2012 MLB Draft Snapshot – College Left Handed Pitchers

There will be a lot of change between now and the draft (June 4-6) but it is less than 5 months away now. I thought I’d crib a baker’s dozen of likely suspects and muse a bit on how that pertains to the Giants. As the season plays out names will be added and dropped, this is extremely preliminary. My ranking order should be taken with an ounce of salt.

(Mistakes are all mine; corrections, omissions and arguments are encouraged.)

So moving from the high risk high reward of High School lefties to the College lefties was kind of a shock. While there may be some movement during the season, at the moment there is only one college lefty even remotely near the first round: Brian Johnson of Florida. There are some interesting arms that I’m sure the Giants will look at in the later rounds, but there is only one blue chip lefty in this class. I would say that is one indication of why analysts are saying this is a weak college class.

I left up my lefty number crunch minus some verbiage: 178 Lefties pitched in the Majors last year. If you cut the requirement to 30 innings you have 104 pitchers. 30 starters pitched more than 150 innings. 14 hit the 200 inning mark, if you give Derek Holland a nudge. If you sort by K/BB ratio you find the top lefties in the game very quickly: Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, our own Madison Bumgarner, CC Sabathia and David Price. Having a stud lefty is a huge advantage in baseball.

So here is another quick snapshot analysis of recent success in drafting, this time College Lefties in the first round. Leaving out the past five years as too early to judge we have the draft years 1996-2006. In that period 20 College left handed pitchers have been selected in the top 25 picks of the 1st round. The successes to date are as follows using Baseball Reference: Barry Zito in 1999 (31.2 WAR) and Mark Mulder in 1998 (16.3 WAR). Or should we say the successes of the Oakland A’s of the early 2000s were the result of some nice 1st round drafting? Nah, man, that was all Scott Hatteberg. He converted to 1B, you see, and then he hit this home run, it was awesome.

There are some more values though, they are: Eric Milton in 1996 (13.9 WAR), Ricky Romero in 2005 (11.3 WAR), Joe Saunders in 2002 (10.7 WAR), Paul Maholm in 2002 (10.2 WAR), Matt Thornton in 1998 (9.4 WAR) and Jeff Francis in 2002 (7.9 WAR). 6 pitchers total, a lot of these guys are still pitching. In fact, the Giants might have done well to pick up Francis or Maholm for when the leader in category falters. But I digress. 8 out of 20 turning out is pretty good odds. Not much spectacular pitching though. I am not sure if this is a trend of perhaps teams drafting safer, less upside back of the rotation types with the college lefties.

If you expand the parameter to the entire first round with supplemental picks you get 37 College Pitchers and the only additional lefty who turned out was… sad bagpipe drumroll… Noah Lowry in 2001 (8.3 WAR). 30th pick of the draft. It is worth noting that some of the supplemental picks are pretty far back, some years they are solidly in what might be the 2nd round most years, so the failure rate should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. So a total of 9 hits out of 37 picked in the entire first and supplemental rounds, but a pretty nice 40% success rate on the top 25 picks, but not anywhere near the top pitchers in baseball (4 of the 6 listed above were HS 1st round draft picks, David Price being the 1st pick of the 2007 draft out of Vanderbilt, Cliff Lee was picked by the Expos in the 4th round of the 2000 draft, 105th overall out of Arkansas). I should have made a top ten lefties list but I was focusing more on Aces.

Useless stat: the Tucker/Benitez punt draft pick years of 2004/5, the Royals and the Marlins both took lefties with the Giants forfeited pick. They both busted, as did the supplemental the Marlins got for Benitez (also a HS lefty). Nothing good comes of cheaply earned gift horses I guess.

Onto our system, didn’t change anything from HS Lefty Snapshot:

Big Giant Starters: Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito

Big Giant Pen: Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, possibly Dreamy Dan Runzler

Little Giant Starters: Eric Surkamp (Fresno), Mike Kickham (San Jose), Josh Osich (TBD – and eagerly anticipated), Adalberto Mejia (Scottsdale/Salem with a shot at Augusta), Emmanuel De Jesus (Scottsdale/Salem)

Little Giant Pen: Recent draft pick and fireballer Bryce Bandilla, David Quinwoski (Richmond/Fresno), Jack Snodgrass (Augusta/San Jose)

Surkamp is currently the first option if/when Zito falters. Runzler may be given one more chance at starting, or be the last arm in the pen. There is a general perception you can just grab any lefty off the scrap heap and plug them in to the pen. Having looked at the scarcity across MLB, I am not sure I agree with that idea. Lefties are always going to be in demand, and given the extra rope, and allowed the extra frustration that comes with them, the biggest issue usually being control.

