30 June 2012

2012 Playoffs: Should the O's Stay or Should They Go?

I think it is safe to say that the Orioles performing at a .550 winning percentage is something none of us anticipated.  Well, none of us except for the true believers.  Though a true believer probably foresaw Matt Wieters developing a little bit more into the best catcher in baseball, perhaps Adam Jones streaking his way into a possible breakout year, and Wei Yin Chen showing everyone that baseball is baseball no matter what side of the Pacific you pitch on.  However, I do wonder whether anyone anticipated the pitching revolution that has happened with Jason Hammel.

At the time, the Hammel/Lindstrom/Guthrie trade was a dog of a deal.  Baltimore dealt the consistent lunch pail hero that is Jeremy Guthrie for the inconsistent and below average Jason Hammel.  The Rockies also put in the hard throwing, but well hit Matt Lindstrom.  In total, the Orioles shifted a 200 IP league average pitcher at 8.2 MM for a 170 IP below average pitcher and a 50 IP average reliever for 8.5 MM.  That led to this column that I wrote.  The main conclusion follows:
So...why do I not like the trade if it looks like a push in so many ways?

It kicks the talent can another year.  Guthrie's worth has been converted into Hammel and Lindstrom.  Hammel's peripherals last year concern me.  I am not certain that he all of a sudden gained an ability to depress BABIP rates.  I more believe that he has lost his ability to strike batters out.  In that regard, I do not see a Guthrie for Lindstrom trade being worthwhile as it places too much value in a somewhat hittable flame thrower.  I think this move runs counter to building this franchise into a winner.  Young, cost-controlled talent would be preferable even if that talent had a low probability of being a difference maker.
 So...no, I did not see Jason Hammel becoming a solid 2/3 pitcher.  True, it is still early to suggest that what we see is what we get with Hammel, but he has become a different pitcher.  His pitch usage has completely changed.  He dabbled with a two seamer in the past, but now throws it a third of the time (last year at 13.1% was the only other recorded season where he threw it more than 6.3% of the time).  His velocity has also ticked up.  His 4 seamer is the 7th hardest one thrown by a starter in baseball at 93 mph.  His change up has jumped up 3 mph and is the third hardest change for a starter at 88.1 mph and behind only Stephen Strasburg and Felix Hernandez. 

Now, keep in mind that although velocity is good, it does not equate to a great pitcher.  However, it should be noted that the harder a pitch is thrown the amount of time a batter has to react is reduced and the amount of time a ball crosses the plate is reduced.  Those two acting together helps result in swings and misses.  Anyway, the point here is that a good bit of the Orioles' success is on Hammel's shoulders and that his performance was completely unexpected.

That all said...the Orioles find themselves in second place in an intensely competitive AL East.  They are the only division where every team has a winning record.  In fact, none will have a losing record through June, which has to be a record of some sort.  At 42-34, the Orioles are four games behind the Yankees.  The team currently has many soft spots.  By fWAR, the Orioles have the second worst position player value in baseball with 6.6.  That is about 4 wins below average and 12 wins behind the first place team, the Rangers.  By contrast, their pitching is roughly average at 8.0 wins.  If one is to believe in fWAR, the Orioles are a team ripe for a collapse.

This position is Matt Wieters and no one else.  He is on pace to bring in about a 4.3 fWAR, which would result in top 5 performance for that position.  No other team in the AL East has production anywhere near that level.  As long as Wieters' name can be penciled in the lineup, the Orioles will be set.

First Base
There is not a lot to like here.  Chris Davis visually has a lot of offense to offer, but it is primarily limited to the long ball and the whiff.  He simply does not prevent outs and preventing outs by safely hitting the ball or walking is incredibly important.  His defense is poor, but not as poor as Mark Reynolds.  What Davis looks like at the plate is what Reynolds looks like in the field: impressive, but hollow in value.  As such, the two make for a relatively below average first baseman.  Neither are great choices and both as passable.  The O's have a bottom barrel solution here, but it is not much different than what the Rays have in Carlos Pena or how Adrian Gonzalez has done so far this year.  I would expect AGon to improve.  I have my doubts as to whether the Orioles' tandem has a higher gear to shift into.

