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If this has happened before, I certainly can't remember it. The Cubs have released three of their top picks from the last six drafts this spring: outfielder Ryan Harvey, the sixth overall pick in 2003; righthander Grant Johnson, a second-rounder in 2004; and lefty Mark Pawelek, the 20th overall choice in 2005. For an investment of $5.41 million, Chicago couldn't get any of three players past Double-A (and Pawelek couldn't move past low Class A).

Just think, when the next edition of Ask BA comes out, the 2009 baseball season will officially have begun.

    Following up on a question from the last Ask BA discussing the top picks in 2010, is there any reason to think that Bryce Harper couldn't get a GED diploma, thus making him eligible for the 2010 draft? That would be the smart thing to do for a number of reasons, and there's a history with Scott Boras pulling that rabbit out of his hat. Do you think the generally disappointing results experienced by catchers Landon Powell and Robert Stock since obtaining their GED diploma would detour the Harper camp from such a consideration?

    Dan Mattheis
    Fairfield, Calif.

Harper, a sophomore catcher at Las Vegas High, already is regarded as the top prospect for the 2011 draft and would go No. 1 overall in next year's draft if he became eligible. But getting a GED diploma wouldn't automatically allow him to enter the 2010 draft.

The only high school junior ever to get drafted, Jeremy Bonderman (an Athletics first-rounder in 2001), was eligible because he obtained his GED diploma and his high school class had graduated. The year before, Powell met the same requirements but major league teams didn't realize he could enter the draft and thus didn't pick him. Stock graduated a year early from high school but wasn't subject to the draft before entering Southern California as a 17-year-old freshman. (And to clarify on Stock: He didn't graduate from high school or get his GED, instead entering Southern California via its resident honors program after meeting the university's standards for admission.)

Harper could become eligible for the 2010 draft if he got his GED diploma and then attended a junior college next spring, because all juco players are subject to the draft. Neither Powell (who become a first-round pick as a South Carolina senior) or Stock signed out of high school, so I don't think their careers would affect any decision Harper might make. But why not enjoy your senior year of high school rather than cash in a year early? The money should still be there, barring injury.
    Righthander Josh Lindblom got a call to the Dodgers' big league camp and is apparently making noise to win the No. 5 starter job. Is that a little overly ambitious considering he was a closer in college and drafted in the second round just last year? In any case, was it a good idea to convert him to starter? What kind of stuff does he have?

    Brian Davis
    Pasadena, Calif.

Though Lindblom had more success as a reliever in college, the Dodgers planned on making him a starter when they drafted him in the second round last June. He has enough pitches as well as the frame (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) to handle the increased workload. His best offering is a hard 89-94 mph sinker, and he also can get swings and misses with his slider and splitter, though he'll probably have to throw more changeups.

After getting the call from minor league camp, Lindblom has impressed manager Joe Torre and his staff. It's unlikely that he'll open the season in the big league rotation, however. The plan appears to be for Lindblom to follow the same path that Clayton Kershaw took last year, beginning the season in Double-A and keeping his innings down, then promoting him a couple of months later.

It's still possible that Lindblom could break into the majors into the majors as a reliever, too. The Dodgers could have a solid rotation with Chad Billingsley, Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf and James McDonald, and their bullpen looks far less solid.

    I know Brandon Wood doesn't qualify for the Top 100 Prospects list because he spent too much time in the majors last year. But if he were eligible, where would he rank? When he went back to Triple-A last year, his plate discipline improved and he totally dominated. To me, he's an elite prospect.

    Dale Delmege
    Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

Wood may not be the budding superstar he looked like when he hit 43 homers as a 20-year-old in high Class A, but I still think he could be a star at shortstop if the Angels would give him the opportunity. While he's going to strike out, he has made strides toward making more contact the last two years, and I project him as a .270ish hitter with 25 homers per year, drawing a decent amount of walks and playing a solid shortstop. But Los Angeles prefers Erick Aybar's defense at shortstop and has igniter Chone Figgins at third base, so Wood may once again have difficulty finding major league at-bats.

Wood is very comparable to White Sox shortstop Gordon Beckham, who was a sensation in Chicago's big league camp this spring. Both were first-round picks, both feature power as their best tool and both are good athletes who can get the job done at shortstop. Beckham is a better hitter than Wood, so I'd give him the edge. Beckham ranked No. 20 on our Top 100, and I could see Wood falling in shortly after another shortstop, the Rays' Tim Beckham, at No. 28.

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