Ask BA

Editor’s note: As we shift into overdrive on the 2009 Prospect Handbook, Ask BA will go to an every-other-week schedule in December. The next edition will appear online Dec. 8.

We have our first compensation pick for the 2009 draft! The Giants signed Reds reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a two-year, $8 million contract. Because Affeldt was a Type B free agent, Cincinnati gets a supplemental first-round choice—No. 34 for now, and it will move down once more players change teams.

We also have our first Type A signing of the offseason, though there’s no compensation because the Cubs re-signed Ryan Dempster for four years and $52 million.

Below is the up-to-the-minute draft order, and we’ll keep updating it here as transactions warrant. Remember, clubs must offer their free agents arbitration in order to receive compensation.

First-Round Picks

1. Nationals

2. Mariners

3. Padres

4. Pirates

5. Orioles

6. Giants

7. Braves

8. Reds

9. Tigers

10. Nationals (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow)

11. Rockies

12. Royals

13. Athletics

14. Rangers

15. Indians

16. Diamondbacks

17. Dodgers

18. Marlins

19. Cardinals

20. Blue Jays

21. Mariners (if they fail to sign 2008 first-rounder Joshua Fields)

22. Astros

23. Twins

24. White Sox

25. Mets

26. Yankees

27. Brewers

28. Phillies

29. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Gerrit Cole)

30. Red Sox

31. Rays

32. Cubs

33. Angels

Supplemental First-Round Picks

34. Reds (Jeremy Affeldt, B, to SF)

Second-Round Changes

49. Pirates (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Tanner Scheppers)

Third-Round Changes

76. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Scott Bittle)

Supplemental Third-Round Picks

97. Astros (for failure to sign 2008 third-rounder Chase Davidson

Remaining Type A Free Agents

Catchers: Jason Varitek (Bos).

First Basemen: Mark Teixeira (LAA).

Second Basemen: Orlando Hudson (Ari).

Shortstops: Orlando Cabrera (CWS), Edgar Renteria (Det).

Outfielders: Manny Ramirez (LAD), Raul Ibanez (Sea), Bob Abreu (NYY), Adam Dunn (Ari), Pat Burrell (Phi).

Starting Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia (Mil), A.J. Burnett (Tor), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Mike Mussina (NYY), Ben Sheets (Mil), Oliver Perez (NYM), Derek Lowe (LAD), Jamie Moyer (Phi).

Relief Pitchers: Francisco Rodriguez (LAA), Brian Fuentes (Col), Russ Springer (StL), Juan Cruz (Ari), Kerry Wood (ChC), Trevor Hoffman (SD), Doug Brocail (Hou), Darren Oliver (LAA), Bob Howry (ChC).

Remaining Type B Free Agents

Catchers: Ivan Rodriguez (NYY), Greg Zaun (Tor), Paul LoDuca (Fla).

Second Basemen: Jeff Kent (LAD), Juan Uribe (CWS), Mark Loretta (Hou), Mark Grudzielanek (KC).

Third Basemen: Casey Blake (LAD).

Outfielders: Garret Anderson (LAA), Moises Alou (NYM), Ken Griffey Jr. (CWS), Luis Gonzalez (Fla).

Designated Hitters: Milton Bradley (Tex), Frank Thomas (Oak).

Starting Pitchers: John Smoltz (Atl), Brad Penny (LAD), Jon Garland (LAA), Randy Wolf (Hou), Paul Byrd (Bos), Greg Maddux (LAD), Braden Looper (StL), Randy Johnson (Ari).

Relief Pitchers: Alan Embree (Oak), Brian Shouse (Mil), Jason Isringhausen (StL), Dave Weathers (Cin), Brandon Lyon (Ari), Arthur Rhodes (Fla), Joe Beimel (LAD), Dennys Reyes (Min), Rudy Seanez (Phi), Luis Ayala (NYM), Eric Gagne (Mil).

    How much will Tyler Flowers' strong Arizona Fall League showing move him up in Baseball America's Braves rankings? He hit .387 and led the AFL with 12 homers and a .975 slugging percentage. He has a large frame and looks like he could make a seamless transition to first base. What are the odds that he eventually makes that move, given that Atlanta already has Brian McCann at catcher?

