05/31/06 5:00 PM ET
Re-entries cloud Draft picture
Hochevar, Beato create unexpected options in first round
We're just a week away from Draft Day, and, frankly, very little has been clarified. It all starts at the top, where the Kansas City Royals have yet to figure out who will go No. 1 overall. There are plenty of possibilities and some juicy rumors -- to be discussed in a bit -- that could blow up the first part of the first round.
The newest wrinkles are the players re-entering the draft. The deadline passed at midnight on Tuesday (or late Monday night, depending on your point of view) and there are three of note who could come into first-round play. First and foremost is Luke Hochevar, the former University of Tennessee ace who, not surprisingly, did not sign with the Dodgers, who took him in the sandwich round a year ago. He figures heavily into the top-10 conversation, as you will see momentarily.
But he's not alone. Fellow pitchers Pedro Beato and Bryan Morris are also returnees, though they are a little more surprising to see. Many thought the Mets would ink Beato and the Rays would come to terms with Morris, but they couldn't get it done by the deadline. Beato could very easily go in the latter half of the first round, while Morris could slot in there as well, or perhaps as a sandwich pick.
At any rate, here we go again, with another look at the Top 30, complete with some more detailed explanations of what's happening with each pick, particularly at the top of the round.
College regionals begin on Friday, giving scouts one last opportunity to see players whom they may covet perform under pressure. Let's hope that helps clear things up in time for my final projection on Monday, because, in the end, it's all about me.
1. Kansas City Royals: Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina
I came very, very, very close to making another change here, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Part of it may be cowardice, part of it may be not knowing how I'd re-cast the draft if I did it and part of it is me thinking that when all is said and done, the Royals will figure out a way to get this done. Quasi-officially, the Royals are still looking at Miller and Houston's Brad Lincoln (Tim Lincecum, I believe, is no longer in the forefront). Lincoln has been perhaps the most consistent and dominant college pitcher this year, and that's who I almost went with.
Here's what else is out there, rumor-wise: 1. Through the grapevine, there's been talk that Miller will definitely not go No. 1, and his camp will try very hard to ensure that he doesn't go No. 2. I'd have to think he'd go No. 3, then, to the Rays, though there have been whispers that they may try to force him into a free-fall down to the Cubs at No. 13. At the same time -- or perhaps separately -- Hochevar is now in the mix. One of the most interesting rumors has been about KC taking him No. 1 overall in a scenario in which the Royals would save money from what it would cost for Miller and be able to say, rightfully, that they took the best arm from last year's draft, a much stronger class. At the same time, Hochevar's agent (Scott Boras) could claim victory because they will have taken more money than what was believed to be on the table from the Dodgers' best offer. The baseball world -- including some of the top guys from the Royals -- converged on Fort Worth to watch Hochevar start an Indy League game. He added to the intrigue by tossing six shutout innings, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out six. Confused? Me, too. I'd put the odds of this pick changing by next projection at at least 50-50.
Last week's projection: Miller
2. Colorado Rockies: Evan Longoria, 3B, Long Beach State
Sure, they need pitching. Sure, they'd have interest in Miller, though if there's any truth to the aforementioned rumor, would they really take a guy who doesn't want to be there? In the end, though, I still see them going with the top position player in Longoria and moving him over to second to play alongside his old college buddy, Troy Tulowitzki.
Last week's projection: Longoria
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Brad Lincoln, RHP, University of Houston
If Miller does fall, I think the Rays would be very tempted to take him, unless he prices himself out of here, too. If Lincoln goes No. 1, they could opt for Cal ace Brandon Morrow, likely to be the next college arm on most draft boards. Lincecum? Not here, I don't think.
Last week's projection: Lincoln
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Brandon Morrow, RHP, Cal Berkeley
It's almost certain that the Pirates will follow through and take the top arm on the board, and in this scenario, it's Morrow. Lincecum? Probably not. They've been watching high schooler Clayton Kershaw carefully, with the braintrust watching his last outing. That's more of a fallback option if things blow up at the top ... and it's not like that could happen, right?