Second Base
This position is full of nostalgia for the Orioles.  Robert Andino is the Red Sox Killer and Brian Roberts was one of the best 2B in baseball for a decade.  This season has made readily apparent that Andino is a good utility player.  He simply does not have the offensive package to start.  He also does not have the defensive package to make up for his inadequacies on offense.  Full time and he may give you 1 fWAR and this was in no way unexpected.  What was unexpected was Brian Roberts playing baseball.  What was not unexpected was Brian Roberts not playing baseball well.  His range (especially his first step) has greatly collapsed.  Maybe this is him getting back into game shape, but I do not see a lot of promise here.  It has also been impressive to see him get back into hitting the ball, but he simply just does not do that at a MLB level anymore.  This is a major hole in the lineup.

Third Base
The only thing that needs to be said is that platoon DH Wilson Betemit is the starter at third.  This position has been a black hole ever since Melvin Mora became old.

Short Stop
J.J. Hardy is a very good shortstop.  He is a solid second tier guy.  The Orioles probably have the best SS in the AL East, but it is arguable with Yunel Escobar and maybe even the season Mike Aviles is putting together.  I think of the three, Hardy has the best shot of maintaining his production.  Escobar is not far off.

Left Field
Nolan Reimold gave the team some hope, but his body fell apart on him again.  Xavier Avery is trying to show he is more than a fourth outfielder.  This is an area where an improvement would be hepful.

Center Field
Adam Jones is a good offensive oriented center fielder.  The Orioles are set here for a few years.

Right Field
Nick Markakis is the right fielder and that is that.  It may be optimistic to expect him to continue putting up league average numbers.  His wrist injury is something that could sap his already meager power potential.

Starting Pitching
Right now the Orioles' mantra could be "Hammel and Wei Yin and then a monsoon we are a prayin'," which is indeed better than last year's "Rain, rain, every day."  It is uncertain if Oswalt has any interest in coming here, but it would have been nice to add to the starting pitching without depleting an already thin minor league system.  There has also been talk about engaging with the Cubs on either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.  It is unlikely the Orioles have the pieces to grab a top tier pitcher without forking over Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado.

The Orioles have one of the best pens in baseball and have several arms in the minors (and in the MLB rotation) who can help when needed.

As it stands the Orioles need help at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and SP.  Peripherals suggest (WAR and run differential) that the team has been exceptionally lucky and faces a high probability that they will collapse.  To prevent a collapse, two things needs to occur:
(1) The team will need to trade for two or three solid pieces
(2) Internal solutions that are not currently known need to appear
If these two things happen then the team has a legitimate shot of getting one of the two wild cards.  However, does it make sense?

I try to take a three year view of whether or not it makes sense to push for a run.  Bundy and Machado are clearly pieces that will need to be part of a successful team 2-3 years from now.  They cannot be dealt.  A player like Jonathan Schoop would be nice to keep, but is not essential.  The same is true for someone like Nicky Delmonico who may also be a fringe top 100 guy by the end of the year.  If you can deal Schoop and/or Delmonico for a player who is valuable to the team this year, but also further on in the three year window then it makes sense to act on it.  This is particularly true if you can find solutions for 1B, 2B, LF, or SP.  All four of those positions do not have great solutions in the future.  I leave 3B out merely because Machado may be pushed to third or, perhaps, Hardy.  I think the only 3B move that makes sense to me is if you can deal for someone like David Wright.

It has been an enjoyable run, but I just have difficulty is seeing this team being able to sustain it or finding the pieces to make it work.  It is important to simply enjoy the season as it is and really ask nothing in return.  They have done well and there certainly is a lot of fight in this team.  It has been a wonderful season so far.  Maybe they continue to defy common wisdom of peripheral metrics and qualitative measures of player value.

22 June 2012

Just a note....

...to let you know that, yes, I am still alive.  Believe it or not, scouting the 2013 class has already started eating into a ton of my time, but I plan to get back on the proverbial horse and post some stuff here soon.

