The 2009 Draft: Hopes, Fears, Expectations


Rumours abound today. Seattle's hold on Dustin Ackley at the #2 spot seems to have strengthened, mainly due to potential #2 Tyler Matzek going all crazy and coming out with an $7M+ signing bonus request. Matzek's not the only high schooler to be making surprising demands either, with Miller, Crow's also rumoured to be dropping low, but he's good enough that some team will pounce on him early, even if they're not linked to him.

With that in mind, here are my best, expected, and worst case scenarios (that aren't massively unrealistic) for our first and supplemental round picks this afternoon:

Hopes

#2: Dustin Ackley, CF (UNC)

#27: Kyle Gibson, RHP (Missouri)

#33: Nick Franklin, SS (Lake Brantley High School, Florida)

Drafting Ackley is a no brainer. Gibson relies on his forearm injury spooking clubs enough for him to fall to #27, and taking him gives us one of the top college pitchers in the draft, one who could feasibly be ready for the major leagues by 2011. Unfortunately, he's probably gone by the time we make that pick. As for his injury - no, I'm not too bothered. Soft tissue damage is what's scary in a pitcher. A forearm stress fracture is nothing to be sneezed at, of course, but he should be healthy and throwing at full strength come August and as long as he doesn't get abused like he did in Missouri I don't see it as a huge problem. At #33, we overdraft Nick Franklin by a round or so. Franklin, who could potentially be a switch hitting shortstop with a clue at the plate gets taken instead of Baron here because Gibson probably commands less money than Purke/Scheppers, etc. At least, that's the hope.

Fears

#2: Aaron Crow, RHP (Fort Worth Cats)

#27: Tanner Scheppers, RHP (St. Pauli Saints)

#33: Brett Jackson, CF (California)

We're not locks for Ackley. Other names I've heard associated with #2 are Tyler Matzek and Aaron Crow, and if we pass on Ackley it would be for signability reasons, which takes Matzek out of that race. Would Crow, one of the best pitchers available today, be a bad guy to have in the system? Of course not. But I don't think I could forgive this team for passing on Dustin Ackley. If that pick gets announced, it's 50/50 that I just kill myself. Scheppers could drop to #27, and unlike Crow he is a guy I don't want anywhere near my system. If you'll scroll up a little to where I talk about Gibson's injury, you'll see that soft tissue injury is what scares me. And the scariest soft tissue injury? Shoulder problems! His stuff is great, but drafting Tanner Scheppers is just asking for trouble. Brett Jackson at #33 (using the money saved by taking Crow over Ackley) partially redeems the draft by giving us a plus plus centrefielder with huge pop, but unlike our friend Dustin Ackley he's not good at making contact and doesn't have a great grasp of the strike zone. This would be a massively disappointing draft, considering our situation.

Expectations

#2: Dustin Ackley, CF (UNC)

#27: Tanner Scheppers, RHP (St. Pauli Saints)

#33: Stephen Baron, C (Ferguson HS, Florida)

I've spoken about Ackley and Scheppers (who I put here simply instead of Paxton or Purke, who are both viable targets, simply as a sop to my rampant pessimism) already, so let's talk about why the Mariners take Baron, a massive overdraft, in the #33 spot. Basically, it's to be able to afford Scheppers. Each team has a finite amount of money that they can spend over the 50 rounds of the draft. Obviously, signing bonuses will be concentrated at the top, but mid-late round picks aren't exactly free. So if you go over slot somewhere you have to cut back elsewhere. Baron, on talent alone, is a third rounder, but the Mariners love their defensive catchers and are willing to draft him in the supplemental round for well-below slot money in order to go over slot at #27. His bat has questions, but Dave Cameron told me to think of a Pitcher/Baron package as trading the #27 and #33 for the #10 and #70 slots in the draft, and that seems reasonable. So yeah, this is how I'd still expect things to play out this afternoon. Hopefully Scheppers is off the board by #27 though.

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