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Allan Simpson's Draft Chat
June 6, 2002

 Q:  Anthony Bonelli from Bronx, NY asks:
The Yankees took their usual conservative approach in this draft, going mostly for skilled, polished college players. I thought they got a good one with their 5th round pick, OF Matt Carson, but I was dissappointed that they passed on Brandon Jones, a real good hitter who went to KC. in the 7th round. How would you assess their draft overall?

Allan: Obviously, the Yankees were hampered by not having picks in the first three rounds (outside of the second-round pick they got from St. Louis). They certainly could have made a bigger splash with their first couple of picks because there were some attractive players on the board, but they played it pretty straight up again. Nothing really jumps out at me. Just a very average draft.

 Q:  Ted from Wilmington asks:
Allan, So, in your opinion, which teams had the best draft? Thanks.

Allan: I like the Cubs and Indians the best. Obviously, both teams had extra picks but I think they spent them wisely.

 Q:  TJ from Melbourne, FL asks:
Does it seem like the signing bonuses are lower this year than in previous years? If so, why is that going on?

Allan: Five first-rounders have signed to date and the bonuses aren't that high for the slots. For the most part, these were pre-draft deals and those bonuses tend to be a little smaller. But I think there was a concerted effort this year to adhere to the wishes of the commissioner's office and it's apparent with those players that slid--especially the Scott Boras group. With the threat of a strike looming, I think owners are starting to watch expenses a bit. God forbid if we have another work stoppage, but it will be interesting to see how unsigned players are dealt with in August.

 Q:  Joel Charny from Washington, DC asks:
Allan, how did Ed Creech do in his first draft for the Pirates? Any particularly astute picks? Any signability gambles (early or late) that we should be aware of?

Allan: I think the Pirates had a pretty good draft, though I don't believe the first choice was the player Creech wanted. My understanding is he would have preferred B.J. Upton or Adam Loewen, and that ownership dictated taking a college player. Blair Johnson is a solid second-round pick and fourth-rounder Wardell Starling's upside is nearly the equal of any player in the draft.

 Q:  Dominic Gomez from Chandler, AZ asks:
What do you think of Fred Lewis and Dan Ortmeier? Were these guys majorly overdrafted? Do they have a chance to make it to the bigs? What are the Giants chance of signing Travis Ishikawa, whom they drafted late in the 21st round? Thanks.

Allan: The Giants tend to see things a little differently than other teams in the draft, and this year was a good example. Matt Cain was a solid draft but probably was the one player we'd heard the least about that went in the first round. We also heard more on Lewis and Ortmeier in the 4th-6th round area. Now we had Ishikawa pencilled into the second round, but his price tag appeared to be too high and he tumbled. I think it's a longshot the Giants will keep him from going to school at Oregon State.

 Q:  Ben from Arizona asks:
 ??e the Devil Rays had an excellent draft. What are your thoughts. Upton is a no-brainer but they added Pridie, Dukes, Bankston and Romanczuk. I'm a big fan of Pridie and have seen him play. What are the chances they can sign Romanczuk? Thanks.

Allan: I like the Devil Rays draft, too. We thought Upton was the best player in the draft and Pridie and Dukes are solid second- and third-rounders. The only question is whether they can sign players like Mark Romanczuk (5th), Matt Harrington (13th) and Mike Pelfrey (15th). I don't see any way they'll pay Harrington even a fraction of the money he's demanded in the past--especially if it takes $4 million-plus to sign Upton.

 Q:  M.J. from N. Aurora, IL asks:
What do you think of the Cubs draft? Do you think that Dopirak will become one of the best power hitters in the majors? Also, do you think that Brownlie will become a ace pitcher for the Cubs?

Allan: Great draft! That was a coup taking Brownlie with their first pick and getting Hagerty as a sandwich pick. On Dopirak, a scout told me that he'll either be a 50-home run guy in the majors or someone who strikes out a ton and flames out in Double-A. No middle ground. Pretty apt description, but worth the gamble. The Cubs got a lot of quality arms and some pretty good hitters.

 Q:  Kevin from Cleveland asks:
How would you rate the Indians draft, Guthrie, Whitney and Schilling seemed extremeley good value for where they were selected.

Allan: This draft ranks right there with the Cubs. To get Guthrie at 22 was a stroke of luck. The Indians were looking for some high school hitters after all the arms they took last year, and I'm impressed they got Whitney and Schilling after the first round.

 Q:  Tim Reilly from Louisville asks:
What do you make of the Reds pick of Mark Schramek and Joey Votto? Were they as big of a reach as they seem for a sandwich and 2nd rounder?

Allan: The Reds were forced to watch their money. That's why they took Gruler in the first round--and signed him to a pre-draft deal--and took Schramek and Votto with their next two picks. Schramek was the best college hitter in Texas, but was viewed as more of a 4th-6th rounder. Votto was expected to go a round or two after that.

 Q:  Fluffy Bunnie from Little Rock asks:
With the Mets not drafting any supplemental picks or picks in the 2nd or 3rd round, would this necessarily mean an expediant signing of Kazmir? I'd love to see him play this summer instead of negotiating like a mojority of past met high draft choices.

Allan: I don't think not having second- or third-round picks will impact how quickly they sign Kazmir at all. It's obvious he has a little higher price tag or else he would have been gone long before he got to the Mets. I expect the Mets will let things settle out for a bit then pay him more than slot money--probably more than $3 million. Kazmir loves to play and I simply cannot see him sitting out the entire summer.

 Q:  Brandon Kochkodin from Philly asks:
Mr.Simpson, how would you conduct a draft if you were in charge of a mid-market team such as Houston,Seattle,or Toronto? Would you focus on college or high school,etc.?

