Expos 2002 Draft Overview
By Allan Simpson
Scouting Director: Dana Brown (first year: 2002).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking fifth)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking sixth)
What is clear is that the Expos will approach this year's draft at a significant disadvantage. When previous Expos owner Jeffrey Loria bought the Marlins in February as part of a complicated franchise swap that also involved the Red Sox, he took his entire front-office staff with him to Florida. The former Expos employees even took computers and scouting reports, leaving the new Expos to start from scratch.
One of general manager Omar Minaya's first hires was scouting director Dana Brown, who had been a regional crosschecker for the Pirates. Brown quickly tried to assemble a new scouting staff, but it wasn't until April that the team had full coverage of all regions of the country. The Expos may not rely solely on the Major League Scouting Bureau for their draft, as once was rumored, but they will certainly lean on bureau reports extensively.
If those obstacles aren't enough, the Expos will also encounter resistance from players they want to draft--especially those in the early rounds--because of the club's uncertain future.
Will the Expos, now owned and operated by Major League Baseball, pay market value for their picks? What becomes of their draft picks if the team doesn't exist after the season? What if a player doesn't sign before the team is contracted? Does he become a free agent? Those are just a few of the questions players and their agents are sure to ask.
The Expos draft fifth overall, a position that paid out one of the largest deals in draft history a year ago. The Rangers gave Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira a major league contract worth a minimum of $9.5 million.
It's the same position the Expos drafted in two years ago, when they spent a club record $2.95 million--the third-largest bonus in the first round--for Stanford righthander Justin Wayne. They didn't have a second-round pick that year but paid out $2 million--the largest bonus in the third round--to Washington high school outfielder Grady Sizemore.
But that was then; this is now. It's unlikely the Expos will shell out that kind of money again.
In better times, the Expos probably would set their sights on Canadian lefthanders Jeff Francis and Adam Loewen, as much out of a sense of national pride as a desire to get one of the best talents in the draft. But with the franchise unlikely to operate in Canada next year, there is little reason that will happen.
So it's anyone' guess who the Expos will end up taking with their first-round pick or what their overall approach will be. If Rutgers righthander Bobby Brownlie is available, Brown will be tempted. Both are New Jersey natives, and Brown had his eye on Brownlie as a possible No. 1 overall pick when he was with the Pirates.
The Expos are putting on a brave face, but others in baseball say their situation is a mess and players are not sure they would sign if picked by Montreal. So a player who agrees to a predraft deal might be the team's only alternative. We probably won't know who that player would be until the eve of the draft.
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