Mike Hessman, Minors Home Run Leader, Retires
The greatest home run hitter the domestic minor leagues have ever seen has decided that 19 seasons is enough. First baseman/third baseman Mike Hessman, the U.S. minor league career home […]
2005 Draft Report Cards: Kansas City - New York Mets
By Jim Callis
2005 Draft Report Cards:
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Best Pro Debut: SS Jeff Bianchi (2) was leading the Rookie-level Arizona League in the triple-crown categories until he pulled a muscle in his back. He finished with .408-6-30 totals in 28 games. OF Joe Dickerson (4) batted .294 and led the AZL with nine triples and 40 RBIs.
Best Athlete: Bianchi's tools proved to be better than the Royals expected. Most clubs saw him as a line-drive hitting middle infielder, and Kansas City was pleasantly surprised by his speed and pop. 3B Alex Gordon (1) stands out most with his bat, but he's also a five-tool player who can play solid defense and steal some bases. C Nick Doscher (8) received NCAA Division I-A offers as a quarterback.
Best Pure Hitter: Gordon, BA's College Player of the Year, has far more offensive potential than Darin Erstad, the only Nebraska player ever taken higher in the draft (No. 1 to Gordon's No. 2). Bianchi's efficient swing allowed him to make a quick transition to wood bats.
Best Raw Power: Gordon.
Fastest Runner: Bianchi has plus-plus speed. He can get from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.1 seconds.
Best Defensive Player: The Royals believe they found three quality up-the-middle defenders. Some teams projected Bianchi as a second baseman because of his average arm strength, but Kansas City is sold on him playing shortstop. Built like a young Jim Edmonds, Dickerson has very good instincts in center field. C Kyle Thibault (9) is a good receiver and threw out 36 percent of basestealers in his pro debut.
Best Fastball: RHP Matt Kniginyzky (23), a Canadian and the first player drafted out of High Point since 1991, tops out at 94 mph. RHP Kevin Bulger (25) can get up to 92-93 mph.
Best Breaking Ball: LHP Brent Fisher's (7) curveball gets the edge over Kniginyzky's.
Most Intriguing Background: 2B Jeremy Jirschele's (30) father Mike manages the organization's Triple-A Omaha affiliate. Bulger's brother Jason was a Diamondbacks first-round pick in 2001 and made his big league debut this year. 1B Jase Turner (27) is the grandson of the late Jesse Gonder, a former big league catcher. RHP Michael Dubee (32), a prime draft-and-follow candidate, is the son of Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.
Closest To The Majors: Gordon signed too late to play in the minors but in time to report to the Arizona Fall League, so his holdout shouldn't hold him back. He'll probably break into pro ball in Double-A and reach Kansas City at some point in 2006. RHP Chris Nicoll (3), who has good command and feel, also should move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick: Paul Raglione (18) is a projectable 6-foot-5 righthander who already has an 88-92 mph fastball. The Royals also like Kniginyzky's upside.
The One Who Got Away: SS Justin Bristow (22) had prototype third-base tools and also showed a 91-92 mph heater on the mound. He had a chance to go in the first round, but wasn't considered signable when he didn't go that high. Though Kansas City made a run at him, he decided to attend Auburn. The Royals signed their first 16 picks.
Assessment: Before the draft, rumors were rampant that the Royals would go cheap with their first choice rather than take a talent worthy of the No. 2 overall pick. Instead, they paid $4 million to land the best college hitter available. Gordon quickly should become one of their few bright spots. A year from now, the Royals will have the No. 1 pick for the first time in their history.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Best Pro Debut: RHP Tommy Mendoza (5) earned Rookie-level Arizona League all-star honors by going 3-3, 1.55 with 56 strikeouts in 52 innings. Duly impressed, the Angels used him to fill a hole in the high Class A California League at season's end. Despite being barely 18, Mendoza threw three perfect innings to earn a save in his first outing and threw seven shutout frames to win his lone start.
