A year away, the class of 2010 lacks a can't-miss top pick
By Keith Law Scouts Inc. Archive
The 2010 draft class isn't as stacked right now as the 2011 draft appears to be -- the latter group includes cover kid Bryce Harper as well as Sonny Gray, Alex Meyer, Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen. What 2010 really lacks is a clear No. 1 candidate. I could see any of at least a dozen names ending up on top of the board next June. (And for people who are arguing that the Nationals have a great fallback option if they don't sign Strasburg and get the No. 2 pick in next year's draft, this should be a cautionary note, since the 2010 draft doesn't appear to have even one no-doubter at the top, let alone two.) Since it's never too early to engage in reckless speculation, here's a look at the 2010 draft class in four movements:
Top names: Bryce Brentz (OF, Middle Tennessee State); Christian Colon (SS, Cal State Fullerton); Derek Dietrich (SS/3B, Georgia Tech); Yasmani Grandal (C, Miami); Josh Rutledge (SS, Alabama); Ross Wilson (3B, Alabama); Blake Forsythe (C, Tennessee); Leon Landry (OF, LSU); Andy Wilkins (1B, Arkansas); Micah Gibbs (C, LSU).
It's a somewhat better college crop up the middle than the 2009 group produced, with a few good catchers and legit shortstops -- although the situation in the outfield doesn't look any stronger. Brentz is the huge performer, hitting .479/.545/1.000 -- yes, one total base per at bat, kids -- in a mediocre conference. He's a center fielder who was drafted in the 30th round in 2007 by Cleveland, but as a pitcher. Colon and Rutledge are true shortstops with a chance to hit. Colon is more advanced defensively, but Rutledge has shown more with the stick. Grandal is a switch-hitting catcher who may have been the best unsigned player in the '07 draft (the Red Sox took him in the 27th round); he has power, patience and a good arm, but still needs work behind the plate.
Among players below the top tier, Arkansas' Zack Cox will be age-eligible as a sophomore; he's a personal favorite who plays a great third base and has some pop but struck out far too often in his first year in school. You may also hear about Cory Vaughn, son of former big leaguer Greg, at San Diego State, but while Cory has big tools, he also has a major contact problem that he's going to have to solve to get into this group.
Top names: Anthony Ranaudo (RHP, LSU); Justin Grimm (RHP, Georgia); Drew Pomeranz (LHP, Ole Miss); Nick Tepesch (RHP, Missouri); Matt Harvey (RHP, UNC); Kevin Rhoderick (RHP, Oregon State); Josh Osich (LHP, Oregon State); Kyle Blair (RHP, San Diego); Chris Hernandez (LHP, Miami); Brandon Workman (RHP, Texas); Chad Bettis (RHP, Texas Tech); Alex Wimmers (RHP, Ohio State).
Next year's college pitching crop looks very promising right now, although I know from experience how quickly that can change. Ranaudo is the best of the group, but he's not the typical No. 1 overall pick who brings a big fastball to the table. He gets by with good command and a lot of deception on a solid-to-average fastball. The wild card is Osich, who reaches 96 mph in relief and has the build and probably the repertoire to start if he gets the opportunity. Grimm and Tepesch were both drafted by the Red Sox in 2007 but wanted first-round money to sign. Grimm will work at 93 to 96 mph as a starter, but his breaking ball still needs work, while Tepesch will sit a little below that and posted a 6.27 ERA this year. Rhoderick is probably the top closer prospect in the class and has a lightning-quick arm but below-average control. Blair could be part of a three-headed monster rotation for San Diego if A.J. Griffin doesn't sign with the Phillies. The No. 3 starter, lefty Sammy Solis, is another candidate to go in the first few rounds.
High school bats
Top names: Trey Griffin (OF, Martin Luther King HS, Stockbridge, Ga.); Austin Wilson (Harvard-Westlake School, Los Angeles); Kris Bryant (SS/3B, Bonanza HS, Las Vegas); Krey Bratsen (OF, Bryan HS, Texas); Nick Castellanos (3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.); Yordy Cabrera (SS/RHP, Lakeland HS, Fla.); Reggie Golden (Wetumpka HS, Ala.); Taylor Lindsay (OF, Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.); Marcus Littlewood (SS, Pineview HS, St. George, Utah).
Georgia always has at least one top-shelf athletic position player prospect -- Griffin is that guy for 2010, a potential five-tool outfielder (he's played some shortstop, too) with good hand strength. Wilson is tall and athletic with big, raw power and arm strength. Cabrera is one of a number of two-way guys in the 2010 class; he's a power/speed guy who was born in the Dominican Republic and is already committed to Miami. Bryant won't stay at short in pro ball but may end up at third base, where his bat should be more than adequate. Bratsen is a polished leadoff type who plays an above-average center field. Lindsay is a bat without a clear position, but he can hit and has power. Littlewood is also a two-way player who is a slick-fielding shortstop. He has extremely slick hands and was named ESPN RISE's Utah player of the year last year as a sophomore.
One interesting name below this group is Delino DeShields Jr. of Woodward Academy (College Park, Ga.). The son of -- well, you know who -- is a two-sport threat who may end up playing football instead of baseball. He's on the short side for baseball at 5-foot-9, but he's apparently a serious college prospect as a running back.
Of course, there's also Bryce Harper, the uber-catcher from Las Vegas HS in Nevada. No, he's not eligible for the 2010 draft right now, but when he exploded on to the national scene last summer at the Area Code Games, scouts started talking about the idea of him getting his high school diploma early and coming out in 2010 instead of 2011. If Harper does this -- his family has acknowledged that they're considering the option -- he'd be the clear No. 1 overall pick that the '10 draft pool currently lacks. It would also move him out of a very competitive 2011 pool into one where he'd be the undisputed big fish. Harper is a five-tool catcher with absurd bat speed and control, great power for his age, above-average speed, a plus arm and good receiving skills and energy. At those Area Code Games, he stole the show with every at-bat despite being two years younger than almost every pitcher he faced.
High school arms
Top names: A.J. Cole (RHP, Oveido HS, Fla.); Jameson Taillon (RHP, The Woodlands HS, Spring, Texas); Stetson Allie, (RHP/SS, St. Edward HS, Cleveland); Zach Lee (RHP, McKinney HS, Texas); Justin O'Connor (RHP/SS, Cowan HS, Ind.); Kevin Gausman (RHP, Grandview HS, Aurora, Colo.); Rudy Acosta (RHP, Mount Miguel HS, San Diego); Cam Bedrosian (RHP, East Coweta HS, Sharpsburg, Ga.).
The 2010 prep arms have a lot of hard throwers -- more than we had in '09 and on par with the bumper crop of 2007. Cole is the jewel of the class right now, sitting 93 to 96 mph by the end of the season with some projection left in his body. Lee's status depends on whether he wants to play baseball or go to college and play football; he is, of course, a great athlete with a big arm. O'Connor has touched 96 and struck out 14 straight batters in a postseason game last week, but he also has first-round potential as a power-hitting shortstop. Allie is a showcase legend who is also a prospect as a shortstop with a strong and quick swing. Bedrosian also has a big arm but also may have gotten a head start on other prospects in the class because of his father, former big league reliever Steve Bedrosian. High school pitching is the most volatile group of the four between injuries and the sudden changes in velocity (usually up, but sometimes down) that go along with the physical maturation of teenage arms, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see this list turn out to be the least complete of the quartet here.