Posted by: bhyman | June 14, 2008

2008 Draft Team, Part I

The draft team is an annual tradition which began in 2006. In that year, we took our pre-draft rankings and noted the best player available in each round. It’s as if we took the reins of a team’s draft war room and made all of their picks for them. Our drafts compare favorably to the rest of the league. Tim Lincecum and Joba Chamberlain, our first two picks in 2006, have dominated at the major league level and Justin Masterson, our second-round pick in ’06 has pitched well since his debut earlier this season for Boston.

Click on the names below to view our previous draft teams.

2006 draft team
2007 draft team

We selected in the fourth overall slot in this year’s draft. Players in bold have signed with the teams that actually drafted them. (We will update this information as it becomes available) Here is our 2008 draft team:

1. Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri

Actual selection: (1, 9) to the Washington Nationals

Crow is our top ranked pitcher 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. His biggest weakness is his potentially hazardous arm action. This is a correctable flaw, so it would not be a stretch to see him at the front of a big league rotation by 2011.

2. Seth Garrison, rhp, Texas Christian

Actual selection: (23, 712) to the Boston Red Sox

Garrison was highly regarded as a pitcher and infielder at Coppell High School in Texas. He spent one season at Arizona State before transferring to Navarro Junior College and TCU. He’s got a good pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. Garrison underwent elbow reconstruction surgery in March 2007 after only pitching 23 innings in ‘07. He came back strong in ’08, with a 4.13 ERA, 41 strikeouts, 25 walks and no home runs allowed. He has only allowed one home run in three seasons. He faces quality competition in neutral parks and is consistently stingy with walks. Garrison has a low 90s fastball and a power curve. His ceiling is as a No. 3 starter and could be a fast riser.

3. Ryan Hinson, lhp, Clemson

Actual selection: (31, 924) to the Pittsburgh Pirates

Clemson coach Jack Leggett started as many as seven underclassmen this year and wasn’t able to advance out of the ACC Tournament. What kept the Tigers competitive was their weekend rotation with juniors Ryan Hinson and D.J. Mitchell. Hinson is a 6-foot-2 left-handed pitcher and he offers a plus curveball and a 90 mph fastball. More impressively, he struck out 62 in 68.1 innings and walked only 22 in 2008. He did allow opponents to hit .301 against him, but that number is much higher than his freshman and sophomore numbers and will go down in the minor leagues. Hinson has excelled in three seasons pitching against tough ACC competition in a hitters’ park and will move quickly in pro ball.

4. Preston Guilmet, rhp, Arizona

Actual selection: (22, 664) to the Oakland Athletics

Guilmet has dominated Pac-10 hitters with a combination of decent stuff and unconventional mechanics. He doesn’t have the sexy fastball velocity (his fastball sits in the upper 80s) but he has an above-average slider and a good splitter. Guilmet releases the baseball from nearly straight over the top and has quality command and competitiveness. In 2008, he struck out 93 batters and only walked 22 while pitching in a very hitter friendly ballpark. Because of his subpar velocity, he may be sent to the bullpen. No matter where he’s pitching, he’ll carve up minor league hitters.

5. Eric Thames, lf, Pepperdine ($150,000 bonus)

Actual selection: (7, 219) to the Toronto Blue Jays

What happens when you cross one of the best hitters in college baseball with a package of tools that draws comparisons to Eric Davis? You should get a first-round pick, but Thames wasn’t drafted until the seventh. He’s done everything asked of him since transferring from West Valley Junior College after the 2006 season. Thames hit .407/.513/.769 with 13 home runs in 2008. He does this while playing in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the country. Thames also has plus speed but needs to improve his defense in left-field. With his bat, he should be an impact player in the big leagues. He has already signed with the Jays and will probably be assigned to short-season Auburn.

6. Chris Reap, rhp, Northern Colorado

Actual selection: Undrafted

Reap is such a big sleeper that he went undrafted last week. The 6-foot-3 senior spent two seasons at Dixie State College before transferring to Northern Colorado. His ERAs have been ugly – 7.90 ERA in 2007 and 5.32 in 2008. But these numbers should be attributed to the Bears defense. Reap is a sinkerball pitcher and the ground balls he’s allowed have found holes. His opponents have hit .390 and .314 respectively against him in the last two seasons. However, he only walks about three batters per nine innings and possesses a strikeout to walk ratio that is better than 2:1 in his two-year career. He has only given up seven home runs in his career in the high altitude of Greeley, Colorado. He has no college eligibility remaining and will look for a job as a non-drafted free agent with an affiliated minor league team or a contract with an independent team.

