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Early ’09 Draft Returns

Today, as many of you probably already know, is deadline day for Major League Baseball teams attempting to sign 2009 amateur draft picks. Ever since the draft occurred back on June 9-11, clubs have been negotiating with the college and high school players that they selected in the 50-round selection process. Because of MLB’s (ridiculous and ineffective) hard line on exceeding draft-slot signing bonuses, a lot of player signings will be announced today (having effectively cut into their development time line).

However, a number of key players from the first round of the draft signed long before the deadline loomed. It’s always nice to see players excited about beginning their pro careers, with less emphasis placed on money. Let’s have a look and see how some of the early first-round signees are faring in pro ball.

Drew Storen: This right-handed reliever was drafted out of Stanford with the 10th overall pick that Washington received for failing to sign 2008 first-round pick Matt Harringt… er, Aaron Crow. Storen actually signed on draft day and quickly entered the minors. In 24 innings split between low-A and high-A, the reliever allowed 18 hits and just two walks. He also struck out 37 batters. He was recently promoted to double-A, where he’s made three appearances and has allowed just one hit in four shutout innings. Here’s hoping he doesn’t catch the curse of Ryan Wagner… or Craig Hansen… or Joey Devine… or…

Tony Sanchez: The Pirates organization received a lot of flack for selecting the Boston College catcher with the fourth overall pick. He was considered a very good draft prospect, but seemingly no other teams had him positioned that high on their draft boards. The Pirates organization, though, is currently looking pretty good as the club used some of the money it saved by selecting the catcher to signed a number of later round diamonds-in-the-rough to over-slot contracts… and Sanchez is arguably the hottest hitter in the minors right now. The right-handed hitter has a .410 average in his last 10 games, and he has also slammed three homers and driven in 15 runs. Overall in low-A ball, Sanchez is hitting .367/.470/.624 in 109 at-bats.

Randal Grichuk and Mike Trout: The Los Angeles Angels organization had back-to-back selections in the first round of the draft with picks 24 and 25. The club selected two high school outfielders with those selections and both players are currently raking in rookie ball. Grichuk, who has more raw power than Trout, is currently hitting .311/.341/.477 with 12 doubles and seven triples in 193 at-bats. The right-handed hitter has some work to do, though, with a 0.13 BB/k rate and a BABIP of .423. Trout is a more well-rounded player and he’s currently hitting .369/.428/.541 with six doubles and six triples in 122 at-bats. He appears to have a better handle of the strike zone with a walk rate of 10.3 BB% and a strikeout rate of 18.9 K%, but Trout also has an unsustainable BABIP at .449.

Jiovanni Mier: Houston has done a very good job of bungling previous drafts to horrific levels, but the organization seems to be making amends with its last two drafts. Mier was selected out of a California high school with the 21st pick of the draft and has performed better than expected. The raw shortstop is currently hitting .302/.406/.504 with nine steals and 15 extra base hits in 139 at-bats. Scouting reports suggest Mier has average to below-average power, but he’s already hit four homers in rookie ball. He’s also showing an encouraging walk rate of 13.1 BB%.

Other players who signed quickly included: A.J. Pollock (Arizona), Brett Jackson (Chicago NL), Reymond Fuentes (Boston), Tim Wheeler (Colorado), and Jared Mitchell (Chicago AL).