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Draft Chat -- Allan Simpson

Moderator: BA editor and draft guru Allan Simpson just put the finishing touches on our 2003 Draft Preview issue, and will step away from his Draft Bunker for a moment to answer all your draft questions at 3 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Jason from Chippewa Falls asks:
Two questions regarding Adam Loewen - Is it just me or does it seem like the O's are going to make one take it or leave it offer? Secondly, is it true that he may ask for a $6 million bonus this year?

Allan Simpson: How appropriate to start the chat with a question about Adam Loewen, definitely the wild card in this year's draft. The Orioles have until midnight Monday to sign him, and things don't look very good at this point. Peter Angelos has held the line pretty firmly at $2.5 million but would raise the stakes a bit if his baseball people convinced him Loewen could help the big league club sooner than later. However, Loewen did not pitch all that well down the stretch. I've heard the same $6 million rumors. I think he'll sign for considerably less than that, but it may take all summer to get a deal done.

 Q:  Snapper Bean from Greater Kensington asks:
With more and more teams focusing strictly on college players are there teams that might attempt to take advantage of this situation and move more towards high school players, perhaps teams that have lost draft picks to free agent signings?

Allan Simpson: Absolutely. There should be a lot of premium high school players who slide out of the early rounds. In fact, there may be more college players drafted in the first five rounds this year than any draft ever. This draft will play right into the hands of teams like the Dodgers, Mets, Royals, Marlins and Braves who prefer high school players.

 Q:  Peggy from New York asks:
Hi Allan Who is on the Mets target list. I have read they like Cornell? But is 12 too high to take him? Any chance Aubrey falls?

Allan Simpson: The Mets have targeted high school players Jeff Allison, Chris Lubanski and John Danks in that spot. They're also the first team that you begin to hear Cornell's name mentioned. His status is still up in the air, pending a healthy medical report on a sore shoulder that forced him to take himself out of a couple of games in the last month. But last I heard, he was back up to 97. Healthy, he's the hardest thrower in the draft.

 Q:  Jefferson Davis fan.... from Vicksburg, MS asks:
Can you give us a scouting report on Southern Mississippi pitch Bob McCrory? Iıve heard that he throws 96-mph but I didnıt see him listed as one of the Top 100 Prospects listed by BA yesterday. Is he more of a ³thrower² at this point, or do scouts consider him to be a polished pitcher? How are his secondary pitches? Will he be a starter or reliever in the pros? Is he this draftıs Rich Harden (over-looked 6-footer who throws straight cheese)? And what about his two teammates that have hit 20 home runs, outfielders Clint King and Jeff Cook, where will they go?

Allan Simpson: McCrory just missed making the top 100, but it wouldn't surprise me if he went in the second round. He has very good stuff with a fastball up to 96, but his command comes and goes. He also has an 84 mph power slider, but the pitch is inconsistent.

 Q:  Mark S. from Alameda, CA asks:
Hi Allan!! Any chance of the Oakland A's grabbing 3 college hitters with their 3 first round picks? How about Conor Jackson at 25, Matt Murton at 26, and Mitch Maier at 33? Or, do you see them grabbing a pitcher in there somewhere. Thanks for your time.

Allan Simpson: I wouldn't be at all surprised to see your scenario play out. You might even throw in other college bats like Brad and Brian Snyder, Carlos Quentin and David Murphy as possibilities. The one pitcher they seem to have a lot of interest in with one of those picks is Abe Alvarez.

 Q:  Paul from Anderson, Indiana asks:
Really enjy these draft chats. Do you think the Reds will sign draft and follow Nick Markakis? Thank You

Allan Simpson: Next to Loewen, there seem to be more questions on Markakis than anyone. That's appropriate since the two could be the highest picks ever among draft-and-follows returning to the draft. It's touch and go whether the Reds will sign Markakis by Monday. He's been made a take-it -or-leave-it offer equivalent to what the 15th-25th pick could expect to get, and it's a question if he might be drafted higher than that if he decides to turn down the offer and re-enter the draft.

 Q:  Buford Haslett from Tulsa, Oklahoma asks:
I havenıt heard a lot of draft chatter about Oklahoma State pitcher Scott Baker. Thatıs strange considering heıs had a solid college career. How polished is he, what pitches does he throw and where is he likely to get picked in the draft? Thank you.

Allan Simpson: Scott was a pretty hot item two months ago, but interest cooled a bit. We're expecting him to be a sandwich pick or high second rounder.

