To hear the folks tell it, the YS9 front office spent considerable effort preparing for the 2041 draft, specifically setting their sights on the middle rounds because, as assistant GM Jose Cabrera said, “the first round is usually a talent round, whereas the rest are—for us—all about filling positions.” It’s also important for fans to understand that the club is drafting in the #32 slot, a remnant of the success it has found over the past decade or more.
This all adds up to say that the slightly more than casual fan can sometimes glean a lot about the club’s thinking by examining what happens in rounds past the first. This intrepid reporter will take a shot at the effort today, starting with:
Manchild, who hails from Pittsburgh, is an athleticly framed young man who scouts also consider to be wily on the basepaths. He’s seen as a slap hitter, but one who can make contact and put the ball in play, a trait that served well to dominate high school pitchers but one that most scouts think will get watered down against professionals. Still, could project to a .280/.320/.400 kind of guy in the bigs, which would work well enough if the glove comes in as it might.
He’ll clearly be assigned to the club’s A-level in Alamogordo.
It’s worth noting that most team insiders say Manchild will most likely be converted to a second baseman, which makes sense, given his arm has been suspect, and given that the team has Luis Pena at short for what they probably hope to be their next decade. What the Nine does not have is a flashy-gloved second baseman, a role that Manchild could well grow into. Bottom line: a defensive infield of Thum, Pena, and Manchild, with maybe a Mendoza/Chenowith pairing at first, would be a group you might pay to watch.
Andres, originally from San Salvador, has spent the last two seasons throwing for the Coast Guard baseball club, posting impressive numbers as a freshman before fading last year. He’s a classic swing man kind of a pitcher, who, at 20, can already reach 99 on the radar gun. At 6’4”, 194 pounds, scouts think he probably has room to grow. He’s considered to be a solid kid while should take to coaching as well as the next guy, and given his military school background, the club is likely hoping he’ll help keep the kids in order.
It’s of note that three of the first five guys taken were pitchers. The YS9 front office made no secret of the fact that—due to a lack of depth in the pool—they felt like they pretty much punted the process of adding arms to the organization last year. Andres carries a fastball and splitter that project to be able to get major leaguers out. In a best-case scenario, that little change comes in (where have we heard that before?), and he learns to keep the ball down a little better than he has, but the most likely case will be that the 20-year-old arrives in a Yellow Springs bullpen in 2044 or 2045. All we can say for sure is that the pathway is open to him
Look for Andres to be assigned into the club’s low A-Ball organization at Cat Island. If nothing else, the ex-Coast Guarder can help navigat the team’s ship rides to away games.
Surprise, here’s another pitcher. Martinez burst into the scene this year after spending a few seasons between his high school and college years off looking for guidance, or something like that. He’s considered a bit of a free spirit, and may well need some strict guidance, but he’s got a game that’s so all-over-the-place that it’s hard not to watch when he takes the mound. His season at Staples College was solid, and the fact is that scouts are intrigued at what will happen for him. There is also something to be said for a 21-year-older Coast Guarder with a handle bar mustache.
First, there’s the idea that he throws five major league pitches already. And that he throws 97 MPH. Despite his focus on training—a passion he found while on his sabbatical—Martinez has struggled to go deep into games, something that splits scouts into two camps, those who think he’s a reliever who should focus on two pitches and stick with them, and those who think he should play in the field.
Martinez have never really played the field, but several guys note that his body and simple movement suggest he could succeed out there, and some say they’d love to see him try.
Regardless, Nine fans will probably find news reports about his progress coming from the Cat Island Gazette this year, as he’ll start in low A ball.
The kid from Cottleville, Missouri has always played baseball. He’s roamed the outfield in most case, but the word from inside the Nine’s front office is that he’ll likely be converted down to first base, seeing that they really have no one in that role in the lower parts of the organization that they trust. This makes the selection interesting in that it’s made essentially for pure organizational depth reasons. “Ray is the kind of guy who could work his way into a bigger kind of role,” said one scout, “but mostly I figure he’s here to make sure the team has a non-zero kind of player in AAA a few years down the line so that an injury to Chenoweth or Haynes doesn’t kill something big.”
Wallace hits from the left side of that plate, and projects to be more of a righty masher than an all-around hitter, but if he fills out, and even exceeds expectations a bit, you could see interesting things from him.
He’ll start in Rookie ball in Alamogordo.
In many ways, Saunders is the anti-Ray Wallace. He hits from the left side rather than Wallace’s RHB, and where Wallace is considered to be mid-western polite, Saunders is Cali-worn obnoxious. “I don’t think I’m better than anyone else,” Saunders once said. “I just want respect is all.”
Admittedly, with a glove that seems mediocre, and an attitude to match, Saunders feels like a bit of a long shot. What got him enough respect that the Nine drafted him was some fairly solid numbers in high school and the need to fill their rookie-ball left field slot with a guy who might benefit from the playing time.
More observant fans of the team will point to the Wallace/Saunders selection as examples of the Nine’s classic draft patterns—sometimes reaching deeper into the pool than other teams might merely to fill openings in their Rookie ball team. Of course, one of the problems with making this assessment is that no one knows what is on the minds of other GMs…but we’ll make that call anyway, because, well, where’s the fun otherwise?
Nellligan is from Mississagua, Ontario, which is kind of fun to say. No word on whether that influenced the Nine’s staff, but regardless, the team made the lanky Canadian their 7th round pick, despite the fact that he’s on the shelf with Tommy John surgery until shortly after the season starts.
Several tings went into this selection. First, again, the club needs arms, and bullpen arms are as important as starters at this point. Second, it’s a truism that Tommy John surgery can go both ways—that some pitchers seem to improve after having it. And third, Nellligan was off the charts when Nine scouts went to test his work ethic. When placed under athletic trainer Julian Carmona’s care, it’s hoped that if anyone is coming back, it’s Nellligan.
In the skills category, before the injury Nellligan had a solid fastball/forkball combination, and seemed athletic enough that if the change ever comes in (where have we heard that before?), he could cobble together a career as a starter. That said, while his programs list him as in the rotation, the Nine will focus him on throwing out of the bullpen in hopes that leverages his tools better.
Look for him in Alamogordo, perhaps as early as July.
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So there we have the early rounds for the Nine. As the process moves into the later stages, it will be interesting to see where the club goes next. They’ve essentially filled about a third of a pitching staff—as well as added a few who will pepper the short-A and A-ball ranks. They’ve also filled half an infield and a corner outfield for their Alamogordo club. As Jose Cabrera put it, “the next wave is building.”
Stay tuned: more to come.