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Draft : : Story
Draft Impressions: American League
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Thursday, June 09, 2011

Another draft is in the books, and while we're only a day removed from the process, it is time to take an early look as to how the teams fared.

Of course it takes at least two to three years to determine just how successful any one team's draft effort was. And if you asked any of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball about how they fared, they are going to be quick to point out how excited they are about the players they selected.

The next step is signing these players and getting them into their respective organizations. This year's signing deadline is Monday, August 15.

As part of a two part series (American/National League) I'm going to provide a quick synopsis of the notable players each team selected, the best late-round pick (after round 10), a wild card, and the key to what will allow this year's draft to be viewed as an eventual success.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Top pick:
Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso (Okla.) HS, fourth overall
Synopsis:
In any other year, Bundy may have been considered for the first overall pick, although no prep right-handed pitcher has been selected first overall. He enjoyed an incredible season, and sat in the mid-90s while touching triple digits. After Bundy the Orioles turned their focus to the college and juco ranks, represented by the eight collegians in the top 10 rounds and 16 in the top 20 overall. In addition to Bundy, the Orioles selected six other pitchers in the top 10 rounds, including college right-handers Mike Wright (third round), Kyle Simon (fourth), Devin Jones (ninth) and Tyler Wilson (10th) as well as college left-hander Trent Howard (seventh). Second-rounder Jason Esposito and eighth-rounder Johnny Ruettiger both enjoyed productive collegiate careers, and should have no problem hitting upon beginning their professional careers.
Late Round Gem:
Jason Coats (12th round). Coats entered the spring coming off of an extremely productive 2010 season for TCU, and carried that over to the Cape last summer where he was considered one of the best bats in the league. Coats didn't have a terrible year, but also didn't show the same power, a common theme among the college ranks given the new bats.
Wild Card:
Nick Delmonico (6th round). The Orioles drafted Delmonico as a third baseman, but he may eventually move across the diamond to first. He offers a big, strong, physical frame and exciting power potential, but dealt with an injured wrist this spring which may have limited his production. The tools are there for Delmonico to develop into an exciting offensive prospect.
Key to Success:
The long-term success of Bundy is the obvious answer, but the Orioles have been picking towards the top of the draft for too many years to rely on just one player from this year's draft to pan out for them. Most of their early picks after Bundy were relatively safe ones, but there is enough upside in that group to give Orioles fans reason for hope from this class.

Boston Red Sox

Top pick:
Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut, 19th overall
Synopsis:
Much is made of the Atlanta Braves taking players from their home state, but the Red Sox are also known for selecting players from their own backyard, as shown with their top pick in Barnes. In recent years they also have not shied away from players that are perceived to be difficult signs, as shown by their second first-round pick, Blake Swihart, who tossed out some lofty bonus aspirations prior to the draft. Despite signing Carl Crawford in the offseason, they gained those two first-round pick as well as two sandwich picks after losing Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. Henry Owens and Jackie Bradley were taken with those supplemental picks, and they added a nice balance of talent, but high school and college, hitters and pitchers, through the top 10 rounds. And for good measure, they made sure to fuel the fire between their arch-rival Yankees by plucking Williams Jerez out of Brooklyn in the second round.
Late Round Gem:
Deshorn Lake (12th round). An Aflac All-American last summer and a native of the Virgin Islands, Lake has strong, compact frame and a very live arm.
Wild Card:
Daniel Gossett (16th round). The lean and projectable Gossett enjoyed a nice spike in his velocity this spring, going from the upper-80s to the low-90s, with plenty of reason to believe there is more to come. Signing him away from Clemson as a 16th-round pick would be the icing on the cake for a successful draft effort for a team expected to sign most to all of their early picks.
Key to Success:
The Red Sox are in an enviable position in that they do budget and draft aggressively given their relatively endless financial resources. Even if the players from this draft don't pan out, it won't be due to a lack of effort. Getting two to three top prospects out of this group would be considered a success.

