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2011 MLB Draft Results: Grading All of the AL First-Round Picks

Jeff WahlCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2016

2011 MLB Draft Results: Grading All of the AL First-Round Picks

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    As the First Round unfolded (including the compensation round), it became clear that this day belonged to three teams: The Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays.

    Combined, these three clubs possessed 19 of the first 60 picks, almost a full third.

    It also proved incredibly difficult to grade these drafts as there is so much uncertainty this early in the process.  Therefore, I tried to look at team needs, likelihood of signing drafted players and obvious reaches.

    This draft has been touted as the deepest in years and as such, there was some serious talent that fell a lot farther than expected, including Anthony Rendon from potential first pick to Washington at sixth overall.

    So without further ado, here are my very early draft grades for all American League Teams after the first 60 picks.

New York Yankees: 51st Pick

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    51st Pick: Dante Bichette Jr. 3B, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)

     

    With the Yankees sole pick in the 2011 draft they draft Dante Bichette Jr.  If that name sounds familiar it should, his dad is former big league slugger Dante Bichette Sr., who it seems is (not so coincidentally) manager Joe Girardi's close friend.

    DB Jr. hit 10 home runs with 40 runs batted in for his school team last year and projects as a corner infielder with a nice power/average blend.

    With only one pick, a late one at that, the Yankees seem to have nabbed a nice prospect who should be easy to sign.

    Grade: B

Boston Red Sox: 19th, 26th, 36th and 40th Picks

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    19th Pick: Matt Barnes RHP, Connecticut

    This is a great pick for Boston.  Barnes was ranked by several sites as a top 15 talent, so getting him at 19 is great value.

    Tall and lanky at 6'4", Barnes has a blistering fastball in the mid 90's with a very good curve and above average change-up.  His command should put him on a fast track to the show and he projects as a front-end starter with ace potential.

     

    26th Pick: Blake Swihart C, Sue Cleveland HS (NM)

    This is turning in to a great draft for Boston (as much as that makes me ill).  Swihart is a top 20 talent though scouts are split on his potential based on his average defense and lack of power.

    However, the switch-hitting backstop is athletic enough to improve in those areas and just at least hit for average.  Looks like a Kurt Suzuki type of hitter.

     

    36th Pick: Henry Owens LHP, Edison High School (CA)

    So far, Boston is owning this draft.  The 6'7" Owens is a first-round talent who has drawn comparisons to Mark Langston. 

    With a heavy fastball that he keeps low and a devastating 12-6 curve, Boston has added another pitcher with ace potential.

     

    40th Pick: Jackie Bradley Jr. OF, South Carolina

    Seriously, I feel like Boston has picked Toronto's pocket.  That's two players I mocked as future Jays now selected by Boston.

    Before his wrist injury and subsequent struggles with the bat, Bradley was thought by some to be the second-best OF prospect behind Bubba Starling. 

    Bradley has amazing power for a kid sub-six feet tall and although his speed is barely average, his defense is top notch.  Great value here.

     

    Grade: A+

Toronto Blue Jays: 21st, 35th, 46th, 53rd and 56th Picks

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    21st Pick: Tyler Beede RHP, Lawrence Academy HS (MA)

    This is a shocker.  Toronto takes a phenomenal talent and great athlete with true ace potential.  However, Beede has committed to Vanderbilt and will take a significant bonus to sign him.

    What Beede does have is a prerequisite for any recent Jay draftee (pitcher): command and a good change-up.

    Along with a low- to mid-90's fastball that could get faster, Beede has the size and frame (6'4", 200lbs) to project as a durable inning eater at worst. 

    Or the at best, the next Pat Hentgen.

    Anthopoulos has really pushed the envelope here.

     

    35th Pick: Jacob Anderson OF, Chino HS (CA)

    Another high school player.  This is clearly Alex Anthopoulos's team as his predecessor, JP Ricciardi, avoided high school kids as if they all had Ebola.

    Anderson played first base but will more than likely move to LF.  He has nice swing mechanics and won the Under Armour All American Game Home Run Derby last August.

    This pick was a bit off the board and I'd have preferred High School LHP's Owens or Daniels.  C'est la vie.

    Note: Owens went to Boston with the next pick.  Nrrr....

     

    46th Pick: Joe Musgrove RHP, Grossmont HS (CA)

    Only 18 years old, Musgrove is a big kid at 6'5" 230lbs.  He throws a heavy fastball that settles in around 92-94 with a hammer curve.

    Committed to San Diego State, he may be pricey to sign.

     

    53rd Pick: Dwight Smith OF, McIntosh HS (GA)

    Smith has great bloodlines as his father (same name) was an outfielder for the Cubs.  Dwight Jr. plays above average defense and possesses a good strong arm. 

    However, his value is his bat, where he projects to hit for a high average, as his batting eye and mechanics are already plus plus. He does have some power, but his potential in that area is unknown at this stage.

