American League Amateur Draft Notes by Marc Hulet June 1, 2012 The first round of the annual MLB Amateur Draft kicks off Monday night, June 4, at 7 pm eastern. Below, you’ll find a recap of each American League club’s first round picks from the past four years, as well as an overall grade and comments on noticeable trends. I’ve also included some notes and thoughts on the names being linked to each club for the 2012 draft. New York Yankees 2008: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Prep (Did Not Sign) 2009: Slade Heathcott, OF, Prep 2010: Cito Culver, SS, Prep 2011: DNP Grade: C- New York picks at the end of the first round in 2012 so it’s hard to know exactly who might fall to them but history tells us that they’ll likely be leaning towards taking a prep player. The system could use some arms and the organization is known to be fond of Mitch Gueller. The organization is constantly fighting an uphill battle with low draft slots but New York scouts are quite savvy so I know some high-ceiling talent will be found. Boston Red Sox 2008: Casey Kelly, RHP, Prep 2009: Reymond Fuentes, OF, Prep 2010: Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, College 2011: Matt Barnes, RHP, College 2011: Blake Swihart, C, Prep Grade: C Boston has been all over the map with its first-round selections in recent years, mixing in both prep and college picks. It’s hard to get a read on what the Red Sox will ultimately do but they have been linked to prep shortstop Tanner Rahier. Boston has two first round picks so look for them to perhaps take one college player and one high schooler. Tampa Bay Rays 2008: Tim Beckham, SS, Prep 2009: LeVon Washington, OF, Prep (Did Not Sign) 2010: Josh Sale, OF, Prep 2010: Justin O’Conner, C, Prep 2011: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Prep 2011: Mikie Mahtook, OF, College 2011: Jake Hager, SS, Prep Grade: C+ Tampa Bay almost exclusively favors prep picks in the first round and I’m hearing a number of names for them that may not go in the first round to any other club. With that said, there are a couple players that they would jump on if they fall far enough (The Rays pick 25th). Toronto Blue Jays 2008: David Cooper, 1B, College 2009: Chad Jenkins, RHP, College 2010: Deck McGuire, RHP, College 2011: Tyler Beede, RHP, Prep (Did Not Sign) Grade: C- Toronto has drafted some very talented players in the past few years under GM Alex Anthopoulos but the first round continues to be a sore spot for the organization. The Jays have two first-round picks in 2012 (17th, 22nd). The chatter has them mostly on prep players and the local media is big on prep catcher/outfielder Stryker Trahan but that’s mainly because he was in for workout and looked good. Two names I’ll throw out are prep hurler Lance McCullers Jr., whose father pitched in the majors but could be gone before the Jays’ first pick, and college starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who is likely a pro reliever and possibly MLB-ready (He addresses a club weakness – the bullpen – and could help them save some cash for supplemental round choices). Baltimore Orioles 2008: Brian Matusz, LHP, College 2009: Matt Hobgood, RHP, Prep 2010: Manny Machado, SS, Prep 2011: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Prep Grade: A The club has made some pretty impressive first-round picks if you toss out Hobgood, which was a brutal decision right from the get-go. Picking fourth in 2012, the Orioles are going to get a very nice player one way or the other. If it’s Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa then they could arguably say that they got the best player in the draft two years running. Detroit Tigers 2008: Ryan Perry, RHP, College 2009: Jacob Turner, RHP, Prep 2010: DNP 2011: DNP Grade: C Surprise, surprise, Detroit punts another first round pick while playing the free agent market. They don’t pick for a loooong time so there is no way to know who might get plucked by them in the second round. Chicago White Sox 2008: Gordon Beckham, SS/3B, College 2009: Jared Mitchell, OF, College 2010: Chris Sale, LHP, College 2011: DNP Grade: C+ I’m not even going to pretend that I understand how GM Kenny Williams and his staff think. But the word on the street has them heavily on pitching – and mostly college guys. Cleveland Indians 2008: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Community College 2009: Alex White, RHP, College 2010: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, College 2011: Francisco Lindor, SS, Prep Grade: B Last year Lindor was a rare high pick from the prep ranks. If he’s available here, I think the Tribe might pounce on college right-hander Michael Wacha. Kansas City Royals 2008: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Prep 2009: Aaron Crow, RHP, College 2010: Christian Colon, SS, College 2011: Bubba Starling, OF, Prep Grade: B- Kansas City likes to mix things up and the club is going to get a good player with the fifth overall selection. Look for them to go the college route and likely for an arm; Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer could get popped here – depending on what happens one-through-four. Minnesota Twins 2008: Aaron Hicks, OF, Prep 2008: Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, College 2009: Kyle Gibson, RHP, College 2010: Alex Wimmers, RHP, College 2011: Levi Michael, SS, College Grade: C- Minnesota’s draft approach in recent years has not exactly tickled my fancy and they pretty much favor college players. Picking second, though, the club has a rare shot at a high-ceiling talent like prep outfielder Byron Buxton or prep shortstop Carlos Correa. Look for the club to pop Minnesota prep right-hander Mitch Brown in the supplemental first round, if he’s available. Seattle Mariners 2008: Josh Fields, RHP, College 2009: Dustin Ackley, 2B, College 2009: Nick Franklin, SS, Prep 2010: DNP 2011: Danny Hultzen, LHP, College Grade: B Seattle has made some nice decisions in recent years and picks third overall in 2012. Depending on the first two picks, it could be outfielder Byron Buxton, shortstop Carlos Correa, or catcher Mike Zunino. Texas Rangers 2008: Justin Smoak, 1B, College 2009: Matt Purke, LHP, Prep (Did Not Sign) 2010: Jake Skole, OF, Prep 2010: Kellin Deglan, C, Prep 2011: Kevin Matthews, LHP, Prep Grade: C- Texas does a lot of things well but drafting in the first round has not been one of them. The club’s first pick in the 2011 draft was puzzling and the 2010 choices were also underwhelming. I haven’t heard much of anything concrete in regards to what Texas is looking to do in 2012 with the 29th overall pick. Los Angeles Angels 2008: DNP 2009: Randal Grichuk, OF, Prep 2009: Mike Trout, OF, Prep 2010: Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Prep 2010: Cam Bedrosian, RHP, Prep 2010: Chevy Clarke, OF, Prep 2011: C.J. Cron, 1B, College Grade: B The Angels lost both their first and second round picks for signing free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, so they’ll be on the sidelines until the third round. It’ll be tough to find the next Mike Trout that way. Oakland Athletics 2008: Jemile Weeks, 2B, College 2009: Grant Green, IF/OF, College 2010: Michael Choice, OF, College 2011: Sonny Gray, RHP, College Grade: C Oakland definitely favors the college route but they’ve reportedly been on a number of prep players this year, including Lance McCullers Jr., David Dahl and Joey Gallo. College third basemen Richie Shaffer and Stephen Piscotty would be understandable – although overdrafts at the 11-hole (in my humble opinion). Stay tuned for the National League report.