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2005 Draft Report Cards: New York Yankees - San Diego
By Jim Callis
2005 Draft Report Cards:
NEW YORK YANKEES
Best Pro Debut: RHP Josh Schmidt (15) went 5-1, 0.27 with 13 saves and 47 strikeouts in 33 innings at short-season Staten Island. He added two more wins and a save as Staten Island won the New York-Penn League title. RHP Jim Conroy (19), a strike-thrower whose best pitch is his changeup, went 5-1, 2.04 with 67 whiffs in 66 NY-P innings.
Best Athlete: The Yankees signed two of the best athletes in the entire draft in SS C.J. Henry (1) and OF Austin Jackson (8), who otherwise would have played college basketball at Kansas and Georgia Tech. Jackson signed for an eighth-round record $800,000.
Best Pure Hitter: Jackson outhit Henry .304 to .249 in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but Henry rates a slight edged based on his performance in instructional league.
Best Raw Power: Unless the Yankees work out a deal with 1B Karl Amonite (11), who's out of college eligibility but recovering from a knee injury, they won't have signed a player whose best tool is power. Henry won a home run derby in instructional league and has 20-25 homer upside.
Fastest Runner: Henry and Jackson are fast, though not as fast as OF Brett Gardner (3). Gardner accelerates so quickly and gets from the left side of the plate to first base in 3.8-3.9 seconds.
Best Defensive Player: Gardner has tremendous range, good instincts and a playable arm in center field.
Best Fastball: Two elbow surgeries and his age (23) caused clubs to back off LHP Garrett Patterson (7), but he threw 90-96 mph this summer. RHP Alan Horne (11) pitched at 92-95 mph in instructional league.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP J. Brent Cox (2) throws a dastardly slider from a low-three-quarters arm angle.
Most Intriguing Background: For the second straight year the Yankees drafted LHP Clint Priesendorfer (32), whose father Rusty is a renowned surfboard shaper and the founder of Rusty Surfboards. 2B Chris Malec (16) beat testicular cancer while at UC Santa Barbara. Unsigned C Matt Wallach's (23) dad Tim made five all-star teams and won three Gold Gloves. Henry comes from a basketball family. His father Carl twice led Kansas in scoring and spent a season in the NBA, his mother Barbara also played for the Jayhawks and his younger brother Xavier is a top hoops prospect.
Closest To The Majors: Cox could be setting up games for Mariano Rivera as early as 2006.
Best Late-Round Pick: Horne, a first-round pick of the Indians in 2001 who had Tommy John surgery in 2003, signed late for $400,000. Schmidt uses the same arm angle Cox does and is tough on hitters with an 86-89 mph sinker. RHP Eric Wordekemper (46) threw 90-93 mph during the spring before coming down with elbow problems, but didn't require surgery.
The One Who Got Away: Projectable 6-foot-8 RHP Doug Fister (6) elected to return to Fresno State.
Assessment: First-year scouting director Damon Oppenheimer grabbed quality up-the-middle athletes and used the Yankees' wealth to take some later-round gambles, strategies New York curiously had avoided in recent drafts. Local media and fans howled when Oppenheimer selected Henry over St. John’s Craig Hansen at No. 17, but Cox should reach the majors nearly as quickly as Hansen did.
Best Pro Debut: OF Travis Buck (1) hit .361 at short-season Vancouver and .341 at low Class A Kane County. Vancouver's pitching staff featured several strong debuts. RHP Michael Madsen (21) went 6-1 with a Northwest League-best 1.69 ERA. Deceptive LHP Brad Kilby (29) went 2-0, 1.95 with 14 saves and 38 strikeouts in 28 innings, and his setup men were even more dominant. Hard-throwing RHP Jason Ray (8) had a 2.12 ERA and 56 whiffs in 30 innings, while finesse LHP Brad Davis (14) had a 0.52 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 35 frames.
Best Athlete: SS Cliff Pennington (1) is an ultimate gamer who also has very good tools. He can hit for average with gap power, and he has plus speed and arm strength. SS Justin Sellers (6) has a lot of the same traits.
Best Pure Hitter: Buck hits line drives all over the field and hangs in well against lefthanders. He homered just three times in his pro debut, but he has the potential for 20-25 annually if he gets stronger and looks to drive the ball more often.
Best Raw Power: C Anthony Recker (18) still needs to adjust to pro pitching, but he's very strong and is dangerous when he makes contact.
Fastest Runner: Pennington, Sellers and OF Mike Massaro (13) all have above-average speed. Pennington has exceptional instincts on the bases, and Sellers' are good.
Best Defensive Player: Pennington and Sellers have similar hands and range, but Pennington has the better arm. His rates a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, while Sellers' is closer to average.
