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2005 Final MLB Draft Projection

  1. Diamondbacks: Justin Upton, ss, Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake, Va. The Diamondbacks have been telling teams for close to a week that they’ll take Upton, the younger brother of 2002 No. 2 overall choice B.J. Upton and the high schooler with perhaps the highest ceiling since Ken Griffey Jr. While a deal had yet to be finalized as of last Monday night—Arizona is believed to have made an opening offer of a $4 million bonus, with Upton’s side countering with a contract similar to the $5.5 million deal the Diamondbacks gave 2004 first-rounder Stephen Drew on May 30—that shouldn’t stop Upton from going No. 1. Plan B appears to be Wichita State righthander Mike Pelfrey.  
2. Royals: Alex Gordon, 3b, U. of Nebraska

Originally rumored to be looking for an extreme signability pick, the Royals will take the best player on the board in Gordon, a five-tool third baseman who’s the most complete hitter in college baseball. His asking price is believed to be a major league contract in the neighborhood of $5 million. Kansas City has visited with Upton and would take him on the off chance he falls, and also thinks highly of North Carolina high school outfielder Cameron Maybin and Long Beach State shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
3. Mariners: Jeff Clement, c, U. of Southern California

The Mariners were expected to take Tulowitzki as recently as Friday, but they’re looking for a catcher and a power bat. Clement fits the bill on both counts, and as a bonus he’s lefthanded. Seattle would gladly snap up Upton or Gordon if one of them falls to No. 3. Rumors persist that the Mariners are considering Stanford first baseman John Mayberry Jr., their unsigned 2002 first-rounder, but he would be a huge reach.
4. Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman, 3b, U. of Virginia

The Nationals have been locked in on Zimmerman for weeks, but they were tempted by Texas high school outfielder Jay Bruce after Bruce’s impressive RFK Stadium workout on Saturday. In the end, the fact that Zimmerman is closer to the big leagues and is a potential Gold Glove third baseman are the deciding factors, though Bruce has one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
5. Brewers: Ryan Braun, 3b, U. of Miami

The Brewers keep their draft board closer to the vest than most clubs. Scouting director Jack Zduriencik’s preference is believed to be Maybin, but four of Milwaukee’s last five first-round picks were high schoolers and GM Doug Melvin wants a more experienced player this time around. The Brewers would love a crack at Gordon or Zimmerman, but instead will address their needs at third base with Braun, one of the best college bats available. They also looked at Tulowitzki, but he balked at the idea of moving to the hot corner.
6. Blue Jays: Ricky Romero, lhp, Cal State Fullerton

This is the biggest lock in the first 10 picks. Barring an almost impossible scenario where Upton or Gordon would drop this far, the Blue Jays are going to take Romero, the best lefty in a draft that’s thin at that position.
7. Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki, ss, Long Beach State

The Rockies preferred to take Tennessee righthander Luke Hochevar, a Colorado native. But after two days of discussions, Colorado couldn’t get any assurance that it wouldn’t be in for a lengthy negotiation with Hochevar’s adviser, Scott Boras. On Monday afternoon, the Rockies decided to pass on Hochevar, who is thought to desire a major league contract in the neighborhood of $5 million. Getting Tulowitzki is a nice consolation, especially after it looked like he would go third overall, and he gets the nod over Bruce and Maybin.
8. Devil Rays: Wade Townsend, rhp, Dripping Springs, Texas

The biggest mystery in the first 10 picks is this one. For weeks, the Devil Rays bore down on three players: Clement, St. John’s reliever Craig Hansen and former Rice righthander Townsend. But in the last couple of days before the draft, Clement suddenly jumped to No. 3; Hansen, who has been a reliever for most of his college career, scared off Tampa Bay with his demands similar to fellow Boras client Hochevar; and Townsend bombed in a Sunday workout at St. Lucie, Fla. The scouting department likes Florida high school outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but upper management wants a more experienced player. After six straight college picks go off the board, there’s no obvious alternative. Townsend, the eighth overall pick a year ago by the Orioles, could come at a discount after sitting out a year, and that might keep him in Tampa Bay’s mix. If he doesn’t go here, he could drop all the way out of the first round.
9. Mets: Mike Pelfrey, rhp, Wichita State U.

