Over Spilled Milk: 2007 Draft – AL 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 American League Central:

 

Chicago White Sox

With the 25th overall pick, the White Sox picked Aaron Poreda. The lefty pitched well enough to be included in the trade that sent Jake Peavy to Chicago, but he hasn’t pitched well since. Righty Nevin Griffith is in Double-A. The White Sox switched him to relief this season with limited results so far. His walk rate has been absurdly high the past two seasons.

Third round pick John Ely was traded to the L.A. Dodgers in a package for Juan Pierre in 2009. He’s seen some time in L.A., but all of John’s 2012 so far has been in the minors where he’s posted a good strikeout rate as a starter. He could still turn out to be a back of the rotation starter or middle reliever at the next level.

Nothing else has really materialized out of the 2007 draft for the White Sox.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians had one pick in the first three rounds in 2007 and it was spent on first baseman Beau Mills in the first round. Mills has put up mediocre to decent numbers in the minors for a corner infielder, but not the consistent impact statistics that you expect from a first round talent. He’s also struggling mightily at Triple-A this season.

Lefty T.J. McFarland was drafted in the 4th round and still has promise. Reliever Josh Judy was selected in the 34th round and made a brief appearance with Cleveland. But his high walk rate will likely keep him in the minors.

Detroit Tigers

Tigers first round pick shot to the Majors quickly and garnered Rookie-of-the-Year consideration. This pick, righty Rick Porcello is still in the team’s rotation. Supplemental pick, righty Brandon Hamilton, didn’t fare as well and hasn’t pitched professionally since 2009. Shortstop Danny Worth was selected in the third round. He’s bounced back and forth from Detroit to Toledo the past three seasons, but  may still have some value as a utility infielder. In the third round the Tigers picked up Luke Putkonen. The right-hander from North Carolina was switched to relief this season after a mediocre numbers early in his career. So far the switch has gone well and he’s pitching nicely in Triple-A.

Lefty Charlie Furbush was drafted in the 4th round. He pitched well enough to draw the attention of the Mariners and was picked up by them in the package that sent Doug Fister to Detroit. He’s now pitching well in the Mariners’ pen. Fifth round pick Casey Crosby has put up a very good strikeout ratio for a starter at Triple-A this season, but his walks continue to be too high. A switch to relief may be in order for Crosby who apparently can get to 98mph with his fastball.

Their 41st rounder DJ LeMahieu, an infielder who was the Cubs’ second-round pick in ’09, would’ve been a good eventual addition to a Tigers lineup that has struggled out of the 2nd base hole for a while.

Kansas City Royals

Mike Moustakas took a little longer to become a star than originally conceived, but he’s well on his way this season. The third baseman has exploded offensively this season for the Royals and looks to have been a very good choice in the first round. Second rounder Sam Runion has had his career riddled by injuries. The righty has now moved to the pen in High-A ball. He has the stuff to succeed in the pen, he just needs better control. Third rounder Danny Duffy made his Kansas City debut last season and has become a part of their rotation. He still needs to improve his walk rate, but the strikeouts are there. The Royals nabbed two players that should be very solid, if not very good, in the first three rounds in 2007.

The Royals picked up righty Greg Holland in the 10th round that year. He was dominant out of their pen in 2011, but has struggled mightily in his sophomore season. Outfielder David Lough was picked in the following round. He’s displayed decent numbers for a 4th outfielder type at Triple-A the last three seasons, but has yet to receive a call-up. There’s also 25th round pick Clint Robinson who has mashed the ball on his climb through the minors. He has yet to see the Majors, but some team must be looking at him despite his defensive limitations.

Minnesota Twins 

Outfielder Ben Revere may have finally entrenched himself in the Minnesota outfield this year. The team’s first round pick in 2007 has no power, but he’s a spark plug at the top of the lineup. Second round pick Danny Rams briefly made it to Double-A, but the catcher will likely not get back there or above. Same goes for their third round pick, outfielder Angel Morales, who hasn’t even made it to Double-A.

There was essentially not much else in the Minnesota draft after the first three rounds. Revere may be the Twins’ saving grace from that draft.