Best Fastball: No draft prospect lit up radar guns as consistently as RHP Craig Italiano (2) did during the spring, when he threw in the mid-90s and touched 98 mph every time out. Fellow high school RHPs Jared Lansford (2), Vince Mazzaro (3) and Scott Deal (5) all can hit 93 or 94 mph. Ray threw 93-95 mph once he moved to the bullpen as a pro.
Best Breaking Ball: Ray has a hammer curveball. Italiano has improved his breaking ball from a slurve to a true slider, and if it keeps getting better, he could be another Brad Lidge.
Most Intriguing Background: Lansford's father Carney won an American League batting title in 1981 and a World Series with the A's in 1989. His uncles Phil and Joe were both first-round picks, and Joe also reached the majors. Sellers' father Jeff pitched in the big leagues. SS Zeke Parraz' (25) brother Jordan is an outfielder in the Astros system.
Closest To The Majors: Pennington has the skills and savvy to breeze through the minors. He could be Bobby Crosby's double-play partner in Oakland at some point in 2007.
Best Late-Round Pick: Madsen doesn't have overwhelming stuff but he wins with his 89-92 mph fastball and decent curve. He went 24-9 at Ohio State and started the Cape Cod League all-star game in 2004.
The One Who Got Away: 1B Justin Smoak's (16) power, switch-hitting ability and defensive polish would have made him a supplemental first-round pick if not for his $1 million asking price. He was the highest A’s pick to go unsigned.
Assessment: Known to prefer college players, the A's crossed teams up by taking six high school pitchers (the draft's riskiest demographic) in the first seven rounds. Oakland wanted to add some quality arms, and the prepsters were the best ones on their board.
Best Pro Debut: RHP Pat Overholt (22) went 2-3, 2.52 with five saves and 51 strikeouts in 34 innings at short-season Batavia. 3B Mike Costanzo (2), Philadelphia's top pick, batted just .184-1-9 in his first 28 games at Batavia, then finished with a .326-10-41 flourish over his final 45 contests. 2B Cooper Osteen's (31) .362-1-15 performance garnered him a spot on the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League all-star team.
Best Athlete: The Phillies say OF Jermaine Williams (7) resembles a young Andre Dawson. SS Derek Mitchell (23) earned all-state recognition in Michigan in baseball, football (as a quarterback) and basketball (as a guard). Costanzo and LHPs Matt Maloney (3) and Josh Outman (10) all starred as two-way players in college. 1B Mike Durant (4) has surprising athleticism for a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder.
Best Pure Hitter: Most of the position players Philadelphia took in early rounds are free swingers who are going to produce more for power than average. The best pure hitter is probably INF Clay Harris (9), who batted .311-2-40 at Batavia.
Best Raw Power: Durant has the most raw power, while Costanzo has the most current power. Williams and OFs Jeremy Slayden (8) and Steven Alexander (27) all have above-average pop.
Fastest Runner: OF Dennis Diaz (24), who set the Sun Belt Conference career steals record with 142 in four years at Florida International.
Best Defensive Player: Mitchell has the arm, hands and feet to be a good shortstop.
Best Fastball: Outman was throwing as hard as 93-94 mph after turning pro. Overholt, who had Tommy John surgery in 2004, touched 93 this summer.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP Brett Harker's (3) hard curveball is a plus pitch. Overholt will flash an above-average slider.
Most Intriguing Background: Scouts who saw Outman at St. Louis-Forest Park CC said he had the strangest mechanics they ever had seen, the product of biomechanical and kinetic research by his father, who published a book on the subject. Outman used to extend his left arm straight up, bend it to nearly touch his right shoulder and then throw the ball while taking a casual step toward the plate. He had success with his delivery, which is supposed to reduce stress on the arm, but after transferring to Central Missouri State in 2005, the staff there remade his arm action to enhance his chances of getting drafted. Mitchell's uncle Jerry won a Tony award in 2005 for choreographing "La Cage Aux Folles." Unsigned OF Tim Sherlock's (32) father Glenn is the Diamondbacks' bullpen coach.
Closest To The Majors: Maloney is a lefty who knows how to pitch. His best offering is his changeup, and he also has an 88-91 mph fastball.
Best Late-Round Pick: Outman, Overholt and Mitchell.
The One Who Got Away: All three players the Phillies couldn't sign among their top 20 picks are intriguing prospects. RHP Vance Worley (20) might have snuck into the supplemental first round if he hadn't come down with a sore elbow just before the draft. He didn't need surgery and ultimately decided to attend Long Beach State. LHP David Huff (19) was another potential early pick until his velocity tailed off late in the spring. It didn't bounce back in the Cape Cod League over the summer, and he transferred from Cypress (Calif.) JC to UCLA. OF Aja Barto (14) would have given Philadelphia another big athlete, but he went to Tulane.
