It’s theÂ nature of the draft to give second chances. The Orioles yearned forÂ Mark Teixeira‘sÂ middle-of-the-order bat in 2001, but sat and watched as Texas popped himÂ with the 5th overall pick, 2 spots ahead of the Orioles.Â Instead of sulking and blowing the 7th overall pick on, ugh, Chris Smith, the O’s could have made up for losing out on Teixeira by drafting Ryan Howard, who the PhilliesÂ took 135 picks after Teixeira’s name was called.
Stuff like this happens every year. Twenty-seven teams didn’t even have a chance to draft Red Sox killerÂ Alex Rodriguez in 1993, but all 27 passed on Scott Rolen at least once. Now of course it’s easy to go back and say these teams missed out, but the point is that there’s talent out there, you just have to look for it. Here’s a couple of the guys that could keep you from throwing a chair when some team picks your guy on draft day:
What You Want: An outfielder that profiles as aÂ middle-of-the-order bat and should move quickly.
The Top Dogs: Kyle Russell, Texas &Â Kellen Kulbacki, James Madison
The Alternative: Grant Desme, OF, Cal Poly. After transferring from San Diego State, Desme was monster for the Mustangs this spring, going .405-15-53 with 12 stolen bases and 17 doubles. Alas, Desme’s season came to a premature end when he was hit by pitch that broke his wrist. He’s a solid athlete with a nice arm and good baserunning skills, and obviously, a plus hit tool. For a team looking to land that masher without breaking the bank, Desme’s the guy.
What You Want: A potential shutdown, late-inning reliever that’ll move quickly.
The Top Dog: Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Alternative: Andrew Carignan, RHP, UNC. The Tar Heels’ supremely underrated closer is from the John Wetteland school of closing games: he’s known toÂ make it interesting once in a while, but he gets the job done. Chances are he’ll be pitching in his second consecutive College World Series in the coming weeks, so you know playing in a stadium with a second deck won’t freak him out. The punditsÂ claim he’s got a plus fastball and not much else, but there’s no way someone can go 45 IP, 29 H, 6 ER, 19 BB, 54 K in the ACC without a quality secondary pitch.
What You Want: A lefty pitcher than you can move into the rotation from the bullpen.
The Top Dogs: Danny Moskos, Clemson &Â Brett Cecil, Maryland
The Alternative: Nick Hagadone, LHP, Washington. The premier shutdown lefty reliever of the class might not even go in the firstÂ 2Â rounds of the draft. He ended Cal Berkeley’s season 2 weeks ago when he came in for your garden variety 14 out save, and his nice three pitch repetoire (low-90’s heat, knockout slider, improving changeup) should translate well to the the starting rotation. If he goes after pick #75, he’s an absolute steal.
What You Want: A high ceiling prep hitter capable of manning the hot corner and hitting in the middle of the lineup.
The Top Dogs: Josh Vitters, Cyress High (Ca.) &Â Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth High (Ca.)
The Alternative: Neftali Soto, 3B, Colegio Marista High (Puerto Rico). A hitter deluxe, Soto spent his high school career behind the plate, though he’s expected to move to a corner spot as soon as he turns pro. He’s got great bat speed and a developing approach,Â but scout’s are amazed by howÂ the ball just explodes of his bat. A high risk/high reward pick, Soto is the kind of player the Dodgers have had incredible success drafting and developing this century.
What You Want: A solid pitcher to slot into the back end of the rotation. The kind of guy that’ll just shut his mouth, take the ball every 5th day andÂ give you a chance to win.
The Top Dog: Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
The Alternative: Tony Bajoczky, RHP, Duke. An undersized righty, Tony B. just goes out and does his job. While pitching for an underwhelming Duke team, the rightyÂ went out and beat Florida State, Virginia andÂ North Carolina in consecutive weekends with his average stuff. Oh yeah, those teams rankedÂ #1, #3 and #2 in the nation at the time. You gotta love the guys whoÂ kick it up a notch in big situations; what do you have to lose by taking this guy in theÂ 10th or 11th round?Â
What You Want: A flashy prep arm, the kind of guy you can dream about for years.
The Top Dog: Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (NJ)Â &Â Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norell High (In.)
The Alternative: Greg Peavey, RHP, Hudson Bay High (Wa.). Peavey’s been aÂ prospect for so long that he’s been overscouted. Seriously. He threw 90 when he was only 14 years old, and scouts have been on him so long that they have nothing left to do but nitpick his game.Â Peavey fell victim to Ian Kennedy disease, struggling in his draft year after a track record of dominance.Â He might be a tough sign (committed to Oregon State), but he’s got a fantastic arm, and there are few better alternatives for a team without a pick in that ridiculously long sandwich round.
If anyone else knows of any potential sleepers or talented late round guys, feel free to mention ’em in the comments.