Best Athlete: OF Jeremy Moore (6) reminds the Angels of fellow Louisiana native Joey Gathright. In addition to baseball, Moore starred as a running back in football, a guard in basketball and a sprinter in track while in high school. OF Cody Fuller (48) played two sports at Texas Tech, suiting up as a wide receiver in football.
Best Pure Hitter: P.J. Phillips (2) could outgrow shortstop but has the bat to fit most anywhere on the diamond.
Best Raw Power: 1B Ryan Pressley (17), though he's still raw at the plate. Pressley hit .133 with one homer and 28 strikeouts in 60 AZL at-bats.
Fastest Runner: The Angels signed a lot of speed. OF Peter Bourjos (10), who can cover 60 yards in 6.45 seconds, would edge Moore in a race. Fuller is a plus runner, while OF Brad Coon (15) is a tick above average and has outstanding baserunning instincts and bunting ability.
Best Defensive Player: Bourjos, a center fielder. SS Ryan Mount (2) stands out most for his offensive potential, but Los Angeles also believes he can stay at short.
Best Fastball: Both RHP Trevor Bell (1) and Mendoza consistently hit 95 mph at age 18. The Angels still have the rights to draft-and-follow RHP Sean O'Sullivan (3), who can do the same. RHP Stephen Marek (40 in 2004), who signed for $800,000 as a draft-and-follow, threw 97-98 mph as a reliever in college and 96 as a starter as a pro.
Best Breaking Ball: Mendoza's curveball. O'Sullivan has an impressive slider and curve.
Most Intriguing Background: Bell's grandfather Bob was Bozo the Clown, a legend on Chicago television shows for 24 years. Bell's mother Barbara is a casting director for "That '70s Show" on Fox. Phillips' brother Brandon is an Indians infielder, and his sister Porsha is one of the nation's top women's basketball recruits. Bourjos' father Chris played in the majors and is a scout for the Brewers. RHP Kevin Lynch's (26) brother Matt pitches in the Athletics system.
Closest To The Majors: The Angels didn't draft a four-year player before C Greg Dini (12), who has decent skills and could get to Los Angeles first because of his position. Mendoza is very advanced for a teenager just out of high school.
Best Late-Round Pick: Bourjos, who got $325,000 as a 10th-rounder.
The One Who Got Away: The Angels and LHP Brian Matusz (4) never got on the same page, and he wound up at the University of San Diego. He reminds scouts of Mark Buehrle with better stuff. Like he did in his first draft in 2004, scouting director Eddie Bane took several late-round fliers. SS Matt Hall (8, now at Arizona State), OF Tim Murphy (11, UCLA), 3B Brad Suttle (21, Texas), RHP Duente Heath (23, Tennessee), C Brent Milleville (39, Stanford) and RHP Buster Posey (50, Florida State) all could be premium picks down the road.
Assessment: The Angels didn't hit on as many gambles as they did in 2004 and failed to sign six of their first 14 picks. They still came away with a nice collection of athletes and arms, and signing O'Sullivan would give them an extra boost.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Best Pro Debut: LHP Brent Leach (6) led the Rookie-level Pioneer League with a 2.43 ERA and went 5-3 with 77 strikeouts in 67 innings. Leach, who had Tommy John surgery in 2003, has an 87-92 mph fastball and a slurve that can be a plus pitch at times.
Best Athlete: OF Scott Van Slyke (15) is a 6-foot-5, 210-pounder with good all-around tools and instincts in the mold of his father Andy, a former all-star outfielder. OF Trayvon Robinson (10), who's much more raw, offers plenty of speed and also some power potential.
Best Pure Hitter: SS Ivan DeJesus Jr. (2) doesn't have much power but he's an effective line-drive hitter. The Dodgers also expect big things from 3B Josh Bell (4), who is a legitimate power threat.
Best Raw Power: OFs Sergio Pedroza (3) and Drew Locke (19) both reached double figures in homers during their pro debuts, but neither can drive the ball as consistently far as Bell can. He's a switch-hitter with natural loft in his swing from both sides of the plate.
