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Friday Draft Chat

Moderator: John Manuel will be taking your question until 2-2:30 p.m., at which time Allan Simpson will take over. We'll try our best to get to as many questions as we can.

 Q:  billy from manhattan asks:
what will the mets do at number 3 and then in the second round?
 A: 

Moderator: Thanks to all of you for your patience; we've gotten some computer issues out of the way and have gotten started. John chats until 2:30, then gives way to BA draft guru Allan Simpson.

John Manuel: Nice, simple, straightforward question. All signs point toward scouting director Jack Bowen and the Mets taking Rice RHP Philip Humber, though there is some thought that they organization could also select Old Dominion RHP Justin Verlander if he's available at 3. The Tigers, who have not tipped their hand, could go w.Verlander at 2.

 Q:  sam smith from NY asks:
what do you think are the chance's of the yankees taking giovany gonzalez a #23 i know he got kicked off his team but im really impressed by him and you know how the yankees feel about left handed pitching by the way the only H.S. pitcher's i would take over him would be bailey & rogers but that's just me what do you think?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sam, I hope clubs take your evaluation into account. Rogers and Bailey (perhaps now in that order for many clubs) appear to be the top two prep pitchers. I'd take Eric Hurley over Gio as well, though, and there are other prep pitchers in the mix like Scott Elbert out of Missouri. I don't see Gonzalez going to the Yankees; it doesn't appear that he is going to go that high and he may have fallen out of the first round completely now. It's not so much the makeup as the fact that he's a smallish lefthander, and has one above-average pitch (curve).

 Q:  Squire from Philadelphia, PA asks:
Can you briefly explain the permission necessary for a team to re-draft a player that it has previously drafted but not signed? For example, the Phillies drafted Jason Jaramillo 3 years ago. Do they need his permission to draft him again? How is such permission generally obtained? Do the teams actively seek such permission?
 A: 

John Manuel: It is fairly simple; clubs must ask a previous drafted player to sign what amounts to a permission slip, allowing them to re-draft the player. We've only heard of situations where a re-draft was denied in very acrimonious negotiations, and that has not come up with regard to Jaramillo.

 Q:  Terry from Columbia, SC asks:
Where is South Carolina 2B Kevin Melillo projected to be picked?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm a Melillo fan (which is why I answered this question), but I don't see him being a high pick. He could sneak into the first 10 rounds, but toward the back end of that. He's a college player who has shown the ability to hit, he has good pop (he had hamate surgery this year but hit 12 homers last season) and he's adequate at 2B.

 Q:  Marc Finkel from Framingham, MA asks:
You guys can't have complete draft coverage without a Matt Harrington update! I noticed that his recent performances have been up and down (go figure). Will any team take a chance on him? Will he finally bite the bullet and sign, or is he more interested in tying Mark Hendrickson for the most times drafted?
 A: 

John Manuel: WE had a Harrington update recently where it sounded like he was finally ready to sign. Don't know what he was waiting for. The bottom line with him is, he won't get picked too high because he has no leverage, plus he tops out at 93-94 mph now (and pitches right around 90) instead of the 96-97 mph he showed in high school. All the down time, the lost experience and innings and reps he would have gotten had he signed back in 2000, have cost him arm strength, goodwill, money . . . it's truly a pitiful situation.

 Q:  Abe from Long Beach, CA asks:
The Red Sox have signed San Diego State righthander Scott Shoemaker as a fifth-year senior. Craig Burley of The Hardball Times ranked Shoemaker 136th among college pitchers, ahead of more-heralded hurlers like Huston Street, Jason Vargas, and Jeff Niemann, an obvious top-10 pick. Shoemaker, the 2004 Mountain West Pitcher of the Year, had been drafted three times but never higher than the 21st round. How would you compare him to draft-eligible college pitchers this year?
 A: 

John Manuel: No offense, but Shoemaker was not listed higher than Niemann, Street or Vargas on any draft boards, I can guarantee that. He's an average college pitcher and a solid fifth-year senior sign, but there were better college seniors in SoCal this year; I personally prefer Casey Janssen of UCLA, for example. Shoemaker has average stuff and has never shown consistency over the course of a year, unlike the other players mentioned here.

 Q:  Jeff from Philadelphia asks:
Hey guys! Stuck up here in Philly, I don't get as much info on Baylor as I used to. They sure disappointed this year, despite a large number of decent draft possibilities. What's the word (if any) on guys like Trey Taylor, Josh Ford, Michael Griffin, Abe Woody, or any of the other handful of draft-eligible Bears?
 A: 

John Manuel: Mr. Brown, the Bears did disappoint all spring. Trey Taylor still looks like their best draft this year despite his own inconsistency; he rarely shows the low 90s heat that made him a second-round pick out of high school three years ago, and he doesn't miss a lot of bats with his four-pitch mix. Mike Pankratz, the outfielder, might be next off the board from the Bears, thanks to his power-speed mix, though he lacks experience and is a draft-eligible sophomore, giving him some leverage. Woody is smallish and a draft-eligible sophomore who actually had a good year, but he only profiles as a setup man. Griffin is a dead-red fastball hitter who lacks a true position. Josh Ford's shoulder surgery and poor seasons by many of their juniors probably relegates the rest of the Bears to solid senior signs next year.

