Back in February I put together my first-round projection based on preseason scouting reports, signability and team need. Now that we have almost four months of performance from the college and prep ranks I think it’s time to run through the first round again.
To add a little bit of a twist I will include projections for the sandwich round this time. Also, I am going to write this projection under the assumption that neither Stephen Drew nor Jered Weaver will sign with the Diamondbacks or Angels, respectively, and thus will re-enter the draft. This would give the Angels and Diamondbacks an extra pick each at the end of the sandwich round.
I’ve scoured every source of scouting information I can find to put this first round prediction together, and, in the process, I’ve been able to see each of the following players at the plate or on the mound either live or on video, with the exception of Cuban defector Yuniel Escobar. There just isn’t much out there on him yet.
And now, the first and supplemental rounds as I see them from my desk in late May, 2005:
1. Diamondbacks – Justin Upton, SS, R/R, 6’2, 180, Great Bridge HS (VA)
No change here. Upton’s combination of five-tool potential and polish will make him the first player in his family to go first overall. He could end up in centerfield, but wants to play shortstop as a pro. Still the only real no-brainer in the draft.
2. Royals – Cameron Maybin, OF, R/R, 6’4, 200, T.C. Roberon HS (NC)
Maybin has drawn comparisons to lanky, athletic players like Eric Davis, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Daryl Strawberry. So far the Royals are insisting that they will not go the cheap route with their first pick, but they may feel that Maybin is good enough to avoid criticism that they shied away from a more expensive selection.
3. Mariners – Alex Gordon, 3B, L/R, 6’1, 205, University of Nebraska
I can almost hear the cheer go up over the conference call when Alex Gordon lands in Seattle’s lap. Gordon, hitting .391 with 17 homers and a 1.288 OPS for the Huskers this year, is simply too good to pass up. He may be the most advanced college hitter to enter the draft since Mark Teixeira, and his ceiling is pretty high. He figures to find his way to the Majors in two or three years.
4. Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, R/R, 6’2, 210, University of Virginia
All signs indicate that the Nats have cut a pre-draft deal with Zimmerman. Prior to 2004, Zimmerman’s elite glovework and natural ability at the plate made him a good bet as a pro. His performance for Team USA, highlighted by a promising increase in power (12 doubles, four homers) make him a perfect fit for Comerica Park. As of May 26th, Zimmerman was hitting .400 with an OPS of 1.077 for the Cavaliers.
5. Brewers – Ryan Braun, 3B, R/R, 6’2, 190, University of Miami
The Brewers are apparently looking at Gordon and Zimmerman closely, but have several fallback plans if neither slips to them. One is toolsy prep Maybin, who fits Milwaukee’s draft strategy of the past few years. Another is Braun, who is expected to make a quick ascent to the big leagues, which would give the Brewers an impressive young infield alongside J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder.
It amazes me that Milwaukee, an organization that is already deep in hitting prospects, would not target a polished college pitcher with this pick. Then again, the Brewers are notoriously secretive about their draft plans, so the existing rumors could be entirely false. Don’t be surprised if they go the pitching route, but my guess is that they’ll take Braun.
6. Blue Jays – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, R/R, 6’3, 200, Long Beach State
The Blue Jays are expected to go after another college arm this year, but when Tulowitzki drops to them, J.P. Ricciardi will have no problem calling his name. Tulowitzki has had an impressive season so far, posting a 1.034 OPS with seven homers in 36 games for the Dirt Bags. The Blue Jays are set at SS with Aaron Hill and Russ Adams (who figures to move to second when Hill arrives in Toronto), but Tulowitzki has the size and skills to shift over to third base.
7. Rockies – Luke Hochevar, RHP, R/R, 6’5, 205, University of Tennessee
The Rockies will forever be in search of pitchers who can compete at Coors Field, and will suffer negotiations with Scott Boras in hopes that Hochevar can do so. In 2005, the Volunteer righthander has a 14-2 record, with a 1.93 ERA, 131 strikeouts and only 82 hits allowed in 118 innings.
