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June 6, 2008
  
Draft Recap
by: Alex Nelson on Jun 6, 2008 1:50 AM | Filed under: Articles

For the first time, I live-blogged the entirety of the first day of the draft yesterday, all six rounds of it. You can find almost everything I’m gonna say there, but I figured I’d consolidate it into something that’s easily readable.

Also, I shadow-drafted the Mets’ picks, as prospect analyst John Sickels has done with the Twins for years. After the Mets made each pick, I made my own. I approached the draft with a different gameplan than the Mets, which accounts for most of the differences between their draft and mine.

Mets                              Alex
Ike Davis, OF, AZ State           Christian Friedrich, LHP, E. Kentucky
Reese Havens, SS, S. Carolina     Zach Collier, OF, California HS
Brad Holt, RHP, UNC-Wilmington    Tim Melville, RHP, Missouri HS
Javier Rodriguez, PR HS           Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, APU         Aaron Weatherford, RHP, Miss. State
Sean Ratliff, OF, Stanford        Austin DiCharry, LHP, Texas HS
Dock Doyle, C, Coastal Carolina   Dock Doyle, C, Coastal Carolina
Josh Satin, 2B, UC Berkeley       Brett Marshall, RHP, Texas HS

First off, the Mets were clearly picking for names. Ike Davis? Reese Havens? Don’t those scream baseball? Brad Holt has a rugged simplicity about it, and picturing Keith Hernandez saying Kirk Nieuwenhuis is comic gold. What else could a guy nicknamed “Dock” be but a catcher? And “Satin” sounds like a second baseman.

Furthermore, the Mets clearly were interested in replenishing their upper minors, and they did a great job, snagging polished college hitters with six of eight picks. I went for a mix of polish (Friedrich, Weatherford, and Doyle) and raw talent (Zach Collier, Tim Melville, Brett Marshall).

We’ll start with their first pick, the 18 overall.

Ike Davis, OF/1B, Arizona State University

Davis is a polished hitter who has some flaws. First, the good. He has a very good approach at the plate, and he’s capable of recognizing pitches as they come, thanks, in part, to great bat speed that lets him wait a little longer on the pitch than your average bear. This year, he started using his lower body more, which resulted in him finally tapping that raw power he always had. He can show a smooth left-handed stroke. Also a pitcher, he has a strong arm and figures to be an above average defensive first baseman. He may be able to handle a corner outfield slot, too.

Here’s the bad: he’s struggled with wood bats during previous summers in Alaska and on the Cape, bringing about substantial doubts about his ability to adapt to wood. He also has trouble repeating his swing mechanics, at which points he’ll lengthen his swing to the extent that strikeouts could become problematic. As a result of both these thinga, his contact rate will bear watching in the minor leagues, particularly when he advances. He’s a big guy, and speed isn’t his forte, so there’s a very real possibility he’ll be stuck at first.

I would have liked had they grabbed somebody else with the 18 and waited until the 22 to grab Davis, but I won’t fault them for it. Davis was clearly the remaining guy they wanted, and they wanted to make sure they got him.

Reese Havens, SS/2B, University of South Carolina

Havens is the definition of a polished hitter. After being a well-regarded high school prospect, he struggled surprisingly his first two seasons with the Gamecocks. But he had a great season on the Cape last summer, and he carried it over to 2008. He’s got a great swing marked by a short swing path, great bat control, and active hips, which are what provide power to his swing. He won’t be a big power hitter, but he should provide some nice pop for a middle infielder. He’s got great contact skills and a discerning eye. He won’t chase balls out of the zone, opting to wait for fastballs placed where he can drive them.

There are questions about his defense, however. He’s developed good footwork and soft hands, and he possesses a strong arm, but a lack of speed hurts his range. Scouts are split as to whether he’ll be able to stay at short or will have to move to second. His overall defense has improved tremendously from where it had been.

Frankly, I love the pick. He was one of my top targets with the 22, and I’m ecstatic the Mets landed him.

