Assorted Draft Notes
The M’s have gone through several rounds of the 2013 amateur draft thus far, and pace Jeff Sullivan, it’s time for instantaneous outrage/hyperbolic praise!
Ok, not really. For my own benefit, here are some notes on the guys the M’s have selected. We can all point and laugh at this years from now as players make a mockery of their pre-draft reports by doing things like practicing a lot, focusing on baseball full-time, developing new skills, or getting burned out on baseball and walking away. Hope it’s helpful for you too.
1: The M’s drafted DJ Peterson once before, in the 33rd round in 2010, but Peterson opted for college. In a roundabout way, that draft pick set off a bizarre chain of events that saw Peterson’s scholarship offer from Arizona revoked, and a last-minute move to New Mexico. Once there, the 3B flourished, hitting .419 with 17 HRs as a sophomore, and following that up with a .408 average and another 18 HRs this year. The gaudy numbers with the Lobos, coupled with an eye-opening showing with the US Collegiate National Team in the summer, led many to deem him the top college bat in the draft (in, to be fair, a down year for college bats). As it happened, another defensively-challenged 3B, Kris Bryant grabbed the headlines by hitting an insane 31 HRs in 62 games this year with the neutered BBCOR bats and shot to the top 3 on everyone’s draft board. But most would still argue that Peterson’s got the superior hit tool, even if some questions remain about his ability to hit for plus power as a pro.
There are still some questions about where he’ll ultimately play, with 1B seeming like the leading candidate right now. I love players who can hit *and* play up-the-middle positions, and I completely understand why some see him as a reach at 12 if he’s limited to 1B. But a bat’s a bat, as we saw with high school 1B Dominic Smith going one pick ahead of Peterson, and, to a lesser degree, with Bryant, who many see as a 1B/RF in the future. The M’s see a guy with solid command of the zone, gap power at minimum, and a preternatural ability to get the barrel of the bat on pitches. Hard to argue with that, position be damned. The one nagging fear in a lot of people’s minds may be that the overall package sounds a bit like Justin Smoak, who hit 23 HRs in his senior year and had better walk and strikeout rates. Given the massive change in collegiate bats since 2008, I think it’s fair to say that Peterson’s shown more in-game power than Smoak did, though Smoak did show the superior eye. Ultimately, Peterson’s his own guy, and he’s certainly got a chance to move quickly in a system that’s suddenly bereft of elite, bat-first corner defenders. If he signs in time, he could start with Everett relatively soon.
2: Austin Wilson played RF for Stanford, hitting .288/.387/.475 while battling through injuries. At an athletic 6’5″, 245lbs, Wilson’s a scout’s dream corner OF. He shows big power in batting practice, which makes his collegiate statline a bit harder to understand: why hasn’t this highly-touted, massive prospect slugged over .500? Some, like Chris Crawford, fault the Stanford coaches for tweaking his swing. Others may argue that it’s a response to good college arms, who K’d in 56 times to only 8 walks in 2011. His status as a top hitter in the draft ultimately comes from his performance both in high school and in the wood-bat Cape Cod league, where he was named a top 5 prospect by Perfect Game and Baseball America. He hit .312 for the Harwich Mariners with 6 homers in 23 games. This is an interesting pick, and he could conceivably be a hard sign; despite the so-so college stats, he was seen by many as a first-rounder, and as a junior whose season was interrupted by injuries, he could improve his stock quite a bit. On the other hand, he was hurt in 2013, and if he’s hurt again, his stock could tumble.
Bonus pool slot value: $1,110,000
3: Tyler O’Neill was a catcher who moved to SS following hernia surgery last year, but was announced today as a RF. It’ll be interesting to see where the M’s play him. He’s the first local kid drafted, as he’s from British Columbia and played on the same Langley traveling team as Brett Lawrie, to whom the stocky 6′, 200lb O’Neill is often compared. He’s projected to develop solid power down the road, and despite growing up playing hockey and in a cold-weather state (er, province), he’s got plenty of experience playing with the Canadian junior national team.
Bonus pool slot value: $631,100
4: Ryan Horstman is a rare draft-eligible freshman who pitched for St. Johns this season. He was a promising HS arm in Massachusetts, but didn’t graduate in his senior year due to poor grades. Thus, he had to return to high school for another year, but he wasn’t able to pitch having exhausted his eligibility. The lefthander excelled in nine starts for the Red Storm this year, but many saw him as a 6-10th round pick. He’d also played in a collegiate league before starting up with St. Johns in the northeast, so he’s a bit more experienced than his resume may suggest at first glance. This sets up something of an interesting question: Horstman theoretically has a ton of leverage, as he can go back to school and be draft eligible several more times. But he may not have anticipated going in the fourth round, where his slot value is $437,600. If they sign him, and the M’s have been excellent at signing their picks, it’ll be interesting to see where they assign him and how they use him.
