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Draft Tracker 2004

Updated June 6 at 10 p.m. ET

Who has helium and who's showing signs of draftitis? We'll keep you updated with the Draft Tracker, which measures a combination of each player's prospect status and draft status—which, as faithful Baseball America readers are aware, aren't always the same thing.

We've been working the phones like Felipe Alou works Jason Schmidt, talking to front-office executives, scouts and coaches as the draft approaches. Three days before the Padres will make the first selection, we unveil an overhauled Tracker. Remember, this is not a projection of how the first 30 picks will fall.

Complete Index of 2004 Draft Coverage

Rank, Player, Position, School
Trend
1. Stephen Drew, ss, Florida State
Drew hasn't just moved into the lead to become the No. 1 pick. He's seized it, and it's considered a lock that the draft's best position player will go first overall.
Update: Went 2-for-3 Saturday with two walks and two stolen bases Saturday in regional play, as Padres begin to dot the i's and cross the t's.
2. Philip Humber, rhp, Rice
Factor in Jered Weaver's bonus demands, and Humber becomes the safest pick in the draft.
Update: Surrendered three-run home run in the eighth as Rice lost to Texas Southern 4-3 Friday night in the biggest upset in NCAA postseason history. Draft status remains unchanged.
3. Homer Bailey, rhp, La Grange (Texas) HS
Despite the usual concerns about high school righthanders, Bailey is so good that he could go as high as No. 2 to the Tigers and no lower than No. 10 to the Rangers.
4. Chris Nelson, ss, Redan HS, Decatur, Ga.
He's still considered the best high school position player available, but no longer the frontrunner to go No. 4 as Tampa Bay considers some college pitching.
5. Jered Weaver, rhp, Long Beach State
Despite his tremendous stats, the scouting consensus is that Weaver ranks among the first tier of college arms, not above them. His desire for Mark Prior money may push him down to the Rockies at No. 9, if not further.
Update: Rebounded from Miami debacle, going eight strong innings -- allowing just two runs (one earned) in 7-4 win over No. 1 Stanford.
6. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Rice
His offseason arthroscopic elbow surgery and in-season groin problems aren't considered long-term problems, but he's running out of chances to show his 2003 stuff.
Update: Retired all four batters he faced (whiffing two) to earn the save in Rice's must-win 6-3 victory over Lamar. Scouts will get a longer look Sunday if Owls stay alive.
7. Justin Verlander, rhp, Old Dominion
Verlander capped an inconsistent spring with a loss in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, but his electric arm means he'll still go off the board quickly.
8. Matt Bush, ss, Mission Bay HS, El Cajon, Calif.
Bush's bat is more of a question mark than Nelson's, but it's not out of the question he could go slightly ahead of his Georgia counterpart.
9. Mark Rogers, rhp, Mount Ararat HS, Orr's Island, Maine
Helium Alert! New England doesn't provide mid-90s heat too often, and Rogers is rocketing up the charts, possibly into the top five.
10. Jeremy Sowers, lhp, Vanderbilt
Sowers has been so smooth, so consistent since he was a high school senior that some scouting directors are wondering why he's not getting top-five consideration.
Update: Struck out 11 in eight innings Friday night while allowing just one run on four hits as Vanderbilt won their first NCAA Tournament game in 30 years.
11. Wade Townsend, rhp, Rice
He might be third-best of the Rice pitchers, but he's still pretty good and possibly underrated. Townsend could be a mid-first-round steal.
Update: Solid but unspectacular, moving to 12-0 and pitching into the eighth in Rice's Saturday win over Lamar.
12. Scott Elbert, lhp, Seneca (Mo.) HS
The draft's best prep lefthander should go in the middle of the first round, perhaps as high as No. 10 (Rangers).
13. Neil Walker, c, Pine Richland HS, Gibsonia, Pa.
The Pirates were in early on this local product at No. 11 and don't seem to be moving off him.
14. Eric Hurley, rhp, Wolfson HS, Jacksonville
Florida's high school player of the year pitched himself into the mid-first round and Wolfson to the state 5-A title.
