Breaking down the draft: The sleepers and the overrated

Today, I’d like to mix it up with some more draft picks who were selected after the first round. What you’ll find here is a collection of sleepers, overrated players and players who demonstrate some of the mechanics that I talk about. Please refer to my other articles on the draft for more thorough explanations of mechanics concepts I’ll cover here.

41. RHP Greg Peavey, Yankees (24th round, 754th overall)

Reader Benjamin Waldrum, who goes by the alias “Joel Zumaya, Guitar Hero,” had an excellent comment in a discussion over at Baseball Think Factory:

“I’m like you in that I’m not big on the “tall and fall” guys, I’m more interested in the violent, twisting sonsabitches like Lincecum.”

Benjamin has figured me out. For the most part, I prefer “athletes who pitch.” Athletes move quickly. Athletes get it and go and don’t think about it too much. In MLB.com’s draft page, this quote caught my eye:

“The violence in his delivery has some concerned….”

You mean this violence?

I like violence. I like aggressive, twisting sonsabitches who “go after it.” Peavey has some work to do to tighten up and clean his mechanics up a bit. I like his arm action, love his quick tempo and aggressiveness. If I’m the Yankees, I take the bat out of his hands (his swing is terrible anyway), put him in the bullpen and tell him, “Let it rip, kid.”

42. LHP John McGeary, Nationals (sixth round, 190th overall)

Instead of “get it and go,” McGeary is a member of the “tall and fall” clan. My first thought when I saw his video: “Didn’t this guy get drafted earlier?” His mechanics remind me of Ross Detwiler, the sixth overall pick of (you guessed it) the Nationals….

Compared to Detwiler, McGeary has a slightly slower tempo, a little worse arm action (although very similar), and a slightly more abrupt finish. I’m not a big fan of pitchers with such slow movements, and I realize that Detwiler has better velocity. But if Detwiler is a first-round pick, then McGeary is a steal in the sixth round, at least if you base it on their mechanics.

43. RHP Austin Bailey, Red Sox (16th round, 504th overall)

When I think of a pitcher who is “projectable,” this is what I’m looking for…

Bailey has a longer arm action than I prefer but he does an excellent job of using his body to pitch. Bailey maintains an excellent tempo throughout, leads aggressively with his hips and butt, and has a very aggressive, long finish. Bailey is raw and he needs to work on repeating his delivery and firming up his front side a bit better.

By the way, if you’re a mechanics geek like myself, you must know who Bailey reminds you of. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I hear no one comparing Bailey’s mechanics to Jeremy Bonderman. Skeptical of that comparison?

Take a look at these…

Bailey is not a pitcher. He’s an athlete who happens to pitch. I’d have a hard time passing up a player this athletic with explosive mechanics that brings it in the low 90s already. As a 16th-round pick, Bailey is a steal.

44. LHP Nick Hagadone, Red Sox (supplemental first round, 55th overall)

Hagadone has decent arm action, leads a little too much with his front shoulder and has a somewhat abrupt finish. However, he wins me over with his quick tempo (no kidding)….

Minorleaguebaseball.com’s review of Hagadone says this:

“He needs to stay back more.”

If that means keeping his left shoulder over the rubber and keeping his upper body back, yes, I agree with that. If it means him slowing his body down, I am strongly against it. As his hips/legs move forward, Hagadone needs to keep his upper body back a little longer (his left shoulder over the rubber), but I’m against slowing his body down at all. I like this guy a lot. He’s a quick-tempo lefty who can bring it. I’d take him over several pitchers taken ahead of him.

45. RHP Sam Demel, A’s (third round, 120th overall)

Another guy who wastes no time lettin’ it fly, this is Sam Demel’s delivery from the stretch….

Are you having trouble picking up his release point? Me too. Demel has a quick, deceptive motion. His arm action is short, elbowy and loose. The ball is hidden throughout his motion and then, out of nowhere, the ball is right on top of the hitter. Demel doesn’t have the greatest velocity, but his fastball had some serious arm-side run to it on the video. Demel seems to open his shoulders a little early but he does a great job of firming up his front side to prevent him from flying open too much in his delivery. I love this pick in the third round. He should move quickly.

