Revisiting the 2007 MLB Draft: Three Years on, Who Came Out on Top?
The 2007 first year player draft was very pitcher-heavy, but with the exception of the No. 1 overall selection, some of the biggest names to come out of it were actually position players.
A total of 18 pitchers were called in the first round alone, led by Vanderbilt graduate David Price, but there was good overall depth in the draft, especially through the first three rounds.
How many GMs do you think are out there right now still kicking themselves that Jason Heyward fell to No. 14? How about the fact that one of the brightest pitching prospects in the game, Jordan Zimmerman, didn’t go at all in the first round? Did Florida hit the jackpot in Mike Stanton with the 76th overall selection?
With just one week to go until the 2010 draft, Bleacher Report looks back to see who came out on top this time three years ago.
Major League success and experience weighs the most here, with Minor League contributions and potential assessed from AAA down to single-A.
As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts.
10. Mike Moustakas
Moustakas was drafted second overall by the Royals in 2007, but he might still be another full year away from the Majors.
The 5’11” shortstop was ranked inside the top 20 prospects by Baseball America for back-to-back years in 2008 and ’09, but he has actually developed into a big-hitting third baseman. He banged 22 home runs at single-A as a 19-year-old in 2008 and he hit 16 in the Carolina league for A+ club Wilmington Blue Rocks last year.
He is getting his first taste of AA pitching this season and he has already blasted 12 homers in his first 33 games. He obviously won’t keep up his .374 average, but there’s every chance he could hit close to .300 with awesome pop.
If you average his numbers out to a full season, it’s scary to think that he could hit 30 or 40 home runs and bat in 150 runs, but it can’t be discounted too quickly. He’s a fantastic talent and he seems to be coming into his own.
He’s only 21, so the future is at his feet, but it may just take trading one of switch-hitting 27-year-old Alberto Callaspo or left-handed 26-year-old Alex Gordon for him to get his shot.
9. Josh Vitters
While the Cubbies aren’t ready to call Vitters the next Aramis Ramirez just yet, there is hope that the young third baseman can develop into a fine power hitter to play the hot corner when A-Ram’s time is up.
Vitters hit 18 home runs in low A ball as a 19-year-old last season, and he is already playing for the AA Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League. He is not the most disciplined batter, as evidenced by his 161 strikeouts and 37 walks (4.4:1 ratio) but there is a chance he’ll turn into a valuable piece of the Chicago infield.
There are also rumors that Vitters, a top 50 prospect according to Baseball America in 2008, could move into left field. Either way, the Cubs will be looking to get some return on their investment, because as of yet the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 draft isn’t ready to make the jump to the next level just yet.
I just wonder if they regret passing up on Matt Wieters. They took catcher Josh Donaldson 45 picks later, and while hindsight is 20-20, maybe Wieters would have been the smarter pick here.
8. Mike Stanton
Behind Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward, the Marlins Mike Stanton is considered the next best prospect to hit the stage in 2010.
He was drafted as the 12th pick in the second round (76th overall) out of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., originally as a first baseman, but his versatility allows him to play in the outfield too, especially in right, where he continues to excel.
Baseball America, MiLB, and ScoutingBook all rank him as the third best prospect this season, while Basball Prospectus and ESPN both rate him as the fifth best rookie in 2010.
He mashed 39 home runs with a .293 batting average as an 18-year-old for single-A Greensboro in 2008, and he hit 28 long balls for the Jupiter Hammerheads (A+) and Jacksonville Suns (AA) in 2009.
His growth has continued in the early part of 2010 and the 6’5”, 235-pound Stanton has already launched 18 home runs in 46 games in the Southern League for the Suns this season.
Stanton will probably receive a September call-up regardless of how Chris Coghlan, Cody Ross and Brett Carroll fare after the All-Star break. The Marlins have no power in their outfield and current right fielder Ross is already 29 years old.
Stanton needs to cut down on his strikeouts if he wants to be considered a threat to hit .275 at the big league level, but if his power numbers continue to spike it’s only a matter of time before he makes an impact. When he finally does get his chance, he could explode. For me, he was the steal of the 2007 draft, and he is by far the best player to come out of Notre Dame since Red Sox pitcher Jack McDowell some 26 years ago.
