Thursday, January 28, 2010

Unaward Categories

Please submit players in the following categories:

(1) Least valuable player: lack of production due to performance or injury for someone with a disproportionately high salary.

(2) Worst position player: minimum 300 ABs

(3) Worst pitcher: minimum 100 IP

(4) Worst reliever: minimum 40 IP or 15 SVO

(5) Medical MVP/Cy Young: Player with high ratings or top production whose season was lost to injury - must be placed on 60-day DL.

(6) Biggest disappointment: differs from LVP because it is based on an assumption of production from either ratings or prior performance.

(7) The Nick Punto All Stars: the lightest hitting players from each position.

(8) Worst Free Agent Signing: must be a season 7 signing.

Nominate today!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Power Rankings

We're about 3/4 of the way through the season and Stiffy thinks it's time to update the power rankings. Here we go:

Stiffy Stifflerson - Cobbfather Post Gazette

Here we go (as of the AM cycle):

Rank Team Record
1Atlanta 92-31
2Houston 82-41
3Rochester 74-49
4Kansas City 75-48
5Tucson 70-52
6Tacoma 69-53
7Little Rock 71-52
8Dover 71-52
9Nashville 70-52
10NY (NL) 64-59
11Sacramento 67-56
12Buffalo 66-57
13Jackson 69-53
14Burlington 63-59
15San Francisco 61-61
16Honolulu 64-58
19Vancouver 59-64
20Syracuse 58-64
21Detroit 59-63
22San Juan 59-64
23Charlotte 62-60
24Austin 51-71
25Charleston 50-73
26NY (AL) 50-72
27Scranton 48-75
28Cheyenne 53-79
29Portland 50-72
30Ottawa 52-70
31Los Angeles 49-74
32Durham 15-108

More to come. Stiffy, out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Tuscon Tornadoes

With 3 straight division titles for Tuscon, the Tornadoes are the class of the AL West. With a considerable amount of talent at the ML level, the near future appears bright for Tuscon as well. However, the key to any successful franchise is to keep the pipeline flowing from the farm to the parent club, so with that in mind, let's see how Tuscon did in restocking their farm system in the Season 7 Draft.

1st rounder Jermaine Presley is an above average fielding LF but a below average fielding 2B. Will be interesting to see how Tuscon chooses to use him as he advances through the farm. Presley does show some ability to put the ball in play, but he'll probably struggle to make effective contact against better competition. However, the little-league field that Tuscon plays in will help anyone's offensive numbers. A bit overrated, but Presley does have a chance to become a Major League player one day.

2nd rounder Matthew Grim has a strong arm and could be a great RF defensively. As with Presley, Grim's offense will be helped by Tuscon's home ballpark, but the reality is that he's much better defensively than offensively as long as he plays a corner outfield spot.

4th rounder Buddy Edwards may have the best chance at contributing at the ML level for the Tornadoes. Above average defensively in RF, Edwards has a real ability to put the ball in play and use his speed to get on base. He's a great base runner who can impact a game with his baserunning. Tuscon's home park will help Edwards get on base, and from there he'll be a nightmare for the opposing battery to try and limit. Has serious makeup issues, so it isn't even likely that he'll make it to the majors, but at least he has a legit shot at contributing if he can put it all together.

Very underwhelming draft for Tuscon. One would think that power would have been the order of the day given their home ballpark, but it appeared the tried to go defensive, though their choices even for that are a little puzzling. A C- overall, maybe they know something about their players that I don't (entirely possible).

Season 7 Draft Review -- Boston Massacre

Boston has yet to make it to the playoffs, though they've been tantalizing close a couple of seasons. Boston has some talent that is making its way to the big leagues now, so there's every reason to believe the playoff drought will be over in the near future. In the meantime, let's review how Boston did in the Season 7 Draft.

Boston didn't pick until #45 as a result of the Rusty Warden signing, but with the 45th pick BOS took Mo Rzepczynski. Mo is your classic "soft-tossing" lefty with very good control. He has a slider and curve that flash above average at times and his big, sweeping curveball is the better of the two. Both are used well to keep lefties off balance; however, righties aren't nearly as fooled by these two pitches so Mo's path to the majors may be that of a LOOGY or even a lefty long man that adds variety to an ML bullpen.

2nd rounder Robb Bristow is a very nice catching prospect that probably only fell to BOS as a result of some health concerns. Shows an advanced ability to handle pitching staffs, this should continue to develop and Bristow should prove to be a nice anchor for an ML pitching staff. Bristow also displays real promise at the plate, especially for a catcher. This is a real nice prospect who should turn into a solid ML catcher if he can stay healthy.

There's a lot to like about 3rd rounder Steve Knowles and a lot not to like about him too. Makes contact and has a good approach at the plate, but most likely Knowles will struggle to continue making solid contact as his level of competition increases. A fast player, but Knowles has no idea what he's doing on the base paths. A big, strong, athletic kid, but Knowles is a terrible defender, and is really only cut out to be a 1B though he doesn't have the offensive game to play there. Knowles is a toolsy player who's tools probably never amount to the production you think you can get when you watch him take BP. He'll be an ML player because some GM somewhere will always say "Maybe this is the year," though the guess is here that he'll never quite produce the way many will think he should.

5th rounder Alex Trevino wins sleeper pick for BOS. A reliever, Trevino has good velocity and well above average fastball and slider. Has trouble with control, and leaves too many pitches over the plate as a result. Can be dominant at times, can be hittable at times. It is possible for Trevino to make it to the big leagues, though he's probably the 12th pitcher if he does. Still, an interesting prospect with some potential.

Also of note is C prospect Domingo Villareal, taken in the 9th round. A great defensive catcher with a howitzer for an arm, Villareal also shows some ability at the plate. Needs to stay healthy, but if he does he'll be a very good catcher in the big leagues. Real health concern, but will move quickly and could see the Majors as early as season 9 sometime if he stays healthy. This may actually be Boston's best pick.

A very up and down draft for Boston. They get a C+ and we really hope Villareal can get to the bigs. He's a weapon behind the plate, and it will be fun watching him taunt baserunners and then gun them down at will.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Rochester Rolling Rocks

Rochester has had one owner since Cobbfather started, and the consistency of the ownership is really starting to pay dividends. Rochester set a Cobbfather record for regular season wins with 123 in season 6, and season 7 finds them again as one of the best teams in either league. It's hard to find talent drafting this low in the rounds, but lets see how Rochester did in the Season 7 Draft.

1st rounder Nicholas Barnes is a solid catching prospect. He's an average defensive catcher, but his real ability shines through when he steps into the batter's box. Has a big swing that does have some holes in it, but he's able to make very solid contact when the bat does hit the ball, and Barnes possesses a solid eye at the plate. Barnes shows the potential durability to catch 140 to 150 games each year thus enhancing his ability at the plate as an offensive catcher. A very nice draft choice for this spot in the draft.

I'll give a C- given where Rochester drafted. They didn't find many legit big league prospects, but it's practically impossible to find much drafting where Rochester did, and they were able to add some solid organizational depth with some other draft choices. Getting Barnes was a good pick up for them.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Houston Space Cowboys

A relocated franchise that has enjoyed just one owner since Cobbfather started, Houston has been a remarkably successful franchise. Houston has drafted low in the order each year, but they haven't let that stop them from adding solid talent to their farm system just about every season. Let's see if the trend continues for season 7.

