Today, we wrap up our look back at the 2008 amateur draft for the American League. Click for the previous reports on the AL West and AL Central. The National League clubs are up next, led by the National League West.
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 New York Yankees
1st. Gerrit Cole, RHP, California HS (DNS)
1S. Jeremy Bleich, LHP, Stanford
2nd. Scott Bittle, RHP, Mississippi (DNS)
3rd. David Adams, 2B, Virginia
6thx – Brett Marshall, RHP, Texas HS
7thx – Kyle Higashioka, C, California HS
9thx – Michael O’Brien, RHP, Virginia HS
10thx – D.J. Mitchell, RHP, Clemson
15thx – Matt Richardson, RHP, Florida HS
27thx – Garrison Lassiter, SS, North Carolina HS
Notes: This could go down in history as one of the organization’s most disappointing drafts. The club failed to sign its first and second round picks. After heading to college for three years, Cole could end up being one of the 2011 draft’s top picks. Supplemental round pick Bleich has battled injuries seemingly from the minute his name was called in the draft and is currently rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The club did flex its financial muscles with six significant above-slot deals but no one in that group has taken much of a step forward. Marshall and Mitchell have both flashed potential but their ceilings top out as third starter material. Higashioka has shown signs of being a potential big league back-up thanks to his defense, but he gets lost in an organization with the likes of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, and J.R. Murphy. The organization filled some depth at second base with the additions of Adams and Corban Joseph (4th round). Both players could end up as useful bench players. Joseph has actually surpassed Adams on the organizational depth chart, in part because Adams is currently rehabbing from an injury. Right-hander David Phelps (14th) helps to save this draft but his ceiling, like Marshall and Mitchell, is that of a No. 3 starter if everything falls into place.
Notes: This organization has had some real big draft hits and misses in the past few years. The first overall pick of the draft, Beckham has been a disappointment and now projects to be an average MLB shortstop at best. Just 21 and in double-A, the shortstop hasn’t been a great defender, hasn’t run the bases well and doesn’t hit for power (and strikes out too much). Second rounder Lobstein hasn’t developed as hoped and he had a slow start to the season due to injury. Jefferies has also been a disappointment and hasn’t been able to consistently hit pro pitching. Prep outfielder Ty Morrison (4th round) still has some potential. Despite having the first pick in baseball, this draft ended up being bland.
The Boston Red Sox
1st. Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Florida HS
1S. Bryan Price, RHP, Rice
2nd. Derrik Gibson, SS, Delaware HS
3rd. Stephen Fife, RHP, Utah
4thx – Pete Hissey, OF, Pennsylvania HS
5thx – Ryan Westmoreland, OF, Rhode Island HS
6thx – Ryan Lavarnway, C, Yale
13thx – Tyler Wilson, RHP, Georgia HS
27thx – Hunter Cervenka, LHP, Texas HS
35thx – Carson Blair, SS, Texas HS
Notes: Like New York, the Boston Red Sox organization flashed some cash and came away with some talented prospects during the 2008 draft. First rounder Kelly has a solid ceiling as a No. 2 or 3 starter and was the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. Supplemental first rounder Price never did iron out his inconsistencies and those have haunted him in pro ball. He was flipped to Cleveland as part of the loot for veteran catcher Victor Martinez and is repeating double-A for the second straight season. Shortstop Gibson is one of my favorite sleeper prospects but he’s off to a slow start in high-A ball for the Sox. Another sleeper is Weiland, who is currently pitching in the Pawtucket starting rotation but fits better as a middle reliever. Hissey is off to a nice start this year while repeating low-A ball but contact issues continue to plague him. The club may have found its catcher of the future in the ’08 draft with either Lavarnway or Tim Federowicz (7th round). The former has a more potent bat but the latter could make the Majors on his glove alone, and he’s hitting well so far this season in double-A. Fife has been a disappointment but he could eventually sniff the Majors. The club hasn’t received much from its later round over-slot deals to Wilson, Cervenka and Blair. Westmoreland was briefly the organization’s top prospect before a well-documented illness struck and is threatening his pro career.
Notes: With talented, young catcher Matt Wieters already in the fold, the Orioles were able to pass on Florida State’s star catcher Buster Posey (who went to San Francisco with the next pick) in favor of University of San Diego lefty Matusz. Both players have ultimately turned into outstanding young players at the MLB level. Prep picks Avery and Hoes have been slower to develop and have yet to truly breakout but both have shown flashes of potential, although Hoes was hindered by injuries in 2010. Over-slot additions Bundy and Beal have shown some potential but both have been slowed by injuries. The 21-year-old Bundy has shown good control (one walk in 19.0 innings), while also inducing a good number of ground outs. This draft offers little else.
Notes: It was a seemingly tough draft for the Jays organization, which picked 17th overall, but had a modest draft budget. The club reportedly coveted Arizona State first baseman Brett Wallace, but he went to St. Louis in the 13th slot. The team also lost out of top Canadian pick and prep infielder/catcher Brett Lawrie, another player high firmly on the radar to Milwaukee just one pick before the 17th selection. The Jays organization ultimately decided on University of California first baseman Cooper, who recently made his MLB debut after a torrid start to the season in triple-A. Interestingly, Toronto eventually acquired both Wallace (who was acquired from Oakland during the fallout from the Roy Halladay trade) and later flipped to Houston… and Lawrie, who is now the club’s third baseman of the future. The club then selected raw athlete Wilson with its second pick, a higher-than-expect slot for the Florida prep outfielder. Liebel, a Long Beach State senior, was supposed to move quickly through the system but he failed to dominate even younger competition and has seen his ascension slowed by injuries.
The club didn’t spend much on the draft and failed to come to terms with any players on significant above-slot deals, though some talent was found. Fifth rounder and prep infielder Tyler Pastornicky was traded to Atlanta in the Yunel Escobar deal last season (along with Tim Collins, who was later flipped to Kansas City). Pastornicky, like Collins, has the potential to be a useful big leaguer. Thanks to some excellent scouting, the club might also benefit from the additions of outfielder Eric Thames (7th round – who fell in the draft due to an injury), Puerto Rican catcher A.J. Jimenez (9th round – another player who slid due to injury), and right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar (10th – who was traded to Oakland and then traded back to Toronto). Right-handed Hawaiian prep pitcher Dustin Antolin also has some promise but he’s working his way back from 2010 Tommy John surgery. Canadian outfielder Michael Crouse (16th) is a toolsy sleeper. Things didn’t break the club’s way in the first round but the scouts did a fantastic job finding later round gems and sleepers, while current G.M. Alex Anthopoulos worked his magic to acquire two coveted players in later trades.
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