Monday, 2 June 2008

The Roundup

The Amateur Draft kicks off this week and it would be remiss of me not to pass along some thoughts on that topic. The Jays choose 17th, our only pick in the first round. None of those delicious supplemental rounders like last year, sadly.

For the historically minded, here's what we've got back from our first overall pick over the years. It's interesting to note just how crappy pretty much all of Pat Gillick's first rounders were through the '80s. Ed Sprague and John Cerutti (RIP) were the best of the bunch? Blehhh. The '90s were a great decade, producing 6 bona fide stars from Shawn Green to Alex Rios, and it's too early to tell for the 2000s.

As for this year's draft in general, Keith Law writes:

This year's crop better resembles 2004's low-upside college-centric first round... The draft's top tier of talent is deepest in an unsexy area -- college corner infielders. That category of player has typically yielded high returns -- from past names like Mark Teixeira, Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro to more recent picks including Gordon, Zimmerman, Braun and Nick Swisher -- but doesn't fit the standard first-round profile of players who offer a wide set of plus tools or pitchers with big fastballs and good breaking balls.

(Sorry to those of you who didn't get a chance to read the article in full before it was put behind the ESPN insider wall.)

Brett Wallace, a slugging 3B/1B from Arizona State University, is the guy the Jays are rumoured to be pining for, but it seems unlikely he'll still be on the board by the time they pick. Many are speculating that Godfrey is putting pressure on JP to take Canucker Brett Lawrie (C/3B), and when Godfrey wants something done (like signing V-Dub to a ridiculous extension, not signing Barry Bonds), it usually happens.

Here's the MiLB scouting profile on Lawrie:

Focus Area
Hitting Ability:He's got tremendous hand strength and a quick bat, but he's a little pull conscious and with an open stance, he gives away too much of the outer part of the plate.
Power:His best tool is his plus, plus raw power, though it's mostly to the pull side now.
Running Speed:He's an average runner, maybe a tick above at times.
Base running:He's a good baserunner who runs better underway.
Arm Strength:He's got a plus arm which plays average in games.
Fielding:He's got strong hands and quick feet, but his catching skills are rudimentary.
Range:He has the athleticsm and quickness, but needs to work on blocking balls and shifting.
Physical Description:Lawrie is an athletic player who might have the right build and frame to be a quick backstop.
Medical Update:Healthy.
Strengths:Plus, plus raw power, generated by strong hands and bat speed.
Weaknesses:His lack of a true position. Catching might be the best bet, but he's behind due to lack of experience.
Summary:Scouting Canadian players can sometimes be difficult because of the lack of opportunity to see them. But scouts know all about Lawrie and his plus power potential, something he's been able to show off while playing for the Langley Blaze in British Columbia. What they don't know is where he can play, though he's shown the tools -- raw though they may be -- to handle being a catcher. It may take a while, but putting that bat behind the plate could one day make him a premium player.

Over at Batter's Box, a council of learned elder bloggers from around the major leagues came up with this mock draft that had the Jays selecting Tulane RHP Shooter Hunt (one of the top RHP in the draft), but take it with a grain of salt because Baseball America predicts that the Astros will take him 10th overall. Prospect guy John Sickels sees the Jays taking Lawrie.

Interestingly, none of the following Canadian stars were drafted highly: Russell Martin (17th round, 2002), Jason Bay (22nd round, 2000), and Justin Morneau (3rd round, 1999). Larry Walker and Matt Stairs were both signed as amateur free agents by the Expos back in the' 80s. Presumably Canada was considered Interzone territory like Mexico and the Dominican Republic back in those days and players from the Great White North were not included in the regular draft like their American confreres.

For your reading pleasure, here are Keith Law's Top 25 prospects:

Rank Player Pos.
1. Tim Beckham SS
2. Buster Posey C
3. Justin Smoak 1B
4. Eric Hosmer 1B
5. Pedro Alvarez 3B
6. Aaron Crow RHP
7. Brian Matusz RHP
8. Gordon Beckham SS
9. Brett Wallace 3B
10. Gerrit Cole RHP
11. Kyle Skipworth C
12. Christian Friedrich LHP
13. Aaron Hicks RF/RHP
14. Yonder Alonso 1B
15. Ethan Martin RHP/3B
16. Josh Fields RHP
17. Casey Kelly SS/RHP
18. Tim Melville RHP
19. Shooter Hunt RHP
20. Jason Castro C
21. Conor Gillaspie 3B
22. Andrew Cashner RHP
23. Lance Lynn RHP
24. David Cooper 1B
25. Reese Havens SS

Down on the farm, more props for Kyle Ginley, the first 10 game winner in the minors. He's posted an identical 5-0 record at both Lansing and Dunedin with not unsexy peripherals, so a call up to AA can't be too far off. He doesn't seem to do anything exceptionally well, but good control, nice K numbers, good GB rates and limiting the long ball are all nice skills to have on your CV.

Minor scare: Travis Snider took a foul ball in the head while he was in the on-deck circle during yesterday's Fisher Cats game, but he appears to be fine.


David Ortiz felt his left wrist "pop" in a 9th inning AB on Saturday night and is now day-to-day. That might make you a bit sad seeing as the Bosox are taking on the tamale hot TB Rays, now a shocking 13 games over .500. It just doesn't seem real.

-- Johnny Was


eyebleaf said...

i think it was 2 years ago that the orioles were on top of the division and sitting pretty going into june. i wonder if they were ever 13 games over .500...i'm assuming they were. and then reality happened. i hope reality strikes the rays as well. because you're right, it just doesn't seem real

The Southpaw said...

In 2005, the Orioles were 41-27 on June 19. That's 14 games over and .603 ball.

Three games in front of Boston and the third best winning precentage in baseball.

The finished 74-88, in fourth place six games behind the mediocre Jays.

So from June 19 to the end of the year they went 33-61 (.351)

Will the Rays collapse in a similar fashion? I doubt it but I think it's more likely that that they win the division.