2004 Draft Report Cards: NL West
By Jim Callis
Best Pro Debut: OF Jon Zeringue (2) went straight to high Class A and hit .335/.374/.352 with 10 homers, 41 RBIs and nine steals in 56 games, then batted .447 with 12 RBIs in nine California League playoff games. OF/1B Chris Carter (17) led the short-season Northwest League in RBIs (63) and slugging (.576), while 2B Eric Schindewolf (26) was tops in runs (65). RHP A.J. Shappi (9) joined Carter on the NWL all-star team after going 5-1, 1.85 with a 65-8 K-BB ratio in 67 innings.
Best Athlete: SS Stephen Drew (1), BA's top-rated position player in the draft, is a five-tool talent. He hasn't signed yet but is expected to before spring training. Zeringue's bat is his calling card, but his arm, speed and outfield play all grade out as average or better.
Best Pure Hitter: Drew, whom the Diamondbacks project to be every bit as good as his brother J.D. while playing a more premium position. They're also excited about the bats of Zeringue and OF Luis Lajara (22).
Best Raw Power: Highly touted out of high school, Carter never got untracked in three years at Stanford but showed off his massive power as a pro. During predraft workouts, switch-hitting OF Brandon Burgess (6) batted lefthanded against lefty Bill Bray (Montreal's first-rounder)—and deposited a slider in the pool at Bank One Ballpark.
Fastest Runner: OF Kevin Williams (30) has 6.4-second speed in the 60-yard dash. Drew is a solid plus runner.
Best Defensive Player: Though some clubs thought Drew might be better suited to play second base or center field, Arizona believes he'll be a steady big league shortstop for many years. He's not flashy, but he has the arm, range and instincts to make all the plays.
Best Fastball: RHP Ross Ohlendorf (4) pitches at 94-96 mph and peaks at 98 coming out of the bullpen. RHP Garrett Mock (3), a starter, can touch the mid-90s and achieves a lot of sink with his fastball.
Best Breaking Ball: Shappi has very good command of three pitches, the best of which is his slider.
Most Intriguing Background: Drew followed his brothers J.D. and Tim as first-round picks, making his family the first to have three members drafted that high. As-yet-unsigned 2B Darryl Lawhorn's (11) twin brother Trevor went in the ninth round to the Reds. C Dan Pohlman (15) spent two years as a linebacker on Northwestern's football team.
Closest To The Majors: Drew is so much better than Arizona's current cast of shortstops that he'll reach the big leagues very quickly once he signs. Zeringue also is on the fast track.
Best Late-Round Pick: Carter and C Frank Curreri (41). An offensive-minded catcher, Curreri parlayed a big summer in the Cape Cod League into a $200,000 bonus.
The One Who Got Away: RHP Jimmy Shull (8), a converted shortstop, took his low-90s fastball back to Cal Poly for his senior season.
Assessment: The Diamondbacks went into the draft looking for pitching but felt Drew and Zeringue were too good to pass up. They considered Mock and Ohlendorf in the second round, then got them with their next two picks.
Best Pro Debut: RHP Jim Miller (8) led the short-season Northwest League with 17 saves and 34 appearances, whiffing 65 in 37 innings en route to a 0.97 ERA. SS Chris Nelson (1) ranked as the top prospect in the Rookie-level Pioneer League after hitting .347-4-20. OF Seth Smith (2) batted .369-9-61 to earn Pioneer League all-star honors, while 3B Matt Macri (5) hit .333-7-43 to garner similar recognition in the NWL.
Best Athlete: OF Dexter Fowler's (14) five-tool skills have prompted comparisons to Andre Dawson and Andruw Jones. Nelson and Macri were two-way stars who threw in the low 90s before Tommy John surgery. Smith was the backup quarterback behind No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Eli Manning at Mississippi.
Best Pure Hitter: Nelson and Smith, two of the draft's most gifted hitters, will call Coors Field home. Smith wouldn't have lasted until the second round had he not slumped as a junior.
Best Raw Power: Macri and Smith. 1B Joe Koshansky (6), who hit 12 homers in the NWL, isn't far behind.
Fastest Runner: Fowler flies from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.06 seconds. Nelson is a tick behind him, as is draft-and-follow 2B Eric Young Jr. (30 in 2003)—whose father holds the franchise record for stolen bases.
Best Defensive Player: Fowler is a quality center fielder. C Chris Iannetta (4) is solid behind the plate and more than held his own with the bat in low Class A, hitting .314. Macri still has a strong arm, took to second base in instructional league and may get a look at shortstop.
Best Fastball: Miller worked consistently at 93-95 mph all summer. RHP Chris Buechner (11) and David Patton (12) touched 95 at times. So did RHP Ryan Mattheus (19 in 2003), a $700,000 draft-and-follow.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP Steven Register's (3) out pitch is a slider, and he used it to record 25 saves at Auburn. With an 89-92 mph fastball and an improving changeup, Colorado believes he can make it as a starter. Mattheus' power slider can be more devastating than Register's.
Most Intriguing Background: The Rockies love to draft quarterbacks, and their latest is OF Brian Brohm (49), one of college football's top recruits. The younger brother of former NFL quarterback and Indians minor leaguer Jeff Brohm, Brian already is making an impact as a Louisville freshman. OF Todd Frazier (37) was the most outstanding player at the 1998 Little League World Series, where he led Toms River (N.J.) to the championship. His brother Jeff went in the third round to the Tigers, while another brother, Charles, already was in the Marlins system. SS Jeff Dragicevich's (18) brother Scott plays in the Blue Jays system.
Closest To The Majors: Colorado always needs pitching, and Miller could develop rapidly as a reliever. So could Register if he returns to that role.
Best Late-Round Pick: The Rockies didn't have the money to sign Fowler until they traded Larry Walker. Fowler, who had a chance to go in the first round, received $925,000, a record for the 14th round.
The One Who Got Away: Colorado lost the rights to just five players, none before the 37th round. A raw athlete, Frazier would have gone in the first five rounds had teams believed they could sign him away from Rutgers.
Assessment: Nelson was destined for Baltimore until Orioles owner Peter Angelos insisted his club draft a cost-effective college pitcher. Landing him and Smith was a coup.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Best Pro Debut: 1B Cory Dunlap (3) hit .351-7-53 and led the Rookie-level Pioneer League in on-base percentage (.492). C/DH Chris Westervelt (11) batted .341-10-37 in the same league.
Best Athlete: LHP Scott Elbert (1) has the power and speed to make it as an outfielder, though the Dodgers have no intention of moving him off the mound. He was Missouri's top high school running back as a junior in 2002, rushing for 2,449 yards and scoring 36 touchdowns.
Best Pure Hitter: Dunlap. A high school teammate of Dontrelle Willis, he weighed 300 pounds as a prepster but since has dropped down to 230. He led California community colleges with a .523 average at Contra Costa during the spring.
Best Raw Power: 3B Blake DeWitt (1) has excellent hand-eye coordination and more pop than Dunlap. One of the best high school bats in the draft, DeWitt hit .284-12-47 in the Pioneer League.
Fastest Runner: SS/2B David Nicholson runs the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds.
Best Defensive Player: A high school shortstop, DeWitt immediately took to third base as a pro. He has the actions and arm to make all the plays there.
Best Fastball: RHP Javy Guerra (4) scared some scouts with his high school delivery, which featured a crow hop that catapulted him toward the plate. But Rookie-level Gulf Coast League pitching coach George Culver smoothed Guerra out without costing him velocity, as Guerra was throwing 93-95 by the end of the summer. Elbert and RHP Blake Johnson (2) both touch 94.
Best Breaking Ball: All four pitchers the Dodgers took in the first two rounds, including RHP Justin Orenduff (1), have good breaking pitches. Johnson's curveball is the best, while Elbert has the top slider.
Most Intriguing Background: 2B Matt Paul's (18) brother Xavier was Los Angeles' fourth-round pick in 2003 and is the organization's best outfield prospect. LHP Davis Bilardello's (43) father Dann managed low Class A Columbus in 2004, while RHP Andrew Brewer's (46) dad Mark was a pitching coordinator. The Dodgers let both go after the season. 2B Brandon Carter's (40) uncle Jerry Royster is Los Angeles' infield coordinator. Dann Billardello and Royster played in the majors, as did C Ben Petralli's (26) father Geno. SS Kody Kaiser's (24) uncle Sunny Golloway (Oklahoma) is one of college baseball's best assistant coaches, as is 1B Brett Lawler's (28) dad Jim (Texas A&M). Of this group, only Paul and Carter turned pro.
Closest To The Majors: Orenduff, whose 4.74 ERA in the Pioneer League masked his 57 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Best Late-Round Pick: Westervelt may not have enough arm to catch regularly in the majors, but the Dodgers like his pop and on-base ability.
The One Who Got Away: Los Angeles took fliers on several highly touted prospects. LHP/OF Joe Savery (15) could be a two-way star at Rice as a freshman. OF Jeff Larish (13) entered 2004 as the best hitting prospect in college baseball, but hurt his wrist and had a disappointing spring. He returned to Arizona State.
Assessment: After the Dodgers hired general manager Paul DePodesta from the Athletics, industry insiders wondered if the club would adopt a "Moneyball" draft approach. But scouting director Logan White and his scouts continued to bring in a lot of talent without worrying about demographics.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Best Pro Debut: RHP Vern Sterry (8) went 4-3, 3.38 with a 78-16 K-BB ratio in 80 pro innings, and he posted a 2.40 ERA in his five starts following his promotion to low Class A. Gritty OF Chris Kolkhorst (10) hit .337 with a .476 on-base percentage between three stops.
Best Athlete: SS Matt Bush (1) has an 80 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and was clocked as high as 96 mph when he pitched in high school. A stellar defender with average speed, he's surprisingly strong for a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder.
Best Pure Hitter: C Billy Killian (3) will improve on his .225 average in the Rookie-level Arizona League because he makes consistent hard contact.
Best Raw Power: 1B Daryl Jones (4) has opposite-field power now and will be even more dangerous once he learns to pull balls with more consistency.
