Catching up with the 2009 Draft class
Strasburg, Leake, Storen among first-rounders off to good starts
One is already in the big leagues. Two, from the same organization, are in Triple-A and should be knocking on the door soon. And two never signed in the first place.
With the 2010 First-Year Player Draft just weeks away, scheduled to begin on June 7, enough time has passed since last year's Draft to see see how the 2009 first-rounders are faring this season. While one of the draftees has received most of the attention -- Stephen Strasburg is one of the aforementioned Triple-A players -- he was beaten to the bigs by a fellow top 10 pick.
Just what's going on with the top 32 picks from a year ago? (All stats are through Monday.)
1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals: It's very difficult to find information on Minor Leaguers ... OK, maybe not. Strasburg has pretty much lived up to the hype, reaching Triple-A and compiling a 1.29 ERA in six starts, holding hitters to a .143 batting average against while striking out 33 and walking only seven. It's a question of when, not if, he reaches Washington.
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners: The most advanced bat in the Draft class is hitting .192, but that's actually an accomplishment. Sent straight to Double-A to begin his pro career, Ackley hit .147/.289/.227 in April. He might be figuring some things out now, with a four-game hitting streak in May during which he's gone 8-for-16.
3. Donavan Tate, OF, Padres: It's been a rough start to a professional career for Tate. First, there was a sports hernia, then a broken jaw courtesy of an ATV accident. Then he sprained his shoulder diving for a ball this spring. He finally was getting going again in Spring Training when he got hit by a pitch a couple of weeks ago and suffered a mild concussion. The good news is he returned to action last Saturday. Now the Padres just want to focus on getting him regular at-bats, keep him healthy and perhaps send him to Eugene when the short-season Northwest League begins play.
4. Tony Sanchez, C, Pirates: Some may have seen it as a reach; the Pirates saw it as part of their overall Draft strategy. Besides, Sanchez signed quickly and got 178 pro at-bats under his belt last summer. Now he's in the Class A Advanced Florida State League and hitting .306/.417/.510. Perhaps there's a move to Double-A in his future.
5. Matt Hobgood, RHP, Orioles: Another bit of a surprise to some, Hobgood is pitching full-season ball at age 19 in the South Atlantic League. He's gone 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA over six starts. In 32 2/3 IP, he's allowed 30 hits (.248 BAA) with 13 walks and 21 strikeouts. A strength? A 2.18 GO/AO ratio.
6. Zack Wheeler, RHP, Giants: The Giants have never been shy about challenging young pitchers, so it's no surprise they sent Wheeler to the SAL though he won't turn 20 until the end of May. The Georgia high schooler has a 4.50 ERA in five starts, though he's kept hitters to a .200 average and has 24 K's (vs. 13 walks) in 18 innings. In his last two outings, he hasn't allowed an earned run over 9 2/3 IP, striking out 14.
7. Mike Minor, LHP, Braves: Thought of as more of an advanced, finesse college lefty, it's a little surprising that Minor is second in the Minors with 46 K's, compiled in just 30 2/3 innings. Double-A Southern League hitters have hit .250 off of him, though, and he's got a 4.99 ERA in six starts. He's still in search of his first professional win.
8. Mike Leake, RHP, Reds: With all the talk about Strasburg going straight to the big leagues, it was Leake who beat him to the punch. The right-hander hasn't looked overmatched, going at least six innings in each of his six starts, compiling a 3-0 record with a 3.10 ERA and .224 BAA.
9. Jacob Turner, RHP, Tigers: Turner landed on the disabled list with some arm stiffness, but it's believed to be mostly due to the youngster getting used to the professional throwing routine. He came back on May 5, though he didn't throw particularly well in that first outing. Still, he's struck out 17 and walked only three in 16 2/3 IP to date.
10. Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals: Storen actually beat Strasburg to Triple-A and in 11 games, he's got a 1.23 ERA, .229 BAA and 13 Ks (vs. just one walk) in 14 2/3 IP. He's struck out 11.2 per nine innings in his pro career thus far with a 62:9 K:BB ratio. He could be helping out the Nats pen very soon.
11. Tyler Matzek, LHP, Rockies: The top high school lefty has been pitching, and pitching well, in extended Spring Training as he continues to get used to the five-day routine. He'll head to one of the short-season affiliates, but it's a bit too early to tell which one as of yet.
12. Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals: Crow signed late and got his feet wet in the Arizona Fall League, but made his pro debut in April. Going straight to the Double-A Texas League, he's been a little up-and-down, with a 1-2 record and 4.54 ERA over seven starts. The league is hitting .269 against him. Some of those stats might be because of ground balls getting through. He's got a 4.00 GO/AO ratio thus far.
13. Grant Green, SS, A's: The USC product got to stay in California to make his full-season debut, playing for Stockton in the Class A Advanced California League. He's hit .288/.323/.378 over his first 31 games. He's drawn just six walks and struck out 29 times in 137 at-bats.
