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Bernie On The Scene: Draft Impact, Part V

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

This is the next to last article in my series about the first year player draft. The last edition will be in two weeks. I will be doing a different type article next week.

I have always been amazed at the amount of money clubs spend every year in trying to find a diamond in the rough.

If you are the Astros and you spend $1.4M on Max Sapp and have no first-round selection the following year, you run the risk of having happen what happened.

If you are the Nationals and you make good decisions with your gift of high draft choices, you go through what they're experiencing at the present time.

The Royals and Pirates have had high draft selections in the recent past (see previous editions of this series) and in some cases they whiffed.

Drafting is not an exact science, as we’ve seen. However, when money like these millions is being spent, decisions can't be made because of "signability" or pure speculation.

Can you imagine the feeling of having a draft choice not sign his contract? There is a story behind every one, but it doesn't make life easier for the club.

Reds

2006 - Drew Stubbs - OF - #8 - $2M
2007 - Devin Mesoraco - C - #15 - $1.4M - ($1.485M)
2008 - Yonder Alonso - 1B - #7 - $2M - ($2.420M)
2009 - Mike Leake – SP - #8 - $2.270M - ($2.043M)
2010 - Yasmani Grandal - C - #2 - $2M - ($1.719M)
2011 - Robert Stephenson - P - #20 - $1.400M - ($1.359M)

Astros

2006 - Max Sapp - C - #23 - $1.4M
2007 - NO SELECTION
2008 - Jason Castro - C - #10 - $2.070M - ($2.070M)
2009 - Jiovanni Mier - SS - #21 - $1.358M ($1.332M)
2010 - Delino DeShields Jr. - 2B - #8 - $2.150M - ($2.043M)
2011 - George Springer - OF - #11 - $2.525M - ($1.791M)

Braves

2006 - Cody Johnson - 1B - #24 - $1.375M
2007 - Jason Heyward - OF - #14 - $1.7M ($1.530M)
2008 - NO SELECTION
2009 - Mike Minor - SP - #7 - $2.420M - ($2.178M)
2010 - NO SELECTION
2011 - Sean Gilmartin - SP - $1.134M - ($1.134M)

Nationals

2006 - Chris Marrero - OF - #15 - $1.625M
2006 - Colton Willems - P - #22 - $1.425M
2007 - Ross Detwiler - P - #6 - $2.15M - ($2.16M)
2008 - Aaron Crow - P - DID NOT SIGN
2009 - Stephen Strasburg - P - #1 - $7.5M - ($4M)
2009 - Drew Storen - P - #10 - $1.6M - ($1.863M)
2010 - Bryce Harper - OF - #1 - $6.250M - ($4M)
2011 - Anthony Rendon - 3B - #6 -$6M - ($2.340M)
2011 - Alex Meyer - P - #23 - $2M - ($1.260M)

Dodgers

2006 - Clayton Kershaw - P - #7- $2.3M
2006 - Bryan Morris - P - #26 - $1.325M
2007 - Chris Withrow - P- #20- $1.350M - ($1.350M)
2008 - Ethan Martin - P - #15 - $1.730M - ($1.730M)
2009 - NO SELECTION
2010 - Zack Lee - P - #25 - $2M - ($1.134M)
2011 - Chris Reed - P - #16 - $1.589M - ($1.512M)

Mariners

2006 - Brandon Morrow - P - #5 - $2.450M
2007 - Phillipe Aumont - P - #11 - $1.9M - ($1.710M)
2008 - Joshua Fields - P - #20 - $1.750M - ($1.5M)
2009 - Dustin Ackley - OF - #2 - $6M - ($3.250M)
2009 - Nick Franklin - SS - #27 - $1.280M - ($1.161M)
2010 - NO SELECTION
2011 - Danny Hultzen - P - #2 - $6.350M - ($3.250M)

Diamondbacks

2006 - Max Scherzer - P - #11 - $3M - (signed late)
2007 - Jarrod Parker - P - #9 - $2.1M - ($1.890M)
2008 - Daniel Schlereth - P - #26 - $1.330M - ($1.330M)
2009 - Bobby Borchering - 3B - #16 - $1.8M - ($1.512M)
2009 - A.J. Pollock - OF - #17 - $1.4M - ($1.467M)
2010 - Barret Loux - P - #6 - DID NOT SIGN
2011 - Trevor Bauer - P - #3 - $3.4M - ($3M)
2011 - Archie Bradley - P - #7 - $5M - ($2.178M)

