Sleeper watch: 2010 draftby Jeff Sackmann
June 10, 2010
On of the most common words used in conjunction with the 2010 draft class was "weak." It's certainly true that there weren't any no-doubt impact players after the first few picks, and draft-watchers are already salivating at next year's crop.
The positive take on a "weak" draft class is that it gives the best talent-evaluating clubs a chance to shine. Maybe you're not going to get a difference-maker with the 15th pick, but a lot of supporting players remained on the board well into the early rounds on Tuesday.
I've already written some commentary on the first and supplemental rounds at THT Live, so I won't belabor that here. Outside of the top few teams, the biggest winners in the first round were the Reds and Cardinals, who saw Yasmani Grandal and Zack Cox fall to them, respectively.
Taking Monday night as a whole, both the Red Sox and Angels best used their multiple selections to advantage. The Angels loaded up on high-upside high schoolers, while Boston grabbed two first-round talents, Bryce Brentz and Anthony Ranaudo, with picks 36 and 39.
A nice Tuesday
Let's dig a little deeper. As usual, my bias is toward college players. I study those guys all year long, and I basically ignore everybody else. Nick Castellanos looks to me like a great pick at 44, but if you want any more analysis, you're probably just as well off asking your mom.
Similarly, my bias is toward college guys who have gotten results. Some players are still big-time works in progress at age 21. Maybe they really do have star potential, but I'm generally skeptical of that type. With that in mind, let's look through Tuesday's draft list and find the winners.
Second round: Chad Bettis (RHP - Colorado Rockies). I don't know how this year's second round will end up comparing to that of other drafts, but relative to this year's first round, this one is awfully good. Statistically, the college players taken are actually better than those popped in the supplemental first.
The best of the bunch is Bettis. If we go strictly by the numbers, Drew Smyly (Tigers) and Derek Dietrich (Rays) just edge him out, but Smyly's injury history and Dietrich's positional ambiguity tilt the scale toward the Texas Tech product. (Brandon Workman, Boston's pick, is pretty good, too!)
Bettis has split time between the rotation and the bullpen throughout college. He's been plenty successful as a starter, striking out about a batter per inning in that role for the last two years. I haven't watched him pitch, but it looks like he approaches the roles differently, getting a huge number of ground balls when he starts.
Third round: Rob Segedin (3B - New York Yankees). It doesn't take long before the question marks get bigger. Segedin isn't No. 1 in my spreadsheet, but he's the one I would've taken. Try this on for size: slash stats of .430/.514/.780, with a strikeout rate of only 8 percent. He grades out as one of the worst baserunners in Division One, but he turned in a quality season at third base.
Other contenders in this round include Pat Dean (Twins), who had a monster year in 2009 but couldn't repeat it; Micah Gibbs (Cubs), a highly touted catcher whose defensive numbers fell this year; and Blake Forsythe (Mets), another top catcher who I'm not convinced will stick at the position.
Fourth round: Trent Mummey (CF - Baltimore Orioles). As you'll see, I'm partial to elite defensive center fielders. Mummey is the best of the best.
This year, an injury limited his contribution and left him at designated hitter some of the time he was in the lineup, but last year, he was worth 10 runs above average in center. That's in about 60 games. He doesn't mess around at the plate, either, racking up an adjusted wOBA of .531 this season.
Honorable mention goes to Mummey's Auburn teammate Hunter Morris, a big bat selected this round by the Brewers. Another tip of the cap is due to the Cardinals, who selected Cody Stanley, my pick as second-best catcher in the draft after Grandal.
Fifth round: Robert Morey (RHP - Marlins). Morey K'd 11 batters per nine innings back in 2009, and the drop to 7 K/9 this year might explain why he got this far. Unfortunately, he didn't compensate by walking fewer guys. Some of his results, then, might have depended on the quality Virginia defense. In any event, he got the results as a top-tier ACC starter for his second year running.
Right behind Morey is Coastal Carolina's Rico Noel, a center fielder picked by the Padres. He didn't really click with the bat until this season, but for his entire college career, he racked up impressive defensive and baserunning numbers.
Sixth round: Gauntlett Eldemire (CF - Phillies). Playing for Ohio, he didn't get the results that would normally get someone on this list, but I'm convinced by the passion of those who love his tools. Eldemire shouldn't have dropped this far, even if it does take some dreaming to envision him as a polished major league hitter.
The complete opposite of Eldemire is Bryan Holaday, a senior catcher from Texas Christian selected here by the Tigers. He's possibly the best defensive catcher in the draft (+4 runs this year, +5 runs last year), and is solid with the bat despite a high strikeout rate.
Also deserving a note is Jesse Hahn, the sixth-rounder of the Rays. His injury history makes him a huge question mark, but if the Tampa Bay medical staff is convinced he checks out and he signs, the Rays got themselves an extra guy of sandwich-round quality.
Seventh round: Chris Hernandez (LHP - Red Sox). He was near the top of my board a few weeks ago, and he hasn't done anything since to fall. He doesn't throw heat, but he gets outs. One of the best pitchers in the nation as a freshman in 2008, he hasn't kept up the same level, but he's remained good enough to suggest he'll be able to contribute soon out of the big-league bullpen.
A very honorable mention here goes to Greg Garcia, the Hawaii shortstop selected by the Cardinals. He posted a ridiculous +12 runs in the field last year, following it up with a still-impressive +4 this year. Hawaii's park is very pitcher-friendly, so his offensive numbers are also better than they first appear.
Eighth round: Austin Ross (RHP - Brewers). By this point in the draft, we're not looking at likely major leaguers any more. But Ross has gotten consistently good results at LSU, where the competition is comparable to (if not better than) what he'll face once he signs. There aren't very many college starters who post a K/BB ratio better than 5-to-1.
Ninth round: Tyler Lyons (LHP - Cardinals). In a round where 19 of the 30 teams selected D-1 players, Lyons is far and away the class of the bunch. He's been pretty good throughout his four years at Oklahoma State, but he was a whole lot better back in 2008. Maybe the Big 12 has figured him out after all these years.
Tenth round: Tyler Holt (CF - Indians). Not just the steal of the 10th round, Holt was the best grab past the second. He simply does everything well. His adjusted wOBA is .491 this year; the only knock on his offense is that he strikes out a bit much, around 16 percent of plate appearances. He walks more than that.
His defense is elite—though sub-Mummey—at +3, +7, and +4 in center field the last three years. He's possibly the best baserunner in this year's draft, worth five runs this year in that department, owing in large part to his 29 steals in 31 tries. Some scouting reports knock his raw speed, but it sure hasn't stopped him so far.
If that isn't enough sleepers for you, I encourage you to head over to the College Splits blog, where I've posted splits and situational stats for every college draftee taken through the 10th round.
Jeff Sackmann is the creator of MinorLeagueSplits.com. With Kent Bonham, he founded CollegeSplits.com. Jeff and Kent blog about college baseball and the draft, and you can follow them on Twitter for bite-sized snacks of minor league and college stats. Jeff also has an email address.