Draft Report Cards: National League East




ATLANTA BRAVES

Best Pro Debut: RHP Kris Medlen (10) had a 0.41 ERA, 10 saves and a 36-2 K-BB ratio in 22 innings. After getting worked hard as Oregon State's closer during a College World Series championship run, LHP Kevin Gunderson (5) went 4-0, 1.13 in low Class A. Appalachian League all-star SS Chase Fontaine (2) batted .296/.411/.412.

Best Athlete: Fontaine stands out most for his bat, but he also has slightly above-average speed and range to go with a plus arm. He may profile better at second base, where his athleticism would stand out more.

Best Pure Hitter: Fontaine has drawn comparisons to Chase Utley, though with less power. The Braves signed just four position players out of the draft but got three more as draft-and-follows from 2005. OF Willie Cabrera, who batted .308 with seven homers in his debut, has similar offensive potential to Fontaine.

Best Raw Power: Several teams questioned the ability of OF Cody Johnson (1) to make consistent contact, and he hit just .184 with one homer in Rookie ball. But when he gets a hold of a pitch, he can crush it out of any part of any ballpark. Power is also the best tool for 3B Adam Coe (7) and 1B Josh Morris (12).

Fastest Runner: Fontaine among the draftees, but he's not nearly as quick as draft-and-follow OF Cole Miles. Miles can cover 60 yards in 6.5 seconds and succeeded on 18 of his 20 pro steal attempts.

Best Defensive Player: Coe has a strong arm and good actions at the hot corner.

Best Fastball: The Braves have seen RHPs Cory Rasmus (1), Dustin Evans (2) and Ryne Reynoso (26) all touch 97, and RHP Deunte Heath (19) get up to 96. Rasmus throws in the mid-90s the most consistently.

Best Breaking Ball: Rasmus and RHP Mike Mehlich (11) both have power curveballs.

Most Intriguing Background: Rasmus' brother Colby was a Cardinals first-round pick in 2005 and is one of the game's better outfield prospects. Gunderson's uncle Eric pitched in the majors. RHP Casey Beck's (8) brother signed with the Diamondbacks as a 14th-rounder in June. Unsigned C J.B. Paxson (18) turned down a football scholarship from Purdue.

Closest To The Majors: Gunderson's stuff is unremarkable, but he has guts and command, and the Braves need lefthanded relief help. RHP Tim Gustafson (9) would have gone much earlier in the draft if not for shoulder soreness. Now healthy, he's capable of showing three plus pitches. Draft-and-follow RHP Tommy Hanson throws four pitches for strikes, including an 89-92 mph fastball that peaks at 94.

Best Late-Round Pick: Medlen, who doubled as an everyday shortstop at Santa Ana (Calif.) JC, has a 91-93 mph fastball and a good curveball. Reynoso was an outfielder who pitched just four innings at Boston College in the spring, but area scout Lonnie Goldberg saw him throw a bullpen and followed him in the New England Collegiate League during the summer.

The One Who Got Away: Atlanta lost just three players to four-year schools. The best was Paxson, who transferred from Juco World Series champion Walters State (Tenn.) to Western Kentucky.

Assessment: The Braves spent five of their first nine choices on polished lefthanders--Steve Evarts (1), Jeff Locke (2), Chad Rodgers (3), Lee Hyde (4) and Gunderson. Johnson was the riskiest pick in the entire first round, but the pitching depth and draft-and-follows should help compensate if he bombs.



FLORIDA MARLINS

Best Pro Debut: RHP Brett Sinkbeil (1) made a complete recovery from a strained oblique to go 3-1, 3.65 with 54 strikeouts in 62 innings while advancing to low Class A. RHP Hector Correa (4) posted a 1.76 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 41 innings.

Best Athlete: OF John Raynor's (9) best tool is plus-plus speed, but he also plays quality defense, hits for average and for some pop and has a decent arm. OF Scott Cousins (3) will flash all five tools, and many teams liked him more as a pitcher until late in his college career. The Marlins see him as a Mark Kotsay type, maybe with more power.

