Around the MinorsMay 29, 2008
The Most Impressive Draft Haul of 2007
By Marc Hulet

A number of teams had the benefit of multiple draft picks in the first two rounds (plus the supplemental first round) of the 2007 draft, including the Texas Rangers (six picks), Toronto Blue Jays (seven picks), San Diego Padres (eight picks), and San Francisco Giants (six picks). With apologies to all the rest, the Blue Jays have had the greatest success (so far) with the extra picks:

The club's college-centric approach is well known around baseball so it was a bit of a surprise (and a relief from fans’ perspectives) to see the club take a risk or two with some raw, but toolsy, players - as well as some prep position players.

Hitters: AVG/OBP/SLG | AB | Hits | HRs | BB% | K% | BABIP
Pitchers: ERA | IP | Hits | K/9 | BB/9 | HR/9 | AVG | FIP

  • Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial high school (Houston)
    First round (16th overall)

    2007: .230/.332/.321 | 165 | 38 | 3 | 13.2% | 28.5% | .304 (Gulf Coast League)
    2008: .272/.349/.420 | 169 | 46 | 1 | 10.6% | 25.4% | .360 (Midwest League)

    Kevin Ahrens has not been flashy this season but he’s been consistent and his teammates say he has the “it” quality to be a star. The switch hitter has hit .262 against southpaws and .276 against right-handers. He has only one homer, but the Midwest League is perhaps the toughest full-season league to homer in. Ahrens does have 14 doubles and four triples. Defensively, he has made a smooth transition from shortstop to third base.

  • J.P. Arencibia, C, University of Tennessee
    First round (21st overall)

    2007: .254/.298/.377 | 228 | 58 | 3 | 5.8% | 24.6% | .325 (New York Penn League)
    2008: .312/.337/.527 | 186 | 58 | 8 | 3.6% | 18.8% | .350 (Florida State League)

    J.P. Arencibia has been the hottest hitter in the system and has batted .422 in his last 10 games with 19 hits, three homers and 18 RBI. The right-handed batter is hitting only .210 against left-handers. The catcher has also shown improved defensive skills, which should put to rest any talk of moving him off the position.

  • Brett Cecil, LHP, University of Maryland
    Supplemental first round (38th overall)

    2007: 1.27 | 49.2 | 36 | 10.15 | 1.99 | 0.18 | .204 | 2.05 (New York Penn League)
    2008: 1.74 | 10.1 |  6 |  9.58 | 1.74 | 0.87 | .171 | 2.91 (Florida State League)
    2008: 4.63 | 23.1 | 21 |  8.87 | 3.86 | 0.77 | .242 | 3.76 (Eastern League)

    The Jays organization has been aggressive with promotions this season for top picks, including 2006 first rounder Travis Snider (who is now at Double-A at the age of 20) and Brett Cecil. The left-hander was slowed this spring by a wonky shoulder and he still is on a restrictive pitch count. Regardless, he dominated High-A ball (after skipping a level to begin the year) and was going well at Double-A before back-to-back poor outings in late May. He should join Shaun Marcum, David Bush and Casey Janssen as college relievers that the Jays have successfully converted to starters.

  • Justin Jackson, SS, Roberson high school (North Carolina)
    Supplemental first round (45th overall)

    2007: .187/.274/.241 | 166 | 31 | 2 | 10.8% | 26.5% | .242 (Gulf Coast League)  
    2008: .248/.365/.383 | 141 | 35 | 2 | 15.6% | 34.0% | .363 (Midwest League)

    Justin Jackson was considered raw coming out of high school, but his father Chuck Jackson played in the majors, so he has been around the game all his life. He hit .323 in April but has slumped to .190 in May and also missed time with an injury, which may have contributed to his struggles. Jackson has shown the makings of a solid leadoff hitter, if he can tone down the strikeouts (34 percent), as he has scored 37 runs in 40 games and has stolen eight bases in nine tries. He has also played outstanding defence at shortstop.

  • Trystan Magnuson, RHP, University of Louisville
    Supplemental first round (56th overall)

    2007:                      Did Not Play
    2008: 8.69 | 29.0 | 36 | 4.66 | 5.90 | 0.93 | .306 | 5.79 (Midwest League)

    Trystan Magnuson, a college senior, was the biggest reach of the first few rounds for the Jays and the Canadian might have been a signability pick. He was a closer at Louisville and the Jays have been working him as a starter. He has allowed 16 runs in his last three appearances, spanning seven innings, because of poor control. For a college senior, he is still very raw.

  • John Tolisano, 2B, Estero high school (Florida)
    Second round (85th overall)

    2007: .246/.340/.437 | 183 | 45 | 10 | 12.4% | 21.9% | .263 (Gulf Coast League)
    2008: .250/.328/.378 | 164 | 41 |  1 | 10.4% | 23.2% | .320 (Midwest League) 

    John Tolisano was considered an advanced high school player and he led the Rookie League with 10 homers during his debut season. Homers are much harder to come by in the Midwest League but Tolisano has not let that phase him, as he has been consistent all season. His power can be seen in the five triples that he has so far. The switch hitter is batting .225 against lefties and .258 against righties.

