5 weeks until the MLB draft - let's talk prospects

The MLB draft is now only 5 weeks away. The bad news is that the Giants don't draft until the #29 pick in the first round (and then have overall picks #49, #86, #116, #147, and #177 in rounds 1-S thru 5). The good news is that this year's draft is very deep in 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-tier prospects, so we should be able to get at least 2 very exciting prospects with our first 2 picks and 4 more very solid prospects with our next 4 picks. I've been looking at a ton of videos and reading as much data and reports as I can find on prospects over the past 4 weeks, but this is still a work-in-progress for me as I do more research and watch a lot more games on TV and videos on the internet. Feel free to make comments on why my prospects suck, but be specific in your criticism. Feel free to pipe in with questions and with suggestions of your own favorite prospects - I'd love to be pointed in the direction of other prospects that I can check out before teh draft. I'm not sure if we can keep this fanpost active enough to last the rest of the time between now and when the draft begins, but we can always start new fanposts (making liberal use of cut-and-pasting) as the need arises. Between all of us on the MCC, I figure that we should be able to come up with a very solid draft board by the time June 6th rolls around.

For the sake of brevity (yeah, right!), I've left off a bunch of guys that I rank higher than most of the guys on my list, because I'm sure that they'll be long gone when we draft near the end of each round. The following guys are the ones that I like and that I believe will likely be available to us when our first 6 turns come up. I do expect that all but a few of them will be gone by the end of the 5th round. Also, as I wrote about last year, I don't buy into the "best player available" strategy of drafting baseball prospects. Mainly because I don't think that anybody can consistently pinpoint the best baseball player available with any degree of acceptable accuracy - especially once you get past the first 10 picks, or so, and when you start talking about HS prospects. Therefore, I subscribe to the idea that, other things being equal, a team should seriously consider their future needs, and the type of players that their farm systems have been successful at developing, when drafting. Things like best player available, signability, and the type of players that fit their home ballparks should also figure into the decision. In consideration of this, I would rank the Giants needs for this draft in the following order:

1. Pitchers: The starting pitching down on the farm is awful thin. The great thing about this is that pretty much all the experts agree with me that this year's draft is incredibly deep in pitchers (and very thin in position players). I don't think that there's much of a difference between the guy that's going to be the #1 pitcher taken (probably Gerrit Cole) and the guy that's going to be that last pitcher taken in the first round. I expect that Sabes will allow Tidrow free rein this year, since Barr got position players with the top 3 picks last year. I think they'll go with college pitchers early and then HS kids later on, unless there's a dark horse HS kid that Tidrow loves when we pick in the first round. Now, I don't even pretend to know pitching talent anywhere in the remotest neighborhood when compared to Dick Tidrow, so I'll be plenty happy with any pitcher the Giants choose with their first several picks - unless it's an obvious safe pick for the purpose of easy signability. I list the pitchers that have caught my eye below, but I have no idea if they are Tidrow-approved, so I won't be too upset if the Giants choose other pitchers. I probably will be displeased if they go with pitching with more than 3 of their first 6 picks, but that all depends on who the pitchers are and who else was still available when they were picked.

2. Middle Infielders: We are especially thin at SS, with most prospects being good-field, no-hit guys (or no-field, no-hit guys). 2B is also a problem spot in that most of the top prospects can hit a bit, but their fielding leaves a lot to be desired, and none of them appear to be ready to join the major league club anytime soon. Certainly, none of them appear to be destined to become impact players at the major league level. A highly-talented, dynamic-hitting 2B college prospect would fit nicely in the early rounds, and I think that the Giants will also consider a college SS in the early rounds even though they went with Jurica in the 3rd round last year. I doubt that they take a MI from the HS ranks in the top 5 rounds unless Francisco Lindor inexplicably falls to #29.

3. Corner OF: The Giants got more athletic and deeper in CF with last year's draft, but (other than Roger Kieschnick in 2008) they haven't drafted a multi-tool, power-hitting corner OF prospect in the early rounds in the past 5 drafts. I think that the Giants won't hesitate to take one of the many HS corner OF prospects with their top 3 picks if the guy they like is available. I don't think that any of the really good college guys will still be available by the time the Giants first pick.

4. 3B: This is also a very thin position for the Giants down on the farm. Especially when you consider how weak Gillaspie's defense and power potential are, and how old and clanky Dominguez is. Unfortunately, this year the college 3B prospects are very thin (unless they want to reach for Jason Esposito in the first round), so they'll likely have to go the HS route or find a college SS to convert to 3B if they want a guy worth drafting in the first several rounds.

5. Catchers: It would be nice to find a dynamic prospect to eventually spell Buster behind the plate. I'd hate to see what it's going to do to his body if Bochy trots him out there for 140+ games a year over the next several seasons. Unfortunately, the best C prospects that will be available when the Giants draft appear to be in the HS ranks this year, so help probably won't be on the way soon.

After the jump are the top 19 guys that I have on my preliminary Giants' draft board. I've inckuded links to all the good video clips and current stats on each player at the bottom of their entries.

