For the first time since 1999, when the Devil Rays deliberated between Josh Hamilton and Josh Beckett, scouting directors will wake up on draft day without knowing for sure who will go No. 1. The Royals own that pick, and if they've finalized their decision, they've kept it closely guarded.
The uncertainty surrounding Kansas City's choice filters down through the top of the first round, and several clubs may not settle their picks until Tuesday morning, hours before the draft's 1 p.m. ET start. But at the end of Monday evening, here's our projection of where things stand:
1. Royals: North Carolina lefthander Andrew Miller is the consensus top talent in the draft and the preferred choice of Kansas City's scouting department. Projected as the No. 1 pick a day ago, Miller now has little chance to become a Royal because of two reasons. First, incoming general manager Dayton Moore reportedly wouldn't have Miller atop his draft board. Second, Miller is floating an eight-figure asking price. While most clubs believe he wouldn't turn down a contract similar to the $5.25 million major league deal last year's top-rated college pitcher (Mike Pelfrey) received from the Mets, many don't want to deal with the potential hassle--and the Royals are among that group. Kansas City would prefer to not exceed the $4 million bonus they paid Alex Gordon, the No. 2 pick in 2005 and a superior prospect to anyone in this draft.
That leaves Kansas City looking at two righthanders, Luke Hochevar of the independent Fort Worth Cats and Brad Lincoln of Houston. Royals scouts give Hochevar a slight edge, though Lincoln would seem to make more financial sense. Hochevar reneged after agreeing to a $2.98 million bonus with the Dodgers last fall as a supplemental first-rounder, and teams believe he wants a Pelfrey contract. Lincoln, by contrast, won't go higher than third overall otherwise and might consider a bonus below MLB's slot recommendation for the top choice, believed to be $4 million.
Further complicating matters are reports that Moore would advocate taking Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs at No. 1 if he already were calling the shots. While Stubbs would come at a discount because he's not a candidate for any other team in the first five, he'd also be a reach for a franchise desperately in need of credibility. Kansas City has dismissed the possibility of taking Stubbs, yet those rumors wouldn't die on Monday night.
Given all these factors, Lincoln appears to be the best fit. But most teams believe the Royals will select Hochevar.
Projected Pick: Luke Hochevar, rhp, Fort Worth Cats.
2. Rockies: For weeks, Colorado had been locked in on
Miller and Long Beach State third baseman Evan Longoria, in that order.
The Rockies weren't supposed to be worried about Miller's inflated
price tag, but on Monday they went in a different direction. Rather
than make Longoria the fourth straight infielder they would have
selected with a top-10 choice, they became enamored with Stanford
righthander Greg Reynolds.
Projected Pick: Greg Reynolds, rhp, Stanford.
3. Devil Rays: For the second straight year, Tampa Bay's
scouting department may not get its wish. In 2005, Rays scouts wanted
Andrew McCutchen or Cliff Pennington, but the former upper-management
team mandated the selection of Wade Townsend, who blew out his elbow in
the Arizona Fall League. This time, the scouts favor Longoria while the
new regime wants a pitcher, either Lincoln or Washington righthander
Projected Pick: Brad Lincoln, rhp, Houston.
4. Pirates: Pittsburgh had been leaning toward a pitcher
from a group that included Reynolds, California righthander Brandon
Morrow and Dallas high school lefthander Clayton Kershaw. Reynolds was
their man before he moved up two spots, but the Pirates won't complain
about getting to take Longoria.
Projected Pick: Evan Longoria, 3b, Long Beach State.
5. Mariners: Seattle definitely will take a college
pitcher and reportedly won't exceed slot money. The Mariners had been
tied to Hochevar since before he officially re-entered the draft, but
they say they never seriously considered him. They're more interested
in Morrow, with North Carolina righthander Daniel Bard the backup
choice. Lincecum, a local favorite who was getting play as a possible
No. 1 choice a month ago, appears to be no better than the third
Projected Pick: Brandon Morrow, rhp, California.
6. Tigers: Detroit won't bite on Hochevar if the Royals
go in a different direction, but it wouldn’t be afraid to battle for
Miller. But the Tigers can get a quality pitcher without as much fuss
by choosing Kershaw or Lincecum. They also have interest in Stubbs,
though not at the expense of those two arms.
Projected Pick: Clayton Kershaw, lhp, HS/Dallas.
7. Dodgers: Los Angeles had targeted Kershaw, the best
high school player available. The Dodgers covet Lincoln and Longoria,
but they won't get this far. With extra picks, they're in position to
roll the dice on a high-risk/high-reward prospect, and in this draft no
one fits that description better than Texas high school
righthander/shortstop Kyle Drabek. Drabek's talent stacks up with
anyone's, but his makeup has scared off several teams. If Los Angeles
decides to pass on Drabek, it could take Motlow State (Tenn.) CC
righthander Bryan Morris but would prefer to get him at No. 26.
Projected Pick: Kyle Drabek, rhp/ss, HS/The Woodlands, Texas.
