Boston’s Ball Keeps Bouncing Along
BOSTON—In many ways, conversations about Trey Ball’s present and future are inseparable from his past. It’s difficult to avoid looking at the lefthander through the prism of his selection as […]
2004 Draft: Top 30 Prospects
1. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Rice
The 6-foot-9, 260-pounder went 17-0 in '03; he has uncanny command of a 95 mph fastball and nasty slider.
2. Justin Verlander, rhp, Old Dominion
Verlander has room to fill out his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, but his lively fastball already has touched 97 mph.
3. Jered Weaver, rhp, Long Beach State
Polished 6-foot-6, 200-pound brother of Dodgers' Jeff Weaver hurled 45 scoreless innings for Team USA in '03.
4. Jeff Larish, 1b/of, Arizona State
Draft's best offensive player led nation with 78 walks last spring, then hit a Team USA-record eight homers.
5. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Williamsport (Md.) HS
Nation's premier prep pitcher has a low-effort delivery and three plus pitches, including a fastball that touches 94.
6. Stephen Drew, ss, Florida State
Drew has the speed, bat and natural middle-infield actions to join brothers J.D. and Tim as first-round picks.
7. Matt Bush, ss/rhp, Mission Bay HS, San Diego
Has a 93 mph fastball and plus curve, but scouts prefer his bat, sure hands, quick feet and plus arm strength.
8. Wade Townsend, rhp, Rice
Townsend has the best fastball among Rice's talented trio, but he must mature and improve his command.
9. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Vanderbilt
Former Reds first-rounder isn't overpowering at 89-91 mph, but he can spot three pitches for strikes almost at will.
10. Greg Golson, of, John Connally HS, Austin
One of the best athletes in the country, Golson, though raw, has the best all-around package of tools in the draft.
11. Philip Humber, rhp, Rice
Winner of last year's College World Series championship game possesses biting curve and developing change.
12. Homer Bailey, rhp, LaGrange (Texas) HS
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Bailey reaches the mid-90s with a smooth delivery and his curve is a dominant pitch.
13. Justin Orenduff, rhp, Virginia Commonwealth
Competitive 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has advanced command of his 90-92 mph fastball and wicked slider.
14. Chris Lambert, rhp, Boston College
A former high school shortstop, Lambert's fastball touches 97 mph, but power curve needs to be more consistent.
15. Michael Taylor, of, Apopka (Fla.) HS
An imposing physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Taylor has immense but untapped power potential.
16. Huston Street, rhp, Texas
Not physically imposing at 6-feet, 180 pounds, Street combines excellent command with off-the-charts makeup.
17. Micah Owings, rhp, Georgia Tech
Owings' raw power ranks with almost any hitter in the draft, but scouts are more intrigued with his fastball/slider.
18. Jay Rainville, rhp, Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick, R.I.
Physically mature at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Rainville's heavy fastball is routinely in the 90s and has touched 96.
19. Chuck Lofgren, of/lhp, Serra HS, Burlingame, Calif.
Scouts are split on Lofgren's role; some are more impressed with his powerful bat, others like his classic curve.
20. Thomas Diamond, rhp, New Orleans
Diamond takes his explosive fastball and three other pitches from the bullpen to the Privateers rotation.
21. Mark Rogers, rhp, Mt. Ararat HS, Orr's Island, Me.
A rare top prospect from Maine, Rogers shocked scouts at the East Coast Showcase with a 97 mph fastball.
22. Andy Gale, rhp, Phillips Exeter Academy, Durham, N.H.
The son of ex-big leaguer Rich Gale is 6-foot-6 and a premium athlete; a plus changeup augments a big fastball.
23. Seth Smith, of, Mississippi
A potential five-tool talent, he's split time with football in college and is just scratching the surface of his ability.
24. Chris Nelson, ss/rhp, Redan HS, Decatur, Ga.
An exceptional two-way talent, Nelson's draft status hinges on his recovery from September Tommy John surgery.
25. Phil Hughes, rhp, Foothill HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
Emerging 6-foot-5, 215-pounder has an ideal pitcher's frame and an impressive fastball/slider combination.
26. Eric Beattie, rhp, Tampa
His 92 mph fastball and excellent curve enabled him to lead Division II in wins, Cape Cod League in ERA in '03.
27. Eric Patterson, 2b, Georgia Tech
Patterson has excellent range at second and is an above-average runner, but must show he can swing the bat.
28. Danny Putnam, of, Stanford
Putnam's size scares off some teams, but he's a high-energy player and may be the best pure hitter in the draft.
29. Scott Elbert, lhp, Seneca (Mo.) HS
Potentially the nation's best prep lefty, Elbert has an excellent feel for pitching and a fastball that touches 93 mph.
30. Kenn Kasparek, rhp, Weimar (Texas) HS
At 6-foot-9, Kasparek is the high school equivalent of Jeff Niemann; he's even more advanced at the same stage.
--COMPILED BY ALLAN SIMPSON