My Big Fat Mock Draft, 2009 Edition

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The major league draft, one of my very favorite things all year, is tomorrow evening. If you read me over at Viva El Birdos, you've probably seen my draft previews, and I really only wish I had more time to follow kids who will probably never sniff the big leagues. I have no idea why I love the draft so much, only that I do. In fact, I love it so much that I'm going to be liveblogging it right here, keeping you informed of all the pertinent developments, as well as possibly what I'm eating for dinner whilst keeping you informed of, well, you know. 

So here is my mock draft for 2009. I based it on a careful curriculum of scientific analysis, listening to the rumor mill, stealing other people's ideas, and a special system I like to call WAG, which stands for Wild Ass Guessing. 

A couple of draft resources, for you to read up on these players in more detail if you like: 

Project Prospect, featuring some really outstanding mocks and coverage

And a couple of mocks for your perusal: 

And now, onward to my guesses. 

1. Washington Nationals- Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State
Possibly the least difficult choice in the history of anything. I don't think even the feckless Nationals could screw this up. Head and shoulders (and pretty much the rest of his body), better than anyone else in this draft class. 

2. Seattle Mariners- Dustin Ackley, OF, University of North Carolina
There's been some rumors lately that the Mariners might want to go with a pitcher, but I think Seattle still goes with the best available player, as well as the one closest to the majors, to bolster a system that's thin in most areas. 

3. San Diego Padres- Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul (Independent)
This is a tough one, as the Padres ownership situation makes everything a little uncertain. I think they go with the first of the two indy leaguers, as Scheppers represents very good upside, and should be a relatively easy sign. 

4. Pittsburgh Pirates- Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt
Another tough one, as the Pirates are notorious for confounding any and all draft wisdom with their picks on a regular basis, but I think they play it safe and simple here. Pittsburgh is starting to put together a pretty good stable of major league positional talent, but the pitching staff that was supposed to be such a strength has gone the way of the dodo. Minor is probably an overdraft here, but is very close to a finished product and should be an easy sign, a bonus for Pittsburgh after last year's difficulties getting Pedro Alvarez into the fold

5. Baltimore Orioles- Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (California)
The Orioles are thrilled to find the top high school lefty available at #5, and jump all over the projectable, mature beyond his years Matzek. 

6. San Francisco Giants- Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats (Independent)
The Giants are heavy on pitching already in their farm system, but the lack of advanced bats in this draft will leave them with the other indy leaguer, Crow. He throws hard and he's close to a finished product already. If Crow's the pick here, he could see some relief innings in the majors this September. 

7. Atlanta Braves- Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (Georgia)
The Braves love taking players from their own backyard, and Wheeler is straight out of a Georgia high school. Donovan Tate also fits the M.O. here, but I think the Braves go with the pitcher this year. 

8. Cincinnati Reds- Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Vero HS (Florida)
This one I can't get any kind of read on. The Reds are heavy on pitching, have a couple of pure bat guys, and a bunch of outfield talent. Borchering is a switch hitter with plus power, but may need to move to first down the road. He'll be an attractive piece to add to an already strong system. 

9. Detroit Tigers- Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (Missouri)
The Tigers have shown they aren't averse to the risk of a big ticket, high school pitcher (ahem, Rick Porcello), and Turner fits the mold very well. 

10. Washington Nationals- Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State
The Nationals should be thrilled to find Leake still available here, as they could net the two best performers among college pitchers this year. Leake should also be an easy sign, helping to offset the monster deal Washington will likely have to hand to Strasburg. 

11. Colorado Rockies- Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (Texas) 
The Rockies take the highest upside player available, and deal with the signability issues Purke presents. Rex Brothers, the hard-throwing lefty out of Lipscomb University, is also a possibility, but I think Colorado shoots the moon after playing it a bit safer in recent drafts. 

12. Kansas City Royals- Donovan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (Georgia)
Another tough read, not least because the overall philosophy of the Royal front office has been in flux the last several years. That said, the Royals believe in their stable of young pitchers, and draft the highest upside position player available in the hyper athletic Tate. 

13. Oakland Athletics- Alex White, RHP, University of North Carolina
It used to be so simple to predict what the A's would do; you just looked for whatever college player walked a lot or had a great K/BB ratio and plugged him right in. After several off the board sorts of selections the past couple years, though, it's a little tougher. White's performance in 2009 certainly hasn't helped the UNC product any, but he has too good of an arm to pass up here. 

14. Texas Rangers- Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (Texas)
The Rangers have gone heavy on pitching in recent drafts, and I see that trend holding this year. Miller has an electric arm, and offers a nice local option for Texas to take. 

15. Cleveland Indians- Kyle Gibson, RHP, Mizzou
The Indians would prefer to take one of the super-talented high school pitchers here, but alas, all three are off the board at this point. Gibson represents a solid, polished pick for an organization that values arms, and because of the stress fracture recently diagnosed in his elbow, offers a unique value: pick him, watch his rehab, and then decide to sign or not before the August deadline. If it's going well, great. If not, take the pick in 2010. 

16. Arizona Diamondbacks- Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford University
Storen, the closer for Stanford this season, is an intriguing arm, with quality of stuff to close, variety of stuff to consider a move to starting, and off the charts makeup and competitiveness. He could make it to the majors in a hurry, with a late-season callup a distinct possibility. 

