Ask BA

Movement on the free-agent market has been glacial this offseason, but the last two weeks have seen four Type A free-agent signings, creating eight compensation draft picks, plus Casey Blake re-upping with the Dodgers. Below is the updated draft order and the 17 remaining compensation free agents listed by team:

First-Round Picks
1. Nationals
2. Mariners
3. Padres
4. Pirates
5. Orioles
6. Giants
7. Braves
8. Reds
9. Tigers
10. Nationals (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow)
11. Rockies
12. Royals
13. Athletics
14. Rangers
15. Indians
16. Diamondbacks
17. Dodgers
18. Marlins
19. Cardinals
20. Blue Jays
21. Mariners (if they fail to sign 2008 first-rounder Joshua Fields)
22. Astros
23. Twins
24. White Sox
25. Angels (from Mets for Francisco Rodriguez, A)
26. Brewers (from Yankees for C.C. Sabathia, A)
27. Brewers
28. Mariners (from Phillies for Raul Ibanez, A)
29. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Gerrit Cole)
30. Red Sox
31. Rays
32. Cubs
33. Angels
Supplemental First-Round Picks
34. Mariners (Ibanez)
35. Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, A, to Yankees)
36. Brewers (Sabathia)
37. Angels (Rodriguez)
38. Reds (Jeremy Affeldt, B, to Giants)
Second-Round Changes
49. Pirates (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Tanner Scheppers)
63. Blue Jays (from Yankees for Burnett)
Third-Round Changes
76. Yankees (for failure to sign 2008 second-rounder Scott Bittle)
Supplemental Third-Round Picks
101. Astros (for failure to sign 2008 third-rounder Chase Davidson)
Remaining Compensation Free Agents
Ari: Juan Cruz (A), Orlando Hudson (A), Brandon Lyon (B).
Bos: Jason Varitek (A), Paul Byrd (B).
CWS: Orlando Cabrera (A).
Col: Brian Fuentes (A).
KC: Mark Grudzielanek (B).
LAA: Mark Teixeira (A), Jon Garland (B).
LAD: Derek Lowe (A), Manny Ramirez (A).
Mil: Ben Sheets (A), Brian Shouse (B).
Min: Dennys Reyes (B).
NYM: Oliver Perez (A).
Tex: Milton Bradley (B).

You get an abbreviated Ask BA today because I’m recovering from the 2009 Prospect Handbook, which went off to the printers on Dec. 19, as well as subzero temperatures (that’s temperatures, not wind chills) in suburban Chicago. Those of you who ordered the Handbook directly from Baseball America should have it sometime in mid-January. Happy holidays to everyone.

Ask and ye shall receive:

1. David Price, lhp, Rays
What he showed us in the postseason was just the beginning.
2. Matt Wieters, c, Orioles
He could be Mark Teixeira—as a catcher.
3. Brett Anderson, lhp, Athletics
The best player Oakland got in the package for Dan Haren.
4. Trevor Cahill, rhp, Athletics
It will be fun to watch his friendly rivalry with Anderson.
5. Neftali Feliz, rhp, Rangers
Just one reason the Braves wish they could undo their Teixeira trade.
6. Tim Beckham, ss, Rays
Yet another multitalented star-in-the-making for Tampa Bay.
7. Eric Hosmer, 1b, Royals
He could be the best of all the special hitters K.C. has drafted recently.
8. Lars Anderson, 1b, Red Sox
Even if Boston signs Teixeira, it will find room for Anderson in 2010.
9. Travis Snider, of, Blue Jays
Of these 10 guys, he might make the biggest 2009 impact in the majors.
10. Mike Moustakas, 3b, Royals
In a few years, he and Hosmer could combine for 70 homers annually.

    In light of new Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik's 12-player trade, where would the new prospects fit into an updated Seattle Top 10 list?

    David L. Boyd
    Bellingham, Wash.

None of the three prospects the Mariners acquired from the Mets in three-team deal—righthander Maikel Cleto, first baseman Mike Carp or outfielder Ezequiel Carrera—made the revised Top 10 in the Prospect Handbook. And none of them would have ranked ahead of second baseman Luis Valbuena, who just missed out on our Mariners Top 10 but will check in at No. 10 on our new Indians Top 10. Cleto was No. 8 on our original Mets Top 10 before the trade.

To whet your appetite for the Handbook, below are the scouting reports it will feature on Cleto and Valbuena.

Maikel Cleto, rhp, Mariners
Born: May 1, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 218. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006. Signed by: Ramon Pena (Mets).
Cleto has the highest ceiling of the three prospects the Mariners acquired from the Mets in the three-team, 12-player deal at the Winter Meetings that sent J.J. Putz, Sean Green and Jeremy Reed to New York. Managers rated Cleto’s fastball as the best in the low Class A South Atlantic League last year, when he topped out at 100 mph. Unlike many young, hard throwers, he has an idea of where the ball is going. “Anyone who throws 91-98 and a ton of strikes, you have to pay attention,” one scout said. Cleto has a strong body that allowed him to log 141 innings as a teenager in 2008, and Mets officials raved about his work ethic. However, he’s far from a finished product. His slurvy breaking ball and changeup need to get a lot better if he’s going to keep hitters from sitting on his fastball. His delivery can be a little violent at times, too. He’s erratic in terms of results, showing no-hit stuff one day and the inability to get out of the first inning the next. Cleto should start his Mariners career in high Class A.

Luis Valbuena, 2b, Indians
Born: Nov. 30, 1985. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 200. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Emilio Carrasquel (Mariners).
The Indians played a small part in a three-team, 12-player trade at the Winter Meetings, sending Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners and receiving Joe Smith from the Mets and Valbuena from Seattle. Valbuena redeemed himself for a poor 2007 season in Double-A by returning there, raising his average by 65 points and increasing his power output. He earned a promotion to Triple-A at the end of June, and then played regularly for the Mariners in September, pushing Jose Lopez to first base. With a line-drive stroke and a knack for making contact, Valbuena is geared to hit for average with occasional power to the gaps. On the flip side, he has just enough juice to get himself in trouble when he gets pull-happy. He stands out with his bat speed, his fearlessness and for the fact that he never wastes an at-bat. Valbuena always has handled the bat well and shown a good eye at the plate, but his recent defensive improvement has raised his chances of playing regularly in the majors. While his speed is average at best, he shows good range to both sides and has a strong arm at second base. He turns the double-play pivot quickly and efficiently. Valbuena is ready for an expanded big league role and has a higher offensive ceiling than Cleveland’s 2008 starter, Asdrubal Cabrera.

" Dec. 8 Ask BA