Bonus pool slot value: $437,600
5: Jack Reinheimer is a shortstop from East Carolina University, who hit about .300 with little power but a solid eye. He’s supposed to be a good defender who can stick at shortstop in the pros, and it’s possible that some mechanical tweaks can help unlock some offensive ability. That sounds like a longshot, but the M’s signed another solid defender/great make-up shortstop who didn’t hit much in 2010 (Chris Taylor) and he’s turned into a contributor with the bat. At the top of the draft, McNamara and the M’s seem to look for guys with present skills, as Dave mentioned. But the other preference that shows up again and again is getting ‘baseball rats’ – guys without flashy tools, but who love the game. That and leadership/personality seem to be traits the M’s prize above most other teams (in contrast with tools/promise-favoring teams like Texas, or like the last M’s regime). It’ll be interesting to see where he goes – Everett with the other college picks, or extended spring training if they have something specific they want him to work on.
Bonus pool slot value: $327,600
6: Corey Simpson was a HS catcher from Texas, but it looks like the M’s are moving the 6’3″ 220-pounder off the position to RF. His catching wasn’t seen as pro-quality by scouts, but he shows great raw power at the plate. On the other hand, his swing’s a bit longer and he may be a high strikeout guy in the minors. Still, the M’s took a break from college-trained players to get a high school bat with an eye opening tool. The M’s did this last year in the 8th round, when they tabbed California HS 1B Nick Halamandaris, who ultimately didn’t sign and played for Cal this season. Simpson’s committed to the University of Houston (as an OF, by the way).
Bonus pool slot value: $245,300
7: Tyler Olson is a Spokane native who stayed in-town to play college ball for Gonzaga. He flew under the radar a bit, as first-rounder Marco Gonzalez was the clear ace of the staff, but the senior left-hander put up some great numbers of his own for the Zags: 9-4, 2.48 ERA, with 91 Ks and 31 BBs in 101 innings. He doesn’t have top-shelf velocity, but he’s well-regarded for his command and intelligence. He’s a senior, having spurned the A’s last year who drafted him in the 17th round – and this marks the first of four consecutive college seniors taken. You wonder if they’re trying to conserve bonus pool money for someone (Wilson?). As a fifth-year senior, Olson’s much older than the college players who were drafted before him. And as others have said, it’s possible he could open the short-season Northwest League season in his hometown where Everett faces the Spokane Indians.
Bonus pool slot value: $183,800
8: Tyler Smith played SS for the Oregon State Beavers, where he hit .343/.434/.427 as a junior. He stuck around for his senior season, but saw his stats dip a bit; he ended this season hitting .301/.386/.389. Like Reinheimer, Smith’s best tool may be his defense, but he’s also a solid runner.
Bonus pool slot value: $156,100
9: Jacob Zokan is a lefty starting pitcher from the College of Charleston who struck out 80 hitters (against only 15 walks) in 79 innings this season. He barely pitched at all in 2012 due to injury, but he was a solid reliever for the Cougars in 2011. He shows a good breaking ball in this video, and what looks like solid velo for a lefty.
Bonus pool slot value: $145,900
10: Emilio Pagan is a senior at Belmont Abbey, a division II school that plays in the same conference as Mount Olive, where the M’s found catcher-turned-pitcher Carter Capps a few years ago. Pagan played 3B and pitched at Belmont (in North Carolina), but the M’s picked him as a right-handed reliever. Working as the closer in his two seasons at Belmont Abbey, he racked up 51 Ks to 16 BBs in 54 innings. In 2012, he made some (minor) headlines when he finished the year without giving up a run (to be fair, in less than 20 innings) and was a 2nd team all-american closer. This year, the runs-allowed stats look much worse (how could they not?) but his K:BB is much improved. He’s now the highest-drafted player from Belmont Abbey, taken a few spots before current Dodger farmhand Alex Castellanos.
Bonus pool slot value: $136,200
The draft continues today, but that’s it for me.
[Edited to add: the M’s just drafted Justin Seager, Kyle’s younger brother, in Round 12. Corey, another younger brother, went in the first round to the Dodgers last year, so this could make three Seagers in pro ball.]