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.
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.