 Q:  Kevin from Ft. Lee, NJ asks:
Rutgers OF Jeff Frazier had an outstanding season. Where do you see him being drafted?
 A: 

John Manuel: Sounds like he's a second- or third-round pick. His tools are solid but some scouts question the bat for him. He has a knack for the game thought with excellent instincts. Brother Todd Frazier should go right in the same range, perhaps a round or two later in the 4-5 range.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
how sure are the padres taking stephen drew with the 1st pick?
 A: 

John Manuel: We're not 100 percent with it, but everyone in the industry that we have talked to has heard the same thing--he's No. 1 on San Diego's draft board at this point.

 Q:  Jason from Brooklyn, NY asks:
With Mark newman once again running the draft, I'm worried that the Yankees will go back to their conservative approach of drafting low risk college players again instead of taking a chance on high ceiling raw talent H.S. kids like under Gordon Blakely last year. Do you see them taking the conservative approach with this draft under Newman?
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, Lin Garrett is the Yankees' scouting director, and he's always received input from the likes of Newman, Gordon Blakely, etc. I don't see the Yankees reverting to the all-seniors, all-the-time draft strategy they employed a couple of years back. Newman has said on the record that the club had some bad drafts, and the Yankees have learned from their mistakes, I believe.

 Q:  Steve from New York City asks:
The Sox don't pick until 65, how do you think that will affect their strategy, i.e. any chance they pick up some kids with high demands and hand out good size bonuses? Can you toss out a few college kids that will be of interest and around at 65?
 A: 

John Manuel: We threw out Jeff Frazier's name in our draft preview issue, and others who could be around include Notre Dame's Grant Johnson (coming on strong down the stretch) or South Carolina's Billy Buckner (will the Sox give him a chance to redeem the name for their fans?). I'd also expect the Sox to go for players who performed well in the Cape Cod League last year such as LSU outfielders JC Holt and Jon Zeringue (Zeringue profiles more as a 2nd-round pick than Holt).

 Q:  bobby johnson from Memphis asks:
What do you know about the draft positions of Ole Miss players Seth Smith, Matt Tolbert, Anthony Cupps, and Barry Gunther?
 A: 

John Manuel: Seth Smith's late slump (he's fallen below .300) can't be helping much; he sounds like a third-rounder to me. Tolbert would be next on the list, possibly in the first 10 rounds, more in the 10-15 round range. I'd say OF Charlie Babineaux and RHP Jeremy Zick could be their next drafted players, as they have power tools (bat for Babineaux, 91-93 mph fastball for Zick).

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Thanks for doing these chats guys, what about East Carolina CF Ryan Jones(can you say Moneyball?), will the A's be drafting him early, or will they wait till later rounds?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's certainly a performance player (nation's leader in OPS) rather than a toolsy one (DH thanks to an elbow injury, 5-foot-7 frame). Jones won't be a guy any stats-savvy team would have to take high, because they're competing against each other for his services. He's also a senior, so there's a lot for those clubs to like--performance and affordability.

 Q:  bob from astoria asks:
what's the scouting report on former ucla qb matt moore...how big of a prospect is he?
 A: 

John Manuel: We wrote about him in our last Draft Pulse (which will revert to a regular Prospect Pulse next week after the draft). Moore has a pro body at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, but he's really raw and hasn't played baseball since his junior year in HS. He profiles as a third baseman and has shown raw power as well as a strong throwing arm befitting a QB. His upside is considerable, first five rounds upside, but he probably won't go that high because of the inexperience and time away from the game.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
which rice pitcher could reach the majors first niemann, humber, or townsend?
 A: 

John Manuel: The consensus seems to be Humber, though Townsend also could move quickly as a reliever. You could really put them in any order.

 Q:  Alex from Bethesda, MD asks:
Could Jared Kubin slip into the first five rounds? He was at one point last year considered a top prospect but has now faded off the charts.
 A: 

John Manuel: Kubin has slipped, having a poor senior year, and we have heard it's very doubtful that he would go in the first five rounds.

 Q:  Tracy alonzo from austin, texas asks:
At this point, would a high school student-athlete have any indication that they are to be selected in next weeks draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: Absolutely they'd know they could be picked, because they would have filled out questionnaires from scouts and probably would have talked to them as well. They just probably don't know where they are going to go.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Who is the better 3B prospect Matt Macri or Brad McCann?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm off the McCann bandwagon, and I'd take Macri, whose tools are better across the board except for the all-important hit tool. That said, that's the most important tool, and it's McCann's strongsuit. Macri's swing has always had its detractors, but he has good plate discipline and has shown improvement at the plate. I'd go with Macri.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Where do you think injured GA Tech OF Jeremy Slayden Will be drafted?
 A: 

John Manuel: I'd guess late on the draft's first day (18th-22nd round) so that teams can call him near the end of the day, tell him they'll follow him in the Cape Cod League, then assess how much money they have left in August and assess his health and Cape performance. He's a nice insurance policy.

