Draft Buzz: Late-Rising Prospects

April 28th, 2008 · 31 Comments

By Frankie Piliere & Kiley McDaniel

We’re now entering the homestretch for the MLB Draft as June 5th quickly approaches. Area scouts have compiled their lists and evaluations and are stepping aside as crosscheckers, scouting directors, and other top team brass come in to see prospects and form the help form the draft board.

And, as that process continues, the draft buzz develops as teams concrete their OFPs, pref lists, their handle on player’s bonus demands, and figure out which players make sense for certain picks. We’re starting to hear such team-specific buzz along with the usual risers and fallers and have compiled a piping-hot batch of draft buzz from our MLB sources.

Inside: A potential first rounder from off everyone’s radar, a landing spot for Skipworth, a new top college closer, Boras’ latest Hosmer demands, prep pitchers in free-fall, and much more…

(Pictured above: Kyle Skipworth after hitting a homerun in the AFLAC All-American Game in August. Photo credit: Glenn Connelly)

Breakthrough Small-School Flamethrower

RHP Brad Holt had been off the scouting radar, but has planted himself securely in the top 50 picks with a breakthrough performance this spring for UNC-Wilmington. The Seahawks have made a name for themselves this year with a 21-game winning streak and appearances in the top 25 polls, but Holt is reason scouts keep coming back to see this team.

As the Saturday starter for a veteran squad, the 6′4 junior RHP Holt has been taking a 94-97 mph fastball deep into games and has been flashing an above-average slider and average changeup with solid command. The only thing making scouts pause is the Holt’s prior history of command problems, but there hasn’t been a sign of it this spring.

Multiple scouts have agreed that he will not make it out of the 2nd round, and there appears to be helium for Holt all the way into the late first round.

Skipworth Has Home in Top 10

Florida State catcher Buster Posey has been generating a lot of buzz as a potential pick for teams in the 5-10 range in June, but we’re hearing similar things about California prep backstop Kyle Skipworth. A team in that same 5-10 range has confirmed heavy interest in Skipworth and almost guaranteed he would not get past their pick. Granted MLB draft season is home to smoke screens like NFL Draft season is, so some may take any information such as this with a grain of salt, but teams frequently lock onto players this early in the process that they really love and project to be at their pick. And given positional scarcity, Skipworth may not even last long enough for us to find out if this information is legit.

Closer Heirarchy Develops

Move over Ryan Perry and Josh Fields because their may be a new top closer in this draft class. His name? Andrew Cashner, a 6-foot-6 righty out of TCU. We’ve learned that Cashner has emerged as a top 20 overall candidate with a chance of even overtaking Georgia’s dominant senior, Josh Fields as the cream of the closer crop. This spring Cashner has posted a 7-2 record with 5 saves to go along with his impressive 53 strikeouts in 35.2 innings of work. The lanky righty has reportedly flashed a fastball touching 98 MPH in recent weeks. Remember this name on draft day.

We’ve been force fed the names Ryan Perry and Josh Fields as the slam dunk top closers in the class and they warrant that. However, there are other closers not quite in Cashner’s class that have a shot at the first round or early supplemental round due to the lack of starting pitching depth in the class. Bryan Price, the owner of a 94-97 MPH heater, and the closer for Rice is also getting late first round buzz. The same goes for Texas Tech right-hander, Zach Stewart.

Hosmer’s Demands Take Next Logical Step

What will Scott Boras think of next? How about a Major League contract demand for his prized high school hitting prospect? According to our sources, Hosmer and his agent may be seeking a big league deal. I can only imagine how this will shake up the complexion of the first round if these demands hold. $7 million with a big league deal for a high school hitter? I think most teams would pass.

Eric Hosmer is not the only position player in the class that could be slipping due to the demands of his agent. Lefty slugger, Allan Dykstra of Wake Forest (also represented by Boras) is also reported to have a steep asking price. What those demands are remains to be seen, but according to sources it could drive him out of the first round.

Prep Pitchers In Peril

Let’s cut to the chase. This is not a strong year for high school pitching prospects. There is a lack of depth and quite simply a lack of elite arms altogether. And, now it seems the few that were held in high regard entering the spring are running into problems as well. Fireballing left-hander, Anthony Gose reportedly underwent an MRI this week to check out a barking left arm. The severity remains to be seen but it has been enough to spook many a crosschecker.

Gose is also not alone. Boras clients Alex Meyer and Gerrit Cole have also been slipping on the radar amongst scouts not only because of bonus demands but other concerns. Meyer has yet to experience much pleasant weather to pitch in and there are lingering makeup concerns on Cole’s head. To say that the prep pitching class is in flux is an understatement.

Did you think I was finished? The biggest news comes on the purported top prep arm in the class, Tim Melville. This spring has been a significant disappointment for many scouts in regards to Melville. It is likely his first round status is still intact but according to one crosschecker “Melville hasn’t thrown close to his summer stuff.”