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Trade Bait: Indians buy Low on Lowe

The Atlanta Braves are becoming well known for making notable moves within days of the beginning of the offseason. Last year it was a trade for Dan Uggla in mid-November, a few years ago it was trading Edgar Renteria to the Detroit Tigers. They’ve done it again, this time it’s Derek Lowe to the Cleveland Indians. The Braves will include Lowe, and all but $5 million of his salary in return for Single-A reliever Chris Jones.

Lowe certainly hasn’t been the pitcher for the Bravos that he was in Los Angeles and the team had already noted that he would be moved to a relief spot if he was on the team still in 2011. Yet, even with his regression (10.2 H/9 and 3.4 BB/9), Derek owned the second largest groundball rate in all of baseball last season. But that doesn’t typically work out too well with Uggla at second and an aging Chipper Jones at the hot corner.

With Lowe, the Indians now have three of the top groundball pitchers in baseball in their rotation. Between he,  Justin Masterson, and Fausto Carmona the Indians infielders will not be bored in 2012. Lowe also brings a veteran pressence and signficant post season experience to a rotation that also includes Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Tomlin. If Derek can survive in his return to the American League, he should be a good addition to this young team.

The Braves on the other hand free up $5 million in dedicated payroll and open up a spot in their rotation for Randall Delgado or top pitching prospect Julio Teheran, as well as allow Mike Minor to move out of the 5th spot. Either pitcher was likely to outperform Lowe in 2012 and certainly beyond. When teamed with the $9.4 million the team will save in paying the buyout on Nate McLouth‘s recently declined option, the Braves have freed up approximately $14.4 million of possible payroll. However, declining McLouth’s option was already assumed and the team has a couple players eligible for healthy jumps in arbitration in Michael Bourn and Jair Jurrjens.

Reliever Chris Jones is nearly a throw-in on the deal. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein notes that he has a good breaking ball and deception and profiles as possible future LOOGY. It’ll be a bonus if Jones develops into that relief role, but not something the Braves are ultimately counting on. 

It’s possible that the extra $5 million will help the team land a notable free agent bat in the outfield, but it is unlikely. Though it has surpassed a $100 million payroll a couple times in the past decade, the team keeps crying “poor”.

But you never know what GM Frank Wren has up his sleve. Rather than letting Jair Jurrjens retire for the offseason, they sent him to instructional league, possibly as a showcase. With Delgado, Teheran, and Arodys Vizcaino knocking on the door and Kris Medlen returning, the Braves are stocked with pitching talent. Don’t rule a Jurrjens trade for a big bat out of the question.

Overall, this is a decent move for both sides. It’s a relatively risky move for the Indians if they want to count on Lowe in the rotation. But if that doesn’t work out, Lowe pitched well as a closer in the past. A $5 million reliever isn’t all that bad.

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Trade Bait: Ubaldo Jimenez to…Cleveland?

Even more improbable than the trade for Hunter Pence was the trade for Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Even up to the last few hours before he was traded, pundits stated that the chances of a trade were less than 50/50. But not only did it happen, Jimenez went to a commonly considered dark horse team of the list of teams that were pursuing him….the Cleveland Indians.

Personally, I was at the pool trying to evade the oppressive midwestern heat with my children when the trade went down. Looking at the MLBTR RSS feed and seeing the headline made me think that Tim Dierkes and crew had finally lost it in their blitzkrieg of updates. The Indians had held fast the past few seasons to rebuilding the core of their team and building within, a necessity for a midwestern team with a limited payroll.

But obviously the Indians are going all-in. New Indians GM Chris Antonelli assuming seems that his window is now. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Indians have three of their starters (Jimenez, Fausto Carmona, and Justin Masterson) under control through 2013. Hitters Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubal Cabrera will likely also be under team contract through that season. They will only have Grady Sizemore through 2012, if his option is picked up.

The Indians paid dearly for his services though. Colorado will receive the right-hander Alex White; Joseph Gardner, a Double-A starter; Matt McBride, a Triple-A first baseman; and a player to be named later.

The PTBNL will be prized pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz, who’s currently making Double-A hitters look bad. Due to MLB rules, they cannot officially name him in the trade until after August 15th. Pomeranz is the top prospect in this deal and probably the top prospect included in any deal that took place over the last week before the trade deadline. He is a fly ball pitcher though and may have troubles at Coors at times.

