You Are The GM: Reader Responses, Part One

The old saw says that “you can never have too much pitching”. I don’t know if that’s true, but you guys definitely can never have too much pitching. The refrain came loud and clear in your responses to our “You Are The GM” draft challenge… where three-quarters of you put a pitcher #1 on your draft board. Most of you who did, also put a pitcher in the #2 or #3 spot. Brian Bender and Aaron Armstrong were the perceived stars of this draft. Bender received the most first-place votes, and Armstrong was named in the top three on your draft boards more often than any other player.

Player    1st place votes    1st, 2nd and 
                           3rd place votes

Armstrong       12                31
Bender          16                29
Cutter           6                15
Double           0                 4
Empujada         4                20
Filigrana        0                 7
Grand            7                20

First, let me say that the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of the responses, not to mention the volume, was both touching and exciting. I heard back from 45 of you with full answers and at least two dozen more who made general comments or who just wanted to say how much they enjoyed it. Sorting through the responses to find the best was daunting, and I apologize to anyone who was left out. Anyway, here’s what you, the readers, had to say about out seven amateur prospects. Here are the You Are The GM scouting reports if you want to refresh your memory.


What We Liked

“This guy could be a stud. He brings it and I like my pitching coach (Rick Peterson) to help him develop a change.” -Doug Baumstein, New York Mets

“Great K and K/BB rates. I like that he’s still learning to pitch -— perhaps his current stats don’t reflect his full potential. It also suggests he has less mileage on his arm than most pitching prospects. We already have several blue-chip pitching prospects, but you can never have too many.” -Matt Aufman, Boston Red Sox

“It’s the K/BB ratio that’s got me high on Armstrong. 140 K’s in 119 innings, with only 34 walks? That’s the sign of a consistent pitcher, one that’ll throw to the zone and give hitters a challenge. If he builds on those numbers and develops a change, he’d fit into any rotation; if the numbers level off or drop a little in minor league ball, or he doesn’t develop a third pitch, then he’d still be a great bullpen option… Tall, hard-throwing right-handers are the A’s bread and butter — this guy is practically Rich Harden.” -James Cardis, Oakland A’s

“Big kid, live arm, gets swing and misses. no injury concern. This sounds like a front line starter, with a little time those secondary pitches will come, gotta go with the huge potential.” -Joseph Ramos, no team given

What We Didn’t Like

“Poor control and poise are a bad mix, leads to lots of big innings.” -John from Chicago, Chicago Cubs

“[Armstrong is] exciting, but also sounds like a John Rocker-type. I would never use a high pick on someone I felt was incredibly likely to be a reliever.” -Scott Halcomb, St. Louis Cardinals

“Armstrong is very overrated: a reliever who is less than dominant, with just one pitch and mediocre control, does not belong anywhere near the top of the list.” -Giambino2503, no team given


What We Liked

“Brian Bender would be my choice. He hails from a great strong work ethic type area. He’s fit, and he’s a lefthander with a complete arsenal in the Greg Maddux mode… Bender’s walk to strikeout ratio is fabulous, and he could conceivably pitch in either role, starter or reliever. The Braves need relievers pronto. Quick ascension could make him worthy of a few extra signing dollars.” Craig Pitman, Atlanta Braves

“Not an overpowering FB, but the Hall of Fame is filled with guys who couldn’t throw 95.” -Chris Kruschke, Minnesota Twins

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

“The D-Rays have a young talented offense with more offensive help on the way. Niemann and Townsend were college pitcher who were suppose to make the major quickly. Bender fits along with that line. It is the safe pick and [right] for a team like the D-Rays who have gambled a lot with their first rounders (Paul Wilder, Josh Hamilton, etc.)” -Ryan Quigley, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

“As the Red Sox you can never get enough LHP.” -Grant from Boston, Boston Red Sox

“I would love to take a gamble on any lefty who throws 8.5 Ks for every BB.” -Justin West, Boston Red Sox

“With clean mechanics, great control, and Safeco’s deeeep left-center field, this is a no-brainer, high-upside, low-downside pick.” -Nathan Hoover, Seattle Mariners

“He seems very comparable to Mark Buerhle. I think he would get to the majors quickly and be a very good starter for 12 to 15 years.” -Mike M from Warren, no team given

