Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Year Later

As many of you know, I prefer to focus on process as opposed to outcomes since outcomes can often be misleading. Nevertheless, outcomes make the news (and determine who gets to play in the World Series), so we can't ignore them completely. With that in mind, following is a glance at the players selected in the top 15 rounds of the 2008 draft approximately one year later. I'll look at the later rounds in a future post.

Before I start, I just want to add a little perspective: the Midwest League has combined for a hitting line of approximately .254/.322/.376 so far this season. It's a very tough place to hit.

Round 1 - Allan Dykstra, Fort Wayne, .209/.389/.358
During spring training this year, our player development staff felt it was important to rework part of Allan's swing despite his solid performance at the conclusion of last season in the Cal League: .292/.469/.458 in about 30 pa's. As with any significant change, it was probably going to get worse before it got better, so they decided to start Allan in Fort Wayne. His eye continues to be excellent as evidenced by his 51 walks, and we're confident that he'll continue to see better and better results.

Round 1C - Jaff Decker, Fort Wayne, .283/.447/.510
19 years old, an ops greater than .950, 2nd in the league in OBP, more walks than strikeouts. Silly. Downright silly.

Round 1C - Logan Forsythe, Lake Elsinore, .323/.474/.516
The numbers speak for themselves again. Despite playing in one of the tougher hitting environments in the Cal League, especially for a right-handed hitter, Logan leads the Cal League in OBP, is 8th in average, and has 58 walks to just 45 strikeouts in about 300 pa's.

Round 2 - James Darnell, Fort Wayne, .330/.471/.526
Don't let yourself read these numbers without being astonished. All three of these guys are in rarefied air. James is leading the Midwest League in OBP, is 5th in slugging, and 6th in average. Like both Decker and Forsythe in front of him, he has more walks than strikeouts (56 to 49). These three guys are doing more than any of us could possibly have imagined.

Round 3 - Blake Tekotte, Fort Wayne, .236/.321/.339
This performance line has surprised me a bit, especially because Blake hit .285/.379/.456 in Eugene last summer. Nevertheless, I believe Blake could have a big 2nd half partly because he has hit .316/.437/.491 in June and seems to be warming up with the weather. Further, his 15 steals lead the Tin Caps, and he continues to play a very solid centerfield.

Round 3C - Sawyer Carroll, Fort Wayne, .311/.407/.450
Sawyer's already impressive line might be outrageous had he not hit .215/.342/.292 in April. His OPS marks have increased each month from .634 to .891 to 1.045, and he's also stolen 14 bags.

Round 4 - Jason Kipnis
Jason returned to Arizona State for his junior year, and the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft.

Round 5 - Anthony Bass, Fort Wayne, 2.17 ERA, 66 ip/58 h/23 bb/48 k
Not to be outdone by the hitters, Anthony ranks 2nd in the Midwest League in ERA. Used exclusively in the bullpen in Eugene where he compiled seven saves and a 2.10 ERA last summer, Anthony moved back into the rotation and has been a stalwart this year. He's allowed just two earned runs in his last 33.2 innings of work.

Round 6 - Cole Figueroa, Fort Wayne, .357/.500/.571
Bothered by a troublesome knee earlier in the season in Lake Elsinore and having to spend time rehabbing back in Arizona, Cole recently joined the Tin Caps and has played shortstop the last four games.

Round 7 - Adam Zornes, Fort Wayne, .142/.242/.319
Adam's had a tough season. He's only caught 30 games and has just over 100 ab's, so the numbers aren't necessarily indicative of his ability. A good defensive catcher with some power, Adam hasn't found his stroke quite yet.

Round 8 - Beamer Weems, Lake Elsinore, .300/.471/.393
An excellent defensive SS, Beamer has surprised some people with the bat. Playing in High-A and still just 21 years old, Beamer is 2nd in the Cal League in OBP right behind Logan Forsythe.