1st rounder Efrain Brosius was taken out of HS, and while he shows nice potential, he has a long way to go to reach it. A legit starting pitcher prospect, Brosius shows a very good ability to command his pitches and has a chance to develop a hard and heavy splitter that should generate a lot of groundballs for him. Has a long way to go, and with only 2 legit pitches (also has a slightly above average fastball) Brosius may end up as a long reliever (he's currently a starter in Low-A), but there's every reason to expect Brosius will be given a real opportunity to develop as a starter.

Houston really didn't have much else in their draft, as the next prospect they were able to sign was 10th rounder Gerald Liverman. They are fielding a Rookie Ball team though, and have both positional players and pitchers on the team, so they do get a D+ for their draft. Really though, an organization can't make a habit out of signing only 2 of its first 10 picks and expect to continue to be able to build from the farm.

Season 7 Draft Review -- New York Pride of the Yankees

With the Pride we have another flagship organization within Cobbfather. Winners of the season 5 WS championship, Pride has made it to the playoffs every season and has made 2 World Series. Though they draft low each season, NY has managed to find some decent players with their past draft picks and have been able to maintain at least some talent in the pipeline. Given that, let's see if the Pride was able to continue to find players, especially given they had two 1st rounders in this draft.

Bill Lombard was taken with the first of NY two 1st rounders. Lombard keeps himself in great health, and should easily be able to play everyday if asked to do so. Though NY typically plays players with Lombard's range and glove at 2B -- even though he'd be below average defensively there -- so far NY has played him exclusively at RF. He doesn't have the arm to be an effective everyday RF, though he could be a GG caliber LF if given the chance. Offensively, Lombard is a solid if not spectacular hitter. A switch-hitter, Lombard is more comfortable from the right side, but does show the ability to handle RH pitchers. Makes average contact but does have a good eye at the plate -- Lombard could turn into a very solid #6 hitter at the ML level. Pride usually finds a legit ML player with their first pick, and they've done so here.

With the #40 pick, Pride chose Jorel Swift. Swift brings high velocity and a dominant fastball with him and is extremely tough on RH batters. As good as his fastball is, lefties do a good job making contact against him due in large part to Swift being a 1 pitch pitcher. Swift definately has all the potential to be a reliever in the big leagues, though his inability to keep lefties at bay probably result in his being a set up guy instead of a lights-out closer. Still a good pick here though.

In the 2nd round, Pride did something uncommon: they focused on defense. R.A. O'Leary is a fantastic defensive SS. His offense is a little lacking, and certainly not up to NY standards, but given his defense his offense will play at the ML level adequately enough. A very solid draft choice here.

The defensive theme continued for Pride in round 3, where they nabbed Bump Bigbie. With a bat that probably struggles if exposed everyday to ML pitching, Bigbie is probably best suited as a utility player. With GG caliber defense at CF and 2B along with being able to combine outstanding speed and with a very good ability to run the bases, Bigbie has an awful lot of what managers like to see out of bench players. Bigbie will make it to big leagues, and his defense may just be good enough for some team to try and play him everyday -- especially an NL team.

4th rounder Alan Locke is my sleeper pick for Pride. Able to play either corner in the outfield along with 1B, Locke is a very solid hitter against lefties even if he is a lefty himself. A good baserunner as well. A good chance at being an ML bench player.

The Pride showed in the Season 7 Draft what has made them such a strong franchise since the inception of Cobbfather. They found ML level players all the way into Round 4, and they earn a B- on the draft that could be even better if a couple of their picks reach their full potential. Given where Pride drafted in the order of picks, this has to be considered a good draft for them.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Atlanta Expos

The Expos have had 4 owners so far in what is now 7 seasons, and have been a powerhouse every season. Making the playoffs 6 years running -- including a WS win in season 3 -- the Expos have a chance in Season 7 to set a new Cobbfather record for regular season wins (123 set in s6 by ROC). The price of such greatness has been low draft picks, and as a result Atlanta doesn't have the strongest of farm systems. That, of course, is totally acceptable when you're chasing history. Let's see if ATL was able to add some depth to their farm system and provide more ammo when attempting to keep this storied franchise at the top.

1st rounder Rafael Mercedes can flat out hit. A switch-hitter who is incredibly strong from either side though he does favor hitting from his natural right side slightly more. Defensively, Mercedes is most likely a 1B and while he doesn't have the power potential that one would normally expect from that position, to discount in any way Mercedes' ability to hit would be a mistake. Presumably, it is this mistake that allowed Mercedes to fall all the way to the bottom of the first round when it isn't a stretch to consider him a top 10 talent given his bat. A great, great pick up for ATL.

Consideration that this draft wasn't very deep and the Expos were drafting at the bottom of the round each time, so when I say that 2nd rounder Wil Shelley, 3rd rounder Rogers Pryce are fringe prospects, that's actually a compliment.

This draft was made with the draft of Mercedes. Even though Atlanta gets a C for their draft -- largely because Mercedes is the only draftee with a legit shot at being an ML player -- I'm sure ownership is fine with "just" Mercedes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Little Rock N Rollers

With our review of Little Rock, we arrive at perhaps the most dubious of the Cobbfather franchises. To say this organization had a problem with credibility before mrploppie took over would be a huge understatement; however they now have been under his capable hands for 3 seasons, and have reached the playoffs in each of his first two seasons of ownership and are challenging for a ticket to the tournament again this season. Let's see how Little Rock did during their Season 7 draft.

1st rounder Brian Rucker has legit big league potential. He needs time to develop, but he flashes a dominant 4-seam fastball and backs it with a sinker that shows above average potential. The movement on his fastball and the effectiveness of his sinker generate a lot of groundballs for Rucker. He may not ever be able to give more than 150 innings as a starter in the big leagues thus his role may end up that of a long reliever. However, if given the time to develop, Rucker should be playing big league ball sometime in the future.

2nd rounder Phillip Fisher is probably nothing more than a 25th man on a good ML club. However, it is possible that Fisher develops enough that he may become a journeyman Major Leaguer as he does have the ability to play multiple positions and isn't lost at the plate. Given his above average ability to run the bases and a great ability to lay down the bunt, Fisher would be a valued 25th man in the National League for sure.

The rest of Little Rock's draft consisted of mostly filler, but they got a couple of players with outside chances at the big leagues. Not the best of drafts, but not the worst either. C-

Season 7 Draft Review -- San Francisco Hammer'd Leprechauns

Current ownership took control in season 4, and brought with them one of the best team names in all of HBD. SF has reached the playoffs the last 2 seasons and find themselves in what is quickly turning into one of the more competitive divisions in Cobbfather. Successful drafting cannot be overvalued, and it is even more so when just a few games separate Division winners from the also-rans. Let's see how SF did in the Season 7 draft.

