Ability Over Signability

Callis picks his latest shadow draft

CHICAGO—I annually conduct hypothetical 10-round drafts in this space, and I got a head start on 2009 three years ago, when I invested my ninth-round choice on an Indiana high school pitcher. After starring at Missouri, Kyle Gibson might have been a top-five pick this June had he not come down with a stress fracture in his forearm. The injury shouldn't have a long-term effect, and he'll be a bargain for the Twins at 22nd overall.

With my top pick (15th overall) this June, I pull off another coup when Texas high school righthander Shelby Miller falls into my lap. Miller ranked eighth on Baseball America's final draft board, and the only reason he fell to me—and to the Cardinals at No. 19 in real life—is his price tag.

I don't believe it will cost that much to divert Miller from attending Texas A&M. I do believe that he had the best high school fastball in the draft, a lively heater that touches 96 mph and comes out of his hand with little effort. He's a quality athlete who should develop a plus curveball and consistent command in time.

Ability Over Signability

By valuing ability over signability, I grabbed four first-round talents on BA's draft board.

With my sandwich pick (41st overall), I'm thrilled to land another Texas high schooler, outfielder Everett Williams (Padres, second round). There are a lot of premium athletic outfielders in this draft, and Williams may have the best bat of any of them.

I stick with first-round-caliber high schoolers for my next two picks. They may require seven-figure bonuses, but Kansas righthander Garrett Gould (Dodgers, second) and California catcher Max Stassi (Athletics, fourth) will be worth it.

Gould, who outdueled Miller at the World Wood Bat Association championship last fall, saw his fastball jump to 91-94 mph this spring and his power curveball is a better pitch. Stassi is the best pure hitter and the best judge of the strike zone among high school hitters in this draft, and he's a solid catcher who should have no trouble staying behind the plate.

I'm tempted to keep taking the best player available and select Las Vegas high school slugger Jeff Malm in the fourth round, but I'll keep my budget within reason. I'll opt for Loyola Marymount outfielder Angelo Songco (Dodgers, fourth). He has shown power with wood bats, ranking second in the Cape Cod League with eight homers last summer.

Schimpf Wields Big Bat

Cal State Fullerton's Josh Fellhauer intrigues me in the fifth round, but I also like another college center fielder (Mississippi's Jordan Henry) and gamble that one will last until the sixth because I want Louisiana State second baseman Ryan Schmipf (Blue Jays, fifth). Comparing small second basemen to Dustin Pedroia is becoming a cliché, but Schimpf repeatedly squares up balls and led LSU's College World Series team in homers this year. As a bonus, he bats lefthanded.

Both Fellhauer and Henry are still on the board in the sixth, so I take Fellhauer (Reds, seventh). He's an excellent defender in center field, and he should hit for average, get on base and provide gap power and speed.

We originally thought Monmouth righthander Ryan Buch (White Sox, eighth round) would go in the top two rounds, and though he cooled off late I'm glad to grab him in the seventh. When he's at his best, he has a 92-93 mph fastball that touches 95 and a power curveball.

College lefthanders Del Howell (Alabama) and Tyler Lyons (Oklahoma State) are appealing in the eighth round, but I'll hope one lasts another round and take Miami Dade CC outfielder Jabari Blash (Rangers, ninth). A native of the Virgin Islands, he's a raw athlete who has five-tool potential and has drawn comparisons to Jermaine Dye.

Both southpaws are there for the taking in the ninth round, and I take Howell (Brewers, 15th). Though he rarely was at full strength while battling mononucleosis this spring, he showed his upside when he struck out 10 in a complete-game win over Vanderbilt. Howell has a solid sinker/slider combination, plus the makings of a changeup.

I narrow my 10th and final pick down to four offensive players from the Midwest: outfielders Blake Dean (Louisiana State), Neil Medchill (Oklahoma State) and David Stewart (Grayson County, Texas, CC), and third baseman Mike Spina (Cincinnati). I go with Medchill (Yankees, 11th) because I like his lefthanded power and think he has the best chance to remain an outfielder.

MLB once again is leaning on clubs to keep bonuses down, but a team that's willing to listen to its scouts rather than to Bud Selig can assembled a strong draft. That's what I did, and I should be able to sign all 11 of my picks for under $7 million—or roughly what the Yankees will pay Xavier Nady this year.

