The John Report ….. five season’s later …. Part Two
When the smoke cleared, and all the supplemental picks were taken, Season 17’s Draft produced 77 first round picks. That is the most 1st round selections in the History of JB5. 70 of the 77 picks signed. And 41 of those picks are already on a major league squad. 25 more sit at AAA ready to make the jump. With all of the first round selections, the rest of the draft was a little watered down. Round two produced 34 selections, seven of which are already in the majors. As you would expect, all ten of the first eleven selections who signed, are making a contribution to the ML roster. Two of the top 11 picks are notable for their immediate contributions.
One pick in season 17 really stands out. In season 18 1B Sal Becker was the MVP of the Futures game. One season earlier, Becker was the sixth pick in the draft. The pride of Hawkins Texas, already has three complete ML seasons under his belt. He was the season 19 NL ROY, and the season 20 NL MVP. What an impressive start. Rumor has it his bust is already being ordered for the HOF. He has solid power numbers, with 113 HRs and a career average of .308. Becker is a switch hitter and that allows Nashville to leave him in the cleanup spot no matter who he is facing. Long range projections indicate Becker still has growth left. If there is a concern about Becker it’s his defensive skills. Although he projects slightly below average as a first baseman, his season 21 stats were respectable. He has a long career ahead of him in the cleanup spot for Nashville. And at some point off in the future, he might be a solid trade chip where he would project to a DH role in the AL. But that appears to be a long way off in the future.
Another big time contributor was picked right after Becker. With pick seven, Washington selected 1B Torey Zagone. Zagone just completed his first season on the big league roster for DC. Another power hitter with great numbers, Zagone hit 46 HRs and .308 in season 21, and won the NL ROY award. Originally drafted as a Left Fielder when he came out of high school, Zagone began to make huge strides after he was moved to 1B and began to focus on his hitting. Scouts project Zagone to be one of the top defensive first basemen in the NL with a good glove and excellent range numbers. Add this to his already impressive offensive skills and you have another future HOF candidate. In any other season, Zagone would probably be the top player selected in the draft. One thing is certain. Since Zagone and Becker both play the same position, and both entered JB5 in season 17, their careers will constantly be linked.
Three of the top 11 selections in season 17 are contributing as expected. Although their contribution may not have reached the heights of Becker and Zagone, they are doing just fine. Top pick, Will Moore has solidified the CF position for Rochester. Like Zagone, season 21 was his first full time at the ML level. He was a Silver Slugger, and was selected for the All-Star team. His career .304 average, 23 HRs and 54 SBs are reflective of his skills. He has excellent contact and speed. And his batting eye is already one of the best in the league. Over the last few seasons Moore has worked to improve his base running skills. He had 51 thefts in 62 attempts last season. His coaches tell me those numbers will increase as he learns more about the pitchers in this league. All this, and he possess a little pop in his bat. All in all, Moore is progressing just as expected. Rochester is looking forward to many “Moore” seasons from Will.
Second pick Jerome Ray just completed his second season on the Atlanta ML roster. The lefty is expected to be the future ace of the Atlanta staff. After a rocky season 20, he went to work in Venezuelan winter league to improve on his splits. His season 21 numbers reflect those improvements. 18-8 as a starter in season 21, Ray lowered his WHIP (1.15) and his ERA (2.92). Scouts like his control, improved splits and his nice four seam fast ball. In season 21, Ray was recognized as an early Cy Young candidate and was rewarded with a trip the All-star game. It’s probably not his last. Atlanta is methodically building a young talented team and Ray looks to be the future ace of the Atlanta staff.
Fifth Pick Pedro Zapata is another player who made a quick jump to the ML roster. Pedro joined the big squad in season 19 and immediately hit .301. Over his three seasons in the Bigs, he has held steady with a career average of .285 and an OBP of .351. Across the board, Pedro’s hitting ratings are all in the 70s and his ability as a switch hitter, makes him very valuable. Scouts around the league would like to see his glove work improve. But, on the plus side, he was able to cut his minus plays significantly in season 21. Zapata played a multiple of positions in season 20 and that versatility may come in very important to the Zombies in the future if they find a better glove to play SS.
Acquired by Atlanta in a season 20 trade with his original team (San Francisco), Stuffy Madson is another significant piece to the rebuild taking place in Atlanta. As the 13th selection the season 17 draft, Madson was the focal point in a trade that sent Al Pena and Bengie Cayones to Colorado Springs. Originally drafted as a RF, Madson was moved to Left once he arrived in Atlanta. The move fits his defensive skills much better. Although he hit a solid .301 in his first season for Atlanta, projections show that Madson is still improving his hitting ratings. He certainly provides a little more power (25 HRs in season 21) than expected from a two hole hitter. His ratings are pretty solid across the board and he fits nicely into the long range plans in Atlanta.
Questions that need to be answered
Injuries to Willie Guardado (31st selection) have slowed his progress and growth. As he enters season 22, there are some big questions that need to be answered. Another season at AA may really set him back psychologically. If the long term goal is to have him pitch in the majors, he will need to transition to AAA this season. Scouts around the league are beginning to question whether or not he can play at the top level. How much of his growth slowdown is because of injuries ? Guardado’s makeup will probably have a lot to do with how he recovers.
Everyone in the Anaheim organization will be keeping a watchful eye on the situation.
Acquired from Atlanta in a mid-season trade, Cookie Lopez (selection 36) is also on Anaheim’s watch list. Lopez should also make the transition to AAA this season. Cookie is another player whose batting skills growth appears to have slowed significantly. His value to the big squad may be defensively. He already possess all of the defensive skills you would want in a ML 3B. And indications are that he will continue to improve defensively. This will be a season where work with a great hitting coach may decide whether or not Lopez views the “California Spectacular” geysers from the dugout or a sports bar in season 23.