White is a starting rotation candidate with a good sinking fastball, splitter, and a slider as his top three pitches. However his mechanics are bad enough that he’s probably going to be injury-prone (as he is now) and in the long-term they’ll have to move him to the pen to relieve the stress on his arm. If so, he has the stuff to be dominant out of the pen eventually.

AL Central in Focus has a good scouting report on Joe Gardner, comparing him somewhat to Justin Masterson. However, due to his walk rate and his lack of an out-pitch for lefties, I see him as more of a reliever in the long run. It will be interesting how he and White end up.

First baseman/outfielder Matt McBride is enjoying the best offensive season of his career. But it is also his third season at Double-A. There’s a chance that he could be a corner infielder/outfield bench player, but that seems to be his ceiling at this time.

On the surface it looks like a very good haul for a pitcher that many consider a #2 instead of an ace. With Jimenez’s average fastball velocity down, reverting to the troubles he had after the 15-win start he had last season may be likely. But in Cleveland’s defense, they received an upper-tier starter for their main contention window, giving them hope to reach the playoffs this season and the next two after it. They could have negotiated for someone else this winter when there may be more choices available, but there would be more interested parties to contend with as well.

The inclusion of both White and especially Pomeranz in this deal pushes this deal in the favor of the Rockies. Not by much, but gives O’Dowd time to rebuild the roster for another run in a couple years, while Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are still in their prime. I just don’t believe that Jimenez can be dominant throughout his time in Cleveland.

But maybe I’m just a pessimist.

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Over Spilled Milk: 2006 Draft – AL 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.

For our second we’ll look at the American League Central:

Chicago White Sox

With the 29th overall selection in the draft, the Sox took pitcher Kyle McCulloch.  During his time in the White Sox organization, McCulloch posted a WHIP below 1.30 only once across multiple levels through last season.  He is now in the Reds organization with a decent ERA at Double-A, but without the WHIP to back it up.  Second round pick Matt Long is still in Double-A, but struggling as a starter.  He has had some success as a reliever in the past, so a permanent move to the pen could help his chances.  Third round pick Justin Edwards is still pitching as a starter at Double-A as well, with about the same results as Long.

The only other player that has been able to reach the majors has been 22nd round pick Kanekoa Texeira.  Since then he’s been included in the Nick Swisher trade from Chicago to the New York Yankees.  Then picked in the Rule 5 draft by the Mariners and finally claimed by the Kansas City Royals who used him in their pen for a while.

Cleveland Indians

UCLA pitcher David Huff was selected by the Indians with their first round pick (supplemental).  It was their compensation for losing reliever Bob Howry. Although he put up good stats in the lower minors, he’s been hittable in the upper minors and the majors.  The Indians were fortunate to have four picks in the second round.  Their first pick in that round was righty Steven Wright, a starter that has been very inconsistant statistically while in the minors.  Their second pick of the round was Josh Rodriguez, an infielder out of Rice University.  Josh was the second compensation pick for losing Howry.  He’s put up decent numbers in the minors over the past three seasons, drawing the Pittsburgh Pirates interest in the Rule 5 draft, but he’s struggling this year and has been returned to the Indians.  The Indians also selected third baseman Wes Hodges in that round. He’s still struggling to hit for a good enough average and power to be called up by the big league club.  Their final pick of the second round (supplemental) was Matt McBride, a catcher that was compensation for losing Scott Elarton to the Royals.  McBride continues to put up decent numbers in the minors, but not good enough to draw a call-up to the big league club.  Their lone third round selection, the versatile Adam Davis, hasn’t hit well enough to get past Double-A.

Fifth round pick Christopher Archer has been traded twice.  Once to the Cubs in the Mark DeRosa deal, then to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal.  Prior to this season he was ranked as the 27th overall prospect in all of baseball, but he’s been hit hard at Double-A this season. 

Later in the draft, the Indians found pitchers Josh Tomlin (19th round), and Vinnie Pestano (20th round).  Both pitchers have excelled in the majors this season.  Tomlin is among the league leaders in wins as a starter and Pestano has more strikeouts than walks out of the pen and a sub-1.oo WHIP.

