Friday, June 29, 2007


Ryan Howard is the fastest man to ever play baseball to hit 100 homeruns in the major leagues. The man hit 100 homers faster than anybody else in the history of the sport and it's not even close...unless you consider a 60 game difference close. Damn...Howard is a tremendous power hitter, no doubt about it. As #100 sailed over the batter's eye in center, I got to thinking about Howard's future. Ryan Howard is 27 years old.

How many homeruns does he finish his career with? Any guesses?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Joe Savery 2.0

I love the pick of Savery and it makes perfect sense to make comparisons between this year's first rounder and the Cole Hamels/Kyle Drabek duo.

As I'm sure 98% of my reading public knows, I follow all four major sports teams in Philly pretty closely. When you watch enough sports and obsess about it like so many Philly sports fans do, it gets easy to spot a well run organization from an incompetent one. It's easy to make the comparison between the well-oiled machine that is the Philadelphia Eagles front office/ownership group and the rusty outdated model of the Phillies, but it works in almost all areas when considering how the two teams are run. With one exception, of course - the way the two teams approach drafting.

To their credit, the Phillies have approached the past few drafts with Joe Banner's draft mantra in mind - value, value, value. Picking in the second half of the first round year after year is a real challenge for any pro sports franchise, and the best way to succeed is by thinking outside the box and taking calculated gambles on talented players sliding down the board. You don't get such obvious talents as Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek where the Phillies got them without good reason; Hamels fell due to injury concerns and Drabek slipped due to worries about his bad makeup. Savery's arm is major league quality, but it was no surprise to see him slip in the draft because of the questions concerning his recovery from surgery to remove a bone growth from his labrum.

Joe Savery is a very good baseball player. Here are some of the basics...

Close to major league ready? I'd let him take the rest of 2007 off after he finishes up with Rice, then start him in Lakewood or Clearwater next year depending on how he progresses in the offseason. It's no stretch to say that if he's healthy, he could be in the big league rotation by the end of the 2009 season. I'll say that a timetable like that is worth of a check. Check.

Good size? 6-3, 215? Check.

Lefthanded? I'm a sucker for young lefties, you can really never have enough. Check.

Athletic? Savery gets high marks across the board for his athleticism and would have been a legit prospect as a first baseman with pop even if he didn't pitch (though obviously not a first rounder). Check.

His velocity was down after the surgery, but he has been quoted as saying he's had his fastball clocked in the mid-9os again as his arm has rounded back into shape. Prior to the injury, he sat 91-93 MPH and could touch the mid-90s; a return to that velocity makes him a heck of a lot more interesting. He also has a plus-plus changeup (and thus the comparison to Hamels) that really is a special pitch and a curveball that rates a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale (pretty damn good). A three-pitch mix like that with the potential to command all three for consistent strikes? I'm excited.

So now that I've built Savery up into this great pitching prospect, how in the world did he fall to 19th overall? Not only that, but why do some fans I've already heard from consider selecting him at 19 an ugly overdraft? What's his flaw? Broken arm in high school like Hamels? Attitude problems like Drabek? To put it simply: injuries, injuries, injuries. He's damaged goods. He's a pitcher from Rice, a school with a weak recent history of protecting their most talented arms. That's the argument against, but take a deep breath - I have good news.

His combination of fastball-changeup-curveball does not portend future arm woes, especially the way he emphasizes the use of his fastball and change. His mechanics are a thing of beauty, so pretty that it is hard to imagine his easily repeatable delivery putting any additional undue stress on his arm.

I know this all sounds overwhelmingly positive, but if you can't be positive on draft day when can you be? Savery isn't the perfect pitching prospect, but he's got enough positives to be plenty excited that he is now a member of the organization...or will be when he gets signed.

Joe Savery

Joe Savery, lefthanded pitcher from Rice, is the Phillies first round pick in 2007. I like the pick. A lot. I'll elaborate later, but pick 37 is quickly approaching. It figures that the Phillies will look towards the high school ranks, probably hoping to grab the top hitter left on their board. Who is still out there? Tons of fun names to consider, here's a long list of guys that I ought to condense but won't because I'm lazy.