The first of two 1st rounders: Conor Steele is a hard throwing lefty who brings 4 pitches that flash above average potential. His best 2 pitches are his splitter and cutter. Steele does struggle with his control, and it is something that looks like he'll struggle from time to time with throughout his career. Steele is extremely competitive on the mound and has a fiery streak that sometimes gets the best of him. That competitive nature may lend itself better to the bullpen where he can max out his velocity and go right after hitters. Time will tell how SF decides to use him.

The second of the 1st rounders is also a pitcher: Gio Sivilla. Sivilla can be a solid pitcher, but he struggles a bit too much against lefties to think he'll have too much of a future in the big leagues. He uses an above average forkball to induce groundballs, but again lefties aren't fooled by the pitch nearly as well as righties are. Sivilla does have ML ability, but he'll need to develop to his utmost potential and even then is probably no more than a long man; and even then he'll have innings where he'll get hit around some. There definately were better options available with this pick.

SF did add some depth to their system and walk away with a C- overall grade, but they had an opportunity to add better talent than they did with their 2 round 1 picks.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Jackson Rockets

Jackson has been under the same ownership since season 3, has always been in the playoff hunt reaching 3 of the last 4 seasons and is in the thick of it once again. A very solid organization. The don't have the strongest of farm systems, but there is some talent sprinkled throughout it; and with 4 first round picks, Jackson had a real shot at infusing some nice talent into their system. Let's see how they did.

Going at Jackson's first selection, Tyrone Bigley demonstrates some serious defensive chops. Has the range and glove to be a plus defensive SS, but probably doesn't have the arm; however he would certainly have enough arm for CF so look for a move there as he progresses. If he does move to CF, Bigley could turn into a defensive force out there with above average range and what would be a plus arm from CF. Bigley is a switch-hitter who is far more comfortable from the right-side. Does have some pop with the bat, but his real asset is his base running ability. Not a super star at the plate, but his offense is more than serviceable considering how good his defensive game is.

The second of four 1st rounders: Neftali Lee may just be the best of the bunch. In what was a clear attempt to address up-the-middle defense, Jackson grabbed a potential GG caliber 2B in Lee. Oodles of speed and a great idea of what he's doing at the plate, Lee is another switch-hitter who is more comfortable from his natural right side. Lee should make the Majors on the strength of his defense alone, but he has a chance to play every day if he can reach his potential at the plate. Considering the lack of depth in this season's draft, Lee was a very good pick.

With the next two 1st round picks, Jackson took pitchers in Doiner Bournigal and Artie Milton. Bot have the potential to start and be solid back-of-the-rotation guys, though each may find themselves pushed into the pen where they may be more effective given each has some question about their control. One thing that isn't in question is Bournigal's change-up. He comes with good velocity and brings an above average fastball, but his out pitch is one of the most devastating change-ups you'll ever see. Milton is more a candidate to make it as a start as he is a bit less hittable than Bournigal. Milton flashes an above average 4-seamer, slider, and change, but he needs all 3 to develop to their full potential in order to have a realistic shot at being a consistent ML starter.

Jackson was able to find players who have the potential to contribute in some for or fashion at the ML level with their first 8 picks. None project to be super-stars, but still when you can 8 prospects all of whom have a decent shot at being a Major Leaguer, you've had a nice draft. For that, Jackson earns a B/B+.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Detroit Dirt Dogs

An experienced owner and a Day 1er in Cobbfather, the Detroit owner has seen his team be a little inconsistent where one year they're competing for the playoffs and the next they're struggling to get to .500. However, Detroit is starting to see some real talent find its way into their system, so inconsistency is probably going to disappear as that talent finds its way to the big leagues. Let's see how they did in the draft for Season 7.

I'm not as high on 1st rounder Earl Latham as the scouts, who in my opinion give him too much credit for his ability to show up every day. He's got solid potential and is a Major League prospect, but he's isn't outstanding at any one thing. He's got some ability though, and may end up being one of those "glue" guys that every ML team needs.

2nd rounder Mule Gordon has a real chance to contribute at the ML level. Currently a 2B, it is entirely possible that DET moves him to LF where his well above average range and solid speed would help him cover a lot of ground in that canyon of an outfield in Detroit. Shows a real ability to put the bat on the ball in a productive way, and while he may not have the OBP skills to be a top-of-the-order hitter, he can certainly extend innings and be a good hitter at the bottom of the order. This was a good value pick for the 2nd round.

3rd rounder Jesus Alomar causes quite a stir among scouts. Some believe he just gets hit too much to be an effective ML reliever. Others look at his dominant fastball and well above average velocity and see a good candidate to become an ML reliever. With that fastball, he's got a shot; though I personally think its a remote shot.

Good solid C. Nothing flashy, but if Gordon develops to his potential, he'll provide a lot of options for Detroit ownership.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Cincinatti Red Stockings

In one of the oddities you get from time to time when you base draft position off of regular season record, the WS champion Red Stockings get to pick at 22. So let's see if the champs were able to take advantage of this quirk.

1st round pick Edgard Abreau has thus far not been signed. A signability concern from the get go, Cincy fans are hoping that at the very least he was offered his original demand and just refused, which would result in a comp pick in the Season 8 draft at the same spot. Abreau is another guy that fell, and clearly signability was the reason why. If Cincy can somehow sign him though, whew -- he's worth it. Not a good hitter. A GREAT hitter, and if he can be put in Cincy's park, wow. Let's hope they can get him signed.

Their second 1st round pick Bob Taylor is another of these "how did he slip" picks. Not an 'ace', but Taylor is a strong, durable pitcher with very good control, 3 above average pitches and a good enough idea of what to do out there that he keeps hitters off balance and doesn't let them get good contact. Taylor will be in a Major League rotation one day.

2nd rounder Philip Williams is another head-scratcher, "why didn't someone pick him before here" kinda pick. Perhaps other owners were scared off by the fact that he struggles from time to time against RH pitching, but Williams already has an advanced offensive skillset, and projects to be a really good OBP guy with some pop to his game. There is some concern over possible injuries getting in the way of his development, but if he can stay healthy, Williams should move quickly and should be a productive big league hitter.

The other 2nd rounder: Vladimir Prieto has the stuff to be a potential closer at the big league level. Some concern over his stamina may result in Prieto being a setup guy, but he has legit closer stuff with excellent velocity and a flat out nasty and devastating fastball that has late movement that destroys lefties and righties alike. Whatever role Prieto finds himself in, it's extremely possible he'll be filling that role on a winning ML club. How he fell all the way to 69 I'll never know.

I so want to give Cincy an A for their draft, but when you know a player is a signability risk and you draft him with your first pick and then don't sign him -- can't do it. So they get a B+ instead.

Season 7 Draft Review -- San Juan Chinchillas

The current ownership of San Juan came into the league in Season 5, and they've done a great job keeping the team competitive while going through the steep learning curve that is HBD and building some nice talent in the minors. This owner may be new, but the way he's building his team it won't be long before the fighting Chinchillas are playoff bound. With 4 first rounders -- that's right, FOUR first round picks -- San Juan has a golden opportunity to add some serious talent to their farm. Let's see how they did in the Season 7 draft.

