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June 6, 2006

Future Shock

2006 Draft, First Round Recap

by Kevin Goldstein

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The date is fitting, as late last night everything we knew about who was going where in today's draft went to hell, and stayed there all morning. Properly assessing a draft takes two, three, even four years to do properly, but where's the fun in that? Here are some quick impressions on today's first round.

Pick #TeamPlayerComment



Luke Hochevar, rhp, University of Tennessee (kinda)

When I first mentioned this possibility a couple of weeks ago, it was just a whisper, but as one team executive put it, "it just makes too much sense for everybody involved." The Royals get to claim that they got the best pitcher in last year's much stronger draft, and Scott Boras gets to say he did the kid right, getting him more money than the $2.98 million deal that was temporarily agreed to last year. Boras wins again. Shocking, huh?


Greg Reynolds, rhp, Stanford While the Royals didn't screw things up, the Rockies did. Don't get me wrong, Reynolds is a solid pitcher with good size and good command of a four-pitch mix, but it makes no sense to spend the number two pick in the draft on a guy without a true out pitch to hang his hat on when there are plenty of arms left who might have more risk, but also far more projection. When you pick No. 2, you want a star, not a number three starter. I don't get this.


Devil Rays
Evan Longoria, 3b, Long Beach State There were reportedly two camps in the Tampa front office, with one side favoring a college arm, and the other preferring Longoria once it looked like Colorado would take Reynolds. The pick is defendable because he was the best position player in the draft by a pretty sizeable margin, but at the same time, the first nine position players taken last year are all better prospects.


Brad Lincoln, rhp, University of Houston Lincoln has good stuff and was easily the most consistent performer this year, but if Tim Lincecum is going to get knocked for being short, why not Lincoln? As one team executive put it, "It's not like Lincoln could exactly post him up or anything." A safe, solid pick nonetheless.


Brandon Morrow, rhp, University of California Early this morning, a scout on the west coast was contemplating the first five picks and said, "Anybody who saw the Morrow/Reynolds match up a few weeks ago and came away from it preferring Reynolds is insane." After Miller and Hochevar, Morrow's ceiling is higher than any other college arm, and this is a nice find at five, as budget concerns prevented them from touching Miller.


Andrew Miller, lhp, University of North Carolina And the Tigers call the bluff. Detroit is rapidly becoming one of the more interesting organizations around, and while the system is more in need of bats, Miller was too good to pass up. He probably won't pitch again this year, but the Tigers' projected rotation in 2008 or so borders on terrifying.


Clayton Kershaw, lhp, Highland Park HS (Texas) The Dodgers loved Kershaw, the best high school arm available, all along, and that shouldn't be any surprise to those who have tracked scouting director Logan White's history. They were convinced that Detroit would take him, but last night's Miller hijinks benefits them in the end.


Drew Stubbs, of, University of Texas As the draft saying goes, it only takes one, and that one was Cincinnati, who were looking at some college arms, but went with Stubbs when the pitchers they liked were all gone. In Stubbs' defense, he's not the best position player right now, but he has the highest ceiling.


Billy Rowell, ss, Bishop Eustace Prep (New Jersey) The easiest pick to project this morning, Baltimore loved Rowell for what seems like forever, and a recent private workout at Camden Yards sealed the deal. Announced as a shortstop, he'll have to move to third base as a pro, but the bat will play.


Tim Lincecum, rhp, University of Washington And one of the big questions of the day gets answered, but this one is a surprise. If Lincecum went to a team like Cincinnati or Texas, they might have tried to get him into the bullpen this year. With the Giants, a shot at starting is more likely.


Max Scherzer, rhp, University of Missouri Rumors were flying in the last 48 hours that medical reports on Scherzer had scared some teams completely off of him, but that's not the case with Arizona. Scouting Director Mike Rizzo likes big guys who throw hard, and Scherzer fits the bill. A fully healthy version would have gone much higher.


Kasey Kiker, lhp, Russell County HS (Alabama) This was one of the first big surprises. Kiker had the best arm strength of any high school lefty, and he moved way up on boards in the last 48 hours when some concerns about his makeup proved to be unfounded. He's under six-foot, but he throws in the mid-to-upper 90s, and comparisons to Billy Wagner are inevitable.


Tyler Colvin, of, Clemson While Kiker was a surprise, this was a shocker. There were some late rumors that the Cubs were looking at a college bat, but nobody could find a suitable fit. On pure tools, Colvin is a third-round talent, but this pick might make more sense once we see who the Cubs take later on. This could be a money-saving selection to make a big splash later.


Blue Jays
Travis Snider, of, Jackson HS (Washington) With the Blue Jays taking a high school player in the first round for the first time since 2000, can we now officially say that the pure Moneyball era in the draft is over? If so, thank god. The Blue Jays were attached to Antonelli all along, but when they had a private workout with Snider, he blew them away with his performance and the fact that he had gotten himself into much better shape. To get the second best high school hitter at 14 is a pretty nice result.


Chris Marrero, 3b, Monsignor Pace HS (Florida) Washington was thought to be on pitching all along, but in the end they surprised by taking Marrero, who entered the year as the top high school position player, but disappointed with his performance until the final weeks of the season. If he's the player people saw since May, good pick. If he's the player people saw in March and April ... not so much.


