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Chat: Bryan Smith

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday March 26, 2008 12:00 PM ET chat session with Bryan Smith.

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Bryan Smith covers the aluminum-bat circuit in College Prospectus, and checks in today to talk about the weekend action.

Bryan Smith: All right, let's start this chat, which I've been looking forward to for awhile. I've had some connectivity issues this morning, but outside of those flaring back up, I have a couple hours to hit on whatever's on your mind. Majors, minors, college, pop culture, let's hit it all and have fun doing it.

Mike (Jax, FL): I know the Seminoles can hit their way to Omaha, but after the VT series, I have serious doubts about their pitching and defense? Geoff Parker looked good in relief, but the rest of the pitchers on Saturday and Sunday were awful. Do you think this will prevent them from making a deep tourney run?

Bryan Smith: It's going to be a problem, particularly if Elih Villanueva remains too wild to harness his good stuff. There is some talent in the bullpen, between Parker and Buster Posey and a couple other arms, but I don't think Ryan Strauss is the third starter on a championship team. I don't think it will prevent an Omaha run, but I would bet their Omaha stay to be a bit like Arizona State's last year. Brian Flores = Villanueva?

Yoop (Ankeny, IA): Bryan, its early and there are a myriad of scenarios to play out...but does Detroit have a chance of seeing Shooter Hunt or Tanner Scheppers still available at #21? Who do you think will be the best pitcher left at that point since we're only 3 months out?

Bryan Smith: No, I don't see that happening. Scheppers, Hunt and Christian Friedrich are the third, fourth and fifth best college pitchers in the nation, in an order still to be determined. Unless one of them decides to start asking for top five money, which I doubt, I'm not sure they'll fall. Detroit could have Tyson Ross there, probably, or Brett Hunter, maybe, or hometown boy Zach Putnam or Lance Lynn.

jschmeagol (Weifang, China): Hey Bryan, What players do you think will be around in the draft when the Yankees are selecting? Any chance of a stud falling to them because of salary concerns (I know this is even more slight with the Tigers choosing before them)?

Bryan Smith: The real question above, I think, is whether Gerrit Cole has Boras take his demands high enough to drop in the Tigers or Yankees region. KG talked at the Chicago book signing about how teams are more likely to go above slot this year, so that indicates Cole is a little less likely to drop. I think the Yankees taking 6-8 Scott Green would be a nice compliment to Andrew Brackman and a slap in the Red Sox face, who nearly signed Green last August.

jedmonds15 (St. Louis): How disappointed were you that MVP NCAA baseball did not get made this year? For my money it was the best gameplay of any baseball game and I love college baseball. The Show looks fake and 2k plays too much like an arcade game.

Bryan Smith: Played some MVP last night, and I agree with you, it was my favorite baseball game I ever played. I'm certainly upset I can't have a Pedro Alvarez dynasty, but I think as the sport grows a bit more in the next couple years, EA might consider re-opening that window. They were just a bit too early to have any mass appeal.

BL (Bozeman): Hey Bryan, thanks for the great insight into college baseball, your work has been a tremendous addition to the landscape. I'd love to hear what intrigues you about college baseball beyond the players... rivalries, weekend series', the atmosphere? Thanks a lot!

Bryan Smith: Good question. I love the coaching aspect, as I believe the men in the dugout have about 10 times more influence than they do in the Major Leagues. I love the desperation the games seem to have -- it just seems to me we have more ninth-inning comebacks in college baseball than in the Majors. I love the postseason, I love Friday nights, and I love decisive Sundays. College baseball has so many unique intricacies.

SnakeDoctor18 (Washington DC): Hey Bryan, Standard 5x5 league, I have Giambi, Sexson, Vernon Wells, and Andrew MIller on my bench/extra pitcher. I only have marmol, tony pena, and brian wilson as RP's. DO you think I should make a trade with those big four on the bench for someone like rivera, wagner, or nathan? Thanks Bryan.

Bryan Smith: Sure, but do you think you have enough to get it done. I mean, assuming it isn't a keeper league, does the guy with Mariano Rivera accept Richie Sexson, Andrew Miller and Brian Wilson for him? I guess it depends on his team, but I'm not so sure. Then again, I'm just backing my way back into rotisserie.