 Q:  Drew from Parkland, FL asks:
John and Allen- Can you answer some questions on B.J. Szymanski for me. I'm an Ivy League student and I've watched him play quite a few games over the years and he seems to have little discipline at the plate and an erratic throwing arm. How much of the hype surrounding him is derived from his one swing off of Verlander earlier in the year? Thanks
 A: 

John Manuel: That game put him on the map. I think his tools, athletic ability, etc., created the subsequent hype. It's a fair point, though. He's not the average college draft, being that he's so raw and hasn't really hit with wood in competitive games. I don't think he's just a product of hype from one swing, however.

 Q:  eric from chicago asks:
What are the real reasons Weaver is not the consensus #1 pick in the upcoming draft. I mean I have heard delivery, his brother, he projects to be a #3... but nothing concerning his mind, or his stuff.
 A: 

John Manuel: 1) His fastball is his only plus pitch according to most scouts. 2) His delivery creates deception but also precludes, in many scouts' minds, the development of an above-average breaking ball, especially precluding tilt (i.e., his breaking ball is a one-plane pitch, not two). 3) His bonus demands seem excessive. He's performed like Mark Prior, but his stuff should not command a Prior-like $10.5 million MLB contract in the mind of most clubs. We're hearing Weaver could slip out of the first 10 picks based on his perceived bonus demands.

 Q:  Dani from Pittsburgh asks:
We have heard all about Neil Walker from Western Pennsylvania, what about the rest of the talent from the state in HS and in the college ranks?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Keystone State appears to be pretty thin. We rated Walker as the only player likely to go in the first five rounds, and he sounds like he could go eighth to the Orioles or 11th to the Pirates; beyond those two clubs, it's a guess as to where he would go. The state has some decent college pitchers like Shippensburg's Randy Dicken and Evan Englebrook, Penn State's Clay Hamilton and BUcknell's Matt Daley. Michael McGuire, a prep RHP out of Folsom, is the top high school player after Walker.

 Q:  Matt from Wichita asks:
Where do you see some of the Wichita State guys going in the draft? Particularly TOmmy Hottovy, Brandon Green, and Logen Sorensen. Thanks, and you guys do a great job.
 A: 

John Manuel: Hottovy has to have improved his draft chances by pitching well as a starter down the stretch after injuries forced him to move in from the bullpen; we have him going in the fifth round or so. Sorensen and Green are organizational guys who will go as soon as a club decides it must start filling minor league needs. Drew MOffitt might go before them because of his power bat and solid arm strength.

 Q:  Wilbur Miller from Silver Spring, MD asks:
How likely are the Orioles to go for Neil Walker? And if they don't, what's the Pirates' contingency plan?
 A: 

John Manuel: The Orioles are said to be interested in Jeremy Sowers (if he falls to them at 8), as well as Justin Verlander (same deal). Walker, B.J. Szymanski and LHP Scott Elbert also are said to be in the mix for the O's.

 Q:  Alex from Bethesda, MD asks:
Why is Chris Nelson projected as a higher draft pick than Matt Bush?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's a bit more physical, and he's more advanced with the bat. Nelson's best tool is his bat; he has a short, compact stroke and the bat head stays in the hitting zone a long time. Bush doesn't project to hit for the average or power that Nelson does at this point. But then again, B.J. Upton's bat was supposed to be behind his defense when he was drafted, so it's not like this is set in stone.

 Q:  John from Richmond asks:
We have been hearing this is a pitching-rich draft (especially in the first round). How does this years crop measure up to the previous two drafts?
 A: 

John Manuel: It's probably going to set a record for most pitchers drafted in the first round. It seems like last year's draft class was better than this one, and so was the '02 draft, which seemed poor at the time but has sent Khalil Green and Zack Greinke to the majors and has B.J. Upton knocking on the door.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what players are the devil rays considering at #4?
 A: 

John Manuel: Chris Nelson and Matt Bush were the top choices, but in recent days the Devil Rays appear to have reversed course and set their sights on a college pitcher. That would leave whoever's available from the Rice trio, Jered Weaver (though they don't have the financial resources to deal with a Boras client, do they?) and Justin Verlander. Might I suggest Jeremy Sowers, whose polish and maturity could allow him to help this club's impoverished staff next year. That's just me though.

 Q:  Zack from Abilene TX asks:
I heard the Rangers had both Homer Bailey and Scott Elbert in for a workout this week. Is Bailey the Rangers first choice? Will the Rangers select Elbert if Bailey is gone?
 A: 

John Manuel: We believe that info is correct. It sounds like the Rangers are really on Elbert, who is similar in some ways to 2003 first-rounder John Danks. They also are said to have interest in RHP Eric Hurley and OF Greg Golson for the 30th pick if those players are available. Assistant GM Grady Fuson also has an affinity to "pitchability" college arms, of which this draft has plenty (Zach Jackson, Justin Hoyman, Matt Fox, Eric Beattie . . . )

 Q:  Dean Quinton from Brooks, Alta asks:
Good morning gentlemen, is there any chance that Tyler Lumsden will be available to the Jays at #32 and is there any speculation who they may take with that pick?
 A: 

John Manuel: He should be there, and I don't know that the Jays are considered to be "on" Lumsden. Another LHP, William & Mary reliever Billy Bray, appears to be higher on their list, and they also like RHP Justin Orenduff of VCU. Lumsden's command issues don't profile him well for this organization.

