Ask BA

David Wells re-signed with the Padres, making him the only compensation free agent (Type B, in his case) to cut a deal in the last week. Since there were no changes to the draft order, we’ll save the chart this time around. Just two more Type B free agents remain on the market, and they’ll each yield a supplemental first-round choice if they find a new club: Chan Ho Park (Padres) and Ron Villone (Yankees).

I spent Friday chasing the Jeff Samardzija signing, so Ask BA went on the back burner. You get just one question today, but we’ll make it an interesting one . . .

    The consensus top pitchers for the 2007 draft are Vanderbilt lefthander David Price, North Carolina State righthander Andrew Brackman and Connecticut high school righty Matt Harvey. Where would they rank among professional baseball's best pitching prospects? Also, now that Jeff Samardzija has decided to forego the NFL, where would he rank?

    Stephen Shelby
    Davis, Calif.

Price, Brackman and Harvey, in that order, are still the best pitchers available in the 2007 draft. When it comes to putting them in context with mound prospects already in pro ball, they rank further down my list because I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to players who have proven themselves at higher levels than high school or college.

From a stuff standpoint, Price is comparable to Cubs lefty Donald Veal, but Veal has conquered high Class A. Brackman’s top-end velocity is higher than just about anyone in the minors, yet he hasn’t pitched more than 43 innings in a college season. Harvey has plenty of arm strength but hasn’t developed a consistent curveball yet and his competition in Connecticut is several levels below Rookie ball.

Samardzija is an interesting case. From the standpoint of ceiling, he compares favorably to just about any prospect. He has size, athleticism and an electric arm. But he’s also unpolished and inexperienced, and at this point he’s further from his ceiling than any of the game’s best pitching prospects. Veal can’t match Samardzija’s fastball, but he has a very good one, a better breaking ball and he’s lefthanded, not to mention that he has proven a lot more to this point. So on our soon-to-be released Cubs Top 10 list, you’ll find Veal ahead of Samardzija.

I very well may be conservative in my evaluations of Price, Brackman, Harvey and Samardzija. Here’s how I stack them up among the game’s more-established pitching prospects.

1. Daisuke Matsuzaka, rhp, Red Sox
2. Philip Hughes, rhp, Yankees
3. Homer Bailey, rhp, Reds
4. Tim Lincecum, rhp, Giants
5. Andrew Miller, lhp, Tigers
6. Yovani Gallardo, rhp, Brewers
7. Matt Garza, rhp, Twins
8. Clayton Kershaw, lhp, Dodgers
9. Scott Elbert, lhp, Dodgers
10. Adam Miller, rhp, Indians
11. Mike Pelfrey, rhp, Mets
12. Luke Hochevar, rhp, Royals
13. Nick Adenhart, rhp, Angels
14. Jacob McGee, lhp, Devil Rays
15. Jeff Niemann, rhp, Devil Rays
16. Donald Veal, lhp, Cubs
17. David Price, lhp, Vanderbilt
18. Clay Buchholz, rhp, Red Sox
19. Jason Hirsh, rhp, Rockies
20. Troy Patton, lhp, Astros
21. Humberto Sanchez, rhp, Yankees
22. Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Phillies
23. Brad Lincoln, rhp, Pirates
24. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins
25. Jeff Samardzija, rhp, Cubs
26. Andrew Brackman, rhp, North Carolina State
27. Franklin Morales, lhp, Rockies
28. Ubaldo Jimenez, rhp, Rockies
29. John Danks, lhp, White Sox
30. Eric Hurley, rhp, Rangers
31. Chris Volstad, rhp, Marlins
32. Jaime Garcia, lhp, Cardinals
33. Matt Harvey, rhp, HS/Connecticut
34. Brandon Erbe, rhp, Orioles
35. Johnny Cueto, rhp, Reds

" January 12 Ask BA