Best Pure Hitter: 3B Chris Coghlan (1) won the 2005 Cape Cod League batting title with a .346 average and hit .297 in his pro debut. He covers the plate, makes consistent contact and uses the entire field. At this point, he's more advanced than high school OF Tom Hickman (2).

Best Raw Power: Hickman over Raynor. Draft-and-follow 1B Logan Morrison has more power than either of them.

Fastest Runner: Raynor can run a 6.4-second 60-yard dash. He stole 42 bases in 46 tries at UNC Wilmington in the spring, then had the same success rate (21 for 23) in the pros.

Best Defensive Player: Torre Langley (3) was the best defensive catcher in the draft. The Marlins quieted his setup a little, but they didn't have to mess with his well above-average arm and his aggressiveness. He picked a runner off first base in his first game in high Class A. There are concerns about his size (5-foot-8, 170 pounds) and bat, and he hit .179 in his pro debut. Hickman has the instincts and arm to be a good right fielder.

Best Fastball: Sinkbeil has a sweet combination of velocity (91-95 mph), sink and command, and he could throw harder if he adds more strength to his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. Correa and RHPs Don Czyz (7), Jay Buente (14) and Jordan Davis (19) all have touched 95.

Best Breaking Ball: Sinkbeil gets strikeouts with a hard breaker that features slider velocity and curveball movement.

Most Intriguing Background: Czyz's brother Nick pitched with him at Kansas and should be a decent prospect for 2008.

Closest To The Majors: Sinkbeil could be ready by 2008. The Marlins are trying to expedite Coghlan's timetable by getting him to pull more pitches for power and by moving him to second base, where less pop is required. And Buente could provide bullpen help in a hurry with his sinker/splitter combo.

Best Late-Round Pick: Buente. Florida hopes outfielder Hunter Mense (17) can recover after going from Team USA last summer to nosediving out of Missouri's lineup this spring. He tried to hit for power and messed up his swing, and the early returns (a homerless .255 debut) are mixed.

The One Who Got Away: Florida has lost the rights to just one player, RHP T.J. Forrest (44), now at Louisiana State. Forrest was the best high school arm in Louisiana and touched 92 mph before Tommy John surgery in the spring.

Assessment: The Marlins were delighted to get Sinkbeil at No. 19, which would not have happened had he been at full strength all spring. After spending five first-round picks on arms in pitchers in 2005, Florida looked for athletes after snagging Sinkbeil.



NEW YORK METS

Best Pro Debut: RHP Joe Smith (3) had a 0.45 ERA and 28-2 K-BB ratio in 20 New York-Penn League innings, earning a promotion to Double-A. RHP Tobi Stoner (16) went 6-2, 2.15 in the NY-P. Stoner, who stands out most for his control and competitiveness, allowed just five earned runs over his final eight starts.

Best Athlete: OF Daniel Stegall (7) was a Miami quarterback recruit. He's raw as a hitter, but all of his other tools are above-average and he profiles as a classic right fielder.

Best Pure Hitter: OF Dustin Martin (26) won the Southland Conference batting title with a .389 average, then opened the Mets' eyes by hitting .315/.399/.454 in the NY-P. He also was off to an 8-for-20 (.400) start in Hawaii Winter Baseball.

Best Raw Power: C Bradley Hubbert (32), a late-summer sign, runs well for a 6-foot-4, 210-pounder. Primarily an outfielder before transferring to Alcorn State in 2006, he showed enough behind the plate in instructional league for the Mets to believe he can stay there. OF Jeremy Barfield (9), now at San Jacinto (Texas) JC but still under control to the Mets, has more power than Hubbert.

Fastest Runner: OF Will Bashelor (28) has 6.5-second speed in the 60-yard dash, making him slightly quicker than Stegall.

Best Defensive Player: SS/2B Ritchie Price (18) is a sound defender with quality instincts. He has a chance to reach the majors if he hits enough, a question after he batted .229 in his pro debut.

Best Fastball: RHP Kevin Mulvey (2), the Mets' top pick, throws 90-94 mph with little effort. He topped out at 96 during the summer. He has the best fastball based on a combination of velocity, life and command. For sheer ability to light up a radar gun, it's RHP John Holdzkom (4), who can hit 98 mph but doesn't always know where his heater is headed.