8. Devil Rays – Jeff Clement, C, L/R, 6’1, 205, USC
In February, I wrote that I expected Clement “to have a huge season for the Trojans”. He has lived up to my billing, clubbing 11 homers to go along with a 1.083 OPS. He has also made great strides behind the plate, convincing scouts that his future as a catcher is very much intact. Tampa Bay doesn’t have much catching talent in its system – something Clement would change in a hurry.
9. Mets – Craig Hansen, RHP, R/R, 6’5, 185, St. John’s University
Hansen improved his stock greatly with an excellent summer last year, when his 41/2 K/BB ratio and 0.00 ERA in 22 innings made him Baseball America’s #3 Cape Cod League prospect. 2005 has helped his draft status even more, as he has become the top relief prospect in the nation. He profiles along the lines of Ryan Wagner and could jump to the Majors just as quickly as Wagner or Oakland’s Huston Street. He is a Scott Boras client, but the Mets don’t mind.
10. Tigers – Ricky Romero, LHP, R/L, 6’1, 190, Cal State Fullerton
The Tigers will pass on Wichita State righty Mike Pelfrey due to his affiliation with Boras and will instead take Romero. In my February draft article, I predicted an excellent 2005 for Romero, and so far he has gone 11-4 with a 2.57 ERA and a 120/29 K/BB ratio, allowing only 87 hits in 112 innings. Romero shows excellent command, changes speeds well and features a great curve to go along with a consistent, low-90s fastball.
11. Pirates – Andrew McCutchen, OF, R/R, 5’11, 170, Fort Meade HS (FL)
Think “right-handed Juan Pierre”, but with surprising power for his size. He has incredible range in centerfield and great baserunning instincts. The Pirates favor young players with good athleticism and McCutchen fits the bill. He is a prototypical leadoff man with surprising pop for his size.
12. Reds – Chris Volstad, RHP, R/R, 6’7, 190, Palm Beach Gardens HS (FL)
The towering righty throws in the low-90s and repeats his delivery well for his size. His pitches tend to sink a great deal and his control is impressive. The Reds need pitching, and Volstad represents the best prep arm in this year’s draft.
13. Orioles – Jay Bruce, OF, L/L, 6’2, 200, West Brook HS (TX)
Nobody’s draft stock has risen farther or faster than Jay Bruce’s. Part of that is because he dropped Scott Boras earlier this year, but mostly it’s because he is a legitimate 5-tool threat. Bruce has deceptive speed and a bat that could average 20-30 homers in the big leagues. He will probably end up in right field and has the arm to handle it, but he also has the instincts to play center.
14. Indians – Trevor Crowe, OF, B/R, 5’10, 185, University of Arizona
Crowe is another outfielder who has shot up draft boards across the Majors thanks to an impressive 2005 season. He projects as a top-of-the-order table setter (.500 OBP) with excellent instincts and a competitive streak, though his aggressiveness sometimes causes him to be impatient at the plate. He has also flashed surprising power (.766 SLG) and could wind up being a 20/20 hitter out of the leadoff spot.
Defensively he is a question mark. He has spent most of his time in left field with Arizona, but started out as a second baseman. His arm isn’t spectacular, nor is his speed, but center field remains a possibility. Cleveland wants a college hitter early, and Crowe’s combination of talent, skills and makeup will win them over.
15. White Sox – Brian Bogusevic, LHP, L/L, 6’3, 210, Tulane University
Bogusevic is another polished two-way prospect, pitching in the high-80s and playing centerfield between starts. Prior to the season, I thought his bat would win out over his arm, but an excellent 2005 on the hill (12-1, 2.57 ERA, 114 strikeouts and 99 hits allowed in 112 innings) has most scouts looking at him as a pitcher. Indications are that the White Sox want a college pitcher with their pick, but won’t have anything to do with Scott Boras, making Bogusevic a good fit.
16. Marlins – C.J. Henry, SS, R/R, 6’3, 200, Putnam City HS (OK)
The Marlins have five of the first 44 picks, which could be an excellent opportunity for them to establish organizational depth. It could also force them to take Oakland’s 2002 approach and overdraft one or two players to avoid a huge bonus payout. With their first pick, they will stick to their typical M.O. and select one of the top prep prospects available. Henry has come on strong this year, raising his stock a great deal while flashing excellent athleticism and baseball skill. I have read several scouting reports that liken him to Vernon Wells.
