Picking up where we left off yesterday:
Round 8: Kenneth McDowall, RHP, College of Southern Nevada
McDowall lucked out this year. In other years, he’d be lucky to get drafted as high as he did through no fault of his own. But since his junior college also happened to feature a little someone named Bryce Harper, CSN was one of the most heavily scouted schools over the past year, resulting in seven Coyotes being drafted. McDowall was the third off the board. Another sinkerballer, I may like him more than Jeff Walters. The raw stuff isn’t quite as good—his velocity is really 87-92—but the delivery is a little cleaner, he repeats well, and he doesn’t commit any obvious errors when working through his mechanics. He is falling off a little toward the first base side, and the arm action is a little long at the bottom, but that’s it. Here’s the problem: if there’s that little overtly wrong, why isn’t he better? He just hasn’t found any consistency yet, and with so little to correct, it makes you wonder whether he can get better. His 72-76 curve is soft, and you can see his mid-80s changeup coming. Neither pitch is average in my eyes. And due to his three-quarters arm slot, I’m not sure I see him improving either pitch. You could try raising his arm slot, but he might not get as much sink. He’s a little more pro-ready than Walters, but there’s less upside, and I think his best hope is as a relief arm. I went with Florida State outfielder Tyler Holt in my shadow draft. Holt brings speed and a patient approach at the plate but is strikeout prone, which may prevent him from becoming an effective leadoff man.
Round 9: Jake deGrom, RHP, Stetson
Jake deGrom is probably the biggest wild card in the first ten rounds of the Mets’ draft. DeGrom spent his first two years at Stetson as the Hatters’ (no joke) shortstop and didn’t convert to pitching until this season. He began as Stetson’s closer and eventually pitched his way into the team’s rotation. The Mets may be hoping for a little bit more projection from his 6-4, 185 pound frame, but they shouldn’t count on it. And he may not need it. He was allegedly touching 94 at the end of the season, so he has the velocity to survive in the pros. And for a first-year pitcher, his control was outstanding, walking just 16 hitters in 82.1 innings. I haven’t seen his delivery, but the reports I’ve seen are positive. The catch? Well, I’m at least a little bit worried about his low strikeout rate, and it probably says a lot about the current state of his slider, which can flash above average at times. The changeup is a non-factor right now. He’s certainly a project, but I like the idea of him more and more the more I think about this pick. Development time is an issue; he’s a raw college pitcher with just one year of pitching experience, so he might take years to develop. And considering he’ll be 22 in a couple days, he doesn’t have as much time as a prep arm. Using him as a reliever will speed things along, but he has more upside as a starter. I initially wanted to go with Missouri-Columbia first baseman Aaron Senne, a solid hitter with a track record of production, and I’ll stick to that.
Round 10: Akeel Morris, RHP, Charlotte Amalie H.S. (VI)
The only high school player taken by the Mets in the first ten rounds—actually, the first twenty rounds—Morris actually has some upside. Short and lanky, he’s just six-one, 170 pounds, and I don’t think he even looks that heavy. He does have a little projection left, but as a shorter guy, I wouldn’t expect too much more. According to Baseball America, he’s been clocked regularly at 87-89, touching 91, but a Virgin Islands newspaper mentioned him as touching 94, which jibes with MLB’s scouting video. He has a violent delivery that ends with him falling dramatically toward the first base side. He really has a rear-back-and-chuck-it type of delivery, and it will require some toning down. As is, I could see him having shoulder issues in the future, and his command looks pretty dreadful in its current format. In terms of polish, he’s very, very raw, not unexpected from a kid from the Virgin Islands. He throws a soft curve that has break, but he has no idea how to control the pitch, and it could use tightening and more velocity besides. I doubt the changeup is in his repertoire. There’s a lot of potential here, but he’ll need time, which he has, being one of the youngest players in the draft—he won’t turn 18 until November. The tenth round is the last round I draft in my shadow, and while I was looking at a couple college arms, I’ll follow the Mets’ lead here and select Morris.
