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June 5, 2007

Future Shock

Top 50 Draft Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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The following rankings are based on discussions with scouts, scouting directors, other team personnel, and agents. They are based purely on projectable pro talent, with no consideration given to actual draft status, which often involves signability and/or perceived bonus demands.

1. David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
Pros: Nearly perfect power-pitcher's frame; excellent mechanics; plus-to-plus-plus velocity; outstanding slider; solid change; cerebral, calm and soft spoken off the mound, aggressive on it.
Cons: Lists "Coming To America" as his favorite film; on a baseball level, anything is nitpicking.

2. Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (NJ)
Pros: Big, projectable frame, touches 98 and sits in mid-90s; excellent arm action in terms of both speed and smoothness; mature changeup for age; excellent athlete who fields position very well.
Cons: Breaking ball flashes as plus at times, but can flatten out at others. the short season in the Northeast leaves unanswered questions about durability.

3. Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress HS (CA)
Pros: Best hitter in the draft in terms of bat speed and hand-eye coordination--then adds plus raw power on top of it; shows no weakness in terms of pitch type or location.
Cons: Not a defensive stalwart, but most think he can at least stay at the position.

4. Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
Pros: Big switch-hitting catcher with plus power from both sides; professional approach at the plate; outstanding arm strength.
Cons: Performance this year has simply been good, not lights-out as some expected; most scouting directors think he can stay at catcher, but not all do; play seems lackadaisical at times.

5. Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State
Pros: Good velocity, good curveball, and good change give him three plus pitches; one of the more consistent performers among top college arms; hasn't let bad defense or a bad bullpen get to him.
Cons: Very skinny frame creates some stamina questions, though he's been fine from start to start on six days' rest.

6. Mike Moustakas, SS, Chatsworth HS (CA)
Pros: Set the California high school record for career home runs thanks to great bat speed and strong wrists; a very good athlete with plus-plus arm strength who touched 97 mph as the team's closer.
Cons: Despite athleticism, doesn't have a well-defined defensive home; smallish frame leaves some question as to how well his power projects in the pros.

7. Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell HS (IN)
Pros: Fast-rising pitcher has sat at 92-95 mph all year long while touching 99 at times; slider features two-plane break and very good velocity; easy, fast, clean arm action.
Cons: A little undersized at just six feet tall; his fastball lacks movement.

8. Jason Heyward, OF, Henry County HS (GA)
Pros: Best athlete in the draft with plus power, plus speed, and a muscular six-foot-five frame; good outfielder with a right field-caliber arm.
Cons: A raw talent who hasn't played much against top competition; high-reward/high risk talent who has equal chances of stardom or pure bust.

9. Beau Mills, 3B, Lewis-Clark State
Pros: Monstrous season at NAIA powerhouse; plus power to all fields, with one scout comparing him to Mike Piazza for his ability to drive balls the other way; also should hit for high average; son of Red Sox coach Brad Mills, and grew up around the game.
Cons: His aggressive hitting style worked in Idaho, but he might be prone to chasing pitches against better pitching; a bad defender who will likely require an immediate move to first base.

10. Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
Pros: The former closer excelled in starting role with mid-90s fastball, explosive slider and surprisingly solid changeup; very aggressive style; big-bodied.
Cons: Still learning to pace himself as starter; his command comes and goes on some days; borders on confrontational at times; fastball can occasionally be flat.

11. Phillippe Aumount, RHP, Ecole Du Versant HS (QUE)
Pros: Tall Canadian fires mid-90s fastball and pretty good slider; well-proportioned and repeats his delivery well for an inexperienced pitcher with his size.
Cons: Scouts have gotten few chances to see him, as he has no high school team (he comes to the U.S. to pitch in showcase-style events); violent mechanics leave some questioning his ability to throw 75-100 pitches every five days.

12. Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS (TX)
Pros: A top Texas arm built like a power forward, his heat sits in the 93-95 mph range and touches 98; maintains velocity deep into games and is a strike-throwing machine.
Cons: Currently a one-pitch pitcher with a below-average slider and little feel for changing speeds; his mechanics create concern because of throwing across his body; attitude has turned off some, with confidence bordering on arrogance at times.

13. Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch HS (CT)
Pros: Classic frame, mid-90s fastball, and a curve that rates among the best in the high school class; very good changeup for teenager.
Cons: Has not lived up to expectations this year, with fluctuating velocities and control issues.

14. Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth HS (CA)
Pros: Three big league tools right now with glove, arm, and power; true Gold Glove potential at the hot corner.
Cons: An average runner now who could lose a step as his body fills out; his ability to hit for average has been questioned by some.

15. Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
Pros: Arguably the best pure hitter in the college class, batting .402/.582/.817 with more home runs (20) in 169 at-bats than strikeouts (16); excellent approach at the plate: hits anything, anywhere.
Cons: Limited to first base defensively; slow, but not a total base-clogger.

16. Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney HS (PA)
Pros: Very athletic catcher with good agility behind the plate and excellent throwing arm; his stock has risen quickly of late thanks to highly impressive private workouts with wood bats.
Cons: His power is still more potential than reality; he has an injury history (Tommy John surgery).

17. Kevin Ahrens, SS, Memorial HS (TX)
Pros: Top high school position player in Texas; switch-hitter with plus power and very good arm; a high-energy player.
Cons: Will require immediate move to third base, but projects well there.

18. Michael Main, RHP, DeLand HS (FL)
Pros: Outstanding athlete who has 2nd-3rd round talent as a center fielder; excellent command of low 90s fastball that touches 95, and backs it up with a solid curve.
Cons: Little feel for changeup; struggled down the stretch both on the mound and at the plate.

19. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell HS (NC)
Pros: Top prep lefty has gotten into the mid-90s this spring; at 6-foot-5, his well-built frame creates no concerns about stamina. Excellent athlete.
Cons: Three-quarters arm slot prevent him from taking advantage of height; breaking ball is sweepy and slurvy.

20. Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
Pros: Arguably the top athlete among pitchers; has come on strong of late, touching 96 mph in last start; curve is solid, changeup is among the best in the college class.
Cons: Got off to a slow start while recovering from minor labrum surgery, often sitting in the upper-80s early in the season; has not been consistently good enough times out to rank in the top 10, as he did at the start of the year.

21. Corey Brown, OF, Oklahoma State
Pros: Toolsy outfielder already is having a 20-20 season in just 60 games; power lefty bat, plus speed, and a solid arm.
Cons: A future TTO all-star with 21 home runs, 62 walks. and 64 strikeouts in 218 at-bats; hard to see him hitting well for average in the big leagues.

22. Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun HS (GA)
Pros: Classic advanced prep pitcher from the East Cobb program who is already in possession of four pitches, all of which he commands well; his fastball sits in the average range and touches 93; his curveball is best pitch, but he also has a splitter and changeup.
Cons: Lacks the projection of other first-round high school arms.

23. Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
Pros: Top college closer in draft can dominate in short spurts with classic fastball/slider combination; has touched triple-digits on occasion and slider is just as effective with late, heavy break.
Cons: Has only been pitching for three years; lacks polish, clean mechanics, and plus command.

24. Aaron Poreda, LHP, San Francisco
Pros: High-ceiling southpaw has size (6-foot-6) and velocity (mid-90s) to match Price's; excellent command.
Cons: Doesn't miss many bats despite power stuff; the fastball is only plus pitch at this time.

25. Julio Borbon, OF, Tennessee
Pros: Top college leadoff hitter is plus-plus runner with line-drive bat; plus range in center field.
Cons: Hampered by an ankle injury much of the year; not an instinctual basestealer; limited power ceiling; weak arm.

26. Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
Pros: Finesse lefty in a power pitcher's body; mixes in average fastball, average curve and average changeup at any point in the count to keep hitters off balance.
Cons: Scouts don't see a put-away pitch in his repertoire; lacks the control generally associated with a pitcher of his type.

27. Tim Alderson, RHP, Horizon HS (AZ)
Pros: A six-foot-seven teenager who can touch 96 with excellent command, and his slider shows promise.
Cons: His violent mechanics turn some off; he would get into ruts at times and become hittable.

28. Kyle Russell, OF, Texas
Pros: Top of the scale power rates a pure 80 on 20-80 scouting scale; he set a new Texas home run mark with 28 in 223 at-bats, eclipsing the previous mark of 20; power isn't his only tool--also a decent runner with a solid arm.
Cons: Prone to strikeouts in bunches, as his swing is not one with natural loft, with more of a pure loopy uppercut; some scouts point to several home runs that were a product of aluminum bats.

29. Kyle Blair, RHP, Los Gatos HS (CA)
Pros: Highly advanced for a teenager; excellent command of average or slightly above-average fastball and plus curve; good feel for changing speeds and setting up hitters; excellent overall command.
Cons: Lacks that one dominant offering to really blow scouts (and hitters) away.

30. Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State
Pros: The six-foot-11 righthander has touched 99 mph in the past, and arguably has a higher ceiling than any player in the draft; curveball flashes as plus at times; mechanics are surprisingly refined for a player with his size and lack of experience.
Cons: Rarely pitched as freshman or sophomore because of a basketball commitment, then was practically shut down after 78 innings due to a tired arm; before the shutdown, he became less and less effective as season wore on.

31. Nick Noonan, SS, Francis Parker HS (CA)
Pros: Middle infielder with plus power and speed; has the kind of bat speed that allows him to make contact deep in the zone and drive pitches; good athleticism.
Cons: Lacks the instincts and first-step quickness to be a big league shortstop.

32. Jack McGeary, LHP, Roxbury Latin HS (MA)
Pros: Highly advanced prep lefty; 88-90 mph fastball play up because of movement and command; curveball features strong break; excellent feel for changeup; excellent makeup.
Cons: Below-average velocity; uneven senior year--looking like a surefire first-round pick one day, and a player who needs three years of college the next.

