Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's Draft Day!

Tonight's the night.  Steven Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, and their peers will be getting drafted tonight and tomorrow based on their physical tools, statistics, projections, and signability.

This past weekend, Peter Gammons magically turned back the clock and posted a brilliant vintage Gammons column previewing some of the aspects of the draft.  In Gammons' words...

This is an odd draft, because of the paucity of high-profile hitters. Some in the Padres camp would like to get toolsy Georgia high school outfielder Donavan Tate, but the price of buying him out of his North Carolina football scholarship may lead them to Vanderbilt lefty Mike Minor, or former Missouri right-hander Aaron Crow, who turned down the Nationals last year. Georgia high school right-hander Zack Wheeler, California high school lefty Tyler Matzek, North Carolina right-hander Alex White, St. Louis high school right-hander Jacob Turner (this year's Rick Porcello) and Kennesaw State right-hander Chad Jenkins are all fairly certain to be in the top 10. After that, there will be a few above-slot picks by clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox as the battles rage between the commissioner's office and those teams who are trying to stock their systems and protect themselves from the prison that is free-agent dependency.
Mr. Gammons continues...

It's one thing to acquire a potential top-of-the-rotation starter, it's another to properly protect and develop him; Porcello has been a remarkable story fitting in as the Tigers' No. 3 starter in what would be his sophomore year in college (he wouldn't be eligible to be drafted until June 2010 had he gone to Chapel Hill), but as much as Jim Leyland and Rick Knapp have worked to protect him, Porcello is on a 170-inning pace that with the postseason could stretch toward 200 and bring back memories of Steve Avery.

Yikes!  Steve Avery!  Looking back at Steve Avery's career, he was brilliant until he got hurt.  Did he get overused?  His only real problem was staying health enough to start 35 games in three consecutive seasons.  In 1990., at age 20, Steve Avery was called up and started 20 games for the Braves.  Then, in 1991, '92, and '93, at ages 21, 22, and 23, he started 35 games each season and threw 210, 233, and 223 innings.  He was very good-to-great in those years, too.  His ERA+ was 116, 115, and 138 in those years.  The next season, Avery got hurt, pitched only 24 games, finished with an ERA+ of 105.  For the rest of his career, he pitched about five and a half more seasons but never had an ERA+ over 100 again.

Let's hope that Mr. Leyland is as great as we think he is.

The last piece we'd like to share from Gammons' piece is this tantalizing nugget about a Marlins' farmhand, Mike Stanton...

A great case study is that of 19-year-old Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton, one of the most physically gifted prospects in the game. He is a 6-foot-6, 235-pound speedster who was a second-round pick in 2007, turned his back on a tight end scholarship to USC and hit 39 homers in Single-A last season at the age of 18.

Stanton had a .968 OPS and a .390 on-base percentage with 12 homers in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League before being sent to Double-A this week, now at the ripe age of 19. But what is most remarkable about Stanton -- and he would be a natural to be thrown into the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game -- is that every month beginning in April 2008, his strikeout rates have declined and his walk rates have increased. His strikeout rate was 33.7 percent in April 2008; last month, it was 17.3 percent. His walk rate was 7.1 percent in April 2008; last month, it was 13.6 percent.

Stanton is a student of the game and works very hard at his craft. "Still," says one scout, "he has instincts for the sport that no one can teach. That, and the fact that he can hit balls 500 feet."

We'll have more information on the site this afternoon, including an anticipatory look at tonight's games.

We hope work is going great for everyone today.


  1. I was hoping for a "whatever happened to Monty Farris" article....

  2. Check out #83 on this list. He's no Todd Van Poppel...