Feb 7, 2009

2009 MMDA Draft 1st Round in Review

1 - Northeast Huskies - Evan Longoria: A classic "best player available" pick, which is of course what one does with the #1 overall selection. What is less clear is how this immediately helps the Huskies (although coming off a 111-win season, do they really need immediate help?) One potential cascade among many: Longoria to 3b, Youkilis to 1b, Berkman to DH, Encarnacion and Thome to batboy platoon.

2 - Rochester River Pilots -Jay Bruce: With Longoria off the board, Bruce was clearly the BPA pick. Bruce becomes one of 7 outfielders on the Rochester roster, joining Alfonso Soriano, Cliff Floyd, Delwyn Young, Grady Sizemore, Adam Jones, and Jason Kubel. The 21 year old power hitter likely steps immediately into the starting RF role. With all the outfield congestion, Floyd is the most likely Pilot to soon end up in another uniform (a Wal-Mart smiley-smock, perhaps?)

3 - USAFSS Cold Warriors - Clayton Kershaw: With the two top hitters off the board, and with wildcat journalist / blogger Nat Strawbone watching with a wild look in his eye, the Warriors followed the classic "don't follow the trend, start the trend" rule of drafting and took the top young arm in the draft, 20 year old southpaw Clayton Kershaw. While Kershaw's hammer (dubbed "Public Enemy #1" by Vin Scully himself) won't do anything to help the 2nd worst offense in MMDA 2008 (.237 BA and 582 runs scored, both ahead of only the woeful Tampa Bay squad), the youngster can only help the team's plans to improve on a league average pitching staff (4.57 team ERA).

4 - Goldenrod Gators - Chris Davis: The Gators go large with their first pick, selecting 6'4" 235lb Chris Davis. The Baby Bunyan's left-handed muscle should do a nice job of breaking up the Ryan Braun / Pat Burrell twin towers of right-handed power. Where his glove fits in on a Goldenrod team that appears somewhat allergic to leather is another question. Burrell most likely will DH, leaving Davis to share time at the infield corners with Eric Hinske, Sean Casey, and Chad Tracy. As a result, don't look for 600 ab's out of Davis until his sophomore season.

5 - Northern Lehigh Bulldogs - Ricky Nolasco: Northern Lehigh has gone through some tough times of late, losing over 100 games in back-to-back seasons. A couple years of premium draft picks later, the Bulldogs now hope to take home the blue ribbon for "Best in Show." Whether Ricky Nolasco can be the one to revitalize the Dawgs may well depend upon whether he can first revitalize Ricky Nolasco. His first stint in the MMDA was in 2007 as a 2nd round pick (38th overall) of the now defunct Syracuse Stingers. Nolasco's performance was more of a stinker than a stinger, as he posted a 6-13 6.80 mark in 27 starts. Following a year off, his time spent "finding himself" (among other places, he reportedly found parts of himself in India with Ricky Williams), Nolasco showed back up in MMDA training camp with a mean case of backne and an even meaner slide-piece. MMDA hitters beware...

6 - Dacula Dazzlers - Johnny Cueto: Generously listed at 5'10", 185 lbs, the diminutive Johnny Cueto looks like something Chris Davis or Jay Bruce would use to pick mud out of their cleats. However, Dacula scouts think the little man has big stuff. Rumors that Dazzler scouts whisper the words "Pedro" and "Martinez" to each other while they watch Cueto work his mound magic remain unconfirmed at this time.

7 - Jersey Blackhawks - Alexei Ramirez: Alexei is the 2nd Cuban defector to wash up on the shores of New Jersey recently, joining 2006 6th rounder Kendry Morales (102nd overall pick, by the Bulldogs). Like outfielder / 1b Morales, Comrade Ramirez is a veritable Swiss Army Knife of a player. He can play 2b, 3b, SS, or any of the outfield positions. Whether all that will make him an impact player on the MMDA's 3rd lowest scoring offense (601 runs scored) remains to be seen. Suffice it to say he will not lack for playing time and opportunities to show the power that made him the homerun leader in the Cuban national league.

8 - Montreal Miracle - Clay Buchholz: It was obvious that the team with the 5th highest scoring offense in the MMDA (880 runs) had a problem when they finished the circuit with 93 losses. Turns out that problem was a horrific pitching staff that allowed 1067 runs, the 2nd most in the league (in front of just the philanthropic Northern Lehigh's astounding 1221). So the Miracle euthanized their aging pitchers (look for Kenny Rogers Brand Glue-All and Matt Morris Paste at a craft store near you). But of course killing your problem and putting it in a convenient squeeze bottle is only half the solution. The Miracle hopes the other half of the solution begins with 23 year old Clay Buchholz. Montreal scouts hope the youngster flashes some of the same stuff he showed in a 2007 no hitter for the AAAA Boston RedSox.

9 - Easton Dobermans - Max Scherzer: Fun fact - Scherzer in German means "Joker." If it helps you picture his evil, deranged, mid-90's sick heat, picture Scherzer as the Heath Ledger / Dark Knight version of the Joker. By the time you unravel his twisted plans for your demise, it's probably already too late...