Last week's projection: Morrow
5. Seattle Mariners: Luke Hochevar, RHP, No school
Putting aside the "Hochevar at No. 1" pick, this is still the first place you hear his name being mentioned as a real possbility. They still like Morrow, but I don't think he gets here, unless ... oh, you get the point.
Last week's projection: Hochevar
6. Detroit Tigers: Drew Stubbs, OF, University of Texas
The Tigers seem to be deciding between two players: Kershaw, the guy I've projected here the last few weeks, and Stubbs, the toolsy college outfielder. Kershaw followed up his 15-batter, 15-strikeout performance with an outing that has been described as rather pedestrian. One outing -- which wasn't bad, just not dominant -- would not make an organization completely sour on him. But if the Tigers were on the fence, it could help them decide to go in another direction with Stubbs, who has some undeniable skills and would make a very nice future outfield of Stubbs and Cameron Maybin. Don't write Kershaw off just yet, but let's make a change, just for kicks.
Last week's projection: Clayton Kershaw
7. Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Highland Park HS, Dallas, Texas
This seemed like a very good year for the Dodgers to throw a changeup and go with a college arm. And that will happen if the Tigers go with Kershaw, or perhaps with someone like Stanford's Greg Reynolds (or Morrow, if he somehow slips). But with Kerhsaw still on the board -- even if they weren't thrilled with the prepster's latest effort -- they won't pass him up when there isn't another arm that really jumps out at them.
Last week's projection: Tim Lincecum
8. Cincinnati Reds: Tim Lincecum, University of Washington
It'll be a decision between a high school bat (New Jersey's Bill Rowell) and a college arm. Rowell was being brought in for a private workout, and if he wowed the Reds brass, they could still go with the future third baseman. Cincy's interest in Lincecum is relatively new news to me, but he is a guy who, if he goes into the 'pen, could be up by August. He's got electric stuff and a rubber arm, but the questions about his size (5-foot-10) and durability remain -- the reason he will likely slip down this far after being talked about in the top spot.
Last week's projection: Bill Rowell
9. Baltimore Orioles: Bill Rowell, 3B, Bishop Eustace Prep, Pennsauken, NJ
Like the Reds, the O's like Rowell's power potential, and if Cincy passes on him, it's unlikely that the Orioles won't. If they decide to go with an arm, there's been some talk they may have interest in Nebraska's Joba Chamberlain.
Last week's projection: Drew Stubbs
10. San Francisco Giants: Daniel Bard, RHP, University of North Carolina
There's been no reason for me to change this up, though there are some other arms who could figure into the mix, like Chamberlain or Missouri's Max Scherzer (more unlikely), while Kyle Drabek still remains an outside possibility. The Giants like taking the big-armed pitchers and helping them find consistency. And Bard fits the bill the best.
Last week's projection: Bard.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks: Greg Reynolds, RHP, Stanford
Depending on how things fall, Reynolds may not be around for the D-Backs. They are almost certain to go with a college arm here, so whoever is atop their board when they pick would be the guy. They'd be very interested in Hochevar if he were still available. Other than that, it's the same group of college pitchers being discussed, with Chamberlain perhaps being a touch ahead of Scherzer.
Last week's projection: Reynolds.
12. Texas Rangers: Matt Antonelli, 3B, Wake Forest
I still think they might be directed to go to the University of Texas, or at least within the state. But I also know they'd love to get a bat. In an ideal world, Stubbs falls to them and they get the proverbial two birds with one stone. It's a scenario that could feasibly happen. If it doesn't, they could decide to go with the athletic third baseman from Wake. Kasey Kiker, the Alabama high school lefty, reportedly was quite impressive in a private workout in Texas recently and he could prove to be a wild card, as could Scherzer.
Last week's projection: Kyle Drabek.