 Q:  Brad Olsen from Ft. Lauderdale, FL asks:
As a D'Ray fan, I am concerned about drafting Delmon Young when have a plethora of OF prospects. Is he that much better than Weeks, projection wise, to warrant his selection over Weeks? Also, do you think they will go the college pitching route in rounds 2-4 to get some quick help at the high-minors and ML levels? Thanks Brad

Allan Simpson: The Devil Rays have narrowed the pick to Young and Weeks, and ultimately signability may determine who they select. In other words, the player who'll take less money could decide the issue. They can't go wrong either way. Weeks would fit perfectly as a middle infield complement to B.J. Upton, but Young's power potential is tough to ignore. In time, as he gets bigger and stronger like his brother Dmitri, he may end up at first base, which would alleviate a logjam in the outfield. Young is a rare high school player with a long track record of success, so he's seen as a can't miss talent.

 Q:  Joe from Cleveland asks:
Hi Allan, Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. In your Mock Draft yesterday, all the names you associated with the Indians #11 pick were high school players. This seems to contradict some of the talk coming from Tribe execs in recent days that the strength of the draft is college position players with the inference being that they're going to look that way early for power hitters. Have you heard any of this or are the Indians just blowing smoke signals in the local media? Any college players you've heard that are on the Indians wishlist? Thanks, Joe.

Allan Simpson: The strength of the draft is college players, but there should be some extremely attractive high school players sitting there for the Indians at No. 11, like Lubanski and Danks. The Indians also have the 18th and 31st picks, and that's where you might see them go after a college hitter or two. Cleveland is one club that is pretty open-minded in its approach, and will take the best talent available.

 Q:  Freddy from Savannah, GA asks:
Georgia Tech Outfielder Matt Murton seems to have fallen a little bit to the end of the first round. Is that because he lacks one above-average major league tool? How does his power potential rate on the 20-80 scale and what teams are looking at him? Thanks!

Allan Simpson: Murton has slipped marginally because he didn't show the consistent power he's shown in the past--especially last summer in the Cape Cod League. He tried to pull the ball too often this spring and fell into some bad habits. He barely hit .300. His raw power still ranks with any college player in the draft, but it's his only above-average tool.

 Q:  Johhnie N. from Tobacco Road asks:
Can you tell me more about North Carolina State Catcher Colt Morton? He has been pretty solid throughout his career with his bat but is he too tall to play catcher in the pros and how does he compare with other college catchers like Florida Stateıs Tony Ritchie and South Carolinaıs Landon Powell.

Allan Simpson: Morton compares pretty favorably defensively with Powell and Richie, despite his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame. He moves well behind the plate and has good throwing mechanics. His power potential is among the best in the draft, but he's a below-average hitter who struggles to make contact.

 Q:  Mike from Simi Valley, CA asks:
Ian Stewart gets high marks for having a short, compact power stroke but I have not heard much about his defensive prowess. How is he with the glove over at 3rd base or is he facing a position change to the outfield once he turns pro? How does he compare to Jason Stokes taken a few years back? Whoıs the better athlete and who has more power?

Allan Simpson: Stewart's defense is average at best and there's a lot of talk that he could end up at first base or left field. He's got the bat to play either position. Stokes had more raw power at the same stage, but was pretty much limited to first base. Stewart will get every opportunity to play himself off third base.

 Q:  Jeff from Brookfield, CT asks:
Allan: Word is that the Yankees are seeking lefty hitters among other things in this draft. Any chance 3b Eric Duncan could fall to them at #27? If not, who might be there when they pick?

Allan Simpson: You're hearing the same information we're hearing. The Yankees do seem to be going after lefthanded hitters, with Duncan (a north Jersey product) as a prime target. Other names in the mix are Vince Sinisi, who could slide towards the end of the first round because of signability concerns, Brad Snyder and David Murphy.

 Q:  Kevin from Cleveland, Ohio asks:
Do you think the Cleveland Indians will seriously consider taking the local high-school LHP Greg Moviel sometime in the first 5 rounds of the draft?

Allan Simpson: This is a rare year when the talent in and around Cleveland is really quite strong. I don't think there's any question the Indians would take Moviel and another lefthander, Ryan Feierabend, in the top five rounds--and they may even overdraft them to get them. Mitch Maier at the University of Toledo is another possibility.

