You Are The GM

You are the general manager of your favorite team. Imagine that your team is in exactly the same position it is in now, except that you have the 9th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft. Your team has the same roster, same prospects, same everything else.

Your team in charge of amateur scouting have been working day and night since late January. They have identified seven players, most of whom they think will be available when your team picks. There are four or five players who are generally considered to be the best of this year’s group who will be gone by the 9th pick, and one or two teams ahead of you with badly cramped finances are expected to make budget-conscious picks of lower-rated players. These seven players have been identified by your amateur scouts and cross-checkers as the “best of the rest”. The players are a mixed bag, but you have always impressed on your amateur scouting team the importance of evaluating every prospect available and having final decisions about organizational priorities up to you, the GM.

Now you’re in the hot seat. It’s May 30, one week before the draft. You have been to see all of these players briefly, and nothing that you saw seriously contradicts the information in these scouting reports.

Your mission : rank these players on your team’s draft board. Use any of this information you like. (In real life, my understanding is that there would be more scouting reports rendered in much more detail; these reports are similar to what are turned in by area scouts for much more ordinary players, not first-round stars. Still, do your best.) Once you have a ranking (or even just identify one or two targets) let me know who you like, and how and why you came to that conclusion. E-mail me your thoughts and don’t forget to tell me what team you’re picking for, and your name and city!

I’ll follow up in two weeks with a selection from the best and most interesting replies. Then we’ll peer into our crystal ball and we’ll see what happens to these players down the road. There really aren’t any “right” or “wrong” answers here. Much as in real amateur scouting, luck plays a massive role. Incidentally, most of the information in these scouting reports is fairly clear; players are measured on a 20-80 scale. “OFP” stands for “Overall Future Potential” and is a player’s overall grade. (These reports are a little different from normal scouting reports for pitchers; I don’t have a separate grade for fastball movement and I combined poise, instinct and aggressiveness into a single “pitchability” category.)

Good luck, and remember, you just might get fired if you make the wrong move. No pressure.

SCOUTING REPORTS

AARON ARMSTRONG

RH Pitcher
DOB 3/3/85 (Fairfax, VA)
Current Club – University of South Carolina (Sophomore)
Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 235

Stats
       G  GS  W  L  SV   IP   H   BB  SO  HR   ERA
2005  24   1  3  3  11  35.2  29  19  40   3  3.44
2006  19  16  9  4   0 119.0  88  34 140  11  2.63
 
Scouting Report

                  Current    Projected
Fastball             75          80
Slider               50          60
Control              35          50
Pitchability         35          50

OFP 69

FB CONSISTENT 95-96 OCCASIONALLY TOUCHES 99. 3/4 MOTION WITH TALL BODY AND LONG ARMS MAKES LIFE DIFFICULT FOR RHB. GENERATES HUGE POWER FROM A LOW ARM MOTION. THROWS 2-SEAM FB AND OVERPOWERING, RISING 4-SEAM FB, NEEDS WORK ON LOCATING BUT MAKES RH HITTERS BAIL OUT REGULARLY. LEAVES SOME PITCHES UP. SLIDER 86-88 WITH LARGE EVEN BREAK, TOUGH PITCH TO HIT B/C OF SPEED. NO THIRD PITCH BUT THROWS CHANGE/CURVE WHEN NOT IN GAMES. BIG, STRONG HORSE. CAN PITCH FOR HOURS. BODY TYPE SIMILAR TO ROGER CLEMENS WITH SOLID OVERALL MUSCLE STRUCTURE. CARRIES SOME EXCESS WEIGHT. GENERATES POWER FROM LOWER BODY, INCONSISTENT STRIDE LENGTH PRODUCES UNEVEN CONTROL BUT CAN BE FIXED. SMART, SENSIBLE, EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP QUALITIES ON MOUND. LOVES TO PITCH. WILLING TO PITCH AS STARTER OR IN RELIEF, FILLS BOTH ROLES WELL. CONVERTED AS COLLEGE REDSHIRT FROM THIRD BASE, STILL LEARNING HOW TO PITCH. CURRENT STUFF WOULD BE BEST SUITED TO RELIEF ACE ROLE BUT CAN HANDLE STARTER WORKLOAD. HAS THE RED-ASS BUT WORKS HARD IN PRACTICE. A FUTURE ALL-STAR.