Brad Holt, RHP, University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Nobody’s stock shot up faster than Brad Holt’s as we entered the week of the draft, as Holt concluded a great season. Already possessing a great body for pitching–six-four, 195 pounds–he might even have a little projection left. He’s got one of the best college fastballs in the draft and, more impressively, he’s shown great ability in maintaining that velocity over the course of a game, thanks to outstanding arm strength. The biggest boost to his status has been improved command, allowing him to throw the fastball for strikes to each side of the plate. Scouting director Rudy Terrasas is known to love strong arms, so it really wasn’t a surprise that the Mets took Holt when they did, despite modest rankings from Keith Law and Baseball America. Futhermore, the Brewers were known to covet Holt also, so it was likely that he wouldn’t have made it to the second round–Milwaukee had back-to-back supplemental picks.

The rub is that he doesn’t have very good secondary stuff. The hard curve, which could be a plus pitch, is wobbly, and he telegraphs it by changing his arm speed. It’s a risky pick, but the Mets could afford to spend one of the top picks on a risk, and he could be a very good starter if he develops a plus breaking pitch. And if not, they could convert him into a setup guy.

Javier Rodriguez, OF, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

Rodriguez is a toolsy outfielder with a projectable frame. He’s got a lean body with some height to it, and he could develop more power as he adds muscle. As it is, he’s a line drive hitter who has power when he pulls the ball and needs to learn how to drive to the opposite field. He has the bat speed to wait on the pitch, so it could come. He’s got solid-average speed and a strong, accurate arm, but he doesn’t get good grades in the outfield.

Much depends on his approach of the plate and how he develops power, but he at least has the chance to become a starting corner outfielder. Rodriguez might have fallen to the third round, but it wasn’t a big stretch to take him here.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Azusa Pacific University

Of the guys the Mets drafted, I might keep the closest eye on Nieuwenhuis next year. He’s done nothing but hit in the NAIA, showing off good power, discipline, and contact skills. A senior, this past year he hit .400, walked as often as he struck out, hit 39 extra-base hits–15 over the wall–and played centerfield. I haven’t read a scouting report on him, but he did hit extremely well in Alaska last summer, a wood bat league. That’s a very positive sign.

The biggest adjustment will be the difference in competition, so his contact rate will bear close watching.

Sean Ratliff, OF, Stanford University

Stanford’s centerfielder, Ratliff is a big guy with very good power, especially to his pull side. He also has slightly above average speed, and he’s shown enough range in center to get by. Ultimately, he’s going to end up in an corner outfield spot, and there are still major questions about his bat. His bat speed is just average, he stands very upright, and his swing’s pretty long–he strikes out a lot. My least favorite pick of the Mets’ draft, he’s got a lot of work to do before he’s anything more than role player in the majors.

Dock Doyle, C, Coastal Carolina University

Doyle’s best feature is that he’s a solid bet to stick as a catcher. He’s got a solid six-foot, 200-pound body and good catcher’s skills and mechanics, plus an average arm. At the plate, he doesn’t have a long track record, but he did break out this year, hitting .361 and smacking 36 extra-base hits. That’s enough to make him a worthwhile selection since all the better catchers were long gone.

I was planning to pick Yale catcher Ryan Lavarnway, but he’ll end up in the outfield, so I decided to trust the Mets’ instincts on Doyle.

Josh Satin, 2B, University of California, Berkeley

Satin’s a polished hitter as a second baseman. He doesn’t have outstanding tools, one way or another, but he knows what he’s doing at the plate and makes the most of what he has. Like Nieuwenhuis and Havens, he’s shown an ability to hit with wood. Standing six-three, his swing has the leverage and bat speed needed to hit for power. And he is a good bet to hit, but his glovework and range are nothing special. Most scouts think he’ll end up in the outfield, where his bat will have more pressure to produce.

As a final note, look out for these guys on the draft’s second day:

Eric Thames, OF, Pepperdine. He tore his quadriceps right before the draft, but he was one of the best hitters in the country when it happened.

Xavier Scruggs, 1B, UNLV. Like Thames, he absolutely raked this year, but he’s got an unathletic (read: fat) body.

Scott Barnes, LHP, St. John’s. Lefty with good, if inconsistent velocity and a little bit of a deceptive delivery.

Austin DiCharry, LHP, Texas HS. He’s a polished pitcher with a good curve, though he might be a tough sign.

Brent Warren, OF, Oregon HS. He’s a toolsy outfielder, but he’s got improving baseball skills, and he’s more polished than some. A heart problem from last year might be scaring some teams off, but he’s been cleared to play.


