may snap him up earlier, but, here, I am looking at a couple tools and hoping he can be developed. His defense appears steady enough with a good arm and some need to work on his footwork. His bat could wind up being a benefit behind the plate. This would very much be a selection for an offensive oriented catcher.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.