17. Yankees (a) – Stephen Drew, SS, L/R, 6’0, 190, Florida State
Though 2004 pick Phillip Hughes has turned out to be a promising pro, New York’s recent draft history definitely leaves room for improvement. Drew’s bonus demands and failure to sign with Arizona will have many teams taking a pass on him, but the Yankees will see him as an easy way to get top five value for a mid-first round pick. And since when do the Yankees worry about money?
18. Padres – Matt Torra, RHP, R/R, 6’3, 225, University of Massachusetts
The Red Sox are hoping that Torra – who has been dominant for U-Mass this year, posting a 1.14 ERA in 95 innings with a 111/16 K/BB and only 56 hits allowed – will fall to them at 23, but it won’t happen. Brian Bogusevic has been discussed here but he won’t get to the Padres, so they’ll opt for Torra instead.
19. Rangers – Mark Pawelek, LHP, L/L, 6’2, 180, Springville HS (UT)
With Texas A&M recruit Aaron Thompson’s bonus demands up in the air, Pawelek is the best prep lefty in the draft without glaring signability issues. Of course, he is represented by Scott Boras, so he is a risk just the same. Still, he figures to sign somewhere, so the Rangers will continue their trend of adding top high school arms to the system (John Danks in 2003).
20. Cubs – Cesar Carrillo, RHP, R/R, 6’2, 160, University of Miami
Carrillo had a great career for the Hurricanes, not losing a game until late May of his senior season. Before that loss, Carrillo was 12-0 with a 1.93 ERA and a 104/17 K/BB ratio in 99 innings. His stock has risen with his impressive 2005 showing, with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and has touched 95 late in games. He’ll make a good addition to the Cubs and could be Major League-ready in short order.
21. Athletics – Cliff Pennington, SS, B/R, 5’11, 175, Texas A&M
Watching Pennington at shortstop reminds me of Khalil Greene. Both have graceful movements and can make acrobatic plays, and both are smart players with excellent baseball instincts, good arms and good range. Pennington plays hard at all times and has great gap power to go along with speed and savvy that could make him an annual threat to steal 20 bases. Greene was rumored to be an A’s target back in 2002, and this year they might just take a similar player like Pennington.
22. Marlins (b) – Colby Rasmus, OF, L/L, 6’2, 183, Russell County HS (AL)
Rasmus is committed to Auburn, but a team like the Marlins that has a good track record of developing young hitters could persuade him to sign a pro contract. He profiles as a center fielder with good range and an arm that touched 90 MPH as a pitcher. At the plate he can hit for average and power and has the speed to be a strong, all-around offensive threat.
23. Red Sox (c) – Mike Pelfrey, RHP, R/R, 6’7, 215, Wichita State
Pelfrey is another college pitcher represented by Scott Boras, and that affiliation will see him drop past the top ten, then past the teens. The Red Sox can afford to deal with him and will get excellent value out of the 23rd pick as a result. Pelfrey can command the strike zone with three solid pitches, including a fastball that sits in the low-90s. It occasionally touches the mid-90s and, with his size, it could improve as he refines his mechanics.
24. Astros – Wade Townsend, RHP, R/R, 6’3, 230, Rice University
One-third of the Owl’s vaunted first-round pitching trio with Jeff Niemann and Philip Humber, Townsend was taken by the Orioles with the eighth pick in last year’s draft. What happened after that has been well-documented. A low-ball offer, a conference call meltdown and a return to class later, Townsend finds himself back in the draft. From everything I’ve read, Townsend is smart, driven, colorful and candid – exactly the kind of guy baseball needs. His lackluster performance at scouting workouts and his Texas ties will get him to the Astros here, but not beyond.
25. Twins – Brandon Snyder, C/SS, R/R, 6’2, 190, Westfield HS (VA)
The third-rated catcher in most 2005 draft analyses, Snyder is also a solid shortstop. His future looks like it will be behind the plate, where he is still learning but has the physical ability to be a keeper. His bat is quick and his approach to hitting sound, and the Twins will take him and see where his development leads position-wise.
