2009 MLB Draft: Names To Follow, P. 3

With the 2009 MLB Draft roughly a month away, we continue our series of profiles on names to know for the upcoming draft.

As a reminder, the Oakland A's are slotted to pick 13th in this year's draft. They also had the 13th selection in the 2008 draft. Note that these names appear in no particular order and aren't rankings. (The A's are actually the 12th team to select, but the Washington Nationals have an extra pick after pick nine because of their failure to sign Aaron Crowe out of last year's draft.)

For the first part of this series, click here. For part two, click here.

Kyle Gibson: The Missouri right-hander figures to be one of the first college pitchers off of the board this June. Gibson has had significant "big stage" experience, having excelled in the Cape Cod League in 2007 before being a member of Team USA in the summer of 2008. He went 5-0 for the Stars-and-Stripes. He features a sinking fastball that is in the high-80s to low-90s range and a good slider. He also throws a change-up, although he will need to refine that pitch further in the pros. Gibson is tall and lanky (6'6'', 200 pounds) and has projection in his frame that could allow him to add a few ticks to his fastball as he fills out. He is currently 8-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts (83.2 innings) for Mizzou. Gibson has struck-out 107 and walked only 14, showing improved command over his 2008 campaign, when he walked 23 in 86.2 innings. He has been both a starter and a reliever in college, but he projects as a starter if he can improve his change-up. Teams looking to pay slot in the early part of the first round will likely be attracted to Gibson, who is believed to be a safe bet to sign.

Brian Goodwin: Goodwin is a high school outfielder from North Carolina who has committed to UNC for college. The centerfielder is a speedster who has reportedly been clocked at 6.5 in the 40-yard dash. He is a left-handed hitter with good contact skills. High school outfielders don't usually rate well for their defense, but Goodwin is already a solid defensive centerfielder with good range, instincts and an above-average throwing arm. He is a classic centerfield-lead-off man type. He won't hit for a lot of power, but he should hit for average, steal bases and cover a lot of ground in center. Goodwin could be a difficult sign if he doesn't go early in the first round, however, as the opportunity to play in a program like UNC's could be hard for Goodwin to pass up.

Robbie Shields: Shields emerged as a candidate for the first or supplemental first round of the draft with a strong showing at the Cape Cod League last summer, where he flashed good speed and power before injuring his wrist on a slide. He hasn't showed any ill-affects from that summer injury. In 49 games thus far this season for Florida Southern, Shields is batting .351 with five homers, 34 RBIs and a .459 OBP. Shields has a similar build to A's 2008 draft pick Dusty Coleman and a similar skill-set. Shields has above-average power for a shortstop, good plate coverage and decent speed. He may have to move off of shortstop to second or third base in the pros, but he has the bat to play at either of those positions. Shields may be hurt by the fact that he doesn't play in a big Division I conference, but he did show he could hang with the big boys in the Cape this summer, which may alleviate some of those concerns. Like Gibson, Shields is a fairly safe bet to sign. Some scouts have compared Shields to Aaron Hill, who was a first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003.

Rex Brothers: Brothers is another candidate for the first round out of a small conference school. The left-handed pitcher plays for Lipscomb, where he currently has a 3.13 ERA and 111 strike-outs against 37 walks in 77.2 innings. Brothers has a stocky 6'1'', 205 pound frame. He is a hard thrower, having been clocked reportedly as high as 96 MPH with his fastball thanks to a velocity increase this season that has caused his name to jump much higher on many mock drafts. He also has a slider that sits in the mid- to high-80s. His command and change-up are still works in progress and, like Shields, Brothers will have to overcome the fact that he isn't competing day-in and day-out against top Division I talent. Still, a lefty with his velocity isn't likely to fall too far down the charts.

Max Stassi: This Yuba City product is one of the top high school catchers in the country. Stassi isn't a big guy (under 6'0'' and roughly 180 pounds right now), but he features a long list of skills both behind the plate and at it. Stassi, whose father is his head coach at Yuba City, gets high marks for his work ethic. He is a solid hitter with power to the alleys and the ability to hit for average. Defensively, he has shown a strong arm behind the plate. Some scouts don't see much projection in his frame, but there have been plenty of diminutive catchers who have had long careers in the bigs. He has committed to play at UCLA and is a good student, so if he falls out of the first round, Stassi could be a difficult sign.