17. Arizona Diamondbacks- A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame
As polished a bat as there is in this class (non-Ackley division), Pollock has some upside, and offers the Diamondbacks a relatively safe choice to infuse some more offense into what is already a very young team as soon as 2011. 

18. Florida Marlins- Eric Arnett, RHP, University of Indiana
Another organization that loves power arms, the Marlins take pitchers early and often most years. Arnett is a good one, if a bit rougher than some others, with a power repertoire that comes from a 6'5" frame that still has room to fill in. 

19. St. Louis Cardinals- Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kenesaw State University
I don't like it, but Jenkins literally seems almost too perfect for the Cardinals. Throws a sinker, right-handed, big body, has a nice three-pitch mix. Fits in well with what seemed to be the Cards' philosophy last year, which echoed Billy Beane's famous "not selling jeans," proclamation. Call it Lance Lynn pt. 2: The Fattening
My pick: Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (California)

20. Toronto Blue Jays- Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (New Jersey)
Tough to say what direction the Jays will want to go in, but they seem to be heavy on a couple of key draft demographics in recent years: left-handed pitching and toolsy outfielders. Trout fits that second description to a T, and would give Toronto another blue chipper in an already strong farm system. 

21. Houston Astros- Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb University
The Astros take a useful piece here; I see Brothers as a reliever, others see him remaining a starter, but either way, he's left-handed and can reach 97. Not a bad place to start, really. 

22. Minnesota Twins- Mychal Givens, SS, H.B. Plant HS (Florida)
The Twins have tried and tried to develop a shortstop the past few years, and then they've tried some more, with very little to show for it. Givens represents the kind of toolsy, athletic HS hitter the Twins like, along with solid positional value. Some might see this as a bit of a reach, but I like it. 

23. Chicago White Sox- Rich Poythress, 1B, University of Georgia
The White Sox have always had a soft spot for high school athletes and polished pitchers, but with Jim Thome on the downside of his career and Paul Konerko just a few steps behind him, the Sox take the biggest bat available, and that's Poythress. I actually think Poythress is a bit underrated, as he's not as one-dimensional as many claim; his glove is good and his bat will play anywhere. 

24. Los Angeles Angels- Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (California)
High school pitcher? Check. Throws hard? Check. California product? Check. Angels draft pick? Check. Too formulaic a pick? Maybe, but Hobgood is one of the most underrated talents in this draft, in my ever so humble opinion, and could end up a whale of a pitcher. 

25. Los Angeles Angels- Slade Heathcott, OF, McCallum HS (Texas) 
With an aging outfield and a farm system heavy on arms and infielders, the Angels could use a high-upside outfield talent and get it with Heatchcott. If he were a Bond girl, Heathcott would be Tools O'Plenty. (I can't take credit for that, by the way; someone at Future Redbirds used it once talking about Daryl Jones, but I just couldn't reisist stealing it.) 

26. Milwaukee Brewers- Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College
The Brewers will be an especially tough read this year, as they have a brand new director of scouting, Bruce Seid. Thus, I'm going strictly with organizational need, as well as a little bit of caution from the new guy. Sanchez is the best college catcher on the board and fills a need for the Brewers, who are thin on talent behind the plate. 

27. Seattle Mariners- Brad Boxberger, RHP, USC
I'm thinking the Mariners split their two first round picks, taking one hitter and one pitcher. Boxberger has had a fair amount of helium this spring, and shouldn't be a tough sign, offering both upside and value to the the M's, who are already going to be handing Ackley a big time bonus. 

28. Boston Red Sox- Max Stassi, C, Yuba City HS (California)
The Red Sox have consistently gotten top talent in past drafts by being willing to spend on players other teams pass on, which is important when you always pick late in rounds. Stassi is the best of a very deep class of HS catchers, and has reportedly been angling for a big payday. The Sawx need to develop a future catcher, and I think Stassi makes a ton of sense here. 

29. New York Yankees- Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (California)
The Yankees take the guy they like the best, regardless of other considerations, and I think Mier would intrigue them. A wiry, athletic shortstop with a great glove, Mier plays a premium position and has a lot of hitting projection left. 

30. Tampa Bay Rays- Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (Oklahoma)
Their first time ever drafting anywhere near the end of the first round, the Rays still nab a premium talent in James, a big, physical lefty with power stuff but a long development ahead of him. 

31. Chicago Cubs- Garrett Gould, RHP, Maize HS (Kansas)
Oy. Predicting the Cubs' draft picks is almost impossible, but I'll try anyway. Gould has a big fastball and one of the better curves among prep pitchers this year, and presents a nice long term project for a team not looking to bolster their roster in the near future. 

32. Colorado Rockies- Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State
The Rockies shot the moon their first time up, so I think they go with an easy sign here. That's not to say Wheeler doesn't have some intriguing tools, as he projects to be a nice top of the order sort of hitter. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my mock draft. I did about three versions of this, and it came out totally different every time, but I think I like this one the best. Then again, as I believe I said in the intro, trying to game the draft is a fool's errand at best, so there's a really good chance I got every single one of these wrong, outside of the first one or two, which are pretty well known by now. 
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