Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day One Draft Wrap-Up

Okay. So. The Rays clearly had a plan to go with athletic high school players, and maybe it was part of that plan that all had their value somewhat diminished. I'll go pick-by-pick in my review and then do a summary.

30th overall, LeVon Washington: I'm kind of split on how I feel about this pick. Let's start with the hitting. I like the fact that he has a good present hit tool, and he projects to hit for a good average in the future. It's a contact-oriented swing though, and doesn't show any power potential, meaning he's a future leadoff type(as a bonus, it sounds like he has a decent plate approach). He runs very well which will help him leg out some more hits. Then there's the big wart with Washington: he hurt his labrum and his arm is a gigantic question mark. If it doesn't come back all the way, he might be stuck playing either LF or 2B. I think it was a good pick, but maybe not the best pick. He has expressed a willingness to sign quickly.

78th overall, Kenny Diekroeger: Again, this pick has two sides to it. On the one hand, he's a tremendous athlete and coaches rave about him. Watching video of him the first thing I noticed was that he has really quick wrists; if you get a chance to watch the video on mlb.com, notice how quickly his hands clear the zone. His game is kind of raw, but that's an acceptable trade-off for such an athlete. He suffered a knee injury(that won't require surgery) that ended his senior season.

On the other hand: He's a 4.0 GPA student who was quoted as saying he's "definitely" going to Stanford. A Stanford education is a tough thing to turn down. Now, the first thing I thought of when I heard the strong commitment was Mike Stanton, the Marlins' 2nd round pick in 2007. He was also a great athlete, committed to USC as a baseball and football player. Everyone considered him unsignable, but the Marlins scouts did their homework, figured they could sign him, and took him. Two years later, he's arguably a top-10 prospect in the game. For now I'm going to trust the scouts, but comes mid-August if he's unsigned, it'll be time to worry.

108th overall, Todd Glaesmann: He was obviously a guy I like, having shadow drafted him. He's a big guy with 5-tool potential, profiling as a future corner outfielder. His power is more line-drive and gap-to-gap, and projecting it is more based on his body and swing. He shows patience at the plate and could develop into a very well-rounded hitter. Glaesmann's injury was to his ankle but wasn't serious. He might have to be an over-slot signee.

Summary: They're all high-ceiling toolsy high schoolers with injuries in their past. They obviously looked for upside here, and while they took good players to be sure, I'm not sure they went with the best-player-available strategy. I'm not necessarily knocking them, because it seems pretty clear they had a plan and executed it. There's definitely some boom-or-bust potential, so this draft could wind up being either great or horrible. The key to evaluating the first three picks this year, to me, is whether or not Diekroeger signs. If he signs, then I think they did a pretty good job. If he doesn't, well, not signing a second-rounder is inexcusable to me, particularly when Diekroeger has made it clear he wants to go to college. Of course, we'll see how money changes things, and for whatever it's worth, R.J. Harrison says the Rays think they'll get all three signed. We'll see.

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