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June 5, 2001

Draft 2000: The First Round

How Are They Doing?, Part Two

by Joe Sheehan

Part One

This continues our update on how the first round of last year's draft is performing this season. We're not assigning grades or drawing conclusions. For a look at a draft from a few years out, I highly recommend John Sickels's piece on the 1996 draft, available from ESPN.com.

  1. Billy Traber, Mets. Traber is a college left-hander who, like R.A. Dickey before him, lost a ton of money in a post-draft physical. The elbow injury cost him more than a million dollars, but doesn't seem to have affected his performance. He has a 3.03 ERA in 12 starts in the Florida State League, with a 50 to 13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

  2. Ben Diggins, Dodgers. Tall drink of water out of Arizona who came in as the rare draft-eligible sophomore. He didn't pitch last year and has made just three starts for Wilmington in 2001 as he recovers from a pulled hamstring. In the long run, he'll be a reliever. In the short run, he's not much of anything yet.

  3. Miguel Negron, Blue Jays. For the second straight year, the Jays made a bizarre signability pick in the first round, selecting another little-known high-school outfielder from Puerto Rico. He hasn't hit--580 OPS last season, 440 this one--and there's not a lot of reasons to think he will.

  4. Sean Burnett, Pirates. A guy like Burnett is why teams will continue to draft high-school pitchers, even though their success rate is lousy. Burnett's fastball doesn't reach 90, but he's still put up a 2.33 ERA in 12 Sally League starts (nearly a third of his runs allowed are unearned, though). His 60 to 14 strikeout-to-walk ratio is encouraging.

    Left-handers with this profile often go through an adjustment period at higher levels, but Burnett looks, at this point, to be the best high-school pitcher drafted in the first round.

  5. Chris Bootcheck, Angels. Bootcheck signed late and didn't pitch in 2000, and has made just five appearances so far this year, putting up a 6.31 ERA in the California League. Pitching at Rancho Cucamonga is no fun, and Bootcheck does have a K/BB ratio of nearly 4 to 1, so the ERA can be excused.

  6. Boof Bonser, Giants. The name looks like something out of an article in The Onion, but Bonser is a real boy. Bonser was hammered in the Northwest League last year, but has rebounded to pitch well for Hagerstown in the Sally League in 2001 (2.96 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 24 walks in 45 2/3 innings).

  7. Phil Dumatrait, Red Sox. Dumatrait was the pick the Six made while trying to figure out how the hell Rocco Baldelli had gone in the top ten. He's a left-hander with velocity and not much else, and after a decent performance in the Gulf Coast League in 2000, has not pitched yet in 2001.

  8. David Espinosa, Reds. The first player on this list to appear on a 40-man roster, Espinosa was given a major-league contract by the Reds in exchange for taking a lower bonus. His performance so far is a mixed bag: .235/.338/.314 is unimpressive, although the 31 walks in 204 at-bats is a good sign. He's made 29 errors in two months at shortstop, so speculation that his future is as an outfielder may be warranted.

  9. Blake Williams, Cardinals. The Cardinals are beginning to develop pitching hand over fist, with Williams the latest arm. He doesn't have the blazing fastball you associate with top right-handed prospects, but in 11 starts at Potomac he has a 56 to 19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His ERA of 2.51 is deflated by ten unearned runs, though.

  10. Scott Heard, Rangers. The second of the two picks from Rancho Bernardo in San Diego, Heard was actually ahead of his teammate Wheatland before the season began. He had a good season in the Gulf Coast League in 2000, but hasn't hit in the Sally League this year: .210/.291/.312, with 41 strikeouts in 157 at-bats.

  11. Corey Smith, Indians. A good sign is when a player improves upon moving to a full-season league. Smith hit .256/.339/.372 in the Appalachian League last year, but has bumped that to .272/.355/.490 in the Sally League this year. His defense at third base isn't inspiring confidence, so Prospect's Disease is a concern.

  12. Robert Stiehl, Astros. A converted catcher who apparently can pitch a little, Stiehl is abusing the League, striking out 51 batters in 44 innings while allowing just 23 hits. A starter now, his eventual role is closer.

  13. David Parrish, Yankees. Lance's son may have been overdrafted, and it's shown so far in his performance, a 675 OPS in the Florida State League. He's a good defensive catcher, but spending a first-round pick on Joel Skinner shouldn't be anyone's idea of a good time.

  14. Adam Wainwright, Braves. Quite possibly the classic high-school pitcher, Wainwright is tall, throws 93 mph, has a good curve and change-up...and already one injury on his resume, a strained ligament suffered in his senior year. He's pitched better for Macon than his ERA or RA indicates: about a hit per inning, 5 to 1 K/BB ratio.

  15. Scott Thorman, Braves. Having taken a classic prospect at 29, the Braves went off the board for a Canadian infielder (high schooler from Ontario) with this pick. Thorman didn't embarrass himself in the Gulf Coast League last year, but shoulder surgery over the winter had delayed his 2001 debut. He has a long way to go, making up for all the playing time his peers in warmer climes have gotten.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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