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Draft Chat with Allan Simpson

Moderator: Allan Simpson will begin taking your draft questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Greg from LA asks:
Why is Boras rolling the dice with Weaver? The Angels are (relatively) big spenders, and they are his home team. He just lost a year of his career. Does he really want to play for the Yankees after what happened to his brother?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Greg's first up, and appropriately he has a Scott Boras related question. He's certainly the straw that is stirring the drink in this draft. Regards Weaver, it depends on who you talk to why Weaver hasn't signed. The Boras camp has its spin on what was or was not agreed to before last year's draft; the Angels have theirs and they're not budging of an offer that they made--and have since withdrawn--that represented the largest bonus that would have been paid to a 2004 draftee. Had Weaver signed last year, he could easily have been in the big leagues by now. He's not and he hasn't pitched in almost a year--though we just got word this morning that he signed with Camden of the independent Atlantic League, where he'll join Stephen Drew, Boras' other big unsigned pick from last year. Boras himself says that you should expect both players to go back into the draft, while most industry insiders think he'll get them signed at the 11th hour. We're not sure the Yankees would be interested in Weaver or Drew if they're available, but it would certianly help replenish an otherwise thin organization.

 Q:  Andrew Thurmond from Athens, GA asks:
Where do UGA closer Will Startup and GA high schoolers Miers Quigley, Ian Sebastian, and PJ Phillips figure to be drafted?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We see Startup going after the fifth round. Phillips should go first among the other three, probably in the second round--the same place his brother Brandon went a few years ago. Sebastian should go a round or two later. Quigley's a bit of a wild card, because he has health and makeup questions. At one point, he could have been a first-rounder, but I think he falls more into the third- to fourth-round range now.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego asks:
Any way Ryan Braun slips to the Padres at 18? And if he did, would the Padres be interested, or are they more focused on col. pitching?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Braun's the third best college third baseman in this draft, but I'd be very surprised if he's not picked in the first half of the first round. A lot of teams have shown interest, but we've got him going to the Indians with the 14th pick. I don't see any way he lasts to the Padres. Though he's a third baseman now, most teams see Braun moving to the outfield.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
Who are the top Juco players available, in roughly what rounds, and which ones are DFE's from 2004?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We've got four junior college players among our top 100 prospects for this year's draft--righthander Clay Buchholz of Angelina (Texas) JC, lefthander Donald Veal of Pima (Ariz.) CC, righthander Stephen Marek of San Jacinto (Texas) JC and righthander Kenny Maiques of Rio Hondo (Calif.) JC. By being in the top 100, we expect all to go in the top three rounds--and we learned late yesterday that Marek had signed with the Angels, for high second-round money. He's the only one of the four that was under control and eligible to sign before the draft.

 Q:  Brad O. from Bradenton, FL asks:
Any rumors on the D-Rays? I really hope that they choose Clement or Pelfrey, but I am afraid they will pick Townsend because they feel they will have negotiating leverage. Please help me overcome my fears with some good news and I don't mean Geico Car Insurance...
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Your worst fears may be realized as we hear that Townsend is the D-Rays guy, which would make it the second year in a row that he went eighth overall. Townsend was only 86-90 at a workout the D-Rays hosted at their minor league complex a couple of days ago, but it was obvious he wasn't in top shape. My understanding is they've got another workout planned next week. I don't think the D-Rays will low ball Townsend, like the Orioles did last year. We've also heard solid D-Rays interest on Clement, but not Pelfrey

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
Two righties, UNC-Greensboro's Chris Mason and UMass' Matt Torra, have shot up draft boards lately--what is the scouting report on those two? I've heard a scout mention that Mason was hitting 94-96 in a recent outing; could he project as a power reliever?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Both Torra and Mason have improved considerably, especially Torra. He was a fifth- or six-rounder at the start of the year, but improved to a point that most teams thought they could get him in the second round a month ago. Now he may not get past the middle of the first. He's been on fire. He's not overly athletic at 6-3, 225, but has good stuff and he can throw strikes all day long. He's so polished he could be in Double-A by the end of the year. You can say much the same for Mason, who's athletic, had an excellent season but probably won't go higher than the second round because of his size. He's barely 6-feet.

