06/03/08 10:00 AM ET
Crystal ball: Projecting first 30 picks
It's close, but still no clear-cut choice at the top of the Draft
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
There's still no clear-cut choice at the top of the first round, which makes figuring out the rest of it all the more challenging. But there are plenty of updates to be had in this version of the top 30 picks, with more promised for Wednesday and then, of course, the grand finale on Thursday morning. That's the one, if all goes well, that will be the closest to what actually transpires on Thursday afternoon. For now, here's the latest on the first round of the 2008 Draft.
1. Tampa Bay Rays: Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin HS, Griffin, Ga.
Officially, it's the same five who have been in the conversation all along: Beckham, FSU catcher Buster Posey, Southern California catcher Kyle Skipworth, Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez and San Diego lefty Brian Matusz. Sticking with Beckham here, at least for the time being.
Last week's projection: Tim Beckham
2. Pittsburgh Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
No change here, with the Pirates still in line to make some waves by taking Alvarez. They'll still consider Posey and perhaps even Matusz if they feel they need to go with the top college pitcher.
Last week's projection: Alvarez
3. Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.
Hosmer remains the top choice here, but if the Pirates pass on Alvarez, he would be a consideration. If they decide to go with pitching, Matusz is still in the mix.
Last week's projection: Hosmer
4. Baltimore Orioles: Aaron Crow, RHP, University of Missouri
It's been up and down lately for the right-hander, who slid partially because of a mini-slump and partially because of some perceived demands for a big-league contract. He had a terrific start in the NCAA regionals and the big-league-deal request has reportedly been taken off the table. The O's will still consider Matusz as well as South Carolina first baseman Justin Smoak.
Last week's projection: Brian Matusz
5. San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey, C, Florida State
If the Rays don't take him and the Pirates take Alvarez, this is the next place Posey can end up. The Giants supposedly are leaning toward a bat even if Posey's gone, with Smoak and Skipworth being possibilities. If Matusz were around, they might discuss going in that direction, but they'll be pleased as punch to get the FSU catcher.
Last week's projection: Posey
6. Florida Marlins: Brian Matusz, LHP, University of San Diego
With the O's going with Crow, that leaves the Marlins with a choice of Matusz or Skipworth, the two players they seem to have been on the most. There was some late talk of Andrew Cashner here, but with Matusz still on the board, they won't hesitate to take the southpaw.
Last week's projection: Skipworth
7. Cincinnati Reds: Yonder Alonso, 1B, University of Miami
The Reds could consider Smoak, but word all along has been that they prefer Alonso. If they want a middle infielder, there's Georgia's Gordon Beckham. High school bats being considered could include Skipworth and Canadian Brett Lawrie. For now, we'll stick with the Miami first baseman.
Last week's projection: Alonso
8. Chicago White Sox: Gordon Beckham, SS, University of Georgia
They'll have interest in Alonso if the Reds don't take him and they might have interest in Skipworth if he's around. ASU's Brett Wallace still gets mentioned occasionally here, and Smoak could get some consideration, but G-Beck still makes the most sense in this slot.
Last week's projection: Gordon Beckham
9. Washington Nationals: Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside, Calif.
It looks like this could be a choice between the polished college hitter in Smoak and the high-upside high school player in Skipworth. Could make for a spirited debate and for now we'll have the Nats come down on the high school backstop side of the argument.
Last week's projection: Smoak
10. Houston Astros: Justin Smoak, 1B, University of South Carolina
It still seems like a college arm makes the most sense here, with Tulane's Shooter Hunt still a possibility and perhaps Andrew Cashner figuring into the mix. But with a bat like Smoak's surprisingly still around, it's easy to see the 'Stros not letting him drop any further.
Last week's projection: Crow
11. Texas Rangers: Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian
There have been four names mentioned prominently here: Cashner, Hunt, Aaron Hicks and SoCal high school pitcher Gerrit Cole. Georgia prepster Ethan Martin could still figure into the mix as well. But we'll stick with the guy in the Rangers' backyard for now.
