It's been a slow week in baseball, though we do have three new deals recapped in Trade Central. But there's good news if your Hot Stove is in need of reheating: The 2008 Prospect Handbook has arrived at our Durham headquarters and has begun shipping.
Mike Cameron's signing with the Brewers is now official, so the Padres will get a second supplemental first-round pick in the 2008 draft. Here's what the order looks like at this point:
1. Devil Rays
8. White Sox
17. Blue Jays
18. Mets (Tom Glavine, A, to Atl)
27. Twins (Torii Hunter, A, to LAA)
30. Red Sox
Supplemental First-Round Picks
31. Twins (Hunter)
32. Brewers (Franciso Cordero, A, to Cin)
33. Mets (Glavine)
34. Phillies (Aaron Rowand, A to SF)
35. Brewers (Scott Linebrink, A, to CWS)
36. Royals (David Riske, B, to KC)
37. Cardinals (Troy Percival, B, to TB)
38. Braves (Ron Mahay, B, to KC)
39. Cubs (Jason Kendall, B, to Mil)
40. Padres (Mike Cameron, B, to Mil)
41. Yankees (Luis Vizcaino, B, to Col)
42. Red Sox (Eric Gagne, B, to Mil)
43. Padres (Doug Brocail, B, to Hou)
48. Phillies (Rowand to SF)
50. Brewers (Cordero to Cin)
51. Brewers (Linebrink to CWS)
69a. Braves (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Joshua Fields)
84a. Red Sox (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Hunter Morris)
Supplemental Third-Round Picks
106. Phillies (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Brandon Workman)
107. Astros (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Derek Dietrich)
108. Padres (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Tommy Toledo)
109. Angels (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Matt Harvey)
Remaining Possible Compensation Free Agents
Ari: Livan Hernandez (B).
Hou: RHP Trever Miller (B).
Oak: C Mike Piazza (B), OF Shannon Stewart (B).
SF: 3B Pedro Feliz (B).
We're wrapping up the AL West Top 10 Prospects lists in our issue that goes to print next week, and then it's on to the College and Early Draft Preview. It's never too early to start talking about the draft, but bear in mind that it's five months away and the analysis below is educated speculation subject to a lot of change before June. Signability will rear its head as well.
1. Tampa Bay Rays. For a team that never has won more than 70 games in a season, the Rays don't have as many glaring long-term needs as you might think, because they've done a good job with most of their premium draft picks and have the game's best farm system. That said, teams picking at the top of the draft rarely base their picks on need. Tampa Bay is going to take whoever it deems is the best player available, unless the asking price is really out of whack.
The Rays have a lot of quality pitching coming through their pipeline, but teams always want more and they could opt for one of the top college arms, Missouri righthander Aaron Crow or San Diego lefty Brian Matusz. Tampa Bay has gone with pitchers with three of its last four top picks, so my gut feel is they'll be more inclined to go for a bat. It says here they'll opt for Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham over Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez because Beckham plays a more premium position. I still think Alvarez is going to become a first baseman or left fielder by the time he reaches the majors.
Projected Pick: Tim Beckham, ss, Griffin (Ga.) HS.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates. If the Rays don't take Alvarez, he becomes the easy pick for the Pirates. Pittsburgh needs to send a message to its victory-starved fans that it's going to take the best player available instead of going cheap. Choosing Daniel Moskos over Matt Wieters last year was a debacle.
Projected Pick: Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Vanderbilt.
3. Kansas City Royals. The Royals have beefed up their offense by taking Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas with first-round picks in three of the last four drafts, and most of the top bats after Alvarez are first basemen: South Carolina's Justin Smoak, Miami's Yonder Alonso and Florida prepster Eric Hosmer. That would make homestate product Crow very attractive. Matusz and Missouri high school righthander Tim Melville would be two other pitching options.
Projected Pick: Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri.
4. Baltimore Orioles. With former first-rounders Brandon Snyder and Bill Rowell looking like they might be destined for first base rather than catcher and third base, it's hard to envision the Orioles going for Smoak, Alonso or Hosmer. They'll likely take whichever remaining pitcher they like the most from among Matusz, Melville and Pepperdine righthander Brett Hunter.
Projected Pick: Brian Matusz, lhp, San Diego.
5. San Francisco Giants. The Giants need a lot more help for their lineup than they do for their rotation, so the college hitters will be attractive. Smoak or Alonso could help the big league club in short order, and possibly form an infield of the future with Nick Noonan, Charlie Culberson and Angel Villalona. Hosmer or Miami prep third baseman Harold Martinez also could be tempting.
Projected Pick: Justin Smoak, 1b, South Carolina.
The top pitcher on the Latin American market last summer, Teheran signed for $850,000. A Colombian, he showed off a 94-95 mph fastball, a late-biting 78-79 mph curveball and an 81-82 mph changeup with nice sink during instructional league. I'm anxious to see how he does in his pro debut this year, because he does have the best arm among international amateurs since Hernandez signed with the Mariners for $710,000 in 2002.
We don't have any scouting reports on Hernandez when he was 16. The following year, he was dominating the short-season Northwest League with a mid-90s fastball, a devastating curveball and a changeup. At 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, Hernandez was an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than Teheran is now.
In other words, they're very comparable. And that's a good omen for Teheran and the Braves, because Hernandez is the best pitching prospect of the decade thus far. His major league career to this point hasn't been too shabby either. He has gone 30-25, 3.94 with a 418-136 K-BB ratio in 466 innings—and he's still just 21.
Wow, that deal was so minor that it didn't even show up on our radar. Or very many other radars, apparently. But in November, the Mets did trade Appell to the Astros for Henriquez.
It would be an upset if either player reached the majors. Henriquez had the higher pedigree, as he was a second-round pick out of a Florida high school in 2005. Houston envisioned him as a switch-hitter with power and solid defense, but he has been a disappointment, batting .206/.245/.311 in three pro seasons. His father Ralph Sr. was his high school coach and a former roving catching instructor for the Braves, and the Astros say Ralph Jr. was unwilling to make adjustments without his dad signing off on them.
Appell signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Penn in 2005 and has gone 5-6, 5.71 in 63 pro games. He has 89 strikeouts in 82 pro innings and has limited opponents to a .218 average, but he gets himself in trouble with walks (59). Appell doesn't have a plus pitch, working with an 86-89 mph fastball and a fringy slider and changeup. He's able to entice lower-level hitters to chase some pitches out of the zone, but in his most extended taste of full-season ball, he posted an 8.76 ERA in low Class A in 2006.