Steve (Salem): Bryan, We get news of every little injury during major league spring training, but it's hard to get news about minor leaguers. With my roto draft scheduled for Saturday, have you heard of any prospects getting seriously injured in Florida or Arizona?

Bryan Smith: No, not really, but I've been distracted on the college angle, so that question is better suited for Kevin Goldstein. It might just be one of those things when you wait for the season to start and see who isn't out there and then begin asking questions until you know the real story. I think Will Carroll would tell you teams don't always love to be forthcoming about injuries.

21nunder.blogspot.com (GA): Bryan, Dennis Raben has played well when he has actually played. Is his health a concern going forward? Is he the best college OF in this draft?

Bryan Smith: Raben has played fantastic, hitting 4 home runs in 18 at-bats since getting back from back problems, reverting right back to Cape form. He probably is the best college OF for the draft in a weak class, but Roger Kieschnick made up some ground with his big start to the season, and I guarantee you scouts are pretty split on who they prefer. In actuality, they are pretty similar players, with similar strengths and flaws.

Tom Collins (St. Louis): Is Josh Fields making a run for the top 15 picks in the draft? Is any team looking for a future closer? Maybe Oakland as there is some talk of Huston Street being on the trade block.

Bryan Smith: Fields has been absolutely dominant this season, and I think he has to have some early first round appeal. He's a senior, so he might be a bit cheaper, so maybe the Mets draft him at 18 because they have another pick shortly after. But he's also a guy that a potential playoff contender could draft with the hope that he pitches in September. He's that good, and he's that ready for pro ball. Oakland at 12 seems a bit high for me, though, given that he's just one year removed from some nasty command issues.

Steve (St. Louis, MO): Who are the 8 teams you're picking for the CWS and who will win it all?

Bryan Smith: Well, I do choose my rankings with the CWS in mind, so the top eight from Monday's article would be my current choice: ASU, UNC, Missouri, Miami, Arizona, LBSU, FSU and Cal. I actually think that Miami and Long Beach are the two in the final, and I'll say Miami wins it all.

The Dynasty (Tucson): Its timely that BPro has Joe Savery has on the front page. Do you think Savery emerges as the first major league success story of recent Rice pitching products?

Bryan Smith: I think that the Phillies, who did such a good job bringing up Cole Hamels, are the perfect organization for Savery. Savery has worlds of potential, and enough polish to really fly through the minor leagues. But he's battled arm soreness a lot in the past, so the Phillies have to proceed with caution. But from the second they drafted him last year, I loved the pick.

Wendy (Madrid): I know it's just spring, but how good is Clayton Kershaw? All the talk has been about Joba, Bucholtz and Hughes, but he seems to be just as good. How would you rank those 4 with some of last year's top guys, Lincecum & Gallardo?

Bryan Smith: Kershaw is amazing. I love watching on YouTube when Kershaw buckled Casey's knees and Vin Scully was relatively breathless. I think Kershaw takes a bit of a hit because his fastball has the most erratic command of the what, five other guys you mentioned. But then again, Kershaw might have the highest HOF potential of the six. He's the perfect example of attempting to balance ceiling with likelihood of getting there.

Steve (The Valley): I have a serious man crush on Aaron Crow. His back to back shutouts have me turned on. Has he increased the gap between himself and Brian Matusz for the draft?

Bryan Smith: No, not really, because Matusz has more strikeouts over two weeks, though I know 16 of them were against Harvard on Friday. I think there are scouts that probably go both ways, and I still think Matusz is the better bet to be a successful ML starter. But Crow has been one of the 2 best players in the nation, without question, and I think Crow is the favorite right now to go 1-1.

Adam (Michigan): Just how good is Gordon Beckham? Top 10 pick good?

Bryan Smith: And we move on to the other best player in the nation so far. Honestly, the potential Golden Spikes debate we have between Beckham and Crow is the best we have had in a long time. Beckham is also drawing a ton of interest, as seen by the 6 or so questions in the queue about him. I think Beckham might be a 2B in the end, but he could be Jeff Kent-like at the position, and I think he's getting to the point where the top 10 is a real possibility. He won't slip past Oakland at 12, but won't the Reds at 7 be pretty interested?

Shane (Miami): Bryan, I had a chance to see the Miami v. Wake game, and was very impressed with Jemile Weeks. He is hitting with more power this year. Is his stock rising? Where do you see him going in the draft?

