Around the MinorsJune 28, 2010
The 2010 Amateur Draft: Bulk Investments
By Marc Hulet

One of the quickest ways to turn a lower-ranked minor league system into a top-tiered powerhouse is to draft well. This approached is helped along significantly when a Major League organization has a plethora of top picks during a given draft.

The Arizona Diamondbacks organization is a perfect example of this, thanks to its 2009 draft, which saw it add the likes of Bobby Borchering, Matt Davidson, Mike Belfiore, Chris Owings, Eric Smith, Marc Krauss, A.J. Pollock and Ryan Wheeler, among others. Thirteen '09 draft picks were amongst the top 21 rated in Baseball America's Top 30 prospect list for the organization entering 2010. Obviously, a lot can change in two to three years... but it's still a great return.

However, having multiple picks in a draft does not guarantee a turn around to an organization's system. As we saw in 2007, four organizations had multiple picks in the first three rounds - San Diego (nine picks), Toronto (eight), San Francisco (six), and Texas (six) - but none of them received a full return on their investments. Here is a list of each organization's haul, and how the players rank in terms of current value.

San Diego Padres

1. Cory Luebke, LHP
2. Drew Cumberland, SS
3. Eric Sogard, 2B (now with Oakland)
4. Nick Schmidt, LHP
5. Brad Chalk, OF
6. Mitch Canham, OF
7. Danny Payne, OF
8. Kellen Kulbacki, OF
9. Tommy Toledo, RHP (did not sign)

The club appears set to receive a mid-rotation starter (Luebke) and an average to slightly-above-average middle infielder (Cumberland). Schmidt is the dark horse in all of this after undergoing Tommy John surgery, which delayed his development.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Brett Cecil, LHP
2. J.P. Arencibia, C
3. John Tolisano, 3B/OF
4. Justin Jackson, SS
5. Trystan Magnuson, RHP
6. Alan Farina, RHP
7. Eric Eiland, OF
8. Kevin Ahrens, 3B

Cecil has been a solid contributor to the rotation this season and also helped out in '09. Arencibia has been on fire in triple-A for the past month and looks like the catcher of the future beginning no later than April 2011. Magnuson and Farina look like they could develop into useful middle relievers. The club has had little to no luck with developing prep players from this draft and the minor-league coaching staff may have been unprepared to handle the initial wave.

San Francisco Giants

1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
2. Nick Noonan, 2B
3. Charlie Culberson, IF
4. Tim Alderson, RHP (now with Pittsburgh)
5. Wendell Fairley, OF
6. Jackson Williams, C

Bumgarner has just been called up to the Majors but his ceiling is significantly lower than what it was when he had better fastball velocity and crisper pitches. The same can be said for Alderson, which seems to point at a trend. Noonan and Culberson could develop into platoon or back-up players but neither is a sure bet to develop into an everyday player. Williams' defense is strong enough to play in the Majors right now (and probably was from the moment he was drafted) but he needs to show that he can hit above .200 at double-A.

Texas Rangers

1. Julio Borbon, OF
2. Tommy Hunter, RHP
3. Blake Beavan, RHP
4. Michael Main, RHP
5. Neil Ramirez, RHP
6. Matt West, 3B

Both Borbon and Hunter are already useful big-league players. Beavan (lost velo) and Main (injuries) have been a little slower to develop than expected and both have lower ceilings than what were originally projected. Still, they're both promising arms, as is Ramirez. West has yet to show much of anything with the bat.

Out of the four '07 drafts, I would argue that Toronto had the best return on those picks, as well as the best overall draft when you consider Marc Rzepczynski, Brad Mills, Brad Emaus, Michael McDade, and even Darin Mastroianni.

Clearly, having multiple picks is not a recipe for success; an organization must invest heavily in quality scouts and talent analysts, as well as be prepared to pay the price for quality prospects.

* * *

Now let's fast-forward to the 2010 draft and look at the seven clubs that have multiple picks (at least five) in the first three rounds. Players in bold have signed

Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays organization had nine picks in the first three rounds, including three supplemental first round picks and three second round selections. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Toronto minor league system as 28th overall out of 30 clubs, in terms of minor league talent/depth.

