Looking At Rounds 17-20

• No surprise at pick 520 where the Braves take a Georgia high school righthander. Mark Pope is 6-feet-2, 200 pounds and an East Cobb alumni whose fastball is typically around 90 mph with sink. Signing Pope will be a challenge as he is committed to Georgia Tech.

The Royals get a two-way standout from Belmont with their 18th-round pick as they select Carlo Testa at 535. Testa is a lefthanded pitcher and outfielder and leads his team in both batting average and wins. Most teams like him as an outfielder and the Royals announced him as a center fielder. Kansas City is getting an athlete and this is a good pick.

The Braves get another high school pitcher from the state of Georgia in righthander Michael Palazzone. This is a steal in the 18th round—if Palazzone is signable. He pitches in the low 90s with projection and offers a big breaking ball as well. Palazzone does have a funky arm action and backward shoulder tilt that scares some scouts, as does his commitment to the University of Georgia.

N.C. State is loaded with quality arms in its bullpen, including sophomore eligible Sam Brown, whom the Diamondbacks selected at 558. Brown throws in the low 90s with a clean delivery and has projection. Signing him away from his junior year may be a reach for Arizona, as Brown was a seventh-round pick out of high school two years ago (Nationals).

And, there he is, Harold Martinez finally lands in the 2008 draft as the Rangers select him with pick number 573. At one time, Martinez was the top ranked hitting prospect in the ’08 draft class, but Martinez struggled this season to make consistent contact with the baseball and didn’t impress scouts enough to try and buy him out of heading to school, as he is committed to play for Miami next year. Martinez was an Aflac All-American last fall and is a plus defender. His issues come at the plate, where he is spectacular in batting practice but struggles with timing during the game. If signed, the Rangers have a high ceiling potential here.

Vanderbilt senior David Macias goes to the Cubs at 581 and makes perfect sense for Tim Wilken. Known to love athletes, Wilken and his staff are getting an athletically gifted center fielder with speed and hittability.

One of the top hitting high school players in the country fell all the way to round 20, as Kentucky recruit Zack Cox is selected by the Dodgers with pick 607. Cox hits for power and average, and will be an impact bat for the Wildcats if he doesn’t sign. Cox plays third base and hits lefthanded.

The Rockies get an athletic outfielder in Nate Lape with the number 617 selection. Lape is a real physical specimen at 6-feet-5, 215 pounds and has tools. He has raw power and can run in the outfield. Making consistent contact will be Lape’s question mark through out his pro career.

The top college hitter in Nevada, Xavier Scruggs was expected to go in the five-to-seven round range. Instead, he fell to the 19th round to the Cardinals, despite having one of the nation’s top seasons as he hit .379/.480/.749 with 20 homers for UNLV.

An elbow injury in regional play dropped Michigan’s Nate Recknagel, who set a school record with 23 home runs this season, tumbling to the 19th round. He likely would  have been a solid 7-to-10 senior sign had he stayed healthy.

• UC Davis had its fifth player drafted with righty Eddie Gamboa going to the Orioles in the 21st round. Not bad for a Division I newbie program.

Contributing: John Manuel

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