I don't know if many of you guys are into this kind of stuff - highschool and college baseball - but I'll make my picks anyway. I'll do the Top 5 this time, 6-15 after that and 16-30 the last blog. Alright, here goes nothing:
1. Washington Nationals - RHP Stephen Strasburg, University of San Diego State
There aren't many starting pitchers in the major leagues right now that throw 100 mph at least once per game. You can bet that Strasburg will be able to do that. There is talk that he may be turned into a relief pitcher but why not make him a starter with all of his talent and potential? He has three pitches - a fastball, slider and changeup. His fastball is amazing but he might need to add another pitch to his arsenal to be dominate. His 17-strikeout, no-hitter was perfectly timed in his last home game of the season with Washington scouts watching him. My only problem with Strasburg is he will probably cost between $40-50 million . . . wow. Now compare all of that money to, say, 2008 NL Cy Young and 18-game winner Tim Lincecum. Lincecum is making $650,000 a year and I doubt that Strasburg will win a Cy Young that soon into his career even though he'll probably be better in the long run.
Now onto why the Nationals need to make this pick. Well, their staff "ace" is Jon Lannan, him and his (dumroll, please) 9-15 record with a 3.91 ERA in 2008. He would probably be a 4th or 5th starter on most teams. The Nationals actually do have some quality young pitchers (Shairon Matis, Jordan Zimmerman) but none of them will even be close to being as good as Strasburg. A little tip to the Nationals, sign Strasburg to as many years as you can. You better believe that if they don't get much better with Strasburg and if he has a short contract, Scott Boras will take him as far away as they can from Washington.
This guy's initial's could be M-A-R-K P-R-I-O-R but odds are that he will be great.
2. Seattle Mariners - 1B/OF Dustin Ackley, Univsersity of North Carolina
Ackley is the best hitter available and if it weren't for Strasburg, he would be an unquestioned No. 1 in this draft. Put these stats into your head - a .400+ average three years running at North Carolina, 17 home runs in 2009 (which was his total amoung in his first two combined seasons at NC), 181 runs batted in (career total) and 41 stolen bases (also career total). His fielding has not developed fully but he won't be terrible either. The one great thing about Ackley is he'll cost a LOT less than Strasburg will and the Mariners couldn't be happier about that (and plus they don't have a big need for starting pitchers anyway). Players like Grant Green or Aaron Crow could go here but his potential is through the ceiling.
Why do the Mariners need Dustin Ackley here? Consider that the Mariners' current first baseman is Russell Brayan, a 33-year old career .234 hitter and their outfield consists of two guys who are hitting under .265 and four home runs. Ackley will probably be an outfielder when he gets drafted but it's hard to say. He's been stuck at first because of his Tommy John surgery for a while and he might get too acustomed to it. Wherever he plays, you're looking at a likely perenial 20-20 (maybe even 30-30) player and an average around .300 to go with it. I actually prefer him over Stephen Strasburg but that may be about the money.
3. San Diego Padres - SS Grant Green, University of Southern California
Boy, the Padres would have LOVED if Strasburg fell here. What's not to like about a local hero who will be the top pitching prospect in the league the moment he gets drafted? Ever since Khalil Greene had a 27 home run year and then sucked after that, the Pads have been longing for a good, young shortstop. With Green, they've found one. His 2009 stats at USC were short of expectations - just three home runs and 29 home runs although his .372 average lightens them up. He probably strikes out way too much for a contact shortstop - 35 strikeouts in less than 200 at-bats. He's no defensive wizard, but like Dustin Ackley, he will be able to hold his own in the field. For his offense, there is 20-20 potential down the road . . .
The Padres are arguably the worst team in the league and that is WITH Jake Peavy who will likely not last the whole season there. Their starting shortstop is .256 hitter Luis Rodriguez (but he does play better defense than Green). Their second baseman, David Eckstein, is below average at this point in his career. I don't think Green will ever be a franchise player - .290 average, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 30 SB - but he's still a future All-Star and he'll be consistent. Right now, that is all San Diego needs.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates - RHP Kyle Gibson, University of Missouri
There are two guys that could go to the Pirates right here - Kyle Gibson or Aaron Crow. Looking back at the Pirates previous draft picks, they have just struck out too many times with high risk, high reward players like Crow. What they need is a pitcher like Gibson, a total package who is garenteed to at least be a solid pitcher in the big leagues, by that I mean 15 wins or so on a decent team. Gibson doesn't have a great fastball, low 90's with some movement, but he has a great changeup and a tricky slider to go with it. Gibson went 9-3 with a 3.73 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Those stats aren't gaudy but they are pretty great. The one problem with Gibson is his funky, Tim Lincecum-type delivery. It hasn't worked for all pitchers but it has worked for some. Gibson is also much taller than Lincecum (6'6") for the better or worse.
The Pirates pitching staff is a disaster, worse than that even if you can get worse. Yes, if the Pirates drafted Crow here then they are looking at a probable future Cy Young but Gibson will compete for the Cy Young in his career too. 26-year old staff ace Paul Maholm and Kyle Gibson could be a 1-2 combo to fear for years to come.
5. Baltimore Orioles - OF/RHP(?) Donovan Tate, Cartersville High School (GA)
Donovan Tate is an ideal 5-tool big leaguer. He has 40-home run power, not a bad contact hitter, can steal bases, has excellent range in the field and can throw a fastball up to 95 mph. Tate has pitched in high school but it is likely that he will be a outfielder although you never really know until something is announced. One major downside - he'll swing at just about anything that is within a mile from the plate. Another downside, not related to his playing ability, is that he's a highly rated football recruit and there will be questions whether he signs or not and that is probably why he is dropping in my draft. If he signs, the Orioles will look like geniuses - this guy's potential is shooting up to the sky. If he doesn't sign, the Orioles will look like complete idiots and will probably continue their losing trend. The Orioles are going to have to cough up the big bucks if they want to sign him.
What makes this such a good pick is that even if Tate's career doesn't pan out the way the O's want it too, they can switch him to pitcher and it will be a fairly easy switch. Baltimore doesn't currently have a large need for an outfielder right now (Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis) but with a team as bad as the Orioles, players come and go. It doesn't matter what position Tate plays, he'll be a future All-Star some day.
Tips are welcome!!!