On Friday, I began reviewing the 2008 Padres Draft. This is a closer look at the remaining first day draftees and some choice selections from the second day of selections.
#42 – Jaff Decker, OF/P, Sunrise Mountain HS (AZ):
Despite Decker’s plus power, a lot of teams scouted him as a P as he throws a 93 MPH fastball with a good curve. I’ve seen comparisons from Matt Stairs to Brian Giles although he looks like the lovechild between Joba Chamberlain, Paul McAnulty, and the Little League World Series version of Sean Burroughs. That’s to say he’s got a live arm, good offensive approach, and well, he’s kinda short and stocky. The kid has a plus arm, great defensive instincts, and had 14 HR in 72 AB last season. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not crazy about this pick. Yes, he’s incredibly talented and is much more athletic than he appears, but his projections at the next level will have to be near the most optimistic end of the spectrum to possibly justify going after him at this spot.
Dacker confirmed that early next week he’s crossing the T’s and dotting the lower-case J’s on the nearly $890k contract that will put him in a Padres jersey next season.
#46 – Logan Forsythe, 3B, U Arkansas Fayetteville:
One of the great things about Forsythe is his versatility. Not only is he seen as a good defensive 3B, but DePodesta indicated that he’s played all over the diamond for Team U.S.A.:
Logan is a 3B for the University of Arkansas, though he played all around the diamond for Team USA last summer (he has also caught in the past).
Known for incredible makeup, Logan has been a coach and fan favorite. He played the entire summer for Team USA with a broken foot and refused to come out of games. Furthermore, he continually showed his best performances against the best competition and in the biggest moments.
In short, we think this is a very well-rounded player with great intangibles.
Now, I’m not so sure that drafting a guy with amazing versatility and then bragging about him playing on a broken foot is a way to win over many critics, but DePodesta obviously has different values than I do. I guess that’s just a way of saying he’s a “gamer.” And he isn’t the only person who believes that Forsythe could be an impact player behind the dish. Keith Law, while down on the rest of our draft, seemed to have nothing but good things to say about him:
[The Padres] got a potential sleeper in Logan Forsythe, who is a much better hitter than his overall stat line indicates and is a potential convert to catcher (he’s caught some before, and one team that worked him out as a catcher predraft said he was a natural fit there).
I don’t know what Law is referring to when it comes to implying that he’s a better hitter than his stats indicate, but a .353/.479/.533 line is impressive nonetheless. What impresses me is how creative the Padres have become when drafting catchers. Prior to the Ramon Hernandez acquisition, San Diego had a dark period when it came to backstops. Since, we have experienced a rather bright period and a lot to look forward to with Mitch Canham, Nick Hundley, and Colt Morton. One of the major similarities between these players is they weren’t necessarily full-time backstops. Plus they have the athletic ability to play elsewhere, allowing additional versatility.
To bring in a player like Forsythe, who has the potential to be as good, if not better, than some of our most recent catching draft picks is a thrilling prospect.
#111 – Sawyer Carroll, OF, U of Kentucky:
Carroll’s 2008 was a monstrous season; it speaks for itself, really:
|AVG||AB||R||H||2b||3B||HR||RBI||TB||SLG||BB||SO||OBP||SB – Attempts|
|.419||234||69||98||22||3||19||83||183||.782||44||33||.514||12 – 12|
Carroll was just named to his fourth consecutive first-team All-American selection and ranked among one of the best in the SEC across the board offensively:
Carroll led the SEC with a .419 average and 83 RBI, ranking second in slugging (.782), second in on-base percentage (.514), fifth in runs scored (69), third in hits (98), second in doubles (22), fifth in home runs (19), second in total bases (183) and sixth in walks (44). Carroll, a senior from Henryetta, Okla., exited UK as a third-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, walking away as the career record-holder in batting average (.386).
I find it hard to believe that Carroll was overlooked because he was a senior, but I really can’t come up with any other reason as to how somebody who absolutely dominated SEC play for four seasons drops to the third round and nobody takes a chance.
