Five hitters in the top 150 that I am avoiding on draft day.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
The legend of Paul Goldschmidt grew with each of his eight gopher balls that he cranked in only 156 at bats in 2011. His post-season heroics gave even more evidence of his legitimacy to the angry mobs, who were livid that this budding star was oft ignored by scouts.
But, as he is emerging as a popular sleeper, I am staying far away.
It has been pointed out by many prominent scouts, that Goldschmidt has possibly the worst bat speed in the major leagues. His contact skills were at a deplorable 66% clip last year. The slugger receives impressive reviews from his organization for making significant improvements to his approach, but until he can demonstrate a league average contact rate, he will remain on my all avoid team. I believe in his power, but I do NOT believe in his long-slow-sledgehammer-like swing. Goldschmidt could be an average killer, or worse, find his way to Triple-A by June. Right now I am seeing a Jack Cust type of player.
Jose Reyes, SS, Miami Marlins
When healthy, Jose Reyes is an absolute Rotisserie Beast but how does one ignore his rather extensive medical history? Let us quickly take a trip down Hammy lane:
2003: Placed on the 15-day DL on Sept. 5 with a Grade 2 ankle sprain, ending his season.
2004: Placed on the 15-day DL on March 15 with a strained right hamstring, sidelining him until June 19.
2009: Playing with a right calf strain, Reyes leaves game on May 21 after re-aggravating the injury. Placed on the 15-day DL, does not return that season. Leaves a minor-league rehab assignment game on June 3 with what is called "discomfort in his right calf."
2011: On July first things fell apart after he left a game against the Yankees with a strained left hamstring. He then was plagued the rest of the year with recurring hamstring flair ups.
Please do me one favor before you pull the trigger on Jose Reyes:
Go use the magical Google and type in "My hamstring strain won’t go away".
You will read countless blogs and posts from athletes and runners across the country that hamstrings are like recurring nightmares. They are hard to shake. In fact they only go away with rest, and rest is something that Reyes will have very little of during the grind of 162 games. Reyes game is almost totally dependant on his legs and the concerns about the on-going hamstring issues just doesn't warrant the risk as an early round draft selection.
Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners
I am perplexed that the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2009 is being selected within the top 150 thus far. The former elite prospect has shown an outstanding contact rate and plate discipline in the minor leagues, which portends a solid average at the major league level. But so far his elite contact rate has not yet translated to the major league level. He has also struggled vs. lefties, further depressing his batting average. Based on what we've seen to-date it is very possible that Ackley will struggle to reach double-digits in both homers and stolen bases. How much should one pay for a hollow batting average, and one that is far from being elite? While I believe in Ackley’s hit tool, and that it will translate into a solid batting average in the future, that is all the upside he offers at this point. I would rather wait two rounds later and get better numbers from Jason Kipnis.
Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
The Hebrew Hammer could have been the #1 pick this year until the world came crashing down on him with alleged PED use. Right now, he is being drafted thirty picks later, with the assumption that he will serve a 50 game suspension. Conventional logic says subtract the 50 games, add a replacement level player and you still have second or third round value.
If he is indeed found guilty of PED’s, the thing that fantasy players should not under estimate is the impact this will have on him psychologically. Will he be pressing at the plate to prove the community wrong? These guys are human beings, and there have been countless examples of the personal getting in the way of the professional. It could take him a while to return to top form caused by the pressures associated with a suspension.
If Braun drops to the sixth round I am pouncing, but a second or third round pick has too much risk attached for my liking.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Cleveland Indians
The oft-injured short stop from Ohio is being drafted in round four, but this pick is fools gold. Asdrubal is an above average offensive short stop, but the power he demonstrated in 2011 will be tough to reproduce. Prior to 2011 his career high in home runs was six. Yes, you heard me: SIX!
His Home run to fly ball rate skyrocketed from a career average of six percent to a whopping thirteen percent in 2011. Along the way he also had a drop in his contact rate, but most agree that he was willing to add some swing and miss to his game in order to add some pop. However, I am questioning if this approach will work for him as he hit a mere hit mere .244/.310/.394 in the second half of 2011. Another red flag- if you go to ESPN’s Hit tracker, they break down which home runs JUST BARELY went over the fence and which home runs were NO QUESTION. When Cabrera’s Home run to fly ball rate return to career norms, many of his home runs will turn into pop flies.
I am very much in line with the Bill James 2012 projections, which gives Cabrera:
.279 AVG 16 HR 75 RBI 86 15 SB.
This is a very nice player, but at pick 70 I would rather invest in the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Pablo Sandoval, Adam Jones, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks, and Ben Zobrist. Give me the proven player here.
If you do not manager to procure Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Castro or Andrus by round 4, wait until the 125-150 range where you can draft the likes of Derek Jeter, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, JJ Hardy, and Stephen Drew!
These mid round short stops are simply better options at that stage of a draft than gambling on a repeat of Cabrera's outstanding 2011 campaign.