College Lefties:

Top Pitching Prospect: Brian Johnson

12 More College Guys:

Andrew Heaney, Lex Rutledge, Brett Mooneyham, Justin Jones, Alex Wood, Hoby Milner, Sam Selman, Stephen Rodriguez, Matt Boyd, Brian Holmes, Michael Roth, Jordan Remer

1. Brian Johnson Florida

6’3 225 L/L 12/07/1990

The Goods: Very interesting 2-way player. He has some of the best raw power in the entire draft, hitting from the left side. He also profiles as a mid-rotation lefty with a big frame, an innings eater type with the hitting bonus. A vet of Team USA and a big intangible for a very high octane Florida squad, this guy needs a serious look for sure. On the batting side, he has Ryan Howard comps, he hit 3 HRs for Team USA in 4 games. This guy definitely is a multi-tasker, he pitched games on the Cape in addition to the CWS and the national team. On the pitching side he has a 3/4 delivery with good sink. 4 pitches, a fastball, slider, change up and curve. I believe the first 3 are rated as plus pitches. Fastball goes up to 92, so he’s not fireballing but has an advanced feel for the plate and is aggressive with hitters.

The Bad: Is middle of the rotation projection bad? Scouts and reviews seem very split down the middle on which way he should go, slightly leaning towards pitching. Here is the rub: he most likely won’t be there. Beware the team that drafted him in the 27th round back in 2009. You know who it is, even before I tell you.

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 8-3, 3.62 ERA in 15 starts, 79 IP, 72Ks/15 BBS 1.17 WHIP

The Rank: BA #8, Mayo #15

The Giants: If this guy falls, I would be pretty darn happy. You can multitask the win-now get a college bat/pitcher going, you avoid the HS bonus demands and risk involved, and even though there seems to be a lower ceiling, there is a pretty high floor. The rub: the Damn Dodgers pick 18th. Maybe they have other needs, but I see them looking at exactly the same guys as us and getting first dibs.

2. Andrew Heaney, Junior from Oklahoma State

6’2 175 L/L 06/05/1991

The Goods: Wiry guy with an advanced pitching tool. He alters his look, so he has some deception, including dropping his arm to lefties. Fastball, changeup, and a curve that is an out pitch. Fastball gets to low 90s, and he has good sink.

The Bad: Durability concerns due to being skinny. He dropped due to bonus concerns in the 2009 draft. The deception sometimes crosses him up, he has some rough patches. He isn’t a high K pitcher yet.

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 67 IP, 4.03 ERA, 51K/23BB.

The Rank: BA #45, Mayo #45

The Giants: Heaney most likely won’t make it into the 1st round but some team will snag him in the supplemental. I don’t see him falling too far. If he does, they could take a look in the 2nd. He seems to be a prep guy who was hyped and hasn’t filled in that potential yet. With lefties, patience can pay off or just be immensely frustrating for long periods of time. Take a shot?

3. Lex Rutledge, Sophomore from Samford

6’1 185 L/L 6/28/1991

The Goods: Coming hard, straight out of Tupelo Mississippi. Reliever with some hot stuff, reaches 90-94 out of the pen, dials it back down with starting, where he struggled a bit. Big time prep prospect can miss bats. Did well in the Cape.

The Bad: He’s only a sophomore, he profiles out of the pen right now, and he’s wild.

The Stats: College websites suck with the stat profiles. He led the team with 79 Ks, had an ERA of 3.71 and held opponents to a .220 BA against.

The Rank: BA #48, Mayo N/R

The Giants: Can’t see them going after a guy like this with eligibility leverage. Seems like he’ll stretch out another year, see about starting some more. They do love guys who prove out at the cape though, and also love themselves some strikeout pitchers.

4. Brett Mooneyham, Red Shirt Junior from Stanford

6’5 215 L/L

The Goods: Atwater CA native who’s pop got drafted 4 times, eventually signing with the Angels as a first rounder and played for the A’s in 1986. He had to have finger surgery and missed last year. He will pair up with potential number 1 pick Mark Appel and most likely dominate the Pac12 this year. Big frame, he has a high 80s/low 90s fastball that has faded in and out from HS to college. In HS he led his team to some glory with a 0.97 ERA and 103 Ks in 58 innings.

The Bad: First, he would seem to be a tough sign. Pops looks pretty stubborn, I doubt the apple falls far from the tree. Second, you lose that year and now you’ve got all that age relative to league stuff breathing down your neck. Third, he’s got control issues. A lefty, with control issues? Come on, man!

The Stats: Put some up above, here’s the blurb from Stanford’s site: (2010) weekend starter has gone 9-10 with a 4.67 ERA over 30 games and 28 starts with two complete games ... pitched 154.1 innings with 171 strikeouts and 116 walks ... opponent batting average over two years of .226.

The Rank: BA #100, Mayo N/R

The Giants: Love projects, have to spend a lot of time at Stanford anyway, might as well see what’s up. With his frame, I’m sure they’ll look at potential but they might be scared off by velocity coming and going.

