05/30/06 6:32 PM ET
Entering the pool once again
Draft-and-follows who re-enter add intrigue to draft
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Whether that's the case with the group of players re-entering the draft pool next week remains to be seen. But this much is certain: The players who did not sign with the teams that drafted them a year ago and are thus now draft-eligible once again throw a definite wrinkle into any projections of the first round and beyond.
The deadline to sign such players passed at midnight, and while several teams were able to come to Tuesday terms with their top draft-and-follows, there were a few surprises among the names who will once again be available to all 30 teams.
The biggest name is one that is not too surprising. For some time, it seemed unlikely that Luke Hochevar would sign with the Dodgers, the team that took him in the sandwich round last year. He was arguably the best college arm in last year's draft, but slid mostly because of reported bonus demands. In this year's class, he ranks once again among the best arms available and could go anywhere in the top half of the first round. There's even a popular rumor the Royals will take him as the No. 1 overall pick, which would be an interesting precedent. Needless to say, many scouts will be on hand on Tuesday night when Hochevar makes another start for the indy league Fort Worth Cats.
"You have to cover your bases and scout him like anyone else and put him on your board because you don't know where he's going to go," one scouting director said. "Track record with guys who have done this hasn't been very good. Pitching's not like riding a bike. You can't just turn it on. But you have to scout the players to the end so you can line the guys up on the board according to their abilities."
The biggest surprise re-entries are both also pitchers. The Mets took New York product Pedro Beato in the 17th-round last year then monitored his progress at St. Petersburg JC a year removed from Tommy John surgery. He was back up to the low-to-mid 90s and most felt the Mets would get this one done, especially considering they don't have a first-round pick this year. But the deadline came and went and he's back in the class. He's very projectable at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds and he's got that live fastball with sink, though some scouts question his secondary stuff -- a changeup and a curve -- that have at times been plus pitches, but haven't been consistent offerings for the right-hander. That being said, he still projects to be a first-rounder, perhaps in the latter stages of it.
He'll join Bryan Morris as the other slightly surprising re-entry. The Devil Rays picked him in the third round last year and almost came to terms with him during the summer before negotiations fell apart. He went to Motlow State JC in Tenn., where his father is an assistant coach. He was the top Tenn. junior college pitcher with a 0.91 ERA this season while he also played the outfield. He actually broke his wrist with a headfirst slide, assuredly making scouts cringe, and perhaps making some question his maturity. But he's got a plus curve and an above-average fastball, stuff that could move him to the end of the first round or perhaps the supplemental first.
Other 2005 draftees who will give it another shot (the old junior college try?) next week include RHP Jonathan Holdzkom, Lincoln's brother, who was taken by the Mariners in the 15th round (the M's did sign DNFs Travis Scott and William Brown in the last couple of days). Steven Marquardt, the infielder drafted by the Rangers in the 23rd round also did not sign out of Columbia Basin JC in Washington.
One player still up in the air is middle infielder Milton Loo. Taken by the Reds in the ninth round, Loo's Yavapai JC team is still playing in the Juco World Series. Because he is still playing, the deadline is extended past the May 30 at midnight deadline for other DNFs. There will be a small window of opportunity for the Reds to get it done before Tuesday's draft, but it was unclear whether they would be able to come to terms with him.
There were some draft-and-follows who did sign on the dotted line right at deadline time. That list is headlined by Sean O'Sullivan, the Angels' third-round pick from a year ago. He went on to Grossmont JC and pitched fairly well after what had been a down senior season of high school for him. Instead of re-entering, though, he signed for a reported $500,000, basically the same offer he initially turned down last summer.
The San Diego Padres had a pretty good DNF haul. They signed three of their key guys from last year's draft, all right-handed pitchers: 12th rounder Aaron Breit, who had gone to Garden City Community College in Kansas; 29th round pick Robert Garramone, who attended Central Arizona College; and Drew Miller, who was selected in the 37th round and went to Seminole State JC.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.