The History: Selecting first overall certainly has its benefits. Future Hall of Famers and current stars litter the landscape. Some of the names taken first overall that were in the majors this season include: Ken Griffey (Seattle, 1987), Chipper Jones (Atlanta, 1990), Alex Rodriguez (Seattle, 1993), Adrian Gonzalez (Florida, 2000), Joe Mauer (Minnesota, 2001), David Price (Tampa Bay, 2007), and Stephen Strasburg (Washington, 2009). Eleven players who were taken first overall were on major league rosters to open the season and that number will swell when Strasburg debuts.
1. Washington Nationals - Bryce Harper, JuCo of Southern Nevada
Analysis: There really wasn’t much speculation here. Everyone believed Harper would be the pick since he was deemed eligible. While his worth is certainly boosted by his ability to stick at catcher, Harper has enough stick to be a threat anywhere in the field. He has tremendous power and a plus arm, giving him a pair of tools that will play at third base or right field. If he can improve his footwork, his arm has the juice to shutdown the opposition’s running game. With the pressure on him all season, Harper did nothing to dissuade scouts. Harper is a premium player, regardless of position. Washington has set themselves up nicely for the future in the past two drafts.
Musings: Do the Tigers, Mariners and Braves take the day off since they have no selections amongst the first 32? Do they nap and come alive when their pick is drawing near? It seems pretty clear, or not, that commissioner Bud Selig has marbles in his mouth when he speaks. Interestingly enough, The Nationals listed him as an outfielder when they made the selection. Does that mean the debate ends regarding the talk of catcher?
The History: Picking second wasn’t as prosperous as the first spot with six players dotting major league rosters. Josh Beckett (Florida, 1999) and Justin Verlander (Detroit, 2004) top the list. It also is littered with players that have not reached their talent with B.J. Upton (Tampa, 2002), Rickie Weeks (Milwaukee, 2003), and Alex Gordon (Kansas City, 2005).
2. Pittsburgh Pirates - Jameson Taillon, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Analysis: This team needs talent and Taillon has it. The right-hander has a power arm that reaches 98 mph with a clean delivery. He has tremendous makeup. The Pirates lack depth in the pitching department and have not held power arms in high regard. Taillon’s fastball is explosive, and he has a power curveball that will be a plus pitch. Once the changeup improves, Taillon will be a quick riser. Pittsburgh needs all the help it can get.
“Jameson Taillon has a quality combination of present ability and future potential to become an above average Major League starting pitcher,” Pirates director of scouting Greg Smith said. “He is a big, hard-throwing righthander with impressive secondary pitches for a high school aged pitcher. He also has strong traits mentally, physically, fundamentally and personally and we are thrilled to select Jameson with our first round pick.”
The History: The three-hole hasn’t bee a good spot to pick over the years, although Tampa would disagree since they added Evan Longoria (2006). Troy Glaus and Jeff Clement are the only other names that have seen service time.
3. Baltimore Orioles - Manny Machado, Brito (Florida) Private HS
Analysis: The Orioles have a lot of young talent that is ready to blossom. Forget the start to their 2010 season, they are not far away from competing. Machado, a shortstop, has been compared to Alex Rodriguez – a player that has the ability to multiple things on the field. He has a chance to develop considerable power and will have time to grow. An athletic specimen, Machado will have a chance to be a special player.
Musings: Many scouts have acknowledged a major drop off in talent after the initial three. Years will dictate whether this is true. While the first three picks went as expected, the rest of the draft figures to be a crapshoot.
The History: The cleanup spot has had its ups and downs. One of the most hyped pitchers of all time came here and some burdgeoning young talent is available, making this a hotbed for selections in recent years. Kerry Wood (Chicago, 1995), Gavin Floyd (Philadelphia, 2001), Jeff Niemann (Tampa Bay, 2004), Ryan Zimmerman (Washington, 2005) and Brian Matusz (Baltimore, 2008) are prevelant names.
4. Kansas City Royals - Christian Colon, Cal State Fullerton
Analysis: The Royals have been eager to find top end young talent, knowing they can’t compete with other teams for free agents. Drafting well and creating a winning atmosphere is vital. With that in mind, the Royals went with shortstop Christian Colon. Drafted by the Padres out of high school, Colon continued to evolve in college. He has a superb all around game that displays gap power. Tremendous makeup and work ethic will go a long way towards building the type of farm system the Royals crave. The one knock is no part of his game is truly exceptional. He should, however, be a high average hitter with a solid batting eye. His power was good this year, but does it project to the major league level?
Musings: The first surprise comes from the Royals. They went safe here, but it opens up the board for the picks that follow. Cleveland is likely salivating. The Royals are building a solid farm with some intriguing names - going safe and getting help quickly will help. Colon will move quickly.