Also, my goal this year is to shadow draft for all of the Phillies picks - with my number one pick, I take RHSP Michael Main. Just for fun.

Matt Harvey
Josh Smoker
Kyle Blair

Brett Cecil
Todd Frazier
Julio Borbon
Matt Mangini
Sean Doolittle
Josh Donaldson
Mitch Canham
Kyle Russell

Michael Burgess
Yasmani Grandal
Kentrail Davis
Travis d'Arnaud
Justin Jackson

Josh Horton
Neil Ramirez
Kellen Kulbacki
Cole St. Clair
Nevin Griffith
Will Middlebrooks
Jon Gilmore
Jon Lucroy
Angel Morales

The Philadelphia Phillies are on the Clock

YES - Rick Porcello (this would take huge guts on the part of management due to the rumored 10 million dollar bonus Scott Boras seeks, but it would be a move with a gigantic potential payout)

YES - Michael Main (Main has long been one of my favorite high school arms, high risk/high reward kind of player but worth the gamble to me)

YES - Josh Smoker (high school guy who knows how to pitch, good value for the spot)

NO - Julio Borbon (collegiate centerfielder who profiles as a leadoff man with no power and a noodle arm...pass)

NO - Mike Burgess (toolsy high school outfielder...maybe in the supplemental if they love the guy, but please not at 19)

Who will it be?

Updated Board

6 picks between now and the Phillies. Here's who is left on my personal reordered board:

RHSP - Rick Porcello
OF - Jason Heyward
C - Devin Mesoraco
RHSP - Michael Main
RHSP - Matt Harvey
3B - Kevin Ahrens
RHSP - Blake Beavan

Porcello is the dream, but his signability could quickly turn him into a nightmare; Heyward needs to get by the Braves at 14; Mesoraco and Ahrens would both instantly become the top hitting prospect in the system; Main, Harvey, Beavan...take your pick out of the righthanded pitcher grab bag.

I'm cautiously optimistic at this point.

UPDATE (3:30 PM):

Heyward did not get by the Braves at 14. The updated big board:

RHSP - Rick Porcello
C - Devin Mesoraco
RHSP - Michael Main
RHSP - Matt Harvey
3B - Kevin Ahrens
RHSP - Blake Beavan
LHSP - Josh Smoker
3B/OF - Todd Frazier

Ahrens to the Reds has been talked about for weeks, but we'll see about that shortly. Mesoraco is the most realistic player to hope for at this point, but one of the high school arms (again, take your pick between Main, Harvey, Beavan, and Smoker) looms large. I remain cautiously optimistic...just say NO to Julio Borbon and Michael Burgess.

UPDATE (3:40):

Not a good couple of picks for the Phillies - Mesoraco to the Reds and Ahrens to the Blue Jays. I think it probably comes down to this question at this point - which high school arm do the Phillies like best at this point?

Running Draft Day Commentary

David Price, lefthander from Vanderbilt, gone to Tampa at pick number one. This one was a no-brainer as Price is everything you want out of baseball prospect - mid-90s fastball, plus slider, developing change, plus command of all three pitches, superb makeup, great frame, dominance at collegiate and U.S. national team level, he's not a Boras client...the list goes on, but it's almost all overwhelmingly positive stuff. We've said it for years now, but watch out for Tampa - that's a franchise on the rise.

Kansas City is on the clock

Mike Moustakas to Kansas City, as reported by Jim Callis earlier in the day. Two picks in, two picks predicted by the experts (and by experts I pretty much just mean Callis). I'm not sure I buy Moustakas as the second most talented guy in this draft, in fact I know I don't, but Dayton Moore knows what he's doing in KC so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The Cubs are on the clock...Jarrod Parker? Josh Vitters?

