Over Spilled Milk: 2007 Draft – NL Central

Each year, with the draft approaching, I look back at a previous draft to see how the players drafted have worked out.  Essentially, most of the players that will be regulars in the majors will be up within five years of when they are drafted.  So I will be reviewing the 2007 draft.

Reviewing every draft pick by each team would take forever and would consist of a large amount of, “….didn’t work out”, or “….is out of baseball”.  So I’ll just review the picks of the first three rounds for each team and notables from each team’s later rounds.

Now we’ll look at the National League Central:

Chicago Cubs

With the third overall pick the Cubs selected third baseman Josh Vitters. Many have proclaimed him as a bust over the past few seasons as he hasn’t shot through the system, but the kid was only 17 when drafted and has reached Triple-A at for his age 22 season. There’s still time for him to develop, but he’ll need to take a few more walks and make more consistent contact to get regular playing time in the Majors. Supplemental round pick Josh Donaldson was in part of the package for Rich Harden in 2008. His new team, the Oakland Athletics, moved him out from behind the plate to third base where he’s played in the place of the injured Scott Sizemore. He’s struggling to hit, but the A’s haven’t given up hope yet.

The Cubs didn’t have a second round pick, but drafted second baseman Tony Thomas in the third round. Labeled as an offensive-minded infielder, Thomas’ statistics started to dwindle as he rose through the system.

Fourth round pick Darwin Barney has emerged from the image of a bench utility infielder that won’t hit enough for a regular job to the Cubs starting second baseman. He’s nothing special with the bat, but he puts up palatable stats to go with good defense. Outfielder Brandon Guyer was their fifth round pick. He was sent to the Rays in the package compiled for Matt Garza. Brandon’s had a few at-bats with Tampa, but lingers mostly in Triple-A, posting a decent batting line. Lefty James Russell has pitched out of the Cubs pen for the past three years. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been usable.

Pitcher Andrew Cashner was drafted for the third time in 2007 (29th round), but once again, he decided to go back to college. But the Cubs got another chance on Cashner in 2008 when they drafted AND signed him. He has since been shipped to San Diego for Anthony Rizzo.

Cincinnati Reds       

Catcher Devin Mesoraco was the 15th overall pick in 2007. He struggled early in his career in the Minors, but his bat eventually turned around and he became a viable offensive prospect. Devin is now learning the ropes in his rookie season in the Majors.

The Reds had two supplemental picks in third baseman Todd Frazier and righty Kyle Lotzkar that year. Although Frazier’s bat hasn’t emerged as well as Mesoraco’s he’s still a viable player that is getting his feet wet this season in anticipation of taking over Scott Rolen‘s position full time. High school right-hander Lotzkar has been handled with kid gloves as he’s been injured numerous times, but he may still emerge to be a viable pitcher for the Reds.

Second round saw the selection of shortstop Zack Cozart. He’s currently playing alongside Frazier, but on a more full-time basis. The Reds had two third round picks which they spent on righty Scott Carroll and third baseman Neftali Soto. Carroll struggled in the upper minors and was switched to relief, but to little avail as his ERA is over 5.00 at Triple-A. Soto, yet another infielder picked by the Reds in this draft, has been moved to first base. He displays 30+ home run power, but may not hit for enough of an average or take enough walks to be viable at the next level.

Third baseman Brandon Waring was drafted in the 7th round. He was included in a trade package for Ramon Hernandez that sent him to Baltimore. He’s struggled in the upper minors though, with the same issues that Soto has.

Houston Astros

After a poor draft in 2006, the Astros did worse in 2007. Houston lost its first two picks signing free agents Carlos Lee and Woody Williams in the offseason. They didn’t pick until the third round that year, selecting third baseman Derek Dietrich. Things got worse as Dietrich passed on Houston’s offer and went to Georgia Tech. He’s now in the Rays’ Minor League system. Overall, the Astros didn’t sign anyone from the first four rounds.

In fact, no-one from the 2007 Draft seems to be working out for Houston. Not a single player from the draft is currently in the Astros organization as a player. It’s like the draft never existed…..