1. Kolten Wong: LHH, 2B, Un. of Hawaii (5'9", 180) (DOB=10/10/90)
An impact prospect at second base. Has sneaky speed, and the athleticism, work ethic, and baseball smarts to make a quick and lasting impact as a pro. He has a very quick bat with above-average power for a 2B. It's a sweet left handed swing that is very short to the ball and long through the zone, with a very attacking intent. His swing is seemingly effortless, repeatable, and has very few moving parts. His bat head stays in the strike zone for a very long time, which means he can drive the ball to any field with power - Buster Posey is another guy who has this swing attribute. He shows a decided knack for barrelling up the ball and driving it. Wong starts with a stance that is narrow - slightly more than shoulder width - and slightly open. He rests his bat horzontally on his shoulder, almost perfectly perpindicular to the ground and to the pitcher, with his hands in front of his body and a slight bend in his knees. His weight is fairly evenly balanced, but with a slight bias towards his back foot. He triggers his swing with a moderate leg lift, while simultaneously dropping his hands down and lifting his bat to the vertical position and shifting more of his weight to his back foot. As he brings his front foot down to anchor his front side, he strides about 6 inches toward the mound and about 3 inches toward 3rd base. As he strides, he begins his powerful hip rotation, but keeps his bat in the vertical positon and his hands still. This causes his hands and bat to separate from his torso. As his front foot plants, the foot is angled out about 45 degrees, the leg straightens, and his front side remains strong and firm, and provides a pivot point for his hips, upper body and arms to rotate around. As his hips rotate, his hands move straight towards the ball with no wasted motion, his wrists snap forward powerfully, bringing his bat-head quickly through the hitting zone on a very short path and with a long and smooth follow-through. All of the elements working together - the separation of the hands from the body, the strong front side, the quick and powerful hip turn, and the strong and complete wrist snap provide the out-sized power for a seemingly effortless swing. His head stays very much in the same vertical plane, and doesn't twist during the swing which makes for a level and smooth swing. It's a very good swing, with mechanics that are not likely to go haywire. The one area where I can see him getting into trouble is if he begins to overstride in order to try and generate more bat-speed or power. Wong has shown his above-average speed by running a 6.84 sec. 60, and a 4.41 sec. home to first base time. The former high school running back has a low center of gravity and is powerfully built through the shoulders, hips, butt, and thighs, but that mass doesn't get in his way or make him slow and stiff. Wong has a surprisingly live and athletic body for his physique. He will have to watch what he eats in the future, because he will probably have a tendency to gain weight around his middle and butt regions, which could affect his swing. In the field, Wong has only a slightly above-average range, but an above-average arm at 2B. A former catcher, he has the quick feet to be tried at SS but his lack of range and arm strength made 2B the much more natural choice. On the plus side, he is very young for a college junior - he won't turn 21 until this October (making him 5 months younger than the Giants 2009 #1 pick, Zack Wheeler). He's been hitting over around .400, with excellent power, for most of this college season - as an encore to his eye-opening 2010 Cape Cod Summer League season in which he had a .426 OBP and was named the league MVP.
Here are his pertinent stats in his last 2 seasons:

2010 Cape Cod: .341/.426/.452/.878 with AB=135, H=46, 2B=6, 3B=0, HR=3, BB=18 (8.4%), K=13 (11.6%), SB=22 of 29 (76%)
2011 College: .400/.497/.600/1.097 with AB=140, wOBA=.478, H=56, 2B=7, 3B=3, HR=5, BB=25 (14.8%), K=13 (7.7%), SB=16 of 21 (76%)
vid 1: live AB vid - 2010 Cape Cod All Star game: (fixed link)

vid 2: live games vid - 2010 Cape Cod highlights:

vid 3: BP vid - indoors - Hawaii, Nov. 2010:

vid 4: BP vid - Hawaii, Nov. 2010:

vid 5: BP vid and live AB's - 3/5/11 vs. LMU:

vid 6: Q&A interview vid - Winter 2011:

Of all the players that I think will be available at #29, Wong is the guy that I really want the Giants to get. It shouldn't take much of an overslot deal to sign him - most likely he'll take slightly less than what they paid for Gary Brown at #24 last year.

2. Derek Fisher: LHH, OF, Cedar Crest HS, Lebanon, PA (6'3" 215) (DOB=8/19/93)
Offers an excellent mix of size, lefthanded power and above-average speed. Fisher excelled in the East Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. in July 2010. Facing some of the best amateur arms in the country, Fisher hit .600 and ran a 6.6 in the 60, the fifth best time among the more than 200 ballplayers in Lakeland. Fisher has a tall, but thick frame. He's especially thick and solid in the thighs, butt and waist area. He has to be careful that he doesn't "grow" into a 1B-only defender as he matures. His frame looks like he has the possibility to become really massive in the future if he lets himself go. Fisher has an upright stance at the plate and starts with his bat close to vertical and close to his ear. His hands are well above his shoulders and his elbow is high and bent. His feet are a bit more than shoulder-width apart and his weight is mostly evenly-balanced, maybe a bit more towards his back foot. He uses a very short stride and a front toe tap as his trigger mechanism, with no further stride after he starts his hands swinging. He drops his hands to just below shoulder height and brings his bat completely vertical as he taps his front toe, then he starts his forward swing from there. He has very quick hands and generates a lot of bat-speed, but his bat is long to the ball due to the position of his hands before his swing. He doesn't have an overly-agressive hip turn, so he stays on the ball well, gets good plate coverage, and can reach the outside pitches. He does a good job of keeping his hands inside the ball and keeping a strong front-side during his swing. He also lets the ball come deep to him and doesn't lunge to hit the ball in front of his body. I imagine that his power must be from left-center to straight away RF, given his somewhat closed stride and weight transfer. He is probably susceptible to inside fastballs above the waist and breaking balls down towards his back foot. It's seems like
a very natural and uncomplicated swing to me and should be easy for him to maintain gong forward. If I could tweak his swing a bit, I'd like to see him move his hands backwards and cock his wrists a bit more before he starts his swing forward, and I'd like to see him keep his weight back a bit longer after his toe tap trigger.

As an added bonus he's very young, even for a HS player - he won't turn 18 until the middle of August.
He's a Un. of Virginia commit.
vid 1: BP vid - in cage, off a tee & hand-tossed - Sept. 2009:

vid 2: BP vid - East Coast Pro - Lakeland, FL July 2010:

vid 3: live AB vid - wood bat 400 ft. HR - Jupiter, FL 11.10.2010:

vid 4: live AB vid - wood bat 400 ft. HR (just foul) - Jupiter, FL 11.10.2010:

vid 5: live AB vid - wood bat opposite field single - Jupiter, FL 11.10.2010:

vid 6: live AB's vid - shot from behind - Jupiter, FL 11.10.2010:

I'd like to see the Giants consider Fisher with their 1st round pick - with a healthy overslot deal most likely needed to sign him.