Round 9 - Kyle Thebeau
Kyle returned to Texas A&M for his senior season and went undrafted this year.

Round 10 - Andrew Albers, Arizona
Andrew, a left-handed pitcher, injured his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery this spring. He will miss the season.

Round 11 - Tyson Bagley, Eugene
6'8" and a hard thrower, Tyson threw 40 innings last year for Eugene with a 3.57 ERA. This spring he stayed in extended spring training and is expected to return to Eugene.

Round 12 - Matt Clark, Fort Wayne, .267/.356/.496
Like a few others in front of him, we had to overpay to get Matt away from LSU, but we've been rewarded so far. Matt leads the team in homers (11), RBI (50), and total bases (117), while also ranking 2nd in the Midwest League in extra-base hits (32) and doubles (21). He splits time with Allan Dykstra at 1B and DH.

Round 13 - Erik Davis, Fort Wayne, 3.43 ERA, 42 ip/38 h/18 bb/40 k
Pitching in both the rotation and the pen as he did last summer in Eugene where he posted a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings, Erik has been very steady. So far he has a 3.57 ERA as a reliever and a 3.26 as a starter.

Round 14 - Robert Musgrave, Fort Wayne, 6.92 ERA, 40.1 ip/53 h/17 bb/37 k
Robert's performance was a bit of a mystery, especially since he dominated last summer in Eugene with 66 k's and 11 bb's in 42 innings. We may have found the culprit, though, as he is now on the DL nursing a strain in his oblique. He'll take it slowly, as that can be a touchy injury, but we do expect him back in the not too distant future.

Round 15 - Brett Mooneyham
As expected, Brett enrolled at Stanford where he had a 4.14 ERA in 67 innings of work this spring.

One obvious question here is: why so many guys, especially college guys, in Fort Wayne rather than Lake Elsinore and aren't their numbers inflated by playing against weaker competition?

There are two answers to this:

1) There were players, in our estimation, who were already in our system and deserved the opportunity to advance to Lake Elsinore, so even though a number of the players from the 2008 draft were fully capable of going to high-A, there weren't enough at-bats to go around. Furthermore, players have jumped from Low-A straight to AA (Will Venable is one), so getting someone everyday at-bats at Fort Wayne would not slow down their advancement in the system.

2) The demographics of the Midwest League are not what you might expect. Just 25% of the players on Midwest League rosters were born in 1988 or later, whereas 55% of the league was born in 1986 or 1987. So, by and large, this is not a league for high school drafts. Though it's technically a low-A league, the talent may very well be on par with the other high-A leagues.

Last year we believed there was an unusual amount of talent among the college hitters, so we targeted them aggressively in the draft. So far, that strategy seems to have paid off, as we're getting exceptional performance from a number of them and have the top two in OBP (by a wide margin) in both the Midwest League and the Cal League. Let's hope they can keep it up as they move through the chain.

23 comments:

RC said...

At what point do we promote Forsythe to AA and Darnell to high A ball?

maestro876 said...

Paul,

I'm curious about a player we acquired via trade last year. Evan Scribner has been dominating as San Antonio's closer. Do you see a future for him in San Diego (though probably not this year)?

field39 said...

Paul,

When you promote Darnell, make sure he takes Nick Schmidt with him. Is there any reason for Nick to stay in Fort Wayne, other than building arm strength?

Howard Lynch said...

Decker hasn't played in a few days ... is he hurt?

Paul DePodesta said...

RC,

That's a fair question, as both are certainly deserving. The minor leagues, in general, are coming up on the end of the first half, and we generally like first year players to spend at least half a year at their first spot just to make sure they have their legs under them.

Paul DePodesta said...

maestro876,

Scribner has been outstanding for us and hasn't missed a beat since going to AA. His combination of strikes and an out pitch breaking ball certainly put him on the right track.

Paul DePodesta said...

Howard Lynch,

Jaff has had some back tightness, but he's back in there tonight and already has two hits (as of the 4th inning).

ross said...

