The DRAFTYs: The 2007 MLB draft awards

With the Aug. 15 signing deadline behind us, it is time for this year’s draft awards and “winners and losers.” For a more complete video analysis of the draft, please refer to my other articles on the draft:

Picks 1-10: Favorable analysis on Price, LaPorta and Parker. Not so good on Moskos.

Picks 11-20: Harsh words about Kozma and Savery.

Picks 21-30: Like Porcello. Dislike Schmidt (now hurt), Revere and Poreda.

10 more picks: on Harvey, Griffith, Russell, Rike.

15 more picks: Featuring Bailey, Middlebrooks, Pope and McGeary.

In those articles, I covered a few players who did not sign. I tried not to dwell on those picks in the awards, but as you’ll see, I had to mention a couple.

Here are the 2007 DRAFTYs:

Best pitching mechanics

1) RHP Rick Porcello, Tigers (27th overall)
My review in Part 3 (picks 21-30)::

“I really like this kid. The hype matches the mechanics. As of now, the award for “best mechanics” (which I’ll give out at the conclusion of the series) will probably come down to Porcello and Jarrod Parker.”

What else can I say? Excellent arm action, very good tempo, smooth yet aggressive. Firms up the front side very well. TINSTAPP and all, but Porcello’s mechanics are just phenomenal.

2) RHP Jarrod Parker, Diamondbacks (ninth overall)
Excellent arm action, good tempo, very whippy arm. I gave the slight edge to Porcello because Porcello has slightly “cleaner” mechanics and he uses his body a bit better than Parker. Parker’s arm action is a little more “risky,” but I’m just being nitpicky. These two are really close in terms of mechanical efficiency. I believe Parker has the quicker arm and might end up with better velocity than Porcello, but I had to give Porcello the edge based on how well he firms up his front side and how well he carries and uses his lower body in his delivery.

3) RHP Casey Weathers, Rockies (eighth overall)
Don’t like his arm action at all, but his lower body action is excellent. Leads with the hips while his back shoulder stays back (I now call that “the move”), does not stop at the “balance point,” excellent tempo. Many of my students know who Casey Weathers is. Why? Because I try to make them copy his lower body action. Vanderbilt’s pitching coach, Derek Johnson, and I share many views on mechanics. By the way, Mr. Johnson knows what he’s talking about. Send your kids to Vanderbilt to get the best pitching instruction possible.

4) LHP David Price, Devil Rays (first overall)
Excellent arm action, although he is a little slower tempo-wise than I’d like. Price really “gets out there” with a nice, long stride as result of how he leads with his hips and “finishes” his pitches really well…

Another Vanderbilt product. Go figure.

Best swing

1) 1B Matt LaPorta, Brewers (seventh overall)
I like power swings and LaPorta’s has power written all over it. He loads his shoulder/hands well, loads his hips even better and demonstrates an excellent rotational approach to hitting.
Light. Tower. Power.

2) OF Kellen Kulbacki, Padres (40th overall)
Surprised? Don’t be. I can’t get over how much I like this kid’s swing. Stays behind the ball, stays connected, excellent swing plane.

He might not have the most power potential in the draft, but his swing is something else.

3) 3B Josh Vitters, Cubs (third overall)
A little too “handsy” a swing, but he turns quickly on the ball and has an excellent swing plane.

Top five position players

1) C Matt Wieters, Orioles (fifth overall)
I wasn’t very favorable to him in my review because his draft video didn’t show enough swings. I had seen him before and couldn’t overlook his ability behind the plate, his arm, his performance record and the fact that he’s a switch hitting catcher with great hitting skills. His swing has a little too much noise, but I’m pretty sure that he’ll be stud.

2) OF Jason Heyward, Braves (14th overall)
I like power. He has a little work to do with his swing, but I like his chances of becoming a legit 35-plus HR guy down the line.

