13. Kevin Crabtree, lf, Stephen F. Austin State
Actual selection: Undrafted
Stephen F. Austin State has produced two big-time power hitters in consecutive seasons. Last season, it was Steven Hill, the Lumberjacks’ slugging catcher who is hitting .303 at AA this season. Kevin Crabtree filled Hill’s shoes in ’08; Crabtree hit .362/.457/.647 with 11 home runs. The power-hitting leftfielder led SFA in nearly every offensive category and was named First-Team All-Southland Conference. He’s only 5-foot-10, so he doesn’t project as well as bigger players. Thirty MLB teams ignored his productivity and failed to draft him. He’s a senior so he’s available as a non-drafted free agent.
14. Blake Murphy, c, Western Carolina ($0 bonus)
Actual selection: (42, 1265) to the St. Louis Cardinals
Murphy has repeatedly turned down large signing bonuses, but without any college eligibility remaining Murphy should be a fairly easy sign in ‘08. He has an above-average arm behind the plate but needs to improve his blocking and receiving skills. Murphy is a polished hitter with an impressive resume. In 2008, he hit .358/.531/.740 with 16 home runs, matching his homer total from 2007. In each of his four seasons, his on-base-plus-slugging was .900 or better. He has very good plate discipline. Murphy’s Western Carolina team plays in the mid-major Southern Conference, but the Catamounts had a demanding non-conference schedule, which included Vanderbilt and Georgia. The Cardinals signed Murphy with one of their last picks and he has already signed.
15. Justin Bass, lf, Stetson ($0 bonus)
Actual selection: (19, 568 ) to the Florida Marlins
It’s rare to pick up a .400 hitter this late in the draft, but that’s just what we did with Bass in the 15th round. The transfer from Lake Sumter Community College hit .404/.476/.663 with 11 home runs for Stetson in ’08. He’s small at 6-foot-1, but he isn’t without tools. He is also a good runnner (he stole 18 bases in 20 attempts this year). He is a power-speed player who will play left-field in the Marlins system. He has already signed.
16. Chris Shehan, lf, Georgia Southern ($0 bonus)
Actual selection: (30, 910) to the Atlanta Braves
The Braves scout their home state amateurs exceptionally well and they found another gem in Shehan. The Pennsylvania native hit .438/.557/.835 with 17 home runs in his junior campaign. These numbers made him a First-Team All-American with the likes of first-rounders Brian Matusz, Justin Smoak and Gordon Beckham. He’s not just a hitter, either. He’s athletic with good speed who will be able to play the outfield in the pros. He has been assigned to the Braves’ rookie league affiliate in Danville, Virginia.
17. Nate Recknagel, 1b, Michigan
Actual selection: (19, 591) to the Cleveland Indians
Recknagel is another member of our 2008 draft team who we also drafted in ’07. Proving his junior season was no fluke, Recknagel hit .368/.465/.751 with 23 home runs in ’08. He’s got big-time power, but it might be hard to coax it out of him once he uses wood bats. He’s got a strong arm and he used to catch for the Wolverines, so a move behind the plate isn’t out of the question. The Indians drafted him as a first baseman so that’s where he’ll begin his professional career.
18. Jeremy Hauer, lhp, Creighton
Actual selection: Undrafted
Hauer went from a junior college player to Creighton’s best starter in only one season. After transferring from Indian Hills Community College following the 2007 season, he became Creighton’s Friday starter and workhorse logging 84 innings for the Jays. He pitched to a 3.32 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 24 walks, allowing only one home run on his way to the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year award. If there’s a knock on him, it’s his height (he’s only 5-foot-10). He was not drafted in ’08, which means he’ll have to prove himself again in 2009.
19. T. R. Keating, rhp, Northern Colorado
Actual selection: (34, 1016) to the Baltimore Orioles
At first glance, Keating’s college career is unspectacular. He posted a 6.14 ERA in 2007 and a 6.83 ERA in ’08. But look closer. Keating struck out four batters for each batter he walked this season (50 strikeouts and 12 walks). He allowed five home runs in the thin air of Greeley, Colorado. Keating is projectable (he’s 6-foot-6), possesses good control and keeps the ball in the ballpark. He should move quickly through the Orioles’ minor league system.
The draft team continues tomorrow.