I haven't noticed Jonathan Galvez playing in the DSL this year, what's going on with him?

He looked pretty good last year I hope that he's still in the mix.

wrveres said...

Paul,

I just read an interview with Jeremy Hefner, and he said that the organization took away his best pitch, his slider.

I am curious as to the thinking that goes on behind this.

Linus Pauling said...

Great post - thanks a lot! How common is it to promote players during the season? It seems that a bunch of the Fort Wayne guys deserve to move it during the season rather than next year. Also, where does the room for this "generation of players" on the higher levels come from? I guess what I am asking is, what's the turnover in the minor leagues?
Thanks again for your effort to keep us updated!

Padman42 said...

Hey Paul,

Jackson Quezada??? What is going on with him? I heard awhile ago that he was on his way to Lake Elsinore and I was getting excited about the competition between Oland and Quezada, but he hasnt pitched and is still inactive. What is going on???
Also are there any updates on Garrison and Drew Miller?
As always thanks a lot

bevormo said...

Paul,

What generally happens to someone like Thebeau now? Does he go to an independent league and try to put his name in the 2011 draft? Does his agent call teams and try to get him signed as a free agent?

Peter said...

Blanks promoted - is he starting tonight?

Swasted said...

Paul,

Is it unusual for someone like Kyle Thebeau who was drafted in Round 9 in '08 and returned to school to go undrafted the next year? Did he suffer an injury? Seems strange to me but I typically don't follow the draft too closely...thanks, excellent blog!

Howard Lynch said...

BA is saying Kyle Blanks has been called up ... what's the plan?

THANKS for the blog and all the comments and answers to questions!!!

Paul DePodesta said...

ross,

Galvez has been in Arizona in extended spring training, and he is scheduled to open the season in the Arizona Rookie League.

Paul DePodesta said...

wrveres,

Best pitch according to whom? :-)

Our development staff gave Jeremy a curveball during Instructional League last year that they believed would better complement his other pitches. He pitched his first game in AAA last night, and the game report noted how tight the rotation was on his curveball.

Paul DePodesta said...

bevormo,

I don't get the impression that Kyle was interested in playing pro ball.

Josh Hamilton said...

Paul,

I think it's incredible that you do this. Hope Padres fans appreciate it.

Regarding Bass, you said: "Used exclusively in the bullpen in Eugene... Anthony moved back into the rotation this year."

Is that a front office decision, or upon recommendation from scouts/managers who see him daily? Is it something that was intended when he was selected, or adaptation to his performance?

Thanks.

Paul DePodesta said...

Josh Hamilton,

Using him in the pen last summer was in response to the volume of innings he had thrown for Wayne St before the draft. We always saw him as a starter, but we wanted to take it easy on him the first summer. We'll likely do the same this summer with some of new draftees.

Roger Dorn said...

An organizational focus on OBP is great. But how much do you think it is an inherent skill versus one that can be learned?

On average a player's walk rate increases throughout his career. By drafting a player who already has a mediocre eye, do you expect this skill to mature the same way a player's ability to hit for power might? There are certain physical attributes a scout might look for in a player to project if he will hit for power... can plate judgment improve or is it just "as is"?

Your track record on drafting players suggests your organization believes in the latter. Thanks!

Itay said...

Paul,

You often emphasize the importance of process. So I wonder, Regardless of the quality of last year's draft, did you have a "lessons learned" process following it? Can you point on something you feel you did better this year?

RC said...

I understand the practice to keep both players at the same level, but I would imagine that might differ from HS players to college players. One could argue that it is a little bit of a disservice to Darnell. IMO, there is no way the guy is in low A ball if not for the presence of Forsythe.

Thanks for the answer. While I don't agree with everything the Padres do, I am encouraged by recent moves and this draft looks like a good one though Christian Friedrich would look better in a Padre uniform than Allan Dykstra at this point.