If you have article recommendations/requests relating to the Orioles draft class, any prospects, or the MLB club, just drop them in the comments section. Otherwise, I'll let my muse (which is my pet name for Jon) be my guide.


17 June 2012

Orioles are rather unique when it comes to double plays

An angle about this weekend series in Atlanta that seems to have missed being discussed is that the Braves and the Orioles represent extremes in one special way: Ground into Double Plays.  The Orioles have had the most GiDPs for most of the season and currently sit at 73, eight ahead of the next hopeful, the Minnesota Twins.  The Braves, on the other hand, seem to be quite adept at avoiding double plays.  By pure count, the Braves are tied with the Red Sox with 40 GiDP for third in MLB.  However, if you calculate the percentage of base runners at first base with less than two outs, the Braves have the leanest GiDP rate in the league.  The following graph illustrates this:

The league average rate is 11.4% of runner on first base with less than two out being involved in a double play.  The Orioles' value for this metric is 15.7%, which is 38% greater than the league average and 2.42 standard deviations away.  The Braves are 23% less likely to ground out in a double play than the league average with a rate of 8.7%.  This story has remained relatively consistent through the first two games of the three game series with the Orioles leading the Braves 5 to 2 in GiDPs.

What is interesting is trying to figure out why the Orioles are much more proficient in inducing these than Atlanta is.  First off, both teams hit about the same amount of ground balls with the Orioles having the 13th highest rate in baseball and the Braves with the 16th highest rate.  If you put any stock in Speed Scores, the Orioles have the least team speed in baseball and the Braves are average.  However, a comparison of speed score with GiDP does not yield much.  For instance, the second slowest team in baseball according to this metric, the Red Sox, have the second lowest GiDP rate.  Fangraphs Base Running metric also does not yield much as the Orioles rate as average and the Braves rate are a fringe first division team on the base paths.

J.J. Hardy has the most GiDPs on the team with 11.  He actually hits fewer ground balls than a league average hitter.  He has always had a variety of players bat in front of him who are not exactly slow (Endy Chavez - 19 times; Nolan Reimold - 14; Robert Andino - 13; Xavier Avery - 11).  Hardy appears to be having bad luck.  He is on pace to shatter his previous mark of 18 GiDP in a season.  I expect him to do better in the future.

The next two players on the Oriole leader list I am less sure about.  Adam Jones is second with 9 GiDPs.  Half of his hit balls are grounders and he has had Hardy and Nick Markakis in front of him (not exactly burners on the base paths).  Third is Andino with 8 GiDPs, which may result from half of his hits being ground balls and having players like Luis Exposito and Chris Davis bat in front of him. 

The Orioles propensity of GiDP may simply be due to lineup construction and the specific attributes of the team's star players.  The Orioles have a number of good players who happen to be unlucky or simply have a greater chance for ground balls.  When this is combined with other good players on the team not having good speed, it can result in a heavy GiDP situation.  The Braves on the other hand have a burner in Michael Bourn and players like Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman, and Brian McCann who simply do not hit ground balls (33%, 35.2%, and 38%). 

06 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft -- Day 2 Review and Shadow Picks

So, Baltimore had an interesting second draft day, though they went about things slightly differently than did Camden Depot in our Shadow Draft. Baltimore stayed fairly balanced throughout the first ten rounds, beginning with hometown selection Branden Kline (pictured, copyright DiamondScape Baseball LLC), a Frederick native who has spent his collegiate career at UVA. The O's followed a more traditional approach to the draft by mixing-in some signability picks with some upside JuCo and high school selections. The net result, in my opinion, is a very solid collection of talent with five of the selections falling outside my evaluative comfort zone.

Our approach centered on an analysis of the draft class up top (players in consideration for selection at 1:4), the number of players we had rated as Day 1 talents but with strong enough college commitments to drop them in the draft, and an estimate as to how many "expensive" selections we might be able to afford (this, in particular, is heavily dependent on what Gausman ultimately signs for). We came out with the general idea that any top tier high school selections would have to be made early and a portion of the top 10 bonus allotment slots (rounds 1 to 10) would need to be inexpensive college seniors that would sign for around or under $100 thousand in order to free up a little more cash. The specific high schoolers available after Round 3 would determine whether we could grab one, two or three solid college picks in the mid-single digits. I'll post a piece tomorrow morning that mirrors this piece, but covers our shadow picks rather than the actual picks discussed below.

Here is a quick set of notes covering Baltimore's actual selections today rounds 2 to 10. We'll have more in-depth reports on these players, and some of those selected in rounds 11 to 40, between this week and next:

2nd Round, Branden Kline (rhp, University of Virginia)
As mentioned in our draft preview piece covering local talents, Kline made the jump from reliever to starter this year.  Prior to 2012, the righty utilized a high-effort but utilitarian wind-up, moving to a crouched set and delivery from the stretch. As is the case with many (most) UVA starters, Kline moved to a crouched approach in his wind-up this year, as well, with mixed results. Kline's low-90s fastball and power slider can miss bats, but his new crouched delivery, married with a high arm slot, regularly drives balls up and out of the zone and makes it difficult to spot his secondaries. If Baltimore is willing to break down and rebuild his mechanics, he has the raw talent to mold into a potential mid-rotation starter. Otherwise, he's likely destined for the pen, where he could top out as an 8th inning guy.

3rd Round, Adrian Marin (ss, Gulliver Prep. School, Miami, Fla.)
Marin, a University of Miami commit, likely profiles best as a second baseman or center fielder due to his straight line foot speed, average arm strength and below-average power.  Marin shows quick hands in the box but puts together inconsistent showings due to some quirks in his swing mechanics, including some dip in his eye level and a top-heavy cut that makes adjust to off-speed problematic at times. He's an excellent student with a chance to play for the hometown 'Canes, so he may require the full slot allotment to sign -- maybe a bit more.

4th Round, Christian Walker (1b, Univ. of South Carolina)
We discussed Walker in the local talents draft piece, as well, noting his slightly undersized stature for a first baseman and an offensive profile that skews hit tool over power. Walker was one of three players Jon identified in his "three outcomes" study for 2012 (if you ask him nicely, I'm sure he'd discuss it in more detail in the comments section or even a separate piece!). We know Walker understands the strikezone well and is battle tested in the SEC. What we don't know is how well his power tool will develop once he makes the switch to wood and starts squaring off against advanced pro pitching. Jon pegged the 4th Round as the target round for Walker, and while I overruled him for purposes of the Depot shadow draft, this is certainly a solid value pick for the veteran Gamecock middle-of-the-order bat.

5th Round, Colin Poche (lhp, Marcus HS (Flower Mound, Texas)
Poche was down in Jupiter last October with the MSL All-Star squad, gaining a degree of notoriety as a draft-eligible lefty that broke the 90-mph barrier. He's the type of recruit you feel good about as a college coach, lacking the "now" profile you expect to be poached by MLB clubs, but showing enough stuff to help you out in relief early on while eventually growing into a weekend starter role. Provided he signs, he could spend the remainder of the summer with the Gulf Coast rookie squad, tackling Aberdeen next year. Poche isn't likely to be a fast mover, there is solid projection in his body and stuff, and providedd a reasonable signing bonus he should be a nice addition to the lower-levels of the system.

6th Round, Lex Rutledge (lhp, Samford Univ.)
Rutledge caught my attention two summers ago as a relief arm invited to partake in the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team Trials. He was eventually cut from the squad before the final roster was set, but had the opportunity in scrimmage action to show a mid-90s fastball that bumped 97 mph and a hard low-80s 1-to-7 curve (which worked as a chase pitch but which he struggled to command). As a starter, Rutledge sees his velo drop to 88-92 mph range, and below-average control and command further complicates his future as a starter.