13. Chicago Cubs: Chris Marrero, 3B, Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka, Fla.
The Cubs are looking for a bat here, preferably a projectable high school one, and there are a few to choose from, though none of them stands out as an obvious choice. Aside from Marrero, who hasn't lived up to very high expectations this year, there's California prep catcher Hank Conger and outfielder Travis Snider from the Pacific Northwest, though that doesn't seem likely. They've also watched Antonelli closely of late and could go the college route if the Rangers don't take him
Last week's projection: Marrero.
14. Toronto Blue Jays: Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Nebraska
For weeks, I've heard nothing but Antonelli's name with the Jays. Of course, with the scenario I've laid out for myself, he's off the board, leaving the Jays with two choices: Going with the usual college arm or going off the board with a high schooler. They've been mentioned with Travis Snider a bit, but I think that if they can get Chamberlain's medial questions answered, that's where they go.
Last week's projection: Matt Antonelli.
15. Washington Nationals: Josh Butler, RHP, University of San Diego
It's the same group of names here, with high schooler Jeremy Jeffress, Bill Rowell if he slid, and perhaps Kent State middle infielder Emmanuel Burris (sleeper pick). Would they have an interest in a Chamberlain type if he was still there? Sure, but there's been no indication that they're off Butler in a pre-draft deal situation.
Last week's projection: Butler.
16. Milwaukee Brewers: Travis Snider, OF/1B, Jackson HS, Everett, Wash.
The Brewers have no real preference in terms of high school or college player, bat or arm. They were all over the Big 12 Tournament, for instance, and Chamberlain remains a strong possibility if he's around. They also are quite fond of Kasey Kiker's skills as a high school left-hander. But they also like special high school bats, and they're not alone in thinking Snider has one of those. There's some question about his "bad body" and his defense, but the Brewers think he could evolve into a nice corner outfielder with plenty of power, down the line.
Last week's projection: Joba Chamberlain.
17. San Diego Padres: Chris Parmelee, OF/1B, Chino Hills HS, Chiino Hills, Calif.
Just about everyone thinks the Padres will go the college route, most likely with an arm. Chamberlain might be a good fit if he were to slide here -- the Pads were at the Big 12 tourney to see him and Scherzer (among others), though Scherzer doesn't seem like the right choice. And they also like Missouri State's Brett Sinkbeil. But whatever pitcher is available will not be without warts, so they may go in a different direction. They like Parmelee's power potential along with his already advanced approach at the plate.
Last week's projection: Andrew Carpenter.
18. Philadelphia Phillies: Kyle Drabek, RHP, The Woodlands HS, Texas
I still don't see the right high school athlete to go in this spot, though there are some bats, like Conger, who could go here. But I still say it's an arm they'll go after. The Phils had several guys at the Big 12 tournament. Now, it should be noted that tourneys like those are heavily scouted by just about everyone, but they had some pretty good juice in Oklahoma City. Could that mean Chamberlain if he falls to here, or perhaps Scherzer? It's a distinct possibility, but I'm going to say they go with the high-ceiling guy with Drabek. But they won't do it without taking a deep breath. No one questions Drabek's pure stuff -- most say it's the best in the draft class, period -- but there's a big makeup cloud hanging over his head.
Last week's projection: Kasey Kiker
19. Florida Marlins: Hank Conger, C, Huntington Beach HS, Calif.
There was no reason to change course here, with the Marlins looking at a host of high school bat possibilities. If Parmelee or Marrero made it to here, they could be in the mix. But Conger's switch-hitting power potential is the best option left on this board. Don't rule out the high-risk, high-reward prep pitcher, though.
Last week's projection: Conger.
20. Minnesota Twins: Brett Anderson, LHP, Stillwater HS, Stillwater, OK
Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson's son, a high schooler who throws like a college pitcher, still seems to be the perfect fit here. They'll also consider the best high school bats available at the time, but there's no one that jumps out at the moment.
Last week's projection: Anderson.
21. New York Yankees: Max Scherzer, RHP, Missouri
Here's the thing with Scherzer (other than the fact he has two different colored eyes, something I discovered at the Big 12 tourney last week) -- he's pitched very well his last couple of starts, which could answer the health question that dogged him earlier this season. But it seems there is still some worry about his arm, and some scouts aren't convinced he's a starter long-term. Combine that information with the well-documented advisor issue, and I can't find a fit for him up higher.