Fastest Runner: The Dodgers clocked Robinson at 6.29 seconds in the 60-yard dash during instructional league. They're hoping Robinson, a natural righthanded hitter, learns to switch-hit so he can maximize the use of his speed. OF Adam Godwin (11), who also has well above-average wheels, led NCAA Division I with 84 steals in 93 attempts at Troy last spring. He went 12-for-19 swiping bases as a pro.
Best Defensive Player: DeJesus' father played 15 years in the majors because of his shortstop defense, and Ivan Jr. has a slick glove as well.
Best Fastball: RHP Josh Wall (3) already touches 93 mph and has the room to add a lot of strength to his frame. RHP John Meloan (5) pitches at 90-92 mph. The Dodgers saw draft-and-follow RHP Jimmy Gilbert (33 in 2005) hit 97 mph and some clubs clocked him at 100 last spring before he had Tommy John surgery.
Best Breaking Ball: Meloan's knuckle-curve is the best at this point, though Wall's curveball will surpass it if he can learn to command the pitch. RHP Steve Johnson's (11) curve also could wind up as the best of the bunch.
Most Intriguing Background: DeJesus and Van Slyke aren't the only sons of big leaguers in this crop. Johnson's father Dave pitched in the majors. Unsigned LHP Jake Debus' (39) uncle Jon is the Dodgers' bullpen coach.
Closest To The Majors: Leach or Meloan. Leach is lefthanded and has a greater likelihood of winding up in the bullpen, two factors that enhance his chances.
Best Late-Round Pick: Johnson and Van Slyke were supposed to be tough signs, but Los Angeles got the deals done.
The One Who Got Away: RHP Luke Hochevar (1) should have been the answer to Best Fastball (90-95 mph), Best Breaking Ball (hard slider) and Closest To The Majors (perhaps less than two years). But after switching agents and agreeing to a $2.98 million bonus, he abruptly reneged and returned to Scott Boras. Hochevar and Boras subsequently charged the Dodgers with trying to coerce him into signing a bad deal, and it appears unlikely the two sides will reach an agreement.
Assessment: Getting Hochevar, the second-best starting pitcher in the draft, as a supplemental first-rounder would have been a steal. The Dodgers hope that getting players such as Bell, Johnson and Van Slyke in later rounds will help lessen the sting.
Best Pro Debut: Most of the Brewers' draftees started strong, as their 19 signees who took the field included eight position players who batted at least .300 and five pitchers who posted sub-3.00 ERAs. 3B Ryan Braun (1) hit .352-10-45, mostly in low Class A. RHP Will Inman (3) went 6-0, 1.91 with 59 strikeouts in 47 innings. 2B Kenny Holmberg (22) batted .372-12-51 and led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in on-base percentage (.450) and slugging (.623). Draft-and-follow OF Lorenzo Cain (17 in 2004) was named Rookie-level Arizona League MVP after hitting .356-5-37 with a league-best .566 slugging percentage.
Best Athlete: Take your pick between former Miami Hurricanes Braun and OF Brendan Katin (23). Braun is a five-tool player who began his college career as a shortstop, and if he can't polish up his third-base defense he could fit in center field. Katin has surprising athleticism for a 6-foot-1, 238- pounder.
Best Pure Hitter: Braun went fifth overall because of his bat, and he stands out among a fine collection of hitters that also includes 3B Matt Gamel (4), OF Michael Brantley (7), 2B Carlos Hereaud (9) and 3B Mike Bell (15). A Venezuelan who played high school ball in Texas, Hereaud sat out the summer while resolving visa issues.
Best Raw Power: Braun and Katin both have big raw power, but Braun's shows up during games more often.
Fastest Runner: Braun has plus speed (6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash) and is a step quicker than Brantley. Draft-and-follow OF Darren Ford (18 in 2004) has top-of-the line speed, while Cain is an above-average runner.
