Expos Top 10 Prospects
By Michael Levesque
Unfortunately for the Expos, their minor league system is now devoid of premium position prospects and lacking in overall depth. In midseason blockbusters that brought in Bartolo Colon and Cliff Floyd, plus a spring trade for Matt Herges, general manager Omar Minaya dealt six players (Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, Justin Wayne, Cliff Lee, Don Levinski, Wilkin Ruan) who entered 2002 rated among Montreals top 13 prospects. The purge didnt stop there, as former No. 1 prospect Donnie Bridges (trade) and shortstop Wilson Valdez (waivers) went to the Marlins and Phil Seibel, Matt Watson, Jason Bay and Jim Serrano went to the Mets in minor deals.
It was still a successful year for Montreals player-development system, though. In addition to having the prospects to acquire players the stature of Colon and Floyd, two homegrown players played key roles in the major league clubs success. Outfielder/first baseman Brad Wilkerson broke the team record for homers by a rookie with 20, and righthander T.J. Tucker made a solid contribution out of the bullpen before a lower back strain in August rendered him ineffective.
Montreal started the year with both the front office and coaching staff being put together by Major League Baseballwhich assumed the ownership of the Exposless than two weeks before spring training began. With just nine full-time scouts, scouting director Dana Browns department did a fine job. The draft yielded promising righthanders Clint Everts (first round) and Darrell Rasner (second), and brought-much needed power into the organization with first baseman Larry Broadway (third) and outfielder Chad Chop (sixth).
Adam Wogan, one of the few holdovers from the Jeffrey Loria regime, has climbed the organizational ladder quickly. He did a standout job in his first year as farm director, especially under the circumstances. In a short time, he put together an impressive staff that included pitching guru Brent Strom and 288-game winner Tommy John. Wogan also instilled a sense of calm among the ranks.
Age: 18. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Drafted: HSHouston (1st round). Signed by: Ray Corbett.
Background: With the selection of Everts fifth overall, the Expos have taken a pitcher with their first pick in six of the last seven drafts. Everts and Scott Kazmir, who went 15th overall to the Mets, became the fourth pair of high school teammates to be chosen in the first round of the same draft. There were rumors that Everts had agreed to a predraft deal, but he held out throughout the summer. He finally signed in late August for $2.5 million, passing on a scholarship to Baylor. A two-way player in high school, Everts also attracted interest as a shortstop. He pitched for the U.S. national youth team in 2000, earning a gold medal at the Pan American Championships in Monterrey, Mexico.
Strengths: Everts has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. Hes an outstanding athlete with a slender frame that projects to fill out as he matures. He has a loose, quick, smooth arm action, using a high three-quarters arm slot and a balanced delivery to produce three above-average pitches. Everts had the best curveball in the 2002 draft. Its a 78-84 mph power curve that falls off the table with good spin, bite and two-plane break. His curve gets top marks on the 20-80 scouting scale, with one National League scouting director saying, "If thats not an 80 curveball, Ill never see one." Everts fastball arrives at 91-94 mph with late movement. At times his circle changeup is his second-best pitch. He throws it at 78-81 mph with deception, sink, tumbling action and excellent arm speed. He has command of all his pitches, is a strong fielder, and has a good feel for pitching and plus makeup.
Weaknesses: The Expos didnt hold instructional league, so Everts lost his first chance to gain what he needs most: experience. He has thrown an awful lot of curveballs at an early age, but hasnt had arm problems. All he seems to need are repetitions and added strength.
The Future: Though many expected Montreal to draft a collegian, Expos scouting director Dana Brown was ecstatic to select Everts. He should make his pro debut at Montreals new low Class A Savannah affiliate. Though high school pitchers are a risky demographic, Everts could zoom through the system.
Click here for prospects 2-10.
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