7. Jordan Zimmerman
The Nationals picked up Zimmerman in the early stages of the second round with a pick from the Cubs as compensation for free agent Alfonso Soriano.
They drafted the 6’2” righty out of the University of Winconsin with the 67th overall pick and he made an impact in the farm system straight away, going 5-2 with 71 strikeouts in 53 innings in the New York-Pennsylvania League.
The 22-year-old then won 10 games in 2008, including going 7-2 for AA club the Harrisburg Senators, striking out almost one batter per inning. Across 25 games, including 24 starts, Zimmerman posted a 2.89 ERA.
He was rewarded with a start for AAA Syracuse in 2009, which in turn led to him joining the big league club on April 20 for a start against the Braves. Zimmerman started a total of 16 games for Washington in 2009 and he finished his stint in the Majors in mid July when he complained of elbow soreness after a game against the Cubs. He had a 3-5 record, 4.63 ERA, and a team-leading 92 strikeouts in 91.1 innings at the time.
What was thought to be soreness turned out to be a season-ending ligament tear, an injury that would need reconstructive surgery and an 18-month timetable. Acting GM Mike Rizzo called him “one of our crown jewels” at the time of the injury. That is how highly they value him.
He is not due back until August, although bullpen sessions appear to be going well. With Strasburg set to enter the picture within weeks and all of Washington’s starters at 26 or younger (with the exception of Livan Hernandez), the Nats might have one of the better young rotations in the league come the fall.
6. Matt LaPorta
The Brewers drafted LaPorta with the seventh pick in the 2007 draft, but they ended up moving him to Cleveland just 13 months later as part of a four-for-one deal that sent C.C. Sabathia to Wisconsin.
LaPorta never made it past AA in the Milwaukee farm system, but Cleveland obviously liked what they saw when he hit 20 home runs in 84 AA games prior to the July trade.
So just to get this straight, the Brewers had LaPorta and they had Sabathia. By 2009 they had lost both players and instead had the honor of drafting Kentrail Davis with a supplemental pick in ’09. Score.
LaPorta debuted with the Indians as a 24-year-old in 2009, hitting seven home runs and batting .254 in 52 games. He made the team right out of spring training this year but he has been splitting time with left-handed Russell Branyan at first base.
LaPorta, then 18 years old, was first drafted in 2003 by the Cubs in the 14th round, but he failed to sign a contract. He was drafted by the Red Sox, again in the 14th round, in 2006 but he chose to stay at the University Florida for his senior year. Looking back, it may have been the best move he ever made.
5. Julio Borbon
When Texas lost Carlos Lee to free agency at the end of the 2006 season they were rewarded with a supplemental pick in the following year’s draft. That following June, after taking right-handed pitchers Blake Beavan and Michael Main in the first round proper, the Rangers drafted Borbon as the 35th overall pick.
In a draft relatively thin for major league outfielders, Texas got something of a steal in Borbon, a left-handed bat with speed to burn.
Bourbon, out of the University of Tennessee, swiped a base on average more than once every three games in the minors, stealing 53 in 2008 and 25 with the Oklahoma City Red Hawks in the Pacific Coast League last year.
He was a .310 hitter in his brief stints on the farm, and his combination of speed and slap hitting translated into a good introduction to life in the Major Leagues when he was called up for three games last summer before getting a permanent roster spot in August.
Borbon batted .312 with 19 steals in 46 games, although things have been significantly slower to start 2010. He is hitting just .236 with three extra-base hits and seven steals in 44 games, and he has been replaced at the top of the lineup by shortstop Elvis Andrus.
With nowhere else to go, the centerfielder is now batting ninth, and with Andrus performing as everyone expected Borbon to (.311 average, 18 steals) it doesn’t look like Borbon is getting his job back any time soon.
4. Matt Wieters
The Orioles snagged Wieters with the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, so in that sense he wasn’t really much of a sleeper pick.
There were 13 catchers taken over the first three rounds (including the supplementary compensation picks) but Wieters is the only one to have made any real impact. Ten have not yet made it to the majors, and the other two that did have only played a combined 13 games.