Blue Jays

2006 - Travis Snider - OF - #14 - $1.7M
2007 - Kevin Ahrens - SS/3B - #16 - $1.44M - ($1.44M)
2007 - J.P. Arencibia - C - #21 - $1.327.5M - ($1.327.5M)
2008 - David Cooper - 1B - #17 - $1.5M - ($1.630M)
2009 - Chad Jenkins - P - #20 - $1.359M - ($1.359M)
2010 - Deck McGuire - P - #11 - $2M - ($1.791M)
2011 - Tyler Beede - P - #21 - DID NOT SIGN

REDS

Drew Stubbs arrived in Cincinnati in 2009 and showed promise. Last year was disappointing for Stubbs owners due to his .243 average and whopping 205 strikeouts. He had 681 plate appearances, showing the Reds had hope for him. This season, he is at .240 with 37 strikeouts in 138 plate appearances. While he stole 40 bases last year, his on-base percentage is even lower this year, causing concern about what he actually brings to fantasy owners. I'm not sure if there is more in the bat than what we have seen so far.

Devin Mesoraco has a chance to be a really good hitter. Especially in Cincinnati. He hasn't shown his bat yet, but I think he will in time. So far this season he has only played in 16 games and he's hitting .227. He requires repetition at the plate in an effort to see quality pitching. In a timeshare, it will be difficult for him to improve. I wish he would either be the full-time catcher or return to the minors where he can play every day and improve. Do not give up on Mesoraco, he'll be a fine hitter.

Yonder Alonso is now part of the future in San Diego. In a steal of a deal for the Padres, the Reds traded Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger to get pitcher Mat Latos. I believe the Reds robbed their future for a bite of this year's apple. I'm not sure Latos was worth the steep price. Alonso is now hitting close to .300 for the Padres while playing a solid first base. He is a very hard worker with a sweet stroke. His home park will negatively impact his homers, but he will respond favorably to the playing time opportunity.

I have never been in on Mike Leake. I think he doesn't have a deep enough repertoire to survive against quality major league hitters. I felt he was overrated coming out of ASU and I haven't seen much to change my opinion. He loses command when he tries to throw too hard and his ball straightens out. I think the Reds will find him better suited for the bullpen, but they currently need starting pitchers. His 7.11 ERA this season is probably much higher than it will be, but he isn't the 3.97 of last year, either. He's over 4.00 in my book with a high WHIP. I don't see upside remaining.

Yasmani Grandal was in a squeeze with Devin Mesoraco for playing time in Cincinnati. As a result, it was best for him to be traded. I think he's close to major league ready. Think catcher, and you'll envision Grandal. He is built like a catcher, plus he can hit and play well behind the plate. I like his power potential and his ability to put the bat on the ball. His good pitch recognition and selectivity bode well for a bright future. His home park won't help his power, but the batting average should be very acceptable. Grandal isn't far away from the call.

Robert Stephenson was drafted out of high school in California. He threw back-to-back no-hitters in high school. Stephenson has the ability to touch the upper 90s with his fastball and projects to be a mid-rotation starter because of his good secondary pitches and his live arm. Of course he will have to learn how to pitch as opposed to throw, and the Reds may take some time with his development. In another year we will be hearing about him on the Cincinnati radar screen, but it is far too early now. He projects as a much better than average starter.

ASTROS

Max Sapp played parts of three seasons for Houston. He made it as high as High-A and had a .224 average as a catcher. He also had a passed ball problem and can be safely considered a $1.4M bust.

Jason Castro is another Houston attempt at selecting a catcher in the first round. Castro has never hit the way he was projected. I saw him play in the AFL after a season of injury and I was totally underwhelmed. The organization has been desperate for catching help for years, and Castro was to be the answer. This year he is hitting .233 in 22 games. I don't see him as the answer behind the plate for Houston or for your fantasy team. He is only 24 and there are those that feel Castro is the catcher of the present and future in Houston. Buyer beware.

Jiovanni Mier is just 21. He was signed out of high school in California. He has made a ton of errors at shortstop in the Astros' minor league system. At best, he projects as a utility infielder as the Astros have Delino DeShields Jr. and Jonathan Villar poised to pass him on the organizational depth chart at the middle-infield spots. Mier is currently back at High-A Lancaster for another season-and that is not promising, althoug he's currently hitting .309. I see him as trade bait to a team looking for middle-infield help.

