First-rounders: Ryan Perry (1, 21) has impressive stuff but hasn’t lived up to expectations at Arizona. His fastball sits in the mid 90s and tops out at 98 mph. He also flashes a plus slider and a decent changeup. Although he has decent command, he is often hittable. He didn’t post an ERA under 6.00 until the 2008 season. He probably will begin his pro career as a starting pitcher, but expect him to see him in the big leagues as a reliever.
Late round gem: Andy Dirks (8, 253) is the epitome of the underrated position player prospect. His hitting and on-base streaks were snapped at 29 and 74, respectively, in the second game of the NCAA super-regionals against Florida State. He works counts and will take a walk. He’s got above-average speed and can play centerfield in the big leagues.
Hometown heroes: The Tigers drafted two Michigan State products in Mark Sorensen (32, 973) and Eric Roof (46, 1388 ).
Tough sign: Scott Weissman (18, 553) is a high school pitcher from Massachusetts who has a strong commitment to Clemson.
Top 100 talents: Dirks, Keith Stein (29, 883), Thad Weber (16, 493), Robbie Weinhardt (10, 313).
Summary/Grade: B+. This could have been an “A” draft if the Tigers made smarter picks in the first few rounds. Detroit took four college pitchers with big question marks in the first four rounds. After that, however, the Tigers drafted better than any other team, making quality picks in nearly every round.
First-rounders: Aaron Hicks (1, 14) has as much potential as any amateur prospect. He’s a scout’s dream: he runs a 60 yard dash in 6.6 seconds, he’s got a very strong arm that reaches the mid 90s when he’s pitching and he has plenty of range for centerfield. At the plate, Hicks is a switch-hitter. He will need to improve his swing, but he has significant potential in this department, too. Carlos Gutierrez (1, 27) is a Tommy John survivor who came back in 2008 to anchor Miami’s bullpen and propel the team to the College World Series. He profiles as a sinker/slider relief pitcher. His sinker would be an above average pitch in the big leagues right now, but his slider needs some work and he will need to tweak his mechanics. He has good command; he struck out 70 and only walked 18 in 47 2/3 innings in 2008. Shooter Hunt (1, 31) has big league stuff, including a mid 90s lively fastball and a dangerous hard curve. He also has a good changeup. He struck out 126 batters in 100 2/3 innings, but needs to improve his walk rate.
Late round gem: Dominic De La Osa (11, 336) has a good mix of tools and performance. He has above average speed, power and arm strength. He has regressed since his career best 2007 season at Vanderbilt, but he put together a solid campaign in 2008, when he hit .297/.410/.506 with 10 home runs in a pitcher’s park. He is a senior who should be easy to sign.
Hometown heroes: The Twins usually do a good job of scouting Gopher Staters. The Twins drafted three players from the University of Minnesota: Kyle Carr (12, 366), Matt Nohelty (18, 546), Nathan Hanson (28, 846) and two other Minnesotans.
Tough sign: B.J. Hermsen (6, 186) will attend Oregon State unless Minnesota is willing to give him an above-slot bonus. Steven Proscia (39, 1176) is a New Jersey high school infielder who is a Virginia recruit.
Top 100 talents: Hicks, De La Osa, Hunt, David Coulon (15, 456)
Summary/Grade: B+. It doesn’t hurt when you have three first round picks, but the Twins also found sleepers in the middle rounds. Hicks has tremendous potential and the Twins found good college arms in Gutierrez, Hunt and Coulon.
Kansas City Royals
First-rounders: The Royals drafted a third Boras client in the first round in a third consecutive years. Following Luke Hochevar and Mike Moustakas, Kansas City selected Eric Hosmer (1, 3) in 2008. He is probably the best hitter of any high schooler in the country. He has huge power to all fields and has an advanced approach at the plate. He has a very strong arm and is athletic, which leads scouts to believe that he can be an above average defensive player in time.
Late round gem: Carlo Testa (18, 535) was Belmont’s best hitter and pitcher in 2008. He has above average speed, arm strength and is a good defender in center fielder. I like him better as a pitcher, where he is stingy in allowing walks.
Hometown heroes: Tim Melville (4, 115) could have been drafted in the middle of the first round on talent, but he somehow slipped to the fourth round. The Wentzville, Missouri product might be tempted to sign with his home state team. Ryan Morgan (26, 775), Ryan Modglin (39, 1165) are also from the Show Me State.
Tough sign: If Melville signs, it could be for first or second round money. Jacob Kuebler (17, 505) has told scouts that he will not sign and will instead attend Nebraska.
Top 100 talents: Hosmer, Melville, Johnny Giavotella (2, 49).
Summary/Grade: B. This is the opposite of the Tigers draft. The Royals made an excellent pick with Giavotella in the second round and acquired perhaps the best high school pitcher and position player in Hosmer and Melville. After Melville’s selection, the Royals didn’t make good decisions in the middle and late rounds.
Chicago White Sox
First-rounders: Gordon Beckham (1, 8 ) exploded onto the first round map with an amazing junior season at Georgia. He’s hitting .401/.513/.802 with 26 homers, leading the Bulldogs to the College World Series. He is an impressive college hitter who will hit for power and average in the big leagues. He has good arm strength but might have to move to third base as he climbs the minor league ladder.
Late round gem: Jordan Danks (7, 210) might have the best tools of any college position player in this draft class. He’s projectable at 6-foot-5 and plays a smooth centerfield. He’s also an above average runner. His hitting has been deflated by Texas’ spacious home stadium, but Danks still hit .321/.444/.564 with 7 home runs in 2008.
Hometown heroes: Kevin Dubler (8, 240), Jonathan Weaver (17, 510), Harold Riggins (35, 1050), Steven Sabatino (42, 1260), Julian Kenner (45, 1349) and Travis Otto (49, 1458 ) are all Illinois amateurs.
Tough sign: It’s unlikely that Cory Farris (43, 1290), a high school catcher from Kentucky, will be bought out of his Kentucky commitment.
Top 100 talents: Beckham, Danks, Dubler
Summary/Grade: B-. Gordon Beckham is a premium talent, but he’s the only one the White Sox selected. Considering the pale hose didn’t have a second round pick, this is not a bad effort. Danks and Dubler are good later round selections.
First-rounders: Lonnie Chisenhall (1, 29) spent his freshman season at South Carolina before being kicked off the team upon getting into legal trouble. He is a line drive hitter who doesn’t possess above average power. The Indians drafted Chisenhall as a shortstop, but that’s a major stretch considering that his hands and range are below average.
Late round gem: Nobody can deny Nate Recknagel’s (19, 591) productivity. At Michigan, he hit .368/.465/.751 with 23 homers in 2008. He has big-time power, but it’s unclear how he’ll hit with wood bats. He has a strong arm but is only an average defensive first baseman at best. He might be able to catch.
Hometown heroes: The Indians did not draft any players from Ohio.
Tough sign: Trey Haley (2, 76), a high school pitcher from Texas, could sign for first round money.
Top 100 talents: Recknagel, Jeremie Tice (6, 201)
Summary/Grade: C. The Indians whiffed on their early picks. Chisenhall and Haley were reaches in the first two rounds and Cleveland didn’t make a savvy pick until the sixth round. There are many college picks in this draft, but most of them were drafted much earlier than their performance and tools warranted.
The series concludes with the NL Central on Thursday.