Posted by: bhyman | June 8, 2008

AL East wrap-up

Boston Red Sox

First-rounders: Casey Kelly (1, 30) is one of the best two-way players in the draft, but was drafted as a shortstop. Kelly is fundamentally sound at shortstop, but may have to move to third base and he fills out. He has all of the tools to eventually hit, but he must make big strides to realize his potential. He was also a prospect as a right-handed pitcher. He is committed to play baseball and football at Tennessee, so it will take a big signing bonus to forgo the scholarship offer. Bryan Price (1, 45) is a promising reliever with a fastball-slider-changeup mix. He has only performed well in this past season and has battled command issues in his freshman and sophomore issues.

Late round gem: Seth Garrison (23, 712) has a low 90s fastball, a hammer curve and excellent command. He is one of the top steals of the draft.

Hometown heroes: OF Ryan Westmoreland (5, 172), a Portsmouth (R.I.) High School senior, is an athletic outfielder who will need to work on his hitting. Ryan Lavarnway (6, 202) has put up video game numbers in three seasons as Yale’s catcher. He might have to move to the outfield as a pro.

Tough sign: RHP Alex Meyer (20,622) had enough talent to be a late first-round pick, but he has a strong commitment to Kentucky and employs Scott Boras as his agent.

Top 100 talents: Garrison, Mitch Herold (16,502), Stephen Fife (3,85), Kelly, Meyer.

Summary/Grade: A. Kelly is a steal with the last pick in the first round. The Sox picked up quality college arms in Fife, Herold and Garrison. This draft will be stellar if Boston ponies up for Westmoreland and/or Meyer.

New York Yankees

First-rounders: Gerrit Cole (1, 28 ) might have the best fastball of any high school pitcher, which reaches 98 mph. His curve is another plus pitch. Despite mechanical concerns, Cole would have been a mid-first round pick but he fell to the Yankees because he hired Scott Boras as his agent. Jeremy Bleich (1, 44) is a lefty who could slot in the back of the Yankees rotation. He has a 90 mph fastball with life and an above-average changeup. Despite an impressive 0.92 ERA, he had 31 strikeouts to 23 walks in an injury shortened 39 innings.

Late-round gem: D.J. Mitchell (10, 320), a righthander from Clemson, offers a nasty sinker/slider mix and exceptional command. He has a fresh arm because he didn’t start pitching for the Tigers until last season.

Hometown heroes: 2B Spencer Lucian (31, 950) graduated from nearby Princeton University. Chris Dwyer (36, 1100) and Jonathan Folino (49, 1475) are also from the tri-state area.

Tough sign: Cole will sign for an above-slot bonus. RHP Brett Marshall (6, 200), another high school pitcher, could require second-round money. So will catcher Ben McMahan (30, 920).

Top 100 talents: Mitchell, Scott Bittle (2, 75), Cole, Jack Rye (13, 410).

Summary/Grade: B+. The Yankees, as usual, drafted plenty of high schoolers who fell due to signability. Mitchell and Bittle are solid picks, but New York misread Bleich, who will be less impressive as a pro when the walks catch up to him.

Toronto Blue Jays

First-rounders: David Cooper (1, 17) is one of six first basemen selected in the first round. He’s got big power and good plate discipline but is a liability in the field and on the bases. He put up impressive numbers despite playing in a pitchers’ park. He may have to move to DH down the road but his offensive numbers should allow him to be a middle of the lineup force.

Late-round gem: Eric Thames (7, 219) is a steal. He has put up unbelievable numbers at Pepperdine and is an average defender in left-field. Brad McElroy (25, 759) set a Charlotte record with a .392 career batting average and was a Third-Team All-American last season.

Hometown heroes: The Jays drafted one Canadian, Michael Crouse (16, 489), a centerfielder from Centennial Secondary School in British Columbia.

Tough sign: Mark Sobolewski (4, 129) is a sophomore eligible third baseman from Miami who has leverage with two more seasons of college eligibility.

Top 100 talents: Cooper, Thames, McElroy.

Summary/Grades: B. Cooper and Thames fit the Jays mold of college hitters with lengthy track records. Andrew Liebel (3, 95), Brian Van Kirk (21, 639) and McElroy are also solid picks.

Baltimore Orioles

First-rounders: Brian Matusz (1, 4) is a polished lefthander with a three-pitch mix and excellent command. He offers a low 90s fastball and an above average curve and changeup. The O’s will tweak his mechanics, but Matusz will be one of the first ’08 draft picks to reach the big leagues, as early as 2010.

Late-round gem: T.R. Keating (34, 1016) is a control specialist who has minimized his walks and home runs allowed. Pitching in the thin air of Greeley, Colorado, Keating has allowed a home run every 11 innings and has struck out 3.6 batters for every one he’s walked.

Hometown heroes: Brian Conley (17, 506) graduated from nearby Towson (Md.) University. Chad Durakis (37, 1106) graduated from the University of Maryland after a standout career at St. Paul’s School in nearby Brooklandville, Md. Oliver Drake (43, 1286) pitches at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Kevin Brady (44, 1316), is a senior righthander at Gaithersburg (Md.) High School in suburban Washington, DC.

Tough sign: Drake is a draft-eligible sophomore from a service academy. Bobby Bundy (8, 236) saw his draft stock and fastball velocity drop this season. He is committed to Arkansas.

Top 100 talents: Matusz, Keating, Xavier Avery (2, 50).

Summary/Grade: B-. Matusz is a nice first-round pick who should be a staple in Baltimore’s rotation for years to come. The O’s focused more on athleticism and less on performance and hitting ability. Hoes is a reach in the third round and Kyle Hudson (4, 116) has hit one home run in three seasons. Keating and Eddie Gamboa (21, 626) are good value picks with great control and a feel for pitching.

Tampa Bay Rays

First-rounders: Tim Beckham (1,1) is the best high school prospect in the country. He has five legitimate tools, including the quickness and hands to stay at shortstop. He’s a good hitter and has been compared to the Upton brothers (B.J. and Justin) although he is less athletic than those two.

Late-round gem: Tim Clubb (42, 1253) is a draft-eligible sophomore who has put together two quality seasons at Missouri State, including an ’08 campaign in which he had a 2.52 ERA, 82 strikeouts, 32 walks and 3 home runs allowed in 103.2 innings pitched.

Hometown heroes: Chris Matulis (47, 1397), a lefthanded pitcher from Park Vista High School, is the only Rays draft pick from the Sunshine State.

Tough sign: Kyle Lobstein (2, 47) was one of the top high school pitchers entering the ’08 season. However, he lost his velocity and scouts were turned off. The Rays will need to pay first round money to pull Lobstein away from his Arizona commitment.

Top 100 talents: Beckham

Summary/Grade: C-. The Rays took the best player in the draft with the first overall pick, but made curious selections afterwards. Lobstein struggled in his senior season and will demand an above-slot signing bonus. C Jake Jefferies (3, 78 ) was a reach and doesn’t offer a plus tool and CF Ty Morrison (4, 113) is extremely raw.

We’ll breakdown the AL West on Sunday.

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