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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It’s Just Speculation: Astros Offseason

The worst team in baseball, as far as wins go, the Houston Astros had a disastrous season in 2011. With a fire sale this past July, a farm system that has regularly been near the bottom for the past few seasons, and a possible switch to a tough AL West, the team’s new ownership will have a tough task ahead of them.

Thankfully the team is not bogged down by several long term ill-advised contracts. Carlos Lee, the team’s biggest albatross, will be a free agent after the 2012 season. Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon will be free agents after next season as well, unless Myers’ ’13 option vests. Yet if Myers pitches well enough for his option to vest, then he should be decent trade bait down the stretch next season regardless. This would leave Wandy Rodriguez as the lone player under a guaranteed contract after the 2012 season, but he too has been mentioned in various trade rumors this past summer.

Next season should be a season of analysis for the Astros. With essentially no hope of contention, the team should set aside the desire to play veterans in the quest for a few more wins. They need to give what young talent they do have a chance to play full time and assess what holes they need to fill down the road.

However, thankfully GM Ed Wade will not be there. I bemoaned his hiring after viewing his previous work in Philadelphia (as well as his extension) and the Astros have actually gotten worse under his control. The new ownership has already ousted Wade and is currently trying to figure out who will take his place. Whoever is hired for the job certainly has an uphill battle ahead of them.

The team does have two free agents this season, shortstop Clint Barmes and outfielder Jason Michaels. Barmes is the most valuable of the two, but he will likely not be back as the Astros are unlikely to meet the bids of other teams. Unless they are able to trade for a young shortstop, the team will probably fill shortstop with a good-fielding, but light-hitting veteran like Jack Wilson. Someone that will give a young pitching staff some defensive confidence behind them as they develop.

As for help elsewhere on the free agent market, it is doubtful that the team will hit the market with much vigor as they are too far from contention to waste several million to go from bad to mediocre. A few role-playing veterans on one or two year contracts will likely be landed with an eye towards providing mentoring and stability. If the new GM has a good eye, he may even be able to flip a rebounding veteran for a decent return as well.

Unfortunately for Astros fans, hope for a good 2012 or even 2013 season is certain to end in frustration. A return to the cellar in 2012 is highly probable.

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Trade Bait: Hunter Pence to Philly

The full-fledged rebuilding of the Houston Astros is underway. A trade that just a couple weeks ago many thought was improbable, quickly became reality. Realizing the limited market for difference-maker bats, the Houston Astros started their rebuilding in earnest by trading the current face of the Astros, outfielder Hunter Pence, to the Philadelphia Phillies for four prospects. The Astros will receive Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and a PTBNL.

Pence brings reliable offensive production to the Phillies right field, a sore spot in their lineup since Jayson Werth left for greener pastures in Washington. Although he doesn’t specifically excell in an typically reviewed area of his game, Pence is the whole package across the board…including heart. He is a gamer that gives it his all to win for the team and the fans.

Additionally, Pence is controllable beyond this season and brings some youth to a slowly aging cast of offensive characters.

Cosart was the Phillies top pitching prospect and was probably the main goal of the Astros’ selection. He is listed in the top 50 lists of many of the prospect analysts and thought of by some as a front of the rotation starter. He’s also from the Houston area, hopefully giving the fan base someone new to root for.

Singleton was listed by Minor League Ball as the second best prospect, behind Domonic Brown, in the Phillies system. He has a sweet swing that should push him to the majors. The Phillies have tried him in the outfield, but it will be interesting to see where the Astros put him in their system. A return to first base may be likely, possibly depending on if Brett Wallace works out.

Josh Zied is a pitcher that was recently re-converted to a reliever at Double-A. He has occasionally decent stuff, including a fastball that tops out at 94. But his off-speed pitches are too rough to keep in the rotation. Josh has pitched well out of the pen, where he can rely on this fastball more heavily. His ceiling will be more of a middle-reliever type, unless he takes a drastic step forward with his off-speed stuff, allowing him to move into 8th inning material.

UPDATE (8/22/11): Outfield prospect Domingo Santana is the PTBNL in this deal. He’s a young (19), 6′-5″ 200 lb hitter that projects to have good power. Domingo also has a very high strikeout rate though and could flame out before reaching the majors. However, he has youth on his side and could improve into an impact hitter. It’s a gamble pick, but one with great potential upside for a PTBNL. 

Overall, this a pretty decent haul for the Astros. Cosart and Singleton are good players. I have worries about Cosart’s arm issues, but that can be said about many of the pitching prospects out there. Astros GM Ed Wade probably got the best package available.

