Tonight was the first 111 picks of the 2009 MLB Draft. The first round was broadcast on MLB.com, adding a new dimension of excitement to the event. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting picks of the evening.
#4 – Tony Sanchez, Catcher – Pittsburgh Pirates
This was a huge stretch at fourth overall for the Pirates, as he was not projected to go anywhere near the top five. He led Boston College with a .346 average and tied for the team lead with 14 home runs. However, this power is not projected to continue in the Majors, which is not surprising for a catcher. A solid defender, Sanchez will be a reliable starting catcher if he develops his bat and stays in shape, which has been a problem in the past. This is not what you want with such a high draft pick, and GM Neal Huntington does not seem to be righting the ship in Pittsburgh.
#11 – Tyler Matzek, LHP – Colorado Rockies
Matzek was considered by many to be a top talent on the mound, but big contract demands caused him to slide down the draft board as the seventh pitcher drafted. Maybe he was hoping to drop to a big market team that would meet his demands, but he was nabbed by the Rockies at number eleven. This was probably not what he was hoping for as pitchers do not exactly salivate over the opportunity to pitch at Coors Field. He also loves hitting, which would give him extra incentive to play for Oregon rather than turning professional. I could see him being this year’s Aaron Crow, and Colorado may have difficulty getting him to sign on the dotted line.
#12 – Aaron Crow, RHP – Kansas City Royals
After being drafted ninth overall by the Washington Nationals last year and failing to sign, Crow spent the year pitching for the Forth Worth Cats. He does not have nearly as much leverage this year, as it is unlikely that he would improve his stock by going back for another year of independent ball. This is a great pick by the Royals. They are getting a premium talent that they will be able to sign because they will have the leverage in negotiations. He should join Greinke within the next couple of years to give the Royals a strong 1-2 punch.
#19 – Shelby Miller, RHP – St. Louis Cardinals
As a high school pitcher, Miller is obviously still several years away. However, scouts love his mid 90’s fastball and potential plus curveball. Some seasoning in the minors will also give him time to develop a third pitch. While high school pitchers are generally considered risky picks, I like this choice by the Cardinals. He was arguably the highest potential pitcher left on the board, and the Cards cannot continue to rely on reclamation projects like Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer to fill out their rotation. Miller is a step in the right direction.
#34 – Rex Brothers, LHP – Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have another quality pitcher fall into their laps in the supplemental round. Brothers was expected to be a first round pick but dropped to the Rockies at number thirty-four. His fastball can reach the high 90’s and he has a devastating slider. This pick is not surprising, as the Rockies have spent the last three years using their top draft picks to stockpile pitchers. With the lack of interest from free agent pitchers in Colorado, it is up to them to develop their talent from within. Brothers fits this mold perfectly.
Max Stassi, Catcher – Undrafted on Day One
Stassi was projected as one of the top catchers available and arguably the top high school catcher, but somehow went undrafted through the first 111 picks. While his stock had fallen slightly and some expected him to be drafted in the second round instead of the first, it is still surprising to see a guy who had a personal workout with the Red Sox go undrafted thus far. With the Nationals and Padres on deck to begin day two, expect Stassi to be off the board early. If not, expect to see him exercise that full ride at UCLA.