33. Justin Jackson, SS, T.C. Roberson HS (NC)
Pros: Tall, rangy athletic shortstop who, unlike many other high school middle infielders, has the tools and skills to not only stay at the position, but excel there defensively; plus runner with excellent instincts; big league bloodlines, as his father played briefly in the majors.
Cons: Power ceiling is limited; very lanky--needs to add some bulk to his frame just to handle the rigors of a full season; hitting skills draw mixed reviews.

34. James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
Pros: Top control pitcher in this year's college class, with 116 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 123.2 innings; excellent command of fastball, curve, and change; a pitchability guy who understands his craft well.
Cons: His stuff is marginal at best and leaves no margin for error.

35. Mitch Canham, C, Oregon State
Pros: Offensive-minded catcher has excellent contact skills and a good approach; plus arm; athletic and agile behind the plate.
Cons: Fairly new to catching, so he has understandably raw receiving skills; his power is a potential subject of debate.

36. Todd Frazier, SS, Rutgers
Pros: Another 20-20 performer with 22 blasts and 25 swipes in 61 games; fundamentally sound defender; grinder mentality.
Cons: Lacks the athleticism to play shortstop at the next level, profiling as more of a third baseman or corner outfielder; swing has many moving parts, leading to an above-average strikeout rate.

37. Peter Kozma, SS, Owasso HS (OK)
Pros: Line-drive bat with excellent feel for contact; plus-plus defender with smooth shortstop actions and a strong, accurate arm.
Cons: On the smallish side, and not the kind of body that will fill out much; an average runner.

38. Casey Crosby, LHP, Kaneland HS (IL)
Pros: Tall, lanky lefty can touch 94 mph; high-energy pitcher who works quickly and aggressively.
Cons: Despite being a good athlete, he's a little gawky and uncoordinated on the mound; all of his secondary stuff lags behind.

39. Nick Hagadone, LHP, Washington
Pros: Big lefty closer can touch 95 mph with his fastball, and his slider rates as plus. Throws not only strikes with both pitches, but well-located strikes.
Cons: Future role as starter or closer is undefined; lacks big league closer velocity.

40. Neil Ramirez, RHP, Kempsville HS (VA)
Pros: Athletic, projectable righty has two plus pitches with low-90s fastball that touches 96, as well as a hard-downer of a curve.
Cons: Inconsistent performances all season; short-arms the ball.

41. Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
Pros: Electric fastball/slider combination, using low-90s heater to set up the breaking ball, which rates as a better pitch.
Cons: Has struggled in second half of the season, especially with command.

42. Brad Suttle, 3B, Texas
Pros: Solid hitter with average power and a patient approach; very good defender with soft hands and an excellent arm.
Cons: Lacks a plus offensive tool, more of a solid across-the-board player than one who wows anyone.

43. Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn
Pros: Patient hitter with some pop; excellent athlete for a catcher.
Cons: Fairly new to the position, still seems uncomfortable at times behind the plate; arm is below average.

44. Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State
Pros: Tommy John survivor has velocity to match nearly anyone in the draft, sitting at 93-95 mph and touching 97 on several occasions; good athlete; good makeup.
Cons: Already has had two elbow surgeries and was slowed early this year with an elbow strain; control can completely abandon him at times.

45. J.P. Arenciba, C, Tennessee
Pros: Another catcher with run-producing skills, including excellent pitch recognition and plus power potential; gets excellent grades for makeup and leadership abilities.
Cons: Hampered by a back injury all season, and never got going at the plate; below-average defender who has problems controlling the running game.

46. Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami Springs HS (FL)
Pros: Top defensive catcher in the draft, combining athleticism with durability and a plus arm; switch-hitter with some pop.
Cons: His swing has some holes in it; he projects as more of a #6 hitter as opposed to any kind of offensive star.

47. Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian HS (TX)
Pros: Projectable righty with low-90s fastball to go with an already advanced curve and changeup; excellent makeup; son of former pro pitcher.
Cons: More of a player with no glaring weaknesses as opposed to one with impressive strengths.

48. Michael Burgess, OF, Hillsborough HS (FL)
Pros: Raw power ranks with anyone in the draft--puts on an absolute show in batting practice; decent outfielder with plus-plus arm in right.
Cons: Raw in most aspects of hitting; needs to greatly improve pitch selection and close holes in his swing.

49. Kentrail Davis, OF, Theodore HS (AL)
Pros: Athletic sparkplug is a plus-plus runner with solid hitting skills and surprising power for his size; could develop into leadoff player or intriguing power/speed package.
Cons: Raw, both at the plate and in the field; over-aggressive and prone to chasing; needs to improve outfield work to stay in center field.

50. Danny Payne, OF, Georgia Tech
Pros: The fundamentally sound player was among Division I leaders in walks (62) and on-base percentage (.509); top tools are plus speed and a very good arm (he doubled as the team's closer).
Cons: Undersized with no more than gap power.

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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