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General : : Crack The Bat
Raw Draft Order Set
Published: Friday, October 09, 2009

Congratulations are in order for the Minnnesota Twins for having a memorable late-season surge to force a tie-breaker, game 163, with the Detroit Tigers, and now have moved forward to the playoffs, doing so without their star slugger, Justin Morneau.

If that late season surge wasn’t exciting enough, the Twins saved their best for last, playing a memorable game on Tuesday afternoon, full of big hits and defensive plays made by both teams to push the contest to 12 innings.

While I agree with most to all of Allan Simpson’s point in his excellent two-part feature looking at some key aspects in the game of baseball that need to be addressed (if you haven’t taken the time to read them, please make sure that you do so), the Twins’ finish definitely added a feel good story to an otherwise lackluster season.

And since the regular season is now over, we can put together the raw draft order for next year’s draft.

The 2010 draft will mark the second year in a row that the Washington Nationals will select first overall, only the second time in which a team has selected first overall in two consecutive years (the Rays in 2007 and 2008). Although, that was after MLB decided to do away with the old rule when the draft order alternated between the American and National Leagues.

It also marks the second year in a row in which the top prospect available has been identified, and practically immortalized, more than a year in advance of the draft. Following in Stephen Strasburg’s footsteps is Bryce Harper, whose story has been chronicled plenty of times on PG Crosschecker and elsewhere, so I can save some of my time and yours by not reviewing his career exploits up to this point in time.

I think it will be interesting to see if the Nationals decide to pony up the dough two years in a row for such a player. I’m guessing the price tag for Harper, or anyone else, won’t be as high as it was for Strasburg, but it still will be plenty high enough. The Nationals don’t have to worry about signing an additional first round pick like they did a year ago after not signing Aaron Crow from the 2008 draft, and it doesn’t look as though they will have any notable Type A or B free agents that also would garner draft pick compensation. Even so, we’ve seen plenty of times over the last decade where a team will take a player that is perceived to be much easier to sign after dealing with lengthy negotiations the previous year (this may have been the case with the Pirates this past year).

Here is how the draft order stacks up with the usual reminder that tie-breakers are awarded to the team that had the worse record the previous year(s):

1. Nationals (.364)
2. Pirates (.385)
3. Orioles (.395)
4. Royals (.401)
5. Indians (.401)
6. Diamondbacks (.432)
7. Mets (.432)
8. Astros (.457)
9. Padres (.463)
10. A's (.463)
11. Blue Jays (.463)
12. Reds (.481)
13. White Sox (.488)
14. Brewers (.494)
15. Rangers (compensation for unsigned '09 first rounder Matthew Purke)
16. Cubs (.516)
17. Rays (.519)
18. Mariners (.525)
19. Tigers (.528)
20. Braves (.531)
21. Twins (.534)
22. Rangers (.537)
23. Marlins (.537)
24. Giants (.543)
25. Cardinals (.562)
26. Rockies (.568)
27. Phillies (.574)
28. Dodgers (.586)
29. Red Sox (.586)
30. Angels (.599)
31. Rays (compensation for unsigned '09 first rounder LeVon Washington)
32. Yankees (.636)

The 2010 draft will mark the second year in a row in which the first round will go 32 picks deep due to two unsigned first-rounders (Matthew Purke and LeVon Washington as noted above) from last year.

After the first round, compensation picks will also be given to the Blue Jays (the 38th, 69th, and a supplemental third-round picks) for their inability to sign James Paxton, Jake Eliopoulos and Jake Barrett. The Rays will receive the 79th overall pick after not signing second-rounder Kenny Diekroeger and both the White Sox and Angels will receive a third-round compensatory selection after not signing third rounders Bryan Morgado and Josh Spence respectively.

It’s easy to look at the draft order to determine the teams that drastically exceeded or failed to come close to the expectations they and their fans had for the 2009 season. The Mets obviously stand out, dropping from having the 23rd overall pick in the raw draft order (of which they lost after signing Francisco Rodriguez) to the seventh overall pick this year.

The Cubs remained competitive this past season despite falling 13 places after having the 29th pick in the raw order a year ago, while their NL Central combatants, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros, each fell 12 spots. The Rays are in a similar situation as the Cubs, remaining competitive and playing over .500 during the 2009 season, but dropping 11 spots in the order.

