Ask BA

Just when it looked like we finally were going to escape the Alex Rodriguez saga, now we’re going to have Barry Bonds jammed down our throats for a while. Sigh.

Two quick thoughts, and then I hope to leave both topics alone.

I don’t understand the consensus that Scott Boras is taking a loss or has lost his aura of invincibility because Rodriguez is going to sign for 10 years and $275 million. Last I checked, the Yankees had vowed not to negotiate with Rodriguez, who has no concrete offers from any other club. Yet he’s going to exceed his last contract, which was considered wildly exorbitant and didn’t take him well past his prime like his new deal will. That’s a loss? I hope I lose like that someday.

On Bonds, I’d like to know how many million of dollars the U.S. government has spent putting together its case. I’d also like to know, in the end, what is it really going to accomplish?

    You've been doing your mock drafts for a while now. I think it's time for a Top 10 Prospects list from the big-time farm system you've put together from your mock drafts.

    Justin Riddick

I assembled a Top 10 in an Ask BA last January, but now’s a good time for another one. My list doesn’t include Micah Owings (my 10th-round pick in 2004), because he already has graduated to the major leagues, or Luke Hochevar (first round, 2005), because I didn’t sign him. For a complete list of my choices, my 2007 draft is here
and my previous drafts are here.

1. Jason Heyward, of, Braves (first round, 2007)
Should quickly establish himself as an elite hitter.
2. Jordan Schafer, of, Braves (third round, 2005)
Ranked ahead of Heyward on our official Braves Top 10.
3. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Marlins (first round, 2006)
Herniated disc limited him in 2007, but he should be fine next year.
4. Kyle Gibson, rhp, U. of Missouri (ninth round, 2006)
Will be a first-rounder in 2009; I met his $500,000 asking price out of high school.
5. Michael Bowden, rhp, Red Sox (sandwich round, 2005)
Held his own in Double-A at age 20 with solid fastball-curve combination.
6. Aaron Cunningham, of, Diamondbacks (sixth round, 2005)
Batted .308, hit 16 homers, stole 28 bases, reached Double-A at age 21.
7. Wes Hodges, 3b, Indians (second round, 2006)
Hit .287/.367/.473 in high Class A this year in his pro debut.
8. Will Middlebrooks, ss/3b, Red Sox (fifth round, 2007)
Sandwich-round talent fell to me, Boston because of signability.
9. Ryan Sweeney, of, White Sox (first round, 2003)
His bat has been disappointing, but he was still my first big leaguer.
10. Justin Jackson, ss, Blue Jays (sandwich round, 2007)
Plays a premium position, has solid tools across the board.

That’s not bad at all. I’ve learned as I’ve gone along, and my last three drafts have been much stronger than my first two. I like my depth beyond the Top 10, too, as I have some hopes for my second- and third-round picks from 2007, righthanders Nevin Griffith (White Sox) and Sam Demel (Athletics), and five players who performed well last season: Giants first baseman Andy D’Alessio (fifth round, 2003), Yankees righthander Daniel McCutchen (eighth round, 2005), Red Sox catcher Mark Wagner (ninth round, 2005), Red Sox outfielder Zach Daeges (sixth round, 2006) and Orioles outfielder Matt Angle (sixth round, 2007).

    Under the new collective bargaining agreement, college players have four years and high school players have five years before they have to be protected on a 40-man roster, correct? Is this from when they sign, or from when they first play? For example, Brad Harman of the Phillies signed out of Australia in 2003, when he was 17, but he didn't make his debut until 2004. So he wouldn't have to be protected until after 2008, right? Jason Jaramillo, who was drafted out of Oklahoma State in 2004 and then played that summer, he has to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, correct?

    James Moyer
    Washington D.C.

James is correct on the status or Harman and Jaramillo, but the recent change to rule is a little more involved. First, it’s based purely on the player’s age at the time of his signing, with those 18 or younger in one group and those 19 or older in another. Under the previous CBA, a player’s 40-man clock started ticking when he began playing, so a club could postdate his contract to the following year and buy an extra season before it had to protect him. Teams had to place a 19-and-older signee on the 40-man roster after three years, and an 18-and-younger signee after four years, or risk losing him in the major league Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings.

Now the rule gives clubs an additional year before they have protected players, though it no longer allows teams to postdate the contracts to buy extra time. Teams get the best of both worlds for players signed before the new CBA went into effect after the 2006 offseason, as they can take advantage of not only the added year, but also a postdated contract if one applies.

    Whatever happened to former Royals prospect Colt Griffin? Is he still playing organized baseball anywhere?

    Hunter Abercrombie
    Live Oak, Fla.

Griffin created a lot of furor in 2001, when he became the first high school ever documented to hit 100 mph with his fastball. Teams fell in love with his heater, and Alan Schwarz chronicled the phenomenon in a classic Baseball America story

The Royals drafted Griffin ninth overall, paid him a $2.4 million bonus and then watched him go 19-25, 4.79 in five minor league seasons. He won just two games above Class A ball and walked more batters (278) than he struck out (271) in 374 pro innings. He never was able to throw strikes consistently and dialed down his fastball into the low 90s in an unsuccessful effort to find some control.

Kansas City moved him to the bullpen in 2004, but that didn’t help much. He hurt his shoulder in 2005, had surgery that offseason and returned the following year unable to reach even the high 80s with his once-formidable heater. He retired in July 2006.

" Nov. 7 Ask BA