5. Justin Jones, Junior from Cal

6’2 190 L/L 1/10/1991

The Goods: Forget that Cardinal guy, lets check out a Golden Bear. Jones has the funk. Native of Oakdale, he was drafted in 09 by the White Sox in the 7th. Here were his comic book HS stats: as a senior was 10-1 with 118 strikeouts and a 0.42 ERA after going 12-0 with 124 strikeouts and a 0.40 ERA as a junior. He is an eccentric guy who fits well in Berkeley. High 80s fastball he can dial up and a great curve, which got a lot of hype in NorCal.

The Bad: Herky jerky motion most likely has scouts worried. Has his body matured as much as its going to?

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 9-6 2.93 ERA, 119 IP, 81K, came out of the pen like a hero.

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: Should be all over this guy. As the headliner of a scrappy team along with Tony Renda, it is easy to root for these guys. The Pac12 is the most easily followed by the majority of Giants fans obviously. He may not be 1st round material, but I think he is a character, and funky lefties are fun. As an aside, being a several generation native Californian who married the same, it is fun to see our Pac-10 legacy options for our children. Between great-grandparents, siblings etc I think they have six choices now.

6. Alex Wood Red Shirt Sophomore from Georgia

6’4 220 R/L 01/12/1991

The Goods: 2 way player, at 1B and hits right. Tommy John surgery accounts for the red-shirt. Good fastball in the low 90s with slider and change that could develop more. This guy pitched well against Gerritt Cole and Michael Roth, 2 of the highest profile pitchers in the NCAA. Hey, one of the reasons to love Osich is his no-hitter matched up against Trevor Bauer. Big frame, and already done with Tommy John.

The Bad: Most likely going to stay in school, but you never know with a big year. Has effort in his delivery.

The Stats: Appeared in 15 games, all starts, going 6-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 93.1 IP

The Rank: BA #75, Mayo N/R

The Giants: With our offense, maybe the new undervalued strategy is pitchers who can rake. Get er done, Sabes!

7. Hoby Milner Junior from Texas

6’2 165 L/L 1/13/1991

The Goods: Milner’s running mate is out for the year, so there will be a lot of pressure on him. He’s a soft-tossing lefty who is pretty skinny. High 80s fastball with a curve and a change, its all about location for him. Pops was a big leaguer for the Blue Jays.

The Bad: Soft tossing lefty. A buck sixty-five wet?

The Stats: Texas website has too many highlights and not enough concise stats for 2011, here is his 2010: Appeared in 18 games, including three starts, posting a 3-1 record with 31 strikeouts (12 walks) and a 1.97 ERA in 32.0 innings.

The Rank: BA #84, Mayo N/R

The Giants: Soft tossing lefties. Woody = good. Zito = not good anymore. Surkamp = we’ll find out more sooner than later. If this guy has sand than let’s do it up. As an aside, because geography and US History is fascinating to me, I really enjoy Ft. Worth. My wife’s dad grew up there and visiting was quite fun, and not quite the Texas stereotype I was expecting, although it is a big cattle town. Leftyqb6 laid down some Georgia geography and prep knowledge in the comments section that was really cool. Any Texans care to comment?

8. Matt Boyd Junior from Oregon State

6’3 215 L/L 2/2/1991

The Goods: Born in Bellevue like a certain small right handed pitcher drafted by the Giants in 2006. Most likely already got a good look with the Gints taking Susac/Osich last year. Can hit a little in HS. Played for the USA Collegiate National Team and on the cape, both well. Fastball is high 80s, topping at 90. 3/4 arm delivery and good control.

The Bad: Didn’t start last year, not sure if he will this year. He did make 2 starts in the Cape this summer. He went 0-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings, striking out 15

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 30 Games, 46 IP, 35K/11BB, 1.57 ERA, 4 saves, all in relief.

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: Have been active in OSU for the past few years. He gets good ratings from college baseball sites, I figured I would throw him up.

9. Brian Holmes Junior from Wake Forest

6’4 210 L/L 1/30/1991

The Goods: I was surprised I couldn’t find more lefties in the ACC. Anybody know of draft eligible guys I missed? This guy made the weekend rotation last year and is primed to bust out some. Georgia prepster who went to JC and then transferred to Wake. He has worked on his delivery to get better command on all pitches and angle on his breaking ball. Seems like a nice framed guy who is a hard worker and might break out this year.

The Bad: Struggles with command. In summer league he went 60 IP, 2.40 ERA with 54Ks but 31 BBs. His BA against was stellar: .166. Sounds sort of familiar actually…

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 15 games, 11 starts, 69 IP, 3.00 ERA, 68 Ks/28 BBs

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: Have a good knack for grabbing guys like this and fixing them. Or shipping them off to Kansas City when they run out of rope.