The History: Offering protection for the cleanup hitter is vital and the bats are alive in the five-spot. Vernon Wells (Toronto, 1997), J.D. Drew (St. Louis, 1998), Mark Texeria (Texas, 2001), Ryan Braun (Milwaukee, 2005) and Matt Wieters (Baltimore, 2007) have been, are, or will be focal points of their respective offenses. Drafting teams should seriously consider taking a hitter with those odds.
5. Cleveland Indians - Drew Pomeranz, Mississippi
Analysis: A 12th round pick of the Rangers out of high school, Pomeranz is an advanced college arm with an average fastball and plus curveball. The left-hander’s changeup has improved, and he is able to locate his pitches with consistency. Cleveland needs pitching – badly. Adding Pomeranz to the mix will help, as he should be able to move quickly. A durable kid that will be a workhorse, Pomeranz attacks hitters and will work to both sides of the plate.
"We've followed Drew when he was in high school and picked in the 12th round by Texas in 2007," Indians scouting director Brad Grant said. "He had a good year for Team USA and was the SEC (Southeastern Conference) Pitcher of the Year this spring.
"He's got a power fastball, a late-breaking curve and we like his ability to start. He's a front-end of the rotation lefty starter."
Grant said that scout Chuck Bartlett will start negotiating with Pomeranz. Bartlett was teammates with Pomeranz's father Mike, at Ole Miss.
"Drew, on the mound, is an extreme competitor," Grant said. "There's nothing that worries him at all."
Musings: The Indians pitching staff is one of the worst around. They have a few arms in the bank but Pomeranz certainly adds quality depth and a potential middle of the rotation type arm.
The History: Two potential future Hall of Famers were taken sixth overall, Derek Jeter (Yankees, 1992), and Zack Greinke (Kansas City, 2002). Ricky Romero (Toronto, 2005) and Ross Detwiler (Washington, 2007) offer promise for the future.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks - Barret Loux, Texas A&M
Analysis: The pick was a bit of a surprise but the selection of a right-handed pitcher was not. The Diamondbacks have a bountiful offense but lack the pitching horses to win games. Loux has a fastball in the 92-94 mph range and a plus changeup that falls off the table. He has four pitches to pull from but will likely drop the slider moving forward. A huge body and riser through the draft season, Loux has the makings of a workhorse.
The History: Seven players for the seventh overall pick and many are very good. It seems that the natural separation of talent outside of the top two finds a gem at this position. And this spot has been consistently rich during the 2000s. Prince Fielder (Milwaukee, 2002), Nick Markakis (Baltimore, 2003), Homer Bailey (Cincinnati, 2004), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado, 2005), Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles, 2006), Matt LaPorta and (Milwaukee, 2007) were all tabbed here.
7. New York Mets - Matt Harvey, North Carolina
Analysis: The Mets bucked tradition, taking a pitcher that is expected to command a number above slot. They have rarely taken such a bold step – this one might pay off. Harvey has a big fastball that can reach 97 mph and was taken in the third round out of high school by the Angels. He was one of the top high school pitchers at that time, in the running with Rick Porcello. There are times when he overthrows, making his command waver. If he can harness the location and improve his secondary pitches, Harvey has top of the rotation potential
The History: The eighth overall spot has had turbulence. Protecting the pitcher isn’t easy and neither is drafting here. The most prominent name still playing is Todd Helton (Colorado, 1995). Gordon Beckham (White Sox, 2008) offers the most future promise.
8. Houston Astros - Delino DeShields, Norcross (Ga.) HS
Analysis: An athletic player with plus-plus speed, DeShields is the first major turn of the draft. Signability may have come into play to make them reach for DeShields. Taking his father’s namesake, DeShields has a chance to be an exciting player that can create havoc on the base paths. He has plus range in the outfield but must work on his arm. Power will never be prevalent.
Musings: You wonder where Houston is going. There were a number of high ceiling players here that could offer more. The allure of his dynamic ability is appealing but many scouts believed DeShields would be around for later picking, especially when they hold the number 19 pick.
The History: Picking ninth doesn’t necessarily mean a pitcher should be marked, although the lean has been that way. Six players drafted here were on major league rosters. Mark Kotsay (Florida, 1996) and Michael Cuddyer (Minnesota, 1997) have enjoyed solid careers. On the pitching front, Barry Zito (Oakland, 1999), Jeff Francis (Colorado, 2002), John Danks (Texas, 2003) and Mike Pelfrey (Mets, 2005) were slotted here.
