2009 Draft Preview: The Boras Clients

Hank responds to Boston salary cap jabs
Melky opts out of Classic

winter-meetings-2008-011It’s that time of year again, the time when we can start thinking about June’s amateur draft. The cool thing about this year is that I don’t have to waste two hundred words explaining why the Yanks are picking where they are. All you have to do is take a look at our 2009 Draft Tracker, and everything you need to know is right there in a (hopefully) easy to understand format.

I figured I would kick off this year’s coverage by taking a look at some of Scott Boras’ most notable clients. These players are some of the very best available in this year’s draft class, but absurd bonus demands and/or a hint of injury/disappointing performance could lead to them dropping from their rightful place atop the draft landscape. Just ask Andrew Brackman or Rick Porcello. Teams might be not be willing to put up with Boras this year given the current economic client, and in fact the Dodgers’ front office has apparently told the scouting department not to draft any Boras clients this year (we’ll have to wait and see if that holds true). Top players slide in the draft every year, it’s part of life.

Fun starts after the jump.

dustin-ackleyDustin Ackley, 1B, UNC
The best pure hitter in the draft class, Ackley is an on-base machine with impressive gap power and surprisingly excellent speed. He was named Baseball America‘s Freshman of the Year after hitting .402-.448-.591 with 20 doubles, 10 homers (one of which came off a broken bat) and 11 steals in 73 games, then followed that up with a .417-.503-.597, 21 double, 7 homer, 19 steal campaign as a sophomore. Ackley had Tommy John surgery last summer and will be ready when the college season starts tomorrow, although he’ll begin the year playing first base to limit his throwing. He’s athletic enough to handle center field where he’d obviously have more value, and he’s expected to move there later this season once he’s far enough away from TJ. It’s unlikely Ackley could fall all the way down to 29th overall (barring a major setback with the elbow) because he’s such a dynamic talent, and should be among the first four of five players taken on draft day.

Kentrail Davis, CF, Tennessee
kentrail_davisDavis has done the “drop in the draft” thing once already, going from being one of the top fifty draft prospects to an unsigned 14th round flier of the Rockies in 2007 Draft. He offers the best power-speed combination in the entire draft class, having developed extraordinary upper body strength by working for his father’s construction company as a child. He missed part of his freshman season last year because of a minor car accident, but he hit .330-.435-.583 with 7 doubles, 13 homers and 7 steals after returning to the lineup. Davis may have to move to left down the line because he’ll presumably fill out his 5’9″, 195 lb frame and doesn’t have the arm for right. He’ll also have to work on his plate discipline. He has the tools to be a 20-20 player with above average defense in left field, and in an absolute best case scenario he’s a 30-30 center fielder with slightly above average defense. Because he’s a draft eligible sophomore and a Boras client, that chances of Davis dropping precipitously in the draft are great if no one bites in the first two rounds.

grant-greenGrant Green, SS, USC
A classic example of a guy who was best off going to school, Green went from a rail thin high schooler with interesting tools to a five tool middle infielder and the best position player in the draft class. He’s cut from a similar cloth as Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria, although he’s not quite the defender Tulo is and not quite the hitter Longoria is. Green hit .390-.438-.644 with 15 doubles, 9 homers and 10 steals in his breakout sophomore year, answering all the questions about his bat that existed as prepster. There are concerns that the 6’3″, 180 pounder might have to slide over to third as he fills out, which would obviously decrease his value, but he’d remain a valuable player. Widely considered to be the second best talent available for the draft, there’s almost zero chance he makes it past the Orioles and the fifth overall pick even with Boras backing him.

Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State
andy-oliverYou may remember that Oliver won a landmark case against the NCAA last week, a ruling that has eliminated the “no agent” rule for amateur baseball players. With his eligiblity restored, he’ll reclaim his spot atop the Cowboys rotation and head into the year with a big weight off his shoulders. A top 100 talent back in 2006, Oliver is a big lefty (6’3″, 200 lbs) with firm stuff (92-93 mph fastball, good breaking ball, decent changeup) and decent control (3.30 BBper9 before he was ruled ineligible last year). He’s a top 10-15 talent right now, and now there aren’t any concerns that he may not be allowed to take the ball this year. He dropped his previous agent for Boras and will cash in this year for sure. Landing Oliver with any of their picks would be a major coup for the Bombers.

strasburg-croppedStephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State
Strasburg is true development success story, going from an unheralded and undrafted high school pitcher in 2006 to the top talent available in the 2009 draft. A strong armed closer as a freshman, Strasburg moved into SDSU’s rotation last year and established himself as the best pitcher in the country. His status as the top talent in the draft class was cemented when he struck out 23 Utah Utes in an early April start. Not only was he the lone  amateur pitcher on the USA Olympic team last summer, he was the best pitcher on the staff, flirting with a no-hitter in his first start. Standing 6’4″, 220 lbs, Strasburg has the best fastball (sits 94-96 and touches 100), the best breaking ball (mid-80’s slider) and the best command and control (180-31 K/BB ratio in 134.1 career IP) in the draft class. He’s on par with David Price in terms of talent, although Price was more polished and left handed. There are some concerns that his fast twitch delivery is an injury waiting to happen, but he does a good job of repeating it and has never missed time due to injury. Barring major injury or an extremely poor junior year, Strasburg will be the first player taken in June, and surely will not make it past his hometown Padres and the third overall pick.

