Well, the 2010 draft is in the books and teams are now madly trying to sign their top picks. Let’s have a quick look back to the ’09 draft and see how all the first-round picks are making out. We’ll look at the first 16 players today (Thursday) and check out the final 16 on Friday.
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington
As you know, Mr. Strasburg is already in the Majors after dominating the high minors. He’s more than held his own with the Nationals and has given up a hit rate of just 4.38 H/9 through two starts while posting a strikeout rate of 16.05. And did I mention his fastball is sitting at 98 mph? Yeah, he’s pretty good.
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle
Ackley got off to a much slower start than Strasburg and posted a batting average of just .147 in 20 April games. But the light switched on in May and he’s hit more than .300 since the end of April. His current triple-slash line is .252/.395/.374 in 206 at-bats in double-A.
3. Donavan Tate, OF, San Diego
The first-round curse continues for San Diego; the club’s best first-round picks in the last 10 years were Khalil Greene and Tim Stauffer. Tate has suffered through no fewer than three mild-to-serious injuries since signing and he has yet to make his debut, which was supposed to begin in low-A at the beginning of April.
4. Tony Sanchez, C, Pittsburgh
In terms of pure numbers, Sanchez has been one of the more successful ’09 first rounders. Currently in high-A, the catcher is angling for a promotion while hitting .311/.411/.439 with 16 doubles in 196 at-bats.
5. Matt Hobgood, RHP, Baltimore
Baltimore passed over more highly regarded prep arms to snag the cheaper Hobgood (in order to spread the draft budget around). The results haven’t been great in low-A. Hobgood has a 4.93 FIP and just 42 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. On the plus side, he has a solid ground-ball rate at 57%.
6. Zach Wheeler, RHP, San Francisco
Wheeler has flashed some very encouraging skills on the mound, but inconsistency and command continues to elude him. The right-hander has struck out a lot of batters, with 33 whiffed in 26.2 innings, but he’s also walked 17. His 61% ground-ball rate is also impressive. He’ll continue to move along slowly.
7. Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta
Despite a poor record and high-ish ERA (both of which don’t tell you much about the quality of a minor league pitcher), Minor has had a very successful season. Improved secondary pitches, fastball velocity, and command have helped the Braves prospect to lead the Southern League in strikeouts. His ceiling has risen from the previously predicted No. 3 starter slot.
8. Mike Leake, RHP, Cincinnati
Like Strasburg, Leake is currently pitching in a big league starting rotation. What’s more impressive, though, is that he’s done it since the beginning of the 2010 season and never did pitch in the minors. Leake is nowhere near as dominating as the first overall pick, but he has a nice ground-ball rate of 51% and a respectable xFIP at 4.28.
9. Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit
Often likened to Detroit’s ’08 first rounder Rick Porcello, Turner is not as advanced and will ascend through the minors at a much slower rate. He was derailed earler this season by injury (not serious) but has looked good since returning in May. He currently has a nice 2.88 FIP and has walked just eight batters in 48.1 innings of work.
10. Drew Storen, RHP, Washington
The Washington organization received great value with this unprotected pick (for failing to sign Aaron Crow in ’08). The right-handed reliever breezed through the minors and has already asserted himself in the Nats bullpen. He’s not a finished product just yet, though, and he has a 5.17 xFIP through 12 appearances.
11. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Colorado
Considered the best prep arm by many, Matzek slid to the Rockies due to perceived bonus demands. The club, though, got him signed rather easily. He did not make his pro debut until late May 2010 after signing late in ’09 and then spending extra time in extended spring training at the beginning of this season. Matzek has a 4.47 FIP and 27 Ks in 23.2 innings through five starts.
12. Aaron Crow, RHP, Kansas City
College pitchers take a real risk when they walk away from a large contract offer and head off to prove themselves in independent baseball. Crow has struggled since signing with KC, after following that route when he failed to sign with Washington as a first round pick in ’08. The right-hander currently has a 4.59 FIP and has struggled with his control (35 walks in 74.0 innings). His ground-ball rate is awesome at 71%.
13. Grant Green, SS, Oakland
Considered the top shortstop in the draft, Green has performed well in high-A ball this season. He’s currently hitting .310/.361/.455 in 268 at-bats. On the downside, Green has struck out a bit much (20% K rate) for his modest power output and it would be nice to see him be a little more patient at the plate (6.4% BB rate).
14. Matt Purke, LHP, Texas (Did Not Sign)
The success of Tanner Scheppers, a supplemental first round pick from ’09, has helped to lessen the sting of losing Purke, but Texas fans may want to look away now. Purke headed off to Texas Christian University in the fall of ’09 and has developed into a potential Top 5 pick (depending on his signability) for the 2011 draft, as he will be a somewhat rare draft-eligible sophomore. This season as a freshman, Purke posted a 3.37 FIP with 81 hits allowed, a walk rate of 2.55 BB/9, and a strikeout rate of 11.52 K/9 in 95.1 innings.
15. Alex White, RHP, Cleveland
Cleveland hasn’t had a ton of luck drafting college pitchers in the past few years but it looks to have scored with White. The right-hander posted a 3.96 FIP and 1.15 WHIP in eight high-A starts before moving up to double-A. At the higher level, he has a 4.52 FIP and 0.88 WHIP in five games.
16. Bobby Borchering, 3B, Arizona
Supplemental first round pick, and fellow prep third baseman, Matt Davidson has had more statistical success so far, but don’t count out Borchering. The 19-year-old prospect is holding his own in low-A with a triple-slash line of .252/.321/.395 in 238 at-bats.
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