Assessment: The Phillies lost their first-rounder as free-agent compensation, so their first pick didn't come until No. 65. They still came away with some interesting athletes and pitchers with savvy.
Best Pro Debut: OF Andrew McCutchen (1) hit .297-2-30 with 13 steals to rank as the top prospect in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, then batted .346 in a 13-game stint in the short-season New York-Penn League. 1B Steve Pearce (8) hit .301-7-52 and topped the NY-P with 26 doubles. RHP Matt Swanson (13) went 4-2, 1.61 with six saves and 30 strikeouts in 28 innings in the NY-P.
Best Athlete: The only thing McCutchen really lacks is size. Though he's 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, his hands and bat are so quick that he has average raw power. All of his other tools grade out as plus, and his makeup is off the charts as well. OF James Boone (3) and SS Brent Lillibridge (4) are very good athletes too.
Best Pure Hitter: McCutchen can catch up to good fastball and drills line drives to all fields. The Pirates think OF Brad Corley (2) will take off now that he's recovered from a thumb injury that marred his final season at Mississippi State. They also like Boone's swing, though he needs to cut down on his strikeouts (85 in 68 pro games).
Best Raw Power: It just might be McCutchen, who put on a batting-practice show during a workout at PNC Park. Boone and Corley are his biggest challengers.
Fastest Runner: A Florida state track champion as a relay runner, McCutchen posted a 6.35-second 60-yard dash in a showcase just before the draft. He stole 17 bases in 19 tries in his debut.
Best Defensive Player: McCutchen has the range and instincts to be a star center fielder. Boone is also good in center, and Lillibridge has plus range and arm strength at shortstop.
Best Fastball: RHP Jeff Sues (5) usually works at 92-93 mph, and the Pirates clocked him at 97 mph during the spring. RHP Justin Vaclavik (7) and Swanson both can hit 95 mph, while RHP Eric Krebs (16) showed 93-94 mph heat as a junior college reliever.
Best Breaking Ball: Sues backs up his fastball with a hard slider.
Most Intriguing Background: OF Juan Mesa's (23) father Jose is Pittsburgh's closer. OF Ryan Searage's (18) dad Ray pitched in the majors and is the pitching coach for the Pirates' low Class A Hickory affiliate. 3B Tony Mansolino's (26) father Doug is the Astros' third-base coach.
Closest To The Majors: McCutchen is very advanced for a high school player. Corley, Boone or Pearce could beat him to the big leagues if they get their bats going, and don't rule out Vaclavik as a setup man.
Best Late-Round Pick: Swanson was an unexpected surprise, regularly pitching with an 88-93 mph fastball and a good slider. Krebs was considered one of the better draft-and-follow prospects from 2004, but didn't get a deal done with the Royals.
The One Who Got Away: Jarred Bogany (15), a raw athlete with impressive tools, was part of a banner Texas high school outfield crop. Physically reminiscent of Milton Bradley, he's now at Louisiana State. The Pirates also missed out on 6-foot-4, 230-pound RHP Iain Sebastian (29), who shows a 92-94 mph fastball at times. He went to Georgia.
Assessment: Ownership mandated college picks in the first round in 2002-03, but for the second straight year scouting director Eddie Creech was allowed to pick a toolsy high schooler. With the system already deep in pitching, the Pirates concentrated on hitters in the draft, taking outfielders with their first three picks.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Best Pro Debut: OF Nick Stavinoha (7) immediately became one of the most feared hitters in the low Class A Midwest League, batting .344-14-53.
Best Athlete: OF Daryl Jones (3) had NCAA Division I-A football offers as a wide receiver, and he was thought to be a tough sign because he committed to Rice. But St. Louis got him for $450,000, the equivalent of second-round money. OF Colby Rasmus (1) isn't as fast as Jones, but he's a better hitter and another five-tool center fielder. And SS Tyler Greene (1) is a five-tool shortstop.
Best Pure Hitter: Rasmus, who hit .296-7-27 with 13 steals at Rookie-level Johnson City, has a higher ceiling than Stavinoha.
Best Raw Power: Stavinoha over Rasmus. Jones is just scratching the surface of his power potential, but both of his longballs at Johnson City were bombs.
Fastest Runner: Jones runs the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds, and OF Malcolm Owens (13) is just as quick. Rasmus and Greene are plus runners.
Best Defensive Player: Greene can be inconsistent, but he has the above-average arm and range to be a good shortstop. Rasmus has very good instincts in center field.
Best Fastball: RHP Mark McCormick (1) hit 98 mph during the spring and pitched at 91-96 mph through instructional league. RHP Nick Webber (2) has a 91-94 mph fastball that's more notable for its sink than its velocity. One scout compared its movement to a Wiffle ball's. RHPs Tyler Herron (1), Josh Wilson (2), Mitch Boggs (5), Jason Cairns (8) and Kenny Maiques (37) all have touched 94.
