MLB Draft Notes: Rounds 1-5

Round One:

OK so everyone knew the Cubs were going to take Hayden Simpson with the 16th pick but the Nationals shocked everyone by taking Bryce Harper. Wait, I messed that up. Simpson, a RHP from DII Southern Arkansas was the #191 ranked prospect in this draft and expected to go in the 4th or 5th round but the Cubs obviously had him ranked slightly higher. He should come cheap for the Cubs but he could have been even cheaper say…3 rounds later.

After Harper, RHP Jamison Taillon and SS Manny Machado went as expected to the Pirates and Orioles. The buzz over the weekend was that the Royals and Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal had a pre-draft deal in place, but the deal fell apart and the Royals used the #4 overall pick on Cal State Fullerton SS Christian Colon.

Chris Sale slipped out of the top 5 until the White Sox shocked the blogosphere and used the 13th overall pick on the Florida Gulf Coast LHP. The White Sox have a history of taking low ceiling easily signable college pitchers and Sale doesn’t fit that mold. He ranked among DI leaders in strikeouts this year while walking just 12 hitters. 12! Thought of as a top 5 overall talent, he may be looking for top 5 money.

The steal of round one may have been Zach Cox sliding to the Cardinals at #25. Cox was regarded by some to be the top college hitter and this draft and many thought he’d end up with the Mets at #7.

The Dodgers may have taken a page out of the Cincinnati Reds playbook. In 2001 the cash strapped Reds took Jeremy Sowers with the 20th overall selection and made little attempt to sign him away from his strong Vanderbilt commitment. The Dodgers, plagued with financial problems as a result of messy divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, were expected to take a player that will stick to the MLB slot recommendations. They pulled a fast one on us and instead they selected Texas prep RHP Zach Lee who’s perceived as one of the tougher signs in this draft. The two sport star is likely on his way to LSU to play QB unless the Dodgers blow him away. And if they blow him away, it’s because either Frank or Jamie hit the Power Ball lotto and decided to give it another shot.

Round One Supplemental:

Middle Tennessee State OF Bryce Brentz to Boston at #36 was a good get. He led the nation in hitting as a sophomore in 2009 and was considered a sure fire 1st rounder for much of this spring dispute not being able to duplicate the previous year’s performance.

The Red Sox made news again when they scored LSU RHP Anthony Ranaudo at #39. Ranaudo, along with Harper and Taillon, was a top 3 prospect coming into the year before missing time with arm trouble. The Boras Corp will still try to get top dollar for their client and I expect him to get an above slot bonus on or about the August 15th deadline.

Round Two:

The Nationals kicked off the Draft’s second day by selecting San Diego LHP Sammy Solis, but the big splash was made when the Pirates scored St. Edward HS RHP Stetson Allie. After landing the draft’s top prep pitching prospect (Taillon) in the 1st, the Buccs were fortunate enough to have Baseball America’s #8 rated draft prospect fall to them at #52 overall. It’s rumored the Allie camp will need $3MM to sign him away from a North Carolina college commitment.

With the 55th selection, the Indians took OF LaVon Washington, an unsigned 2009 draftee (30th overall – Rays) out of a Florida HS. A Boras Corp client, he was content to honor his college commitment to Florida before failing to qualify and ending up at Chipola (FL) JC.

San Diego was linked to slugging infielders Kolbrin Vitek and Nick Castellanos in the first round but took prep pitcher Karsten Whitson instead. In the 2nd they were able to get Jedd Gyorko, an offensive minded SS at West Virginia, and he’ll play 2B professionally.

The Reds were linked to Ohio State RHP Alex Wimmers in the 1st but instead pulled the trigger on Grandal. They did get a Big 10 player in the second when they took athletic OF Ryan LaMarre.

Tampa Bay continued their strong draft by getting Georgia Tech SS Derek Dietrich with the 79th overall pick. He has a potent bat from the right side and will move to 3B as a professional.

Round Three:

I suppose it’s relevant to mention on the inaugural Stephen Strasburg extravaganza, that the White Sox selected Strasburg’s former closer, Addison Reed with the #95th overall pick. Reed will be given the chance to start as a professional until he proves otherwise.

The Cubs landed the on-field leader of the defending National Champion LSU Tigers in catcher Micah Gibbs. The switch hitting Gibbs draws comparisons to Jason Varitek and should hit for average power.

Another high profile college catcher went in the 3rd when the Phillies took Texas backstop Cameron Rupp. While not a switch hitter, I give him an edge over Gibbs because he’s much more successful at throwing out runners.

Round Four:

The Nationals pulled the trigger on Florida Prep pitcher A.J. Cole in with the 1st pick in the 4th (116 overall). Cole was rated #16th in this draft by Baseball America and he’s likely looking for 1st round money. With Bryce Harper expected to eat up a large chunk of the draft budget, this is going to be a tough sign and Cole may end up at playing for Jim Morris at Miami.

A couple of premiere college closers went in the 4th including LHP Kevin Chapman of Floirda (KC #119) and Kevin Munson of James Madison (ARI #121). Both are expected to remain in the bullpen and move quickly.

The Mariners will make a run at James Paxton the unsigned #37th overall pick from the 2009 draft. The M’s got him with the 132nd pick this year and will try to succeed where the Blue Jays failed.

Cole Green is one of my favorite sleeper prospects, although I admit it’s simply because I follow college baseball and he dominates that world. The #2 starter for Texas, he looks short and pudgy on the mound which doesn’t bode well for RHP prospects. What does bode well is that he keeps hitters off balance with a 3 pitch mix and by locating his fastball down in the zone.

The Phillies snapped up Tennessee LHP Bryan Morgado with pick 141. He was a 3rd round selection (White Sox) in 2009 following a disappointing sophomore season, but dominated the Cape Cod League which drove up his bonus demands. He didn’t sign, went back to Tennessee and struggled again.

Round Five:

The Orioles drafted Connor Narron, son of former Reds manager Jerry, with the #148th pick and they’ll try to sign him away from his North Carolina college commitment.

The Mets took one of the best draft eligible seniors in the draft in, Matt den Dekker of Florida. An unsigned 16th round pick from 2009 after a disappointing junior year, den Dekker will come cheap to the Mets and provide a nice return on their investment.

The Marlins jumped on Virginia RHP Robert Morey with the 167th pick. Morey, the #2 pitcher on one of the best college teams in the nation, is one of my favorite college players and I didn’t think he was highly regarded as a professional. I feared he might slide to the 10th round, so I was happy to see him come off the board.

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