Select Draft stars set for fast track to bigs
Hultzen, Rendon among players who could make it in short order
The whole objective of the First-Year Player Draft is to bring future big leaguers into every team's system. Developing that talent can often be a long process, requiring patience from both player and organization.
Sometimes, though, it happens fast. Chris Sale was closing games for the White Sox less than three months after being taken with the No. 13 overall pick last year.
The 2009 Draft was particularly successful in featuring players who quickly reached the big leagues. Cincinnati right-hander Mike Leake, taken No. 8 overall, made his professional debut in the big leagues in 2010. Drew Storen and Stephen Strasburg both went from the top 10 of that Draft to Washington last season, as did the Braves' Mike Minor, who selected No. 7 overall. Aaron Crow, taken No. 12, is currently in the Royals' bullpen, and No. 15 Alex White was in the Indians' rotation before getting hurt.
There are bound to be players selected in this week's Draft who will get to the Major Leagues just as quickly. Undoubtedly, many were taken with that potential in mind. As the names above indicate, pitchers tend to get there faster, though there are advanced hitters who shouldn't take all too long. Here are some players from this year's Draft who might be coming to a Major League ballpark near you sooner rather than later.
Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners: The No. 2 overall pick had been called the "safe" pick when being discussed as a potential No. 1, but that undersold him a bit. He's got very good stuff and plus command, a combination that could get him to Safeco Field in short order.
Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Brewers: The Brewers are no doubt hoping their top pick, taken No. 12 overall, can get to Milwaukee quickly. Jungmann will be coming off a stellar career at the University of Texas, during which he played at a high level, faced top competition and had no problem with the spotlight. He's got three plus pitches and maintains his stuff through a game. As his command improves, he'll shoot through the Brewers' system.
Tyler Anderson, LHP, Rockies: Anderson is one of those "pitchability" lefties, one without plus pure stuff but with an advanced idea of how to pitch. His average fastball plays up because of his outstanding command and he's got a changeup that's at least above average and good slider to go with it. The No. 20 overall pick may not have a high ceiling, but he also shouldn't take long to be big league ready.
College relievers: Whether it's someone who pitched out of the bullpen or one who will get shortened up into a relief role, there were a number of hurlers who could help a team out very quickly as a reliever. Maybe not Sale-like quick, but quick enough. Right-handers like University of Hawaii closer Lenny Linsky (No. 89, Rays) and Louisville closer Tony Zych (No. 129, Cubs) may not close in the big leagues, at least not right away, but should soon provide relief help. If the D-backs want to shorten up Andrew Chafin (No. 43) or Anthony Meo (No. 63), they could be among the first of this class to reach the Majors.
In a year that wasn't particularly deep with college hitters, there are a few who should be able to advance fairly quickly. Keep in mind that no hitter from the 2009 or 2010 Drafts has made it to the big leagues as of yet, so adjust expectations accordingly.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals: There may have been questions about Rendon's shoulder, but there aren't about his approach at the plate. Without the injury, there were some who believed he could hold his own at the highest level right now. He's got tremendous plate discipline and should hit for average and power. Even if the No. 6 overall selection moves to second base because of Ryan Zimmerman, if Rendon is healthy, he could follow a Dustin Ackley-type path. Ackley, drafted No. 2 by the Mariners in 2009, already has more than 500 at-bats in Triple-A and should be in Seattle before long. Rendon might make it even faster than that.
C.J. Cron, 1B, Angels: Cron isn't known for being particularly athletic and he'll be limited to first base, but there's no doubt the No. 17 pick can hit. He can hit for average and power, and for a guy with that kind of pop, he really doesn't strike out all that often. His father, Chris, is the Tigers' Double-A manager, and guys who grew up around the game often have a better understanding of what it takes to reach the Major Leagues.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals: Taken No. 22, Wong gets high grades for his makeup, his work ethic and his bat. That's exactly the kind of combination that enables a hitter to move quickly. He gets on base, knows what kind of hitter he is and runs well. He doesn't have to make a transition to second base because he's already played there. A future No. 2 hitter, he could be with St. Louis before you know it.