 Q:  Danny Tonkin from Astoria, NY asks:
I was wondering that why has Michael Taylor fallen so much since the beginning of the year, and as a Met fan does he have good value as their high second round Pick? Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule
 A: 

John Manuel: Simply put, Taylor hasn't hit enough for anyone's liking, and I doubt he'll go in the second round. His swing needs a lot of help; he doesn't hit the ball authoritatively with any consistency. He'd be an asset to any organization but will have to be bought out of his Stanford commitment. I see him donning the Cardinal for the next three seasons.

 Q:  Kyle from Stanford asks:
I was wondering where you think the Seniors from Stanford might fall in this draft. Particularly, where will Brian Hall, Jonny Ash, and Sam Fuld go? Thanks in advance.
 A: 

John Manuel: And speaking of which, he could get some playing time, as Stanford will have an all-new outfield next year. Junior Danny Putnam will get drafted highly, and so should Hall and Fuld. I'm a big Hall fan as he's versatile (he's played some 3B in the past), runs better than Fuld and hits with more authority. Sam is a great guy, good hitter, nice outfielder, but he doesn't run well and has had a poor season. I know he raked on the Cape, but it's hard to see him being an impact pro player. Jonny Ash is a personal favorite, a great college player who looks like an organizations 2b-3b kind of guy. He's probably going to be the last of this trio who is drafted, but he should go on the draft's first day. Hall has a shot in the 6th-10th round range, Fuld a bit behind him.

 Q:  Matt from asks:
Where will the following players be drafted and please provide some insite into the quality of prospect - thanks Billy Buckner Ross Olendorf Billy Butler Matt Fox Dustin Pedroia
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, from this group, it seems as if Billy Butler now may be the highest-drafted player because of his polished power bat. I like Fox next, he commands four pitches and has hit 96 mph, though his fastball can be straight and his clean delivery lacks deception. Ohlendorf and Buckner sound like 2nd or 3rd round picks to me. There's no telling where Pedroia will go, though it's almost certain he'll go to a stats-savvy organization, perhaps to the A's with a supplemental first-round pick or 49th to them (another compensation pick they got).

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
How would you predict the top five picks on Monday?
 A: 

John Manuel: Well, this is just my opinion, but here goes: Drew to San Diego, Verlander to the Tigers, Humber to the Mets, Niemann to the Devil Rays and fast-rising Maine prep RHP Mark Rogers to the Brewers.

 Q:  Fernando Quinones from Clifton, NJ asks:
How good is this Drew kid and if you had to compare him yourself, which current shortshop would you compare him to?
 A: 

John Manuel: That Drew kid is pretty solid. I just dug up a story I did on the Drews in 1997, when J.D. and Tim were first-round picks, and I quoted Tim as saying that Stephen would be the best of the Drews. It appears that could be the case if he stays at SS. Scouts who saw him in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last weekend say he played with fire, showed good infield actions and instincts, and no one questions his bat. He has very quick hands, trusts them and hits for power. To compare him to a current player . . . the comp always seems to be Todd Walker with more athleticism and better defensive ability.

 Q:  Dean Quinton from Brooks, Alta asks:
There was some speculation on a Jays fan site that JP had ordered his scouts to be up on some prep players, has BA any knowledge of this and with a couple of extra picks this year do you see the Jays taking a prep player in the early rounds?
 A: 

John Manuel: I just don't see the Jays straying from a path that the organization has been pretty strident about under J.P. Ricciardi. If there's a Zack Greinke out there, maybe, but there doesn't appear to be one. Scouts from other organizations tell us that they rarely see Jays scouts at high school games.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
could the houston regional possilby determine which Rice pitcher could possibly be drafted first?
 A: 

John Manuel: Amazingly, it does seem that way. Jeff Niemann just has to show someone, as JIm Callis has told me, "some 2003". If he does, he moves back up where he belongs on draft boards. If he's in the 85-88 mph range again like he was against Louisiana Tech, he could fall. I think most scouts have their minds made up on Humber and Townsend, however.

 Q:  Philip from Glasgow, Pa. asks:
Is there much chance the Athletics could stray from their recent drafting philosophy on any of their higher picks? If not, what are the chances they could land both Danny Putnam and Hudson Street, or are they zeroing in on someone else?
 A: 

John Manuel: We hear the A's tied in to a lot of performance-based college players again, such as Street, Putnam, Cal State Fullerton's Kurt Suzuki and N.C. State's Michael Rogers. However, they did have a presence in Puerto Rico this year, sparking rumors the A's could draft OF Reinaldo Alicano.

