A number of these draftees have been playing professionally for three years, so for some we can start to get a feel for their potential. The good news is that several look quite promising.
Three things stand out for me in this draft. It's quite different from the 2008 draft, several late picks are looking promising, and a number of the top picks have not yet panned out (and its looking as though a couple simply will not). Players who signed are bolded. Aside from Sanchez, who would be your picks for the players most likely to make a real contribution at the major league level?
1(4) Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College had an ugly-looking year. His batting average fell from 0.314 at Bradenton in 2010 to 0.243 in Altoona in 2011. Walk and strikeout rates remained fine, but Sanchez simply was not hitting line drives. As he said, "I'm just not getting barrel to the ball as much as I was last year and I'm not driving the ball, and I don't know what the cause for that is." It's also useful to share Tim Williams's assessment of Sanchez's defense, "Defensively, Sanchez saw improvements on his game calling, and remained solid with his pitch blocking. He also got a full season under his belt for the first time, and handled it well, putting up high 1.80 pop times after over 100 games in September, despite never catching that many games in a season before. Sanchez does raise some concerns with his throwing accuracy, but overall his defense wasn't an issue this year like his offense was." There's not much question that Sanchez will play in the majors, but there's a lot of uncertainty about whether he will step up and become the starter that a 4th overall pick should become.
1s(49) Victor Black, RHP, Dallas Baptist, pitched 35 and 2/3 relief innings at A and A+ with an ERA of 5.05, 9.6 hits per game, 0.3 home runs per game, 5.0 walks per game, and 7.1 strikeouts per game. Brutal, especially for a supplemental first rounder, would be my assessment. He had a shoulder injury late in the spring, and that led a biceps injury.
2(53) Brooks Pounders, RHP, Temecula (CA) Valley HS, pitched 66 (mostly relief) innings at WV with an ERA of 3.68, 8.3 hits per game, 1.2 home runs per game, 1.9 walks per game, and 9.8 strikeouts per game. This is not bad. Had he not been unusually vulnerable to home runs (9) and hit batsmen (13!), this would have been an excellent statistical season. Tim Williams was impressed with his stuff, describing a 90-93 MPH fastball and excellent secondary pitches. Pounders has not been missing many meals, as he stands 6'4" and weighs 270.
3(84) Evan Chambers, OF, Hillsborough (FL) CC, had 525 plate appearances at Bradenton. His average was 0.234 and his wOBA+ was 108. He's been very consistent, which not a good thing in his case. I quote Charlie: "Unfortunately, Chambers wasn't able to parlay walks, power and speed to a good season in 2011, mostly because he has never shown the ability to make contact. He has never batted above .245 in a minor-league season. If he can start hitting .270 or .280 on a consistent basis, he'll be an interesting prospect, but the odds of him doing that are very small. Which is too bad, because he has some obvious skills."
4(115) Zack Dodson, LHP, Medina Valley HS, Castroville, TX, pitched at three levels with an ERA of 3.10, 8.8 hits per game, 0.6 home runs per game, 2.1 walks per game, and 6.4 strikeouts per game. That's half of the walks per game of 2010. Unfortunately, after getting off to a strong start, Dodson injured his hand, so he missed almost three months at West Virginia. Post injury reports were that Dodson was throwing 88-91 MPH, and touching 93, which is pretty good for a young left handed pitcher.
5(145) Nate Baker, LHP, Mississippi, pitched at Bradenton with an ERA of 3.34, 9.2 hits per game, 0.4 home runs per game, 3.1 walks per game, and 6.4 strikeouts per game. He's pitching in the AFL now, which would seem to suggest that he's a prospect.
6(175), Zack Von Rosenberg, RHP, Zachary (LA) HS, pitched at WV with an ERA of 5.73, 10.2 hits per game, 1.4 home runs per game, 1.6 walks per game, and 8.2 strikeouts per game. To quote Charlie, "Von Rosenberg is struggling to command his fastball right now, so while he seemed to be pretty polished for a high school pitcher when he was drafted, he now looks like sort of a lottery ticket."
7(205) Trent Stevenson, RHP, Brophy Prep, Phoenix, AZ, had the sort of year that makes Von Rosenberg's look OK. At WV and SC he had an ERA of 6.46, 12.5 hits per game, 1.2 home runs per game, 1.7 walks per game, and only 3.9 strikeouts per game. This sort of performance can get you released in spring training. Like Von Rosenberg, he was elevating his fastball.
8(235) Colton Cain, LHP, Waxahachie (TX) HS, pitched at WV with an ERA of 3.64, 7.8 hits per game, 0.5 home runs per game, 2.6 walks per game, and 6.9 strikeouts per game. He stayed healthy, but looks a lot like Dodson in terms of performance (although the final numbers mask that he had an ERA of 3.16 as a starter). He didn't throw nearly as hard as Dodson.
