Where Are They Now? Checking In on The MLB 2010 Draft Class
We're already one week into the minor league baseball season, and already players who were drafted in the first-round last June have played instrumental roles for their minor league squads.
Players like Manny Machado, the Orioles first pick at the number three spot, who recorded a triple and two RBI in leading the Delmarva Shorebirds to a opening day victory. And pitchers like Drew Pomeranz, the fifth-overall pick taken by Cleveland, who pitched 5.2 innings of no-hit ball in only his second pro start.
So in an effort to brush up everyone on the status of their favorite team's first-round pick, let's check in on how they're all doing, and for those who haven't yet taken the field, where they're headed and how long it will be before you get to cheer them on in a big-league park.
1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
Harper signed for a record (for a hitter) $9.9 million signing bonus and headed straight to the Arizona Fall League, where he played about as well as you can expect a 18-year old to, against pitchers who range in age from 20-27.
Harper kicked off his debut season in Low-A, playing for the Hagerstown Suns, who are currently in first place in the South Atlantic League with a perfect 5-0 record.
Don't give too much credit to Harper though, as he's only hitting .211 through 19 at-bats. He doesn't have any extra-base hits and has already struck out seven times in five games. He does have three RBI and has one stolen base.
The 18-year old had his worst game as a professional on Tuesday night, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Arguably the best high-school pitching prospect to come along in the past 5-7 years, Taillon signed a last-minute deal with Pittsburgh worth around $6 million, finishing second in the 2010 draft class to Harper.
Like Harper, Taillon signed too late to play organized pro ball.
Unlike Harper, he'll be lacing up his spikes in short-season ball to start his pro career, likely for the New York-Penn League's State College Spikes.
Their season doesn't kick off until the end of June, so don't expect to see much going on with him until then.
Looking into the future, Taillon will most likely spend the entire season with State College, and then make his full-season debut in 2012. That would put him on schedule for a big-league debut sometime around 2014 or 2015.
3) Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles
Machado has been the most impressive of the big-three from the 2011 draft.
Making his debut with the Orioles Low-A affiliate, Delmarva, Machado went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI in.
Since then, he has been on a roll, reaching base in every game but one. He's already proven himself one of the league's most dangerous hitters, receiving four walks in his third professional contest, including one intentional free pass.
He's hitting .350 through six games with two doubles, a triple, three RBI, seven walks and four strikeouts. He's also stolen a base.
He's been splitting time between shortstop and designated hitter.
4. Christian Colon, SS, Kansas City Royals
Colon was one of a handful of first-rounders to make his debut in 2010 and log a significant chunk of playing time.
He squeezed in 60 games for the Royals High-A affiliate and hit .278 with 12 doubles, two triples, three homers and 30 RBI in 245 at-bats.
This season, the Royals gave Colon the bump to Double-A, where he's off to a great start, hitting .318 with one homer and eight RBI. He also has three steals, eclipsing his total from the 2010 season in just one week of play.
Colon's offense, and his defense, are a big reason Northwest Arkansas is sitting pretty in first place with a 5-1 record in the Texas League.
5. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Cleveland Indians
Pomeranz signed too late to make his debut in 2010, but so far he's been well worth the wait.
In his first start as a pro, the lefty from the University of Mississippi tossed 5.1 innings of one-hit ball for the High-A Kinston Indians. He struck out nine batters, but failed to pick up his first pro victory when his bullpen couldn't close out a 5-1 lead. The Indians eventually won the game in 10-innings.
His most recent start, made today, was just as brilliant. Pomeranz pitched 5.2 innings of no-hit ball, holding the Wilmington Blue Rocks to just two hits all day. He struck out eight batters and walked two. Unfortunately, the other pitcher on the mound, Wilmington's Tim Melville was just as good, tossing six innings of one-run ball.
Through two starts, Pomeranz has 17 strikeouts in only 11 innings and has only surrendered four hits and one run, which was unearned.
6. Barret Loux, RHP, Texas Rangers
You're right if you're second-guessing yourself and myself for writing that Loux was drafted by the Rangers with the sixth-overall pick.