Delino DeShields, Jr. has a future as a big league second baseman. He is a much bigger, stronger man than his highly successful father who also played at the keystone. At only 5-feet-9, DeShields carries 210 pounds on his solid frame. I think he will hit for some power as he matures. Now, however, he is struggling at Low-A with a .248 batting average. The Astros like him, and he may be gaining an advantage due to his name, but he can play. I think he is several years away from being capable of hitting major league pitching as a starter at second base.

George Springer has outstanding upside as a potential big-league outfielder. He is strong with a 6-foot-3 frame, but he carries only 200 pounds. I believe he will add muscle weight as he matures. He is playing at High-A Lancaster where he's hitting .313 with eight homers and 32 RBI. He was drafted by the Twins, refused to sign, went to UConn and signed the biggest bonus contract in Astros history. He has quick hands and good baseball instincts, and can run as well as make contact. This is a guy I want you to remember. He will be a force. Especially in Minute Made Park. I think he will evolve into a five-tool player.

BRAVES

Cody Johnson has played parts of seven seasons in professional baseball. He is now repeating Double-A at Trenton for the Yankees. He was drafted as a first baseman, but is playing now as an outfielder and DH. Johnson is a career .248 minor league hitter with very little to power to show so far. It is doubtful he will ever get to sniff the major leagues and he could very well end up being a career minor league player. He is a very big guy at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds. His size has not translated to power yet at the age of 24 and it's doubtful upside remains. His high strikeout and low contact rates have pretty much doomed his future.

At 6-feet-5, 240 pounds Jason Heyward has the ideal, athletic body to play multiple sports. He is currently in his third full season with Atlanta, and for me, the jury is still out. I am not prepared to declare him a successful power hitter and I'm certainly not prepared to call him a bust. I have watched the very good Heyward and the very mediocre Heyward. Is he the .227 hitter of last year, or the .277 hitter of his rookie year? Interestingly, he is now hitting right in the middle at .252 which may be where he belongs. He has power, but he pulls way too many pitches. He has speed, and his running instincts are improving. I don't think he'll make anyone forget Chipper Jones in Atlanta, but I do think he can have a nice, steady career as a player a tad above average if he fails to work and above average with much better numbers if he puts his mind to his craft. Upside remains.

Mike Minor is a left-handed starter with inconsistent command and control. He's big and strong, but he really hasn't grasped the job that has been waiting for him. Is he better than his current 2-2 record in seven starts? Not really. Not with a WHIP that could approach 1.400 and an ERA of 6.59. Both of those numbers are above projections for Minor. He was seen as a high ceiling starter out of Vanderbilt when he was drafted. The Braves are loaded with starting pitching, and Minor will have to ride his very good fastball and change-up to more consistent results for him to move up in the Atlanta pitching pecking order. Since he is only 24, plenty of time remains for him to reach his potential.

Sean Gilmartin is among the deep pitching stable available to the Braves. A tall, slender lefty, Gilmartin projects as a good starting pitcher, but not a stud. When I saw him, his stuff and his velocity were mediocre, but enough to pitch at the back end of a rotation. I'm not sure he would be given much of a chance if he were a right-handed pitcher. Originally drafted by the Padres, Gilmartin came to the Braves and has pitched from rookie ball to Double-A, where he is this season. He has good command of his pitches, walks few and induces players to make contact. He will require a good defense, but he's a good enough pitcher to have rotation success.

NATIONALS

It is difficult to determine what the Nationals have in Chris Marrero because he has been hurt. He was a .248 hitter for Washington last season when he played in 31 games covering 117 plate appearances. He could be a future utility answer at first base or outfielder if the Nationals feel he can add the punch they need at either or both positions. He did not homer at all last season in those limited major league appearances. He did, however, hit 14 homers for Syracuse in the 2011 season. I'm not sure he will ever be the type of hitter the team needs as they continue to improve in the standings. Given the complexion of their current team, it would appear that when healthy, first base would belong to Michael Morse in Washington for a long time to come. That leaves Marrero as a bench player, an outfielder or trade bait.

Colton Willems has not played professional baseball since 2010 when he pitched for Hagerstown in Low-A.

Ross Detwiler is currently in the Nationals rotation and is one of my favorite “under the radar” pitchers. He had to fight for a rotation spot, but he has responded very well. A tall, lean, lefty, Detwiler knows how to pitch. If he commands his pitches, he is a tough cookie to square up. So far this season, he is 3-2 with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and a WHIP of 1.019. No, I don't expect that to continue all season, but I like him a great deal more than some higher profile pitchers. I like his park, his team and everything about him. Not a secret anymore.

