Live Blogging the 2006 MLB Draft
Jim Callis of Baseball America believes the Kansas City Royals will take former Tennessee ace Luke Hochevar with the first pick in the draft. If so, it would be apparent that the team has reached a pre-draft agreement with agent Scott Boras. Hochevar was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers last year and agreed to a $2.98 million signing bonus before reneging on that deal. An amount in excess of $3 million but less than the $5 million that other #1 choices have demanded in the past is probably in the cards. Let's call it $4 million, which is still below what Boras was seeking a year ago for his client.
1. Kansas City Royals: Luke Hochevar, RHP (Fort Worth)
A top prospect in last year's draft, it was a surprise when Luke Hochevar slipped on draft day to the 40th pick, belonging to the Dodgers. Our own Rich Lederer wrote his capsule:
...Hochevar's outing on Friday didn't raise his stature in the draft. He worked eight innings and gave up five runs on nine hits while recording nine strikeouts and four walks. However, prior to that, he was considered one of the top two starters in the draft (along with Mike Pelfrey).
No, ladies and gentleman, Rich has not edited that last sentence in the last 365 days. The three million dollar bonus that Rich suggested proved to be the dividing line between the two sides, as Hochevar reneged after agreeing to a $2.98M contract.
Since then, thanks to Kent Bonham, we have learned that Hochevar may have been statistically overrated last year. His final junior stat line offers an ERA of 2.26, a number aided by context. Remove defense from the equation, and Hochevar's ERA slips to 3.69, without his park and schedule, just 3.97. Suddenly the Dodgers unwavering offer doesn't look so bad, does it?
Hochevar proved a lot with his stint in Indy ball, showing the same arm strength, and just a little less polish than his previous self. Given a year off to rest his once over-worked arm, this is forgivable.
At any spot in the top ten, Hochevar is simply a reach, lucky to have his hold-out gamble pay off. In truth he is a pitcher that belongs from 10-20 in the draft, garnering little more than slot from that position. Given his flakiness in the past, the bang is just not worth the buck with Hochevar.
2. Colorado Rockies: Greg Reynolds, RHP (Stanford)
Not one of my partner Bryan's favorite prospects, Reynolds flew up the draft boards by beating fellow Pac-10 stars Lincecum and Morrow late in the regular season and then North Carolina State in the opening game of the Texas Regional last Friday. He has pitched five complete games in his last six starts and will be extending his season when he faces the Beavers once again in the Oregon State Super Regional this weekend.
Reynolds has the size (6-7, 225) and excellent command of a fastball that sits in the low-90s, as well as a curveball that impressed me when I had the opportunity to watch his last start on TV. He throws strikes but has never been one to punch out very many hitters, as evidenced by a mediocre K/9 rate in college and in the Cape Cod League the past two summers.
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Evan Longoria, 3B (Long Beach State)
Longoria slips past the Rockies and into the laps of the Devil Rays. The Cape Cod MVP last summer follows in the footsteps of Bobby Crosby and Troy Tulowitzki as the third Dirtbag infielder selected in the first round of the draft in the past six years.
Here is my scouting report from early February after watching him over a three-game weekend vs. USC:
Second-year transfer from Rio Hondo JC...Named the Cape Cod MVP after leading the league in homers (8), RBI (35), and SLG (.500) and a first team Summer All-American by Baseball America...Can play 3B, SS, or 2B...Adequate defensively...Slightly open stance with left heel off the ground...Steps into ball as it is pitched...Drives ball to all fields...Hit a long flyout that was held up by the thick air in the first inning on Friday against Kennedy...Tattooed a line drive past a diving CF for a triple in the fourth inning vs. the USC ace...Runs well for his size and is a good baserunner...Rated as the 10th-best prospect by Baseball America and is a lock to be one of the first position players drafted in June.
Longoria should fit in well with Tampa Bay's youth movement. Although some have likened him to Aaron Hill and others to Chase Utley, I think he profiles a bit like Ryan Zimmerman. At 6-2, 213 pounds, Longoria's build is similar to Zimmerman's. They both exhibit line-drive power, capable of hitting .280-.300 with 20 or more home runs. Longoria may not make quite the rush to the majors as Zimmerman did last year but could find himself in the Show at some point in 2007.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Brad Lincoln, RHP (Houston)
An outstanding two-way player in college, Lincoln will undoubtedly earn his keep as a pitcher at the next level. One of the many "undersized" RHP in the draft, the hard-throwing Cougar has displayed excellent command of his fastball and secondary pitches and could work his way through the minors rather quickly.