In fact, Loux was drafted by the Diamondbacks, who considered him an easier sign than most of the top-10 projected picks. Unfortunately, the team had no idea about an arm issue, which eventually prevented the two sides from agreeing to a deal. Loux was granted free-agency by MLB and he signed with the Rangers.
Loux made his debut for Texas' High-A Myrtle Beach club, going toe-to-toe with top Royals prospect Jake Odorizzi on April 10th. Loux more than held his own, pitching 5.1 strong innings, allowing three runs on five hits, while striking out five. Loux recorded seven groundouts.
While he may never be regarded as the top prospect he once was, Loux still has tons of potential, and plenty of value to the Rangers, who pride themselves on finding gutsy, determined pitchers.
For their troubles, the Diamondbacks picked up a compensation pick in this year's draft, and now have two of the top seven picks this June.
7. Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
Harvey has possibly been the best pitcher so far through the first week and a half of the MiLB season.
In two starts, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He's gone five and six innings in his two starts and allowed only eight hits and no runs, not even unearned. He has posted 17 strikeouts and issued only four walks.
Make note of the fact that these two games are the only games Harvey has ever pitched professionally, as he too signed too late to play last year.
The Mets are being somewhat aggressive with Harvey, starting him in High-A ball, and it looks like if he continues to pitch this well, he could be on his way to Double-A within the next month or two.
8. Delino DeShields Jr., 2B, Houston Astros
The Astros desperately needed to pump some athleticism and speed into their organization last year, and that was the primary thinking behind drafting DeShields Jr. with the team's first pick.
DeShields had arguably the best speed of any player in the draft class, and while he hasn't had the opportunity to show much of it so far in 2011, the Astros know that he has 40-50 steals potential in the big-leagues.
The real question about DeShields' development is how well he is going to be able to hit. All that speed won't get you far if you can't get on base. And so far this season, he hasn't been hitting at all.
It's only been four games, but DDS Jr. is hitting .111 through 18 at-bats for Low-A Lexington. With no steals, like I stated above.
DeShields has, however, been able to log some time at second base, the position his father played mostly during his 13-year MLB career. The Astros see him as a more valuable player there long-term, although he could handle center-field very easily if the plan falls through.
9. Karsten Whitson, RHP, Florida Gators
Like Loux, Whitson didn't end up signing at the deadline. He spurned the Padres offer and instead headed of to the University of Florida, where he has settled in nicely as a weekend starter for the Gators.
Having started eight games for UF, Whitson is 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 40.1 innings. He's also the only Gators starter to not surrender a home run so far this season.
Whitson was tabbed as one of the top high-school pitchers, and garnered some very late helium that carried him into the top 10. Now, he'll have to wait until 2013 to declare again.
The Padres, meanwhile, picked up the 10th-overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Whitson, giving them two picks in the top-25.
10. Michael Choice, OF, Oakland Athletics
The A's tabbed Choice with the 10th overall pick last year because they knew he could save them some money, but also because he was one of the top college hitters.
And while his numbers in 2010 (.266, 45 K in 109 at-bats) and this season (.182, eight K in 22 at-bats) don't fulfill the team's belief in him, everyone knows it's only a matter of time before he starts putting it together.
Choice joined the team in spring-training and wowed scouts and critics alike with his incredible athleticism and Major League ready body. That earned him a shot at High-A ball, where he should rake and put up huge numbers in the very offense-oriented Cal League.
Choice did have a breakout game last night, going 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI.
11. Deck McGuire, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
A big, strong, physical right-hander, McGuire surprised some teams as the 11th-overall pick in last year's draft, but the Blue Jays are big believers in his stuff and his polish.
McGuire made his pro-debut last week and looked sharp, pitching four innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits and one walk, striking out five batter for the team's High-A affiliate in Dunedin.
McGuire was a stud for Georgia Tech in college and was one of the safest pitchers available in the 2010 draft, and it looks like he is still one of the safest bets to reach his ceiling as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
12. Yasmani Grandal, C, Cincinnati Reds
The Reds took a huge gamble on Grandal, the team's first-round pick and the 12th-overall pick last June.
Not only did the team draft a seasoned catcher when they already had another backstop, Devin Mesoraco, tearing up the minors on his way to the big-leagues, but they also gave Grandal a big-league contract, ensuring he has to be on the big-league roster within five seasons.
