Draft Q&A with Chris Crawford | The Process Report

Draft Q&A with Chris Crawford

Tomorrow begins the 2014 draft. Today Chris Crawford, of ESPN Insider and MLB Draft Insider  helps us preview it.

TPR: How does the depth in this draft class compare to the past few years?

Crawford: It sort of depends on the area you’re looking at. In terms of prep pitching, it’s as good as any class of the past decade. In terms of hitters in general though, it’s among the worst I’ve seen in my time covering the draft. Overall I give the draft a C+, passing, but because there are so many questions about the offensive side I can’t go into the B range.

The Rays have been tied to a lot of collegiate bats. Is that an area of strength?

It’s really bad. So many of the top hitting prospects signed out of the 2011 class that it was sort of doomed from the start. It’s particularly bad from the right side, as I have only two right-handed hitters on my board; Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost and NC State shortstop Trea Turner, and both of those guys are there more on positional value than offensive talent.

What about Kyle Schwarber makes him first-round material?

In a better draft, I’m not sure he would be, but in this version he is as a guy who might have a 60 hit tool with a quality approach at the plate and has shown plus-plus power from the left side.

Can his defensive shortcomings behind the plate be coached away?

I don’t think so. He’s not a bad athlete, but the receiving skills are well below-average, as is his footwork.

How concerned are you about his body?

For a left-fielder, I’d be very concerned. For a first baseman? Not so much. It’s less than an ideal frame, however.

Will Casey Gillaspie’s power and approach translate to the pros?

I think the approach will, but I’m not so sure about the power. The industry says yes, but I have questions about how he’s going to handle quality stuff. I think he’ll be able to get on base, but I need to see more pop if I’m taking him in the first 20 selections.

Does he have the same swing from both sides?

There’s no noticeable difference, and he’s got similar pop from both sides of the plate as well.

Can his glove atone for some of his offensive shortcomings?

Despite being slow — 20 runner slow — he’s a pretty good defender at first with soft hands and a decent arm, but you can find quality defenders at first. You’re definitely drafting him for the bat.

What position does Braxton Davidson play in the majors?

I think he ends up long-term at first base, but I think he has enough athleticism to give a corner outfield a try with his plus arm, as the bat is going to play far better there than it is at first.

How does he compare to Dominic Smith?

Unfavorably. Smith has more raw power, and Davidson doesn’t have his feel for hitting, either. That’s not to say he’s not a quality hitter, it’s just that Smith would be a top 7-8 pick in this year’s draft in terms of talent.

Any worries about his mechanical alterations this year?

My biggest worry is about consistency. At times Davidson looks like as good a pure hitter in the class, but too often he struggled against anyone who had quality stuff. The talent is there, but I think he’s a very volatile prospect.

Should teams be cautious about Derek Fisher following his wrist injury earlier in the year?

I think it’s something you have to take into consideration, but plenty of guys have recovered from wrist injuries and had quality careers.

Where does he project defensively?

I think he ends up in left field. He’s a solid-average runner, but he doesn’t have great instincts, and his arm is below average. He’s not a DH candidate just yet, but expecting much defensive value is probably a fool’s errand.

What adjustments must he make in order for his raw power to show up more often in games?

Some of it is Virginia playing in one of the tougher parks to hit homers in, but some of it is due to Fisher’s tendency to leak and open up too early, which causes his plus power to play down. He also needs to be a bit more assertive while keeping his plate discipline, but these are fixable errors.

How does Tyler Beede stack up to Ryne Stanek?

In terms of stuff, I think Beede and Stanek are fairly similar. In terms of control and command, Stanek is well ahead of Beede, which is why the latter’s stock has dropped so much over the past few weeks.

What causes Beede’s volatility?

He just puts too many hitters on base via walk right now. The stuff is quality — maybe the best of any right-handed starter of any collegiate pitcher in this class — but when you’re constantly falling behind hitters, it really doesn’t matter. I’m not sure at this point if the risk outweighs the reward.

Do you think he’ll be available at no. 20?

I do, assuming that the Angels and Diamondbacks pass on him.

You’re Tampa Bay and you have your pick of the above five. Who do you take?

I would go with Fisher. I think he’s got a chance to hit for average and power, and even though he’s not a great defender, I’ll take the below-average left fielder over a first baseman everyday of the week. i wouldn’t blame them for taking the risk on Beede, but I think Fisher’s a better prospect at this point.

Last one: which Pacific Northwest prospect should we pencil in as Tampa Bay’s second-round pick?

It’s a bad year for the Pacific Northwest, but if they do go that route — and it seems they go this route a lot — they could go with Trace Loehr, a shortstop with an above-average hit tool, plus speed and a chance to stick at shortstop.

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