3. Brandon Nimmo: LHH, RF, East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo. (6'2", 185) (DOB=3/27/93)
Pronounced NIHM-moh. Bats LH, throws RH. He is a true 5-tool talent, who can play all 3 OF positions, but has the above-average arm, size, and power potential that profiles best in RF. He is an excellent athlete, having also starred in football and track in high school. He has above-average speed, having been clocked at 6.54 sec. in the 60 yard dash, and at under 4.1 sec. in home to 1B times. Although, I doubt that he develops into a top base-stealing threat in the pros, he should definitely have the tools and ability to steal 20+ bases a season. Nimmo has a long and lean frame, with sloping shoulders, that projects to easily add mass and strength as he matures. He has long arms and legs, and a relatively high waist. His actions on the field are fluid and athletic. He has a smooth and easy batting stroke that results in loud line-drives ringing off the barrel of his bat. Nimmo sets up in a fairly wide stance, with bent knees and weight mostly on his back leg. His stance is very slightly open. He has a slight bend in his waist. He keeps his hands well in front of his body, with a high left elbow that is slightly above his shoulder and slighly higher than parallel to the ground. His bat starts vertical, but his high elbow and wrist-cock cause the head of the bat to point towards the pitcher at about a 20 degree angle off of vertical. He waggles his body and hands back-and-forth in the box while waiting for the pitch. He triggers his swing by lifting the heel of his front foot off the ground. At the same time, he shifts his weight more towards his back foot, twists his hips slightly more closed, and brings his hands slightly back towards the catcher. He then begins to transfer his weight forward with a small forward step of his front foot directly toward the pitcher. At the same time, his hips begin to rotate, while his hands and bat remain in place. As his front foot plants, his toes at about a 30 degree angle with the plate, his knee straightens out and provides a firm front side. His hips quickly rotate through towards 2B, and his hands flow into the hitting zone with a powerful wrist snap. His path to the ball is not short, but it's also not long. He gets good extension with his hands and bat on his follow-through towards RF - doing a good job of not letting his front-side fly open and avoiding the dreaded bat-wrap. If I could tweak his mechanics a bit, I'd like to see him plant his front foot closer to a 45 degree angle with the plate, and I'd like to get him to get rid of the slight bend in his front leg as he rotates through his swing. Nimmo generates excellent bat speed and gets very good plate coverage with his swing. He is not pull-happy - he does a good job of taking the pitches on the outside edge of the plate, keeping his hands inside the ball, and driving them into the gap in LCF with plenty of power. After tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing in a HS football game in Sept. 2009, Nimmo sat out the late Fall and Winter months. The hard work that he put in during the long months of rehab paid off with a stellar 2010 baseball season, the culminated in his winning top recognition and MVP honors during the Summer All-Star showcase games. His knee fully recovered, he skipped the football season in 2010, but returned for a full season of track, running mainly the 200 meter and 400 meter events. He ended the season on a great note - winning the state title in the 400 meter dash in a time of 51.45 seconds (the indoor world record is 44.57 seconds). His best time for the 200m dash was 23.49 sec. and for the 55m dash it was 6.7 sec. (55 meters is 6 inches longer than 60 yards). Wyoming doesn't have high school baseball, so Nimmo doesn't start playing games until late April when his American Legion league starts up. Because of that he spent a few days in the middle of April working out for MLB teams in Arizona. Nimmo appears to have a good head on his shoulder and a good idea on how to play the game. Here's some of the things that he said during an interview back in Feb. of this year:
"When I get up there I just want to hit the ball hard, solid, and get a line drive out of it. That’s all I focus on every time up: make good contact and hit a line drive. Power is not something that I ever try to put into my approach. I can hit the ball out, but it just happens – I rarely try to hit a homerun, and when they come they’re normally accidents. I’m more of a doubles and triples kind of guy who tries to get the ball in play and use some of my speed to get me around the bases. I try and stay inside the ball and hit the gaps a lot, particularly left centerfield. I feel that good hitters use all fields, so I try to make good contact when I’m up there and line the ball both the other way and to my pull side. I don’t get upset if I hit it hard for an out because I like to focus on staying on top of the things that I can."
In the same interview he claimed to have drawn close to 60 BB's during the 2010 season, so he appears to have a good eye and knows the importance of getting on base.
He's a Univ. of Arkansas commit.
vid 1: live AB vid (Double to RCF) - Tournament of Stars - June 23-25, 2010:

vid 2: live AB vid (strike out) with BP & OF throw drill - Tournament of Stars - June 23-25, 2010:

vid 3: OF throwing drills & BP vid - Under Armour pre-game - August 2010:

vid 4: Live AB's vid - Oct. 2010 Arizona Senior Fall Classic:

vid 5: Q & A interview vid - Feb. 2011:

vid 6: 3 min. interview vid from Apr. 2011:

I'd like to see the Giants consider Nimmo with their 1st round pick - with a healthy overslot deal most likely needed to sign him.

4. Andrew Chafin: LHP, Kent State (6'2" 205) (DOB=6/17/90)
He starred as a freshman reliever in 2009, then injured his elbow at the end of 2009, had Tommy John surgery in the beginning of 2010, and red-shirted the entire 2010 college season. During his rehab from surgery, Chafin was not allowed to throw breaking balls for nine to 12 months, so he had to develop his changeup out of necessity. Chafin was held to a strict pitch limit to begin the 2011 season as his coach tried to ease him into the rigors of a starting pitching role. He responded so well that he's off the limit now and pitching deep into games in almost every start. Chafin has 2 well above-average pitches (FB, SL) and a vastly improved changeup that is at least average now and has been getting better as the season has progressed. He has plus command of the FB and SL. He gets ahead of the hitter with the FB that he hides well and can locate to both sides of the plate. His FB sits 91-92 mph, touches 94, and has great late life. His strike out pitch is a plus slider that he throws in the 81-83 mph range. He has been totally dominant against the mostly lesser competition during Kent State's 1st half schedule, putting up the following stats: 75K & 11 BB in 58 innings (BAA=.178, WHIP=.81, K/9=11.6, BB/9=1.7, ERA=0.78). Note that Chaffin finally had his first "bad" outing of the year in a game on April 22nd at Buffalo. It was cold and raining during the game and Chafin lost his great control. He walked 5, and gave up 4 runs on 3 hits in 5.1 innings. He did have 8 K's, though. That one outing more than doubled his earned runs allowed for the year from 3 to 7, and almost doubled his BB's from 7 to 12. As I noted, the weather was bad, so that might have messed with his grip. However, Chafin is coming off the TJ surgery and he didn't pitch at all last season, so he could be wearing down a bit as innings pitched starts to get close to 100 innings. We'll have to keep an eye on his upcoming starts. As an added plus, Chafin is young for a college draftee - he won't turn 21 until 2 weeks after the draft. He also has 2 years of college eligibility left after this season, so he has more negotiation leverage than the vast majority of college draftee.
2011 college stats:

