05/23/07 2:58 PM ET
Top 20 First-Year Player Draft projection
Mayo predicts how the first round may unfold in 2007
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
I feel for the scouting directors running all over the country right now trying to figure out how things will line up. So much is still so up in the air, teams are making sure they have several contingency plans for the various ways the draft board could blow up.
And yet, here we are with a projection of picks No. 1-20. Just for kicks, I looked at last year's predictions and noticed how little I changed the top 10 from week one to week two. There isn't that kind of continuity this year. I've updated six of the 10 picks with a promise there might be even more changes next week when the entire first round -- picks 1-30 -- are unfolded.
In this week is Matt Wieters. Out is Andrew Brackman, who missed his last start because of arm fatigue. Still not figured in is Max Scherzer, who remains under the Diamondbacks' control until May 30. If he re-enters the draft pool, then watch out.
So, with trepidation, I present picks 1-20. Read, enjoy, digest, react. Just remember that outside of the top pick, there's a chance it all could change by next week in a very volatile draft season.
1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt University
Nothing's changed here. There's been talk that the Rays are "officially" looking at Price, Wieters and Josh Vitters. Sure they are. Anything can happen between now and draft day, but you'll have perhaps 29 other teams falling over if Price isn't the guy.
Last week's projection: Price
2. Kansas City Royals: Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.)
This stays the same from last week, with no reason to switch Porcello from here. Yes, he's a Scott Boras advisee, but he still is possibly the second-best player in the draft class and arguably the top right-handed pitcher in the pool. There's still a chance they Royals might have to go in another direction, but for now, Porcello is still the guy here.
Last week's projection: Porcello
3. Chicago Cubs: Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell HS (Ind.)
This change comes with gritted teeth. I still think the Cubs are more likely to look bat and thus, Vitters in California makes more sense. At the same time, though, they've been high on Parker as well and if they decide to go with an arm instead, Parker's still their guy. Some are concerned he's undersized, but he's got a power arm and some think he's just as good as Porcello, just a feew inches shorter. As an added bonus, putting Parker here makes it easier to project what happens with the next pick
Last week's projection: Vitters
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress HS (Calif.)
This is the best-case scenario for the Pirates. If the Cubs don't take Vitters, it would be very surprising to see him get past Pittsburgh. Vitters remains the top high school bat in the country and the Pirates don't have many impact bats in their system. If Vitters is taken by the Cubs, it's still up in the air who'll go here. They are looking at college arms like Clemson's Daniel Moskos and there still could be a latecomer jumping into the conversation between now and June 7, so stay tuned.
Last week's projection: Moskos
5. Baltimore Orioles: Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State
Rumors continue that they might make a big splash and if Wieters did fall to here, they wouldn't pass him up. I still have a hard time believing that ownership would sign off on that and the college lefties' names keep coming up in conversations about the Orioles. Detwiler is mentioned more than Moskos, so we'll continue to put him in this spot. He'll pitch Wednesday at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament with plenty of people watching.
Last week's projection: Detwiler
6. Washington Nationals: Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
There are still several names that are being mentioned here with many different scenarios a possibility depending on what kind of consensus the decision-makers can come up with. If Scherzer re-enters the draft, it would be hard not to project him going here since assistant general manager and vice president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo drafted him a year ago with the Diamondbacks, and Scherzer threw extremely well this past weekend.
For now, though, he's not in the draft pool, so we won't consider him. Rizzo does not fear negotiating with Boras (Scherzer is a Boras client as well, by the way), so if Wieters does slide here, he'd have to be at or near the top of the Nationals' board. That kind of impact bat who could get to the big leagues quickly could be just the splash the organization needs.
Last week's projection: Phillipe Aumont
7. Milwaukee Brewers: Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson University
There's still the chance the Brewers will be willing to take a high-priced talent, with new ownership willing and able to make a splash. The Brewers do like Mike Moustakas' bat, but it may turn out that his asking price may be too high even for a team willing to go somewhat above slot. The Brewers are doubling back -- like many teams now -- trying to dot all the i's and cross the t's as best they can for other options. They like Parker and could go that route if he were around. Phillipe Aumont may not be out of the picture just yet, but talk is that Milwaukee is honing in on college lefties who could help the young offense in a hurry. They might prefer Detwiler, but in this scenario, he's off the board. So they'll likely go with Moskos, Clemson's closer-turned-starter.