10 - Wilmington Razorbacks - Denard Span: A speedy flycatcher where one was desperately needed. With 2008 1st rounder (9th overall) Cameron Maybin not yet ready for primetime, and with 2004 1st rounder (4th overall) Rocco Baldelli's mitochondria in a sling, the Razorbacks once again went up the middle with their 1st rounder. If all 3 bonus baby CF's can get it together and on the field at the same time, the Razorbacks could have a very tight defensive outfield as early as 2010.

11 - Northwest Stars - Chris Volstad: A 6'7" soft-tosser, Volstad offers perhaps the best combination of strike-throwing and shot-blocking prowess in the entire draft. He figures to slot somewhere in the middle of the 11-man Stars rotation, joining Scott Kazmir, Gil Meche, Oliver Perez, Jair Jurrjens, Bronson Arroyo, Jason Marquis, Carlos Silva, Chris Carpenter, Freddy Garcia, and Mark Prior. At first blush it appears that starts would be at a premium in such a setup, but fear not - as the old saw goes, "You can never have too much starting pitching..."

12 - Spokane Hooded Crows - Hiroki Kuroda: Cue the old school roller-skating music, "My Kuroda..." is the oldest 'rookie' in the draft at age 33. In a fashion reminiscent of that espoused by Sun Tzu, the veteran pitcher's greatest weakness (his age) will likely be turned into his greatest strength. Kuroda will not require the babying and seasoning many MMDA rookie pitchers require. Look for Hiroki to be among the 2009 MMDA rookie leaders in games started, innings pitched, and wins.

13 - Dacula Dazzlers - Travis Snider: Built like a fire hydrant, and approximately as mobile as one, the 5'11" 245 lb Snider does just one thing and he does it well - he hits. As a 20-year old playing at the highest level of professional cards and dice baseball, this bodes extremely well for his future. But for this year, you should probably look for Snider, like the aformentioned hydrant, to be used only infrequently and in case of emergency.

14 - Dodge City Dirtnappers - Matt Joyce: Opinions on the writings of James Joyce vary dramatically. Some find him brilliant, some inscrutable. So it is with Matt Joyce. Will the portrait of this young man ultimately show him to be a modern day Ulysses? Or will his career, like that of poor Tim Finnegan, tragically end all too soon in a wake? In an outfield more densely populated than the streets of Dublin (Johnny Damon, Jason Michaels, Willy Taveras, Ryan Langerhans, Jay Payton, Jose Guillen, Corey Hart), Joyce will need to fight for every scrap of playing time.

15 - Mohawk Valley Jive - Chase Headley: Jive management was only too happy to see the most aristocratic name in the draft fall this far. Besides the nifty moniker, Headley also brings an entire pallette of skills to The Valley. As a switch-hitter who can play third base, Chase could allow the Jive to play an all-switch hitting infield (Rollins, Aybar, and Teixeira being the others around the horn). Headley is also proficient with an outfielder's glove, a skill that could allow the rather relieved Jive to play Adam Dunn at his natural defensive position, DH.

16 - Northeast Huskies - Mike Fontenot: Remember how the Evan Longoria selection of a 3rd right-handed third baseman set up a long cascade of roster moves? Well, at least the selection of a 2nd left-handed 2nd baseman will only cause one move: Robinson Cano to the bench. Look for Fontenot to steal significant playing time from the 2006 2nd rounder (26th overall).

17 - Kalamazoo Cubs - Chris Perez: The first pure reliever taken in the draft, the 22 year old can pump gas with the best of them. He could go right to the back of a thin Kalamazoo pen, currently peopled only by career setup men Bobby Howry and Juan Cruz.

18 - Cape Cod Breakers - Shin Soo Choo: Another recycled product, Choo was originally caught in the hankie of the Rochester Rivor Pilots in the 5th round of the 2007 draft (97th overall). He hit a solid .291/3/13 in 117 ab's, but was still not picked as a keeper by the Pilots. The Breakers hope Choo will not blow this second chance. But can he really squeeze his way into the Cust / Beltran / Dukes / Drew / Swisher / Gutierrez outfield?

19 - Northern Lehigh Bulldogs - Pablo Sandoval: A 21 year old with the body of a 45 year old and the bat of a 27 year old All-Star, Sandoval figures to winnow a bit more playing time than his body double Travis Snider due to a duffel bag full of gloves. Pablo, while best at 1b, can fill in at 3b or even catch in a pinch.

20- Rochester River Pilots - Jeff Clement: Clement brings a high-end prospect sheen to a catching situation that formerly looked a bit like a mid-grade imported car dealership (Suzuki, Montero). While 2009 may not be Clement-time (at least not all the time), don't be surprised if a draft retrospective 4 years from now shows that a certain All-Star catcher was scooped up with the very last pick in the first round of 2009.


  • Cutting Choo was one of the worst roster moves in recent Pilots history. Glad we kept John Patterson instead (Choo was next in line for that spot). Always hurts when one of your cuts shows up in the first round the next year.

    By Blogger James Bailey, At February 11, 2009 at 7:47 AM  

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