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Draft Chat With Allan Simpson

Moderator: Allan will begin taking your draft questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Greg from Boca Raton asks:
What did you think of the Marlins draft? How soon will Tankersley and Vargas be in the Majors? Thanks!

Allan Simpson: First question up, and let's get right into it. Like any draft, you can't really tell yet how good it will be. It's evident their targets were (1) experienced lefthanders and (2) athletes who could fly. I know they were pursuing Texas A&M lefthander Zach Jackson right before the draft and ended up getting Tankersley and Vargas--both of whom could be closers. The speed came in Greg Burns and Jamar Walton, their third and fourth picks.

 Q:  Jeff from Cleveland asks:
Allan, what are your thoughts on the Indians draft ?

Allan Simpson: On the surface, it looks promising. Every draft John Mirabelli has overseen since becoming Indians scouting director has been solid. Sowers should move as quickly to the big leagues as anyone--especially if Jered Weaver takes his time signing with the Angels. The emphasis obviously was pitching, as the Indians took pitchers with 10 of their first 12 picks.

 Q:  Jack Burton from Toronto asks:
What is the chance of Micah Owings signing with the Cubs? (without a first round pick do they give him first round money?)

Allan Simpson: Owings should have gone in the second round like he did out of high school, but slid reportedly because his asking price was too high. He overplayed his hand two years ago with the Rockies, so teams were leery of his demands this time. My guess is the Cubs won't sign him initially and will monitor his approach this summer before determining whether to make a run at him. He won't come cheap, but he has the leverage of being a draft-eligible sophomore.

 Q:  Frank Zito from Los Angeles, CA asks:
What happened with Brad Meyers from Servite HS? He was projected to be selected in the top two rounds and was drafted in the 14th. Is he going to sign? What school is he committed to?

Allan Simpson: Meyers was a definite sandwichsecond round talent, but like many other premium high school players this year slipped because of signability. Teams just passed over players if they were asking for more money than the slot (as recommended by Major League Baseball) indicated should be paid. He committed to Loyola Marymound last fall when it and only one other school recruited him. I'd say it's less than 50-50 he'll sign, and it probably wouldn't happen til late summer if it did.

 Q:  R Nitelight from great69mets asks:
How high would Kendry Morales have gone in the draft? Is there any indication of what kind of $$$$$$ it's going to take to sign him?

Allan Simpson: Tough call. No one has really seen him play for a year or two because the Cuban government has been concerned enough about his possibly defecting that they haven't allowed him to play on any on its teams in international tournaments. But at 20 (soon to turn 21), he's clearly one of the best players in Cuba and should command big money on the open market--though it remains to be seen if he can sign as a free agent or may have to go into next year's draft.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedual for this chat. Did Boston "overdraft" some of their college pitchers in the early rounds(i.e. Dobies, Hottovy, Schroyer, Meradith)?

Allan Simpson: Every player in the first few rounds, with the possibly exception of Schroyer, went about where they were projected to go, but I thought the Red Sox would make more of a statement than they did after not having a first-round pick. These are good players, but I don't see an impact talent in the group.

 Q:  billy from manhattan asks:
could you assess the mets draft. after humber did they pick up any players who have a chance to be impact players in the majors someday.

Allan Simpson: I like the Mets draft. Humber is very solid, but several other picks have one or two tools that stand out. Matt Durkin (2) has the big 95 mph fastball, Aaron Hathaway (4) is one of the best defensive catchers in the country, Nick Evans (5) has big-time bat speed and Ryan Coultas (6) is one of the nation's best defensive shortstops--with enough arm strength that he could become a pitcher. The sleeper of the group may be righthander Scott Hyde (7), who struck out 191 with a 94-95 mph fastball while leading Oregon's George Fox College to the NCAA Division III national title.

 Q:  John Schneider from Chicago, Illinois asks:
How do you think the White Sox did with their 6 picks in the first two rounds?

Allan Simpson: Potentially, very good. They got one of the best hitters in the draft with their first pick, Josh Fields, then got four quality lefthanders with their next five picks. I think a lot will ride on UCLA LHP Wes Whisler, and how he takes to pitching once he gives up hitting. He didn't have a good year this season as either a pitcher or hitter, but scouts say he's got four quality pitches, including a 93 mph fastball. He just needs to make all his pitchers work better in concert with each other.

 Q:  gerard from newyorkcity dodger fan asks:
Do you think this Dodger draft will compare to the last two years? and do you see any influence of Podesta in this draft?

Allan Simpson: It will be difficult for the Dodgers to duplicate what they did the last two years, but their first 5-7 picks look pretty solid. I'm encouraged that Logan White was permittted to draft two Missouri high school players in the first round, as there had been a lot of speculation leading up to the draft that Paul DePodesta would implement his "Moneyball" approach to drafting players.

