While the August 17th deadline brought word of several of the top draft picks decisions to sign with their club, for many, it was another day of baseball.
Tim Wheeler - the last pick of the first round by the Colorado Rockies - went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI on August 17th. While he is only playing for Low-A, the extra two months of experience he has over now-Mariners prospect Dustin Ackely, who signed just before the deadline, could go a long way.
Before the Nationals even got into serious negotiations with the first overall pick Stephen Strasburg, their other first round pick, which they received after they failed to sign Aaron Crow, received a promotion to Double-A. Drew Storen has dominated the minor leagues this season, mostly with his aggressive approach and impeccable command of the strike zone.
In 11 appearances in the South Atlantic League, Storen struck out 26 while not surrendering a walk. He was then promoted to the Carolina League, where he struck out 11 in 10 appearances, holding hitters to a .206 batting average. Now with the Double-A Senators, Storen is holding hitters to a .118 average, and has four strike outs in five innings. Storen may see time with the Nationals this season, but will likely have to wait until the 2010 season, where he could find himself as the closer of the Nationals.
Let's take a look at some of the other first round draft picks who chose to sign early and are benefitting from it:
A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks: The 17th-overall pick is hitting .267 in 47 games Class A Silver Hawks. Pollock sees the ball much better versus lefties, hitting an impressive .324 with 4 extra-base hits and a .359 on-base percentage.
Chad Jenkins, Blue Jays: Jenkins pitched well in the Gulf Coast League, striking out 14 in 10.2 innings while posting a 4.22 ERA. Jenkins was promoted and his first three starts went well. In 13 innings, he surrendered two earned runs, striking out 10. In his most recent three starts, he has struggled to say the least. He cannot find the strike zone and when he does, he typically find too much of it.
Jiovanni Mier, Astros: In 41 games in the Applachian Rookie League, Mier is hitting .281 with 5 home runs and 10 extra-base hits. Mier came on the scene in July when he compiled 29 hits in 23 games, while walking 15 times to just 16 strike outs.
Jared Mitchell, White Sox: Arguably the most athletic player in the draft, Mitchell has played very well since signing his first professional contract. Mitchell is hitting .304 with the Kannapolis Intimidators, with 14 extra-base hits, 22 walks and a .427 on-base percentage.
Mike Trout, Angels: Thanks K-Rod! The Angels were awarded this pick after the Mets signed Type-A free agent Francisco Rodriguez. Trout has been very impressive in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .362 with 1 home run and 13 stolen bases in 34 games. Trout has walked 17 times to just 25 strike outs, along with hitting 13 extra-base hits. He has an OBP of .425 and is slugging an impressive .525.
Reymond Fuentes, Red Sox: Fuentes is also playing well in the Rookie Gulf Coast League, hitting a respectable .304 with 8 extra-base hits and 20 strike outs. The lefty struggles against lefty pitching, but has time to work on it as he progresses in his professional career.
Brett Jackson: Jackson has had nothing but success since signing his professional contract, and is already with his third team in the organization. Jackson played a quick three games for the Mesa Cubs before joining the Low-A Boise Hawks, where in 24 games he hit .330 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 20-to-17. He was then promoted to the Class-A Peoria Chiefs, where he is hitting .315 with 5 home runs and a .406 on-base percentage. The Midwest League has been more of a challenge for Jackson, but he is holding his own and will likely remain there for the rest of the season.
There are questions about how Jackson will handle the field, which could slow his development if he experiences any setbacks.