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05/25/07 2:53 PM ET

Outfield prospects 'ordinary' this year

Borbon headlines players predicted to go high in weak '07 crop

In 2003, there was Delmon Young. It was a bumper crop in 2005 with Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Colby Rasmus being joined by one-time infielder Justin Upton. Nearly every year, there's at least one high school outfielder who makes scouts' eyes widen with tools and performance, projectable skills and jaw-dropping ability.

This year, there's, well, umm ...

"I think it's an ordinary group," an American League scouting director said. "Usually, we have some of those high school outfielders, the Youngs, the McCutchens, the Bruces -- those kinds of guys. We don't really have that this year. It's a little void at the very top with those kind of guys. There are some solid guys between colleges and high schools, but most of the good high school bats are infielders."

Even if it is a weak crop, there's never been a draft where outfielders haven't been taken and this year will be no different. There may even be some, from the high school as well as the college ranks, taken in the first round. It might not be the most thrilling list heading in, but as the scouting director pointed out, one man's trash could be another man's treasure.

"It's all in the eye of the beholder," he said. "There might be [some big talent] in somebody's mind."

Here's a look at the top outfielders who should be taken fairly highly, even if it is a down year for the position.

Julio Borbon, University of Tennessee
Read his Draft Report

There are very few legitimate leadoff types in this draft class, and nearly none from the college ranks. That's a big reason why Borbon, with his plus speed, looked like a sure-fire top of the first-round pick.

Then Borbon broke his ankle before the year began and didn't come back until March 20. It then took a while for a player who relies on his wheels to be all the way back. By the time his conference tournament came around, he was running at full strength and doing some of the things that made him stand out in years past, like bunting for a hit. The extra-base pop he'd shown previously has come back only sporadically, so it remains to be seen just how high he goes. A team that thinks the gap power will be there -- and doesn't mind negotiating with advisor Scott Boras -- will take him early.

Corey Brown, Oklahoma State

While the outfield class may be a little thin, there are some players with some intriguing tools.

Brown might be on the top of that list. He's got a power-speed combination not available from the ranks and he's just one home run away from having a 20-20 season at Oklahoma State. He has outstanding plate discipline and has drawn a ton of walks. The flip side is that he has just as many strikeouts and struggled mightily in the Cape last summer. That has left some wondering how his swing will play at the next level, but someone will undoubtedly take a chance on his speed-power combination fairly early on.

Michael Burgess, Hillsborough High School, Tampa, Fla.
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Burgess and where he is drafted will be the ultimate test of how much teams think potential -- and some past performance -- will translate to future success.

No one doubts that Burgess, a product of the same high school that gave us Gary Sheffield and Dwight Gooden, has raw power. In the past, he's shown more than just the potential to hit for power. But this year was a tough one for Burgess as teams pitched around him and he changed his approach, struggling to find any real rhythm. He profiles as the prototypical power-hitting right fielder, complete with outstanding arm strength from the outfield. Is he the guy with light-tower power and tremendous bat speed or is he the guy who at times looked lost in his senior season? Someone will find out soon.

Kentrail Davis, Theodore High School, Ala.
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Despite a less-than-perfect body -- he draws comparisons to Kirby Puckett -- Davis has some serious five-tool potential.

More of a line-drive hitter now, he should develop power as he matures. He's got above-average speed that he uses well both offensively and defensively, and he's got a strong arm from the outfield. All of his skills, however, are very raw and will need a lot of time to evolve. He played better last summer with wood bats than he has this year, perhaps a good sign of what he might do in the transition to the pro game. He's a high risk/high reward player and it will be very interesting to see when he goes, especially considering that Boras is his advisor.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

Grant Desme, Cal Poly
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In a year without much in the way of impact college bats, Desme picked a good year to break out.

A former shortstop, Desme is an athletic outfielder who has some power and some speed. He was on the rise on draft boards everywhere, hitting over .400 with double-digit totals in home runs and steals. Then he broke his wrist late in the season and was done for the year. That didn't allow scouts to get last looks at him, but, at the same time, the last look they did get certainly was a positive one.