Bryan Smith: Weeks is another player that you guys seem really curious about, unless Shane is the same guy sending all these Weeks questions. Kidding. You know, Shane, I've seen Weeks play too, and he is one of the most exciting position players in college ball to see live. For one of the thinnest guys in the game, the ball jumps off his bat in Soriano-like ways. His stock is rising, sort of -- more like, it's returning to where it was in 2006. I see him going 16-25 right now, but that's blindfolded and relatively meaningless.

Cory (San Diego): Bryan, we've heard a lot about the arms in SD, but not too much about the bats. What are your thoughts on Victor Sanchez? Top 10 pick next year?

Bryan Smith: You don't hear as much about the bats because Sanchez is really the only hitter with legitimate potential at the next level. Sanchez isn't eligible until the 2010 draft, though. I was having a conversation with another college fan over e-mail, and I think we put Sanchez as the third best prospect for the '10 draft, though, behind only Kyle Blair and Matt Harvey.

Cory (San Diego): Bryan, we've heard a lot about the arms in SD, but not too much about the bats. What are your thoughts on Victor Sanchez? Top 10 pick next year?

Bryan Smith: You don't hear as much about the bats because Sanchez is really the only hitter with legitimate potential at the next level. Sanchez isn't eligible until the 2010 draft, though. I was having a conversation with another college fan over e-mail, and I think we put Sanchez as the third best prospect for the '10 draft, though, behind only Kyle Blair and Matt Harvey.

Rick (Knoxville): Good afternoon Bryan. I have continually read that Crow and Matusz are in a class by themselves for college pitchers in the upcoming draft. Am I crazy to believe that Tanner Scheppers and Shooter Hunt aren't that far behind? I honestly think that Scheppers and Hunt can sneak into the top 10 selections if they continue their current performance. What do you think? Thx.

Bryan Smith: Do I think Scheppers and Hunt can "sneak into" top 10 selections? Absolutely. I think one, if not both of them, are already there. But then again, Crow and Matusz are indeed in a class by themselves. Hunt and Scheppers have shown inconsistency over 3 years, where Crow and Matusz have bodies of work, and Crow has unbelievable stuff.

Phil (Chicago): I am eagerly anticipating the debut of Jarrod Parker this year. Do you think he can fly through the minors like say, Kershaw or Bailey?

Bryan Smith: Well both Kershaw and Bailey spent most of their first season in the Midwest League, and that's what I expect out of Parker -- maybe a similar schedule to Brett Anderson's a year ago. Parker will be in South Bend, so he won't be too far from home, and I think that comfort will allow him to be one of the league's most dynamic players. He's a fantastic talent, and I'm looking to see him, too.

Joe (Mizzou): How do you predict which players will get drafted where? Do you have some kind of syste? Do you like for best needs? The MLB draft seems harder than the NFL so I was curious

Bryan Smith: Well, that's why I hate to do it, but you have to give the people what they want. I suppose when I project where a guy is going to go, I'm saying "This is where he would go if the draft was just based on talent". You know, Aaron Crow could float $10 million bonus demands and drop to the Yankees at the end of the first round. But if I project that, I'm an idiot. Jemile Weeks is somewhere between the 16th and 25th talent in this year's draft, so I can only guess that's where he'll go. Hopefully my credibility isn't tied to those silly predictions.

Ryan (Macon): Reese Havens or Jemile Weeks?

Bryan Smith: Ooh, that's a good question. I think Weeks gets it, because he definitely should stay up the middle, and because his body of work is better and he steals bases. But Havens might have more upside as an offensive-first shortstop with 20 HR power.

Ty (Crawford TX): Bryan, Would you say that the '08 draft is one of the deepest (including HS) we have seen in a long time? Where do you think Tim Beckham, Gerrit Cole, Hosmer and Melville go relative to Crow and Matsuz?

Bryan Smith: No, I don't think I would go that far. I think that it is the deepest in certain areas that we've seen in awhile, but overall, I need to see a bit more before declaring it the best over the last five years. I think Beckham and Melville are top five picks, too, and Hosmer and Cole are dependent on bonus demands. Talent alone leaves them 6-13, though.

Bill (Irvine, CA): What conference will end up as the best at seasons end?

