Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Picking major leaguers of the future?

Yesterday was the first round of the 2009 edition of the Major League Baseball draft, and both the Cubs and White Sox went after long-term needs.

How effective the picks will be in the future is a little hard to predict since unlike football and basketball and to a lesser extent, hockey, baseball drafts tend to be more of the long-term investment variety.

First, the Cubs went with California outfielder Brett Jackson with the 31st pick of the draft. Only 20 years and a junior, he is the third position player taken by the Northsiders in the last four drafts. He also is a left-handed lead-off man who hit .326 with a .416 on-base percentage, .568 slugging percentage and 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts over 46 games during the last season. He also was ranked as the second-best overall athlete among college players by Baseball America.

The Sox also went with an outfield, selecting LSU OF Jared Mitchell with the 23rd pick in the first round. With Mitchell, who is only 20 years old, the Southsiders add speed and quickness, a hallmark of Ozzie Guillen's term as manager and something they will need as players like Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye get on in years and look to retirement.

Will either player help their new teams in the future? Only time will tell. As has been said before, the baseball draft does not often promise immediate results that football and basketball can.

Last year's number one for the Cubs, pitcher Andrew Cashner of Texas Christian University, is now pitching with the High-A Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League, though the Sox's top pick, Georgia OF Gordon Beckham, recently was called up to the big club as part of the team's "youth movement." The jury is still out on whether Beckham can handle big league pitching after only 59 games in the minors.

The status of the last few years' picks also prove hit or miss:

Cubs 2007: Cypress (Calif.) High 3B Josh Vitters, picked number three overall, is at Class A Peoria, but looking to possibly make a move up soon, says the Chicago Tribune.

White Sox 2007: P Aaron Poreda also was recently called up to the big club.

The previous years have been hit or miss. Cubs 2006 pick, OF Tyler Colvin, is at AA Tennessee, though likely to move up thanks to the Cubs' outfield troubles, while the Sox's 2004 pick, 3B Josh Fields, is sweating it out under Guillen's regime. Other Cubs top picks like P Kerry Woods (1995), P Mark Prior (2001) and OF Corey Patterson (1998), made some noise for a couple of years, but were ineffective after a short time and have since moved on.

With this year's class, we'll wait and see what happens.

Copyright 2009 - Wait Til Next Century

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