2008 Amateur Draft Review: The NL West

We previously looked at the American League: AL West, the AL Central and the AL East. The National League Central is 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 Arizona Diamondbacks
1st. Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Arizona
1S. Wade Miley, LHP, SE Louisiana
2nd. Bryan Shaw, RHP, Long Beach State
3rd. Kevin Eichhorn, RHP, California HS

The Arizona organization traded away the two best prospects it acquired during this draft in Daniel Schlereth and Kevin Eichhorn, both of whom went to the Detroit Tigers but in separate deals. Schlereth, along with Max Scherzer, helped the club acquire Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. Eichhorn was given away for Armando Galarraga. One of the reasons that the organization has struggled to this point is because it traded away too much good, young talent in return for modest returns. Miley has the potential to be a useful pitcher at the MLB level but it might be as a middle reliever. The same can be said for Shaw. Collin Cowgill (5th round) has the potential to be a solid platoon or fourth outfielder and is off to a fast start in triple-A. The club could have significantly improved its draft haul if it had signed Danny Hultzen (10th round), who went to college and could be the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, or Daniel Webb (12th), who is showing flashes of potential after signing with the Jays out of Junior College in ’09.

The San Diego Padres
1st. Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest
1S. Jaff Decker, OF, Arizona HS
1S. Logan Forsythe, 3B, Arkansas
2nd. James Darnell, 3B, South Carolina
3rd. Blake Tekotte, OF, Miami
3S. Sawyer Carroll, OF, Kentucky
6thx – Cole Figueroa, 2B, Florida
8thx – Beamer Weems, SS, Baylor

The 2008 draft saw a huge run on college first basemen in the first round. San Diego was the last club to nab one and has had the least return on its investment. Now considered simply organizational depth, Dykstra was dealt to the New York Mets (who nabbed 1B Ike Davis in the same round) earlier this year and is striking out at a rate of 37.5 K% in double-A. Despite its early round disappointment, the club acquired Top 10 talents in Decker, Forsythe, and Darnell. Forsythe was just recalled by the big league club and has the potential to be a solid complementary everyday infielder. Just 21 and in double-A, Decker is striking out a lot but has an eye-popping .402 ISO rate. He could be in the Majors by the end of the season if he keeps hitting with authority, although he might be a bad fit for his home ball park. Third baseman James Darnell is also hitting well in double-A with an average of .415 and a walk rate of 19.4 BB%. Tekotte is another prospect that’s enjoying the potent Texas League with a .289 ISO, a .373 average and a strong walk rate. He could be a nice fourth outfielder. Jason Kipnis, now a top prospect with the Cleveland Indians, would have been a nice “get” in the fourth round. The club hasn’t had any luck with Weems or Figueroa (who was flipped to Tampa Bay in the Jason Bartlett trade).

The San Francisco Giants
1st. Buster Posey, C, Florida State
1S. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Wichita State
3rd. Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech
4thx – Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA

It was an easy decision for the Giants organization in the first round. The club lacked catching depth in the system and an impact player at the position was available when Baltimore took college lefty Brian Matusz. Posey has already helped the Giants organization win a World Series, although he’s off to a bit of a slow start to his sophomore season (.317 wOBA). After Posey, the club nabbed three more college bats in third baseman Gillaspie, outfielder Kieschnick, and shortstop Crawford. All three players have pluses and minuses, and none of them project to be impact players at the MLB level but could be solid complementary pieces. Gillaspie lacks power at the hot corner but he hits for average and gets on base. Crawford displays a nice glove and could develop into a utility player if he cannot offer enough offence to play every day. Kieschnick is more of a quad-A slugger. North Carolina State lefty Eric Surkamp (6th round) has been a steal. He just missed my FanGraphs Top 10 Giants prospect list this spring and is off to a nice start in 2011. He has a 2.67 FIP and a strikeout rate of 14.01 K/9 in 26.1 innings. Surkamp’s heater is fringe-average but both his curve and changeup are plus pitches.

The Los Angeles Dodgers
1st. Ethan Martin, RHP, Georgia HS
2nd. Josh Lindblom, RHP, Purdue
3rd. Kyle Russell, OF, Texas
9thx – Steve Caseres, 1B, James Madison
11thx – Nate Eovaldi, RHP, Texas HS

This draft certainly had some potential at the top with Martin and Lindblom but both pitchers have imploded in the past year. When he can find the plate, Martin can strikeout batters with the best of them (12.17 K/9 in ’11) but he doesn’t find the dish that much (6.46 BB/9). Lindblom has turned things around a bit this season despite a 5.11 FIP in double-A. Last year, he gave up 143 hits in 95.0 triple-A innings. Russell flashed some impressive power in college but he, like Kieschnick in San Francisco, is more of a quad-A slugger thanks to his serious contact issues. The club found its top prospect in the fourth round with Dee Gordon, the son of former Royals/Red Sox pitcher Tom ‘Flash’ Gordon. He’s performing well at triple-A in 2011 at the age of 23. The junior Gordon stole 126 bases between 2009-10 but was also caught 46 times. Allen Webster (18th round) is another key prospect acquired in this draft, making up for the top picks. He has the potential to develop into a solid No. 2 starter. He has a 2.85 FIP in 34.1 high-A innings. Outfielder Jerry Sands (25th) was a find. He recently made his MLB debut and projects to be at least an average MLB corner outfielder. Eovaldi is starting to come into his own and could be another key piece of this draft class. He has a 2.60 FIP in 23.1 double-A innings at the age of 21. He has a mid-90s fastball but needs to work on his secondary pitches and his control. Third baseman Zack Cox would have been an absolute steal in the 20th round.

The Colorado Rockies
1st. Christian Friedrich, LHP, E Kentucky
2nd. Charlie Blackmon, OF, Georgia Tech
3rd. Aaron Weatherford, RHP, Mississ State
14thx – Joseph Massey, OF, Tennessee HS
37thx – Delta Cleary, OF, Louisiana JC

If he can stay healthy, Friedrich could end up being the best pitcher acquired by any NL West team in the ’08 draft, with apologies to Webster and Surkamp, but health and consistency will be key. The lefty has an ugly 6.31 FIP in 25.2 double-A innings but his FIP sits at 4.33. Blackmon is now in triple-A and has excellent numbers in a potent league. He has an intriguing mix of power and speed but it remains to be seen how well each plays in the Majors. If everything clicks, he could be a solid big league regular. If not, he should be a solid fourth outfielder. Weatherford, Massey, and Cleary have all been disappointments. Right-hander Jordan Swagerty, ultimately drafted and signed by St. Louis, would have been a great grab in the 44th round.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


4 Responses to “2008 Amateur Draft Review: The NL West”

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  1. Tomas says:

    To. Matt
    Do you think you accomplished ANYTHING by writing this poor article?
    I’m sorry but I not surprised this has gotten no comments yet.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. J says:

    I think that you are considerably underrating some of the Padres farm hands. What makes you say that Tekotte is only a possible fourth outfielder? Extremely fast centerfielder, good range, a 1:1 K:BB ratio in AA, and a .257 ISO. I realize it’s early in the season but he put up almost the same statistics in Lake Elsinore last year and had an adjustment period in AA in the second half.

    As for having no luck with Weems, I think this is off as well. At no point is he ever going to be a star but, a slick fielding shortstop that can post a .350-.360 OBP and an OPS around .740 in the majors is well above average. Only 8 shortstops post OPS’s above .740 last year. These are realistic expectations for a 23 year old already producing in AA.

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