Wendell Fairley, George County-Lucedale High School, Miss.

A two-sport standout long on tools, short on experience, Fairley is somewhat difficult to figure out heading into this draft.

A wide receiver with plus speed, Fairley hasn't always given baseball full attention. As a result, his tools are extremely raw. At the same time, he's shown skills -- above-average arm strength, raw power potential, bat speed that hints he could be an above-average hitter -- that are hard to look past. Any player this raw would be hard to place in terms of when he'll be drafted, but add in some makeup issues, and no one knows for sure when Fairley will be selected.

Jason Heyward, Henry County High School, McDonough, Ga.
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While there might be some disappointment at the lack of truly exciting, impact high school athletes in the class, Heyward has the chance to be the exception to that rule this year.

With tremendous power potential from the left side and advanced beyond his years in plate discipline, Heyward is generally considered to be the first prep outfielder who'll be drafted on June 7. At times, he was almost too patient, but he also didn't see a whole lot to hit in his senior season. He should eventually profile as a run-producing right fielder. He's not just a masher, but a guy who could hit for average and power at the next level.

Chad Jones, Southern Lab High School, Baton Rouge, La.
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Jones could have a very difficult choice to make this summer: become a professional baseball player or head to LSU as one of the top defensive back recruits in college football.

That gives you some idea of Jones' athletic ability. He's strong, he's big and he can run ... and his baseball tools, while undeniable, are very much on the raw side. He has great bat speed and above-average power potential. Also a pitcher, he's got a good arm from the outfield and can cover a fair amount of ground defensively. He's shown at least the potential to do it all. The only question is whether he'll commit to playing the sport. He could have NFL potential as a safety and his brother is a linebacker at LSU, so it might take a pretty high draft choice and the appropriate bonus to pass that up.

Kellen Kulbacki, James Madison University
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Playing in the smaller Colonial Athletic Conference, it was hard to truly evaluate what kind of player Kulbacki is and what kind of player he can be.

He led Division I colleges in home runs and slugging as a sophomore, but didn't follow that up with a good Cape League season. He came back to JMU for his junior year once again, needing to prove himself and he's done just that, hitting for average and power again and seeing his name move up draft charts. Again, it's a down year in terms of college offensive depth, so the fact that Kulbacki has stepped up again will help him come draft day.

Danny Payne, Georgia Tech
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Do you like the gritty, overachieving, knows-how-to-play-the-game type? Then you'll like Payne.

Similar to Lenny Dykstra, Payne plays the game all out and maximizes what tools he does have. He knows how to hit, but not for power, and is excellent at getting on base. That being said, he's not a prototypical leadoff hitter because he doesn't have blazing speed. But he's savvy, so he can steal a base or two. If he can keep making consistent contact and getting on base at the next level, he might become the kind of everyday center fielder you can't help but root for.

Kyle Russell, University of Texas
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While there is undoubtedly a split over what kind of pro Russell might be, scouts can certainly agree on one thing: He's got some serious power.

The draft-eligible sophomore absolutely made a mockery of the Texas single-season home run mark, hitting 27 while slugging .841 in a pitching-friendly home park. At the same time, he's struck out 60 times in 207 at-bats and set the Cape League record for K's this past summer. He's a decent athlete who would be fine in right field and appears to have the pop to stay there. Whether he'll make contact enough to use the power consistently remains to be seen. So does how easy he'll be to sign as a sophomore with a fair amount of leverage against whatever team takes him.

Others to watch: Gary Brown, Diamond Bar High School, Calif.; Colin DeLome, Lamar University; Eric Eiland, Lamar HS, Houston; Tyler Henley, Rice University; Angel Morales, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Caguas, P.R.; Hunter Morris, Grissom High School, Huntsville, Ala.; Adrian Ortiz, Pepperdine University; Ben Revere, Lexington Catholic High School, Ky.; Brian Rike, Louisiana Tech.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.