Starting with the 2007 draft, the free-agent compensation rules changed to give teams that didn't sign a player selected in the first two rounds the pick after the corresponding choice in the following draft. When that change was made, we confirmed with MLB that the compensation was based on the overall number of the choice. For instance, the Braves failed to sign second-rounder Joshua Fields, the No. 69 pick last year, so they would receive pick 69a.
It turns out, however, that the initial interpretation was incorrect and that the compensation depends on where the choice fell within the individual round. Fields was the fifth overall choice in the second round last year, so Atlanta will get pick 5a (currently No. 52) in the second round this June. Similarly, the Red Sox will get pick 20a (currently No. 68) in the second round, rather than pick 84a overall after they didn't sign Hunter Morris.
The corrected draft order stands as follows:
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. Giants (Pedro Feliz, B, to Phi)
38. Astros (Trever Miller, B, to TB)
xx. Athletics (if Mike Piazza or Shannon Stewart sign elsewhere)
39. Cardinals (Troy Percival, B, to TB)
40. Braves (Ron Mahay, B, to KC)
41. Cubs (Jason Kendall, B, to Mil)
42. Padres (Mike Cameron, B, to Mil)
43. Diamondbacks (Livan Hernandez, B, to Min)
44. Yankees (Luis Vizcaino, B, to Col)
45. Red Sox (Eric Gagne, B, to Mil)
xx. Athletics (if both Piazza and Stewart sign elsewhere)
46. Padres (Doug Brocail, B, to Hou)
51. Phillies (Rowand to SF)
52. Braves (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Joshua Fields)
54. Brewers (Cordero to Cin)
55. Brewers (Linebrink to CWS)
68. Red Sox (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Hunter Morris)
Supplemental Third-Round Picks
109. Phillies (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Brandon Workman)
110. Astros (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Derek Dietrich)
111. Padres (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Tommy Toledo)
112. Angels (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Matt Harvey)
No, it's never too early to ask about a draft. Sixteen months before the 2009 draft, here's how we project the first five picks:
1. Kyle Gibson, rhp, Missouri
Already has good stuff and will get better because his command and projectability are excellent.
2. Alex White, rhp, North Carolina
Needs to add some more polish but he has a heavy fastball, plus slider and two years to improve.
3. Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State
New England Collegiate League's No. 1 prospect last summer has strong frame, strong fastball.
4. Matt Graham, rhp, Oak Ridge HS (Conroe, Texas)
Shows good fastball, curveball and command in a classic 6-foot-3, 195-pound package.
5. Mychal Givens, ss/rhp, Plant HS, Tampa
Next year's version of Tim Beckham also shows a plus fastball off the mound.
When we're ranking farm systems, the two biggest factors are impact players and overall depth. We also look at how much talent has advanced to the upper levels of the minors, and the balance between hitters and pitchers. I focus the most on impact players, because major league teams win by building around stars. So if we take the top two prospects away from each system, it will reward the organizations that have more depth.
In the 2008 Prospect Handbook, we rated the best systems in this order: Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rangers and Yankees. (Those rankings reflected trades made through Dec. 12, and we'll update them in our Minor League Preview issue in another month or so.)
Even if Tampa Bay (Evan Longoria, David Price) and Boston (Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury) lost their top two prospects, they'd still have five players who will make our 2008 Top 100 Prospects list, which we'll unveil on this website on Tuesday. That's as many as any other team placed on the Top 100, and the Rays and Red Sox have tremendous depth to go with their star power. They'd still rank 1-2 for me.
Cincinnati would take the biggest hit without its two best prospects, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey. I do like Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto, but the Reds' depth drops off after that and they wouldn't be a top-five system. Neither would the New York, if it couldn't count Joba Chamberlain or Austin Jackson. Texas would remain near the top even without Elvis Andrus and Chris Davis, because they added so much talent last year via trades and the draft.
Who would replace the Reds and Yankees in the top five? I'd go with the Rockies at No. 4, with the Braves just edging the Dodgers.
Why doesn't he get even more love, especially after hitting .333/.394/.622 with 31 homers and 113 RBIs in the minors last year? He did most of his damage as a 24-year-old in Double-A, which isn't young for that level. Pittsburgh will try to make him an outfielder this season, and that might be a stretch. Pearce is going to have to keep mashing in the majors to earn regular playing time.
He's a better prospect than Brad Eldred was for the Pirates, but remember that Eldred put up even better numbers in the Pittsburgh system before fizzling. Pearce has a chance to be a big league regular, though I remain unconvinced he's better than Pirates incumbent Adam LaRoche. Pearce also bats righthanded, so he has he platoon advantage working against him more often than not.