Best Breaking Ball: Most sidearmers lose velocity and have difficulty staying on top of a breaking pitch when they drop down, but not Smith. His fastball went from 85-87 mph to 88-91 (peaking at 94), and his slider was death on righthanders--they went just 7-for-67 (.104) with one extra-base hit (a double) against him in pro ball.

Most Intriguing Background: Barfield's father Jesse and C Stephen Puhl's (17) dad Terry are both former all-stars, and Barfield's brother Josh plays second base for the Padres. Holdzkom's brother Lincoln pitches in the Cubs system. Price's father Ritch coached him at Kansas. 1B Joel Wells (21) declined the chance to turn pro to attend medical school at Tulane.

Closest To The Majors: Both Mulvey and Smith reached Double-A. Mulvey had more success there, but Smith will have an easier time reaching Shea Stadium as a reliever.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Josh Stinson (37) already works at 89-92 mph and touches 94, with a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. He also has the best curveball in New York's draft, though it's not as consistent as Smith's slider. He posted a 1.35 ERA in three low Class A starts at age 18.

The One Who Got Away: LHP/OF Justin Woodall (19) was one of the best athletes in the draft, a lefthander with a mid-90s fastball and an offensive threat with well-above-average power and speed. He's also a defensive back with NFL potential. While the Mets considered signing him to a two-sport deal, they decided the likelihood of losing him to football was too great. He's playing at Alabama.

Assessment: Rudy Terrassas didn't have a first-round pick in his first draft as Mets scouting director, but his first two choices already have advanced to Double-A. New York focused on pitching, with Stegall the only position player signed out of the first 11 rounds.



PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Best Pro Debut: After winning BA's High School Player of the Year award, SS Adrian Cardenas (1) encored by hitting .318 with 13 steals to make the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League all-star team. OF D'Arby Myers (4) joined him on the squad after batting .313 with 11 swipes. RHP Ben Pfinsgraff (22), who competes very well with average stuff, had a 1.55 ERA and a 69-18 K-BB ratio in 64 innings.

Best Athlete: OF Dominic Brown (20) was recruited by Miami as a wide receiver, while OF Darin McDonald (12) could have played cornerback at Idaho State. Myers and OF T.J. Warren (8) are also quality athletes. RHP Kyle Drabek (1) could have gone in the second or third round as a shortstop.

Best Pure Hitter: Cardenas outperformed high school teammate Chris Marrero (a Nationals first-round pick) as a senior this spring. If he winds up at second base as many scouts suspect, Cardenas could develop along the lines of Chase Utley.

Best Raw Power: 1B Charlie Yarbrough (7), who stands 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, or OF Gus Milner (14), who's a mere 6-foot-5 and 245.

Fastest Runner: The Phillies like to draft speed, and 2006 was no exception. OF Quintin Berry (5) has gone from the left side of home plate to first base in 3.9 seconds. Brown ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash. 2B/SS Zach Penprase (13) tied for the NCAA Division I stolen-base crown with 56 in 63 attempts. Myers and Warren are also plus runners.

Best Defensive Player: Philadelphia sees Jason Donald (3) becoming a solid big league shortstop. He has a strong arm, and his hands and instincts help compensate for his ordinary range.

Best Fastball: Drabek had a rough debut with a 7.11 ERA in the GCL, but he has a 94-95 mph fastball that peaks at 97.

Best Breaking Ball: The Phillies thought Drabek's spike curveball was the best curve in the draft. It's a tremendous pitch, though he relies on it too much at times rather than pitching off his fastball.

Most Intriguing Background: Drabek's father Doug won a National League Cy Young Award. RHP Michael Dubee's (18) dad Rich is Philadelphia's pitching coach. McDonald's brothers Darnell and Donzell have gotten cups of coffee in the majors. OF Riley Cooper (15) is playing wide receiver at Florida, while RHP Will Savage (26) played quarterback at the JC of the Canyons (Calif.).

