Monday, June 20, 2011

Season 1 Draft Tracker

This week we're going to take a look at the top 10 picks of the Season 1 draft. We'll see where they are, how they're doing, and when I expect them to start contributing at the level that matters.

Season 1 - Pick 10 - Anaheim Tiger Blood
Lawrence Darwin
Tiger Blood
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: Hayden, CO
Position(s): P (SP2)
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After dominating for Lowell Whiteman HS out of Steamboat Springs, CO, Lawrence Darwin and his golden arm became the 10th pick of the Season 1 draft. His agent, Louis Watson, after the draft: "We're thrilled that Anaheim saw the talent that Lawrence brings to the table, and they'll reap the benefits for the next 2 decades." Darwin showed his dominance over high schoolers was no fluke, as he posted 59 Ks in 61 2/3 innings, walking only 16 and giving up just 1 long ball. He by-passed Low A, on his way to High A, and he hasn't missed a beat. Hitters in High A are slugging .188 against him. Darwin is clearly on a fast track to the Major Leagues, so it's just a matter of how patient Anaheim can be with him.

Projected ML Debut: Season 5

Season 1 - Pick 9 - Wichita Learjets
Cliff Sherman
Age: 23B/T: R/R
Born: Burke, SD
Position(s): SS/3B
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Matt Delcarmen, domestic scout for Wichita, spotted this gem while attending a Rice vs. Stanford game last spring. Sherman stood out among the rest as a 5-tool player who looked Major League ready right in front of Delcarmen's eyes. His range and speed was amazing for a college player, but his arm stood out above all other defensive qualities. Delcarmen in his analysis submitted to management: "His ability to hit both lefties and righties, as well as his speed and base running ability, will complement his 20 HR power." In Sherman's first professional season, he didn't disappoint. He drove in 92 RBI in just 332 ab's, while producing an amazing 1.155 OPS. This production launched him to AAA, where the production is continuing. While he may never win an MVP, Sherman will play a key role in whatever playoff hopes Wichita is fostering for upcoming seasons.

Projected ML Debut: Season 3

Season 1 - Pick 8 - Pawtucket Fire Cats
William Chong
Fire Cats
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: Warren, MI
Position(s): P (SP2)
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Pawtucket made 18 year old William Chong from Warren, MI, the 8th pick in the Season 1 draft. Represented by his mother, Mrs. Chong (who chose not to reveal her first name for reasons unknown at this time) was able to negotiate a $3.4MM signing bonus despite William's injury history. At the age of 14, he had his first shoulder surgery, followed by a mild achilles strain. During his sophomore season, he had another surgery on his shoulder, this time to clean up scar tissue left from the first procedure. His senior season was cut short by elbow inflammation, which made his status unknown going into the draft. He was prepared to enroll in Stanford University in the fall, but the Fire Cats changed those plans. Scout Donn Henley (who is routinely mocked for the second 'n' in his first name) looked past the injuries and saw the talent Chong offers. Though he's struggled a bit with his control early in season 2, he showed what he has to offer last season, striking out 44 in 44 2/3 innings, posting a sub-2.50 ERA. A man among boys at 18 years old, Henley thought Chong could compete at the Major League level. He's got amazing control, 2 solid pitches, and his ability to confuse right-handers is amazing. The sky's the limit for this youngster...if he can stay out of the operating room.

Projected ML Debut: Season 4

Season 1 - Pick 7 - Darby Kinney
Darby Kinney
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: Lore City, OH
Position(s): RF
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Darby Kinney, born and raised in Lore City, OH, became the 7th pick in the season 1 draft. Salem was immediately drawn to his ability to hit the longball, but further investigation revealed a great eye for the strike zone, a knack for hitting lefties, and an unusual leadership ability for an 18 year old. Though a bit of a hot-head when provoked, Kinney is able to lead by example, rallying the troops when they start to hang their heads about a bad call or a missed opportunity. Darby struggled, however, to match his power numbers from high school, producing only 5 HR in 295 AB in Low A last season. Though it's not what Salem is expecting out of this kid, he got the call to High A, where his coaches are ironing out the wrinkles in his game, and he is still on a path leading straight to the Major Leagues.