A little deeper digging, however, reveals that there might be some merit to his modest draft position. Carroll wasn’t necessarily a power hitter prior to this season. As DePodesta chronicles in his blog, Carroll hit the gym, packed on some serious muscle, and saw his HR total jump from 3 to 19. Perhaps many believed that this season’s power surge was an anomaly, but DePodesta and company are willing to take the chance. Can’t say I blame them provided the potential outcome of Carroll replicating these results in Petco Park someday.
#135 – Jason Kipnis, CF, Arizona State U:
Despite DePodesta’s evidence to the contrary, Jason Kipnis is not destined to be a CF.
Jason has played both CF and LF for ASU, though he has become the primary CF as the season has continued. He is a left-handed hitter who hits at the top of their lineup and has had a monster year, hitting .363 with a .484 obp and .677 slg. He’s a pesky player who is a very tough out, hitting the ball to all fields and running the bases aggressively (24 bases so far this year). Over the summer last year, Jason hit .318 with a .505 obp and a .591 slg while stealing 24 bases. Despite a limited projection in terms of physical size, he plays very hard and is surprisingly strong – 13 homers this year and 9 over the summer.
The summer statistics that DePodesta references are from his time in the wood-bat Valley League last season, where Kipnis was not only named an All-Star, but also won the Home Run Derby. Sure, he was a contestant despite having only 2 HR at the break compared to his 29 walks and competed under the pseudonym “Kevin Bishop,” but he still won, dammit.
True, he has the ability to hit for average, great patience at the plate, suitable power, solid base running abilities, and the range to be a CF. It’s just that damned arm. Kipnis, a former red-shirt freshman for Kentucky U, was originally slated to play SS before being dismissed from the team due to rules violations. He eventually transferred to ASU, moved to the OF, and was a bookend in a lineup that featured offensive juggernauts Ike Davis and Brett Wallace (both first-rounders). Granted, the last thing this club wants is a malcontent, noodle-armed CF (Milton Bradley meets Dave Roberts?), but he’d likely be well-suited to fill out LF in Petco Park.
Kipnis caught on quickly as the new player at ASU, and ranked right with power hitters Brett Wallace and Ike Davis as key contributors as the Sun Devils raced out to a fast start to 2008. A smooth, lefthanded swinger, he was hitting .350-12-61 with 21 stolen bases as the team entered the final week of regular season play. His aggressive style of play, speed and occasional pop made an impression on Arizona-based scouts, but he didn’t show enough raw speed to profile as a fixture in center field or raw power to play regularly on a corner. His arm is best suited for left field. Kipnis is a draft-eligible sophomore who is not physically developed, and another year in school could significantly improve his standing in the draft. There is a prevailing thought among scouts that he could even re-invent himself as an offensive-oriented second baseman with another year in school.
We’ll see how he turns out, but the good money is on Kipnis being a capable but comparatively light-hitting LF, or an offense-minded 2B.
#165 – Anthony Bass, RHP, Wayne St. U:
Thank your local area scout, Anthony Bass. If it weren’t for Padres’ scout Jeff Stewart, you would likely be a second day draft pick. As Bass recounts to his school paper, The South Ends News:
“All of a sudden I got a phone call. I didn’t recognize the number,” Bass said.
It was from Jeff Stewart, the Padres area scout, congratulating Bass on being the 165th selection of this year’s draft. It wasn’t strange that the call came from Stewart, but it was ironic in the fact that Stewart had informed Bass’ advisor that the Padres didn’t consider him a top-10 round draft pick.
“My advisor told me that he got a phone call from Stewart, and he was so upset because his organization didn’t look at his guys as being top-10 round draft picks, when I was on his list as one of those guys,” Bass described. “In other words, they weren’t really looking at me. So my advisor crossed them off the list.”