Aaron Crow - was covered in the Kansas City draft profiles. He did not sign with the Nats after being drafted as a first-rounder in 2008.

Stephen Strasburg has one of the most electric arms in baseball. His surgery really hasn't taken anything away from his arsenal. There are times his pitches are too straight, but for the most part, he has swing and miss capability and the sky is the limit. He should be among the elite pitchers in baseball for years to come.

Now working his way back from injury, Drew Storen is often forgotten as the second Nationals first-round draftee from 2009. He has done an outstanding job with a back of the bullpen power arm. He controls his fastball, pitches to spots and is reliable as a closer. We have to see what he has after the lay off, but Washington has an outstanding pitcher in Storen. Once he proves himself healthy, I would not hesitate to acquire him if he were available.

Bryce Harper can do it all in baseball. He has five outstanding tools and can change a game with his bat, his arm, his glove or his legs. He is exciting and edgy. He will make his team better just by his presence, and he plays the game to win. Forget the reputation of him being a hot dog or a show off, few people have his talent. I wish I had him on every team I owned. Especially in keeper leagues. Watch out in the next few years.

Anthony Rendon - Are you kidding me? As if the Nationals don't have enough talent. This guy can hit if he can stay healthy. The Nationals will have All-Stars all around the diamond in the not-so-distant future. Either Rendon or Zimmerman will have to change positions because the rules say a team can only play one third baseman at a time. Don't be surprised if Rendon is switched to second base when his legs work and he can play. He's a powerful hitter that can put the bat on the ball regularly and hit for average. Don't sleep on him if you are in a keeper league, but it all rides in his ability to stay healthy following an impressive college career at Rice that was marred by injuries.

Alex Meyer has just started pitching for Low-A Hagerstown this season. He is 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA in seven starts. So far he is showing he can miss bats and strike out hitters, but he is still learning to pitch. The Nationals traded away some pitching talent to get Gio Gonzalez (Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Tom Milone) but Meyer remains and he should be on the way to the big leagues in a few years. The team can afford to be patient with him.

DODGERS

This year he isn't putting up the same awesome numbers as last season, but Clayton Kershaw remains one of, if not the, best pitchers in baseball. Now throwing a devastating change-up to go along with the unhittable curve and fastball, hitters have no idea what to expect. Basically, they can expect an uncomfortable evening at the plate and a dip in their batting average. He is the first pitcher off the board for me.

Bryan Morris is now in the Pittsburgh organization, pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis. He had been a starter with Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, but he is now working out of the bullpen. He was sent to the bullpen because he is really a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball and slider. He has fairly good command of those pitches and he could very well pitch in Pittsburgh this season. There are those who think he has enough control to work the back end of a big league game.

Chris Withrow was a very highly regarded pitcher in the organization for a number of years. He is now in his fourth season at Double-A Chattanooga. He has never really distinguished himself and earned a promotion.Always hittable in his career, Withrow now has a 1.615 WHIP as a starting pitcher. Yes, he misses bats and strikes out hitters, but his command on his high velocity fastball is not good enough to earn him a look at another level. He has the arm, but not the control. Not yet. I don't think the Dodgers will give up on him.

After having served as a reliever last year, Ethan Martin is starting for Double-A Chattanooga and doing very well. He currently has a 4-0 record in seven starts and has given up only 24 hits in 41.2 innings. In addition, he has walked 22 for a WHIP of 1.104. If he can grasp control, he will be an outstanding candidate to pitch in the Dodgers' rotation sooner than later. Martin is not ranked as highly as other Dodger pitchers because his mechanics are not as refined as some of their other prospects. He has done well so far, and he has a chance to either start or relieve because he has a solid arm.

Zach Lee is probably among the highest ranked pitching prospects in the Dodgers organization. He has good command of his fastball and he throws an adequate slider and change up as well. Lee is currently in High-A at Rancho Cucamonga, a hitter's paradise and a difficult place for pitchers where he has a 2-2 record in eight starts. While his walk rate is low and very acceptable, he is getting hit. His ERA of 5.13 may be indicative of the environment. It will be interesting to watch Lee in the future. While I don't see him as special, the Dodgers like his poise and mound presence.

