Aman Reaka and myself have been accumulating a bunch of questions from our readers over the past few weeks about the upcoming MLB draft. We have picked out the five best questions that have been sent to us and have answered them below.
Last year’s draft had the selection of Lewis-Clark State College’s Beau Mills with the 13th pick. Have you identified any prospects from small four-year schools that may be this year’s Mills?
Brian Foley: I love Eric Loh out of Bryant University. The kid has dominated the Division 2 level in each of the last season and showed that he knows how to pitch in a wood bat league. Another Division 2 player to watch is Tampa’s Anthony Perez who had a record of 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA with 18 saves on the year heading into the Division 2 College World Series. The final player I would pay attention to is Trinity College (CT) starting pitcher Tim Kiely who went 11-0 with a 1.33 ERA while walking two hitters in 88 innings. That is not a mistake with the walks. He has walked only two batters all year. Just a crazy stat.
Aman Reaka: This year doesn’t seem to have anyone of Mills caliber from a small school that would be picked in the early rounds. There are some lesser known D-1 schools (E. Kentucky, San Francisco, Elon, Wright St.) that will have players picked fairly early but the earliest pick from a small school i could see was another Lewis-Clark State College player. His name is Matt Fitts. Fitts is a Junior right handed pitcher. He is 6’2, 205 lbs. He went 12-0 this season with an ERA of 2.81 in 94 innings pitched. He had 99 K’s with 28 walks and gave up 61 hits. I don’t see him getting taken until the 5th round at the earliest.
If you were picking for Tampa Bay with the first overall selection, who are you taking?
BF: I still love Justin Smoak out of South Carolina. A big first baseman like him are not a dime a dozen and tend to be a cog in the middle of the batting order for many years. I just don’t know about Pedro Alvarez’s defense whether it will translate to the next level.
AR: If you take out two important deciding factors in drafting, signability and need, and draft best available, which I think is always the smartest thing to do anyways (see Detroit in recent years), I would definitely take Tim Beckham. This kid is the real deal. He has the ability to hit, hit for power, steal bases, and all while staying at shortstop. His only question mark is how much his power will develop, but the potential is there. Five tool shortstops are few and far between.
I also love the Pedro Alvarez pick. Alvarez will hit for average, with good power. He is a very polished hitter who is ready right now. He plays with high energy and will be a great teammate and a cornerstone on a championship team. His hamate bone injury has some people talking as if they are worried about his recovery, and they shouldn’t be. Both of these players are in the elite status.
Where does University of Michigan pitcher/infielder Zach Putnam figure in this year in the draft? He was drafted in the 38th round in 2005 by Detroit out of high school. Almost seemed like a draft and follow selection. But now that he is ready for the draft again, is he considered a top prospect for teams or is he a middle-round selection? Also, at which position do you think he has a better future at (pitcher or infield)?
BF: I have not seen enough of Putnam to make a decision but it seems that he was getting more time on the mound in the Cape Cod League last year which leads me to believe that his pitching will be what carries him through the minor leagues.
AR: Putnam is definitely on everyones wish list. I think he will be a pitcher although his bat is pretty nice as well. Putnam throws a sinking fastball in the 89-92 range and he can hit as high as 96 if he needs to blow one by someone. I think Putnam can have a successful career at the next level, probably as a #3 or #4 starter but one that can be an innings-eater type guy. He definitely has a lot of value. I would guess Putnam to be drafted in the 2nd round but i could see him sneaking into the late first or supplemental first.
What is it about Buster Posey that might lead the Rays to take him #1 overall? He is considered the ‘safe’ choice, but what does that mean in terms of projection? Do you think the Rays will take him?
BF: I saw Buster this season on two occasions where he was solid at the plate but did not have an opportunity to show off his strong throwing arm as the team was not stealing on him. Could this mean that he has a great throwing arm? Maybe but I need to see him throwing to make a better decision.
Posey needs to become more polished behind the plate and learn how to call the game better to get to the Majors as a catcher.
AR: Posey is definitely the ‘safe’ pick. What that means is that he doesn’t have much risk. A team doesn’t have to wonder what his development will be. He doesn’t have many question marks to his game. He isn’t the sexiest pick because he doesn’t have amazing upside like some other players in this draft, but he is a very safe pick. Posey has gap power and looks like a 10-15 HR type guy in the future. He has a very good bat and has shown to be learning the catching position very well and looks to have a solid future there. A catcher that can hit is a very tough thing to find and Posey definitely looks to have the potential to be an all-star caliber major league catcher. However, I’m still not quite sure the Rays will take him over Tim Beckham.
Smoak and Alonzo get tons of press, and rightfully so. I think a player that will be very much UNDER-valued on draft day is Allan Dykstra of Wake Forest. Great plate discipline, but does not have the numbers b/c he’s had no one hitting around him since Antonelli graduated two years ago.
BF: I love Dykstra’s game but on the two occasions that I have seen him in person over the last two seasons he has failed to do anything in the game. He is a big burly kid that seems to be swinging a toothpick at the plate. He gets no protection in the lineup and has been seeing bad pitches in 2008.
AR: Allan Dykstra will definitely be undervalued in this draft, but to noones fault but timing. He just so happens to be in the same draft class with several top notch first-basemen. He is a left handed hitter with good power and he is even a decent hitter. He had no protection in his lineup all year but he still managed to produce. In any other draft, he would be the top first baseman looked at in the first round, but this is a legendary draft at that position (Hosmer, Smoak, Wallace, Alonso, Cooper). I still think Dykstra will get picked in the supplemental 1st round and I think he will produce at the next level, but he is a notch below most of the other guys at his position.
Is the left handed pitcher (Jayson Miller) of the Washington State Cougars a consideration anywhere in the upcoming draft?
BF: I have not seen him play but based on his height and weight I really doubt he will get pick in the upcoming draft. Someone will probably sign him after the draft though.
AR: Jayson Miller is a 5’10, 170 lb Senior. He had an ERA of 4.06 in 99.2 innings pitched. He struck out 74 while walking 17 and giving up 121 hits. I havent ever had the chance to see Miller pitch but looking at his numbers, I would guess him to be a control pitcher that relies on his command and location of pitches. He does get a fair amount of strikeouts but he does appear to be very hittable. He is a leftie with good control so i could see him being a bullpen guy. Possibly a Lefty One-Out Guy. Based purely on his statistics, I would guess him to be selected somewhere in the 20th to 30th round area.