10. Stephen Rodriguez junior from Florida

6’2 225 L/L

The Goods: Also surprised about the SEC. Maybe I missed somebody again, but not a lot of lefties in this years draft. So I just went to the best program, grabbed a guy who stood out last year. He killed it against Vandy in Omaha. His nickname is Paco and he’s the King of the Cutter. Excellent. This guy looks like a great Loogy. He also throws a 2-seam fastball. Pretty good control demonstrated.

The Bad: Well, he’s a reliever now, most likely would be drafted as one. Not really first few rounds material, but he stood out.

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 4-2 1.91 ERA, 37 IP, 44Ks 12 BBs

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: Yes please. I would very much like the Giants to restock the left handed depth in the system. Not everybody can be a stud starter. Need the pen guys too.

11. Sam Selman, junior from Vanderbilt

6’3 190 L/L 11/14/90

The Goods: Had to get somebody in from Vandy. The Angels thought highly enough of him to take him in the 14th round of the 2009 draft. First off, this guys favorite band is Hootie and the Blowfish. He was five years old when “Hold My Hand” was rocking the nation. Alright, let’s do this! He threw major heat at PerfectGame, topping at 97-98. His body is maturing, apparently he showed up at about a buck fifty as a junior in high school. Throws all sorts of pitches, a fastball, slurve, 2 changeups and a spinny curve ball.

The Bad: Not a starter yet, and nowhere near a weekend starter. He had pretty good stamina from PerfectGame showcase reports, but the fill in on the body is an issue.

The Stats: From the vandy website: Went 2-4 in eight starts for Mankato in the Northwoods League posting a 3.89 ERA and fanning 46 in 41.2 innings. (Summerball)

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: This guy got a lot of attention before committing to college. He is very raw, but was mentioned in the same breath as Mathew Purke and Tyler Matzek. Dick Tidrow needs to get ahold of him and knock off all that secondary pitch nonsense. Somebody to watch this year, and who knows, maybe a project pick in the 4-8 rounds.

12. Michael Roth Senior from South Carolina

6’1 210 L/L 2/15/1990

The Goods: Tebow Time. This guy is not going to get the respect from pro scouts I don’t think. Why not? He was drafted last year in the 31st round by the Cleveland Indians, took one look and said “I think I’ll go win a third national championship instead, thank you very much” Low to mid 80s on the fastball, with a sweepy slider.

The Bad: Obviously he isn’t projected at the next level.

The Stats: National Player of the year, Captain of the 2-time defending national champions,

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: "Baseball is something I do, not who I am." This guy is an absolute character, and who knows if he even wants to play pro ball. Obviously a high IQ guy who just may not have the skills to bump up to the next level. But he’s created quite a legacy for himself.

13. Jordan Remer, Senior from USF

6’2 210 L/L March 1990

The Goods: Sleeper time, lets go local and give a shout to my brother-in-law’s alma mater: Senior at San Francisco, pride of Piedmont High, pitched out of the pen and started. His nickname is Skip. Can’t find scouting data on him.

The Bad: Upside is most likely an arm out of the pen.

The Stats: 2011 NCAA: 3-2 in 49 innings, 3.67 ERA 1.22 K per inning, 4 starts, 4 saves

The Rank: Unranked

The Giants: While they’re checking out Kyle Zimmer why not take a look. Its so close even Brian Sabean could go. Drafted last year in the 25th round by the Rangers. While middle relievers have low WAR numbers, it sure does make sense to draft them rather then go pay the going rate on the open market.

Bad News Front: Sam Stafford – Texas Senior needs shoulder surgery and is out for the year. The Yanks drafted him in the 2nd round last year, verbally committed for 400K, during physical they saw something they didn’t like, cut the offer in half. Christian Jones, Oregon Junior needs Tommy John surgery. These 2 guys were looking at the 3rd- 6th round, further hurting the depth of the college class.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I have to conclude that college lefties represent safer, lower upside organizational needs. That is what I take away from recent drafts and looking at the talent for the year’s draft. Still, taking a player in correctly judged value rounds can yield a useful piece.

Comment Starters:
Brian Johnson: hitter or pitcher? If he’s available is he a no-brainer for Los Gigantes?
What is the best college baseball conference? Is it close?

How has South Carolina dominated the past 2 years? Are they the number 1 program until Omaha no matter what?

How sad do you still get about Noah Lowry?

OK, I need to generate some big time interest in these snapshots. I’m going big next. I’m making a list of the top 12 power hitters in the draft. That is always a good spot to start dreaming. We need more POWER! AKA the first of a few posts where we can figure out all the different angles on how we won’t be getting Victor Roache. Unlike previous snapshots, I’m going to take a serious stab at ranking them. Maybe that will generate some controversy.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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