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Allan Simpson Draft Chat
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 Q:  John from Stamford, CT asks:
Do you think there is any chance David Purcey could fall to the Yankees at #23? They made a huge mistake not signing him last year, and I just hope they can get another shot at him. If not, who do you think they will be targeting in the first round?

Allan Simpson: All right, let's get our first of three Friday draft chats started. We're expecting a busy afternoon. Regards Purcey, I don't see him lasting to 23--and I don't know whether he even signed a consent form to be re-drafted by the Yankees. It's easy to question why they didn't sign him last year when they took him in the 17thround, but Purcey's been a much superior pitcher this year, with better velocity (up to 95) and better command. The Yankees have three of the first 41 picks this and this could be a great opportunity to inject some impact talent into a weak farm system. If players like B.J. Szymanski and Philip Hughes get to them, those would be solid picks.

 Q:  Mike from NH asks:
Hi, Allen. Cal State Fullerton catcher Kurt Suzuki seems to have come out of nowhere this year. Is this guy for real? Why did he sit the bench the past two years? And in what round do you think the A's, Blue Jays or Red Sox will draft him this year? Thanks - and keep up the great work!

Allan Simpson: Suzuki has become one of the hot names in the draft this year. He's a solid defender and has really stepped it up with the bat, especially the last 3-4 weeks in Big West play. He's come a long way in all areas after being a walk-on as a freshman. He has a very good chance of being a sandwich pick, which would make him ripe for the A's who have two sandwich picks. And I've heard he's one of Billy Beane's favorite players. The Red Sox don't pick til 65, so they'll have little chance of getting him.

 Q:  Darren from Eugene, OR asks:
So, where would Luis Cota have been in the top 100? Can you give more info about his stuffcontrolpotential?

Allan Simpson: Cota was the most significant draft-and-follow from 2003 and would have been a late first-rounder or sandwich pick. He's the only draft-and-follow that we would have ranked in the top 100. He's extremely athletic with a fastball that touched 96-97.

 Q:  Kevin from Baton Rouge asks:
Who are the Rangers targeting in the 1st rd?

Allan Simpson: The Rangers would do well to stay close to home with their first two picks (10 and 30) as Texas is loaded with talent this year. The three Rice pitchers and Homer Bailey, the best high school pitcher in the draft, would be natural selections if they're still available at 10, while I've heard that outfielder Greg Golson, one of the 2-3 best athletes in the draft, is a prime target at 30.

 Q:  Jack Kilbride from Tampa, FL asks:
I am interested in three local prospects. Michael Branham of Jesuit High School, C.J. Smith of the University of Florida, and Joshua Johnson of Middleton High School. What are there draft projection?

Allan Simpson: I've got Branham as a second- or third-rounder, Smith as a fourth- or fifth rounder and Johnson as a sixth- to eighth-rounder.

 Q:  Tom DeLaRosa from San Jose, CA asks:
What is the draft prospects for senior righthander Jason Windsor out of Cal. St. Fullerton?

Allan Simpson: It's difficult to project college seniors with any certainty, but he has pitched extremely well lately and fueled Fullerton's turnaround. On talent, I would say he's a sixth- to 10th-rounder, but I wouldn't be surprised if a team looking for a bargain pops him in the first four rounds. He doesn't have great stuff but he knows how to ptch.

 Q:  ELTiger from Lansing, MI asks:
Considering that Jeff Niemann hasn't started a game in nearly a month and has only thrown in 2 short relief stints, how has his stock risen so fast? Combine that with the fact that he's had surgery to clean out his elbow and that there aren't many successful 6-8 big leaguers, I'm baffled.

Allan Simpson: It sounds like you're a Tigers fan and saw we projected Niemann as the No. 2 pick. It's possible he could even go No. 1. He's a bit of a wild card because he hasn't started a game in a while because of a nagging groin injury, but he was lights out in relief last Saturday with a fastball at 96-97 and a slider at 86-87. He has better stuff than Jered Weaver and might be the more attractive selection if he shows in the 2-3 starts he'll have before the draft that he's 100 percent healthy and is the same pitcher he was in 2003. I wouldn't worry about his size. His command is pretty special for a 6-9 righthander.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
Who do the Brewers like at #5?

