Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saltzman Says...MLB Draft always has question marks

When it takes a player five years to make it to the big leagues, that isn't considered slow.  Most players drafted out of high school take that long to develop.  College players may only take 3-4 years.  Either way, the June Draft is certainly not the place to get a quick fix.

The Tampa Bay Rays lost Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Brad Hawpe, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls this past off-season.  They replaced all of those players with either in house fixes, or free agents that weren't warranted draft pick compensation.  In turn, the Tampa Bay Rays received 10 extra picks in the first two rounds as compensation for their losses.  They used their 12 draft picks in the first two rounds on 6 high school players and 6 college players.  They took 5 pitchers, 4 outfielders, 2 shortstops, and a 3B.  Losing 8 players in one off-season is very rare and if 8 of the 12 make it to the big leagues, it could be looked at as a win.  However, will any of them be as good as Carl Crawford was for Tampa?  Only time will tell.

San Francisco Giants:
All that being said, the Giants seem to draft for need, despite saying the contrary when asked.  John Barr, Bobby Evans, Dick Tidrow and their staff have always maintained they are going to draft talent over need because the draft isn't a quick fix.  Despite those parameters, the Giants took a SS, LHP, C and 1B with power with their first four selections.  If there are four things the team could use right now, it is a long term answer at SS, a C that can hit while Buster Posey is out, a big bat and who couldn't use another arm.

SS, Joe Panik, St. John's University

RHP, Kyle Crick, Sherman HS (TX)

C, Andrew Susac, Oregon St
Comments: The draft-eligible sophomore was a good high school catching prospect in Northern California two years ago, but teams stayed away (the Phillies took a shot in the 16th round) because of his strong commitment to Oregon St. Now, Susac is mentioned frequently near the top of the catching list in this year's class, though there are differing opinions about his skill set. Teams that will consider him highly see the potential for him to be an everyday catcher. He does have average raw power, mostly to the pull side, with more gap power to other fields. That could mean 15-20 homers annually, if he can make enough contact to tap into that power, something some have concerns about. He's a bit of a guess hitter and uses a big leg lift in his swing. Susac is stocky, but not physical and muscular -- kind of like a Gregg Zaun-type. Behind the plate, he has a solid average arm and will flash a plus now and again. His hands can be a little stiff, but he's made some good improvement in his receiving skills. A broken left hamate bone forced him out of action this spring, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his Draft status.

1B, Ricky Oropesa, USC
Comments: In a class that is less than deep in college bats, Oropesa's stands out based on one tool: power. The corner infielder has always had it and was a prospect back in high school, when the Red Sox took a shot and selected him in the 24th round of the 2008 Draft. The left-handed hitter has plus raw power, perhaps as much as anyone out west. He hasn't always swung the bat consistently enough to tap into it, but he made some good adjustments this season to show a little more overall hittability to some. He's shown he can rise to the occasion, picking up three hits -- including a homer -- against UCLA ace Gerrit Cole. He's not a clogger on the bases, but he's not a runner, either. While he's got a plus arm, he's below-average defensively overall, meaning he's likely destined to be a first baseman or designated hitter when all is said and done. As one of the few guys in this Draft with true plus raw power, there's bound to be a team fairly early thinking his bat will play just fine at those spots.

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