In Part I
of this six part series previewing the 2009 First-Year MLB Amateur Draft, I've broken down the top ten prospects likely to be chosen first. Obviously there are certain things that could happen, such as injury, high demands, etc., that could make some prospects fall to lower in the first round. As I mentioned before, after Strasburg, the rest of the top picks could go in any order. Trying to predict the exact order of the draft right now is a fools errand, so rather than trying to guess who will take who, I give you the top picks based on talent only.
11. Aaron Crow, RHP, Ft. Worth Cats (AAIPB)
The ninth overall selection by the Washington Nationals last year, Aaron may have a slender frame, but he's a complete power pitcher on the mound, complete with a mid-90's fastball that features outstanding late life, a plus slider in the 83-85 mph range, and a above-average change-up. A virtually unknown pitcher coming into college, he was arguably the top right hander in the 2008 draft class. He made his biggest splash in the Cape Cod League, sitting around 96 mph and topping out at 98 with excellent life through the zone that resulted in lots of ground balls.
In addition to leading the league with a 0.67 ERA, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right hander limited hitters to a .140 average. In 40 innings, he allowed just 19 hits and gave up a mere nine walks while striking out 36. Not only did Crow impress scouts with his fastball velocity, but he held it deep into games, got good movement on the pitch and worked efficiently with it to both sides of the plate low in the strike zone. The major concern with Crow despite his frame being on the small side is his delivery. He's got some major inverted W in his arm action, and as a result, has some timing issues. Some scouts wonder how durable he will be as a starter.
12. Kentrail Davis, OF, Tennessee
Lightning quick center fielder out of Tennessee is arguably the top contact hitter in the NCAA. He was a top prospect coming out of high school in 2007, but fell to the 14th round after being involved in a car accident that also affected his productivity his senior year. A draft-eligible sophomore at 21 years old, Kentrail is a legit first rounder with outstanding bat-speed, hand-eye coordination, and plus-plus speed on the base paths. He's the prototypical lead-off hitter that consistently gets on base with a very good eye and pitch recognition. He has respectable power for being 5'9, but he's built very well for his size.
He is well-known for spraying line drives all over the field, and routinely turns singles into doubles and doubles into triples. He was the best positional prospect of those that participated with Team USA
last summer, and led the team in hitting coming off of his freshman year before leaving the team due to a wrist injury. Being a D-E Sophomore and having Scott Boras as his agent, I could definitely see him slipping to the end of the first round since he doesn't have a whole lot of leverage.
13. Mychal Givens, RHP/SS, FL (HS)
Perhaps the most dynamic two-way prospect in the draft, Givens is an outstanding athlete, and has makeup that scouts that all make scouts drool over. He is also a basketball standout at Plant High School, but baseball is definitely his better sport. Like Tim Beckham last year, he has advanced actions at shortstop, complete with plus arm strength and outstanding range. He also translates his good arm to the mound, where he has been clocked as high as 98 mph.
He is a great athlete and have tremendous work ethic that will allow him to progress at a much better rate than most raw and toolsy players. An exceptional shortstop, with the range, arm, and hands to make him a perennial gold glover. He is a quick-twitch athlete and although his swing isn't where it should be, he can definitely make the adjustments to succeed against advanced pitching. As a pitcher, not only does his fastball hit the high-90's, it has plenty of run and sink, much similar to Justin Verlander. While he hasn't used his off-speech much, he has a nice little slurve and flashes a decent change, which both have the potential to be above-average. Scouts rave about his makeup, and that includes being a fantastic teammate, a good student, and a hard worker.
His hitting mechanics need some tweaking, such as lunging at the ball, being flat-footed, out on my front foot, and an intricate toe-touch that may need to go. All of these affect his ultimate ceiling as a position player, because right now many scouts doubt his power potential and see him as being a defensive-minded shortstop. And although he may have a very live arm, his side-arm delivery has many scouts wondering if he'll be a starter or reliever.
14. Jacob Turner, RHP, MO (HS)
The top right-handed prep arm in the country, and impressed many scouts in the All-American game by striking out five hitters in two innings (including Tate, Maddox, and Goodwin). He may have the fastest arm of all high school pitchers, and possesses the size, control, projectability, and work ethic to leave scouts very impressed. His effortless delivery allowed him to sit comfortably from 92-94 mph, with excellent running life.
With his 6'5 frame and room to fill out, he could be sitting in the mid-90's in a few years. He has an above-average curveball that has solid 11-5 movement and is a real biter. Like just about all high school pitchers, his change-up lags a little bit behind my other offerings, but he shows a solid feel for it as it keeps hitters honest. He is also a very good student and a pretty decent hitter as well, hitting 10 home runs last year. Some say his delivery isn't as sound as it should be, that he has a lot of flying parts and that his arm action is too long. He also lacks a legit out pitch, as his curveball isn't anything special. The combination of these two make some scouts wonder if a future in the bullpen is foreseeable. Scott Boras is his agent, so while he's not really a sure thing, signability will also be a factor.
15. Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
Perhaps the greatest high school pitcher ever to come out of the state of Tennessee, he has seamlessly taken over for that other tall left-handed Friday night starter a couple years back. He's also the top collegiate southpaw in the draft and was the ace of Team USA last summer that went 24-0. Baseball America named him the 2008 Summer Player of the Year. He is incredibly polished, prompting coach Corbin to label him as one of the most complete pitchers he's ever seen.
He comes at you with three above-average pitches. A low-90's fastball with good life, a plus to plus-plus change-up, and a decent mid-70's hook that has progressed very well and impressed a lot of scouts last summer. Above all, he has outstanding command that makes all three offerings rough for opposing hitters to make solid contact on. His projectable frame will hopefully add a few ticks to the fastball. He has very sound mechanics, has not suffered any known injury, and scouts rave about his poise on the mound. As a Sociology major, he's a hard working student that translates the same work ethic and determination onto the field.
He is more of a finesse pitcher, so unless he fills out and adds something to his straight fastball, he'll have to live and die by hitting my spots. Primarily a fastball/change-up pitcher at this point, so unless the curve continues to progress the way it has been, he'll be a situational guy out of the pen at best. Although he does have solid mechanics for the most part, he has a lot of mileage on his arm that may turn teams away.