 Q:  Ben from Montreal asks:
Thank you for these chats! I like what the Expos did this year...they got some polished college guys like Bray, San Pedro, Ivany, Bunn and some high ceiling guys like Balester & Desmond. What are your thoughts on the Expos Draft?

Allan Simpson: My initial impression is the Expos slightly overdrafted every player in the first five rounds and didn't get a lot of value in the middle rounds. Like last year, they went for a college closer with their first pick, who can reach the majors quickly.

 Q:  Jim Burroughs from Dearborn, MI asks:
What is your opinion of the Detroit Tigers draft? The Tigers minor league pitching seems to be improving significantly.

Allan Simpson: Potentially, it could be a very good draft if Justin Verlander, Eric Beattie and Collin Mahoney can establish consistency and command. Verlander's stuff is second to none, while no one had better velocity than Mahoney. Beattie was a better pitcher last summer in the Cape Cod League than he was this spring at Tampa.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
when wade townsend sign this summer where will he be assigned?

Allan Simpson: It depends, in part, when he signs and how aggressive the Orioles want to be. I'm sure the O's will want to bring him along slowly because he worked 120 innings at Rice this year. But he has the stuff and makeup to step in at high A Frederick immediately.

 Q:  Kevin from Springfield, MA asks:
I've read people saying oakland played their cards well by waiting to take Street and Putnam in the sandwich round, but wouldn't Powell and Robnett still have been there in the sup. round? Was it really a "gamble"?

Allan Simpson: I think it's a pretty accurate statement what happened with the A's draft. It was obvious to almost everyone that Oakland alone had a strong interest in Putnam and Street in the first 30-40 picks, while Landon Powell and Richie Robnett were being mentioned more and more prominently as late first-rounders in the days leading up to the draft. They felt like they could wait on Putnam and Street, but not the other two. They also played their cards very well on getting Kurt Suzuki with the 67th pick. All in all, this may be a better draft than Oakland's fabled "Moneyball" draft of 2002.

 Q:  Evan Procknow from Wellesley,MA asks:
What do you think the chances of the Red Sox signing Mike Rozier?

Allan Simpson: I don't think they're very good, especially if the Red Sox sign all the picks ahead of him as I expect they will. Rozier is represented by Scott Boras and put out a pretty high value on his services. My bet is he'll wind up in school at North Carolina, which looks like it might have another very strong recruiting class once all the dust has settled.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
could phil humber or jeff niemann possilby recieve a major league contract?

Allan Simpson: It's possible, but I doubt it. I think the only two players who might end up with major league contracts are Jered Weaver and Stpehen Drew.

 Q:  Kyle from Blissfield, MI asks:
Were you suprised to see Eastern Michigan SS Brian Bixler (2nd Rd.) go as high as he did? I feel he has the tools to move up the Pittsburgh system fast. Pittsburgh sure seems to like the Mid-American Conference crops. No suprise, as I feel it is one of the most under-rated baseball conferences in the country!

Allan Simpson: I expected he'd be a third-rounder tops, but I think this will turn out to be a pretty good pick. He's a solid middle infielder, who hit .453 this spring (much, much better than the .120 he hit in the Cape Cod League last summer) and can run. I agree with your assertion that the Mid-American Conference is one of the most underrated in the country.

 Q:  John from Staten Island,NY asks:
How would you assess the Yankees draft? Any chance that Matt Harrington will finally come to his senses and sign a pro contract and try and get his career jump started, or is he content to toil in the Independent League for the next 10 years?

Allan Simpson: I think this is the best draft Yankees draft since at least 1996, when they picked Eric Milton, Nick Johnson and Zach Day. It helped that they had four of the first 42 picks but they pursued the best talent available without as much consideration for signability as plagued their drafts in recent years. They went a long way to prop up a sagging player development system, particularly on the pitching side. As for Harrington, who knows? He's now gone from a first-rounder, to second, to 11th, to 23rd and to 35th-rounder in the last five drafts. At some point, he's just going to have to swallow his pride and get on with his career if he has any hope of playing pro ball at the affiliated level.

 Q:  Josh from Georgia asks:
Great job on the draft as usual! What do you think of Eric Campbell, the Braves' top draft pick? Roy Clark compares him to Matt Williams.

Allan Simpson: As a hitter, I'd compare Campbell to Williams. He's got above-average power. As a defender, I don't see him in Williams' class. He may lack the arm strength to play on the left side. I think most clubs hoped he could play second base and become another Jeff Kent.

 Q:  Joe from Winston-Salem, NC asks:
I don't think Wake Forest's Shortstop, Ingold, was drafted. Why not?