Detroit Tigers

With the 6th overall pick, the Tigers took pitcher Andrew Miller.  Miller went to the College World Series and would end up going to the MLB World Series after he was drafted.  In December 2007 he was included in a package that went to the Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera.  The lefty never really pitched well in Florida and was recently traded to the Red Sox for reliever Dustin Richardson. Second round pick Ron Bourquin had troubles hitting in the minors.  The third baseman got as high as Double-A, but is no longer in the system.  Their third round pick was the team’s current outfielder Brennan Boesch. Although Boesch is getting to play everyday, he is displaying even less power from a typical power-hitting position.

Fifth round pick Scott Sizemore has been up and down from the major leagues. He may still eventually settle in and be a solid second baseman for the team. Righty Casey Fien was drafted in the 20th round.  He saw time in the Tigers’ pen in 2009 and 2010, but has since moved on to Houston, where he’s pitching decently for their Triple-A team.

Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals had the 1st overall pick in 2006.  With that pick they took holdout pitcher Luke Hochevar.  Hochevar hasn’t been an ”ace” that you typically see from the #1 overall pick, but his WHIP is significantly down this season.  If he can cut down on the home runs given up, he’ll be a good innings eater. Their second round pick was high school shortstop Jason Taylor.  Taylor displayed some intriguing pop and speed in the minors at times (17 HR, 40SB in 2008), but never hit enough to make it to Double-A.  Righty Blake Wood has thrived since being moved to relief and is starting to become a regular in the Royals bullpen this season.

Lefty Everett Teaford has a chance to be a specialist out of the pen for the Royals. Interestingly, in the 50th and last round of the draft, the Royals selected outfielder Jarrod Dyson.  Dyson was been used extensively as a pinch runner and fifth outfielder early this season.  His speed was an important component to many of the Royals’ early wins, but he hasn’t hit enough to stay in the majors.

Minnesota Twins 

In the first round the Twins took outfielder Chris Parmelee with the 20th overall pick. Parmelee has been slow to move up the ladder with some mediocre offensive seasons. He is off to a decent start at Double-A this season, but he’s now 23 and will need to start showing that he can keep this success up. The Twins took another high school prospect in the second round with outfielder Joe Benson.  Benson is at Double-A this year as well, but not having such a good season.  He shows good power, but lacks plate discipline. Keeping with the high school theme, they took another in the third round in pitcher Tyler Robertson. Robertson has struggled in the upper minors, giving up too many hits.

Fourteenth round pick, pitcher Jeff Manship has been knocked around in the majors and in Triple-A the past couple seasons.  But he did put together some decent seasons in the minors early on.  Lefty Andrew Oliver was selected in the 17th round.  He didn’t sign and was redrafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft by the Detroit Tigers. Oliver is now one of the Tigers’ top pitching prospects. Righty reliever Anthony Slama was taken in the 39th round.  He has a good track record in the minors, but walks have been an issue, limiting his potential in the majors. 

Probably the best find of the draft came in the 19th round in third baseman Danny Valencia. He doesn’t have much home run power, but scouts have praised his hitting and his defense.

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Trade Bait: Padres get Ludwick in Three-Way Deal

The St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and the Cleveland Indians entered into an interesting 3-way deal on deadline day.  The Padres in need of offense, picked up Ryan Ludwick, the Cardinals pulled in Jake Westbrook and a Padres prospect, and the Indians received one of the Padres pitching prospects.

Ludwick, 32, is hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI on the season, but he is clobbering right-handed pitching this season (yes, completely opposite of convential splits).  If teamed with a decent right-handed bat, the Padres would have a near All-Star production caliber platoon.  He’ll likely get most of the playing time except for all but the tough lefties, letting Chris Denorfia sub in occationally.  It’s a pretty good addition to the lackluster Padres lineup and to their clubhouse.

Veteran Jake Westbrook has been slowly coming back from Tommy John surgery this season.  His ERA is the highest he’s had since 2002, but his WHIP is almost idential to his career average.  He’ll slot into the fourth spot in the rotation and should eat innings well for the Cards.  Pitching under Dave Duncan’s watchful eye should help him as well.  Veteran pitchers like Westbrook have thrived under his tutiledge.

