2009 Draft Prospects Rundown 4/15

This is a feature I’d like to do every week, ideally on Monday. It will basically be a rundown of all of the draft prospects I’m tracking in the Draft Prospects Tracker. I wanted to do this on Monday, but between getting taxes ready, getting the car inspected, and a killer headache that has lasted pretty much all week, I’ve held off on this first edition. That being said, let’s get to it…

Dustin Ackley

The Rundown: Ackley continues to hit well, batting .388/.520/.694 with 11 homers in 147 at bats. The 11 homers are a career high for Ackley, with his previous best being 10 homers in 2007 in 296 at bats. Ackley has displayed some speed, with nine steals so far, and has a 30:18 K/BB ratio, showing great discipline at the plate. He’s a lock to go in the top four picks, and is my number one choice for the Pirates (outside of Stephen Strasburg of course, but there’s no chance he drops to us).

Quick Fact: Ackley has reached base in 27 games in a row, dating back to an 0 for 4 performance on March 7th.

Grant Green

The Rundown: Green started off hitting for a .233/.367/.372 line up to March 13th. From that point his average has been on a consistent incline, with Green hitting .442/.512/.649 in the last 21 games. The hitting is no surprise. Green hit for a .390/.434/.644 line last year. He doesn’t have much power, with just two homers this year, but he does have some speed, with 12 stolen bases. The downside with Green has been his defense. Green now has 13 errors on the season, with a .906 fielding percentage.

Quick Fact: Green has 13 multi-hit games in his last 20 games played (not counting the 3/23 game against UCLA where he left the game early).

Rich Poythress

The Rundown: Poythress has been tearing up college pitchers, with 16 homers and a .420/.530/.833 line in 138 at bats. The 16 homers amounts to a homer every 8.63 at bats, or about one every two games. So what makes Dustin Ackley so much better than Poythress? One thing is that Ackley is more athletic, at 6’1″, 184 lbs, compared to the 6’4″, 245 lb Poythress. Poythress seems kind of like a Justin Smoak, except that he only bats right handed. Smoak went 11th in last year’s draft. I’d imagine the limitations on Poythress (1B only) will keep him out of the top 5 range. That being said, the Pirates have such a poor farm system, that they wouldn’t be hurt taking a guy locked in to just one position. I’d still prefer Ackley, who has the option of playing in the outfield as well.

Quick Fact: Poythress has reached base safely in all 36 games this year, with a hit in 31 of his 36 games.

Alex White

The Rundown: White has struggled a bit this year, but seems to be coming out of his funk. His K/9 is 10.3, while his K/BB is 2.8, both solid ratios. One problem is a 1.2 HR/9 ratio, wich is up from 0.5 the last two seasons. He also has a .233 BAA, up from .215 last year. A lot has been said about how White’s stock is falling, but consider that in his last three starts he has a 2.66 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .190 BAA, 9.9 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, and a 0.8 HR/9. If White can keep this up, he will bounce back to being a top prospect. Of course, there are concerns about arm stress, which I’ll talk about next week.

Quick Fact: White has struck out at least eight batters in his last five starts.

Kyle Gibson

The Rundown: Gibson has been the most dominant pitcher of the guys I’ve been tracking, with a 2.59 ERA, an 0.97 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, and an amazing 7.8 K/BB ratio. The problem is that Gibson doesn’t possess the heater that White has, pitching more in the low 90s. Gibson displays great control, with one or fewer walks in six of his eight starts this season. The question is, will his control be enough against professional hitters?

Quick Fact: Gibson has pitched four complete games in his last five starts.

Kendal Volz

The Rundown: Volz is another power arm who has struggled this season. His main problem is a lack of control, with a 1.8 K/BB ratio, despite an 8.0 K/9. Volz entered the season with a 9.7 K/9 and a 3.2 K/BB in 138.2 innings as a freshman and sophomore. He’s improved his BAA each season, and has a low HR/9 ratio. Volz would be a project, but with a fastball clocked as high as 97, it might be worth the risk to see if he can regain his control.

Quick Fact: Take out his 4/3 start at Kansas and Volz has a 2.2 K/BB ratio this season, with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

Andy Oliver

The Rundown: Oliver is considered the top left handed arm in the draft, but like other top pitchers not named Strasburg, he has struggled so far. Oliver has a 6.00 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP on the season. His ratios are impressive, but his .278 BAA is what is killing him. Oliver was much better last season, with a .211 BAA in 98.1 innings.

Quick Fact: Oliver has a 9.60 ERA and a 2.27 WHIP on the road, compared to a 4.36 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP at home.

Mike Leake

The Rundown: Leake has been putting up some great numbers, with a 1.53 ERA and an 0.79 WHIP. He has a 74:14 K/BB ratio in 64.2 innings this season, and just one home run allowed on the year. There’s no question that Leake is a good pitcher, but he’s not exactly the type of guy you take with the fourth pick. Leake will probably go somewhere in the 15-30 range. He’d be a steal with our second round pick, but a reach with our first round pick, mostly due to a fastball that tops out in the low 90s.

Quick Fact: Leake has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his nine starts this season.

James Paxton

The Rundown: Paxton is yet another top arm that is struggling recently. Paxton was doing well, with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in his first five starts. In his last three starts he has a 12.46 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP, with 18 earned runs in 13 innings. On the season Paxton has an amazing 13.6 K/9 ratio, and a 5.9 K/BB ratio in 43 innings. He would be a solid pick if this recent stretch proves to be a fluke.

Quick Fact: Paxton has allowed six homers in his last three starts (13 IP) after allowing three homers in his first five starts (30 IP).

Other Notes

-The indy season starts in May. I’ll be adding Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers to the tracker at that point. The Pirates would need permission from Scheppers to draft him this year, after failing to sign him last year. Crow could step up as the top arm in the draft after Strasburg with a solid performance.

-Five pitchers take the mound Friday night, including a matchup between Kendal Volz and Andrew Oliver.

-If the draft were today, my order of preference would be:

1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Dustin Ackley
3. Alex White
4. Rich Poythress

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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