Ask BA

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We posted our first mock first round of 2009 Premium last week, which has led to a few questions about how often we'll update our projections. Our plan is to release new first-round breakdowns on May 28, June 5 and again on June 9 before the draft begins at 6 p.m. ET. The day before the draft, John Manuel and I will run through the first round, alternating picks and explaining whom we would select if we were running each club.

Of course, the mock first rounds are just one piece of our unmatched draft coverage. This week, we'll roll out our draft rankings by position and scouting reports on the top 100 prospects in the draft, starting with lefthanded Premium and righthanded pitchers Premium today. Next week, we'll unveil our official Top 200 Prospects list with scouting reports for every player, followed by our expanded state-by-state breakdowns. In between all that, we'll give you a weekly dose of Draft Tracker and several draft-related chats.

Editor's note: Between Memorial Day and extensive work on our draft coverage, Ask BA won't appear on May 25. The next edition will run on June 1.

    What in the world is going on with Delmon Young? I know that he's only 23, but he hasn't shown anything besides a strong outfield arm in two-plus years in the majors. Looking back at BA's Top 100 Prospects list in 2006, I can name 20 players I'd rather have than Young. I know his attitude has come into question, but there are plenty of guys with questionable makeup who are able to produce between the lines. Young has gone from being a man child to Rafael Belliard. What gives?

    Randy Arias
    New York

Young was our Minor League Player of the Year in 2005 and entered 2006 No. 1 on our Top 100 Prospects list. At the time, the scouting reports were that he had the hitting ability and bat speed to produce for power and average, the instincts to make good use of his average speed on the bases, and the plus arm and range to be a quality right fielder. The biggest chinks in his armor were a lack of patience at the plate (he walked just 29 times in 136 games), with umpires (he drew a three-game suspension for bumping one) and with his organization (he ripped the Rays when they declined to promote him).

Three seasons later, he has gone backward in every regard. He's hitting just .277/.322/.325 with two extra-base hits in 25 games this season, dropping his major league career averages to .291/.326/.408 in 369 contests. He's still too aggressive at the plate, rarely walking and getting himself out on pitches he should let go by. Despite his arm strength and athleticism, Baseball Info Solutions rated him as the worst defensive left fielder in the game last year.

Not only has Young's performance been disappointing, but questions about his makeup continue to grow. He drew a 50-game suspension in the minors in 2006, when he tossed his bat after a called third strike and it hit a replacement umpire. Though he finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting in 2007, the Rays quickly tired of his sense of self-entitlement and sent him to the Twins in a prescient trade that netted them both Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. Young is young and talented enough to warrant time to refine his game, but it remains to be seen whether he'll ever come close to fulfilling his potential.

    It isn't out of the realm of possibility that Aaron Crow would be available when the Nationals make their second first-round selection at No. 10. A future rotation led by projected No. 1 choice Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Crow would be a nice start. Could the Nationals possibly take Crow after failing to sign him last year?

    Nate Rittenberry
    Chicago

Last year, Brian Matusz and Aaron Crow were clearly the top two college pitching prospects available. The market value for elite college pitchers, based on the 2004-07 drafts, is a major league contract with a bonus around $3.25 million and a total guarantee around $5 million. If you would have told me on draft day that the Nationals could have grabbed Crow at No. 9 and signed him for a $4 million bonus, I would have said that would be a terrific deal for the club.

Crow was willing to sign for $4 million right before the Aug. 15 deadline, but by that point his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, and then-Nationals general manager Jim Bowden were unable to compromise. In retrospect, neither side handled the negotiations well. The Hendricks brothers opened negotiations by asking for upwards of $7 million, while the club stuck firm to MLB's slot recommendation of $2.15 million. Neither side began to budge until a couple of days before the draft.

On the day of the deadline, Matusz unwittingly undermined Crow when he signed a subpar deal with the Orioles as the No. 4 pick. Matusz received a big league contract with a $3.2 million bonus but only $272,500 in additional guaranteed salaries, and Washington took the position that because Matusz was a higher-rated prospect, Crow shouldn't exceed his $3.5 million guarantee. The Nationals held firm at that price and the Hendricks wouldn't come below $4 million, and the two sides wouldn't bridge the gap.

Crow now pitches for the Fort Worth Cats in the independent American Association, and he has shown that he hasn't lost his stuff from a year ago. There's a good chance that he'll go before Washington has a chance to pick him at No. 10, but he'd also be a good value if he were still available there.

However, a team can't draft a player more than once without his consent. Crow has yet to sign the reconsent form, though acting Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he has been talking to Randy Hendricks and hopes to have that option available if Crow lasts past the ninth pick.

    It's always frustrating when you see a player who your team drafted but didn't sign reappear a few years later as a top prospect for another organization. The Jays must be kicking themselves for not signing Cardinals third baseman Brett Wallace out of high school. Could you put together an all-prospect team of players excelling for the second (or third) organization that drafted them?

    Rimas Ulba
    Brampton, Ont.

Don't get too frustrated, Rimas. When the Blue Jays didn't sign Wallace as a 42nd-rounder out of Justin-Siena HS (Napa, Calif.) in 2005, it wasn't because they were cheap. He just wasn't signable for a bonus commensurate with the market value of a high school player whose value was tied up solely in his bat.

Almost all of the players on the all-prospect team below were recognized as quality prospects out of high school but were considered tough signs. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and White Sox shortstop Gordon Beckham fit that profile as well, but no team bothered to draft them out of high school.

C: Buster Posey, Giants (Angels, 2005, 50th round)
1B: Justin Smoak, Rangers (Athletics, 2005, 16th round)
2B: Chris Coghlan, Marlins (Diamondbacks, 2003, 18th round)
3B: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (Red Sox, 2005, 14th round)
SS: Reese Havens, Mets (Rockies, 2005, 29th round)
LF: Todd Frazier, Reds (Rockies, 2004, 37th round)
CF: Desmond Jennings, Rays (Indians, 2005, 18th round)
RF: Matt LaPorta, Indians (Red Sox, 2006, 14th round; Cubs, 2003, 14th round)
DH: Brett Wallace, Cardinals (Blue Jays, 2005, 42nd round)
LHP: David Price, Rays (Dodgers, 2004, 19th round)
RHP: Jake Arrieta, Orioles (Brewers, 2005, 26th round; Reds, 2004, 31st round)

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