The Cardinals also receive pitching prospect Nick Greenwood in the deal.  The lefty saw success his first season in the minors in 2009, but has struggled in A-ball this season.  An eventual switch to the pen and concentration on only two pitches may help his track to the majors more likely.

The hot-hitting Jon Jay will take most of Ludwick’s at-bats for the rest of the season.  He’s been a nice surprise for the Cardinals this season, providing the team a wealth of outfielders that they felt they could deal from to get better. b Ludwick was also going to get more expensive in arbitration after the season.  With the team trying to save money were it can to attempt to sign Albert Pujols to an extention, dealing Ludwick was inevitable at one point or another.

The Indians meanwhile have shed Westbrook’s payroll and take in Padres pitching prospect Corey Kluber.  The 24-year-old Kluber is having a good season in Double-A, leading the league in strikeouts, posting an impressive 10.0 K/9 rate overall.  He has a four-pitch mix that some say could lead him to stay in the rotation, but he may excel out of the pen.

At first glance, it looks as if the Padres have come out ahead in this deal, but we’ll have to see what Dave Duncan can do with Westbrook as we head towards the playoffs.  If he can make Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver look good, Westbrook could turn into a nice find for them.

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Trade Bait: Peralta the Tiger

The Detroit Tigers have been riddled by injuries recently and their hopes of chasing down the Twins and the White Sox seem to be fading.  At four games back of the AL Central lead, Dave Dombrowski felt it was time to make a move.  He acquired infielder Jhonny Peralta from the Indians in exchange for pitcher Giovanni Soto.

No, not Geovany Soto, the catcher for the Cubs, Giovanni Soto.

Peralta, who switched to third base a year ago, is hitting .246/.308/.389 on the season.  It’s not exactly the type of offensive contributor that the Tigers need, but at least it’s better than counting on the .204/.283/.283 hitting Scott Sizemore (.188 in July) at third base until Brandon Inge returns in mid-to-late August.  When he does return, Peralta may be able to shift to another position on the infield as the rest of the infield (outside of Cabrera and Santiago) is inexperienced and not exactly ripping the cover off the ball (outside of Cabrera).

The 19-year-old Soto has pitched the entire season at Class-A West Michigan.  He’s pitched 82.2 innings, giving up only 75 hits, while striking out 76.  Soto has a high-80s fastball, a decent curve as well as a change-up as his bread and butter pitches.  But Giovanni’s catcher says his arsenal is deeper than that, adding a sinker and a cutter to the repertoire of what he can deliver off of his basic fastball.   He has good command for a 19-year-old and should rise relatively fast through the system.  At 6′-3″, 155 lbs. Soto is bound to fill out some more as he gets older.  The Indians are hoping this will help get a few more MPH on his fastball, allowing him to remain a starter.

Although the Indians are picking up much Peralta’s remaining salary for the season, they received a pretty decent looking prospect for a third baseman with a sub-.400 slugging percentage.

I’ll have to go with ESPN’s Rob Neyer on this trade, “This will not go down as the greatest trade in Tigers history.”

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Over Spilled Milk: 2005 Draft – AL 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.

For our second we’ll look at the American League Central:

Chicago White Sox

With the 15th overall selection in the draft, the Sox took pitcher Lance Broadway.  Lance climbed the team’s prospect chart all the way to #2 in 2008, but wasn’t able to hold down a spot in Chicago.  He was traded to the Mets in 2009 for catcher Ramon Castro.  Their only other pick in the first three rounds was pitcher Richard Brooks in the third round.  After struggling in A-ball, Brooks was switched to relief and has survived as high as Double-A so far.  He could eventually be considered for middle relief in Chi-Town.

The later rounds were a little more fruitful for the Sox as they took second baseman Chris Getz in the fourth round.  He played in Chicago last season and was used in a trade to get Mark Teahen.  The sixth round netted outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for infielder Danny Richar (who has been traded to the Reds in a package for Ken Griffey Jr.).  Cunningham in now in San Diego after a couple additional trades.  Daniel Cortes was drafted in the 7th round, his potential rose and he was traded to the Royals in a package for Mike MacDougal.  He’s now in the Seattle system.  Lefty Clayton Richard was drafted in the 8th round.  Outfielder Jordan Danks was drafted with the 575th pick, but returned to school and was drafted again by the Sox.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians selected Trevor Crowe in the first round in 2005.  He’s marched up the minors, but may not be more than a utility infielder/outfielder if he reaches the majors.  The team took John Drennen in the supplemental round, but the outfielder hasn’t made it past Double-A yet.