7th Round, Matt Price (rhp, Univ. of South Carolina)
A former power arm in the Gamecocks pen, Price has seen his velocity drop over the past two seasons, with his fastball generally a low-90s offering at this point that will still scrape 95 mph. He has thrown in many a high leverage situation for the back-to-back defending national champs, though his future at the professional level is more likely to be that of a low-leverage middle-reliever due to his current quality of stuff. His breaker is a tilty slider that can flash bite and counts as his second fringe above-average offering when paired with his fastball.

8th Round, Torsten Boss (3b/of, Michigan St. Univ.)
Boss isn't quite a "toolsy" player, though he flashes five of them throughout his game. While his 15% walk rake and .323/.443/.497 triple slash line (as of mid-May) jump out as impressive, his stats are buoyed by a heavy starter/reliever split, with Boss walking 24% of the time against relievers and triple-slashing .329/.505/.579 vs. an 8% walk rate and .319/.394/.442 triple-slash against starters. He also shows his pop almost exclusively against righties, with just 3 of his 20 extra base hits (as of mid-May) coming against southpaws. Making a name for himself with homers against St. John's Kyle Hansen and Texas A&M's Michael Wacha, Boss otherwise struggled some against elite pitching, striking out 22% of the time against arms that figured to go in the top 10 rounds, as compared to a 15% strikeout rate on the season. He is a coin-flip to stick at third, and should at minimum be able to provide a little bit of versatility between the hot corner and the outfield. 

9th Round, Brady Wagner (rhp, Grand Canyon Coll.)
Wagner, like Rutledge, is a low- to mid-90s power arm with a hard breaking ball a pension for periodic issues finding the strike zone. Also like Rutledge (and Kline), he has experience both in the pen and as a starter. Baltimore could run him out as a starter and see how far some mechanical tweaks can go in helping him to find some more consistency.

10th Round, Joel Hutter (ss, Dallas Baptist Univ.)
What is likely a cost-saving selection, Hutter is a senior middle-infielder with some outfield experience. As a pro, he likely profiles as a tweener without traditional speed for center field and what can be a fringy arm for the left side of the infield. He'll run into some balls at the plate, but profiles generally as a n org guy, offensively, with some swing-and-miss to him.

Camden Depot Shadow Draft selections (Rd 1 - 10)
As noted above, we went aggressive with high schoolers early and determined there to be room for two college juniors before switching over to easier signs (but also guys we liked).  Additionally, we tried to mix-in a local flavor, per directives of the O's front office. Jon lobbied hard for Christian Walker in the 4th, but was overruled due to my insistence on a higher upside high schooler in the first three rounds today.

Rd 1, Kevin Gausman (rhp, Lousiana St. Univ.)
Rd 2, Tanner Rahier (ss, Palm Desert HS, Palm Desert, Calif.)
Rd 3, Avery Romero (ss/3b, Menendez HS, St. Augustine, Fla.)
Rd 4, Ty Buttrey (rhp, Providence HS, Charlotte, N.C.)
Rd 5, Josh Elander (c/of, Texas Christian Univ.)
Rd 6, Lex Rutledge (lhp, Samford Univ.)
Rd 7, Jeremy Rathjen (of, Rice Univ.)
Rd 8 Zach Cooper (rhp, Central Michigan Univ.)
Rd 9, Michael Boyden (rhp, Univ. of Maryland)
Rd 10, Chris Kirsch (rhp, Lackawanna JC, Penn.)

05 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft -- Gausman stats; Day 2 Targets

The Orioles, with the fourth overall selection in this year's first-year player draft (Rule 4), drafted LSU righty Kevin Gausman (pictured right, copyright DiamondScape Baseball LLC).  Gausman was the top rated player in the draft class on our pref list and our "shadow selection" as well, for the O's.  We'll have an in depth report on Gausman later this week, but for this morning let's take a look at some stats that I'm fairly certain you have not yet read. And if you were wondering, yes, that was me on MLB Network clearly visible in the Kevin Gausman video they were running from the LSU/Arkansas game.