Grandal's journey began this season in the High-A Cal League, where so far he's hitting only .182 in three games with five strikeouts in only 11 at-bats.
Grandal has considerably more defensive polish than Mesoraco, but his bat is slightly below in terms of power and development.
It will be interesting to see how the Reds progress with two of the best catching prospects in the minors.
13. Chris Sale, LHP, Chicago White Sox
After becoming the first member of the 2010 draft to reach the Majors last season, Sale returned there in 2011.
Not only has the lanky lefty proven to be a shutdown pitcher out of the bullpen, he's still also one of the team's best starting prospects. He doesn't qualify as a prospect anymore, but it's only a matter of time before the team allows him to make the transition back to starting.
For the time being he's a key piece of the White Sox relief corp, and in six appearances this season, he's posted a 3.68 ERA with nine strikeouts (and only one walk) in 7.1 innings of work.
Last season, Sale was one of the top rookie pitchers, despite making only 21 appearances. He went 2-1 with four saves, a 1.93 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 23.1 innings.
If the transition back to starting doesn't work for Sale, at least he knows he can always go back to the pen.
14. Dylan Covey, RHP, San Diego Toreros
Covey was the Brewers first-round pick last year, but during a routine medical exam before signing day, the team discovered the right-hander had Type 1 diabetes.
Amidst all the confusion, Covey decided to reject the Brewers offers and return to San Diego, near where his family lived and learn to deal with his new health issue. He signed with the University of San Diego to play baseball.
That decision hasn't worked out too well for Covey, at least on the field. He's made eight starts for the Toreros, posting a 1-3 record and a 7.20 ERA. He's given up 26 hits in only 25 innings and has walked 18 batters to go with only 22 strikeouts.
The decision to stay at home and attend USD still might turn out to be the right call for Covey, but you know the Brewers are missing a high-profile arm in their system.
Like the Diamondbacks and Padres, the Brewers picked up a compensation pick for failing to sign their first-rounder.
15. Jake Skole, OF, Texas Rangers
Skole was essentially a money-saving pick for the Rangers, who were going through a bankruptcy sale at the time of the MLB draft last year.
The outfielder signed right away and got to work, logging 65 games and 229 at-bats for the team's short-season clubs. He hit .258 with two homers and 32 RBI and nine steals. He also showed his inexperience, striking out 57 times.
His work was solid enough for the Rangers to find a home for him in full-season ball in 2011, and he ended up with Low-A Hickory on opening day.
So far, in seven contests, Skole is hitting .250 with two doubles and three RBI. He also has two steals .
16. Hayden Simpson, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Simpson's name, more than any other, generated the biggest, and loudest "What!!!" on draft day last year.
Not too many people knew about the tiny right-hander from Southern Arkansas U. And while Simpson was a talented prospect who posted a 13-1 record, a 1.81 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 99.1 innings for SAU, he didn't even crack Baseball America's top-150 list of players.
Still, the Cubs scouting staff saw something in Simpson and the team made him their first selection on draft day.
Now, Simpson is pitching in Low-A ball for Peoria. He's made two starts for the Chiefs, and while the reviews have been mixed, he certainly looks like he's going to be able to hold his own. He tossed 3.2 innings of one-run ball in his debut, striking out seven, and followed that up with five gutsy innings yesterday. He gave up eight hits and three runs, but ultimately wasn't tagged with the loss.
17. Josh Sale, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays tabbed Sale, arguably the best power hitting prospect in the draft aside from Bryce Harper, with their first pick in the first-round.
Sale made a splash as the team's fifth-best prospect on Baseball America's Organizational Top Ten Rankings, and looks to be their best position prospect aside from Desmond Jennings.
The Rays haven't announced a destination for Sale to begin the 2011 season, but you can bet that it will be with Princeton of the Appy League.
18. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
Cowart was the team's first pick last year, and despite signing at the deadline still got in 26 at-bats for two of the team's rookie ball squads.
This season Cowart should make his full-season debut, in Low-A ball, although the Angels have stated that he'll likely begin the season back in Orem of the Pioneer League where he went 2-for-5 last season in one game.
19. Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
The Astros snagged another high-ceiling player in Foltynewicz, the team's 19th-overall pick and their second selection of the first-round.
