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Allan Simpson

Moderator: BA editor and draft guru Allan Simpson stops by at 2 p.m. ET to answer your questions about the upcoming draft, which is less than a month away.

 Q:  Jay from Madison asks:
Who are the O's looking at with their first pick? Do you think they'll be able to sign Loewen? And is it certain that Loewen will be used as a pitcher -- not a hitter by whichever MLB team gets him?

Allan Simpson: Well, let's get started here today. I'm 20 minutes earlier than scheduled but I've already got 150 questions on the board. We'll try and address as a wide a cross section as possible even if every questioned isn't answered, but I think it's appropriate that there is an Adam Loewen reference with the very first one. He's obviously the big wild card in this draft. First, I think it's 50-50 that the Orioles will sign Loewen. They have little or no chance of getting a deal done unless they raise their offer to at least $4 million--which is about what he could expect if he came back into the draft. It's also possible that $4 million may not get it done as there may be some hangover from last year's negotiations, when the O's lowballed Loewen throughout the negotiations. Whether the Orioles get Loewen done or not may impact their regular pick (seventh overall). It's hard to say at this point what they're looking at, but Michael Aubrey of Tulane is being mentioned. As for Loewen, he'll definitely go out as a pitcher.

 Q:  Jake Anderson from Orem, Utah asks:
What have you heard about RHP Chris Hunter of Utah Valley State College? I was watching the radar guns in his last game and he was hitting the mid-90's, scouting interest seemed to be high.

Allan Simpson: I've heard pretty good things. Your radar gun sightings are on the mark. He's still under control to the Angels, who picked him in the 32nd round last year, and it's almost certain they'll make a pretty good run to get him done. He might be a first 10 rounds pick otherwise. Hunter's a 22-year-old sophomore who took two years off to go on a mission to South America.

 Q:  nick from florida asks:
Who do you think will be the top high school pitcher selected?

Allan Simpson: I'd put my money on Jeff Allison at this point. He's been dynamite so far this season; he's eaten alive the competition in Massachusetts--no matter that they're using wood bats there this spring. I can see him going as high as No. 5 to the Royals. Andrew Miller was the No. 1 arm coming in. He hasn't been consistent game-in and game-out, but should still go in the first 8-12 picks. John Danks is the other high school pitcher given the best chance of going in the top half of the first round.

 Q:  Chris from CT asks:
Where do you project RHP Pat Bresnehan from Connecticut to be drafted. The kid has a live arm but was roughed up a little last summer as a member of the junior national team.

Allan Simpson: He's actually transferred back to Dover Sherborn High in Massachusetts, but has had a very good spring. I believe he even had a 21-strikeout game a couple of weeks ago. I can see him going in the first 4-5 rounds, but he may be no better than the third or fourth high school kid in a very strong Massachusetts high school class.

 Q:  Patrick @ from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Are there any specific names being associated with the Milwaukee Brewers? Are they still high on college pitching, and if so, is there an arm worthy of the #2 overall selection past Loewen?

Allan Simpson: The Brewers targeted college pitching pretty much from the start, but I believe the only one they're really considering now is Loewen--if he doesn't sign with Baltimore. I don't see them taking Kyle Sleeth or Tim Stauffer in that spot--or even Marc Cornell, if he's healthy. The word now seems to be that they're on Delmon Young, but Young is squarely in the Devil Rays mix for No. 1.

 Q:  Mike F. from MA asks:
Do you expect the RedSox to focus entirely on college players in the upcoming draft, or will they be willing to spend some money on "tough sign" HS players who drop in the draft. Also, given their lack of OF prospects(could say that about most positions with Boston, but OF seems particularly bleak), do you think they will take college OF early, or focus on pitching? Thanks. Mike F.

Allan Simpson: My sense is the Red Sox will focus almost entirely on college guys, with Rice sophomore first baseman Vince Sinisi a possible target at No. 17. The quality of position players in this draft isn't especially deep, but there are a lot of good outfielders. I can see as many as eight outfielders going in the first round so the Red Sox will have a lot to pick from if that's what they're targeting.

 Q:  Eli Rose from Cleveland TN asks:
How do you know if a club is serious about drafting you? And how much of a role does your Major League Scouting Buereau report play to a club that is interested in you?

Allan Simpson: It's pretty apparent if clubs are interested by the volume of scouts attending games. They usually make their presence known by communicating with the family and coach, and getting to know the player. Obviously, the higher level the scout (scouting directors, cross-checkers), the more the interest. The bureau is useful in helping to identify players. Few clubs, though, will ever draft a player strictly off a bureau report. They want to see for themselves what the player can do. Teams also cannot draft a player unless they have filed his name with the commissioner's office more than a week before thye draft.

 Q:  Joel Charny from Washington, DC asks:
Any idea who the Pirates are focusing on with the eighth pick in the first round? They have a desperate need for an impact outfielder like Delmon Young, but it doesn't seem likely that the Bucs can get a sure thing given where they are selecting.

Allan Simpson: I don't see Delmon sliding to the Pirates. He's just too good. I believe they'll focus on one of the two best high school players in Florida--lefthander Andrew Miller or outfielder Ryan Harvey.

 Q:  Tom from Columbia, SC asks:
Where do you think Landon Powell will fall in this year's draft? Thanks yall do a great job.

Allan Simpson: This is a tough question. Most teams saw him as a first rounder at the start of the year, but he has not performed at that level. He hasn't hit for power (only four homers), nor has his defensive skills separated him from other top college catchers like Javi Herrera (Tennessee) or Tony Richie (Florida State), or even Colt Morton (N.C. State). He may slip to the second or third round.

 Q:  va.player from virginia asks:
What is the latest on William & Mary's Chris Ray? Has he risen or fallen this year? Also, are there any other players in the CAA making a push for the draft?

Allan Simpson: Unfortunately, Chris has not had a good spring. A possible first-rounder off his performance last summer in the Cape Cod League, he's more of a third-rounder at this point. Probably the conference's best draft at this point is James Madison LHP Kurt Isenberg, a possible second-rounder. JMU first baseman Eddie Kim, the Marshall twins at Virginia Commonwealth and W&M's Michael Brown are other players getting a lot of attention.

 Q:  Chauncey from Starksville, MS asks:
What teams in the 1st Round are interested in drafting Mississippi State LHP Paul Maholm? Does he really throw hard enough to be picked high in the 1st round? Does it appear that he will go between picks 10 through 20 or picks 21 through 30 of the 1st Round?

Allan Simpson: He's pretty squarely in the mix with those clubs drafting from about 12th to 16th.

 Q:  Johhny Bench's #1 fan...... from Cincinnati, OH asks:
Can Toledo Catcher Mitch Maier play that position in the pros or is he facing a position change? If he canıt play catcher, where else could he end up and will he hit for power in the pros? Thank you!

Allan Simpson: Maier is a catcher for now. He's borderline defensively now but just needs the experience playing there everyday in pro ball to get better. He's athletic enough, though, and can both run and swing the bat that he could move to the outfield down the road, if necessary. But he'll get a good shot to catch first. It wouldn't surprise a lot of people if he was the first college catcher drafted.

 Q:  Bucky from Arlington, TX asks:
Have scouts been able to determine Houston RHP Ryan Wagnerıs signability? Where will he go in the draft? To my Astros? They love drafting players from Texas. Thanks.

Allan Simpson: I don't think signability will be an issue if he's drafted in the first round. And chances are good he will be; there's even talk on him in the middle of the first. His stuff is nasty and he's put up phenomenal numbers. I don't think there's any way he'll get to the Astros, whose first pick doesn't come until the second round (60th overall).

 Q:  Claude from New Orleans asks:
LSU Shortstop Aaron Hill has been a monster this year. Will he get picked in the top 10 or more likely will get selected between picks 10 through 20 of the first round?

Allan Simpson: I'd say he's a good bet to go in the 10-20 range at this point.

 Q:  Cris from Los Angeles asks:
What do you see the A's doing in this upcoming draft?Will they continue to play it safe with concentrating on college players or might they change it up and take a chance on a high school prospect with one of their supplemental selections? It worked with the Bonderman pick after all. Also, what do you see their early round selections being on? Position players or will they continue to add to their pitching dept? We need Outfielders and a first baseman in our system...

Allan Simpson: The A's were so enamored with their draft last year, when they didn't take a high school player until the 18th round, that I'd be surprised if they changed their approach. They have the 25th, 26th and 33rd picks and they'll go for college players with a demonstrated history of success in those spots. Long Beach State lefthander Abe Alvarez is a third-rounder on most boards, but don't be surprised if the A's take him with one of those picks.