“Potential is only reached with great drive and desire and he seems to have both. Lack of strength is a problem but can be easily solved. With the rigors of Major League life added with strong determination which he seems to have, he should be able to develop considerable amount of strength within a few years in a farm system.” -Tarun from London, Toronto Blue Jays

What We Didn’t

“I have Bender already in Brian Bannister. I like him but am not going to overpay for him.” -Doug Baumstein, New York Mets

“Decent K rate, but is an extreme control pitcher who keeps the ball in the park. Guys like that who succeed in the majors tend to induce a ton of ground balls (think Jake Westbrook). The fact that the scouts say he has trouble keeping the ball down worries me.” -Matt Aufman, Boston Red Sox

“I see a player who will have problems striking out hitters at higher difficulty levels, with the lack of a good fastball. I don’t know what the separation is between his curve and his fastball speed, but I’m not convinced it will be enough to generate good numbers based on the scouting scores.” -Rivers from Houston, New York Mets

“I don’t trust “finished” pitchers who are basically outsmarting college hitters. How will he do against pro hitters, who can hit some of those tougher pitches? His fastball is below major league average, and he tires in the late innings. This implies that he doesn’t have enough stamina to be a starter, and he doesn’t have a dominant pitch, which means he won’t be successful in the pen. I’d pass.” -Dave Till, Toronto Blue Jays


What We Liked

“I’d make him a pitcher. He’s left-handed with 90-plus speed already and a great athlete.” Jake Luft, Sports Illustrated

“…his strikeout ratio, left-handedness, physical stature (6-4, strong legs), mental makeup (love of the game, desire to play) and natural ability (Left handed starter who can hit 92+ on his fastball) would make any GM drool. His weaknesses are also something that can be worked on and improved while in the minors (plate discipline, pitch selection, windup/pitching mechanics problems, conditioning, etc). There is nothing notably “wrong” about Cutter. He makes a ton of sense for the Dodgers, drafting-for-value be damned.” -Lucas from Rowland Heights, Los Angeles Dodgers

“Admittedly a project, drafting C-Section as a batter may get his arm through the injury nexus cleanly. If he doesn’t work as a hitter, trying his hand at pitching a la Rafael Soriano isn’t a bad downside.” -Nathan Hoover, Seattle Mariners

“Great nickname, I’m mad that he’s not #1. I would definitely be drafting him as a pitcher, although if he ended up hitting like Dontrelle Willis as a pitcher, that would be a big bonus. I’d rather him be a college pitcher, sure, but he’s got great projected stuff and a solid frame. I love the numbers, and I love the nickname. I wish he was real.” -Rivers from Houston, New York Mets

“Reading his scouting report I think of guys like Wilkerson, Hudson, and JD Drew (although I know he wasn’t a pitcher on college, he had a pitcher arm) who weren’t unbelievable in high school but put it together in college and on into the pros.” -Andy Paul, no team given

“Yes, yes, high-school pitchers, TINSTAAP, and all that. He has pitches with real movement; can probably develop his FB into a mid-90’s bedrock; good control over the FB is a positive indicator for control of other pitches as he develops them (i.e. he’s not going to be Victor Zambrano); “easy motion” indicates a non-violent delivery, although I’d like a little more detail on that. The good fielding and hitting for a pitcher are nice extra perks.” -Chris Burke, Washington Nationals

What We Didn’t

“Never draft guys who the organization will be unable to decide what position they should really play. As soon as this guy has one year where he flounders at either the plate or on the mound… the organization will start thinking that they made a wrong decision.” -Chris Kruschke, Minnesota Twins

“He’s got good velocity for a lefty, but he’ll need to fix that short stride to prevent his arm from falling off.” -Michael Axisa, New York Yankees

“He has a lot of the little things scouts like to see—good pedigree, competitive streak, tools. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like he has the big things, and without those, the little things are pointless.” -Matt Aufman, Boston Red Sox

“Would rank higher if I were an NL club based on his athleticism. Major K potential. But apprehensive that he won’t sign. ” -Kevin, New York Yankees


What We Liked

“The lack of power is my biggest strike against him, but the speed and defense make him the prototypical center fielder… I know with Beltran in center we probably won’t be able to break him in even 3 or 4 years down the line without a trade, but even if he has to come up as a corner outfielder, I think he would be a competent regular with his weaker bat overruled by the high percentage running and good defense.” -Rivers from Houston, New York Mets

