06/08/2004 10:08 PM ET
Expos all smiles at end of draft
Bray heads list of talented players selected by club
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
|Bill Bray pitched in 29 games this season for William & Mary and finished 4-4 with a 2.44 ERA and eight saves. (courtesy William & Mary)
MONTREAL -- On Tuesday evening, Expos scouting director Dana Brown came out of the war room with a smile on his face, believing that he drafted the best players in the 2004 First Year Player Draft.
"We stayed the course with our mission statement and that is, before the year starts we have a mission for our scouts to find power legs, power arms and power bats," Brown said. "We think we have a few of those players in this draft -- early and some late."
One of those power players is left-hander Bill Bray, who was the Expos' first-round pick.
Bray's fastball, according to Brown, has been clocked at 95 mph, and his slider was registered in the low 80s.
Depending on how well he develops in the minor leagues, Brown said he wouldn't be surprised if Bray became a starter one day.
"That would be up to our development people on how far he can go. As of now, he is a closer," Brown said. "He has a power arm with power pitches."
Bray is projected to be in the big leagues within a year -- maybe sooner.
On Day 1 of the draft, the Expos decided to go the college route. In fact, 16 of their 18 picks came from the college ranks on Monday.
Shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Collin Balester were the only high-school players picked by the Expos. Desmond went in the third round, while Balester was selected in the fourth.
The Expos are hoping Desmond will be their "franchise shortstop" and Balester in the rotation in three to five years.
On Day 2, the Expos selected mostly pitchers. Not too long ago, Brown said the Expos needed pitchers to fill roster spots in the minor leagues. That was 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.
On Tuesday, 21 of their 32 picks were mound men.
"We took pitchers to fill some spots and without compromising the talent, we feel we have some guys that could make an impact," Brown said.
The best of this group could be right-hander Andrew Gale, who is the son of former Major Leaguer Rich Gale.
Andrew, who was picked in the 43rd round, has a fastball in the low 90s and a slider in the high 70s.
Gale currently has a commitment to the University of North Carolina, but Brown hopes a deal can be worked out by the summer.
"We have the summer to watch him. I've known the family for the last five years," Brown said. "We had the kid on our
area code team. He has thrown as high as 92 (mph).
"A lot of kids get excited about school, but things change over the summer. If you could get a power arm guy and we end up getting an owner, maybe the owner will say take a run at that guy. (Andrew) has some history. His dad pitched in the big leagues. He has it in his genes. He has a good strong family."
The Expos also drafted another player with baseball pedigree. With the 44th pick, the team drafted Phillip Valle, who is the son of former Major League catcher Dave Valle.
The Valles are close friends of general manager Omar Minaya's.
"During the course of the draft, there will be a lot of courtesy picks, but there are some courtesy picks that play in the big leagues like Mike Piazza. While you experience courtesy picks, you take players because they are prospects and have a chance at playing in the big leagues some day," Brown said.
Brown believes the Expos can sign "50 percent or more" of their draft picks.
"We have to fill some roster spots and we have to sign at least 50 percent of them," Brown said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.