 Q:  Jeff from Las Cruces, NM asks:
I've been following NMSU this year, and it is clearly the best year in there history. They have three hitters that can really swing it. Becher, Ditter, and Borgo. What are your thoughts on these three guys on going in the draft. If they will what rounds do you think. Thanks.

Allan Simpson: All three have had big offensive seasons (especially Becher), but I'm not sure any goes in the first 10 rounds. To a certain degee, all are products of the light air in New Mexico. Beyond the bats, their tools just don't play out well enough. Rocky Ward has done a great job succeeding his dad as coach, and in identifying the kind of players that are best suited for his program.


Allan Simpson: Reyes is just not the same pitcher anymore that he was as a freshman, though he shows flashes of his old form. There was a stretch as a freshman that he was even better than Prior. An assortment of injuries have taken a toll, and he's lost velocity on his breaking ball and the snap on his breaking pitches. I see him going sometime after the fifth round. Dizard also has dealt with injuries and has been terribly inconsistent this spring, but should be USC's best draft, possibly if the fourth or fifth rounds.

 Q:  Robert Goldberg from Lyndhurst, NJ asks:
Where do you see Georgia Tech outfielder Matt Murton ending up? Is he a possibility for the A's with one of their 3 first round picks, or will he be taken before they get a chance to pick?

Allan Simpson: I think Murton is precisely the kind of player Oakland will target late in the first round. He's not had a great season as his swing has gotten a little long, but he has legitimate power and swung the wood bat well with Wareham in the Cape Cod League the last two summers. The college-oriented draft teams put a lot of stock on how players performed the previous summer in the Cape.

 Q:  Todd Anderson from Chapel Hill, NC asks:
Who would you say are some of the top defensive shortstops in college baseball right now. It is always hard to find a kid that can flat out pick it these days, because so much of the game is about hitting now. I was just curious who you really liked defensively in the 6 hole. Appreciate it.

Allan Simpson: The trend has been to get slick-fielding shortstops out of Latin America, and this year's draft with further that cause. There are no premium college defensive shortstops in this year's draft. Three of the best defensive shortstops that come to mind that could be drafted in the first 4-6 rounds are Matthew Maniscalco of Mississippi State, Trey Webb of Baylor and Ryan Coultas of UC Davis. But none swing the bat enough to elevate them into the first two or three rounds.

 Q:  Austin from Sunny Los Angeles........ asks:
Any chance of Cal State Fullerton RHP Wes Littleton being picked in the first round? Or did his missed time hurt his draft status and made him likely to get picked in the 2nd or 3rd round? Also, what pitches does he have and how hard does he throw them?

Allan Simpson: I think there's a chance he could still go in the first round, but more likely second. I think his suspension will hurt him only marginally. His fastball tops out at 92, it has gove movement and he holds his velocity well. He's also got a quality slider and changeup, but needs a pitch to get lefthanded hitters out more consistently. His biggest strength is his command.

 Q:  Ryan from Crystal Lake, Florida asks:
Do you think Lastings Milledge will really fall as far as some people are saying, possibly late first round, or will a team likely call him early based on his obvious physical gifts?

Allan Simpson: I hate to pull the plug with some 200 questions still on the board, but I'm going to have to make this the last question for today. As you can see on our daily draft schedule, we'll be doing these chats every Friday through the draft, so there will be other opportunities to check in. The last question is appropriate since it is about Lastings Milledge, one of the draft's most intriguing players. I don't think he goes in the first 10 picks, unless he goes to the Rangers at No. 9. The Reds (14) and Marlins (16) also have shown interest, but it would not surprise me if he slid to the second half of the first round. He's an exciting player with a lot of above-average tools, but I don't think he has shown enough with the bat this spring. He's been swinging through a lot of balls and has had a tough time making consistent contact with the curveball.

 Q:  Adam from San Francisco, CA asks:
Where will Bay Area high school pitcher Greg Reynolds go in the draft? In the top 5 rounds? How does he compare to Bay Area prep pitcher Chris Gruler from last year? How much will it cost to buy him out of his Stanford commitment?

Allan Simpson: Reynolds' stock has really increased this spring, to where he's a possible second- or third-rounder. He's not quite in Gruler's category. It's going to take some doing to get Reynolds away from Stanford, but the word is it's not a foregone conclusion that he's going there.

 Q:  Lawrence from Tupelo, MS asks:
Whatıs the word on two college pitchers from the state of Mississippi; Todd Nicholas of Mississippi State and T.J. Beam from Mississippi?