As it was first reported by Baseball America, Sonny Gray is likely to miss the rest of the spring with an injury, so that also doesn’t bode well for this prep pitching class. When asked if such pitchers like Brett DeVall, Kyle Lobstein, Robbie Ross could find a home late in the first round, one unimpressed scout said “I suppose some of these guys will have to go in the first round. Scary.” That, in a nustshell, seems to be the general attitude towards this year’s crop of high school arms.

Draft Notes: Lightning Round

- Brett Hunter and his first round aspirations seem to have evaporated as teams are proceding with caution regarding his arm injury. Do not expect to see him in the first 30 picks in June. According to scouts, the injury is a major concern.

- Looking for locks? Through some crosschecker cross-referencing (now there’s a nice phrase) there are only a handful of first round locks but it appears our sources agreed for the most part. Here they are: Pedro Alvarez, Aaron Crow, Gordon Beckham, Tim Beckham, Brian Matusz, Shooter Hunt, Tanner Scheppers, Buster Posey and Justin Smoak

- Pedro Alvarez may not be slipping so much after all. Perhaps he’s no longer the favorite to go #1 overall, but scouts have been strong in saying his stock has taken no significant hit this spring.

- Miami outfielder, Dennis Raben and his back problems seem to be becoming more and more a concern for teams as well. However, scouts still like his chances of going in the 20-30 range in the first round.

- How about some news on our two top college southpaws? Christian Friedrich and Tim Murphy seem to be headed in opposite directions. Murphy, who at one point this spring seemed to be gaining momentum as potential first rounder, has taken a step back. Scouts we spoke to have come away less than thrilled with his command and consider him to be more of supplemental rounder. Friedrich on the other hand, we are hearing, is being targeted by teams in the 18-24 range in the first round.

- Players seemingly with helium right now (outside of the ones mentioned above) are Jemile Weeks, Roger Kieschnick, Zach Collier (who one scout called “the sleeper of the draft”), and Zach Putnam.

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Tags: 2008 MLB Draft · Draft Buzz · Scouting Reports

31 responses so far ↓

  • 1 b/c // Apr 28, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Nice stuff

  • 2 jscape2000 // Apr 28, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the updates. Are you planning to continue your mock draft as the draft gets closer?

  • 3 fpiliere44 // Apr 28, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Yep. Make us your go to guys for draft stuff. We plan on continuous updates like this, perhaps a power ranking draft stock report and yes, mock drafts. We’re gonna keep working our sources and hopefully nail down some good tips.

  • 4 Bryan // Apr 28, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Is Aaron Crow no longer a first round lock? What has he done to make him drop?

  • 5 fpiliere44 // Apr 28, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Our mistake Bryan. Accidental exclusion of Crow and now fixed. Thank you for calling attention to it. Every scout we spoke to called him a no doubt lock. He’s still right in there as a top 5 overall candidate.

    FP

  • 6 Josh // Apr 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    What about Skipworth as a first round lock?

  • 7 fpiliere44 // Apr 28, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Skipworth was not mentioned in that group. I think it’s safe to say when I polled these scouts that they had top 15-20 picks in mind. Skipworth, unless it emerges that he has massive demands, is as big a lock as those other guys. Just a little more ambiguous as to where he falls in the first round.

  • 8 Jared // Apr 28, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Great stuff guys. A few questions about Zach Collier: does he profile as a CF in the pros and could he be a first round pick?

  • 9 Mike R. // Apr 28, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Are the Yankees’ chances of landing Hosmer better now that those crazy demands arwe out there or do you still think that someone will take him before that?

    If you were Brian Cashman do you take Hosmer if he drops?

  • 10 fpiliere44 // Apr 28, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    I’m not too sure on Collier’s profile. Since he didn’t really showcase he’s very new to me. Sounds like he’s got a shot at going in the back of the first round, still seems remote to me though.

    If I’m Cashman, I don’t give a high school hitter a big league contract but that’s just my opinion. They’ve certainly seen more of him than me. That’s just tough to swallow though…giving that to a high school bat. I think there’s a real true chance he lasts that long though.

  • 11 Bryan // Apr 28, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    What kind of season is Tim Beckham having? It is nearly impossible to find any kind of stats for him anywhere.

  • 12 fpiliere44 // Apr 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Statistically I don’t have an answer for that. All I know is that he’s look as advertised.

  • 13 Mike R. // Apr 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Frankie or Kiley:

    What is your opinion on Lonnie Chisenhall? How much will his past affect his draft stock?

  • 14 jscape2000 // Apr 28, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Re: Hosner-
    I can’t imagine giving a deal like that to any high school hitter, let alone someone who is already a 1B. A Shortstop or CF, maybe.

    Anybody know the arbitration rules off-hand? I know that it triggers from time on the 25 man roster, but doesn’t time on the 40-man count too?

