Dustin Ackley and Rich Poythress are clearly the two best hitters in the Draft Prospects Tracker (and granted I’m only tracking three hitters, but these are two of the few college players considered good enough for a top pick). My feeling is that Ackley is a much better pick, not only due to his hitting and athleticism, but due to the fact that he can play at first base, or in the outfield. I also had concerns that Rich Poythress is a product of the metal college bats.
It’s not that I don’t think his power is legit, but I speculate on whether Poythress could show the same hitting and power without the metal bats. I decided to do a comparison between Ackley and Poythress, taking home runs out of the equation. When removing the home runs for each player, Poythress is hitting .348/.476/.406 and Ackley is hitting .344/.489/.448.
The biggest difference when removing the home runs is that Ackley only sees a .257 drop in slugging percentage, while Poythress sees his slugging percentage cut by over 50%, down .455 points. This suggests that Ackley’s power not only includes home runs, but also includes gap power, while the majority of Poythress’ power comes from his homers. Since those homers could translate in to fly balls with wooden bats in the majors, I trust Ackley’s gap power more than the 20 homers we’ve seen from Poythress.
The Rundown: Ackley is 8 for 19 in the past week, getting a hit in all but one game, and reaching base in every game. He has one home run over that time span, giving him 12 on the season, and four in the month of April. Ackley is hitting .392/.520/.705 on the season.
Quick Fact: Ackley has reached base in 32 games in a row, dating back to an 0 for 4 performance on March 7th.
The Rundown: Green continues to hit well, going 7 for 17 in the last week, including a home run against Loyola Marymount. Green has eight multi-hit games in his 13 games in the month of April. The offense hasn’t really been a problem, as Green is now hitting .372 on the season, slightly below the .390 he hit last season. Green still has 13 errors on the season, with none in the last four games. There is the possibility that the Pirates could have Perry Hill work with Green on his defense, but I doubt Hill would turn him in to an offensive version of Jack Wilson.
Quick Fact: Green has 16 multi-hit games in his last 24 games played (not counting the 3/23 game against UCLA where he left the game early).
The Rundown: Poythress went 7 for 20 in the last week, with four homers. Three of those homers came against Kennesaw State, with the other homer coming against Arkansas. Poythress now has 20 homers on the year, two more than his freshman and sophomore seasons combined.
Quick Fact: Poythress went 0 for 4 and didn’t reach base on 4/19, the first game this season he has failed to reach base safely.
The Rundown: White had a great start last Friday, pitching a complete game, one hit shutout against Miami. White struck out ten batters, and walked one. White has a 1.42 ERA in the month of April, with a 27:10 K/BB ratio in 25.1 innings pitched. One cause for concern is his high pitch count. White has gone over 120 pitches in his last three starts, including 132 pitches against Florida State. White also has been focusing heavily on his splitter, which can cause a strain on his arm, especially with that many pitches per game.
Quick Fact: White has a quality start in his last four games.
The Rundown: Gibson continues to put up solid numbers, going with another complete game last week, allowing three runs and 11 hits in the process. The problem is that Gibson probably shouldn’t be going that long. Gibson threw 132 pitches in his most recent start, and has thrown over 110 pitches in six of his last seven starts (the other start was a 2 inning, 45 pitch performance). He also made three appearances in the span of six days, with the third appearance being a 9 inning, 118 pitch outing, two days after a one inning, 35 pitch outing. Aside from those issues, his controll is amazing, with an 90:11 K/BB ratio.
Quick Fact: Gibson has allowed just 3 walks in his last 39 innings pitched, with 52 strikeouts in that time span.
The Rundown: Volz had a solid outing against Oklahoma State on Friday, going 8.1 innings and allowing two earned runs (he allowed three unearned runs as well). Volz struck out seven batters, walked two, and allowed two homers. Volz has rebounded in his last two starts, with 15 strikeouts and four walks in 15.1 innings, but has also allowed three homers. Like the other pitchers, his pitch count is up there, with over 120 pitches in his last two starts.
Quick Fact: Volz has six quality starts this season, but only three wins.
The Rundown: Poor weather and poor performances have Oliver pitching a strange schedule. Oliver has gone less than five innings in his last three appearances. He had a poor start against Kansas on 4/10, came back to pitch two innings on 4/14, and his start last week was delayed by weather. Rather than having him pitch a full game mid-week, he went two innings on 4/21, and is expected to make a regular start this weekend.
Quick Fact: Oliver’s stats in the month of April look more like his 2007 totals (when he had a 5.52 ERA) than his 2008 totals (when he had a 2.20 ERA) suggesting 2008 could have been a fluke.
The Rundown: Leake had another great performance against Stanford, going eight innings and allowing two earned runs, while striking out nine and walking one. Leake now has an 83:15 K/BB ratio in 72.2 innings pitched. He’s not considered a top tale
nt, and it’s unlikely he slips to the Pirates in the second round.
Quick Fact: Leake has a quality start in nine of his ten starts this season.
The Rundown: Paxton went seven innings in his last start on Friday, allowing two runs, striking out nine, and walking two batters. This could be a sign that Paxton is getting back on track. In his previous three starts, Paxton had a 12.46 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP, with 6 homers allowed in 13 innings pitched. Taking out those three starts, Paxton has a 3.16 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, with three homers in 37 innings pitched.
Quick Fact: Paxton has a 13.3 K/9 ratio this season, thanks to 74 strikeouts in 50 innings.
-The Fort Worth Cats (Aaron Crow’s indy team) starts Spring Training on May 4th, with their Opening Day coming on May 14th. That gives Crow about a month to show what he’s got for the draft. Right now I’d say he’s got a strong chance of claiming the top pitching spot behind Strasburg.
-Five pitchers are expected to take the mound Friday night.
-If the draft were today, and Aaron Crow was putting up strong numbers in the Indy leagues, my order of preference would be:
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Dustin Ackley
3. Aaron Crow
4. Alex White