John Manuel: Just a quick heads-up: Allan Simpson chatted for two hours but had to go continue working on the BA 2003 Draft Preview issue. It's a team effort, so all of the rest of us in the office are going to pitch in and answer some of your questions. Thanks for all the interest in the draft chat.

John Manuel: Those are two interesting college pitchers going in opposite directions. Nichols is a power arm but his inexperience has showed in SEC play, and he's getting pounded lately. He lacks a feel for his offspeed stuff, and aluminum bats can catch up to his 88-92 mph heat. However, with his arm strength, he's still getting looked at highly; he's a redshirt sophomore and has some leverage. Beam is the opposite, a senior who keeps getting better, and at 6-foot-7, he's got a pro body. He's fairly inexperienced as a pitcher (didn't pitch in HS) and keeps getting better in this his first full year as a starter. He's 90-92 with his fastball and has been inconsistent with his changeup and curve. He's definitely a single-digit draft (first nine rounds).

 Q:  Austin from Waco asks:
Where do you think Baylor outfielders David Murphy and Chris Durbin will go in the draft? Does Murphy's history at the Cape raise his status above Durbin's?

John Manuel: Not so much that as his overall tools. Murphy's arm plays a bit better; it's probably an average major league arm, and he could stay in RF with it. Some teams think his speed (sub-4.2 to first base, average or a tick above) is good enough for CF, where Durbin has been spectacular defensively for the Bears. Both are very good hitters; Murphy's a bit better, he keeps his bat in the zone a long time. As he fills out, scouts expect him to hit for more power. Murphy sounds like a late-first or sandwich round guy, no later than 2nd round. What we hear on Durbin, a great senior pick with savvy, good power and average all-around tools, is third-to-fifth round.

 Q:  Austin from Waco asks:
Steven White has thrown pretty well this season, albeit a bit inconsistently, after an off junior season. Will he go in the top 2 or 3 rounds this time around?

John Manuel: More Baylor questions. White has been more effective with his slurvy breaking ball and it has made the difference. He's still inconsistent, but of late he's been at 93-94 mph with his fastball, keeps his velocity deep into games and has a good changeup that has helped him average more than a strikeout per inning. He figures to go in the first five rounds; he remains a Scott Boras client to our knowledge.

 Q:  Johney Baseball from Newport, CA asks:
Is Rickie Weeks really that good, or is it just the league that he plays in. Something was said that Southern may have 9 guys drafted off that team. I guess I don't understand, are these scouts drafted off stats or are these nine players really impact guys. Thanks

John Manuel: Weeks is, to steal an Allan Simpson phrase, squarely in the mix to go in the first three picks overall. Southern has many good athletes and several promising arms, and scouts are intrigued enough for 8 to 10 Jags to get drafted, not off stats, but off talent. OF Marcus Townsend has excellent raw talent with 3.9 times to first and a cut 6-3, 205 pound frame. OF Andrew Toussaint was a 10thh-round pick out of HS in 2000 who originally went to Cal Poly; he's legit. So is OF Alfred Ard, a Southern WR in football who is running 3.7 to first from the right side, which is almost unheard of. On the mound, RHP Dewan Day has been drafted before (fifth-year senior controlled by the Blue Jays) and RHP Damien Ursin has touched 95 and throws 92-93 with a power slider, though the slider is inconsistent. So Southern has several legit talents in addition to Weeks, who has proved he belongs with two solid summers with Team USA.

 Q:  Dale Simms from Palo Alto, CA asks:
How much has Stanford Outfielder Carlos Quentin improved his draft status with his excellent season with the bat? How good is he on defense? Will he hit for power as a corner outfielder in the pros? Thank you for your time!

John Manuel: Quentin has at least solidified his status by adjusting his batting stance, lowering his bat from a Gary Sheffield-like wrap to a lower angle, and he promptly went on a 26-game hitting streak. The power is the question, but it's there in BP. Scouts want to see it more in games. Quentin has worked hard to become an average defender with a strong arm.

 Q:  Aaron from Georgia Tech, GA asks:
How far has LHP Kyle Bakker fallen in the draft because of his inconsistent season? Any chance of him returning to school if he is not selected in the top 5 rounds?

John Manuel: He's certainly not a first-rounder anymore. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Bakker has good size and deception, but he lacks arm speed, his velo has fallen to 84-86 mph, his slider has been inconsistent, and hitters who are familiar with him no longer go up there expecting this giant to throw hard anymore. He's become very hittable he was not last season.

