American League Amateur Draft Notes

The first round of the annual MLB Amateur Draft kicks off Monday night, June 4, at 7 pm eastern. Below, you’ll find a recap of each American League club’s first round picks from the past four years, as well as an overall grade and comments on noticeable trends. I’ve also included some notes and thoughts on the names being linked to each club for the 2012 draft.

New York Yankees
2008: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Prep (Did Not Sign)
2009: Slade Heathcott, OF, Prep
2010: Cito Culver, SS, Prep
2011: DNP
Grade: C-

New York picks at the end of the first round in 2012 so it’s hard to know exactly who might fall to them but history tells us that they’ll likely be leaning towards taking a prep player. The system could use some arms and the organization is known to be fond of Mitch Gueller. The organization is constantly fighting an uphill battle with low draft slots but New York scouts are quite savvy so I know some high-ceiling talent will be found.

Boston Red Sox
2008: Casey Kelly, RHP, Prep
2009: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Prep
2010: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, College
2011: Matt Barnes, RHP, College
2011: Blake Swihart, C, Prep
Grade: C

Boston has been all over the map with its first-round selections in recent years, mixing in both prep and college picks. It’s hard to get a read on what the Red Sox will ultimately do but they have been linked to prep shortstop Tanner Rahier. Boston has two first round picks so look for them to perhaps take one college player and one high schooler.

Tampa Bay Rays
2008: Tim Beckham, SS, Prep
2009: LeVon Washington, OF, Prep (Did Not Sign)
2010: Josh Sale, OF, Prep
2010: Justin O’Conner, C, Prep
2011: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Prep
2011: Mikie Mahtook, OF, College
2011: Jake Hager, SS, Prep
Grade: C+

Tampa Bay almost exclusively favors prep picks in the first round and I’m hearing a number of names for them that may not go in the first round to any other club. With that said, there are a couple players that they would jump on if they fall far enough (The Rays pick 25th).

Toronto Blue Jays
2008: David Cooper, 1B, College
2009: Chad Jenkins, RHP, College
2010: Deck McGuire, RHP, College
2011: Tyler Beede, RHP, Prep (Did Not Sign)
Grade: C-

Toronto has drafted some very talented players in the past few years under GM Alex Anthopoulos but the first round continues to be a sore spot for the organization. The Jays have two first-round picks in 2012 (17th, 22nd). The chatter has them mostly on prep players and the local media is big on prep catcher/outfielder Stryker Trahan but that’s mainly because he was in for workout and looked good. Two names I’ll throw out are prep hurler Lance McCullers Jr., whose father pitched in the majors but could be gone before the Jays’ first pick, and college starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is likely a pro reliever and possibly MLB-ready (He addresses a club weakness – the bullpen – and could help them save some cash for supplemental round choices).

Baltimore Orioles
2008: Brian Matusz, LHP, College
2009: Matt Hobgood, RHP, Prep
2010: Manny Machado, SS, Prep
2011: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Prep
Grade: A

The club has made some pretty impressive first-round picks if you toss out Hobgood, which was a brutal decision right from the get-go. Picking fourth in 2012, the Orioles are going to get a very nice player one way or the other. If it’s Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa then they could arguably say that they got the best player in the draft two years running.

Detroit Tigers
2008: Ryan Perry, RHP, College
2009: Jacob Turner, RHP, Prep
2010: DNP
2011: DNP
Grade: C

Surprise, surprise, Detroit punts another first round pick while playing the free agent market. They don’t pick for a loooong time so there is no way to know who might get plucked by them in the second round.

Chicago White Sox
2008: Gordon Beckham, SS/3B, College
2009: Jared Mitchell, OF, College
2010: Chris Sale, LHP, College
2011: DNP
Grade: C+

I’m not even going to pretend that I understand how GM Kenny Williams and his staff think. But the word on the street has them heavily on pitching – and mostly college guys.

Cleveland Indians
2008: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Community College
2009: Alex White, RHP, College
2010: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, College
2011: Francisco Lindor, SS, Prep
Grade: B

Last year Lindor was a rare high pick from the prep ranks. If he’s available here, I think the Tribe might pounce on college right-hander Michael Wacha.

Kansas City Royals
2008: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Prep
2009: Aaron Crow, RHP, College
2010: Christian Colon, SS, College
2011: Bubba Starling, OF, Prep
Grade: B-

Kansas City likes to mix things up and the club is going to get a good player with the fifth overall selection. Look for them to go the college route and likely for an arm; Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer could get popped here – depending on what happens one-through-four.

Minnesota Twins
2008: Aaron Hicks, OF, Prep
2008: Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, College
2009: Kyle Gibson, RHP, College
2010: Alex Wimmers, RHP, College
2011: Levi Michael, SS, College
Grade: C-

Minnesota’s draft approach in recent years has not exactly tickled my fancy and they pretty much favor college players. Picking second, though, the club has a rare shot at a high-ceiling talent like prep outfielder Byron Buxton or prep shortstop Carlos Correa. Look for the club to pop Minnesota prep right-hander Mitch Brown in the supplemental first round, if he’s available.

