Ask BA

You know how you can tell that there’s a whole lot of nothing going
on in spring training? When the will-Alfonso-Soriano-play-left-field
story dominates baseball for days. Thankfully, that’s over now.

    Each season, there are good prospects who elevate themselves into elite status. Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart (No. 57 on the Top 100 Prospects list in 2004, No. 4 in 2005) and Angels shortstop Brandon Wood (No. 83 in 2005, No. 3 in 2006) are two recent examples. What prospects are going to make a similar jump this year?

    Mike Parnell

    Boston

Great question, Mike. Most of the prospects who make that leap are
young guys without much of a track record rather than older players who
suddenly break out in the upper minors. When I combed through the
current Top 100 list looking for candidates, I found eight guys who
piqued my interest’”none of whom played above Class A in 2005.

It won’t be a huge jump, but I think Diamondbacks outfielder
Carlos Gonzales (No. 32 on this year’s list) will be in the top 10 next
year. He’s going to be a .300-hitting, 30-homer right fielder with a
strong arm, and he’s going to put up monster numbers in the high Class
A California League in 2006.

My other breakout candidates, all from the bottom half of the
Top 100: Dodgers lefthander Scott Elbert (No. 55) and third baseman
Blake DeWitt (No. 82), Reds outfielder Jay Bruce (No. 76), Cubs lefty
Mark Pawelek (No. 85), Angels righty Nick Adenhart (No. 90), Orioles
outfielder Nolan Reimold (No. 99) and Twins righty Anthony Swarzak (No.
100).

As a bonus, I’ll give you two more guys I like who just missed
the Top 100 cut. Shortstop Reid Brignac and righty Wade Davis, both
Devil Rays, are going to make bigger names for themselves in 2006.

    Which of the top draft prospects are being advised by
    Scott Boras? If your favorite team is picking early, like mine (the
    Pirates) is at No. 4 overall, this can be a deal-breaker in determining
    their choice.

    Wilbur Miller

    Silver Spring, Md.

We’ve confirmed that Boras is advising eight prospects for the 2006 draft, all college players. In order of how they ranked on our initial College Top 100 Prospects list ,
they are: Missouri righthander Max Scherzer (No. 3), Southern
California righty Ian Kennedy (No. 5), Florida first baseman Matt
LaPorta (No. 7), Arizona shortstop Jason Donald (No. 17), Arizona State
outfielder Colin Curtis (No. 19), Cal Poly righty Gary Daley (No. 24),
Tulane first baseman Mark Hamilton (No. 33) and Mississippi third
baseman Chris Coghlan (No. 38).

While Boras usually steers his advisees to high-revenue teams
and away from small-revenue clubs, his reputation won’t necessarily
torpedo their draft position or bonus. Last year, he advised seven
players with legitimate first-round aspirations: Georgia Tech shortstop
Tyler Greene, St. John’s righty Craig Hansen, Tennessee righty Luke
Hochevar, Baylor righty Mark McCormick, Utah high school lefty Mark
Pawelek, Wichita State righty Mike Pelfrey and Texas catcher Taylor
Teagarden.

Only Greene went as high as he would have if signability didn’t
factor into the picture. But Pelfrey ($5.25 million) and Hansen ($4
million) landed the only big league contracts handed out to 2005
draftees. Pawelek received the third-highest bonus given a pitcher
($1.75 million). All three went in the first round, as did Greene, who
got slightly more than slot money ($1.1 million) as the 30th overall
pick. McCormick was a supplemental first-rounder who signed for slot
money ($800,000). The only one of the seven who didn’t go in the first
round was Teagarden, who late supplemental first-round money ($725,000)
as a third-rounder.

Teams don’t enjoy dealing with Boras, but with the
exception of Hochevar, whose negotiations with the Dodgers devolved
into one of the bigger draft debacles ever, his clients didn’t make out
badly at all last year.

    Do you think it might be about time to reconsider some of the non-Americans when choosing your Top 100 Prospects? The Top 100 demographics
    show Americans holding a whopping 82 of the 100 spots, yet with the top
    U.S. major leaguers struggling so badly against the rest of the world,
    perhaps it's time to give more attention to players from other nations.
    Losing one game can be written off as a fluke, but finishing 3-3 ain't
    no fluke. It appears that there's now more than one country that can
    play this game. Maybe next year, BA's Top 100 Prospects will reflect
    that. On the bright side, maybe the Americans will get to play South
    Africa again in 2009.

    Michael Dominguez

    Oshawa, Ontario

Apples and oranges, Michael, apples and oranges. I still don’t
comprehend why people were so surprised at the outcome of the World
Baseball Classic.

With a limited amount of games, all of the legitimate
contenders were very vulnerable. And no one who follows baseball
closely should be surprised that Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan,
Korea, Puerto Rico and Venezuela also had a lot of talent. With the
final two rounds coming down to single-game showdowns, any of those
nations or the United States could have won the WBC if their pitching
got hot.

To get back to the question, I don’t see what the results of a
few glorified all-star games have to do with our Top 100 Prospects
list. The Top 100 doesn’t reflect any belief that Americans know how to
play the game better than anyone else. It’s simply the best 100
prospects in the game, period.

Check out the rosters for the annual Futures Game–click here
to see the 2005 squads–and you’ll see that the U.S. team is always more
stacked than the World team. That’s because the majority of pros are
signed out of the United States, so there’s a deeper pool of talent to
choose from.

Last year, 40 of the 64 players selected to play in the
All-Star Game were Americans. I don’t think the demographics of our Top
100 are out of whack by any means.

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