Donovan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (Georgia)
donovan-tateThe son of former Bucs running back Lars Tate, Donovan might have the best five tool potential in the entire draft class. He’s a superb athlete with a strong arm, so much so that he was a top quarterback recruit and has a full scholarship in hand to play football (and baseball) at UNC. Tate has very good speed and oodles potential with the bat, although he needs to work on his plate discipline to avoid getting taken advantage of by more experienced pitchers. He currently plays center field, but will probably have to slide over to right when he fills out his 6’3″, 200 lb frame. The top high school hitter in the draft and arguably the top high school prospect overall, it’s tough to see the Braves letting the local boy slide past them with the seventh overall pick, Boras client or not.

jacob-turnerJacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis)
Turner is all about projectability because his present package doesn’t scream stud prospect. He’s got an ideal pitcher’s frame at 6’4″, 205 lbs, and the hope is that he’ll cut a foot off his 89-91 mph fastball as he fills out. Although his changeup is just rudimentary right now, Turner’s big breaking curveball is an out-pitch, and arguably the best curveball in the high school ranks. He’ll need to tighten up his command and work on little things like holding runners and fielding his position. The natural comparision is Tim Melville, last year’s St. Louis darling, but Turner isn’t nearly as polished or as athletic as Melville. The UNC recruit is a first round talent, there’s a good chance Turner will still be available when the Yanks first selection rolls around.

* * *

Now, obviously this isn’t the full list of Boras clients. It’s just the top guys, the ones that would be a coup if they fell to the Yanks at any point because of signability. I don’t think there’s any chance Strasburg, Green or White is still available at #29, but then again I did say the Yanks had a better chance of drafting Jesus Christ than Andrew Brackman once upon a time, so what do I know. Davis has the best chance to drop into the teen rounds because of the double whammy of being a DES and a Boras client.

Keep in mind that only about half a dozen teams refused to go over slot last year, so the Yankees aren’t looking at just outmaneuvering the Red Sox and Tigers any more. If the Yanks get a shot at nabbing two or three of these guys, it’s a major win.

Photo Credits: Scott Boras via me (’08 Winter Meetings), Dustin Ackley via UNC’s official site, Kentrail Davis via ESPN, Josh Fields via Diane Cebula (OnlineAthens.com), Grant Green via CapeCodBaseball.org, Andy Oliver via CapeCodBaseball.org, Stephen Strasburg via me (screen cap of Olympic broadcast), Donovan Tate via Dilip Vishwanat (Getty Images), Jacob Turner via STLToday.com, Alex White via Eric Francis (AP) via ESPN

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Hank responds to Boston salary cap jabs
Melky opts out of Classic
  • Hmmm

    who’s the most likely to be available for the yanks?

    • Hmmm

      yeah didn’t read that last part…

  • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

    I’m liking Davis; I hope he falls down to us.

  • Bruno

    Gimme some Grant Green!

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Widely considered to be the second best talent available for the draft, there’s almost zero chance he makes it past the Orioles and the fifth overall pick even with Boras backing him.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    The only people the Yankees should consider is Green and Davis, the other guys aren’t necessary and there is a 0% chance the Yankees get Strasburg (Some people have said he could start major league games as early as September)

    • steve (different one)

      The only people the Yankees should consider is Green and Davis, the other guys aren’t necessary

      not sure what you mean, can you elaborate?

      • Jay CT

        I think he is saying the only ones on this list are those two in his opinion.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      how is a top pitching prospect not necessary? what r u talking about?

      • pat

        Not necessary might have been a poor choice of words but you get the gist. A system predominantly stocked with high end power arms and light on the position prospects would be best served taking a bat over an arm of similar quality. Obviously you’re not going to take a prospect of lesser quality just to get a hitter, but if all things were equal we need up the middle guys more than pitchers.

        • Chris

          Not necessarily. You also have to consider that the track record for FA position players is generally better than the track record for FA pitchers.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          High end power arms can be traded for other things of use. If the way the draft falls to us means that we end up with 5 impact arms and no impact bats, that’s still better than 1 impact arm, 1 impact bat, and 3 average arms or bats.

