06/08/2004 7:51 PM ET
Second-day picks worth a glance
Some early-round prospects taken on Day 2
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
It's easy to get lost in the sea of names announced during the second day of the First-Year Player Draft.
|Micah Owings, of Georgia Tech, was taken by the Cubs in the 19th round on Tuesday. (John Bazemore/AP)
There were 31 rounds of selections, and more than 900 names announced during the conference call. A large number of those amateurs won't sign and will drift back into anonymity. But that doesn't mean a baseball fan shouldn't pay attention to who goes in Day 2.
Major League organizations often use later picks for draft-and-follows -- retaining the rights to a player until just prior to next year's draft -- to make sure their short season affiliates have complete rosters and to take a chance on some talented players who have slid to the second day.
Every year, several players who are projected to go earlier in the drafting process slip to Day 2 for a number of reasons. There's always the signability issue, when players who have certain bonus demands have made it clear they'll go back to school if they are not met.
Signability drops aren't always money-related. They can be tied to a high school player having a strong desire to go to college and asking for a certain amount -- one that would entice him from doing what he really wanted to do. And there'll be the occasional top-tier talent who will go very late in the draft because of an injury or a history of injuries.
Taking a closer look at the final 31 rounds of the draft, there are several names -- players who, in a different situation, could have been picked in the early stages of Day 1 -- that jump out.
Marc Cornell, RHP, Ohio U., 19th Round, Texas Rangers: Once upon a time (last year), Cornell was seen as a possible first-round pick. Throwing a fastball in the upper 90s, his name was even mentioned as a candidate for the top spot. But then he hurt his shoulder and fell to the fifth round. He didn't sign, and went back to Ohio University for his senior year. Shoulder problems continued to plague him, and he only threw 19 innings. But if you're the Rangers, why not? They need pitching, Cornell has little leverage because he's a senior and, if he can get past the injury, they had a first-round talent fall to them in the 19th round.
Micah Owings, RHP/1B, Georgia Tech, 19th Round, Chicago Cubs: This one isn't injury-related. Owings is a draft-eligible sophomore, and that gives him some signing leverage. If he doesn't get what he wanted, he has the option of going back to school for his junior year (while still having some leverage once the 2005 draft rolled around). Reports were that he was looking for something in the $1 million range as a bonus. Most teams passed -- until the Cubs took a chance in the 19th. Chances are he'll head back to Tech, but you never know.
Matt Moore, 3B, no school, 22nd round, Anaheim Angels: The name might seem familiar to college football fans. Moore was UCLA's quarterback before dropping out to try his hand at baseball. He hasn't played in three years, and he was scouted playing in an adult league in southern California. He's a good athlete with future power potential if he can rediscover his baseball skills.
Bill Becher, 1B, New Mexico St., 22nd round, St. Louis Cardinals: Why not take a flyer on a college home run champ? Becher hit 31 out last year and 25 this year. If he can make the transition to pro ball, he could be a future run producer.
Andrew Romine, SS, Trabuco Hills H.S., 36th round, Philadelphia Phillies: The son of former big leaguer Kevin Romine is almost definitely college-bound. His dad starred at Arizona State University and the family let it be known it would take first-round money to keep the younger Romine from going to ASU as well.
Matt Harrington, RHP, no school, 36th round, New York Yankees: Remember him? Believe it or not, this is the fifth time Harrington has been selected in the First-Year Player Draft. Once upon a time, he was a highly touted pitching prospect who could throw in the mid-90s. He was taken seventh overall by the Rockies in 2000, but didn't sign. So he headed to the Northern League -- a la J.D. Drew -- and was taken in the second round by the Padres in 2001. Again, no signing. It was back to independent ball for Harrington, who was drafted in the 13th round in 2002 (Devil Rays) and in the 24th round last year (Reds), but, you guessed it, never came to terms with either team. Meanwhile, he doesn't seem to be the pitcher he once was, at least in terms of velocity. His last port of call was the Fort Worth Cats in the Central League, and the Yankees decided to give Harrington one more shot to join affiliated baseball.
Todd Frazier, OF, Toms River H.S. South, 37th round, Colorado Rockies: Considered -- along with his brother Jeff - to be a top five rounds guy, the younger Frazier dropped all the way to round No. 37. Jeff went in the third round to the Tigers after a fine career at Rutgers University, and it's possible that Todd's commitment to the same school was too strong for teams to take a chance on him earlier.
Andrew Gale, RHP, Phillips Exeter Academy, 43rd round, Montreal Expos: The son of former big leaguer Rich Gale is considered to be one of the top arms coming out of New England. He began this season poorly, but was that enough to knock him all the way to the 43rd round? More likely, it was this top-notch student's commitment to the University of North Carolina that caused the slide.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.