2012 MLB Draft: Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

Well, this got here in a hurry, huh?

All of a sudden, the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft is upon us. The Los Angeles Dodgers have $5,202,800 to spend on their 11 total picks, and the team has two picks today: 18th overall and 51st overall.

Mock drafts have been done all over the place, so I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the team’s potential draft picks.

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#18 Overall

Ty Hensley – RHP – Santa Fe High School – Oklahoma

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has the Dodgers taking Hensley.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Ty Hensley, Santa Fe HS (Okla.)

A number of high school pitchers could come into play here, with Hensley being the one most often mentioned with the Dodgers. This could also be a landing spot for Cecchini should the Mets not take him.

So does Keith Law of ESPN.

Ty Hensley, RHP, Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe H.S.

I’m suddenly not hearing much else here. Hensley has size, arm strength and projection, but his command is below that of the other top prep arms.

As does Jim Callis of Baseball America.

18. DODGERS. After using its last nine top draft choices on a pitcher, Los Angeles appears headed down that route again. It’s difficult to project picks this deep in the first round with much certainty, but a lot of industry insiders are convinced the Dodgers will take Hensley.

Projected Pick: TY HENSLEY.

Baseball America has him ranked as the #23 prospect in the draft.

The Cardinals made Mike Hensley the 53rd overall selection in the 1988 draft, and his son Ty will beat him by about 30 picks this June. While several of this draft crop’s high school righthanders have been injured or regressed this spring, Hensley has done nothing but help his cause. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has sat at 92-95 mph and touched 96-97 with his fastball all season–and it’s not even his best pitch. That would be a 12-to-6 curveball that he spins in the upper 70s. Hensley’s command isn’t as impressive as his pure stuff, and he still needs to add some life and work down in the zone more often with his fastball. Before his velocity spiked, he showed a promising changeup as a sophomore, but he hasn’t needed it this spring. A quality athlete, Hensley played quarterback at Santa Fe High before giving up football before his senior year. He’s also a power-hitting switch-hitter who could get the opportunity to play both way in the unlikely event that he follows through on his commitment to the University of Mississippi.

A high school right-handed pitcher with bloodlines, power stuff, and command questions?

Yeah, he’s tailor-made for Logan White‘s tastes.

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Gavin Cecchini – SS – Barbe High School – Louisiana

John Sickels of Minor League Ball has the Dodgers going with a position player here.

Cecchini is one of the best high school fielders and should hit enough to be a very good pick for the Dodgers.

Baseball America has him ranked as the #16 prospect in the draft.

Cecchini’s family occupies a unique place in Louisiana baseball, as his father and mother both coached him and his older brother Garin at Barbe High. Garin signed with the Red Sox for a $1.31 million bonus as a fourth-round pick in 2010. Gavin is likely to be drafted higher, in the first round, even though he’s not as physical and his bat is much more in question. Wiry at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Cecchini’s best attributes are his steadiness and defensive skills at shortstop. He has good hands and feet as well as the infield actions to stay at short, and excels at cutoff throws and being in the right spot defensively. His arm strength is a tick above-average and unfailingly accurate. His speed is about the same and plays up like his arm–he’s a skilled baserunner who takes extra bases and steals bases intelligently. Cecchini’s bat involves some projection, though. Some scouts believe he will be a bottom-of-the-order hitter despite his polished approach because of a lack of strength and impact bat speed. Cecchini is one of the safer bets in the high school class due to his polish, but scouts are mixed on his true upside.

While a position player would be a nice change of pace, it would be great if they could take a thumper just once, instead of having to rely on a defender to evolve as a hitter.

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Michael Wacha – RHP – Texas A&M University

Marc Hulet of FanGraphs has the Dodgers going with a college arm.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers: Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M – Wacha’s arm is not as dynamic as the college arms at the top of this list but he knows how to pitch and flashes two very good pitches in a low-90s moving fastball and plus changeup. He has both a slider and a curveball but both are inconsistent. He has a big, strong pitcher’s frame.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has him going to the Dodgers as well.

18. Los Angeles Dodgers ($1.95M): Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M

I just have to get Wacha off the board here, as he’s expected by many to go in the early teens. The Dodgers have been primarily attached to high school arms like Ty Hensley and Lucas Sims, but a quick return might appeal to new ownership looking to make a mark.

Baseball America ranks him as the eighth best prospect in the draft.

After the consensus top three college pitchers (Stanford’s Mark Appel, Louisiana State’s Kevin Gausman, San Francisco’s Kyle Zimmer) go off the board, Wacha could be the next one selected. He owns the best changeup in the draft, a pitch that can be devastating when he sets it up with a 90-93 mph fastball that peaks at 96. His command also is as good as any pitcher in this crop, as is his competitiveness. He also has an athletic 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame and delivers his pitches on a tough angle to the plate. The only thing keeping him from being considered on the top tier of college arms is the lack of a plus breaking ball. Wacha made progress with a slider last summer under the tutelage of Team USA pitching coach Rob Walton, and he also throws a curveball. Wacha generally sticks with whichever breaking pitch is working best on a given day. Both pitches can get loose at times and project as no better than average at the big league level. Despite that one shortcoming, he still could find his way into the first 10 picks. He may not have the ceiling of Appel, Gausman or Zimmer, but Wacha has a higher floor.