     

    56th Pick: Kevin Comer RHP, Seneca HS (NJ)

    Alex Anthopoulos takes yet another gamble on a stud pitcher with a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.  Without said commitment, Comer would be a top 35 selection in most scouts eyes with his lethal fastball/curveball combo.

    This season, Comer is 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, 49 K's and 15 walks. Last year, he went 6-3 with a 1.46 ERA while striking out an unbelievable 100 hitters.

     

    Grade: A- (if Beede/Comer sign) or C- (if Beede/Comer don't).

Tampa Bay Rays: 24th, 31st, 32nd, 38th, 41st, 42nd, 52nd, 56th, 59th and 60th

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    24th Pick: Taylor Guerrieri RHP, Spring Valley HS (SC)

    The 2011 Draft belongs to Tampa Bay with a ridiculous 10 picks in the first round, so its not surprising to see them take the best player available without any regard to signability or length of time to develop.

    Taylor Guerrieri is a top 10 talent who has inexplicably fallen in to waiting arms of Tampa Bay.  With a blazing 97-98 mph fastball and devastating 87-90 mph slider with good command, this kid has serious staff ace potential.

     

    31st Pick: Mike Mahtook OF, LSU

    The best way to describe Mahtook is "Professional Hitter".  His stance and swing are awkward but so was Ruben Sierra's, so I'm not too concerned.

    This is another great pick for the Rays based on talent alone but with a plethora of outfielders, it's not a need pick.  Either way, Mahtook will most likely shift to LF as a pro and projects to a long, if not outstanding career.

     

    32nd Pick: Jake Hager SS, Sierra Vista HS (NV)

    Tampa dips in to the High School ranks again to select a tantalizing infield prospect in Nevada's Jake Hager.

    According to Sports Illustrated, Hager already possesses pro level hitting mechanics with projectable power.  His defense looks to play better at third base but regardless how his glove develops, this young man should hit at every level.

     

    38th Pick: Brandon Martin SS, Santiago HS (CA)

    Another High School SS for the Rays, however unlike Hager, Martin's reputation is built on is his defense, so he should stick at short.  His bat needs work, but it has shown steady improvement.

     

    41st Pick: Tyler Goeddel 3B, St. Francis HS (CA)

    With rankings that ran the gamut between Keith Law's 35th and Baseball America's 89th, there seems to be very little consensus on Goeddel's potential.

    However, his athleticism, defense and hitting mechanics are all plus aspects and although his power has yet to develop, his tall lanky frame (6'4" 190 lbs) projects well.

     

    42nd Pick: Jeff Ames RHP, Lower Columbia CC (Wash)

    This is a developmental pick.  Ames, a JuCo power righty, throws 98 mph with mediocre secondary pitches.  He'll take time but could develop in to a closer type with time and patience.

     

    52nd Pick: Blake Snell LHP, Shorewood HS (Wash)

    I'm starting to dislike this draft for Tampa Bay.  Baseball America graded Snell as a fifth-round talent and although he has a nice fastball he has very poor secondary pitches. 

    He's an easy sign though as he doesn't have the grades for college.

     

    56th Pick: Kes Carter OF, Western Kentucky

    A five-tool outfielder who wasn't highly regarded mostly based on the competition he faced. 

    Nonetheless, he really did do it all for the Fightin' Hilltoppers as his career numbers suggest (153 games played with 35 doubles, 15 home runs, 113 RBIs and 26 stolen bases, .512 slugging percentage and made only seven errors.

    Fun Fact: highest draft pick in WK school history.

     

    59th Pick: Grayson Garvin LHP, Vanderbilt

    At 6'6" 220, Garvin should be throwing harder than 91 mph.  However, his control is decent and he does have a nice change-up.  Sasquatch Southpaws are tough to pass up and Keith Law liked him for Tampa's pick at No. 30, so he is well regarded.

     

    60th Pick: James Harris Jr. OF, Oakland Tech HS (CA)

    Another signable pick, Harris is a long term project but could reap significant rewards in 5-6 years. 

    Harris is a phenomenal athlete with blazing speed and shows the ability to hit for greater power as he fills out his lanky 6'1" 170-pound frame.

     

    Grade: B

Baltimore Orioles: 4th Pick

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    4th Pick: Dylan Bundy RHP, Owasso HS (OK)

    Oh. Anthony Rendon, where art thou?

    Baltimore takes the first high school arm and a great one at that.  Power arm with a mid 90's fastball that might get one or two ticks faster with time.  Decent control and a nice slider.  He'll take a bit of time but his potential grades out as a staff ace.

    However, the Reynolds signing has taken a few picks away from them that this team desperately needed in a draft this deep.

    Grade: B

Cleveland Indians: 8th Pick

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    8th Pick: Fransisco Lindor SS, Montverde Academy HS (FL)

    The Indians select slick fielding shortstop Fransisco Lindor (AKA Asdrubal Cabrera 2.0).  Curious pick when you consider their current personnel.  However, Lindor hasn't even turned 18 years old yet, so it he may not make it to the show for another five years.