New York Yankees

Top pick:
Dante Bichette, Jr., OF, Orangewood Christian HS, Orlando, 51st overall
Synopsis:
For as aggressive as the Red Sox have been in their approach to the draft, the Yankees take a more conservative approach. They took some intriguing high school hitters with their early picks, including the power-hitting Bichette, slugging catcher Greg Bird (fifth round), athletic two-way talent Jave Cave (sixth) and in-state target Matt Duran (fourth). Their second-round pick, Texas left-hander Sam Stafford, can sit in the low-90s with a good curveball, and Lewis-Clark State right-hander Zach Arneson (ninth) was the best prospect available at the NAIA level. And just to make things more interesting, after the Red Sox took Williams Jerez in the second round, the Yankees returned the favor by dipping into traditional Red Sox territory by selecting New Hampshire prep right-hander Jordan Cote in the third.
Late Round Gem:
Daniel Camarena (20th round). Rookie Davis (14th round) and Matthew Troupe (17th round) also qualify. Camarena offers a polished swing and approach at the plate as well as pitching guile on the mound. He may opt to go to the University of San Diego, where he could be a productive two-way star similar to former Torero Josh Romanski.
Wild Card:
Davis, Troupe and Camarena. Signing any combination of these three promising prep stars, all of whom would have been drafted a lot higher on talent alone, would be huge for the Yankees.
Key to Success:
The Yankees took Dante Bichette, Jr. and Jordan Cote earlier than where most people had them, so their development will be scrutinized. Jake Cave is a nice addition as a sixth-round pick, and the Yankees drafted him as a potential five-tool outfielder. Even if he doesn't hit, he could always fall back to pitching, as some considered him one of the top high school left-handers entering the spring.

Tampa Bay Rays

Top pick:
Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C., 24th overall
Synopsis:
The Rays lost three Type A and four Type B free agents last offseason, leading to two additional first-round picks, seven supplemental first-rounders and one extra second-round selection. They were fairly aggressive with those selections, and if they get them all signed they could field a prospect-laden team in rookie ball to close out the summer. Just take a peak at this potential lineup: Outfielders Mikie Mahtook, Kes Carter, James Harris, Granden Goetzman; infielders Jake Hager, Brandon Martin and Tyler Goeddel; and pitchers Taylor Guerrieri, Jeff Ames, Blake Snell, Grayson Garvin as well as closer Lenny Linsky. Throw in a few of their other early picks such as outfielder Johnny Eierman (third round), infielder Riccio Torrez (fourth) and left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter (seventh), and you have half of a roster full of recognizable talent.
Late Round Gem:
Tanner English (13th round). Built on the small size, the 5-foot-9 English has game-changing speed, a cannon for an arm and surprising power. It may be difficult to sign him away from South Carolina.
Wild Card:
Trevor Mitsui (12th round). The Rays certainly had their sights on the Pacific Northwest this season, as Mitsui was the fourth player the team selected from the state of Washington. With so much pitching currently in the pipeline, the Rays have been intently adding impact bats through the last two drafts, and Mitsui is a promising hitter with considerable power potential.
Key to Success:
While I wouldn't put it past them to do so, I don't think it is realistic to expect the Rays to sign all 10 of their first-round picks, so getting seven or eight of them wrapped up should be viewed as a success. The Rays have one of the deepest, most productive farm systems, and are poised to add another haul of talent.