5. Seattle Mariners: Brandon Morrow, RHP (California)
After a 9.36 ERA in his sophomore season, Brandon Morrow had worked his way off a lot of follow lists. However, like so many prospects before him, Morrow was a Cape Cod League darling, quite possibly the league's best 2006 success story. Pitching in relief, Morrow dominated, striking out 24 batters in 14.2 innings, flashing a good fastball and plus splitter. Reservations about his control and starting potential carried into this spring, and were for the most part, quenched by his great 2006. The right hander continued to be near unhittable, allowing just 72 knocks in 96.2 innings.
The biggest question surrounding the live arm is his ability to control the fastball, a weakness that seems to come and go with each outing. With good control Morrow might be the best arm in this draft, a player that held postseason teams UCLA, UC Irvine and Stanford to just five runs in 22.2 innings, striking out 27. But in other starts, he's off, letting bad command get to him on the mound. However, many believe Morrow's strength is his ability to be effectively wild - in his two starts while allowing six walks, Morrow didn't allow an earned run over 12 innings.
Whether his future lies in a rotation or a bullpen, there is a future for Brandon Morrow. This kind of arm strength is rarely wasted too long in the minor leagues.
Note: As reported by Baseball America, no high school player was taken in the top five picks for the first time since 1992 when Derek Jeter went sixth.
6. Detroit Tigers: Andrew Miller, LHP (North Carolina)
I saw Miller's last start, his regional appearance against Winthrop, and this is the best attempt at a scouting report that I could muster:
Miller's length comes across as soon as he walks towards the mound; his frame is all arms and legs. The length allows for very good extension in his delivery, which helps produce a 91-93 mph four seam fastball that touched 95 mph in the first inning. His frame is so wiry that the naked eye guesses it could add 25-30 pounds, maybe more; Miller's success could greatly depend upon his workroom ethic. The slider is as every bit as good as advertised, a pitch impossible for left-handed hitters to hit. Miller knows this, and goes to it early and often during at-bats against LHB. Some question his ability to stay in a rotation without a third pitch, but his two-seamer plays the part of a change up, working in the high 80s. While the pitch doesn't offer the velocity difference that a true FB-CU combo would, the two-seamer's heavy action makes it a difficult pitch to adjust to.
Andrew did not pitch great against Winthrop, allowing four runs in eight innings of work. But scouting is done between the lines, and the gray area is where Miller thrives. Comparisons have been thrown out all over the place, and Miller's career has been written up as both a starter and a reliever.
I was always a believer in Andrew Miller, a proponent of his since he was a sophomore. On Saturday, I found out first-hand why. Truly, no one in this draft offers more potential.
Kershaw was the first high school player chosen in this year's draft. Highly coveted by the Dodgers, he got past the Tigers because Andrew Miller was still available when Detroit's turn came up. The 6-4, 215-pound LHP had a 13-0 record with a 0.77 ERA in his senior season. He has reportedly touched the mid-90s with his fastball and has a plus curveball. Improved mechanics have contributed to better command. Given his height, handedness, stuff, and track record, Kershaw has one of the highest ceilings among all draftees.
8. Cincinnati Reds: Drew Stubbs, OF (Texas)
Stubbs has been associated with the "Can He Hit?" question since people have ranked the 2006 draft-eligible players. However, from a facts perspective, he has *never not* hit. As a freshman, at one of the country's largest programs, Stubbs earned an everyday spot. He was one of the better players on a 2005 club that won the national title, drawing rave reviews for his defense in center. The College World Series proved Stubbs to be a freak athlete - and freak athletes with contact problems draw an unfortunate group of comps.
Last summer, Stubbs hit well with wood, hitting .304 for the USA Baseball National team. And this year, given the role of leading the Texas attack, Stubbs thrived, coming to play on every day of the week. There are serious contact problems, yes, but Stubbs skillset counteracts that. His speed and power should yield higher BABIP rates than than most players, meaning we don't have to write him off as Torii Hunter just yet (how many can say that?).
If all else fails, Stubbs will sit on a Major League bench, able to play all three OF positions, and able to steal a base, hit a home run and draw a walk at will. If all goes well, he is the best position player eligible to be drafted.
Rowell was the first high school position player drafted this year. He played shortstop in high school but projects as a third baseman in the pros. The left-handed-hitting Rowell, known to have "middle of the lineup power," set the school's career home run record during his junior season and hit .557 with six home runs as a senior.
According to mlb.com, the Orioles expect that he will sign quickly and play with one of the team's short-season affiliates this year.
10. San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum, RHP (Washington)
Lincecum is the Giants' first pick in the opening round since 2002 when they took another power pitcher in Matt Cain. The Husky went 12-4 with a 1.94 ERA while leading all Division I pitchers with 199 strikeouts.
