MLB Draft 2011 Preview: Part IV

It's that time again! (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

See also: Part I, Part II, Part III

So the Major League Baseball Rule IV draft is almost there, starting at 7:00 PM EST. Are you excited yet? I know I am! In this last preview, we will look at some players whose draft stock is rising late and could pop up in the middle of the first round, near the Jays' first pick. We'll also take a look at players that have been associated with the Jays in mock drafts, and discuss why they would make sense.

Late Risers

Robert Stephenson (HS RHP)

Strengths: Fastball velocity, fastball control, projectability

Weaknesses: Inconsistent secondary pitches, some effort in delivery

Cory Spangenberg (JC 2B/CF, LHB)

Strengths: Makes good contact, good speed, athletic

Weaknesses: Lacks arm for 3B/SS, positional questions

Larry Greene (HS LF/RF, LHB)

Strengths: Excellent raw power

Weaknesses: Limited defensively

Joe Ross (HS RHP)

Strengths: Fastball command, good slider, easy delivery

Weaknesses: Fastball movement

Michael Kelly (HS RHP)

Strengths: Good fastball, projectability

Weaknesses: Struggles to repeat delivery, command

Andrew Chafin (College LHP)

Strengths: Good fastball (93-95 mph), great slider, good command

Weaknesses: Has already had Tommy John surgery, effort in delivery, could be a reliever

Trevor Story (HS SS, RHB)

Strenghts: Has all the tools, could even pitch (96 mph on the mound), good work ethic

Weaknesses: Just average at running, not a total lock to stay at short

Players linked to the Jays

Levi Michael seems to be the favorite for the Jays' pick at #21 according to several sources. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Baseball America's Jim Callis, Scout.com's Frankie Piliere as well as Perfect Game all have Levi Michael going to the Jays. So basically all the experts agree that this will be the pick, making Michael a name that Jays fans could expect to see pop up when the Jays make their first pick. Or is AA misleading the experts and are the Jays just interested in Michael if he drops to #35?

At first glance, Michael doesn't seem to be AA's kind of pick, but then AA has been in charge for only one draft and is probably looking at more than just college pitchers and high upside high school kids. Levi Michael has a few things going for him: first of all, he might be good enough defensively for the shortstop position or he could become an above average second baseman defensively. Another thing Michael has going for him is that he went to college a year early, making his offensive numbers that much more impressive. A third is that Michael put up solid numbers even though he was apparently dealing with an ankle injury which both Perfect Game and MLB Draft Insider think has hampered his hitting, as he didn't have as good a season as last year. A fourth is that Michael's ability to draw walks is unrivaled among the highly rated college players for the 2011 draft, even though he's probably the youngest of them all. Michael, last but not least, also gets good grades for his makeup.

A positive report from The Baseball Draft Report goes:

I’ve mentioned it before, but it is so incredible to me that it bears repeating: Levi Michael graduated high school early to enroll at UNC mid-year, and then went on to tear it up as a freshman playing as a starter in the ACC. Occasionally we’ll see pitchers do this, and last year we had the hole Bryce Harper skipping his senior year to go destroy wood ball junior college ball, but it is still pretty rare to see a hitter do what Michael did in the manner he did (repeat: he smashed the ball all over the place back in 2009 as an 18-year-old) that it is worth pointing out over and over again. Michael has plenty of bat speed, double-digit homer upside, and the footwork and instincts to potentially stick at his junior season college position of shortstop.

Levi Michael could be a good one, given his premium defensive position, his relative youth and him coming off a possible down year for him (due to injury). Since Michael is at #22 on Baseball America's Draft Top 200, I wouldn't call it an overdraft if the Jays went for Michael.

Daniel Norris is another name linked to us by Frankie Piliere, and also by Kevin Goldstein, as someone the Jays are really high on, but the talented high schooler has apparently stated he will need an offer of $3.9 million to sign. He would probably be a steal at #21 though, and a lot of Jays fans are probably hoping AA shells out the money on the left-hander.

Jed Bradley is Goldstein's choice for the Jays, as well as Chris Crawford's guess (MLB Draft Insider), and he too would be a steal. There are some reports that he's been inconsistent and is having trouble with the movement on his breaking ball, so the college lefty who seemed to be a lock for the top 10 could drop to the Jays at pick number 21.

Josh Bell was an early favorite in a lot of mocks, but the fact he might not even sign because he's determined to go to college makes him a risky pick here. Piliere does have him as a possible option for the Jays at #21.

Taylor Guerrieri has been rumored in conjunction with the Jays by MLB Reports, and given his tremendous upside I think AA would jump at the chance to nab Guerrieri, but it seems unlikely he'll drop that far.

Blake Swihart is another one linked to the Jays by the same site. The high school catcher with a very promising bat will likely need big bucks to be signed, so I could see AA grabbing Swihart if he drops a bit.

Andrew Chafin has beaten the Texas Longhorns and their ace Taylor Jungmann recently, and the Tommy John survivor has some really good stats in limited action. Prospect Junkies links him to the Jays and thinks Chafin won't be available by the supplemental round.

Who do you see the Jays picking at #21? And in the supplemental round?

 

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