Last week's projection: Parker
8. Colorado Rockies: Phillipe Aumont, Ecole Du Versant Gatineau, Quebec
Word is that the Rockies would prefer to take an arm with this pick, though they're still keeping a close eye on the Chatsworth High duo in California, Matt Dominguez and Moustakas. They'd have an interest in one of the college lefties should one fall, but they're not here in this scenario. They've been one of many teams scouting the big Canadian right-hander closely and there are many teams right around this pick who are having serious discussions about Aumont. The Rockies had success going north of the border with Jeff Francis, so why not do it again with the 6-foot-7 Aumont?
Last week's projection: Dominguez
9. Arizona Diamondbacks: Mike Moustakas, SS/3B, Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
A great deal depends on what happens with Scherzer. If Arizona signs him, that could mean they'd not be as interested in college pitching as some think they are. If they don't sign him, that could push one of the aforementioned names down to them. They've been watching Aumont closely, for instance, and should he fall, that could be the direction they go in.
If they wanted to go college arm, there's still Brackman, but they also like Moustakas' bat a great deal and they have the financial ability to deal with him if they so choose. He's played shortstop in high school because of Dominguez, but some see him as a third baseman or maybe even as a catcher. There are mixed reports over just how difficult it will be to sign Moustakas, a Boras client, but some feel his asking price won't be quite as high as what's been perceived.
Last week's projection: Moustakas
10. San Francisco Giants: Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun HS (Ga.)
The Giants have three picks in the first 30 and have claimed that they'll take the best available guy in each spot. Brackman was in this spot a week ago and while it's not entirely out of the question, it seems now like it's a less likely scenario. The Giants do like college arms, but there's been a lot of talk about them taking at least one high school pitcher in the first round. It's unclear what the order would be (college first, then high school or vice versa), but if Parker or Aumont were around, they'd be interested. If both are gone and they feel that Smoker, one of the top left-handed arms in the prep ranks this year, wouldn't last until they picked again at No. 22, they could nab him now and get some college pitching later on in the round.
Last week's projection: Brackman
11. Seattle Mariners: Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
It's been generally believed, almost from the get-go, that the Mariners would be looking for an arm at No. 11. There's the chance they could step up, spend some extra money and go after someone like Brackman, especially if he bounced back in postseason play. But a lot of scouts like the arm of Vanderbilt closer Weathers. A senior, he'd certainly be an easy sign. Too high in the draft for a reliever? Perhaps, but with the M's playing decent ball, the idea of drafting someone who could help out the big club in a hurry might be enticing. Weathers is the best of the college closer lot right now and could join Brandon Morrow in Seattle's bullpen very quickly.
12. Florida Marlins: Jason Heyward, Henry County HS (Ga.)
Not that it's a guarantee (they did take Brett Sinkbeil last year), but chances are, they'll be looking at the prep ranks this time around. If one of the bigger high school arms is still around, like Parker, Aumont or perhaps even Smoker, they might be tempted. Instead, they'll go with the guy generally considered to be the top high school athlete in Jason Heyward, a very toolsy outfielder with tremendous power potential.
13. Cleveland Indians: Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
Arm or bat, bat or arm? Either way the Indians go with this pick, it's likely to come from the high school ranks. If the Tribe go the pitching route, it's likely that Texas prepster Blake Beavan will be the guy, though guys like Aumont or Parker surely would garner consideration if they were around. That being said, if Dominguez, his Gold Glove-caliber defense and projectable bat are available, Cleveland probably won't let him get past here.