I watched Lincecum when he faced USC on April 21. I charted his pitches, talked to scouts, and reported my findings here.
Lincecum's stuff is as good as or better than any college pitcher in the draft. He throws a mid-90s fastball and an outstanding curve. A veteran scout that I spoke to rated Lincecum's fastball as a 7 (on the 1-8 scale the team uses) or a 70 (on the more traditional 20-80 range). He called Lincecum's curve and change-up a 6 and his pitchability a 65.
Many analysts have suggested that Lincecum could make it to the majors this year as a reliever, but let's not forget how many pitches this workhorse has already thrown since the beginning of February. I wouldn't be inclined to rush Lincecum and would like to see him given a chance to become a starter in the professional ranks first. If it doesn't work out, then go ahead and convert him into a Scot Schields-type relief pitcher.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks: Max Scherzer (RHP, Missouri)
12. Texas Rangers: Kasey Kiker, LHP (H.S./Phenix City, Ala.)
13. Chicago Cubs: Tyler Colvin, LF (Clemson)
John Manuel of Baseball America called this pick "the biggest shock of the first half of the first round." His physical tools (6-3, 190 pounds with good speed as evidenced by stealing 23 bases in 27 attempts) and stats (.359-12-65 with a .622 SLG) while playing for one of the best teams in college baseball would suggest this selection may not be such a reach after all. Cubs fans will get a chance to see their #1 pick this weekend as Clemson hosts Oral Roberts in one of the eight Super Regionals.
14. Toronto Blue Jays: Travis Snider, OF (H.S./Everett, Wash.)
Toronto reverses its recent course of taking college players in the first round by taking the player Baseball America ranked as the "Best Pure Hitter" among high school eligible draftees.
15. Washington Nationals: Chris Marrero, 3b (H.S./Miami)
16. Milwaukee Brewers: Jeremy Jeffress, RHP (H.S./South Boston, Va.)
17. San Diego Padres: Matt Antonelli, 3B (Wake Forest)
We should feel lucky, as baseball fans, that Antonelli picked our sport. He certainly didn't have to. As a senior in high school, Antonelli was a three-sport star, or more specifically, the three sport star. Antonelli was named the state's best player in both football and hockey. The baseball award went to Jeff Allison, with Antonelli landing a close second.
But, he chose baseball. Scouts watched Antonelli for two years thanks to such plus athleticism, witnessing a solid if unspectacular collegiate campaign. In his second summer at the Cape, Antonelli began to draw more notice, despite a lackluster .267/.361/.330 line. His success post-Cape is one of the best data points to support the notion that true offensive Cape success stands around the .700 OPS line.
Before this spring, scouts wondered if Antonelli could hit for power. So, he doubled his previous career high home run total, slugging .584. They doubted his ability to hit good pitching, but he was one of the draft's best on Friday nights. And, of course, Antonelli showed versatility, patience and speed; playing 2B in addition to 3B, drawing 39 walks, and going 15-for-18 on the bases.
If you prefer a draft-for-the-stars approach in the first round, Antonelli is not your guy. But he does a little for everything, and his versatility will lend a future somewhere.
18. Philadelphia Phillies (for Billy Wagner): Kyle Drabek, RHP/SS (H.S./The Woodlands, Texas)
Makeup, makeup, makeup. Drabek is a top ten talent but a fiery temper and off-the-field issues dropped him to #18. The son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug projects as a pitcher although he has the tools to hit and field at the pro level. His fastball has been known to reach the upper-90s and his power curve ranks among the very best in the draft.
19. Florida Marlins: Brett Sinkbeil, RHP (Missouri State)
20. Minnesota Twins: Chris Parmelee, OF/1B (H.S./Chino Hills, Calif.)
Baseball America listed Parmalee as the high schooler with the "Best Strike-Zone Judgment" and the second "Best Pure Hitter."
21. New York Yankees (for Tom Gordon): Ian Kennedy, RHP (USC)
Here is my scouting report on Kennedy as written in early February. I have seen him pitch several times while at USC, including an outing vs. the University of Washington that I charted pitch-by-pitch.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Trojans Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, and Mark Prior...Consensus All-American...Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year...Two-time pitcher for Team USA...Although stuff is no better than average for a major league hurler, the right-hander exhibits outstanding command of four pitches...Fastball ranged from 89-91 all night...Throws strikes and changes speed...His stretch position is similar to Mike Mussina...Top ten draft pick unless his advisor and soon-to-be agent Scott Boras scares off potential suitors.
Kennedy's stock fell this year, owing to a disappointing junior season. Agreeing to terms with agent Scott Boras could prove troublesome. If and when Kennedy signs--and for how much--should prove to be one of the more interesting post-draft stories.
