Think Blue

Obsessing over the Dodgers' minor league system so you don't have to.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Draft Review

For the first time in Logan White's tenure, the Dodgers finished early as they passed on all of their selections from the 40th round on. They ended up with 40 players: 19 high schoolers, 14 from 4 year colleges, 6 from junior colleges and a Puerto Rican in a pear tree. Some players fell due to signability, others were picked earlier than expected and there were a few head scratchers. But when all is said and done, the players who get signed will determine the success or failure of Logan White and the Dodgers Scouting Department's venture. Now I'll finally get to the evaluations.

First Day Six Pack

Round 1, Pick 20: Chris Withrow, RHP (Midland Christian HS, Texas)

The picks preceding the Dodgers' were full of surprises, though most of the best talent was already off the board. High school hitters like Matt Dominguez, Jason Heyward and Kevin Ahrens fell out of the Top 10 but didnt last long after that. Prep pitchers such as Madison Bumgarner, Phillipe Aumont and Blake Beaven were thought to be possibilities at #20 but none of them fell. Even college players such as Joe Savery and Beau Mills may have been considered had they lasted that long. But in the end, Logan White and the rest of the crew got their man in Withrow. Withrow came into the spring as a relative unknown, but saw his stock rise as the draft drew closer. Withrow has great mechanics, a projectable build and a solid repetoire, starting with a fastball that has been in the low 90s late in the spring. Chris also throws both a curveball and a changeup that figure to be plus pitches as he gains experience. His athleticism and bloodlines are a bonus, as his father pitched at the University of Texas and in the White Sox' farm system before becoming Midland Christian's pitching coach.

The Comp: Blake Johnson

It's not exciting, I know. But White raved about Johnson's frame and mechanics when Blake was drafted way back in 2004. Built similarly with projection, Withrow has a better present fastball and more athleticism, while Johnson had the better curve. So Chris is probably a "rich man's" version of Johnson.

The Grade: B+

I cant blame White for taking him, as he has everything Logan looks for in a pitching prospect. However, there were some higher ceiling guys such as Matt Harvey and Michael Main available. But in the end, I think Withrow could be a solid #2 starter barring injury.

Supplemental First Round, Pick 19: James Adkins, LHP (U of Tennessee)

The last time the Dodgers spent a supplemental first round pick on a college pitcher from Tennessee, it was Luke Hochevar. And while Adkins doesnt share Luke's agent, Scott Boras, he doesnt share his upside either.
Out of all of the picks on the draft's first day, this one puzzles me the most. Adkins is listed at 6'6 225 lbs, impressive size for a lefty, but his velocity doesnt match up with his build. Adkins sits in the high 80s with his fastball, making it a fringe average offering. However, his bread and butter pitch is his slider which comes in around 80mph and he can put it where he wants to. James Also throws a curve and a change, though neither are as good as the slider. He's also lauded for his command and pitchability. Adkins did well against high profile pitchers like David Price and Nick Schmidt this spring, which may have raised his stock. But when all is said and done, Adkins looks like he'd be a #5 starter at best.

The Comp: A lefty Justin Orenduff

Like Adkins, Orenduff was a college pitcher taken in the supplemental first round back in 2004. They share a fringy fastball and a plus slider, but not too much in the way of upside. Both of them could wind up in the bullpen at some point in their careers.

The Grade: C-

I'm as big a fan of Logan White as anyone, but I really didnt see the point in taking a guy like Adkins when much better pitchers were available. Neil Ramirez, Nevin Griffith, Danny Duffy, Nathan Vineyard and others were still on the board and have much great upside. Dont get me wrong, I hope Adkins wins a Cy Young one day. I just doubt it'll happen.

Second Round, Pick 22: Michael Watt, LHP (Capistrano Valley HS, CA)

Another surprising pick, Watt got a lot of mixed reviews from scouts this spring. He's somewhat slightly built, at 6'1 185 lbs and there isnt a ton of projection left in his frame. At one point during the spring, Watt had received the highest grade from MLB's Scouting Bureau of any California prep pitchers. His believers will say he has the athleticism, stuff and arm action to go in the first 3 years. Watt's fastball routinely touches 91mph and he'll also flash a plus curve, though his delivery needs work. There is some recoil in his arm action that could lead to an injury and he lands on a stiff plant leg, launching himself towards third base. He also throws across his body, which is a red flag. With those issues cleared up, Watt could end up being a pretty solid southpaw down the road.

