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2008 Draft: A Look Back at 2007

With the success of the number one player on my board in 2006, Tim Lincecum, I decided to try my hand and making another list of the best college prospects in 2007. I took much more time to prepare and devised a rating system, so in the end I was able to look at tons more players. Not surprisingly, I expanded the list from 15 to 25. Once again, I had an eye on the Mariners farm system as I created this list, so first baseman and hitting in general got priority. Still, a position of need was used more as a tie-breaker for this list, which was a departure from the way I made the list in 2006. One year later, here are how the 25 to watch from 2007 are doing:

25. David Newmann, RHP, Rays
  • REPORT: After being selected in the fourth round last year, Newmann is yet to appear in a professional game. Since he was a college senior, he should have signed. My best guess is that he has been pitching in extended spring training this year.
24. Josh Donaldson, C, Cubs (Peoria, A)
  • STATS: .196 AVG, 4 HR, 10 RBI, .268 OBP, .331 SLG, 14 BB, 29 K, 5 SB, 1 CS
  • REPORT: After a fantastic summer in the Northwest League, Donaldson has struggled in his first full year as a professional. His power has diminished some, but that is to be expected in the Midwest League, which is generally considered a tough one for hitters. Additionally, Donaldson's strikeout rate has not gone up much from the previous year, and he is still drawing a fair share of walks. What have magically disappeared are his singles, which is rather odd. It leads me to think that Donaldson had great luck last year and poor luck so far in 2008. However, if that is the case, he should heat up at some point and he simply has not yet.
23. Dominic de la Osa, SS/OF, Vanderbilt
  • REPORT: Dominic was drafted in the 10th round by the Tigers, but opted not to sign and return for his senior season at Vanderbilt. He really struggled in the Cape Cod League over the summer, and did not post as good of numbers this year as he did in his junior campaign. It will be interesting to see if he is drafted higher this year or not.
22. Todd Frazier, SS, Reds (Sarasota, A+)
  • STATS: .269 AVG, 4 HR, 13 RBI, .344 OBP, .500 SLG, 9 BB, 21 K
  • REPORT: Frazier started the year in low A, but garnered a promotion by posting a 1.000 OPS in the aforementioned Midwest League. Though he is not off to an electric start in Sarasota, he has more than held his own in his first 78 at-bats at the level. A position switch may be in order in the future, but for now his power is especially valuable at shortstop.
21. Corey Brown, OF, Athletics (Kane County, A)
  • STATS: .267 AVG, 9 HR, 28 RBI, .363 OBP, .476 SLG, 28 BB, 66 K, 5 SB, 0 CS
  • REPORT: Brown's strikeouts kept him from being a top 10 pick, but the A's still took him very early and have to be pleased so far. Brown still strikes out a ton, but he has a great eye, great power, and surprising speed. As a result, he has done well as a pro so far. He still looks like a more athletic Jack Cust to me.
20. Adam Mills, RHP, Red Sox (Lancaster, A+)
  • STATS: 5-4 REC, 4.42 ERA, 57 IP, 69 H, 12 BB, 33 K, 4 HR
  • REPORT: Mills pitched in relief over the summer for the Red Sox, but has been given the opportunity to start in Lancaster. He has not been as impressive this year, but at least some of that is due to pitching in the California League, which is probably the most hitter-friendly level in the minor leagues. Mills still displays good control and an ability to keep the ball in the park, which are both encouraging signs. However, it is clear that he is being hit more often, as shown by the increased hits allowed and fewer strikeouts. Overall, Mills is tough to evaluate to this point because of the league he is pitching in.
19. James Simmons, RHP, Athletics (Midland, AA)
  • STATS: 2-2 REC, 2.93 ERA, 40 IP, 37 H, 8 BB, 31 K, 4 HR
  • REPORT: Coming out of college Simmons was expected to be one of the fastest movers, and he has so far. Oakland started him out in AA last year and he struggled some, but he has looked quite good in 2008. Just as in college, nothing really pops out from Simmons, but everything is good. Though the A's reloaded their farm system through trades last off-season, Simmons is establishing himself as one of their better prospects.
