2004 Draft Recap: Day One

Adam Miller profiles the A's draft picks from the first day of the 2004 Amateur Draft.

A's Draft Picks

Round 1

Pick 24: Landon Powell, C, South Carolina, S/R, 6'3", 235, age 22.
Powell is a catcher in the Jeremy Brown mold, who wasn't drafted to sell blue jeans. He has struggled with his conditioning, but has supposedly lost 15-20 pounds in the offseason, and is more dedicated to maintaining his weight. What Powell can do is hit. He hit .292/.350/.485 in his first year at South Carolina before exploding in the 2004 season with a .339/.425/.641 line, and bashing 19 home runs in only 245 at-bats. He also has excellent strike zone judgment, walking 38 times and striking out 37. He has an excellent throwing arm, and has displayed power from both sides of the plate (he's a switch hitter); he was widely regarded as one of the best power hitters in the draft. It will be interesting to see where Powell plays, as the A's farm system may be deepest offensively at the catcher position.

Pick 26: Richie Robnett, OF, Fresno State, L/L, 5'10", 195, age 21.
Robnett has all the protypical "tools": he can run, hit for average, hit for power, throw, and field his position. After attending Santa Barbara City College, Robnett took a year off from baseball, and later enrolled at Fresno State, where he excelled. He led the team in a number of offensive categories, hitting .384/.469/.699 on the year with 21 steals, 13 home runs, 36 walks, and 41 strikeouts. He plays excellent defense, and could project to a major-league center fielder. Robnett recently went 6 for 12 in a series against Rice, which is impressive because Rice featured 3 of the top 8 picks in the 2004 draft…all pitchers.

Supplemental Round 1

Pick 36: Danny Putnam, OF, Stanford, L/L, 5'10", 200, age 22.
Putnam is most often compared to Brian Giles, who Billy Beane tried to pry away from the Pirates for years before Giles finally ended up in San Diego, so it's no surprise that the A's take a Giles-like player here. Putnam had been rumored to go to the A's for weeks. He hit .378/.454/.643 for the 2004 season, banging 16 home runs, and also showing an excellent eye, with a 31/34 K/BB ratio. He doesn't play the outfield exceptionally well, but Putnam will succeed in the pros because of his bay, not his glove. If Putnam ends up anything like Giles, the A's will be very pleased.

Pick 40: Huston Street, RHP, Texas, 6'0", 190, age 21.
Street is the son of former Texas baseball and football star James Street. Huston has spent his entire three year college career as a reliever, and has dominated opponents at the highest level of college competition. Street has a career 1.27 ERA in 169 2/3 college innings, giving up only 101 hits, 24 earned runs, and 8 homeruns. He struck out nearly a batter per inning, posting a 166/34 K/BB ratio. Street throws a plus sinker in the high 80s/low 90s, and uses a plus slider as his out pitch; these pitchers are difficult to pick up for hitters because of Streets' deceptive delivery. Described by scouts as a "fierce competitor" and a "winner," Street is the epitome of a pressure pitcher, and because of his relatively low workload this season, has an outside chance of breaking the Oakland bullpen by the end of the year. If there was such a thing as "drafting a closer," Street would be it.

Round 2

Pick 49: Michael Rogers, RHP, NC State, 6'1" 195, age 22.
Rogers pitched for NC State as a true freshman before breaking his right fibula. He became a full-time starter as a redshirt freshman the next year, and has excelled in that role since that time, posting a career college ERA of 3.13 in 281 2/3 innings. Rogers struck out 270 batters while walking 73, demonstrating above average strike zone command. Rogers is not a power pitcher, throwing his fastball in the high-80s, but has a decent curveball, and is able to get hitters out because of his command. He struggled a bit in his final season at NC State, and as a result, slipped in the draft, but could be a bit of a diamond in round 2 if he can regain his previous form.

Pick 67: Kurt Suzuki, C, Cal State-Fullerton, R/R, 5'11", 200, age 21.
The second catcher taken off the board in the A's first 6 picks, Suzuki is a do-everything player who has perhaps the best batting eye of any player in the entire draft. In his first full season as a starter, Suzuki put up monster numbers: .435/.525/.731, while walking nearly twice as many times (43) as he struck out (23). Suzuki also hit 15 home runs, and was nicknamed "Kurt Klutch" by his teammates for always coming up with big hits (.417 average with runners in scoring position). He has a plus throwing arm, and is known for working well with his pitchers. It's not immediately clear where Suzuki (and Powell) fit in to the A's crowded stable of minor league catchers, but with his bat and fantastic control of the strike zone, Suzuki should be a valuable asset, even if he is forced to change positions.