Wieters, a graduate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga., has played in 143 games in his young career so far, and he has developed a reputation as a free-swinging backstop with average power and a cannon for an arm.
Wieters has already thrown out 10 baserunners (36.7 percent) this year, and there’s every chance he will finish inside the top five in this defensive category at the end of the year.
Double-digit home runs and 60 RBI are a very attainable target for the young catcher this season, and he should be set to flourish whether he bats third behind Nick Markakis, fifth behind Miguel Tejada, or sixth behind Luke Scott.
With only 27-year-old Craig Tatum or a trip to the DL standing in his way of a full season behind the dish, rest safe knowing that the job is his for the keeping. Detroit may not need anyone else dropping the signs in the Motor City for the next decade.
3. Jason Heyward
Looking back, can you believe that Heyward fell to the Braves at the No. 14 spot? Heyward, the first outfielder taken in the draft and the only outfielder in the top 25, entered the 2010 season as the most big league-ready uber prospects in all of baseball.
He was rated as Baseball America’s fifth best prospect last season after hitting 17 home runs in 96 games between single- and double-A teams in the Atlanta farm system, and he wowed scouts with unbelievable raw power during spring training earlier this year.
The starting right fielder for the Braves on Opening Day, Heyward has proved to be worth every bit of the hype. He leads the Braves with 10 home runs and 38 RBI and he has also quietly gone about drawing 29 walks, hitting three triples, and stealing three bases.
His on-base percentage is sixth in all of baseball right now and he is slugging four points higher than reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols. He would probably have been No. 1 on this list had he more Major League experience under his belt.
Is this kid legitimate? You better believe it.
2. Rick Porcello
The Tigers have taken a right-handed pitcher with six of their last eight first-round draft picks dating back to 2003. With the exception of Justin Verlander, none have been as valuable as Rick Porcello.
Porcello was drafted 27th overall out of Seton Hall Prep High School in New Jersey, and he blossomed in his debut season in the Major Leagues in 2009.
After reasonable if not spectacular success with the single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers in the Florida State League, Porcello skipped double- and triple-A ball and took the elevator all the way to the Show.
In his first year, Porcello posted a 14-9 record in 31 starts with an ERA of 3.96. He was a worthy No. 3 in the Detroit rotation behind Verlander and Edwin Jackson, and he may have had a shot at AL Rookie of the Year if it wasn’t for closer phenom Andrew Bailey out in Oakland. In 12 of his 31 starts in his rookie year, Porcello went five innings or more and only allowed one run.
Porcello hasn’t been as strong in 2010 so far, but his 4-5 record is by no means awful. The 6’5” righty is still only 21 years old and the signs are all there for a dominating career.
Nineteen of the 26 players taken above him in the draft are yet to leave the minor leagues.
1. David Price
David Price was almost a consensus No. 1 pick heading into the 2007 draft and, as expected, the Rays picked up the southpaw with the top selection.
Now in his third year in the Majors, Price has a mid-to-high fastball and a nasty slider than breaks in on the hands of right-handed batters and away from lefties.
He made his debut as a long reliever against the Yankees in Sept. 2008 and he went on to make three further appearances out of the ‘pen that season and one start—a no-decision against the Orioles.
Price made 23 appearances—all as a starter—in ’09, collecting a 10-7 record, and although his command problems still seem to be bothering him in early 2010, he owns a league-high seven wins.
Price is 7-2 through the first third of the year with a 2.57 ERA and he has only allowed four or more runs in one of his 10 starts. His best performance of his young career came against the Blue Jays in April when he pitched a complete game shutout, scattering just four hits and a walk over 108 pitches.
Regular season aside, you can't overlook his work out of the bullpen in the 2008 playoffs. He kept the Red Sox in check in the 11th inning of Game Two of the ALCS, and he helped the Rays win the pennant with a four-out save in Game Seven after coming in and striking out J.D. Drew with the bases loaded to preserve a 3-1 lead.
If Price can develop his command a little further, he could develop into one of the best young pitchers in the game today. Yes, he was the No. 1 pick, but he appears to be worth the hype.