A few months back, Billy Beane was asked where the bats of the future were going to come from. He said "we're going to have to draft them." Today in the early rounds of the 2012 MLB Draft, he and the A's scouting staff aggressively targeted high school bats, taking three in the top 47 picks.
With the 11th pick today, the A's drafted Florida high school short stop Addison Russell.
They then picked Southern California (Upland) high school short stop Daniel Robertson at 34, and Georgia high school first baseman Matt Olson at 47.
David DeJesus became Matt Olson, and Josh Willingham became Daniel Robertson and whomever is taken at 62 tomorrow morning. And the cycle of life continues, unabated. And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Below, I will paste some videos and scouting reports on these guys.
ADDISON RUSSELL - 11th overall pick
Baseball America rank: 28
Keith Law rank: 19
Kevin Goldstein rank: 16
Minorleagueball.com rank: 34
Russell has been a top high school prospect for years. He played in the Under Armour All-America game before his junior year of high school and then in all the showcase circuit’s top events last summer.
Russell lost at least 20 pounds from where he played on the showcase circuit to tighten up his body and give him a better chance to remain in the middle of the diamond. Even if he has to move to third base, however, Russell has the bat and power potential to make it work at third base.
Russell earned Juan Uribe comparisons last summer for his thick body, arm strength and power potential, as well as his profile as a player who will stick on the left side of the infield. Those comparisons no longer work physically, though, as he has lost at least 20 pounds and shaped up his physique considerably. Some scouts still think he will have to move to third, but most consider him a shortstop with soft hands, improved footwork and an above-average arm. Russell has bat speed and raw power, hindered by inconsistent swing mechanics. He’s a tinkerer with his set-up and stance, and his swing can get long and loopy, leading to seven homers this spring but also a fairly modest .368 average. At other times, though, Russell will get locked in, wait on good breaking balls and make consistent, hard contact. Teams that have seen him on the right day as a shortstop with juice may buy the Boras Corp. client out of his Auburn scholarship.
Russell lost 25 pounds last offseason to give himself a better chance to stay at short while also allowing his quick-twitch athleticism to show through more easily. He has massive upside even at third base; while his hands, arm and actions are good enough to stick at short, his feet aren't quite quick enough. Russell's broad shoulders will eventually fill out and he'll likely get back to the size he was last summer, which will still allow him to play an above-average third base.His bat speed (some of the best in this draft) and explosive hips create plus present power with plus-plus projection. He has the raw tools to hit for average but had struggled with the bat after just OK showcase performances with wood bats. Russell barred (locked) his lead arm this spring and doesn't show great feel to hit against the inferior pitching he's faced. Scouts say if they're going to bet on a guy improving at the plate, they want an athlete, and Russell is one of the best. He has a strong commitment to Auburn but likely will find a team in the first round willing to bring him into pro ball.
Russell helped his stock considerably this spring by showing up with a much thinner physique, with one scout saying, "he looks like a shortstop now." He’s athletic with smooth actions and a plus arm, and he has the size and swing for at least average power potential and maybe a bit more, although it will likely come with a good share of strikeouts.
Kiley McDaniel (ESPN)
Russell has been well known for years, flashing huge power at an up-the-middle position as an underclassman in showcases. He naturally filled out last summer and was moved from SS to 3B on Team USA. He didn't like this, lost 25 pounds over the offseason and his hands and feet got quicker as the spring progressed. Teams now feel he can stick at shortstop and he turned in a plus run time at a pre-draft all-star game with easy plus raw power from the right side. There is legitimate All-Star shortstop upside here, but the risk is on the bat as Russell looked lost at times this spring but looks best with a wood bat in professional environments. Russell is the kind of extraordinary athlete who can make the adjustments necessary to let his tools play at the big league level.
DANIEL ROBERTSON - 34th overall selection
Baseball America rank: 35
Keith Law rank: 38
Minorleagueball.com rank: 76
Scouts have a variance of opinion on Robertson, but the strong consensus is that someone will probably like him enough to take him in the supplemental first round, and no later than the second. His best tool is his quick righthanded bat, which produces loads of hard doubles and has a chance to be a plus tool. Even his detractors project it to be average. He flashes pop to the pull side, and assessments of his power potential range from 45 to 60 on the 20-80 scale, depending on which scout you ask. Robertson plays shortstop in high school but projects as a third baseman in pro ball. Some scouts think his hands, instincts and arm all project as above-average and believe he can be a standout defender at the hot corner. His weakest tool is his speed, which is below-average at best. A UCLA commit, Robertson is a gamer with plenty of baseball savvy and more polish than most high school prospects.
Robertson doesn't have a future-plus tool except for perhaps his hit tool, but he looks like the kind of player who'll play well above his tools because of his instincts and overall feel for the game. He's extremely balanced through the zone with some loft for future-average power at worst, doubles power with 15-20 home runs, showing good-not-great bat speed but really controlling the head of the bat.
He plays shortstop now but has very little chance to remain there as a pro, lacking the lateral quickness required for the position but showing enough athleticism and arm to profile as above-average at third. He's a below-average runner but should hit enough line drives to make that largely irrelevant. He should be an advanced enough hitter to move more quickly through a minor league system than the typical high school hitting product, with an above-average regular ceiling at third or second.
Jason Churchill (ESPN)
Robertson, likely to move to third base in pro ball, may be a tough sign, as he's committed to UCLA. He has 20-25 homer power and should hit.
MATT OLSON - 47th overall selection
Baseball America rank: 96
Keith Law rank: n/a
Minorleagueball.com rank: 51
Olson pitches (righthanded) and hits for Parkview, also known as Jeff Francoeur's alma mater, and has one of the draft's sweeter lefthanded swings. Olson has had a big spring, homering off the nation's top prep lefthander, Max Fried, during the National High School Invitational, and has pitched well also, going 11-0, 1.24. Olson's arm strength would come in handy in the outfield if he could run, and some team might try him in left field, but he's generally considered a plodder and well-below-average runner. His value is in his bat, and scouts think he'll be an above-average hitter for average and power. He shows natural hitting rhythm and a graceful, low-maintenance swing, and his knack for finding the barrel of the bat and good strength help him drive the ball to all fields. Olson is committed to Vanderbilt as a two-way player and could contribute on the mound, but scouts in Georgia aren't convinced he'll be a tough sign and believe he wants to play pro ball. Florida prep first baseman Dan Vogelbach was a second-rounder last year, and while most scouts liked Vogelbach's power potential better, Olson should still go in about the same draft range if teams believe he's signable.
Kiley McDaniel (ESPN)
Matt Olson is committed to Vanderbilt as a two-way player, but his future is as a power-hitting first baseman. He could play right field for a few years but as his frame fills out, he'll be a first baseman long-term. He has as sweet lefty swing with above-average raw power that will be plus. Olson's swing will break down some in games, but there's potential here for above-average hit and power tools with solid defense.
I may choose to update this tomorrow with our two 2nd rounders, and any other interesting names. Feel free to add any other info you find on these guys in the comments.