Organization of the Year: St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS—Late in each season, Gary LaRocque takes a tour of the minors and talks about the month that matters most. It may be August when the Cardinals’ senior adviser [...]
Final First-Round Projections:
Young Goes No. 1
By Jim Callis
1. DEVIL RAYS. Tampa Bay's discussion on California high school outfielder Delmon Young and Southern second baseman Rickie Weeks continued well into Monday evening. Weeks gathered momentum when he performed well last Friday in an NCAA regional playoff game with Rays GM Chuck LaMar on hand, and his cause was helped further when Young turned down the club's $3.75 million offer. But Weeks also decided not to work out in Tampa on Monday, and that helped swing the decision back to Young. Florida outfielder Ryan Harvey, a product of nearby Dunedin High, is a longshot third choice.
2. BREWERS. Milwaukee long has been expected to take whichever of the draft's top two hitters that Tampa Bay leaves on the board. The Brewers may prefer Weeks, and it looks like they'll get their man. There are some mild rumblings that they want a college player and would choose Wake Forest righthander Kyle Sleeth if Weeks goes No. 1, but those appear unfounded.
3. TIGERS. Detroit would pounce on one of the two big bats if they were to fall to third choice, and Young would be especially intriguing because his older brother Dmitri (the No. 4 overall choice in 1991) plays for the Tigers. That's unlikely to happen, however, so Detroit will take the best college pitcher available. For a long time the thinking was that the Tigers would choose Richmond righthander Tim Stauffer, but they'll opt for Sleeth.
4. PADRES. This draft has a clear top four, and San Diego will go for whoever remains among Young, Weeks, Sleeth and Stauffer. The Padres like Stauffer more than Sleeth because they believe he'll contribute in the majors sooner. After spending heavily on draft-and-follows, most recently $500,000 on Clemson first baseman Michael Johnson, San Diego could look for a budget pick but the expectation is that they'll play it straight.
5. ROYALS. Kansas City needs position players and will get a premium outfielder. They were in on Harvey first, but now prefer Pennsylvania high schooler Chris Lubanski's superior athleticism. Lubanski otherwise wouldn't go until the 11th pick, so picking him could save the Royals $500,000not a small consideration for a small-revenue club with two first-round selections.
6. CUBS. Chicago was in strong on Tulane first baseman Michael Aubrey when no one expected that Harvey might get past the Royals. His availability makes for a much tougher decision, with the Cubs expected to lean toward Harvey's superior power.
7. ORIOLES. Baltimore is easily the biggest unknown in the top seven picks. Signing draft-and-follow Adam Loewen for $4.02 million doesn't mean the Orioles have to save money because they spread his deal over five years. The strongest indication is that they want a bat, and Aubrey would be an obvious choice. But they're also tempted by Massachusetts' Jeff Allison, the best prep righthander in the draft. There's also evidence that Baltimore is interested in Young Harris JC two-way star Nick Markakis, possibly as an outfielder (almost everyone prefers him as a lefthander). And there also was plenty of talk that the Orioles were exploring discount deals with Ball State outfielder Brad Snyder and Louisiana State shortstop Aaron Hill.
8. PIRATES. Allison interests Pittsburgh as well, though word is that GM David Littlefield would prefer a college player who could help quicker. That would be Mississippi State lefthander Paul Maholm, or possibly Markakis as a lefty. California high school third baseman Ian Stewart is the other alternative.
9. RANGERS. At the top of the draft, Texas has the strongest interest in multitooled Florida high school outfielder Lastings Milledge. They need a pitcher more than another bat, so Texas high school lefthander John Danks is their man. They could go for Maholm if Pittsburgh goes in another direction, and if Aubrey fell he could cause a change in plans.
10. ROCKIES. Colorado has been locked in on Stewart for a while and he'll probably be the top guy left on their draft board when the 10th pick comes up. The Rockies could change directions if the right player fell to them, like Aubrey, Harvey or Sleeth, but that's unlikely to happen.
11. INDIANS. Cleveland picks 11th and 18th and would like to get one high school and one college player with those two choices. The Indians are most likely to go with a prep choice here, with Allison, Danks and Lubanski their preferences. They have the best shot at Allison, though if Baltimore takes him Cleveland could change gears and go with Aubrey. If all four of those players are unavailable, Markakis or New Jersey high school third baseman Eric Duncan could enter the mix.
12. METS. New York has the same three-man wish list that Cleveland does but less of a chance to get one of them at No. 12. The Mets also like Harvey but he almost certainly won't get that far. That could lead them to Milledge, who could keep falling if New York doesn't take him.
13. BLUE JAYS. Toronto has made its desire for college players abundantly clear. Their dream pick would be Aubrey, but his chances of getting to No. 13 are minimal. The Blue Jays have a much better shot of getting Houston righthander Brad Sullivan, whom they'd probably take even if Maholm were available.
14. REDS. Cincinnati failed to sign Markakis as a draft-and-follow for $1.5 million and they almost certainly will do a discount deal for less than that amount. The Reds have interest in Milledge, Duncan and Houston righthander Ryan Wagner, but none of them will come that cheaply. That may leave Cincinnati with Puerto Rican high school third baseman Miguel Vega, who might sign for little more than $1 million.