Fastest Runner: SS Sean Kazmar (5), Kolkhorst and OF Matt Thayer (31) are plus runners.
Best Defensive Player: Bush has the tools and instincts to be a Gold Glove shortstop. Though he made 17 errors in 28 pro games, that's not a long-term concern. His arm is so strong that he sometimes sits back too long on grounders, but that should be correctable.
Best Fastball: Bush is clearly the hardest thrower the Padres signed. Among the pitchers, RHPs David O'Hagan (9), Mike Ekstrom (12) and Ben Krosschell (16) can reach 93 mph. Krosschell is three years younger and has a more projectable frame than O'Hagan and Ekstrom, so he should pass them in time.
Best Breaking Ball: O'Hagan's slider. He worked just seven innings in his pro debut after coming down with a tired arm.
Most Intriguing Background: Killian's father Bill is a part-time scout for the Padres, but he was no nepotism pick. Bush became the first No. 1 overall choice taken by his hometown team since the Twins' Joe Mauer in 2001.
Closest To The Majors: Sterry is the frontrunner because he has an effective changeup and the ability to locate his high-80s fastball.
Best Late-Round Pick: Krosschell. He has an average slider to go with his fastball.
The One Who Got Away: The Padres almost ran the table. They signed or control the rights to all but two of their 49 picks. 3B Michael Moon (18) opted to retire rather than play pro ball. 3B Robert Spain (39), a lefty power hitter, originally planned on attending a junior college but changed his mind and is at Oklahoma City.
Assessment: Upper-level management put the scouting department in a bind when it decided three days before the draft that the Padres weren't going to spend the money to sign Stephen Drew. Because San Diego didn't pick again until the third round, it had targeted just two other players, Jeff Niemann and Jered Weaver, who also were deemed too expensive. The feel-good aspect of taking a local product soured when Bush soon was arrested following a bar scuffle, earning him a month-long suspension. He was the first of three straight high school picks at the top of the Padres' draft after they took just three prepsters in the first 10 rounds of the previous three drafts.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Best Pro Debut: OF Eddy Martinez-Esteve (2) hit .329 between four clubs, including a sizzling .420 during 17 games in high Class A. OF John Bowker (3) began his career by going 22-for-43 (.512) in the Rookie-level Arizona League and hit .371-6-27 overall.
Best Athlete: OF Emanuel Cividanes (16) and SS Jeremiah Luster (18), though both are quite raw. Cividanes was ineligible at Broward (Fla.) CC during the spring and didn't get much exposure. Luster drew some interest from college football and basketball recruiters. OF Clay Timpner (4) is an excellent center fielder with solid tools and more polish.
Best Pure Hitter: Martinez-Esteve or Bowker. Martinez-Esteve won the Atlantic Coast Conference triple crown by hitting .385-19-81 in 2004.
Best Raw Power: Again, it's Martinez-Esteve or Bowker. Bowker can pound fastballs and breaking balls alike, and he has more present power. Martinez-Esteve is just scratching the surface of his home run potential because he's content to use the whole field.
Fastest Runner: Draft-and-follow 2B Marcus Sanders (17 in 2003) has top-of-the-line speed. He gets from the right side of the plate to first base in under 4.0 seconds, and he led the AZL with 54 runs and 28 steals. Among this year's draft crop, Timpner is the fastest. His speed rates a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his first-step quickness is more impressive.
Best Defensive Player: Timpner is an excellent center fielder. His speed, jumps and routes are all assets, and he covers lots of ground. 2B Kevin Frandsen (12) has quick hands and actions.
Best Fastball: RHP Jonathan Sanchez' (27) explosive 89-94 mph fastball allowed him to strike out 61 in 48 pro innings. RHP Justin Hedrick (6) pitches at 88-92 but hitters don't see his fastball well. He led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts in 2003 and fanned 48 in 36 pro innings.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP Garrett Broshuis' (5) best pitch is his slider. Hedrick's splitter was much more effective this summer than it was at Northeastern during the spring.
Most Intriguing Background: Luster is a distant cousin of budding Devil Rays star B.J. Upton.
Closest To The Majors: The three outfielders at the top of San Francisco's draft are the most logical candidates, but the Giants always seem to expedite the development of a pitcher. Broshuis, who also throws a plus changeup and an 88-89 mph fastball, could be that guy.
Best Late-Round Pick: Area scout Sean O'Connor not only sold San Francisco on Ohio Dominican teammates Sanchez and RHP Benny Cepeda (48) after seeing them in a tryout, but he also told the Giants that they could be drafted low. Cepeda has a 92-93 mph fastball. Though Sanchez and Cepeda need to refine their secondary pitches, there's no questioning that they have live arms. Five of their picks have already advanced to high Class A.
The One Who Got Away: LHP Jamie Arnesen (9) is a very projectable 6-foot-5 and already flashes a 90-91 mph fastball. An honors student in high school, he's going to Fresno State.
Assessment: The Giants haven't developed an everyday big leaguer since drafting Bill Mueller and Chris Singleton in 1993. Between Martinez-Esteve, Bowker and Timpner, they hope they've ended that drought.
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