22. Washington Nationals (for Esteban Loaiza): Colton Willems, RHP (H.S./Fort Pierce, Fla.)
23. Houston Astros: Max Sapp, C (H.S./Windermere, Fla.)
24. Atlanta Braves: Cody Johnson, 1B (H.S./Panama City, Fla.)
25. Los Angeles Angels (for Paul Byrd): Hank Conger, C (H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.)
26. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bryan Morris, RHP (Motlow State CC, Tenn.)
Callis correctly tabbed this pick in his Tuesday morning mock draft (although he later moved him all the way up to the Dodgers' first pick at #7). Morris may not be as well known as many college pitchers because he played for a community college in Tennessee. However, he earned Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year honors while fashioning a 10-1 record with a 0.82 ERA, which included a no-hitter vs. Southwest Tennessee and a four-hit, complete-game shutout with 14 strikeouts vs. Hiwasee in the playoffs.
Morris is my type of pitcher. The 6-3, 200-pound RHP has a plus fastball and a power curve. Moreover, the freshman recorded 122 Ks in 88 IP (12.48 K/9) and induced nine groundouts (and only two flyouts) in that Hiwasee shutout last month. He was drafted in the third round by the Devil Rays out of high school last June. The two sides supposedly agreed on a $1.3 million bonus that greatly exceeded the slot money, but the deal was never consummated due to an inability on the part of ownership to pull the trigger. Morris chose to attend Motlow State and join his Dad, who is the assistant coach, for one year.
Without seeing him pitch before, I'm still going to give Logan White a big thumbs up on this draft pick.
27. Boston Red Sox: Jason Place, OF (H.S./Easley, S.C.)
28. Boston Red Sox (for Johnny Damon): Daniel Bard, RHP (North Carolina)
There seem to be two camps regarding Daniel Bard entering the draft: the apologists and the critics. Both sides have valiant arguments, and at times this season, I have audibly been on either side.
From a statistical standpoint, it is easy to be critical of Bard. Mixed in with great performances as a freshman and in his 2005 summer are disappointing sophomore and junior caimpaigns. Bard became the poster boy of inconsistency this season, and was not able to turn around his aptitude for the big inning. His context was a wash; his AdjDERA equivalent to his season ERA. Bard has a good arm and offers a lot of upside, but he doesn't profile as a top 15 pick.
That's one side. The other is far more focused on his freshman year, and really points to last year's Cape: 82 strikeouts in 65 innings. Scouts often stand on this side, enamored with the ease of Bard's delivery. In his regional start, Bard sat at 93-96 mph, and seemingly recorded a ground ball out at will. His slider comes in at the low 80s, and is a pretty devastating second pitch. He uses a third pitch, a mid 80s change, more than most of these high level players use their "third pitch."
John Manuel of Baseball America recently compared Bard's season to that of Justin Verlander as a college junior; an inconsistent spring unable to meet summer's expectations. But scouts across the nation know that Bard, the type that looks like a future workhorse, has the stuff to belong in the top 10. I agree.
29. Chicago White Sox: Kyle McCulloch, RHP (Texas)
30. St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Ottavino, RHP (Northeastern)
Note: 15 college players, 13 high schoolers, 1 JC, and 1 Indy Leaguer were taken in the first round.
Yes, Preston is Don's son. He's a 6-3, 205-pound shortstop out of Evansville Central HS in Indiana. A three-sport star, Mattingly earned All-State honors with the football and basketball teams. He signed a national letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Tennessee. Look for the younger Mattingly to forsake college for the riches of professional ball.
32. Baltimore Orioles (for B.J. Ryan): Pedro Beato, RHP (JC/St. Petersburg, Fla.)
33. San Francisco Giants (for Scott Eyre): Emmanuel Burriss, SS (Kent St.)
34. Arizona Diamondbacks (for Tim Worrell): Brooks Brown, RHP (Georgia)
35. San Diego Padres (for Ramon Hernandez): Kyler Burke, OF/LHP
36. Florida Marlins (for A.J. Burnett): Chris Coghlan, 3B (Mississippi)
38. Atlanta Braves (for Kyle Farnsworth): Cory Rasmus, RHP/SS (H.S./Seale, Ala.)
Cory's brother Colby was taken by the Cardinals in the 28th spot last year. A two-way player, he projects more as a pitcher than as an infielder. The stigma of six-foot-and-under RHP has apparently been overcome this year with Rasmus, Lincoln, Lincecum, Drabek, and Jeffress all getting first and supplemental round attention despite their lack of height.