All stats from the regular season:
  • Against players that figure to go out in the first ten rounds of the draft, Gausman had a 25% SO-rate, 4% BB-rate and a 19/3 SO/BB-rate.
  • Gausman threw more than 120 pitches in a game just four times this year and never in back-to-back weeks.
  • Gausman logged just 11.1 innings pitched once passing the 100-pitch mark in his starts.
  • 61% of the batters faced by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • 57% of the batters faced on RPI Top 25 teams faced by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • 68% of the batters faced for the third time or more during the same game (3+ times through order) by Gausman either struck out or hit the ball on the ground.
  • Batters in the 1 through 5 slot hit .218 against Gausman.
  • Gausman allowed two homeruns over 100.2 innings pitched, neither with runners on base.
  • Gausman averaged less than four pitches per batter faced (3.7).
  • Gausman had a 26/1 SO/BB-rate facing batters between pitches 76 and 100, and a 1.88 GB/FB-rate during those same at bats.

Gausman video:
From my trip down to Baton Rouge this spring...

Some targets for Day 2:
Here are some players to look at from rounds 2 through 15, which will be covered on Day 2 of the Draft. We'll have a full wrap of Baltimore's selections, and our Shadow Draft picks, tomorrow morning. Happy Draft Day 2!

2nd to 5th rounds
Hunter Virant, lhp, Camarillo HS (Fla.)
Nolan Sanburn, rhp, Arkansas
Mitch Brown, rhp, Century HS (Minn.)
Tanner Rahier, ss, Palm Desert HS
Wyatt Mathison, c, Calallen HS (Texas)
Branden Kline, rhp, Virginia
Ty Buttrey, rhp, Providence HS
Carson Kelly, 3b/rhp, Westview HS
Duane Underwood, rhp, Pope HS (Ga.)
Kenny Diekroeger, 2b/ss, Stanford
Chase DeJong, rhp, Wilson HS (Calif.)
Austin Nola, SS, LSU
Nathan Mikolas, of, Bradford HS (Wisc.)
Christian Walker, 1b, South Carolina
Steven "Paco" Rodriguez, lhp, Florida
Austin Maddox, rhp, Florida

Mikey White, of/2b, Spain Park HS (Ala.)
Barrett Astin, rhp, Arkansas
Edwin Diaz, rhp, Naguabo HS (P.R.)
Lex Rutledge, lhp, Samford Univ.

6th to 15th rounds
Ross Stripling, rhp, Texas A&M
Kevin Ross, Niles West HS (Ill.)
Jeremy Rathjen, of, Rice
Dylan Floro, rhp, Fullerton
Hudson Randall, rhp, Florida
Bralin Jackson, of, Raytown South HS (Mo.)
Josh Conway, rhp, Coastal Carolina
Christian Jones, lhp, Oregon
Hoby Milner, rhp, Texas
Kevin Brady, rhp, Clemson
Xavier Turner, of, Sandusky HS (Ohio)
Blake Brown, of, Missouri
Eric Semmelhack, rhp, UW-Milwaukee
Ryan Ripken, 1b, Gilman Academy (Baltimore, Md.)

04 June 2012

2012 MLB Draft - 1st Round Post

We will be using this entry to serve as our focal point for discussing the draft and, in particular, the Orioles' selection.

Our top five for the draft is:
1. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
2. Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
3. Carlos Correa, ss/3b, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
4. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
5. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)

Let's have some fun!

Update: Follow me and Nick on twitter.

Orioles Real Draft: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
Orioles Shadow: Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU


Comparison of Draft Talent: 2008 - 2012

Each year there is often a comparison of how this year's draft class matches last year's or some other time before.  Nick Faleris has provided me with a product from his draft notes comparing the players draft day grade versus each other.  For instance, Tyler Matzek's 2009 ranking is based on what it was in June 2009, not what it is now in June 2012.  Below are listed 50 prospects.  The 2011 draft has the most with 15 players on the list while 2008 has 6.  2012 compares favorably with 2009's group.  2012 does not have the elite name like Strasburg, but it does have a pretty solid top 7.

