The 2009 Draft -- Early Returns

Since we started looking at James Jones and his strong second half, I looked up where he went in the draft, and it struck me that it was worth sharing what an exciting class it is turning out to be.  And, to clarify, the draft is McNamara's bailiwick, not Fusco's.

Rd 1 -- Dustin Ackley.  Solid MLB regular at worst.  Everyone had him as the top hitter in the draft as a corner OF or 1B (maybe CF).  But the Z-Crew has him in the middle infield.  If you knew he could handle 2B (which most folks didn't), would you take him over Strasburg (with or without knowing about the injury)?  Certainly not underrated as the #2 overall pick, but extra credit for the 2B maneuver.

Rd 1 supp -- Nick Franklin.  Looking solid-enough with the glove to be an MLB regular even if the hitting is flukish.  If the hitting is NOT flukish?  Whoa.  Switch-hitting Jeter, complete with the leadership skills?  (Yes, work to do from the right side, we know.)  And this is the guy everyone thought was a "reach."  Underrated by far.

EDIT -- Rd 1 supp -- Steve Baron.  It's early still, but Baron has yet to show he can handle the offensive side.  But as a HS pick and a C, he's got time to develop.  Still could end up as a decent value.

EDIT -- Rd 2 -- Rich Poythress.  At 6-4, 235 with big-time power, Poythress was expected to make High Desert his personal sandbox, and he did with a .315/.381/.580 demolition.  Away from home?  The .291/.346/.581 holds up pretty well.  (SLG was actually higher on the road.)  Or how about his second half: .336/.391/.668 with 20 doubles and 17 HR in the second half alone.  Eye was 52 BB: 100 K.

Rd 3 -- Kyle Seager.  First he was LH Bloomie, then he graduated to Ackley-lite.  But High Desert or no, the man had 40 doubles and 71 walks.  He's a full-blown prospect in his own right, and we would be really psyched if not for his former Tar Heel teammate playing the same position at a higher level.  Underrated.

EDIT -- Here I was excited about Poythress' second-half, but check out Seager's: .384/.449/.595.  111 H, 38 xbh (25 dbl, 3 tpl, 10 HR), 34 BB (vs. 42 K) in the post-all-star period alone!  Also, his home/road splits in the Cal League are pretty much identical.

Rd 4 -- James Jones.  See the comment thread for the Chavez post.  Monster second half, showing patience, speed and extra-base pop.  Remember, he was mostly a pitcher in college, and had only been focusing on hitting for about a year before his bust-out July and August.  And even before the bust-out he was walking a ton and hitting triples.  As a hitter, underrated for sure.

Rd 5 -- Tyler Blandford.  Started 7 games for Clinton and walked a bunch of guys.  Haven't really followed him.

Rd 6 -- Shaver Hansen.  More of a Bloomie type than Seager turned out to be.  Played all over the diamond, but he's proof that High Desert doesn't put magic in everyone's bat.

Rd 7 -- Brian Moran.  How cool is Brian Moran?  Lefty junk that can't possibly work, except it does.  He was sure intimidated by High Desert, the pitcher's nightmare.  Only 29 K and 2 BB in 25.1 IP, 0 HR and a 1.42 ERA -- in the Cal League!  He ended up in AA (one bad outing spoiling his otherwise amazing stats).  Moran will pitch in an MLB bullpen, for sure.  Underrated.

Rd 8 -- James Gillheeney.  Lefty starter was solid at Clinton (2.83 ERA, 102 K in 117.2 IP), and got a shot at High Desert and then West Tenn at the end of the year.  Definite bullpen possibility if he can't stick in the rotation.  

Rd 18 -- Anthony Vasquez.  Another lefty starter and, like Gillheeney, rose from Clinton to HD to West Tenn.  Doesn't strike out a ton of batters, but keeps the walks down.  Also a lefty bullpen possibility.  Underrated.

Rd 29 -- Brandon Haveman.  Listed at 5-9, 165, he jumped from rookie ball in 09 to AA in 10.  A leadoff guy and CF, he won't intimidate anyone at the plate, but he held his own with .296/.343/.361 and only 28 K in 230 AB, so there is at least the potential for a bench role if he's slick enough with the glove.

There may be more, but that's a pretty strong track record right there.


mabalasek's picture

hey spec!!!
this is blasphemy! how could you forget my favorite minor leaguer? rich poythress!!! :)
yeah i agree, this is a very very very good draft for the M's.


I was thinking Baron was the Rd 2 pick, but he was actually a second supplemental and Poythress was the 2nd round pick.
Apologies to Rich and his .315/.381/.580 demolition of High Desert!
I don't expect the massive SLG to survive the move to Tennessee, but, absolutely, there's another guy who could make a big-league roster.

muddyfrogwater's picture

Any contemplation towards the 2011 draft yet? Considering the M's are currently locked into second place, now is the time to hope for a few losses, I guess. It looks like 3rd basemen Anthony Rendon is the top prize, Pittsburgh, no doubt. However, there is a quartet or so of top notch college pitchers after that. Gerrit Cole, Matthew Purke, Daniel Norris, & Sonny Gray. Story? Is there a Morrow vs. Licecum pitfall? It should be another good restock year. I believe the M's get 3 top 50 picks.

