Ask BA

Devil Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, has broken into pro ball with a .353 average and 16 homers in 47 games. Those numbers are stunning, but we knew he could hit.

An even more amazing pro debut among 2006 draftees, considering where he was selected, belongs to Giants 35th-rounder Adam Cowart, a fifth-year senior sign out of Kansas State. A submariner who works with a sinker that sits in the mid-80s and a slider, Cowart has gone 8-0, 0.29 in 11 starts in the short-season Northwest League.

Cowart hasn’t given up a run in six of his outings and has permitted an earned run just twice (once each time). In 62 innings, he has nearly as many strikeouts (39) as baserunners allowed (34 hits, five walks, three hit batters). He has yet to surrender a home run.

    Counting a couple guys (Stephen Drew and Matt Kemp) who have not yet graduated out of rookie/prospect status for next year but who should shortly, as well as those who have already, 35 members of Baseball America’s 2006 Top 100 Prospects list won’t be eligible next year. Furthermore, there are another 16 or so guys who have had bad years or stalled or were hurt for much of the season. All together, I count 51 players on the Top 100 who either graduated or haven’t helped their cause. Is it just me, or is this going to lead to a bigger turnover of the Top 100 than ever before, or at least than is normal? And with what was considered to be a weak draft in 2006, will 2007’s Top 100 be among the least talented?

    Peter Friberg
    San Diego

We don’t keep records on Top 100 turnover from year to year, but I did go back and look at the 2005 list. And the situation wasn’t much different than this year. Looking at 2005, 29 players graduated, while 10 had serious injuries and nine had disappointing seasons. That’s a total of 48 guys who weren’t going to come back.

Of the other 52, 41 repeated on the 2006 Top 100. I also randomly checked another pair of Top 100s, and 46 guys from the 1999 list made it back in 2000.

In terms of the most recent draft picks, there were 17 2005 draftees on the 2006 Top 100. That number seems unusually high to me. Yet in what was considered a subpar 2006 draft, there will be no shortage of candidates for the 2007 Top 100. The top 10 picks (Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds, Evan Longoria, Brad Lincoln, Brandon Morrow, Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Drew Stubbs, Bill Rowell, Tim Lincecum) all have a good chance to make it, as do later first-rounders such as Travis Snider, Brett Sinkbeil, Chris Parmelee and Hank Conger.

The top of the list should be as strong as usual, with returnees such as Homer Bailey, Alex Gordon, Philip Hughes, Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton, Brandon Wood and Delmon Young. The 2007 Top 100 should match up pretty well against previous lists.

    How does the future of the Royals look nowadays? We all know about Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, but what about the rest of the system, especially after all the deadline trades and the signing of Luke Hochevar? Does new general manager Dayton Moore seem to know what he’s doing? Is there even a glimmer of hope for the Royals?

    Brad Cramer
    El Dorado, Kan.

The Royals’ outlook looks bleak for the near future. The major league team is still the worst in the game, and the farm system still isn’t much better, especially in terms of depth.

But things still look brighter for Kansas City then they did at the start of the season. Allard Baird may be smart and nice, and he may have been handicapped by ownership, but he didn’t do a good job as Royals general manager. Signing a bunch of worn-out veteransPremium in the offseason was just another step in another wrong direction.

Baird since has been replaced by Moore, a former Braves assistant GM and the consensus best GM prospect in the game. In his first two months on the job, Moore has addressed Kansas City’s pitching shortage as well as he could have. The Royals didn’t have any gems to offer in trade, but Moore was able to swing minor deals and bring in Daniel Cortes, Jorge de la Rosa, Joselo Diaz, Blake Johnson, Tyler Lumsden, Julio Pimentel. They all won’t pan out, but some of them (Lumsden in particular) should and they’re better than most of what Kansas City already had on hand. In any event, the Royals won’t rue trading Elmer Dessens, Tony Graffanino, Mike MacDougal or Matt Stairs.

Kansas City also has signed the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, Hochevar, who made his pro debut last night by working two scoreless innings for low Class A Burlington. The first batter he faced was 2005’s top pick, and Hochevar struck Justin Upton out looking at a 95-mph fastball.

The Royals still need to get more aggressive in the draft and focus almost entirely on player development. (Signing Mark Grudzielanek to a one-year extension? Waste of time and money.) But they have a GM who comes from the organization that has done player development better than any other over the last 15 years, and Moore has brought over other Braves officials to become part of his new front office.

It will take Moore some time to turn the Royals around, but he looks capable of doing so. That’s more hope than the Royals have had in quite a while.

    Now that righthander Kevin Mulvey is in the fold for the Mets, where do you think he ranks in their system and where do you see him eventually fitting into their plans? I didn’™t hear much about him in the run up to the draft.

    Pete Duffy
    New York

New York’s top pick in the June draft, Mulvey ranks in the Mets’ second tier of prospects. He’s behind outfielder Fernando Martinez and righthanders Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber, and alongsinde players such as righty Deolis Guerra, lefty Jon Niese and outfielder Carlos Gomez.

There was talk that he could go in the supplemental first round, but the Mets landed him in the middle of the second round and signed him for slot money, $585,000. He has three solid pitches, including a low-90s fastball, a curveball or a slider. Despite his good stuff, Mulvey didn’t dominate mid-level competition at Villanova, so that’s a red flag. But if he develops as hoped, he should be a nice mid-rotation starter for New York two or three years from now.

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