Baseball BeatJune 09, 2008
MLB Draft News and Notes
By Rich Lederer

It's still amateur hour week at Baseball Analysts. We plan on spending the first few days of this week to reviewing and analyzing the First-Year Player Draft and will turn our attention to the College World Series on Friday and this weekend.

Today's entry is a smorgasbord of news and notes resulting from last week's draft.

  • Long Beach State had seven players drafted on the first day, the most of any college. Miami and Arizona State were next with six and five, respectively.

    First baseman/corner outfielder Shane Peterson (STL, #59) was chosen in round two, shortstop Danny Espinosa (WAS, #87)) and righthanded starters Andrew Liebel (TOR, #95) and Vance Worley (PHI, #102) were selected in the third round, righthanded reliever David Roberts (CLE, #141) was taken in the fourth round, and righthanded starter Brett Lorin (SEA, #162) was plucked in the fifth round. All five players are expected to sign although Lorin, a draft-eligible sophomore, could return to Long Beach in an attempt to improve his draft status after a season in which he could be the Dirtbags' Friday Night Starter.

    Long Beach nearly made it eight players when outfielder Jason Corder (TB, #203, 7th round) was nabbed with the first pick when the draft resumed on Friday. Travis Howell (SEA, #552), Nick Vincent (SD, #555), and Jason Tweedy (TB, #593) were also selected on the second day, giving the 49ers a total of 11 players chosen overall.

    The five players drafted in the top three rounds and the seven taken in the first five are both school records. Led by Jered Weaver (LAA, #12), the 2004 team had three players chosen in the top three rounds and four in the first five. Troy Tulowitzki (COL, #7) and Cesar Ramos (SD, #35) both went in the opening round of the 2005 draft while three others were taken in the sixth round.

    The above is a testament to coach Mike Weathers' ability to recruit and develop players, but this year's purge in talent is likely to leave the 2009 club thin in both pitching and hitting.

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers used their first draft pick – Ethan Martin (RHP, Stephens County HS, Toccoa, Georgia) – on a high school pitcher for the sixth consecutive year. The Georgia High School Player of the Year went 11-1 with a 0.99 ERA in his senior year. The Clemson recruit is expected to sign with the Dodgers and forego a potential football and two-way baseball stint with the Tigers.

    While the scouting reports sound convincing, Martin's dominance over high school hitters should be discounted as he turned 19 the day after the Dodgers selected him with the 15th overall pick. If anybody would like to pursue such a study as a guest columnist for Baseball Analysts to confirm or deny my suspicions, please drop me a note at the email address linked to my name in the sidebar on the left.

  • The Los Angeles Angels had the last "first" pick of any team in last week's draft and used it to select Tyler Chatwood, a righthanded pitcher out of Redlands East Valley HS (CA). The Halos forfeited their first-round pick to the Minnesota Twins as compensation for signing free agent center fielder Torii Hunter last winter.

    While some analysts expected that the Angels might go for a first-round talent who was passed over due to concerns over signability, director of scouting Eddie Bane opted for the smallish righthander with the 74th overall pick in the draft. Chatwood went 9-1 with a 1.05 ERA as a pitcher and 49-for-94 (.521) as a hitter, playing shortstop and center field when not on the mound. However, with a fastball that – according to Bane – ranges from 92-97 mph, Chatwood's pitching career didn't end when he was saddled with the loss in the California Interscholastic Federation Division 2 championship game at Dodger Stadium a week ago.

  • Aaron Hicks (MIN, #14) of Long Beach Wilson HS (CA) and Anthony Gose (PHI, #51) of Bellflower HS (CA) are both products of the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Hicks and Gose are two-way players who expressed a preference to playing everyday. Although both youngsters can dial up fastballs that have hit 96 or 97 on the radar guns, Hicks and Gose will begin their professional careers, if and when signed, as outfielders.

    Hicks, the only draftee who showed up in Orlando, was interviewed by ESPN2 moments after he was selected by the Twins. Urban Youth Academy program senior director Darrell Miller, the brother of all-time women's basketball great Cheryl and a former catcher with the California Angels (1984-88), was part of Hicks' travel party in Florida. He told David Felton of the Long Beach Press-Telegram, "We've had a little bit of fun today. I'm pleased that he went to a team like the Twins," adding that Minnesota had been very supportive of the Academy. "(Hicks and Gose) are wonderful young men you want to have other kids see and emulate. For (the Urban Youth Academy), it's just great. It's going to really galvanize the kids."

    Meanwhile, Gose was one of a trio of toolsy players selected by the Phillies with the club's first three picks. Shortstop Anthony Hewitt (#24) of Salisbury School (NY) and outfielder Zach Collier (#34) of Chino Hills HS (CA) are also talented athletes with projectable bodies and huge ceilings. While raw, Hewitt may have the most upside of any player taken in last week's draft. Overlooked on the showcase circuit last summer, Collier had been climbing draft boards ever since he slammed a home run off a 93-mph fastball from Hicks in a tournament game in Fullerton this spring.

  • Three major league teams opted out of the draft prior to its conclusion. The San Diego Padres were the first to pass (round 44), followed by the Toronto Blue Jays (45) and the Dodgers (46). You can learn all about San Diego's draft choices at Paul DePodesta's blog, It Might Be Dangerous, a real service to all baseball fans and even moreso for those who follow the Padres closely.

  • How good is Jay Bruce? The center fielder, who is hitting .429/.533/.694 through his first 13 games, is only five days older than Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati's first-round draft choice. The MLB ETA for the seventh overall pick in last week's draft is probably the spring of 2010, or two years after Bruce's debut.

    While college players are generally much closer to the majors at the time of the draft, elite high school prospects like Bruce can make it to the bigs at a younger age than their more experienced counterparts.

    Check back later in the week as we drill deeper into the stats (including various splits) of first-round picks plucked from the college ranks.