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted slugger Matt LaPorta in the first round of 2007. Although they struggled to find a defensive position for him, LaPorta raked offensively in the Minors. He ended being part of the trade package for C.C. Sabathia. Matt’s bounce from the Majors to Triple-A the past few seasons, but he’s continually struggling with hitting with Cleveland. A change of scenery may be best. Third round pick Jonathan Lucroy has emerged as the team’s starting catcher and a decent hitter.

Speedster Eric Farris was drafted in the fourth round. He’s stolen 70 bases in the minors one season, but has had only one PA in the Majors so far. No-one else has panned out so far.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates spent their first round pick on Daniel Moskos, a left-handed pitcher from Clemson. Moskos has gone from relief to starting to relief, where he’s most suited. He’s pitched a few innings for Pittsburgh, but has found himself down in Triple-A this season looking for another chance. Second round pick Duke Welker seems to have found better control the past couple seasons and the righty is now in Triple-A looking for a shot at the Pittsburgh pen. Third round pick Brian Friday has struggled to hit at Triple-A. The infielder may not make it to the Majors at all.

Lefty reliever Tony Watson was drafted in the 9th round and has pitched decently out of the Pittsburgh pen the past couple seasons.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had five picks in the first three rounds in 2007. Their first pick was on first rounder Pete Kozma a high school infielder. Although he’s seen some time with St. Louis, Kozma’s not hitting well enough to merit a return trip. Supplemental round pick Clayton Mortensen was sent to the Oakland Athletics in the Matt Holliday deal. He has since been traded two more times, landing the righty in the Boston bullpen, where he seems to have found his calling as a reliever.

Righties David Kopp and Jess Todd were drafted in the second round. Kopp struggled and is now out of baseball. Todd briefly saw time in the St. Louis bullpen before being included in a trade for Mark DeRosa. He pitched a few innings in relief in Cleveland, but he’s struggled and is now back in the St. Louis organization, at Triple-A. Third round pick, infielder Daniel Descalso, has played a utility infielder role for the Cardinals over the past three seasons.

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Rookies to Look For: Neftali Soto

Recently the Cincinnati Reds shipped off first base prospect Yonder Alonso in a trade to acquire pitcher Mat Latos. With All-Star first baseman Joey Votto already entrenched in Cincy, Alonso was blocked and became a viable piece of trade bait. But Alonzo wasn’t just blocked from his approach to the Majors, he was being pushed from behind as well. First baseman Neftali Soto just completed his first full season at Double-A and was knocking on the door of Triple-A, where Alonzo has been playing first.

There’s no doubt that Soto’s bat is his calling card. More specifically, his power, as he crushed 31 home runs last season in the minors. He’s a definite power source that has turned it on as he has risen through the minors and learned to hit to opposite field. There are some doubts about his ability to hit in the high minors and more notably in the majors though. He’s still learning how to hit, but his patience at the plate has been paltry all along. Except for a couple lower outliers, his walk rate has been relatively steady in the 5.5-6.0% range, not a good indicator of future success.

Defensively, it’s an uglier picture. He’s went from shortstop, to third, to catcher, and now first base. According to the reports I have read, he’s adequate at first base at best. That type of response makes you wonder about the look on scouts faces when they watched him field at short. In Neftali’s defense though, he only 18 when he was drafted and has grown significantly since.

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As for his future, I can see him as a cheap replacement at first base when Joey Votto is either shipped out of town via trade or leaves on his own accord via free agency. Whether he can last with his lack of plate discipline is a another question that can only really be answered in time. He still has time to refine his eye at the plate, but at this point I see him as more of a Four-A hitter.

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Trade Bait: Mat Latos to the Reds

With everyone centering on the availability of Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza, and possibly a surplus starter from the Rays, the Padres struck first in unloading their top pitcher for prospects. Though they didn’t have to get rid of Mat Latos, the bounty they received was hard to pass up. Yesterday the Padres traded Latos to the Cincinnati Reds for Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger.

Cincy gets a starter with near-ace like stuff that is not even arbitration eligible yet. Latos is a good pitcher, but he does lack enough command of his fast ball and the mound presence to be a true ace pitcher. Quite a few talent evaluators have been talking about his personality and how it keeps him from being an ace. But there’s no doubting that he is one of the best pitcher available on the market.