Would be an odd pick to me, since the Dodgers have nothing but arms, and he seems like a #3 or a #4 in the majors if things pan out.

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Courtney Hawkins – OF – Carroll High School – Texas

Baseball America has him ranked as the 15th best prospect in the draft.

Scouts have coveted Hawkins since his performance as a sophomore in the 2010 Texas 5-A state playoffs. He bombed a ball into the upper-deck home run porch at Round Rock’s Dell Diamond, then earned MVP honors in the clincher as a starting pitcher. Though he can run his fastball into the low 90s, he definitely will make his living in the batter’s box. Hawkins is loaded with bat speed and uses his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame to generate exceptional leverage from the right side of the plate. He’ll need to tame his maximum-effort swing, stop sitting on fastballs and improve his pitch recognition. He’ll rack up some strikeouts, though they’ll be a worthwhile tradeoff for his home runs. More physical than most high school players, Hawkins also brings a plus arm and solid speed to the table. A center fielder in high school, he’ll likely wind up in right field as a pro. Scouts praise his instincts and makeup as well as his tools. He’s the most talented member of a University of Texas recruiting class that features the five best high school prospects in the state, and a lock to sign as a mid-first-round pick.

Just a personal preference, as I would like to see the team take a shot on a thumper for once, as the system is almost completely devoid of upside bats.

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Corey Seager – 3B – Cabarrus High School – North Carolina

Baseball America has him ranked #19 in the draft.

The younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey has been on scouts’ radar for a couple of years, but he started moving up draft boards this spring. He has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with plenty of strength. He plays shortstop now and is a good defender, but scouts see him shifting to third base as a pro, where he could provide above-average defense. A lefthanded hitter, he has a simple swing and can go the other way with power. The game comes easy to him and scouts find it easy to see his upside, considering his brother was a third-round pick out of North Carolina and made the big leagues after just 279 minor league at-bats. The younger Seager has a strong commitment to South Carolina, but is likely to be picked in the first round.

Same theory. An upside bat who projects to the corners, but this one has the defense to stay at a valuable position.

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#51 Overall

Carson Kelly – 3B – Westview High School – Oregon

Baseball America has him ranked #43 for the draft.

Oregon hasn’t produced a high school player in the first three rounds since 1998 when righthander Steve Bechler went to the Orioles, but Kelly has the talent to end that streak. He is a two-way player, but more scouts prefer him as a position player. He’s a below-average runner, but his other tools are solid. Kelly has a strong build and is already pretty well filled out. He has a nice line-drive stroke with good loft and power potential. He’s not flashy, but he’s a steady defender at third base and has a strong arm. Some teams would like to try Kelly behind the plate. On the mound, he sits in the 90-92 mph range and throws a curveball and changeup. The Oregon recruit is young for the class and won’t turn 18 until mid-July but shows excellent maturity and leadership.

Love the fact that he’s a young, athletic player with bat upside. I think age coming out of high school is one of the most overlooked aspects of high school players. A true 19-year-old is very different from a true 17-year-old.

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Wyatt Mathisen – C – Calallen High School – Texas

Baseball America has him ranked #47 for the draft.

Mathisen is the best high school catching prospect in the draft, though he hasn’t seen much time behind the plate for Calallen High, which has deemed him more valuable as a shortstop and pitcher. There’s no question his pro future is as a backstop, and he has the tools and desire to make it there. He has plus arm strength and the athleticism to become a good receiver, though his inexperience shows as he flinches at times when catching the ball. His makeup is off the charts, as he has the leadership ability to run a pitching staff and the work ethic to succeed. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Mathisen has the swing and strength to hit for average and power from the right side of the plate. He’s a good runner for a catcher, grading as close to average, though he’ll probably lose a step once he starts catching every day. Like crosstown Corpus Christi rival Courtney Hawkins, he’s a Texas recruit.

People say the Dodgers system has a lot of catching prospects, and while that’s true, not many of them project as regulars. Wyatt Mathisen would.

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J.O. Berrios – RHP – Papa Juan XXIII High School – Puerto Rico

Baseball America has him ranked #49 for the draft.

In the history of the draft, only two pitchers from Puerto Rico have been drafted in the top two rounds–Jorge Lopez, who went in the second round to the Brewers last year and Luis Atilano, a Braves supplemental first-round pick from 2003. This year, there may be two more on that list and Berrios will likely be the first off the board. Berrios worked with a conditioning coach this fall and spring and added 20-25 pounds to his frame since the summer and now has a muscular, athletic 6-foot-1, 180-pound physique. The added muscle has allowed him to smooth things out and has boosted his fastball velocity. His fastball now sits in the 93-95 mph range and some scouts have seen him touch 98. He throws his fastball down in the zone, mixes in a sharp, 80-81 mph slider and shows the makings of a solid changeup with fading action. Berrios is getting buzz as high as the back of the first round, and it’s unlikely he’ll wind up honoring his commitment to Miami Dade JC.

The Dodgers actually seem to scout Puerto Rico actively, even under Frank McCourt, so this isn’t that farfetched to me.

Raw, upside velocity with a potential plus breaking ball would seem to be something Logan White might pursue.

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