18. Cory Luebke, LHP, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+)
  • STATS: 2-3 REC, 7.48 ERA, 49.1 IP, 73 H, 14 BB, 45 K, 6 HR
  • REPORT: Luebke seems to have hit a wall in Lake Elsinore. The Padres advanced him all the way to high A last year, and he struggled badly in two appearances. To this point, he has not fared any better in 2008. His strikeout, walk, and home run rates are all good, and he even gets more than his fair share of ground balls. However, quite simply, he gives up a ton of hits. Some of that may be due to playing in the California League, but not all of it. The strikeout and home run rates indicate that he has the potential to improve significantly though.
17. Ross Detwiler, LHP, Nationals (Potomac, A+)
  • STATS: 4-2 REC, 5.09 ERA, 46 IP, 50 H, 26 BB, 50 K, 2 HR
  • REPORT: Detwiler was very highly thought of coming out of college, so to this point he may be considered a bit of a disappointment. However, his ERA does not tell the whole story. While Ross has given up more than his fair share of hits, he is also striking out a bunch of batters, inducing tons of ground balls, and keeping the ball in the ballpark. In other words, hitters are not making that great of contact off him. Detwiler's ERA should come down, especially as he gains more control of his pitches.
16. Josh Collmenter, RHP, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A)
  • STATS: 4-4 REC, 4.80 ERA, 54.1 IP, 58 H, 22 BB, 49 K, 6 HR
  • REPORT: Looking at Collmenter's numbers as a whole, his ERA should not be quite as high as it is. However, he is also mostly a fly ball pitcher, so hits off him tend to be for extra bases more often. He is pitching in the Midwest League as well, making his numbers slightly more disappointing. On the positive side, Collmenter got off to a horrible start in the league and has been improving since. In fact, if just his first start is not considered, his ERA is 3.55.
15. James Adkins, LHP, Dodgers (Inland Empire, A+)
  • STATS: 3-4 REC, 4.70 ERA, 51.2 IP, 58 H, 22 BB, 48 K, 3 HR
  • REPORT: I am starting to sound like a broken record, but the biggest problem for Atkins is that he is pitching in the California League. His strikeout and home run rates are excellent, and his ground ball to fly ball ratio is solid as well. However, this league is not friendly for pitchers at all. Better numbers would be preferred, but all things considered, Adkins is doing a decent job.
14. Nick Chigges, RHP, Yankees
  • REPORT: After a strong showing in his debut as a pro last summer, Chigges is yet to appear in a game at any level in 2008. Especially considering how good he looked last year, he is probably in extended spring training right now, and hopefully he will get a chance to pitch in the second half of the year.
13. Mitch Canham, C, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+)
  • STATS: .279 AVG, 2 HR, 31 RBI, .421 OBP, .396 SLG, 39 BB, 30 K, 4 SB, 0 CS
  • REPORT: Canham is displaying a tremendous hitting eye, but nothing much else. His lack of power is not a big deal yet because he gets on base so often, but his limited power numbers are likely inflated because he is in the California League. All that is keeping Canham from being one of the better catching prospects in baseball is a little more power though.
12. Tony Thomas, 2B, Cubs (Daytona, A+)
  • STATS: .286 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBI, .329 OBP, .434 SLG, 13 BB, 47 K, 9 SB, 4 CS
  • REPORT: Thomas is putting together a decent year in Daytona, though it will be interesting to see how he develops. Right now, it is fairly clear that he is trying to hit for good power, judging from his slugging percentage and high number of strikeouts. However, Thomas also has tremendous speed, so it may be to his advantage to cut down on the strikeouts and put the ball in play more, even if it means he loses some of his power.
11. Josh Horton, SS, Athletics (Stockton, A+)
  • STATS: .297 AVG, 0 HR, 18 RBI, .401 OBP, .369 SLG, 32 BB, 36 K
  • REPORT: It is already clear that Josh Horton has virtually no power at all, but his plate discipline is superb. As a hitter, he reminds me of Jason Kendall in his prime, though with even less power. If Horton ends up developing even a little power, he will be a solid prospect.
10. Travis Banwart, RHP, Athletics (Stockton, A+)
  • STATS: 0-1 REC, 3.55 ERA, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 9 BB, 13 K, 2 HR
  • REPORT: Banwart just got promoted to Stockton thanks to the impressive numbers he put up for Kane County, the A's low-A affiliate. I still like Banwart more than Detwiler, which is far from the consensus. Though the are not in the same league, they are at the same level now, so I am interested to see if Banwart can outperform him. I still do not understand why Banwart was not more highly thought of on draft day.