 Q:  Adam from Virginia Beach asks:
A few questions concerning Rice players. First, have David Aardsma's struggles over the past month done much to hurt his draft status? Second, how does Vincent Sinisi project? I see him ending up as a Mark GraceJohn Olerud type of first baseman, more of a line-drive doubles hitter than a prototypical power-hitting first baseman, and gold glove caliber defense. Is this how the scouts see him as well, and is there a chance that he could be staying at Rice next season? Third, is Justin Ruchti the best defensive catcher available? He's thrown out 55% of would-be base-stealers with his cannon of an arm, calls an excellent game, and has just two passed balls on the season. Where is he expected to go? Finally, what about Enrique Cruz? He's really improved his plate patience this year, and it shows in his .356 average and .452 OBP, up .130 and .145 from last year, respectively. How much has this helped his status?

John Manuel: Long question. Aardsma's struggles have hurt. One source told me today that he was the most over-rated player in the draft; he's not missing bats like he did in the Cape and isn't even averaging a strikeout per innings. Some really don't like his arm action; he's been described as a pie-thrower for the way his elbow gets out front. Sinisi has a great swing and keeps the bat in the zone a long time. Some compare him to Lance Berkman, who hit with nuclear aluminum and had his power questioned when he hit 1 HR in the Cape in 1996. Three caveats on Sinisi: he's a Boras client, he's an eligible sophomore and he's at Rice, which usually has a lot of seniors thanks to the education. He'll be a tough sign. Ruchti doesn't generate super interest but it's a thin catching draft, and catch-and-throw guys will be coveted. Cruz has big league attitude for some scouts without the big league game, and isn't the player his brother was, not to mention his dad. He's got some pop but hard hands in the middle infield will hurt his draft chances.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Thanks for doing these chats! - What's the deal with Ohio Univ's Cornell? He's flying up the draft lists but his college numbers are solid but not impressive... Should we fear another D. Dreifort (more hype than production) type situation?

John Manuel: Cornell is an enigma to me, and I was just talking to Allan Simpson about him today. He's undeniably got great stuff, but how could he be considered for No. 1 overall with his injury history and lack of dominating success when you compare him to Stauffer and Sleeth? We were trying to figure that one out. The questions with Cornell: why has he not dominated and how durable is he? The latter question is more important, as he left his last two starts early and was shut down last summer with shoulder tendinitis. He also had elbow surgery in high school. Too many questions for me to be at the top of the draft.

 Q:  VCU Ball Fan from Virginia asks:
Just wanted to congratulate VCU Baseball on winning the CAA tournament #1 seed. I just wanted to ask you a question about a few of the VCU players and this upcoming draft. How do the Marshall twins, Granato, and Jones all stack up for this upcoming draft? What about Matt Moses (Mills Godwin HS)? Thanks a lot and keep doing a good job with all of your coverage!

Will Kimmey: After Richmond's Tim Stauffer, Moses could be the next player drafted from Va. Scouts love his bat, feeling he can hit .300 with 20-25 homers from the left side as a third baseman in the majors. He looks like a solid mid- to late-first-rounder. The Marshalls both seem like solid picks for the top 10 rounds, with Sean, the starter, possible going first. Jones is a scrappy little hitter and Granato's been nice at 3b, but they might not go high enough to sign this year. Danny Lopaze and Jose Pabon are two more Rams who might get late looks as senior signs.

 Q:  Armbrewster from Civil War battlefields, Virginia asks:
High school SS Jonathan Fulton has had an excellent season. What player does he remind scouts of in the pros and how high will he go in the draft?

Will Kimmey: Some feel Fulton, who has committed to Virginia Tech, is comparable to Cal Ripken as a big guy who can play short in the majors. This isn't to say Fulton will be a Ripken, but that's how his body and skill profiles favor. He's got nice feet, hands and an arm. The question on him is his bat. He's an older HS senior and hasn't dominated the competiton the way some want a top pick to do. He probably leaves the board somewhere between rounds 2 and 4.

 Q:  Dan from Philadelphia asks:
Despite the phillies having no high draft picks, what positions do you think they will focus on in their draft. What players may still be around when they finally pick in the third round?