    Charles Caswell

    Knoxville

Unlike baseball’s major awards, our prospect ratings aren’t finalized at the end of the regular season. We do take winter ball and other offseason happenings into account, though be careful not to read too much into AFL stats. Last fall’s breakout hitter and slugging percentage leader was the Cubs’ Sam Fuld, who looks like an extra outfielder and not a regular, let alone a star.

That’s not the case with Flowers, of course. His power and strike-zone discipline were evident when he was hitting .288/.427/.494 at high Class A Myrtle Beach, and he already was one of Atlanta’s best prospects, so his AFL performance won’t rocket him up our list.

Flowers still has a lot of work to do in all facets of catching, and he may never be McCann’s equal as a defender. You never know how things will play out, so for now the Braves will keep him behind the plate, where he has the most value. If McCann remains entrenched once Flowers is ready for the majors, Flowers then could move to first base, though Casey Kotchman could provide an obstacle there. It would be a stretch to play Flowers on an outfield corner.

    In the Nov. 10 Ask BA, you explained your reasoning for ranking lefthander Nick Hagadone No. 3 on the Red Sox Top 10 Prospects list. First baseman Anthony Rizzo was off to a great start in low Class A for Boston before being diagnosed with cancer. What do you project for Rizzo after that setback?

    Stephen Schwartz

    Atlanta

To give everyone a taste of the 2009 Prospect Handbook—which would make a fine holiday gift, by the way—below is my scouting report on Rizzo. He currently ranks No. 21 on our Red Sox Top 30, though that’s subject to change, pending offseason transactions.

21. Anthony Rizzo, 1b

Born: Aug. 8, 1989. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HS—Parkland, Fla., 2007 (6th round). Signed by: Laz Gutierrez.

Rizzo was hitting .373 as an 18-year-old in low Class A when he was sidelined by what was thought to be a kidney infection in late April. Instead, he learned that he had with limited stage classical Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the more treatable forms of cancer. He missed the rest of season to get treatment, though he was able to hit in instructional league between chemotherapy sessions, which were scheduled to end in November. His cancer is in remission and he’s expected to be able to fully participate in spring training. After signing for an above-slot $325,000 as a sixth-rounder in 2007, Rizzo enthused the Red Sox with his advanced approach at the plate. He continued to draw raves in 2008 before he became ill. His swing is geared more toward left-center at this point, and as he learns to turn on more pitches, he could hit 20 or more homers per season. Though he’s a below-average runner, Rizzo shows agility and soft hands at first base. Also a pitcher in high school, he has a stronger arm than most first basemen. Rizzo’s makeup and work ethic are also assets and should aid in his recovery. Boston won’t push him but cautiously hopes he’ll be able to open the season back in Greenville.

    Everyone knows about Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Max Ramirez, but what can you tell me about younger Rangers catchers Leonel "Macumba" de los Santos, Manuel Pina, Cristian Santana and Tomas Telis? I have read that each one of those guys would rank as the best catcher in almost any other farm system.

    Matt Jones

    Fort Worth

The Rangers have the best farm system in baseball, but it’s more than a little hyperbolic to suggest they have that many catchers who would be at the top of the depth chart for any other organization. Santana moved to the outfield, but the other three youngsters are all legitimate prospects. Aaron Fitt, who’s in charge of our Rangers reports, stacks them up in this order: Pina, de los Santos and Telis.

Pina is the most advanced of the second group, having reached Double-A in 2008. He’s still raw at the plate but making progress, and his best tool is his arm. De los Santos’ arm draws even more raves, with some scouts giving it the maximum 80 on the 20-80 scale. He’s also a work in progress at the plate.

Telis, who signed as a shortstop, is the most advanced hitter of the bunch and could offer some power as well. He’s a solid defender but isn’t as spectacular as Pina and de los Santos behind the plate.

Aaron also tossed out two more Rangers catching prospects for your consideration. Jose Felix did a nice job handling a talented low Class A Clinton pitching staff this year and has drawn some comparisons to Henry Blanco. Doug Hogan, a nice 18th-round find in the 2008 draft, is a grinder with good makeup and some defensive prowess.

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