Armstrong is a relatively new find who was a reliever last year as a freshman. He told your scouts that all he ever wanted to do was play pro ball, so it’s believed he will be easy to sign but he will want at least slot money.

BRIAN BENDER

LH Pitcher
DOB 5/5/85 (Madison, WI)
Current Club – University of Minnesota (Junior)
Ht : 6’1″ Wt : 190

Stats
       G  GS  W  L  SV   IP    H   BB  SO  HR   ERA
2004  30   5  4  2   7  61.0   81  20  46   6  4.48
2005  16  16 11  3   0 116.1  105  19  99   6  3.05
2006  14  14  9  2   0 105.0   89  13 110   5  1.98
 
Scouting Report
 
                  Current    Projected
Fastball             45          50
Curveball            60          70          
Slider               40          55
Changeup             70          75
Control              55          70
Pitchability         55          70           

OFP 65 

THIS YOUNG MAN IS A MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER RIGHT NOW AND WILL GET BETTER. STRAIGHT OVERHAND MOTION, VERY CLEAN, FB 86-88 TAILS AWAY FROM RHB. SLIDER 80-81 WITH LATE, DOWNWARD BREAK. THROWS CHANGEUP AT MULTIPLE SPEEDS. TELLS ME HE THROWS BOTH CIRCLE CHANGE AND PALM CHANGE, CHANGEUPS BREAK BOTH WAYS. PLUS CURVEBALL, 12-6 LOOPING CURVE IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR LEFTHANDER TO HIT WHEN SET UP. THROWS FOUR PITCHES, HAS COMMAND OF ALL OF THEM. QUIET MOTION, REPEATABLE DELIVERY, DELIVERS BALL QUICK. EXCELLENT CONTROL, PITCHES WELL WHEN AHEAD OR BEHIND IN COUNT. BULLDOG INSTINCT, GOES AFTER HITTERS AGGRESSIVELY, OVERWHELMS AVERAGE HITTERS WITH OFFSPEED STUFF AND WORKS CORNERS LATE IN COUNT. PRODUCES SWINGS AND MISSES LIKE NO OTHER COLLEGE PITCHER I HAVE SEEN THIS YEAR. BODY SIMILAR TO JARROD WASHBURN. FB AND SLIDER SHOULD IMPROVE SOME WITH BETTER STRENGTH AND LEG DRIVE. NEEDS TO ADD STRENGTH. PITCHES RIDE UP LATE IN GAMES AND VELOCITY DECREASES. VERY PRO APPEARANCE, SHOWS DRIVE AND DESIRE.

CAESARIUS “C-SECTION” CUTTER

LH Pitcher / LH Hitter / First Baseman
DOB 12/12/87 (Irving, TX)
Current Club – Central High School, Irving, TX
Ht : 6’4″ Wt : 180

Stats
 
2005 Went 8-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 110 strikeouts (19 walks) in 78 innings.  
     Hit .350 in 30 games.
2006 12-0 with an ERA of 0.40 and 147 strikeouts (28 walks) in 99 innings.  
     Hit .417 in 30 games.
 
Scouting Report

                  Current    Projected
Fastball            60           70
Curveball           30           50
Slider              40           70
Control             40           60 
Pitchability        40           50 

OFP 63

                  Current    Projected
Hitting             30           50
Power               50           65
Running             50           55
Fielding            35           50
Throwing            65           70

OFP 61
 

PROJECTABLE AS A VERY GOOD PLAYER AT EITHER PITCHER OR FIRST BASE/OUTFIELD. NEEDS WORK AS HITTER BUT EXCELLENT PROJECTABLE POWER. POOR PLATE DISCIPLINE AND PITCH SELECTION BUT GOOD BATTING EYE AND WILL IMPROVE. INCREDIBLE THROWING ARM, MAY BE SUITED TO RIGHT FIELD. I THINK THIS BOY PROJECTS BEST A PITCHER. EXCELLENT CONTROL FOR A HIGH SCHOOL PITCHER WITH HIS VELOCITY. EASY 3/4 MOTION PRODUCES RIPPING PLUS FB 91-92 AND SLIDER WITH GOOD BITE. FB HAS LATE CUT AND HE ALREADY MOVES IT BOTH WAYS. GOOD CONTROL ON FB BUT SECONDARY PITCHES NEED WORK. NEEDS TO LENGTHEN STRIDE AND USE LEGS MORE, FB SHOULD GAIN SPEED FROM BETTER CONDITIONING AND TECHNIQUE. BODY SIMILAR TO MARK MULDER. COULD ADD LB STRENGTH AND MUSCLE. THROWS A HITTABLE NICKEL/ROUNDHOUSE CURVE BUT MIXES IT WELL, NEEDS A THIRD PITCH TO COMPLEMENT FB/SLIDER COMBINATION. KNOWS HOW TO PITCH A LITTLE, GOOD INSTINCT FOR SETTING UP HITTERS. LOVES TO COMPETE, LOVES TO HIT. GOOD FIELDER OF PITCHER POSITION. SON OF FORMER CFL FOOTBALL PLAYER.