Jacob Turner: Turner is another North Carolina commit. The St. Charles, Missouri, native is a good-sized (6'4'', 200 pounds) right-handed pitcher with a strong base. He has good velocity and movement on his fastball, which has been clocked consistently in the low-90s. He also features a curveball and a change-up. For a high school pitcher, he has excellent command of his three pitches. Turner employs a three-quarters throwing motion and has been compared to Tim Melville, a top high school pitcher from Missouri in 2008 who was taken by the Kansas City Royals. If he isn't taken among the first 10-15 picks, Turner is likely to be a difficult sign, as he is a good student and is rumored to be attached to Scott Boras, who often advises clients to go to college rather than sign a contract out of high school.

Eric Arnett: The Big Ten hasn't always been a hot-bed of baseball talent, but the conference could have a first-round pick this season in Arnett, a right-handed pitcher out of Indiana University. Arnett burst onto the radar screen this season after a relatively undistinguished first two years at Indiana when he posted ERAs of 5.45 and 6.11 in 2008 and 2007. Thus far in 2009, Arnett has been lights-out, posting a 10-1 record and a 2.86 ERA in 85 innings. He has 85 strike-outs and 28 walks and he has allowed only 68 hits. Part of the reason that Arnett has climbed in the rankings has been a spike in his velocity, which has been clocked as high as 96 MPH this spring. Scouts have been impressed with Arnett's ability to maintain his velocity late into games. He had a 10-inning complete game versus Illinois earlier this season. In addition to the good fastball, Arnett has a good slider and a change-up.

Shelby Miller: Miller drew notice earlier this spring when he tossed three consecutive no-hitters for Brownwood High School, the last of which was a perfect game. He features a solid fastball that sits comfortably in the low-90s. It has been clocked as high as 96 MPH on occasion. He also has a workable curveball and change-up. Command has been an issue at times for Miller, but he has shown a good feel for pitching, mixing his offerings well and changing speeds. Some publications have listed Miller as the top right-handed high school pitcher eligible for the draft this year. The 6'3'', 200 pound Texas native has committed to playing for Texas A&M next spring, but he is likely to sign if he goes in the first half of the first round, as expected.

Drew Storen: The A's have taken a number of collegiate relievers in the early rounds of recent drafts, and one of the best college relievers in this year's draft is playing down the road from Oakland at Stanford University. Storen, an Indiana native, is a draft-eligible sophomore. As a freshman in 2008, Storen had eight saves and he struck-out 50 while walking 15 in 56.1 innings. Thus far this season, Storen is 5-1 with seven saves in 21 relief appearances (30.1 innings). He has struck-out 46 and has walked only five. He was a 34th round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 2006. Storen isn't a big guy (6'1''), but he pounds the strike-zone and displays the fearlessness that is needed to pitch in the late-innings out of the bullpen. Not surprisingly, given his school, Storen is very intelligent, having accumulated a 4.2 GPA in high school. He has three solid pitches (low-90s fastball, slider and change-up), which is unusual for a reliever. Storen isn't likely to be a first-round pick, and he could be a tough sign in the second or third rounds. He will have a lot of leverage given his two remaining years of eligibility and the value of a Stanford education.

Blake Smith: Another local draft candidate is Cal OF/RHP Blake Smith. Smith is one of the top two-way players in this year's draft. Much like A's 2007 supplemental first-round pick Sean Doolittle, Smith will enter the draft without a clear-cut consensus on whether he should be a position player or a pitcher in the pros. As a pitcher, Smith features a low-90s fastball that has reportedly touched 97 and a hammer curveball. As a hitter, he has above-average power (he led Team USA in homeruns and slugging percentage last summer) and his arm would profile well in right-field. A native of Modesto, Smith is currently batting .315 with 10 homers and a .396 OBP and he also has a 5.85 ERA in 20 innings on the mound. He has struggled with his command as a pitcher this season, posting a 26:20 K:BB ratio. Opponents are batting only .236 off of him, however. In 2008, Smith had a 3.80 ERA and 36 strike-outs in 21.1 innings. As pitcher, he profiles as a late-inning reliever. As a hitter, his power is tempered somewhat by a poor K:BB ratio (he has 52 strike-outs against 20 walks in 181 at-bats this season).


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