2008 Amateur Draft Review: The NL Central

In honor of the fast-approaching 2011 amateur draft, we’ve been taking a look back at the 2008 draft. We previously reviewed the American League: AL West, the AL Central and the AL East. You can also catch up on the NL West post. The National League East is up next and will round out the series.

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 Cincinnati Reds
1st. Yonder Alonso, 1B, U of Miami
2nd. None
3rd. Zach Stewart, RHP, Texas
11thx – Andrew Means, OF, Indiana
30thx – Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RHP, Florida HS
35thx – Matt Fairel, LHP, Florida State

Alonso would probably be in the Majors for a lot of organizations but somebody named Joey Votto mans his position in Cincinnati. The prospect has spent time in the outfield but his best position remains first base, so he could be trade bait when the club identifies a need and an appropriate trading partner. He’s currently hitting more than .330 with solid power at triple-A. Stewart was a nice grab in the third round but he was flipped to Toronto in the Scott Rolen deal, which has worked out well for both sides. Stewart has yet to reach the Majors and is currently pitching as a starter in double-A with Toronto, while the club tries to avoid having him pitch in the potent Pacific Coast League (triple-A). Sulbaran has shown flashes of brilliance but he remains extremely inconsistent. He has youth on his side and is currently pitching in high-A ball. Means has developed into an organizational soldier. Fairel has yet to pitch this season thanks to injuries. Cody Puckett (8th round) could eventually carve out a career as a utility player. Dave Sappelt (9th) could end up being a steal. He impressed a lot of people in spring training and could eventually develop into a Reed Johnson type of player for the Reds; The Reds rookie hasn’t played since April 30, though, thanks to an injury.

The Chicago Cubs
1st. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian
1S. Ryan Flaherty, SS, Vanderbilt
2nd. Aaron Shafer, RHP, Wichita State
3rd. Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State
4thx – Matt Cerda, SS, California HS
21stx – Logan Watkins, SS, Kansas HS

The organization went college-heavy with this draft (10 of its first 11 picks). Cashner has had a back-and-forth shuttle between the starting rotation and bullpen but spent much of 2010 in the club’s bullpen. Finally given a shot to start in the Majors his shoulder has acted up, sending him to the disabled list. Flaherty has moved rather slowly through the minors despite his pedigree. He’s finally performing well in double-A (.298/.361/.565) but will turn 25 this season. He likely has a future as a platoon or offensive-minded utility player. Carpenter has rebounded from a long list of injuries but durability remains a huge question mark for him. As such, the club has shifted him to the bullpen full-time. He has responded well to the move and has walked 17 batters in 19.2 triple-A innings. Shafer was released this spring and failed to catch on with another organization. Cerda is moving a long slowly in the low minors. He’s shown a solid eye but lacks power and has moved to the hot corner, which doesn’t bode well for his future. Watkins’ overall ceiling is in doubt and his numbers have slide noticeably as he’s climbed the ladder but he has the potential to be a solid utility player in the Majors if he can work on his versatility. In 2009, the organization traded Josh Harrison (6th round), and pitchers Kevin Hart, and José Ascanio to the Pirates for pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. Jay Jackson was looking like a steal in the ninth round, but his stuff has regressed over the past year. Casey Coleman (15th) was an astute pick-up and he’s made six big league starts this season (with modest results). Unsigned Sonny Gray (27th) is probably going to end up as a Top 10 pick during the 2011 draft.

The Milwaukee Brewers
1st. Brett Lawrie, 2B, B.C. HS
1S. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Illinois HS
1S. Evan Frederickson, LHP, San Francisco
2nd. Seth Lintz, RHP, Tennessee HS
2nd. Cutter Dykstra, OF, California HS
2nd. Cody Adams, RHP, Southern Illinois
3rd. Logan Schafer, OF, Cal Poly
19thx – Blake Billings, RHP, Alabama HS