Round 3

Pick 97: Jason Windsor, RHP, Cal State-Fullerton, 6'2", 220, age 22.
After picking up Kurt Suzuki in round two, the A's selected his battery mate Windsor with their next pick. Windsor dominated in 2004, posting a 10-4 record with a 1.95 ERA in 133 2/3 innings. His command of the strike zone is spectacular, with a 112/18 K/BB ratio in 2004. He throws four pitches well: a fastball, curve, slider, and a circle change. Windsor is built like a power pitcher, but has the command of a strike zone artist. A combination of the two could prove difficult for hitters in the future.

Round 4

Pick 127: Ryan Webb, RHP, Clearwater Central Catholic HS (FL), 6'6", 190, age 18.
In a bit of a surprise, the A's selected a high school pitcher early in the draft. But the A's draft philosophy is to minimize risk and unnecessary cost, not to pass on talent. In 2003, Webb's ERA was 0.90 in 86 innings, where he struck out 120 overmatched high schoolers. Oh, and he also threw a no-hitter. He's tall (as tall as Mark Mulder), with plenty of room to grow and fill out. Despite his lack of strength, he throws 88-90 with his fastball, and a slurve-like slider, as well as a decent changeup. He projects to improve his velocity as he gets older. Ryan is the son of former major leaguer Hank Webb, who pitched in the majors from 1972-1977.

Round 5

Pick 157: Kevin Melillo, 2B, South Carolina, 5'11", 188.
Melillo had a bit of a down year in 2004, if you can call .311/.357/.543 a down year. But it is when his plate discipline showed a marked decline, from a 74/65 K/BB ratio in 2002-03 to a 33/12 ratio in 2004. He gained power in 2003 that has remained in 2004; Melillo hit 21 homeruns in 2003-04 after hitting only 3 in 2002. The A's are hoping that Melillo can regain his plate discipline in their minor league system, as plate discipline is a huge emphasis within the organization. If he does, Melillo could end up as a solid second-base prospect.

Round 6 (pick 187)

Derek Tharpe, LHP, Tennessee, 5'11", 188, age 23.
Tharpe is a much-needed left-handed addition to the A's pitching prospects, as their farm system has become righty-heavy since Mark Mulder and Barry Zito were called up to the big club. Tharpe missed some time in 2004 with an elbow injury, which bears watching in the future, but he went 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 80 1/3 innings while striking out 84 batters. Derek had a high strikeout rate in 2003, as well, striking out 88 batters in 93 1/3 innings while posting a 3.5/1 K/BB ratio. His mechanics are a bit rocky and could use some reworking, but Tharpe has four workable pitches in his arsenal. He is in the mid- to high-80s with his fastball, along with a nasty slider, as well as a changeup and curveball. Tharpe likes to work at a fast pace, similar to Mulder.

Round 7 (pick 217)

Jarod McAuliff, RHP, Oklahoma, 6'0", 180, age 22.
Jarod has been used primarily as a reliever at Oklahoma. His numbers have not been spectacular during any year, but in 2004, he posted the best strikeout ratio of his career while pitching nearly 50% more inning than he had ever pitched. McAuliff had an ERA of 3.86 in 77 innings while striking out 71 and walking 27. The A's have a history of drafting college pitchers with high strikeout rates, as high strikeout rates often correlate with low future ERAs. Hopefully, McAuliff will follow that trend.

Round 8 (pick 247)

Myron Leslie, 3B, South Florida, S/R, 6'3", 210, age 22.
Leslie is tall for a third baseman, but hits the snot out of the ball, and is an on-base machine. Myron has put up three straight seasons of a .450+ OBP, and has a career K/BB ratio of 82/138. He has increased his on-base percentage and slugging percentage each year at South Florida, and hit .361/.484/.576 in 2004. He hits well from both sides of the plate, and has a line drive stroke that allows him to use the whole field. He will most likely be moved to another position, as the A's are heavy in third base prospects.

Round 9 (277)

Chad Boyd, OF, El Camino Real HS (CA), L/L, 5'10", 180, age 19. Boyd has signed to play for UNLV, so it is unknown whether he will forego college for ninth-round money, but he might be a draft-and-follow prospect. Boyd hit .420 during his junior season with 8 homeruns, and also went 9-2 on the hill with an ERA of 1.62.