But a change of heart could be a major gain. Bass, who throws in the 93-94 MPH range, has touched 96 MPH and is expected to crank it up there permanently with proper training at the next step. There are even some that see him as a Division-II Tim Lincecum:
Bass reminds scouts of a Division II-version of San Francisco Giants pitching sensation Tim Lincecum, with a full back-arched delivery, overhand release point and head-jerk on release. While Bass’ raw stuff isn’t quite in Lincecum’s class, few other pitchers are either. Bass does maintain a 90-94 mph fastball, though, and there are reports he’s been as high as 96 mph this spring.
He’s a little rough around the edges, but he has the raw talent to work with. Besides that, he’s the complete antithesis to the type of pitchers the front office has been working with recently, and will help improve balance in the team’s system.
GANG OF FOUR (OR SIX)
Prior to the draft, a lot of websites speculated that Reese Havens – who ended up going to the Mets – was at the top of the Padres’ draft board. Keith Law suspected this was because the Padres were looking at him as our next SS. I find that hard to believe seeing as every other blog thinks he’s best suited for a corner IF or 2B due to his lack of range.
That being said, it brings up a good question: are the Padres not so enamored with the idea of Khalil Greene as a long-term fixture at SS? Despite Havens going to the Mets with the 22nd pick, the Padres still managed to draft four SS. Six, if you take stock in DePodesta’s projections. Either way, the general focus at the position revolved around plate discipline and hitting to contact. So, if you’re a betting man, I’d wager against Greene having as much leverage with this organization as he did the past offseason when contract talks heat up again after his 2009 campaign.
Here are a couple of the more note-worthy selections at SS.
#255 – William Weems, SS, Baylor U:
A slick fielder, Beamer is known as one of the best defensive shortstops in this draft with great hands, a plus arm, and above average range.
Sounds familiar, huh? Well, it should because it kind of resembles our current…
Offensively, he’s a switch-hitter who is more of a contact hitter who does a good job of controlling the strike zone.
Patience, an ability to hit for average, and defense?! Be still, my heart. However, this may be a case of our crack squad of scouts betting on Weems’ high-end projections while biting off a little more than they can chew. Early spring reactions read similar across the board – high praise for defense, major questions with the bat:
[Weems] was much better as a switch-hitter, especially from the left side. He also got to a lot more balls in the field and had one of the best range factors among league shortstops. But Weems still continued to try to make major league highlight plays when he had little or no chance of throwing out a runner, often at the expense of messing up some more routine plays. He’s viewed by scouts as an above-average shortstop in all phases, however. The key with Weems will be how far his bat takes him. He hit .321-9-59 as a sophomore at Baylor and has shown power with aluminum (17 homers in two years) that he has never shown with wood in summer ball (no homers in two years).
After his junior campaign, however, those questions still exist as his .270-7-30 line didn’t inspire much confidence. Pending a painstakingly careful examination of his reaction to a slider low-and-away I’ll reserve further judgment, but the optimist in me believes that Willy Weems (hehe) could be the ideal SS for Petco Park.
#525 – Derek Shunk, SS, Villanova U:
A big, physical SS at 6’2″ and 215 lbs, Derek just finished a stellar college career that saw him hit over .300 in each of his four seasons including over .350 in each of the past two.
His .349 AVG, .467 OBP, and .539 SLG all led the Villanova Wildcats. Just as his .933 FLD% was the team worst (for players qualifying with 100+ TC). Shunk is more of a doubles-hitter, and benefits from a patient approach with gap power more than the long ball. Essentially, his game is the polar opposite of Greene’s.
THE LONG SHOT
There’s always that one guy drafted in the middle of the second day who the front office will woo with more money than their draft slot would regularly dictate. Generally there are issues regarding health or signability that drive their value down, but in other years would yield a higher draft slot. Such is the example of these few players:
#465 – Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Buhach Colony HS (CA):
Simple issue: signability. Sure, Mooneyham signed with Scott Boras, the biggest asshat of all agents, but the real reason he tumbled down the draft board was because he has already committed to Stanford. Not only was he ranked #78 in Baseball America’s 2008 Top 200 Draft Prospects*, he’s also an incredibly gifted student and many believed that this combination of athletic talent and intellect would be worth the risk of a high second or third round pick. Some sites even said that a Top 10-15 pick wasn’t out of the question given his talent. As for DePodesta’s take:
Brett is 6’5″, 215 lbs, throws up to 94 mph and has a plus curveball. Furthermore, Brett’s dad, Bill, was a first round pick in 1980. Sounds pretty good, huh? That’s why Baseball America rates him as one of top 100 prospects in the draft, and many people believe that he is the best left-handed high school pitcher in the country. At this point, though, Brett is planning to attend Stanford in the fall.
