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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 12, 2009 at 11:33 AM

Some draft tidbits from around the majors

  • The Mariners have gotten a lot of grief for taking short relievers with their top pick in three consecutive drafts before this year (Brandon Morrow, although he’s no longer a short reliever, although we’ve heard that before; Phillippe Aumont, who is being used as a closer at Class A; and Josh Fields). A lot of people don’t think that a valuable first-round pick should be used on a short reliever.

    Well, guess what. The Cleveland Indians, with the 15th overall pick on Tuesday, took North Carolina RHP Alex White (teammate of No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley) — and they plan to develop him as a reliever, with the idea of White becoming their closer.

    Indians scouting director Brad Grant told reporters that White’s “strike throwing ability, and just his stuff overall in our opinion will play better in the bullpen. He has three above average pitches, a fastball, slider, and splitter.”

    “We’re going to develop him as a reliever, and feel he can eventually be a power guy at the back of the pen,” Grant added. “You can never predict who can and can’t be a closer, but we think Alex has the makeup and mentality to do it. And that (being developed as a closer) shortens their track (to the major leagues).”

    Also, the 10th overall pick, Drew Storen of Stanford, is also being fast-tracked to the majors as a reliever. The Nationals quickly signed Storen to a $1.6 million bonus (getting their top pick, Stephen Strasburg, inked won’t be quite so easy). The Nationals’ bullpen stinks, and it’s quite possible Storen will be in the majors before the year is out, as happened a few years ago with Chad Cordero (now in the Mariners’ organization rehabbing his arm).

  • Randal Grichuk, one of two high-school outfielders taken by the Angels in the first round, was projected to go in the second, third or fourth round. But the Angels need power, and he’s got some.

    Grichuk, who is from Lamar, Texas, hit six homers in the LIttle League World Series (two in 2003, four in 2004), one short of the LLWS record. And he led Texas high school players in home runs both as a junior (17) and senior (21). The two-year total of 38 led all high school players nationally. He also won the International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby last January, beating out 70 participants (including SI cover boy Bryce Harper) with 20, including 12 in one round.

  • The Angels like those college quarterbacks. As with Washington QB Jake Locker (taken in the 10th round Wednesday by the Angels), they drafted Pat White out of high school in the fourth round and tried hard to sign him, but he went to West Virginia instead and became a great quarterback. They drafted White again in 2007, and again couldn’t sign him.

    The Yankees, by the way, took White in the 48th round this past Thursday — the fourth time he has been drafted. White, however, says his focus is on the Miami Dolphins, who took him in the second round of the NFL draft.

  • Bruce Seid succeeded Jack Zduriencik as the Brewers’ scouting director. In his nine seasons, the Brewers never used their top pick on a college pitcher. The last was Ben Sheets in June of 1999; Zduriencik took over in October of 1999.

    On Tuesday, Seid and the Brewers used their first pick (26 overall) on Eric Arnett — a college pitcher, from the University of Indiana. The Brewers took another college arm in the supplemental round (47th overall) — Kyle Heckathorn from Kennesaw (Ga.) State.

    The Brewers are thin on minor-league pitching prospects. Their No. 1 prospect, Jeremy Jeffress, was recently demoted from Class AA to Class A because he wa struggling with his command.

    Arnett, a basketball star at Watkins Memorial High School in Pataskala, Ohio, worked out last year with the depleted Indiana basketball team as a practice player and traveled with the Hoosiers, but never suited up for games. Still, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean — who used to coach at Marquette in Milwaukee and knew the Brewers’ execs — put in a good word for Arnett with Brewers GM Doug Melvin.

    “You know how Tom is; he gets pretty excited,” Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “He said Arnett is a great individual, very competitive and grasps coaching and teaching. And he’s another kid who wants to get out and play.”

  • Matthew Hobood, the fifth overall pick by the Orioles, is a 6-4, 245-pound high-school pitcher from Norco High School in California. Baseball America rated him the 18th-ranked RIGHT-HANDER in the draft, leading some analysts to say the Orioles over-reached.

    “We don’t care,” Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan told the Baltimore Sun. “I am not trying to be arrogant. We worked really hard and I think our process is sound. This is the guy we decided to take and we feel really good about it.”

    It might be Baseball America that under-sold this kid — who is being compared to Kevin Millwood and Brad Penny — because the Rockies and Tigers were said to be ready to pounce on him.

  • Speaking of reaches, the Pirates’ selection of Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez with the No. 4 overall pick was generally regarded to be the biggest over-draft of the first round.

    But give Sanchez — not even rated among Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects last November — with turning around his career by getting in better shape. Like Jared Fogle of Subway fame, he did it by dining on Subway’s turkey-and-gouda subs at least five days a week, dropping 28 pounds from 248 to 220. (I guess that makes him a sandwich pick).

    Sanchez hit .346 with 14 homers in leading Boston College to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 42 years.

  • Some interesting picks: Muhammad Ali’s 18-year-old adopted son, Asaad Ali, a 5-10, 224-pound high school catcher, taken in the 40th round by the Angels; Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, outfielder Michael Yastrzemski from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., was taken by the Red Sox in the 38th round; and Gavin McCourt, son of Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt, taken in the 39th round by the Red Sox (McCourt was an all-league outfielder at Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood).

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