Volquez was great for the Reds after his trade from the Rangers a few years ago, but Tommy John surgery has derailed his career. His first full season back from the surgery didn’t so well, posting a 5.71 ERA in the process. But it is a common belief that a pitcher doesn’t fully recover until his second full year back from the surgery. Getting out of Great American Ballpark and moving into PETCO will help as well. Even though it won’t help his absurd 5.38 BB/9, it should help knock down his 20.7% HR/FB. It is completely possible that Volquez rebounds this season and becomes a viable trade target at the deadline this July.

Alonso creates a logjam at first with Anthony Rizzo. But Yonder is more suited for PETCO than Rizzo, his line drive stroke fits better than the fly ball hitter that Rizzo is. Rizzo immediately becomes trade bait and a number of teams may be interested, including the Cubs, Rays, and Pirates.

Grandal is a top catching prospect and is not far from the majors. He could push Nick Hundley aside by July, giving the team additional trade bait beyond Volquez. He’s a premium prospect at a premium position.

Although some feel the Brad Boxberger could become a starter or close, he looks more like a setup man. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a curve, but his changeup is inconsistent. Brad looks like the type of relieve that should excel in PETCO….then again the Padres seem to make prized relievers out of nearly anybody in that ballpark.

There is a feeling that the Reds are taking advantage of a “down” NL Central with this clearly “win now” move. With the Cubs rebuilding, the Brewers without Prince Fielder and the Cardinals without Albert Pujols some believe their time is now. But the Cardinals pitching will be better with Waino back in the rotation and the Brewers will be better, without Prince, than many believe. The Reds gave up just too much for a #2 starter.

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It’s Just Speculation: Reds-Giants-Dodgers Three-Way

With roughly a month until the trade deadline, it’s often a fun exercise to explore possible trades that could happen before the end of July. These are not full-out rumors, just off-the-cuff speculation of trade scenarios.

Anyone who works in the industry or is an analyst can tell you that trades involving multiple partners are exponentially hard to complete. Getting two teams to agree on which players will be exchanged is hard enough, adding any additional “cooks in the kitchen” can douse the hopes of any trade quickly.

But one deal that just may work could be a three-way trade between the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, and the L.A. Dodgers. Two of these teams, the Reds and the Giants, are in tight pennant races and are in need of a little additional help to propel each to the front of their respective division.

The Reds have a wealth of catching talent. Catcher Ramon Hernandez is enjoying a terrific offensive season (.308/.370/.513) and has provided well behind the plate as well. Although he hasn’t hit nearly as well as Hernandez, Ryan Hanigan has been relatively close to league average for a catcher and has more defensive potential than Hernandez at this point in his career. They also have a catcher by the name of Devin Mesoraco crushing Triple-A pitching down in Louisville.

However, their starting pitching has been relatively attrocious. Starters Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, and Travis Wood all have ERAs north of 5.00. Although they are looking forward to the return of Homer Bailey, the Reds are in desperate need for reliable starting pitching to team with the top offense in the NL.

The Giants are in a complete opposite predicament. They have a wealth of starting pitching, but lack any sort of viable offensive output from their catchers now that Buster Posey is out for the season with a broken leg.

Yet, there has been rumors that the Giants are very reluctant to give up any of their starting pitching for an offensive boost. Although they boast an impressive starting five that’s been good enough to essentially make Barry Zito a very expensive middle reliever, it is unlikely that they will be open to giving away any of them mid-season for a bump in offensive production.

That’s where the woeful Dodgers come in. With the McCourt dealings providing a blanket of financial insecurity that lays heavy on the organization, the Dodgers have been rumored to want to deal away some of the players nearing free agency. One of those players, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, is enjoying a fine year for the Dodgers and has become the most likely to go. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports numerous teams have scouted Hiroki, including the Reds.