 Q:  Kevin from Staten Island asks:
Hi Allan, Let's say the Mets don't get Craig Hansen at nine. Can they get a good college closer with their 4th round pick? Also, who do like for them at nine? Thanks.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I'm not sure you ever get a good college closer in the fourth round--at least someone who projects as a big league closer. Those kind of guys are usually only available in the first couple of rounds, and we've got three closers projected go there--Hansen, N.C. State's Joey Devine and Texas' J. Brent Cox. We've also got Central Missouri's Nick Webber and Auburn's Michael Nix as fourth- or fifth-rounders. As for the Mets at nine, Hansen and Texas high school outfielder Jay Bruce are the players whose names we hear most.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
Thanks for the great draft coverage. I am optimistic that the scenario you laid out for the Phillies in the projection (overpaying for a signability risk that falls out of the first round) will come true. However, I thought the Phillies would do something like that in 2003 when they didn't pick until the 3rd round. There they drafted 3 signable college players (Tim Moss, Michael Bourn and Javon Moran) with their first 3 picks. I am hopeful that the Phillies will be more aggressive this year. How strong are your feelings on the Phillies strategy? Thanks.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: When you're three weeks out and dealing with the 67th pick, it's just an educated guess what a team might do. Much of what the Phillies will do depends on what happens ahead of them, and right now teams in the back half of the first round don't even know what's going on. Historically, teams without a first-round pick have gone for players that slid through the first and sandwich rounds for whatever reason. In those circumstances, when you don't have to pay a first-rounder, the tendency is to pay a little more for a second-rounder.

 Q:  Kiley from Odessa, FL asks:
How does Jeff Clement drop to #12? It sounds like he is the biggest first round sleeper to me. He's been a high-first round pick talent for 3 years and people are dropping him now? In the past chat, it was said he's almost a lock for a low-end projection of .250-20 HR's and solid D and has 35-40 HR potential. How is he not a lock for the top 10? Could the Rays pop him at #8?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Clement is the premier catcher in this year's draft, but not everyone is sold he'll hit for a high average or be an above-average defender. The power and makeup are unmistakeable, and he's improved a lot defensively at USC this year, working with Chad Kreuter, But catching is probably the most difficult position to project with any certainty. Don't be surprised if the Brewers at 5, the Rockies at 7 and the D-Rays at 8 don't make a big run at him.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what direction does the orioles go with the 13th pick in next months draft?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We're hearing mostly high school players with the Orioles, not surprising since new scouting director Joe Jordan is a product of the Marlins system that emphasized high school players. The names we're hearing most are outfielder Jay Bruce, righthander Chris Volstad and shortstop C.J. Henry. We're also hearing Oregon State outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what are the chances of the yankees drafting a boras client?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: I don't get any indication the Yankees are looking at Boras clients, but they probably should if they want to get this organization back on track at the development level. The Yankees have the money to pay a little more for Boras guys, just as they do at the big league level. But for some reason they've been conservative and stayed away from them--though they took Brett Smith as a second rounder last year. On the chance that Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver should re-enter the draft, I'd be surprised if the Yankees wouldn't make a run at one of them.

 Q:  LeFonz from Milwaukee asks:
Hi Allan, thanks for taking my question. Where do you see Lance Broadway and Tim Lincecum going in the draft, and do they project as starters down the road?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We've got Broadway as a sandwich pick to second-rounder and Lincecum as late second to early third-rounder. Broadway has more polish than raw stuff, but projects as a starter. Lincecum definitely has the stuff to start but his size and delivery are a concern.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
How do you forsee the top 5 picks going at this point?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: As we laid out in our first-round projections on BA.com this morning, we have Justin Upton going first to the Diamondbacks, Alex Gordon going second to the Royals, Troy Tulowitzki going third to the Mariners, Ryan Zimmerman going fourth to the Nationals and Cameron Maybin going fifth to the Brewers. Obviously, that's not set in stone as the D-backs still have Stephen Drew to sign from last year and the Royals need to commit to spending the money to sign a legit No. 2 pick.

 Q:  newc from somerville asks:
Great job on the Draft coverage. Any word on how Justin Maxwell's rehab is going? How much will this affect his draft position?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: This is a really tough one to figure since Maxwell has hardly played the last two years. He's had three season-ending injuries, including last summer in the Cape Cod League. Right now, he's still got a soft cast on his hand after breaking the hamate bone when he hit a ball on the barrel of the bat in Maryland's seventh game of the season. But he should be ready to play by June. The trouble is no one has seen him play in almost two years. He had legit first-round talent at one point in his career and he may not be prepared to accept much less than first-round money to sign. My guess is a team will draft him in the second- to fourth-rounds, let him play on the Cape this summer and then make a valuation. Even though he's graduating, he still has another year of eligibility.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
where does austin jackson projected to be taken in next months draft?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Jackson has been a high-profile talent since he was 12, but he's always been a better basketball player. It looks like he's headed to Georgia Tech, where he's projected to start at guard as a freshman. He gave that impression to baseball scouts this spring.

 Q:  newc from somerville asks:
How low will Jason Neighborgall get drafted? He seems to be in a freefall after his promising start. Thanks.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Jason is one of the most controversial players in the draft. Some scouting directors still swear he has the best arm in the draft as he can pump his fastball near triple digits, has a hammer curve and a developing changeup. But he's never been able to throw strikes with any consistency, and his season went in the tank after a very poor outing against Miami in his biggest start of the year. He's too much of a risk for a team with its first pick, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone gamble a sandwich pick on him. The consensus is he'll go much lower, especially since he is represented by Scott Boras.