Your scout also tells you that it’s believed that Cutter will sign a pro contract rather than go to college. He did qualify academically only after a number of attempts and has narrowed his school choice to Texas or Arizona State but no one seriously believes he’ll go to school.

DARNELL DOUBLE

RH Hitter / RH Thrower / Centerfielder
DOB 10/10/84 (Jacksonville, FL)
Current Club – University of Miami (Junior)
Ht : 6’2″ Wt: 205

Stats
         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   AVG  OBP  SLG
2004    23  39   7  11   3   0   1    5   4  10   5   1  .282 .356 .436 
2005     4  16   4   5   0   0   0    0   1   2   4   0  .313 .353 .313
2006    53 241  69  90  20  11   7   46  17  29  48   7  .373 .434 .635 

Scouting Report
 
                  Current    Projected
Hitting              45          60          
Power                35          50
Running              75          75
Fielding             60          70
Throwing             55          60

OFP 62

SUPERB BASESTEALER, EXCELLENT BASERUNNER. STRONG, CONFIDENT HITTER WITH LEVEL SWING BUT BLOCKS HIMSELF CAUSING LOSS OF POWER AND BAT CONTROL. REMINDS ME VERY MUCH OF CARL CRAWFORD IN BODY AND PLAY. PLATE DISCIPLINE A QUESTION. SHOULD ADD POWER WHILE MAINTAINING SPEED. CONSISTENT 4.0-4.1 SECONDS TO FIRST BASE FROM RH BOX. PROJECTS TO LOTS OF DOUBLES/TRIPLES. RUNS VERY WELL IN CENTERFIELD, GOOD INSTINCTS, FULLY RECOVERED FROM KNEE INJURY IN 2005. SPEED ALLOWS HIM TO RECOVER FROM ANYTHING, CLOSES ON BALL EXTREMELY FAST. SMART PLAYER, BUT POSSIBLE QUESTIONS ABOUT COMMITMENT TO BASEBALL AS HE IS AN ACTING MAJOR WITH A DESIRE TO DO TELEVISION/MOVIES. GOOD CLUTCH PLAYER; PLAYS HARDEST WHEN COMPETITION IS BEST.

Your information on Double isn’t as good as some of the others, even the high school players, because he missed almost all of 2005 and didn’t play much for a powerhouse team in 2004. He only recently began shooting up prospect charts due to his incredible play this season and obvious speed.

EDGAR “ESPRESSO” EMPUJADA

Switch Hitter / RH Thrower / Shortstop
DOB 2/2/85 (Los Angeles, CA)
Current Club – University of Utah (Sophomore)
Ht: 5’11″ Wt: 185

Stats
         G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS   AVG  OBP  SLG
2005 played for Mesa Community College, Mesa AZ.  Hit .414 with 12 home runs in 38 games.
2006    55 223  69  77  18   5  18   76  53  39  19   3  .345 .468 .713
 
Scouting Report
 
                  Current    Projected
Hitting              50          60
Power                45          50
Running              50          50
Fielding             50          60
Throwing             50          55

OFP 60

SUPERB ALL-AROUND PLAYER. TOO GOOD FOR HIS LEAGUE. FAST HANDS IN FIELD AND IN BATTER’S BOX, NICE COMPACT SWING WITH GOOD POP. GOOD CLUTCH HITTER. GETS TO EVERYTHING AT SHORTSTOP, SPEED ONLY AVERAGE BUT MOVES SIDE-TO-SIDE EXTREMELY WELL. GREAT COMPETITOR, HARD-NOSED, GRITTY. LOVES TO PLAY, LOVES TO WIN. A MUCH BETTER, MORE ROUNDED PLAYER THAN HE HAD BEEN IN HIGH SCHOOL. BODY SIMILAR TO AARON HILL BUT MORE POWER. ARM PROJECTS AS VERY GOOD FOR SECOND BASE, ACCEPTABLE FOR SHORTSTOP BUT HIS BAT WILL CARRY HIM A LONG WAY AT SHORT.

