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2008 Amateur Draft Review: The AL West

The 2011 amateur draft is just over a month away (June 6-8) so we’re breaking out some pre-draft coverage with a review of the 2008-10 drafts. We kick things off with a look at the American League West. The AL Central will be up next.

The first three rounds are listed for each team, plus any other above-slot signees.
(X = Signed to Over-Slot Deal; S = Supplemental Round; DNS = Did Not Sign)

The Texas Rangers
1st. Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina
2nd. Robbie Ross, LHP, Kentucky HS
3rd. Tim Murphy, LHP, UCLA
7thx – Matt Thompson, RHP, Texas HS

Notes: This was a solid but unspectacular draft for the Texas Rangers. The club nabbed first baseman Smoak, who was later flipped in a trade with Seattle for the rental of Cliff Lee. It didn’t result in a World Series ring for the Rangers but the veteran left-hander provided 3.1 WAR in 15 regular season starts and a 1.42 FIP in the playoffs. Smoak was amongst an impressive group of ’08 college first basemen that also included Yonder Alonso (Cincinnati), Brett Wallace (Oakland), David Cooper (Toronto), Ike Davis (New York NL) and Allan Dykstra (San Diego). Ross is one of the club’s top pitching prospects despite on going concerns about durability stemming from his modest pitcher’s frame. The club recently promoted Cody Eppley to the Majors. The control specialist will work out of the bullpen. He was drafted in the 43rd round out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Other sleepers from this draft include Thompson and Joe Wieland (fourth round).

The Oakland Athletics
1st. Jemile Weeks, 2B, Miami
2nd- Tyson Ross, RHP, California
3rd- Petey Paramore, C, Arizona State
7thx – Brett Hunter, RHP, Pepperdine
10thx – Rashun Dixon, OF, Mississippi HS
28thx – Dusty Coleman, SS, Wichita St.

Notes: Oakland continued its well-publicized, college-centric approach to the draft in ’08. Weeks remains one of the club’s top prospects but his development has been relatively slow for a top college talent (He’s in his fourth pro season and currently performing well in triple-A. If all goes well and he avoids major injuries Weeks could be set to take over second base from Mark Ellis in 2012. Second rounder Ross looks like a useful big league pitcher but I’m not sold on what his overall ceiling will be, as he’s currently working as a swing man. As a Canadian and a fan of the Jays in the 80s and early 90s, I will always remain a fan of the Barfield family. Long-time Jays right-fielder Jesse Barfield‘s son Jeremy Barfield doesn’t get a lot of press but he’s put up respectable numbers in the low minors and deserves monitoring. He’s producing solid numbers in double-A early on in 2011. Dixon flashes impressive tools but he needs to make more contact (career K-rate is above 30%). Hunter’s career was derailed by control issues.

The Seattle Mariners
1st. Joshua Fields, RHP, Georgia
2nd. Dennis Raben, OF, Miami
3rd. Aaron Pribanic, RHP, Nebraska
14thx – Luke Burnett, RHP, Louisiana Tech

Notes: This was a pretty ugly draft. Using a first-round pick on a senior college reliever – which also cost $1.7 million – seemed wrong right from the get-go. Fields put up OK numbers in double-A but he’s also struggled mightily with his command for a guy who was supposed to be “near-MLB ready.” He doesn’t look like someone that is going to be a high-leverage reliever in the Majors. Second rounder Raben looks like a triple-A vet in the making. Pribanic was traded to Pittsburgh and doesn’t strike anybody out but his ground-ball ways could help him find his way into a big league bullpen at some point.

The Los Angeles Angels
1st. None
2nd. Tyler Chatwood, RHP, California HS
3rd. Ryan Chaffee, RHP, Florida JC
3S. Zach Cone, OF, Georgia HS (DNS)
11thx – Rolando Gomez, SS, Florida HS

Notes: The free agent signing of Torii Hunter the previous winter gave the club’s first round pick to Minnesota (They selected college right-hander Carlos Gutierrez). The club nabbed a nice pick in the second round in Chatwood, who moved through the minor league system rather quickly and has made three starts at the MLB level in 2011, although he’s not ready for the Majors (6.05 FIP, 5.50 BB/9). Hopefully this desperate move won’t stunt his further growth. Third rounder Chaffee has been a bit of a disappointment as he’s struggled with both his command and control. In fairness, he’s also pitched in some leagues that heavily favor hitters. Lefty Will Smith was an astute pick-up in the seventh round but he was traded to Kansas City and has the ceiling of a middle reliever or fourth/fifth starter. Michael Kohn, a 14th round, has provided excellent value for his draft position and has already pitched in parts of two MLB seasons (2010-11). His ceiling, though, is that of a middle reliever.