2009 Mid-Year Draft Update:
We are about 7 weeks away from Draft Day and the amateur seasons are at least half way done. Also, with the NFL Draft coming up, you can't help but think about its baseball counterpart. How great would it be if teams were allowed to trade picks? That would be exciting. The draft is really lacking hitters so you are going to see a lot of pitchers on this list. Of the hitters it does have, it seems to have a good amount of catching depth. Now would be a good time to check in and see what the ol' draft board looks like.
1. Stephen Strasburg RHP-San Diego State 1.28era 8-0 63.1ip 41h 12w121k
Just sick numbers. Washington will take him pretty much regardless of price.
2. Dustin Ackley OF/1B-North Carolina 399/508/709
Hasn't been able to play much CF, but doesn't matter, his bat is great.
3. Grant Green SS-Southern Cal 371/440/561
Started off kind of slow, but has come on of late. Some questions about his D but I think if he slips, a team gets a steal.
4. Tyler Matzek-LHP-HS
From all accouts, has not disappointed this spring.
5. Alex White-RHP-North Carolina 3.14era 6-1 63.0ip 49h 23w 72k
Had a great game against a very good Miami team last week. Could be drafted as high as #2 or 3
6. Aaron Crow-RHP-Independent League
Independent league doesn't start for another couple of weeks. He's a big question mark.
7. Kyle Gibson-RHP-Missouri 3.00era 6-3 69.0ip 11w 90 k
Very good numbers, some concern about workload and stressful delivery.
8. Donovan Tate-CF-HS
Haven't heard much about him this spring.
9. Shelby Miller-RHP-HS
Rising up draft boards, threw 3 straight no-hitters earlier this year. Throws mid-90s, with good offspeed stuff.
10. Matt Purke-LHP-HS
Concern about delivery has dropped him just a bit.
11. Mike Leake-RHP-Arizona State 1.61era 9-1 72.2ip 45h 15h 83k
The college breakout performance. Great numbers playing in a hitters park. Ground ball pitcher.
12. Zack Wheeler-RHP-HS
The big riser in the HS ranks. Word from BA is he won't make it out of the top 10.
13. Max Stassi-C--HS
Having a great senior season-also on the rise
14. Luke Bailey-C-HS
Athletic HS catcher who does a lot of things well but nothing great
15. Mychal Givens-RHP/SS--HS
Still hear he is liked better as a pitcher with a very good fastball
16. Austin Maddox-C-HS
Haven't heard much about Maddox either this spring.
17. Jacob Turner-RHP-HS
Polished HS right hander from Missouri
18. Tony Sanchez-C-Boston College 360/449/680
Excellent hitting, not sure about his defense.
19. Josh Phlegley-C-Indiana 378/480/652
Excellent hitting, questionable D.
20. Andrew Oliver-LHP-Oklahoma State 5.81era 52.2ip 23w 62k
Has really flopped this year--but lots of potential still there.
Just Missed: Matt Davidson, Tanner Scheppers, Tyler Skaggs, Kentrail Davis, Mike Minor
After Strasburg, you could pick names out of hat for the next 9 players and I wouldn't argue much. The more advanced college players tend to rise to the top when all else is about equal. So, I expect that we'll see the top college players fly off the board early.
Looking back at the past two drafts, it isn't hard to see the draft strategy the Royals have used: first, take a great HS hitter, then take as many HS arms as you can sprinkled with some HS athletes. Its worked pretty well as the 2007 draft looks very good and the 2008 draft could be great (consider that a teaser for my upcoming reviews of those drafts, but first we have to get through the less inspiring 2006 draft). But Derick Ladnier is no longer running our drafts, so will that make much of a difference in strategy? I don't think so. I think Dayton has already put his stamp on the draft process and Ladnier was pretty much redundant at this point.
I think the post-1st round part of the draft will look very similar to the past couple of years, but we could go any direction for that 1st round pick.
I think it most likely that we take a HS pitcher. I think the draft shapes up as having several arms that could be taken in the #8-15 range. There are 4 very good HS pitching prospects: Matzek, Purke, Miller and Wheeler. There haven't been 4 HSers taken in the top 12 since 2002 (also the last time we took a HS pitcher in the 1st round, a young lad by the name of Zack Greinke). Shelby Miller has been pitching great this year showing a good amount of present stuff coupled with potential in the future. He may be there at #12 and would be a good pick. Matt Purke would be another option-a left hander with very good stuff but questions about his delivery have dropped him some over the Spring.
We could also take a college pitcher with that first pick.
Quick Fact: The Royals haven't taken a pitcher from a 4 year university until round 10 in 2007 (Greg Holland) and round 16 in 2008 (Derrick Saito)
Arizona State's Mike Leake has had a phenomenal year. He pitches in a college bandbox but gets groundballs. He doesn't have a huge ceiling but could be here perhaps in the later half of 2010. He would probably sign quickly and while he may not be an ace-I think he's got more potential than most give him credit for. The Royals have a lot of young arms but Leake could be someone who fills out a rotation of Greinke, Meche, Davies, Hochevar and Leake-that could be impressive.
The last route would be the familiar one of a HS bat. (I don't see any college bats that will be available that will tempt us). A player like Max Stassi could be this year's Mike Moustakas. A good player whose stock has rocketed up with a great senior season. A baseball rat who, despite relatively small stature, has a great bat and is known a "leader" who plays against good competition in California-sound familiar-and he's a catcher (Keith Law, eat your heart out). The Royals have 3 young catchers at Low-A Burlington but that isn't enough reason not to take this guy if the Royals think he's the best option.
My Mid-Year prediction:
At the beginning of the year, I suggested/predicted that the Royals would take Tennessee CF Kentrail Davis. Kentrail has had a rough year so far and that prediction looks highly unlikely.
The Royals are going to have be flexible with this choice and see how the first 11 picks play out. Somebody will slip and right now I predict we will take Shelby Miller. If its true that you can never have enough pitching, then Miller would be a good choice. The Royals could use some hitting depth in their system--but we can always use the pitching depth for that. Also, we really need to help Mark Grudzielanek find a job--maybe we can help polish his resume. We could really use that supplemental 1st round pick. Otherwise, we don't pick again until the 3rd round. The Royals are supposedly planning on being more active in the international market and they could always take a player like Tim Melville in the later rounds and grab some talent that way. This draft has some depth in it and with teams looking for ways to cut costs there could be some talent available later on.
What direction do you think the Royals should go with their 1st pick? Are their any players I'm overlooking?