Although signability concerns did not have as much of an impact on this year’s first round as it has in other recent drafts, it does still explain why 14 of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects are still on the board as the second day of the draft begins.
The majority of players sliding down draft boards are high school pitchers who may prove too expensive to buy out of their college commitments. A pair of Pepperdine products also fell because of injury concerns.
Righthander Alex Meyer (pictured at right) is BA’s highest rated player (25th on our Top 200 Prospects Rankings) still on the board as day two of the draft begins. Meyer’s lanky 6’7” frame and his repeatable delivery makes him a premium prospect, but he is advised by Scott Boras and has a solid commitment to Kentucky.
Righthander Daniel Webb (48) is considered to have the strongest arm out of all Kentucky pitchers, but isn’t as polished as first day selections Christian Friedrich and Robbie Ross. Coming into the draft Webb was considered signable, but his commitment to Kentucky is looking stronger as he slips into the second day.
Righthander Brett Hunter (51) was considered one of the top college pitching prospects heading into the 2008 season, but arm soreness wiped out much of his spring season. His unorthodox mechanics don’t ease scout’s concern about his health issues, nor do command problems that have plagued him in the past.
Tennessee righthander Sonny Gray (52) is a bit undersized at 5’11”, but his stuff is outstanding. He features a mid-to upper-90s fastball and a plus curveball. Gray suffered an ankle injury this spring and it was reported by the Nashville Scene that he sent a letter to Major League teams indicating that his commitment to Vanderbilt was virtually unbreakable.
Nick Maronde (70) has drawn comparisons to fellow Bluegrass state lefty, Robbie Ross. Unlike Ross, Maronde did not hear his name called on the first day of the draft. Maronde is still on draft boards due to slightly less polish than Ross, and the likely high price tag to induce him to give up his commitment to Florida.
Zack Cox (72) is another Kentucky prep-school player who has yet to hear his name called. A two-way star in high school, Cox is one of the most talented prep hitters, but his lack of athleticism concerns teams. He would be draft-eligible in 2010 after his sophomore year at Arkansas if he opts to head to Arkansas.
Considered by some to be the top prep lefthander in the draft Brett Mooneyham (78) has a pair of plus pitches. Despite a low-90s fastball and a slider with plus potential, Mooneyham’s signability has been a concern all spring. His father Bill was a first round pick in 1980, but Mooneyham’s commitment to Stanford and his status as a Scott Boras advisee has kept teams away.
Lefthander Danny Hultzen (79) is another impressive prep lefty who has fallen due to his strong commitment to a top school. Hultzen’s velocity jumped up to the 88-92 mph range this spring, vaulting him onto draft boards, but his Virginia commitment is considered to be unbreakable.
Texas outfielder Jordan Danks (86) was considered a first round pick out of high school in 2005, but his commitment to Texas dropped him to the 19th round. Danks is one of the best athletes in the draft, but he has yet to deliver the power scouts expected out of high school.
Like his teammate Brett Hunter, injury concerns explain Eric Thames (90)’s slide. The Pepperdine outfielder missed the final weeks of the season with a leg injury, although some scouts feel it is more of a hip flexor ailment.
Las Vegas righty Donnie Roach (94) comes from Nevada’s top high school program, Bishop Gorman. His a bit small at 6’1” 175 lbs., but he has an impressive fastball and has solid command of three off-speed pitches. He is committed to Arizona and coming into the draft it was believed it would take third round money to lure him from campus.
Righthander Austin Dicharry (95) saw his stock slip this spring, but he featured the best curveball at the Area Code Games last summer and is considered highly polished for a prep pitcher. His poor finish to the high school season hurt his draft chances and his commitment to Texas scared away teams on the first day of the draft.
Oklahoma prep righthander Bobby Bundy (96) tore his ACL in December playing basketball, but bounced back nicely from the injury this spring, still featuring a plus curve along with a low-90s fastball. He is committed to Arkansas and it is doubtful that a team will throw enough money at him to lure him from Fayetteville, as he is still on the mend from his knee injury.
Mississippi high school lefty T.J. House (100) has been compared to Mike Hampton. House features a low-90s fastball and a projectable slider and curveball. It was thought he would slip in the draft due to a high price tag and a strong commitment to play for Tulane.
Mike Ehrlich contributed to this report