There was a lot of good work done late by owners picking late in the round, and the selections here are mostly characterized by shrewed picks. A lot of midnight oil was burned by experienced owners perhaps, but there is evidence most everyone was well prepared come draft day.
My apologies for having to split part 2 into two parts - I'm running short of time as of late and I did not want to delay this further. One more part to come. And once again, I don't profess to know anymore about evaluating talent than any other owner, so my opinions are my own and meant to entertain. Without further ado...
17. NEW ORLEANS JAZZ (10/10)
Gabe Fisher, LHP – Owner of three picks in the top 40, New Orleans perhaps gambled a bit when the franchise did not stretch its scouting budget to take advantage of them. That said, most clubs would be happy to find a starting pitcher of the caliber of Gabe Fisher in the top ten picks, and the Jazz net him with the 17th. The lefty promises to rarely issue a walk, shut down left-handed hitters while being tough on right-handed ones, and throw two dazzling pitches among the five in his collection. A patient 18-year-old with a great work ethic, it’s highly likely he’ll live up to the billing with proper coaching. While one could slander his durability, this pick could be the steal of the draft.
Overall Grade: (see pick 29)
18. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (16/16) ** via the TORONTO BLUE JAYS – ALBERT BELLIARD
Kendry Cornejo, RHP – With their second pick in the first round, the Diamondbacks grab college standout Cornejo, and it’s a nice, safe pick because he’ll fast-track straight to making regular appearances out of the big league bullpen. The right-hander projects to have exemplary command, whip both lefties and righties and throw two pitches with a lot of movement. Extremely durable, batters will tire of facing him every night the D-backs have the lead. He should make it to the show in two years, three max, which makes his assignment to Arizona’s rookie ball somewhat suspect.
Of Arizona’s remaining picks, hard-throwing Butch Reese will end up working in the majors thanks to his effectiveness and dazzling stuff, but he will walk his fair share of batters. Just what role he’ll play remains to be seen. The Diamondbacks cornered the market on some power hitting third base-types in later rounds – it’s nice to never be short a big bat off the bench. At minimum, Arizona collects three MLB-quality pitchers which earns the franchise a high mark.
Overall Grade: A
19. CHICAGO CUBS (15/15)
*Jerome Lanier, CF – Kansas City, Missouri is not nearly as remote as Kodiak, Alaska, so how a talent as rich as Jerome Lanier slipped past the collective eyes of my scouts can boggle the mind, and yet I imagine he slipped past quite a few more given his fall to #19. Lanier appears to project to playing second base in the bigs, but he has all the tools you want out of the position: good defense, good contact, decent power and a decent eye. He has blazing speed to boot, but will need to develop his base-running savvy to make full use of it. He is an unusual talent to still be remaining on the board this late in the draft and I love this pick.
Curiously, the Cubs managed to sign only one – one – other player selected with their top 15 selections (a closer that throws hard and has excellent command) despite a bank full of cash. Is the franchise trading the known for that international star behind door number three? Debating that strategy is for another discussion. Lanier is a steal but the lack of surrounding talent pulls the draft down a full grade at least for now.
Overall Grade: B-
20. BOSTON RED SOX (16/16)
Alvin Orr, RHP – Bobby Orr is one of the greatest hockey players, and greatest Boston Bruin, of all time. It’s entirely fitting then that Alvin Orr goes to Beantown with pick #20. (Life is delicious sometimes, even in a fantasy baseball simulation game.) Orr is not merely in town because Red Sox Nation adores his surname. He is a three-pitch reliever with great command, good stuff, nice velocity and will wear down right-handed batters. He can be beaten from the left-side, but the Sox can live with that. He’s a nice selection here and will make an impact coming out of the bullpen.
In later rounds, the Red Sox continue to stock up on pitching. There’s a good chance that Cory Smith, Peter Haughian, Kendry Carrasco and Lewis Rollins could all make the big leagues some day. Even Matt Ball could find a role on the bench given his defense and speed. The Red Sox look to be in great shape if even some of these picks live up to potential.
Overall Grade: A-
21. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (18/18)
Willie Donnelly, 2B – The Phillies make a solid selection at #21 with Donnelly, who projects to have an excellent eye for the strike zone and make consistent contact, driving the ball equally well against both arms. Durable and with decent speed, he’ll also play better than average defense at the position. With proper development, he may prove to have few weaknesses in his game and should stand to get on base quite a bit. There is a lot to like about this pick.
Overall Grade: (see pick 27)
22. FLORIDA MARLINS (12/12)
Bobby Phillips, LHP – There were quite a few good left-handed starters in this draft, and the Marlins nab one with the 22nd pick. Phillips projects to have excellent control and Is already the owner of a devastating curveball that will only look more dizzying to hitters. His remaining pitches should do more than just keep hitters honest. Marlins fans should be happy with the pick.