14. Atlanta Braves: Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch HS (Conn.)
When the draft class is high school heavy and a team tends to like taking prep players, there must be a kid-in-a-candy store type mentality. The Braves haven't made a selection this high in a very long time, usually picking the best high school guy who slides to them at the end of the first round. This year, they'll have more to choose from. Atlanta does like to draft local kids, so it's possible that Heyward or Smoker would go here if they were still available. Florida's Michael Main is also a possibility here. Matt Harvey may have fallen behind Porcello on the high school pitching list, but he hasn't fallen too far. The Braves like power arms and might be willing to deal with Boras to get this one.
15. Cincinnati Reds: Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial HS (Texas)
This one falls under the category of hearing a player's name so much with one team that it's both hard to ignore and hard to not wonder if it's true. There was some talk the Reds would also be interested in Aumont should he slide here, but all of the buzz is that they've been on Houston-area infielder Ahrens all along. He plays shortstop in high school and isn't bad there, but the consensus is that he should move to third where he should profile better both offensively and defensively.
16. Toronto Blue Jays: Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsatawney HS (Pa.)
The Blue Jays showed last year in taking Travis Snider that they are not afraid to take a high school player if it's a good fit. They've got two picks in the first round (16 and 21) and it wouldn't be surprising if they take one prepster and one college player. It's just a question of which one comes first.
Like with San Francisco, the logic could be to get the high schooler first because he may not be around for their second selection. Remember the name Mesoraco. He's moving up charts about as quickly as any player this year, with some thinking he's the best all-around catching prospect in the class. When all is said and done, the Jays may have to look elsewhere because Mesoraco could be long gone.
17. Texas Rangers: Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (Texas)
This one makes almost too much sense. The Rangers like taking local kids and Beavan is about as local as they come. He would love signing with his home team and fits the prototypical Texas high schooler mold, with a big projectable body and power stuff. The only thing that could keep this from happening, of course, is if the Indians take him at No. 13.
18. St. Louis Cardinals: Matt LaPorta, 1B, University of Florida
The Cardinals have been a pretty college-heavy team the last few years. At the same time, though, two of their top position player prospects -- Colby Rasmus and Bryan Anderson -- were drafted as high schoolers. But there are indications the Cards will be going almost exclusively college in this draft. If they wanted to go with an arm here, Arkansas lefty Nick Schmidt might be a good fit. TCU right-hander Jake Arrieta has been a little inconsistent this season, but the Cards have been watching him closely.
But St. Louis may rather go with some offense and there's been talk they really like LaPorta, who's had an extremely impressive bounce-back season. The Cards aren't afraid to deal with Boras and LaPorta should be ready to sign and get going with his pro career. The only question is what happens when the first baseman is ready for the big leagues and Albert Pujols is standing there.
19. Philadelphia Phillies: Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough HS (Fla.)
Every year, the Phillies are associated with the top toolsy, athletic high school position players in the draft class. Granted, they don't always take them -- they nabbed high school pitcher Kyle Drabek in the first round last year when he slid to them -- but it's not a secret they do like the guys with tools. The first two names that come to mind are Burgess and Kentrail Davis. There's a split over Burgess' hitting ability, but he might have as much raw power potential as anyone. Burgess hails from the same high school that produced Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield, among others, and if the Phillies feel they can tap into that potential, they'll take him.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell HS (N.C.)
Like the Braves picking six picks ahead of them, it's widely known the Dodgers like taking high school players. They especially like young arms and the Dodgers would be interested in any of the high school pitchers mentioned above should they slide. They'd also consider switching gears and going with Dominguez if he somehow were still around. Going on the assumption he won't, there are still some nice prep pitchers to choose from.
Tim Alderson from Scottsdale, Ariz., gets mentioned for the first time here, but it's a safer bet to pick a lefty since Los Angeles likes taking them early (Scott Elbert, Clayton Kershaw). That list includes Nathan Vineyard from Georgia and Danny Duffy from California, but it may be topped by Bumgarner, who has shown a consistently impressive fastball all season. He doesn't have much in the way of secondary stuff right now, but lefties who can pump it up into the mid-to-upper 90s don't come around all that often. Also, the Dodgers don't shy away from arm-strength guys who can be taught how to throw offspeed and breaking stuff once they are in the fold.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.