Bryan Smith: I have gotten a few e-mails about this, and I'm intrigued by ranking the conferences. Maybe we'll do that before the end of the season. I think at this point the Pac 10 probably deserves the title of the best of 2008, given the resurgence of Stanford and the depth they have in the top 30 or so. The SEC would be second, and over five years, I'm sure the SEC is first. ACC, Big 12 and Big West are all not too far behind those top two.

Jim (New York): Scott Green of Kentucky was pitching extremely well until his last two starts. What kind of stuff does he have? I am aware of his injury history that might back off some teams.

Bryan Smith: Green has pitched fantastically, and I think his decision to turn down a big 6-figure offer from the Red Sox is going to be a good decision in the end. His stuff, as quoted from my Cape Cod League review, "Green showed good and revived stuff all summer, pitching at 90-94 mph. Green has a good slider despite his height, and while a third pitch has proven elusive..." The stuff has been a bit better this season, in terms of the slider being sharper, but that's still where he's at. The 6-8 size might be his largest calling card.

Stan (Oak Park): Who do you see Baltimore taking at pick #4? Is it possible Alvarez slips to that pick?

Bryan Smith: I think it's very possible we see Alvarez drop to there. If Alvarez gets back, takes a couple weeks to re-find his stroke and still wants $5 million (which I would) then I think he might very well fall to Baltimore. It's where I would project him right now, to be honest.

Ryan (Toronto): I've read that Kyle Gibson and Alex White are considered to be the top 2 college arms for the '09 Draft. Do you see a big difference between the two in terms of talent?

Bryan Smith: In the Cape, I always received better reports on Gibson than White, but I don't want to make my decision based on that too much, because White had to be worn down after a long freshman season. Gibson gets the edge, because he is one of the most projectable college pitchers I can remember. White is more polished, has a huge body of work and some absolutely fantastic wins. But I have Gibson at the top of my '09 draft, and White somewhere around the 4-6 range in terms of college players.

Harry (Miami): Call me crazy, but I am still not sold on Gordon Beckham. What flaws do you see in his game?

Bryan Smith: Well part of the start to his season is that he's in the zone, and I think it's fair to stop and try and evaluate Beckham without considering the 13 home runs. The most significant flaw in his game is that I don't think he's a shortstop ... then again, Dave Perno compared him defensively to Jeff Keppinger to me. Offensively, we'll have to watch his strikeouts as he gets up the ladder a bit, as I think he probably reaches triple digits in the Major Leagues. But his power, for a 2B profile guy, is pretty unbelievable.

SJLedet (Alexandria, La): Which of this years college players, if any, are advanced enough to make the big leagues in 2009?

Bryan Smith: A few of these questions, and I think Josh Fields might be the only one I could see doing it from this year's draft. But Matusz by midseason or September 2009? I guess that's fair. Fields, though, is the best bet by a country mile.

Jon (Hollywood, FL): Bryan, I understand bonus demands, but talent alone, would you agree that Hosmer should be the first bat taken? Florida has a ton of good high school talent, and Hosmer is liting them up. Look at that impressive home run versus Ethan Martin. Classic swing.

Bryan Smith: I would agree he should be the first high school bat taken, but I still don't think he's better than Pedro Alvarez. Heck, I don't think Crow should be taken before Pedro, but that's a discussion for a different day. Hosmer has had a fantastic spring so far, and his swing has been talked about for 2 years now. But he and Smoak, as the second guy, is the real debate.

Frank (Iowa): Hi Bryan, I consider you my expert source for college ball. I am very interested in your thoughts on who you think the top 5 project to be for the 2009 draft? Thank you and keep up the great work!

Bryan Smith: Thanks, Frank, I appreciat that. We already talked about Gibson, who is at the top of the draft. I've mentioned Grant Green in a previous chat, and I think he makes it in there. I love Kendal Volz from Baylor as a guy with a fantastic body and good, hard sinker. Steven Strausburg might have the most elite stuff, so he's in there. And then the next spot would be a battle between Alex White, Mike Minor and Andy Oliver. Next year's draft has A LOT of pitching, if you couldn't tell.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Going over slot vs. buying up int'l talent - where's the better return? Do you have to do both to mix up your risk levels? Thanks!