Round 11: Adam Kolarek, LHP, Maryland
Kolarek’s a lefty with a good build for pitching, above average velocity (89-91 with his fastball), and a loose delivery. That’s pretty much the extent of what he has going for him, however. In 35 innings this spring, Kolarek walked 21, struck out 34, and posted a 6.06 ERA. Supposedly a short time in Maryland’s rotation inflated his numbers—he’s a reliever through and through at this point—but his stats from prior seasons aren’t much better. In 75.1 innings as a freshman and sophomore, Kolarek struck out 55 and walked 42, giving up four home runs. Mechanically, he has some problems. He understrides and lands stiffly, has trouble finding him arm slot, has a long arm action (although he mitigates this by pronating early) with an arm grab, and his glove appears to be interfering with his follow-through. His secondary stuff is all sub-par, and he seems to have difficulty snapping off the curve. I don’t see much to like here, but lefties have a way of surviving.
Round 12: Bret Mitchell, RHP, Minnesota State
Mitchell came to Minnesota State after two years in an Iowa community college, and he pitched pretty well in his first taste of Division II baseball. Standing 6-2, 185 pounds, Mitchell has fringe-average velocity, throwing 88-92. He combines that with pretty good control (he only walked 33 in 94 innings) and a promising curve ball (he struck out 104 batters). He still didn’t quite dominate against mediocre competition, as he posted the highest ERA and opponents’ batting average among starters on his team. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to see him pitch, so I have little else to offer other than that. Still, he looks like an intriguing bullpen option down the road.
Round 13: Brian Harrison, 3B, Furman
This is a pick that excites me a little. Harrison was a well-regarded shortstop prospect in high school but has battled injuries throughout his college career as a third baseman. As a freshman, he had his most disappointing season, batting just .270, but he was battling wrist problems all season long. He came back the next season and played stronger, batting .303/.403/.582: still disappointing, but showing a little bit of patience and some nice power. Unfortunately, he had shoulder surgery almost immediately after starting play in the Cape Cod League, and it delayed his start this season. And after he exploded, batting .367/.462/.734 and 20 extra-base hits in the first 109 at-bats of his junior campaign, he broke his hand. He’s got a broad skillset, equipped with good hands, solid-average footspeed, and a good arm, so he has the potential to be a plus defender at third. At the plate, he has power and some patience, but I do question his contact ability. The good news is that his strikeout rate was never terrible, and he did improve his ability to hit for average substantially as he went along, so I’m guardedly optimistic for his future. Selecting Harrison was a smart decision, and there’s potential for real value here, provided he can stay healthy.
Round 14: J.B. Brown, 2B, Pacific
There’s little doubt in my mind that J.B. Brown can hit for average. Last year, he hit .378. This year, .376. The first problem is that he’s mostly limited as an offensive player to just how well he can hit for average. He lacks big-time power, and he seems to be allergic to walks. He’s drawn just 28 unintentional walks in 628 plate appearances, an anemic rate. A hitter who’s able to slash the ball into gaps is a useful player, however, even without patience, provided he can stick in the middle infield. Which brings us to problem number two. Brown doesn’t have a lot of speed and at 220 pounds would be a bit large for second at the major league level. His bat won’t have the same appeal in the outfield.
Round 15: Tillman Pugh, OF, Sonoma State
Pugh has tons of natural athleticism, and you don’t have to look hard on YouTube to find a pair of amazing catches he made in the outfield. The problem is that he’s exceptionally raw for a college outfielder. He only got a couple of plate appearances for Arizona State and transferred to a community college in 2009 for more playing time. There, he hit .333/.409/.442 with 21 steals. He has exceptional speed, which will translate well on the basepaths and in center. But he was a little strikeout prone, swinging-and-missing in a quarter of his at-bats. He then transferred to Sonoma State, a good Division II school that is often a target for Division I players who are trying to get noticed. Pugh was ruled academically ineligible, however, and redshirted, so he’s really only played one full season of juco ball. There’s not a whole lot of power here, and he needs a ton of refinement at the plate, so right now I’m having trouble envisioning him as anything more than a fifth outfielder.
That’s it for today, but tune in next time when I’ll look at the highlights over the next 35 rounds and give my final thoughts on the 2010 draft class.