Monday, May 14, 2007

A Look Back: The Draft of S1

It has been almost three years since the first-ever Amateur Draft in the GAP. With the S4 draft coming up, this seems an appropriate time to review. Here are the first five picks:

#1 Matt Moore
Moore was selected by sergei back when his franchise was the Louisville Sluggers. He certainly looks worthy of being the first top pick of the GAP. Moore made the big show this year in San Diego and appears to be well on his way to an outstanding career. After his selection, Moore tore up the Rookie league with a 1280 OPS, including 17 HR, 99 RBI, and 94 runs scored in just 65 games of the short season. Texas (formerly Louisville) moved Moore to San Diego, and he started S2 in AA. A 1096 OPS in 96 games (37 HR and 127 RBI!) got him a quick promotion to AAA. He finished S2 there getting in 16 games and then starting S3 in AAA again at age 20. In a full year there, he posted a 1039 OPS with 35 HR, 128 RBI, and 128 runs scored. He finished his minor-league career with a ridiculous 370 RBI in 293 games!

Out of the gate in S4, he has started 335 games as the Padres' SS, putting up a very nice 976 OPS. With 11 HR and 8 SB, he could be on his way to a 30/30 season and possibly the NL ROY.

However, Moore's path to San Diego and the ripples since then aren't so easy to follow. Moore was shipped to San Diego in S2, for Charles Shinjo and Kyle Milton, two decent pitchers. Milton is 21-15 with a 3.69 ERA in 83 games for Texas since then, while Shinjo was turned right around and sent to Arizona along with speedy CF Walt Wall in exchange for Gene Stevenson. Shinjo has a good ERA (4.19) and WHIP (1.39) but is just 24-35 in 103 starts for Arizona. Stevenson isn't a Ranger either, of course, as he was moved to San Francisco for SP Juan Brito and RF Enrique Roque. Stevenson is a decent ML CF, good defensively but nothing special at the plate. Roque has been a star MLer, with 117 HR and a 942 OPS in 3+ years, and now just 25 years old. Brito was released at the beginning of S3 and has bounced to Baltimore and now Seattle, where he toils as a 28 y/o SP in AA.

So what sergei ended up with in exchange for Moore is Milton, a serviceable SP/LR and Roque. It is certainly less than Moore, however, the move to get Milton and Roque in S2 helped propel the Rangers to a 96-66 mark and a surprising AL West title when they edged both Tampa Bay and Kansas City in the tiebreak. They may not have Moore anymore, but they have a division title flag to fly in Texas.

#2 Damion Scarsone
Scarsone, 21, is also not with the team who drafted him. Picked by the Mets, he was moved in a deal to St. Louis in S2. He went along with 100-HR Club member Jeff Cuyler and a throw-in for Chuck Hoover and two throw-ins. It looks to be a bad deal for New York in hindsight. Hoover and Cuyler have had simlar numbers at similar ages (Hoover a bit better and two years younger) but not too far apart. Hoover was just a rental, leaving for Minnesota via free agency after S2. It's not like cap space was cleared, as Cuyler was only locked up through S2 as well, also leaving his new team via FA after the season. The Mets did win the NL East and made it to the NLCS in S2, but they likely would've done so anyway without the trade.

Meanwhile, Scarsone is putting up some eye-popping numbers. In S1 he did even better than Moore's amazing numbers above. In just 66 games, Scarsone hit .393 with 16 HR, 109 RBI, and 113 runs scored. His OPS of 1334 (!) was sick. In S2, he had a 1033 OPS with 13 HR in 79 games in AAA for New York before the trade. St. Louis started him off back in Rookie ball for the last 12 games, then had him start S3 in AA. A 1037 OPS in 33 games got him bumped to AAA, where he wrapped up the year with a 956 OPS in 56 games. After one AAA game this year, he got the call and has gotten some action at both 2B and C. A great all-around defensive player, Scarsone has a PC of 30, just good enough to handle some spot duty behind the dish. In 21 games he has an 1125 with 5 HR in just 63 AB! No SB yet, but with his 98 speed rating that is sure to get to 100 before long, he could be another 30/30 guy as soon as he gets a starting spot.

#3 Miguel Paz
Straight out of high school and now just 21, Paz is on the Charlotte slow-track to the bigs. He split the end of S1 between Rookie (3-3/1.34/4.22) and Low A (5-0/1.34/2.72). Owner mdukes kept him in Low A for all of S2, and he posted a 12-4/2.26/1.19 mark in 25 starts. This wasn't enough to earn him a promotion, however, as he started S3 with the same club. After a 8-4/1.07/3.52 start, he finally got the nod to High A. There a 7-5/1.29/3.59 got him bumped to AA for one start at the end of the year, a nice 8-inning effort with only one unearned run allowed.

Paz is still in AA here in S4, with a 4-2/3.20/1.01 to show for his efforts so far this year. His ratings are climbing but slowly. His lack of control and too many fly balls will always be a problem for him. Could it be that his slow rise, which of course means lower-rated coaches at the lower levels, has stunted his progress?

#4 Charles Young
Young, a starting pitcher straight out of HS, is progressing nicely. About a year per level, he is now in AA. There have been some bumps along the way, however. In S1, Young went 2-10/1.75/7.83 mostly at Rookie but also a little Low A. He got settled in during S2, getting 29 starts in Low A while spending the whole season there, going 11-11/1.46/4.28. He started S3 in High A, and really shined, putting up a 10-1/1.20/2.56 in 18 starts. Then dmaxie made a strange move and promoted him to AA while moving him to the bullpen. He was 32 durability/74 stamina at the time, a really strange move. He finished S3 with 30 relief appearances in AA, going 2-3/2.46/10.40.

Management wisely moved him back into the rotation in S4, and Young is off to a 5-2/1.20/3.24 start. He is a workhorse (33/80 on his way to something like 35/90), averaging 7.3 innings in his 8 starts.

#5 Ernest Sellers
Sellers was the first non-high schooller selected. He was a 20-year-old college sophomore who was tabbed by Kansas City with their first pick. He just got the call to the bigs a couple weeks ago, and appears to be at the start of a solid, if not spectacular, career in the GAP. He has steadily put up good numbers, starting with a 4-1/1.50/3.46 in Low A at the end of S1. After a 3-0/0.89/2.08 dominating performance in 6 starts in Low A in S2, Sellers jumped to High A and stayed for just 4 starts. His 2-0/1.06/1.19 got him bumped quickly to AA. In AA for the rest of S2, he stumbled to a 3-5/1.69/5.09.

In S3, he looked ready to star in AA, and in 10 starts Sellers went 5-1/1.11/2.34 and moved on to the AAA club. He held his own there, at 6-8/1.46/4.30. A solid 2-1/0.95/1.89 start in AAA in S3, combined with an injury to Royals' ace Tony Hudler, gave Sellers the opportunity. He has started off well, going 2-1/1.15/4.15 in 6 starts.

He's shown steady improvement, conquering each level in a year or less, but his ratings are not jaw-dropping. It remains to be seen if he can dominate ML hitters within a year like he has other levels. But at just 23 years of age, if he can perform, there could be a spot for him in the KC rotation for 10 or more years to come.

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