Bryan Smith: You certainly have to mix up both. I think teams should use their draft position to take the player that is best available in the draft, regardless of bonus. I also think that you need to take your swings in the international market, and across it universally, not just the Dominican, like some teams fall into.

Rico (New Mexico): Who is Scott Gorgen and how has he only allowed 7 hits in 30+ IP??? Is he draft eligible?

Bryan Smith: He is draft eligible, and Gorgen is the ace of the UC Irvine Anteaters, and one of the most accomplished pitchers in college baseball. He has the best change up at the level, and all sorts of polish. He's a supplemental, perhaps second round guy. He also has a brother that's pretty damn good.

buddaley (Clearwater): So you are the Rays with the first pick in the draft. Your pick is____?!

Bryan Smith: Pedro Alvarez.

Larry (Leisure Town): Lance Lynn doesn't seem to be getting much love even though statistically he has been fantastic. Where does he rate among college pitchers? I have him at about 6 or 7 (along with Scott Green).

Bryan Smith: Really, I feel like I write about Lynn a lot, since I talked up Ole Miss like no one else this spring (regrettably, too). Lynn is right about where you have him ... I think I have him at 6 behind the aforementioned Scheppers, Hunt, Friedrich triumvrate. But his body is going to turn off some scouts, so he might drop a little bit. I like him quite a bit, though, and I think he manages to find a spot in the top 30.

hanley (not boston): How good do you think Adam Jones is? There's been alot of talk that the Mariners were better with him than Bedard. I keep thinking Andruw Jones or Vernon Wells. Am I right?

Bryan Smith: Adam Jones is fantastic, and I still don't like that trade for Seattle. Jones is truly fantastic defensively, and then even if he hits at about 80% of Vernon Wells, he's just as valuable (ok, that's hyperbolizing things, maybe). With the bat I go back and forth -- I've thought Vernon before, too, and sometimes I think maybe a bit less. Maybe Jones is going to be just like Aaron Rowand ... yeah, I think that's right on.

Jack (Lexington): Chris Withrow or Tim Alderson?

Bryan Smith: Alderson for now, but I trust Logan White's decision when he chooses Withrow.

Jon (LA): What types of players will the Dbacks have available to them when they pick at the draft? Any chance they gift an early Xmas gift like Jarrod Parker again?

Bryan Smith: Well I don't think they'll land a top 6 or so talent like Parker at 26, no. I think Lance Lynn is a potential choice, I think Arizona fans should cross their fingers and hope for Weeks. A pitcher like Brett DeVall from the high school ranks is pretty good, too. But I'm going to say Buster Posey as the perfect fit.

big baby (nj): What do you see for Edison Volquez this year? And is Jon Lester going to vastly underperform the RSN expectations? He puts far too many men on base.

Bryan Smith: I know Volquez is the popular breakout pitcher this year, with Milledge taking that title as breakout hitter. Talk about post-hype breakout candidates, huh? Volquez is good, but he's going to have a lot of bad starts ... remember, he's never been consistent. And when you ask me about Lester, you have to remember I'm a huge fanboy. I think he's only going to improve from last year's start.

Pat (IU): What can you tell me about Ryan Lavarnway's defense? The kid can absolutely mash. Do you think he has a legitimate shot at being a big league catcher?

Bryan Smith: If you had asked me before this chat if I thought we would hit on any Ivy Leaguer, I would have told you no. But Lavarnway's deserving of attention, with eight home runs and a 32% caught stealing rate so far this season. He's going to be a fringe guy defensively, because he's a big 6-3. I'm rooting for the guy, but don't hold your breath, yet.

ripfan008 (Baltimore): Hi Bryan- How long before Brian Matusz's less-than-stellar performances really start to slide him down the draft board?

Bryan Smith: Huh? Matusz had a bad start to the season, but he's been fantastic since then. I mean, he struck out 16 guys on Friday. He will not be sliding down the draft board, I don't think. Especially not with his fantastic performances.

CWS 4 Life (Omaha): Of the 8 teams you currently have slotted for a visit to this fine city, what are some of the biggest weaknesses you see among them that would prevent a trip to Omaha?

Bryan Smith: We talked about the Florida State pitching, and that's going to be a problem. It might be with Arizona State, too. Long Beach State has had their share of problems offensively. North Carolina has depth issues. Ole Miss, who is right on the bubble, is decidedly inconsistent.

