This concludes my series on Major League Baseball's last five June drafts. It was a major undertaking, but one I found fascinating.
I am amazed at some of the decisions clubs have made and the amount of money untried, untested players have received.
This series only addressed first-round selections. There are a number of supplemental picks that I really didn't cover.
In their attempts to regulate themselves, baseball owners initiated a salary slot system that was meant to prevent overspending. Most owners did not follow their own guidelines and violated the slotting system. In essence, they didn't trust themselves where money was concerned, instituted a slotting system and then violated their own trust by consistently exceeding slot. Amazing.
This week we saw that the Texas Rangers spent $7.3345M (not to mention the wasted draft pick that didn't sign) on players that never really played for them. I find it astounding.
We also discovered the Mets had no first-round selection for three out of the five years included in this series. And where are they today?
2006- NO SELECTION
2007- James Simmons-P-#26-$1.925- ($1.925)
2008- Jemile Weeks-2B-#12- $1.910MM- ($1.910MM)
2009- Grant Green-SS-#13- $2.750MM- ($1.656MM)
2010- Michael Choice-OF-#10- $2MM- ($1.863MM)
2011- Sonny Gray-P-#18- $1.540MM ($1.420MM)
2006- Kasey Kiker-P-#12-$1.6MM
2007- Blake Beavan-P-#17- $1.497MM-($1.417.5MM)
2007- Michael Main-P-#24-$1.2375MM-($1.2375MM)
2008- Justin Smoak-1B-#11-$1.5MM-($1.990MM)
2009- Matt Purke-P-#14-DID NOT SIGN
2010- Jake Skole-OF-#15-$1.557MM-($1.557MM)
2010- Kellin Deglan-C-#22-$1MM-($1.287MM)
2011- Kevin Matthews-P-#33-$936,000- ($936,000)
2006- NO SELECTION
2007- NO SELECTION
2008- Reese Havens-SS-#22-$1.419MM-($1.430MM)
2008- Ike Davis-1B-#18- $1,575MM-($1.580MM)
2009- NO SELECTION
2010- Matt Harvey-P-#7- $2.525-($2.178MM)
2011- Brandon Nimmo-OF- #13-$2.100MM-($1.656MM)
James Simmons battled shoulder issues at the end of 2009. He missed the entire 2010 season with a frayed labrum that was missed in the original diagnosis and MRI. Consequently, his career has been late in taking off. I saw him in the AFL before he was shut down for the 2010 season. Not much to write home about at that time. He is currently pitching in relief at Double-A Midland in the Texas League. He has a 5.29 ERA out of the bullpen, which speaks volumes. At one point his changeup was rated the best in the A's system. He has a full repertoire of pitches, but he has to get moving if he wants a big league career. With all the pitching being stockpiled by the A's, it will be difficult for him to advance.
Grant Green began his career as a shortstop, but the A's didn't like his lack of arm strength and overall defense at the position. They transferred him to the outfield, where he initially had adjustment problems. When I saw him in the AFL he showed some pop in his bat, but he looked lost in the outfield. He really does have a nice swing and he makes contact. If he can find his way defensively, he could be a solid big league hitter. He hit .291 last year at Double-A Midland and he's hitting .294 so far this year at Triple-A Sacramento. There is a lot to like with Green. He has power, speed and quick wrists. I think he has a chance. Green may yield center field to Michael Choice and find his way to a corner-outfield position.
Michael Choice gives Oakland a power hitter with a chance of being able to hit quality pitching. That has certainly not been the case so far with highly touted players like Michael Taylor or Chris Carter. Choice hit 30 homers at High-A Stockton. That's a major accomplishment. I saw him in Arizona last fall and he can be fooled easily by breaking pitches. He still has to learn how to hit. He is currently a .264 hitter at Double-A Midland. He may play center field going forward. If he does settle at center, the club could reap some huge power. However, Yoeinis Cespedes is on the club now as well, and that is his natural position.