Toronto Blue Jays

Top pick:
Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass., 21st overall
Synopsis:
While the Blue Jays didn't have the draft pick boon that the Rays had, they had four sandwich picks and an additional second rounder to play with. You would think that those picks may prompt them to take a more conservative approach, but the exact opposite occurred, as they selected several players that could pose difficulties signing prior to the August 15 deadline. Two of those were a pair of Vanderbilt commits, Tyler Beede and Kevin Comer (sandwich round). Second-rounder Daniel Norris, who was expected to go among the top 15-20 overall picks, may be the most difficult player to sign, and third-rounder John Stilson could be another. That said, adding any combination of those four pitchers would provide a huge boost of pitching depth, and they also added several other promising arms in Joe Musgrove (sandwich round), Thomas Robson (fourth), Anthony DeSclafani (sixth) and Andrew Suarez (ninth). Smooth prep hitter Jacob Anderson was taken a little higher than expected (sandwich round), but he Dwight Smith, Jr. (sandwich round) and Christian Lopes (seventh) offer a nice trio of offensive talent.
Late Round Gem:
Matt Dean (13th round). There are several candidates to choose from, including Cole Wiper (14th), Cody Glenn (15th) and Aaron Nola (22nd). All four players will be difficult to sign away from college, and the Blue Jays already have enough of these kinds of players from this draft to expect them to get any of these players in the system.
Wild Card:
Stilson. Beede, Comer and Norris provide obvious signing difficulties, but Stilson's recent situation this spring is difficult to gauge. His arm is expected to be fine with rest, and while he doesn't have the same leverage as Matt Purke since Stilson is a college junior, the possibility remains that he returns for his senior year to re-establish his draft stock.
Key to Success:
It's pretty simple for the Blue Jays, they need to prove that their aggressive approach to the draft was a prudent one by signing the players they took while also making sure those early round signings don't inhibit them from adding a few of their more notable picks from rounds five to 15.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Top pick:
Keenyn Walker, OF, Central Arizona JC, 47th overall
Synopsis:
The White Sox lost their first-round pick for signing Adam Dunn, but gained a sandwich pick when they lost Type B free agent J.J. Putz. They used that pick on Keenyn Walker, a gifted all-around athlete that fits the White Sox preference for toolsy, high-potential players. They also have shown a preference for college pitchers in recent years, and continued that trend as well with their next four selections, and nine out of their top 12. Right-handers Erik Johnson (second-round), Jeff Soptic (third), Kyle McMillen (fourth) and Ian Gardeck (eighth) all have big, pro bodies and intriguing stuff. Johnson has a well-rounded repertoire and enjoyed a big season for the Cal Bears, McMillen excelled as Kent State's closer, while Soptic and Gardeck had the best fastballs among the draft-eligible pitchers from the juco ranks.
Late Round Gem:
Mark Ginther (14th round). Ginther is an exceptional all-around athlete, and starred in football as a quarterback at the high school level, once again fitting the White Sox preference for positional players. He is a fine defender at third base with a great arm, and has power potential at the plate.
Wild Card:
Matt Lane (9th round). Lane is a tall and lanky lefty from Marietta, Georgia that played for the East Cobb program. He spent his first year in school at Mississippi State, but transferred to Northwest Florida State College for this past season and has signed with Tulane for the 2012 season.
Key to Success:
I admire the way the White Sox are run, because they seem to draft conservatively, but always seem to develop good players. They often use their own players/prospects in trades for proven players, so as long as they have a few of their premium picks successfully advance to the upper levels of the minors, GM Kenny Williams will find a way to use them.

Cleveland Indians

Top pick:
Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde (Fla.) HS, 8th overall
Synopsis:
Lindor was one of the best all-around players available for this year's draft, with standout defensive tools and a promising switch-hitting bat. Right-handed pitcher Dillon Howard (second-round), who has been throwing in the mid-90s since his sophomore year in high school, and Lindor were both members of the Aflac All-American Classic last summer, although Howard's in-state commitment to Arkansas may be more difficult for the Indians to overcome. Jake Lowery (fourth) had a huge season for James Madison that drastically increased his draft stock, and fellow catcher Eric Haase (seventh) from the high school ranks offers the complete package both offensively and defensively. Thanks to improved stuff, big-bodied right-hander Jake Sisco (third) had a good year at Merced, a juco in California, drastically improving his draft stock from a year ago when he was selected in the 37th round out of high school.
Late Round Gem:
Dillon Peters (20th round). Based on talent alone, Peters, a prep left-handed pitcher, should have been drafted in the top three to five rounds. As a Texas recruit most expect him to head to college.
Wild Card:
Haase. An Ohio State commit, and there was some speculation that if Haase fell past the top three rounds he may head to college.
Key to Success:
Signing Howard and Haase are key to this draft being successful for the Indians, assuming they lock up all of their other early round selections.

Detroit Tigers

Top pick:
James McCann, C, Arkansas, 76th overall
Synopsis:
The Tigers were the last team to pick this year after forfeiting their first-round pick after signing Victor Martinez last offseason. Their first pick came later last year as well, but they made a much bigger statement with that selection when they took Nick Castellanos and signed him for $3.45 million as a sandwich pick. James McCann won't command that kind of money, but he could give the Tigers some much needed talent behind the plate. He was considered one of the best defensive catchers available this year, and could move quickly thanks to those skills. Overall they were more conservative this year, selecting a college or junior college player with every selection through the 14th round. Among those picks include Vanderbilt first baseman Aaron Westlake (third-round), one of the draft's better pure hitters, and Texas shortstop Brandon Loy (fifth), one of the draft's better defenders.
Late Round Gem:
Tyler Gibson (15th round). Gibson offers a strong frame and a promising left-handed bat. He was surging up draft boards this spring, but a commitment to Georgia Tech may be tough to overcome as a 15th-rounder.
Wild Card:
Gibson. With so many polished college guys among their early picks, Gibson would be a welcome addition as a multi-tooled talent.
Key to Success:
During the past couple of offseasons the Tigers have been linked to catchers trying to address an organizational need. It seems as though they made that need their top priority with their top pick in the draft, so McCann's progression will be crucial.