G=10, GS=9, IP=63.1, IP/St=7.0, ERA=1.28, FIP=2.51, WHIP=.87, BAA=.178, H=39, HR=1, K=83, BB=16, K/9=11.8, BB/9=2.3, K/BB=5.2, HR/9=.14
vid 1: live game vid - short compilation - Spring 2011:

I'd like to see the Giants to consider Chafin with their 1st round pick - with a slightly overslot deal most likely needed to sign him.

5. Robert Stephenson: RHP, Alhambra HS, Martinez, Ca (6'2" 185) (DOB=2/24/93)
Stephenson relies heavily on his 90-92 mph fastball, which peaks near 94. That pitch shows late jumping life as it reaches the strike zone. Stephenson adds a 77 mph curve and 74 mph change, both of which show promise but need to be sharpened. He began his 2011 high school season by throwing back-to-back no-hitters (IP=14, K=32, BB=2, HBP=3). He has sharpened his stuff since last season. He has long legs and arms, and a high-waist, on a projectable frame. He has a loose and athletic pitching motion that exhibits good extension and fairly consistent online landings. His pitching consistency could probably be improved with a few minor mechanical tweaks. His FB has recently ticked up to 92-93 mph, and touching 95, with late run. He is throwing a well above-average CB (78 mph) so far this season, with a 12/6 hard down rotation & bite. He has a crude straight CHG (78-80 mph) that he rarely throws.
He's a Univ. of Washington commit.
vid 1: live game vid - Tournament of Stars - June 23-25, 2010:

vid 2: Warmups vid - AFLAC All-American Classic - August 2010:

vid 3: Warmups vid - AFLAC All-American Classic - August 2010:

vid 4: Interesting personal project video:

I'd like the Giants to consider Stephenson with their 1st round pick - with a slightly overslot deal most likely needed to sign him.

6. Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy, Auburn, MA (6'4" 200) (DOB=5/23/93)
He has the arm speed and arm strength that you look for in a kid his age. He also has an ideal pitcher's frame (long, lean, with a high waist) that projects to easily add more strength and mass as he matures. He has an easy and loose motion, but I'm not in love with his arm motion behind his back during the first part of his delivery. He was throwing his FB 92-93 in Summer of 2010. His command is not always there at this point, but he does show nice shape and depth on his 78 mph curveball. I notice when looking at his videos that he has a tendency to not stay on top of the ball when he tries to muscle up and throw too hard. That causes his pitches to flatten out and drop in velocity. When he stays loose and mechanically sound then he's on top of the ball and it has a nice downward plane with late arm-side movement. He is young for his HS class, and won't turn 18 until 2 weeks before the draft. Henry Owens and Mike Kelly have better current stuff, but Beede gets the slight nod over them due to the fact that he's 9 and 10 months younger than those 2 guys.
He is a Vanderbilt commit.
vid 1: live game vid - Lawrence Acadamy HS - April 2010:

vid 2: live game vid - Tournament of Stars - June 23-25, 2010:

vid 3: live game vid - Summer Rivalry Classic, East Coast Pro - August 2010:

vid 4: live game vid - Summer Rivalry Classic, East Coast Pro - August 2010:

vid 5: live game vid - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

vid 6: live game vid - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

vid 7: live game vid - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

I'd like the Giants to consider Beede starting in the 1st round - a slightly overslot deal would likely be needed to sign him.

7. Kyle Smith: RHP, Santaluces HS, Lake Worth, FL (5'11", 170) (DOB=9/10/92)
Smith has a much smaller frame than most, but an advanced feel for pitching. He has plus command of a FB that sits at 89-91 mph, and has touched 93, with late life and some arm-side run. He changes speeds and horizontal location on his FB to keeps hitters off-balance. He has a changeup that is already at least average, with plus potential in the near future. His change shows good arm speed and late sink and fade. His slurve is currently his best pitch and his out pitch. It has very good velocity and a hard, tight spin. It's a big and nasty curveball at times, while at others it acts like a late-breaking slider. In the future, when his changeup becomes a better pitch, and he gets stronger, I can see him dropping the curve and going with the slider as his main breaking pitch. As for mechanics, Smith has a fluid, easy, and repeatable motion. He appears to throw with very little effort. He throws downhill, with a clean arm circle. In short, his mechanics remind me a lot of Lincecum's, but without the really long stride. Some have put a Roy Oswalt tag on him, but I don't see it. He seems poised and in control on the mound. He's nimble, quick, and flexible and very athletic, he can more than hold his own at SS (if he wasn't such a good pitcher he would be recruited as a SS), and he also hit a team-best 4 HRs during the regular season. During his junior season in 2010, Smith hit .446 and stole 16 bases. This year Smith has pitched and hit his team into the FL state playoffs, going 7-1, with 97 K's in 58.1 innings. He went 42 consecutive innings without giving up an earned run this year, before finally allowing 1 in his last start, almost doubling his miniscule ERA from 0.13 to 0.24 to close out the regular season. This was against top-level talent in Florida's highest level league (6A).
He is a Un. of Florida commit.
vid 1: live game - Under Armour Game, Aug. 2010:

vid 2: warmups - Tournament of Stars, June 23, 2010:

vid 3: infield practice - at short stop - Tournament of Stars, June 23, 2010:

vid 4: live game - vs. Leonard HS, March 2011:

vid 5: live game - vs. Leonard HS, March 2011:

vid 6: live game - vs. Leonard HS, March 2011:

vid 7: live game - vs. Leonard HS, March 2011:

Smith is my sleeper pick for the entire draft - he's very underrated. I hope that the Giants start considering him as early as their supplemental round pick.