9. Will Kline, RHP, Rays
  • REPORT: After a so-so performance at the end of last season, Kline is yet to appear in a game in 2008. Like fellow 2007 draftee David Newmann, my guess is that the Rays are having him pitch in extended spring training right now, and hopefully he will appear in some games in the second half of the season.
8. Tony Watson, LHP, Pirates (Lynchburg, A+)
  • STATS: 3-6 REC, 4.01 ERA, 58.1 IP, 73 H, 15 BB, 37 K, 10 HR
  • REPORT: Frankly, I do not know how Watson has kept his ERA as low as it is. He is clearly getting hit pretty hard. Watson was impressive last summer, and he must have something going for him this year as well that all stats but his ERA are missing. His walk rate is very low, indicating he is throwing strikes. He seems to buckle down when runners are aboard too, because the batting average against him plummets and he induces more ground balls. Maybe it is an indication that Watson should go to his stretch windup even with no runners aboard.
7. Nick Schmidt, LHP, Padres
  • REPORT: Schmidt blew out his arm last summer, so he will not pitch at all this year. He relied mostly on command of a big breaking ball for his success, so taking a year off may take him some time to recover from. Even if Schmidt struggles next year, it will be hard to evaluate him.
6. Eric Sogard, 2B, Padres (Lake Elsinore, A+)
  • STATS: .324 AVG, 1 HR, 33 RBI, .435 OBP, .429 SLG, 42 BB, 20 K, 4 SB, 1 CS
  • REPORT: Sogard got off to a torrid start and has coasted since. His strikeout to walk ratio is insane, but his lack of power is a little troubling since he is in a hitter-friendly league. Still, his pure hitting ability is outstanding, and he does not need any power to be successful with that kind of plate discipline.
5. Bryan Henry, RHP, Diamondbacks (South Bend, A)
  • STATS: 0-4 REC, 4.13 ERA, 32.2 IP, 28 H, 6 BB, 18 K
  • REPORT: Henry has been a disappointment to me so far. He did not pitch well last summer, and though he has been much better in 2008, he still is not terribly impressive. Henry is a fly ball pitcher, and on top of that he does not strike many batters out. He is basically the Jarrod Washburn of the Midwest League, and he needs to be better than that at his age and current minor league level to develop into something promising.
4. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles (Frederick, A+)
  • STATS: .329 AVG, 12 HR, 33 RBI, .426 OBP, .576 SLG, 29 BB, 33 K
  • REPORT: Sometimes paying the extra money that a Scott Boras client demands is worth it. Wieters had signability issues, but the Orioles bit the bullet and so far have to be thrilled with the dividends. Wieters is dominating high A, and hopefully will be promoted soon. He switch-hits, plays catcher, and hits for average and power. Enough said.
3. Tyler Mach, 2B, Phillies
  • REPORT: Mach played last summer, but has not yet in 2008. I am not sure what is up with him, because he certainly hit well enough last summer to warrant playing time somewhere this year.
2. David Price, LHP, Rays (Vero Beach, A+)
  • STATS: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 18 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 19 K, 0 HR
  • REPORT: Finally, after hiding Price in extended spring training, the Rays are having him play some pro ball! There were reports a couple weeks ago that he struck out A-Rod twice while he was on a rehab assignment, and judging from his numbers in high-A so far, his stuff probably is that nasty. Price is not going to last in high-A much longer. Some think he might even land in the majors by the end of the year.
1. Matt LaPorta, OF, Brewers (Huntsville, AA)
  • STATS: .286 AVG, 15 HR, 49 RBI, .395 OBP, .586 SLG, 31 BB, 43 K
  • REPORT: Through early May, LaPorta's OPS was hovering around 1.100, so he has cooled off recently. His numbers are still impressive though, especially in the power department. Most scouts thought LaPorta would be limited to first base in the pros, but to this point he is proving them wrong. I wanted LaPorta to be a Mariner badly last year, but he did not fall to them (and for the record Phillipe Aumont looks like a very good pick). Still, it is fun to think what a guy like LaPorta at first base in the M's system would be like right now. Considering the team's offensive struggles, there would be a strong push to give him a chance in the majors.
Overall, this list of players has enjoyed more success than the 2006 group, even though none of them have made the majors yet. Looking back, I did not consider age enough, and I did not get a chance to see video of any of the players in action. With both of those points in mind, I set out to do better in 2008. Tomorrow is the start of my 2008 coverage, as I will release my 25 college prospects to watch for.