In the second round, the Indians picked first baseman Stephen Head.  Outside of being the team’s #9 prospect in 2006 (Baseball America), he hasn’t produced much.  They took Nick Weglarz in the third round.  Although he struggled in 2009, the outfielder has been ripping the cover off the ball in Double-A (.511 SLG) in 2010.  He was recently promoted to Triple-A.  Also in the third round, the Indians picked up pitcher Jensen Lewis.  After putting up decent numbers as a starter, the Indians switched him to relief in 2007 and he really took off.  He’s now solidly within the Indians’ relief corps.

Outfielder/first baseman Jordan Brown was drafted with the 124th pick in the 4th round.  Outfielder Desmond Jennings was taken at pick 544, but he went back to school and is now one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospects.  Tim Lincecum was drafted at 1261, but he obviously went to college.  The 2008 Cleveland Indians could have had C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Lincecum in the rotation….imagine running up against that buzz saw in the playoffs.

Detroit Tigers

With the 10th overall pick, the Tigers took outfielder Cameron Maybin.  After establishing a solid prospect status, the Tigers traded him to the Florida Marlins in a package for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.  In the 3rd round the team selected catcher Chris Robinson.  He was traded to Cubs for Neifi Perez in 2006.  Chris has never hit very well, but he’s really struggling at Triple-A this season.

First baseman Jeff Larish was drafted in the 5th round.  Outfielder Matt Joyce was selected in the 12th round.  He rose steadily through the system, but was traded in 2008 for pitcher Edwin Jackson.  Pitcher Anthony Claggett was taken with the 330th pick.  He was included in the Gary Sheffield trade and then claimed off waivers by the Pirates.  Alex Avila was drafted with the 1020th pick, he went to Alabama and was selected by the Tigers again in the 5th round in 2008.  Once a third baseman, he’s now a catcher with the big league club. 

Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals had the 2nd overall pick in 2005.  They took Alex Gordon with the pick and pushed him quickly (too quickly) through the system.  But the stubborn Gordon has been rumored to be unwilling to make the adjustments needed to succeed in the majors.  He’s now lost his starting position at third base and comes off the bench.  The Royals took shortstop Jeff Bianchi in the second round.  He’s showed some promise, but injuries keep derailing his path to the majors.  In the third round, pitcher Chris Nicoll was selected.  He was switched to relief in 2008 and pitched relatively well out of the pen.  He last pitched in Triple-A last season, but hasn’t pitched so far in 2010.

The rest of their draft wasn’t very fruitful.

Minnesota Twins 

In the first round the Twins took pitcher Matthew Albidrez-Garza with the 25th overall pick.  The after rising to the majors, Matt Garza was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in a package for Delmon Young and others.  Garza has since flourished with the Rays.  They drafted Henry Sanchez in the supplemental 1st round.  The first baseman never hit as expected, reaching as high as only A-ball. 

Shortstop Paul Kelly and pitcher Kevin Slowey in the 2nd.  Kelly’s path has been derailed by knee injuries, but when he’s on the field, he hits well.  Slowey has had double-digit win seasons for the Twins in his first two seasons in the majors.  He won’t blow you away, but he eats innings and keeps you in the game.  Shortstop Andrew “Drew” Thompson was drafted in the rare in the 2nd supplemental, or Compensation C, round.  Though still with the team, he hasn’t hit we enough to get past High-A ball. 

Lefties Brian Duensing and Ryan Mullins were drafted in the third round.  Duensing is in his second season with the Twins and is pitching full-time in relief, putting up some good numbers while he’s at it.  Mullins has stalled out at Double-A, but a recent shift to the pen may help him reach the majors.

Later in the draft, the Twins selected Yonder Alonso with pick 495 (16th round).  He would go on to Miami and was then drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2008 draft.

The only other player selected by Minnesota that sticks out was Matt Tolbert.  This utility player was taken with the 481st pick of the draft.

