This part of the draft preview is a bit different than the rest, perhaps "Draft Odds and Ends" would have been a more apt title. That's essentially what I'll be doing here. In doing research on the draft as more of a Rays prospect watcher than true draftnik or prospector, I lean heavily on what others are saying. Yes, I do rely somewhat on video I've seen of guys, but I'd much rather trust the opinion of people that do this for a living as opposed to a few hours a week. So from this I've found some players that really intrigue me, some articles that really intrigue me, and some new writers I really like.
I know I've mentioned him before, but Andy Seiller is doing a great job over at MLB Bonus Baby. The fact that content this good is available for free is really great. Check out his blog for some great reads on players, team strategy, and general draft discussion. I really look forward to see what he does once the draft actually takes place.
In a similar vein, Jason Churchill for ESPN does a great job supplementing Keith Law's posts on ESPN's draft blog. For those of you that have Insider (even though I loathe the WWL, it really is worth the 5 bucks or whatever it is a year), the ESPN content on the draft this year really trumps the effort they put into it last year. There are 100 or so scouting reports on players up as well as the typical top 100 rankings and mocks.
Baseball America's draft blog is free (it's about it that is there), and it gives some great updates (like Bryce Harper's 6-6 day with 4 HRs, a 2B, and a 3B in the playoffs). From there I also found their youtube channel where I proceeded to log a couple hours watching film on guys (ESPN also has some as well).
This year's draft is getting more coverage than ever, and as a fan of the game (not just MLB but the game of baseball), I couldn't be any happier. As I was doing research, I found myself really liking certain players. Then when I'd see them going to the Yanks or Sox in mocks I'd be sad. Pretty dumb, right? It's funny the silly attachments you can get just from reading about HS kids who play a game. Players I like for one reason or the other:
Tyrell Jenkins is a HS pitcher out of TX. He's probably my favorite draft prospect, and it isn't because I think he'll be the best pro or anything like that. It's the other things about him. First, he's a black pitcher (and there aren't many in the bigs right now) with a high leg kick. Growing up I loved Doc Gooden. He was a Tampa guy that had perhaps the greatest season ever by a rookie pitcher. He and Sheffield were legends in my mind even though they both had their own trials and tribulations. As a kid though, all I knew was they were from my hometown and great to me when I met them. Because of my fondness for Doc, I loved Dontrelle Willis and Ed Jackson. Anyways, back to Tyrell Jenkins. Apart from his race, position, and leg kick, he also reminds me of Carl Crawford. He's a three-sport athlete from TX with a football and baseball scholarship waiting for him at Baylor. My favorite QB in the college ranks is Robert Griffin for Baylor because of his dynamic playmaking ability, and Jenkins draws similar comparisons. So here we are with a baseball draft prospect who I am now a huge fan of because of a few mainly non-baseball related attributes. Obviously, I like the reports of his stuff and the video I've seen, and his athleticism will be a huge plus in becoming a pro pitcher; but it's the other things that make me really want to cheer for him. Here's to the Rays, Braves, Nats, etc. to drafting him and not the Yanks, Sox, or Phils.
Michael Choice has power. Reports are that he has true 80 power on the scouting scale. I love that. I seriously doubt he'll make it to us at 17, but he's the type of draft prospect I'd be all over as a GM. He seemingly can take a walk (great walk totals against weak college competition), and he plays CF now (though it seems likely he'll move to a corner). If he can make enough contact, then he could be Adam Dunn without the horrible defense. I love the three true outcome guys, so I'll be a bif Choice fan going forward.
Austin Wilson is a tools guy with a Stanford commitment and reports of great make-up. Something about this profile screams "Guy I want in my organization." You just know that if he can succeed, he's going to do everything he can to make it happen. He likely will struggle from the outset at the plate, but with good coaching and hard work he could be a great prospect.
Delino DeShields Jr. is Delino DeShields son. Duh, right? He also has a football scholarship to play RB at LSU. He's probably one of the fastest guys in the draft. He's short and stocky (build like a RB), so his size is an issue. You have to love the athleticism and bloodlines, though.
Reggie Golden is the Anthony Hewitt of this draft. He's got great tools and athleticism, but they've yet to translate into on the field production. I'd like to see a team I like take a gamble on him and coach his potential into serious talent. How great would a Rays' jersey with "Golden" on the back be?
Deck McGuire dominated arguably the best conference in college baseball in his time at Georgia Tech. He's a pitcher. He may not have the best pure stuff or a true "out-pitch," but he's doing something right. He's almost a sure bet to be a back-end, innings eater type that could be as good as a number 2 starter. I'd gladly take him at 31 if he's available (which I seriously doubt).
I hate Kyle Parker the QB, but I love the draft prospect. It may be because I want to see him succeed to deprive the Tigers of their starting QB next year, but the power potential is tantalizing as well. Perhaps if he takes to baseball full time he can fix his relatively ugly swing.
After reading this article (I really suggest it) about attempting to rank college players solely by statistics, I had a few college guys I'd like to see the Rays target. While the statistical record of a player obviously doesn't give us the whole picture, I like guys who seemingly get more with less, and that's just what these guys do. You won't be able to dream on their power potential or blazing fastball, but you might score a guy who surprises you anyway. The article's a great read, and I'd also suggest checking out Jeff Sackman's attempt at grading the college OFs through play-by-play data here.
To bring it full circle, I'd like to reiterate my hope that the Rays break the bank this week and take a bunch of toolsy high schoolers that we can dream on for a few years as they hopefully become future stars. Thanks to all the folks that put the great content out there, and thanks to the readers and commenters for taking the time to look at my take on this stuff.
Also, if you want a real prospector's opinion on the Draft with a Rays slant check out Kevin Gengler's post at raysprospects.com: