The Initial SaberScouting High School Hot 30

July 27th, 2008 · 13 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

After a number of conversations with scouts, club sources, and industry insiders, it’s time for the first full presentation of the SaberScouting High School Hot 30 for the 2009 draft.

We’ve already gone over the top 5 prep players for the ‘09 draft in about as much detail as possible at this juncture, and now the rest of the top talents will be covered, including an intriguing shortstop/right hander from Tampa’s Plant High, Mychal Givens, pictured right. Check out the new index for our ‘09 coverage and stay tuned for our college draft coverage coming soon.

As the ‘09 draft crop is coming into focus with a multitude of high school showcases, the rising senior class is being put under a microscope. That being said, when the top players in the country convene, every now and then, a top underclassmen catches the scouting community’s eye, and that right now, that player is Bryce Harper.

As chronicled by Jonathan Mayo for MLB.com, Perfect Game, and Baseball America, Las Vegas HS catcher Bryce Harper is considered by many to possibly be the top high school prospect in America, including the recent 2008 draft class.

Now, this isn’t unprecedented, as elite amateur toolboxes like Scott Kazmir, Michael Main, Cameron Maybin, Kyle Drabek, and Eric Hosmer were highly-regarded by scouts early in their high school careers and were closely followed in their junior seasons. The thing that distinguishes Harper from even that elite group is that he’s 15 years old and just finished his freshman season of high school baseball.

Harper now rivals Justin Upton as the youngest domestic buzz prospect in recent memory. Some would submit other names from an earlier generation to the discussion, such as Darryl Strawberry (1st overall out of HS in ‘80 draft) and Harold Baines (1st overall out of HS in ‘77 draft).

Where am I going with this story? Not really sure, but if you’re checking in to read the Hot 30, I’m sure you wanted to know about Bryce Harper. Check out the top 30 and two bonus prospects after the jump…
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→ 13 CommentsTags: 2009 MLB Draft · Draft Buzz · Prospect Lists · Scouting Reports



Introducing (Some Of) The SaberScouting High School Hot 30

July 16th, 2008 · 12 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

We’re a little over a month past the 2008 draft and, if you think like we think, you can’t help but demand early rankings for the 2009 draft. You’re sick, but don’t worry, we’ve been talking to our scouting contacts, and we’re here for you.

I’ll be unveiling our top 30 high school players this week—the first five from that list will be unveiled in this article—and we’ll be using the same approach and style of content we had for the 2008 draft, but this time with a full year of momentum behind it.

We’ll soon follow with the balance of the high school list, a college list, in-person Cape Cod League updates from Frankie, and we will keep these lists updated continually, with links on the top of the site, and we’ll publish full update posts as soon as we get a hearty enough batch of updates to warrant a post.

As for the 2009 crop of high school talent, it is definitely early, but it appears to be a solid group. The top-end prep talent falls in between the extremes of the past two drafts: the relatively weak 2008 draft (9 first-rounders), following a superior crop of elite talents in 2007 (17 first-rounders, 11 of the top 18 picks).

The headliners of the 2009 class are a pair of power lefties: Texas-bred Matt Purke and southern California hurler Tyler Matzek. Another storyline is the extremely strong prep catching ranks, led by Florida prep talent Austin Maddox (pictured right), with six backstops in the Hot 30, and five in the top 20.

There’s also a tooled-up, dual-sport centerfielder with pro bloodlines in Georgia prep standout CF Donavan Tate, son of former-NFL running back Lars Tate, top football recruit, and owner of plus tools across the board.

In short (and you thought I couldn’t do that!), there’s a little bit for everyone, and I’ll include some graphics to spruce things up so long as no one says “market inefficiency” or “Moneyball” in the comments. Come on in and devour the obscenely early and irresponsible projections in a first look at the top 5 of the SaberScouting High School Hot 30, all after the jump…

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→ 12 CommentsTags: 2009 MLB Draft · Draft Buzz · Prospect Lists · Scouting Reports

The 2008 Draft Review Podcast

July 9th, 2008 · 16 Comments

You asked us your 2008 draft questions, albeit weeks ago, and now you get your answers, in podcast form. It took a little while to iron the technical end of this out, find a time we were both available to record it, edit it, and figure out how to post it, but we hope it was worth the wait.

We also had a little trouble fitting everything we said in the over hour long conversation into a 30 minute podcast, so some banter and a few questions got cut, but the best stuff is still around. We also realize the audio quality isn’t fantastic, we’re working to figure out a way to avoid compressing the file so much.

Let us know what you think about our first try at podcasting in the comments. Also, if you’re still desperate for draft answers, hit us in the comments or at [email protected] for out take.

We opened up with Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar,” for obvious and somewhat corny reasons: teams are drafting and we’re answering questions so we can find the next superstar. Some think it could be Yankees first rounder Gerrit Cole (pictured), and you can hear our thoughts from the embedded player below, and can check out some technical info after the jump…

(Gerrit Cole photo: Heston Quan)

 
 The 2008 Draft Review [30:23m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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→ 16 CommentsTags: 2008 MLB Draft · 2009 MLB Draft · Chat/Mailbag · Our Opinion · Podcast · Scouting Reports

PTO% Mid-Season Update

July 7th, 2008 · 10 Comments

By Frankie Piliere

It’s been a while since we talked about PTO%. Isn’t it ironic that the first article I am doing after a long stretch of a busy scouting schedule is statistical in nature?

For those unfamiliar, it is a tool we developed that we believe is a measure of dominance or “ace hood.” Also, we’ve taken the same principles and applied them to hitters. As far as I can tell, it will not serve as an all encompassing statistic for hitters like it seems to be for pitcher.

By simply measuring the percentage of pitches that go towards outs and strikeouts (lower being better for hitters) we can’t know how effective his power is or other aspects of that nature. What I can tell us, however, is how “tough” an out the hitter is.

Just as with a pitcher who has a very low PTO% is someone who is laboring to get his outs, a hitter with a low PTO% is someone who is making a pitcher labor. Makes, sense right?

Now, let’s take a look at 2008’s most dominant pitchers (John Lackey, right, is leading the way among starters) and toughest outs in the league at the midway point of the season, all after the jump…

(John Lackey photo: Steve Nesius/AP)
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→ 10 CommentsTags: Statistical Analysis

Scouting Report: Chris Davis

July 3rd, 2008 · 11 Comments

By Lincoln Hamilton

Today, we’re going to take a break from the draft and July 2nd signings and jump back into the prospect world with a scouting report of arguably the hottest young hitter in baseball, Rangers slugger Chris Davis.

In a great piece of timing, Davis hit a homerun last night in Yankee Stadium, to go along with a 3 homers and a 1.223 OPS in his first 19 big league at-bats.

This comes on the heels of Davis terrorizing AA this year to a tune of .333/.376/.618 and AAA at a clip of .291/.361/.527.

This success for the 22 year old first baseman is all the more surprising because Davis came from relative obscurity; drafted in the 50th round in 2004 by the Yankees, 35th round in 2005 by the Angels, and finally signing from a Texas JuCo as a 5th round pick of the Rangers in the 2006 draft.

In another break from the ordinary, we’re introducing a new guest writer to the fold for this breakdown, Lincoln Hamilton.

Lincoln is based in Texas and was able to catch Davis in action when he was at AA earlier in the season. Be sure to say hello to him in the comments and let him know what you think about the article.

Catch the full Chris Davis swing breakdown after the jump…

(Chris Davis photo: Charlie Riedel/AP)

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→ 11 CommentsTags: Mechanical Analysis · Scouting Reports

July 2nd Morning Update

July 2nd, 2008 · 70 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

There has been intrigue, rumors, and large amounts of money flying around with the opening of the signing period for nearly all of the top 16 year olds in Latin America beginning this morning.

Some scouts and agents started posting in the comments of the scouting reports article and 100 comments later, it turned into a liveblog of sorts of international rumors and facts. It’s still a comments section, so take it with a grain of salt, but there’s some good stuff in there.

ESPN Deportes broke the story that both the Rangers and Reds offered $5 million to Michel Inoa, but he stuck with the A’s offer of $4.25 million because of his comfort with their organization and confidence in their pitcher development system.

The Reds offered a $5 million big league deal and the Rangers went to $5.2 million in a standard minor league deal.

I had heard a few other teams involved on the high end of the Inoa sweepstakes, but the Reds and Rangers had the most buzz all along and now it’s clear why. This is proof that these teams are serious about Latin America, and also underlines a common July 2nd occurrence that I’ll touch on after the jump.

Read on for much more on these developments, and an early list of July 2nd signings after the jump…

EDIT: I’ve added some updated signings and bonus information.

(Michel Inoa photo credit: Victor Perez/ESPNDeportes.com)

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→ 70 CommentsTags: International · News & Notes · Scouting Reports

Inoa Agrees To Deal With A’s

June 29th, 2008 · 14 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

SaberScouting has learned from MLB sources that Dominican right-handed pitching phenom Michel Inoa has agreed to a $4.25 million bonus with the Oakland A’s. The A’s have called a press conference to announce the signing of their new prize.

As covered in this scouting report, Inoa has proven himself to be a rare pitching talent and, as his talent would indicate, has the top bonus in Latin history to prove it, shattering the previous record of $2.44 million to Wily Mo Pena.

Inoa is a 6′7, 205 lb pitcher with a low 90’s fastball that reaches 95, along with good feel for a curveball and changeup with a projectable body and feel that is beyond his years, despite lacking top-level coaching and being only 16 years old.