At pick 19, San Juan got what is arguably the steal of the draft. I honestly don't know how Rafael Abreau fell this far. His durability suggests that he may only see between 130 and 140 games a season, but the production the big league club should see from him is well worth it. Considered a C when the draft took place, San Juan has already moved him from behind the plate to 1B/DH. Given the opportunity to develop his glove by playing 1B, Abreau could be a more than serviceable defensive 1B in the big leagues. Abreau's real talent is the absolute punishment he doles out at the plate. A powerful RH hitter, Abreau shows an advanced approach at the plate even though he's only 19 yrs old. Dangerous against righties, but Abreau's real talent shines when getting to face lefties. This kid is the real deal at the plate. Just amazing that he fell to 19.

The Chinchillas' didn't stop with Abreau though. Getting to pick at 20 as well, San Juan selected Hal Catalanotto. Cat shows all the ability to turn into a solid and reliable professional hitter at the big league level. Great speed, but isn't as good on the basepaths as he could be considering his speed. It looks like Cat is going to be given every chance to develop as a 2B in the minors, but really he's probably better off in LF. A less than average defensive 2B -- he'd turn into an above average LF guy, and has the offensive ability to transfer his game to the outfield. Another very solid pick.

The third of the 1st rounders: Jordan Salmon is a very solid reliever prospect. Probably doesn't have the durability to go back-to-back enough to be a closer, he certainly has closer stuff. Has a lot of pitches in his bag for a reliever, will be interesting to see if the San Juan coaching staff can get Salmon to focus on developing his fastball and sinker, both of which flash above average potential. It is very difficult for batters from either side to get good contact, so while he may not have the dominant velocity and pitches needed to get strikeouts, Salmon can force weak grounders almost at will. Not a closer, but a good pick nonetheless.

18 yr old Allie Price needs to hit his potential to have a chance at being a successful Major League starting pitcher, but he does have that potential. Throws hard, and has a dominant sinker that he backs with a forkball, curve, and change -- all of which have potential to be above average. When Price is on, it is just one groundball after another. His outlandish SO rates in Rookie Ball probably won't continue as he progresses, and probably will be a little hitable at the upper minors and Major League level; however, Price has the ability to frustrate an offense by forcing one weak groundball after another. Needs time to develop, but the patience to do so could reward the parent club big time.

A very, very good draft for San Juan. Easily an A. It's only a matter of time...

Season 7 Draft Review -- Buffalo Bisons

Over the last few seasons, the Bisons have been one of those teams that just quietly hovers around .500 each season and doesn't draw much attention to itself. However, a little look into their system shows that even though they've been quite, they've been busy. There's some nice talent spread throughout their farm system. So let's see if Buffalo was able to successfully continue their quiet build.

1st rounder Melvin Lincoln was taken as a SS, but projects better as a 3B or COF defensively. A switch-hitter, Lincoln can really hit from the left side. Can put the bat on the ball, and does a good job generating solid contact from the left side. Not a HR threat, but Lincoln has enough talent to turn into a good professional hitter.

The other 1st rounder Jerry Star is another player that follows the theme of this draft: better against LH pitching than RH. Star is another COF guy that has electric speed, and should continue to refine his baserunning insticts such that he'll be a force on the basepaths. He may struggle at points during the season against good RHP, but really Star has all the talent and durability to be an everyday OF player.

2nd rounder Trevor Prince is yet another switch-hitting COF (LF is the best place for him). Good quality hitter from the right-side, Prince has very good pitch recognition and does display some pop from time to time. In this draft, picking up Prince at this point was good value.

Buffalo was able to add a lot of depth to their system in this draft. They didn't come away with any game-changing talent, but they picked up a couple of good solid prospects in this draft. They get a C+ because of a lack of diversity in their draft, and there were better players available with their first pick, but really Buffalo had a solid draft.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Sac Fighting Cornish Hens

In Sacramento we have a team that's been to the WS twice, and has been dominant in the regular season, save for last season's .500 aberration. Usually picking low in the order, let's see how SAC did with a position that is unusually high for them, and one they probably won't revisit for some time.

1st round: Ben Campbell is a solid pitching prospect, who may develop into so much more. At 20 yr old, he already posses advanced control, and looks to continue to develop that control into something typically unseen. To say he can throw it where he wants it would be an extreme understatement. Has deceptive delivery that makes it equally hard for lefties and righties to pick up the ball, Campble is also able to induce groundballs at a very nice rate. Though no pitch makes you stand up and shout "Wow!" he does sport an above average sinker and change-up with a slider that is right behind those two. Throws a curve and a cutter for good measure too just to keep the hitters off balance. Will never be considered an ace, but Campbell has the chance to develop into a very productive MORP or BORP and should have a very solid ML career. SAC has to be quite pleased he fell to them.

2nd round: Brian Frye is an interesting player. Playing 3B now, he probably is better suited to RF due to his glove, though he can still develop what would be an above average arm out there. A solid hitting prospect: Frye won't wow you in BP with raw power and he does struggle with pitch recognition. Frye does have ML talent, though he may turn into a journeyman type player that a team looks to have until they can find something better. Hey, there are worse fates out there.

5th rounder Ronald Galloway wins my sleeper pick for SAC. Needs to develop behind the plate, but Galloway projects to be a very good platoon mate and combines above average power with a good ability to make contact and combines those with an outstanding eye at the plate. So much versatility with Galloway, it will be a real disappointment if he doesn't develop and find his way on an ML roster in some form or fashion.

It's probably in reality a C or slightly better draft, but I'm going to give SAC a B- on the heels of 1st rounder Campbell and for finding Galloway in the 5th round. I think that was great value.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Burlington Huskies

As we start to move down the list of draft order, we're starting to come across teams that have had some playoff appearances. Burlington is one of those teams. Consistently a 90+ win team under current ownership, Burlington fell to a .500 record last season, but has righted the ship this season and is squarely in the playoff hunt once again. Let's take a look and see how Burlington did in trying to add some players to their farm system.

1st rounder William Perez remains unsigned, and is reportedly demanding a bonus around $7mil. Since cutbacks to Gazette budgets have impacted our ability to view all prospects, Perez is one of those I just don't have much information on. We're hoping that maybe someone who has seen a little of Mr Perez may be able to comment, but for $7mil he better be darn good to demand that kind of money. Little wonder why he's gone unsigned.

In the 2nd of their 3 first round picks, Burlington picked up Daric Lowery. Here we find one of the truly great defensive SS prospects in the draft. Lowery has very good, but not great, speed though one would think he'd be better on the bases than he is. Unfortunately, given Lowery's inability to do anything with RH pitching, his future is most likely a platoon mate (as he does show at least some ability against lefties) or a super sub defensive specialist. Considering the lack of talent in the draft, Lowery wasn't a bad choice, though typically teams hope to do better here.

The third of the #1's for Burlington: Max Ingram (also) remains unsigned. He's a solid enough reliever prospect in that he can generate groundballs like nobody's business using his plus fastball and above average curve, but for a reported demand of $5.5mil it isn't hard to see why he remains unsigned.

2nd rounder B.C. Hernandez has a devastating fastball that has late movement and backs it with an above average slider that allows his already impressive velocity to play up when facing lefty batters. He is a very good LOOGY candidate.