I doubt it will save his job though with a new owner coming in and poor results in both the farm system and the major league team.

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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: Yankees snag Berkman

The New York Yankees have been on the look out for an extra bat recently to ensure they have enough offense to pull away from the Tampa Bay Rays.  They found a suitable bat in longtime Astro Lance Berkman.  On Friday the Yankees snagged Berkman in exchange for two minor leaguers.

Berkman has had a very inconsistent season that makes one wonder if his knee is still bothering him or his age is catching up with him.  His July statistics have been the most interesting of his season.  This month he has hit .233/.404/.521 in73 at bats.  Although the batting average makes you cringe, the OBP and the SLG (6 HR) makes your eyes pop.  However, Yankees should not celebrate too early as Lance will probably not be pitched around as much in New York and he has had a .179/.385/.282 line since the break.

In the trade, the Astros will pay the Yankees $4 million of what’s left of what is owed to Berkman.  In return for Berkman and cash, the Astros will receive minor leaguers Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes.

Melancon is a righty reliever that has enjoyed sub-1.00 WHIPs throughout much of his minor league career.  But this season he’s been rocked to a 1.67 WHIP.  Both his hit and walk rates have made major jumps.  His walk rate is over twice his previous career high.  But John Sickels ranked him as the team’s 6th overall prospect heading into the season, but he didn’t rank in Baseball America’s top ten.

Paredes is a switch-hitting utility infielder that has a very light power tower and poor walk rate.  He’s posting a .282/.312/.408.  He ranked outside of Sickels’ rankings in the “Others” area.  Sean over at Yankees Daily profiled Paredes, noting his strong arm and soft hands.  The Astros may be able to mold this raw infielder into something usable, but GM Ed Wade may be expecting too much from his minor league staff.

Unlike with Oswalt, it looks as if the Yankees will be picking up what is remaining on his contract.  But they now have a veteran switch-hitting DH with power and the approximate $6 million is just a drop in the bucket to the Yanks.  The rich just keep getting better without hesitation of the financial impacts. 

But it is the Astros that are the story of this trade.  They have just traded their two storied names since Bagwell and Biggio for very little.  Although there were extenuating circumstances that have hurt the trade value of Berkman and Oswalt, it is sad that the Astros have fallen so far and are unable to rebuild their relatively pathetic farm system through the trades.

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Trade Bait: Oswalt to Philly

UPDATE: The Astros have flipped Gose to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Wallace.  This makes the trade look a better as Wallace could become a Berkman replacement.  He’s turned into a good power bat this year and could eventually be a good anchor to the middle of the lineup.  Defensively, there’s some questions about him, even with his switch to first base.  But he should be able to stay there.

Interestingly, they are two TOTALLY different propsects, as defensively, offensively, and overall refinement.  But I do like the prospect-for-prospect trades.  This is Wallace’s second in this type of deal.  After being sent to Oakland in the Holliday deal, Wallace was traded again for Michael Taylor in a prospect-for-prospect deal.

The speculation on where Roy Oswalt will be traded to now can stop.  The Phillies in need of deepening their rotation for the stretch run, have brought in Oswalt to pitch behind another Roy, Halladay.  Roy has agreed to be shipped to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for three players. 

Months worth of speculation have gone into this trade as numerous team have been rumored to be in on the trade for some time.  Yet Oswalt has been picky as to where he wants to get traded to and whether or not the new team will be forced to pick up his 2012 option.  However, Oswalt approved of the deal to Philly anyway.

He’ll likely slot in between Halladay and Cole Hamels in the not-so-deep Phillies rotation.  With Jamie Moyer on the DL and Joe Blanton pitching horribly this season (though he does have a 3.60 ERA in the second half), Oswalt will be a much welcome addition to the rotation.

The first player coming to the Astros in the deal, pitcher J.A. Happ, is a lefty that had good success with the Phillies last season.  He posted a 2.96 ERA in 166 innings, obtaining a 12-4 record in the process.  He’s been out with an injury this season, but scouts have liked what they’ve seen in his return.  Though I highly doubt that he’ll be a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher over a full season again, Happ should be a good #4 starter, or passible #3 on a rebuilding team.

The Astros will also receive outfielder Anthony Gose in the deal.  Gose is a speedy outfielder with a strong arm that was taken by the Phillies in the second round of the 2008 draft.  He’s currently hitting .263/.325/.385 in High-A.  All of which are the “best” numbers he’s put up in his career, not exactly something to write home about.  His calling card is his speed as he stole 76 bases in A-ball last season and has 36 stolen bases this season.  However, he was caught 20 times last season and an appauling 27 times this season. 