Anonymous's picture

NO way! remember according to Churchill and Law, Franklin was the worst pick in the first round....:) Backed it up with video explaining why he would NEVER hit for avg or power...
Remember that? Jason? Keith?  NO, the worst picks in the first round 09 draft would be the Padres, Dbacks and Stro's...You guys really need to get out more often.


And he's the top prospect in the Pirate's org, the #2 pick in the 2008 draft and the #8 prospect in baseball before the season started.  He's Rendon from 2 years ago, and he was fine in his first 300 ABs in the bigs this year.  He's not the greatest fielder, but I don't think his bat holds up at 1B necessarily, so they should want to keep him at 3B if they can.
We NEED to make sure we get the second pick, because Rendon MIGHT fall to us.  If you don't think Rendon is any better than Alvarez, and Alvarez isn't going anywhere, then a pitcher might be the call for the Pirates.  Who can tell with them?  They do weird things in the draft.
We need to be there, ready to make the call if Rendon gets passed over.  Purke or Cole would likely be the call if Rendon falls or we don't think he can recover from that nasty injury...but he's the prize.  For us if not the Pirates.  Draft pitchers in the other two slots if we want - they'll be there.
But Rendon would/should complete a bats overhaul for us.  And we're now in as fine a position to collect him as we could be, save having the #1 pick.
Just be glad it's the Pirates ahead of us letting us have any chance at all at him.  We still have a whole 'nother college season to go which could still shuffle things, but I wouldn't cross the projected #1 college hitter off our wish list just yet.

mabalasek's picture


Jpax's picture

I don't think we are getting any supplemental picks this year in the first round (we do get one in the third round for failure to sign Stanek).  So I am thinking that we only have 2 picks in the top 50.

Taro's picture

People wonder why I'm so down on high K% hitter in the minors.. The McPherson/Wood types are why.
Rendon is waaaay better than any of those guys were. Talent+Performance. Hes far and away the #1 next year. Ackley is a better prospect than any those guys were as well IMO.
I would be very shocked if either of Rendon or Ackley didn't pan out to become at least very good players. I'm not as high on Smoak's ceiling as others, but hes a high probability shot an above-average player as well.


I had to triple-check that because I wasn't sure it was real.  And 26 HR in those 226 ABs. 
As a freshman: 31 BB:23 K in 242 ABs with 20 HR.
So that's actually a better eye than Ackley in college, and with more legit power.
And at Rice, a perennial College World Series contender, not a rinky-dink program at all.
Absolutely, he's head-and-shoulders above the next-best hitter George Springer -- 60 BB:70 K in 243 ABs with 18 HR.  Springer does bring 33-of-35 SB (though it's hard to tell too much from college SB figures, other than he is legitimately fast), but that's three times the strikeouts that Rendon had.


From 1990-1999:
Only 3 times have 4 players (any position) made the BA top 25 prospect list:
Braves (1992): Chipper (3b), Klesko (1b), Wohlers (rhp) and Kelly (of) 
Expos (1993): Floyd (of) , Cordero (ss), White (of), Tavo Alvarez (rhp)
Marlins (1993): Ozuna (ss), Alex Gonzalez (ss), Burnett (rhp), Looper (rhp)

Taro's picture

Yeah, I can't find any college hitter thats been better than Rendon in the past 10 years considering the numbers and quality of league. I would say hes well ahead of Ackley as a prospect and thats saying a LOT.
Premium talent+performance? Rendon probably isn't an immediate impact player right out of college like Lincecum and Strasburg were, but hes a VERY high percentile shot at a star player. His stint in the minors should be a short one.
And for the record I want NOTHING to do with Springer... The high Ks in college ball are a huge red flag for me.


Rendon IMO has a higher ceiling than Ackley, but since he has to play 3B the floor of his performance relative to a normal 3B is probably about the same as Ackley's floor compared to 2B performance.  Ackley has to hit like his 10th percentile projection NOT to be a league-average 2B.  Guys who can walk like him, with his theoretical hit tool, just don't come along too often at 2B.  When they do, they're all stars if they perform.  Ackley could just be decent, but he would have to totally face-plant into an acre of poison ivy in order to be a below-offensive 2B.
But the upside of what happens if Rendon and Ackley hit even a moderate projection is astounding.  I'd looooove to be able to get Rendon because the Pirates take a pitcher.  Smoak has more hurdles to overcome because his bat is required to be bigger for the position he plays, and I think Rendon is more talented.
And Franklin has a long way to go, even with the amazing promise of his season.
But it's still a heartening prospect, to have so many players with talent in the system and the opportunity to add another massive one.  And yeah, I'm also not sold on Springer.  But that's why they play the games.  Springer will have another college season to impress, and Rendon will get to show whether he's healthy after that devastating injury.
If the Pirates doubt it and use that as an excuse to pass on him, so much the better for us.

Taro's picture

I'm kind of hoping that Rendon shows he isn't healthy and the Ms have the balls to still take him at #2.
Pedro Alvarez dropped for similar reasons to the Pirates, and really he was nowhere near as good of a prospect as Rendon IMO (though their stock seems similar). 

muddyfrogwater's picture

If Rendon gets a big time agent like Boras Pittsburgh could pass for financial reasons. So yea, you can't really cross him off just yet. :fingers crossed:

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