3rd rounder Oscar Beckett is a very interesting pick that may go largely unappreciated. Has an ability to play RF on a spot-start basis, he probably ultimately projects as a LF who would have a very good arm for that position. Oscar comes out of HS, but already shows an advanced ability to control the bat, and should develop a solid batting eye to go with what could be an incredible ability to make contact with the baseball. Insanely fast, Oscar is already a good baserunner, and may develop into one of the best baserunners in all of Cobbfather by the time he's done cooking in the minors. At the very least Beckett should be a valuable bench player but maybe can develop into more. The definition of a sleeper. This was a very good 3rd round choice.

When a team doesn't sign 2 of 3 1st round choices, that usually leaves the organization with a pitiful draft. Burlington managed a C for its score largely on the quality of the specialists they drafted in rounds 2 and 3. Better 1st round results would have resulted in one of the better drafts this season, as it is Burlington still did ok.

Season 7 Draft Review -- LA Lunatics

After a rough first couple of seasons at the helm, current LA ownership took the team on the brink of a .500 record in season 6, leaving them sitting squarely in the middle of the pack selection-wise for the Season 7 draft. Let's see how LA did with their picks.

1st rounder Jim Baez was drafted as a SS and has played solely at that position thus far in Rookie Ball, but we anticipate a move to 2B or CF once he reaches the upper minor levels as he probably doesn't have the glove or arm to hold down a SS position day to day in the big leagues. Offensively, Baez does a remarkable job of hitting LHP pitching, but is fairly average at everything else, though he does show the potential to develop into a very good baserunner. Though he probably won't play in many All-Star games, Baez should have a solid ML career.

With no second round choice, the next pick for LA was 3rd rounder Lynn Munro. Seeing time at 2B in Rookie Ball, Munro is most likely a 4-corner prospect. With fantastic raw power, Munro shows some ability to make contact, though struggles against righties (a bit surprising considering his left-handed bat). Though there are serious concerns about his ability to recognize pitches and hit against righties, Munro's defensive flexibility and raw hitting power combined with ability to hit lefties might allow for him to become a bench player in the bigs. Time will tell.

LA gets a C- for their draft. They were able to fill out a Rookie Ball club with a good mixture of position player and pitchers from their draft, but they got very little future ML talent out of this draft.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Honolulu Haloes

Honolulu has made it to the playoffs 3 times in 5 years under current ownership. That's a pretty good run. A well balanced organization, Honolulu has good talent at just about every level.

However, the Haloes have signed just 2 of their top 6 draft choices, and first rounder Juan Nieto is a no-show (No-Show Nieto, haha) so far. Too bad too, as he's a game changing middle of the order bat.

They were able to sign 2nd rounder Nick Schneider, and well, he may end up being the best defensive SS in Cobbfather when he gets to the bigs. There are some with slightly better range, and a couple that may flash a better glove, but no one -- NO ONE -- has a better arm than Schneider. Probably won't be anything spectacular at the plate, though he is an intelligent baserunner, his defense is so good it won't matter. At the very least, he'll platoon against lefties (shows some potential to hit them ok enough) and be one heck of a super sub. His defense is good enough to be an everyday player though.

A grade of C-, and that's probably a bit generous. The Haloes are leaving good players unsigned. Let's hope they find a way to at least get one or two more signed.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Cheyenne Chiefs

Cheyenne has struggled a bit to get to .500, but they've improved each year under current ownership, who is in his 5th season at the helm. With several very good prospects at High-A and below, the Chiefs are building a great foundation for future success. Let's see how well they added to the fold in the Season 7 draft.

1st rounder David Chen has superb speed and has a good understanding how to apply pressure on the basepaths with it. A very good fielding 2B with the ability to move runners over either with the bunt or the hit and run. What more could you ask for from a #2 hitter? Chen may never win a Gold Glove, though is fielding is above average. Chen may never make it to an All-Star game, though his potential suggests he'll be good enough to make a case for it. However, teams win with players like Chen doing what they do night in and night out. A very nice pick.

2nd rounder Joe O'Connor is another slick-fielding 2B. A switch-hitter, O'Connor has equal ability from either side of the plate, and while he isn't a spectacular player, he does have some ability and should find himself in the big leagues one day -- though it most likely won't be with Cheyenne as Chen may ultimately block him. A solid pick.

3rd rounder Kevin Taylor is a solid pick, but he MUST learn to control his pitches to have any chance at a big league career. Throws hard (real hard) and while his fastball is above average, you'd expect a guy with this kind of velocity to have a better fastball. His ability to control his pitches will determine his big league status.

Cheyenne gets a C+ for their draft. Love the Chen pick, but while O'Connor is a solid player, not sure following the Chen pick up with another 2B/CF prospect made the most sense. However, they were able to find some ML talent and fill in some depth on the farm, so a pretty solid draft all in all for the Chiefs.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Dover Diamond Dogs

Under current ownership since season 2, the Diamond Dogs have been a very solid franchise within Cobbfather. Dover is another organization that had three 1st round picks, lets see if they were able to do as well with their picks as the teams we've previously reviewed.

1st rounder (12th overall)Eddie Allen was a bit of a reach. He's a good pitching prospect, but there were better players available at this spot. With that in mind, Allen is still a solid prospect in his own right. Plus 4-seamer backed with an above average slider, Allen has the control to spot his pitches well. Not overwhelming velocity and a bit of a flyball pitcher, Allen is still tough on righties, though not as effective against lefties. A solid pick, though again better players were available here.

the 2nd of 3 first rounders: Jeremy Decker is a lefty pitcher who projects to come out of the bullpen. Can go back to back with no problems, Decker has a great combination of durability and stamina for a reliever. Can fill multiple roles if need be. He brings very good velocity and can really bury his plus sinker low in the zone at will to force broken bats and ground balls from the hitters. Toughest on lefties, but he's no picnic for righties to face either. Look for Decker to move fast and be a part of the ML bullpen in relative short order. A nice player at this spot in the draft.

The last of the first rounders: Tike Gross is another nice starting pitching prospect. Has an advanced ability for his age, and Gross could move quickly through the system even though he was just 18 yrs old at the time he was selected. Another hard throwing lefty, Gross brings a well above average sinker and backs it with a solid slider and a change-up that's "in progress" though isn't likely to develop much over "serviceable." His control probably limits him to the back-of-the-rotation, but he should be pretty effective in that role as his velocity and sinker are good enough to keep hitters from either side of the plate off balance.

The first eight selections for Dover were pitchers. Jonathan Wooten was the first position player taken -- in round 6. Not a spectacular player, but Wooten may get a cup-o-coffee a time or two in the bigs.

Three first round picks... must get 3 ML quality players out of it. Dover succeeded in that, though again there were better players available than Allen. Overall a grade of B, and news is just in that Dover has picked up Roberto Bennett in the international scene. He's a Top 5 talent in his own right so Dover is definitely adding some top level talent to their farm.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Kansas City Tweakers

After several seasons as cellar-dwellers, the Tweakers are now starting to see the returns for some of their past drafts and International signings. With the depth of their farm system, it may be a while before KC picks as high again as they did in Season 7. Let's see how their draft went.