Boras advises the top three pitching prospects in this draft in Pelfrey, Hochevar and Hansen. Pelfrey is looking for the same kind of contract as the others, and he looks like the only one of the three who won’t have to drop down in the first round to get it. If he does prove too rich for the Mets, they’d turn to Bruce. GM Omar Minaya was poised to draft Townsend last year while with the Expos, but has backed off after Sunday’s workout at the Mets’ spring-training complex.
10. Tigers: Cameron Maybin, of, T.C. Roberson HS, Arden, N.C.

New Tigers scouting director David Chadd used to coach at Wichita State, and he’d love to be able to grab Pelfrey, whom he knows personally. He can take solace in the fact that Maybin, Baseball America’s No. 3-rated prospect, hasn’t found a fit by now and will be available at No. 10. If Maybin does find a home before Detroit, the Tigers will turn to Tulowitzki if he drops or McCutchen.
11. Pirates: Andrew McCutchen, of, Fort Meade (Fla.) HS

In both 2002 and 2003, the Pirates’ scouting department preferred high school players only to have ownership mandate college selections—a decision that cost them B.J. Upton. Last year, Pittsburgh took high school catcher Neil Walker in this slot. This time, Pirates scouts want the athletic McCutchen and apparently will be allowed to take him, though upper management would prefer a college player such as Texas A&M shortstop Cliff Pennington or Massachusetts righthander Matt Torra.
  12. Reds: Jay Bruce, of, West Brook HS, Beaumont, Texas

The Reds would love to take a middle infielder here. In their wildest dreams, they’d get Tulowitzki, and they also have designs on taking Pennington. But if the Nationals, Rockies and Mets all pass on Bruce, Cincinnati will find him too tempting to do the same. Kentucky high school righthander Chaz Roe is a dark horse candidate.
13. Orioles: Brandon Snyder, c/ss, Westfield HS, Centreville, Va.

New Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan comes from the Marlins and is expected to follow a similar high-ceiling philosophy. Baltimore hopes that Bruce falls to them, but he won’t quite make it. Florida high school righthander Chris Volstad wobbled right before the draft, allowing athletic Virginia high school catcher Brandon Snyder (whose father Brian pitched in the big leagues) to move slightly ahead of him in the Orioles’ eyes.
14. Indians: Trevor Crowe, of, U. of Arizona

The Indians are seeking a college bat, and earlier thoughts that Braun or Clement would make their way to No. 14 haven’t materialized. Maybin and McCutchen would be considerations, but they won’t be options either. That leaves Cleveland with Crowe, who combines tools, performance and makeup and is a darling of several teams just below. If the Indians switch up and take a pitcher, Miami righthander Cesar Carrillo is the leading candidate.
15. White Sox: Lance Broadway, rhp, Texas Christian U.

No prospect has shot up the charts more than Broadway in the last three weeks. He was considered a late supplemental first-rounder until shackling down Tulane, Southern Mississippi and Stanford in successive starts, allowing one run while striking out 26 in 24 innings. Now Broadway has pitched himself into the middle of the first round, and the White Sox will choose him over two Illinois high school products, Tulane lefthander/outfielder Brian Bogusevic and Carrillo.
16. Marlins: Chris Volstad, rhp, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS

After fearing that the Orioles and former Marlins employee Joe Jordan would take Volstad, Florida will gladly grab the projectable 6-foot-7 righthander who already can reach 94 mph. The Marlins also would look at McCutchen, two-sport star C.J. Henry and Snyder, but Volstad still would be their man.
17. Yankees: C.J. Henry, ss/of, Putnam City HS, Oklahoma City

The Yankees appear to be a natural home for a Boras client, and are believed to covet Hansen and will get the unexpected opportunity to take Hochevar. But multiple sources insist New York won’t give out a major league contract and won’t pass on Henry, a top prospect in basketball as well as baseball. Henry, who has as much upside as nearly anyone in the draft, prefers baseball and won’t be an unusually tough sign. If the Marlins switch gears and take Henry, the Yankees would take Volstad, and they also like Snyder.
18. Padres: Cesar Carrillo, rhp, U. of Miami

Originally thought to be looking at Crowe and Oregon State outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Padres are now considering the same pitchers the White Sox are. If Chicago passes on Broadway, San Diego will not. Otherwise, the Padres will go with the hard-throwing Cesar Carrillo, who won the first 24 decisions of his college career.
19. Rangers: Travis Buck, of, Arizona State U.

Several names have been associated with the Rangers, and they seem to change daily. College righthanders Mark McCormick (Baylor), Torra and Matt Garza (Fresno State) first surfaced, and then the focus shifted to high schoolers such as Maybin, McCutchen, Snyder and Volstad. Texas appeared to be in line to get Snyder before the Orioles decided on him, and the Rangers apparently have cooled on the college righties. If Crowe is gone, Texas likely will take Buck. He’s a gifted hitter and a baseball rat, though scouts would like to see him show more power.
20. Cubs: Luke Hochevar, rhp, U. of Tennessee

The Cubs haven’t been afraid to take Boras guys in the draft, and three years ago they used the No. 21 pick to take Boras client Bobby Brownlie when he nosedived. They’ll be in position to do the same with Hochevar, though they’ve been more closely linked with Utah high school lefthander Mark Pawelek. Before he tailed off at the end of the season, Hochevar was neck and neck with Pelfrey as the top pitching prospect in the draft. If Chicago decides to stay within Major League Baseball’s bonus guidelines, Ellsbury could be its man. The Cubs also are known for drafting players from Virginia and like two of the state’s high schoolers, shortstop/righthander Justin Bristow and Snyder.
21. Athletics: Cliff Pennington, ss, Texas A&M

Like many of the statistically oriented clubs at the bottom of the draft, the Athletics covet Crowe but they won’t be able to take him. Ellsbury looked like their alternative for a while, but now Oakland has shifted its focus to Pennington. He’s similar to Boston’s second-round pick from a year ago, infielder Dustin Pedroia (who’s hitting .307 in Double-A), and Pennington has better tools and is better suited for shortstop. The Athletics could consider sweet-swinging California high school outfielder John Drennen, but they have a good chance to get him in the supplemental first round.
22. Marlins: Aaron Thompson, lhp, Second Baptist HS, Houston

With three picks in the first round and two more in the compensation round, the Marlins will try to avoid stretching their budget as much as they can. One way will be to take the exceptionally polished Thompson, who was considered unsignable as a Texas A&M recruit until the Aggies fired their coaching staff. Florida also likes Tennessee high school righthander Bryan Morris, who rates higher than Thompson on most draft boards, but apparently will gamble that Morris will still be around at No. 29.
23. Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury, of, Oregon State U.

The Red Sox have the money to sign Boras clients, and last year they gave one (lefthander Mike Rozier) a $1.575 million bonus as a 12th-rounder. Boston has been linked to both Hansen and Pawelek, though it’s unlikely they’d take both and it probably can get either one at No. 26. With that in mind, the Red Sox will opt for either Ellsbury, billed as Johnny Damon with less pop, or Bogusevic. Homestate product Torra also is a possibility.
24. Astros: Mark McCormick, rhp, Baylor U.

The Astros always are connected to several Texas prospects, and this year is no exception with McCormick and Pennington close to the top of their preference list. Torra is from Pittsfield, Mass., as is Houston’s new scouting director Paul Ricciarini, and he’s also in the mix—strictly on merit. McCormick can be erratic on the mound, but he also has an electric arm and the Astros won’t pass him up just because he’s a Boras client. Fireballing McNeese State righthander Jacob Marceaux also could get a look, but Houston stands a good chance to get him at No. 38.
25. Twins: Brian Bogusevic, lhp/of, Tulane U.

The Twins were zeroing in on Snyder the weekend before the draft, but then his stock took a late jump above their reach. Crowe, Volstad and Henry also are on Minnesota’s wish list and expected to be long gone. Bogusevic, a two-way talent whom most teams prefer as a three-pitch lefty, is a nice value at No. 25, however. If he’s not available, the Twins likely would opt for Roe.
26. Red Sox: Craig Hansen, rhp, St. John’s U.

The Red Sox certainly noticed when Hansen dominated the nearby Cape Cod League last summer, and he could provide very quick relief for the club’s beleaguered bullpen with his mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider. Pawelek is another Boras-related possibility, and if Boston decides to go for an easier sign it could turn to Torra or North Carolina State reliever Joey Devine.
27. Braves: Chaz Roe, rhp, Lafayette HS, Lexington, Ky.

It’s no secret that the Braves love projectable high school pitchers and prospects from the Southeast. That gives them two obvious candidates in Roe and Morris. Roe has generated a lot of momentum leading up to the draft, and it will carry him all the way into the first round. If Pawelek was willing to take slot money at this point, he could be tempting.
28. Cardinals: Mark Pawelek, lhp, Springville (Utah) HS

The Cardinals have been extremely quiet this spring and few clubs have a handle on what they’re going to do. Though they didn’t sign any high school players in 2004, St. Louis is expected to spend one of its two first-rounders on a prep pitcher. The Cardinals have a history of dealing with Boras, and Pawelek will be the top high school arm on the board. St. Louis is also believed to like Roe, Morris and Florida high school righty Tyler Herron, who had a pair of notable duels with Volstad this spring. The Marlins are likely looking for a high school arm at No. 29, so it behooves the Cardinals to make their college selection at No. 30.
29. Marlins: Bryan Morris, rhp, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS

Morris has a fresh arm and a power arsenal, and he could spare the Marlins’ 2005 budget by signing as a draft-and-follow next year. Though Morris has said he’ll sign as a first-rounder, he’d also like to play one season with his father Ricky, an assistant coach at Motlow (Tenn.) Community College. Florida could take Morris now and sign him next spring. Marceaux appears to be the Marlins’ fallback plan.
30. Cardinals: Jed Lowrie, 2b, Stanford U.

Lowrie is the college player most closely linked to St. Louis. He’s similar offensively to Adam Kennedy, the Cardinals’ 1997 first-rounder, and he’s a better defender. Other candidates expected to be available include Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden (another Boras client) and Mayberry (who also won’t come cheap) as hitters, and Torra, Long Beach State lefthander Cesar Ramos and Devine on the mound.

Supplemental First Round

31. Diamondbacks: Cesar Ramos, lhp, Long Beach State U.
32. Rockies: Matt Torra, rhp, U. of Massachusetts
33. Indians: Joey Devine, rhp, North Carolina State U.
34. Marlins: Yuniel Escobar, ss, Miami
35. Padres: Chase Headley, 3b, U. of Tennessee
36. Athletics: John Drennen, of, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego
37. Angels: Ryan Tucker, rhp, Temple City (Calif.) HS
38. Astros: Jacob Marceaux, rhp, McNeese State U.
39. Twins: Justin Bristow, ss/rhp, Mills Godwin HS, Richmond, Va.
40. Dodgers: Sean West, lhp, Captain Shreve HS, Shreveport, La.
41. Braves: Craig Italiano, rhp, Flower Mound (Texas) HS
42. Red Sox: Colby Rasmus, of, Russell County HS, Phenix City, Ala.
43. Cardinals: Matt Garza, rhp, Fresno State U.
44. Marlins: Clay Buchholz, rhp, Angelina (Texas) JC
45. Red Sox: Ryan Mount, ss, Ayala HS, Chino Hills, Calif.
46. Cardinals: Taylor Teagarden, c, U. of Texas
47. Red Sox: Jonathan Egan, c, Cross Creek HS, Hephzibah, Ga.
48. Orioles: Michael Bowden, rhp, Waubonsie Valley HS, Aurora, Ill.

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