Will Kimmey: It really is so hard to say who'll be there at pick 86 when the Phillies enter the draft, so just figure some kind of cross-section of guys we've projected to be second and third rounders. This Phils still have a nice draft and budget, and might spend some of it being more aggressive in the foreign market this summer, and also wouldn't be afraid to grab a premium talent who slips because of signability and maybe pay him like a first-rounder. The Phils have always liked projectable high school power arms, so as far as a position to concentrate on, that might be it.

 Q:  tim finegan from fresno ca asks:
i would like to know how some kids become 1st 2nd 3rd round picks when alot of other kids are better,does it just take one cross checker to turn your name in. thanks ,tim

Will Kimmey: Scouting is clearly subjective, and it does take just one team to like a player for him to be drafted early. The A's nabbed Jeremy Brown 35th overall last season when many clubs might not have considered him until at least the fifth round. Sometimes a player judged as an elite prospect by scouts my not match the numbers of one of his teammates or those of another in his conference. This doesn't always mean the 'elite prospect' isn't as good as the other player. There's plenty of projection in scouting and drafting, and certainly some really good players always slip into the latter portions of the lottery.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Stauffer's college numbers are aboslutely dominant. Will he be the top college (not counting Loewen) pitcher taken?

Will Kimmey: It really seems like it will come down to him and Kyle Sleeth. Both have had some late-season hiccups the first one to go might just be determined by which team picks when both are on the board. Some prefer Stauffer, who has excellent command and can mix pitches well, while others like Sleeth, who's bigger, has better stuff and has faced better competition during his ACC career.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Rickie Weeks is currently a 2B, however there's a lot of talk that he might not make it in the IF (and need to switch to OF). Since Tampa already has an abundance of top OF'ers (Baldelli, Crawford, Hamilton, Gomes, Gomes, etc), is it likely that they'll pass on Weeks based on concerns that he won't be able to play 2B?

Will Kimmey: Need doesn't play into the baseball draft as much as it does in other sports. Teams just take the best player available, or the one they like the best or feel they can sign, for the most part. If the Devil Rays bypass Weeks at No.1, it's because they like some one else better. There really isn't a way for teams to tell how good Weeks might be at second, but also keep in mind that no second baseman has ever gone No. 1 overall.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Can I have a job?

Will Kimmey: You can send in your resume. And if you want to move to Durham and work for free, I bet the answer would certainly be yes.

 Q:  Bruce from Fairfax, VA asks:
So, just how far has Lastings Milledge fallen?

Josh Boyd: We've heard there's still plenty of interest in Milledge in the first half of the first round. But as much interest there is in Milledge, there is skepticism. He hasn't convinced scouts he can adjust to breaking balls, but they love the bat speed and think he will adjust, it's just going to be a long-term project a team will have to be willing to be patient with. If Milledge gets past the Marlins at 16, the Angels could be a player, the Dodgers might bite, and the Royals might have a tough time ignoring his athleticism with the last pick in the first round if he gets that far.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Detroit's a mess. Will Dombrowski get to take his choice of player, or will the notoriously cheap Ilitch make him take a budget pick?

Boyd Piece: A lot of scouts believe the Blue Jays could pop Snyder with their first rounder, however those scouts also think Snyder would probably be available with the Jays second pick--51st. Of course, the A's could thwart that plan. Snyder is an average defender at third, and his stats--.399-8-41 with 39 walks and 20 strikeouts are attractive to them. That being said, I think Toronto would be more interested in a bat like Michael Aubrey should he fall.

 Q:  Jason from Orlando asks:
With the draft just a few weeks away, where do you predict Stetson's Brian Snyder going?

Josh Boyd: Got a little mixed up there and answered the wrong question... nice. That is just the type of thing that happens here in BA's draft HQ.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego, CA asks:
Last year Hermedia busted onto the scene late, any other late-arrivals?

Josh Boyd: I don't think there are any that will be considered as high as Hermida, who went to the Marlins at 11 last year. He was not just a signability pick, either. Many thought he was the best hitter in the draft. SS Brandon Wood of Horizon HS in Tucson could qualify though, as the White Sox have interest in him with the 15th pick. He won't get past the Brewers in the second round. Bay Area HS SS Jason Donald is another fast riser, who could creep into the first round. Craig Whitaker has long been exposed to scouts, but is starting to get some serious, serious action from directors and crosscheckers.

 Q:  John from Stamford, CT asks:
One H.S. player who seems to be gathering alot of attention is La Quinta H.S. 3rd baseman Ian Stewart, who is having an outstanding season. Do you see this kid as a potential 1st round pick?