MARINERS

There have been numerous occasions when Phillipe Aumont was on the cusp of a major league promotion. Each time it seems he either was feeling the impact of a congenital hip issue or another injury zapped his ability. Now, he has to show he can pitch. He has been around a long time, moving from being a rotation starter to a situational lefty out of the pen. He is repeating Triple-A for Philadelphia, where he has a 6.00 ERA in 10 appearances. He has walked whopping 12 batters in nine innings while striking out 15. Oh, and by the way, he has given up only six hits. So it is his command that continues to keep him down. It is time for Aumont to show that he belongs.

Joshua Fields has the distinction of having gone from Triple-A with Seattle back to Double-A with Boston, but that doesn't mean much in today's game. Double-A is probably more important than Triple-A for some clubs. Fields is still relieving and he's now with a club that may need his help. He is a classic underachiever for a first rounder. He regressed badly last season and is now trying to get on track. He won't have much value as a fantasy pitcher as he's far from moving into a high-leverage role after initially projecting as a closer out of college.

Dustin Ackley was selected by Seattle for his ability to make contact and spray the ball to the gaps. He has had a bit of a slow start, and some of that is due to his position change to second base. I still like his bat, although I don't think he'll hit in the lofty low .300's anytime this season. He will continue to get better and he seems to have found a home in the leadoff position, and is a a good option at second base.

Nick Franklin was to have been the shortstop for the Mariners this season according to lots of people who should know. Injuries and illness last season set him back. When I saw him this past fall, his fielding as well as his bat were rusty. He is now healthy and hitting again at Double-A Jackson. He has already made seven errors at shortstop, and defense was to have been one of his calling cards. I'm not looking for Franklin in Seattle anytime soon, as the Mariners are happy now with their duo of Brendan Ryan and Munenori Kawasaki at short.

Danny Hultzen is a lefty with a full repertoire, good mound presence and an ability to miss bats. He is off to a great start in his professional career at Double-A Jackson. So far, Hultzen is 3-3 with a great 1.91 ERA in seven starts. He has given up only 17 hits in 32.2 innings pitched. He was walked too many hitters and he has to work on his control, but he's going to be a top of the rotation starter for the Mariners. Maybe even this year.

DIAMONDBACKS

Max Scherzer was the subject of debate in Arizona. Should he be in the bullpen or should he be a starter? When he was traded to the Tigers, the new team didn't hesitate. Scherzer is a fixture in their rotation. He has his good games and his bad. It all stems on the location of his pitches and his inability to repeat his delivery. He is a pitcher that gets out of sync easily. Scherzer has tremendous natural stuff. Once he finally figures out where the ball is going every time he throws a pitch, he will be much better. I still think he'll get on the right track.

Jarrod Parker was traded to the Oakland A's for Trevor Cahill in a deal of a young, power arm for a more seasoned starter. So far, Parker has looked good as he comes all the way back from arm surgery. He has great stuff but he can lose concentration quickly. Facing quality hitters hasn't seemed to faze him. Parker should be able to pitch in the big leagues for the rest of his career without being optioned as a yo-yo player. Upside remains.

Having been traded from Arizona to Detroit, Daniel Schlereth is a lefty with a limited repertoire. He is best suited for the bullpen, but he can't always be trusted to throw strikes or induce groundballs. He will give up hits and walks and find himself pitching out of trouble almost from the moment he steps on the mound. He currently has a 10.29 ERA for the parent Tigers in six games. I'm not high on Schlereth and I have concerns about his ability to ever harness his stuff. He's currently experiencing shoulder issues, and may be sidelined for a significant period.

Bobby Borchering was converted to the outfield after having played third base and first base in the organization since his signing in 2009. Matt Davidson is now the organization's top third base prospect. Borchering is not having a good season so far, only hitting .219 at High-A Visalia. He has shown a little power with two homers, but he has to step it up unless he wants to be a forgotten man. He has struck out in almost a third of his plate appearances. That's a statistic the D-Backs are working hard to avoid with their major league hitters.

A.J. Pollock has recently been promoted to the big club and he has made a very good first impression. Showing the ability to make contact, Pollock has flashed some power in games at Chase Field. He may be vulnerable to high fastballs, but Pollock has the ability to be an everyday player in center field, his best outfield spot. Until Chris Young returns, it is likely Pollock has a job in Phoenix. After Young's return, it is likely Pollock will return to Reno.

