The Washington Times - June 7, 2009, 09:33PM

The 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is set to kick off Tuesday, and officials of all 30 big league teams are busy scouring scouting reports and making last-minute adjustments to their player rankings. Countless amateur players are holding their breath and hoping they won’t have to wait long to hear their names called. College coaches nationwide are crossing their fingers and quietly hoping their recruits slip far enough that they’ll forgo pro ball and honor their commitments. And the darlings of last year’s draft, the 30 first-rounders? A handful are already in the bigs, one’s in college, another has re-entered this year’s draft and the rest are busy working their way up the minor league ladder. Let’s check in on their progress.

 

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1. Tim Beckham, SS, Rays

Beckham hit just .246 in his pro debut last summer but is having a fine season at the plate for Class A Bowling Green, hitting .300 with three home runs and 31 RBI through 50 games. However, the 19-year-old five-tool prospect has struggled in the field (16 errors) and has been gunned down in six of his seven steal attempts.

2. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates

Contentious negotiations between the Pirates and Alvarez’s agent Scott Boras delayed his pro debut until this season. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound slugger ranks second in the advanced Class A Carolina League in both home runs (10) and RBI (42) but is hitting just .240. He has also made 11 errors so far at third base.

3. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

Hosmer got just 11 at bats in Rookie ball after signing last summer and has yet to find his power stroke this season for Class A Burlington. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-handed hitting first baseman has just three homers in 167 at bats and is hitting a mildly disappointing .263, but he’s only 19 and has a world of potential.

4. Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles

Matusz signed too late to debut last summer but is making up for lost time this year with advanced Class A Frederick. Through 11 starts, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-hander leads the Carolina League with 75 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings and ranks third with a 2.16 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .225 off him.

5. Buster Posey, C, Giants

The Florida State product hit .351 with six homers in 51 at bats in his pro debut last summer and has picked up right where he left off this year for advanced Class A San Jose. The 22-year-old is hitting .307 with nine home runs and 41 RBI and has stolen five bases without being caught. A promotion to Double-A can’t be far off.

6. Kyle Skipworth, C, Marlins


Many high school draftees struggle in their first taste of pro ball and Skipworth was no exception, hitting just .208 in 159 at bats in Rookie ball last summer. The 19-year-old still hasn’t adjusted to pro pitching and is hitting just .187 with four home runs and 22 RBI for Class A Greensboro. He’s fanned 54 times in 139 at bats.

7. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Reds

Alonso held his own in a cameo with advanced Class A Sarasota last summer. He returned there to start the season and earned a promotion to Double-A Carolina last week after hitting .302 with seven home runs and 37 RBI in 47 games. The 22-year-old could make his big league debut later this summer if he continues to hit.

8. Gordon Beckham, SS, White Sox

Beckham hit .310 with three homers in 14 games for Class A Kannapolis last summer, then forced his way to the bigs by hitting .326 with four homers and 24 RBI between Double-A and Triple-A this year. The 22-year-old is off to a rough start in the bigs, but big things are expected from the 6-foot, 190-pound Georgia product.

9. Aaron Crow, RHP, Nationals

Crow couldn’t agree to terms with the Nationals and decided to play for the independent Fort Worth Cats and re-enter the 2009 draft. The 6-foot-2 Missouri product has posted a 1.06 ERA this season for the Cats with 17 strikeouts in as many innings, and his will likely be one of the first names called on Tuesday.

10. Jason Castro, C, Astros

The left-handed hitting catcher held his own in short-season Class A last summer with a .275 average and two homers in 39 games and is having a fine season this year for advanced Class A Lancaster. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder is hitting .309 with seven homers and 44 RBI and could soon be promoted to Double-A.

11. Justin Smoak, 1B, Rangers

Smoak’s brief but impressive debut last summer (.304 with three homers in 14 Class A games) prompted the Rangers to have him start his first full pro season in Double-A. He got off to a great start, hitting .325 with six homers in his first 41 games, but has played only once since May 23 because of an oblique strain.

12. Jemile Weeks, 2B, Athletics

Rickie Weeks’ younger brother held his own with a .297 average in 74 Class A at bats last summer but leg injuries kept him off the field until May 27 this season. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Miami product is off to a fast start for advanced Class A Stockton with a .310 average, three home runs and nine RBI in his first nine games.

13. Brett Wallace, 3B, Cardinals

Wallace put himself of the fast track by hitting .337 with eight homers and reaching Double-A in his pro debut last summer. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder returned to Double-A and hit .281 with five homers in 32 games to earn a promotion to Triple-A. He’s hitting .242 with a pair of homers in his first 91 Triple-A at bats.

14. Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins

Hicks was outstanding in his pro debut, hitting .318 with four homers, 27 RBI and 12 steals for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Twins. Surprisingly, Minnesota elected to keep the 19-year-old in extended spring training instead of sending him to full-season ball. He’ll begin playing for a short-season club in a couple weeks.

15. Ethan Martin, RHP, Dodgers

Martin, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound righty, signed too late to make his pro debut in 2008. He’s flashed his potential by fanning 54 batters and allowing just one home run in his first 44 2/3 innings in the Class A Midwest League and is currently 3-3 with a 4.43 ERA. The 20-year-old needs to work on his command (26 walks).