The third player is outfielder Jonathan Villar, another speedy 19-year-old.  Ben Badler calls him a “SICK athlete with a cannon arm and good range”, calling him a solid prospect.  Defensively, scouts rave about the shortstop’s skills, but his 42 errors this season are quite ugly.  With the comments about his tools, those errors may be just due to inexperience and are likely to reduce as he ages and moves up through the system.  Offensively the statistics aren’t really tantalizing either as he is hitting .272/.332/.358 in A-ball this season.

Although both prospects are very raw, they are also young, so they could still develop into solid offensive contributors.  But I’m not sold on it.

When you take Oswalt’s trade demands and his contract out of the deal, the look horrendous for the Astros.  But considering those two impacting factors, the deal doesn’t look as bad.  Still, you’d think they’d get a little better prospects with the $11 million that they threw into the deal as well.

 

Oswalt had said a while ago that he wouldn’t leave the Astros unless the trade would make them a better team in the long run…..what happened to that thought?

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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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It’s Just Speculation: Roy Oswalt to the Dodgers

Yesterday we listed the potential suitors in the possible upcoming Roy Oswalt derby.  But let’s not just stop there, how about full-out speculation?  Let’s take some potential suitors and see what they could offer the Astros for Oswalt.  For this short series, we’ll take John Sickels’ Top 20 Prospects lists over at Minor League Ball and snatch a few players off that great listing to make up a potential trade package.

As a disclaimer, it’s just speculation, this is not a rumor.  We also have to consider that there’s a likelihood that Astros GM Ed Wade and owner Drayton McLane will have to kick in some money in the deal.  The quality of the prospects that would come back in the trade would likely relate to the amount of money included.  Also, Ed Wade’s leverage has been lessened somewhat by Oswalt’s trade demand.  He doesn’t have to deal Roy, but it could be a potential negative media storm if he doesn’t.

With all that in mind, let’s look at one of the suitors, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been lingered in 3rd place in the NL West much of the season, but are now in 2nd.  Memories of Kevin Malone have an article up on Roy Oswalt and whether or not they need him.  Bill Shaikin of the LA Times (MLBTR link) reports that they have at least kicked the tires on him.  Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, even rookie Jon Ely have pitched well in the early going.  But they have gotten bad performances from Vicente Padilla (6.65 ERA), Ramon Ortiz (6.30 ERA), and Charlie Haeger (8.49 ERA).  Adding a fifth solid pitcher and providing insurance against a late-season rookie regression of Ely may push the Dodgers into considering a trade. 

What would it take?  I imagine that the bidding will likely start with two of the team’s top arms in the system.  Likely a combination that includes a couple from a pack of Chris Withrow, Ethan Martin, Aaron Miller, and Scott Elbert.  They might then pick an outfielder in the lower levels of the system, but with interesting upside as they prepare for the post-Carlos Lee era in 2013.  Power slugging, but strikeout prone Kyle Russell and the toolsy Jonathan Garcia fit the bill.

In the end, I believe that the Astros go after Withrow (B+, Sickels), Miller (B), and a Kyle Russell (C+).

Cliff Lee is the closest comparable that I can find at this time.  The Mariners gave up pitchers Phillippe Aumont (B-) and Juan Ramirez (B-), as well as outfielder Tyson Gillies (C+).  There were quite a few at the time that mentioned that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t get enough for him.

Is this enough?  Is it too much?  Who’d you throw in a package for the Astros’ ace?

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It’s Just Speculation: Roy Oswalt to the Tigers

Yesterday we listed the potential suitors in the possible upcoming Roy Oswalt derby.  But let’s not just stop there, how about full-out speculation?  Let’s take some potential suitors and see what they could offer the Astros for Oswalt.  For this short series, we’ll take John Sickels’ Top 20 Prospects lists over at Minor League Ball and snatch a few players off that great listing to make up a potential trade package.

As a disclaimer, it’s just speculation, this is not a rumor.  We also have to consider that there’s a likelihood that Astros GM Ed Wade and owner Drayton McLane will have to kick in some money in the deal.  The quality of the prospects that would come back in the trade would likely relate to the amount of money included.  Also, Ed Wade’s leverage has been lessened somewhat by Oswalt’s trade demand.  He doesn’t have to deal Roy, but it could be a potential negative media storm if he doesn’t.