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Rookies to Look For: Michael Brantley

The recent injury to Russel Branyan means that the Cleveland Indians will likely have two speedsters capable of stealing 30 bases each, incumbent center fielder Grady Sizemore and rookie left fielder Michael Brantley.  Although the Indians are a team in the midst of rebuilding, it’ll still be fun to watch this team play with these two on the base paths.

At the time of the C.C. Sabathia trade, slugger Matt LaPorta was seen as the key to the deal that was worked out between the Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers.  But Brantley may prove to be nearly as big of a key part of the trade.  The 22-year-old outfielder had potential, but has since blossomed into a potential premiere lead-off hitter in time for the Indians.

Last season Brantley walked 59 times in 457 at-bats, a decent rate for a 22-year-old.  But what made it more impressive was the fact that he struck only 48 times.  That’s a very good walk to strikeout ratio for a young hitter.  It’s a really good, when combined with the speed to steal 50 bases (between Triple-A and the Majors) last season.

Having Brantley eventually at the top of the lineup will allow Sizemore to shift down in the lineup, into a more RBI-producing role.  The team will have a nice young offensive nucleus around Brantley, Sizemore, LaPorta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, and Carlos Santana over the next few years that will be quite a force as the players develop.

Here’s a YouTube video of Brantley batting, including a slow-motion swing analysis section:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Here are a couple interviews of Michael as well:

Interview 1

Interview 2

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Trade Bait: Aguilar for Lofgren

The Brewers, in search of starting pitching, have decided to keep Rule 5 draft pick Chuck Lofgren.  In order to keep Lofgren the team would have to either offer him back to his original team, the Cleveland Indians, for $25,000, or propose a trade.  Today the Brew Crew proposed the latter and move reliever Omar Aguilar to keep Lofgren around.

Lofgren originally interested some after his 2006 season when he went 17-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 25 starts at High-A.  Baseball America ranked him as the team’s 2nd overall prospect in early 2008, but he hasn’t had an ERA under 5.31 at any level he’s pitched more than 50 innings in a season at since.  In general, the upper minors haven’t been that good for Lofgren.  Although it was thought that he could become a middle of the rotation starter, Lofgren may be best suited for relief where he may thrive as a lefty specialist.  Indians Prospect Insider broke Lofgren down further last February.

Omar Aguilar is a lefty reliever himself.  With a mid-90s fastball, Aguilar is able to make quite a few opposing hitters whiff (11.57 K/9 at Double-A last season).  But a high hit rate, combined with a high walk rate attributed to his demise at Double-A last season.  If he can keep his hits down, the Indians may be able to put up with his walk rates out of the bullpen.

This is basically a trade of two very fringy lefties out of the pen (Lofgren has yet to make that move).  Lofgren has a more extensive repertoire and a little better control, yet Aguilar’s fastball blows hitters away.  Either one can look like a decent pick up for the teams involved, but it may be more likely that neither will be much of a contributor based on their recent statistics.

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Trade Bait: Kelly Shoppach

The Dioner Navarro time in Tampa is about over.  Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays traded for Cleveland Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach.  It is assumed that Shoppach will take over full time catching duties with Shawn Riggans as his backup, allowing the team to non-tender Dioner Navarro. 

Kelly hit only .214/.335/.399 on the season, so he was considered a non-tender candidate.  But few point out that he hit .241/.353/.431 after the All-Star break and .261/.348/.516 in 2008 when he was handed the full-time catching job when Victor Martinez went down to an injury.  An increase in the number of at-bats could cause his numbers to bounce back a little, not as well as in 2008, but decent for a catcher.  I could see a .230/.340/.450 line from him next season.

With Martinez and now Shoppach gone, the Indians are starting anew with their catching core.  Lou Marson, one of the prospects in last July’s Cliff Lee deal with the Phillies, will have the opportunity to catch most of the games behind the plate with Wyatt Toregas or a cheap veteran free agent as his backup.  They’ll save some money by dumping the arbitration eligible Shoppach off their roster.

This move also helps to clear the way for prospect Carlos Santana to head into Cleveland.  The slick-hitting catcher could be in an Indians uniform by mid-season. 

In return the Indians will receive a PTBNL.  We’ll report on him when the Indians make their selection.

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