By sending Kuroda to the Reds, the Dodgers would relieve themselves of his salary for the rest of the season. The workhorse starter would give the Reds’ rotation a mid-season boost that they so desperately need. The Reds could then clear some salary to pay Kuroda by trading Hernandez to the Dodgers, clearing the way for Mesoraco to join them in Cincinnati. Hernandez would be a big boost to a lack-luster Giants offensive lineup and would be a free agent at the end of the season, allowing Posey to slip back in behind the plate next year. In return for letting Kuroda go, the Dodgers would then receive a couple prospects from the Giants and possibly the Reds.

Looking at previous trades of similar players that are about to hit free agency, it is unlikely the Dodgers will receive a player like Zach Wheeler or Eric Surkamp. Then again, the market for upper-end starting pitching will be very meager and the price may go up even though it is a somewhat of a salary dump move for the Dodgers.

Of course, there are a number of roadblocks in such a deal beyond just the three-way obstacle. This would mean that the Dodgers and Giants would trade within their division, not a completely usual practice in MLB. Also, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Kuroda would require compensation to waive his no-trade clause. It’s also possible that money exhanged in the deal as well.

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Over Spilled Milk: 2006 Draft – NL Central

Each year, with the draft approaching, I look back at a previous draft to see how the players drafted have worked out.  Essentially, most of the players that will be regulars in the majors will be up within five years of when they are drafted.  So I will be reviewing the 2006 draft.

Reviewing every draft pick by each team would take forever and would consist of a large amount of, “….didn’t work out”, or “….is out of baseball”.  So I’ll just review the picks of the first three rounds for each team and notables from each team’s later rounds.

Now we’ll look at the National League Central:

Chicago Cubs

The Cubbies had the 13th overall pick in 2006.  They took Clemson University outfielder Tyler Colvinwith that pick.  From Colvin had a nice rookie season that saw him hit 20 home runs and slug .500 last year.  But this high strikeout rates have gotten the best of him and he’s now back in the minors. 

After taking Colvin in the first round, the Cubs didn’t pick again until the 5th round. With that pick the team selected Jeff Samardzija, a two-sport athlete that was signed into baseball to stay by the Cubs. Jeff has tantalizing stuff, but lacks the control necessary to be dominant on the mound. He’s enjoyed the highest strikeout rate of his career this season, but the number of walks that he issues is troubling.

The Cubs have not had any other players from this draft reach the majors yet.

Cincinnati Reds       

Much like they did in 2005, the Reds took an outfielder with their 1st pick (8th overall) of the draft. In 2005 it was the slugging Jay Bruce, but in 2006 they went with more speed and University of Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs. Stubbs has displayed both speed and power while in the majors (22HR, 30B last season), but amasses too many strikeouts to be a good option at the top of the lineup. But he’s still used in that role. Second round pick, righty Sean Watson, has never pitched well enough to reach the majors. He’s still plugging away though, but within the Florida Marlins minor league system. Third round pick, infielder Chris Valaika, may turn out to be a good utility infielder for the Reds, or starting 2B if the team decides it can’t afford to keep Brandon Phillips around after this season.

Righty Jordan Smith(7th) is struggling to become a permanent member of the Reds’ pen. With high hit rates and low strikeout rates in the higher minors, it may be tough for him to find success in Cincinnati.   Eighth round pick Justin Turner was involved in the trade that brought Ramon Hernandezto Cincy. He was then claimed by the New York Mets and is now enjoying the best season in the majors he’s had so far. Although he came up mainly as a second baseman, Turner is 2nd on the depth chart at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases. Josh Roenicke (10th round) was one of the pieces used in the Scott Rolen trade. He has good strikeout numbers in the minors, but has yet to prove himself in the Blue Jays’ pen. In the 17th round the Reds took outfielder Chris Heisey. Chris is currently the team’s 4th outfielder and is quickly pushing Jonny Gomes aside for the left field starting job. He will still need to display more of the power and speed that he had in the minors to be more than just a 4th outfielder type though.

Houston Astros

The first three rounds of the 2006 draft has been a complete bust so far for the Houston Astros.  First rounder Maxwell Sapp didn’t hit well and was hit himself by some significant phyiscal issuesbefore being released by the Astros. He hasn’t returned to professional baseball. Second round pick, righty Sergio Perez, hasn’t had a WHIP below 1.50 since 2008 but he’s still pitching for their Triple-A affiliate. Outfielder Nicholas Moresi (3rd round) never hit well and was eventually released.