At less than six-feet tall and 200 pounds, Sonny Gray is not the biggest of the pitchers that highlighted last year's draft. But Gray was highly regarded all the same. He can bring his fastball from that modest frame at 96 to 97 mph. He was outstanding in his first season of professional baseball, throwing 22 innings over two classifications. He struck out 20 and walked only six while fashioning a composite ERA of 0.82 covering six starts. He and Jarrod Parker are two right-handed future top of the rotation pitchers for Oakland. Gray has shown he knows how to pitch and he is on my watch list for future fantasy draft keeper leagues. I don't think he'll linger long in the minor leagues. While he isn't having the same success with his command and control this season at Double-A Midland does not overly concern me. He's still young (age 22) and he's still learning. He has a very big arm. Watch him!
Last December, the Rangers released left-handed pitcher Kasey Kiker, ending their ties with their No. 1 2006 draft choice. His release followed a season at High-A Myrtle Beach where he had a 7.05 ERA and a 2.172 WHIP in 30 games. His previous two years were spent at Double-A Frisco. In 2010, he had a 7.65 ERA and 1.850 WHIP. Since he's left-handed, Kiker will probably show up somewhere and be given a contract, taking a roster spot from some younger pitcher looking for a break.
Michael Main began his career with Texas but was traded to San Francisco and then released in 2011. He is the second pitcher in two consecutive Texas drafts that didn't make it. Main, a right-hander last pitched for High-A San Jose in the Giants system. That, after having completed parts of five seasons as a professional. Actually, Main was assigned to High-A last season after pitching at Double-A Richmond in the Giants system the previous year. There he had a 13.83 ERA and 2.561 WHIP in 13.2 innings pitched. Main was supposedly picked up by Miami this season, but he isn't pitching at this time.
Blake Beavan was an additional first-round 2007 pick for Texas. He's gone, too, having been part of the deal with Seattle for Cliff Lee (who of course is…gone.) Beavan has pitched well for Seattle, making it to their rotation in time for 15 starts last season. He pitched fairly well, throwing 97 innings and compiling a 5-6 record with an ERA of 4.27. Beavan is a huge man at 6-feet-7 and 240 pounds. He should be more imposing on the mound, but he really isn't. While I like his stuff, he isn't overpowering and doesn't always command his pitches. I think he might be a candidate to lose his rotation slot to any one of a number of up and coming Mariners pitchers (Hultzen, Walker, Paxton) come to mind.
Justin Smoak marks the fourth first-round draft choice in a row to depart the Rangers. Smoak was the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee deal. He would have been much better off hitting in Texas. Smoak had a rough year in 2011 with the death of his dad and personal injuries. He's a solid hitter, but his power is hurt badly in Seattle. He has hit some very long, warning track outs. It is very frustrating for him and his fantasy owners. So far this season, Smoak has a miserable .201 batting average and four homers. Three of them have come on the road. He's driven in only 12 runs (eight on the road), as the Mariners seem almost helpless at the plate.
Jake Skole is playing the outfield for High-A Myrtle Beach. He has some power in his bat and he might be able to play all three outfield positions. If the raw power does convert and become a reality, his best role might be as a right fielder. Only 20 years old, Skole is hitting .186 with one homer and eight RBI covering 128 plate appearances. The Rangers will be patient with him because they like the progress he has made with his swing. That said, he isn't a big guy as power-hitting outfielders go. He's 6-feet-1 and 190 pounds, but he's solidly built. When all is said and done, I see him as a possible .250 to .260 hitter with home runs increasing to about 15 a year. The sample size of his career is too shallow so far to make any real decisions about his future fantasy value.
Catcher Kellin Deglan, a native of Canada, is playing at Low-A Hickory, where he also played last season. He had 339 plate appearances in 2011, hitting .227 with six homers and 15 doubles. So far this season, he is at .215 with no home runs in 106 plate appearances. He is playing, but he isn't hitting well. He is seen as a good defensive catcher with a strong and accurate arm. The Rangers are hoping he can learn how to hit. It hasn't happened so far.
Left-handed pitcher Kevin Matthews was the last player taken in the first round last year-the year of the pitcher. Only 19 and signed out of high school, Matthews pitched in Rookie League and Low-A. He threw a combined 28.2 innings with a 2.20 ERA in 12 games, eight as a starter. He has been assigned there again this season and is just beginning to pitch. It is too soon to know what type of career or impact Matthews will have.
