2008 MLB Draft: A Retrospective

I had so much fun looking back at the 2009 Draft, I was excited to give the 2008 draft a try. It’s crazy to consider that this class of 1st rounders has already produced a World Series Champion and National League Rookie of the Year in Buster Posey. Note that the only 2007 1st round draftee with a ring is Buster’s teammate Madison Bumgarner.

  1. Tampa Bay: Tim Beckham – SS – Griffin HS (GA). The consensus top two players in this draft were Vanderbilt’s Pedro Alvarez and Florida State’s Posey. Beckham, the top prep position player in this class, was attractive to the Rays because he came cheaper than Alvarez and Posey. While all three signed for around $6,000,000, the Rays were able to spread Beckham’s bonus out over 5 years because he qualified as a two sport athlete (basketball). Beckham hasn’t been bad as a professional, but he also hasn’t done anything to truly stand out either. Meanwhile Posey is a World Champion, Alvarez hit 16 HR for the Pirates in ’10 and Kelly Shoppach handled catching duties for the Rays in the ALDS. Sure hindsight is 20/20, but the Rays should have seen this coming. Most other teams would have.
  2. Pittsburg: Pedro Alvarez – 3B – Vanderbilt. The New York native was a 14th round pick (Boston) in 2005 but went to Vanderbilt instead. He went on to win the Baseball America Freshman of the year in 2006, became an All American in 2007, and became college baseball’s best prospect in 2008 despite a broken hamate that limited his power. Pedro made his MLB debut midway through the 2010 season and hit .256/.326/.461 with 64 RBI in just 95 games.
  3. Kansas City: Eric Hosmer – 1B – American Heritage HS (FL). Hosmer was supposed to have the most advanced prep bat in this class, but he struggled in 2009 producing a meager .695 OPS and just 6 HR. He had laser eye surgery in the offseason and rebounded in 2010 with a line of .338/.406/.571 to go with 20 HR and 86 RBI.
  4. Baltimore: Brian Matusz – LHP – San Diego. An unsigned 4th round pick in 2005 (Angles), Matusz signed for $3.2 Million in 2008 and breezed through the minor leagues. He spent all of the 2010 season in Baltimore primed for a great rookie season, but my #5 prospect heading into the season struggled for much of his rookie year. Once Buck Showalter was brought in to replace Dave Trembly, Matusz was strong. So strong in fact, that he finished the year with a 10-12 record with a 4.30 ERA and 143 K’s in 175 innings over 32 starts.
  5. San Francisco: Buster Posey – C – Florida State. Posey put up numbers that were better in the ACC than even Matt Weiters had done in his years at Georgia Tech, and while Posey was highly regarded, he was no Matt Weiters. If Weiters doesn’t take a step forward in 2011, we’ll start saying “He’s no Buster Posey.”
  6. Florida: Kyle Skipworth – C – Patriot HS (CA). Skipworth was regarded nearly as high as Hosmer for his prowess with the bat but he has struggled as a professional compiling just a .226 AVE to go with a meager .666 OPS. While he did hit 17 HR’s last season, he also struck out 132 times compared to just 32 walks.
  7. Cincinnati: Yonder Alonso – 1B – Miami. There were many in the industry that felt the Reds would take Missouri RHP Aaron Crow with this pick and several of my Reds fan friends were pissed off when they didn’t. They’re happy now as Alonso has been ranked as high as #12 on 2011 prospect lists while Crow is just the 9th best Royals prospect according to Baseball America.
  8. White Sox: Gordon Beckham – SS – Georgia. Beckham only needed 59 games before being promoted to the South Side as the every day 3B where he hit .270 with 14 HR as a rookie. He moved to 2B in 2010 and his bat regressed a little as his BB:K ratio plumeted from .63 in ’09 to .40 in ’10.
  9. Washington: Aaron Crow – RHP – Missouri. Crow and Matusz were regarded as the clear cut top two college arms in this draft and the top spot varied daily. Crow turned down a $3.5 Million offer to re-enter the 2009 draft where he signed for $1.5 Million. Crow has posted an unimpressive 5.26 ERA and 1.450 WHIP in 32 professional starts.
  10. Houston: Jason Castro – C – Stanford. Castro going #10 overall was a bit of a shock but he’s proved his value posting a .287/.376/.411 in 215 minor league games. He earned his promotion to Houston in 2010 but struggled, hitting .205 in 195 ABs.
  11. Texas: Justin Smoak – 1B – South Carolina. Smoak earned a promotion in 2010 and struggled before being traded to Seattle for Cliff Lee. Smoak should get plenty of playing time for the M’s in 2011 and while the Rangers weren’t able to sign Lee, the World Series appearance alone was return enough on this investment.
  12. Oakland: Jemile Weeks – 2B – Miami. Ricky’s little brother may never be a star, but I think he’ll be a solid regular for many years. A good indicator in my eyes is that he walks nearly as much as he Ks.
  13. St. Louis: Brett Wallace – 1B – Arizona State. Thunder Thighs has been busy since being drafted by the Cardinals. The Cards traded him to Oakland for Matt Holliday. Oakland dealt him to Toronto for Michael Taylor in a 3 way trade that brought Cliff Lee to Philidelphia (the first time) and finally Toronto traded him to Houston for Anthony Gose. Wallace joined Castro in Houston in 2010 and like Castro he struggled hitting .222/.296/.319 with just 2 HR and 50 K’s compared to just 8BB in 144 ABs.