26. Red Sox (d) – Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, L/L, 6’1, 175, Oregon State
The comparisons to Johnny Damon are obvious. Ellsbury has a short, quick swing that doesn’t seem like it will generate power once he moves to the pro ranks and wooden bats, but his speed and ability to get on base makes him an excellent leadoff prospect. The Red Sox will feel emboldened by their selection of Pelfrey and look to really cash in on their World Championship by stockpiling a diverse group of talent with their five picks out of the first 47.
27. Braves – Chaz Roe, RHP, R/R, 6’5, 170, Lafayette HS (KY)
Sticking with the high school pitching approach, the Braves have targeted prep righty Roe with their first pick in 2005. Roe is tall and lanky and posted an eye-popping 0.51 ERA in 41 innings as a senior at Lafayette High School. He will gladly follow Atlanta’s long line of high school draft successes, and the Braves will be glad to have him.
28. Cardinals (e) – Jered Weaver, RHP, R/R, 6’6, 205, Long Beach State
St. Louis will be looking to add high-end, polished talent to their depleted system with their early picks this year, and if Weaver fails to sign with the Angels he will make a perfect first step toward that goal. He will fall a long way because he comes with Boras baggage, big bonus demands and an arm that hasn’t seen much action in the past year, but he still won’t take long to be big league-ready.
29. Marlins (f) – Craig Italiano, RHP, R/R, 6’3, 195, Flower Mound HS (TX)
Italiano is a monster fireballer whose maximum-effort delivery could destine him for a relief role in the pros. After taking hitters with their first two picks, the Marlins will turn to pitching and take Italiano in hopes that his body holds up and allows his electric arm to shine as a professional.
30. Cardinals – John Mayberry, Jr., 1B/OF, R/R, 6’5, 230, Stanford University
I have not been impressed with what I’ve seen of Mayberry, but scouts still love his athletic build and power potential. He has struggled through a worrisome dip in power this year, hitting only six homers to go along with a .307 average. Still, his bloodlines will make him an early selection on June 6th. The Cardinals will take him with one of their four first round picks and hope he develops.
31. Diamondbacks (g) – Joey Devine, RHP, R/R, 6’1, 198, North Carolina State
Devine is probably the draft’s best closer after Craig Hansen and has had a phenomenal 2005 season, going 4-3 with 12 saves, a 2.25 ERA and an impressive 67/7 K/BB ratio in 44 innings for the Wolf Pack. There is a possibility that he will go to a budget-minded team in the first round, but the Diamondbacks won’t let him get past the first pick of the sandwich round.
32. Rockies (h) – Stephen Head, 1B, L/L, 6’2, 220, University of Mississippi
A two-way star who could be drafted as a pitcher or a hitter, Head’s bat will likely outstrip his arm as he makes the jump to the pros. He has a pretty swing, though his size will confine him to first base or a corner outfield spot. Still, he is a force at the plate, and he hasn’t done anything to hurt his stock in 2005, belting 17 homers in 59 games for Ole Miss.
33. Indians (i) – Jed Lowrie, 2B, R/R, 6’0, 180, Stanford
Lowrie’s close proximity to the polish-loving Oakland A’s has had the two connected for almost two years now. But rarely do rumors match up with Billy Beane’s draft strategy, and Lowrie makes for a good fit with the Indians, who are looking for polished college players early in the draft. After taking Trevor Crowe, Lowrie will be a solid selection for Cleveland, though a pitcher at this slot is very possible.
34. Marlins (j) – Taylor Teagarden, C, R/R, 6’0, 190, University of Texas
Teagarden hit only .278 in 2004, but, by many accounts, he displays good power. Behind the plate he is the consensus choice for best defensive catcher in the draft. His presence on the field is enhanced by great leadership skills, and he will be a good choice for the Marlins if the Cardinals pass on him with the 28th and 30th picks. He is represented by Scott Boras, which gives the Marlins an out should their other early picks get too expensive.