Best Breaking Ball: McCormick, Herron and LHP Jaime Garcia (22) all have good curveballs at times. Maiques has a hard slider when healthy.
Most Intriguing Background: OF Wilfrido Pujols (6) is the cousin of Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols. 1B A.J. Van Slyke's (23) father was a former Cardinals first-round pick and a big league all-star, and his brother Scott was a 15th-round pick of the Dodgers. Unsigned 2B Jesse Schoendienst's (40) great uncle Red is a Hall of Famer who played for and managed the Cardinals. Rasmus led Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) to the 2005 national title. LHP Josh Schwartz (42) won the final 37 decisions of his Rowan (N.J.) career, setting an NCAA record. Boggs played quarterback at Tennessee-Chattanooga and Stavinoha was a long snapper at Houston before both transferred to focus on baseball.
Closest To The Majors: Webber's sinker and his role as a reliever make him the frontrunner.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Cardinals thought they'd have to take Maiques in the supplemental first round until he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Garcia is a real sleeper, a former Mexican junior national team performer who had a 90-91 mph fastball and a nice curveball before he got out of shape.
The One Who Got Away: LHP Miers Quigley (19) had a 92-94 mph fastball before coming down with biceps tendinitis. He didn't bounce back enough for St. Louis to meet his asking price, so he's now at Alabama.
Assessment: After the Cardinals failed to sign a high school player in 2004, first-year scouting director Jeff Lunhow orchestrated a fine blend of collegians and prepsters, hitters and pitchers. The position players were especially welcome in a system with few who project as big league regulars.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Best Pro Debut: LHP Brent Carter (16) went 6-2, 1.71 with a 79-8 K-BB ratio in 84 innings, and he won both his starts in low Class A after beginning at short-season Eugene. RHP Neil Jamison (6) had eight saves, a 1.69 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 37 innings at the same two stops. LHP Geoff Vandel (34) went 1-1, 0.58 with a 43-6 K-BB ratio in 31 innings between the Rookie-level Arizona League and Eugene.
Best Athlete: OF Will Venable (7) was Princeton's basketball MVP the last two seasons. He has limited baseball experience, but if it all comes together he could be another Dave Justice. OF Josh Thomas-Dotson (49) was a linebacker at Oregon—which doesn't have a baseball program.
Best Pure Hitter: 3B Chase Headley (2) wowed the Padres in instructional league, piling up quality at-bats and showing pop from both sides of the plate. He has a great eye at the plate, allowing him to rank second in NCAA Division I in walks (63) and fourth in OBP (.530) at Tennessee during the spring.
Best Raw Power: 1B Casey Smith (9) can put on a batting-practice show to rival anyone, but making contact in game situations was a problem in his debut.
Fastest Runner: OF Mike Sansoe (18), who has plus-plus speed, is a step quicker than Venable.
Best Defensive Player: The Padres drafted C Nick Hundley (2) for his skills behind the plate. He has a strong arm, a quick release and good agility. He also offers some power at the plate, so he's not just a defensive specialist.
Best Fastball: RHP Cesar Carrillo (1) may weigh just 177 pounds, but he has a 90-96 mph fastball that he maintained all year and deep into games. He stands out in a Padres draft in which most of the pitchers were more notable for their command and offspeed stuff than their velocity.
Best Breaking Ball: Jamison's slider. Carrillo's curveball ranges from an average to a plus pitch.
Most Intriguing Background: Venable's father Max played in the majors and is now San Diego's low Class A hitting coach. Hundley's dad Tim is the co-defensive coordinator for Texas-El Paso’s football team. Unsigned OF Jeremy Shelby's (46) father John is an ex-big leaguer who coached first base for the Dodgers in 2005.
Closest To The Majors: After getting knocked around in high Class A, Carrillo finished his first pro summer by going 4-0, 3.23 in five Double-A starts. He could make his big league debut in 2006. LHP Cesar Ramos (1) is also very polished, throwing four pitches for strikes.
Best Late-Round Pick: Carter isn't overpowering, but he's a battler who does a fine job of locating his fastball and changeup. Vandel has a high-80s fastball with sneaky sink and an advanced changeup. OF Drew Davidson (22), the Big 10 Conference player of the year at Illinois in the spring, has decent all-around tools.
The One Who Got Away: The Padres made a six-figure offer to LHP Josh Romanski (15), but he didn't want to give up hitting. He'll play both ways at the University of San Diego.
Assessment: In Carrillo and Ramos, the Padres started their draft with two pitchers named Cesar who can help them quickly. Headley and Hundley could crack the big league lineup in the near future as well.