15. Thomas Diamond, rhp, New Orleans
Diamond's command was off in a Sun Belt Conference tournament loss, but that still shouldn't stop him from going in the middle of the first round.
16. Josh Fields, 3b, Oklahoma State
Fields started to show the power that scouts covet with two doubles and two homers as the Cowboys won the Big 12 Conference tournament.
Update: 2-for-5 Saturday, and never has to worry about defensive lineman breathing down his neck again.
17. Philip Hughes, rhp, Foothill HS, Santa Ana, Calif.
The best of three Orange County righthanders with a shot to go in the first round, Hughes should fit somewhere between No. 12 (Angels) and No. 25 (Twins).
18. Jay Rainville, rhp, Bishop Hendricken HS, Pawtucket
Rocco Baldelli's alma mater has its second first-rounder in five seasons.
19. Billy Butler, 1b/3b, Wolfson HS, Jacksonville
Helium Alert! His future position may be uncertain, but few players in this draft can match his combination of pure hitting skills and power potential.
20. B.J. Szymanski, of, Princeton
Better known as a wide receiver coming into this spring, Szymanski became the draft's best five-tool talent.
Update: 2-for-9 with five strikeouts in a pair of Saturday games, as scouts get first chance to see him play against more advanced competition since March.
21. Justin Orenduff, rhp, Virginia Commonwealth
He doesn't have flashy stuff to match his cross-state rival Verlander, but Orenduff has been more consistent and will join him in the first round.
22. David Purcey, lhp, Oklahoma
Draft-eligible for the third time, Purcey has frustrated scouts with his inconsistency. He has done a better job this spring, though he pitched poorly in the Big 12 tournament.
Update: Delivered in a must-win situation Saturday, giving the Sooners their only regional win with a complete game five-hitter in 6-1 win over Central Connecticut.
23. Glen Perkins, lhp, Minnesota
He might be only 5-foot-10, but Perkins shows three plus pitches at times and it's highly unlikely that the Twins will pass on him three times in the first round.
Update: The good news: went the distance in regional opener against Cal State Fullerton. The bad news: took the loss and got rocked for seven runs on ten hits.
24. Danny Putnam, of, Stanford
He might not do anything but hit, but isn't that the primary responsibility for a left fielder anyway?
Update: Followed up five RBI night Friday by going 0-for-4 Saturday against Jered Weaver.
25. Mike Ferris, 1b, Miami (Ohio)
The Royals still are targeting this slugger, though now more likely at No. 29 than at No. 14.
26. Zach Jackson, lhp, Texas A&M
Jackson pitched himself into the mid-first round with some dominant performances in early May before two poor outings versus Texas dropped him into the bottom third.
27. Chris Lambert, rhp, Boston College
Lambert will give New England three first-rounders—all hard-throwing pitchers—tying its record set in the first draft in 1965.
28. Huston Street, rhp, Texas
College baseball's best money pitcher is very attractive to teams that value performance. That makes him a logical fit for the Athletics, who pick four times before the second round.
Update: Pitched final two innings of Saturday's 7-5 win over Oral Roberts, allowing one hit and striking out three.
29. Greg Golson, of, John Connally HS, Austin
The best high school athlete available, Golson is drawing interest in the late first round, including from his homestate Rangers.
30. Jason Vargas, lhp, Long Beach State
Weaver's less-heralded teammate could sneak into the middle of the first round to a budget-minded club.
Update: Seven strong innings in Dirtbags' Friday victory over St. John's may have cemented first-round status.

On The Bubble:

Eric Beattie, rhp, Tampa
Bill Bray, lhp, William & Mary
Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Tremble Tech, Fort Worth
Gio Gonzalez, lhp, Monsignor Pace HS, Miami
Justin Hoyman, rhp, Florida
Tyler Lumsden, lhp, Clemson
Trevor Plouffe, ss, Crespi HS, Northridge, Calif.
Michael Rogers, rhp, North Carolina State
Kurt Suzuki, c, Cal State Fullerton
Taylor Tankersley, lhp, Alabama
Mark Trumbo, rhp, Villa Park HS, Orange, Calif.

 
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