Current third baseman Chris Johnson was drafted in the fourth round. He’s slowly coming out of a major early season slump and should become a solid presence in the team’s lineup for the next few seasons. Sixth rounder Bud Norris has been one of the team’s better pitchers in the rotation this season and should stay there for a while. 

Milwaukee Brewers

In 2006 the Brewers had the 16th overall pick. They used that pick on pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and his blazing fastball. The Brewers changed him over into relief permanently in 2010 and his stock rose. The Brewers included him in the package they put together for Zack Greinke. He’s now at Triple-A for the Royals honing his control after walking 11 in 15.1 innings in Kansas City. If he can improve, Jeffress should be a good setup type or even closer. Second round pick Brent Brewer (yes Brewer played in the Brewers’ system) didn’t hit well in the minors and eventually decided to attend the University of Tennessee to play football. Their third round pick was outfielder Cole Gillespie who’s college team, the Oregon State Ducks, was about to win the College World Series. Gillespie was eventually traded with pitcher Roque Mercedes to the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Felipe Lopez. Although Gillespie hasn’t been able to stay on the Dbacks’ active roster, he’s having a stand-out season at Triple-A (.320/.429/.547 with 12 3B in 181AB).

Reliever Mike McClendon was selected in the 10th round. He switched to mainly relief in 2008 and has excelled since. Mike is now into his second season in the Milwaukee bullpen.

Pittsburgh Pirates

With the fourth overall pick in the draft, the Pirates went with pitcher Brad Lincoln. Brad is now in his third season at Triple-A and waiting for a call-up. He may become a decent innings-eater for the team eventually. Lefty Michael Felix was drafted in the second round, but never passed High-A ball and was released last year. Third round pick, infielder Shelby Ford, hasn’t hit well in the upper minors and is unlikely to make it to the majors.

Outfielder Alex Presley was taken in the 8th round. He has improved as he’s progressed through the minors and owns a .340/.384/.505 line with 13 SB in 206 AB.  If he can improve his walk rate, Presley could become a good 4th outfielder, possibly a starter on some teams. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhallwas drafted in the 11th round. He didn’t sign and was re-drafted in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians. Lonnie is now one of the Indians’ top prospects. Righty Michael Crotta (17th round) has pitched out of the Pirates bullpen, but has struggled mightily.

The late find of the Pirates may be pitcher Rudy Owens who was selected in the 28th round. Rudy is one of the team’s top pitching prospects and is not far from pitching in the majors.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had five picks in the first two rounds in 2006. With the last pick of the first round, they picked up pitcher Adam Ottavino. Adam rose to the majors last year, but had mediocre results. He is down in Triple-A this season honing his stuff. First supplemental round pick, pitcher Chris Perez, was utilized in the Mark DeRosa deal in June 2009. Their compensation for losing Matt Morris via free agency is now the closer for the Indians.

The other pick the Cardinals received for losing Matt Morris was second rounder Brad Furnish. The lefty struggled in the upper minors and eventually moved on to the Indy league. Their regular second round pick was spent on outfielder Jon Jay. Jay bounces back and forth from starting to fourth outfielder with the big league club. The Cards also received a supplemental second round pick from the loss of Abraham Nunez via free agency. They used that pick on first baseman Mark Hamilton. He’s mashing in the minors (.393/.505/.560 in 84 AB), but hasn’t found the same success in St. Louis during brief stints in the majors the last two seasons. Third round pick, pitcher Gary Daley, hasn’t pitched well through his time in the minors.

Outfielders Shane Robinson(5th Round) and Lance Zawadzki(15th Round) have both had cups of coffee in the majors (Zawadzki after being redrafted by the Padres), but nothing significant. Super-utility player Allen Craig(8th round) is enjoying a very good sophomore season in the bigs and may be making a case for a full-time starting job. Righty P.J. Walterswas drafted in the 11th round. The Cardinals have tested him out in the bullpen a couple times, but with little success. Further down in the 28th round the Cardinals drafted another righty in Luke Gregerson. Gregerson was traded to the Padres in the Khalil Greene deal. The Padres are enjoying the fruits of that trade right now as Gregerson pitching well in their pen.

