Amateur Draft Profile: Derek Dietrich, SS, Georgia Tech

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Summary

Remember Dietrich? He was the Astros first pick in the 2007 draft. Of course, they didn't have a pick until the third round, which is when the third baseman from St. Ignatius High School in Ohio was taken. The Astros didn't have a good grasp on his signing demands, though, and failed to sign him before the August 15th deadline. Instead, Dietrich went to Georgia Tech, where he hit for power, for average and had pretty good plate discipline over the last three seasons. Oh, and he moved to shortstop, though a lack of range will probably move him back to the hot corner in the pros. Amazingly enough, Dietrich wasn't a signability concern back in 2007 and won't be this season. The Astros just failed to get his deal done in time back then. Way to go, Tim Purpura.

Floor

With above average power and decent plate discipline, Dietrich will probably hit enough to reach the higher levels of the minors. He doesn't really have injury concerns, but his below-average speed hurts his range. If he can't stick at third base for some reason, he'd have to move over to first or to one of the corner outfield spots. The projections I've seen don't indicate his power will be a great asset, so his bat might not play well at first.

Ceiling

Again, Dietrich could quickly be major league ready with his bat and defense. I mentioned his plate discipline, and it is very good. He's walked in 12 percent of his at-bats over the past three seasons and lowered his strikeouts considerably in 2010. He's not as athletic as Evan Longoria, but his bat could profile similarly. In the best-case scenario, Dietrich is a 30 HR guy who hits .310 with a .370 on-base percentage while playing good defense at third, who is ready to make the big leagues by 2012.

Will the Astros pick him?  If so, where?

That all depends on whether Drayton McLane would hold a grudge. That 2007 draft made him look terrible. He caught a lot of flack for that and may not want to remind people about it so soon. But, Dietrich isn't supposed to be a signing risk this time and probably would agree to slot price. He's not ticketed to go in the first round and probably will last till the second or third. Basically, his draft stock is exactly where it was three years ago. If the Astros opt to go with someone else besides Zack Cox at No. 8, swooping in to pick up Dietrich and shore up the third base spot in the minors certainly makes sense. Second round might be high for him, but if he lasts till the third, the Astros might be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Where is he projected to go right now?

Keith Law does not have him in the first round.

Andy Seiler does not have him in the first round.

Deep Leagues does not have him in the first round.

Jonathan Mayo does not have him in the first round.

Perfect Game USA does not have him in the first round.

Baseball America does not have him in the first round.

Frankie Piliere does not have him in the first round.

Kevin Goldstein has him at No. 35 to the Braves.

Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)

Below the jump.

Video

MLB.com

Keith Law's take:

Tech's shorstop Derek Dietrich has had a monster season with the metal bat and will probably go in the top two rounds as a major college performer who isn't stuck at first base or DH.

He's made progress this spring keeping his front side firm after his swing, which may be part of why he's improved his contact rate (he's got 27 strikeouts so far) from the last two years, when he averaged 49 whiffs per season. He's very strong with good bat speed and he recognizes pitches very well from right-handers. He struggled against lefties with the wood bat on the Cape last summer, although I think that's a function of his raw strength and the metal bat allowing him to catch up to a pitch he didn't recognize early enough.

In the field, Dietrich can't play shortstop in pro ball, and I'm not sure he has the feet to handle second or third; he's not unathletic but is a below-average runner with slow feet, which would put him in an outfield corner long term, although the team that drafts him has to exhaust those other options first.

He has the arm to play just about anywhere on the field. He's a pretty high-probability college bat for a team that's willing to try him at several spots to find a position for him and he is just 20 years old.

Baseball Beginnings:

STRENGTHS: Rangy body, left-handed hitter who puts ball in play and should have some power potential in coming years. Showed ability to use opposite field when I saw him. Knows his own strike zone. Good defender with soft hands and above-average arm strength. Likes to be seen and noticed. Average runner. Good athlete.

WEAKENNESSES: Sometimes tended to try to pull when I saw him and didn’t let all pitches get to him. Quick hands, still learning to trust them. Doesn’t have his power yet; needs to be patient.

SUMMARY: Grinder with offensive ability, baseball aptitude. Not sure if he fits in at 2B, SS or 3B. Would have arm and range for each, would lack power at this stage for corner. Former HS pitcher, good baseball athlete. Good luck, pro side.

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