 Q:  Kevin from Uniontown, Pa. asks:
If the Pirates are unable to select Neil Walker, who do you think would be their next choice? Diamond, Szymanski? Thank you.
 A: 

John Manuel: Kevin, their first choice appears to be Chris Nelson; if he's gone, then Walker might be next for them. We also have the Tigers considering Southern California prep shortstop Trevor Pluffe, though they may be the only club in the draft with him that high on their draft board.

 Q:  kurt adams from woodville washington asks:
is it true the yankees were scouting matt tuiasospo if so don't you think they would be scared off I.E.another drew henson and i also read he doesn't show patience at the plate.
 A: 

John Manuel: I'm skeptical on Touiasosopo going in the first round, but the Yankees are among the clubs that don't shy away from football guys. For me, the question is does a club let the guy split his time? That never seems to work (see the Cowboys QBs). If they buy him out of football, he could be worth a second-round pick.

 Q:  Nate from Harrisburg asks:
We have beat the 2004 draft to death already. Can we get a ballpark top 5 overall for 2005?
 A: 

John Manuel: Wow, OK, I'll give it a shot. In the college ranks, John Mayberry Jr. (Stanford) and Tyler Greene (Ga. TEch) factor in along with Wichita STate RHP Mike Pelfrey. Prep SS Justin Upton (B.J.'s little brother) is the top high school talent, followed by Columbus, Ga., RHP-1B Iain Sebastian. Georgia prep LHP Miers Quigley throws 93-94 mph and looks like he's in the mix there as well.

 Q:  ELTiger from Lansing, MI asks:
How strong are Kyle Waldrop and David Price's commitments to Vanderbilt? In other words, how signable are they?
 A: 

John Manuel: They're both considered very strong and might require a high-six-figure bonus to buy out. Waldrop appears to be a Braves target, and he's led Knoxville's Farragut High to an amazing season; I believe it ranks No. 2 in our current national Top 25. Price sounds like a second-round talent who is intent on going to school

 Q:  Pauley from Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto asks:
After reading the bio on Stanford's OF Danny Putnam, is he a glorified Jeremy Giambi, considering his defensive shortcommings?
 A: 

John Manuel: No comparison for me there. Putnam actually tries to field and works hard to be a better fielder. Does anyone remember last year's CWS? Putnam was making sliding catches all over the place. He just doesn't have great defensive tools, but he's fundamentally sound and actually attempts to play defense. Those aren't traits I associate with Jeremy Giambi.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what players kansas city might draft with the 14th, 29th, and 31st?
 A: 

Moderator: Just FYI, everyone, Allan Simpson will join the chat room as soon as he's off the phone . . .

John Manuel: First, it appears the Royals have backed off of 1B Mike Ferris of Miami (Ohio) with their first pick (14th overall) in favor of college pitching, with Boston College's Chris Lambert a possibility. Ferris could fall to them with the 29th pick. They're also said to have interest in Miami prep LHP Gio Gonzalez.

 Q:  Tim from Akron asks:
John, who are you guys projecting as Cleveland's pick at #6 ? Any clues to the 6 guys they have on their final list ?
 A: 

John Manuel: Jeremy Sowers at 6 would be a great value. Matt Bush is also said to be high on the Tribe board, which also includes the Rice trio and Verlander, as well as Homer Bailey. To our knowledge, they're not interested in meeting Jered Weaver's high price tag. It really does seem like the industry has gotten together to try to force down Weaver's asking price by putting the word out that no one wants to pay him Mark Prior money. It's an interesting scenario.

 Q:  John from Corvallis asks:
What round(s) is Oregon State LHP Jake Postlewait predicted to be selected on Monday? He had a great year earning All-Pac-10 honors while posting an 11-3 record with a 3.72 ERA. Seems like a great senior sign! What clubs might be interested?
 A: 

John Manuel: He is a nice senior sign in the first 10 rounds. As for clubs . . . that's asking a lot, but look for clubs that have taken players such as Drew, Weaver, etc.--clubs that have spent a lot of money in the first round, or teams like the A's, Twins or Royals with multiple picks to try to save a little money with a senior sign in the first 10 rounds.

 Q:  Chris from Houston asks:
We all know about the Rice three, but what about Josh Baker? Where do you see him fitting into this draft?
 A: 

John Manuel: He's just not good enough to fit into the same discussion as Humber-Townsend-Niemann. He's a 3rd or 4th round guy, a solid arm, average to slightly-above-average stuff across the board.

Moderator: OK, here comes Allan Simpson. John says thank you.

 Q:  Squire from Philadelphia, PA asks:
Despite BA's latest prognostication, it seems that Philadelphia is focused on high school rather than college pitching at 21. Are you hearing the same thing?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Allan Simpson, checking in. John and I are doing a tandem today, trying to answer as many of the 300-plus questions on the board. The Phillies haven't been that easy to read, except that it appears they want a pitcher. We have both high school and college names in the mix. The high school names we're hearing are Jay Rainville and Scott Elbert, though I think Elbert will be gone. We also hear David Purcey, but I also think he'll be gone.

