2003 Draft Dish
by Josh Boyd
June 1st, 2003
Wild rumors are all part of the gamesmanship that makes the draft one of baseball's most exciting events.
Many of them--Mitch Maier cutting a deal with the Padres to go fourth overall; Omar Quintanilla to the White Sox with the 15th overall pick; the Orioles nabbing Nick Markakis as a position player--can be quickly squashed. Others--the Royals leaning to Chris Lubanksi over Ryan Harvey with the fifth pick; Vince Sinisi sliding to the Yankees, who can afford him, at No. 27--hold more weight.
Quintanilla, considered a third- to fifth-rounder by most clubs, is being floated as a possible first-rounder, which doesn't seem likely, but the Texas shortstop is likely to go higher than originally expected. One American League scouting director compared him to Fernando Vina, and a National League front-office official projected him as an offensive second baseman.
Other players getting early attention include Toledo's Maier, one of many catchers who could be overdrafted because of the scarcity of talent at the position. High school catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia should go to the Braves in the supplemental first round. And Puerto Rican third baseman Manuel Vega, who is attending a workout in Cincinnati on Sunday, is even more attractive because of his potential behind the plate. One NL scout guaranteed Michigan receiver Jake Fox would go in the second round to one of the organizations that favors college/performance picks.
Nevada high school righthander Jordan Parazz is rising into potential late first- to early second-round territory. At least four teams prefer his bat over his 98 mph fastball, though, including the Astros, who have targeted Parazz as an outfielder. The Astros are also looking at Atlanta prep outfielder Drew Stubbs with their first selection, 60th overall.
Another live-armed Nevada prospect on the rise, UNLV righthander Ryan Braun, has generated first-round attention after being thought of as sixth-rounder or later not too long ago.
Masters College outfielder Jerry Owens is a phenomenal athlete, but not many teams have the necessary background information on him to take a first-round flier on this late bloomer. The Expos are intrigued, however, and could nail him with the 20th pick.
At the other end of the spectrum is Ohio righthander Marc Cornell, who was on the Devil Rays' short list for the first overall pick less than six weeks ago. But Cornell, who has a history of arm problems, left a start in early May with shoulder tightness. He attempted to pitch through it, but after moving to the bullpen his velocity dipped and he left his final game this season after throwing just 12 pitches.
An MRI on his shoulder didn't show any serious damage, but it was deemed "instability in the shoulder" by an AL front-office executive. The AL exec said, "He might be better off going back to school." A National League crosschecker said his team would have a tough time taking him in the second round after he was a candidate for their first-round selection a month ago. "We couldn't afford to take a guy and later find out he's injured," he said.
Contributing: Jim Callis.
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