Kansas City Royals

Top pick:
Derek “Bubba” Starling, OF, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C., 5th overall
Synopsis:
The local phenom Starling was connected to the Royals all spring, but there were reports leading up to the draft that the connection may have been overblown with Kansas City targeting college pitching. They may have been putting on a bit of a poker face with that stance, but there is no better player-to-team connection in this year's draft. They didn't stop there however, as their second (Cameron Gallagher), third (Bryan Brickhouse), fourth (Kyle Smith) and fifth (Patrick Leonard) round picks offer considerable promise as well.
Late Round Gem:
Jerrell Allen (11th round). Allen is a rare toolsy talent from the state of Delaware. He is raw, but has exceptional speed and profiles well in centerfield.
Wild Card:
Smith. He's a Florida commit and was considered a tough sign. Since the Royals have the task of signing Starling ahead of them, they may not be able to get both players into the system.
Key to Success:
Starling. While the Royals farm system is stacked, and Starling could really help elevate the organization while also providing a face of the franchise if he lives up to his potential.

Minnesota Twins

Top pick:
Levi Michael, SS, North Carolina, 30th overall
Synopsis:
The Twins scouting and player development teams run like a well-oiled machine, and typically employ an approach focusing on college pitchers and high school hitters. They bucked that trend with their first pick, taking the polished Michael out of North Carolina. Whether or not Michael can stick at shortstop long-term will likely be a recurring discussion, but he played well enough there this year to silence some of his critics. High school slugger Travis Harrison, who has some Harmon Killebrew to his game given his immense power potential, was their next pick in the sandwich round. Prep pitcher Hudson Boyd was selected with their second sandwich pick, a barrel-chested righty that throws strikes consistently in the low-90s. The Twins also continued to show interest in players that have played in their background, taking several former Northwoods League players including hard-throwing right-handers Madison Boer (second-round), Matt Summers (fourth) and Tyler Jones (11th) as well as left-handers Steven Gruver (seventh) and Jason Wheeler (eighth). Ivan (Dereck) Rodriguez, the son of the legendary catcher, is an athletic centerfielder with tool plus tools in his speed and arm.
Late Round Gem:
Nick Burdi (24th round). Towering prep lefty Adam McCreery (14th round) also fits the bill here.
Wild Card:
Corey Williams (3rd round), Will Clinard (30th round). Williams and Clinard have been bullpen mates the past several years at Vanderbilt. Should both sign with the Twins they could be advanced together as an intriguing lefty/righty duo, similar to how they have been used at the college level.
Key to Success:
Few teams have been as consistently successful developing as much talent internally as the Twins, so really it's simply a matter of keeping that well-oiled machine running as well as it has been.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels

Top pick:
C.J. Cron, 1B, Utah, 17th overall
Synopsis:
The Angels have needed a big bat in their system, and they certainly found one with their first pick in Cron. Not only does he have exciting power potential, but he is an extremely gifted hitter overall. Nick Maronde (third-round) is a live-armed lefty that has been pitching exclusively out of the bullpen for the Gators the past couple of years, but some believe he could move back to a starting role as a pro. Big-bodied right-handers Austin Wood (sixth) and Logan Odom (eighth) were teammates at USC this past season, and fellow righties Mike Clevenger (fourth) and Nick Mutz (ninth) joined them among the team's hard-throwing picks in the top 10 rounds. Memphis outfielder Drew Martinez (10th) has very good speed and defensive skills in centerfield, while Abel Baker (seventh) is a sound defensive catcher with a cannon for an arm.
Late Round Gem:
Wayne Taylor (14th round), Domonic Jose (15th round). The Angels used back-to-back picks in the teens on a pair of promising Stanford recruits, a school that doesn't often let such players slip away.
Wild Card:
Taylor and Jose. The Angels were pretty conservative with their picks prior to getting to the 'teens, when they started to take a few more chances on high-ceiling high school players. Their 12th and 13th round selections, Joe Kriehbel and Jackson Whitley, also fit into this conversation.
Key to Success:
The Angels still boast a roster full of internally procured talentl, and Mike Trout is one of the most dynamic players in the minor leagues. C.J. Cron could be the big bat they have been looking for, but they need to make sure their seemingly conservative approach doesn't derail a fruitful system.