Projected ML Debut: Season 4

Season 1 - Pick 6 - Max Pascual
Max Pascual
Age: 20B/T: R/R
Born: Bellows Falls, VT
Position(s): LF
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After the disappointment of not being selected in the draft straight out of high school, Max Pascual began his search for a college. Finding that he was too late for most of them, he found a back door into Holyoke Community College, known more for its unique name than for its baseball program. Nevertheless, it didn't take Micah Nixon, domestic scout for the Trenton Thunder, to spot Max. Nixon was enamored with this youngsters bat, spraying balls to all fields, many of them being donated to local patrons as souvenirs. Projected to be a LF/1B, Pascual is an all-around hitter with room to improve. After a brief holdout, his time in rookie ball was limited, but was able to display his ability, posting a 1.026 OPS with 19 RBI in just 56 AB. Now tearing it up in AA, look for Pascual to find his way to the Majors in the next couple seasons.

Projected ML Debut: Late Season 3

Season 1 - Louisville Legends - Pick 5
Chipper Schneider

SS Chipper Schneider decided to take his talents to South Beach. Word is he's paying a look-alike to attend classes at a community college while he hangs out on the beaches and plays baseball. No word yet on whether or not we'll see him in the Season 2 draft.

Projected ML Debut: ???

Season 1 - Pick 4 - Texas Long Riders
Cliff Cooke
Long Riders
Age: 19B/T: R/R
Born: Hercules, CA
Position(s): P (SP4)
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The Texas Long Riders are hoping Cliff Cooke can live up to the name of his birthplace, Hercules, CA. Cooke cruised through HS mixing up his sinker and his 4 seam fastball, but the Long Riders invested in what they saw as a starter, not a closer. So the pitching coaches have started to work with him on adding a forkball to give hitters a different look. They've also decided to have him change his arm-angle. These two factors, combined with their work to improve his control, have led to less than desirable results in rookie ball and High A. With an ERA near 6.00, Cooke isn't producing the fantasy stats that you'd expect from the 4th overall pick, but the brass of the Texas organization are confident that as he progresses through their system, his stats will begin to match his talent. He struck out 73 in 52 2/3 innings in his first professional season, and will ride that to become a mainstay at the Major League level for the Long Riders.

Projected ML Debut: Season 5

Season 1 - Pick 3 - Detroit Bombers
Brian Blake
Age: 21B/T: R/R
Born: Beverly, KY
Position(s): 2B
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Brian Blake, the top position player selected in the Season 1 draft, is showing why that is the case. At a stocky 5'9", 179 lbs, Blake is destroying minor league pitching. In 285 AB last season, he slugged 16 HR and 35 doubles, with and OPS of 1.191. Oh, and 28 SB to boot! He continues to beat up on Low A pitching, but is waiting anxiously for the call to move up a level. Though he's not hurting for money after his $3.8MM signing bonus, he's getting tired of the bratty 18 year olds in Low A. He's still got a lot to learn, though, so he'll keep plugging away at the fundamentals, listening to his coaches, and improving on his already immense talent. It won't be too long before we see him beating up on Major League pitching.

Projected ML Debut: Season 4

Season 1 - Pick 2 - Kansas City Monarchs
Bill Putnam
Kansas City
Age: 19B/T: L/L
Born: Ullin, IL
Position(s): P (SP3)
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With the second pick in the season 1 draft, the Kansas City Monarchs added Bill Putnam of Anna-Jonesboro HS. This lefty boasts a mid-90s fastball, with an above-average slider, and excellent control for someone his age. With 87 K in 77 1/3 innings last season between Rookie and Low A, he's followed it up with 34 K in 33 2/3 innings this season in Low A. He's a bit frustrated with his defense, as 15 of the 45 runs that he's allowed have been unearned, but he knows that he can only control what he can control, so he will continue to work on his mechanics as he progresses through the Monarch's system. He recently got the call to AA to get him under a better pitching coach, so he's looking forward to see what the future holds.

Projected ML Debut: Season 4

Season 1 - Pick 1 - Las Vegas Outlaws
Manuel Lima
Las Vegas
Age: 21B/T: R/R
Born: Fuquay-Varina, NC
Position(s): P (ClA)
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Manuel Lima, with a $4,000,000 signing bonus, won the amateur draft sweepstakes after being selected 1st overall by the Las Vegas Outlaws. Though Major League ready right now, his ceiling is far too high to rush him too quickly. He is able to neutralize right handed hitters with amazing ease, and has one of the best fastballs in the minors. Though a closer in college, Las Vegas is hoping that he will develop the arm stamina to convert to a starter. Though whenever and however he takes the mound, Lima will show why he was selected at the top of the draft. In his time in the minors, he's been stingy with his hits, allowing 48 in 77 1/3 innings, and he has yet to issue a walk this season. When hitters manage to get a bat on the ball, they aren't doing much with it, evidenced by holding hitters to a .208 batting average. The AL is not looking forward to this flame-thrower reaching the Majors, though it should be sooner rather than later.

Projected ML Debut: Season 4

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