Last week's projection: Scherzer.
22. Washington Nationals: Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Halifax County HS, South Boston, Va.
There's a chance one of the teams right above (the Marlins?) would take a shot with Jeffress, but the Nats are still on the slightly undersized high schooler who has hit triple digits on the gun in the Nats' backyard.
Last week's projection: Jeffress.
23. Houston Astros: Brett Sinkbeil, RHP, Missouri State
It's the same scenario here: best college arm seems the most likely. They've liked Sinkbeil all along, with only questions of health (oblique) in the way. He went eight pretty good innings in his last start, perhaps answering those questions. Of course, it may have answered it enough to send Sinkbeil up a few notches, which could move a Chamberlain or Scherzer down to them. Last week's projection, Kyle McCulloch, is still an option, perhaps the "safe" one, surrounded by all of these injury issues.
Last week's projection: Kyle McCulloch.
24. Atlanta Braves: Kasey Kiker, Russell County HS, Phenix City, Ala.
There's a good chance he's gone by now, but Kiker has been impressive on the workout circuit and reportedly wowed the Braves, standing out among a few high school prospects. And we all know the Braves love the high school arms. Chris Tillman, who continues his slide from early mentions closer to the top, could be the next choice if someone else takes Kiker first.
Last week's projection: Chris Tillman.
25. Los Angeles Angels: Colton Willems, John Carroll High School, Fort Pierce, Fla.
I'm sticking with the high schooler here, just changing the position. They like Willems' projectability and plus power stuff and they could be in a race with several other like-minded clubs to take Willems, who seems to have jumped to the head of the prepster high school class, at least at this point of the first round. They'd certainly take a long look at Drabek or Kiker if they dropped to here, just like they'd strongly consider a bat like Parmelee's. A sleeper pick? USC's Ian Kennedy, though he didn't help himself with his last start with some Angels decision makers present.
Last week's projection: Travis Snider.
26. Los Angeles Dodgers: Brooks Brown, RHP, University of Georgia.
Could they go with two high schoolers? Of course, and no one would be shocked. But going under the assumption that they pop Kershaw up at No. 7, they'll mix it up by going college here, knowing they're into the secondary group of arms for sure. But Brown's got terrific arm strength, something the Dodgers may like, even if his secondary offerings lag behind. That being said, if a high school talent like Parmelee or Willems were around, they'd probably go 2-for-2.
27. Boston Red Sox: Kyle McCulloch, RHP, University of Texas
It's hard to imagine the Longhorns' Friday starter not going higher, but here we are. He's proven he can pitch well in pressure situations, and while he's more of a command righty, his overall stuff grades out pretty well. Whoever takes him will get a pretty good competitor who's faced the large crowds and high expectations that Texas has grown accustomed to.
Last week's projection: Brett Sinkbeil.
28. Boston Red Sox: Andrew Carpenter, Long Beach State
So, I over-projected him last week. It happens. Let's move on. The Sox have been on Carpenter, who in some circles has moved ahead of teammate Jared Hughes in terms of draft status, for a while. They may hope he's around when they pick No. 40 overall in the sandwich round, and he might be. But we'll leave him here for now.
Last week's projection: Chris Parmelee.
29. Chicago White Sox: Chris Tillman, RHP, Fountain Valley HS, Calif.
They would be pleased if Willems dropped this far, but it's looking like that may not happen. Ditto with Kasey Kiker. So we'll go with who proably is still the next best high school arm on the board, despite slipping in the last few weeks. He's still pretty projectable with good size, good heater and a big breaking ball.
Last week's projection: David Huff.
30. St. Louis Cardinals: David Huff, LHP, UCLA
He's the best of the college pitchability lefties, by most estimations, with guys like Wade LeBlanc and Nate Culp just behind. His four-pitch mix was working well in his last outing, for whatever that's worth.
Last week's projection: Brooks Brown.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.