1. Deck McGuire, RHP, College
2. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, HS
3. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, HS
4. Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, College
5. Griffin Murphy, LHP, HS
6. Kellen Sweeney, 3B, HS
7. Justin Nicolino, LHP, HS
8. Chris Hawkins, 3B, HS
9. Marcus Knecht, OF, JC

It's clear that the Jays organization had a new draft approach under first-year GM Alex Anthopoulos and first-year director of amateur scouting Andrew Tinnish. The club took more prep players in one draft than former GM J.P. Ricciardi took during his entire eight-year tenure with the organization. The overall success of this draft will be dependent on inking the four unsigned picks above (Murphy and Nicolino allegedly have deals in place but are awaiting MLB approval). Anthopoulos went on record saying the club has $16 million set aside for the draft, which is a huge budget, and should allow the club to sign some other over-slot deals with the likes of Dickie Thon, Tyler Shreve, Eric Arce, Nick Vander Tuig, Logan Ehlers, and Kris Bryant. Because it's such a young draft, it will take longer than three years (like the 2007 draft) to have a really good idea of how the club did.

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels organization had eight picks in the first three rounds, including three first round selections and two supplemental first round picks. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Los Angeles minor league system as 25th overall out of 30 clubs.

1. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, HS
2. Cam Bedrosian, RHP, HS
3. Chevez Clarke, OF, HS
4. Taylor Lindsey, SS, HS
5. Ryan Bolden, OF, HS
6. Daniel Tillman, RHP, College
7. Wendell Soto, SS, HS
8. Donnie Roach, RHP, JC

I really like this draft, because the club nabbed Cowart, Bedrosian and Bolden. It's a very prep-heavy draft with only one collegiate selection and one junior college pick. The organization made a big splash is '09, too, with grabbing Mike Trout, who may be one of the biggest draft steals in the past five to 10 years. The club has done a nice job securing the services of five of the eight '10 picks already, but will likely be slowed down by Major League Baseball, which suppresses a lot of the agreements until right before the signing deadline, which hurts the players' development.

Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays organization had six picks in the first three rounds, including two first rounders and two second rounders. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Tampa Bay minor league system first overall out of 30 clubs.

1. Josh Sale, OF, HS
2. Justin O'Conner, C, HS
3. Drew Vettleson, OF, HS
4. Jake Thompson, RHP, College
5. Derek Dietrich, 3B, College
6. Ryan Brett, 2B, HS

I like this draft, too. Sale was one of my favorite picks, as was O'Conner - especially considering that the club got him with the 31st overall pick and he was projected to go in the Top 15. The organization has done well to sign 50% of these picks. The Rays club is looking to rebound from its '09 draft that saw it fail to sign its first two picks: LeVon Washington and Kenny Diekroeger. The club did make up for it later in the draft with a number of over-slot deals with the likes of Jeff Malm, Luke Bailey, and Kevin James.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers organization had six picks in the first three rounds, including two first rounders, and two supplemental first round selections. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Texas minor league system as second overall out of 30 clubs.

1. Jake Skole, OF, HS
2. Kellin Deglan, C, HS
3. Luke Jackson, RHP, HS
4. Mike Olt, 3B, College
5. Cody Buckel, RHP, HS
6. Jordan Akins, OF, HS

I'm not overly thrilled with this draft. Both Skole and Deglan appear to be over-drafts. On the plus side, it allowed the club to get pre-draft deals done with both players, which allows them to get into pro ball right away. The best player taken in the Rangers' last two drafts is still Matt Purke, who has been pitching in the College World Series for Texas Christian University. The club was unable to come to terms with him after drafting him 14th overall in '09. He was absolutely dominating as a freshman pitcher and will be draft eligible after his sophomore year of college in 2011.

Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox organization had five picks in the first three rounds, including two supplemental first round picks. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Boston minor league system as sixth overall out of 30 clubs.

1. Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, College
2. Bryce Brentz, OF, College
3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, College
4. Brandon Workman, RHP, College
5. Sean Coyle, SS, HS

A college-heavy draft, this has a chance to work out really well for the club even if I'm not thrilled with the choices. If Ranaudo is healthy, he could be a huge steal - but that's also a huge "if." I'm not sold on either Vitek or Brentz being anything more than solid regulars; neither of them seems to have star potential. The Workman selection is probably my favorite pick from this draft and it was a surprise to see him last into the second round. The club will no doubt be busy right up until the August signing deadline as the organization has handed out 16 over-slot deals, outside the top three rounds, in the past three seasons.

St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals organization had five picks in the first three rounds, including two supplemental first round selections. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the St. Louis minor league system as 29th overall out of 30 clubs.

