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Early 2012 Pop-up Draftees

It’s only been a couple of months since the 2012 first year player draft, but several players have already started to gain prospect momentum after fast starts.  Here are five players from this year’s draft that I’ve been following closely.

David Dahl (OF – Colorado Rockies)

Name: David Dahl DOB: April 1, 1994 BP: Birmingham Alabama
Ht: 6-2  Weight: 185 Bats: Left Throws: Right

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012

R

280

62

9

57

12

.379

.423

85.0

7.5

.420

After the draft of 2009, every toolsy high-school outfielder that explodes onto the scene will be compared to Mike Trout.  Face it…that’s what we have and now everyone seems to be asking that question about the #10 pick in the 2012 draft, David Dahl.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say…while Dahl has a chance to be very good, he’s not Mike Trout.

Dahl has nice bat speed with a quick path to the ball and great hip rotation to elicit excitement about future power. He’s got a cannon for an arm and the speed to cover a lot of ground in the outfield.  Yep, he’s got tools and so far in his professional debut, he’s been showing them off.  In 280 at-bat in the Pioneer league, Dahl is batting .379 with nine home runs, 12 stolen bases, 10 triples and 22 doubles.  He’s slugging a ridiculous .625 and his contact rate is 85% with a 7.5% walk rate.

All that said, before we carve out his Hall of Fame plaque, remember, this is the Pioneer League and there is a long way to go.  One of the difficulties in evaluating Dahl will be that he plays for the Rockies, who have some of the best hitting ballparks in the minor leagues, including Ashville, which should be where Dahl starts the 2013 season.

Fantasy Impact: Even while trying to provide a balance analysis on Dahl, it’s hard not to get excited about his ceiling.  From a fantasy standpoint, a toolsy outfield playing in Coors is really intriguing and if I’m drafting in a Dynasty League next year, I’m targeting Dahl for late in the draft, soon after Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton go off the board.

Mike Zunino (C – Seattle Mariners)

Name: Mike Zunino DOB: March 25, 1991 BP: Cape Coral Florida
Ht: 6-2  Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012

SS/AA

161

35

13

43

1

.369

.447

79.5

14.3

.385

Mike Zunino stellar college career included appearing in three college World Series tournaments as well as winning numerous awards including the 2012 Golden Spikes award as the top amateur baseball player in United States.  This pedigree ultimately led to Zunino being selected third by the Seattle Mariners in the 2012 draft.

Zunino doesn’t have a ton of tools, but is a solid all around baseball player with great make-up and leadership ability.  His hit tool grades out as a 55 on the 20 to 80 scouting scale with average power potential.  With that skill set, Zunino was drafted third in the 2012 draft because Seattle saw a high floor player with the ability to move through the development process quickly – and quickly he has.

In a small sample size of 161 at-bats, Zunino has batted .333 with an 80% contact rate and a 14% walk rate.  The majority of those at-bats were in the Short Season Northwest League, but he did get 51 at-bats in Double-A, including helping the Jackson Generals through the playoffs.  The scouting reports are also encouraging with many scouts believing he is nearly ready for the majors, particularly if he has a nice showing during the AFL in October.  The one thing I continue to hear is he struggles with off-speed pitches, particularly down and away.

So if you add it all up, you have the potential for a solid regular with the upside for a little more, and most importantly, you have a player that is near ready to contribute at the highest level in 2013.

Addison Russell (SS – Oakland A’s)

Name: Addison Russell DOB: January 23, 1994 BP: Cape Coral Florida
Ht: 6-2  Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012

R/LoA

217

46

7

45

16

.369

.432

77.9

10.6

.445

Addison Russell was selected #11 by the Oakland A’s, which was earlier than he was projected last winter.  However, Russell lost 20-25 pounds before the high-school season and his stock took a major up-tick.  He has plus raw power generated through quick hands and good hip rotation and given the weight loss, is stealing bases.   He tore up the AZL and was promoted to Low-A to finish 2012.

The stat line is pretty impressive for the entire season.  In 217 at-bats, he batted .369 with seven home runs, 16 stolen bases (with only 2 CS), a 78% contact rate and a 10.5% walk rate.  While he went homerless in 58 at-bats in Low-A, 4 out his 18 hits were doubles and he managed to steal 5 bases.

Fantasy Impact: There is a first division starter up-side player in Russell and given his new physique, now has the ability to stick at a premium position.  Given the power/speed combination with an above average hit tool, fantasy owners also need to take note.

Joey Gallo (3B – Texas Rangers)

Name: Joey Gallo DOB: November 19, 1993 BP: Las Vegas Nevada
Ht: 6-5  Weight: 205 Bats: Left Throws: Right

Year

Class

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

Avg

OBP

C%

BB%

BABIP

2012

AZ/SS

206

53

22

52

6

.272

.412

62.1

23.3

.315

At 6-5 and 220 lbs, Joey Gallo is a very large human, and that large guy has strong hands and plenty of torque that can send balls flying a very long way.  Teams also considered drafting Gallo as a pitcher as he threw in the mid-90’s in high-school.  However, in the end, the Rangers drafted him in the 2012 Supplemental 1st round (Pick #39) as a positional player.

Gallo has light tower power that was clearly on display during the AZL as he mashed 18 home runs in only 150 at-bats.  However, as with most power hitters, the swing is long and there is a lot of swing and miss in the bat, as is evident by the 52 strikeouts he also accomplished in the AZL.  While he also hit 4 home runs upon his promotion to Spokane in the Northwest league, it also came with 26 strikeouts in 56 at bats.

So the question, which is often asked of 80 grade power hitters like Gallo.  Will he make enough contact to get to his power?  At the moment, I’m skeptical and therefore I’m somewhat sour on Gallo as a prospect.

Fantasy Impact:  From a fantasy standpoint, he will clearly be a popular selection in Dynasty draft and one that I will not be taking part.

Michael Wacha (RHP – St. Louis Cardinals)

Name: Michael Wacha DOB: July 1, 1991 BP: Texarkana Texas
Ht: 6-6  Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Year

Class

IP

H

ER

HR

BB/9

K/9

ERA

WHIP

2012

R/A/AA

21.0

8

2

1

1.71

17.14

0.86

0.57

Listed at 6-6 and 195 lbs, right-handed Michael Wacha is a big guy that is probably closer to 220 lbs.  Selected #19 by the Cardinals, Wacha has already been moved to Double-A with an impressive 40K/4BB in only 21.0 IP.  His velocity sits 90-93 and pitching with a significant downward plane, Wacha gets a lot of late movement with his fastball.  His out pitch at the moment is a plus change-up with nice arm side run that is proving effective against both right-handed and left-handed bats.

At the moment, his curve ball is getting mixed results.  With some scouts, I’m hearing his curve is under developed and grades out as a below average pitch and others are indicating that they’ve seen his curve flash above average, if not more.

Usually guys that are 6-6 have trouble with their command, but that is not the case with Wacha.  In 113.1 innings during his junior year of college, Wacha had a 116K/20BB strikeout-to-walk ratio as well as an impressive 40K/4BB in his very small sample size of 21.0 innings in professional ball.

Fantasy Impact:  I’ve been asked as to where Wacha fits into the high-end stable of Cardinals pitching prospects.  My vote would be: Shelby Miller (large gap), Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and finally Michael Wacha.  However, if we start to receive reports of a more consistent breaking pitch, whether he improves his curve or switches to a slider, which some have argued is ultimately where he will land, he could move ahead of Rosenthal.

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