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Progress Report: Class Of 2004

September 16, 2005

2004 Draft Class Update:
Huston Street Shows No Fear As Rookie Closer
Rice Trio Finds Path To Pros Plagued With Injuries
Bush Looks To Shed Premature "Bust" Label

The most successful players from the draft class of 2004--so far--have been two guys who weren't even first-round picks: Huston Street, who went 40th overall to the Athletics, and Jason Vargas, who went 68th overall to the Marlins. Most of the first-rounders are making slower but steady progress toward the big leagues, with the exception of a few fast movers such as Justin Verlander. And the inevitable injury bug has already struck a few players as well, most notably Philip Humber.





1.Padres: Matt Bush, ss

HS--El Cajon, Calif.


Low A

Still early in his career, but Bush clearly doesn't have the talent of a classic No. 1 pick.

2. Tigers: Justin Verlander, rhp

Old Dominion U.



After holding out until last October, Verlander didn't waste any time this season.

3. Mets: Philip Humber, rhp

Rice U.



Put up mostly bad numbers this year; Tommy John surgery in July showed why.

4. Devil Rays: Jeff Niemann, rhp

Rice U.



Nagging shoulder injuries limited Niemann to 32 innings this season.

5. Brewers: Mark Rogers, rhp

HS--Orr's Island, Maine


Low A

First prep first-rounder from Maine will need development time: 2-9, 5.11 in 99 innings.

6. Indians: Jeremy Sowers, lhp

Vanderbilt U.



Sowers has been exactly what Cleveland expected: polished lefty who will move fast.

7. Reds: Homer Bailey, rhp

HS--La Grange, Texas


Low A

125 strikeouts in 104 innings, but was wildly inconsistent in his pro debut.

8. Orioles: Wade Townsend, rhp

Rice U.

Did not sign


Went back into 2005 draft and joined Niemann in Devil Rays organization.

9. Rockies: Chris Nelson, ss

HS--Decatur, Ga.


Low A

Hamstring problems held him back this season; batting .241 in 315 at-bats.

10. Rangers: Thomas Diamond, rhp

U. of New Orleans



Hasn't been as dominant since promotion to Double-A, but could get September trial.

11. Pirates: Neil Walker, c

HS--Gibsonia, Pa.


Low A

Put together a strong season (.301-12-68) for an otherwise putrid Hickory team.

12. Angels: Jered Weaver, rhp

Long Beach State U.



Didn't take him long to knock off the rust after finally signing in May.

13.Expos: Bill Bray, lhp

William & Mary



Back problems kept him out two months, but he moved quickly in relief after returning.

14. Royals: Billy Butler, 3b




A signability pick, now he looks like an impact offensive player for a team that needs it.

15. Diamondbacks: Stephen Drew, ss

Florida State U.



Signed late like Weaver, and got off to a similar hot start as well.

16. Blue Jays: David Purcey, lhp

U. of Oklahoma



Needs to work on his command, but showed ability to dominate at two stops.

17. Dodgers: Scott Elbert, lhp

HS--Seneca, Mo.


Low A

Strikeout-walk ratio of 128-57 in 115 innings showed his potential and weakness.

18. White Sox: Josh Fields, 3b

Oklahoma State U.



He has holes in his game, but he's adapting well for a former part-time player.

19. Cardinals: Chris Lambert, rhp

Boston College



His limited baseball experience showed after promotion to Double-A (6.35 ERA).

20. Twins: Trevor Plouffe, ss

HS--Northridge, Calif.


Low A

Two-way high school player had ugly average (.223), but other numbers show potential.

21. Phillies: Greg Golson, of



Low A

Sprained knee and ankle cost him valuable development time this season.

22. Twins: Glen Perkins, lhp

U. of Minnesota



Like many others in the class, Double-A proved to be his first major challenge.

23. Yankees: Philip Hughes, rhp

HS--Santa Ana, Calif.


High A

Showed great stuff and command in bouncing back from elbow tendinitis last year.

24. Athletics: Landon Powell, c

U. of South Carolina



Tore ACL in his left knee in a January workout and has spent the whole year rehabbing.

25. Twins: Kyle Waldrop, rhp



Low A

Took every turn and got innings, but did not miss enough bats (182 H in 152 IP).

26. Athletics: Richie Robnett, of

Fresno State U.


High A

Power stroke came around (14 HR after July 1) thanks to adjustments to swing.

27. Marlins: Taylor Tankersley, lhp

U. of Alabama


High A

Missed two months with shoulder tendinitis as second-rounder Jason Vargas shot past.

28. Dodgers: Blake DeWitt, 3b

HS--Sikeston, Mo.


Low A

Workmanlike first full season (.291-12-72) gets little notice in loaded Dodgers system.

29. Royals: Matt Campbell, lhp

U. of South Carolina


Low A

Shoulder injury limited him to just 64 innings before he was shut down for the year.

30. Rangers: Eric Hurley, rhp



Low A

Butler's high school teammate led the Midwest League with 152 strikeouts.

* Signed major league contract.

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