Overall 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Stephen Strasburg


Bryce Harper


Anthony Rendon

Gerrit Cole
5 Buster Posey


Jameson Taillon


Bubba Starling

Kevin Gausman

Sonny Gray
Tyler Matzek


Dyland Bundy

Karsten Whitson


Albert Almora

Blake Swihart

Carlos Correa
16 Pedro Alvarez


Mark Appel
Donovan Tate

Zack Wheeler


Daniel Norris

Taylor Jungman

Francisco Lindor

Byron Buxton
24 Tim Beckham


Archie Bradley
26 Brian Matusz


Chris Sale


Matt Harvey


Nick Castellanos


Max Fried

Kyle Zimmer

Jed Bradley

Danny Hultzen 

Trevor Bauer

Zach Cox

36 Justin Smoak


Lucas Giolito
38 Aaron Crow

Alex White


Mike Zunino

Christian Colon


Deck McGuire


Manny Machado


Brandon Workma


Drew Pomeranz

Aaron Crow 


Marcus Stroman
Shelby Miller


Matt Barnes

Jose Fernandez

03 June 2012

Duquette wants to draft local? A list of local players for the 2012 Draft

Last fall, Dan Duquette mentioned that he had interest in building the team up with some local scouting.  The mid-Atlantic is not a hot bed of baseball prospects, but there are some interesting players from the area who are likely to be drafted.  I utilized Baseball America as a source for compiling the names and Nick has supplemented with comments below.

Jamie Jarmon, OF, Indian River HS
Raw and athletic. Two sport player who lacks baseball experience. Ticketed for back-to-back defending national champs South Carolina as a part of a strong recruiting class that includes Ryan Ripken (son of Cal).

Kevin Brady, RHP Clemson
Brady was an intriguing arm a couple years back coming out of Gaithersberg. After struggling with injuries throughout his career at Clemson, Brady may profile best as a reliever in spite of a workhorse body and three usuable pitches. His fastball plays to the mid-90s in shorter stints.

Josh Conway, RHP Coastal Carolina
Conway played HS ball at Smithsburg HS.  He will have to recover from Tommy John surgery before beginning his career.  Before the injury, he showed a mid-90s fastball and an above average slider. He is almost certainly a reliever as a pro, and a likely sign considering the timing of his injury.

New Jersey
Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth
Light was drafted late when he came out of Christian Brothers Academy.  He now figures to be a top three round pick.  Light utilizes a plus to plus-plus fastball, which he commands fairly well. Both his change-up and slider are workable pitches, though he gets a lot of value out of his slider off the merit of hitters chasing out of the zone. If he can't harness that pitch, he figures to ultimately land in the bullpen where his stuff should compare favorably with Andrew Miller.

Patrick Kivlehan, 3B, Rutgers 
After devoting four seasons to Rutgers football, Kivlehan gave baseball a shot and wound up taking the triple crown in the Big East.  He profiles as an outfielder as a pro, depsite playing third at Rutgers.  There is a chance for some above-average pop, though he has yet to be tested against advanced pitches or with wood.

Jared Price, RHP, Twin Valley HS
Price throws a high 80s-low 90s fastball and shows some handle for a curveball.  Inconsistent performance, a less-than-ideal frame, and limitations on spending this year under the new CBA will likely send Price to college (Maryland commit).

Joe DeCarlo, 3B, Garnet Valley HS
DeCarlo put on a show with the Midland Redskins down in Jupiter last fall, fixing his name prominently on the follow-lists of local area scouts.  His calling card is strength (with the arm and with the bat), but he is easily a potential above-average defender at third with good hands and excellent reactions (helping to negate his below-average footspeed.  If he's not signable in the 3rd to 6th round, he'll head to Georgia where he could develop into a top 100 prospect by 2015.

Chris Kirsch, LHP, Lackawanna JC
Kirsch is somewhat comparable to Texas prospect, and former Missouri Tiger, Nick Tepesch.  He is an intriguing prospect for scouts due to his four average pitches (fastball, curve, slider, and change) and solid frame, but area scouts come away from him questioning his desire to make the jump to pro ball. Since turning pro, Tepesch has alleviated those concerns and proven a potential steal as a double-digit pick.  Kirsch has the same potential, and could come off the board much earlier if he's willing to sign.