Oakland Athletics

Top pick:
Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt, 18th overall
Synopsis:
Every time the A's make a pick it's as if it were tailored made for their organization. This year they had the benefit of having Sonny Gray fall to them, a shorter right-handed pitcher that has enjoyed incredible success at the college level, but is frequently scrutinized for his future role. They continued their usual preference for college talent by taking a collegian with each pick among the top 23 rounds with the exception of ninth-rounder Jace Fry, a high school left-hander from Beaverton, Oregon that shows a mature approach to his craft. South Dakota State's Blake Treinen (seventh-round), a fifth-year senior, was one of the draft's more interesting prospects, with a mid-90s fastball and power slider, as he became one of South Dakota's highest drafted players ever. Southern Miss infielder B.A. Vollmuth (third) may have to slide off of shortstop, but has put up big offensive numbers for the Golden Eagles.
Late Round Gem:
Tanner Peters (16th round). Peters doesn't overpower hitters, but he throws four pitches for strikes and does a great job changing speeds and hitting his spots.
Wild Card:
Brandon Magee (21st round). Magee played both football and baseball at Arizona State, and is an extremely well-built outfielder that also played linebacker on the gridiron. He hasn't played much baseball, but it's hard not to be impressed with his build and athleticism.
Key to Success:
The A's are a team that you can pretty much guess what they're going to do, but can still leave your head scratching given their usual conservative approach. They have assembled a very good pitching staff, which seems to be the trademark for their organization, but at some point they need to fill the system with more impact bats.

Seattle Mariners

Top pick:
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia, second overall
Synopsis:
It wasn't until hours before the draft that we learned the Mariners intent to draft Hultzen, since most had the the team pegged to draft some kind of hitter from Anthony Rendon, Bubba Starling and Francisco Lindor. It's hard to argue with the pick, as Hultzen had a phenomenal season and overall career at Virginia, showing great control of a four-pitch repertoire and improve velocity. They did turn to bats after Hultzen, using eight of their 10 picks in the top 10 rounds on positional prospects. Those picks included Clemson infielder Brad Miller (second-round), Arizona prep slugger Kevin Cron (third), Virginia's John Hicks (fourth) and Steven Proscia (seventh), and Florida high school catcher Tyler Marlette (fifth, the MVP of the 2010 Aflac All-American Classic). NCAA Division II right-hander Carter Capps (supplemental third-round) and Texas State's Carson Smith (eighth) also stand out among the team's early selections.
Late Round Gem:
Nathan Melendres (17th round). Melendres shows very good speed and defensive skills in centerfield with a strong arm. There is some strength to his wiry frame, but his game is built around speed.
Wild Card:
Cavan Cahoes (9th round). The Mariners drafted Cahoes out of Germany, as he and his family are stationed at a U.S. Military base as his father serves in the Air Force. Cavan is a gifted athlete, built tall and lanky with plenty of room for added strength. His electrifying speed may prompt a move to the outfield, and his arm strength gives him a second standout tool. He has committed to play for Ohio State.
Key to Success:
With so many pundits pegging the Mariners to take a positional prospect with their first pick given the organization's overall need to add impact hitters, Kevin Cron's development is crucial.

Texas Rangers

Top pick:
Kevin Matthews, LHP, Richmond Hill (Ga.) HS, 33rd overall
Synopsis:
Kevin Matthews was arguably the biggest surprise in the first-round. He's a smaller, sub 6-foot lefty whose stuff took a step up this spring, touching 95. Matthews also throws a hard curveball, and shows a rhythmic delivery and advanced knowledge of pitching that could allow him to advance quickly. They took a pair of taller high school right-handers with their third and fifth-round picks in Kyle Castro and Brandon Woodruff. In the second they took Clemson two-way performer Will Lamb as a left-handed pitcher, and picked up the extremely athletic Zach Cone out of Georgia in the sandwich round. Derek Fisher, who like Matthews has committed to play for Virginia, was the team's sixth-round pick and was expected to be taken much higher in the draft.
Late Round Gem:
T.J. Costen (22nd round). With a modest build, Costen can surprise you when he puts a charge into a ball, but his best tools are his defense, arm strength and foot speed. Keeping him away from South Carolina won't be easy.
Wild Card:
Fisher (6th round). Signing Fisher, who was once believed to be a late first-round pick, away from Virginia would be huge for the Rangers.
Key to Success:
Several of the team's early picks, such as Matthews, Cone and Castro, were selected at slots much earlier than expected, so it is important that these players develop and progress to help make the Rangers look astute for taking them where they did. As noted, signing Fisher will also be incredibly important.



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