Best Defensive Player: Holmberg, who won the Gold Glove award at the NAIA College World Series, has the instincts one would expect from the son of a baseball lifer. His father Dennis is a longtime manager in the Blue Jays system.
Best Fastball: Inman, RHP Kevin Roberts (5) and LHP Steve Hammond (6) all can touch 94 mph. Roberts has the best life on his fastball and may add more velocity now that he'll focus on pitching full-time after also playing third base at Houston. RHP Omar Aguilar (30) threw 98 mph before coming down with elbow problems in junior college. Doctors prescribed rest rather than surgery.
Best Breaking Ball: Roberts' 12-6 curveball. Aguilar had a mid-80s slider when he was healthy.
Most Intriguing Background: Unsigned SS Jemile Weeks' (8) brother Rickie is the Brewers' second baseman and went second overall in the 2003 draft. Unsigned 2B Kyle Eveland's (43) brother Dana made his big league debut with Milwaukee in 2005. Brantley's father Mickey played in the majors and is the Blue Jays hitting coach. Unsigned OF Spencer Pennington (32) was a backup quarterback at Alabama.
Closest To The Majors: Braun, who could form a stellar big league infield with Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy. Hammond, who pitched just 24 innings as a junior setup man for Long Beach State, also could move fast as a lefty with a plus arm.
Best Late-Round Pick: If Aguilar can return to health, he'll be one of the steals of the draft. Bell and projectable LHP David Welch (20) are two more junior college products with upside. Katin also is intriguing, and Holmberg's debut was encouraging.
The One Who Got Away: Milwaukee couldn't divert Jemile Weeks from Miami.
Assessment: Scouting director Jack Zduriencik continued to add to a deep farm system with a balance of hitters and pitchers from a blend of colleges, junior colleges and high schools. A strong draft-and-follow class also helped.
Best Pro Debut: After leading NCAA Division I in strikeout-walk ratio (134-13 in 136 innings) and fewest walks per nine innings (0.86), RHP Kevin Slowey (2) continued to show pinpoint control as a pro. He went 3-2, 2.12 with an 84-8 K-BB ratio in 72 innings, the bulk of his work coming in low Class A. 1B Erik Lis (9) batted .315-10-41 at Rookie-level Elizabethton.
Best Athlete: It might be selling SS Paul Kelly (2) short to call him a five-tool player. Not only does he rate average or better in everything scouts look for in a position player, but he also had a fastball that reached 94-95 mph and a hard slider as a high school pitcher. He's reminiscent of Twins reliever Jesse Crain, who had a similar profile as a two-way college star at Houston. OF J.W. Wilson (6), who offers a raw combination of power and speed, was a star wide receiver on his high school football team.
Best Pure Hitter: 2B Drew Thompson (2) is a little more polished right now than Kelly, who has to make a few minor adjustments. Minnesota also believes that 6-foot-3, 260-pound 1B Henry Sanchez (1) is a complete hitter, not just a bomber.
Best Raw Power: With his size and strength, Sanchez can crush balls long distances. He has been compared to a bigger Andres Galarraga and to Prince Fielder.
Fastest Runner: Wilson is maybe a tick above average as a runner, and Kelly and SS Steven Tolleson (5) are average. The fastest players signed by the Twins in 2005 are draft-and-follow OFs Josh Land (38 in 2004) and Danny Santiesteban (39), who have plus speed.
Best Defensive Player: Minnesota wanted to improve its middle-infield depth and took Kelly and Thompson a year after taking another high school shortstop, Trevor Plouffe, in the first round. Many clubs projected Thompson as a second baseman, but the Twins think he can remain a shortstop. He played mainly second base in his debut because he was on the same club as Kelly.
Best Fastball: RHP Matt Garza (1) pitches at 90-94 mph and touches 96. RHP Alex Burnett (12), overshadowed on the southern California high school scene, can reach 94-95. Both Kelly and C Caleb Moore (4) put up similar radar-gun numbers as amateur pitchers.