Florida continued to corner the market on pitching, drafting seven more through pick #239. It’s possible a couple could find their way to the majors someday should they develop to their projections, with Luke Law likely having the best luck to get there. While they didn’t add much talent off the mound, it was a solid draft overall.
Overall Grade: B+
23. TAMPA BAY RAYS (2/2)
*Ricardo Flores, C – The Cardinals’ front office spent $36 million to hire as many of the shrewdest talent scouts (not to mention all the bar tabs, Cuban cigars and escort services that often come with them) just to pay these hawk-eyed wizards to infiltrate as many sweat-smelling, athlete’s foot-ridden locker rooms in high schools and colleges across the globe in a no-stone-unturned effort to find every little bean bag of talent that exists out there.
On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Rays’ front office paid to send some of their most dedicated ballpark ushers on a three-day vacation to Massachusetts, and one night while choking down some rigatoni on Boston’s North End, one of them puts down his fork long enough to spot a giant quietly making meatballs in the kitchen. A conversation ensues, and he learns from the wait staff that this guy can see baseballs coming at him like meatballs and regularly swats them out of the park in his local park-and-rec league. When he gets back home, he happens to mention it to the head-honcho while thanking him for the trip, and wallah – Flores is discovered.
If Flores lives up to half his projections, he will hit like a monster. He can practically hit better than any current Cardinal on my MLB roster now, without developing any further. It’s just too bad he has no range, no glove (likely why he was undiscovered in the kitchen) and will need to DH in the majors.
Despite the low budget numbers, Tampa Bay did manage to grab some talent with their picks at #51 and #78, with Bartolo Campos in particular being a nice find. The Rays get a long of bang for the buck with this one. For that, how can I not give them high marks.
Overall Grade: A-
24. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (10/18)
Reese Glauber, LHP – Glauber is yet another southpaw selected early, and he projects to have elite command and eviscerate lefties facing him. He will be less effective against righties, but likely will hold his own due in part to a very effective first pitch. I’m uncertain what role he’ll play in the big leagues when he gets there, as his innings will be limited as a starter and he has just three tricks up his sleeve to deliver. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.
The Orioles’ go on to collect a smattering of major league talent with their next picks, including a potential starting pitcher, a defensive catcher who can hit lefties extremely well and a reliever for the pen. While I’m not entirely sold on their first pick, this is a very solid draft for the franchise and one fans should be happy with.
Overall Grade: B
25. ATLANTA BRAVES (14/14)
J.P. Maduro, LHP – An intriguing selection, as I was wondering when this starter would go. The California-native projects to rarely walk batters, strike out his fair share, keep the ball down in the strike zone and show decent movement on all four of his pitches. However he will struggle with his overall effectiveness against batters at times. The fact that he is a lefty should help. Given the elite starters were off the board at this point, he’s one of the best of the next level remaining. A nice pick here.
Too bad Atlanta does not pick up much more in the draft, as second rounder Tony Benton is not yet signed and the players selected after him have a hole or two in their game that will limit their effectiveness should they make the bigs.
Overall Grade: B-
26. SEATTLE MARINERS (16/16)
Cliff Drew, LF – Drew projects to have an altogether rare understanding of the strike zone. He takes massive cuts at the ball, and as a result finds himself swinging from his heels at times and will strike out a lot. But when he connects, oh boy! That ball will travel. Far. Defensively he is far more suited to playing first base than left, but that will suit the Mariners fine. The club picks up a legitimate homerun threat with pick #26.
Seattle also gets a decent hitter in Omar Carrasco at pick #81, who should prove to be a versatile utility player, and picks up three straight catchers in rounds three thru five. All of them have similar profiles but may prove useful at the ML level, so I suspect one or two will be dealt in the coming years, especially from a franchise that enjoys making trades.
Overall Grade: B
27. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (18/18) ** via ANAHEIM ANGELS – PHIL PEREZ
Dan George, 3B – The Phillies second selection in the first round, the big attraction to George is easily his bat. He projects to have no problems driving the ball with a decent amount of power but he won’t always be consistent with his contact. He’ll likely end up patrolling a corner in the outfield in the big leagues. As with all high school players, he’ll need to live up to his lofty upside by developing first for a bit, and his suspect health may be an impediment to getting there.
The Phillies also garnered another future potential major league talent of note, Juan Julio. He is a true base-stealing threat with elite contact who could see game time against lefties, but he’s an unfortunate lefty which will likely isolate his excellent defensive skills to left field – where most power hitters dwell.
Overall Grade: A-