Minor League Transactions: Dec. 13-23
Please see Trade Central for more on the prospects involved in December trades, and please see my Twitter timeline for more on some of the players referenced in this installment. […]
AL Draft Reports
By Josh Boyd
ANAHEIM ANGELS Scouting Director
Scouting Director: Donny Rowland
Players who have reached the major leagues: None. RHPs Chris Bootcheck (1) and Matt Hensley (10) are in Triple-A.
First pick: LHP Joe Torres (1). Torres came out of the gate dominating the short-season Northwest League with low-90s heat, but he hasn't approached that territory since.
Best-late round pick: Drafted in the 21st round, RHP Rich Fischer has emerged as one of the system's best young pitchers. Area scout Tim Corcoran scouted Fischer as a shortstop at San Bernardino (Calif.) Valley JC, and made the suggestion to draft him as a pitcher. Fischer finished second in the minors in strikeouts last year and profiles as a middle of the rotation starter.
Biggest disappointment: Torres could end up being a first-round flop, but because he's still just 20 years old it's too early to give up on the lefty. His velocity has been down in the mid-80s since last year, and the Angels haven't figured out a way to get back to the low-90s, where his fastball resided in his draft year.
The ones who got away: SS Aaron Hill (7) went to LSU and should be drafted in the middle of the first round this year. OF David Murphy (50) has hit around .400 all year for Baylor and could go late in the first round.
Interesting developments since 2000: RHP Bobby Jenks (5) had a first-round arm, but concerns about his background scared off most teams before they bothered researching further. Jenks has experienced his share of ups and downs as a pro, but his pure power stuff rates among the best in the minors.
Grade/Assessment: Even if Torres flames out, Rowland's first effort as scouting director should be productive. His second first-rounder that year, Bootcheck is on the cusp of breaking into the Angels rotation, and Jenks and Fischer are in Double-A. Plus, the Angels used 2B Johnny Raburn (16) as part of a deal to get Alex Ochoa last year.
Depth: C+. Impact: C+.
Scouting Director: Tony DeMacio
Players who have reached the major leagues: None. 1B Doug Gredvig (5) is the closest at Double-A Bowie.
First pick: RHP Beau Hale (1). After signing too late to play in 2000, he went 12-15, 4.32 with a .289 average against in 272 innings in 2001-2002.
Best late-round pick: LHP Kurt Birkins (33). The Orioles took a flyer on the former UCLA pitcher and were rewarded when he emerged as a top prospect at Los Angeles Pierce JC. He's gone 15-9, 3.24 since signing as a draft-and-follow in 2001.
Biggest disappointment: Hale has never shown the plus velocity he did during his college career at Texas and has battled repeated injuries. After toiling between Class A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, his 2003 campaign ended with the news of shoulder surgery.
The ones who got away: You can give the Orioles credit for identifying the talent, but their failure to sign RHPs Jon Skaggs (4), Kyle Sleeth (18), Tim Stauffer (36) and Josh Banks (21), and LHP Fraser Dizard (21) has cost them dearly. Skaggs was a first round pick a year later, while Sleeth and Stauffer could be two of the top two picks in this year's draft. The Orioles' $350,000 offer to Sleeth came within $50,000 of swaying him away from Wake Forest.
Interesting developments since 2000: See above.
Grade/Assessment: The Oriole signed only 19 players in 2000, and another two draft-and-follows in 2001. But it's who they didn't sign that has come back to haunt them. Hale's injury and a lack of production from the top 10 rounds leaves little to get excited about from this class, though 3B Tripper Johnson (1) has developed into one of the more promising bats in the system.
Depth: F. Impact: D.
BOSTON RED SOX
Scouting Director: Wayne Britton (now a pro scout for the Yankees)
Players who have reached the major leagues: 2B/SS Freddy Sanchez (11) made his major league debut last September.
First pick: LHP Phil Dumatrait's (1) draft stock soared as his velocity jumped from the low 80s to the low 90s after he went undrafted a year earlier. Some clubs thought he was too raw for a first-rounder, but he rates as the best pitching prospect in the system now.
Best late-round pick: Sanchez has hit more than .300 at every full-season level since 2000, but he's blocked in Boston by Todd Walker.
Biggest disappointment: 1B Matt Cooper (3) was considered the best pure hitter with the best raw power in the Red Sox' class at the time of the draft. He hasn't gotten out of low Class A and brought a .238 average into this year.
The ones who got away: C Javi Herrera (42) headed to Tennessee and comes out this year as one of the top catching prospects in the college ranks. They also lost OF Chris Duffy (43), now a Pirates prospect.
