Ask BA

After taking a break for our College Preview, we’ll return to our online organization Top 10 Prospects coverage next week. So it’s a good time to take a look at what a Top 10 Prospects list of my annual draft picks would look like.

Every June, I take a random draft slot and make choices in each of the first 10 rounds. I’ve been doing this 2003, and you can see all of my choices here. These are my top prospects’"I couldn’t stop myself from going 15 deep’"and the draft rounds in parentheses are where I picked them):

1. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins (1st round, 2006)
2. Ryan Sweeney, of, White Sox (1st round, 2003)
3. Michael Bowden, rhp, Red Sox (1st round supplemental, 2005)
4. Wes Hodges, 3b, Indians (2nd round, 2006)
5. Matt Sulentic, of, Athletics (3rd round, 2006)
6. Micah Owings, rhp, Diamondbacks (10th round, 2004)
7. Bryan Morris, rhp, Dodgers (2nd round, 2005)
8. Aaron Cunningham, of, White Sox (5th round, 2005)
9. Kyle Gibson, rhp, U. of Missouri (9th round, 2006)
10. Mark Wagner, c, Red Sox (9th round, 2005)
11. Paul Phillips, rhp, Blue Jays (7th round, 2005)
12. Daniel McCutchen, rhp, Yankees (8th round, 2005)
13. Mike Bell, ss/2b, Brewers (10th round, 2005)
14. Erik Cordier, rhp, Royals (2nd round, 2004)
15. Andy D’Alessio, 1b, Clemson U. (6th round, 2003)

Considering how weak my first draft was’"I drafted 31st in each round and went too conservative in an attempt to not overspend’"I’m pretty pleased with that list. My “organization” would rank around 20th overall in our talent rankings, not bad for a team that never makes more than 10 picks a year and whose draft slots have been 31, 21, 17 and 19.

Ask BA is taking next week off, so I’ll be back in the first full week of February.

    I’m a huge Mets fan and am excited about our present and future. New York has some very talented outfielders coming up through the system. Who would you rather have: Lastings Milledge, Fernando Martinez and Carlos Gomez, or the Diamondbacks’ trio of Carlos Quentin, Chris Young and Carlos Gonzalez? Who will be the best individual player out of that group?

    Scott Jacoby

I’m going to take Door No. 3 on this one. If I could have my pick of any young outfield (let’s say where no one is older than 25), I’d take Carl Crawford, Delmon Young and B.J. Upton of the Devil Rays. Upton hasn’t moved to the outfield yet, but that’s where he’ll eventually end up. And if you don’t count Upton and replace him with Rocco Baldelli, I’d still stick with Tampa Bay’s trio.

If I’m limited to Scott’s two choices, I’d take the Diamondbacks outfielders. Arizona’s group would be even stronger if you substituted Justin Upton for Gonzalez. Upton will be the best long-term player in the Diamondbacks or Mets outfield, and of the guys Scott mentioned, I’d go with Chris Young.

Two other young outfields worth noting are those of the Indians (Grady Sizemore, Trevor Crowe, Brian Barton) and the Blue Jays (Alexis Rios, Adam Lind, Travis Snider).

    Yusmeiro Petit was touted as a Sid Fernandez type, no plus pitches but a deceptive delivery that hid the ball well and resulted in a high number of strikeouts, when the Marlins acquired him in the Carlos Delgado trade with the Mets. I have heard no buzz about him in recent months, however, and he doesn’t seem to be mentioned as a candidate for the starting rotation in 2007. Can you please provide an update on his development? Also, third baseman Grant Psomas, thought to be a sleeper in this deal, apparently has disappeared as well. Any news on him?

    Darin A. Hoffman
    Princeton, N.J.

Neither Petit or Psomas has disappeared so much as they hit a wall after coming over from New York.

At the time of the trade, Petit owned a career 2.71 ERA, a .209 opponent average and a 491-91 K-BB ratio in 402 minor league innings. But scouts cautioned that his statistics weren’t indicative of his stuff. His changeup is his lone plus pitch and his 88-91 mph fastball plays up because of its life and his command, but his arsenal is pretty ordinary and he his deception hasn’t worked against lefthanders at the upper levels.

Last year he was so-so at Triple-A Albuquerque and horrible in Florida, where his 9.57 ERA was the highest of any pitcher in the majors last year who worked at least as many innings as he did (26). He’s still just 22, so Petit has time to make adjustments. But he’s not currently at the forefront of the Marlins’ plans, and he needs to prove himself in Triple-A before getting another shot at the big leagues.

Psomas did a lot of damage in low Class A as a 22-year-old in 2005, and his numbers last year in high Class A (.291/.341/.427 with eight homers and 53 RBIs in 92 games) were quite similar to what he did after a late-season promotion the year before. Though he has some pop, he needs to do a better job with pitch recognition and hasn’t been tested against competition his own age. He’s the Marlins’ best third-base prospect but not a blue-chipper by any means.

    The Orioles own the fifth pick in the 2006 draft. Who do you project to go in that position? Can they add a significant position player, or will they have to settle for a pitcher? I would love to see them get an outfielder with a combination of power and speed.

    Joseph S. Hall
    Chesapeake Beach, Md.

We’ll be unveiling our Early Draft Preview on the website in the next couple of days. At this point, the talent pool looks a little deeper than usual, strong in most areas with the exception of college position players. The best everyday player available in the draft is Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters, who figures to be gone before Baltimore can select him. When you see our projected first round (based purely on talent rather than trying to match players with clubs and their needs), you’ll note that Wieters is the only non-pitcher in our top seven picks.

However, the Orioles should have their choice of the best high school position players available, outfielder Michael Burgess (Tampa), third baseman Josh Vitters (Cypress, Calif.) or outfielder Jason Heyward (McDonough, Ga.). They also could take one of two Tennessee stars, outfielder Julio Borbon or catcher J.P. Arencibia. If they’re thinking along with Joseph and want an outfielder, Burgess and Heyward are sluggers while Borbon is more of a speedster along the lines of Johnny Damon.

If Baltimore crosses Joseph up and goes with an arm, it probably will be looking at high school righthanders Matt Harvey (Groton, Conn.) and Rick Porcello (West Orange, N.J.), Clemson lefty Daniel Moskos, Rice southpaw Joe Savery and Texas Christian righty Jake Arrieta. Porcello ranked No. 5 on our early projection.

" January 20 Ask BA