7. Bobby Lafromboise, lhp, New Mexico ($70,000 bonus)

Actual selection: (8, 252) to the Seattle Mariners

Lafromboise has put together two solid seasons despite pitching in one of the most treacherous parks for pitchers in the country. He succeeds with his high 80s lively fastball that induces groundballs and a solid slider. Neither of these pitches is above-average, but Lafromboise is successful because he doesn’t allow many walks and has only allowed six home runs in two seasons at New Mexico. He has already signed and should be assigned to Everett (A).

8. D.J. Mitchell, rhp, Clemson

Actual selection: (10, 320) to the New York Yankees

Mitchell is the other half of the most underrated pitching duo in the ACC. While Hinson is a crafty lefty, D.J. Mitchell is a completely different kind of pitcher. He’s a natural who didn’t pitch until his sophomore season at Clemson. He gets outs by burying a low 90s sinker that rivals Twins first-rounder Carlos Gutierrez’s in terms of movement and late life. He complements it with a solid slider and changeup. I saw him pitch against Maryland in late March and he dominated the Terrapins, giving up one unearned run through eight innings and picking up a win while striking out six. If there’s a knock on him, it’s his size. He’s only 6-foot and 170 pounds so a move to the bullpen is possible. However, he has the stuff to start and he’ll probably begin his minor league career in the rotation.

9. Chris Swauger, lf, The Citadel ($0 bonus)

Actual selection: (26, 785) to the St. Louis Cardinals

Chris Swauger has enjoyed an outstanding four-year career at The Citadel and is a valuable senior-sign for the Cardinals. He showed good defensive skills at first base as a freshman, but was moved to left-field in 2006. He hits no matter where he plays, however. In a tough pitchers’ park, Swauger hit .360/.485/.603 in 56 games in 2008. He led the Coastal Plains League in home runs in the summer of 2007 and smacked another 10 in 2008. He’s not particularly big (6-foot, 195 pounds), but he can really hit and should tear up minor league pitchers.

10. Dominic de la Osa, 2b, Vanderbilt

Actual selection: (11, 336) to the Minnesota Twins

This is the second year in a row that we selected de la Osa in the 10th round.  He has more athleticism than most position players who we drafted.  He’s an above average runner who has powerful bat and a strong arm.  He’s an inconsistent hitter, but he’s more hot than cold.  He was better as a junior than as a senior; he hit .378/.452/.727 with 20 home runs in ’07.  However, he had a good year in 2008, too, when he hit .297/.410/.506 and 10 home runs.  Those numbers look even better once one considers that he has faced challenging SEC pitchers and has faced them in a pitcher’s park over four years.

11. Andrew Carraway, rhp, Virginia

Actual selection: Undrafted

In a rotation with preseason consensus first rounder Jacob Thompson, who would have expected that the Cavaliers’ other two weekend starters — Pat McAnaney and Carraway — would carry the torch?  Carraway pitched out of the bullpen in his first two seasons at Virginia but was thrust into the rotation when Sean Doolittle signed with Oakland following the 2007 season.  He made the most of the opportunity and made huge strides in ’08.  Carraway struck out more one batter per inning and K’d seven batters for every one he walked.  He pitches in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, which makes the five home runs he allowed in 75 1/3 innings a little troubling.  Even still, these are bananas numbers.  Carraway was not drafted last week and, as a junior, he’ll have another season of college eligibility to prove that he can continue his success.

12. Mitch Herold, lhp, Central Florida

Actual selection: (16, 502) to the Boston Red Sox

Herold really came into his own in the ’08 season, when he dominated hitters to the tune of a 3.04 ERA and a two-to-one strikeout to walk ratio at Central Florida.  He struggled in limited action as an underclassmen, but he had stepped up in the past year.  He works with a 90 mph fastball and a hard curve.  The Sox drafted him in the 16th round and he’ll probably be assigned to short-season Lowell.

We’ll continue with the draft team tomorrow.

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