Allan Simpson: It's still pretty early and the Brewers rarely tip their hand, but we know they have a strong interest in Rice pitcher Philip Humber and Texas high school righthander Homer Bailey. GM Doug Melvin probably prefers the college guy, while scouting director Jack Zduriencik generally favors high school players. The organization needs pitching depth and wouldn't go wrong with either.

 Q:  Mike from NH asks:
Eddie Martinez-Esteve is posting some phenomenal numbers as a sophomore, a year after leading FSU in hitting as a freshman. Yet BBA has him ranked as just the 68th-best prospect in the draft. Why is he ranked so low?

Allan Simpson: Actually, he started fast and has cooled off a bit lately. But he's a legitimate hitter, one of the best in a draft thin on impact bats. Unfortunately, his best position is DH. More than one scout has described him as Manny Ramirez with a glove.

 Q:  charles from michigan asks:
Do you think Verlander would be the right choice for Detroit if Weaver is taken #1?

Allan Simpson: The speculation all spring has been that the Tigers would take Verlander at No. 2, and there's still a good chance they will. He's got better stuff and a higher upside than Weaver, but his performance and command has been up and down. Even at 96-97, he's gotten knocked around this spring by teams like Princeton and William & Mary. We get the feeling that if Niemann returns to his 2003 form in his last couple of starts that the Tigers may take the surer bet.

 Q:  NJASDJDH from nyyfans.com asks:
Is Chris Nelson really a better prospect than Matt Bush? Could you compare the two?

Allan Simpson: It's almost splitting hairs on Bush vs. Nelson. They're easily the best high school position players in this draft. Bush is a better defender and has a slightly better arm (in part because Nelson had Tommy John surgery just eight months ago), but Nelson runs a little better and swings the bat better. I know that at least one team rates Nelson the best talent in the entire draft.

 Q:  Tim Hudson Contract Extension Fan Club from Oakland Coliseum asks:
Please tell Billy Beane that if the A’s draft another shortstop with their first-round pick then they are going to lose one of their biggest fans, because we have drafted a shortstop in the 1st round four years in a row (Bynum, Crosby, McCurdy, Quintanilla), I realize it’s a “skilled” position but c’mon, how many do we need? Meanwhile, we have ignored drafting right-handed power hitters. Please God any position but another middle infielder!!!

Allan Simpson: The A's obviously line up their draft board a little differently than most other clubs, but either way there aren't a lot of premium shorstops this year. But I would be surprised if they don't pick at least one among the four picks they have before the start of the second round. To me, the best bets are overachieving Dustin Pedroia and Trevor Plouffe--even if Plouffe is a high school player.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
What is Adenhart's status?

Allan Simpson: Adenhart's name was noticeably absent from our top 100 list. He's in a wait-and-see situation after pulling himself out of a game in early May with a sore elbow. He's had an MRI and teams are fearful that he may have to undergo Tommy John surgery. Our indication is that Baltimore would have drafted him with the eighth pick, but he'll likely slide right out of the early rounds if his arm injury is serious, as is feared.

 Q:  Evan from Andover,NH asks:
Do you think that Jeff Larish will fall to the sox at 65 and secondly do you think that he fits in with the red sox new sabermetrics philosophy?

Allan Simpson: Larish projected as the top college hitter in the draft at the start of the year, but was just a shadow of himself as he struggled to hit .300 with three homers. Even his walks ( a national high 78 in 2003) fell off dramatically. Scouts have advanced all kinds of theories as to why he struggled, but some teams say he just had an untimely slump. I'd be surprised if Boston didn't look hard at him if he slides that far, but they need to be confident that he'll bounce back from an off year.

 Q:  Buckwheat from Detroit asks:
Your mock draft has the Tigers choosing Jeff Nieman of Rice, is this based on solid new information or conjecture? Do you see any possibility of the Tiger's taking Homer Bailey with the second pick?

Allan Simpson: The draft is still 2-12 weeks away and nobody has made any firm decisions yet, so much of our mock draft was conjecture. But there isn't a team (San Diego included) that wouldn't consider Niemann if he's healthy and pitches at his 2003 level in his last few starts. I've heard the Tigers have a big interest in Bailey, but may not be able to afford to wait on a high school arm.

 Q:  Fabian from minoryankeeblog.blogspot.com asks:
What are your thoughts on RHP Matt Fox? Is there any chance he is available for the Yankees supplemental or second round picks?