 Q:  Kent from Bloomington, MN asks:
How far do you see Scott Elbert falling in the first round? Any chance he might be available when the Twins select at #20?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I just addressed Elbert in the last question, and indicated he probaby wouldn't be there for the Phillies at 21. I'm hearing him as high as No. 8 to the Orioles and No. 10 to the Rangers, who reportedly had him in Texas yesterday working him out. I think it's a slim chance he'll last to the Twins.

 Q:  Sam from www.CalLeaguers.com asks:
John, Does Diablo Valley OF Spike McDougall have a shot @ the top 10 rounds?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I'd say he's got an outside chance of going in the first 10. He was under control to the Astros from '03, but they didn't sign him. He can swing the bat in a draft that is a little lean on hitters.

 Q:  Dave from Sioux Falls SD asks:
Thanks for the chat. I can hardly wait til Monday, nor can I hardly wait til your first-round update mock tomorrow. Can you give me a hint of what the Cardinals are thinking as the draft gets really close? Thanks.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: The Cardinals pick 19th and have been a little vague, but the name that we keep hearing is Josh Fields of Oklahoma State. It's possible it could David Purcey, another player from Oklahoma, if he lasts that far.

 Q:  Lenny from Green Bay, WI asks:
Where do you project Erik Cordier going in the draft? Ive heard 2-3, but I havent noticed him throwing much lately. Any concerns or problems with his arm? Thanks.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: On the basis of his first outing this season, he would have been a first-rounder. Up to 94 that day. He hasn't pitched quite as well since, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him go early in the second round.

 Q:  Sammy from Nevada asks:
UNLV's Eric Nielsen had a great year hitting .410 16HR 86RBI while earning All-American status and conference player of the year. He was a Cape League All-Star this summer hitting .333....What are his draft prospects?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: He's had a great year after not being drafted a year ago. I can see him going somewhere in the first 10 rounds to a team looking for a bargain. UNLV probably has more good senior signs than any team in the country, and I can see Brent Johnson and Jake Vose also being good picks off that team.

 Q:  Javier from Miami asks:
Will the marlins continue with their high school first rounders or go with college guys early because of what happened with Allison?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I hear they're going for college pitching, and I don't think Allison has any bearing. The names I'm hearing most are Zach Jackson, if he lasts that long, along with Bill Bray and Huston Street. But they're also looking closely at Billy Butler, Greg Golson and Dexter Fowler--all high school bats.

 Q:  Doug Hennessee from St. Paul, MN asks:
Great draft content, as always. How will the Twins approach their windfall of early draft picks? There are rumblings in town that they are concerned about fitting all the signing bonuses in under their budget. Will any or all of their early picks be "signability" picks, and do you have any indications which players they might be looking at in the early rounds?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Doug, I understand they're looking for a blend of college pitching and high school hitters. I think they'll draft legitimate talent, and sign as many as they can for what their budget allows. In the end, they may only sign 14-15 players. I'd count on Glen Perkins as an obvious hometown pick and possibly Notre Dame's Grant Johnson. From there you might look to players like Eric Hurley and Billy Butler from the same Florida high school, Blake Dewitt and Jay Rainville.

 Q:  Jimmy from Chesapeake asks:
Thanks for doing the chat. Are the A's still looking at Street and Plouffe? Is there any chance that Szymanski of Princeton falls to them, and would they take him if he did?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Absolutely. Street is squarely in their mix, along with other college hitters like Danny Putnam, Kurt Suzuki and Mike Ferris, and college like Michael Rogers, J.P. Howell and Taylor Tankersley. The A's rarely look at high school players but Plouffe is an exception.

 Q:  Ken from Grand Rapids, Michigan asks:
Do you still think the Tigers will take Niemann if he is available. Are they still seriously considering Verlander?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: It appears the Tigers are back on to Verlander, though Niemann and Homer Bailey also are in their mix. They were on Verlander most of the spring and wavered a bit when he didn't pitch well consistently--just as Niemann came in to the mix. But questions linger about Niemann's health and performance.

 Q:  steve from MD asks:
Where do you see Justin Maxwell going in the draft this year? He did not play this year due to a broken arm, but was thought of as a possible first round talent going into the season. Will he sign?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I believe someone will take Maxwell from the third to fifth round, see how he plays this summer for Cotuit in the Cape Cod League and then determine whether to sign him. Off his performance last summer on the Cape, he was a borderline first-rounder. He's 6-foot-5 with a lot of tools--a pretty intriguing prospect.

 Q:  rick from maine asks:
How come there hasn't been much talk on Mark Rogers. He was just name gatorade national player of the year. This kid is good!Where do you think he will go in the draft?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Actually, there has been a lot of talk about Mark--especially among scouts. He is squarely in the mix for Milwaukee at 5, Cincinnati at 7, Anaheim at 12 and Montreal at 13, if not other clubs. I think teams are convinced that his stats--7-0, 0.14, 10 walks and 125 strikeouts in 49 innings--at a Maine high school are legit, and not a product of weak competition. By the way, he was named the Gatorade national high school player of the year today. So he has gotten his share of attention.