With all that in mind, let’s look at one of the suitors, the Detroit Tigers.  The Detroit Tigers have been at or near the top of the AL Central all season.  Although they are currently in second, you’d think that they’d be lower in the standings with Rick Porcello posting an ERA of 5.58 and Max Scherzer running out an ugly 7.29 ERA.  Given that Dontrelle Willis‘ WHIP is 1.68, it won’t be long before he joins those two with an ERA above 5.00.  The team obviously needs at least a solid #2 behind Justin Verlander.

What would it take?  I imagine that the bidding will likely start with one of the team’s top arms in the system.  Likely Casey Crosby or Jacob Turner.  Then, possibly a near-ready infielder of some type.  The Tigers’ system isn’t stuffed with proven prospects in that realm, but two immediately come to mind.  Outfielder/first baseman Ryan Strieby may be a potential replacement for Lance Berkman if he’s traded, or second baseman Scott Sizemore could eventually push Jeff Keppinger back to a more appropriate utility role.  Brennan Boesch’s emergence and Carlos Guillen’s eventual return from injury have likely made both players expendable.  But both players are having significant problems at the plate this season and may make the Astros leery about picking them up.

In the end, I believe that the Astros would sour on Crosby’s elbow history and go after Turner (B+, Sickels), Sizemore (B), and two lower-echelon arms from a pack of Cody Satterwhite (C+), Robbie Weinhardt (C+) or Brayan Villarreal (C+).

Cliff Lee is the closest comparable that I can find at this time.  The Mariners gave up pitchers Phillippe Aumont (B-) and Juan Ramirez (B-), as well as outfielder Tyson Gillies (C+).  There were quite a few at the time that mentioned that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t get enough for him.

Is this enough?  Is it too much?  Who’d you throw in a package for the Astros’ ace?

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Oswalt on the Block?

The talk of the baseball world recently has been Roy Oswalt‘s request for a trade.  MLBTR recently posted this quote out of an interview with Rob Dibble and Jim Memolo on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM.

“When you get to a point where you need to start rebuilding they’re going to start with a guy that’s got a lot of value and I understand that if I’m throwing well that they maybe can get two or three guys that can fill holes that they need.  I told them from the very beginning when they get to that point I would be open to [being traded].”

So what are the possible destinations.  Roy has a no-trade clause in his contract that essentially gives him the choice on whether or not he’ll go to any team once a deal has been struck.  Jayson Stark of ESPN stated in an article that a friend of Oswalt believes the hurler’s preferred destinations are Texas, St. Louis, and Atlanta.  This batch of destinations is tough as he doesn’t look like a true fit at any location.

Texas- The team would welcome the addition of an ace pitcher, especially one with fan roots in Texas.  But the Rangers are going through an ownership change and their budget is pretty tight as it is.  If Astros owner Drayton McLane would be open to eating a large chunk of what’s owed on the Oswalt’s contract, the team may be able to snatch some decent prospects from the Rangers’ deep farm system.

St. Louis- Except for the grossly overpaid Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals rotation looks pretty rock-solid.  Their budget looks pretty tight as well, especially if they are trying to lock up Albert Pujols eventually.

Atlanta- About the same situation exists in Atlanta.  Derek Lowe‘s contract is immovable, it’s doubtful that they’ll move Kawakami out of a starting role, and they are in need of offense more than another starting pitcher.

So, are there other teams that would benefit enough from adding Oswalt to take on the $31 million that he’s owed over the next couple seasons?

Boston- The Red Sox are 24th in the majors in ERA, but they already have a costly rotation and will likely stick to in-house options regardless.

Cincinnati- With Homer Bailey injured, the Reds could use another arm (who would out-pitch Bailey’s 5.51 ERA).  But would the Astros deal within their division?

Detroit- Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have both struggled this season, could Oswalt somehow fit in their budget?

Los Angeles (Dodgers)- With struggles from a few members of their starting rotation, the Dodgers may be an interesting suitor.  Will the McCourt struggles influence things though?

San Diego- The Padres aren’t spending much on their roster now.  But they traded away Peavy last season and the team is 2nd in the majors in ERA.  They need more hitting than pitching anyway.

Toronto- If the Jays stay in the thick of things, they may be looking to add an ace.  If so, it’d definitely be for a smaller package than what they sent Halladay packing with.

Washington- The Nationals are unexpectedly good this season and could use a viable staff ace.  But they will soon have Strasburg up and may not want to tear down their rebuilding farm system.

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