The Rangers shouldn't have drafted Matt Purke 14th overall in June if they weren't going to spend to sign him, and there were indications from the start that he might be as unsignable as any of the first-round talents. But Texas may have gotten a frontline starter out of the draft anyway, if supplemental first-rounder Tanner Scheppers can stay healthy.
Scheppers would have gone in the first 10 picks in 2008 if he hadn't come down with a shoulder injury that has been described as significant wear and tear. Concerns about his shoulder allowed him to drop to the 44th pick this year, even after he was clocked in the mid-90s during workouts and independent American Association games in the spring.
Scheppers signed a month after the Aug. 17 deadline for $1.25 million, roughly a fifth of what Purke was seeking. Scheppers' shoulder is still a question, but if his first outing in the Arizona Fall League is any indication, the Rangers may get a healthy return on investment. Working two scoreless innings, he topped out at 99 mph and backed up his heat with a power curveball.
Clemens, a catcher in the Astros system, had by far the best season of his five-year pro career, ranking first in the minors in RBIs (123), second in doubles (45), extra-base hits (73) and slugging (.620) and fourth in batting (.341). He didn't crack my Top 10 list below because he has spent four years in Class A and did most of his damage this year in Lancaster, which might be the best hitting environment in the minors, and because it's not clear he could hack it defensively as an everyday catcher. Clemens has a much better chance of playing in Houston than he did a year ago, however, and his performance in Double-A next year will give a better indication as to his future.
Young, a second baseman/outfielder who made the Rockies' Division Series roster, had the best season of his six-year career, hitting .299/.387/.430 and leading the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 118 runs and 58 steals. He's not fluid defensively at second base, which may preclude him from being an everyday player in Colorado, but there's a role for him in the majors.
Young ranked ninth on my list of prospects whose father played in the big leagues. The Top 10 is quite strong, and many organizations gladly would trade their 10 best prospects for it.
1. Kyle Drabek, rhp, Phillies (son of Doug)
Philadelphia refused to part with him in a potential Roy Halladay trade.
2. Casey Kelly, rhp/ss, Red Sox (Pat)
Even more advanced than expected on the mound, which is his future.
3. Ike Davis, 1b, Mets (Ron)
After going homerless in his pro debut, he bashed 20 homers and reached Double-A.
4. Dee Gordon, ss, Dodgers (Tom)
Still learning the game, but he hit .301 and led Midwest League with 73 steals.
5. Austin Romine, c, Yankees (Kevin)
New York's catcher of the future has solid tools across the board.
6. Brandon Snyder, 1b, Orioles (Brian)
It took him a while, but he's showing why Baltimore took him 13th overall in 2005.
7. Peter Bourjos, of, Angels (Chris)
Speedy center fielder is Torii Hunter's heir apparent in Los Angeles.
8. Michael Brantley, of, Indians (Mickey)
Part of the C.C. Sabathia trade, he's a line-drive machine.
9. Eric Young Jr., 2b/of, Rockies (Eric Sr.)
Has stolen 303 bases in 568 minor league games.
10. Beau Mills, 1b, Indians (Brad)
Needs to tighten his strike zone to achieve his big power potential.
Other sons of big leaguers who are prospects include Dodgers shortstop Ivan DeJesus Jr. (Ivan Sr.), who missed most of the season after breaking his leg in spring training; Astros third baseman Chris Johnson (Ron); Orioles righthander Steven Johnson (Dave); Red Sox infielder David Renfroe (Laddie), the best such prospect from the 2009 draft; and Blue Jays righthander Josh Roenicke (Gary).
Eighty million? Counting just salaries and not bonuses or incentives, the tab for the Yankees infield (including catcher) comes to $91.1 million for 2009. Alex Rodriguez makes $32 million, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira pull in $20 million each, Jorge Posada gets $13.1 million and Robinson Cano makes do with $6 million.
For less than a fourth of that amount, I can assemble a stellar infield from the last five drafts.
At catcher, I'll take Matt Wieters (No. 5 pick in 2007, $6 million) over Buster Posey, sacrificing a little defense for some extra offense. There are a lot of first-base options to choose from, but I'm going to move Pedro Alvarez (No. 2 in 2008, $6 million) over from third base and select him ahead of Justin Smoak, Brett Wallace, Yonder Alonso, Matt LaPorta, Ike Davis and Brandon Snyder.
The best player who has seen a lot of time at second base is Chris Coghlan, who played left field for the Marlins as a rookie this year. But there's no reason that Gordon Beckham (No. 8 in 2008, $2.6 million) can't play there. A shortstop in college, he could handle short in the majors but has shifted to third base with Alexei Ramirez on the White Sox. Give me Beckham at second, where he played four games in Double-A this year.
Even with moving Alvarez to first and Beckham to second, I still have to leave off a quality third baseman. I'll choose Evan Longoria (No. 3 in 2006, $3 million), which means I pass on Ryan Zimmerman. Shortstop is the easiest call of all, with Troy Tulowitzki (No. 7 in 2005, $2.3 million).
So that gives me Wieters, Alvarez, Beckham, Longoria and Tulowitzki for $19.9 million in bonus money. They're not better than the Yankees yet, but I'd be happy to go to battle with those guys.
Picks in the upper half of the first round can't be surrendered for free agents, and the compensation choices for unsigned first-rounders aren't included when that line is drawn (though those selections also are protected). So the Cubs can sign any free agent they want without giving up the No. 16 pick in the 2010 draft.