          • Jay CT

            Well why wouldn’t you take 4 impact arms and 1 impact bat? I am not even trying to be a smart ass, I am trying to seriously learn. I think that based on the Swisher trade and the Nady/Marte deal, they can stand to collect 5 impact arms, 4 impact arms, or 5 impact bats, if that makes sense. In other words, I do not feel there should be restrictions other then best available.

        • A.D.

          You always take best available in the early rounds, if it were a complete tie, coinflip, then sure take need. Power arm can always be traded for a hitting prospect.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Power arm can always be traded for a hitting prospect.

            As in, Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton.

            • A.D.

              Matt Garza for Delmon Young

              • pat

                Heh. Good examples guys. I agree with what you’re saying but it goes both ways. Yes texas and washington acquired young sluggers in return for power arms but at the same time minny and cincy acquired good young pitchers in return for good young bats. Six of one half a dozen of another. I don’t really care who we draft so long as they’re the best player available.

                • Mike Pop

                  Liriano for AJ.

                • A.D.

                  Well actually the Volquez example was much better than my Garza example. Volquez was considered a bust in Texas, but still a power arm, and was traded for a bat that just had a re-birth to being a prospect.

                  So even a bust power arm had value to be traded for a promising ML ready bat.

  • A.D.

    Kentrail Davis would be awesome… but likely too good to be true.

    • Mike R.

      I think Davis is a real possibility. He is a DES and a Boras client. I’ve had my eye on him for a while.

      • A.D.

        Sign me up, they just better make sure he’s going to sign.

        • steve (different one)

          he’ll sign.

          come on guys, the Cole thing was a fluke event.

          the list of players that turn down huge piles of cash is very, very small.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            a draft eligible sophomore and a Boras client

            Eight of my favorite words. I think there’s an excellent chance Davis slides to us.

            And, with the leftover Scott Bittle and Gerritt Cole bonus money from last year’s budget + the fact that we lost our top three picks, we should have plenty of money to go nuts and give Davis whatever it takes to buy him out.

  • pat

    Mike you just gave a recovering crack addict his first rock in months. I hope you have alot more where that came from leading up until the two day crackfest in June.

  • steve (different one)

    it’s amazing how quickly UNC has become a baseball school. 10 years ago, they were nowhere on the map in terms of baseball.

    i hope Boras pisses off as many teams as possible between now and the draft, but the bottom line is that he has the best talent and teams are going to have to deal with him.

    • John

      UNC guy here.

      Everyone better stay away from Tate! It’s been great to see my school in the college world series the past few years, now it’s time to win it. FYI: big Stein just built UNC’s new field.

  • Phrancis

    Ackley – 1st Baseman with TJ ? that’s wierd.
    Is Gerit Cole available this year? I would draft him in the last round and offer him $1.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      Okay, Harvey. :)

    • A.D.

      Well Ackley is a 1B because he had TJ, outfielder with TJ happen, Kelly Johnson & Tony Womack come to mind.

      • http://statspeak.net dan

        Luis Gonzalez, Rocco Baldelli

      • Ed

        Albert Pujols moved from the outfield to 1B because he needs TJ. He’s been putting off the surgery for years because the pain is tolerable.

        Makes you wonder how good he’d be if he went ahead and had the surgery.

        • Mike Pop

          Brian Roberts for an IF also.

  • Mister Delaware

    The UNC turnaround can be directly attributed to their landing Gregg Donohue back in the late 90s.

    • steve (different one)

      thanks, MD. i was wondering.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    Re: Stephen Strasburgh: A strong armed closer as a freshman, Strasburg moved into SDSU’s rotation last year

    Man, that just goes to show how stupid college coaches are. Not even aware of the importance of the 8th inning. Has Fatcesa heard about this?

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      That is exactloy the comment I had in mind reading about Strasburg.

  • http://statspeak.net dan

    I’d be scared of Davis, he’s a strikeout machine. How many guys with those kind of strikeout numbers have success? He strikes out in 27% of his at bats for anyone who’s wondering. There were concerns about Pedro Alvarez’s K numbers last year, and he was only at 23% as a soph and 17% as a junior. I’m not sure if Davis has the power to make up for that.

    • steve (different one)

      Mike Cameron? is that a good comp?

      • Chris

        How often did Cameron strik out before he was drafted?

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that his K rate will increase as he faces better pitching.

        • Thomas

          Cameron never went to college, so I’d expect his K rate in high school to be low. In his first year in the minors at age 19, he stuck out 63 times in 63 games. In AA as a 23 year old, he stuck out in 25% of his at bats.

          Regarding Davis, it also wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume as he matures from an athlete to a baseball player and receives better coaching, that his K rate could drop.

          Also, strikeout really isn’t any less productive than any other out.

