In The Callis Draft, Value Comes To Those Who Spend Money

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CHICAGO—The strength of a deep 2011 draft was college pitchers, starting with seven who were possible top-10 picks. So when I randomly wound up with the 10th slot in my annual hypothetical 10-round draft for Baseball America, I assumed I'd get a college arm unless teams backed off potential quarterbacks Bubba Starling and Archie Bradley because of signability.

That didn't happen, so I gladly took Texas righthander Taylor Jungmann after considering Georgia Tech lefty Jed Bradley. Jungmann, who went 12th overall to the Brewers, is the best college pitcher after the elite trio of Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen.

Jungmann does a tremendous job of pitching off his fastball, a 91-95 mph bolt that's even tougher to hit because of the angle and plane he generates with his 6-foot-6 frame. He has been winning games for the Longhorns since he set foot on campus and while I don't get caught up too much in college statistics, a 13-1, 1.39 record with a 120-29 K-BB ratio and .167 opponent average through NCAA regional play make me feel that much better.

Jungmann should fit in nicely in a run of quality first-rounders for me, as my previous four were Zack Cox, Shelby Miller, Christian Friedrich and Jason Heyward. Then again, I'm the same guy who grabbed Jon Zeringue and Brett Sinkbeil in the first round, so I won't brag too much.

Three First-Round Talents

My philosophy is to take the best possible talents in the early rounds and pay what it takes to sign them—unless they're unsignable. I have doubts that any club will be able to lure Dallas' Josh Bell, the best high school hitter in the draft, from playing for the Longhorns, so I passed on him in the sandwich round with the 44th overall choice.

Instead, I opted for the top prep lefthander in the draft, Tennessee's Daniel Norris, whose reported $4 million price tag drove him to the Blue Jays 30 picks later in the real draft. It's hard not to love a lefty with the potential for three plus pitches, including a fastball that reached 96 mph, and I hope to chisel away at his asking price. Both Jungmann and Norris are advised by Hendricks Sports Management, so maybe I can get a combo deal.

I get another first-round talent in the second round in Oregon State's Andrew Susac (Giants, second round), the draft's best college catcher. While he needs to improve his receiving, he has a strong arm and led the Cape Cod League in slugging percentage last summer.

I'll take another Cape Cod star in the third round, Vanderbilt first baseman Aaron Westlake (Tigers, third). He's a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder with lefthanded power—he has led the Commodores in homers for three straight seasons—who also provides walks and quality defense. I also considered two other college sluggers, Southern California first baseman Ricky Oropesa and Southern Mississippi third baseman B.A. Vollmuth, as well as Louisville closer Tony Zych.

With Zych going two picks ahead of me in the fourth round, I grabbed a second catcher in Florida high schooler Tyler Marlette (Mariners, fifth). He stands out most for his power and arm strength, though his size (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) and receiving concern some scouts.

I'll maintain my focus on up-the-middle players in the fifth round with Jungmann's teammate Brandon Loy (Tigers, fifth), who's one of the draft's better defensive shortstops and improved with the bat this spring. He may have to hit at the bottom of the order, but I bet his glove gets him to the big leagues.

Nice Values In Lowell, Golson

We may have overrated Wichita State lefthander Charlie Lowell (Marlins, sixth) when we pegged him as a possible second-rounder, but he's still a fine sixth-round value as southpaw who throws strikes with a low-90s fastball and a hard slider.

I'm even more excited about my seventh-rounder: Mississippi prep outfielder Senquez Golson (Red Sox, eighth), who has plus-plus foot speed and bat speed, the latter portending future above-average power. He's also a cornerback with a football scholarship from Mississippi, which gives him added leverage, but his ceiling is tremendous.

Already having taken Jungmann and Loy, I'll head back to the Big 12 Conference for my eighth- and ninth-rounders, Oklahoma State righthander Burch Smith (Padres, 14th) and Kansas State righty Colton Murray (Phillies, 13th). Both throw low-90s fastballs with easy deliveries, with Smith projecting as a possible No. 3 starter and Murray as a set-up man who may be big league-ready in a hurry.

I'll finish my 10-round draft with one of my favorite sleepers: Missouri high school outfielder Lance Jeffries (Cardinals 10th). He draws Ron Gant comparisons because he's a 5-foot-9, 180-pounder with plus speed and power potential.

Estimated total cost for my 11 players: $8.5 million. This wouldn't be the most expensive 2011 draft crop, but it would be one of the best.