Last week's projection: Cashner
12. Oakland A's: Aaron Hicks, OF/RHP, Woodrow Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.
What's this? The A's taking a toolsy outfielder with their top pick? The A's don't draft like they used to all the time and they've been high on Hicks for a while. They could still go with college lefty Christian Friedrich, and would love it if Smoak got to them. Wallace is still in the mix and they would consider Ethan Martin as well.
Last week's projection: Christian Friedrich
13. St. Louis Cardinals: Ryan Perry, RHP, University of Arizona
There have been countless reports about a Hicks workout in St. Louis that went well, but in this scenario, he's off the board. They could consider Friedrich, Wallace or another SoCal toolsy outfielder in Zach Collier. We're leaving the strong-armed Perry in here for the time being.
Last week's projection: Perry
14. Minnesota Twins: Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky
Friedrich is probably in the conversation in a whole host of places, but he has to land somewhere. The Twins would love for Hicks to get to them, but that is becoming more and more unlikely. Lawrie has been mentioned, but it's sounding like they may nab a college arm here and perhaps take some higher-ceiling high school guys later on.
Last week's projection: Aaron Hicks
15. Los Angeles Dodgers: Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills HS, Calif.
It's hard not to put a high school arm like Martin or Jake Odorizzi with the Dodgers, and they both might be in the mix. So might Lawrie. But if Collier is still there, the Dodgers might find his upside too difficult to pass up. He had a recent workout in Dodger Stadium, for whatever that's worth.
Last week's projection: Collier
16. Milwaukee Brewers: Brett Lawrie, C/3B, Brookswood SS, Langley, B.C.
Like many teams, there's a hope here that perhaps one of the names mentioned above will filter down to this spot. If that doesn't happen, the Brewers could be looking at Lawrie or Anthony Hewitt, both of whom reportedly performed extremely well in workouts with the club lately. They'd probably take a long look at Hunt and maybe a closer like Josh Fields sneaks in. For now, we'll go with the Canadian prepster, who's been impressing a lot of late.
Last week's projection: Anthony Hewitt
17. Toronto Blue Jays: Brett Wallace, 1B/3B, Arizona State
A guy who can hit like this deserves to go higher, and he just might. If that's the case, the Jays may stay within their borders and take Lawrie, who hails from British Columbia. But with Wallace on the board and Lawrie gone, Wallace's offensive skill set will be too hard to pass up.
Last week's projection: Wallace
18. New York Mets: Ike Davis, OF, Arizona State
It's still looking like the Mets will opt for talent that can help them sooner rather than later, at least with some early picks. If Perry makes it down this far, he could be a choice, but we'll stick with ASU's Davis, the son of former big league reliever Ron Davis.
Last week's projection: Davis
19. Chicago Cubs: Casey Kelly, SS, Sarasota HS, Fla.
It's been looking likely that the Cubs will go with a high school bat if the right one is here. Collier and Lawrie have been mentioned, but with them off the board, it could leave the Cubs looking hard at Sarasota High School shortstop Casey Kelly. He's also a talented pitcher and a University of Tennessee quarterback recruit, but the Cubs have the resources to get it done if they so choose.
Last week's projection: Brett Lawrie
20. Seattle Mariners: Shooter Hunt, RHP, Tulane
All along, the feeling was the Mariners would look for the best college pitcher with a live arm. It could be Perry or Cashner if they were here, but they're not in this projection. If they want to go with a safer college arm, Ole Miss right-hander Lance Lynn could be discussed. Or they could go for a closer with someone like Fields. As of this writing, though, we'll say the Tulane ace's slide will stop here.
Last week's projection: Hunt
21. Detroit Tigers: Ethan Martin, RHP, Stephens County HS, Toccoa, Ga.
The Tigers have been willing and able to do just about anything with their top picks and it's automatically assumed that any "signability issue" types could slide to them. Barring that, they would have interest in high school talents like Collier or Lawrie, or strong college arms like Perry or even Rice's Bryan Price. Instead, they'll go with a prep arm with a ton of upside in Martin.