          • http://statspeak.net dan

            But a high strikeout rate is not a good indicator for future results. It essentially shows that he can’t make consistent contact against amateur pitchers, so what’s going to happen when he’s facing better talent. And the “strikeout isn’t so bad” does have truth, but it prevents other positive things. You have to do a lot of other things well to overcome a bad K-rate, and I honestly don’t know if Davis is capable of that.

            College guys with bad strikezone judgement don’t usually get better at it against better competition.

  • Tom Zig

    Why can’t more teams hate Boras?

    • jsbrendog

      start your own smear campaign ha

      • Tom Zig

        hah I was just thinking that. We should spread rumors about all of his clients.

        • kSturnz

          Starting with Alex!

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I heard that Scott Boras had sex with Dave Dombrowski’s wife. And father. Together. Knocked ‘em both up.

        Also, he said that Peter Angelos is a “smarmy little cock-boy” and made numerous anti-Semitic remarks, including one about a stork.

        • Tom Zig

          We should tell Kevin Towers that Strasburg has a worse attitude than Matt Bush

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            F$%&#NG EAST COUNTY!!!

        • Thomas

          Somebody told me Boras goes down to Home Depot and pays the migrant workers to go to his house and choke him in the shower.

        • ColoYank

          LOL!! TSJC, you’re my fave!

          • Mike Pop

            Colo has a Kindergarden crush going on.

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Frank

    Strasburg is a freakin stud. There’s a great article on him in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune (I’m sure it’s pretty to find on line). I live in SD and have seen this guy pitch at SD State games. Apparantly, this guy was a slug coming out of HS, both mentally and physically, but really got his act together once he got to college. It’s a good read.

    • Mike Pop

      Yea, my friend showed me that today at school. Was interesting.

  • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Mike, it seems like you think the only guys listed with a realistic chance to slide to #29 are Davis and Oliver. Am I reading that right?

    And, if so, who would you take at 29? You mentioned that since Davis is a DES and a Boras client, he could slide to the teen rounds… at what point would you take Davis if you were Oppenheimer? Do you take Oliver at #29 and then pass on Davis at both #76 and #131, gambling that he’ll still be there later?

  • J. Brent Cox’s Rookie Card

    Stating the obvious here: hopefully the Yanks will draft anyone but another injury-prone (or recovering from injury) right-handed pitcher.

    • steve (different one)

      that’s not really obvious at all if said pitcher has the upside of someone like Brackman.

      and Joba has worked out horribly as well.

      • pat

        Melancon is another guy we took despite all signs pointing towards TJ. if something terrible happened and strasburg got injured and fell to us I’d drive to SD myself and pick him up. With more teams willing to go overslot the chances of these, dare I say ridiculous upside guys falling to us bc of signability issues are getting slimmer by the year. Sometimes you’re gonna have to take a chance on an injured guy like brackmizzle and hope he can return to form.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          My ears are burning…

          • steve (different one)

            Marge: We’re not talking about you

            Homer: no really, my ears are burning. i wanted to see inside, so i lit a Q-Tip on fire!!

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              That’s actually exactly what I was thinking of when I typed that.

  • http://eastrutherfordrant.com donttradecano

    i know its off topic but anyone listen to that story francessa just told?

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/.....ller.shot/

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Nope. I remember hearing the story on CNN, though… what did Big Mike have to say about it?

      • http://eastrutherfordrant.com donttradecano

        he told the the whole story…and how rediculous it was that this happened and how much of an abuse of power it was. It was on real sports the other day, and hes trying to get Bobby Tolan on the show today

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Fair enough.

          Wait, “abuse of power”? That’s how he described it? That’s pretty vague and euphemistic.

          A cop getting a favor from a judge or a superior to get his wife out of paying a parking ticket is an “abuse of power”. A cop shooting an unarmed black man in the chest, in front of his family on his own front lawn, in a fairly blatant act of racial profiling is a lot more than just an “abuse of power”. It’s racist police brutality.

          • http://eastrutherfordrant.com donttradecano

            he said that too, hes quite angry that it happened

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Okay then. Score one sanity point for Francesa. I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.

              • steve (different one)

                Francessa is dumber than a broken clock

                • Mike Pop

                  Mmm. I just burned my tongue.

  • Mike Pop

    Donovan needs to come out and say he will only sign with the Yankees or go to UNC. Do it Donovan, it will be worth it.

  • Reggie C.

    I know its Boras Clients thread, but lets not forget Tanners Scheppers and Aaron Crow. One of the 2 could likely be there at 29. Though i hate the idea of drafting another righty SP b/c this org badly needs hitting (ahem SS, ahem CF), i’d only grimace at the selection of one of those guys instead of flat out laughing.

    • 27 this year

      Scheppers will probably fall into around round 5. Also, this is directed to everyone, all these high upside signability injury guys are all going to be taken by the fuckin red sox who pick before us.

      • Mike Pop

        But if there are 2 of them…..

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