Interesting developments since 2000: C Brian Esposito (5) was converted to a reliever this spring after hitting .210 in 718 career at-bats.
Grade/Assessment: Britton's preferred first-round choice was Texas prep slugger Jason Stokes, but his $2.5 million asking price led to a more cost-conscious pick, as the Red Sox signed Dumatrait for $1.275 million instead. In addition to Dumatrait and RHP Manny Delcarmen (2), late-round picks Sanchez and RHP Josh Thigpen (16), plus a trio of draft-and-follows--LHP Kason Gabbard, C Dustin Brown and 1B/3B Brett Bonvechio--make this an above-average draft, and certainly much better than it initially looked.
Depth: B. Impact: B.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Scouting Director: Duane Shaffer (now senior director of player personnel)
Players who have reached the major leagues: OF Joe Borchard (1).
First pick: Borchard. The White Sox gave the former Stanford quarterback a record $5.3 million bonus as the 12th overall pick. He has as much raw power as any prospect, and showed it by homering in his first major league at-bat last year.
Best late-round pick: LHP Heath Phillips (10). A draft-and-follow signed in 2001, Phillips has posted an 8-23 record in two seasons but has drawn comparisons to Mark Buehrle for his approach.
Biggest disappointment: RHP Alvin Jones (4). Drafted out of a Texas high school, Jones is 1-6, 8.39 with 84 walks in 84 career innings.
The one who got away: C Tony Richie (5) had first-round aspirations in 2000, so when he fell to the fifth round he headed for Florida State. He is projected to go in the second or third round this time around. 3B Kyle Boyer (24) and RHP Tom Gorzelanny (38) could be drafted even higher than Richie.
Interesting developments since 2000: Doug Laumann took over for Shaffer as scouting director after this draft when Shaffer was promoted.
Grade/Assessment: Beyond Borchard, it doesn't look like the White will get an everyday player out of this draft. Because he has the power to be a middle-of-the-order run producer, Borchard alone could save this draft. 2B Tim Hummel (2), whom the White Sox were projecting in the Jeff Kent mold, hasn't lived up to expectations and might fit better in a utility role.
Depth: D. Impact: B.
Scouting Director: John Mirabelli
Players who have reached the major leagues: LHP Brian Tallet (2) went 1-0, 1.50 in two September starts last year and should figure into future rotation plans.
First pick: 3B Corey Smith (1) soared to the top of the Indians prospect list after hitting .260-18-85 in 2001. He faded to No. 11 heading into this season, but is still considered a high-ceiling prospect with power potential.
Best late-round pick: OF Ryan Church (14) hasn't stopped hitting (.294 career) since he earned MVP honors in the short-season New York-Penn League during his pro debut. 1B Eric Crozier (41) has also developed into an interesting prospect.
Biggest disappointment: OF Mark Folsom (2) was considered the best power hitter in the Indians' draft class, but he hasn't hit much as a pro. He struck out 120 times in 311 at-bats last year in low Class A Columbus.
The one who got away: 3B Conor Jackson (31) succeeded Xavier Nady as California's third baseman and is expected to be drafted by the end of supplemental first round this year.
Interesting developments since 2000: LHP Derek Thompson (1) missed most of 2001 with a knee injury but pitched well in two Class A leagues last year, leading the Dodgers to acquire him in the major league Rule 5 draft. Thompson blew out his elbow in spring training, however, and will miss the year recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Grade/Assessment: Losing Thompson without any compensation will hurt this class, and it will ultimately be judged by Smith's impact.
Depth: C. Impact: C+.
Scouting Director: Greg Smith
Players who have reached the major leagues: None.
First pick: RHP Matt Wheatland (1) drew comparisons to a young Kevin Brown in high school, but the San Diego high school product has been limited by shoulder injuries to 69 pro innings.
Best late-round pick: RHP Jeremy Johnson (11) has racked up wins and moved up the ladder under the prospect radar. Equipped with average stuff and a good feel for pitching, he is 26-7, 3.72 after going 13-1 between three levels last season.
Biggest disappointment: Wheatland's career has been ravaged with injuries. He's not looking much better this year, either, after missing all of last season.
The one who got away: RHP Ryan Schroyer (16). A starter-turned-closer at Arizona State, Schroyer is a max-effort, arm-strength pitcher who will attract interest in the top five or six rounds in 2003.