Norren (Utah): I apologize that this question is not college-based, but I respect your opinion and would like your thoughts on Oakland's Trevor Cahill. I think h performed extremely well and is only 19 years old. Do you see a bright future for him in the Oakland rotation? I just haven't seen him on too many prospect lists. Take care.

Bryan Smith: Oh Norren, and the rest of you out there, let's not limit ourselves to college questions. Heck, someone ask me just how excited I am for The Office to come back on air, please. And as for Cahill, he's fair game, for sure. I'm surprised you haven't read much about Cahill, because I know Kevin Goldstein is a big fan after watching him a lot last season in his back yard. I think Cahill has some fantastic stuff and a decent amount of polish, and yes, I think he has a bright future.

Rick (Richmond): Is Justin Bristow reviving his first round potential at ECU? Do you have any reports on his stuff? Obviously, his results have been pretty good.

Bryan Smith: I'm not sure Bristow can get back into the first round after those first two seasons at Auburn. But, his revival at ECU is a story worth telling, for sure, and he's going to make the Pirates dangerous in late May. I think he's been low 90s this spring -- I only have talked to one person that has seen him -- but the stuff isn't the question, the consistency is.

Ricky (Iowa): Bryan, i'm a huge fan......Do you believe Jeff Clement has the goods to become a top tier MLB player? And just how good is Jay Bruce?

Bryan Smith: Thanks, Ricky. Depending on your definition of top tier player, yes, I think Clement can be that good. His power for a catcher could place him top 10 at that position, and that's top tier, to me. Bruce is the best player alive that will not open the season in the Major Leagues, and he's a more talented baseball player than a decent percentage of guys that managed to crack 25-man rosters. And nothing I wrote in that sentence is a hyperbole.

Marco (Drumondville QC): Hi Bryan, A few friends are wondering about Phillipe Aumont. We had a chance to see him play and he was in a class by himself. You compared him to Rick Sutcliffe, do you still like the comparison? Would you put him into a future 'ace' type, or more a #2-3. merci.

Bryan Smith: Did I ever compare him to Sutcliffe? That might have been KG, but I don't dislike it. I saw Aumont at the East Coast Showcase when he was in high school, and he was my favorite player at the event. Period. His size, his projectablity, his potential are all top notch. He has ace in his ceiling potential, but there's a lot to overcome, first.

Paom Beasley (Scranton, PA): On a scale of 1-10, just how excited are you that the office is coming back on the air in a week???

Bryan Smith: There you go, but it's Pam Beesley, c'mon, aren't you checking Jenna Fischer's MySpace page? I think The Office comes back April 10, and I'm about a 14 on a 1-10 scale. The episode will be a Dinner Party where Michael/Jan invite the other couples to their house. Oh, and Angela is pregnant in real life, so a pretty huge subplot was thrown in there for the writers. It's going to be fantastic.

Ulrich (Genoa): If Jack Bauer was a starting pitcher, which current ML pitcher would he resemble?

Bryan Smith: Well, the pitcher wouldn't be as good as who Don Draper would compare to, I'll tell you that.

Auggie (Anaheim): Bryan, if you had to choose between the following on draft day, your pick would be: a) Aaron Crow b) Tim Melville c) Shooter Hunt d) other

Bryan Smith: Probably Crow, but Melville is pretty close. Everything I read about Melville makes me drool. Wouldn't it be funny if Kansas City had to decide between two hometown boys at 3? I'd be looking forward to Joe Poz' article on that, I'll tell you that right now.

Tony (NH): Any plans to see the upcoming blackjack movie 21??? Ever given thought to card counting??

Bryan Smith: I am hoping to see both 21 and Stop-Loss in the next week, but we'll see. I sure hope friend of BP Jeff Ma is happy with the final product of 21, and I hope the movie is within 5 light years of how good Bringin Down the House is. If you don't do some sort of counting in single deck blackjack you shouldn't be playing the game, but if you see the movie and have thoughts of starting a team, you're going a bit overboard.

Chris Krygier (Packard Stadium): Now that conference seasons are about to start, what team(s) flew under the radar at the start of the season but could surprise us during conference play?