Allan Simpson: Ben Ingold was one of the top hitters in the ACC, but his draft status was impacted, in part, by Wake's poor season. Not as many teams saw Wake as a year ago, when Kyle Sleeth was there. A handful of clubs saw Ingold as an 8th-12th round pick, but once he slid through those rounds it became a signability issue. He would have been picked in the 19th round had he agreed to offers below what he established as his asking price. He's playing in the Cape Cod League this summer and I'm sure scouts will closely monitor his progress there before determining whether to make another run at him. He wouldn't be the first undrafted junior to sign a nice contract after the Cape season.

 Q:  chris from huntington beach, ca asks:
After weaver, What do you think of the angels draft?

Allan Simpson: I was very impressed with the Angels draft, especially after Weaver fell into their laps at No. 12. I'm sure the Angels aggressive new ownership had something to do with that selection. He may prove to be a tough sign but it's a made-to-order selection with Weaver being a southern California kid going to an area team. It wouldn't be a surprise if he stepped right into the Angels rotation--under the right circumstances. The Angels didn't have a second- or third-round pick, but getting Nick Adenhart (13th), Mark Trumbo (18th) and Erik Davis (47th) with late-round picks could more than make up for that if even one were to sign. All were first-round talents at one point this spring, before falling because of injury or signability issues.

 Q:  DG Siegel from Paris, France asks:
The New York media made quite a lot of noise regarding the Mets drafting Jim Burt, son of an ex-NYGiant and a good one at that, with their 19th pick on the second day of the draft. Looking at his numbers (.374,14,71), it seems surprising that Burt was not drafted sooner. Can you explain what if anything depressed his value or is he just a nominal prospect with good numbers but no discernable tools?

Allan Simpson: Burt probably had the best offensive season for Miami, ranked No. 1 heading into regional play. His bat is his best tool. But he's 23 and a 5-foot-11, 220-pounder who bats right and throws left, and is limited to first base--hardly a profile that excites scouts. He should hit in the lower minors, starting this summer at short-season Brooklyn, but his upside is limited. He may not get much better than he already is.

 Q:  Aaron Friesen from Canada asks:
What did you think of the Blue Jays draft this year? They stayed mostly in the college ranks again this year. Is that still an organizational approach or more of a result of the lack of depth in the prep class?

Allan Simpson: It was definitely by design that the Blue Jays went after almost all college players. They are big into performance-based scouting like Oakland, Boston and St. Louis. As for this draft, I think a lot of the Jays players will perform well in pro ball initially, but it remains to be seen what they'll do as they get closer to the big leagues. I'd be a lot more confident about their selections of lefthanders David Purcey and Zach Jackson with their first two picks if they'd been made early in May when both pitchers performed much better than they did in their last several outings. I'd keep an eye on Casey Janssen, a UCLA product who came on strong as a senior after being passed over in the draft as a junior.

 Q:  Tim from Philadelphia asks:
My question is on those players who were not drafted. What happened to San Diego States 3B C.Corona, Tallahassee CC RHP N.Tisone, Texas SS Michael Holliman and S.Nevada CC OF C.Beamon? None of these guys had great years but I expected them to at least be drafted again.

Allan Simpson: There were a lot of players that could have been drafted that weren't--especially high school kids with high price tags. Stanford-bound Michael Taylor, for one. Corona, a senior, wasn't drafted because his performance fell off badly his last two years at San Diego State. Hollimon never has materialized into the kind of prospect at Texas that had teams talking about him as a high-round pick entering his senior year of high school. I believe Tisone, who has committed to Alabama, had expectations of going in the fourth- or fifth-round but priced himself out of the market, while Beamon didn't perform well enough to sign with the Cardinals as a 12th-round draft-and-follow or to be re-drafted with a Texas scholarship offer as his leverage.

 Q:  Chris I. from Palo Alto, CA asks:
Is it me, or are the Giants just being really cheap and drafting players higher that they are rated to save money?

Allan Simpson: You may have a point. The Giants don't have to fork out a first-round bonus after signing Michael Tucker as a free agent, and outside of second-rounder Eddy Martinez-Esteve I see a lot of players being drafted higher than where other teams saw them.

 Q:  Andrew Eskola from Wall, NJ asks:
The Yankees bypassed Rainville, Gonzalez, and Szyzmanksi it the sandwich round to pick up high school catcher Jon Poterson. Then they grabbed Alex Garebian, another HS catcher, a couple of rounds later. First off, why would they pick Poterson when he would definitely been available at pick 37 or 42. Second, is it possible they will sign both these catchers or is one just insurance if the other does not work out?