The Brewers organization had seven picks in the first three rounds but came away with just two players of interest. Both players, though, have since been flipped to other organizations in an effort to improve the big league starting rotation. Lawrie fell out of a favor a bit in the Milwaukee organization but he’s currently on fire with Toronto’s triple-A club despite being one of the youngest players in triple-A. He’s also currently learning a new position: third base. Milwaukee has enjoyed its return in the trade, as veteran starter Shaun Marcum has pitched well. Odorizzi is also doing well in his new organization (Kansas City) but he helped acquire one of the best young arms in the game in Zack Greinke, who has yet to truly settle into the National League thanks, in part, to injuries. Dykstra is another prospect from this draft who was traded away. He was sent to Washington earlier this year for veteran outfielder Nyjer Morgan. The hard-throwing Frederickson was a disappointment in pro ball and received his walking papers this spring. Lintz has been a bust. Adams has also been a bust and was suspended 50 games in ’09 for testing positive for a banned substance. Schafer was looking like a huge steal in ’09 but injuries have wiped out his potential. Two unsigned players, outfielder Marcus Knecht (23rd round) and pitcher Sean Nolin (50th), were drafted by Toronto in 2010 and have posted solid pro numbers in ’11.

The Houston Astros
1st. Jason Castro, C, Stanford
1S. Jordan Lyles, RHP, South Carolina HS
2nd. Jay Austin, OF, Georgia HS
3rd. Chase Davidson, 1B, Georgia HS (DNS)
3S. Ross Seaton, RHP, Texas HS
4thx – T.J. Steele, OF, Arizona
8thx – Brad Dydalewicz, LHP, Texas HS

Not known for great amateur drafting, the Astros organization did obtain some solid talent in ’08. Castro has developed nicely and only an injury kept him from starting the season as the club’s No. 1 catcher. Just 20, Lyles is already holding his own in triple-A. He has the potential to be a No. 2 or 3 starter in the Majors and could see time with the big league club in 2011. Austin remains an intriguing prospect but he’s still raw. Seaton was considered one of the best prep arms in the ’08 draft but signability saw him slide to the third round. He struggled in the potential California League in 2010 and is trying to catch his breath in double-A in ’11. Steele might eventually reach the Majors as a fourth outfielder. Dydalewicz has imploded. Zach Grimmett (28th round) was drafted as a raw pitcher but he’s showing glimpses of his potential while pitching out of the bullpen in Lancaster.

The Pittsburgh Pirates
1st. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
2nd. Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State (DNS)
3rd. Jordy Mercer, SS, Oklahoma State
4thx- Chase d’Arnaud, SS, Pepperdine
6thx- Robbie Grossman, OF, Texas HS
20thx- Quinton Miller, RHP, New Jersey HS

With the second overall pick in the ’08 draft, the Pirates nabbed Alvarez, who was the consensus best college hitter available. He hasn’t exploded as hoped but he’s playing everyday at the hot corner in Pittsburgh. He still has massive power potential but he’ll likely move across the diamond to first base sooner rather than later. With just one home run in 119 at-bats and a .210 average (.261 wOBA), Alvarez may need a little more minor league seasoning. Mercer will likely top out as a quad-A hitter but he could see some time on a big league bench. Infielder d’Arnaud could develop into a starting second baseman, but he’s more likely to spend his MLB career as a utility player. Grossman and Miller remain raw and are currently applying their trade in the lower minors. Infielders Jeremy Farrell (8th round) and Matt Hague (9th) have hit well in pro ball but both will likely top out as quad-A hitters. Jarek Cunningham (18th) is a sleeper to keep an eye on. He was slowed by injuries early in his career but he’s developed some pop; he needs to work on his approach at the plate, though.

The St. Louis Cardinals
1st. Brett Wallace, 3B, Arizona State
1S. Lance Lynn, RHP, Mississippi
2nd. Shane Peterson, OF, Long Beach State
3rd. Niko Vasquez, SS, Nevada HS

Wallace has bounced around with four pro organizations (St. Louis, Oakland, Toronto, Houston) but he’s currently looking good as the Astros’ first baseman (.396 wOBA). He was originally used by St. Louis to help acquire veteran outfielder Matt Holliday from Oakland. Lynn could eventually settle in at the back-end of the Cardinals starting rotation or, more likely, pitch out of the bullpen. Peterson was also sent to Oakland in the Holliday deal and he’s currently playing in triple-A but looks like more of a part-time player in the big leagues. Vasquez hasn’t developed as hoped and is currently playing in double-A.

We hoped you liked reading 2008 Amateur Draft Review: The NL Central by Marc Hulet!

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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How have injuries wiped out Schafer’s potential? He’s nowhere near a top prospect, but he’s certainly still a player of interest and a potential bench player down the line.