16 Responses to “Draft Recap”

  1. Comment posted by yfern328 on June 6, 2008 at 4:54 am (#718689)

    How about adding to that list a guy like OF Jordan Danks from Texas, brother of SP John Danks on the White Sox. The list you made sounds like a list of prospects with talent and a chip on their shoulder. Danks is a guy that has the frame, and mechanics to be a sound hitter at the major league level, but he’s never truly shown it beyond hitting for average. I think a team that lands him will get real lucky if he eventually does hit a stride because he’s got a toolbox full of weapons including his defense. He just needs more power. He could be a great steal in the late portion of this draft.

    Danks was regarded as an elite home run hitter coming out of high school, and he beat Marlins center fielder Cameron Maybin in the home run derby at the 2004 AFLAC All-America Game. But he has just nine home runs in 490 at-bats in two and a half years at Texas, including three homers in 136 at-bats this spring. Yet his performance has been fairly even in his junior year, as he has hit .324/.452/.515 and played characteristically sound defense in center field.

    “I could go bald scratching my head on that guy,” a National League area scout said of Danks. “If you’re going to project power, you’ve got to have something to back that up in college. He’s a tough one to figure out. He’s got that real patient, disciplined approach, he’s always working that count—he could profile as an Oakland-type guy.”

    Danks is an outstanding baserunner with good speed, and he had 32 career stolen bases without ever being caught until he was gunned down March 20 against Texas Tech. He’s also an exceptional defender in center field, though his arm is fringy. But the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Danks was not supposed to be a speed-and-defense center fielder when he told major league clubs not to waste early draft picks on him in 2005 because he wanted to go to Texas. If not for that stance, Danks would likely have gone in the first round thanks to his raw power and athleticism.

    “The last couple of years I was in the leadoff spot a lot, and I think that’s really what turned me into a get-on-base guy, try to walk, get a hit, poke the ball over the third baseman or shortstop,” Danks said. “Now I’ve been hitting two, three hole, so I’ve got a different role, where the guys in front of me get on base and I’m just trying to connect as hard as I can to get those guys in. I’m feeling actually real confident this year, a lot more at the plate. I haven’t really gone through a major slump yet, which I’ve done freshman and sophomore years, so I’m hoping to avoid that. I’m seeing the ball real well—it’s looking like a beach ball right now.”

    Danks has produced enough that scouts can dream on his supreme talent, though it’s unclear if any clubs will be prepared to make the kind of commitment it will take to get Danks to sign.

    “I think somebody’s going to take Danks pretty good,” said another NL area scout. “He’s a good-looking player, he fits the mold. You’d like to see more production out of the guy, but I would still think he goes pretty good. He certainly would make it easier on everybody if he went out and hit some home runs. He has hit, just hasn’t hit very many home runs.”

    He’s got a shot to go in the first round, but his draft stock has not climbed since high school. That doesn’t mean Danks regrets for a second his decision to get an education. His older brother, White Sox lefthander John Danks, was a first-round pick out of high school by the Rangers in 2003, and Jordan learned from John’s experience in the minor leagues.

    “My brother had a big influence on (the decision to go to school),” Jordan Danks said. “I got to see him in the minor leagues, and you look at his minor league roster—at the time he was 18, 19 years old, he was in Double-A and you got guys on the roster 30 years old. I told myself I didn’t want to be one of those guys who signed out of high school and got to Double-A but didn’t have anything else to fall back on. I just decided if they want me now, hopefully they’ll want me out of college.”

  2. Comment posted by yfern328 on June 6, 2008 at 4:55 am (#718690)

    P.S. Alex. Phenomenal job with the draft.

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  4. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on June 6, 2008 at 8:40 am (#718698)

    How about adding to that list a guy like OF Jordan Danks from Texas, brother of SP John Danks on the White Sox. The list you made sounds like a list of prospects with talent and a chip on their shoulder.

    Danks could fall on the list. At this point, Danks has hit for zero power, despite being big and strong. However, because of that size (6-5, 210), his speed isn’t expected to hold up well over time. So you might be left with a guy too big to run, but whose swing mechanics–which might be too late to change–don’t allow him to hit for power. So he’d just be an on-base guy who needs to keep hitting for contact.