 Q:  John from Atlanta asks:
I have the draft as following for picks 1 to 10. Drew, Weaver, Niemman, Nelson, Humber, Townsend, Sowers, Verlander, Bush, and Bailey. What do you think?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Not a bad order, but the Tigers will not take Weaver at No. 2 (one Weaver was enough for the Tigers) and there's a big question whether anyone else in the first 10 will. There are few clubs prepared to take on his asking price and Scott Boras. The Devil Rays also won't take a high school player at No. 4 any longer, because of their new owner's and Lou Piniella's wishes for a college pitcher.

 Q:  Will from Minneapolis asks:
Will a good outing for Jeff Niemann this weekend be too late to move him up to 1 or 2 in the draft?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: A good performance could get him to No. 2, but it looks like the Padres are pretty set on Drew at No. 1. The Devil Rays are also on Niemann pretty hard.

 Q:  Tom from Texas asks:
Allan, which teams in the top 10-12 have interest in drafting Homer Bailey, there are certain teams that write off drafting prep pitchers, where do you see Bailey ending up ?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Bailey has drawn strong interest from Detroit at No. 2, Tampa Bay at No. 4, Milwaukee at No. 5, Texas at No. 10 and Anaheim at No. 12. I think he's most likely to go to the Rangers because the Tigers and Devil Rays will settle for college pitchers, while the Brewers will opt for Mark Rogers over Bailey.

 Q:  Manny from Oaktown', Cali asks:
Draft Prediction: the Oakland A's will select Florida St OF Eddy Martinez-Esteve. Reason 1: they have no right-handed power hitters in the system. Reason 2: they like drafting Florida St players, see Matt Lynch and Trent Peterson from last year. Reason 3: South region scout Billy Owens will strangle Billy Beane if he does not draft the players he likes!
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Good reasons all, but I don't hear his name among the four picks Oakland has before the start of the second round. I can see him, though, going late in the second round. Eddy's definitely an American League player because he's a below-average defender. Comparisons to Manny Ramirez are pretty apt.

 Q:  John from Iowa asks:
How do the college third baseman rank this year compare to last year's first round class of third baseman?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Last year's draft had Ian Stewart, Eric Duncan, Matt Moses, Brian Snyder and Conor Jackson (since moved to the outfield by the D'backs) in the first round alone, so that was a pretty solid group. This year isn't nearly as strong. Josh Fields should be a first-rounder, but there are no other true third basemen in the first couple of rounds, though Blake Dewitt projects as a third baseman. Keep an eye on him. He could ease into the first round, as the Dodgers and Twins have a lot of interest.

 Q:  Q from WPB,FL asks:
Could you compare Greg Golson and Dexter Fowler? My Marlins are drafting #27.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: These players are pretty similar. Golson is a little more athletic and runs a little faster, but Fowler may project a little more power as he fills out his 6-foot-5 frame. I can see both going towards the end of the first round, though I've heard the Reds, at No. 7, have shown a lot of interest in Fowler.

 Q:  Tony from Queens asks:
Hey fellas, Looking ahead to next year's draft, where do you see two local New York products, St. John's Craig Hansen and Notre Dame's Craig Cooper to go? I heard Hansen's fastball has jumped to another level(mid to high 90s) while Cooper has been crushing the ball all year. I appreciate your input.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I see Hansen in the first two rounds, while it's a bit more of a wait-and-see on Cooper, though he has good tools across the board.

 Q:  Ansel Graham from Brooklyn asks:
What pitchers do you think will be available for the Yankees at #23 and of those pitchers who is the best?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Three pitchers that might last to 23 that the Yankees have followed closely are Grant Johnson, Philip Hughes and Jay Rainville. The Yankees would like to get a blend of power arms and athletes with all their early selections--four among the first 42--with an emphasis on college talent, so I would favor Johnson, if he's 100 percent healthy.

 Q:  Jerry from Greenwich asks:
Thanks Jon and Allan, The Mets signed a kid named Jonathan Malo as a D&F. Can you tell me anything about him. They drafted him for the second time. So there must be some potential right?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: He's interesting mostly because he's a Canadian, and will be subject to the visa problem that will impact Canadians and other foreigners that sign between now and October. None of these players will be allowed to play because the Department of Labor has an embargo on temporary visas. Beyond that, Malo is a pretty good little middle infielder with speed they signed out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC as a 48th-round DFE.

 Q:  Dean Quinton from Brooks, Alta asks:
Do you see Purcey, Jackson and Lumsden perhaps being better major league pitchers than Sowers? Polish aside does he have enough fastball to stand ahead of these guys in five years?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I think all three may have a higher upside than Sowers because they can throw 93-95 mph, but Sowers is much more polished and efficient. You know what you're getting with him, while the others have shown flashes but been erratic.

 Q:  Nick from Montreal, Canada asks:
Good Afternoon. What players are the Expos looking at with their first round pick? Also, they recently just signed a draft and follow by the name of Terry Engles. Any info. on him. Thanks!
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I'm hearing the Expos short list has two pitchers: Mark Rogers and Wade Townsend. If both are gone, my guess is they'll pull a repeat of last year and go for a proven college closer capable of reaching the big leagues quickly, like Bill Bray or Huston Street. I also wouldn't rule out Thomas Diamond.