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Trade Bait: Jocketty Picks Up Edmonds Again

The Cincinnati Reds are pushing for a little more offense and a little more veteran stability in the outfield as they make a push for their first playoff appearance since 1995.  Team GM Walt Jocketty has picked up old friend Jim Edmonds from the Milwaukee Brewers, marking the second time he’s traded for the veteran outfielder.

Edmonds is batting a very nice .286/.350/.493 in 240 plate appearances this season after sitting out all of 2009.  He has been shielded against lefties in the process though, so he probably cannot be counted on as anything more than a platoon outfielder at the point.  But matching him up with current right-handed hitters Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs should improve the team’s overall offense.  He’ll also be a good defensive substitution for Jonny Gomes at times too.

In return, the Milwaukee Brewers receive Chris Dickerson from the Reds.  In the limited playing time that he’s received in the majors, Dickerson has held high OBPs, but has struggled against left-handed pitchers.  If he’s able to figure out lefties a little better, Dickerson could be a decent everyday center fielder and lead off hitter for the Brewers.  Ideologically, you’d think he’d team up well with the right-handed Carlos Gomez in a platoon for center field, but Gomez hits lefties worse than right handers.

This trade looks good for both sides.  Edmonds wasn’t going to net the Brewers anything after the season, so dealing him to get something of relative worth was a good move.  Meanwhile, the Reds improve their offense and their defense in the outfield as they try to fight off the St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff march in the NL Central.

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Over Spilled Milk: 2005 Draft – NL Central

Each year, with the draft approaching, I look back at a previous draft to see how the players drafted have worked out.  Essentially, most of the players that will be regulars in the majors will be up within five years of when they are drafted.  So I will be reviewing the 2005 draft.

Reviewing every draft pick by each team would take forever and would consist of a large amount of, “….didn’t work out”, or “….is out of baseball”.  So I’ll just review the picks of the first three rounds for each team and notables from each team’s later rounds.

Now we’ll look at the National League Central:

Chicago Cubs

The Cubbies had the 20th overall pick in 2005.  They took high school starting pitcher Mark Pawelek with that pick.  From 2005 to 2009 Mark walked 112 batters in 176.1 innings.  From 2007 on, he never had a WHIP below 1.50.  The Reds tested him out in the minors last season, but he’s not pitching so far this year.  Their second round pick was pitcher Donnie Veal.  Veal was the Cubs’ #2 overall prospect in 2007, but injuries and inconsistency brought his stock down fast and the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the December 2008 Rule IV draft.  The lefty is now pitching decently in their Triple-A club and could be a relief option for them eventually.

The Cubs drafted two pitchers in the third round, pitchers Mark Holliman and Mike Billek.  Neither had enough success in the minors to reach Chicago and are both out of professional baseball.

None of the team’s selections after the third round have panned out yet.

Cincinnati Reds       

With the 12th overall pick in the June draft, the Reds took outfielder Jay Bruce.  Although Bruce had a relatively ugly 2009 season and a slow start to the 2010 season, he’s ripping the cover off the ball now.  He should be an offensive force for the team for the next few years.  Second round pick Travis Wood has slowly made his way to Triple-A.  The lefty may have some use in relief for the big-league club.  Third round pick Zach Ward pitched his way up to Double-A, but didn’t make it any further.  He hasn’t pitched yet this season.

Righties Jeff Stevens (6th), Carlos Fisher (11th), Logan Ondrusek (13th) and John Axford (42nd).  Have all seen time in the majors.  Jeff was traded to the Indians in 2006 in a package for Brandon Phillips and in 2008 to the Cubs in a package for Mark DeRosa.  He’s currently in the Cubs’ minor leagues.  Fisher has seen a good amount of time in the Reds’ pen.  Both Ondrusek and Axford have seen some time there this season as well.  Infielder Adam Rosales was picked in the 12th round.  He’s seen a significant amount of time at second and other positions in Cincy this season. 

