Weekend BlogMay 19, 2007
Talkin' Drafts
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

  • Every year right after the MLB amateur draft, I make a mock draft to test myself on my drafting skills (ie. dumb luck). It's more for fun than anything else and it's interesting to look back after a couple of years to see how I did compared to "the pros."

    I always have a pretty good idea of what players I want to take in what round before the real draft occurs, but I always wait to draft my players until after to make sure I don't significantly over or under-draft a player. I also never take one of the Top 10 players chosen.

    Let's take a look back at my last four drafts (tables include what round I picked them in, their name, the team that actually drafted them and where they were really drafted):

    1.  Chad Billingsley  Los Angeles (NL)  24th overall
    1S. Anthony Gwynn     Milwaukee         2nd round
    2.  James D'Antona    Arizona           2nd round 
    3.  Tim Moss          Philadelphia      3rd round
    4.  Tony Richie       Chicago (NL)      4th round
    5.  David Marchbanks  Florida           7th round

    Chad Billingsley is a pick I am still elated about and, at the time, I was torn between drafting the Angels' Brandon Wood or the Dodgers' right-hander. I can't say I'm pleased with the way the Dodgers have handled Billingsley, but he still has the stuff to be a star in the starting rotation. The walks are worrisome though (69 in 111 career MLB innings).

    Anthony Gwynn, son of Padres star Tony, has the chance to be an average starting center fielder or a very good fourth outfielder. James D'Antona has really turned his career around as of late after struggling in his first three pro seasons and could contribute in Arizona at some point this year. Tim Moss was released by Philly earlier this season, Tony Richie has struggled with injuries and David Marchbanks was last seen in the independent leagues.

    Grade: B

    1.  Taylor Tankersley  Florida       27th overall
    1S. Jay Rainville      Minnesota     39th overall
    2.  Eric Beattie       Detroit       2nd round
    3.  Mark Reed          Chicago (NL)  3rd round
    4.  Josh Baker         Milwaukee     4th round
    5.  Brad McCann        Florida       6th round

    Taylor Tankersley hasn't been as impressive as I thought he would be in pro ball, but he is still a key part of the Marlins' bullpen. I liked Jay Rainville more than Homer Bailey mainly because Bailey has no interest in baseball whatsoever when he's not on the diamond (it's just a job to him) so I thought that could keep him from reaching his potential. Rainville has struggled with injuries and missed all of 2006.

    Eric Beattie came down with Steve Blass disease and has walked 17 batters in nine A-Ball innings this season. I was really excited about catcher Mark Reed (brother of Seattle's Jeremy) but he has developed young catchers syndrome and has stalled in the low minors. Josh Baker was the forgotten man in the Rice University rotation behind Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend, and Phil Humber but he had a solid college career. His pro career, like his former teammates, has been slowed by injuries. Brad McCann, older brother of Brian, has stalled in High A-Ball with Florida.

    Grade: C-

    1.  Cesar Carrillo  San Diego   18th overall
    1S. Michael Bowden  Boston      47th overall
    2.  Daniel Carte    Colorado    2nd round
    3.  Nick Weglarz    Cleveland   3rd round
    4.  Kevin Whelan    Detroit     4th round
    5.  James Avery     Cincinnati  5th round

    The dreaded Tommy John surgery struck Cesar Carrillo, who was dominating the minors before his elbow problems. Michael Bowden has looked very good in a hitter's haven in Lancaster this season. He should develop into a solid No. 3 starter, or perhaps even a No. 2 and was a steal at the 47th pick. Daniel Carte is looking like a fourth outfielder or 'AAAA' player. Raw Canadian Nick Weglarz still has a long way to go but he's young and has power potential. Kevin Whelan helped Detroit obtain Gary Sheffield from New York and looks like a future set-up man in the majors. Another Canadian - James Avery - is looking solid in Double-A for Cincinnati.

    Grade: B-

    1.  Kasey Kiker     Texas          12th overall
    1S. Steve Evarts    Atlanta        43rd overall
    2.  Brett Anderson  Arizona        2nd round
    3.  Chad Tracy      Texas          3rd round
    4.  Garrett Olson   Minnesota      4th round
    5.  Mark Melancon   New York (AL)  9th round 

    It's too early to really comment on this draft, although I am not overly happy with my first round pick. I wanted Billy Rowell, but he was grabbed with the ninth pick by Baltimore. I was then torn between Pedro Beato, Adrian Cardenas, and Kasey Kiker. I had been hoping for a prep hitter or a college pitcher, but I didn't like any of the available players. I felt really nervous about taking three high school pitchers with my first three picks... I guess I've been watching Jays' general manager J.P. Ricciardi for too long.