 Q:  Steve from Kitchener, ON asks:
Allan, thanks for the chat. I was wondering what you think about how the Blue Jays will go in the draft this year. Will they stay true to the recent trend of college heavy selections? How have their selections from last year started off. Thanks alot.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: The Blue Jays will draft almost exclusively college players, an approach that was emphasized when J.P. Ricciardi became GM. On the slim chance that he would slide to No. 6, the Jays would jump on Justin Upton, but he is the only high school player they would consider with their first pick or in the early rounds. They'd also like Alex Gordon or Ryan Zimmerman slip through to them, but the more likely scenario has them taking Cal State Fullerton with the sixth pick, marking the second year in a row they'd take a college lefty.

 Q:  John from New York, NY asks:
I've heard the Yankees are targetting mostly H.S. players like Chris Volstad and Brandon Snyder with their first pick. One name I surprisingly haven't heard associated with them is Mark Pawelek. Do you think they would take him if he's there at #17? A hard throwing lefty is too good to pass up I would think.
 A: 

Allan Simpson: You're hearing right. The Yankees are hot on Volstad and Snyder, and probably would take Volstad at No. 17. But we're hearing he won't get past the Marlins at 16. I haven't heard any scenario where the Yankees are considering Pawelek, but he definitely is a mid first-round talent. Teams are very wary, though, that he's represented by Scott Boras, who has a track record of not getting his high school players signed.

 Q:  Brent from Corona, NY asks:
Thanks for your time Allan: My question is about the Mets. I recently saw Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon at the St JohnsFairleigh game. Its clear this the guy they want. Do you think there is any chance someone takes him before the Mets. And if so what team do we have to watch out for?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: The Mets do have a strong interest in Hansen, a local boy who's the early favorite to be the first player in the '05 class to reach the big leagues. The only other team drafting before them that has shown sufficient interest is the Diamondbacks at No. 1. But Justin Upton is the clear favorite to be the first player picked and I simply can't see the D-backs drafting another Scott Boras client if they can't sign Stephen Drew.

 Q:  Bart from Lexington, KY (Lafayette HS) asks:
John Cohen has turned the UK program around rather quickly and infused some much needed talent. Do you believe the Cats will be lucky enough to have Chaz Roe pass on the pros and attend UK? Thank you for your time!
 A: 

Allan Simpson: It doesn't show in the SEC standings yet, but Kentucky is one of the up and coming teams in college baseball. John Cohen and recruiting coordinatoe Gary Henderson are doing a nice job of bringing talent into the program and Roe would be a great addition, but I don't see any way he ends up in school as he's a projected first-rounder, and a sandwich pick at worst.

 Q:  Jack Mehoff from CA asks:
Where do you see C.J. Henry being drafted, and how big are his signability concerns?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Henry, one of the best athletes in the draft, is a solid first-rounder and should go about the middle of the round. He's reportedly asking big money--upwards of $2 million--but a team that drafts him has the luxury of spreading his bonus out over five years.

 Q:  Frank from Orlando, Florida asks:
Who are the other top college catchers in this years draft after Clement and Teagarden?
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Catching is a premium position and teams invariably overdraft the top guys. Clement should go in the first 10-12 picks and Teagarden before the end of the first round. The best high school catcher, Brandon Snyder, should also go in the second half of the first round. Beynond Clement and Teagarden, the best college guys are Brett Hayes of Nevada (sandwich to second), Nick Hundley of Arizona (second to third) and Josh Bell of Auburn (third to fourth). UC Irvine's Mark Wagner, Illinois' Chris Robinson and Central Florida's Drew Butera also could go in the first five rounds.

 Q:  Jason Eck from Tampa, FL asks:
What has happened to Jeff Larish? Where is he projected to go? Is Boras still representing him? He was once considered one of the top players in College baseball. What has happened to this young lad? Thanks in advance
 A: 

Allan Simpson: Larish is still at Arizona State and has enjoyed a better season as a senior than he did as a junior, when there were big expectations that he'd be a high first-round pick. He's hit a lot more home runs this year but scouts question his swing mechanics and approach at the plate, and he he has never returned to his sophomore form when he had 70-plus walks and 70-plus RBIs. He was a 13th-rounder last year, when he turned down about $650,000, and could go anywhere from about a third-rounder to eighth-rounder this time.

 Q:  Coach Hunt from Fort Meade, Florida asks:
I've heard the Pirates have been high on Andrew McCutchen. Do you know if that speculation is warranted? Also,if you read this, Congratulations on your graduation today Drew!
 A: 

Allan Simpson: We'll make this our last response. We apologize for not getting to everyone, but we had more than 600 questions--proving once again there is more interest in the baseball draft than it's given credit for. If this in indeed Andrew McCutchen's coach, then he's hearing the same things we're hearing because we had McCutchen going to the Pirates with the 11th pick in our first-round projections.

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