    At this point, you’re not going to get a very good player unless he’s got a reason for it.

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  6. Comment posted by Dep on June 6, 2008 at 9:31 am (#718712)

    Great Recap. I like what we did, some very interesting picks.

    Alex, you are the man.

  7. Comment posted by Danny on June 6, 2008 at 10:01 am (#718729)

    I really like our draft so far. I wanted 2 polished bats with the first 2 picks and that’s what we got. I think Havens has the chance to really mature into something at second base.

    I wanted a pitcher with tons of upside at 33, and I’m a little discouraged that we picked a college power guy with a weak secondary arsenal. But he’s got a nice frame and throws hard, and he’s not such a high pick where we have to give him a major league contract and feel the need to rush him through the system. So hopefully we take our time with Holt and develop him more carefully than say, I don’t know, Mike Pelfrey.

    I’m also extremely intrigued by Nieuwenhuis and I loved the Dock Doyle pick.

  8. Comment posted by gene on June 6, 2008 at 10:34 am (#718752)

    Solid Draft so far with a great emphasis on ’safe’ picks. For the second day, there needs to be a pitching focus to reload a bunch of the mid level starting talent lost in the Santana trade. Great small school sleeper I’ve followed a bit this year is Tim Kiely from D3 Trinity (Conn). His 2008 Stats-
    Starts: 12; Inn: 97; Hits: 80; K:107; BB: 3; ER: 16; ERA 1.48
    Incredible college career with an absurd K/BB ratio as a senior. Was the star of a team that set an NCAA record with 40+ consecutive wins and won a National Title (albeit at the D3 level). Throws hard enough to get by (91-92mph) and paints corners with ease. Played college football through his sophomore year before concentrating on football exclusively.

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  10. Comment posted by JK47 on June 6, 2008 at 11:41 am (#718831)

    I’m very happy with Davis and Havens at 18 and 22. Reese Havens sure as hell LOOKS like a baseball player. I’m most enamored with his huge OBP spike last year: he had a .486 OBP with 58 walks, 44 strikeouts in 2008. I know it’s college ball and metal bats and all that, but still, .486 is .486.

  11. Comment posted by Danny on June 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm (#718885)

    Of the guys Alex told us to look out for:

    Thames went to Toronto with pick #219.

    Barnes went to San Francisco with pick #237.

    As of pick 400, the other 3 are still available.

  12. Comment posted by Danny on June 6, 2008 at 12:51 pm (#718897)

    Jordan Danks got picked by the White Sox (#210), which shouldn’t be a shocker.

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  14. Comment posted by Simons on June 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm (#718911)

    What else could a guy nicknamed “Dock” be but a catcher?

    He could always be a pitcher who throws no-hitters under the influence of LSD

    http://www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/ellis.asp

  15. Comment posted by Ellis Dee on June 6, 2008 at 2:00 pm (#718953)

    He could always be a pitcher who throws no-hitters under the influence of LSD

    I will admit I had a lasting influence on Dock. For some I do wonders. For others…well, some can’t handle my truth! ;)

  16. Comment posted by Ellis Dee on June 6, 2008 at 2:08 pm (#718968)

    BTW, great job with the draft, Alex.

    He’s a big guy, and speed isn’t his forte, so there’s a very real possibility he’ll be stuck at first.

    Ike Davis was clocked going home to first at 4.2 on the mlb.com video. That’s pretty good for a big guy, and beat most of the others the mets drafted yesterday.

  17. Comment posted by sheadenizen on June 6, 2008 at 4:28 pm (#719154)

    Alex, thanks so much for this. I had to miss most of yesterday and this was a terrific way to catch up.

  18. Comment posted by lucienlc on June 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm (#719180)

    Great job, Alex. Thanks so much for doing this for all of us.

  19. Comment posted by Danny on June 6, 2008 at 5:55 pm (#719209)

    Nelson Player Update:

    Xavier Scruggs went #575 to St. Louis.

    Brent Warren went #814 to Oakland.

    DiCharry hasn’t been picked through 1,250.

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  21. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on June 6, 2008 at 6:19 pm (#719221)

    DiCharry hasn’t been picked through 1,250.

    It’s a signability thing. Word was he’s not signing for less than 2nd round money. And he wasn’t quite worth that.

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