Reese Havens is progressing well in the Mets' system. He is currently playing at second base after having been drafted as a shortstop. Havens has had trouble with a protruding rib that had to be shaved to keep him from constant oblique troubles. He has missed time due to injury (bad back) and is now playing catch up. He still figures in the Mets plans as the second baseman of the very near future. Havens is hitting only .146 so far in limited duty at Double-A Binghamton because of his injuries. He has a bit of power and isn't fast at all. The Mets are in need of infielders and they might just rush Havens-especially since they have money invested. I am not excited about him whatsoever.
Ike Davis was injured last year and his career was put on hold. He remains one of the few power sources for the Mets and his future could be bright. I have never liked the way he drops his hands as a trigger for his swing and I think it takes something from his overall timing and ability to pass through the ball cleanly. So far he is a .254 career hitter, but that includes his .167 start to this season. Last year, in only 149 plate appearances, Davis hit .310-so we know he can do it. I think he's exactly what his career average states-a .260 hitter with 18-to-20 home-run power that will be limited in Citi Field.
Matt Harvey is right up there in the Mets' pitching plans (along with former San Francisco Giants pitcher Zack Wheeler.) Harvey is a big, right-handed starter. He has a full repertoire and should pitch somewhere in the middle of the rotation if he can refine his changeup and locate his pitches. So far this season he has a 3-1 record in eight starts for Triple-A Buffalo. He's being rushed a bit because of the Mets' desperate need for starting pitching. Only 23, Harvey isn't overpowering, but he could develop additional velocity as he continues to complete his maturation. He has walked 18 this season in 42 innings while striking out 38. I don't see him as anything special - unless you're the Mets brass looking for arms. He will be very welcome once he finishes his development.
Outfielder Brandon Nimmo is a work in progress. Only 19, he never played baseball in high school. Wyoming does not have high school baseball. He was the first player ever drafted in the first round from his state. Nimmo is athletic, having played football and ran track as a sprinter. The Mets believe his athletic ability will allow him to learn the game of baseball with patience and repetition. So far, he has hit .211 with two home runs over two classifications last year and is hitting .111 this season at Rookie League Kingsport. It seems only logical that the Mets will take it easy with Nimmo and let him learn at his pace. I wouldn't bet on that, though. They want results. They need middle infielders and they have $2M invested in a relative unknown.
Not all the fun is in the first-round picks. Take a look at some of the supplemental first-round selections from 2006 until this year.
- Dodgers-Preston Mattingly-$1MM
- Orioles-Pedro Beato-$1MM
- Giants-Emmanuel Burriss- $1MM
- Diamondbacks-Brooks Brown- $900K
- Padres-Kyler Burke-$950K
- Marlins-Chris Coghlan-$950K
- Phillies-Adrian Cardenas- $925K
- Braves- Cory Rasmus-$900K
- Indians- David Huff- $900K
- Red Sox- Chris Johnson-$850K
- Yankees-Joba Chamberlain- $1.100MM
- Cardinals- Chris Perez- $800K
- Braves- Steve Evarts- $800
- Red Sox- Caleb Clay- $775K
- Nationals-Josh Smoker- $1MM
- Giants –Nick Noonan- $915K
- Braves- John Gilmore- $900K
- Red- Todd Frazier- $825K
- Rangers- Julio Borbon- $800K
