Exhibit No. 2 on why the 2007 draft was a wasteland for the Astros. Eibner was Houston's fourth-round pick. A local product out of The Woodlands High School, Eibner went to the University of Arkansas after turning the Astros down. He is one of the best two-way players in this draft, hitting 97 at times on the mound and slugging 18 home runs for the Razorbacks this season. His strikeout rate has always been right around 9 per 9 innings, while his walk rate has fluctuated wildy in college. This season, he cut his walks down to nothing; he's had 9 in 54 1/3 innings. However, he had 49 in his previous 96 innings.
The right-hander has a lot to offer, both as a hitter and as a pitcher. Eibner would prefer to be a hitter in the pros, so that might affect where a team drafts him. As a draft-eligible junior, he also has the option to go back to school if a team doesn't meet his demands/role.
If Eibner has trouble transitioning to wooden bats, his power won't be able to make up for poor contact numbers. While his stats in 2010 were sterling, his 2009 hitting slash line (.231/.377/.510) leaves much to be desired. Eibner knows how to take a walk, with a BB rate of 17.5 percent. However, his strikeout rate is outrageously high. He strikes out almost 29 pecent of the time over his three-year college career. So, while his on-base percentage may stay relatively high, his batting average has the potential to plummet with wooden bats.
As a pitcher, his fastball/slider combo makes him a candidate for the bullpen if he can't stick as a starter. He also has a pretty good change that needs polish, but could give him three solid pitches to use.
While Eibner could turn into an effective starter, he doesn't have a ton of innings in his college career. Thus, it's hard to project what an increased workload would do to him. Three quality pitches means he could be a No. 3 starter easily if he can maintain his velocity when pitching every five days.
As a hitter, Eibner may be an impact player who never hits for a high average. There are plenty of guys who can pull off .250/.350/.500 slash lines. In right field, that'd play pretty well, especially since Eibner's arm could be a plus tool out there. However, the strikeouts will always be a problem and lower his overall value. If he starts for 5 seasons in the outfield, I think his team would be thrilled.
pick him? If so, where?
This all depends on whether they view him as a pitcher or a hitter. On the mound, he shows plenty of the skill sets they like. Since they already drafted teammate Dallas Keuchel last season, the scouts probably have a pretty solid knowledge of Eibner. If they're sold he can stay on the mound, he's certainly worth a pick in the supplemental first round (if he lasts that long). However, I don't see the Astros reaching for him before their 1S pick. He doesn't make a ton of sense at No. 19, when there is more value out there.
As a hitter, Eibner doesn't seem to have the kinds of skill sets the Astros value. Yes, he's athletic and can hit a ton. In the past couple of drafts, the college players they've taken have profiled more as polished guys who can play all three positions in the outfield. They're not as boom-or-bust as Eibner seems to be. So, I think it's unlikely that they pick him if he's just a hitter.
Where is he projected to go right now?
Keith Law has him at No. 28 to the Dodgers.
Andy Seiler has him at No. 23 to the Marlins.
Deep Leagues has him at No. 40 in the supplemental first round to the Dodgers.
Jonathan Mayo does not have him in the first round.
Perfect Game USA has him at No. 16 to the Cubs.
Baseball America has him at No. 23 to the Marlins.
Frankie Piliere does not have him in the first round.
Kevin Goldstein has him at No. 25 to the Cardinals.
John Sickels has him at No. 13 to the White Sox.
Bibliography (Scouting Reports and video)
Below the jump.
Eibner is the truest two-way talent in this year's draft, as there's a good chance he'll be drafted as a centerfielder and a similar chance he'll be drafted as a pitcher, although he's told several scouts that he doesn't want to be drafted on the mound.
As a hitter, Eibner has bat speed, gets his arms extended well, and has good hip rotation, creating leverage and loft in his swing that provide above-average raw power. He's a fastball hitter who has struggled with offspeed stuff in the SEC this spring. He's an advanced centerfielder with good reads and plenty of arm to stay there.
On the bump, Eibner is usually 90-94 with pretty good command and fields his position well, but his mid-80s slider is still crude and inconsistent and he almost never uses his changeup, so right now he's arm strength with some command but no secondary stuff. He was out all fall with a sore elbow.
While Eibner is an outstanding athlete who plays a fine center field, he didn't impress me much as the plate. Yes, he does have outstanding bat speed and some raw power, but there's more to hitting than that.
Eibner seemed happy to offer at any pitch in the strike zone. He'd take a hack at the first strike he saw, rarely in a good position to drive the ball. He didn't chase many pitches outside of the zone, but he also didn't much make loud contact.
On the mound, Eibner was a different story. With a balanced and easy delivery, he was able to touch 94 MPH regularly with his fastball and sit 91-93 -- you can see him fanning a batter with his fastball in the clip to the right. The offering was pretty straight overall and he missed with it up in the zone a lot. Eibner also showed a slider that could become above-average.
Lincoln Hamilton analyzed Eibner's mechanics for me. The first thing that he pointed out was that Eibner hooks the ball behind his back, which creates a timing problem. He also doesn't get the ball into the driveline at footplant, leaving his arm in a position where it has to rush and play catch-up with his body. Eibner has a bit of recoil after follow-through, but overall he's pretty smooth. If he can iron things out on the mound, Eibner could pitch his way into the first round. At the very least, his velocity should put him in the mix for strong top 75 pick consideration.