Great pick by the Cubs, Josh Vitters is a heck of a player. Vitters continuously proved himself against high end competition in high school and during the showcase season. Now what? Pittsburgh is on the clock and it's really not clear what direction they are leaning. They could cause a major shakeup by nabbing Devin Mesoraco here. If not him, maybe Ross Detwiler?

Dan Moskos to the Pirates...interesting. Moskos switched from the bullpen to the rotation near the end of the season for Clemson, but his future is at the back of a big league pen someday - his stuff plays much better that way. Whenever the Pirates grab a pitcher, you can't help but get nervous...their track record with keeping guys healthy is pitiful. Moskos represents the first player drafted that I've seen in person, so that's exciting...I'll see if I get dig up my old notes on him.

Next up is the Orioles, another team that could really shake things up in this draft. Detwiler is the safest choice on the board, but they could really surprise some people by going after one of the top talents that have slipped (i.e. Wieters)...

Wieters to Baltimore, sensational pick. I saw Wieters play in a three game set up at Boston College during his sophomore year and it was clear he was the best player on the field by a long shot. Unlike a lot of the talking heads out there, I have zero doubt that Wieters can stick behind the plate - he excels in all phases of the game defensively, with his rocket arm standing out as a plus plus tool. At the plate, his bat is good enough to play anywhere on the field.

I think Matt Wieters is the best player in the draft this year.

I also think the Nationals wanted him at pick six. What now for Washington? Aumont? Porcello in a shocker?

Ross Detwiler to the Nationals at pick six. Detwiler is not a name I had on the radar for the Nats, but he makes a lot of sense in hindsight (especially with Wieters off the board)...the Nats have a gaping hole in their big league rotation and the convergence of need and Detwiler's sheer talent made this pick a good one. I love that the biggest knock on Detwiler is his weight - he's too damn thin (6-4, 180).

Milwaukee at seven is fascinating to me. The rich have a chance to get a whole lot richer here. With the infield set (Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Braun) for the next half decade, they can afford to look at pitching first and foremost. Or if they look offense, they could surprise with Mesocaro or Jason Heyward. If they stick with pitching, they'd be wise to snap up Jarrod Parker.

First draft shocker here - Milwaukee takes Matt LaPorta at seven. I can't wait to hear the reasoning behind that one because I'm stumped.

Colorado grabbed college closer Casey Weathers at pick eight. This pick was speculated by many because the Rockies wanted to keep Weathers away from the Giants and Padres...weird rationale for picking a guy and I'm sure there is way more to it than that, but interesting all the same.

Arizona picking Jarrod Parker is the example of the rich getting richer route that I thought the Brewers would take. Parker may be the top high school pitcher in this draft, great value at nine.

Madison Bumgarner to the Giants with their first of three first round picks. Now I've got 20% of the top ten picks right, nailing the bookends at 1 and 10. Paaaaathetic. Time to knock this off for a bit and focus more on the Phillies upcoming pick at 19.

Draft Day 2.0

The Phillies pick 7 times in the first five rounds of the draft. The picks are:

Round 01A (#0019)
Round 01B (#0037)
Round 02 (#0083)
Round 03A (#0107)
Round 03B (#0113)
Round 04 (#0143)
Round 05 (#0173)

We'll focus on the club's first pick for now, pick number 19. I'd be more than happy with a top 19 board that looked a little something like this:

David Price
Matt Wieters
Josh Vitters
Rick Porcello
Mike Moustakas
Jason Heyward
Ross Detwiler
Matt Harvey
Blake Beavan
Michael Main
Madison Bumgarner
Devin Mesoraco
Matt Dominguez
Jarrod Parker
Kevin Ahrens
Phillippe Aumont

Those are the top 16 most talented guys as I see them at this point and I would be thrilled if the Phillies drafted any of them. The guys at the top don't have much of a realistic chance of being there at 19, but you never know. Realistically, here's the best case scenario for the Phillies first pick, depending on what you'd like to see them do:

If you want a catcher, pray for Mesoraco to fall.

If you want a third baseman, Dominguez and Ahrens are the guys you should hope slip.