1st rounder Jo-jo Strickland brings well above average velocity and a very good ability to induce ground balls with him. Sporting a 4-seam FB, a cutter, and a slider that are all well above average and the ability to spot his pitches where he wants, Jo-jo is a very solid pitching prospect. He should develop into a innings eater MORP (middle-of-the-rotation pitcher) and maybe even has the ceiling of a legit #2 starter. He's got a long way to go, but KC has shown the ability to be patient and let their top prospects develop on their schedule. Expect them to do the same with Strickland.

2nd rounder Richie Buss was a known signability concern going into the draft. Rumors of a change in bonus demands to that exceeding what the top draft choices got have pretty much stalled negotiations. Look for KC to get a compensation pick next season.

3rd rounder Robert Sierra has terrific speed and causes absolute chaos on the basepaths for opposing defenses. Probably limited to LF as a big leaguer, he does have enough arm to spot-start in RF if necessary. A solid offensive player yet not spectacular at anything, though he can make pretty decent contact and that along with his speed and wits on the basepaths should allow him to be fairly effective at getting on base.

4th rounder Julian Samardzija is a true 3 outcome hitter. He'll strike-out, draw a walk, or hit a HR if/when he makes contact (as evidenced by his 11 HR in 32 games in Rookie ball so far). He'll struggle in the upper-minors, but may have enough OBP ability and certainly has enough power potential to warrant sleeper status.

KC turned their fortunes around mostly because of very good drafts. Unfortunately, other than Strickland there really isn't a standout pick for this season. KC did add Edgard Fernandez from the International scene so they have added talent to their already loaded farm system, but they didn't do it in the numbers they have in the past. Overall, their draft gets a C, and without Strickland it likely would have been lower.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Austin Rock Stars

After 4 straight playoff appearances in the first 4 seasons of Cobbfather and 5 straight winning seasons, Austin finds itself in the second season of rebuilding. A very solid owner who is the only one Austin has known, we believe it won't be long before he has Austin back in the playoff mix. Let's see how the rebuilding effort was impacted with the Season 7 draft for Austin.

1st rounder Mike Worthington has good speed and is pretty good on the basepaths, though with his speed it's a bit of a surprise he isn't more dangerous on the bases. Of course, with his power potential, he may not have to use much speed to get around the bases. Can hit righties or lefties, though he does struggle from time to time to make contact. All in all though, this was a very solid pick up.

2nd rounder Ben Casian is a good fielding LF prospect who can really make good contact against LH pitching. Not a bad contact hitter, but not a great one either. Does have some power, but not a HR hitter by any means. Very smart baserunner. Casian is just one of those glue guys who every team needs and as mentioned before he does show some ability to potentially be very tough on left handed pitching.

3rd round pick Phillip Pillette throws hard. No, real hard. He's a flyball pitcher, but his fastball is so fast and has such good movement that hitters have a hard time making good contact -- especially right handed hitters. Backs that fastball with a solid slurve and curve, and throws a sinker in for good measure from time to time. Throws a change-up, but it isn't very good and lags significantly behind his other pitches. A good pitching coach would probably make him scrap it. Control is the only reason Pillette fell to the third round. He'll never have great control, probably not even good control, but if he can develop enough control to not walk 5 or 6 batters every 9 innings then Pillette might be a pretty decent pitcher. He's got a long way to go yet though.

Austin gets a C+ for their draft, though if Casian and Pillette pan out their draft could turn out better than that grade indicates. Worthington will be a good player for them someday.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Syracuse Sycophants

The current owner for Syracuse has been around since Season 2, and while his team has struggled a bit at the big level (other than a glorious 91 win season in Season 4), his farm system is starting to feed some talent to the parent club, and it won't be long before Syracuse is routinely competing. Let's take a look at their draft class for Season 7.

1st rounder Julio Cordero will be a fine SS at the big league level. He shows very good defensive chops (with his arm being his best tool), and he can be a good contributor at the plate as well. Will move quickly through their system, and should be a productive Major League player for a long time. A very nice pick.

No picks in rounds 2 or 3 as they were used as compensation for free agent signings.

4th rounder Troy Grabowski brings high velocity and a plus 4-seamer and slider. A bit flyball prone. Grabowski has the makeup to handle the pressure of being called upon late in ballgames, and though he doesn't have the best control, that sometimes helps in his ability to get right-handed batters out. Effectively wild. Some questions about his ability to go back-to-back nights might relegate him to setup duty, but Grabowski should find himself in late inning situations in the big leagues one day. Another solid draft pick.

I'm going to go against popular opinion and suggest that 5th rounder Rondell Lloyd can make it to the big leagues one day. So, make him my sleeper pick. Nothing about Lloyd makes you go "Wow!" but he does have the ability to get RH batters out, so he could find himself in the bullpen as a long man one day. Let's hope Syracuse is able to devote enough time to Lloyd to allow him to develop. They may be pleasantly surprised at what that brings them.

I really like Syracuse's draft, but I can't help but to wonder what they could have done with a 2nd and 3rd round pick. As it is, they get a C+. A nice draft for the Sycophants.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks lost their owner of 4 seasons and that owner lost the work he had done in rebuilding the organization. The new ownership has the ML team playing well in what is quickly turning into a very competitive AL West. Most MiL levels are also experiencing some success. Let's review the new ownership's first draft for the Canucks.

1st rounder Yovani Ozuna was drafted as a SS, though there's some thought he may not stay there. The organization has shown to be very aggressive with him as they have already assigned the 18 yr old to AA. With Ozuna's ability at the plate, the assignment is understood. Already an advanced approach at the plate, Ozuna projects to handle righties and lefties very well, and has a very good ability to control the bat and make good contact. Shows some power as well, and could hit 20 HR in the Majors. His speed and ability on the basepaths along with ability to make solid contact should make Ozuna a nightmare to face for opposing defenses. Barring injury, this kid should have a long career in the Major Leagues.

Another 1st rounder: Luke Castillo has all the makings of a very solid Major League starting pitcher. Combines a plus slider with an above average curveball and fastball. Can also throw a change and cutter, but they probably won't ever be more than show-me pitches. Needs to develop better control over his pitches, but should be able to do so given enough developmental time. A strong, durable pitcher: Castillo should develop into a nice big league starter.

The Canucks were another organization with 3 first round choices. The last of these was used to grab Cody Bonds. Bonds projects to develop into a solid back-of-the-bullpen reliever. Maybe not quite dominant enough to be a big league closer, he can definitely contribute at the big league level as he combines the potential to develop pin-point control with a very good fastball and slurve. Has some deception to his delivery as well making it difficult for batters to put good contact on the ball. A solid pick, and more so given the overall down season talent-wise for this draft.

2nd rounder Cristobal Moreno was probably a bit of a reach, but he has incredible raw power and can hammer lefty pitching -- when he's able to make contact that is. Struggles with pitch recognition and has holes in his swing, still though, can punish lefties when he does make contact.