46. 3B Travis Mattair, Phillies (second round, 83rd overall)

Minorleaguebaseball.com’s review of Mattair says this:

“He can hit and will hit for power with a swing that should be well suited for wood bats.”

See that thing he does with his left knee and heel as his left foot touches down? That makes Mattair spin on his back leg instead of turning against his front leg. Let me modify the above statement for you:

He will struggle and struggle to hit for power with a swing that is not suited for wood bats.

It will be difficult for a hitter who spins his hips out of the way that quickly to hit anything with power the other way. Pitch him away and tell your shortstop and third baseman to be ready. No thanks. This quote, again from Minorleaguebaseball.com sums it up best:

“Whoever drafts him will be buying the body and hope he fulfills that potential.”

47. RHP Chris Carpenter, Yankees (18th round, 574th overall)

Carpenter has pretty good arm action, good tempo and a good, long, aggressive finish….

Carpenter has solid mechanics and although he finishes well, his arm doesn’t seem to pronate well after release. Basically, the arm pronates to protect the elbow from taking a beating. I would need to see better video of his delivery to make sure of this, but this was what caught my eye in terms of injury prevention. That said, Carpenter brings mid-90s heat and has good tempo, solid mechanics and a new UCL. A steal in the 18th round, Carpenter is a player who is definitely worth the risk.

48. 3B Matt Mangini, Mariners (supplemental first round, 52nd overall)

Mangini on the field looks decently fluid with easy actions and a quick, strong release. Here’s a clip of his swing….

Mangini has a nice swing. He moves his hips forward and rotates well against his front leg. He shows a good turn through the ball and a power hitter’s swing plane. However, I don’t like how he reaches out with his front foot and toe as his timing mechanism. If he can just carry his hips forward without “letting his foot get out in front of him,” I believe he will be able to stay behind the ball better. I couldn’t get Will Clark’s swing (what I remember from it) out of my mind when looking at Mangini’s swing. Good power potential. Good pick.

49. SS Charles Culberson, Giants (supplemental first round, 51st overall)

Culberson looks smooth on the field with a good, plus arm. His swing is pretty good, but a little noisy…

Normally, I like hitters who try to “load up” by carrying the hips forward. In Culberson’s case, however, all this movement before the swing will make it difficult for him to succeed at the next level. Culberson has a tendency to leak (he doesn’t stop his body from moving forward as he starts to rotate). His shiftiness throughout his swings makes it harder for him to stay behind the ball. I think he’ll struggle as he adjusts to pro ball because of this. My advice? Spread out the stance, reduce the hips/hands load a bit, and let the ball travel. It’ll cost him maybe 5% of his max power. In Culberson’s case, it’s a decent tradeoff for more consistent contact. Although I probably wouldn’t draft him this high, I like the pick. He’ll have a little more pop than the average middle infielder.

50. RHP Josh Fields, Braves (second round, 69th overall)

Talk about “going after it,” here are Josh Fields’ violent mechanics….

I love the effort. Good arm action. Much as when I profiled Rick Porcello (27th overall pick), Fields does an excellent job of firming up his front side (notice his glove movement starting at frame 29) to prevent him from flying open. He lands a little stiff, which may make it hard for him to throw the ball down in the zone. So what? With mid 90s heat, high arm slot and long stride, I’d want Fields to work up in the zone anyway.

One more thing, again from minorleaguebaseball.com:


“He’s a six-foot righty with a power arm who’ll likely always have to answer questions about his size.”

Not from me. Really like this pick here. He should move quickly.

51. RHP Ryan Pope, Yankees (third round, 124th overall)

Let me tell you a little story about how Ryan Pope made this list as a last-minute inclusion. Colleague, teacher, elite hitting instructor and ex-big leaguer Tim Hyers (whom I work with here in Atlanta) mentioned Pope, a pitcher out of Savannah College of Art and Design, as an interesting case. You see, Tim and I speak the same language when it comes to mechanics, so when he saw Pope, he was pretty sure I’d like his mechanics….