Boyd Piece: John, he is getting a lot of action, or helium as scouts like to say, and we're hearing now that he could go as high as 10 to the Rockies. They covet his lefthanded power potential and view him as a 40-plus home run threat in Coors. If he gets past the Rockies, who might opt for another pitcher like Jeff Allison if he's around, then the Indians might try to pop him with one of their first two picks.

 Q:  Draysfan from Tampa asks:
Allan, Any word on who the Rays are leaning towards taking next month? Weeks looks like an all-star in the making, but we need pitching in the worst way. Would Lamar look at possibly taking Loewen or Sleeth? Thanks!

John Manuel: Allan says the Rays are all over Rickie Weeks, Ryan Harvey and Delmon Young and figure to take one of those three players first overall--whether or not Adam Loewen is available.

 Q:  Scott Avery from McLean, Virginia asks:
Joe Koshansky has had a very good year for Virginia, both on the mound, and at the plate. Is he beginning to gather some attention, and if so, where is he being slotted

John Manuel: Koshansky is in his first year as a two-way player. Virginia has had its best season since 1996 thanks in large part to his contributions. He's not a hard thrower but commands and locates three pitches, with a solid changeup and curve. He's better as a hitter at 6-5 with lefthanded power. His offensive numbers are depressed by his lack of experience as a hitter (this is his first year hitting) and Davenport Field's spacious dimensions.

 Q:  Nick Lemke from Scottsdale, AZ asks:
BA did a great article on the Bannister brothers from USC in the college preview issue. As a Scottsdale guy, I'm interested in both of their careers, having seen them play here during their high school days. Any idea on where Brian, the older Bannister, might be drafted this year? Thanks.

John Manuel: Thanks, Nick, I wrote that piece. Brian has been more consistent than either Fraser Dizard or Anthony Reyes, both mentioned earlier. He dominated UCLA and was at his best that day, around 88 mph with a hammer curve. He's academically inclined but also on track to graduate as a fourth-year junior and wants to sign, but he'll go after Reyes and Dizard because he doesn't throw as hard. Brett Bannister has been sorely missed by the Trojans, who may miss a regional for the first time since 1992.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
I've gone to more than a few high school games here in Illinois. I'm really not impressed with the talent. It seems to be getting worse with each passing year. Am I wrong, or is this due to the lack of success of the pro teams here? Would you name a few of the highly regarded H.S. players here? Thanks.

John Manuel: Mick, there really aren't any highly-regarded high schoolers in Illinois; it's one of the worst draft years in the Midwest that scouts can remember, particularly bad in Illinois and Indiana. Northwestern, which is having a solid Big Ten season, has a good recruiting class and has many of the top HS players, and those guys will be tough to sign. Caleb Fields is an example, 90-91, good curve, but he's signed with the Wildcats. Brandon Murphy is signed to Illinois and will be tough to sway. Sean Walker and Matt Weber both look like 8th to 12th rounders, and that might be as good as Illinois gets.

 Q:  Scott T. from Los Angeles asks:
Southern's Rickie Weeks is very good, but there is a counter-part on that team at third base who's stats are just as impressive. Where do you think Antoin Gray will go in the draft?

John Manuel: Gray is a little guy and is considered a fringe prospect. He's going to have to learn a new position, having played 3b at Southern and moving to 2b as a pro, and he is considered to have aluminum bat power. Frankly, his stats are good, but he hasn't hit .500 two years in a row or hit for near the power Weeks has. Also, Rickie is 27-for-27. He's a pretty incomparable talent in the college ranks this year.

 Q:  tifftythetitan from Fullerton, Ca asks:
I know it's early but any idea what the Giants might do? And might they be interested in Wes Littleton with the #22 pick? BTW, no one ever mentions the Giants as a team that prefers college players like the Red Sox, Blue Jays and A's but they have always preferred college players even before it was the "cool" thing to do. Do you think it's because the Giants are more old school in their approach and they are still considered a "tools" based organization.

John Manuel: I don't think you can categorize the Giants as anything but a "blend" organization. HS pitchers in the first round two of the last three years with Boof Bonser and Matt Cain, so that's not as dogmatic as the A's and others are expected to be. Dick Tidrow just tells his guys to find him power arms, whether they are from HS or college, and then Brian Sabean trades the excess ones for position players. If there's an intriguing, polished college player they like, they'll bite (see Todd Linden). One area of need the Giants might address is catching, they just don't have much in the system at all.

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