14. Matt Purke, LHP, Rangers: The Rangers weren't able to come to terms with Purke, who went on to Texas Christian University. He'll be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2011.
15. Alex White, RHP, Indians: The North Carolina product has been solid during his pro debut in the Class A Advanced Carolina League. He's fifth in the circuit with his 2.81 ERA and has struck out a batter per inning.
16. Bobby Borchering, 3B, Diamondbacks: Arizona believed the 19-year-old was ready for full-season ball and he appears to be adjusting nicely. After starting a bit slow, hitting .253/.315/.430 in April, he's heated up in May, hitting .324/.375/.459 over 10 games. That puts him up to .276/.333/.440 over his first 31 games for South Bend in the Midwest League.
17. A.J. Pollock, OF, Diamondbacks: Pollock got off to a fast start last summer, getting in 63 pro games to possibly hop on the fast track. But he'll be out at least until the end of June after having surgery to repair a fracture in his right elbow.
18. Chad James, LHP, Marlins: The high school lefty out of Oklahoma made the rotation of full-season Greensboro in the South Atlantic League and made three starts -- 14 2/3 innings -- before landing on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. He had given up seven earned runs on 13 hits and seven walks while striking out 14 over those three starts.
19. Shelby Miller, RHP, Cardinals: Miller had a stirring 2010 debut with Quad Cities in the Midwest League, throwing four shutout innings while striking out seven. His K rate has remained high: 41 in 23 2/3 innings (with only nine walks). He hasn't been as sharp since, however, and he has a 5.32 ERA in his six starts. He's given up 28 hits for a .283 batting average against.
20. Chad Jenkins, RHP, Blue Jays: Coming out of Kenesaw State, the right-hander has been solid with Lansing in the Midwest League, with a 3.68 ERA in six starts. His best outing came on April 27, when he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just six hits and one walk while striking out nine.
21. Jiovanni Mier, SS, Astros: Mier was extremely impressive in his debut last summer, but he's struggled a bit offensively in full-season ball. In his first 31 games, the shortstop has hit just. 191/.311/.245. He has drawn 17 walks in those 31 games, but has just 21 hits, and only six for extra bases.
22. Kyle Gibson, RHP, Twins: The Missouri product quickly erased an awful debut start and has been one of the better pitchers in the Florida State League this year. Even with the bad outing, his 1.96 ERA is fifth-lowest in the league. The league is hitting just .214 against Gibson and he's got an impressive 3.87 GO/AO ratio. A promotion to Double-A should be in his future.
23. Jared Mitchell, OF, White Sox: Mitchell had a nice summer debut and was getting some time in big-league camp when he tore a tendon in his ankle making a terrific catch in a Cactus League game. It required surgery and the LSU standout will miss the 2010 season.
24. Randal Grichuk, OF, Angels: The first of back-to-back high school outfielders taken by the Angels, Grichuk got off to a slow start with full-season Cedar Rapids, hitting .203/.256/.329 and striking out 23 times in 21 games. He's making some adjustments, though, and has improved to a .300/.344/.700 line in eight May games.
25. Mike Trout, OF, Angels: Trout hasn't struggled at all in Cedar Rapids and currently stands second in the Midwest League with his .362 average. The New Jersey native also tops the circuit with 19 steals and is in the top six in OBP, SLG and OPS.
26. Eric Arnett, RHP, Brewers: The University of Indiana product has not gotten off to a good start pitching for Wisconsin in the Midwest League. In his six starts, he's got a 9.00 ERA and .293 BAA, allowing 29 hits in 24 IP while walking nine and striking out 18.
27. Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners: The young middle infielder has adapted well to the Midwest League. After 30 games, he was ninth in the league with a .328 average and was second with a .576 SLG, thanks to six doubles, five triples and five homers. He's mostly played short, but has dabbled a bit at second as well.
28. Reymond Fuentes, OF, Red Sox: Carlos Beltran's cousin certainly is showing his speed during his full-season debut. He's a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen-base attempts. Overall, he's hit .256/.321/.389 with 26 strikeouts in 28 games.
29. Slade Heathcott, OF, Yankees: The toolsy high school outfielder got in just a few games in the Gulf Coast League after signing late last year, but did go on to participate at instructs. He reportedly looked very good this spring, then hung back in extended Spring Training. He could report to Charleston when the Yankees believe he's ready.
30. LeVon Washington, 2B/OF, Rays: The Rays couldn't come to terms with the speedy Washington, who instead went to Chipola Junior College and will be back in the Draft pool this June.
31. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs: The Cal product has picked up where he left off last summer. He hit .318 during his debut. Now, making the jump to Daytona in the Florida State League, he's hitting .330 through 30 games. He's not showing much power -- no homers, five doubles and three triples -- but his .446 OBP leads the league.
32. Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies: Wheeler's made the jump straight to the Class A Advanced California League and while he's gotten on base at an acceptable .372 clip, he's hit just .248 over his first 26 games and struck out 30 times.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.