Trevor Bauer may be the ace of the D-Backs' future rotation. He has all the ability in the world to throw a complete arsenal of pitches with good command. Currently starting at Double-A Mobile, Bauer has fashioned a 7-1 record with an ERA of 1.68. He has allowed only 33 hits in 48.1 innings pitched. There is talk of Bauer being moved to Triple-A Reno very soon. Once that happens, a big league promotion may not be far behind. Bauer is a pitcher to target.

Archie Bradley is moving along nicely in the D-Backs pitching pecking order. He has gone from the rookie league last season to the Midwest League this year. He currently is pitching in the rotation with a 2.57 ERA in seven games started. Bradley may even be the best of a very deep stable of D-Backs pitchers. He has excellent command of a wide arsenal of pitches that he can throw for strikes at any count. Look for Bradley to move quickly along in the organization, with a promotion to the big club not out of the realm of possibility for 2013.

BLUE JAYS

Travis Snider has been up and down for the Blue Jays and it seems they have never given him a sustained opportunity to hit big league pitching. He has power and ability, but he is prone to striking out way too much. Perhaps he's a Quad-A player, but I won't be convinced until he gets 600 at-bats in the big leagues. To date this year, Snider has four home runs as he has returned to Triple-A Las Vegas to wait his turn. He is hitting .341 in 88 at-bats and has nothing more to prove. Of greatest importance, he has only struck out 15 times. It's ime to let him play or trade him.

Kevin Ahrens has not made it past High-A where he now plays for the Dunedin club. Ahrens, a corner-infield/DH type has played every infield position with the exception of second base since being drafted. He is currently hitting .281, his best start and best average as a professional. He has a career .242 lifetime average and doesn't stand much chance to advance to the big leagues, even though he was a No. 1 draft choice. Others in the organization have passed him because of his quiet bat.

J.P. Arencibia has shown some very good power as a big league catcher. He doesn't hit for power, and he could be challenged very soon by top prospect Travis d'Arnaud, a player scouts are very high on. Arencibia has the job for now and he's been effective. Arencibia does strike out a great deal and that's one of the rubs against him. But fantasy owners like the long ball, and that's what he can bring. He only has three so far this season, but he had 23 last year. More should be on the way.

David Cooper is in much the same boat as Travis Snider. He is a player with some power, but when his time comes in Toronto he can't respond. Cooper is the team's highest-rated first base prospect and they are not going to force him to the highest level. Cooper is a left-handed hitter and he isn't a huge man at an even 6-feet. He doesn't have much of a defensive presence, so if he does make the big leagues, it will have to be as a power-hitting first baseman. So far this season at Triple-A Las Vegas, Cooper is hitting well at .305 with four homers and 28 RBI. Last season at Vegas he hit .364 with nine homers and 96 RBI. The Blue Jays wonder if he can sustain enough power/batting average to remain in the big leagues hitting quality pitching?

Chad Jenkins is already pitching at Double-A New Hampshire where he has a 2-3 record in seven starts with a 5.03 ERA. He has given up some hits and has walked 10 in his 39.1 innings pitched so far. But he has struck out 17 and has shown promise. He's a sinker/slider pitcher with the ability to induce groundballs. While he doesn't project to be a rotation starter, he could find some time in a bullpen somewhere if he improves his efficiency in getting those grounders.

Also at Double-A New Hampshire, Deck McGuire is a rotation starter with seven starts and a 1-5 record to date. He has a 7.71 ERA but he's seen as a top- pitching prospect for the Blue Jays. He has had some trouble getting the ball down in the strike zone, and he doesn't have enough velocity to rely on his high 80s-low 90s velocity to get outs. He needs work on all his pitches and it is very young in his career to make any real judgments.

BUNTS

*If you are starting a new franchise which of these position players would you build your team around?

Josh Hamilton
Bryce Harper
Matt Kemp
Other (who?)

*Which of these pitchers would you build your team around?

Clayton Kershaw
Stephen Strasburg
Justin Verlander
Other (who?)

*The Orioles' pitching may be one of the biggest surprises of the season.

*I have always liked Will Middlebrooks. I think his presence could lead to a trade for Kevin Youkilis (if Youkilis can get healthy.)

*I can't figure out what happened to Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer. Pitching is about location - neither are locating properly.

*The Giants are far from the same team without Pablo Sandoval and an effective Tim Lincecum.

*I'm pleasantly surprised by the production of Josh Reddick.

*I have never seen Joe Girardi look so thin. Check it out.

Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and at MLB.com in the Voices section.