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Draft Report Card

Kenny Baugh
Photo: Rich Abel

Best Pro Debut: Following an All-America season at Rice, RHP Kenny Baugh (1) overmatched the full-season Class A Midwest League and posted a 2.97 ERA in five Double-A starts before being shut down with a tired arm. 3B Jack Hannahan (3) not only hit .318-1-27 in the MWL, but his defense also drew raves. Another 3B, Ryan Raburn (5), batted .363-8-42 at short-season Oneonta.

Best Athlete: Michael Woods (1) is athletic as it gets for a second baseman. He didn’t face major college competition on a regular basis at Southern University, so he’s still learning, but he does have strong instincts and leadership skills. He hit .270 with 13 steals in the MWL.

Best Hitter: Hannahan and C Mike Rabelo (4) have sweet swings and good approaches at the plate. Rabelo, who hit .325-0-32 at Oneonta, is a switch-hitter who was considered more of a catch-and-throw guy than an offensive player entering the 2001 season at the University of Tampa.

Best Raw Power: At 6 feet and 184 pounds, Raburn isn’t huge by any means, but he takes a big swing and balls jump off his bat.

Fastest Runner: 2B Demetrius Heath, a 31st-round draft-and-follow from 2000, can fly and is speedier than anyone in Detroit’s crop. Among this year’s picks, OF Vincent Blue (10) leads the way with a time of 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: Hannahan is agile and has a strong arm. He makes highlight plays as well as the routine ones. He committed just 10 errors in 57 pro games.

Best Fastball: RHP Preston Larrison (2), the University of Evansville’s best prospect since Andy Benes was the No. 1 overall pick in 1988, can touch 97 mph. When he’s on, Baugh can reach 95. RHP Jason Moates (20) topped out at 96 mph before having Tommy John surgery in 2000, but he hasn’t regained all of his velocity yet. He tweaked his elbow again after turning pro but didn’t require surgery.

Most Intriguing Background: LHP Joe Connolly (28) pitched for Oneonta (N.Y.) High in the spring and the Oneonta Tigers in the summer. RHP Tom Farmer (7) started and won the College World Series championship game for Miami in June. Another Hurricanes RHP, Dan Smith (17), also played tight end for Miami’s football team. LHP Kevin McDowell (15) is the son of former all-star Sam McDowell. OF Jason Knoedler’s (6) twin Justin went one round earlier to the Giants. Hannahan (Buzz, Phillies), Raburn (Johnny, Angels) and Connolly (Michael, Pirates) all have brothers in pro ball as well.

Closest To The Majors: At worst, Baugh will open 2002 in Double-A, with Triple-A a distinct possibility. He should be one of the first players from this draft to reach the big leagues, especially considering that Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira have yet to make their pro debuts.

Best Late-Round Pick: Moates, if he can stay healthy and recapture his pre-surgery form. LHP Ian Ostlund (34) doesn’t have outstanding stuff, but his finesse and command give him a chance.

The One Who Got Away: 3B Joey Metropoulos (16) has a lot of power, but he’ll showcase it at the University of Southern California. He projects as a first-rounder in 2004.

Assessment: The major league team needs a lot of help, and this draft should provide some–and soon. In the first five rounds, the Tigers came away with Baugh, Woods, Larrison, LHP Matt Coenen (2), Hannahan, Rabelo and Raburn. All are proven college performers who made smooth transitions to the pros, with several of them handling challenging assignments.

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