39. Cleveland Indians (for Bob Howry): David Huff, LHP (UCLA)
I scouted Huff when he pitched against Miami back in February. He is a finesse pitcher, working in the high-80s. His fastball did not touch 90 that day but hit 89 on at least three occasions. The lefty throws a slow curve in the low-70s and a somewhat harder curve/slider that was consistently at 78-79 that afternoon. He will need to locate his fastball and change speeds to keep batters off balance in order to succeed at the big-league level.
40. Boston Red Sox (for Johnny Damon): Kris Johnson, LHP (Wichita State)
41. New York Yankees (for Tom Gordon): Joba Chamberlain, RHP (Nebraska)
42. St. Louis Cardinals (for Matt Morris): Chris Perez, RHP (Miami)
43. Atlanta Braves (for Rafael Furcal): Steve Evarts, LHP (H.S./Tampa, Fla.)
Atlanta stayed the course of previous drafts by selecting its third high school player out of the southeast. Cody Johnson (#24), Cory Rasmus (#38), and Evarts (#43) give the Braves three more kids to put into its pipeline of young talent.
44. Boston Red Sox (for Bill Mueller): Caleb Clay, RHP (H.S./Cullman, Ala.)
Note: 7 college players, 6 high schoolers, and 1 JuCo were taken in the supplemental round.
5:35 p.m. - With allowance for last second adjustments, Callis correctly projected seven of the top ten picks. He dialed the first 18 selections last year. Baseball America's draft guru had Kershaw going to Detroit in the 6th hole (although parenthetically added that "this is the first possible stop for Andrew Miller, too"), which led to the wrong choice by the Dodgers. To Jim's credit, he figured L.A. would nab Morris with their first pick when, in fact, they lucked out and took him their second pick and the 26th overall.
7:32 p.m. - The first day of the draft has concluded. The draft will resume tomorrow with the 19th round. Be sure to check back later today and tomorrow for more updates and comments.
A few of Rich's quick takes in the aftermath of the first day:
STL: The Cardinals certainly drafted a lot of big-name college players in Perez, Jay, Hamilton, Degerman, Robinson, and Erickson. Ottavino's size and strikeout rates are intriguing. Not sure how much he was tested at Northeastern though.
I saw Jay when Miami was out here (vs. UCLA) and wasn't impressed. He has what I would term a poor stance with a very "handsy" approach. He starts with his hands held above his head, then drops them into the slot before raising them as the ball is pitched. Unless Jay makes adjustments, I would think pitchers could get him out with hard stuff high and tight.
With respect to Degerman, his stats (12-1, 1.67 with 150 strikeouts in 113 innings) should be enough to impress me, but I can't get past his highly unorthodox mechanics. My eyes almost popped out of my sockets when I saw him pitch on TV this past weekend. Sure, he pitched well, but mark me as a skeptic. His straight-over-the-top delivery doesn't appear sustainable to me and his diving curveball may not be as effective with a different arm slot.
ARI: I'm not particularly high on Buck (OK, I flat out don't like him), but I like the team's first three pitchers (Scherzer, Brown, and Anderson). If the D-Backs can sign all three, I think we will look back in time and applaud their 2006 draft. I also became a Hankerd believer when I saw him play three games vs. LBSU in February. He also showed up well on Kent Bonham's list of hitters.
Here is my scouting report on the USC left fielder:
Drafted in the 45th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2003...Broke out last summer in the New England Collegiate League, hitting .383 with nine HR and 36 RBI (two short of winning a triple crown)...Big, strong kid...Keeps weight back with left heel off the ground...Lifts front foot straight up...Slight uppercut swing...Hits the ball hard and usually in the air...Outfield defense is plenty good enough...Made three spectacular catches, including diving grabs to his left and right plus a running catch going back and toward the line in left field...Also threw out a runner trying to score on a single from second base with two outs with a one-hop strike to the catcher...Should be moving up draft boards as the spring progresses.
CLE: Given the lack of a first round pick, the Indians fared quite well in my judgment. Huff, Wright, Rodriguez, and Hodges comprise a formidable foursome. Although Davis might be more of a name than anything else, he seems like a worthwhile pick at 101. That said, I may have taken CSUF's Blake Davis before Adam. If healthy, Rustich, the big UCLA relief pitcher, could be a steal at 401.
PIT: I would give the Pirates a strong "B" this year. Lincoln alone makes for a good draft. Felix is a favorite of those who paid attention to Kent Bonham's work on pitchers. Don't know what to make of Hughes after watching him pitch all year. He was up and down and may lack the mental toughness one would like to see. Negrych's upside may not be all that great, but neither did he cost them much as a sixth rounder.