By Josh Boyd
Every scouting director raves about his draft when it's all over, but Milwaukee's Jack Zduriencik, Detroit's Greg Smith, Cleveland's John Mirabelli and St. Louis' Marty Maier had reason to be excited before Bryan Bullington was announced as the first pick in 2002.
All four teams came to terms with their top draft-and-follow prospect from last year's draft. Each player reportedly received a seven-figure bonus, and all four were considered potential first-round talents.
The Brewers signed American River (Calif.) JC lefthander Manny Parra for $1.55 million, whom they had tabbed in the 26th round in 2001. Parra returned for his sophomore season and emerged as the top junior college prospect in the country. He added velocity to his 89 mph fastball, reaching 96 mph and pitching between 89-94, while showing command of a split-fingered fastball, curveball and change.
The Tigers signed righthander Humberto Sanchez out of Connors State (Okla.) JC after picking him in the 31st round out of Rockland (N.Y.) CC last June. The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder became the top prospect in a strong year for Oklahoma. He's compared to Jose Mesa for his stature and overpowering stuff. He's been up to the mid-90s and showed an above-average curveball.
Like Parra, Sean Smith emerged as one of the best prospects in California. The Indians drafted him last year out of College Park HS in Pleasant Hill, Calif., and tracked him throughout the season at Sacramento CC. He signed for $1.1 million, which will take some of the pressure off of Cleveland to sign first-rounder Jeremy Guthrie. Smith generates easy velocity (89-94 mph) with a quick arm.
The Cardinals lacked picks in the first two rounds, but signing Bellevue (Wash.) CC righthander Blake Hawksworth took some of the sting out of sitting around until their first selection at No. 102. After sliding to the 28th round out of Eastlake HS in Sammamish, Wash., because teams feared he couldn't be bought out of a scholarship to Cal State-Fullerton, he posted a 5-0, 0.21 record in the Juco ranks instead. Hawksworth threw between 90-94 with an advanced changeup and the ability to spin his breaking ball for strikes. A Scott Boras client, Hawksworth signed for $1.475 million.
Glendale (Calif.) CC lefthander Jon Felfoldi was the lone top 10 JC prospect under control from last year's draft who didn't come to terms. Drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 44th round out of La Jolla (Calif.) HS in 2001, Felfoldi went to the Expos in the fourth round this year. He is not overpowering, but works between 86-90 with a plus curveball and good changeup.
Click here for a complete list of draft-and-follow signings.
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