8. Reds: Cincinnati may prefer to take a college pitcher,
but if the top tier has been cleaned out then Stubbs looks like their
choice. The Reds also may consider Bard, Lincecum and New Jersey third
baseman Billy Rowell.
Projected Pick: Drew Stubbs, of, Texas.
9. Orioles: Unless Kershaw sneaks through to them,
Baltimore will take a position player. Stubbs is their first option,
followed by Rowell. Lincecum and Bard also may be tempting, and the
Orioles could decide to make a play for Miller.
Projected Pick: Bill Rowell, 3b, HS/Sewell, N.J.
10. Giants: San Francisco's preference is Bard, and they
should get him unless he goes to the Mariners because Morrow goes off
the board before No. 5. The Giants' backup plan is to do a predraft
deal with California high school outfielder/first baseman Chris
Parmelee, one of the best bats in the draft. They also could opt for a
bolder path, tangling with Miller or gambling on Drabek.
Projected Pick: Daniel Bard, rhp, North Carolina.
11. Diamondbacks: Arizona wants a college pitcher and
isn't afraid to spend heavily on a first-round pick (see Drew, Stephen
and Upton, Justin). While many clubs are backing off of Missouri
righthander Max Scherzer because of concerns about his shoulder, the
Diamondbacks aren't worried and would select him over Lincecum. But
they may not be able to pass up the opportunity to take Miller, and
they'd also be interested in Hochevar. If Arizona opts for a
normal-cost pick, it could go with Missouri State righthander Brett
Sinkbeil or UCLA lefthander David Huff.
Projected Pick: Andrew Miller, lhp, North Carolina.
12. Rangers: Texas may have the toughest decision to make
on draft day. Various scenarios could deliver them Hochevar, Miller,
Stubbs and Drabek. Owner Tom Hicks, a diehard Longhorns booster, would
love Stubbs. Of the players they know will be available, the Rangers
have narrowed their focus to Lincecum, Alabama high school lefthander
Kasey Kiker and Wake Forest third baseman Matt Antonelli.
Projected Pick: Tim Lincecum, rhp, Washington.
13. Cubs: Chicago doesn't have picks in the second
through fourth rounds and has a reputation for paying top dollar for
top talent. Miller's plan appears to be to get to the Yankees or Red
Sox, but it's hard to imagine the Cubs letting him get past them. If
he's not in the picture, Orlando high school shortstop Stephen King
becomes the frontrunner, ahead of Bard, Antonelli and St. Petersburg
(Fla.) JC righthander Pedro Beato. Chicago is poised to make a splash
in the fifth round with Notre Dame righthander/wide receiver Jeff
Projected Pick: Stephen King, ss, HS/Orlando.
14. Blue Jays: Toronto was prepared to draft Antonelli,
but now they're hot and heavy for Snider, arguably the best hitter
available in the draft. The Blue Jays would love a crack at Hochevar
and would consider pitchers such as Lincecum, Huff and Bard.
Projected Pick: Travis Snider, of, HS/Everett, Wash.
15. Nationals: In a perfect world for Washington, a
quality college pitcher would be available here and they'd pursue a
position player at No. 22. But that looks unlikely, as the Nationals'
favorite college arm available might be San Diego righthander Josh
Butler, who will last a while longer. In that case they could switch
gears and grab the bat first. If Rowell is gone as expected, they may
take Parmelee here because they may not get a second chance. Miami high
school third baseman Chris Marrero and Virginia prep righty Jeremy
Jeffress also factor into the mix.
Projected Pick: Chris Parmelee, of/1b, HS/Chino Hills, Calif.
16. Brewers: Like the Nationals, Milwaukee's preference
is a college arm. Plan B is one of the better high school bats, Snider
or Parmelee. The Brewers may not get either wish, leaving them to
choose between prep arms such as Alabama lefty Kasey Kiker, Jeffress
and Alabama righty Caleb Clay.
Projected Pick: Kasey Kiker, lhp, HS/Phenix City, Ala.
17. Padres: New vice president of scouting and player
development Grady Fuson likes refined college players, and Antonelli,
Sinkbeil and Long Beach State righthander Andrew Carpenter all fit that
bill. San Diego also has some interest in Parmelee, and Fuson's
relationship with Scott Boras could lead to a deal with Southern
California righthander Ian Kennedy.
Projected Pick: Matt Antonelli, 3b, Wake Forest.
18. Phillies: Philadelphia has made no secret of the fact
that it covets Rowell if he gets past the Orioles and Nationals. The
Phillies can get the next-best high school third baseman in Miami's
Chris Marrero, with Oklahoma prep lefthander Brett Anderson a secondary
consideration. Louisiana high school outfielder Jared Mitchell is more
of a consensus supplemental first-rounder, but the Twins could take him
if Philadelphia doesn't.
Projected Pick: Chris Marrero, 3b, HS/Miami.
19. Marlins: Florida has strong ties to the state of
Oklahoma, which makes Anderson a candidate, and an affinity for local
talent, which puts Marrero in the running. The Marlins will take
whichever player the Phillies leave behind.
Projected Pick: Brett Anderson, lhp, HS/Stillwater, Okla.