Best Breaking Ball: Garza's slider has more velocity than that of RHP Danny Powers (8), the 2005 NCAA Division II player of the year.
Most Intriguing Background: INF Toby Gardenhire's (41) dad Ron manages the Twins and was a former big league infielder, as were the fathers of Thompson (Robby) and Tolleson (Wayne).
Closest To The Majors: Slowey's command should get him to the majors faster than Garza with his power stuff.
Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Brian Kirwan (11) had a chance to go in the first two rounds before tearing up his right knee while playing quarterback for his high school football team. He should be showcasing his low-90s fastball again once he's fully healthy in spring training.
The One Who Got Away: The Twins signed their first 16 picks. Six-foot-7 LHP David Duncan (14) turned down the same $500,000 Kirwan signed for, opting instead to attend Georgia Tech.
Assessment: The Twins once again found a way to not compromise on their extra picks (four in the first three rounds), despite not getting a hugely expanded draft budget. By taking college seniors Moore and Powers, they also saved enough cash to sign Kirwan.
NEW YORK METS
Best Pro Debut: RHP Bobby Parnell's (9) 8.86 ERA as a Charleston Southern junior didn't scare off area scout Marlin McPhail, and he justified that faith by leading the short-season New York-Penn League with a 1.73 ERA. 3B Matt Anderson (31) earned all-star honors in the Rookie-level Appalachian League by hitting .314-5-30 and was solid after a promotion to the NY-P. Draft-and-follow RHP Jacob Ruckle (41 in 2004) went 8-1, 2.10 and led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in victories. He throws strikes and has a good changeup.
Best Athlete: OF Greg Cain (6) has all five tools, the foremost of which is his speed. He's still raw with the bat.
Best Pure Hitter: SS Hector Pellot (4) stands out most with his defense, but his bat also looked very promising in instructional league. OF Joe Holden (21), who hit .291 in the NY-P, challenged for the league batting title before slumping in August.
Best Raw Power: OF Courtney Billingslea (10) gets a lot of leverage from his 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame. He's the first player drafted out of Sinclair (Ohio) CC since big leaguer Chris Spurling in 1997.
Fastest Runner: OF Greg Gonzalez (28) gets to first base from the left side of the plate in 4.0 seconds. He batted .324 with 33 steals in 42 attempts in his debut.
Best Defensive Player: C Drew Butera (4) was one of the top catch-and-throw guys available. He led the NY-P by throwing out 31 basestealers and ranked second among league regulars with a 45 percent success rate.
Best Fastball: RHP Mike Pelfrey (1), the best pitching prospect in the draft, has yet to sign but is expected to eventually reach a deal with the Mets. He has a 92-97 mph heater. Among the players already under contract, Parnell has an 88-92 mph sinker, and LHP Jon Niese (7) has similar velocity.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP David Koons (27) has a good slider and nice life on his fastball.
Most Intriguing Background: 2B Anthony Manuel's (45) father Jerry played in the majors and coaches first base for the Mets. Butera's dad Sal caught in the big leagues and is a special assistant to Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. Billingslea punted for Alabama A&M's football team before transferring to Sinclair. LHP Kevin Tomasiewicz (26) was MVP of the 2005 Division III College World Series.
Closest To The Majors: Pelfrey may not need much more than a year in the minors once he signs. Butera's defense could put him on the fast track if he can be at least mildly productive at the plate.
Best Late-Round Pick: Koons was used sparingly and didn't get much exposure at St. Leo (Fla.) College. RHP Will Jostock (49) has a 6-foot-5 frame, a loose arm and an 88-90 mph sinker.
The One Who Got Away: Preston Paramore (22), a switch-hitting offensive catcher, wound up at Arizona State. He had a chance to go as high as the third round before tailing off late in the spring.
Assessment: Russ Bove's first draft as Mets scouting director was reminiscent of many of the club's recent efforts. New York grabbed a premium talent who slid because of signability (Pelfrey), helping to make up for the loss of picks as free-agent compensation (second- and third-rounders in 2005).