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Expos draft preview
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
06/02/2004  3:25 PM ET
Expos draft preview
Organization eyeing young power pitchers
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The Expos selected Chad Cordero with the 20th overall pick in 2003. (John Hayes/AP)
MONTREAL -- For five consecutive years, the Montreal Expos have drafted a pitcher -- Josh Gridley, Justine Wayne, Josh Karp, Clint Everts and Chad Cordero -- in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.

Only Cordero has tasted big league action in an Expos uniform. He currently is one of the team's setup men.

Will the Expos draft another pitcher with the 13th pick of this year's draft? That remains to be seen.

According to scouting director Dana Brown, the Expos need pitchers to fill roster spots in the minor leagues. That's partly because the organization was unable to sign a total of 36 drafted pitchers over the last two years. All of those pitchers were selected in the 20th round or lower.

"We need some young arms. We haven't been able to sign some of the high school guys because they pretty much priced themselves out our price range over the last couple of years," Brown said recently. "We are trying to close the gap and take some young high school pitchers that we feel we could sign without compromising the talent end."

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The Expos would love to draft player who is close to being Major League-ready, so don't be surprised if they went the college route in the first round.

The Expos would like to get power pitchers. Right-hander Wade Townsend of Rice University is a player who could be a good fit for the Expos.

Townsend is 11-0 with a 1.68 ERA. He has two complete game shutouts and 141 strikeouts in 112 2/3 innings this season.

New Orleans' Thomas Diamond is another starting pitcher who has strikeout potential. So far, he has struck out 138 batters in 113 2/3 innings.

The Expos also need to draft catchers. They currently don't have one that is considered a prospect in the minor leagues.

At one time during the winter and in Spring Training, Brian Schneider, Randy Knorr and Greg Zaun were the only quality catchers in the organization. All of them have Major League experience.

 Past five No. 1 picks
  Year   Player
  2003   Chad Cordero, RHP
  2002   Clint Everts, RHP
  2001   Josh Karp, RHP
  2000   Justin Wayne, RHP
  1999   Josh Gridley, LHP

The Expos went so far as to convert infielder Josh McKinley into a catcher during the Arizona Fall League season, but he has since been traded to the Texas Rangers in the Einar Diaz trade.

Brown said they will draft catchers in the later rounds.

"I don't think there is a catcher -- tools-wise -- that you could take in the first round," Brown said. "If we thought he was available [in the first round], we would love to do that.

"Make no mistake about it, we are not going to compromise a guy with lesser talent to fill a need. We still have to get the best players available."

Catchers John Poterson and Devin Ivany will be available in the draft. Poterson, who is from Chandler, Ariz., has power potential and can hit for average, while Ivany, who is from the University of South Florida, is known to drive in runs and steal a base on a occasion.

The Expos wouldn't mind drafting a slugger, and they are really high on center fielder Richie Robnett of Fresno State.

Some scouts believe that Robnett could be in Double-A by next year and be in the big leagues for good by 2006.

This season, Robnett is hitting close to .400 with a slugging percentage of .699.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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