Houston Astros

The Astros were able to snag two picks in the first round in 2005.  With the first pick, the team took pitcher Brian Bogusevic out of Tulane.  After a failed attempt as pitcher Brian switched over to the outfield and has performed decently in the minors.  With light power and decent speed, Bogusevic has an outside chance to be a fifth or even fourth outfielder.  Eli Iorg has been an outfielder since he was drafted.  Although he’s been on the team’s top 10 list a couple times, Eli has struggled in the upper minors though and hasn’t seen an at-bat this season.

Catcher Ralph Henriquez was drafted in the second round.  He hasn’t hit well enough to get to Double-A.  Infielder Tommy Manzella (3rd Round) was selected to be the Astros’ starting shortstop after a good 2009 season in Triple-A.  But he’s struggling with big league pitching.  Pitcher Josh Lindblom was also selected in the third round, but he went to college and was drafted in the second round in 2008 by the Dodgers.

The only other notable selection in the draft was Koby Clemens, the son of then Astro pitcher Roger Clemens

Milwaukee Brewers

Like in 2004, the Milwaukee Brewers had the fifth overall pick.  This time they made the right choice and selected the slick-hitting Ryan Braun.  There’s no doubting Ryan’s value to the team and they also made a good move by locking him up long term.  In the second round the Brewers’ selected starter Will Inman.  He pitched well enough to be considered in a package for Scott Linebrink in 2007.  But he has yet to really succeed at Triple-A for the San Diego Padres.  The Brewers’ success with hitters continued in the third round as they picked up Mat Gamel.  Though he hasn’t seen much success in the majors yet, Mat has been included in Baseball America’s top 100 prospects in baseball for the past two seasons.  He’ll rake in the majors at some point.

The Brewers grabbed another good hitter in the seventh round when they selected Michael Brantley.  Brantley impressed Indians scouts enough that he was included in the C.C. Sabathia trade.  He’s now getting his feet wet in the majors as one of the Indians’ top rookies.  Two players currently under the Athletics’ control are Jemile Weeks (8th) and Andrew Bailey (16th), neither player signed with the Brewers in 2005 and were drafted later by Oakland.  Pitcher Jake Arrieta was selected in the 26 round, he didn’t sign and was drafted by the Orioles.  Jake is now one of the better pitching prospects in the minors.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Like the Brewers, the Pirates selected in the same spot as they did in 2004, 11th.  They also made a pretty good pick in the first round that year.  Selecting Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates picked up their future center-fielder and sparkplug to their offense.  Second round pick, outfielder Brad Corley, was good enough to be considered on the Pirates’ top 10 prospects list twice.  But low walk rates and recent contact issues have hampered his path to the majors.  The team selected a third outfielder in the third round, picking up James Boone.  Boone struggled to hit enough throughout his playing career and hasn’t played yet this year.

In the fourth round the Bucs selected infielder Brent Lillibridge.  Brent hit well in the minors and was used in the trade for Adam LaRoche.  He was then traded from the Braves to the White Sox in a package for Javier Vazquez.  Power-hitting Steven Pearce was drafted in the 11th round.  He is still having troubles keeping a regular starting  job in the majors though.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals had a pretty productive draft in 2005.  In the first round they drafted current centerfielder Colby Rasmus who’s already molding into a pretty good hitter in St. Louis.  Infielder Tyler Greene was also picked up in the first round.  He’s been relatively useful in a utility role.  Pitcher Mark McCormick was the team’s second (Colby was first) compensation pick for losing Edgar Renteria.  Mark was plagued with shoulder problems throughout his professional career and hasn’t pitched since 2008.  Their second first-round supplemental pick was pitcher Tyler Herron.  Tyler never made it beyond Double-A and hasn’t pitched at all this season.

Pitchers Josh Wilson and Nick Webber were picked up in the second round.  But neither had a successful career in the minors and both are now out of professional baseball.  Third round pick Daryl Jones is still trying to hack away at Double-A, but a future in the majors looks unlikely.