“He played and starred at the highest college level, so that’s a plus. I’m thinking with his speed and defense he’ll be able to help me at the major league level in some capacity, even if it’s as a reserve.” -Jake Luft, Sports Illustrated

“Torii Hunter will be gone eventually.” -Jim Detry, Minnesota Twins

What We Didn’t

“Speedy, leadoff guys like him don’t excite me, especially if that’s all they do. Leadoff guys could always be implanted with high OBP guys instead, and these same speedy guys could come off the bench in crucial, late game situations. Add the fact that Double only recently shot up draft rankings and didn’t play in 2005, he becomes the only pick I would be upset at if the Dodgers were left with” -Lucas from Rowland Heights, Los Angeles Dodgers

“More importantly, the questions to his commitment to baseball is the deciding factor. Nothing could be worse than someone who isn’t 100% committed to the game and the organization. Just look at Ricky Williams in the NFL.” -Blaise Richards, Philadelphia Phillies

“He can’t draw a walk to save his life, and this will just get worse as he would move up in professional ball. His lack of commitment turns me off, especially when he’s considering a career in acting. You might be drafting a drama queen in Double.” -3E8 from SouthSideSox

“Double has no real track record of success. Could be David Murphy style flash in the pan junior. Fast but unrefined, not our type of ballplayer.” -Brendan from Boston, Boston Red Sox

“Wouldn’t touch him. We had Kenny Kelly from Miami.” -Chris from Cincinnati, Cincinnati Reds.


What We Liked

“Scouting report reminds me of Rickie Weeks of Milwaukee or Aaron Hill of Toronto. Good bat and above average athletic ability, more walks then strikeouts, great makeup” -Ryan Quigley, Tampa Bay Devil Rays

“Once again I prefer college prospects and my club is in need of some more middle infield prospects. He doesn’t wow in anyone area, but has the complete package. May never become an all-star, but is extremely likely to be an above average 2nd baseman for many years.” -Jonathan Madison, Houston Astros

“You have to discount the stats because of the altitude and weak competition, but his BB/K rate is awesome. Given his age and control of the strike zone, I think he’ll eventually hit for decent power at sea level.” -Matt Aufman, Boston Red Sox

“I really like Empujada. I could see him being a Ray Durham/Marcus Giles/Chase Utley type of 2B if he doesn’t work out at SS. If he does work out at SS, this cat could be Miguel Tejada. Pitchers are too risky this early unless you just don’t love any position players. I love this guy.” -Joe Dimino, New York Yankees

“Empjuada ranks the highest due to his great bat, plate discipline, and ability to play on the right side of the defensive spectrum. Plus as a college player, he’d be the closer to the Majors. Could care less what everyone else thinks, because he has many well rounded skills and odds are that one or two of them will develop quite nicely.” -Jim from New York, no team given

“Empujada is a very polished middle of the field player that the Red Sox have shown an affinity for in the past. He controls the strike zone and hits for good power. The surest thing of the position players.” -Brendan from Boston, Boston Red Sox

What We Didn’t

“I may be able to overlook his lack of speed, but from a statistical standpoint he has a huge red flag– 39 K in only 223 AB while playing college ball. In a full 162-game season with a wood bat, he might strike out 120 times while hitting 15-20 HR — against college pitchers. Pro pitchers will probably eat this guy up.” -Andrew Denny, Los Angeles Dodgers

“Clearly he’s been playing some inferior competition, and the scouts’ lack of any great projections make me skeptical” -Rivers from Houston, New York Mets

“The scouts hate him but he reminds me a lot of a Marcus Giles/Dustin Pedroia type. Problem is, there’s far more of these guys that don’t work out than do, and Dustin Pedroia isn’t going to be a superstar. At pick 18 he’s a great selection, but I’d rather swing and miss at #9 than draw the BB.” -Jean-Paul Mouton, Atlanta Braves

“No speed makes him a bottom of the order hitter.” -Doug Antholz, St. Louis Cardinals


What We Liked

“Filigrana fits into my Latin team and the Mets have a long successful history with good-field line drive hitters at first. Maybe he replaces Delgado in 4 years.” -Doug Baumstein, New York Mets