35. Padres (k) – John Drennen, OF, L/L, 6’0, 180, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Drennen – an athletic outfielder with a pretty swing from the left side – is another product of Rancho Bernardo’s talent factory, and the Padres have shown great interest. If he is there at 35, expect San Diego to call his name and add him to their other top local talent, 2004’s first overall pick Matt Bush.
36. Athletics (l) – Yahmed Yema, OF, L/L, 6’0, 182, Florida International
The A’s have a tendency to sneak up on players and draft analysts every year, which causes me to look away from who they are rumored to take. In previous years I’ve heard them connected to Chris Burke, Khalil Greene, Aaron Heilman and Conor Jackson, but all those players went to different teams. Then again, in 2004 they were rumored to take Huston Street and Danny Putnam, then wound up with both.
Both fell to the sandwich round, though, so if Trevor Crowe, Jed Lowrie or Jacoby Ellsbury drop to their pick at #36, don’t be surprised if the A’s take one of them. But my guess is that they’ll surprise everyone, and nobody is a bigger sleeper than Yema, who has posted a .391 average, 14 homers, a 1.143 OPS and only 14 strikeouts in 57 games for the Golden Panthers.
37. Angels (m) – Cesar Ramos, LHP, L/L, 6’1, 175, Long Beach State
After failing to sign Jered Weaver, the Angels could look to another southern California college pitcher who could move quickly through the minors. Ramos doesn’t throw hard, sitting in the 85-88 MPH range with his fastball, but so far that lack of velocity hasn’t overshadowed his command and tendency to control at bats with four good pitches. He reminds me of A’s farmhand Mario Ramos, another lefty who gets a lot of outs and leaves everyone scratching their heads.
38. Astros (n) – Mark McCormick, RHP, R/R, 6’2, 195, Baylor University
So far McCormick has been sporadic in living up to his potential, and 2005 has been no different. At times, he looks brilliant (12 K in 6 IP against Missouri on May 20th), but then he’ll melt-down, as he did on May 13th against Texas A&M (7 ER, 2 BB, 0 K in 2.2 IP). The Astros organization has a good track record of developing pitchers. His representation is an obstacle (Boras, of course) as well, though his upside and Texas ties should pave the way to a relatively smooth negotiation.
39. Twins (o) – Travis Buck, OF, L/R, 6’2, 205, Arizona State
A good athlete with range and a strong arm in the outfield, Buck is also one of the best pure hitters in the 2005 draft class. To date, he hasn’t shown the kind of power that gets scouts excited, but he uses the entire field and has a body that could develop power with the right coaching. The Twins will gladly take his polish this late.
40. Dodgers (p) – Sean O’Sullivan, RHP, R/R, 6’2, 195, Valhalla HS (CA)
O’Sullivan’s velocity has been down this season, but the Dodgers are close enough to have monitored his progress this season and will see him as a good value for their first 2005 selection.
41. Braves (q) – Brett Jacobsen, RHP, R/R, 6’6, 195, Cactus Shadows HS (AZ)
Jacobsen could be a tough sign as he seems committed to attending Vanderbilt, but some team will take that gamble based on his high ceiling, and the Braves, with their penchant for developing prep pitchers, have a good shot at persuading him to sign a pro contract. His size and easy delivery help Jacobsen generate a low-90s fastball and a hard curve that touches 82-83 MPH. The fastball can get up into the mid-90s on occasion and could improve based on his size and age.
42. Red Sox (r) – Henry Sanchez, 1B, R/R, 6’3, 260, Mission Bay HS (CA)
Rumors have tied the Red Sox to Sanchez for a while now, though many scouts seem unsure about how his raw power will translate in the pro ranks. He could turn into a righthanded Ryan Howard-type slugger, or he could wind up as a 4-A player like Calvin Pickering or Ken Harvey who bounces between Triple-A and the bigs. The only thing I can say for sure is that he is huge.