20. Twins: Minnesota's biggest need is a position player
along the lines of Mitchell, Parmelee, South Carolina outfielder Jason
Place or California high school catcher Hank Conger. But the Twins
never expected to get a chance at Nebraska righthander Joba
Chamberlain, who was a top-10 pick until teams began to worry about his
Projected Pick: Joba Chamberlain, rhp, Nebraska.
21. Yankees: Though owner George Steinbrenner won't give
a major league contract to a draftee, New York would select Miller in
the unlikely event he gets this far and sign him to the largest bonus
in draft history. More realistically, the Yankees could take Huff, the
second-best college lefty in the draft. They also could one-up the Mets
by taking Beato, who turned down the Mets as a draft-and-follow.
Projected Pick: David Huff, lhp, UCLA.
22. Nationals: Other teams were certain Kent State
shortstop Emmanuel Burriss would go here, but Washington appears to
have backed off the speedster. If they take a hitter at No. 15, the
Nationals probably will look for a pitcher here. They can continue to
wait on Butler with one of their two second-round picks, so they may
work scouting director Dana Brown's New Jersey connections for high
school righthander Sean Black.
Projected Pick: Sean Black, rhp, HS/Mount Laurel, N.J.
23. Astros: Houston has sat on Sinkbeil for a while and
should get him unless the Padres pop him at No. 17. In that case, the
Astros would continue to look at college pitchers such as Georgia
righthander Brooks Brown and Tennessee righthander Sean Watson. They'd
also consider high school arms like Anderson and Clay.
Projected Pick: Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Missouri State.
24. Braves: The most persistent name rumored here is
Florida high school first baseman Cody Johnson, but the slugger easily
should be available in the sandwich round. As usual, Atlanta will look
at prep prospects from the Southeast, led by Jeffress, Kiker and
possibly North Carolina righthander Alex White. Outlandish Rumor Dept.:
North Carolina prep shortstop Lonnie Chisenhall.
Projected Pick: Jeremy Jeffress, rhp, HS/South Boston, Va.
25. Angels: Los Angeles doesn't pick again until No. 102,
so it will try to score with a high-ceiling talent. The Angels will
consider whoever remains from a group that includes Willems, Jeffress,
Kiker, Conger and Parmelee.
Projected Pick: Colton Willems, rhp, HS/Fort Pierce, Fla.
26. Dodgers: Los Angeles will cross its fingers that
Morris lasts this far, and it may just happen. If not, the Dodgers
would consider the two pitchers projected directly ahead of them,
Jeffress and Willems. Parmelee would be another possibility. If all of
those players are gone, L.A. would go the college route with Tennessee
righthander Sean Watson.
Projected Pick: Bryan Morris, rhp, Motlow State (Tenn.) CC.
27. Red Sox: With consecutive picks, Boston likely will
grab one hitter and one pitcher. Place's athleticism would be a nice
fit for the Red Sox, as would Conger's power. They'll also consider
Antonelli and Parmelee if they're available.
Projected Pick: Jason Place, of, HS/Easley, S.C.
28 Red Sox: Miller has next to no chance of getting past
the Yankees to Boston, but the Red Sox can dream, can't they? If
Sinkbeil is gone then Brown becomes the top priority, followed by a
group that includes Kiker, Black and New Hampshire lefthander Jeff Locke.
Projected Pick: Brooks Brown, rhp, Georgia.
29. White Sox: Chicago's big league club doesn't have
many holes, but the bullpen is one of them. The White Sox could help
rectify that with Miami righthander Chris Perez. They’re also looking
at Beato and California prep righthander Chris Tillman.
Projected Pick: Chris Perez, rhp, Miami.
30. Cardinals: St. Louis used a pair of first-round picks
on Boras clients in 2005 and could do so again this year. If Scherzer
doesn't go to the Rangers at No. 11, he could fall all away to his
hometown Cardinals. Ditto for Kennedy, a likely supplemental-round
candidate, if the Padres don't take him at No. 17. A third, Florida
first baseman Matt LaPorta, wouldn't make as much sense because he
shares a position with Albert Pujols.
Projected Pick: Max Scherzer, rhp, Missouri.
Supplemental First Round
31. Dodgers: Sean Watson, rhp, Tennessee.
32. Orioles: Emmanuel Burriss, ss, Kent State.
33. Giants: Max Sapp, c, HS/Windermere, Fla.
34. Diamondbacks: Hank Conger, c, HS/Huntington Beach, Calif.
35. Padres: Kyler Burke, of/lhp, HS/Chattanooga
36. Marlins: Caleb Clay, rhp, HS/Cullman, Ala.
37. Phillies: Jared Mitchell, of, HS/New Iberia, La.
38. Braves: Cody Johnson, 1b, HS/Panama City, Fla.
39. Indians: Kevin Mulvey, rhp, Villanova.
40. Red Sox: Jeff Locke, lhp, HS/Center Conway, N.H.
41. Yankees: Pedro Beato, rhp, St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC.
42. Cardinals: Ian Kennedy, rhp, Southern California.
43. Braves: Chris Tillman, rhp, HS/Fountain Valley, Calif.