  14. Minnesota: Aaron Hicks – OF – Wilson HS (CA). Some teams liked him better as a fireballing RHP but his future is as a 5 tool outfielder and he’s well on his way. He draws walks at a high rate which will lead to a high OBP and his speed should allow him to steal 20 bases per season at the next level. While he only hit 8 HR last season, his 27 2B may be an indicator of the power that he could develop.
  15. Dodgers: Ethan Martin – RHP – Stephens County HS (GA). The 2008 High School Player of the Year was courted as a 3B by as many or more teams that liked him as a RHP. Having a position to fall back on might not be a bad thing for a guy who went 9-14 with a 6.35 ERA in high A ball last year. It was the hitter haven that is the California League so I’ll cut him a little slack. A little.
  16. Milwaukee: Brett Lawrie – 3B/C – Brookswood (B.C.) This Canadian legend had a Paul Bunyan folklorish reputation as an 18 year old playing for the Canadian National team. He has since moved to 2B and draws regular Dan Uggla comps. Toronto brought home their native son in the 2010 off-season when they obtained Lawrie in a trade for Shaun Marcum.
  17. Toronto: David Cooper – 1B – California. Remember when Cal had a baseball team? Good times. Cooper has spent nearly all of the last two years in AA New Hampshire where he’s put up fair numbers. He did manage 20 HR last year and will likely see AAA and ultimately Toronto in 2011.
  18. Mets: Ike Davis – 1B – Arizona State. Davis raised concerns when he didn’t homer in 215 ABs after quickly signing in 2008. Those concerns seem foolish now as Davis just blasted 19 long balls in his first year in the New York.
  19. Cubs: Andrew Cashner – RHP – Texas Christian. Cashner spent most of 2010 in Chicago with mixed results posting an impressive 8.3 K/9 and a troubling 5.0 BB/9 out of the Cubs bullpen.
  20. Seattle: Josh Fields – RHP – Georgia. Fields put on a show in 2008 teaming up with Gordon Beckham while leading Georgia to a runner up finish in the College World Series. While arm injuries and control problems have been the story on Fields over the past two years, he still shows signs of dominance striking out 9.3 per 9 as a pro.
  21. Detroit: Ryan Perry – RHP – Arizona. Perry joined Gordon Beckham as a member of this class to make his MLB debut in 2009. In fact, Perry already has 113 appearances under his belt posting an impressive 3.69 ERA.
  22. Mets: Reese Havens – SS – South Carolina. Havens put together a decent 2009 season but he missed most of 2010 with an oblique injury.
  23. San Diego: Allan Dykstra – 1B – Wake Forest. He’s the same age as Gordon Beckham and Ryan Perry and he’s never played above A ball. That’s not a good sign.
  24. Philadelphia: Anthony Hewitt – SS – Salisbury HS (CT). The Phillies knew he was raw when they drafted him, and Hewitt wasn’t regarded as a 1st rounder by many other clubs. In his first year as a professional he struck out an alarming 47% of the time. He’s improved that to a slightly less atrocious 36% in 2010 but he still struggles to hit .200.
  25. Colorado: Christian Friedrich – LHP – Eastern Kentucky. Freidrich had two great years in ’08 and ’09 posting strikeout rates at 12 per 9IP but 2010 was a struggle where he saw his K rate drop to 8.04 per 9 and his ERA balloon over 5.00. I expect a rebound and to see he MLB debut sometime late in 2011.
  26. Arizona: Daniel Schlereth – LHP – Arizona. The son of NFL Pro Bowl lineman Mark Schlereth was Ryan Perry’s bullpen mate in college. Daniel made his MLB debut in 2009 with Arizona but was sent to Detroit in 2010 in a 3-way trade with New York involving Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy.
  27. Minnesota: Carlos Gutierrez – RHP – Miami. The closer of the Hurricane Omaha team led by Yonder Alonso and Jemile Weeks, Gutierrez has split between starting and relieving as a pro. In a nut shell my review of Gutierrez is that he gives up too many hits to be very effective. He’ll have some kind of MLB career but it won’t be noteworthy unless he gives up someone’s 500th HR.
  28. Yankees: Gerrit Cole – RHP – Orange Lutheran HS (CA). It’s always risky to turn down 1st round money to go to school but Cole will undoubtedly go much higher in 2011 than he did in 2008. As a sophomore he led a deep UCLA staff to Omaha and the Bruins will be among the favorites for the National Championship again in 2011 and Cole should be a top 10 pick.
  29. Cleveland: Lonnie Chisenhall – SS – Pitt CC (NC). As a freshman, Chisenhall batted 3rd on a South Carolina team that included Justin Smoak and Reese Havens before being kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons. He’s hit 39 HR over the past 2 seasons and I’m looking forward to watching him in Columbus this year on his way to Cleveland.
  30. Boston: Casey Kelly – RHP/SS – Sarasota HS (FL). Kelly gave up a football scholarship to Tennessee on the condition that he could hit as a professional. He hit (poorly) for a year before the Red Sox convinced him to get on the mound. He took off in 2009 going 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA but 2010 wasn’t as kind as he had a 5.31 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 21 AA starts. He’ll take his talents to San Diego this year as he was involved in the trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez to Boston.
Wow, this was fun. Tune in 7 weeks from now for my next riveting blog post. Tell a friend!

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