 Q:  John Goulos from Peabody, Ma asks:
Do you think Matt Antonelli from St Johns Prep has an opportunity to be drafted and if so what round do you think he may go?

Allan Simpson: Antonelli is part of a very strong Massachusetts high school crop. He's No. 3 on our list from that state and could possibly go in rounds 4-6. Scouts rave about his athletic ability.

 Q:  Marcus from Dry and Flatville, TX (Lubbock) asks:
I think the Texas Aggie pitching staff may be one of the most talented and deep staffs in the country (look what they are doing in the Big 12 tourney). They also have a lot of guys that are draft eligible. How early in the draft do you project them to go (Kensing, Farnum, Parcus, Beerer, Dixon)? Who do you think has the highest Major League potential? Thanks.

Allan Simpson: You're right, the Aggies do have a very deep staff. You can also add Brian Finch to your list. Logan Kensing is projected to go highest in that group, probably in the second round.

 Q:  Patrick @ from Milwaukee, WI asks:
How far are Andrew Miller & Jared Hughes reportedly falling? If Miller continues to fall, will he be tough to sign away from UNC?

Allan Simpson: After being ranked 1-2 at the start of the year, Miller and Hughes have fallen. Miller's performance slipped late in the year, while Hughes never dominated at any point this season. I still see Miller in the middle of the first round, while it's hard to say where Hughes might now be picked. He'll be a tough sign if he doesn't go in the first round or two.

 Q:  Jim Goulart from Assonet, MA and asks:
95-97 MPH, 6-0, 0.00 ERA, 102 K's, 7 BB's, 5 HITS Thank you, BA, for noting that Massachusetts RHP Jeff Allison has been the most dominant high school player in the country this year. Mike Jones went at #12 overall to the Brewers in 2001, and having just turned 20, is putting up impressive numbers in the AA Southern League. Could you please compare Allison to the Mike Jones of June 2001? As fluid a motion? As far as drafting RH high school pitchers goes, is it almost always simply a matter of higher risk higher reward? Thanks.

Allan Simpson: Allison isn't quite as projectable as Jones, because he's a couple of inches shorter, but he has better stuff and command than Jones did at the same stage. Jones continues to develop his curve and change, while Allison has a hammer curve to go with a 95-96 fastball. Allison has put up unbelievable numbers this year, but remember Massachusetts switched to wood bats this year. His mechanics are impeccable, but it goes with the territory that high school pitchers are high risks.

 Q:  Joe Hamilton from Shoreline WA aka James Baileyville USA asks:
Hi Allen, the pst 3 drafts for the Seattle Mariners have been bizarre, putting little talent into their farm system. this year, for the 4 th year in a row, the Mariners will not have a first round draft choice, but do have Greg Colbrunns bat taking up space on their bench. How do you see the Mariners faring in this years' draft? Do you see them going for college players to put some talent into their Class A teams or sticking with their high school preference? It is interesting to note that last year's rookie club, with all the top draftees from 2 summers, won 19 games and finished last.

Allan Simpson: The Mariners have gotten little out of the draft in the last three or four years. It's pretty tough when you don't have a pick in the first three rounds in 2000, use your first pick in 2001 on Michael Garciaparra ( a player a number of teams didn't even have on their draft board), you don't sign your first-rounder in 2002 (John Mayberry Jr.) and then forfeit your first-rounder this year for signing journeyman first-rounder Greg Colbrunn. The Mariners don't pick till 38th, and I'm hearing anything from raw high school players like Adam Jones and Tim Battle to college catcher Mitch Maier. Really, who knows?

 Q:  Adam Loewen from Chippola JC asks:
I am stuck bt a rock and a hard place. Do I sign with the Orioles or do I go back into the draft and risk being selected by a team run even poorer than the O's? Please, I need your help!

Allan Simpson: Adam, if the Orioles won't go above $2.5 million, then you'd be wise to go back into the draft. But we're hearing that the commissioner's office has set the bar at $3.6 million for the No. 1 pick, with bonuses slotted downward from there. If your price tag is in excess of $4 million as is rumored, then you risk pricing yourself out of the market. The Brewers are prepared to take you with the second pick if they think you are signable.

 Q:  Guy from Borger, Tx asks:
What are you hearing about John Russ, Pitcher from Frank Phillips College?

Allan Simpson: Russ, one of the top junior college pitchers not under control from the 2002 draft, is projected as a third- or fourth-rounder.