16. Brett Lawrie, C, Brewers

The 19-year-old postponed his pro debut last summer to play for the Canadian Olympic team. Drafted as a catcher, he has moved to second base this season for Class A Wisconsin. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder is holding his own against mostly older competition with a .264 average, eight homers and 39 RBI in 54 games.

17. David Cooper, 1B, Blue Jays

Cooper, a 6-foot, 200-pound left-handed hitter, hit .333 with five homers and 51 RBI at three levels last summer and appeared to be on the fast track to Toronto. The 22-year-old has struggled mightily so far this season, however, with a .245 average and just two home runs through 47 games for Double-A New Hampshire.

18. Isaac Davis, 1B, Mets

Davis, a 6-foot-5 Arizona State product, disappointed in his pro debut by hitting just .256 and failing to go deep in 215 short-season Class A at bats. The left-handed hitting first baseman made the jump to advanced Class A this year anyway and is holding his own with a .283 average, four homers and 21 RBI in 50 games.

19. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Cubs

Cashner’s command deserted him in his pro debut, as the 6-foot-6 righty from Texas Christian walked 23 batters in 20 innings at three levels and posted a 5.85 ERA. He’s issued a more manageable 10 free passes in 25 2/3 advanced Class A innings this year, however, and has a 1.75 ERA to go along with 22 strikeouts.

20. Josh Fields, RHP, Mariners

The signing deadline didn’t apply to Fields because he was a college senior and his negotiations dragged on into the offseason before he finally agreed to terms. The 6-foot, 185-pound righty reliever went straight to Double-A to begin his pro career and is 2-0 with a 4.85 ERA and 18-to-11 K-to-walk ratio in 13 innings.

21. Ryan Perry, RHP, Tigers

Perry, a 6-foot-4 righty reliever, posted a 3.29 ERA and 16-to-7 K-to-walk ratio in his pro debut last summer, finishing up in advanced Class A. He surprised many by winning a spot in the Tigers’ bullpen this spring and has held his own so far with a 3.13 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 23 innings. Opponents are hitting .195 off him.

22. Reese Havens, SS, Mets

Havens hit .247 with three homers in his injury-plagued short-season Class A pro debut last summer. Promoted to advanced Class A to begin the 2009 season, the South Carolina product has shown good pop (seven homers, 26 RBI) and plate discipline (27 walks, 30 K’s), but he’s hitting just .228 through 167 at bats.

23. Allan Dykstra, 1B, Padres

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Wake Forest product hit .292 in 24 at bats in advanced Class A last summer but was assigned to the Padres’ Class A club this spring. He’s disappointed so far with a .202 average and just three home runs, but good plate discipline (48 walks, 47 K’s) has led to a solid .392 on-base percentage.

24. Anthony Hewitt, SS, Phillies

Hewitt was viewed as a project when he was drafted and looked the part in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last summer, hitting .197 with one home run while fanning 55 times in 117 at bats. The 19-year-old is currently in extended spring training waiting for short-season Class A Williamsport’s season to begin.

25. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Rockies

Friedrich, a 6-foot-4 lefty, posted a 4.31 ERA and 65-to-15 K-to-walk ratio last summer and finished the season in Class A. He returned there this season and earned a promotion to advanced Class A by going 3-3 with a 2.18 ERA and 66 K’s in 45 1/3 innings. He has a 2.77 ERA in two starts since his promotion.

26. Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Diamondbacks

Schlereth, the son of former NFL lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, posted a 1.50 ERA and 20-to-6 K-to-walk ratio on his way to Double-A last summer. The reliever was summoned to the majors after posting a 1.42 ERA in 15 Double-A games this year and has allowed five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

27. Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, Twins

Gutierrez posted a 2.10 ERA in 25 2/3 advanced Class A innings last summer but returned there to begin this season anyway. A reliever at Miami (Fla.), he was converted into a starter this year and earned a promotion to Double-A by posting a 1.32 ERA in 10 starts. He allowed five runs in five innings in his first Double-A start.

28. Gerrit Cole, RHP, Yankees

Cole, a 6-foot-4 righty, spurned the Yankees to attend UCLA, becoming the first first-round pick since John Mayberry Jr. in 2002 to forgo pro ball and go to college. The 19-year-old earned First-Team All-Pac 10 honors as a freshman by going 4-5 with a 3.34 ERA and 93 K’s. He’s shaping up as a top prospect for the 2011 draft.

29. Lonnie Chisenhall, SS, Indians

Chisenhall held his own in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League last summer, hitting .290 with five homers and 45 RBI in 68 games. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder is playing third base in advanced Class A this season and is having a great year at the plate with a .301 average and 10 homers through 53 games.

30. Casey Kelly, RHP/SS, Red Sox

Kelly struggled as a positional player in his pro debut last summer, hitting .215 with 42 strikeouts in 141 Rookie-level at bats. Converted to the mound this season, the 6-foot-3 righty dominated in Class A (6-1, 1.12 ERA, 39-to-9 K-to-walk ratio) and earned a promotion to advanced Class A, where he has a 2.31 ERA in two starts.

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected]

 

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Prospect Q&A - Brian Matusz, Orioles
Prospect Q&A - Kyle Skipworth, Marlins
Prospect Q&A - Jason Castro, Astros