    Steve Evarts has some make-up issues that worry me, but Brett Anderson has been very good in A-Ball. I love Chad Tracy's offensive potential, but I'd like to see some better patience at the plate in A-Ball. Garrett Olson doesn't look like he'll have the power to play third base everyday in the majors. Mark Melancon has undergone Tommy John surgery and will be out until 2008.

    Grade: Incomplete

    Well, I don't think any Major League scouting directors should be worried about losing their jobs to me, but I think I did a solid job considering the limited number of scouting reports I had to go on, especially in 2003 and 2004. But scouting is definitely a fascinating job.

    Any suggestions on what players I should target in my 2007 draft?

    - Marc Hulet, 5/19/07, 12:04 p.m. EST

  • I found out last week that the Enhanced Gameday system had been tested on 5/10 in Colorado. According to Dan Fox, the system was just being tested and the locations of pitches weren't very accurate, but I figured I'd take a look at the data anyway. The system only tracked 91 pitches in the game, 35 for Aaron Cook and 56 for Noah Lowry, the two starting pitchers. Pitches, especially breaking balls, are thought to break less in the higher altitude of Denver and I wanted to see if the Gameday data confirmed this.

    I looked at Cook first because I already had an idea about how his pitches moved. I have two starts for Cook in my database, the game at Coors and his start on April 8th at San Diego, and the pitch charts for each game are below. For some reason, of the 35 pitches tracked for Cook 30 were sinkers, so I can only compare his sinker across the two outings.

    cook 408.png cook 510.png

    The first thing that jumps out at me from looking at these two charts is the differences in movement of his sinker at Coors compared to Petco. There's a huge possibility that the differences on the charts are the result of something other than an actual difference in how a ball moves at altitude, such as a calibration error or other technical glitch, so be careful with what you make of this. However, the differences between the two starts are so extreme and the break of pitches has been shown to be relatively consistent across parks, that I think this is somewhat of a real phenomenon. The biggest difference in Denver is that the horizontal break of the slider is almost seven inches less than in San Diego. Cook's sinker also ended up almost two inches lower in Denver. It appears that the sinker gets more downward action in Denver, but loses action in on right-handed hitters. Here's a chart showing just the sinkers for both games to further highlight the differences.

    cook both.png

    I'm looking at Lowry now and I'll post something about him later tonight.

    - Joe Sheehan, 5/20/07, 7:32 p.m. EST

  • Comments

    How do you decide where you're draft spot is?
    (what pick number, etc)
    And what team do you go by for needs? (Or do you just draft by what you like, want?

    I never pick based on need, because it is considered a no-no amongst scouting directors. You are supposed to take the best available talent, which of course is somewhat subjective regardless of scouting reports.

    I don't really have a specific spot in each round (other than avoiding the first 10 picks of the first round). I just make sure the player I'm taking was actually taken in that round or in a subsequent round.

    Considering how much Rich Lederer wrote about Jered Weaver before the draft, I have to say I'm surprised you didn't pick him up in 2004, considering that he actually did fall out of the top ten. Or did you think the projected price tag was too high for your hypothetical team?

    At the time, I wasn't a huge fan of Weaver and sided with the scouts who felt he wasn't as good as some thought. I consider myself to be a "mid-market team" so I try not to take too many big risks unless I really believe in the player.

    Thanks for answering, this sounds like fun, I think I'll do this myself this year

    Do you have access to scouting reports? Where do you get your information? The pool to draft from is so vast. You also have to be patient, you cannot see results for many years. I consider myself a baseball fan, but I have to admit this task is on a totally different level. I tip my cap to you.

    Garrett Olson was a D-2 All-American at Franklin Pierce. He was a stud up there in teh Northeast 10 conference. I believe it is one of the two college conferences that use Wood Bats.

    Link to the D-2 Regional Final from this year click below.


    Keep up the good work guys

    Just to clarify, I didn't say that the pitches weren't accurate. What I was tying to communicate was that it appeared the pitch sequencing may have been off for a few pitches (the location credited to a different pitch or batter perhaps) but I did not check the data to be sure this was the case. It could be the case that the data is just fine.

    Sorry Dan...I misunderstood what you were saying might be inaccurate. I thought there might have been some issue with the tracking software, but if it was the sequencing that might have been wrong in a couple cases, the differences between pitches in Denver and San Diego become much more interesting.