 Q:  Butchie from Detroit asks:
How do you think the top three picks of the draft will go? Any chance the Tigers may pick Ryan Harvey if both Weeks and Young are off the board?

Allan Simpson: The Devil Rays haven't made up their mind yet, but I see the top three picks as being Delmon Young (Devil Rays), Adam Loewen (Brewers) and Rickie Weeks (Tigers). The Tigers would love to take Harvey, one of the most complete high school players in the draft, but they need immediate help so badly that I would be very surprised it they didn't take a college player--Weeks or Tim Stauffer.

 Q:  Sean from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Allan, What's the status of Robert Lane? Is he still considered a boom or bust type guy? Are teams looking at him as a 1st round type talent, and what kind of money is it going to take to keep him away from football? Thanks for all of these fun chats!

Allan Simpson: Two or three teams have a big interest in Lane, but most think he's way overrated. To some, he's Josh Booty--lots of raw talent, but not worth the trouble because of the football angle. He might develop into a top player if he ever devoted 100 percent interest to baseball, but his skills are raw and no one's sure what position he profiles best for. He's very intriguing, and you might see him go as high as the second round or not at all.

 Q:  Sean from Grand Rapids, MI asks:
Allan, How far has Chad Billingsley's stock fallen? He seemed to be a top 15 guy most of the season but because of performance he's not in your first round picture. Where do you see him ending up, and what are you hearing about him?

Allan Simpson: It should be touch and go as to whether Billingsley or Ryan Feierabend, another high school pitcher from Ohio, is drafted first--possibly in the sandwich or second-round area. Billingsley's been dominant at times this spring, throwing at least two no-hitters, but he's been good for so long that scouts expect him to perform at a high level. The biggest question seems to be how much better he's going to get; Feierabend has a higher upside.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego asks:
I noticed Clemson lost twice in the ACC tourny. Are they done? I read in the San Diego Union Tribune that Towers really wanted a second chance at signing Johnson and that he visited Johnson's folks. What's the inside scoop on that situation?

Allan Simpson: Clemson did go out in two straight games, losing to Duke this afternoon, but I'd be very surprised if it didn't get a regional bid. That makes it a little more dicey for the Padres to sign Johnson--in addition to UC Riverside's Brian Wahlbrink and Marist's Chuck Bechtel, two other attractive fifth-year seniors the Padres have under control on regional-type teams. The Padres and Johnson's agent (Don Mitchell) had a very contentious negotiation last year, but that is in the past. The trick now is for Clemson to get eliminated in regional play, so Johnson has a chance to sign with San Diego before the draft. If he doesn't, he'll still be a second- or third-rounder.

 Q:  Jeff from Irvine asks:
Do you know where Jerry Owens of the Master's College is projected to go? Is he a late riser?

Allan Simpson: Owens projects as a sandwich pick or second-rounder. He could even go No. 20 overall to the Expos. He's a fourth-year junior who made huge strides this spring after he transferred from UCLA, where he was a top football player but wanted to focus on baseball. Speed is his best tool.

 Q:  Peter Friberg from San Diego asks:
According to the SD Union Trib, Towers is pretty high on Loewen, how likely is it that Adam will slip to 4, and if he does, will SD pull the trigger on him?

Allan Simpson: Technically, Loewen is still under the Orioles control so I'm sure Kevin was pretty guarded in what he had to say about Loewen. Most of San Diego's focus has been on college pitching (specifically Kyle Sleeth and Tim Stauffer), but I have no doubt the Padres would have a strong interest in Loewen, who has the highest upside of the three. Ironic, isn't it, that Loewen would be the No. 4 pick again this year if San Diego were to draft him and that the three names mentioned here were all drafted out of high school by the Orioles.

 Q:  Jeremy Haber from Beantown asks:
Wouldn't Brad Sullivan make a lot of sense for the Red Sox who just lost their best pitching prospect, Manny Delcarmen, and are bereft of high level pitching prospects. Do you think Sullivan will be around at #17? Thanks a lot. Love the Chats!

Allan Simpson: We're sorry that we've had to leave almost 200 questions on the board, but I'll need to wrap things up with this one. We'll be back next week though. To me, Sullivan is a great fit for Boston at No. 17, but GM Theo Epstein was there a couple of weeks ago and saw one of his worst outings of the year. That may or may not impact his situation, but Epstein also saw Houston closer Ryan (not Billy) Wagner, whose stuff might be the most electric of any pitcher in the draft.

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