Allan: I'd focus on college arms and high school bats, no matter if I was drafting for a high-, mid- or low revenue franchise. History has proved that this is the most prudent direction to go.

 Q:  Scott from Toronto asks:
How would you rate the Jays draft? They seem to have gone the safe route with Russ Adams and Dave Bush. How about their later picks, anybody we should keep an eye on?

Allan: The Jays need immediate help, so a college-oriented draft was very appropriate this year. I'm sure they would like to have gotten Canadian Jeff Francis, but they did well getting a lot of players who starred in the Cape Cod League last year like Adams and Bush. Bush could be there next year. Also keep an eye on Chris Leonard, their eighth-round pick. He was the pitcher of the year in the Cape Cod League last year and might have been a first-rounder this year if he hadn't had Tommy John surgery right before the draft.

 Q:  Tim Rei from Cincy asks:
Did the Reds truly want Gruler, or was it another question of money? Does he really have a higher cieling than Kazmir, or is that Bowden propoganda?

Allan: More people from the Reds who saw both (about 15 in all) say they liked Gruler better. Plus his price tag was about $1 million less. But I think Kazmir was the best pitcher in the draft and should be the first high school pitcher to reach the big leagues--if he gets signed quickly.

 Q:  Don from Philadelphia asks:
Did the Phillies have one of the best drafts? Will Blalock stay at third base or switch positions?

Allan: The Phillies had a solid draft. They didn't go after Matt Whitney with their top pick, as was speculated, but they still drafted plenty of third basemen. If he's signed, Blalock will be given every opportunity to play third base--just like his brother. If he gets too big even for third base, he has enough bat to slide over to first.

 Q:  Scott from Springfield, Illinois asks:
Please help me find something positive about the White Sox draft. Their first two picks seemed to be stretches, a LHP set-up man and an outfielder who was not on anyone's radar screen. Can you give some guidance.

Allan: It's obvious the White Sox were under some budget constraints, but I think they did quite well still. I see Ring as more than just a set-up guy. He's got the stuff and makeup to close. Reed was a bit of a stretch in the second round since most scouts I talked to see him as a fourth outfielder.

 Q:  BirdsnCrabs from Rochester, MI asks:
What do you think of the Orioles chances of signing Mark McCormick? It was quoted in a Waco paper, that since he was drafted in the 11th round, he was disappointed and making room-mate plans for the fall.

Allan: I don't think they're very good unless the Orioles don't get a couple of their other premium guys signed that would free up some money. McCormick's a special pitcher when he hits 98, which he has on rare occasions, but is just another guy when he's at 92-93. Scouts saw a lot more of the latter this spring and didn't feel his association with Scott Boras warranted taking him with a high pick. My bet is he goes to Baylor.

 Q:  Jay from Chicago asks:
Why did Jeremy Hermida slip to the Marlins at 11. Almost everything I saw had him going in the top 6-8 picks.

Allan: Hermida stimulated a lot of interest this spring with numerous scouts saying he was the best high school hitter in the draft. But about 80 scouts--including about 18 scouting directors--saw him in an all-star series in Atlanta a couple of weeks before the draft and he didn't overly distinguish himself. I think that cost him a bit. Remember, this was a guy that was seen as only a sixth- or seventh-rounder at the start of the year, and teams can often get cold feet on a player without a lot of history to them.

 Q:  James Rajacich from Victorville, California asks:
The Dodgers took James Loney as a 1st baseman and not as a pitcher with the 19th pick overall. Why did they go for him as a hitter and not John Mayberry Jr. who went later and was rated higher by many experts? and how would you rate the Dodgers draft overall considering that years past drafts have not been that good?

Allan: I'm as surprised as you that they would take Loney and not Mayberry in that spot, especially since most clubs viewed Loney more as a pitcher. It was evident from the start though that the Dodgers wanted a high school bat in that position. It's hard to judge their draft just yet since they went so heavy for unproven high school pitchers.

 Q:  Dave from Boston asks:
What are the Red Sox' chances of signing Jason Neighborgall? Do you think that pick was worth the risk of him not signing?

Allan: We just learned that Toronto signed Russ Adams for $1.785 million, making him the sixth first-rounder to sign. As for Neighborgall, another North Carolina product, I would say the chances of his signing are about 20 percent. I don't see the Red Sox going above $2 million to get it done and that's about half of what he was asking for. Still, I think it was a good risk for the Red Sox, who didn't have a first-round pick.

 Q:  from asks:
How would you rate the Indians draft, Guthrie, Whitney and Schilling, Slocum and Cooper seemed extremeley good value for where they were selected.

Allan: With the number of questions we've had about the Cubs and Indians drafts, it's apparent our readers think those were the two best drafts. We agree--but only time will tell.

 Q:  Jeff from Minneapolis asks:
What's your take on the Fielder pick by Milwaukee? My outrage has turned to confusion. I preferred a couple of other players before him, especially for an NL team.

Allan: Unfortunately, this will have to be the last question. Fielder has the rarest of tools--power--and he has it in abundance. But he's a one-tool player and you don't normally find those kind of players go 7th overall, to a team that shouldn't really take on that kind of a risk, no less. I expected the Brewers to take a high school pitcher--the most plentiful position this year. But they went for Fielder largely because special assignment scout Bill Lajoie was GM of the Tigers when Fielder's dad Cecil passed through Detroit.

Moderator: That's all the time Allan has for today. Like all of the Baseball Americans, Allan has been working around the clock the last few days for the draft and it's time for him to get a much-needed rest.

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