Folty profiles as a top-of-the-rotation starter, featuring great mid 90s velocity and a great changeup. He has the chance to have three above-average pitches and is easily the team's second-best pitcher behind Jordan Lyles.
Folty made his 2011 debut for Low-A Lexington, and got rocked, giving up six hits and five runs in five innings. He surrendered one home run and walked one, while striking out two.
He's scheduled to make his second start tonight.
For all you Astros fans out there, check out a great interview he did with MiLB.com in January.
20. Kolbrin Vitek, 3B, Boston Red Sox
One of the top hitters available in the 2010 draft class, Vitek had one of the best debuts of any first-round pick last season.
He hit .270 over two levels, with 16 doubles, four triples, four homers, 33 RBI and 17 steals. He also struck out 74 times in 244 at-bats, but we'll give him some slack since it was his debut.
This year, the Sox have bumped him up to High-A ball, where he's still looking for his first hit. He's 0-for-10 with four Ks, but he's only appeared in three games for the Salem Red Sox.
21. Alex Wimmers, RHP, Minnesota Twins
Few pitchers had as rough of a debut as Wimmers did a few days ago.
Starting for the Twins High-A club in Fort Myers, the former Ohio State Buckeye failed to record an out, issuing six walks, sandwiching them between three hit batters. He forced in four runs and as of right now his ERA stands at "infinite."
Wimmers didn't have these troubles last year, when he went 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA and a 23-to-5 K-to-BB ratio in 15.2 innings, pitching for the same club. He's yet to record an out and already has issued more walks than he did all of last season.
Wimmers is still one of the Twins top pitching prospects, although his rough debut makes you think about moving him to the bullpen, where many draftniks projected he belonged anyways.
22. Kellin Deglan, C, Texas Rangers
The second of two money-saving picks for Texas, Deglan also benefited from signing early in 2010.
Not only does he have 110 at-bats under his belt from last year, but he also parlayed the experience into a full-season job to star the 2011 season, at Low-A Hickory.
Unfortunately, Deglan's bat has been just as good as last year, when it wasn't very good. He hit .191 over 32 games with one homer and nine RBI.
So far in 2011, he's hitting .200, although only through three games.
The team still believes the Canadian-born Deglan will hit, and are confident that he could be their future backstop.
23. Christian Yelich, OF, Florida Marlins
Touted as one of the most polished hitters in the 2010 draft crop, Yelich performed very well in his 2010 debut, hitting .362 between two levels, including a .348/.375/.435 line in Low-A ball.
The Marlins were confident enough in his bat to start him back in Low-A ball, with a promotion looming sometime in 2011 to High-A ball.
Through five games, Yelich is hitting .238, although no member of the Greensboro squad is hitting that well. He does already have two steals, showing off the slightly above-average speed that convinced the Fish to give him a chance in the outfield after playing first base in high school.
24. Gary Brown, OF, San Francisco Giants
And the rich get richer.
A team like the 2010 World Series Champion Giants could have used a guy like Brown, who projects as a lead-off nightmare with a surprising amount of pop.
And in his 2011 debut, Brown has performed much better than his pro debut last season, in which he hit .159 over two levels.
This season, playing in the High-A California League, Brown is hitting .292 with seven runs scored and seven steals through only six games, showing the kind of menace he can be at the top of a lineup.
Brown has recorded a steal in every game except one and already has back-to-back two SB games.
If he continues to hit, and steal a load of bases, he could be on his way to Double-A before the All-Star break.
25. Zack Cox, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Cox was arguably the top college hitter in the 2010 draft, and the Cardinals were happily surprised when the projected top-10pick fell all the way to them at No. 25.
They scooped him up, signed him to a $3.2 million big-league deal, and called it a day.
Cox began his rise at High-A ball this year, and he's off to a decent start, hitting .261 over 23 at-bats and six games. He only has one extra-base hit so far, but he has posted a solid 3-to-5 BB-to-K rate.
Cox is the Cardinal's top position prospect and their future cornerstone at third base. He could reach Double-A before the end of the season and should spend a good chunk of the 2012 season at Triple-A.