Closest To The Majors: RHP Drew Carpenter (2) and LHP Dan Brauer (6) both are command specialists with solid stuff. Brauer has made a remarkably rapid recovery from labrum surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2005 season.

Best Late-Round Pick: Dubee and RHP Jarod Freeman (11) both have low-90s fastballs and promising curves. Dubee also has the feel for pitching to be expected from a pitching coach's son.

The One Who Got Away: Cooper has raw power to go with his 6.29-second speed in the 60-year dash, but it was impossible to lure him away from football. Ultraprojectable Kyle Gibson (36) could blossom into a first-round pick after three years at Missouri.

Assessment: There are well-documented concerns about Drabek's makeup, but his talent made him an easy gamble to take with the No. 18 choice. The last time the Phillies got that much upside in that area of the first round, they shook off medical concerns and took Cole Hamels with the 17th pick in 2002, and that has worked out well.



WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Best Pro Debut: RHP Zech Zinicola (6) didn't join the organization until June, but he did enough in three months to earn the Nationals' minor league pitcher of the year award. He went 4-1, 1.65 with 12 saves and 31 strikeouts in 33 innings while advancing to Double-A.

Best Athlete: Stephen Englund (2) made an easy transition from high school shortstop to pro center fielder. His tools are ahead of his baseball skills for now--he batted .183 in his debut--but he can put on a show with his batting-practice power and throwing arm. Stephen King (3) is a possible five-tool shortstop.

Best Pure Hitter: OF Chris Marrero (1) batted .309 as a pro before coming down with viral meningitis in August. He has more pure hitting ability than King, who should produce more offense than most shortstops.

Best Raw Power: Though Marrero didn't homer in his pro debut, his power rates as a 7 on the 2-8 scouting scale. The leverage in his swing gives him pop to all fields.

Fastest Runner: OF Chris French (21) can run the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds, Oddly, he tried just three steal attempts in pro ball.

Best Defensive Player: King in the infield, Englund in the outfield and Sean Rooney (8) behind the plate.

Best Fastball: RHP Colton Willems (1) had one of the best high school heaters in the draft, working at 92-95 mph and topping out at 97. As a bonus, he locates his fastball well within the strike zone. Zinicola threw 92-93 mph every time out in pro ball, peaking at 95.

Best Breaking Ball: LHP Glenn Gibson's (4) curveball. His changeup could give him another plus secondary pitch. Zinicola has the best slider, and he throws it at 82-85 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: C Josh Rodriguez' (47) father Eddie and OF Kyle Page's (48) dad Mitchell served on Washington's big league coaching staff in 2006. Mitchell Page also played in the majors, as did the fathers of Gibson (Paul) and OF Khris Davis (29, Rodney). RHP Hassan Pena (13) is a Cuban defector who can run his fastball up to 93 mph. RHP Cory Anderson (43) was a starting quarterback at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, while OF D'Vontrey Richardson (35) is a backup passer at Florida State. RHP Javier Martinez' (42) brother Joe pitches in the Giants system. Davis, Richardson, Martinez, Rodriguez and Page failed to sign.

Closest To The Majors: Zinicola may push for a job in the Washington bullpen as early as 2007.

Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Adam Carr (18) was a slugging first baseman at Oklahoma State and pitched only in fall practice. But in that limited exposure on the mound, area scout Ryan Fox saw him touch 94 mph with his fastball and 85 with his slider. Carr had a 2.81 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 26 pro innings. He also hit .302 with three homers in 63 at-bats.

The One Who Got Away: RHP Sean Black (2) is the highest pick in the 2006 draft to turn down pro ball, opting instead for Seton Hall. A converted shortstop who's still developing on the mound, he'll show a plus fastball and curve when he's on. The Nationals took several gambles on tough signs and couldn't land RHP Sam Brown (7, now at North Carolina State), 3B Dustin Dickerson (15, Baylor) and RHP Sam Dyson (19, South Carolina).

Assessment: Freed from the shackles of Major League Baseball ownership for the first time since 2002, the franchise didn't have to take any shortcuts in the draft. The Nationals took two legitimate first-rounders in Marrero and Willems and went over slot recommendations to sign King, Gibson and Pena.