8. Henry Owens, LHP, Edison HS, Hunt. Bch, CA (6'6" 190) (DOB=7/21/92)
He has been sliding down many draft boards this Spring, due to less than stellar results and the lack of any velocity gains. He has a very skinny and tall frame, with very long arms, legs, and a high waist. He's never going to add a lot of mass and muscle, but with a good workout program he should be able to add a lot more strength and endurance. I'm not in love with his mechanics, but he does have an advanced feel for pitching - including an above-average changeup. When I break down his delivery, it seems to me that his arm, upper-body, and hips are often not well-connected during his delivery. Sometimes his arm comes through too quickly, and other times it seems too late. Ideally, you want to fire your hips towards the plate after your front leg lands and then have your arm follow your hips in a connected and smooth sling-shot fashion. That way your arm is more of a slave to the work of your lower-body. When I look at Owens it seems to me that he throws too much with just his arm. Rather then amplifying the work of his hip turn and leg drive, Owens loses momentum by trying to force his arm speed mainly from the motion of his shoulder. This puts a lot of unnecessary stress on his shoulder and lowers the velocity of his pitches. Given his height and leverage, if he corrected his mechanics I think that he could be reaching as high as the mid-90s with his FB, instead the 88-91 mph that he typically throws at now. With his advanced feel for his curveball and changeup, that could make him a very special pitcher in the future.
He is a Univ. of Miami commit.
vid 1: live game - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

vid 2: live game - vs. J. Serra HS - March 2010:

vid 3: live game - Tournament of Stars - June 23-25, 2010:

I'd like the Giants to consider Owens starting in the supplemental round - with a relatively large overslot deal needed to sign him.

9. Michael Kelly, RHP, W. Boca Raton HS, Boynton Bch, FL (6'5" 195) (DOB=9/6/92)
Skinny, but projectable frame with long legs and arms, and a high waist. This kid isn't done growing. Throws a 4-seam FB that sits at 91-93 mph, and has often touched 95, this Spring. It has late life and a nice hop. His 2-seam FB has plenty of movement, and he's had a tough time keeping it in the strike zone. He also has a slightly above-average curveball that shows depth and a tight break, and a developing changeup that he rarely throws but does show some feel for when he does. His mechanics could be improved to give him even more velocity and repeatability in the future. I don't like that he doesn't get full extension with his arm behind his back at the beginning of his delivery. This keeps his arm from forming a smooth and full arm-circle during the delivery. I think that is also why he sometime short-arms the ball and ends up leading with his elbow. This results in him not always keeping on top of the ball, getting a downward plane, and getting full extension. On the plus side, he throws with a loose and easy motion, showing very good arm-speed. His flaws are very correctable, and it's encouraging that he can throw with the velocity that he does despite his mechanical flaws and lack of physical maturity. Kelly is an outstanding athlete. When he's not pitching he mans 3B for his team (a favorite to win that Florida state championship at the end of April) and ended the regular season with a .382 average and 4 HRs. His teammates include top-rated SS Tyler Greene who is widely predicted to go in the first 2 rounds of the upcoming MLB draft. Kelly ended the regular season with a 5-1 record, a 1.28 ERA, and 68 K's in 43.2 innings of work. Kelly has pitched the past 2 seasons at the top level of Florida HS baseball, against the biggest and best teams, and for one of the best teams in the state.
He is a Univ. of Florida commit.
vid 1: warmups - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

vid 2: warmups - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

I'd like the Giants to consider Kelly starting in the supplemental round - with the idea that a decent overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

10. Anthony Meo: RHP, Coastal Carolina Univ. (6'2", 185) (DOB=2/19/90)
Meo has a power arm. He's been throwing his FB in the 94- mph range this Spring, often touching up to 97 mph. Meo's pitching delivery looks a lot like that of Roy Halladay's. Meo stays a bit more bent at the waist than Halladay. I'd love for Meo to start developing a cut FB - which is Halladay's bread-and-butter pitch. Right now Meo has 1 plus pitch (a hard-breaking SL that he throws around 87-88 mph), 1 above-average pitch (a heavy FB that he throws around 93-95 mph), 1 average pitch (a straight changeup with a bit of late drop that he throws around mph), and 1 below-average "show-me" pitch (a curveball ). Meo would be ranked even higher if not for a lack of life on his FB (it remains pretty straight), his lack of elite strikeout rates (generally in the 8.9 K/9 range), and his lack of overall command with his pitches (as displayed in his BB rates and his high number of WP's and HBP's).
2010 college:

G=18, GS=16, IP=96.2, IP/St=5.2, ERA=2.61, WHIP=1.2, BAA=.230, H=67, 2B=14, 3B=0, HR=6, K=94, BB=34, K/9=8.8, BB/9=3.2, K/BB=2.8, HR/9=.49
2010 Cape Cod:

G=, GS=5, IP=, IP/St=, ERA=3.12, WHIP=1.09, BAA=., H=, 2B=, 3B=, HR=, K=, BB=, K/9=, BB/9=, K/BB=, HR/9=
2011 college:
G=10, GS=10, IP=63.3, IP/St=6.3, ERA=2.84, FIP=3.69, WHIP=1.34, BAA=.256, H=61, HR=3, K=63, BB=24, K/9=8.95, BB/9=3.4, K/BB=2.6, HR/9=.43
vid 1: live game, front view - Cape Cod League - June 2010:

vid 2: live game, side view - Cape Cod League - 6.27.2010:

vid 3: slomo warmup pitch - Cape Cod League - June 2010:

I'd like the Giants to consider Meo starting in the supplemental round - a slightly overslot deal would likely be needed to sign him