 Q:  kcopus from kansas city asks:
Thanks for taking my question. Allard Baird keeps saying he is looking for a college pitcher in the 1st, but can you see KC getting Fields and then grabbing Suzuki later on?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Almost everyone we're talking to has the Royals taking Chris Lambert at 14. Ownership has pretty much dictated taking a college pitcher. If Mike Ferris, who they showed a lot of interest in early in May, is still available at 29, I can see them taking him there.

 Q:  Jeff from Cleveland asks:
Hey Allan, any insights into the Indians draft plans, we've heard every possible name out there Sowers, Bailey, Drew, Verlander, Walker, Bush, Rogers.....The Indians being a blend organization its hard to gauge what they will do, any clues ? Thanks as always for these great chats
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I hear Sowers pretty universally. There's also some interest in Matt Bush, and I'm sure they'd seriously consider a power arm like Niemann, Verlander or Humber if they should slip to No. 6, but I think Sowers is the guy.

 Q:  David from VA beach asks:
How far could you see Verlander sliding to?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Definitely not past 7.

 Q:  Bill Stevenson from Durham, NC asks:
Where do you project Duke pitcherfirst baseman Tim Layden will go in the draft?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We had thought 4th-5th round earlier, but his performance in the ACC tournament may have boosted him into the second round.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Think the Pirates are going to select Neil Walker?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: He's the player they've probably pursued harder this spring than any other, but they'd be hard pressed to pass on Chris Nelson if he slides to them at No. 11. Also, don't rule out Trevor Plouffe. Few teams see him as a legit first-rounder, but the Pirates have been really impressed with him.

 Q:  alex from los angeles asks:
Who's gonna be in charge of the Dodgers Draft Room? Who are they drafting with their 3 first rounders?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: This might be the most interesting question in the draft. We hear that Logan White will still call the shots, and in that case would emphasize high school talent. But we've also heard that he may have to take a blend of high school and college talent. And there's also the scenario that Paul DePodesta may dictate that the Dodgers emphasize mostly college players. Not knowing which scenario will play out makes it difficult to project which players they may take. If it's high school, I can see a combination of Scott Elbert, Eric Hurley, Philip Hughes, Eric Cordier and Matt Dewitt.

 Q:  ninetybayou from San Francisco, CA asks:
What top DNF prospects are going to be heading back to this year's draft pool?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: The two best draft-and-follows--Luis Cota and Ryan Mattheus--signed, so I would say the best of the remainder are Van Pope (Meridian, Miss., JC), Josh Wahpepah (Cowley County, Kan., CC), Jordan Parraz (Southern Nevada) and Travis DeBondt (Bakersfield JC).

 Q:  Bomber from Maryland asks:
What do you think the Cubs will do with their first pick in the 2nd round?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We projected Notre Dame righthander with the Cubs a couple of weeks ago, but it now appears Johnson could be gone. He would have been a natural fit because he's from Chicago and Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Notre Dame are very close friends, and I'm sure Hendry would have all the information on Johnson's medical history at his disposal.

 Q:  Wally from St. Paul, MN asks:
Is there a chance that Weaver can fall to the Brewers, and if so will they jump on him if he's there?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: It's highly likely that Weaver will fall to the Brewers, but they won't draft him. They like the talent but they can't afford not to sign him.

 Q:  Aaron from Surfing out in Huntington Beach, CA asks:
The most important question of all: How far will Jared Weaver fall if he does not come down from his $10 Million asking price?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: This is the question of the draft right now. Almost every team in the top 10 has indicated they won't take him. I can't imagine he'd fall as far as 17, but I just don't see the Dodgers passing on him if he does.

 Q:  Sean from Irvine, CA asks:
Is the Angels set to take a high school player as the mock draft predicted. Will they change their mind if one of the Rice pitcher like Townsend slip to No.12?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: The Angels are pretty set on taking a high school player--Chris Nelson, Matt Bush or Homer Bailey, if they're unclaimed. They've also heavily pursued Philip Hughes and Mark Rogers.

 Q:  Dave from Fresno asks:
Are the A's going to get Danny Putnam, Jon Zeringue and Richie Robnett with three of their picks before the end of the second round? They sure could use all three of those guys in their system.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Unfortunately, this is going to be the last question for the day. John Manuel and I have been at it for 3 12 hours--and we still have nearly 500 questions on the board. You can look for another draft handicap of the top 30 picks on Sunday, as well as complete draft coverage on Monday. As for the A's, Putnam has been right in their mix from the start. Robnett is the interesting name. An unknown at the start of the year, he's swung a big bat all season and continues to climb to a point where he may very well go in the first round--possibly even to Montreal at No. 13.

Moderator: We thank everyone for their questions, and we know you'll be with us all day Monday for the always exciting Draft Blog, searchable draft database, and a chat with Jim Callis after the first day selections have been completed.

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