Can't waste 1st round draft picks. The Canucks had 3 of them this season, and made them count. Vancouver gets a B+ for their draft, and this good draft is supplemented even more with the outstanding International signing of Kaito Park. Very nice.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Charleston Chew

Another organization that has struggled to reach .500 since the beginning of Cobbfather, Charleston sat with the 7th overall pick in the Season 7 draft. Let's review that pick along with every other for the Chew this season.

1st rounder Marquis Meyer has proven to be a serious signability concern. With a considerable bonus demand, Meyer hasn't signed just yet. Let's hope at the very least the Chew has been able to offer his initial demands thus ensuring a compensation pick if Meyer does follow through with his threat to go to college. Otherwise, it will be a huge disappointment if the Chew walks away with nothing from its lone first round pick.

2nd rounder Darrin Tartabull projects as a starter or long-man, but is currently being used as the Rookie team closer. Tartabull projects best as a reliever as his slider and change-up lag well behind his above-average fastball and curveball. Doesn't have great deception -- making it easier for both lefties and righties to hit him -- Tartabull lives off his fantastic control. Continuing to develop his control will be essential for Tartabull to have any shot at a lasting Major League career.

The Chew actually chose pitchers in every round. Not sure if their scouts see positional talent for some of them, but pitchers are all that make up the Chew's Rookie team. For the most part the rest of the pitchers (aside from Meyer and Tartabull) range from fringe prospect to organizational filler. With no International signings and no positional draft picks, the Chew has missed out on a real opportunity to add talent to its farm system. At least they signed all their draft picks other than Meyer and can field a Rookie team. That's the only thing keeping the draft from being an F. As it is, they get a D-.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Charlotte Rae

An organization that has picked in the Top 10 each season since Season 1, the Rae have struggled to find consistency both on and off the field. That appears to have changed in Season 7 as the organization is having a nice season; and, with 4 of the first 54 picks in the draft, the Rae had a chance to infuse its farm system with legitimate big league prospects. Let's see how they did.

The Rae had 3 first round choices. CatcherCarson Servais was taken with the first of those choices. Easily the best catching prospect in the draft, Servais shows all the tools to be a fantastic backstop at the big league level. Already with an advanced ability to handle a pitching staff, Servais should continue to develop in this area and be a great anchor for any pitching staff. Though Servais can struggle against RHP, he shows a good batting eye and can really handle the bat. With above average power and murderous tendancies toward LHP, Servais was a great pick up.

The second of the 3 first round choices was used to pick up Jackie Franco. A HS selection, Franco flashes an above average fastball and slider, and carries a change-up and forkball as well and while neither is as good as his fastball or slider, they're both solid pitches. Though a bit of a health concern and questionable durabily, Franco should be able to handle starting duties. He combines very, very good velocity and a fantastic ability to spot his pitches with a deceptive delivery and good ability to generate ground balls. Another very good selection.

The third 1st rounder is Eduardo Calderone. Limited to 1B/DH, Calderone is well above average in every category at the plate. There's no questioning his desire and makeup, and as long as the injury bug can stay away, there's little doubt that Calderone will develop into a very good middle-of-the-order bat for the Rae. A fine pick.

Sleeper pick Philip Walker (4th round) has a chance to develop into a fine utility infielder and could be used against LH in a platoon role. Again, not upper echelon prospect, but Walker has all the tools to make it to the big leagues one day if given the chance to develop.

With 3 first round choices, the Rae had a real opportunity to add some legitimate big league potential to its farm system. They didn't disappoint. With a somewhat disappointing pool of talent from which to draw, the Rae used its picks to best of its ability. For that reason the Rae earned an A. Lets hope the current ownership decides to stay for a while.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mid-season Team Reports - AL West

AL West

Kansas City (53-36)
Co-position player: Clarence Simmons (.292/.387/.490/.877 - 18 HR, 78 RBI)
Pitcher: Clem Webster (12-3 2.26 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
Disappointment: Rondell Nady

Tucson (48-41)
Position player: Jordan Abernathy (.327/.391/.595/.986 - 22 HR, 84 RBI)
Pitcher: Bill Osborne (5-2 3.23 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Disappointment: Carl Watkins

Vancouver (48-41)
Position player: Coco Thomas (.306/.376/.495/.871 - 11 HR, 50 RBI)
Pitcher: Harry Silva (4-2 3.63 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Disappointment: Dustin Reed

San Francisco (46-43)
Position player: Esteban Amezaga (.301/.397/.558/.955 - 17 HR, 73 RBI)
Pitcher: Curtis Sullivan (4-0, 7/8 Saves, 0.37 ERA, 0.78 WHIP)
Disappointment: Kurt Mieske

Mid-season Team Reports - AL South

AL South

Houston (59-30)
Co-position player: Jaime Summers (.392/.457/.556/1.013 - 11 HR, 45 RBI)
Co-position player: Martin McCarty (.344/.417/.585/1.001- 21 HR, 89 RBI)
Pitcher: Emmett Rhodes (10-3 2.54 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Disappointment: Justin Kennedy

Little Rock (49-40)
Position player: Alex Coombs (.335/.419/.500/.919 - 11 HR, 50 RBI)
Pitcher: Richard Jackson (9-7 3.09 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
Disappointment: Milton Graffanino

Charlotte (47-42)
Position player: Alex Cela (.279/.335/.436/.771 - 12 HR, 46 RBI)
Pitcher: Cory Cox (11-3 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
Disappointment: Francis Matthews

Austin (38-51)
Position player: Daryl Sobkiwiak (.292/.369/.573/.942 - 20 HR, 76 RBI)
Pitcher: Al Flores (5-7 4.21 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)
Disappointment: Ted Nevin

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Season 7 Draft Review -- Tacoma Termites

Tacoma has started to pick up a little steam in its third year under current ownership so this may be the last season we see Tacoma in the top 5. I'm sure their ownership and fan base hope so. With that, let's see how the last of our Top 5 teams did in the Season 7 draft.

1st round pick (5th overall) Eric Sinclair hasn't signed yet. For Tacoma's sake, I hope he does. Sinclair is a deceptive lefty that brings a dominant fastball with late life and backs it with a plus change-up. He carries a slider and curve that are average to slightly above as compliments, but he's got 2 legit out pitches. Sinclair is able to command his pitches and is very, very tough on lefties and righties alike. Strong durability, his only concern is health. Let's hope Tacoma is able to get this kid signed and bring his talent into Cobbfather.

2nd round pick Jeff Holt sports a plus slider and above average fastball, change, and curve. He's effective against both righties and lefties. The real question with him is his control -- will he be able to throw strikes? My guess is he will have some seasons where he'll be able to command his solid pitches, and some seasons where he won't. A decent prospect who maybe projects to the pen a bit more than a starter.

3rd round pick Rocco Pember is a setup/closer prospect who brings very, very good velocity and sports a plus fastball and forkball. Can be equally effective against righties and lefties. Control and health are concerns, but not nearly as concerning as what happens if a batter is able to actually make contact. To call Pember a flyball pitcher would be an understatement. Could be his pitches and delivery will do enough to consistently prevent good contact on his pitches, but a flyball pitcher to this drastic extent is a bit worrisome. Will be interesting to see how he responds to better competition in the upper minors.