11. Jake Hager: RHH, SS, Sierra Vista HS, Las Vegas, NV (6'2", 185) (DOB=3/4/93)
His coach claims that he can play the game with the top HS players in the country, and that his character and makeup are off the charts. He's a great team guy and plays hard every single play. Hager has a long and lean frame that is projectable. He has added mass and girth to his frame between his Junior and Senior seasons - especially in the butt and thigh areas. He has room to add mass and strength in the upper body also. He is a very athletic, potential 4-tool player (the arm is only average) who is surprisingly fast getting out of the box and around the basepaths. He displays clean, quick, and loose actions in the field and at the bat. At the plate he shows very good bat speed, with strong and quick hands, and advanced bat control. Hager shows a simple and easy swing, with very few moving parts, so it should be repeatable. He can drive the ball with power from the left fieild line to the right-center gap. He has a balanced hitting stance, loose upper body and swing, and strong hands. He starts with a slightly wide and fairly erect stance that is slightly open. His hands are held high (slightly above shoulder level) and in front of his body. His right elbow is bent and behind him, held at shoulder level. His bat is mostly vertical, although he does let the head lay a bit behind his body. He waggles his bat side-to-side a bit, although his lower-body remains quite still, as he waits for the pitch. His weight is actually biased onto his front leg and foot before the pitch. His legs remain almost totally straight throughout his whole swing. Only when he is rotating his hips and driving through with his backside does he bend his back knee at an appreciable angle. He triggers his swing by pushing his weight onto his back leg by lifting his foot slightly off the ground. At the same time, he begins to rotate his hips closed, raising his back elbow higher above his shoulder, and cocking his wrists even more (so that the barrel of his bat points toward the pitcher). Slater then brings his front foot forward about 6 inches, but not forward, so that his stance is fully closed and taps the ground with his toes (leaving his heel off the ground). That triggers the uncoiling of his body and the forward portion of his swing. He twist on his front foot so that it is pointing at a 45 degree angle, stomps his front heel into the ground, straightens his front leg and locks his knee to provide a firm front side. As his heel plants, he fires his hips through (they end up facing the pitcher) and his upper-body, hands, and bat follows. He gets a very powerful wrist-snap, and his bat is not the quickest to the ball - although I wouldn't describe his swing as long. He does a very good job of keeping his head still and eyes focused on the ball. I would like to see him let the ball get a little deeper into body before he makes impact. He needs to trust his quick hands and shorten his swing just a bit to get even more power. I like the fact that he doesn't overstride towards the pitcher in order to try and increase his bat-speed and power. From Hager's videos below, it seems to me that he has good plate discipline and a good batting eye.
He is an ASU commit.
vid 1: live AB (double) - HS game in Las Vegas - March 2010:

vid 2: IF drills - in Las Vegas - March 2010:

vid 3: BP - SLC, Utah - Oct. 2010:

vid 4: live AB (double) - SLC, Utah - Oct. 2010:

vid 5: live AB (triple) - World Wood Bat, Jupiter, FL - Oct. 2010:

vid 6: live AB (bloop double) - World Wood Bat, Jupiter, FL - Oct. 2010:

I'd like the Giants to considerHager starting in the 2nd round - with the idea that an relatively large overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

12. Brad Miller: LHH, SS, Clemson (6'1" 185) (DOB=10/18/89)
Miller is a talented 3-tool athlete. He has a lean and loose frame, with sloping shoulders and long arms. He has above-average speed, a fringe-plus arm, excellent range, above-average bat control, and the potential for above-average power in the future. His main drawback has been his glove, which has been very error-prone during his first 2 years in college. Miller committed 23 errors at SS as a freshman and 32 as a sophomore, but he has just five errors so far in his junior season. Many evaluators believe that he'll have move off SS (to 2B, 3B, or the OF) as a pro, although he does have more than enough range and arm to play there. Miller does have an unorthodox batting stance and swing. He starts with a narrow and slightly closed stance - feet about shoulder-width apart and knees bent with his weight mostly balanced. He holds his hands up well above his head with the bat almost vertical. As the pitcher throws the ball, Miller shifts his weight to his back leg, bends his front knee more, and lifts the heel of his front foot off the ground. He then begins to bring his hands down to just above his shoulder and twists his hips and torso to a slightly more closed position. As his hands continue to drop, he starts the forward motion of his swing by striding toward the pitcher with his front foot about 12 inches while simultaneously rotating the foot until it ends up facing the pitcher and at a 90 degree angle to the plate. He quickly and firmly plants his front foot to the ground, straightens his front leg to a locked position, and rotates his hips open. His hands then drop down and through the hitting zone, then he snaps his wrists to bring the barrel of the bat through the zone. He does a very good job of keeping a strong front-side as he swings. He has a lot of work to do with his hands during the swing due to their extreme starting position, but his legs, hips and torso have only a few moving parts to get out of whack. You know that anybody that has had as much success at the plate as Miller has with this type of swing setup has to have strong and quick hands, and excellent bat control. The times that I've seen Miller play, he definitley has exhibited those attributes. He also gets good plate coverage with his bat during his swing, but the barrel of his bat does have a sharper downward plane than most swings and it doesn't stay level through the hitting zone for a prolonged period of time. He does do a great job of letting the ball come deep into his zone before making contact.
Here's what BA reported on what 1 MLB scout recently had to say about Miller's swing:
"It's not orthodox — you probably wouldn't teach his swing to a youngster, but he's got a good approach, he's got good hand-eye coordination, and he has a knack for barreling the ball," an AL area scout said. "He starts his hands up high, almost above his head, and to be honest it's a long swing, and the plane is kind of in and out of the zone. But he just always figures out how to hit. Right now you almost can't get him out."
He was rated the #35 preseason prospect in the nation for the 2011 draft by Baseball America. In the Summer of 2010, Miller was a starter for the USA National Team (joining Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray as the only returning members from the 2009 team). Miller played mostly at 2B, but he also played SS and 3B, while hitting a team-best .441 (15-for-34) with 4 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 11 runs, a .647 SLG, 6 BBs, a team-best .525 OBP, 1 steal, and a .963 fielding percentage in 14 games. He led the team in batting average by 80 points and helped the team to the silver medal in Tokyo. Miller broke his finger in March when he was hit by a pitch in a game against Virginia. He missed the next 7 games, and when he returned it was only as a DH for a couple of weeks. He returned to play SS starting on April 5th and went 15-for-25 in his next 6 games, with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 7 RBI, and 4 SB's. Miller has always hit since ever he joined the Clemson team in 2009. This year he leads Clemson in BA, OBP, and is 2nd in slugging. His K-rate of 17.5% is a bit worrisome given his power production, but his BB-rate of 18.2% is great. I can't find any videos on the internet with sustained focus on Miller, but I have seen him play for Clemson on regional TV games, and at the College World Series in 2010, several times over the past 2 seasons. I'm planning on seeing him play in person when Clemson comes to Florida to play FSU in the middle of May. From what I've seen of him, I think that he already has all of the tools needed to become a starting SS in the majors. The main remaining issue with him is that he needs to catch the routine groundballs hit to him and not focus so much on making the spectacular highlight reel plays. I thought that perhaps his previous year's offensive stats might have been a product of the old college aluminum bat, but after seeing his results hitting with a wood bat for Team USA in 2010, and the way he has taken immediately to the new deadened college bats without a hitch, I believe that Miller could probably hit well with a walking cane.
Current 2011 college stats:
.413/.519/.550/1.069 with AB=109, wOBA=.474, H=45, 2B=6, 3B=3, HR=1, BB=25 (18.2%), K=24 (17.5%), SB=15 of 18 (83.3%)
vid 1: live game - 2008 Clemson highlights (check out the throw Miller makes from his knees at the 1:27 mark):

