Breaking Down The Draft’s 1st Round: Picks 11-20

Today, we continue with video analysis of picks 11-20. In Part 1 of the draft analysis, besides the top 10 picks, I went over some of the ground rules and some of the mechanics concepts you’ll hear below. If it isn’t covered in this article, it’s probably covered there. I’d like to again ask my readers to submit the names of players that were not selected within the first round that are in the “interesting” category. Parts 4 and 5 will cover the best of the reader-submitted suggestions.

On to picks 11-20:

11. RHP Phillippe Aumont, Mariners

Good arm action. Low 3/4 release point. Good tempo. Somewhat abrupt finish. Very aggressive and good intent to throw, as you can see him really try to throw the ball hard. Just like I called Vitters the right-handed Moustakas, Aumont looks like the right-handed version of the 10th pick, Madison Bumgarner. I really liked Bumgarner, so why am I not as high on Aumont? Before I get to that, let me show you what I think Aumont does exceptionally well…..

Watch as his glove arm does not pull back into his body. Instead, if remains out in front of him, making it easier for him to achieve that upper body tilt forward that I talked about with David Price (among others) in Part 1 of the draft analysis. Also notice how aggressively his back hip and leg come forward.

My main issue with Aumont’s mechanics occurs at footplant and release. When his front foot lands, his front shoulder is a little open (which doesn’t help him hide the ball) and it is slightly lower than his back shoulder. When the front shoulder is lower than the back shoulder at footplant, a pitcher tends to have a flatter arm path. While I want pitchers to not stay over the rubber and get out in front of their front foot, Aumont tends to arrive at this position a little too quickly. Bumgarner’s advantage, in my view, is in how he applies force to the ball. While they have very similar arm slots, Bumgarner, because of his better shoulder tilt at footplant, is able to drive down and throw “over his front shoulder.” Aumont seems to go “around” the same point in a more side-to-side manner. This may give Aumont more horizontal run on his fastball, but it gives Bumgarner a later, “heavier” sink on his. Here’ s a still pic of their positions at footplant(on the left) and at release…

As you can see in the above pic, Bumgarner’s other advantage occurs at release. Check out their glove positions at release. Bumgarner’s glove is closer to his axis of rotation than Aumont’s. Among other reasons, command is why you’d rather be in Bumgarner’s position.

When I compare Bumgarner to Aumont, I find that Bumgarner is much further along when it comes to mechanical efficiency. Aumont isn’t a bad pick. There’s just work to be done in terms of tightening up his mechanics.

12. 3B Matt Dominguez, Marlins

I ordinarily don’t comment on defense much, but Dominguez looks really smooth defensively with soft hands and quick, efficient, powerful throwing mechanics. In short, he looks like a “baseball player” over at third base. At bat, however, it’s a different story. Here’s a clip of one of his best swings during batting practice….

Lots of noise, very lungy and long—this is just not a good swing. I don’t like his “power potential” with this swing. Dominguez seems to be another hitter who has been instructed to “get extension” at contact. He does not consistently let the ball travel deep into the zone. Because of the length of his swing, he needs to make decisions more quickly than someone with a shorter swing. I would hope that his pitch recognition and guessing skills are developed, because he’ll need them with this swing. I see a rough debut coming for Mr. Dominguez, with lots of rolled-over ground balls to short as he struggles to adjust to better pitching.

13. 1B/3B Beau Mills, Indians

Like I said with Dominguez, I generally don’t comment on defense much. With Mills though, we’ll get it out of the way. What bothers me is that he looks decently nimble over there and looks to have soft-ish hands. However, his arm is just not good. How does his arm grade out using the 20-80 scouting scale? 30? 35 tops is my guess. Check out his video and you’ll see how not to throw a baseball. We call that “shot-putting” the ball.

Fortunately, Mills can swing it…

Mills might never win awards for “prettiest swing.” However, we need to differentiate between swings that look “pretty” and those that “get it done,” like Mills’ swing. Check out the powerful way he transfers his weight against his firm, front leg. As soon as his right heel touches down, focus on his quick, powerful turn through the ball. The hips and hands turn together, connected. I also love the way his upper body has that power hitter’s backwards tilt, one that helps create what scouts call “lift.” On this particular day, he had a less than stellar batting practice session. That said, what is clearly evident is that Mills consistently lets the ball get deep in the zone. This helps his hands follow the circular hand path that I advocate. Did you also notice his Fred McGriff-lite helicopter finish?

His arm? Suspect. His swing? A good example of rotational hitting mechanics. This dude will mash.

14. OF Jason Heyward, Braves

The next time you watch a game on TV and the announcer commends a hitter on his “quick hands,” more than likely what he means is that the hitter has a quick body. This is an example of a quick body…

Heyward has a simple, short swing and he turns his hips and hands very quickly. For the most part, he does an excellent job of letting the ball get deep. If there is one minor nitpick about his swing, it is that he does almost too good of a job “staying back.” Heyward needs to transfer his energy and hit against his front leg better in order to develop more power. Right now, Heyward is missing out on extra power by not actively transferring his weight forward (see Mills or LaPorta in Part 1 as some good examples). In other words, he has the tendency to spin around his back leg rather than turn against his front leg. He will also need to develop “lift,” as his swing is more of a “batting average” swing right now.