Geez – no need to play your poker face, Paul…
There are hopes that the Padres drop a ton of cash in his lap and he bypasses Stanford altogether, but the outlook is bleak given how much further he could progress up the draft board in the next three season — a fact that he’s well aware of:
“It would have to be something really, really special,” Mooneyham said of the Padres’ offer. “Going to Stanford only comes around once and not a lot of people get that chance.
“I’m going to take my time and think about it. To pass that up would have to take a lot.”
So, as of now, it looks to be a dead issue. However, there’s still the possibility that the Padres could offer him a monster contract or get creative, and it wouldn’t be the first time a team played smart with a potential Stanford Cardinal. The Washington Nationals and Jack McGeary have an interesting contractual understanding where McGeary is Nationals’ property, but still attends Stanford for academic purposes. Under MLB and (I’m assuming) NCAA guidelines McGeary can’t use Stanford facilities or be in any way affiliated with Stanford athletics, yet he is permitted to join the Nationals’ minor league ball clubs starting in June of each year. Granted, this is a unique situation in which McGeary is more of a contractual test subject than anything else at this point, but the team was able to make concessions.
Do I expect this to happen? Probably not. But it’s still worth hoping that a player with his sort of credentials ends up in a Padres’ uniform. Plus, if my gut feeling is correct and the Padres cut ties with Khalil Greene, who better to replace his SoCal, surfer looks?
*For comparison’s sake, first day draft picks Allan Dykstra (#38), James Darnell (#58), Jaff Decker (#62), Logan Forsythe (#76), and Blake Tekotte (#85) are the only other players San Diego drafted in the Top 200.
#675 – Chris Wilkes, RHP, Dr. Phillips HS (FL):
Despite going to a high school with the weirdest name ever, Wilkes has a decent fastball (low-to-mid 90’s) with adequate handling of his change-up and curveball. Unfortunately, Wilkes already has a scholarship on the table from Ole Miss this fall–as their QB. Don’t know why you’d draft a guy who’s unpolished even as a high school pitcher and who already has a scholarship to a major university in another sport. But it’s not like I have the front office experience to make a case against this pick.
Here’s to hoping he can be the Padres’ very own Darrin Erstad (I don’t really mean that).
#705 – Nick Conaway, RHP, (No School):
Out of the 16 RHP selected by the Padres, Conaway was second to last. Yet, most every write-up would have you second-guessing the draft board:
Nich was the closer for U Oklahoma last spring during which he had a dominant season. His fastball has reached 97 mph, and he compliments it with a power curveball…his big fastball and 85 k’s in 63 innings last year enticed our scouts to keep in touch with him this spring.
What’s more – he posted a 12.08 K/9 and .209 BAA to lead the Big 12. Fantastic! Draft him high and sign him up! However, that’s where you’d be wrong. Conaway, as you can obviously see, didn’t list a school last season and those stats are from 2007. The reason they aren’t updated is because he didn’t play this year. Following his strong showing with Oklahoma in 2007, Conaway underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last fall, dropped out of college (although he was planning to transfer to another school), and missed his 2008 season.
Although he has has overpowering stuff at times, his stat line wasn’t the most glamorous. In fact, a closer who posts a 3-3 record, 2 SV, and a 4.83 ERA is downright ugly. Yet, the potential upside yielded a low-risk pick in Round #23.
Bear with me…Part III is due Wednesday and should be short-winded in comparison.