3) 3B Josh Vitters, Cubs (third overall)

4) 1B Matt LaPorta, Brewers (seventh overall)
Ideally, you want a guy who plays a premium position here….unless….he can hit like LaPorta. Look at that turn though the ball…

5) SS Michael Moustakas, Royals (second overall)
This spot assumes that he stays at short. If he moves to 3B, as many predict, his ranking wouldn’t be this high.

Top five pitchers

1) LHP David Price, Devil Rays (First overall)
My closing comment on Price:

“This dude is good, really good. Leave him alone and let him pitch.”

Even though he doesn’t have the best mechanics in this year’s draft, it is very difficult to overlook his performance record and his sick slider. Oh, by the way, he’s a lefty, too.

2) RHP Rick Porcello, Tigers (27th overall)
Mechanically polished for a high-schooler and very athletic. If I didn’t know Price’s performance record, I would have a hard time picking Price over him.

3) RHP Jarrod Parker, DiamondBacks (ninth overall)
Just below the top two and not by much. He wins the “best arm action” award.

For his price tag, I’d consider taking Parker instead of Porcello.

4) LHP Madison Bumgarner, Giants (tenth overall)
Big athletic lefty with good mechanics. There’s a little work to do to tighten up his mechanics, but I’d trust the Giants on this one. I love this kid’s potential.

5) RHP Casey Weathers, Rockies (eighth overall)

Best Picks

1) RHP Rick Porcello, Tigers (27th overall)
An easy one. The No. 2 pitcher on my board falls to 27. Many teams will regret passing up on him.

2) OF Jason Heyward, Braves (14th overall)
What do you do when a top five or six talent falls to you at 14? If you’re the Braves, you don’t pass him up. Great pick.

3) SS Nick Noonan, Giants (32nd overall)
Needs to stick at short to be a real steal.

Worst picks

1) LHP Nick Schmidt, Padres (23rd overall)
My review:

“…Schmidt does something that would scare the hell out of me in terms of his durability long-term….
Did you catch how quickly Schmidt stops his arm after release? He slams on the brakes pretty quick… Schmidt? No thanks.

It’s never good when your first rounder goes down with an elbow injury. According to Keith Law, Schmidt might be headed for Tommy John surgery. Pitchers are never happy when other pitchers go down, but the Padres (and many other teams) should’ve taken a closer look at his mechanics before classifying him as a “safe” pick.

2) LHP Daniel Moskos, Pirates (fourth overall)
The Pirates passed on many better selections. OK, maybe they wanted to save money, but if they wanted to go with a college closer, Weathers is better anyway. Moskos isn’t a bad pitcher, but there’s just not enough upside there for a No. 4 overall choice.

3) OF Ben Revere, Twins (29th overall)
I know he’s off to a great start, but if the Twins wanted to go with an outfielder for less than slot, then why not go with Rike (72nd overall to the Rockies) or Kulbacki (40th overall to Padres).

4) SS Peter Kozma, Cardinals (18th overall)
Couldn’t let him off the hook. He of the “poopy” swing. Not enough upside for me. I’d take Noonan over him in a heartbeat and Cumberland (46th overall to Padres) for less money.

5) LHP Joseph Savery, Phillies (19th overall)
He’s got a pretty good swing. Wait, he got drafted as a pitcher. I don’t want to be that guy always talking about injuries, but I don’t like his chances of staying healthy. Maybe he’ll pull an Ankiel.

My favorite non-first round picks

1) SS Nick Noonan, Giants (32nd overall)

2) SS Andrew Cumberland, Padres (46th overall)
Only if they let him swing as he is capable of swinging. Padres, please don’t turn him into a slap hitter.

3) RHP Ryan Pope, Yankees (124th overall)
Yankees, pretty please, don’t mess with his mechanics too much.

4) RHP Austin Bailey, Red Sox (504th overall)
A Jeremy Bonderman clone? Could you tell if I switched their uniforms? In case you’re confused, Bailey is on the right…

5) RHP Josh Fields, Braves (69th overall) and OF Kyle Russell, Cardinals (142nd overall)
Have to mention these two, even though they didn’t sign. A couple of teams will be happy next year that they didn’t.

