Looking back at the Rule 5ers, Part 2
We got through three picks from the Major League phase yesterday. Let’s tackle a few more:
10. Ben Copeland (Taken by A’s from Giants)
2005 Review (Draft Recap):
Copeland was the 132nd player taken in the draft — but the first taken by the Giants, who lost their first three choices as compensation for signing free agents Armando Benitez, Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel. The 21-year-old outfielder from the University of Pittsburgh clocked a successful month in the Arizona League, hitting .436 in his last 10 games there to give him a .333 average. He carried that hot hitting into the Northwest League, where left-handed swinger batted .306 with 13 extra-base hits (five doubles, four triples and four home runs) and 23 RBIs in 29 games. Overall, the fourth-round pick hit .315 with five homers, 37 RBIs and four stolen bases in five attempts.
2006 Preview (2005 Draft Recap):
The Giants’ first selection in the draft didn’t come until the 132nd pick in the fourth round but that didn’t seem to stop them from landing a productive player. Copeland led the Big East — not traditionally a college baseball powerhouse conference — in many offensive categories and set several school records at Pittsburgh. He hit five homers and drove in 37 runs in 181 at-bats last season, splitting time between the Arizona and Northwest Leagues. He’s a slightly better than average outfielder, committing two errors in 67 chances overall, having played mostly center field in the Arizona League before spending the bulk of his time in left upon his promotion. “He did an excellent job for us last year and he knows how to hit,” Jack Hiatt said. “In fact, recently in an intra-squad game [Noah] Lowry came over to pitch from the Major League team and Ben got the only two hits off him. He’s a good-looking kid.”
Copeland had a productive sophomore season in the pros, hitting .281
with five homers and 71 RBIs for Augusta of the South Atlantic League.
The Giants didn’t have a pick until the 132nd selection in ’05, and
they seemed to have made a wise one in Copeland, who was a dominating
force at The University of Pittsburgh.
2007 preview (Climbing the Ladder — Others to Watch):
Finally, on this loaded San Jose team, look for what Hiatt calls “the trifecta” of outfield prospects who move up together from Augusta: Ben Copeland, Michael Mooney and Antoan Richardson. That trio really defines the depth Hiatt talks about. Copeland, the club’s first pick in 2005 (fourth round), hit .281 with 71 RBIs for the GreenJackets in 2006, Mooney batted .287 with 74 RBIs and the speedy Richardson .292 with 66 steals and was caught just nine times.
11. James Skelton (Taken by Diamondbacks from Tigers)
2008 preview (10 Spot):
Ivan Rodriguez will be 37 this year, while Vance Wilson turns 35. That both of Detroit’s catchers are getting a bit long in the tooth can only help Skelton, who is the best of a thin crop of catching prospects. Skelton was a 14th-round selection in 2004 and has snaked his way through the Tigers’ system, hitting .309 last year with seven homers and 52 RBIs at West Michigan. He hit .306 over the past two seasons (he spent 2006 in the New York-Penn League).
His seven errors put him in the middle of the pack among Midwest League catchers, but Skelton did throw out 43 percent of those attempting to steal, the third-highest percentage on the circuit. He worked well with the young pitchers the Whitecaps had last season and should continue to grow with them this year at Lakeland.
2008 Review (Kept Their Footing):
Skelton missed time with a hand injury in June but still managed to hit .303 in 87 games between Lakeland and Erie. He had a wonderful strikeout-to-walk ratio (73-to-83) that contributed to a .456 OBP. He doesn’t have much pop — he had five homers and 34 RBIs — but if he gets on base and scores runs (65 this season), he’ll stick around.)
12. Zachary Kroenke (Taken by Marlins from Yankees)
2005 review (Draft Recap):
After a wild ride with the University of Nebraska in the College World Series, Kroenke joined the Baby Bombers and went 1-1 with a pair of saves and a 2.54 ERA. While he helped Staten Island reach the postseason, he was shut down, as well, because of an injury to his glove hand.
2006 preview (2005 Draft Recap):
The University of Nebraska product is a lefty with a good arm, and that’s always something worth working with. He’s got some pitch-development work to do and he struggled with command in his brief debut. But the Yankees think there’s a good core there and they’ll try to polish him at either Charleston or Tampa.