9(265) Brock Holt, 2B, Rice, played 98 games at second and 33 games at short for Altoona. He hit 0.288 with a wOBA+ of 104. Holt handled the jump to AA well, with a strong on-base percentage, but he lacks power. He's got plenty of speed and can handle short well enough to be a utility player. Not too shabby for a ninth rounder. He's in the Arizona Fall League now.
10(295) Joey Schoenfeld, C, Santiago HS, Garden Grove, CA, has had a grand total of 102 at bats in three years. He was released at mid-season.
11(325) Aaron Baker, 1B, Oklahoma, got us Derrek Lee for a month.
12(355) Jeff Inman, RHP, Stanford, pitched 36 innings (mostly at Bradenton) with an ERA of 2.00 and 7.0 hits per game, 1.5 walks per game, and 4.5 strikeouts per game. Were it not for that troublesome elbow, we might be getting excited about Inman. He's in the Arizona Fall League now.
13(385) Walker Gourley, 3B, Eastern Wayne HS, Goldsboro, NC, has not apparently been released despite a career batting average of 0.177.
14(415) Marcos Reyna, RHP, Bakersfield (CA) JC, DNS
15(445) Peter Bako, RHP, Connors State (OK) JC, DNS
16(475) Matt den Dekker, OF, Florida, DNS
17(505) Jordan Cooper, RHP Central HS, Shelbyville, TN, DNS
18(535) Ryan Beckman, RHP, Grayson County (TX) CC, threw 58 innings for WV and Bradenton with an ERA of 2.79. And no, I didn't know that either. He allowed 7.6 hits per game, 0.2 home runs per game, 3.1 walks per game, and 8.0 strikeouts per game. Quite nice.
19(565) Josh Urban, RHP, Dripping Springs (TX) HS, DNS
20(595) Sam Spangler, LHP, Hawaii, DNS
21(625) Phillip Irwin, RHP, Mississippi, pitched 141 innings at WV and Altoona with an ERA of 3.14, 8.8 hits per game, 0.8 home runs per game, 1.4 walks per game, and 7.0 strikeouts per game. He emphasized the sinker once he got to Altoona, with very nice results.
22(655) Carmine Giardina, LHP, Tampa, DNS
24(715) Jason Erickson, RHP, Washington, pitched 71 innings (mostly in relief) for Bradenton with an ERA of 4.33. he allowed 2.55 walks per game and struck out 6.50 per game. It's hard to see him as a real prospect.
25) 745) Aaron LaFountaine, OF, North HS, Riverside, CA , DNS
26(775) Matt Dermody, LHP, Norwalk (IA) HS, DNS
27(805) Wes Luquette, C, Newman HS, New Orleans, LA, DNS
28(835) Kyle Hooper, RHP, Saugus (CA) HS, DNS
29(865) Michael Heller, RHP, Cardinal Mooney HS, Bradenton, FL , DNS
30(895) Ty Summerlin, SS, Southeastern Louisiana, was placed on restricted list, June 9, 2010.
31(925) Zach Taylor, OF, Statesboro (GA) HS, DNS.
32(955) Niko Spezial, LHP, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey. NJ, DNS.
33(985) Pat Irvine, OF, Elon, NC, was released by Pirates on March 28, 2011.
34(1015) Zac Fuesser, LHP, Walters State (TN) CC, was one of a trio of lefties at WV. He had an ERA of 3.74, 9.2 hits per game, 1.2 home runs per game, 2.7 walks per game, and 7.9 strikeouts per game. He had a great start, but tailed off in July and August.
35(1045, Chris McKenzie, RHP, San Jacinto (TX) JC, DNS
36(1075) Bobby Doran, RHP, Seward County (KS) CC, DNS
37(1105) Zach Nuding, RHP, Weatherford (TX) JC, TX , DNS
38(1135) Jake Lamb, 3B, Bishop Blancet HS, Seattle, Wash. , DNS
39(1165) Keifer Nuncio, RHP, Katy (TX) HS, DNS
40(1195) Brett Lee, LHP, West Florida HS, Pensacola, FL, DNS
41(1225) Tyler Cannon, SS, Virginia, DNS
42(1255) Marc Baca, RHP, Nevada-Las Vegas, was released in May of 2011.
43(1285) Edward Fallon, RHP, South Carolina-Upstate, DNS
44(1315) Dexter Bobo, LHP, Georgia Southern, DNS
45(1345) Kevin Gelinas, LHP, Central Arizona JC, DNS
46(1375) Parker Bangs, RHP, South Carolina, , DNS
47(1405) Justin Earls, LHP, Georgia, , DNS
48(1435) Blake Brown, OF, Normal West HS, IL, DNS
49(1465) Yasser Clor, RHP, California, DNS
50(1495) Matt Taylor, LHP, Columbus (GA) HS, DNS