9. San Diego Padres - Karston Whitson, Chipley (Fla.) HS
Analysis: Padres GM Jed Hoyer said the draft was critical because they won’t be major players in the free agent market. Looking for athletic players, Whitson offers a lot of promise. He has a plus fastball that can reach 96 mph with room to grow as he matures into his frame. His slider has plus potential with good depth and the changeup is not foreign to him, quite rare amongs high school pitchers.
“Karsten meets the criteria we look for in a high school pitcher in terms of size, strength, fastball quality, command and competitiveness to go along with solid makeup and strong character,”Padres assistant general manager Jason McLeod said.
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to add Karsten to our organization and watch him work towards his potential,” said Director of Scouting Jaron Madison.
"I’d have to say my best pitch is probably my fastball," Whitson said. "I actually just started throwing a slider my junior year so I haven’t even been throwing it a full year, and that’s definitely my strikeout pitch."
Musings: The Padres made a bold pick to state their new philosophy in the draft. They are looking for quality arms that have projection and Whitson fits the mold. After going college for a number of years, the high school arm of Whitson will be a welcome addition to their growing stable of young talent.
The History: Need an extra player – the 10th overall selection features All-Star talent. Seven names dot the major league landscape and all were taken 10th, including an impressive run in the late 90s. Eric Chavez (Oakland, 1996), Jon Garland (White Sox, 1997), Carlos Pena (Texas, 1998), Ben Sheets (Milwaukee, 1999), Ian Stewart (Colorado, 2003), Cameron Maybin (Detroit, 2005), and Tim Lincecum (San Francisco, 2006) have all impressed during their careers.
10. Oakland Athletics - Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington
Analysis: You can never bet against the plan of Billy Beane. He went back to his well – looking for raw power and the ability to work the count. Choice also has above-average speed and offers a lot of versatility to his game because of an advanced toolset. Choice will need some work on his swing mechanics but had impressive workouts prior to the draft, leading many to believe he has the stuff to project well at the pro level.
The History: Eight players in the majors were taken 12th overall, led by Billy Wagner (Houston, 1993). The 26th overall selection has just one – the lowest total in the first round. Selection 32, also in the first round this year, has zero names associated with it.
Musings: Big fan of the Cincinnati Reds pick at 12 overall - after all, it is the money pick, as noted above. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is highly coveted because of his defensive skills and emerging bats. The catcher position rarely has depth, and this season is no different. Grandal offers promise on both sides of the ball with his patient approach and ability to handle things behind the dish.
Chris Sale, taken by the White Sox at 13 could be a steal. He is very raw and must gain weight to reach his true potential. But he has has the makings of a plus fastball and plus changeup, creating a deadly combination.
Josh Skole, the Rangers selection at 15 could have the farthest to go of any first-rounder. He has football bloodlines and has a commitment to Georgia Tech. He reminds some of Donavan Tate, taken last year by the Padres, because of his athleticism and strong body/power/explosiveness.
The direction of the Astros has to be questioned. Perhaps they simply know more than us. Going to Illinois for a baseball player seems strange because it is. Nothing against Mike Foltynewicz. He has a plus fastball with projection to his body. He also sports a solid changeup but lacks a true third pitch. The last Illinois high schooler to be selected was Kris Honel in 2001 - 'nuff said.
The Boston Red Sox got themselves a hitter in Kolbrin Vitek. The second baseman out of Ball State will move to the outfield. Not to worry, the kid can rake. He has a sound approach and won't need much seasoning to get rid of the aluminum bat and rotational swing. He could be a steal at 20.
You have to wonder why so many teams soured on Zack Cox, a third baseman out of Arkansas. Sophomore-eligible, Cox made waves with a tremendous showing in the Cape Cod wood bat League. He has bat speed and improving power. He does not have the typical projection body but might be there already. St. Louis got themselves a dandy.
WIll the Dodgers be able to sign Zach Lee? That is the question. He has a chance to quarterback the LSU Tigers - a perennial challenger in the SEC. He has a plus fastball and shows that zip on the hill. It depends on the number - it may take more than $5 million to get a deal done.
After ragging on the Astros early, the selection of Mike Kvacnicka was solid. He has a chance to be a offensive catcher, if they commit to keeping him there.
Anthony Ranaudo may be a tough sign. If the Red Sox can convince him to ink, they have a relative bargain on their hands.
After noting that the Tigers may have been sleeping early on - we recant. The selection of Nick Castellanos was a steal. They should send a thank you to the other 30 teams that passed on him.
Seattle and Atlanta didn't do half bad either, choosing athletic specimens that should translate well to the professional ranks.
Not that this is a grade - since that would be foolish - but color me impressed with the Cardinals first two picks. Outstanding.
The Angels had five picks - all were high schoolers. High risk, high reward has been there motto. I am not sure they have the depth to wait so the pocket book may have to be opened on the free agent market to compensate.
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