Interesting developments since 2000: OF Nook Logan (3) (a.k.a. Exavier) was drafted as a righthanded-hitting shortstop, and converted to a switch-hitting center fielder in 2001. The results have been promising and Logan has tallied 122 steals over the last two years.
Grade/Assessment: Starting with Wheatland's ailing shoulder, not much has worked in the Tigers favor. Most of the hopes lie in the future of Logan, LHP Chad Petty (2) and Johnson.
Depth: D. Impact: C-.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Scouting Director: Terry Wetzel (now a national crosschecker with the Rockies)
Players who have reached the major leagues: RHP Ryan Bukvich (11).
First pick: LHP Mike Stodolka (1). Holding the fourth-overall pick, the Royals cut a predraft deal with Stodolka ($2.5 million). While he wasn't seen as the fourth-best player available, Stodolka was a highly regarded, hard-throwing lefty.
Best late-round pick: Bukvich was academically ineligible at Mississippi, but area scout Mark Willoughby and crosschecker Earl Winn did a fine job setting up workouts and tracking him.
Biggest disappointment: The low range on Stodolka's fastball in high school was 87-88 mph. Three years later, he is topping out at 88 and struggling to get out of Class A.
The ones who got away: RHP Adam Peterson (15) and OF Marland Williams (37). Peterson was drafted in the fourth round last year by the Blue Jays; Williams signed with the Diamondbacks as a draft-and-follow and already is one of the organization's top prospects.
Interesting developments since 2000: This was Wetzel's last draft in Kansas City, as new GM Allard Baird brought in Deric Ladnier to replace him.
Grade/Assessment: Considering they were handicapped by their budget, the Royals added several useful players. Bukvich was a nice find, as were RHPs Ian Ferguson (21) and Dusty Wrightsman (26). While neither has a high upside, each has found success in the minors. Wetzel targeted catching to address an organization weakness, and while both Mike Tonis (2) and Scott Walter (3) have been hampered by injuries, they may still provide help in Kansas City.
Depth: C+. Impact: C.
Scouting Director: Mike Radcliff
Players who have reached the major leagues: RHP Adam Johnson (1) was rushed to the big leagues in 2001 when the Twins staff was ravaged by injuries. A fiery competitor, he hasn't been able to work his way back after blasting the organization for sending him to the minors prior to the 2002 season.
First pick: Johnson was considered a cost-saving pick at the time, but his power-arm was worthy of a first-round pick. He drew comparisons to Billy Koch and was expected to move quickly.
Best late-round pick: OF Jason Kubel (12) broke through as one of the Twins' top prospects on the strength of a .321-17-69 effort at low Class A Quad City in 2002.
Biggest disappointment: After initial success--Johnson fanned 92 in 69 innings during his pro debut at high Class A Fort Myers--he was pounded for 182 hits in 151 innings last year in Triple-A. The Twins still aren't certain if Johnson's best use is in the pen or rotation. With a strong big league rotation, their decision might be an easy one.
The ones who got away: RHP Aaron Heilman (1) was the Mets' first-rounder in 2001, 1B Tagg Bozied (2) signed with the Padres as a second-rounder that year and LHP Paul Maholm (17) is Mississippi State's top starter and a potential 2003 first-rounder.
Interesting developments since 2000: RHP Beau Kemp (31) saw his status affected by off-field issues. He stepped forward last season with a dominant showing (3-2, 0.66, 29 saves) at Fort Myers.
Grade/Assessment: Leaving unsigned players of Heilman's and Bozied's stature is enough to cripple any draft, but the Twins have become adept at flourishing without a big budget. RHP J.D. Durbin (2) and Kubel are still at least a couple of years away, but have considerable upside and value.
Depth: B. Impact: C.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Scouting Director: Lin Garrett
Players who have reached the major leagues: RHP Jason Anderson (10) broke camp with the Yankees this spring.
First pick: The Yankees drafted C David Parrish, former major league all-star Lance Parrish's son, in the 10th round out of high school and took him again in 2000 following three years at Michigan.
Best late-round pick: The Yankees tabbed LHP Sean Henn (26) in the 30th round in 1999 and again in 2000, before finally signing him to a record $1.9 million bonus as a draft-and-follow in 2001. Henn's velocity spiked to 99 mph as a sophomore, but he blew out his elbow pitching for short-season Staten Island later that summer and didn't return until this year.
Worst pick: Parrish was considered a reach in 2000, and his .244 career average has done little to disprove that.
The one who got away: 2B Peter Stonard (41) might be one of the top hitters in the 2003 draft, but he has been dismissed from both Alabama and San Diego State. He will still figure into the draft prominently, though he has cost himself a lot of bonus money.