Christian Walker, 1B, South Carolina
Walker originally hails from Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic HS. He also is a player that was identified by my three trait criteria (contact, power, and strike zone judgement).  He is a good hitter with fringy power for a first baseman, and lacks ideal size for the position (though he handles the three-spot well).  He compares favorably to former Oriole and current Ranger Brandon Snyder (whose brother, Matt, is draft eligible this year out of Ole Miss).

Eddie Butler, RHP, Radford
Butler lacks physicality and a consistent average pitch to pair with his above-average to plus fastball. The type of player that area scouts love to push as potential starters, reality most likely places Butler in the pen where he could grow into a groundball specialist.

Branden Kline, RHP, Virgina
Kline graduated from Thomas Johnson High School in 2009 and was a 6th-round selection by the Red Sox.  After showing promise out of the pen through his first two years at UVA, as well as this past summer with Team USA, Kline made the conversion to start in 2012.  He is a power arm with a lot going for him, including the ability to spin a plus slider and a long and lean frame scouts love to see. Unfortunately, he loses a lot of the benefits of that frame due to his crouched delivery and arm slot. A team with the patience to completely break him down and build him back up could get a mid-rotation starter for their efforts. He has the mental make-up to pitch in high-leverage situations out of the pen.

Damion Carroll, RHP, King George HS
Not scouted by Nick.  Low-90s fastball, reliever projection, per Baseball America.

Chris Taylor, SS, Virgina
Taylor is unlikely to hit enough to fill a regular spot on a Major League roster, though his versatility, speed, and soft hands could help him carve out a career as a utility option.  He should go somewhere in the late single-digits as a signable up-the-middle player with good feel for the game.

Steve Bruno, SS/3B, Virgina
Bruno profiles similar offensively to current Orioles prospect and former UVA middle-infielder Greg Miclat as a gap-to-gap bat with little in the way of power but a solid ability to find the ball with the barrel.  He lacks Miclat's speed and feel on the bases, but provides some value as a glove that fits all around the infield. He should come off the board after teammate Taylor could provide solid value as an organizational player with an outside shot at some value as an up-and-down utility play.

Blake Hauser, RHP, Virginia Commonwealth
A graduate from Manchester HS, Hauser shows a low-90s fastball and low-80s slider as his two-pitch combo.  He's a potential middle-reliever at the next level and could come off the board relatively early on Day 2 (Rounds 2-15) to a team looking to save some money.

Jack Wynkoop, LHP, Cape Henry HS, Virginia Beach
While a pitcher rather than a first baseman, Wynkoop shares Ryan Ripken's profile as a lanky and projectable South Carolina commit that could grow into a top draft talent with continued maturation and improvement in body control.  Right now, Wynkoop probably isn't ready for pro ball given his below-average velocity and limited secondary repertoire. As a pro he likely would be limited to multiple seasons in instruction and rookie ball. At SC, he will get a chance to grow in one of the top programs in the country with a prominent stage in the SEC to display his progress to pro scouts.

Josh Sborz, RHP, McLean HS
Sborz put together a nice start for Canes Baseball down in Jupiter, showcasing an upper-80s fastball bumping the low-90s and solid feel for a change-up and a mid-70s curve with 11-to-5 break.  This spring he showed much of the same, lining him up for a 3rd to 5th Round valuation on talent, and likely lower valuation when signability is taken into account.  If he heads to school at UVA he could develop into an early-round arm, and should also get the opportunity to swing the bat some and potentially log time at first base.

RC Orlan, LHP, North Carolina  
A graduate from Deep Run HS, Orlan is a potential lefty specialist with a below-average fastball that plays up due to his ability to create angles.  He may need to focus on his out-of-zone command, as pro hitters will have less trouble squaring-up his fringy pure stuff pounding the zone.

West Virginia
Korey Dunbar, C, Nitro HS
Not scouted by Nick: UNC commit.