The Rockies and Mariners each climbed 16 places in the raw order. The Tigers 10-spot climb isn’t very encouraging after their collapse over the final two to three weeks of the season. The Braves moved up 13 spots during their own late season surge towards the playoffs (that fell short), and the Dodgers climbed 12 while winning the National League West more convincingly this year.

Claiming their usual spots in the draft with the Nationals at the top of the order are the Pirates, Orioles and the Royals. I’ll avoid my usual preaching about how these teams need to figure out a way to stop their annual inclusion at the top of the draft, but at least it appears that all four of those teams are making the necessary investments to get impact talent into their systems hoping to follow in the footsteps of teams like the Minnesota Twins.

Assuming their usual place at the bottom of the raw draft order are the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Angels and Cardinals.

The Talent

The talent at the top of the draft definitely favors pitching, with several power arms that will be available from both the high school and college levels. The talent at the top and the depth through the early rounds should make the 2010 draft one known for its arms more than its bats.

Even if there aren’t that many legitimate, well-rounded positional prospects, there will be an interesting collection of hitters from the high school level that may be somewhat without a defensive home at this point in time that will be available.

True outfielders are once again a little hard to come by, but there is some interesting talent to be had both on the infield and behind home plate. In particular, the college and juco ranks offers three promising all-around catchers (Micah Gibbs and Yasmani Grandal as well as Harper) that currently are projected to go in the first round, with a few others (Cameron Rupp, Robert Brantly) that could put themselves in the same conversation with strong showings next spring.

The high school crop is a little light on catching.

Two-way talents will also provide somewhat of a wild card, as the progression of players such as Brett Eibner and Bryce Brentz from the college level as well as high schoolers Kaleb Cowart, Yordy Cabrera and Justin O’Conner could go a long way in helping to define next year’s class.

Wild cards include draft-eligible sophomore Zack Cox of Arkansas, who may have the best pure bat, and two-sport star (football) Chad Jones from LSU. LeVon Washington could join Bryce Harper in the first round as a pick from the junior college level.

And this brief synopsis doesn’t even touch signability, which of course will always be an issue until something it done to correct the system. We already know that Bryce Harper and Anthony Ranaudo have aligned themselves with Scott Boras, which of course means that they will require a significant monetary investment, as well as time, to sign.

Be sure to check out PG Crosschecker’s ranking of the top 300 2010 draft-eligible prospects to get a better idea of how the talent stacks up.

Taillon Dominates Pan-Am Games

I’ve already shared my heightened interest in prep right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon, one of the aforementioned power arms available for next year’s draft, having seen him dominate his competition during notable showcase and tournament events this past summer.

That domination continued at the COPABE Pan Am AAA Championship in Barquisimeto, Venezuela last week, winning both games he appeared in versus the Panamanian and Cuban 18U national teams as part of Team USA claiming the gold medal.

Normally I won’t delve too much into statistics at the amateur level, particularly at the high school level, but his performances at the Pan Am games definitely are proof as to just how dominating he was, and can be.

Of the 52 batters he faced, he struck out 28 of them, 21 swinging. Of the other 13 outs he recorded, eight came on ground balls and three were on fly-ball outs, although none of those fly outs left the infield.

Those with their noses in statistics much more than I am have proven that the most dominant pitchers over time at the MLB level are the ones that not only strike out a lot of batters, but also induce a lot of ground balls. It isn’t really that shocking, as ground balls are often the sign of a batter being over-matched and not putting a good swing on the ball.

And I haven’t even brought up yet that Taillon’s best performance of the two was a Ben Sheets-type shutdown of the Cuban team, who had won the previous seven Pan Am championships, in the gold-medal game. He struck out 16 batters in that contest without allowing a run. He walked the first batter in the game, the only free pass he would issue in 7.2 innings of work, before striking out the side. He also struck out the side in the second and seventh innings of that game, striking out the side two other times in his previous appearance in the tournament versus Panama.

I’ve already talked about his over-powering stuff, and there plenty of scouting reports here at PG Crosschecker that show his stuff matches his statistical dominance, but it’s always nice to make sure that there are no flukes or disguises to his performances. He quite simply is one of the best young pitchers to emerge from the high school ranks, and as long as he stays on track between now and next June, the possibility of him becoming the first overall pick, even ahead of a young phenom like Bryce Harper, becomes greater and greater.

The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA. Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and Brewerfan.net, and can be contacted via email at pebert@brewerfan.net.