- Cardinals- Clayton Mortensen- $650K
- Phillies- Travis D'Arnaud- $832,500K
- Blue Jays- Brett Cecil- $810K
- Dodgers- James Adkins- $787,500K
- Padres- Kellen Kubacki- $765K
- Athletics- Sean Doolittle-$742,500K
- Mets- Eddie Kunz-$720K
- Giants-Jackson Williams- $708,750K
- Rangers-Neil Ramirez- 1MM
- Blue Jays- Justin Jackson- $675MM
- Padres- Drew Cumberland- $661K
- Mets- Nathan Vineyard- $657K
- Cubs- Josh Donaldson- $652K
- Nationals- Michael Burgess- $630K
- Diamondbacks- Wes Roemer- $620K
- Giants- Charlie Culberson- $607,500K
- Mariners- Matt Mangini- $603K
- Reds- Kyle Lotzkar- $594K
- Rangers- Tommy Hunter- $585K
- Red Sox- Nick Hagadone- $571,500K
- Blue Jays- Trystan Magnuson- $462,500K
- Padres- Mitch Canham- $552,500K
- Angels- John Bachanov- $553,300K
- Athletics- Corey Brown- $444,500K
- Tigers- Brandon Hamilton- $540K
- Diamondbacks- Ed Easley- $531K
- Red Sox- Ryan Dent- $571K
- Padres-Cory Luebke- $515K
- Padres- Danny Payne- $517,500K
- Twins- Shooter Hunt- $1.080MM
- Brewers- Jake Odorizzi- $1.060MM
- Mets- Brad Holt- $1.040MM
- Phillies- Zach Collier- $1.020MM
- Brewers- Evan Frederickson- $1.010MM
- Royals- Mike Montgomery- $988K
- Giants- Conor Gillaspie- $970K
- Astros- Jordan Lyles- $930K
- Cardinals- Lance Lynn- $938K
- Braves- Brett DeVall- $1MM
- Cubs- Ryan Flaherty- $906K
- Padres- Jaff Decker- $892K
- Diamondbacks- Wade Miley- $877K
- Yankees- Jeremy Bleich- $700K
- Red Sox- Bryan Price- $849K
- Padres- Logan Forsythe- $835K
- Mariners- Steven Baron- $980K
- Rockies- Rex Brothers- $969K
- Diamondbacks- Matt Davidson- $900K
- Dodgers- Aaron Miller- $889,200K
- Blue Jays- James Paxton- DID NOT SIGN
- White Sox- Josh Phegley- $858K
- Brewers- Kentrall Davis- $1.2MM
- Angels- Tyler Skaggs- $1MM
- Diamondbacks- Chris Owings $950K
- Angels-Garrett Richards- $80,800K
- Reds- Brad Boxberger- $857K
- Rangers- Tanner Scheppers- $1.250
- Diamondbacks- Mike Belfore- $725K
- Twins- Matt Bashore- $751,500K
- Brewers- Kyle Heckathorn- $776K
- Astros- Mike Kvasnicka-$936K
- Blue Jays- Aaron Sanchez- $775
- Braves- Matt Likpa- $800K
- Red Sox- Bryce Brentz- $889,200K
- Angels- Taylor Lindsey- $873K
- Blue Jays- Noah Syndergaard -$600K
- Red Sox- Anthony Ranaudo- $2,550,000
- Angels- Ryan Bolden- $829,800K
- Blue Jays- Asher Wojciechowski- $814,400K
- Rays- Drew Vettleson- $845K
- Mariners- Taijuan Walker- $800K
- Tigers- Nick Castellanos- $3,450,000
- Rangers- Luke Jackson- $1,545,000
- Cardinals- Seth Blair-$751K
- Rockies- Peter Tago- $982K
- Tigers- Chance Ruffin- $1,150,000
- Rangers- Mike Olt- $717,300K
- Cardinals- Tyrell Jenkins- $1,300,000
- Nationals- Brian Goodwin- $3MM
- Blue Jays- Jacob Anderson- $990K
- Red Sox- Henry Owens- $1.550,000
- Rangers- Zach Cone- $873K
- Rays- Brandon Martin- $860K
- Phillies- Larry Greene- $1MM
- Red Sox- Jackie Bradley- $1.1MM
- Rays- Tyler Goeddel- $1.5MM
- Rays- Jeff Ames- $650K
- Diamondbacks- Andrew Chafin- $875K
- Mets- Michael Fulmer- $937,500
- Rockies- Trever Story- $915K
- Blue Jays- Joe Musgrove- $500K
- White Sox- Keenyn Walker- $795K
- Padres- Michael Kelly- $718K
- Giants- Kyle Crick- $900K
- Twins- Travis Harrison- $1,050,000
- Yankees- Dante Bichette, Jr.- $750K
- Rays- Blake Snell- $684K
- Blue Jays- Dwight Smith, Jr.- $800K
- Padres- Brett Austi- DID NOT SIGN
- Twins- Hudson Boyd- $1MM
- Rays- Kes Carter- $625K
- Blue Jays- Kevin Comer- $1,650,000
- Padres- Jack Peterson- $624K
- Rays- Grayson Garvin- $370K
- Rays- James Harris- $400K
Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and at MLB.com in the Voices section.