2007 Draft: Picks and Pans
The first televised draft in the history of baseball is now behind us. ESPN2 did a commendable job in bringing us the first round but failed miserably beyond that. The draft show basically turned into Baseball Tonight, focusing more on highlights from the early games on Thursday than providing its viewers with coverage of the supplemental round (as previously promised).
Jim Callis, Keith Law, and David Rawnsley added draft expertise that was missing inside the studio at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. While Peter Gammons always offers interesting tidbits here and there, I found myself wanting to hear from Callis, Law, and Rawnsley more than the little time that each was allotted.
ESPN analyst Steve Phillips lost all credibility with me when he compared Josh Vitters to Bobby Crosby. Vitters and Crosby both hail from nearby high schools. I've seen both of them play at the amateur level—Vitters at Cypress High School and Crosby at Long Beach State. The former is a much better hitter and the latter is a much better fielder. Vitters could never play shortstop and Crosby doesn't hit enough to man third base. Now I know why Phillips is a former GM. I'm just not sure why he is a current analyst.
Here's hoping next year's coverage is longer and that ESPN puts its vast resources to better use.
After using their first pick (ninth overall) to take high-ceiling, prep pitcher Jarrod Parker, the club added three polished and promising college pitchers in the next four rounds: Barry Enright (Pepperdine), Sean Morgan (Tulane) and Wes Roemer (Cal State Fullerton). Any person who has followed the D-Backs even from afar knows that the team's biggest weakness has been pitching (aside from groundball machine Brandon Webb and a couple others). Those three college pitchers - if signed - should move very quickly and could be helping Arizona in a wide-open division within two or three years.
The club also addressed an organizational weakness with the addition of college catcher Ed Easley (Mississippi State) with a pick in the supplemental round. With a few "safe picks" in the bag, Arizona then took another high ceiling player who oozes tools: shortstop Reynaldo Navarro (Puerto Rico).
D-Back fans should be absolutely thrilled with their clubs' first six picks - and those players taken in rounds five through seven were not too shabby either. General manager Josh Byrnes and scouting director Tom Allison have this team headed in an exciting direction, especially when you consider the talent already on the field in Arizona.
Moskos pitched superbly in the closer role for Team USA last summer. He recorded an ERA of 0.86 with six saves in 21 innings pitched over 18 relief appearances, allowing just eight hits and four walks with 35 strikeouts. A power pitcher, maybe Moskos can become a B.J. Ryan-type lefty closer. However, his last start vs. Mississippi State on Friday night left a lot to be desired.
IP H R ER BB SO 5.0 9 6 5 0 4
You can have the relief pitcher at No. 4. Give me the big bat, especially a switch-hitting catcher with a rocket arm. Oh, and if it is all about not wanting to deal with Scott Boras and saving money, then there were still plenty of other choices out there, including Jason Heyward, a 6-4, 220-pound, power-hitting outfielder with a mature approach at the plate despite not turning 18 until August. I like his ceiling and apparently so do the Atlanta Braves.
Incumbent first baseman Prince Fielder is only eight months older than LaPorta. With the Prince of Milwaukee leading the league in HR (22), SLG (.645), and TB (149), and second in OPS (1.026) and OPS+ (169), the Brew Crew seems as set at 1B as can be for at least the next 4 1/2 years. Maybe LaPorta can pull a Frank Howard or Greg Luzinski or even a Pat Burrell or Carlos Lee and hit enough to overcome his weak fielding in left field. Perhaps Melvin thinks he can flip LaPorta to another team at some point. Or is it possible that Bud Selig winked and told the team that he would put them back in the AL so Fielder or LaPorta could DH?
If Milwaukee took him for trade purposes, then count me as someone who believes management made a huge mistake in taking LaPorta. Only time will tell.
There could be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps the Braves felt their system is beginning to thin out so they wanted some players that could move quickly, or perhaps they simply took the best players available with each pick and it is simply a coincidence. Regardless, the prep players that they took are intriguing and offer plenty of upside.
With their first pick (14th overall), the Braves grabbed Georgia high school outfielder Jason Heyward, who simply oozes tools and is (obviously) a local boy. Baseball America stated in a recent scouting report that Heyward has more potential than almost any player in the draft, aside from a healthy Andrew Brackman. With raw plus-plus power, Heyward could be challenging another Georgia high schooler - Jeff Francoeur - for playing time in four to five years.
Iowa high school infielder Jon Gilmore was the Braves' second choice with the 33rd pick in the supplemental round. Gilmore struggled through injuries this season, but was excellent on the showcase circuit last summer. He was expected to last until the second or third round but by popping him early, Atlanta will probably keep him away from Wichita State. One knock on Gilmore is that he spends all his energies on hitting and neglects his defense.
The Braves third prep pick was California two-way player Freddie Freeman, who is relatively inexperienced on the mound but throws 90-93 mph with a solid slider. I'm not 100 percent sure if Atlanta plans to have him pitch or play first base. My guess is that they plan to first try him as a hitter, as he is a 6-5, left-handed batter with plus power potential. If all else fails, it is easy to convert a player back to a pitcher, rather than the other way around (unless your name is Rick Ankiel). Freeman is a Cal State Fullerton recruit.
I'm not sure what scouting director Mike Radcliff's marching orders were, but I would have preferred Ryan Dent out of Long Beach Wilson HS (CA) over Revere. Although not quite as fast as Revere, Dent, who was selected by the Boston Red Sox with the No. 62 pick in the draft, has a stronger arm and a much more advanced bat. I believe Dent, a shortstop in high school, would make a better all-round CF than Revere.
Other than the two college seniors—Matt LaPorta (MIL/#7) and Casey Weathers (COL/#8)—with little or no leverage, if anybody taken in the first round signs for less than slot, I would imagine that it would be Revere.
Here is the scouting report I wrote, but was not able to post, on Davis when he fell:
Kentrail Davis, OF, Theodore High School (AL)
Interestingly, I like Davis as a No. 1 pick far better than I like the Rockies' actual first round pick... with all apologies to Vanderbilt closer Casey Weathers. I just absolutely hate to waste a first round pick on a future closer or set-up man. Weathers is a great player and a great second round pick.
Davis is extremely raw, as pointed out in the above profile, but if he reaches his ceiling he will have a much bigger impact as an everyday player than Weathers ever will pitching two or three times a week. But I rate their chances of signing him as 30/70.