Round 10 (307)

Thomas Everidge, 1B, Sonoma State, R/R, 6'1", 215, age 21. Everidge could be the next in line of the A's power hitting first-base prospects. He put up a huge season in 2004, hitting .357/.450/.691 with 19 homeruns, and a 42/38 K/BB ratio. Everidge's ability to get on base, draw walks, and hit for power makes him a perfect fit with the A's offensive philosophy.

Round 11 (337)

Steven Sharpe, RHP, Central Missouri State, 6'1", 200, age 23.
Sharpe went 13-0 for Central Missouri State in 2004 with a 2.89 ERA, and 103 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings. Sharpe almost struck out more batter than he allowed hits and walks combined (32 walks and 75 hits), and he kept the ball in the park, only allowing 2 homeruns on the year. He throws a sinking fastball in the low 90s with excellent command, a hard slider as his out pitch, and a sinking, fading changeup. It will be interesting to see what Sharpe can do in the A's system.

Round 12 (367)

Nick Blasi, OF, Wichita State, R/R, 5'9", 185, age 23.
After being named as an Honorable Mention to the community college All-American team at Butler Community College, Blasi transferred to Wichita State, where he hit .321/.360/.406 in his first season with the Shockers. Blasi improved in all phases of his game in 2004, raising his line to .367/.461/.601, lowering his K/BB ratio from 2.13 to 1.05, and drastically improving his power output, hitting 10 homeruns in 2004 (as opposed to 1 in 2003). Blasi is another live outfield bat that the A's have added to their farm system.

Round 13 (397)

Scott Drucker, RHP, Tennessee, 6'1", 192, age 22.
Drucker was the second pitcher the A's selected on day one of the draft out of Tennessee, although Drucker originally attended the University of Florida, and transferred after the 2002 season. Pitching in middle relief, Drucker posted a 3.66 ERA in 46.2 innings, with a 48/23 K/BB ratio. The A's are apparently hoping that his high strikeout rate will translate to future success.

Round 14 (427)

Jorge Charry, RHP, Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, 6'1", 185, 18.
No statistics were available for Charry, but he's a young right-hander with a live arm, and room for growth. He throws a plus sinker when it's on, and complements it with a slider and a circle change, which scouts feel is his best pitch. The A's hope that he follows the path of Jairo Garcia and starts dominating hitters with a high strikeout rate.Round 15 (457)

Ryan Ford, LHP, Eastern Michigan, 6'3", 195, age 22.
Ford pitched the best year of his collegiate career in 2004, drastically improving his strike zone command and ERA from a 2/1 K/BB ratio, .68K/IP, and an astronomical 7.16 ERA in his first three years to a 2.93 ERA, 2.54 K/BB, and .83K/IP in the 2004 season. It remains to be seen if Ford can keep up this improvement in his professional career, but he could provide value if he can continue to improve his control under the A's tutelage. Ford also played the infield for Eastern Michigan, hitting .307/.397/.437, and he might eventually have some value as a Brooks Kieschnick-type 2-way player in the National League, but it is doubtful that the A's drafted him for his offense.

Round 16 (487)

Tyler Best, C, Lewis-Clark State College, L/R, 6'0", 205, age 23.
Best, playing for NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State College, hit .295/.467/.636 with an excellent eye for balls and strikes (46 walks against only 42 strikeouts). He also showed some power, not unusual for a catcher of his size. It is doubtful that the A's would leave him at catcher, as Best is the third catcher chosen by the A's in the draft thus far, but his bat and high on-base percentage may find room elsewhere in the Oakland farm system.

Round 17 (517)

Clay Tichota, RHP, Regis University, 6'4", 210, age 23.
Tichota, out of tiny Regis University in Denver, blossomed this past season after posting ERAs near 6.00 in his first three years. Tichota posted an ERA of 3.18 in 82 innings, with an 84/22 K/BB ratio. The K/BB ratio is important, because in his previous three years, it was a measly 133/124 combined. The past year may be an indication that Tichota has finally gained command of the strike zone, and may be ready to compete at a higher level with his fastball, slider, and straight change.

Round 18 (547)

Jeremy Slayden, OF, Georgia Tech, L/R, 6'0", 185, age 22.
Slayden was a preseason All-American heading into the 2004 season, and was widely regarded as one of the top-10 players in the nation after following up his spectacular .348/.442/.625 freshman season with a .294/.394/.523 line in his second season at Georgia Tech. Slayden tore his rotator cuff on his right (throwing) shoulder nine games into the 2004 season, and as a result, his draft stock plummeted. This could be a sleeper draft-and-follow pick if Slayden elects not to go back to school, as he was likely a first-round draft pick before his injury.

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