Past picks from Jim Callis' hypothetical drafts:

2008 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 18th Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Christian Friedrich, lhp, Eastern Kentucky
Col, 1st
Supp. 1st Brett DeVall, lhp, HS/Florida
Atl, supp. 1st
2nd Dennis Raben, of, Miami
Sea, 2nd
3rd Blake Tekotte, of, Miami
SD, 3rd
4th Pete Hissey, of, HS/Pennsylvania Bos, 4th
5th Justin Parker, ss, Wright State
Ari, 6th
6th Brett Hunter, rhp, Pepperdine
Oak, 7th
7th Tim Federowicz, c, North Carolina
Bos, 7th
8th Gabe Jacobo, 3b, Sacramento State
LAA, 10th
9th Justin LaTempa, rhp, Golden West (Calif.) JC
Ari, 22nd
10th Mikie Mahtook, of, HS/Louisiana
Fla, 39th
Note: Supplemental first-rounder was 40th overall choice.

2007 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 11th Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Jason Heyward, of, HS/Georgia Atl, 1st
Supp. 1st Justin Jackson, ss, HS/North Carolina Tor, supp. 1st
2nd Nevin Griffith, rhp, HS/Florida CWS, 2nd
3rd Sam Demel, rhp, Texas Christian Oak, 3rd
4th T.J. McFarland, lhp, HS/Illinois Cle, 4th
5th Will Middlebrooks, 3b/rhp, HS/Texas Bos, 5th
6th Matt Angle, of, Ohio State Bal, 7th
7th Tim Smith, of, Arizona State Tex, 7th
8th Colby Shreve, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada Atl, 8th
9th Kade Koewen, of, Louisiana State-Eunice JC Bos, 9th
10th Dan Rohlfing, c, HS/Missouri Min, 14th
Note: Supplemental first-rounder was 41st overall choice.

2006 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 19th Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Missouri State Fla, 1st
2nd Wes Hodges, 3b, Georgia Tech Cle, 2nd
3rd Matt Sulentic, of, HS/Texas Oak, 3rd
4th Ryan Morris, lhp, HS/North Carolina Cle, 4th
5th Chris Archer, rhp, HS/North Carolina Cle, 5th
6th Zach Daeges, of, Creighton Bos, 6th
7th Luke Gorsett, of, Nebraska StL, 7th
8th Kent Gerst, of, HS/Missouri CWS, 8th
9th Kyle Gibson, rhp, HS/Indiana Phi, 36th
10th Justin Woodall, lhp/of, HS/Mississippi NYM, 19th

2005 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 17th Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Luke Hochevar, rhp, Tennessee LA, supp. 1st
Supp. 1st Michael Bowden, rhp, HS/Illinois Bos, supp. 1st
2nd Bryan Morris, rhp, HS/Tennessee TB, 3rd
3rd Jordan Schafer, of, HS/Florida Atl, 3rd
4th Seth Johnston, ss, Texas SD, 5th
5th Aaron Cunningham, of, Everett (Wash.) CC CWS, 6th
6th Jeremy Slayden, of, Georgia Tech Phi, 8th
7th Paul Phillips, rhp, Oakland Tor, 9th
8th Daniel McCutchen, rhp, Oklahoma StL, 12th
9th Mark Wagner, c, UC Irvine Bos, 9th
10th Mike Bell, 3b, Grayson County (Texas) CC Mil, 15th
Note: Supplemental first-rounder was 35th overall choice.

2004 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 21st Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Jon Zeringue, of, Louisiana State Ari, 2nd
2nd Erik Cordier, rhp, HS/Wisconsin KC, 2nd
3rd Andrew Dobies, lhp, Virginia Bos, 3rd
4th Mike Butia, of, James Madison Cle, 5th
5th Brad McCann, 3b, Clemson Fla, 6th
6th Jason Quarles, rhp, Southern Pit, 7th
7th Grant Plumley, ss, Oral Roberts NYY, 9th
8th Richard Mercado, c, Arizona Ari, 12th
9th Jeff Gogal, lhp, Montclair State (N.J.) Fla, 12th
10th Micah Owings, rhp, Georgia Tech ChC, 19th

2003 Hypothetical Draft (Picking 31st Each Round)
Round Player, Pos, School Real Life Draft
1st Ryan Sweeney, of, HS/Iowa CWS, 2nd
2nd Tony Richie, c, Florida State ChC, 4th
3rd Cliff Davis, rhp, HS/Mississippi Hou, 6th
4th Justin James, rhp, Missouri Tor, 5th
5th Clark Girardeau, rhp, South Alabama SD, 7th
6th Andy D'Alessio, 1b, HS/Florida Cin, 10th
7th Matt Maniscalco, ss, Mississippi State TB, 8th
8th Chris Durbin, of, Baylor Bos, 10th
9th Michael Brown, of, William & Mary Det, 13th
10th Myron Leslie, ss, South Florida Phi, 11th