St. Louis Red Birds
Needs: C. CF, SP
Chuck Merrick's eventual replacement behind the plate is the first order of business for ronazbill. Ernest Puffer is an outstanding defensive catcher, but is certainly not an everyday player, and ideally you would like a catcher with a little more pop at the plate. This team is a very nice mixture of youth and experience, with about 70% youth and 30% experience, and is blessed with copious amounts of team speed and defense. The one area where they might be a bit lacking is long ball power from the batting order. With all that speed however, they are quite capable of producing runs by other means. The one fielding position in need of a replacement right away is centerfield, where incumbent R. A. Howell is both aging quickly, and coming to the end of his contract. Not to mention, the defense in centerfield will soon begin to suffer if he stays there much longer. The rotation is also a mixture of youth and veteran presence, and could use a couple of extra arms to maintain continuity. The bullpen is solid, with a number of highly talented options already available.
Draft Expectations: Very High
9 picks in the first five rounds, including 4 first rounders, gives ronazbill plenty of opportunities to deepen an already talented and deep organization. Although his first pick isn't until number 33 overall, he has 6 picks in the top 100, and should allow him to select 4-5 players of ML quality.
ronazbill has a player payroll in the top third of the league, which is not surprising, considering the number of high quality veterans on his team. The good news is that most of these veterans are in their prime right now, and this team is structured to be a contender for the next 3-4 years. The way ronazbill has distributed his remaining finances is to give each department an equal mid-range share of about 10 million, with the advance scouting department being left out.
Round 1 Pick 33 RP Trace Burns
Burns has to be considered a major disappointment by ronazbill with his top pick. At best, Burns will be a marginal ML reliever, and will only be relying on one ML quality pitch, which is a fastball. This is not a good thing. The league's best hitters will have a field day with Burns, and he will probably bounce back and forth between the ML and AAA.
ML Projection: 80 IP/3-5 W/.270-.300 OAV/4.00-4.50 ERA
Round 1 Supp Pick 43 LF Juan Fernandez
A far better pick than Burns was at no. 33, Fernandez is a solid option in LF. His outstanding batting eye, coupled with a solid contact rating means Fernandez will get on base quite often. He has little power, but is effective against both left and right handed pitching. Although he does have some good speed and baserunning ability, his inability to bunt will probably land him in the bottom third of the order.
ML Projection: 5-10 HR/.280-.300 BA/30-35 SB
Round 1 Supp Pick 55 SP Clarence Wallace
A deceptively effective SP, Wallace has two quality pitches to rely on, his sinker and curveball. Unfortunately, he also uses 3 other pitches that may become more of a hinderance than a help. Still, he has enough tricks in his bag to hold down either a no. 4 or no. 5 position in the rotation. His incredible stamina will also allow him to work late into many games, giving his bullpen some much needed breaks.
ML Projection: 220-240 IP/12-15 W/.270-.290 OAV/4.00-4.50 ERA
Round 1 Supp Pick 57 SP/RP Benjamin Belinda
Belinda is another one of those 4A players who seem to be right on the verge of holding on to a steady ML job. He may even be closer than most because of his versatility as both a starter, and a long reliever. His control and velocity are both good, and his left/right splits are right on the fence. His role will probably be as the first arm to be called up whenever a replacement arm is needed.
ML Projection: Emergency replacement
Round 2 Pick 89 SP Arthur Bragg
Another 4A type player, Bragg will remain in the minors until his services are desperately needed as a replacement.
ML Projection: Emergency replacement
Round 3 Pick 96 SS Talmadge Dougherty
Dougherty does not have good enough numbers overall to hold down a permanent ML position, however, he does have good enough defense, and he hits righthanders well enough, to take a position as a utility infielder.
ML Projection: Utility Infielder
Round 3 Pick 121 CF/LF Al Wood
His defense is a bit lacking for a CF, and since he is a southpaw, he would not make a very good 2B. So that limits him to a corner OF role where his defense would be more than effective enough. His hitting just isn't good enough to maintain a steady role in the bigs, and he will probably play out his career as a perennial AAA all-star
Round 4 Pick 153 RP James Buehrle
Buehrle will make a great minor league relief pitcher, and might even get a shot at the closer role on a few minor league teams, but he will never be able to make the jump to the bigs.
Round 5 Pick 185 1B Harold Henderson
Another borderline player, Henderson will play his way onto several minor league all-star squads, but doesn't have the talent to make the final jump.
Hidden Gems: None foreseeable
Overall Grade: C-
The drafting of Burns at pick 33 has to be one of the major disappointments of this draft. ronazbill did somewhat make up for it with his next two picks, but overall, he should have come away with more than 3 full time MLers. Fortunately for him, he already has a very talent-laden organization, so the effects of this draft should be minimal.