Yesterday we took a look at the early returns on 2011 Pack alum riding the buses through the minor leagues in search of future glory. If you missed it, kindly click here.
Today's feature looks back at some notable draft picks from 2006-2010, most of whom are still draining the postgame cooler on the back of the bus as the diesel engine totes them through the bushleagues.
Jake Buchanan: An 8th round selection by the Astros in the 2010 draft, Buchanan is ranked as the 20th best prospect in the Houston system by SBN MiLB guru John Sickels. Sickels says: "Doesn't have a high upside, but keeps the ball down, throws strikes, and was one of the few pitchers able to survive and prosper at High-A Lancaster. Sleeper guy to watch for 2012." Buchanan had a 3.91 ERA and solid 1.21 WHIP while pitching half his games at hitter-friendly Lancaster, but his 2012 transition to AA is not going well: 1-2, 4.75 ERA in 7 starts with 54 hits allowed in 41.2 innings. He's fanned just 26 in those 41.2 frames.
Alex Sogard: A 26th round pick by Astros in 2010 and teammate of Buchanan at AA Corpus Christi, Sogard seems to have succumbed to Steve Blass disease, as he's walking about a batter per inning this year after previously showing decent command at lower levels. But he's big, left handed, and has struck out a batter per inning in his pro career so far, so there's hope for him if he can improve his command.
Dallas Poulk: a 19th round pick by the then Florida Marlins, Poulk got off to a hot start in A+ ball this year (.275/.345/.471), which earned him a 12-game trial in AA, where he flopped (.539 OPS). As a lefty swinging second baseman with some on-base skills, Poulk will likely get another shot at the upper levels soon.
James Gillheeney: 8th round pick in 2009 by the Mariners. ERA by level: A 2.83, A+ 4.73, AA 5.93. His HR/9 rate inflates by level as well and is a scary 1.5 in AA. Things are not trending well for Jimmy G.
Eric Surkamp: A 6th round pick of the Giants in 2008, the soft-tossing lefty has cracked the show, going 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA in 6 starts for the big club in 2011. His minor league totals are much more impressive, where he has won two-thirds of his decisions (26-13) while posting a 2.85 ERA over four seasons. Sickels ranks him as the 7th best prospect in the Giants' system and wrote, "Doesn't throw hard but has the statistical components of a power pitcher, excellent K/IPs and few hits, in the minors anyway. Was more tentative in the majors once the scouting reports got around and was hit hard. I think he can adjust and become a solid number four starter." Surkamp is nursing a strained elbow, but is slated to return to the mound soon and could see the show again this year as a September call up or injury replacement.
Clayton Shunick: A 7th round pick by the Reds in 2008, Shunick recently got released by the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. The good news: we annexed Winnipeg!! The bad news: Shunick appears to be out of baseball. He was pretty solid as a reliever in A and A+ ball for the Reds the last two years, but got rocked upon promotion to AA, and subsequently released in the offseason. I'm pretty sure he is TJS survivor, as he missed all of 2009 after a disaster of a season in 2008. He's still just 25, so maybe he will resurface.
Andrew Brackman: Duck! Perhaps it is not too late for the 6-foot-10, 2007 1st round pick of the Yankees to try for a basketball career in Europe. Jettisoned to the Reds, Brack currently sports a 9.87 ERA at AAA Louisville, and his career minor league ERA stands at over 5. Extremely tall pitchers (think Randy Johnson) seem to take longer to figure it out, but it is looking more and more safe to call Brackman a bust with each fastball off the mascot's cartoonishly large noggin. At least he did make it to the show briefly with the Yanks, managing 2.1 scoreless innings despite walking 3.
Andrew Taylor: a 34th round pick by the Dodgers in 2007, Taylor was a pleasant surprise, climbing the ladder quickly after posting a 1.30 ERA in A ball (where he fanned a ridiculous 14.6 batters per 9 innings) and a 3.10 ERA in A+, but he's now getting his third crack at AA, where his ERA has ballooned to 4.99 and his K/9 rate has plummeted to 6.0.
Aaron Bates: A 3rd round pick of the Red Sox in 2006, Bates has posted a solid career minor league OPS of .810, but appears to be mired in AAAA purgatory. Bates did post a .364/.417/.545 slash line in a mere 11 ABs for the Sawx in 2009, and he hoped to resurface at some point with the lowly Twins, where he signed as a minor league free agent in 2011, but he was handed his walking papers on Tuesday. It has to suck to get released by the worst team in baseball.
Jonathan Diaz: A 12th round pick of the Jays in 2006, Diaz, now 27, is a career minor league utility guy, and he has bounced back and forth between AAA Las Vegas and AA New Hampshire so many times that he has enough frequent flyer miles for a trip to the moon. He is unlikely to ever make a trip to the show, however. Diaz can handle SS and 2B, but he simply cannot hit (career .226 average).
Coming soon: a look at the draft prospects of the current Pack squad.