Allan Simpson: Fox is a solid sandwich to high second-round projection, and I'm sure the Yankees, who have three picks between 23 and 41, would look at him seriously. Fox may appeal a little more to a performance-based club, but it remains to be seen whether the Yankees will take a conservative route in the draft or go more for high-risk, high-reward players. If it's the former, I'd say Fox is more likely to be in their mix.

 Q:  Rich from Missouri asks:
Allan, first, I want to thank you on the work you and the rest of the staff does. I'm curious as to where you think the two Missouri high schoolers, Scott Elbert and Blake DeWitt, will go in the draft. Also, have you heard much about DeWitt's teammate, catcher Jacob Priday? Thanks

Allan Simpson: Elbert and DeWitt have gotten a lot of attention. We're hearing Elbert could go as high as the fifth pick, but more likely will go in the middle of the first round. DeWitt has been mentioned prominently with the Twins, possibly as high as No. 20 but more likely in the second round.

 Q:  Jon from WV asks:
Where do you see Pat White (HS Ala) going in the draft?

Allan Simpson: White is one of the best athletes in the draft and put up big powerspeed numbers at Daphne High in Alabama, but his draft status is a bit clouded because he's a big football recruit to West Virginia. On ability, he could go as high as the second or third round, but we're betting he drops because of the football factor.

 Q:  Joe from Grosse Point, MI asks:
The Tigers have several good draft and follows from the 2003 draft including Sean Henry, Michael Trent and Joshua Walpepah. Any chance of these players signing before this year's draft?

Allan Simpson: Detroit had two of the highest-drafted draft-and-follows from last year, but neither Trent (eighth round) nor Henry (10th) had particularly good years. Trent was kicked off the team at Young Harris (Ga.) JC before the season and Henry flashed tools at Diablo Valley (Calif.) JC but was terribly erratic. The best of the bunch is Wahpepah, who reached 96-97 at Cowley County (Kan.) JC and it may take second-round money to buy him out of a scholarship to Texas.

 Q:  Bombo from Bloomington asks:
If Justin Upton were in this draft class, when do you think he'd be picked?

Allan Simpson: I'd say first, unless a team was opposed to taking a high school player in that spot. It's pretty apparent that Pittsburgh regrets not taking his brother B.J. when it had the No. 1 pick in 2002 and went for Bryan Bullington because he was a safer pick. Justin Upton projects as the top pick in 2005.

 Q:  Jack from Boston, Ma asks:
Where do you think Beau Mills, who is the son of Red Sox's bench coach Brad Mills will be going in the draft?

Allan Simpson: We see him as an 8th-10th round talent, but he would probably head to college at Fresno State for the kind of money those rounds offer. He offers good lefthanded power potential.

 Q:  Don from Detroit asks:
Who are the top 3 that the Tigers are considering and in what order?

Allan Simpson: We've got a lot of curious Tigers fans on board today. I'd say it's a toss up between Verlander and Niemann, with Stephen Drew as a fallback choice. I don't see Weaver there, if San Diego passes on him, because of the team's past history with his brother; and I don't see Homer Bailey because the organization needs more immediate help than a high school player can provide.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
Which of the Rice pitchers could be a potential No.1 starter Niemann, Townsend, or Humber?

Allan Simpson: Niemann has No. 1 starter stuff, while Humber is a cross between a 1 and a 2. Townsend certainly could start, too, but a lot of clubs view him as a closer, mainly because of his fiery makeup. Jim Callis wrote an excellent column in our draft preview issue in which he gots scouts to do an in-depth analysis of the strengths and weakness of the three Rice pitchers.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
If Philip Humber go to the Mets at 3, who would the Devil Rays select between Niemann or Townsend?

Allan Simpson: I doubt the Devil Rays will draft a college pitcher, no matter who's still on the board--though Niemann hasn't been completely ruled out. Despite a big need for pitching in Tampa Bay and the presence of B.J. Upton in Triple-A, the Devil Rays are most interested in Chris Nelson. They've also looked pretty closely at Bailey and Eric Hurley, two high school arms.

 Q:  Kurt from Manchester, CT asks:
Last year it seemed that many High School players, particularly pitchers, dropped in the draft - perhaps due to the ‘Moneyball’ effect. Do you expect something similar this year, or is the pendulum going to swing back the other way? How many HS players do you think will be selected in Round 1?

Allan Simpson: We projected 12 high school players in the first round, including seven pitchers, in our draft preview. The emphasis on college talent is partly a Moneyball effect , partly a need of clubs drafting early to get immediate help that college players provide and partly ownership's mandate to exact a quicker return on their considerable investment in first-round picks. The prime Moneyball clubs in this year's draft will be the A's, of course, along with the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Cardinals.

 Q:  Tony Blundetto from San Diego asks:
Allan, obviously we hear a lot about Jeremy Sowers, a no-brainer 1st round pick. But I've heard his identical twin Josh who pitches for Yale, could also get drafted. If so what round, and do you see him signing? Thanks.

Allan Simpson: Josh is similar to Jeremy, except that he's righthanded and his stuff just doesn't play as well from that side. I'd be surprised if he's drafted because I can't see a team buying a mid-round pick, at best, out of an Ivy League education.

 Q:  Jason Shaw from Biloxi, Mississippi asks:
Hey! whats up Allen? Who are the top five catchers in this years draft? thanks

Allan Simpson: Let's go with: 1. Neil Walker 2. Jason Jaramillo 3. Kurt Suzuki 4. Devin Ivany 5. Landon Powell

 Q:  John from Brooklyn,NY asks:
Don't the Yankees have 4 picks in the first 42?#23,#37,#41 and #42.Will the left handed pitcher the Rogers kid from Maine be available at #23

Allan Simpson: You're right. They do have the 42nd pick--the one they get from the Padres for David Wells. Rogers would be a prime target for the Yankees, but I don't see him lasting until the 23rd pick.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Have you heard any scouting buzz about Dustin Pedroia? How high do you see him going, and do you think he is a target of performance based teams in particular, or do scouts like him too?

Allan Simpson: Pedroia's tools fall far short of what teams normally look for in the first round, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him go as high as a sandwich pick--with Oakland a likely target. Most scouts have little doubt he'll play in the big leagues, probably even as a regular. Pound for pound, he's the best player in college baseball. His makeup, competitive nature and instincts are off the charts.

 Q:  Jeff from Cleveland asks:
Hey Allan, do you think Sowers would be a reach for Cleveland at 6 ? I like the fact that he's a lefty w superior control but on your BA prospect board you have Homer Bailey, Justin Verlander, Matt Bush, Wade Townsendall all rated higher then him. What other prospects do the Tribe have interest in ? Thanks for these great chats

Allan Simpson: There are several players that are better raw talents than Sowers, but he is extremely polished for a college pitcher and should reach the big leagues quickly. Bush is the other player the Indians have pursued the hardest.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Altos, CA asks:
It sounds like some teams are now considering Micah Owings as a hitter rather than a pitcher. What will he be drafted as? Is his ceiling higher as a pitcher or a hitter?

Allan Simpson: Owings is still a pitcher first, but the gap is closing for some teams. He didn't show consistently velocity or command this spring, causing his stock to slip a bit. Though he has big-time power potential, he also has holes in his swing and is prone to striking out a lot.

 Q:  Nick Andersen from Sioux Falls asks:
The twins have 5 first round picks, who do you see them taking with their picks, thanks

Allan Simpson: Outside of Glen Perkins, a hometown college pick, I see them focusing mostly on high school talent like pitchers Eric Hurley, Scott Elbert and Jay Rainville, and position players Billy Butler (Hurley's teammate), Blake Dewitt, Trevor Plouffe and Chuck Lofgren.

 Q:  Jimmy from Woodville, MS asks:
I go to several LSU games each year and I am anxious to see where John Zeringue and JC Holt end up in the draft. Zeringue has had a first rate season, making his non-signing out of HS look like a good gamble. Holt has always impressed me with his blazing speed and quick bat. Will both of these guys be happy come draft day?

Allan Simpson: I think so. We project Zeringue as a high second-rounder and Holt as a low second-rounder to high third-rounder.

 Q:  Russ from NY asks:
I'm a big fan of Josh Fields, does he still project to go in rounds 2-4?

Allan Simpson: I hate to do it with 300-plus questions still on the board, but this will have to be our last question for the day. However, we'll be doing draft chats each of the next two Fridays. Thanks to everyone who checked in. Fields is almost certain to go in the first round, probably in the 15-20 range. Though he hit only six homers this year at Oklahoma State, his power potential is among the best in the draft.

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