4th rounder Harry Hammond is another reliever candidate where control is the question. He does a good job inducing groundballs and sports a dominant fastball backed by a very good slider, so even though righties can pick the ball up better than lefties against him, it isn't out of the question that he can be a somewhat effective ML reliever against righties too. A LOOGY candidate with a chance to be more.

5th rounder Norm Douglas is a true 3 outcome batter. He'll walk, strikeout, or hit a HR. Probably all 3 in the same game, maybe even the same at bat. Hey now! Shows some ability to play RF as well. Honestly, probably not much of a chance at being an ML player, but I'm always fascinated with guys like this. That fascination is enough for me to pick him as my sleeper.

Grade at a C right now, with a chance to move up if Sinclair signs. One more caveat: in a couple of seasons this could prove to be a B/B+ draft or a D draft. The players taken at the top of Tacoma's draft all have the potential to be ML players, but each come with enough questions (signability question for Sinclair) that even reaching the ML isn't a guarantee. Boom or bust draft for Tacoma.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Ottawa Renegades

Ottawa has struggled at the big league level for a while, but that has brought an opportunity to draft some very fine players. Ottawa has a solid farm system, and the Season 7 draft presented an opportunity to add to that pool of talent. Let's review their draft and see how they did.

1st rounder (4th overall) Walt Sikorski has to be one of the more puzzling draft choices ever. He's got very, very good velocity and can induce groundballs with his repertoire of an above average fastball and solid slider. While he is a lefty that is still somewhat deceptive against righties too (he does a solid job against lefties), Sikorski can't really command his pitches and has a hard time throwing strikes. If I get Sikorski in the 3rd round, I'm happy about it, but to make him the 4th overall pick is a real stretch.

2nd rounder Mario Rogers was drafted as a SS but profiles more as a 3B defensively. Problem is, he doesn't have the offensive skillset needed to play 3B. Not a bad prospect, but a bit of a tweener. Will be interesting to see how Ottawa decides to use him.

3rd rounder Earl Cooke is another starting pitching prospect with control questions. Cooke sports a good slider and screwball,but with mediocre velocity and a lack of deception against RH hitters, Cooke isn't a great prospect at this point. Though, truth be told, I like Cooke more than Sikorski.

Ottawa took lots of pitching depth in the middle rounds, but overall this has to be a disappointing draft for the Renegades. They have a solid farm system with some really high ceiling prospects, but unfortunately they weren't able to take advantage of their high draft position and add much to that pool. Overall, I give their draft a C-.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Scranton Meal Ticket

With Scranton we once again have an opportunity to review a new owner's first draft. As a franchise, Scranton has bounced between being good to not-so-good before going into full rebuild mode last season. That rebuild continues, and below we'll discuss the Season 7 draft for the Scranton organization.

1st rounder (3rd overall) Lyle Wallace is everything you could want out of a top 5 pick. A true TORP (top-of-the-rotation pitcher), Wallace brings a plus curveball (perhaps even plus-plus), and backs that with an above average fastball and change-up. He also sports a slider that lags the other pitches, but is still more than just a show-me pitch. He shows the potential to command all his pitches, and he's extremely effective against any batter. Doesn't throw hard, but doesn't need to in order to be effective. A true horse, Wallace has the potential to front a rotation and make 35 starts and reach well over 200 innings each year. A great pick by Scranton.

2nd rounder Graham Murray is a high contact hitter with good speed. Should develop into a fine RF, he won't hit for power and will struggle against RH pitching (even though he's a lefty), but his ability to make good contact against LH pitching combined with his ability to cause havoc on the basepaths should allow Murray at least a platoon role.

3rd rounder Tommy Worthington has very, very good power and should be a solid OBP candidate, even though he struggles at times to make contact. A slash line of .250/.350/.450 with ~30HR probably isn't too unrealistic. Pretty solid pick for the 3rd round.

4th rounder Matthew Barry is solid starter prospect, but may end up as a long man in the bigs. Barry brings a solid fastball and the ability to locate it at will. He's very effective against LH hitters, and while it's a stretch to think he'll be a big league starter, he could find his way into the bullpen and be a solid long man. I'm intrigued enough by his ability to get lefties out that I'll make Barry my sleeper pick for Scranton.

The rest of the draft provided an opportunity for Scranton to add some much needed depth to their farm system. There were some solid defensive players taken that should help supplement the development of the higher-ceiling guys. I'll grade the draft as a B all on the heels of Wallace. When you have a top 5 pick, you need to take advantage of it, and Scranton clearly did. Very nicely done by the new ownership for Scranton.

Season 7 Draft Review -- Durham Radicals

Durham has struggled a bit to get things going since the beginning of Cobbfather and that continued in Season 6, leaving Durham picking 2nd in the draft. With the amount of high-end talent that is about to make it to the ML level (if not already there), it's very possible Durham won't find itself picking high for much longer. With that, let's review their draft for season 7.

With their first pick, Durham selected OF Shawon Stoops. Stoops has solid, but not great, plate discipline; however, every other aspect of his offensive game is very, very good. His durability calls into question whether or not he'll see more than 140 games, but he should have an impact in the games he does play. Stoops was drafted as a RF but projects more to play LF, though given the Durham park's propensity for the HR, it doesn't really take much athleticism to turn your head and watch the ball land in the seats so it may not matter which COF position he plays. If/When Stoops reaches the majors, plenty of his hits will wind up in the outfield bleachers of Durham Athletic Park.

2nd rounder Marvin Jaha is a very solid pitching prospect. A hard throwing lefty with a very good ability to force ground balls and very, very good control, Jaha has the durability to be a starter, but does have some stamina concerns. Look for him to be developed as a starter in the minors, but he may ultimately project better as reliever, and he would have good value in that role. 3rd rounder Chico Nieto is another hard thrower (this time from the right side) with a very good ability to induce ground balls. While Nieto possesses a plus sinker and backs it with a solid slider (he also has decent curve and change) he has trouble commanding his pitches and is a little wild. With his stamina and durability concerns, Nieto projects to be a much more reliable reliever than starter, though it's very likely he'll be groomed as a starter at least until AA. With his effectiveness against hitters from either side of the plate, he should be a solid ML reliever if not a back-of-the-rotation starter.

4th rounder Doug Austin was a very solid pick. At the very least, Austin should be able to hit LH pitching in the Majors. A bit limited defensively, Austin does at least have the ability to play a COF position though his arm probably isn't suited for RF on an everyday basis. With the potential to develop a good eye at the plate and decent contact skills, Austin should be able to contribute at the ML level and if used against lefties as part of a platoon he may turn out to be a very solid contributor at that.

10th rounder Dioner Ramirez is my sleeper pick for Durham. Needs time to develop, but should be able to play any position on the field (except catcher), and does show some promise against LH pitching. Won't be a world beater, but there should be room on an ML roster for a player with Ramirez's skillset -- assuming his agent doesn't price him out of the market in his free agency years.

Overall, Durham had a solid draft. There were better players available that Stoops at #2, but he's a good player who's offensive abilities will only be enhanced by Durham's park. I grade the draft out as a B-. It could have been better, but picking up potential ML level players in the first 4 rounds is a good draft.