Empujada is a draft-eligible sophomore but is known to want to play pro ball. He was selected as a draft-and-follow by another team in 2004 but when he wasn’t offered a big bonus after a very good year in junior college he elected to go to a four-year college instead and try his luck this year when he would be draft-eligible.

FRANCISCO FILIGRANA

LH Hitter / LH Thrower / First Baseman
DOB 9/9/87 (Bayamon, PR)
Current Club – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 170

Stats
 
None available
 
Scouting Report

                  Current    Projected
Hitting              40          65
Power                30          55
Running              60          65
Fielding             60          75 
Throwing             45          45 

OFP 65

LIGHTNING FAST PLAYER WITH VERY GOOD HANDS. PLUS FIELDER AT ML LEVEL ALREADY, SMOOTH MOVER. EXCELLENT AT SCOOPING BALLS, GOOD REACTION ON WILD THROWS. SHOWS GOOD PITCH SELECTION, GOOD TIMING, LEVEL SWING. DOESN’T GET CHEATED BUT STRIKES OUT VERY LITTLE. VERY CLOSED STANCE. SIMILAR TO MARK GRACE BUT COULD BE BETTER HITTER. BODY WILL FILL OUT AS HE MATURES, HAS STRONG FRAME AND GOOD SHOULDERS TO ADD MUSCLE. GOOD TEMPERAMENT, WANTS TO PLAY. ARM IS REASONABLE FOR FIRST BASEMAN.

Filigrana will be certain to sign for “slot money”.

GARRETT GRAND

RH Hitter / RH Thrower / Third Baseman
DOB 1/1/88 (East Rutherford, NJ)
Current Club – Westside High School, Toms River, NJ
Ht: 6’6″ Wt: 220

Stats
 
2004/05 Spent most of season as a pitcher/catcher.  
        Hit .480 in 25 games (spring + fall) with six home runs.
2005/06 Exclusively played at third base.  
        Hit .556 in 31 games with 19 home runs and 12 errors.
 
Scouting Report

                  Current    Projected
Hitting             35           65 
Power               50           75
Running             50           55
Fielding            30           50
Throwing            55           65

OFP 69

FORMER CATCHER. A BEAST OF A HITTER, GREAT PHYSICAL SPECIMEN. SHOULD DEVELOP WELL. TREMENDOUS PROJECTABLE HOME RUN POWER. THIS BOY IS AS STRONG AS ANY OTHER PROSPECT I HAVE SEEN IN TEN YEARS. SWING IS A BIT LONG AND STANCE OPEN BUT SWING MECHANICS ARE EXCELLENT. PITCH SELECTION MUST/SHOULD IMPROVE. SURPRISING SPEED, ARM. RUNS BETTER UNDERWAY. NEEDS WORK AT THIRD BASE, NOT VERY SMOOTH HANDLING BUNTS OR HARD SHOTS. PROJECTS WELL AT THIRD OR OUTFIELD. BODY SIMILAR TO TROY GLAUS BUT BIGGER AND STRONGER AT SAME AGE. WILL GET BETTER AS HE PLAYS MORE BASEBALL. WAS EXCELLENT PITCHER BUT GAVE UP TO CONCENTRATE PRO PROSPECTS. HAS HAD DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS AND WAS SUSPENDED FROM FOOTBALL TEAM. ALSO EXCELLENT FOOTBALL PLAYER.

Grand has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Notre Dame but is open to offers. His adviser is Scott Boras and he is thought to want a substantial bonus.

Okay, that’s the end of the scouting reports. One last piece of information that may help you … although everyone disagrees, the most general consensus among “draft watchers” outside your organization is that these players rank as follows:

1. Armstrong
2. Grand
3. Cutter
4. Bender
5. Double
6. Filigrana
7. Empujada

Good luck in the draft! Don’t forget to e-mail me your analysis and we will recap the most interesting comments in a couple of weeks’ time.

References & Resources
Thanks to MLB Central Scouting’s prospect comments on mlb.com for a neverending source of inspiration and humor.

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