Posted by: bhyman | June 9, 2008

AL West wrap-up

Seattle Mariners

First-rounders: Joshua Fields (1, 20) is the best reliever in this year’s draft class. His fastball reaches 98 mph and he throws a hammer curve. He had a subpar year in his junior season and elected not to sign with the Braves after they made him their second round pick in 2007. He’s had a huge year in ’08: a 2.27 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 18 walks and 2 home runs allowed in 31 2/3 innings.

Late-round gem: Bobby Lafromboise (8, 252) has put up great numbers in two seasons in the thin air of New Mexico. In 2008, he had a 3.98 ERA with 63 strikeouts, 30 walks and 3 home runs allowed in 81 1/3 innings. He offers a 88 mph fastball with movement and a decent slider.

Hometown heroes: The M’s drafted two players from the Evergreen State: Brad Reid (30, 912), a righthanded pitcher from Bellvue Community College, and Andrew Kittredge (45, 1360), a righthanded pitcher from Ferris High School in Spokane.

Tough sign: Brett Lorin (5, 162) is a sophomore eligible righthanded pitcher from Long Beach State who has leverage with two years of college eligibility remaining. Walker Kelly (50, 1495) is advised by Scott Boras.

Top 100 talents: Fields, Lafromboise, Aaron Pribanic (3, 98 )

Summary/Grade: B. Seattle did well to pick up some quality college arms in Fields and Pribanic and got a steal when Lafromboise fell to the eighth round. Dennis Raben (2, 66) hasn’t lived up to expectations, but possesses big time power. Kenn Kasparek (12, 372) and Ryan Royster (13, 402) are intriguing late round picks and Luke Burnett (14, 432) could be a gem if he can get back on track.

Texas Rangers

First-rounders: The Rangers must be thrilled to find Justin Smoak (1, 11) available at their mid-first round pick. Smoak is the best college first baseman in the draft and compares with former Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira. Like Teixeira, Smoak is a switch-hitter who hits for average and power and has Gold Glove potential at first base.

Late-round gem: Mike Bianucci (8, 243) has been a run producer for Auburn since his freshman season. He hit 14 home runs in 2007, then declined the Angels 23rd round selection as a sophomore eligible and returned for his junior campaign to hit another 13 home runs. He is still somewhat raw and will never be a great defensive outfielder, but he has enough offensive potential to hit in the middle of a big league lineup.

Hometown heroes: If Matt Thompson (7, 213), a righthanded pitcher from Grace Prep Academy in Arlington, Texas, can be pulled away from his TCU commitment, it will be to his hometown team.

Tough sign: Harold Martinez (19, 573) was thought to be a first round pick before the ’08 season. He didn’t hit in his high school senior campaign and might be tempted to follow through on his commitment to Miami.

Top 100 talents: Smoak and Bianucci.

Summary/Grade: C. Smoak was a gift with the 11th overall pick, but the success of the Rangers draft hinges on the success of high schoolers Robbie Ross (2, 57), Joe Wieland (4, 123) and Clark Murphy (5, 153). Keep an eye on Jared Bolden (9, 273), a first baseman who put up three stellar seasons at Virginia Commonwealth.

Oakland Athletics

First-rounders: Jemile Weeks (1, 12) is the brother of Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks. Jemile has a different game than his brother, however. He has top of the line speed and can hit for power, as his 11 home runs in 2008 attest. He needs to become more consistent defensively at second base, but he has an intruiging package of tools.

Late-round gem: Preston Guilmet (22, 664) pounds the strike zone with a three pitch mix. Although his fastball only reaches 86-87 mph, mediocre for a righthanded pitcher, he has an above average slider and good splitter. He’s struck out nearly four batters for every one he’s walked over his three year career at Arizona.

Hometown heroes: Tyson Ross (2, 58 ) is a righthanded pitcher at Cal. Bobby Crocker (38, 1144) is an outfielder at Aptos High School. Derek Benny (45, 1353), J.R. Graham (46, 1381) and Coley Crank (47, 1408 ) are all local high schoolers.

Tough sign: Nick Maronde (43, 1294) is a Scott Boras client. He could have been drafted as high as the second round on talent, but fell because of his association to Boras and his strong commitment to Florida.

Top 100 talents: Guilmet and Anthony Capra (4, 124)

Summary/Grade: C. In typical fashion, the A’s drafted college players with their first five picks. However, Oakland compromised with its scouts and drafted prospects with more promise that actual performance. Guilmet and Capra are nice picks, but Weeks has had an inconsistent career and Ross has given up too many home runs in a pitcher’s park.

Los Angeles Angels

First-rounders: The Angels sent their first-round pick to Minnesota when they signed Type A free agent Torii Hunter in the off-season. Tyler Chatwood (2, 74) was the Angels’ first pick. He is a high school righthanded pitcher from California. He has a mid 90s fastball and a sharp curveball but is small and not projectable.

Late-round gem: Jayson Miller (30, 919) is a senior lefty at Washington State with a good feel for pitching and excellent command. He struck out more than four batters for every batter he walked in 2008.

Hometown heroes: Chatwood, Roberto Lopez (25, 769), Michael Kenney (28, 859), Kyle Hendricks (39, 1189) and Jared Clark (45, 1366) all play their home games in the Greater Los Angeles area. This plethora of local picks probably reflects the hot bed of amateur talent in Southern California rather than local favoritism by the Angels scouting department.

Tough sign: The Angels drafted surprisingly few players who fell due to signability. The Angels traditionally spend a lot of money on the draft and saved millions by not having a first round pick. Taylor Jungmann (24, 739) may take first round money to pull away from Texas. Donnie Roach (40, 1219) is a high school right-handed pitcher from Nevada who might need third round money.

Top 100 talents: None of the Angels selections made our top 100. The top ranked player was Zach Cone (3, 112), an athletic Parkview High School (Georgia) centerfielder with range and speed to spare.

Summary/Grade: F. The deck was stacked against the Angels when they forfeited their first round pick to the Twins. But they compounded that circumstance by choosing not to draft high schoolers with signability concerns until the 24th round. They did not draft a collegian until the 10th round.

On Monday, we’ll analyze the NL West.

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