Heyward seems like a good athlete. He moves gracefully on the field and has pretty good throwing mechanics. After being not-so-nice last year about the Braves’ first round pick (scroll to pick #24), Heyward is an excellent choice at this spot. He could definitely be a steal at 14.

15. C Devin Mesoraco, Reds

I like athletic catchers and Mesoraco certainly fits that description. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but when Mesoraco lets the ball travel and get deep, he shows a quick, powerful swing. When he “goes and gets it,” it looks like he’s a little handsy. Minorleaguebaseball.com’s take on Mesoraco seems to agree with me…

“He tends to get out on his front foot on his swing from time to time.”

Both game swings in his draft video show him lunging after pitches and grounding out, so that would be my concern as well. He might need to shorten his swing just a tad (lower the hands maybe?).

Whether he needs to use the cue “trust your hands” (or “trust your body” as I’d rather say), Mesoraco’s development hinges on letting the ball travel into the hitting zone. If it doesn’t, Mesoraco has a quick release and excellent arm from behind the plate, so not all will be lost if he doesn’t develop to his potential with the bat. From a potential point-of-view, I like the pick. There’s work to do though.

16. SS Kevin Ahrens, Blue Jays

Ahrens has grown on me a bit. At first, he didn’t impress me above and beyond the other high draft picks. After further review, what impresses me most about Ahrens’ swing is that he has a very simple, consistent, very similar swing from both sides of the plate. During the batting practice portion of the video, I had concluded that Ahrens had a better swing, and more power potential, from the left side of the plate. I then saw his game swings…

On his game swings, I’ve concluded that his swing from the right side is simpler and a bit shorter to the ball. Because his bat, from the left side, travels a slightly longer path (watch where his hands start), his hands follow a slightly more rotational hand path and his body creates more lift, I still believe that he has more power potential from the left side. Maybe the comparisons to Chipper Jones are not that far off? More power from the left side, better average and contact from the right side.

17. RHP Blake Beavan, Rangers

First impression–This kid is cocky. Is he posing while he warms up? Never one to like players who are “look at me”-type players, I will nonetheless try to keep my initial impression of him out of it and instead concentrate on his mechanics.

On the positive side, Beavan has an outstanding, short, elbowy arm action. I like his aggressiveness both with his body and arm. Note how as he strides, a few frames before footplant, he seems to step over an imaginary object. This “stepover” is an aggressive move that kickstarts hip rotation into footplant. On the negative side, Beavan has a violent recoil that would scare the hell out of me in terms of arm health.

That’s a very abrupt, short finish. Couple that with a somewhat short stride and Beavan’s fastball will play slower than its “radar gun” velocity. Stepover notwithstanding, I don’t really like his lower body action either. He stays over the rubber too long and strides out with his foot instead of his hips and butt “carrying” his weight forward. Too many question marks here. I don’t like this pick, not this high.

18. SS Peter Kozma, Cardinals

Poopy. Ever since I first saw Kozma’s swing, I’ve been trying to come up with a better, more sophisticated way to describe his swing. Unfortunately, Kozma hasn’t been able to shed the unfortunate label that I initially put on his swing. Want to eliminate power from an otherwise decent swing? Swing like this…

To say that Kozma is trying to “extend” is a gross understatement. It looks like he’s trying to work on it during his batting practice session, so it’s not an accident that he does it on his game swing. This swing is the result of years of hitting coaches telling kids to “throw their hands at the ball.” At least he keeps his bat in the zone (and eight feet in front of it) for a long time and his swing is decently short. He probably won’t strike out much and he’ll lace a few line drives. That’s about all for the positives. I’d like to talk about his defense, but when this analysis is based mostly on swing mechanics, it is difficult to ignore a swing this…poopy. No thanks, not enough power potential for me here. Not with that swing.

On the positive side, The Cardinals did take Kyle Russell, who will be featured in Part 4.

Side Note: Almost unbelievably, Kozma does not have the worst swing in the first round. Hint: He’ll be featured in Part 3.

19. LHP Joseph Savery, Phillies

Decent tempo. Good arm action. Terrible lead arm action. Savery looks like he pulls his lead arm and glove into his hip. Besides making your release point inconsistent, I was taught that pulling the lead arm increases arm injury risk, especially in the front of the shoulder. Savery’s lead arm action reminds me of Scott Karl, and that’s not good. Just like the Aumont/Bumgarner comp, I’d like to compare Savery’s position at release to David Price.

I can’t overlook this position at release when it comes to Savery’s mechanics. Unfortunately, I don’t like his chances of staying healthy. Not wanting to end on a negative, Savery has a pretty good swing the last time I saw it.

20. RHP Christopher Withrow, Dodgers

On the negative side, Withrow has a slow tempo, he stays over the rubber too long and has a slightly abrupt finish. On the positive side, Withrow’s excellent arm action is complemented by how late he breaks his hands, which I consider a positive influence on arm speed. Withrow also seems to rotate his upper body really late, which hides the ball longer and (along with his short arm action) makes him “sneaky fast.” It certainly does seem like he ball just jumps out his hand. He also shows an excellent curveball on the video.

Not huge on the upside, but a solid pick nonetheless.

Part 3 (picks 21-30) coming soon. Please submit the names of players you’d like me to review in Parts 4 and 5 either by e-mail or at (ballhype.com).

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