Slick-hitting catcher Bryan Anderson was drafted in the fourth round.  His star has fallen somewhat since being considered amongst MLB’s top catching prospects in 2008, but he still maybe useful for some team.  Pitcher Mitchell Boggs was picked up in the fifth round.  Utility outfielder Nick Stavinoha was selected in the 7th round.  The Cards went after pitcher Daniel McCutchen in the 12th round.  He didn’t sign and was drafted by the Yankees the following year.  McCutchen was subsequently traded to the Pirates.  Infielder Ryan Rohlinger was drafted in the 21st round, didn’t sign, and was drafted by the Giants in 2006.  But the late find of the draft for the Cardinals was Jamie Garcia.  The lefty is off to a great start for the Cardinals.

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Trade Bait: Taveras to Oakland

Yesterday the Oakland Athletics traded infielder Aaron Miles and a PTBNL to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Willy Taveras and infielder Adam Rosales.  It was a move that had me intially thinking they were wanting to move to a professional softball league.  The A’s were already overflowing with a batch of light-hitting 4th or 5th outfielders starting or coming in off the bench, why add another?

But Billy Beane quickly DFA’d Taveras, showing that he’d made the trade as essentially a $1.3 million purchase of Adam Rosales.  Once Taveras likely reaches free agency, he’ll be available to become someone’s fourth or fifth outfielder, a position more fitting to his abilities.

The Reds have cleared $1.3 million in this move that presumably opened up payroll space for them to sign Orlando Cabrera to play short.  Miles should be a somewhat useful utility infielder for the Reds and should hit closer to a .270/.315/.350 line if Baker doesn’t expose him too much.  The trade also clarifies that centerfield is Drew Stubbs’ to lose.

But just when Beane put me at ease with his DFA of Taveras, he goes out and signs Gabe Gross.  Billy Beane is officially off his rocker.

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Reds Sign Aroldis Chapman

Talk about “out of left field”!

The Cincinnati Reds have come to terms with Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban lefty that has had many teams courting him since he defected.  He will receive a six-year, $30 million contract.  Interestingly, the contract will be spread out over 10 years, making it more affordable for the Reds.

Reds beat writer John Fay feels that Chapman will make the majors this year.  Although I respect Fay’s writing, I certainly hope for the Reds’ sake, that they don’t rush him to the majors.  Chapman is a talented lefty with a power arm, but I’ve seen too many reports that say he has a significant amount to work on before he’s major league ready.  Too many players’ futures have been ruined by rushing a prospect to the majors too fast.

But Fay is right though, a rotation that could be formed around Chapman, Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake in the relatively near future is an exciting thing to think about.

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Rookies to Look For: Drew Stubbs

The Reds’ outfield has been in a bit of flux lately.  Last off-season, GM Walt Jocketty traded for Willy Taveras.  It wasn’t a good move.  Jay Bruce struggled at the plate and then spent plenty of time on the DL.  Chris Dickerson hasn’t been able to hit left-handers.  The team was eventually forced to use a couple outfielders off the scrap heap in Laynce Nix and Jonny Gomes.  Gomes and his .879 OPS was actually a bright spot in the outfield for the team.

Bruce has too much potential not to bounce back to the player that crushed in the minors and could break out next season in right field.  They are also expecting Gomes to repeat his 2009 season, while cruising left field.  But that still leaves centerfield open.  The Reds are hoping that the hole in center will fill itself this season with Drew Stubbs.

Drew isn’t a rookie anymore after 180 at-bats, but the centerfielder still hasn’t locked down a regular gig for next season.  But that doesn’t mean that he won’t lock down center in spring training.  Stubbs has the tools to be able to push Taveras aside.  He has blazing speed like Taveras (56 stolen bases out of 68 tries between Triple-A and the majors last season), can hit 8-15 home runs, and hit for a higher average than Willy.  The last aspect is more based on the lack of Taveras’ hitting ability than Stubbs’ proficiency to make contact.  He’s likely to hit .250-.270 in the majors.  Not great, but better potential than Taveras.

Stubbs’ contact issues will keep him from being a standout lead off hitter, but he’s at least an improvement on Taveras and cheaper too.  Important for a team with little financial flexibility.

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