Needs: 1B, SS, SP, RP
Behind the plate, Gary Girardi is the best of the best, and he is in his prime. A noted Downrigger killer, we are always happy to feed him tainted meals at the Blagos favorite Tacoma hotel restaurants. At 1B, fixture Lee Fick appears to be reaching the end of the line. Entering into his option year with that hefty contract in tow, my guess is that langer will cut him loose. Les Calloway, who is currently overmatched in LF, will likely migrate back to his natural position at 1B, but I think langer can do better. 2B stalwart Louie Kelly is also coming to the end of his contract, but being at the peak of his career means langer will likely sign him longer (sic) (again). 3B superstar Benito Rijo couldn't be dislodged from his spot on the roster with a stick of dynamite. At SS, the Michael Huang and Dong show just doesn't meet the standard of the rest of this team. This is by far langer's greatest need. The outfield is set for many years to come with Ryan Hughes in LF, perenial all-star Tony Pena in CF, and rookie Henry Janish taking over in RF. They also have a defensive wizard on the way up in Earl Allen. The rotation is steady, if unspectacular, and it is also getting a little long in the tooth. The only current member with any upside is Johnny Robinson. There are a couple of youngsters with some promise deep down on the farm, but more are needed. The bullpen is very much the same, with a little less urgency than the rotation.
Draft Expectations: Moderate
Although he drafts next to last (32nd overall), langer also gets 7 picks in the first 5 rounds, including 2 first rounders. With langer's savvy, he could surprise with some impressive pick-ups.
Chicago has a player payroll in the top third of the league, not unexpected for a team that seems permanently entrenched near the top of the standings. Unfortunately for langer, a very large chunk of that salary is tied up in Bronson Jiang, who is laid up with a long-term debilitating injury. What's worse is that his contract is a long-term, debilitating contract. Langer had to be very miserly with his remaining funds, leaving barely enough to sign his drafted prospects, and virtually nothing for the IFA market. His college and high school scouts were compensated moderately well, allowing him to find sufficient talent to draw from for the draft.
Round 1 Pick 32 SP J.D. Benes
What you would expect from a late first round pick, Benes' solid stamina is somewhat offset by his occasional control problems. This will limit him to around 200 innings per season. He has solid L/R splits, and 4 solid ML pitches which will make him an effective number 3 or 4 starter.
ML Projection: 200+ IP/13-15 W/.240-.260 OAV/3.50-4.00 ERA
Round 1 Supp Pick 42 RP Emilio Rosado
A slam dunk at pick 42, Rosado projects to become a premiere set-up man at the very least. Most likely he will eventually settle in to the closer's role. Great control, solid and balanced L/R splits, and two elite pitches gives him all the tools he needs.
ML Projection: 60-80 IP/25-35 SV/.210-.230 OAV/2.25-2.75 ERA
Round 2 Pick 58 2B/LF Teddy Hubbard
Listed as a 2B, but better suited to a corner OF position, Hubbard brings a pretty solid bat with him. He won't win any batting titles with his batting eye (or lack thereof), but he has the contact rating, and the power, to drive in a few runs, probably from the number 6 or 7 slot in the batting order.
ML Projection: 25 HR/.250-.270 BA/5-10 SB
Round 2 Pick 88 RP Sadie Ford
Great control/velocity splits, and respectable effectiveness ratings, especially against righthanders, makes Ford a safe bet to climb into the big league bullpen. His stamina/durability combination are relatively low, so he won't be able to burn a lot of innings, but he will help.
ML Projection: 40-50 IP/.240-.260 OAV/3.25-3.75 ERA
Round 3 Pick 120 RP Victor Alonso
A world class cutter, plus three other ML quality pitches, makes Alonso effective enough to spend time in the ML bullpen. He will either go to long relief, or a mop-up role.
ML Projection: 80-100 IP/5-10 W/.250-.270 OAV/3.80-4.50 ERA
Round 4 Pick 152 SS Kendry Campos
Unscouted and unsigned.
Round 5 Pick 184 SP Lance DeWitt
Good enough numbers to fill in on an emergency basis, if he had decided to sign. It looks instead like he will be attending college.
Hidden Gems: RP Jorge Encarnacion?
Overall Grade: B+
The fact that langer managed to pick up solid major league prospects with each of his first 5 picks is astounding, especially when you consider that he was picking at the end of each round. None of these players are good enough to be game breakers, but they will make up the meat and potatoes of this team's future.