The Comp: Poor man's Gio Gonzalez

And let me emphasize "poor man's." He has the same slight frame and repertoire as the former Phillies' farmhand, though his stuff is at least a tick behind at this point. Right now, it's all about projection for Watt, who could end up being a steal in a few years, but just as likely could end up with a serious injury given his mechanical flaws.

The Grade: C+

Again, with guys like Danny Duffy, Nevin Griffth, Travis Mattair and Nefi Soto on the board, I really would have prefered waiting on Watt, who wasnt expected to go in the top 5 rounds of the draft.

Third Round, Pick 22: Glenn Gallagher, 3B (Manheim Township HS, PA)

Gallagher's father, also named Glenn, played college ball at Clemson and was drafted by the Blue Jays in 1981. And this marks the third time in as many years that Logan White has drafted a kid who's father was also drafted (Scott Van Slyke and Preston Mattingly). Gallagher is a monster at 6'5 220 lbs with enormous power potential from the left side. He puts on an impressive display during batting practice, and one display was so impressive that it convinced Logan White he was worth a high pick. He's a pretty good athlete for his size. Most scouts arent convinced that he's ready for pro ball. His instincts are unrefined and his bat speed is nothing special. Though he committed to South Carolina, he should sign for slot money.

The Comp: Kyle Orr

I only had to go back one year to find this comparison. Orr was taken in the 4th round (The Dodgers didnt have a 2nd or 3rd rounder last year) out of a Canadian High School. Both of them have very intriguing power potential given their size, but are a bit raw as players in most facets of the game.

The Grade: C+

While Gallagher's power potential is impressive, it's really his only plus tool. I'm not really a big fan of one-dimensional hitters, even if they hit the ball a long way in batting practice. His lack of plus bat speed also concerns me, given his size, and leads me to believe he'll be a TTO hitter at best (TTO = Three True Outcome [HR, BB, K]). Hopefully he'll be able to stay at third base, which will at least give him more value than if he needs to move to first. And it didnt help that the Angels took Matt Harvey two picks later...

Fourth Round, Pick 22: Andrew Lambo, 1B/OF (Newbury Park HS, CA)

The second California prepster to be taken by the Dodgers, Lambo is another kid with question marks. After stealing a car, he was kicked out of his first high school and transferred to NPHS. He's also turned scouts off by showing immaturity in interviews this spring, which hurt his stock leading up to the draft. But let's get to the positives. He's a damn good hitter. Lambo's stroke is a beautiful thing from the left side of the plate and he has a good idea of what he's doing up there. If he adds muscle to his skinny frame and loft to his swing, he could be a legitimate HR threat. He has the smooth actions around the bag to be a plus defender at first and a very strong arm to play right field. He's also a solid average runner.

The Comp: James Loney

Both are L/L pure hitters with gap power who play a good first base. Both pitched in high school and could handle right field. Loney, however, has plus makeup and never had questions about his character. But as far as skillsets go, they're very similar.

The Grade: B

It's rare to find a hitter with Lambo's ability and track record in the 4th round. The questions surrounding his makeup need to be addressed and his future with the Dodgers' organization depends on him maturing and keeping his head on straight. I can understand doing stupid stuff in high school, but his career depends on him being a good citizen. Only time will tell if he reverts to his old ways or grows up.

Fifth Round, Pick 22: Kyle Blair, RHP (Los Gatos HS, CA)

This was the pleasant surprise of the first day of the draft for me, as Blair was a pitcher I'd been following most of the spring and hoping the Dodgers would have a chance to draft. Blair is a projectable righty at 6'3 200 lbs with the chance to get stronger. Coming into the season, his fastball was season as just fringe average, sitting around 90 mph. But as draft day approached, Blair began sitting in the low 90s and touching 95. His best pitch, however, is his curveball that he can throw in any count. It's an above average pitch that plays up because of his command of it. He also has improved his changeup, giving him a solid 3 pitch mix. He was also an all conference water polo player, which is a testament to his athleticism and strength.

The Comp: Poor Man's Chad Billingsley

I was tempted to go with Blake Johnson again, but figured it would be a little cheap to have him and Withrow compared to the same guy. Besides, like Billingsley, Blair is a strong kid who can dominate competition with his fastball/curve combo alone. If Blair's velocity stays in the low 90s more consistently, the two would be much closer.

The Grade: A

Getting a pitcher who was ranked 50th overall in the 5th round is a flat out steal. The only question is his signability. Blair is committed to the University of San Diego and will take much more than slot money to skip college. The previous 5 picks should sign fairly cheaply, so it all depends on whether or not the Dodgers are willing to open the pocketbook and shell out an extra couple hundred grand to get Blair into the system.

My review of the second day of the draft will come tomorrow.


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