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2008 Baseball Draft Starts Tomorrow!

June 4, 2008
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The Day Before Tomorrow

The draft is now one day away. Just wanted to add a few names and things I have heard before the draft.

· Updates on other guys who the Indians might draft:

o Conor Gillaspie had an excellent regional upping his worth maybe above the 29th spot where the Indians draft.
o Andy Dirks, the leadoff hitter and centerfielder played really well for Wichita State, as well, increasing his value as a senior sign as he showed off some HR power and maybe pushing himself to a round too high for the Indians’ liking (they usually like to draft college seniors starting in the 6th round or so)
o One of my 6th round favorites, Chase D’Arnaud SS from Pepperdine probably upped his draft status significantly with two HRs in a regional final loss to Stanford. He doesn’t have eye-popping season numbers but you gotta like middle infielders with some pop. You can do so much with those guys defensively.
o Tyson Ross pitched poorly in the regionals for California maybe pushing him down the draft boards but most likely not far enough for him to be around when the Indians draft in the second round.
o Brett DeVall pitched well in the Florida HS All-star game.
o Lance Lynn, back in the first round picture after his start against Georgia in the SEC tournament, backed out of the first round (most likely) with his poor performance and poor command versus Missouri in the NCAA tournament. Still, Lynn was choice as the most likely top pick for the Indians in my
initial article on the draft this year and it would not surprise me from what I have been hearing for the Yankees or the Indians to pop him in the first round based on his overall body of work over the past two years and his start against Georgia with the team that drafts him throwing out his mid-season dip and start against Missouri.
o Alex Meyer, the 6’7” Indiana HS pitcher who is represented by Scott Boras and is considered a first round talent may not even be drafted AT ALL due to perceived bonus demands. He is a good late round pick for a team with the resources to sign him to a Boras-like contract.
o Tanner Scheppers RHP from Fresno State who was considered for most of this spring as a top 15 pick in this draft may have a labrum injury that might drop him out of the draft altogether or at least to a very low round.
o Brett Hunter, the RHP from Pepperdine, went 4 innings in Friday’s NCAA regional opener in trying to come back from an undisclosed arm injury that kept him out all spring. He was a top 10 draft choice before this injury which may keep him out of the first round.
o Bryan Shaw, closer from Long Beach State, gave up 3 runs in 1 1/3 innings in Sunday’s loss to San Diego.
o Brandon Crawford, the SS from UCLA, has hit poorly all year and hasn’t really looked like a guy who could make a lot of money in the draft, went 5-12 with a double, triple, 2 HRs and 6 RBI and 2 BB and 2K in three regional games over the weekend, probably moving him up significantly on a number of teams’ draft boards and vaulting him back into the supplemental first round/second round mix and probably out of contention for the Indians to steal him in the 3rd round.

· Recent mock drafts from various sources had the Indians’ first round selection being Jemile Weeks, second baseman from Miami, Ryan Perry, reliever for Arizona, Brett DeVall, HS pitcher from Florida, Andrew Cashner, RH closer Texas Christian, Conor Gillaspie, 3B Wichita St. and Tyson Ross, RHP California. Baseball America does it final mock draft later today.

· Finally got to talk to assistant coach Rob Reinstetle, the recruiting coordinater at Ole Miss. While it was too late for inclusion in my previous article here are some nuggets he gave me with my own comments at the end for each guy he reviewed.
o Lance Lynn RHP – Reinstetle confirmed that Lynn’s velocity did drop a little in the middle of the season and he was getting hit around which dropped him out of the first round in the eyes of a number of scouts. Lynn’s start in the SEC tournament game against Georgia vaulted him back into late first round consideration and that he was receiving lots of interest from cross-checkers who were now reconsidering Lynn as a late first round pick. He says Lynn is a bulldog and, although he doesn’t throw that hard (90-93 mph) his ball jumps on hitters and it is a heavy fastball. His secondary stuff is only so-so but he pitches off of and commands his fastball so well he can make his secondary stuff work. Unfortunately Lynn was not on his game in the NCAA tournament against Missouri as he was all over the place and, as a result, probably slipped out of the first round again. Unless the Indians take a flyer on him in the first round he won’t be around when their second pick rolls around.
o Cody Satterwhite RHP – Has tremendous stuff. He can throw all four pitches (fastball, slider, 12-6 curve and changeup) for strikes. He begged out of a late-season start which has hurt the evaluation of his makeup with some scouts as has his inability to translate his plus stuff into performance this year as a starting pitcher. Some team will draft him high and all the draft pundits will scratch their heads. Hopefully Indians fans won’t be among them.
o Scott Bittle, RHP – Their closer, he throws 88-91 touching 93 mph but it is his 84-88 mph cutter that is his swing and miss pitch. He was near the top in K/IP and helped his draft stock even more when he struck out 12 in 4 1/3 innings (yes, 12 of his 13 recorded outs were on strikeouts!) in the NCAA regionals on Saturday. His only problem is that he doesn’t throw hard but he is clearly a high profile prospect right now. But how can you pass up this guy if he comes around to us in say the 3rd round (won’t make it there but I can dream, can’t I?).
o Cody Overbeck, 3B – Thinks he is underrated as a 7th to 10th round projected pick. Thinks his power will play and that he can stay at 3B in the pros. He is one of the if not the best defensive third basemen in the SEC (the league that potential #1 pick Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez plays in). He thinks Overbeck still doesn’t incorporate his lower half into his swing as efficiently as he could and so his power may actually play up a little once that aspect is fine-tuned. He sees Overbeck as similar to David Freese who is projected now to be the Cardinals future third baseman after coming over last winter in the Jim Edmonds trade. If Overbeck doesn’t stay at 3B he sees him as a left fielder more than as a second baseman.

