It doesn't look like Rays lefthander Matt Moore will pull off a third straight minor league strikeout title. He fanned six in as many innings against Charlotte yesterday, which matches his worst single-game K/9 rate in eight Triple-A starts. He now has 200 whiffs in 149 innings, but that ranks only third in the minors behind Rockies lefty Edwar Cabrera (208 in 162 innings) and Phillies righty Trevor May (203 in 147 frames). Cabrera has two starts remaining, while Moore and May have just one each.
The last pitcher to lead the minors in strikeouts in consecutive seasons was John D'Acquisto in 1971-72 . . . and D'Acquisto also finished third overall the following year. Since World War II, D'Acquisto and Moore are the only two pitchers to accomplish the feat, and I believe the only two to win more than one strikeout crown.
I agree with Matt's point about instant analysis of drafts. It's impossible to do with any great degree of accuracy, though those of us in the draft-reporting business get asked to do it constantly and feel compelled to do so.
Anyway, 2005 is a fine draft to review because not only have six years passed, but it also was one of the best drafts of the last two decades. Let's commence ranking how teams did, in order from worst to first (numbers in parentheses indicate draft round):
Lone big leaguer Donald Veal (2) has a 7.16 ERA in 16 major league innings.
Late switch of No. 3 overall pick from Troy Tulowitzki to Jeff Clement (1) was a bad omen.
Used first pick on Brian Bogusevic (1), had to convert him from pitcher to outfielder.
With failure to sign top pick Luke Hochevar (1s), highlight is Trayvon Robinson (10).
Tim Lincecum (42) turned down $700,000, leaving Jensen Lewis (3) as best signee.
Shrewdest move was taking Vance Worley (20), but he didn't sign until three years later.
John Mayberry Jr.'s (1) emergence may salvage something from this draft class.
Didn't have picks in first three rounds but uncovered super sleeper Sergio Romo (28).
Got quality reliever in David Hernandez (16), role player in Nolan Reimold (2).
Cliff Pennington (1), Travis Buck (1s) are the best of a mediocre lot.
20. White Sox
Like most Chisox prospects, Chris Getz (4) and Clayton Richard (8) became trade fodder.
Peter Bourjos (10) is a future Gold Glover; L.A. rues not signing Buster Posey (50).
Chris Volstad (1) led five picks before second round; best choice was Gaby Sanchez (4).
Blew No. 8 choice on Wade Townsend (1), rallied with Jeremy Hellickson (4).
Hauled in two starters in Mike Pelfrey (1) and Jonathon Niese (7), plus Josh Thole (13).
Alex Gordon's (1) resurgence was crucial because he's the only big leaguer in this group.
No stars, but three useful bats in Chase Headley (2), Nick Hundley (2), Will Venable (7).
Detroit signed an MLB-best 10 big leaguers, led by Cameron Maybin (1), Matt Joyce (7).
12. Blue Jays
After a slow start, Ricky Romero (1) has blossomed into one of game's top young lefties.
Minnesota regrettably traded Matt Garza (1); kept Kevin Slowey (2), Brian Duensing (3).
Will move up if Colby Rasmus (1) reaches potential, Jaime Garcia (22) stays healthy.
Jay Bruce (1) is the headliner; Travis Wood (2), Logan Ondrusek (13) also have helped.
Andrew McCutchen (1) is Pittsburgh's best first-rounder since Barry Bonds in 1985.
Brett Gardner (3) beat expectations, Austin Jackson (8) helped land Curtis Granderson.
Yunel Escobar (2) is a quality shortstop, Tommy Hanson (22) has frontline upside.
Ryan Braun (1) became one of major's most devastating bats within two years.
Got an all-around star in Ryan Zimmerman (1), innings-eater in John Lannan (12).
Justin Upton (1) a worthy No. 1 pick; also got Micah Owings (3), Greg Smith (6).
Colorado hit on just one big leaguer: Troy Tulowitzki (1), baseball's best shortstop.
1. Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury (1), Clay Buchholz (1s), Jed Lowrie (1s) arrived before second round.
Teams entered the year believing that commissioner Bud Selig's desire for hard slotting might become reality as part of a new collective bargaining agreement, leading to concern that the 2011 draft might be the last one in which they could sign as much talent (especially on the high school side) as they were willing to pay for. But before the Aug. 15 signing deadline arrived, the feeling on both sides of those negotiations was that the union would never agree to mandated bonuses, so that wasn't a factor in the spending frenzy that saw teams pay out $132 million in bonuses on deadline day and a record $228 million overall.
There were two reasons that spending surged in 2011. First, it was an unusually deep draft class headlined by seven elite prospects (Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, Bubba Starling, Anthony Rendon, Archie Bradley) who went in the top seven picks. They signed for a combined $40.25 million in bonuses and a total of $46.9 million in guarantees.
Second, teams know the draft is relative bargain compared to other avenues of talent acquisition and will pay what it takes to get players under contract. Clubs do have some leverage when they're offering seven-figure bonuses, but players have more because teams can't afford to let them get away.
Spending on the No. 8-15 picks did blow MLB's slot recommendations away, because the players chosen there were more talented than usual and the guidelines are hopelessly out of touch with reality. But the money handed out there really wasn't unusual.
Francisco Lindor (Indians) set a record at No. 8 with a $2.9 million bonus, though Gordon Beckham got $2.6 million from the draft's cheapest team (the White Sox) three years ago. At No. 9, Javier Baez' (Cubs) $2.625 million is dwarfed by Jacob Turner's $5.5 million major league contract from 2009. Cory Spangenberg (Padres) signed quickly for the MLB guideline of $1.863 million, a number 11 of the 12 previous No. 10 picks topped. George Springer's (Astros) $2.525 million at No. 11 pales in comparison to the $3.5 million Justin Smoak got there in 2008 and the $3.9 million Tyler Matzek received there in 2009. And so on.
Next year should be interesting, because clubs will take the stance that a lesser draft crop should mean lower prices while agents will try to build off of the 2011 numbers. My guess is that spending will go down. I don't think you'll see the No. 6 pick ask for No. 1 money, because his talent won't warrant it. And if he did, he wouldn't get drafted that high in the first place.
The Altuve craze is the result of several factors, starting with his size, generously listed at 5-foot-7 and 166 pounds. It also helps that he came basically out of nowhere, as he only ranked 28th on our Astros Top 30 in the 2011 Prospect Handbook. He also put up some of the best numbers in the minors this year, batting .389/.426/.591 behind high Class A and Double-A, not including going 2-for-3 with a double in the Futures Game.
All that makes for a great story, and fans of the downtrodden Astros could use a great story as much as anyone. That said, Altuve isn't an elite prospect. He has a gift for putting the bat on the ball, but he takes a huge hack and is very aggressive at the plate. I see him as a .280/.330/.400 hitter. He has average to plus speed but won't be a big basestealer, and he's a solid defender.
As for LeMahieu, the Cubs believe he has 15-homer power in him but he hasn't shown it. Even when he sizzled at Double-A (.358/.386/.492) in the first two months of the season, he hit just two homers in 50 games. LeMahieu is a gifted pure hitter, but he lacks the quickness for second base (he's much bigger than Altuve at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds) and the pop for third base. He looks like a tweener unless he starts hitting enough homers to project as a regular at the hot corner.