Interesting developments since 2000: The Yankees drafted four lefties in the first nine rounds, and landed a first-round talent in Henn in the 26th. LHP Danny Borrell (2) is the closest to the majors, and LHP Andy Beal (5) is not far behind in Double-A.
Grade/Assessment: Not a particularly deep draft, and its ultimate impact rests on Henn's shoulders. With him coming off Tommy John surgery, it will be at least a year before it is safe to determine his future role. OF Jason Grove (3) could be a surprise if he stays healthy long enough to show his hitting prowess.
Depth: C. Impact: C.
Scouting Director: Grady Fuson (now assistant general manager with the Rangers)
Players who have reached the major leagues: None.
First pick: 2B Freddie Bynum (2) was drafted as a little-known shortstop out of a North Carolina community college. He has been slow to develop, but scouts like his tools at second base.
Best late-round pick: RHP Rich Harden (17) garnered attention at Central Arizona JC by leading the juco ranks in strikeouts and playing with prospect Scott Hairston. A premium draft-and-follow pick, he's developed into one of the top pitching prospects in the minors with his upper-90s heat, hard slider, splitter and changeup.
Biggest disappointment: RHP Kevin McGerry (4) retired after sitting out the 2002 season with an injury and working just 76 innings in his brief career.
The ones who got away: RHP Kenny Baugh (5) was back in the draft as a senior and was selected by the Tigers in the first round in 2001. RHP John Hudgins (20) is Stanford's Friday starter and a potential early-round draft pick in 2003.
Interesting developments since 2000: Fuson remained Oakland's scouting director for one more draft--taking SS Bobby Crosby, RHP Jeremy Bonderman and LHP John Rheinecker with three first-rounds picks in 2001--before taking a promotion with the Rangers. Bonderman was the highest prep draft pick for the A's since popping Gerald Laird in the second round in 1998.
Grade/Assessment: Even though the A's were handicapped by not having a first-rounder, thanks to the signing of lefty specialist Mike Magnante, this was not one of Fuson's best drafts. Still, Harden might be one of the best players this draft produces--a testament to Arizona area scout John Kuehl.
Depth: D. Impact: B.
Scouting Director: Frank Mattox
Players who have reached the major leagues: None.
First pick: LHP Sam Hays (4) was a tough sign, and the Mariners tried to compensate for not having a pick in the first three rounds by getting him for a $1.2 million bonus.
Best late-round pick: LHP Ryan Ketchner (10) is coming off a dominant effort for low Class A Wisconsin, where he allowed 75 hits and 39 walks in 111 innings while fanning 118. He is believed to be the only deaf pitcher in professional baseball.
Biggest disappointment: Hays missed last year with an injury and has a 6.83 ERA in 29 career innings.
The one who got away: SS John Nelson (39) signed with the Cardinals as an eighth-rounder the following year and emerged as one of St. Louis' top prospects after hitting .274-16-63 last year. LHP Robbie Van (21) went on to UNLV and RHP Billy Sadler (37) to Louisiana State, and both have attracted early-round draft interest this spring.
Interesting developments since 2000: Seattle used LHP Derrick Van Dusen (5) to help acquire Ismael Valdes down the stretch last year.
Grade/Assessment: Considering the Mariners didn't pick until the fourth round, this draft could be saved by OF Jamal Strong (6) and RHP Rett Johnson (8). Hays is just 21 but isn't likely to provide any kind of return on Seattle's investment. Signing the three free agents--John Olerud, Arthur Rhodes and Aaron Sele--that cost them their first three picks has helped the organization more than the three players they would have selected in the draft.
Depth: D. Impact: C.
TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS
Scouting Director: Dan Jennings (now assistant general manager for the Marlins)
Players who have reached the major leagues: OF Rocco Baldelli became the first high school pick from 2000 to reach the majors when he debuted this spring. He set a record for most hits by a rookie in April.
First pick: Baldelli came out of nowhere to win BA's 2002 Minor League Player of the Year award by hitting .331-19-71 with 25 steals between three levels.
Best late-round pick: C Shawn Riggans (24) was selected as a draft-and-follow out of Indian River (Fla.) JC. He has shown a touch of power and potential as an above-average receiver.
Biggest disappointment: SS Jace Brewer (5) sent a letter to all 30 teams asking not to be drafted as a sophomore-eligible in 2000. Not only did the Rays select him, but they also changed his mind with a major league contract.
The ones who got away: C Colt Morton (36) and OF Shane Costa (37) would have been back-to-back late steals on day two had they signed. Instead, both figure to be off the board in 2003 by the end of the second round after productive collegiate careers.
Interesting developments since 2000: Baldelli's rapid emergence took the minors by storm last year. He earned comparisons to Joe Dimaggio along the way, and hasn't let up as a 21-year-old rookie. Jennings was the foundation of the Rays' player-development efforts from the franchise's beginnings, but he left after last year to move up with the Marlins.
Grade/Assessment: While there is still hope that LHP Mark Malaska (8), Riggans and a couple of middle-round prospects will develop into big leaguers, it's all about Baldelli. He has the tools, instincts, athleticism and attitude to turn this franchise in the right direction. Much has been made of his lack of plate discipline, but he has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball, and he puts his top-of-the-scale speed to good use on both sides of the ball.
Depth: D. Impact: A.
Scouting Director: Chuck McMichael (now a special-assignment scout with the Braves)
Players who have reached the major leagues: None.
First pick: C Scott Heard headed into his senior season at San Diego's Rancho Bernardo High as the potential No. 1 overall pick, but scouts couldn't ignore questions about his ability to hit as his average dipped under .300.
Best late-round pick: LHP A.J. Murray (19) developed as a quality prospect last season, going 8-6, 2.96 between two Class A levels.
Biggest disappointment: Heard's prospect status has plummeted and he hasn't been able to get out of Class A yet. He has hit .245 with no sign of power, while his defense, which was his calling card, and conditioning have come into question.
The ones who got away: RHP Matt Vasquez (7) and 3B Myron Leslie (14) are expected to be drafted by the fourth round in June. RHP Shane Reedy (49) came so fast as a Cardinals draft-and-follow in 2002 that he was signed for $500,000.
Interesting developments since 2000: This was McMichael's last draft as scouting director for the Rangers. Tim Hallgren was the scouting director the following season before assistant general manager Grady Fuson came over from the Athletics to take over the amateur scouting department.
Grade/Assessment: The Rangers were surprised to have Heard slip to the 25th pick after it looked like he could go as high as No. 1. Another scouting director picking in the top five wondered how he could draft Heard that high when he was scouting Rancho Bernardo and saw Haas Pratt, a middle-round prospect, intentionally walked to get to Heard. "He had holes; he couldn't hit then," the scouting director said. The Rangers did find two potential frontline big leaguers in OF Laynce Nix (4) and 3B Edwin Encarnacion (9), who was dealt to the Reds for Rob Bell in 2001.
Depth: C. Impact: A.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Scouting Director: Tim Wilken (now vice president of baseball operations)
Players who have reached the major leagues: RHP Mike Smith (5) blazed through the system to reach the big leagues in less than two years. Armed with plus velocity and little else, his future might reside in the pen.
First pick: The Blue Jays make no bones about it: They had to draft for signability. With the 18th pick, they popped Puerto Rican OF Miguel Negron (1), much as they did in 1999 with Alexis Rios. They were intrigued with Negron's pure center-field tools and thought his bat would come, but they had him evaluated as a second- to third-rounder.
Best late-round pick: Canadian RHP Vince Perkins (18) was snagged as a draft-and-follow out of Lake City (Fla.) CC. His velocity created excitement during his first two years in the system, but in 2003 he is starting to look like a complete package, with a plus slider to go with his mid-90s fastball.
Biggest disappointment: RHP Peter Bauer (2) was considered the closest to the majors out of the Jays 2002 crop after going 13-1, 2.92 for South Carolina. He has stumbled in Double-A, going 12-21 the last two years.
The one who got away: Though they had a tight budget, the Blue Jays signed their first 30 picks, so not many got away. C Cody Clark (48) started his collegiate career at Arkansas before transferring to Wichita State last year, where he is generating some mid-round draft interest.
Interesting developments since 2000: After five years as scouting director, Wilken was promoted after this draft, and his right-hand man Chris Buckley has been in the seat since.
Grade/Assessment: Toronto had Scott Thorman locked up in a predraft deal with their supplemental pick (33rd overall), but the Braves took the Canadian native with the last pick in the first round. Things have worked out quite well otherwise, though, as RHP Dustin McGowan rose to the top of the system's prospect chart last year. Wilken and the scouting staff targeted pitching, after they didn't like the pitching depth available the previous four years, and landed several future big leaguers in McGowan, RHP Vinny Chulk (12) and Perkins, and depth with RHPs Tracey Thorpe (11) and Charles Talanoa (14).
Depth: B. Impact: B.