If high school arms are your fancy, you've got plenty to choose from. Harvey, Beavan, Main, Bumgarner, or Aumont all have a shot at being there.

If you are a big dreamer, then you are still holding out hope for Wieters (C), Porcello (RHSP), or Heyward (OF) dropping down the board.

There's a group of other players that intrigue me enough to be in the discussion at 19. They are:

Beau Mills
Josh Smoker
Dan Moskos
Andrew Brackman
Todd Frazier
Chris Withrow
Kyle Blair

7 more names that I wouldn't hate at 19 - Mills is a hitter, but profiles best as a 1B in the pros; Smoker is a personal favorite who gets high marks for his "pitchability;" Moskos could be a quick riser as a near-ready relief prospect; Brackman has dropped like a stone in recent weeks and would be a major project; Frazier is another favorite who can hit a ton and should settle in nicely at either 3B or a corner outfield spot; Withrow and Blair are high school arms long on potential.

This should be fun.

Draft Day

Playoff baseball. I know October is still four months away, but the last two games against the Mets in Queens had as close to a playoff atmosphere in June that a fan could ask for. I know I'm forgetting plenty of great games from early on in the year, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that the best three games of the season have occurred over the span of the last four days - Shane Victorino's walkoff against San Fran, the 11th inning win to start the series against the real team to beat, and last night's extremely tense Jimmy Rollins led takeover of a ballgame. Lucky for me, I was at two of the three game (Sunday and Tuesday) so my mood concerning the ballclub is pretty upbeat these days.

And now for something totally different. One of the reasons this site has gone quiet for such long stretches over the past six months finally comes to a head this afternoon at 2 PM on ESPN2 - the MLB draft is finally here. I've spent a good chunk of my free time working on compiling information on prospective draftees, going to college and high school games across the country, and talking to those in the know about the rising and falling talent in the amateur ranks. There is really no point doing a mock draft considering Jim Callis is the best in the business (I love Baseball Prospectus as much as the next guy, but trust the people who cover the draft all year long - Baseball America and PG Crosschecker lap the field when it comes to prospects/amateurs), but here's my take based on all I've read, heard, and inferred - enjoy:

1. Tampa - LHSP David Price
2. Kansas City - 3B Josh Vitters
3. Chicago (NL) - RHSP Jarrod Parker
4. Pittsburgh - C Devin Mesoraco
5. Baltimore - LHSP Ross Detwiler
6. Washington - C Matt Wieters
7. Milwaukee - UT Mike Moustakas
8. Colorado - LHRP Dan Moskos
9. Arizona - RHSP Phillippe Aumont
10. San Francisco - LHSP Madison Bumgarner
11. Seattle - LHSP Nick Schmidt
12. Florida - CF Julio Borbon
13. Cleveland - RHSP Blake Beavan
14. Atlanta - OF Jason Heyward
15. Cincinnati - 3B Kevin Ahrens
16. Toronto - 3B Matt Dominguez
17. Texas - RHSP Rick Porcello
18. St. Louis - OF Kyle Russell
19. Philadelphia - RHSP Michael Main
20. Los Angeles - RHSP Matt Harvey
21. Toronto - C J.P. Arencibia
22. San Francisco - 1B Beau Mills
23. San Diego - 3B/OF Todd Frazier
24. Texas - RHSP Chris Withrow
25. Chicago (AL) - SS Justin Jackson
26. Oakland - 1B Matt LaPorta
27. Detroit - RHSP Andrew Brackman
28. Minnesota - OF Michael Burgess
29. San Francisco - SS Pete Kozma
30. New York (AL) - LHSP Joe Savery

There are some things I like about that mock and some things I don't. I still have no clue where Wieters will wind up, I can't imagine Heyward and Mills falling that far, and slotting in all of the high school arms is an exercise in futility. I do think some of the picks are logical (notably Borbon, Frazier, and Savery), but where some of the top end talent (Wieters and Porcello) could change the complexion of the draft in a hurry.