Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chin Music: Who Makes The Jump First

Now that the MLB First Year Player Draft has come and gone, I’m going to take a look at some of the players who are likely to make the jump to the Big Leagues sooner rather than later. Outside of Stephen Strasburg, who most agree is likely to be the first player up from this draft class, assuming he signs, and Dustin Ackley, who I secretly was hoping was taken first overall so that the mainstream media would be shocked and scrambling to figure out who he even is, here are some players that may make the jump first. All of these players are college players, they just tend to be more well developed, and much easier to project, than their high school counterparts. Many of these players should be able to take advantage of combining their abilities with the general lack of talent in front of them on the team that drafted them. While these are generally top players, it's not always the best player who makes the jump first. As quickly as Evan Longoria rose to the big leagues, the likes of San Francisco's Brian Bocock, a 9th round pick in the same draft class, made his Major League debut first.

Aaron Crow – Crow, who was drafted 9th overall in 2008 by the Washington Nationals, was picked 12th overall by the Kansas City Royals. If last year is indicative of anything, Crow will be stringing out the negotiation process until well into August. In independent league ball, where he spent the beginning of this year, Crow had a 1.06 ERA and 17 strike outs in 17 innings. Meanwhile, at the Cape League in 2007, Crow Struck out 36 with a tiny 0.67 ERA in 40.1 innings.

Kyle Gibson – Gibson is a former collegiate teammate of Crow both at Missouri and in the same starting rotation in the Cape League. He posted a 3.21 ERA this year, going 11-3. With the rate that the Twins bring up young, good pitchers, look for Gibson to make the jump into the Minnesota rotation early on in his career. As a freshman on the Cape, Gibson struck out 51 in 34 innings and finished with a 1.17 ERA.

A.J. Pollock – Taken 17th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Notre Dame, Pollock was the MVP of the Cape League in 2008. Pollock was back in Falmouth this week, where he played in the Cape Cod League, and unlike many of his first round counterparts who will hold out until the August 15th signing deadline, Pollock expects to report to the Diamondbacks within the week, giving him a few extra months of pro ball. Pollock is a very good contact hitter with great speed and very good defensive abilities as a center fielder. For someone who doesn’t have a ton of power, he had an OPS of nearly 1.000 in 2007 and 2008 at Notre Dame and he hit an almost unheard of .377 in the Cape League with an OPS up over 1.000, alongside 4 home runs and 11 stolen bases.

Angelo Songco – Drafted by the Dodgers in the fourth round, Songco hit .360 with an OPS of 1.152 and hit 15 home runs for Loyola Marymount as a junior this spring. He has proven he can get it done with the wooden bat in the Cape League where he hit 8 home runs and had 26 RBI in 2008. He also has above average, but not blazing, speed. The Dodgers have a history of crowded outfields, so Songco’s ETA may be delayed for quite some time, unless he ends up part of a trade.

Brad Boxberger – Taken by the Reds with a sandwich pick, Boxberger has shown flashes of a very good pitcher. After overcoming an elbow injury, Boxberger led USC’s rotation in 2009 and he posted a 3.16 ERA. Boxberger finished with a 1..24 ERA in the Cape League in 2007 and should be an up and comer in the Cincinnati organization, particularly is pitchers like Homer Bailey don’t pan out.

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Steve Shoup said...

I think it could be a National that makes the jump first, just not Strasburg. I think Drew Storen will make the jump in August/Sept. If they do have to shut Strasburg down b/c he signs late this will give the Nats fans something to have hope about. Also the only good arms in the Nats bullpen are impending FA's (Beimel, McDougal, and Villone) so they will likely be dealt at one of the deadlines, opening up plenty of roster spots.

I doubt we'll see Kyle Gibson for a year or two. That arm injury will shut him down for the rest of this year. And next year my guess is the Twins will be extra cautious. Crow i think will be a early call up though, and could challenge Storen for first to the big leagues.

Brian Doyle said...

Very good point on Storen, who has already signed. I just suspect that Strasburg will ask for a September call up guarantee in his contract, like Andrew Miller did with Detroit a few years ago.

Steve Shoup said...

I think Strasburg will as well...or at least that will be part of the Nats barginning position. "If you sign by the end of June we'll call you up at such and such date." Even if the Nats call up Strasburg I don't think they'll let him throw if he has been on the shelf for 3 months. I think Storen could def. get some work. He is supposed to get in his first game tonight in Hagerstown, so we will have to see how fast he can move.

Louise said...

Washington Nationals should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here: