A Scout's View: Oakland A's 2011 Draft

It will be years before we really know how the Oakland A's fared in the 2011 draft, but it is always interesting to get an initial reaction after the draft. A few hours after Day Three of the draft came to an end, we caught-up with former MLB scout and current Scout.com National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere for his thoughts on some of the A's draft picks.

On Sonny Gray (Round One)

OaklandClubhouse: Were you surprised that the A's were able to get Gray?

Frankie Piliere: I was really surprised he was available [at 18]. Originally I didn't think that he would get past the Mets at 13 but it seemed that there was a little bit of a debate in philosophy with the Mets' front office. I don't know if it was money related or what, but they ended up going with [Brandon] Nimmo and there weren't really any takers between the Mets and the A's. I knew he wouldn't get past Oakland, but that had to be a nice surprise for them [that he was still on the board].

OC: Do you see him as a starter or a reliever?

FP:I think some teams see him as a reliever. I don't. I think the A's and Billy Beane have said that already. He might only be 5'10'', but you can't take a three-pitch guy who has the feel and command that he does and just make him a reliever. If it doesn't work out as a starter, there is always that option and I think he can be a really good one. But he's a command guy. He's got three pitches and he goes after hitters and he's got the mentality of a starter. I think he's a top-end of the rotation pitcher, as long as he stays healthy.

OC: You mentioned him in your "Fast Risers Piece". Is he a guy who can get to the big leagues quickly?

FP:I think he definitely could [move quickly]. I don't know that they plan to move him that aggressively, but he's a guy who is not that far off. The only real downside to him is size. If he was 6'4'', I don't think we'd even be talking about him [at this pick]. He'd be in the top-five or six. As long as he is healthy, he's going to have no problem moving up the ladder.

On B.A. Vollmuth (Round Three)

OC: How about Vollmuth? He was also fairly high in your pre-draft prospect rankings compared to where he was picked.

FP: Yeah, I had him at 65. That's mostly based on the fact that I liked him in the Cape Cod League. I put an emphasis on guys who swing the bat well with wood. He's one of those guys. He's got some power potential. I think he's going to hit for average. A pretty good athlete overall. Mostly, it's the bat. I think Oakland places an emphasis on guys who have a past of swinging the bat well with wood. He's had some inconsistencies. He had a good spring, but he had some points where scouts were down on him. He rebounded well and showed good raw power in the Cape with the wood bat and I think that is why he ended up going pretty high.

OC: Southern Miss moved him all around the infield this season. Is he a third baseman?

FP: It's tough. He's kind of an enigmatic guy defensively. I think he probably has enough arm to play third base, but I'll be curious to see what they'll do. I think part of the reason he didn't go higher is that he doesn't really have a clear position. I think with guys who you can't say for sure ‘ok, that's a shortstop, that's a third baseman', I think those guys tend to slide a little bit that don't have a set spot. I think that is part of why he went where he went. I'll be curious to see what they do because he's really a bat-first guy, but I think he can probably end up being a pretty decent third baseman.

On Bobby Crocker (Round Four)

OC: Did you see much of Bobby Crocker?

FP: Oh, yes, saw quite a bit of him. I thought he was a little bit underrated going into the draft, but I thought he ended up going right where he should have. He didn't show up on as many rankings that were out there, but he's a good player. He's a good athlete, really strong, physically mature guy. I think there might be some more power there. He's a strong guy. He hits the ball hard. He just hasn't learned to lift the ball out of the park quite yet, but I think that might come. Right now he's a gap hitter.

Looking at him, you wouldn't think he'd necessarily be a speed guy, but he can steal some bases and he's athletic. I think they'll probably keep him in center for now. He may have to move to a corner down-the-road, but a good athlete overall who can swing the bat with wood really well.

On Beau Taylor (Round Five)

OC: There weren't a lot of highly ranked college catchers in this draft. Was Beau Taylor among the top collegiate catchers available?

FP: I think a guy like him might have gone a little higher than he would have otherwise because, like you said, there weren't a lot of [top-flight collegiate catchers]. He's not necessarily a premium guy, but there were a lot of guys who jumped up the boards because teams were looking to get collegiate catchers and wanted to make sure they got one, and that's what happened with him.

On Blake Treinen (Round Seven)

OC: Blake Treinen seemed like an interesting pick in that he is already almost 23 but reportedly throws really hard. Had you heard much about him before the draft?

FP: He's not a guy I saw being from South Dakota State, but I had an area scout mention him to me a little while ago. You show a little velocity just before the draft and you can get paid. I think that's what happened with him. You'll take a flier with an arm like that and see what happens.

On Jace Fry (Round Nine)

OC: Fry was the only high school player the A's took in the top-10 rounds. Was he a guy you saw much of in the showcases?

FP: I didn't see him and but I heard a lot about him. I know that scouts like him and believe there is some good upside.

On Dusty Robinson (Round 10)

OC: Did you see Dusty Robinson much in the Cape?

FP: I did. He was teammates with Crocker up there, actually. I think they were pretty good friends up there. I liked Robinson's bat moreso than Crocker's power-wise. He's a little less of an athlete [than Crocker], one of those stocky, strong guys. You take him for his bat. I think he's going to have a lot of power. He's a pretty good bargain [for the 10th round]. I had him in my top-100 [at 84] and I believe Baseball America had him just outside of their top-100. Not that rankings are the be-all, end-all, but that's a pretty good value.

He's a good college bat, will hit for power. He's the kind of guy who you can stick in short-season A-ball this year and he's going to hit a lot of homeruns. He's going to have to hit a lot because he isn't an athlete. He's not a defense-first guy. They are going to need him to hit, but that is a pretty good value for that round.

On Cecil Tanner (Round 23)

OC: I remember Cecil Tanner being a pretty highly touted prospect coming out of high school. What's his story right now?

FP: It's command. It's completely command right now. I saw him at the Cape and he was almost dangerous when he was pitching. Tanner is anywhere from 92 up to 97 and I even had him at 98, but he's just all over the place. Really a mess command-wise. His mechanics were all out of whack. You'll have to see if a pro pitching coordinator can get his mechanics back in order. It's essentially taking a chance on a guy to see what you can do. It's hard to pass on a guy who can put up the kind of numbers he can on the gun. It's hard to really know what he's got secondary-pitch wise because he's always behind in the count. I know he has flashed a good breaking ball, but he's always 2-0, 3-0 and battling from behind. But there are flashes I've seen of him from batter to batter of him being potentially dominant. Take a gamble on an arm like that.

On Derek Self (Round 27) and Max Perlman (Round 35)

OC: Any other names to keep an eye on?

FP: I saw Derek Self pitch in the Cape Cod League All-Star game. He sat 90-92, over-the-top, easy delivery. He's got an 81-83 tight slider and a change-up that was 84. His velocity was down a little from the stretch and the command of his change-up wasn't really there that game. He's probably a guy who down the road you look at as a relief arm. He may be able to jump into the mid-90s in one-inning stints. I thought that was a pretty good pick.

Max Perlman has a pretty good breaking ball, a 12-6 curveball. He's 88-91 with his fastball. Obviously he's pretty smart, so that's part of it. He's a big guy. He locates his breaking ball really well and has a big 12-6, so that's kind of the selling point with him. He's a command guy and probably a guy who will dominate in the rotation in low-A.

For a complete run-down of our 2011 MLB Draft coverage, click here.

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