The overrated

1) 3B Matt Dominguez, Marlins (12th overall)
The kid is unbelieveably smooth on the field, but he has a LONG swing.

2) SS/3B Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox (174th overall) and Travis Mattair, Phillies (83rd overall)
I mention these two together because they are basically the same player: Big kids with the same bad swings.

3) LHP Aaron Poreda, White Sox (25th overall)
Dominating so far. That said, I don’t think he’ll keep his stuff as he ages.

4) RHP Jake Arrieta, Orioles (159th overally)
Orioles paid first-round money for a guy who really just isn’t that good. Disclaimer: Speed up his delivery and watch his velocity soar. If only I could convince them to do this, then Arrieta would not be as overrated.

5) RHP Matt Harvey, Angels (118th overall)
Luckily, the Angels didn’t sign him for the huge money he asked for. He needs to make many of the same adjustments as Arrieta. The Angels dodged a bullet here. Unless his mechanics change, he’ll be much cheaper to sign in three years.

Best draft

1) San Francisco Giants
They wouldn’t have been this high had they not landed Bumgarner. I like Bumgarner, Alderson, Fairley and Noonan. Culberson is not a bad pick either. Yeah, it helps that they had six out of the first 51 picks. They’re taking risks here (they’re all high-schoolers), but they’re good risks.

2) Detroit Tigers
LHP Crosby (181st overall) is overrated and overpriced but RHP Hamilton (60th) was nice risk pick. Regardless of those two picks, landing Porcello puts them at No. 2. I wish they had signed RHP Rhoderick (571st overall), who is easily the most impressive pitching prospect that I saw in the Perfect Game event I attended….sinking 93-94 mph fastball with a filthy slider.

3) Atlanta Braves
Tough to give them the No. 3 spot (they didn’t sign Fields), but getting OF Heyward at No. 14 qualifies as a win.

Worst draft

1) Houston Astros
Maybe Texas Rep. (and presidential candidate) Ron Paul advised them on how to spend. According to Futureredbirds.com the Astros spent just $536,000 signing their picks through the first 10 rounds. I know a certain submariner that they could’ve had for cheap…

So much for their farm system…

2) Pittsburgh Pirates
Tried. Failed. Again. Passed up Wieters, Porcello, Heyward, Parker and many others.

3) Chicago White Sox
LHP Poreda and RHP Griffith (89th overall) were their top two picks. I didn’t like either one. At least the Astros didn’t throw money away…

Thoughts on some other teams’ drafts

New York Yankees
Would’ve liked their draft much more if they had signed RHPs Carpenter (574th overall) and Peavey (754th). RHP Andrew Brackman’s (30th) contract is baffling, especially if he needs Tommy John surgery. They have money and they spent it. Don’t get the $1.3 million bonus to Suttle (154th). So-so draft.

Washington Nationals
LHP Ross Detwiler (sixth overall) might be a little overrated. LHP John McGeary’s (190th) $1.8 million bonus is too much. LHP Josh Smoker (31st) and OF Michael Burgess (49th) are good picks, though.

St. Louis Cardinals
Liked their selection of RHPs Mortensen (36th overall) and Todd (82nd). Can’t overlook their selection of SS Kozma (18th overall) and not signing OF Kyle Russell.

San Diego Padres
Liked OF Kulbacki (40th overall) and SS Cumberland (47th). Can’t overlook the selection of LHP Schmidt (23rd), who is out with elbow troubles.

Boston Red Sox
Overspent for SS/3B Middlebrooks (174th overall). I liked LHP Hagadone (55th) and RHP Bailey (504th).

References & Resources
Rich Lederer, baseballanalysts.com

ESPN’s Draft coverage

MLB.com’s Draft Tracker

Baseball America’s signing bonus information on the draft

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