15. WHITE SOX. Chicago probably will target a college bat, and their choice looks like it will come down to two outfielders, Arizona's Brian Anderson and Snyder. If the White Sox decide to save money here and spend it in later rounds, San Diego State outfielder Anthony Gwynn (Tony's son) would be their choice.
16. MARLINS. Florida was honing in on homestate high school lefthander Andrew Miller, whose mechanics went awry as the draft approached. Then Miller started talking about a $3 million bonus, and while the Marlins could take him and try to sign him for slot money, they probably will avoid that gamble. Milledge could interest them if he falls this far, but Markakis is more likely to be available.
17. RED SOX. Another club that is focusing almost exclusively on college players, Boston had early interest in Wagner but now will take its chances that it will get another opportunity to take him at No. 32. Baylor outfielder David Murphy is now the frontrunner for this pick, but the Red Sox could go for a pitcher if the right guypossibly Markakis or Sullivanmakes it to them.
18. INDIANS. Cleveland really likes Duncan, and he'd be their clear choice if it gets a college player at No. 11. Unless Aubrey gets to the Indians there, however, they'll probably go college here with Snyder or Markakis. Virginia high school third baseman Matt Moses would be their backup high school selection.
19. DIAMONDBACKS. Arizona picks 19th and 29th and has targeted two homestate prospects as possibilities. But Anderson likely will be gone and the Diamondbacks are willing to wait until No. 29 for high school shortstop Brandon Wood. They were zeroing in on a college hitter, with California third baseman Conor Jackson atop their list.
20. EXPOS. One thing is certainthis Major League Baseball-owned franchise won't pay more than slot money for whomever it selects. The name most often associated Montreal is The Master's (Calif.) outfielder Jerry Owens, but for all his athleticism he could be available in the second round. Duncan would be very appealing to GM Omar Minaya and scouting director Dana Brown, because all three are from New Jersey. Vega is another possibility if the Reds don't overdraft him.
21. TWINS. Minnesota has a solid track record with its high school picks and is expected to go that route in the first round. Moses has been the Twins' expectation for a while, though if Milledge slides this far they may not let him get any further. If Cleveland grabs Moses, Minnesota might turn to Iowa prep outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
22. GIANTS. Craig Whitaker threw very well as the draft approaches, but teams are more skittish than ever about drafting high school righthanders in the first round. San Francisco isn't afraid to do that, though it stands a very good chance of getting Whitaker when it picks again at No. 34. But the Giants play the draft very close to the vest, and there's no other obvious candidate for them. If they opt for a college bat, Georgia Tech outfielder Matt Murton or Cal State Fullerton outfielder Shane Costa could be their man.
23. ANGELS. Anaheim drafted Hill in the seventh round out of high school three years ago. This time, the Angels will go for his David Eckstein makeup and more potent bat in the first round. In the unlikely event that Hill is off the board, they'll probably stick with another shortstop in Wood. They also were interested in Miller before his price tag started soaring.
24. DODGERS. Los Angeles likes athletic, projectable high school players as much as any team. The Dodgers are prepared to make Sweeney the first Iowa prepster ever taken in the first round. Other considerations include Moses, Wood and California high school lefthander Chuck Tiffany.
25. ATHLETICS. Unless you haven't read or heard about "Moneyball," you know that Oakland is going to take college players with a strong track record of performance. Jackson is their primary target with the first of consecutive picks, but the Athletics may have to settle for outfielder Matt Murton, who has been better in the Cape Cod League than he was at Georgia Tech this spring.
26. ATHLETICS. Oakland probably will take back-to-back hitters. The A's see Stetson third baseman Brian Snyder as their version of Red Sox Double-A walk machine Kevin Youkilis, and Snyder probably won't get past Boston at No. 32. Hill, Brad Snyder and Murphy all would be considerations if they're still on the board. The most likely available alternatives will be Stanford outfielder Carlos Quentin and Gwynn.
27. YANKEES. New York likely will pick a lefthanded bat or a power righthanded arm. First baseman Vince Sinisi may be a very tough sign because he's from Rice, he's a draft-eligible sophomore and he's advised by Scott Boras, but since when does money matter to the Yankees? Duncan would be attractive if he somehow slips this far. If they go the mound route, Virginia high schooler Jay Sborz, California prepster Jared Hughes and Cal Lutheran's Jason Hirsh could be their guy.
28. CARDINALS. St. Louis really likes David Murphy, but he won't get past Boston or Oakland's two picks. The Cardinals also are high on Duncan, another guy who won't get this far. They have money and a history of signing Boras clients (Rick Ankiel, J.D. Drew, Chad Hutchinson), so Sinisi wouldn't necessarily scare them off. Costa has a better chance of being available, however.
29. DIAMONDBACKS. Arizona probably can get Wood with its second first-rounder. If the Angels or Dodgers foil those plans, the Diamondbacks likely would pursue a pitcher along the lines of Wagner, Whitaker or Georgia Southern righthander Dennis Dove.
30. ROYALS. Kansas City has targeted Vega, another money-saving first-rounder. If the Reds or Expos take Vega, the Royals could surprise people by taking Nevada-Las Vegas righthander Ryan Braun. Wagner would be a more conventional pick who could help them a lot sooner.
32. RED SOX.