He also comes from an athletic family, with a father that played in the minor leagues, and a mother that was a standout softball player.

Nearly every club with an international presence was interested in Inoa at the start. The bidding began in the low $2 million range and slowly rose throughout the spring and into the summer, with a small group of teams still interested with Inoa’s asking price well over $3 million.

The A’s stepped up and pushed the bidding past the $4 million barrier that no other team was willing to cross, and that proved to be enough to close the deal.

Stay tuned to SaberScouting for news on other July 2nd signings as they break.

(Michel Inoa photo credit: Victor Perez/ESPNDeportes.com)

→ 14 CommentsTags: International · News & Notes

Scouting Reports: The Other International Prospects

June 27th, 2008 · 116 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

Something you can look for as an ongoing theme for these scouting reports is that I’ll mention a prospect that’s mostly projection, that would get $500,000 to $750,000 in most years, but this year will get that price pushed up by $250,000 to $500,000, due to demand. The supply is good this year, with a strong crop of talent, but the demand, especially at the top of the talent scale, is higher.

I suppose at some point, when every top player has their perceived value boosted that much, the effect may not be teams overpaying, but that we’re just seeing the new market.

That would be the market correction that competition brings to offset the bargains that the old July 2nd market had; the bargains that enticed all the teams to open up shop in Latin America in the first place.

For an economic look at this phenomenon, check this article, and stay tuned for another article about it here in the next few days.

As mentioned in the opening for the Michel Inoa report, the competition for second best July 2nd prospect is between power-hitting right fielder Rafael Rodriguez and dynamic five-tool center fielder Yorman Rodriguez, who has drawn Carlos Beltran comparisons. Most (including myself) prefer Yorman Rodriguez, and in lieu of a picture of him, we’ll run a Beltran picture.

Read on for a breakdown of the rest of the top 15 Latin American prospects, along with one sleeper, and subtitles that are the color of money, all after the jump…

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→ 116 CommentsTags: International · Prospect Lists · Scouting Reports

Scouting Report: Michel Inoa

June 26th, 2008 · 11 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

As mentioned in the last article, SaberScouting.com’s sources are indicating that 16 year old Dominican right-hander Michel Inoa is expected to sign with the Oakland A’s for a bonus between $4.25 million and $4.50 million as the headliner of the international signing period that starts on July 2nd.

Inoa has a frontline starter profile despite being only 16 years old, and has the potential to be a Rick Porcello-level prospect when he’s 18. There are still plenty of big-time players available after Inoa, and, as usual, it includes projectable arms and toolsy bats.

The top bat is up for debate, with some people in the camp of Rafael Rodriguez, a power-hitting outfielder from the Dominican, but the majority prefer Yorman Rodriguez (no relation) who is a tooled-up Venezuelan centerfielder with Carlos Beltran-like upside.

The top arm after Inoa is Adis Portillo, an inconsistent, lanky righty from Venezuela that shows flashes of low 90’s velocity and a solid curveball and changeup. He figures to get an inflated price as the consolation prize to the clubs who weren’t willing to pay the price for Inoa.

Check out a comprehensive Inoa scouting report after the jump, and stay tuned for reports on the rest of the top 15 Latin prospects coming shortly…

(Michel Inoa photo credit: Victor Perez/ESPNDeportes.com)

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→ 11 CommentsTags: International · News & Notes · Scouting Reports

International Signing Period News & Notes

June 25th, 2008 · 6 Comments

By Kiley McDaniel

Frankie and I have been busy gathering more information for articles, with a comprehensive 2009 draft preview, 2008 draft review, Cape Cod Reports, Florida State League reports, Trade Rumors, and MLB Analysis all on the way in the coming days and weeks. The most pressing of these topics is the International signing period, which opens on July 2nd, when clubs can sign the newly-eligible 16 year old talent from Latin America.

Much has been made of this season’s crop, mostly because of the headlining prospect, imposing righthander Michel Inoa, and his reported enormous demands. Based on the conversations I’ve had with Latin American sources, not only will Inoa easily break the bonus record ($2.44 million to Wily Mo Pena, pictured at right), he may come close to doubling it.

SaberScouting.com’s sources have indicated that the Oakland A’s are willing to go over $4 million to sign Inoa and are the heavy favorites to sign him, for a record bonus as high as $4.5 million.

The other teams in the running haven’t shown the consistent interest the A’s have, including multiple visits from Billy Beane, and most teams aren’t willing to break the $4 million barrier.

In an environment where you have to pay a competitive bonus and “recruit” the player like a high school football star, teams that are called heavy favorites late in the process almost always close the deal.

Check out some notes on the upcoming International signing period, which starts on July 2nd, after the jump…

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→ 6 CommentsTags: International · News & Notes