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2009 Draft Preview #5

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I tried really, really hard to come up with some sort of April Fool's joke to use this morning. I thought about staging some sort of mock resignation, complete with cursing and yelling about the other mods here, or something to do with Conficker taking over my computer, or maybe a fake player profile, something along the lines of Sidd Finch. In the end, I just couldn't come up with anything that I really liked. So, no April Fool entertainment for you guys. Sorry.

 However, in the spirit of the holiday, I would like to point you over to a very nice, well, something over at Gateway Redbirds. Good, good stuff.

 Other stuff:

David Kopp is my favourite ballplayer. That is all.

My thought on Chris Perez going back to the minors: boooo. I think Perez on the roster gives us a better chance to win. Apparently, Tony disagrees with me. That's fine. However, what I really have a problem with is the moving target that he presents. He uses different criteria when justifying whatever decision he made, then acts as if the rest of the world is stupid for not being able to keep up with him. Is Perez being in the minors going to sink this team? Nah, probably not. Hell, we'll probably see him within a month or two anyway. But when Kyle McClellan can't seem to get anyone out, but is kept around because he apparently understands what it is that he needs to correct bothers me. Since he understands what he needs to fix, why doesn't he go fix it somewhere he isn't hurting the team? Like I said, the move itself is of fairly limited significance. What I'm bothered by is the lack of any kind of consistency in how players seem to be evaluated. Oh well.

Today, I have a very abbreviated preview section for you. It consists of only two players, and they just happen to be two players in very unusual situations.

And just for you, Hardcore, I will remember to use the jump.

So what sort of situation do these two players find themselves in? Well, I'm glad you asked. Both of them are players reentering the draft after spending a year playing independent league ball. Both were fairly high profile draftees who failed to sign; one due to a shoulder injury, one due to an agent injury. I'm sure by now you know who I'm talking about. Anyhow, enough of my pontificating. On to the actual meat.

Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats (Indy)

DOB: 11th November, 1986

6'1", 195 lbs

So, what's so great about this guy?

Aaron Crow was probably the best overall college pitcher in last year's draft. He had a better season than Brian Matusz, his major competition for that claim, as well as having better stuff. However, due to Crow's association with Scott Boras, as well as some lingering concerns about his mechanics, Matusz went off the board first. Crow went ninth overall to the Washington Nationals, and after a summer of protracted, contentious negotiations, the two sides failed to come to an agreement, with the result that Crow is now playing for the Cats of Fort Worth and will go back into the draft pool this year.

As far as raw stuff goes, there really isn't anything not to like about Crow.  His best pitch is his fastball, which he works in the 92-96 range and commands to all quadrants of the strike zone. In short relief outings, his fastball has been clocked as high as 99 at times, though the pitch does tend to flatten out at extremely high velocities. He complements his fastball with an excellent slider that has only fair movement, but is extremely late and hard. Crow also throws a changeup with nice arm speed, though he's never thrown it a whole lot. Certainly, to make it as a major league pitcher, he would need to develop his change into a usable third pitch, but that should be an issue, as any problems he has with it appear to be due to the fact that he simply hasn't needed to throw it enough to ever get as consistent a feel as one would like to see.

The problems with Crow start when you look at his mechanics. Personally, I still love his lower body mechanics, as he drives off the mound very well and gets solid hip/shoulder separation. The issue is his upper body, specifically his arm action. There's been a lot of talk at various times about the wrist wrap that Crow has at the back of his arm action, but that doesn't bother me. What does is  how he gets his arm up to the top of his delivery; suffice it to say he does it basically the same way Chris Carpenter does, which isn't a complement. Will Crow definitely have shoulder problems? I have no idea; I don't pretend to believe that my amateur mechanics scouting report has any kind of real predictive value. But, I do think there is a red flag, and a fairly substantial one. Take it for whatever you think it may be worth.

Besides his delivery, there is also the issue of size with Crow, though I personally don't think it should really be a concern. I think that pitcher's bodies are waaayyy overanalyzed. I'm sure there's some sort of statistical correlation between big pitchers and less injuries, but I just don't think it makes as much difference as proper mechanics while throwing.

Of course, no discussion of Crow would be complete without bringing up the Boras Factor. Any team looking to bring Crow into the fold would have to be fully aware that this is a young man who already waited out one team, giving up a potential year of his career to an indy league team, and would probably be willing to do so again. (On the other hand, I almost wonder if a team should go into those negotiations with the attitude that hey, the kid's already 23, instead of 22, he can't possibly wait around too very much longer if he expects to have any kind of real career. Don't know if it would work, but I would certainly be interested to see how it would play out.) I have no idea what kind of bonus demands a guy like Crow would be looking for, but I have to believe the pitching depth in this year's draft class will hurt him. You can follow his performance this spring here, in case you were wondering.

Combine the questionable mechanics and small stature, and you may very well be looking at a pitcher destined for the bullpen. Of course, considering that he has come close to triple digits in short outings, that may not be a bad thing. But when you look at him as a possible relief pitcher, and then consider what he's probably still going to demand bonus wise, and I think I'm just going to have to say pass.

 Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Saint Paul Saints (Indy)

DOB: 17th January, 1987

6'4", 170 lbs.

So, what's so great about this guy?

 Tanner Scheppers, you may recall, was the big helium guy last spring. After playing at shortstop for most of his life, he converted to the mound and quickly established himself as a big time talent. Unfortunately, just a few weeks before the draft, Scheppers came down with a shoulder injury that was initially diagnosed as a stress fracture, but was later called a labrum injury. He was taken by the Pirates in the second round, but the sides couldn't come to an agreement. Thus, Scheppers will be back in the draft again this year, hoping his shoulder is healthy enough to get him some first round attention.

Like Aaron Crow, Scheppers has a pretty remarkable repertoire, starting with a fastball that cruises in the  low- to mid-nineties, with excellent movement. His command is not in the same class as Crow, however, as you would expect from a guy who's only been pitching for about two or three years. Scheppers has thrown a slider in the past, and it was a good one, but his curveball has become his best breaking ball, and is a real hammer. He also features a solid changeup that could probably become a plus pitch in time.

Scheppers is a tall, lanky fellow, with just the kind of frame that scouts are always talking about when they refer to a "pitcher's body." He has plenty of room to fill out, and should add stamina and strength as he does so. The bottom line is that Tanner Scheppers is a supremely talented pitcher, and based on projectability and raw stuff, should be a shoo-in as a first round draft pick.

The problem, of course, is that shoulder of his. If it proves healthy, there will certainly be some team who looks at him, sees the potential, and pops him early. If not, well, I'm sure someone will still take a chance on him at some point, but it certainly won't be at the kind of position he's hoping for.

There's a very nice breakdown of Scheppers' mechanics from just after last year's signing deadline over at Driveline Mechanics; I recommend you check it out. There's also a nice long draft video over at the MLB site. If you would like to follow what Mr. Scheppers does for his chances this June, pop on over to the Saints' website.

Personally, I don't think I want the Cardinals coming anywhere near Scheppers. I love his repertoire, and I was a big fan of his last year before the draft, but I'll admit to being more than a little gunshy with shoulder injuries. It just seems like too many pitchers fail to ever come back from shoulder issues as anything but a shadow of their former selves. If he's there in the later rounds, say, fourth or later, I would definitely consider it; the talent is too big not to take a chance. But any earlier than that, and I just don't think that it would be worth it.

 And that's another one in the can, folks. Hope you all are finding these helpful and informative. Enjoy your pagan New Year, and enjoy today's ballgame.