· The top of this draft (no concern to the Indians, of course) is still incredibly unsettled. At this point any one of 3 guys could go #1 overall with the other two going soon thereafter.

· One thing to keep in mind for this draft is who the ‘advisees” of Scott Boras are (players can’t have agents or they automatically become professionals). Here is a list I pieced together:
o Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
o Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS FL
o Alex Meyer, RHP, Greensburg HS IN
o Gerrit Cole, RHP, Lutheran HS CA
o Nick Maronde, LHP Lexington HS KY
o Zach Wilson, 3B, Wilson HS CA

Many of these guys could slip on draft day to draft positions well below their talent level.

· Also, we have heard very little about the drug testing that the 200 top prospects for the 2008 draft had to submit to. The results are known by all the teams and the players now but there has been remarkably little speculation from the national draft pundits if anyone failed and, if so, how that would effect their draft status. If players who are otherwise considered signable and who are healthy drop significantly on draft day there will be a lot of speculation about whether it was due to a positive drug test.

· I thought it would be instructive to take a look at the Indians’ 2007 draft and how that is going a year later:

1 Beau B. Mills 3B .250 with 5 HR and 17 2B in 200 AB
4Timothy J. McFarland LHP Extended spring training
5 Jonathan R. Holt RHP 4.71 ERA as a reliever in low A
6 Bo M. Greenwell CF Extended spring training
7 Allen C. St Clair LHP Did not sign
8 Mark A. Thompson SS .174 average in low A
9 Adam T. White CF .247 average in low A
10 Brandon H. Taylor LHP 4.79 ERA as a reliever in high A
11 Matthew D. Hague 3B Did not sign
12 Garrison M. Campfield RHP 4.66 ERA as a reliever in low A
13 Matthew C. Brown CF .279 average in low A
14 Daniel A. Morales RHP Extended spring training
15 Christopher A. Jones LHP Rehabbing arm injury in extended spring training
16 Doug J. Hogan C Did not sign
17 Miles P. Morgan RHP Did not sign
18 Kyle Landis RHP 2.37 ERA as a reliever in low A
19 Robert F. Coyle CF Did not sign
20 Jeffrey A. Hehr SS .267 average in low A
21 Jared L. Clark OF Did not sign
22 Henry Sowers RHP Did not sign
23 Shaeffer S. Hall LHP Did not sign
24 Adam R. Zornes C Did not sign
25 Kyle Leiendecker LHP Did not sign
26 Michael A. Valadez C .189 average in low A
27 Daniel Edwards RHP Did not sign
28 Scott A. Savastano SS Did not sign
29 Garrett A. Rieck LHP Extended spring training
30 Bryce Brentz RHP Did not sign
31 Jason Hessler RHP Did not sign
32 Joseph G. Mahalic RHP 4.15 ERA as a starter in low A
33 Tyler Kuhn SS Did not sign
34 Josh Judy RHP 5-0 4.41 ERA, 44 K in 34 innings in low A
35 Brian P. Juhl C .226 average in high A
36 Peter J. Zocchi RHP Extended spring training
37 Dean A. Kiekhefer LHP Did not sign
38 Jonathan M. Williams RHP Rehabbing arm injury in extended ST
39 Eric Jokisch LHP Did not sign
40 Dallas J. Cawiezell RHP 2.60 ERA 29 K in 28 IP as a reliever in low A
41 Thomas A. Luce RHP Did not sign
42 Bryce C. Tafelski C Did not sign
43 Travis J. Howell C Did not sign
44 Ryan W. Royster CF Did not sign
45 Daniel T. Evatt CF Did not sign
46 Brock A. Simpson RF Extended spring training
47 Kevin M. Rucker CF Extended spring training
48 Walter Diaz SS Extended spring training
49 Matthew S. Willard SS .185 average in low A
50 Douglas J. Pickens C .213 average in low A

Looking at the above, one year later the 2007 draft has to be considered to be a real disappointment. Things could clearly change but when your best 2007 draft prospect (power hitting Beau Mills) is hitting .250 with one HR every 40 ABs in A ball AND has played mostly first base, meaning the shoulder injury he had when he was drafted may be hurting him or he can’t cut it as a professional at third base, when your 5th round pick, a college reliever, can’t get out low A hitters, when you have a lot of 2007 draft picks who can’t even make it out of extended spring training and when your best current prospect from the 2007 draft appears to be 32nd rounder Joey Mahalic, you have to wonder how much the Indians are going to get out of a draft that I originally categorized as, at best,
"Safe". This, in my opinion, makes hitting a homerun with our 2008 draft selections that much more important. Couple that with the lack of high end prospects anywhere in our system and that means that it will have to be a grand slam homerun.

· One day to go. Look for me to blog here on Thursday and Friday.

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