26. Kyle Parker, OF, Colorado Rockies
After signing a deadline deal with the Rockies, Parker went back to work on the gridiron, where his Clemson Tigers bombed, he dealt with multiple injuries, and the season ended with Parker forsaking football in favor of an additional bonus and a career as a pro baseball player.
The Rockies have enough faith in him to assign him to full-season ball, where so far he's raking, hitting .357 in five games.
He's got two doubles, an RBI and has scored four runs of his own. He's walked three times and struck out four.
27. Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
A pitcher often compared to Matt Hobgood, the Orioles former first-round pick, because of their similar repertoires and big-league bodies, Biddle was the Phillies first-round selection last year.
Hailing from Philadelphia, the team got a long, hard look at Biddle, and liked what they saw, projecting him as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
He pitched 12 games last season, and went 4-1 with a 3.92 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 43.2 innings, reaching the NYPL.
The Phillies saw enough from him last season, and in instructional league, to warrant sending him to Low-A ball, where in one start he has pitched 4.2 innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts and three walks.
28. Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the top pitchers in the 2010 high-school class, Lee slipped all the way to the Dodgers at pick No. 28 because of signability concerns.
Somehow, against all odds, the Dodgers managed to ink Lee to a $5.25 million deal in the midst of a messy divorce trial between owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Now, they get to have the privilege of watching Lee bloom, like he did in his pro debut this past week. Lee pitched four innings of two-hit ball, mixing his pitches like a seasoned vet, striking out five batters.
Lee could end the season as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. His stuff is that good, and if he can harness his command (three walks in his start) he could skyrocket through the system.
29. Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Despite being left off of the Low-A Cedar Rapids roster, Bedrosian is still one of the team's top pitching prospects.
Bedrosian was the team's second first-round selection in 2010, and signed for $1.1 million, forgoing a commitment to LSU.
He throws in the low 90s and has a devastating slider, but the real key for Bedrosian will be bringing along his two other pitches, a changeup and a curveball.
There's a chance he could return to the AZL, where he made five appearances last season, but it's likely he'll spend at least a chunk of the season with Cedar Rapids.
30. Chevez Clarke, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels ended their first-round run (three picks) with Clarke, a speedy outfielder from Georgia, who they signed for just under $1.1 million.
While Clarke was a bit of an over-draft, the Angels are big believers in his tools, which include plus speed and an above-average arm. His plate discipline was questionable last season in the AZL, where he struck out 55 times in 162 at-bats, but he has incredible bat speed that should allow him to be at least an average hitter.
He also shows some pretty good pop every now and then (3 HR last season).
Moreover, according to Baseball America's 2011 Prospect Handbook, Clarke is cousin to Jerry and Scott Hairston, who are members of one of the most productive big-league family's in MLB history.
31. Justin O'Connor, C, Tampa Bay Rays
Like his fellow first-rounder Kellin Deglan, O'Connor showed the plate discipline of a high-schooler in his pro debut last season, striking out 46 times in 161 at-bats.
Unlike Deglan, however, the Rays have decided against sending O'Connor to full-season ball, instead choosing to keep him, likely at Appy League Princeton to start the 2011 campaign.
O'Connor was one of the best hitting catchers in the high-school crop and he has above-average power to all fields. He showed flashes of that in his three homers last season, but will have to dramatically improve his plate discipline to make it usable in games.
O'Connor has the tools to stick behind the plate.
32. Cito Culver, SS, New York Yankees
The surprise pick Culver finished out the first-round last June, earning just as many "oohs and aahs" as "whos and whats."
When Culver got onto the field, though, he showed enough solid tools to warrant at least consideration as a first-rounder.
It starts with his defensive tools, including his rocket arm, which should allow him to stick on the left side of the infield. His range and footwork are solid enough to let him stick at short, where he could be the long-term heir to Derek Jeter.
At the plate, Culver is a bit of a mystery.
He's a switch-hitter, which is great, but his swing is all over the plate, from both sides. He swung wildly at so many breaking pitches during a 56-game trial in rookie ball and ended up with 51 strikeouts in 203 at-bats.
He also offers very little power.
To top it all off, he's a solid, but not altogether impressive base-runner.
Culver wasn't on Low-A Charleston's roster to open the season, which mean's he's likely headed back to the NYPL.