    An athletic switch hitter, Lindor has plus speed with surprising power.  Pair that with Gold Glove defense and the Tribe might have a future superstar on their hands.

     

    Grade: B

Detroit Tigers: No Picks

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    I hope Victor Martinez is worth it, because Boston made out like bandits with your picks.

     

    Grade: N/A

Chicago White Sox: 47th Pick

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    47th Pick: Keenyn Walker OF, Central Arizona CC (AZ)

    A Junior College player committed to Utah, Walker is a toolsy switch hitter with plus plus athleticism.  His defense is already good enough to keep him at CF as a pro, and his make-up looks like a leadoff hitter with 15-20 home run power.

    With only one pick in this draft, the South Siders decided to draft on potential. 

     

    Grade: C+

Kansas City Royals: 5th Pick

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    5th Pick: Bubba Starling OF, Gardner Edgerton HS (KS)

    The only legit blue chip 5-tool talent in this draft, hometown star Bubba Starling has been compared to Drew Stubbs. 

    However, according to mlb.com, Starling "has better plate discipline and fewer holes in his swing...He's a plus runner... He's got a ton of power potential and should hit for average as well."

    The best farm system in baseball just added another stud.  For only one pick in the first round, Kansas City might have hit a home run with this pick.

    Grade: A-

Minnesota Twins: 30th, 50th and 55th Picks

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    30th Pick: Levi Michael SS, North Carolina

    A safe pick who should find his way onto the Twins roster sooner rather than later.

    He doesn't have All-Star potential per se, but should hit for average and provide good, if not great, stolen base numbers. 

    As of now, his power is nonexistent.  Will also more than likely shift to 2B.

     

    50th Pick: Travis Harrison 3B, Tustin HS (CA)

    A right-handed bat with serious power, perhaps second only to CJ Cron, Harrison has slipped on draft boards due to his lack of athleticism and obvious need to shift to 1B. 

    In fact, he may be stuck in the American League as he seems destined to carve out a career as a DH if he can't find any modicum of defensive ability.

    But hey, the kid hits bombs.

     

    55th Pick: Hudson Boyd RHP, Bishop Verot HS (FL)

    Verbally committed to Florida, Boyd is a power pitcher who throws in the low-mid 90's to go with a nice curveball.  His command is loose and change-up nonexistent but he projects well with his muscular 6'2" 220 lb frame.

     

    Grade: B-

Seattle Mariners: 2nd Pick

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    2nd Pick: Danny Hultzen LHP, Virginia

    Wow, a shocker already!  I think most of the talking heads and mockers were certain that Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon would be 1-2.

    However, Hultzen is a legit front-end starter prospect and could form a dynamite top three with King Felix and Michael Pineda. 

    I can't fault Seattle for going after the guy they wanted, particularly when they only have the one pick in the first round (including the supplemental).

    One stat that jumps off the page with Hultzen is a 38:3 K:B walk ratio.  Let that wash over you.

    Grade: A-

Texas Rangers: 33rd and 37th Pick

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    33rd Pick: Kevin Matthews RHP, Richmond Hill HS (GA)

    Yet another high school arm as the regular portion of the first round comes to a close to make it eight in total.

    Texas must see something in Matthews that other scouts missed because he wasn't even on the radar. 

    With other High School Southpaws like Daniel Norris and Henry Owens still on the board, this is a confusing pick.  Most scouts have him pegged as a back-end starter who lacks the fastball for bullpen work.

    Ouch.

     

    37th Pick: Zach Cone OF, Georgia

    Another odd pick but not as much as Matthews.  According to Baseball America, Cone has "big tools, but inconsistent results" as his .275/.331/.385 slash line this season illustrates.

    Why they liked him more than Jackie Bradley is a mystery.

     

    Grade: D

LA Angels: 17th Pick

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    17th Pick: CJ Cron 1B, Utah

    The Angels select arguably the top power hitter in the draft with the 17th pick.  Cron has a great pedigree as well: his Dad is a coach in the Tigers system and Chad Moeller is his cousin, so baseball is clearly in this kid's blood.

    He projects to hit for power and average and could find his way to the show by 2013.

    Even though they don't really need another first baseman, the Angels have struggled offensively so this pick makes some sense.

    Grade: B+

Oakland Athletics: 18th

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    18th Pick: Sonny Gray RHP, Vanderbilt

    Although he physically resembles Tom Seaver, the comparisons end there.

    An undersized righty with a live fastball and heavy slider, the knock on Gray is mechanics and command.  If those things can be fixed, then the A's could have themselves a front end starter in a season or two. 

    Otherwise, they could have a replacement for the injury-prone Andrew Bailey.  Gray's raw stuff will play in the major leagues, but how and where are up for debate.

    There were better pitchers on the board.

    Grade: C

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