Last week's projection: Casey Kelly
22. New York Mets: Jason Castro, C, Stanford
Castro, a left-handed hitter who's proven to most scouts this spring that he can catch, has been mentioned as a possibility all up and down the first round over the past few weeks. With the Mets still looking for college bats and Castro still not off the board, this seemed to be a good match. Miami's Jemile Weeks (speed) or maybe South Carolina's James Darnell (power) could figure in here as well.
Last week's projection: Castro
23. San Diego Padres: Daniel Schlereth, LHP, University of Arizona
Scouts have always liked Schlereth's arm and his bulldog mentality, but he kind of fit a setup-man profile. Then he pitched in a series against Stanford with a ton of eyes and came out throwing 97-98 mph. He's been lights-out his past few outings, greatly enhancing his draft status, and is now being looked at as a guy who might even be able to close at the next level. Lance Lynn's name has been mentioned as a possibility as well.
Last week's projection: Schlereth
24. Philadelphia Phillies: Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury School, Conn
The Phillies don't shy away from the toolsy high schoolers and Hewitt's got as much upside as anyone in the Draft. He may not be here at this point and if that's the case, the Phils could look at Collier or Martin should one of them be around. Lawrie would get some consideration and a sleeper could be Alabama high school product Destin Hood.
Last week's projection: Martin
25. Colorado Rockies: Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland HS, Ill.
Odorizzi's name moved steadily up the charts this spring as he continued to throw consistently well to the point where some thought of him as perhaps the best prep arm in the class. He might not be the first off the board, but word is that the Rockies would love to have him still be around at this slot.
Last week's projection: Ordorizzi
26. Arizona Diamondbacks: Josh Fields, RHP, University of Georgia
Another strong-armed college reliever (it appears to be a strength in this class), he might go above to a team looking for a short reliever who can move quickly. Fields had a sub-par junior season and went back to school rather than sign with the Braves via the second round last year. He was virtually unhittable in his senior season and though he's a Boras advisee, he should sign and move quickly, a la Matt LaPorta. If Fields is gone, Jemile Weeks is a strong possibility.
Last week's projection: Fields
27. Minnesota Twins: Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville HS, Fla.
They took a college lefty at No. 14 in this edition, so why not a prep southpaw here at No. 27? DeVall's the best lefty in the high school ranks and a pretty advanced pitcher, so he could be seen as rather safe, at least as far as prep arms go. The Twins could also decide to make sure they get a local product, another prep lefty named Brad Hand.
Last week's projection: DeVall
28. New York Yankees: Brett Hunter, RHP, Pepperdine University
I'm not saying it's going to happen, but here's stating that it could. The Yankees don't shy away from risky injury picks (like Andrew Brackman a year ago). And while it might seem unlikely they'd go that route two years in a row, Hunter did return lately and was up to 94-95 mph during a regional start. If the Yankees are fairly convinced he's healthy, they could take a shot. Last week's pick, Cole, still could fit, and the Yankees probably wouldn't mind if someone like DeVall was still around.
Last week's projection: Cole
29. Cleveland Indians: Jemile Weeks, 2B, University of Miami
The indication is the Indians would like a college bat in this spot and Weeks is someone they hope is still here. There's a chance that he could go higher, leaving the Indians to figure out which of the advanced hitters fit best. For now, they don't have to worry about that.
Last week's projection: Weeks
30. Boston Red Sox: Lance Lynn, RHP, University of Mississippi
The Red Sox are willing to go in any direction at any point in the Draft, so this pick is anyone's guess. There'd been a lot of talk about South Carolina's Reese Havens, but Lynn's name has recently cropped up as a late-first-round candidate. He might go before this spot, but for now, he stays here.
Last week's projection: Lynn
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.