43. Cardinals (s) – Tyler Greene, SS, R/R, 6’2, 190, Georgia Tech
Poor Tyler Greene has fallen a long way this year thanks to injuries and his connection to Scott Boras. Greene’s combination of tools and performance are consistent with a top five selection in the draft, but he suffered a broken jaw that slowed him down at the beginning of the college season. Greene tore up the Cape Cod League and has shown flashes of big league ability at shortstop, with excellent range and a strong arm. His weakness so far is that he hasn’t been able to put all his skills together at once, but I think he’ll be a great pick this late.
44. Marlins (t) – Jordan Danks, OF, L/R, 6’5, 200, Round Rock HS (TX)
Jordan’s brother, John, was the ninth overall pick in the 2003 draft and quickly became one of Texas’s best prospects. Jordan is bigger, stronger and a better athlete, but he recently told teams to pass on him because he is committed to the University of Texas. The Marlins will take him here thinking that he’ll be a steal if he signs, but that they’ll save bonus money if he doesn’t.
45. Red Sox (u) – Lance Broadway, RHP, R/R, 6’4, 185, Texas Christian
Broadway’s out-pitch is his curve, which could be the best in the entire draft. He will not demand a huge bonus, and that combined with his polish and makeup have the Red Sox interested in him as a possibility for one of their supplemental picks.
46. Cardinals (v) – Daniel Carte, OF, R/R, 6’0, 180, Winthrop University
Carte cemented his draft status by winning the Cape Cod League’s MVP award in 2004, hitting .308 with 11 homers, 38 RBI, 13 steals an a .900+ OPS. Scouts don’t feel that his ceiling is very high, but he has already shown that he can handle a wooden bat well, and his 17 homers, 72 RBI and .624 slugging percentage at Winthrop make him an attractive option for teams that value polish.
47. Red Sox (w) – Yuniel Escobar, SS, R/R, 6’2, 200, No school (Cuba)
Escobar impressed scouts at a workout in Miami and projects as an all-around talent in the pros. As with all Cuban defectors, culture shock and the language barrier figure to be obstacles, and early developmental challenges will make him a bit of a project as he adapts to the U.S. The Red Sox will take him, figuring he’ll be cheap with excellent upside.
48. Diamondbacks (x) – Jeremy Slayden, OF, L/R, 6’0, 188, Georgia Tech
Slayden’s injury problems have most observers discounting him as a possible first- or sandwich-round pick. I’ve seen him since his return and he has been nothing but impressive. His power is incredible and I think Arizona would be smart to take him here.
49. Orioles (y) – J. Brent Cox, RHP, L/R, 6’4, 206, University of Texas
Cox was Huston Street’s successor as closer for the Longhorns, and though he doesn’t project to be as good as Street, he’s close. His 2005 numbers are impressive, with 14 saves, a 1.77 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 61 innings. It is very possible that he will follow Street’s quick ascent to the majors.
50. Angels (z) – Austin Jackson, OF, R/R, 6’2, 180, Denton Ryan HS (TX)
Though he will head to Georgia Tech on a basketball scholarship, Jackson still intends to spend his summers playing professional baseball. This is good, because he is exactly the type of athlete baseball should be trying to lure away from the hardcourt. He draws comparisons to Torii Hunter with his build, speed and defensive skills. His bat needs work but he will get it should he decide to concentrate on baseball full-time. The Angels offer an organization with money and growing popularity, which could lure Jackson away from his hoops career.
a Choice from Phillies
b Choice from Giants
c Choice from Angels
d Choice from Dodgers
e Choice from Red Sox
f Choice from Yankees
g For Type A free agent Richie Sexson
h For Type A Vinny Castilla
i For Type A Omar Vizquel
j For Type A Armando Benitez
k For Type A David Wells
l For Type A Damian Miller
m For Type A Troy Percival
n For Type A Carlos Beltran
o For Type A Corey Koskie
p For Type A Adrian Beltre
q For Type A Jaret Wright
r For Type A Pedro Martinez
s For Type A Edgar Renteria
t For Type A Carl Pavano
u For Type A Orlando Cabrera
v For Type A Mike Matheny
w For Type A Derek Lowe
x For failure to sign Stephen Drew
y For failure to sign Wade Townsend
z For failure to sign Jered Weaver