Posted by: bhyman | June 11, 2008

NL East wrap-up

Florida Marlins

First-rounders: Kyle Skipworth (1, 6) is one of the best hitters in the high school ranks with the benefit of being skilled enough to have a future as a catcher in the big leagues. He drives the ball to all fields and has quick reflexes and phenomenal eye-hand coordination. His defense has improved and the Fish believe he can be at least an average defensive catcher.

Late round gem: Isaac Galloway (8, 238 ) is both talented and raw. He is a fast runner, a strong-armed right fielder and a smooth defender. He has above-average hitting potential, too, but he is far from realizing it and needs to work on his swing mechanics. He also needs to improve his throwing accuracy. He is a second round talent who the Marlins picked up in the eighth round.

Hometown heroes: Taylor Davis (49, 1456) is a catcher at nearby Jupiter High School. There are several other Floridians in the Marlins draft, but most are from upstate, including Justin Bass (19, 568 ) from Stetson.

Tough sign: Curtis Peterson, a high school pitcher from Texas, is expected to enroll at Nebraska.

Top 100 talents: Skipworth, Galloway, Bass

Summary/Grade: B. Florida did a good job of matching high ceiling high schoolers (like Skipworth, Galloway and Graham Johnson (6, 178 )) and impressive collegians (Bass, Ben Soigner (17, 508 ) and Paul Gran (7, 208 )). This is the best draft of any NL East team.

Philadelphia Phillies

First-rounders: Anthony Hewitt (1, 24) had more draft helium than any other first rounder. He’s a fantastic athlete who possesses raw power, good arm strength and plus speed. However, he has not played well against superior high school talent and has a strong commitment to Vanderbilt.  Zach Collier (1, 34) is a power-speed threat who has plus power and hitting ability. He’s also a fast runner, but projects as a rightfielder where his average arm will suffice.

Late round gem: Steve Susdorf (19, 586) has led an improbable College World Series berth for the No. 4 seed Fresno State Bulldogs. He’s a leftfielder and a senior sign with good plate discipline and some athleticism. He’s more of a line drive hitter than a power threat, although he has posted double-digit homer totals in each of the past three seasons.

Hometown heroes: Jason Knapp (2, 71) is a hard throwing high school pitching prospect from Annandale, N.J. Jordan Ellis (28, 856) pitches for Villanova. Charlie Law (44, 1335) and Michael Russo (49, 1471) are high school pitchers from the Garden State.

Tough sign: Blaine O’Brien (34, 1036) is an uber-projectable righthanded pitcher from Scituate High School in Massachusetts. He’s likely to fulfill his commitment to Georgia. Jared Cosart (38, 1156) will require a bonus commeserate to a third round draft pick; he’s a Missouri recruit.

Top 100 talents: Collier, Hewitt, Susdorf

Summary/Grade: B-. Six of the Phillies’ first seven picks were high schoolers.  Some, like Collier and Anthony Gose (2, 51) are universally liked.  But Hewitt, Knapp and Trevor May (4, 136) have too many question marks to merit high selections.

Washington Nationals

First-rounders: Aaron Crow (1, 9) is a steal of a pick at the end of the first round.  He is our favorite pitcher in the entire draft thanks to an impressive combination of stuff and command.  He throws his fastball in the mid 90s with excellent life and his slider is a second plus pitch.  He also will offer a solid changeup.  He has dominated Big XII hitters despite pitching in an extreme hitters’ ballpark.  In 2008, he had a 2.35 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 38 walks.

Late round gem: Jose Lozada (17, 511) only spent one year at Bethune-Cookman after transferring from Benedictine College.  He made the most of it, however, by hitting .398/.500/.635 with 7 home runs.  He played shortstop for the Wildcats, but is small at only 6-foot tall.

Hometown heroes: Scott Silverstein (32, 961) was one of the top prospects from Washington, having pitched at St. Johns College Prep in the District.

Tough sign: J.P. Ramirez (15, 451) is asking for a high six figure bonus to pull him away from Tulane.  Silverstein’s draft stock plummeted after he was shut down with a bout of shoulder tightness.  He’s committed to Virginia.

Top 100 talents: Crow, Lozada, Destin Hood (2, 55)

Summary/Grade: B-. The Nationals were surprised to find Aaron Crow in their laps with the ninth overall pick.  They drafted many high school and junior college pitchers thereafter.  There are a couple of nice sleepers mixed in, however, including Lozada and Tommy Milone (10, 301).

New York Mets

First-rounders: Ike Davis (1, 18 ) is yet another college first baseman who was drafted in the first round.  An excellent two-way player at Arizona State, Davis has raw power and a strong arm, which he used to dominate Pac-10 hitters from the mound.  Reese Havens (1, 22) improved both his hitting and his fielding in 2008, showing the ability to play shortstop in the big leagues and improving his on-base-plus-slugging by more than 400 points.  Brad Holt (1, 33) has a big league arm; he consistently throws in the mid 90s.  However, he’s been susceptible to the long ball, having allowed 22 home runs in three seasons against inferior competition at UNC-Wilmington.

Late round gem: Josh Satin (6, 194) put up big numbers in his redshirt senior season at Cal.  He hit .379/.500/.723 with 18 home runs.  He played second base in college and was drafted there, but he might have to move to the outfield given his mediocre defensive abilities.

Hometown heroes: Michael Moras (20, 614) is a catcher from nearby University of New Haven.  James Fuller (21, 644) and Erik Turgeon (25, 764) pitched at Connecticut colleges and Michael Giuffre is a high school infielder from Staten Island.

Tough sign: Neil Medchill (33, 1004) is a sophomore eligible from Oklahoma State who has two remaining seasons of eligibility and will probably return to school to see if he can get drafted higher in ’09.

Top 100 talents: Havens and Davis.

Summary/Grade: C. The Mets had the luxury of having three picks within the first 35 overall.  Given that head start, this draft is disappointing.  Holt is a reach in the second round, considering he did not put up great numbers in a bad conference and the Mets didn’t use their later round picks smartly.

Atlanta Braves

First-rounders: Brett DeVall (1, 40) has three quality pitches — a low 90s fastball, a curve and a changeup — that he executes with superior command.  He’s got a projectable 6-foot-4 body.  He could slot somewhere into the middle of a big league rotation.

Late round gem: Chris Shehan (30, 910) might be the Braves’ best pick in the entire draft.  He tore up the Southern Conference, hitting .438/.557/.835 with 22 home runs for Georgia Southern.  He’s got average speed and can play corner outfielder.  He’ll move quickly through the low minors.

Hometown heroes: Atlanta loves to draft local players.  Its team’s first four picks came from Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  The Braves also drafted a pair of teammates from Walton High School in Marietta, Georgia with consecutive picks: William Burns (16, 490) and Mark Pope (17, 520).

Tough sign: Michael Palazzone (18, 550) fell about fifteen rounds beyond where his talent merited, so he will probably fulfill his commitment to Georgia.

Top 100 talents: Shehan

Summary/Grade: C-. The Braves were put in a hole when they forfeited their first round pick to the Mets upon signing Tom Glavine in the off-season.  They reacted to this by showing an extreme preference for high school and junior college prospects.  They only drafted one NCAA player in the first 20 rounds.  Chris Shehan is a nice prospect, but it’s a shame that the Braves’ best prospect was drafted in the 30th round.

Tomorrow we move on to the AL Central.

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