  • 15 Daily Farm Report 4/28/08 « Future Redbirds // Apr 29, 2008 at 12:07 am

    […] Saber-scouting has some draft buzz. As much as I want the Cardinals to pick the best player available, I hope they don’t end up with a 1B/LF. […]

  • 16 kileymcd // Apr 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Mike R,
    Chisenhall can really hit and has a Brendan Harris like set of defensive tools (not SS at upper levels, but 3B, 2B, or anything on the corner), but the rest is really in question as some teams will always stay away.

    He was probably a fringe first rounder based on post-draft buzz in 2005 when he didn’t sign out of HS, and his quick start at South Carolina. He’s probably more of a 3rd-5th talent that could really go anywhere.

  • 17 kileymcd // Apr 29, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Jscape,
    Delmon Young got a big league deal, so there’s at least a little bit of a precedent for Boras to work off of.

    I don’t have the exact rules handy (I know Keith Law did a good article on Baseball Analysts a while back about it), but essentially the options start burning once he starts playing and is on the 40-man, so it’s either 3 (sometimes 4) years since the contract is executed that he has to stick in the majors.

    In that scenario, most teams just make the contract execute the next season so a month of Rookie ball doesn’t burn an option. So it would likely be 3 full minor league seasons with a chance for a 4th in a weird situation (injury, etc).

    To me, if anyone is considering paying him $7 million, they think he can do that without a big problem, so it’s not that far-fetched.

  • 18 jscape2000 // Apr 29, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Kiley,
    I agree with you that it’s not unthinkable. But with Andrew Brackman already on the Yanks’ 40-man, I think adding another minor leaguer works against the flexibility that Brian Cashman has tried to build this year.

    I’ve loved the way he’s used deployed the bullpen so far- not afraid to swap middle relievers to keep the team from playing shorthanded if someone threw a lot of innings the previous day.

    And the 3 year track means you have to be sure that this guy will be MLB-ready at 21/22, and if he’s not ready for a starting job by then he’s got to sit on the bench- which feeds the arbitration clock while you’re not getting the most out of him.

    It’s just not something I’d do.

  • 19 Mike R. // Apr 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Any idea when your Draft Top 100 list will be up?

  • 20 kileymcd // May 1, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Mike R,
    Not sure we can give a day yet, but it should be soon. So there’s your total cop-out answer.

  • 21 Jeff // May 1, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    wait he HAS to be in the majors in 3-4 years or he just starts to get a major league check by then?

  • 22 kileymcd // May 1, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Jeff,
    He would get a bonus, and negotiated salary from day one, usually between $500k and $1M, but couldn’t be sent to the minors after 3-4 years (likely 3) without being put on waivers.

  • 23 Scott // May 1, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Here’s the link to Keith Law’s contracts/service time article

    https://www.baseballanalysts.com/archives/2006/08/death_taxes_and_1.php

  • 24 Jared // May 2, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Jeff (to expand on Kiley’s answer),
    The reason he has to be on the 25 man roster after 3 years is due to the fact that, having a major league contract, he’d be on the 40 man roster once he signs (or possibly the following year if the contract is structured that way). And when he’s sent down to the minors, the club uses one of his options. Since he only has 3 options, they can only send him down 3 times before he has to be exposed to other teams via waivers.

  • 25 Jared // May 2, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Actually, after reading Law’s article (thanks for posting that, Scott), players who’ve been optioned 3 times and have been in the pros for less than 5 seasons can be optioned a 4th time.

    But the fact remains that giving HS draft picks a major league contract dictates that they need to reach the majors expeditiously.

  • 26 Jeff // May 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    thank you guys for the clarification.

    that is nuts that a club would give a major league deal to a HSer. that would seem like a fireable act for the GM if the pick doesn’t turn out.

  • 27 Chris // May 5, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt) was 95-98 this weekend in closing out two games. He has put himself back on the map as a closer. He has not allowed a run in 3 weeks in his new relief role.

  • 28 Alex // May 5, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Collier is good. A scout mentioned to me about the pitcher version of Collier, in terms of “sleeper”. Ryan Carpenter in Arizona. HS Lefty, 6′5 205. Apparently scouts have flocked to his games the past few weeks. The scout I talked to at my sons game, said “Carp” sat at 90-92 with his 2 seamer, and has said the 4 seamer reaches 94, but the kid never throws it. Id be curious if this kid starts showing up high on draft boards.

  • 29 kileymcd // May 6, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Intersting note on Jacobson, Chris, we’ll have to look into that. And Alex, great catch on Carpenter. You readers are really outdoing yourselves.

  • 30 JC // May 6, 2008 at 2:07 am

    I’ve whatched Andrew Cashner pitch during summer baseball over the last two summers and he is the real deal. It is to bad when as a closer he gets left in to long against OU and gets a bad rap. He has a slider that is unreal and from what I’ve heard he hit 100mph three times this year. He will be fun to whatch in the big show.

  • 31 TJ // May 6, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Has anyone checked the NCAA stats page? I think Mike Sheridan of William and Mary and Anthony Shawler will be a sleeper draft picks

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