vid 2: live game - vs. Okl. St. (check out the play Miller makes in the hole at the 1:00 mark) - May 2009:

vid 3: live game - vs. FSU (Miller hits an RBI single at the 2:30 mark) - May 2010:

vid 4: live game - vs. Alabama (Miller hits a HR to LCF at the 2:29 mark) - June 2010:

vid 5: live game - vs. Alabama (Miller hits a double at the 0:43 mark) - June 2010:

vid 6: Q&A - CWS - June 2010:

I think the Giants should consider taking Miller as early as their 3rd round pick - he's a much better prospect than last year's 3rd round pick at SS, Carter Jurica.

13. Austin Slater: RHH, 3B/SS, Bolles HS, Jacksonville, FL (6'2" 190) (DOB=12/19/92)
This year's Garin Cecchini? Slater broke his ankle playing frisbee in late Jan. 2011. and will likely sit out the entire 2011 HS baseball season. This will likely mean that Slater will fall down many draft boards and be available much later than he would have been had he been able to play this season. The Red Sox were able to steal Cecchini in the 4th round in 2010 in similar circumstances, although it did take quite a large overslot deal to buy him out of his LSU committment. Slater's injury required surgery and doctors inserted a plate and a couple screws in his ankle about a week later. Slater’s entire senior season is in jeopardy, though he is hopeful he will be able to return to action in time for the playoffs in early May. He is an outstanding student, committed to Stanford, so that will be another difficulty in getting him to sign. He was drawing plenty of attention from pro scouts before he was injured. Slater has said that many teams had already invited him to predraft workouts and many others were interested in scouting him during the season. He is an above-average runner and has the arm strength necessary to stay on the left side of the diamond. Slater shows a nice, compact swing and can drive the ball to the either gap. He has a balanced hitting stance, loose upper body and swing, and strong hands. He starts with a medium stance, that is slightly open. His hands are held high (at shouler level) and in front of his body. His right elbow is bent and behind him, held slightly below shoulder level. His bat is mostly vertical, although he does let the head lay a bit behind his body. He wrings his hands around the bat handle and moves his hands up-and-down a bit, although his lower-body remains quite still, as he waits for the pitch. He triggers his swing by lifing the heel of his front foot, moving his front foot very, very slightly towards the pitcher and towards the plate, and going up on the toe of his front foot. At the same time he shifts his weight onto his back foot and side, and brings his hands back and up to separate them from his body. Next, he begins his hip rotation while twisting his front foot to a 90 degree angle to the plate, and firmly planting his heel. His front leg completely straigtens out and locks to form a strong front side to anchor his hip and body rotation. He gets a full and quick hip rotation that leads his upper-body, hands and bat through the hitting zone. His quick hands and powerful wrist snap bring his bat quickly to the ball on a short stroke and supplies (along with the hip rotation) plenty of power. You'll notice that his front foot takes little to no stride during his swing, so there's not much of a danger of him overstriding, moving his head around a lot, or getting very off-balance during his swing. It's a simple and easy swing, with very few moving parts, so he should be able to repeat it going forward. Some say that his hands tend to go stiff at contact, but he has very good bat speed, and an extended finish. He shows power to all fields, and the ball comes hard off the barrel of his bat. Slater is very strong and athletic, and has a projectable and well-proportioned frame. He has outstanding arm strength in the infield, charges the ball well, has some agility, and a long release on his throw. He makes the routine plays at SS, but likely profiles better at 3B in the future - where his bat should play. He has above-average speed as evidenced by his 6.73 sec. 60 time.
He's a Stanford commit, so he'll be tough to sign.
vid 1: BP - AFLAC All-American Classic - San Diego 8.15.10:

I'd like the Giants to consider Slater starting in the 3rd round - with the idea that a very big overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

14. Trent Gilbert: LHH, 2B/SS, Torrance HS, Torrance, CA (6'1", 175) (DOB=3/17/93)
Bats LH, throws RH. Mechanically speaking, his swing reminds me a bit of Willie McCovey's. He has great hands, and uses them to control his bat and to generate great bat speed. His frame is long, lean, and projectable, with long legs and a high waist. He has hands that are extremely soft and sure on the infield. His defense is already smooth and polished - as one scout noted, this is what happens when your father has the keys to the baseball field and won’t let you go home until you take 30 grounders consecutively without an error. He tore up the So. Cal HS league as a junior - outhitting his highly-touted teammate Angelo Gumbs (Gumbs was drafted in the 2010 1-S round and signed with the Yankees last August) and setting a school record by getting 58 hits in xxxx games. For the 2009 season he hit .527, with 17 doubles. Gilbert has taken over Gumbs's spot at SS in 2011, and has taken his hitting to another level. He has the hands, and quick feet to play SS, but he doesn't have the above-average arm strength or range to his right. I'd start him out at SS and see if the arm strength and range comes around as he grows and puts on muscle. If not, move him back to 2B and he'll be more than fine there.
Un. of AZ. commit.
vid 1: BP & IF - Summer 2010:

vid 2: live AB & IF practice - Summer 2010:

vid 3: live AB's & IF practice - March 2011:

I'd like the Giants to consider Gilbert starting in the 4th round - with the idea that a slightly overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

15. Max Homick, LHH, OF/1B, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego, CA (6'4" 200) (DOB=6/10/92)
He has a tall, lean, and projectable body with sloping shoulders and a powerful lower-body. His actions on the diamond are clean, smooth, and athletic. He has a sweet and easy LH swing, with a very firm front side, that generates a lot of bat speed and power with lift. He also shows strong and quick hands with above-average bat control. He keeps his hands tight to his body and his bat is short to ball. He has gap-to-gap power with the potential for well above-average power in the future. He is very smooth at 1B, with plus footwork and soft hands. He showed good D and good instincts in his short stint in RF, with an above-average arm. He's also an above-average LH pitcher with a FB that sits in the 86-88 mph range and has touched 90. On the mound he displays good mechanics and an easy motion. His speed is only average, with his best time in the 60 being 7.16 sec. - but he has quick feet and a quick first step that somewhat negates his slower straight-away speed. He's a freak in that he can also throw very well righthanded and sometimes he will start at third base for his summer league team, although his HS coach keeps him to completely left handed during the HS season.
He's a Univ. of San Diego commit.
vid 1: Live AB - Calif. Showcase, San Diego - Jan. 2010:

vid 2: Live AB - HS game, San Diego - March 2010:

vid 3: Live pitching - HS game, San Diego - March 2010:

vid 4: live game (single & SB) - HS game, San Diego - 5.6.2010:

I'd like the Giants to consider Homick starting in the 4th round - with the idea that a relatively big overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

16. Riley Moore: SWH, C, San Marcos HS, Santa Barbara, CA (6'3" 190) (DOB=8/12/93)
Moore is an under-the-radar guy with plenty of tools. Arm, bat, switch-hitter, power - and he's developing into a pretty good catcher. If he makes it, Moore would be the first ever quadruplet to make the majors. His LH swing looks quick, powerful, and short to the ball. His RH swing looks a bit rougher and longer. But he shows good mechanics from both sides. As a catcher, he shows good form, with quick feet, receptive hands, and a very strong arm. If he can stick at catcher then he should have a great future. If he has to move to 1B or the OF, then he should still have the feet, arm, and bat to be a success. As an added plus, he's very young, even for a HS player - he won't turn 18 until the middle of August.
He's a Un. of AZ commit.
vid 1: local sports news segment - April 2010:

vid 2: Live AB's and catching - Spring 2010:

vid 3: BP - Summer 2010:

I'd like the Giants to consider Moore starting in the 4th round - with the idea that a relatively big overslot deal would be needed to sign him.

17. Nick Tropeano: RHP, Stony Brook Univ. (6'4" 200) (DOB=8/27/90)
Tropeano is a sinkerball/slurve pitcher who relies on smarts, control, movement, and changing speeds and location to get hitters out. From BA (August 2009): Tropeano's bread and butter is his biting breaking ball, and he uses his changeup effectively as well. He could add velocity to his 87-88 mph fastball as he grows into his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame. Tropeano earns plaudits for his composed demeanor and focus on the mound. He played in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2010, leading his team to the league championship. He came out of the pen in the deciding game (after
being pulled early from the 1st game in the series due to ineffectiveness) and shutdown the opposing team. Working on only 3 days rest, Tropeano pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball - with 7 K's - on 97 pitches. He feels confident enough to throw any of his 4 pitches at any point in the count. His main pitch is a 2-seam FB (sits 88-91) that has good sink. He also has a very good slurve and a plus changeup (Jim Callis called it "one of the best changeups in the college ranks"). He can also reach back and throw a 4-seam FB, that has touched 93 mph, when he needs a strike out, or to mess with a hitter's sight-lines.
He's young for a college junior - he won't turn 21 until the end of August.

2011 college stats:
G=9, GS=9, IP=59.2, IP/St=6.2, ERA=1.06, FIP=2.63, WHIP=.79, BAA=.167, H=35, HR=0, K=78, BB=12, K/9=11.8, BB/9=1.8, K/BB=6.5, HR/9=0
I think the Giants should consider taking Tropeana as early as their 4th round pick - he should be an easy sign at that point.

18. B.A. Vollmuth, RHH, SS/3B, Un. So. Miss. (6'4" 200) (DOB=)
He sustained a hip flexor injury that kept him out 2 weeks in the middle of April 2011. He came back from the injury, but he has been relegated to only the DH role. I doubt that he has the ability to stick at SS, but he just might be a good enough hitter to justify the move to 3B.

2011 college stats:
.319/.418/.603/1.020 with AB=141, wOBA=.438, H=45, 2B=6, 3B=2, HR=10, BB=23 (13.4%), K=34 (19.8%), SB=1 of 1 (100%)
I'd take a gamble on Vollmuth as a value pick beginning in the 5th round - he could still be available then, depending on how he ends up the season.

19. Nick Burdi: RHP, South HS, Downers Grove, IL (6'4" 210) (DOB=1/19/93)
Power pitcher. Low arm slot, closer to sidearm than 3/4. Especially tough on RHH. I don't think that he profiles as a pro starter, I think his ceiling is as a closer.
He is a Louisville commit.
I think the Giants should consider taking Burdi as early as their 5th round pick - although he's unlikely to be available then.
vid 1: live game - June 2010:

vid 2: live game - WWBA, Oct. 2010:

vid 3: live game - Under Armour Game, Aug. 2010:

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