Jeremy Jeffress, rhp, Halifax County HS (Virginia) Jeffress was all over the board as late as this morning, going anywhere between the Dodgers at No. 7 and Boston with one of their two picks towards the end of the first round. Because he's touched triple-digits with his fastball, people have compared him to Colt Griffin, but Jeffress is really a different beast as he's a much better athlete with far better command. The lack of a solid breaking ball prevented him from going higher, but he has steal potential.


Matt Antonelli, 3b, Wake Forest Antonelli's value will be very much influenced by what position he ends up playing. It almost certainly won't be third base in the end, as he has the speed to play second base or center field. He's certainly Grady Fuson's kind of guy; a polished college hitter with good patience and good contact skills. Not a whole lot of star potential, but a safe bet to get there.


Kyle Drabek, rhp, The Woodlands HS (Texas) So in the end, the makeup cost Drabek right around one million dollars. If he went where his talent merits, he'd be looking at around $2.5 million, instead he's looking at $1.5. This is either one of the steals of the draft or a nightmare, with little chance for something in between.


Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Missouri State Florida had a deal before the draft with Marrero, and when he went earlier, the Fish returned to pitching, which is a pretty surprising move considering the state of their system. Sinkbeil played much of the second half of the season with a strained oblique, but he pitched well in last week's regionals, touching 94 mph and getting good tilt on his slider. A strange pick more because of who took him than where he went.


Chris Parmelee, of, Chino Hills HS (California) While the Giants decided in the end to do the right thing at No. 10 and spend slot money, it didn't drop Parmelee too far. While still more projection than performance, Parmelee has a picture-perfect swing from the left side and his polished approach and excellent baseball instincts make him a perfect fit in Minnesota.


Ian Kennedy, rhp, University of Southern California Really? Kennedy's numbers were always far better than his stuff until this year, when his statistics took a sharp decline. He's one of the best command/finesse pitchers in the draft, but I thought the Yankees would do something riskier. Also, I don't think this deal happens unless the Yankees and Scott Boras had already agreed on a bonus.


Colten Willems, rhp, John Carroll HS (Florida) In the end, the Nationals still got their guy, as some had them taking Willems at 15. He has a mid-90s fastball, a decent curve and--a rarity among prep pitchers--a pretty nice changeup. Add in a projectable six-foot-four frame and what's not to like?


Max Sapp, C, Bishop Moore HS (Florida) It's hard to find a team that thinks Sapp can stay behind the plate, but everybody universally praised his power bat, patient approach, and pro makeup. Maybe the Astros saw something with the glove that others didn't, but it was very surprising to see him go before Hank Conger.


Cody Johnson, of, Mosley HS (Florida) A high-risk/high-reward pick who entered the season as a top pick but had played his way out of the first round according to many. His tools--in particular his plus-power potential--ranked with the best high school players in the country, but it rarely showed up in games. He has a hitch in his swing and is raw in the outfield, despite good athleticism. Will either be a star or fizzle out before he gets to Double-A.


Hank Conger, c, Huntington Beach HS (California) I know we are in the analysis business, but when it comes to prospects and drafts, sometimes you have to go with your gut. I have a hunch on this guy. He might not stay at catcher, but he has a better chance to do so than Sapp, and he's a switch-hitter with power to boot. I was surprised all along that he wasn't in the mix for some of the teams picking in the 16-24 range. Could be another Eddie Bane steal.


Bryan Morris, rhp, Motlow State CC (Tennessee) How happy are the Dodgers right now? Until the domino effect from Kansas City passing on Miller came into play, the Dodgers were going to take Morris with pick No. 7, and then he's still there at 26. One of the big unsigned names from the 2005 draft, he'll get less than the $1.4 million he almost signed for with Tampa last year, but more than what MLB limited the Devil Rays from offering him before last week's signing deadline.


Red Sox
Jason Place, of, Wren HS (South Carolina) As a raw, toolsy type, Place doesn't seem like a Red Sox type of player. But the system is looking to add some athleticism and Place was moving up on many boards in the past 72 hours as his signability looked to be easier than expected.


Red Sox
Daniel Bard, rhp, University of North Carolina This is the fall of the draft, and he can blame his college teammate, Andrew Miller. Seattle considered him at 5, but Morrow became available, the Giants were on him at 10, but favored Lincecum. Then came a whole bunch of teams who favored high school talent and Bard's drop became precipitous. When he's good, he's very good, but too often his arm angle dropped, taking 3-5 mph off his fastball and tilt off his slider.


White Sox
Kyle McCulloch, rhp, University of Texas The Longhorns' ace this year, McCulloch was solid nearly every time out, but both his statistics and his stuff lacked any sort of "wow" factor. It's not that teams stopped liking him, it's more that they found other guys that they liked better. McCulloch has a ton of polish and it's very easy to see him as a solid back-of-the-rotation starter... but not much more.


Adam Ottavino, rhp, Northeastern University Ottavino was thought by some to become a hometown pick by the Red Sox, but Bard's availability was too good to pass up. Ottavino has a great frame and a good fastball, but he'll need to find more consistency with one of his breaking balls to end up as more than a reliever.

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

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