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Oklahoma dismissed quarterback Rhett Bomar from school after he accepted full-time pay for a job at which he worked just five hours a week. With Bomar owning a national championship-caliber arm, and college football being college football, he’ll probably surface with another program before too long. But if he doesn’t, I wonder if a baseball team might sign him. Bomar would have been a high draft pick in 2004 out of Grand Prairie (Texas) High–Kerry Wood’s alma mater–if he hadn’t been intent on becoming a Sooner.

Here’s our scouting report from two years ago:

OF Rhett Bomar is loaded with tools. He’s 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, and his power and arm are more than suited for right field. He might not play any baseball after this spring, though. The consensus top quarterback recruit in the nation, Bomar is headed to Oklahoma, where he’ll be the eventual successor to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jason White. Bomar threw for 6,097 yards and accounted for 91 touchdowns in 27 high school games.

    Taking into account the recent trades in baseball as well as how prospects have performed this year, who do you think now has the best farm system in terms of talent and depth? I think the Devil Rays have passed quite a few clubs and would be in the top three along with the Dodgers and Angels.

    Patrick Fischer

I enjoyed this question, because when we do our organization rankings in the offseason, they’re really just a snapshot of that moment in time. So much has happened since, from major league callups to the draft to injuries to stock rising or dropping due to performance, that those ratings are now obsolete.

Our top four organizations coming into the season were, in order, the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Marlins and Angels. But all of those systems have been weakened by the promotions of Top 100 Prospects such as Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin (Diamondbacks); Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton and Andre Ethier (Dodgers, who also dealt away Top 100 Prospect Joel Guzman); Jeremy Hermida, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson (Marlins); and Howie Kendrick, Jered Weaver and Kendry Morales (Angels).

I do agree with Patrick that the Devil Rays (ranked No. 10 during spring training) have passed quite a few clubs, and in my opinion they have passed them all. Tampa Bay currently has the best farm system in baseball.

Delmon Young entered the season with our endorsement as the game’s best prospect, and he still ranks among the elite. Youngsters such as Reid Brignac, Wade Davis and Jacob McGee have made the jump to Top 100 status. The Devil Rays have added two more Top 100-quality players in Guzman and first-round pick Evan Longoria. They had underappreciated depth to begin with, and many of their prospects have taken a positive step forward. Tampa Bay also hasn’t lost too many prospects to the majors this season, with Chad Orvella (currently in the minors but over the rookie/prospect 50-inning limit), Jamie Shields and trade acquisition Ben Zobrist the only names of note.

The Rockies also have moved up, from No. 11 at the outset of the season to No. 2 in my mind at this point. Troy Tulowitzki can make a case for being the best shortstop in the minors, and despite a so-so season Ian Stewart is among the best at third base. Chris Iannetta, Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales could join them in the 2007 version of the Top 100, as could first-round choice Greg Reynolds. The only notable prospect Colorado has brought to the majors this year is the injured Omar Quintanilla.

The Diamondbacks (Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Young), Dodgers (Andy LaRoche, Scott Elbert, Matt Kemp) and Angels (Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar, Nick Adenhart) still have plenty of blue-chip talent and would place near the top of the organization rankings if we did them today. But their loss of depth has allowed the Devil Rays and Rockies to pass them by.

    What's the deal with Cuban national team second baseman Yuliesky Gourriel? There were reports that he had defected last week. Now we hear those reports may have been false. Can you give us a definitive confirmation as to whether he defected and tell us what kind of player he would project to be in the majors?

    Shawn Carey
    Batavia, Ill.

There was quite a stir last week when several reports originated from Colombia that Gourriel had defected while there for the Central American and Caribbean Games. One Colombian newspaper reported that Gourriel quickly signed a deal with the Yankees. But none of that was true, and Gourriel returned home to Cuba after helping his team win another gold medal in international competition.

Gourriel, 22, is the defending Cuban League leader in homers (27) and RBIs (92) in a 90-game season. He also batted .273 with two homers and six RBIs at the World Baseball Classic, where Cuba lost to Japan in the finals. After that tournament, one scout estimated that Gourriel could command a $20 million contract if he hit the open market.

Gourriel has exceptionally quick hands and strong wrists, giving him tremendous bat speed and power. He’s also a quality defender with above-average arm strength and range. He has played mostly second and third base for Cuba, and some scouts believe he could handle shortstop.

He has inherited the mantle of the best young player in Cuba from past stalwarts such as Omar Linares (who never defected) and Kendry Morales (now with the Angels). Gourriel is unlikely to join Morales in the United States, however, because of close family ties he’d be reluctant to sever. His father Lourdes, a former national team outfielder, manages him on the Sancti Spiritus club on which he plays with his brother Yuniesky, an outfielder.

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with Justin Upton's performance in low Class A, especially after what he did in spring training, but I still believe he'll be as good as advertised. He's still very young and adjustment time is to be expected. Because numbers don't tell the whole picture, what have scouts been saying about him? Do you expect him to perform better in year two?

    Chris Nordensson

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, Upton signed with the Diamondbacks in January for a then-record $6.1 million. Considered more advanced at the same stage of his career than his older brother B.J., the No. 2 choice in 2002, Justin went 7-for-14 with three doubles and a triple in a stint in big league camp this spring. He has been solid but decidedly less spectacular in the Midwest League this summer, hitting .264/.345/.412 with nine homers, 48 RBIs and 11 steals in 86 games.

There’s nothing wrong with those numbers. Upton is an 18-year-old making his pro debut in a full-season league that’s kinder to pitchers than hitters. But Cameron Maybin, whom the Tigers took 10th overall last year and is just four months older, is batting .327/.411/.489 with six homers, 53 RBIs and 25 steals in 74 games, and he’s playing at West Michigan, which might have the toughest hitter’s park in low Class A. That’s the kind of production we all probably expected from Upton.

Scouts and managers alike rave about Upton’s tools. He still projects as a plus hitter with plus power and plus-plus speed. The one quibble Midwest League observers have about Upton is a sense of entitlement. Unlike Maybin, who comes to the ballpark to beat you with all five tools every day, Upton has shown a propensity to coast and hasn’t gotten the most out of his physical ability. That’s been the disappointment in his performance, and it’s something he should outgrow.

Upton should put up better numbers in 2007. He’ll have an extra year of experience, and he should be stronger and hopefully more mature. He’ll also move from South Bend to high Class A Lancaster, a hitter’s haven in a hitter’s league.

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