“I like Filigrana for his plate discipline and athletic ability to go along with his glove. Decent projected hitting skills but with good plate discipline could be a above-average ML 1B. ” -bballgiant, San Francisco Giants

“Here’s a pick that probably won’t be so popular this high, but the scout’s description of Filigrana really sold me. If this kid is a plus major league fielder at 18 years old, that tells me he is some kind of athlete and definitely the type of player I want to draft. He’s extremely fast and at 6’3” will fill out and have muscle. Rarely strikes out is a great sign, I wish I knew if he could draw walks. A left handed hitter with a higher ceiling than Mark Grace makes me take a shot on this guy, maybe higher than I should.” -“3E8” from the SouthSideSox board

What We Didn’t

“I think his speed is wasted at 1B, and I have a hard time projecting from 40 to 65 in hitting and 30 to 55 in power.” -Joe Dimino, New York Yankees

“Filigrana would also need that time to gain strength, but I don’t think he will have anything better then a Doug Mientkiewicz-type career.” -Mike from Warren, no team given

“[Filigrana is a] light hitting 1b with not a strong arm or power hitter, sounds like Sean Casey. Could have some value in LF but blocked currently on the major league club and for the next 10 years. Value is mostly in development and trade.” -Doug Antholz, St. Louis Cardinals

“At this guy’s potential peak, the difference between him and replacement level (Hee Seop Choi/Carlos Pena) is not a great incentive for a top-ten pick.” -Chris Burke, Washington Nationals


What We Liked

“Me Hit Ball Hard! Twins suck at developing Home Run hitters and I think that even the “The Corpse” Pohlad would open up the old wallet to sign a player the Twinks desperately need.” -Chris Kruschke, Minnesota Twins

“His greatest value would be behind the dish, but would he be open to moving back there full-time? He seems to be a good enough athlete to handle the position day-in and day-out, but getting him back there could be an issue. The disciple problems are a concern, but he’s a (semi-)local kid who may be excited to join the Yankees. I’m somewhat afraid of landing the next Elijah Dukes.” -Michael Axisa, New York Yankees

“Grand has the most potential of all the players. I wouldn’t worry about his character flaws because he is young and has the ability to be an awesome hitter. The problem is his defense. I would keep him in the minors for awhile to let him find a position and work on it. With his size and skills he reminds me of David Ortiz.” -Mike M from Warren, no team given

“The Red Sox are in desperate need of a power corner hitter following the trade of Andy Marte. Although drafting a high school 3B is not an immediate solution by any means, Grand should provide the “raw power” that is lacking from Sox minor league organization according to Ben Cherington.” -Justin West, Boston Red Sox

What We Didn’t

“Every top pick that comes out of this area has been a MAJOR disappointment. Jeff Hammonds (NJ to Stanford), Corey Smith, Jack Cust, JM Gold, Brett Laxton (NJ to LSU), Luzinski, etc. Anyone with a little (or according to the scouts a ton of) talent in the weak NJ/Northeast corridor (where they are playing against kids who don’t play as well are as often as the kids from Cali, Florida, or Texas) who puts up good numbers is overhyped, gets paid, then fails to deliver. Heck, Hammonds would be considered a rousing success compared to the rest of those guys.” -Andy Paul, no team given

“Grand looks like he would be our #1 but want a more signable player, would only draft him if we could get a pre-draft deal.” -Gilbert & Winnie Chan, Oakland A’s

“He’s considering Notre Dame, which tells me he isn’t too bright. He hired Boras, which challenges my last sentence, but doesn’t make him any more signable.” -Chris from Cincinnati, Cincinnati Reds

“Somewhat of a hometown kid growing up in NJ, big kid, however, this reminds me of Drew Henson.” -Kevin, New York Yankees

“The only thing that Football players bring to the table that 1-sport athletes don’t is a higher price tag. Grand is not the worst player of this group, but he’s going to be the biggest signability issue. That doesn’t fit into my minimizing risk first round philosophy. ” -“The Cheat” at SouthSideSox

Next Week: Reader Responses Part Two

Next week we will take a look at some of the responses about draft strategy in general, and I will give my own thoughts about the players. We can also take a look at any additional comments from readers; if you have something to say to follow up, or even for the first time, e-mail me. We will wrap up the series in two weeks’ time with a look into the imaginary future.

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