Monday, June 4, 2012

A's and Giants MLB Draft Preview

MLB's annual Amateur Draft is just a few hours away from kicking off, and although I'm not as familiar with as many prospects in this class as I've been the last few, there are still some very nice talents projected to go in round one. In this post, we'll take a look at a few players for each the A's (Pick 11) and Giants (Pick 20) that could hear their name called this evening.

First off, we'll start with Oakland, who should have their choice of players that may fall to 11, and for a team in complete rebuilding mode, my guess is that they'll take the best available talent on the board at 11, whether it's a catcher or a relief pitcher. Also, the A's a few choices in the compensation round as well, which means they'll be walking out of today with a few new pieces to their puzzle. We'll talk more about their choices after the draft, but here are a few names expected to go around the top-10 that may fall to Oakland at 11:

SS, Carlos Correa, Puerto Rico B.A.: The brightest prospect coming out of Puerto Rico this year is the 18 year-old Correa, who may decide to keep his commitment with Florida if he doesn't go in the top-10. Still, a lot of teams could be hesitant to take him because of that fact, and if he falls to Oakland, and they can convince him to sign, they could be finding themselves the next Miguel Tejada. A true shortstop who hit's like a corner infielder but runs and defends like a center fielder.

RHP, Marcus Stroman, Duke: Stroman is this drafts Drew Storen. Almost a sure bet to rise quickly thoruhg the minor leagues and become an eventual top-notch closer at the big league level. I know relievers aren't always the most exciting selections high in the first round, but this kid has some unique tools. The one knock on him is his size, standing at only 5'9" tall. That said, look at Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum, plenty of slender framed, shorter pitchers have done just fine in the Majors and I think Stroman will too. If the A's decide to go closer of the future, he's their guy.

1B/3B Richie Shaffer, Clemson: Shaffer is probably the best corner infielder that will last past the top-10, and if the A's want to make a move to stabilize their corner infield future, he should be their choice. He's adept at first and third base and has the bat to carry himself at both spots. The A's haven't had top corner infielders since Eric Chavez and Jason Giambi, so going this route would make a lot of sense. Billy Beane also likes his collegiate players and Shaffer should move through the system quickly.

LHP, Andrew Heaney, Oklahoma St.: With all the young starters the A's have accumlated through trades the last few years (and more likely on the way this summer when they deal guys like Colon, Balfour and Reddick), I think the A's would be better suited going after a college bat like Shaffer. However, if they do take a starter, the left-handed Heaney could very well be their man.

Possible Targets for the Giants at Pick 20:

RHP, Zach Eflin, HS, FLA: Eflin is one of the higher touted prep right handed starters in this draft, and really reminds me a lot of another Zach the Giants drafted then dealt away last summer for Carlos Beltran. Eflin has a quiet, compact motion but the ball explodes out of his hand. He could go higher than 20, but if he falls there, the Giants should jump. He's 6'5" and 200 pounds, and has a frame and motion very similar to Giants' horse Matt Cain. The Giants have done terrific with their first rounders when picking pitchers in recent drafts, and they don't have the depth in the minors like they did 2-3 years ago. They've got to where they are now by drafting pitching early, and they need to continue that formula.

RHP, Chris Stratton, Miss. St.: Stratton could also make a lot of sense for the Giants as most believe he'll last into the 20's and could be the best college arm available when the Giants choose. He's almost like a right-handed version of Andrew Heaney, who I think would be a great choice at 20 if he fell as well. Stratton was a reliever at Mississippi St., but became a starter this year and quickly became his teams ace. He's got a mid-90's fastball and 3 average to above average pitches to go with it, which if he refines, would give him 4 out pitches. 

OF Victor Roache, Georgia Southern: Roache presents an option that the Giants haven't taken in a long, long time. A natural power hitting outfielder who projects out to hit 25+ home runs per year at the next level. His stock is sky rocketing though, and he could go as early as 8-10, or as late as 25-30. The Giants have some good young hitters in their system, but they don't have any outfielders with plus power, and Roache may be their best bet for just that. He's also coming out a Junior, so he's had some experience and should be ready to move through the system.

RHP Ty Hensley, HS, OK: Hensley isn't quite the overpowering arm that some of the other high schoolers in this draft are, but I've seen some of his work and the kid makes it look easy out there. I like Eflin a lot, but wouldn't at all be opposed to Hensely if the Giants want to go that route. Both are prep arms that would likely take 3 years of seasoning before being ready for big league duty, but both guys project out to be #3 starters or better, and again, the Giants have had most their success in recent drafts taking prep arms early.

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