Allan Simpson: I thought Szymanski was an ideal selection for the Yankees, even as early as 23. But the Yankees still had one of their best drafts in a while. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't try and sign both Poterson and Garabedian, regardless if they are both catchers. Garabedian is the more polished catcher of the two, while Poterson has the more explosive bat and could end up at first base or left field. Garabedian, a Miami signee, will be the tougher one of the two to sign.

 Q:  Mike from San Francisco, CA asks:
Will Chuck Lofgren sign with the Indians or will he attend Santa Clara University? He went lower than orginailly thought and could be a great chocie by the Inians.

Allan Simpson: He was a possible first-rounder at the start of the season (as a hitter), so it is disapppointing that he slid to the fourth round (as a pitcher). He's put out mixed messages on whether he'll sign or go to school since being drafted, but I would be surprised if he didn't sign.

 Q:  Charles Berg from Houston, Texas asks:
With 3 picks in the first round to 2 supplemental first round picks, do you think the Twins took legitimate talent or did they take more signable and less costly players?

Allan Simpson: The Twins took legitimate talent in the early rounds, but the big question is how many of the selections they'll sign. The team has a history of not signing early-round selections and it could happen again this year as the Twins had five picks before the start of the second round. It will be pretty rich for the Twins to get all five signed and still have money left over, and it sounds like they'll make a serious run at several players, possibly signing fewer than 20 draft picks overall, and letting others walk. They've already signed first-round pick Kyle Waldrop for $1 million; he was supposed to be a tough sign with Vanderbilt as his leverage.

 Q:  Eric from San Diego asks:
Allan, what are the odds that Jeff Larish will be signing with LA sometime before the school year?

Allan Simpson: That's a tough call. He won't get nearly the money he was expected to have gotten at the start of the year as a potential top 10 pick, but he'll certainly get a lot more than a normal 13th-rounder--especially if he goes out this summer and re-establishes himself as a premium hitter. Scott Boras is his adviser, so you never know where things might go. I'd bet he'll be back in school in the fall.

 Q:  nick from college park, maryland asks:
Why do you believe teams waited until the 10th round to draft Maxwell? Seems like Texas made a great move. Worst case scenario, he doesn't play well in the Cape and you lose a pick.

Allan Simpson: I think teams were uncertain what they were getting into. Justin Maxwell missed the season with a broken arm and the reports we got is that he didn't look all that impressive swinging the bat in workouts for clubs. He's supposed to play in the Cape this summer--after blossoming into a potential first-round pick in that league a year ago--and the Rangers will wait-and-see how he performs. He may be pretty pricy if he returns to his 2003 form with two years of college as leverage.

 Q:  Sam Horn from Boston asks:
How does a team make a "statement" with no first rounder? Do you think they could or will make up for the somewhat vanilla draft by signing Rozier, Phillips or Haynes?

Allan Simpson: A team without a first-round pick can still make a "statement" by drafting and signing a first-round talent that slips out of the first round because his bonus demands are deemed exhorbitant. There were a couple of such players on the board when Boston drafted--notably southern California high school righthanders Mark Trumbo and Brad Meyers. Also, don't ever undersell the ultra-competitive Dustin Pedroia. His tools don't grade out but there isn't a player in the draft who gets more out of limited ability or can inspire his team to play better.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
What does the Commissioner's office do to a team that goes over the slot recommendation? Make a mean face at them? The Yankees, Dodgers and Rangers all ignored slot recommendations last year (for example Jason Stephens, Vince Sinisi, LaRoche, Chuck Tiffany). Why should other teams follow what the MLB office wants when not everyone will follow the guidelines. Seems to me that the draft is as anti-competitive as ever.

Allan Simpson: This is more of a general-interest than a team-related question, so we'll make this our last question for the day. Thanks to everyone who participated, and we apologize to the 200-plus whose questions we couldn't get to. Obviously, the commissioner's office is very secretive about its efforts to police signing bonuses because it amounts to collusion--there is no other way to describe it. MLB made a concerted effort to control bonus payments about four years ago when they continued to escalate. It's having an effect as bonuses went down more than 10 percent in the first round last year. Before the draft, teams are provided a figure for each slot that they are expected to adhere to in signing their picks. The amount descends with ech pick. Most teams abide by the recommended amount but if a team desires to pay more than what the slot allows, they generally have to get permission from the commissioner's office to do so. More often that not, permission is denied. In some cases, a club owner is contacted by MLB to discourage his GMscouting director from paying an excessive amount. If a team decides to pay out a larger bonus anyway, it generally is admonished by the commissioner's office for doing so. The cases you mentioned are examples from last year. We've also heard of teams being fined, though that seems to be a rare occurrence.

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