1. Zack Cox, 3B, College
2. Seth Blair, RHP, College
3. Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, HS
4. Jordan Swagerty, RHP, College
5. Sam Tuivailala, SS, HS

Cox is a tough sign... and will be very expensive. He's a sophomore-eligible pick, so he has a lot of bargaining power. I am a big Blair fan, so I like this selection. The supplemental first round pick of Jenkins was another ballsy selection for the organization, as he's a multi-sport prep star with a commitment to Baylor University to play quarterback. This organization needs minor league depth quite badly so it will be a huge loss is the Cardinals cannot get deals done with all these picks. The club did pick up some intriguing pitchers in the '09 draft with the selections of prep star Shelby Miller and college sinker baller Joe Kelly.

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros organization had five picks in the first three rounds, including two supplemental first round choices. Entering the year, Baseball America ranked the Houston minor league system as 30th overall - or the worst - out of all 30 clubs.

1. Delino DeShields, 2B, HS
2. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, HS
3. Mike Kvasnicka, 3B, College
4. Vincent Velasquez, RHP, HS
5. Austin Wates, 2B, College

This is another organization that needs to get the deals done for all of its players. The club has done a much better job of identifying talent during the past two drafts. With that said, DeShields seems like a bit of an over-draft but there were a lot of clubs hot on his heels for the supplemental round. The club was lucky to have Kvasnicka available with the 33rd overall pick. He was another player that was coveted by a few other teams. Velasquez' injury history scared some teams but the Astros could have a real steal if he is A) healthy, and B) the former two-way player takes a big step forward in his development by focusing on one role. The club followed up a strong '08 draft (Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles) with a so-so '09 draft.

This article is pretty much a teaser for what is to come. As you probably know, it's going to be quite a while (at least four years) before we get a true feel for this draft... but it's still fun to speculate. We will definitely check back with the 2010 draft after the August signing deadline line and once we know exactly who has and hasn't come to terms.


"Beavan (lost velo) has been a little slower to develop than expected"


He was one of the youngest guys in the entire Texas League (Double-A)last year. And this season has been the pitcher of the year in the league and will start the all-star game. What are you talking about? He's on a steady, fast track.

At 21, Beavan is dominating a league in which the average age is over 24. He is the second youngest guy on the Frisco roster.

Will is correct. It looks like Texas may have rushed him along a bit last year when Beavan had a difficult time missing bats at Double-A (113 hits and only 34 SO in 89.2 IP). However, as Will noted, Blake was only 20 years old. The Rangers sent him to Double-A again this year and the strike thrower has lowered his ERA (2.50 ERA vs. 4.01 in 2009) while modestly improving his FIP (3.02 vs. 3.64). He appears to have uncanny control for someone his age, walking only 61 batters in 389 minor league innings (1.41 BB/9). While his low strikeout rate (5.2 K/9) is a bit troublesome, Beavan is a groundball pitcher who rarely gives up home runs (0.60 HR/9).

If the 6-foot-7 Beavan can stay healthy and continue to throw on a downward plane and pound the bottom half of the strike zone, he should reach the majors in 2011 as a 22-year old. Given Beavan's size, handedness, fastball velocity, and K, BB and GB rates, think Jeff Niemann of the Tampa Bay Rays.

This just goes to show what I've been saying for 5 years now, since I published my draft study: the odds of any first round pick becoming a good player is very low. (Average is useful, but not the reason we look at the draft and prospects)

For the Giants 2007 draft, summing of the odds of each pick becoming a good player, based on past overall population of selections, the sum of the six player equals 52%, which means that it is a coin flip whether or not the Giants end up with a good player out of those six picks. That it looks like Bumgarner might become a good pitcher (just not the great one that everyone was ordaining for him previously) has the Giants ahead of the game for that draft.

And the BA 30, as nice as it is to know who is good and who is bad, one of their writers noted that in any particular season, maybe 2 players in that system will become good starting players and another 2 journeymen, utility guys, with the rest not doing anything much.

So, to me, it is not that big a deal to add prospects who fill out your top 30 list. True, it is better than not adding any, but really, what matters most is adding players who end up in your Top 5 overall, if not Top 3. Anything else is just a crapshoot.

I don't know why, but for some reason I have a great feeling about Bryce Brentz for the Red Sox.

I think the setup is perfect: a college guy (that hopefully will lead to accelerated development) who has produced, projects to be worthy of the RF position, and whose best batting strength is raw power, a major Red Sox need, all seemingly in time to replace J.D. Drew (maybe not IMMEDIATELY after Drew's contract is done, but possibly a year or so after).

As for his "lack of star potential", I can think of another guy who was certainly labeled that way who was also very productive college player: Dustin Pedroia. Let's see if Epstein has an eye for such players...