2011 Draft Preview Serious: Releasing the Bats in '11

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Greetings, Viva El Birdos! I am speaking to you...from the past!

Monday evening, to be exact. That's right, I'm using my Baronial powers of astral projection to appear here this morning from two days ago! Partially because I have a dire warning to offer to all of mankind, but mostly because I won't be available Wednesday and so am writing this up early. So, if anything revolutionary has happened in the Diamondbacks series so far, like Albert and Berkman combining for five homers and fifteen RBI, thus ensuring our offensive superiority until the end of time, feel free to discuss here. I promise I won't be offended.

Anyhow, I bring you another batch of draft goodness after the jump. Today we have players known for their bats. Call it the Brett Wallace All-Star team.

Josh Bell, OF, Dallas Jesuit High School 

6'3", 205 lbs

Bats: Both

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Josh Bell looks like he was born to hit. He has lightning in his hands, and is one of the few high school switch-hitters you'll ever see who looks completely natural from both sides of the plate. He has huge raw power and a mature, disciplined approach for a hitter so young, putting him well ahead of his contemporaries in terms of offensive polish. There's no guarantee any hitter, much less one from the high school ranks, will hit as he moves up the ladder, but Bell's sound approach and natural ability to swing the bat make him a much better bet than most.

Looking at Bell, he looks a bit like Domonic Brown, the Phillies' young right fielder, at least from a build standpoint.  Bell is a different sort of player, though. Where Brown has plus speed, and advanced hit tool, and questions about his power upside, Bell has power to spare but lacks the plus athleticism. He plays center field currently, but only in the way the best players up to a certain age always play either shortstop or center field. He's destined for  a corner outfield spot or perhaps even first base down the line as his huge frame fills in and he slows down further. Right field is a possibility, though an arm that rates as just average may force him even further down the defensive spectrum.

Regardless of where Bell ends up defensively, his bat will be his meal ticket. Luckily for him, he could end up with a high enough offensive ceiling to buy some very, very expensive meals.

 

 Nick Delmonico, C/3B/1B, Farragut High School (Tennessee) 

6'3", 210 lbs

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Delmonico essentially comes from a white version of the Molina family. His oldest brother Tony is a catcher in the Dodgers' minor league system, and his brother Joey is currently donning the tools of ignorance for the University of Georgia. With no disrespect intended to either of the other Catching Delmonico Brothers, Nick is in a completely different world as a prospect.

Delmonico has one of the most advanced offensive profiles you're going to find in this or any other draft class. The son of a coach, he's been around the game his entire life and it shows. His setup, swing, and plate approach are all sound, and he uses them to generate plus power and plenty of hard contact. He rarely loses his patience and plays outside himself, evidenced by high walk rates throughout his prep career. There's plenty of strength in his hands and frame that he should be able to hit for plus power no matter the level.

On the defensive side, there are more questions about Delmonico. He actually does have a chance to stay behind the plate, as he has soft hands, good receiving skills, and a strong arm. On the other hand, his footwork isn't great, leading to slow pop times and a weakness in blocking balls and the like. Still, those are the sorts of things top-level coaching might be able to improve, and he's relatively green at catching to boot. (He previously played shortstop. See my previous comments about the best players and what positions they play.) If he can remain at catcher, the sky is really the limit for Delmonico. His offensive upside would play at any position, but is just out of this world behind the plate.

If he does end up moving to another position, either infield corner presents as an option. He has enough arm for third and has shown the hands for third or first. He could end up close to 6'4" and 230 or more down the road, so he'll likely have to stay vigilant in maintaining his build. For now he runs fairly well, but he'll likely slow down as he fills out further and end up with speed that's good for a catcher but no better.

On the whole, Delmonico would represent a very intriguing draft pick for a team picking in the latter half of the first round. Depending on what position he ends up at, Delmonico's ceiling could range from solid regular to perennial all-star. He should hit no matter where he plays, and would be an especially good get for some team whose minor league system is lacking in offensive talent. (Ahem.) The Cards already have a backlog at catcher in the minors, which might  make them hesitant to spend a high draft pick on yet another, but I'm also not sure any of the backstops currently in the system have the same kind of ceiling Delmonico does.

 

 Travis Harrison, 3B, Tustin High School (California) 

6'2", 215 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

Travis Harrison is a monster, and he hits like a monster. He boasts some of the best raw power of any hitter in this year's draft, capable of putting moon shots up in the stands where few players can hit it. He generates a ton of torque with his hips and core, giving him plus bat speed, especially on pitches on the outer half. He's capable of rotating through and pulling the inside pitch as well, though he's shown more of that in batting practice than in-game as of yet.

Harrison has more questions than the other two players on this list, to be honest. His contact skills are just average, and he is prone to striking out a fair amount. While his bat speed is good, he also has a longer swing, leaving him more vulnerable to offspeed pitches and good fastballs up or inside. questions about his future defensive home. Harrison plays third base now, and has worked hard to stay there, but most scouts feel he'll end up across the diamond at first once he's done filling out. He has a huge frame and is already slow of foot, and will likely slow down further as he grows.

I'm not a huge fan of Harrison, to be quite honest. He has one plus tool -- power -- but an awful lot of question marks to go along with that. If you believe he could stay at third, his power profile is very intriguing, but I'm not a believer. (Seems like the Cardinals have been down this road before, doesn't it?) I think he ends up at first, not through a lack of effort but simply due to his physical abilities. I'm also not sure he'll ever get on base enough to be a truly elite offensive player. I see him cut more from the Carlos Pena cloth, albeit from the right side. That's certainly a useful player, and not at all a bad guy to have around, but I wouldn't spend a first-round pick when there's likely to be other, more well-rounded options available. Still, in a draft loaded down with pitching and short on power prospects, a guy like Harrison could be a hot commodity.

 

 To be honest, this is a very odd draft class, in that there are almost no all-bat/no-glove college players at the top of the draft. The few Brett Wallace or Justin Smoak types are all high schoolers, an exceedingly unusual arrangement. In fact, there may not be a single first basemen taken in the first round this June, or at least not a player who currently mans first. I don't remember the last time that happened.

 

The Baron's Playlist for the 13th of April, 2011  (Click for 8tracks page)

"Face It" - Beach Fossils 

"A Million Years" - Alexander

"Locks in Shadows" - Lansing-Dreiden

"Providence" - Love Language

"Why Won't You Make Up Your Mind?" - Tame Impala

"Pumpkins and Paisley" - The Spinto Band

"Because Tonight" - the Besnard Lakes

"Microcastle" - Deerhunter

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