Seattle Mariners
2008: Josh Fields, RHP, College
2009: Dustin Ackley, 2B, College
2009: Nick Franklin, SS, Prep
2010: DNP
2011: Danny Hultzen, LHP, College
Grade: B

Seattle has made some nice decisions in recent years and picks third overall in 2012. Depending on the first two picks, it could be outfielder Byron Buxton, shortstop Carlos Correa, or catcher Mike Zunino.

Texas Rangers
2008: Justin Smoak, 1B, College
2009: Matt Purke, LHP, Prep (Did Not Sign)
2010: Jake Skole, OF, Prep
2010: Kellin Deglan, C, Prep
2011: Kevin Matthews, LHP, Prep
Grade: C-

Texas does a lot of things well but drafting in the first round has not been one of them. The club’s first pick in the 2011 draft was puzzling and the 2010 choices were also underwhelming. I haven’t heard much of anything concrete in regards to what Texas is looking to do in 2012 with the 29th overall pick.

Los Angeles Angels
2008: DNP
2009: Randal Grichuk, OF, Prep
2009: Mike Trout, OF, Prep
2010: Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Prep
2010: Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Prep
2010: Chevy Clarke, OF, Prep
2011: C.J. Cron, 1B, College
Grade: B

The Angels lost both their first and second round picks for signing free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, so they’ll be on the sidelines until the third round. It’ll be tough to find the next Mike Trout that way.

Oakland Athletics
2008: Jemile Weeks, 2B, College
2009: Grant Green, IF/OF, College
2010: Michael Choice, OF, College
2011: Sonny Gray, RHP, College
Grade: C

Oakland definitely favors the college route but they’ve reportedly been on a number of prep players this year, including Lance McCullers Jr., David Dahl and Joey Gallo. College third basemen Richie Shaffer and Stephen Piscotty would be understandable – although overdrafts at the 11-hole (in my humble opinion).

Stay tuned for the National League report.




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

16 Responses to “American League Amateur Draft Notes”

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  1. AndyS says:

    Um, can you explain your seemingly arbitrary grading scheme?

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  2. PiratesHurdles says:

    Don’t you have to throw the Yankees and Sox previous strategies out the window due to the new rules? In the past they favored prep players or guys that fell due to signability. No overslot deals likely means no use in drafting a prep guy with a strong college commit late in round 1.

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  3. AndyS says:

    Also, why are you trying to extract trends only from the first round of data?

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    • baty says:

      With teams having optimal opportunity in making their ideal selection (which can become most descriptive for us with where that team’s priorities stand) of an impact player based on combinations of talent, sign-ability, position scarcity, maturity, athleticism, first round trends per organization are pretty unique and clear to decipher, are they not?

      Since it is mostly about drafting the best available talent, and you could argue most of those first rounders have the ability to end up being drafted almost anywhere in the first round, that particular organization’s choice of best available speaks volumes.

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  4. AndyS says:

    Also, why are you ignoring the number of picks in the first round picks a team has?

    No, no, no, sorry. This article needs a mulligan.

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  5. my jays are red says:

    there’s a lot of somewhat unnecessary emphasis on the difference between college and prep draft picks

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    • Joe says:

      It’s a common heuristic/bias to think you’re favoring high potential when you’re really favoring volatility

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    • baty says:

      @mjar

      Not sure what you mean… there’s too much meaning and emphasis placed on the difference between HS and NCAA players by certain organizations selecting? Our as observers are we looking too far into the meaning of an organization’s “choosing” between HS and NCAA players?

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  6. RC says:

    Yeah, there’s not really anything useful here. Its a whole bunch of arbitrary.

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  7. Paul says:

    I like to see the recent past in Round 1. However, I think it would be really useful to list draft position next to the team. Sometimes it’s mentioned in the text, sometimes not.

    Don’t get the grading either. Probably should just leave it out. The Angels get a B based solely on Mike Trout, and Cleveland a B based on ???, but the Royals are a B- with Hosmer and Crow (who would be a useful starter for a professionally managed org.)?

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  8. Ian says:

    Not the best analysis. Long time Twins fans know that the Twins tend to take either a college pitcher or a prep bat. Michael was the first college position player taken in the 1st round by the Twins since 1997 and that was mostly b/c he fell to #30.

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  9. Miguel Arias says:

    As a yankeefan the Cole situation still makes me sad.

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  10. Jason says:

    I don’t understand the rankings at all. Tampa gets a C+ based on having a lot of picks and passing on Buster Posey? And the Royals somehow get a worse ranking than the Indians? There’s 2 major leaguers (already) there and Bubba Starling who is neck and neck with Byron Buxton. The only ranking I agree with is the Orioles, but in reality they should be knocked down 2 grade points just for being the Orioles.

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  11. Keystone Heavy says:

    Can someone fin the correlation between Hulet’s grade and where the team usually picks in the draft? Because outside of the Angels and As, it seems to me that his grades are favoring teams that have a higher average draft position. Everyone in the AL East has a C but the Orioles who have an A? Indians, Royals, and Mariners the only other ones above a C? Doesn’t really seem fair to the other teams.

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