Saturday, May 21, 2011

OTF MLB Draft Peek: Jorge Lopez, RHP, and Hawtin Buchanan, RHP

Today I'm going to take a look at two possible supplemental round picks that could fall in the Giants slot. The Giants got the 49th pick in the Supplemental Round after Juan Uribe signed with the Dodgers this off-season. Again, we have some more pitchers, but as noted before this pitching is especially deep in young, high upside pitching, and the Giants have an obvious need to solidify their pitching depth in the minors (the Minor League Basbeall Analyst graded the Giants minor league pitching as a C- in their 2011 annual).

Jorge Lopez, RHP, Caguas Military Academy, Puerto Rico

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John Sickels has Lopez projected to go at the 49th slot in his latest mock supplemental first round draft. Lopez is a high-ceiling arm, with a nice frame and good stuff according to reports. While Puerto Rican prospects usually don't have a history of going high in the draft (Luis Atilano was the highest pick from Puerto Rico in the history of the draft, as he went No. 35 in 2003), Lopez seems to be an exception to the rule.

According to a report by Perfect Game USA, Lopez is getting comparisons to Javier Vazquez. He still has a lot of room to develop as a pitcher (he's six-foot-four inches, and 175 pounds), but already he sports a fastball that goes in the low 90's and a good spinning curve ball that has gotten good reports from scouts. An excellent athlete (Lopez played volleyball, basketball and ran track in addition to baseball), Lopez used to be a shortstop before he converted to the mound full time.

Perfect Game noted on his player profile page these things about Lopez:

"Slender young build, should gain strength but not much weight. Slow paced low effort delivery, high 3/4's release point, pulls off some on release, very long and loose arm, good use of his lower half. Fastball to 91 mph, velo comes easy. Flashes hard curveball spin when on top of the ball, change up shows nice sink and should be thrown more. Very nice young pitching prospect who should keep improving."

Lopez was named a Rawlings 3rd Team All-American in 2011, and Diamondscape Scouting named him to the Second-Team All-Region team for the Southeast in January. Unlike a lot of high school prospects eligibile in this draft, there isn't a ton of video or scouting reports on Lopez, but he does sound like an enticing pitcher who has considerable upside as a prospect. While Lopez comes from an area of Puerto Rico that is known for developing positional talent (Cayey), Lopez is still an enticing prospect who has faced good competition and has been fostered in a solid baseball environment.

I wish there was more information on Lopez, because he has good tools for a pitcher. The Giants had some success with Jonathan Sanchez, another pitching prospect who came out of Puerto Rico, but Lopez is a bit more raw in comparison to Sanchez. Sanchez pitched in college in the United States before he entered the draft (he played at Ohio Dominican University), and even then, he was an under the radar prospect (he went in the 27th round of the 2004 draft).

Nonetheless, if Lopez can develop as a pitcher in the minors like Sanchez (or perhaps even better), then the Giants could get a steal in the supplemental round with the Puerto Rican right hander. He may take a little more time than Sanchez to break into the majors simply because of his age and where he is in the development stage, but Lopez seems to have the tools and stuff to succeed as a professional pitcher.

Hawtin Buchanan, RHP, Biloxi HS (Mississippi)

Buchanan is another young, raw, but projectable pitcher who could go in the supplemental round in the Giants slot. Buchanan has intriguing size (six-foot, eight inches, 240 pounds), but he is a very good athlete despite his big frame. He already is committed to Ole Miss, not just to play baseball, but to play quarterback for their football team as well.

His stuff is pretty electric as he sports a fastball that goes in the mid-low 90's and touches 95 MPH. However, according to Perfect Game, there are some issues with his mechanics, as he tends to drop his elbow on his curve ball and is slow on his chanegup. Nonetheless, PG was very optimistic about his improvement from 2010 to 2011

"When I saw Buchanan last year at the East Cobb Invitational tournament I was very impressed with his arm and overall strength and athleticism. But, his mechanics needed a lot of work. Over the offseason he put in that work and it has paid off. He’s increased his velocity by 5-7 MPH and has been up to 95. The 6’ 8” righty who is committed to Ole Miss has really been boosting his draft stock with big performances this season. In a big game against George County on March 10th, a game that drew a lot of interest from MLB scouts (as Buchanan opposed LHP Mason Robbins) Hawtin threw a complete game 3-hitter in Biloxi’s district opener and showed improved command of his secondary stuff."

There are a lot of positives when you watch Buchanan on tape. He has a straight, high leg kick that is very similar to Bronson Arroyo and Roy Oswalt. While I'm not sure he will develop into pitchers of that caliber, he still has tremendous uspide and stuff for a kid his age. The main concern with Buchanan might not be his tools as a pitcher, but whether or not he will sign if drafted. After all, he is committed to play football at Ole Miss, and if he is serious about playing football, he may not sign out of high school if drafted. This probably has lowered his draft stock, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Buchanan go lower in the draft because of this issue.

On talent alone though, there is no question that Buchanan is a supplemental round/second round pick. He was a second team All-Rawlings All-American in 2011, and he was also named to the All-Region first team for the Southeast. If the Giants can select him and get him to sign, then they'll have a nice prospect on their hands because his size and stuff are both a plus for his age. He will need some time to develop as a pitcher of course, since professional hitting will be a major step up over the competition he has currently faced (If you watch the tape, it's obvious he's head and shoulders above the hitters). Nonetheless, the Giants will have the patience to allow him to develop in the minors, simply because there isn't a need to rush him with the Major League rotation and bullpen set strongly at this point.


  1. How about a 1,2,3 of Henry Owens, Dillon Howard, or Robert Stephenson at 29, Lopez at #49 and Buchanan in round 2? I'd be down with that!

    I could also live with Kolton Wong at #29, Lopez at #49 and Buchanan in round 2.

    Klima has a Video of Brian Goodwin up on Man, it that guy is on the board at #29, I'd have a hard time saying he wasn't clearly the BPA, even if the Giants are fairly deep in OF's.

  2. That would be something! Our pitching would definitely be re-stocked and a strength in the system if we loaded up this draft with pitching (On the Brian Sabean weekly show on KNBR, Sabean admitted that he was going to focus on pitching in this draft because that is where there was the most depth).

    I like Wong too, but I wouldn't be too bummed considering how deep the pitching is. I'll check out the video on Goodwin, who I have seen gone to the Giants at No. 29 in some mocks. Either way, this is an exciting draft and I'm interested how things will develop leading up to it.