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Draft Report Card


Chris Smith
BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Best Pro Debut: Though he played just 10 high school games this spring before being suspended for a transfer snafu, SS Bryan Bass (1) hit .310-5-27 in Rookie ball. He struggled a bit defensively but otherwise no rust was noticeable as he helped Bluefield win the Appalachian League championship.

Best Athlete: The University of Alabama recruited Bass as a wide receiver. His worst tool is his power, which is still very solid for his position. 2B Mike Fontenot (1) is another athletic middle infielder. LHP Chris Smith (1) and RHP Dave Crouthers (3) were two-way stars in college. Smith batted .375-14-66 as a Florida State sophomore, while Crouthers batted cleanup for Southern Illinois-Edwardsville's Division II College World Series club.

Best Hitter: Bass is a switch-hitter with gap power from both sides of the plate.

Best Raw Power: The Orioles didn't sign a masher, though C Eli Whiteside (6) has 20-homer potential. That would be a bonus, because his defensive skills are his biggest strength.

Fastest Runner: Fontenot and Bass have both the speed and instincts to be threats on the bases.

Best Defensive Player: Baltimore likes the up-the-middle defenders it added. Fontenot is the most impressive. He has a much more well-rounded game than fellow Louisiana State second basemen Todd Walker and Warren Morris.

Best Fastball: Crouthers and RHPs James Johnson (5) and Cory Morris (15) all have reached 95 mph, while Smith has hit 94. Johnson is the only high schooler in that group, so his fastball may have more upside.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Joe Coppinger's (7) brother Rocky was once the Orioles' No. 1 prospect. Other draftees with big league connections include 1B Dustin Yount (9), the son of Hall of Famer Robin, and unsigned OF Dustin Hahn (21), whose father Don was an original Expo. Unsigned SS John Hardy's (11) father Craig is a former tennis pro who played at Wimbledon, and John's cousin J.J. Hardy was Milwaukee's second-round pick in June. Bass' brothers Jayson and Kevin are outfielders in the Cubs system.

Closest To The Majors: Fontenot held out all summer while waiting in vain for Baltimore to increase its initial $1.3 million offer. He'll probably debut in high Class A next year, and his instincts and LSU experience should help him move quickly.

Best Late-Round Pick: Morris, who pitched his team into the 2001 NAIA World Series, threw 92-95 mph as a pro, harder than he did at Dallas Baptist. He also showed a good curveball and average changeup, allowing him to post a 3.38 ERA and fan 81 batters in 69 innings in high Class A.

The One Who Got Away: Baltimore liked Hardy's defensive skills but couldn't sway him from the University of Arizona. The Wildcats also recruited J.J. Hardy but lost him to the Brewers.

Assessment: Besides outfielders, the Orioles system offers very little in the way of position players. Baltimore addressed that shortcoming in this draft while also adding one of the top southpaws in Smith.

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