Um, he was right. Wow. Quick, uninterrupted tempo, excellent arm action, aggressive lower body action. As impressed as I was with Pope’s mechanics, I was equally impressed with his pitching coach in college, David Haverstick, with whom I had the pleasure of talking for a few minutes. As many of you can tell with the tone of my articles, I’m not a guy who is easily impressed. That said, David Haverstick really knows what he is talking about. I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I was with his knowledge of pitching mechanics.

Haverstick shared Pope’s story with me. I’ll give you the short-short version: As a freshman with an 82-mph fastball, Pope was going nowhere with his slow, “stay over the rubber” tempo and long arm action. With hard work and belief in Haverstick’s mechanics philosophy, Pope is a kid who now works comfortably with an 88-92 mph (topping at 94) fastball.

Pope is a steal in the third round. I believe he will gain more velocity as he gets more comfortable with his “new” mechanics. Remember, Pope has been pitching this way for only a couple of years.

I remember reading a quote by Roy Oswalt where he said that coaches had always tried to slow his tempo down. Oswalt, as you may be aware, has quite possibly the fastest tempo in the majors. Ryan Pope is almost “Oswalt fast.” Much like I advise slow-tempo pitchers to “speed it up,” many coaches who come into contact with a guy as quick as Pope will try to “slow him down.” That is my one fear.

I have a little advice for the Yankees. First, send first-round pick Andrew Brackman to work with Haverstick. Second, and I’ll borrow and modify a famous line:

“HEY! Yankees! Leave that kid (Pope) alone”

52. RHP Jess Todd, Cardinals (second round, 82nd overall)

Slowish at first, Todd really picks up his pace pretty significantly…

Similar to Tim Alderson, the 22nd overall pick, Todd has an aggressive “stepover” that kickstarts his explosive hip rotation into footplant. Todd is a pitcher who just “comes at you.” As I said with Alderson, guys with aggressive lower body action tend to be more effective with offspeed pitches because hitters will try to “hit the motion” instead of letting the ball travel. You’ll probably see Todd strike out many hitters who will jump at his filthy slider. I like his aggressiveness and expect him to move pretty quickly. Stick him in the bullpen, let him go all out, and watch him be a better version of the “slider happy” Turk Wendell.
Give me this guy over his teammate, Nick Schmidt, any day.

53. SS/2B Nicholas Noonan, Giants (supplemental first round, 32nd overall)

With a quick-release arm and smooth on the field, Noonan is a ballplayer. I agree with most: He’s likely to end up at second base. How about his swing?

I chose a swing where Noonan actually swung and missed to illustrate the importance of the process rather than the result. While I don’t really like Noonan’s stance (with the bat upright), he loads his hands by bringing them back slightly while also loading his hips to rotate powerfully against his front leg. Noonan has excellent balance, stays behind the ball really well and has good swing balance. He lets the ball travel well and his hands follow a nice, circular hand path. If I had to pick between Peter Kozma (18th overall) and Noonan, I’d take Noonan in a heartbeat, even though Kozma has a better chance at sticking at shortstop.

54. RHP Kyle Blair, Dodgers (fifth round, 176th overall)

Ho-hum. He’s OK, but I don’t see “projectable” here. He does a few things well, but nothing to get all excited about. Later in the draft? Sure. Just not worth his rumored bonus demands.

55. SS Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox (fifth round, 174th overall)

I made a mistake. When I profiled Middlebrooks in part 4 of the analysis, I thought he had been drafted as a pitcher. I was going by MLB.com’s draft tracker, which has him listed as a pitcher. As several Red Sox fans pointed out to me, Middlebrooks was drafted as a shortstop. That said, Middlebrooks didn’t look very smooth defensively. Let’s see a couple of swings…

I know the game swing isn’t one of his best. That said, Middlebrooks seems to want to get the ball out in front of the plate and looks to extend too much. He has too much of the Garrett Atkins “high-school swing” for me. I guess there’s hope if Atkins has succeeded with it. That said, Middlebrooks is a project who needs a lot of work with his swing. Overrated…

Stay tuned for Part 6 of Breaking Down the Draft, in which I’ll select the winners and losers of the draft and give out awards for best swings and best mechanics.

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