We are one day from the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft and don’t have a clear idea of which way the Reds will go with the eighth overall pick.
After the Nationals utter “Stephen Strasburg, right-handed pitcher, San Diego State” this turns into the most unpredictable draft in recent memory. Which future Jay Bruce or John Oliver will Cincinnati select? A better question for now is, which player do you prefer?
Using multiple sources, we’ll guess that the following players will be off the board:
Dustin Ackley, cf/1B, North Carolina
Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth (independent)
Zach Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS
Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS
Alex White, RHP, North Carolina
Another guy from the list below likely will be gone, as well. Who is anybody’s guess. Speculation has the Reds sticking to, or near to, slot. If so, that probably eliminates HS OF Donovan Tate, HS RHP Jacob Turner, HS LHP Matthew Purke, and HS RHP Shelby Miller. That leaves six, unless the Reds pull a bit of a surprise:
n Kyle Gibson-RHP-Missouri. Touted as a better prospect than former Mizzou hurlers Max Scherzer and Aaron Crow, Gibson’s future is clouded by a stress fracture in his forearm that will sideline him until at least late July. When healthy, his fastball/slider combination makes him a great groundball/strikeout fit for GABP. His command and pitchability stand out. Would you roll the dice that his arm problems aren’t more serious than being promoted? His stats: 10-3, 3.47 ERA. 99 IP, 89 H, 123 K, 18 BB.
n Alex White-RHP-North Carolina. Struggled in the postseason until his most recent start when he was stellar. Has three plus pitches, but never at the same time. Talented but inconsistent, he could be a front-end starter or a back-end reliever. His stats: 7-4, 4.13 ERA. 85 IP, 73 H, 92 K, 34 BB.
n Tanner Scheppers-RHP-St. Paul (independent). Shoulder problems described as “significant wear and tear” cloud Schepper’s status. When healthy, only Strasburg is a better pitcher in this draft. Scheppers has thrown hard this spring, but hasn’t accumulated enough stats to make them worth posting.
n Grant Green-SS-USC. A slow start thanks to nagging injuries sent Green’s stock plummeting, but he bounced back to post a 4-32-.365/.436/.556 line with 16 SB. He has the most potential of any college MIF in the draft.
n Mike Leake-RHP-Arizona State. A small, but smart and athletic, groundball specialist, Leake is a competitor. Leake is among the most consistent players on the board. His stats: 14-1 1.24 ERA. 116 IP, 66 H, 118 K, 18 BB.
n Tim Wheeler-OF-Sacramento State. A plus-hitter with slightly above average power, Wheeler could be a fixture in LF and the middle of the batting order. His stats: 18-72-.385/.500./786 with 15 SB.
For me, it’s Gibson, Leake, Green or Wheeler, in that order. I’m happy with any of the four, but prefer the pitchers. Gibson’s injury doesn’t worry me, even if it’s an elbow that requires Tommy John surgery. Schepper’s shoulder, meanwhile, I just don’t trust.