  • Eric Eiland, CF, Lamar high school (Texas)
    Second round (88th overall)

    2007: .216/.303/.284 | 176 | 38 | 1 | 11.1% | 35.2% | .327 (Gulf Coast League)
    2008: .289/.373/.289 |  45 | 13 | 0 | 11.8% | 28.9% | .406 (Midwest League) 

    Eric Eiland was the rawest of the Jays top picks and he struggled in his debut. He was recently recalled from Extended Spring Training and has been busy showing that he belongs with the rest of the top 2007 draft picks. He has five extra base hits among his 13 hits and has gone four-for-four in stolen base attempts. The left-handed batter is hitting only .167 against southpaws.

    Toronto also received good value from some later picks in RHP Alan Farina (third round), LHP Brad Mills (fourth round), LHP Marc Rzepczynski (fifth round), RHP Randy Boone (seventh round). If not for depth issues, all four pitchers would be in High-A ball right now, rather than A-ball.

    In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers possess the greatest number of draft picks in the early rounds of the draft - six picks in the first two rounds. The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins have four each. It will be interesting to see which organization makes the most of its extra selections.

    Be sure to check back all next week for our ongoing pre-draft coverage. Also, check us out on Draft Day, June 5, as we blog live during the draft. We’ll also provide post-draft coverage.

  • Comments

    Just having the largest number of picks doesn't necessarily matter if a team is willing to go over slot. You will see teams like the Yankees and Red Sox end up with the best drafts.

    True, and the Yankees' and Red Sox' over-slot selections in the 2007 draft could be a column on its own... But the point of this column was to look at the team that made the most out of the picks it had before the third round.

    Pardon my bias, but how is this better than what the Giants selected?

    Particularly in light of how well both Alderson and Bumgarner are doing just out of high school, and Noonan did very well last season and OK this season.


    * Ahrens: Noonan compares favorably, ISO similar, much better K%, premium position, same level league. And where does it say that "it" quality is going to translate to success in the majors?

    * Arencibia: he's from a college program, you would hope he's doing well in Advanced A-ball. And he's only 7th out of all players in the FSL who are 22 and under, which is good, but not a great sign that he'll amount to anything in the majors. And isn't that too low to say that he's defensively going to make it at C?

    * Cecil: looks good, but he should have been doing well in A-ball, and 4 starts in AA is hardly enough to say he's doing well there, particularly if his last two starts weren't so good. And that's when it really starts getting harder to advance.

    * And among the rest of them, how do they really qualify as doing really well?

    It seems you are going more for quantity than quality here, both Bumgarner and Alderson have done very well as high schoolers at A-ball and Advanced A-ball respectively, and Noonan has held his own in A-ball, also as a high schooler. Bumgarner has outdone any of them, age related or just overall, and Alderson has arguably done as well as any of the Toronto prospects this season.

    The 07 draft and actually the 06 draft have really helped the jays system mostly in the bottom half though but some are racing up quickly (Ahrens, Arencibia, Cecil) Hopefully a similar philosophy will be in the works this draft.

    New Jays Site.

    San Fran certainly was a close second based solely on what Bumgarner and Alderson have been doing - I am a big Alderson fan. I also really, really like Noonan. But the Giants are getting nothing from Culberson, Williams or Fairley at this point... and the article was all about the here and now. I felt the Jays have a little more of that and made a better use of the majority of the pre-third round picks.

    But how is Magnuson, Tolisano, and Eiland doing much of anything in the here and now? And while Ahrens and Jackson are doing very nicely for their age in A-ball, they are not doing well enough to be considered dominating at their level or a particularly good prospect. The best of the bunch is Arencibia, and he has done well, but he's old for the league for a legit prospect, though I guess it's OK since he's a catcher, plus strikes out too much and walks way too little, he could get exposed as he rises to AA and above.

    Bumgarner is dominating with 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 5.5 K/BB, 0 HR given up, and a stellar 2.1 G/FB ratio. And his BABIP is .309 so he might have been a little unlucky so far. And he's only 18 years old in a league where the average hitter is around 23 years old.

    So what is better, having some serviceable hitters (and Ahrens stats MLE translate to .187/.232/.268/.500 while Arencibia translate to .238/.256/.383/.639) and pitchers, or having a pitcher who has a lot of potential? Having a lot of nice performances, to me, doesn't equal having a legit prospect who is doing very well.

    This is kind of like what the Giants have been struggling with since the World Series, is it better to have a bunch of nice players complementing Bonds or a legit hitter? I begged for them to swing for the fences and get Bonds successor, like Vlad or Ordonez, but they instead signed a bunch of nice complementary players.