Bryan Smith: Hey Chris, good question. I wish you had asked me this two weeks ago, because I totally would have told you Florida. I think a team like Coastal Carolina could break out in a big in-conference win streak and surprise some people. I think Texas is going to turn some things around in the Big 12. I also think Indiana is going to finish 2nd behind Michigan in the Big 10 and make it in the tournament.

Jim (RI): Another question- do you think Jordan Schafer will be called up this season and what would you expect from him?

Bryan Smith: Yes, I think Schafer will be called up this season, if nothing else because the hype machine has been churning since before the Arizona Fall League and Atlanta might have some need at that position. I won't expect barely anything from him this season -- just the usual getting acclimated to Major League lifestyle.

Aaron (Denver): Does Harold Martinez fall to Oakland at 12?

Bryan Smith: I love Harold Martinez, and I would be surprised if he made it out of the Chicago-Washington-Houston trio of picks in the 8-10 range without being drafted. He's a fabulous talent, but given that some of the guys at the top of the college board have really emerged, I suppose there is a chance. Cross your fingers, but don't hold your breath.

Sean (MO): Mitch Houck, what can you tell me about him?

Bryan Smith: One of the better draft-eligible sophomores in the draft, but like Tony Watson when he was in that position, not a guy I see getting the number he'll want. He's a weekend guy on a Central Florida team that has been fantastic, and a guy with fantastic strikeout numbers. I don't love his delivery, but the results are starting to speak for themselves. There isn't a ton of left-handed college pitchers behind Matusz, Friedrich and Murphy, so who knows, maybe he'll get whatever his number is.

Toby (Tacoma ): Bryan, I'd like your take on young international players. How do you compare them to polished college hitters? In Seattle, we have Triunfel, who hasn't showed any power, but he's only just turned 18 and played at High-A.

Bryan Smith: Well it's unfair for the international players to compare them to college players, because the college players almost universally have more polish. The difference is usually plate discipline, and their bodies are more developed. But international players are sometimes more fun to watch because they are just totally projectable athletes, like Triunfel was last year. I really enjoyed watching him play and trying to envision what he could become.

Randy (TN): Last year Delmon Young struggled with his plate discipline and rate stats, but he did play every day, have 190 hits and showed some power with 40 doubles at the age of 22. Was last year encouraging or discouraging? Is he on the Reyes path to greatness?

Bryan Smith: That's a good question, encouraging or discouraging? I still think he is going to be a great player, and hopefully he has learned something between two organizations and a full season. I am going to say last season was encouraging, but not totally. He's going to be good.

Frank (PA): Your the Pirates and are on the clock with your pick, its your first year running the show and you want to impress fans, who do you take?

Bryan Smith: I think Tim Beckham might be the guy. He has so much potential, he's been at the top of the board for awhile, and he's an exciting guy to watch play. Fans want a guy that could be the face of the franchise for a long time, and I think Beckham is that guy. If Tampa takes him, Pedro is still my choice. Pittsburgh fans need to see money given to the scouting department.

Kelly (Oklahoma): Any possible way one of the two Missouri kids falls to St Louis at 13?

Bryan Smith: No, that isn't possible.

Toby (Tacoma): Bryan, thanks. a follow-up, a lot of the 'experts' are saying that Triunfel will have to move from SS. Seattle appears to be sticking with him there another year. Long-term, where does he go, 2B, 3B, OF or stay at SS?

Bryan Smith: Yeah, I think he is going to have to move off shortstop, too. He has a huge arm, so I think third base is probably the most natural progression. But then the question becomes whether his power will develop enough to be a positive at the position. I suppose given his elite contact skills and potential good defense at third, he won't need to hit a ton of home runs to be a championship-caliber player.

Conor Glassey (Woodinville, WA): Bryan - There are many top prospects in the draft currently playing first base - more than usual it seems. Do you see any teams pulling a "LaPorta" with any of the current college/high school first basemen?

Bryan Smith: Yeah, when I talked earlier about how certain parts of this draft have insane depth, the first base position is one of them. I can't believe how many there are. I suppose by pulling a LaPorta, you mean will any teams shock us by announcing them at a different position? Let's see. Smoak and Hosmer are too good defensively at the position, and Wallace and Cooper are too unathletic to do it. Maybe Allan Dykstra, who isn't even playing first base anymore. So to really answer your question, I'll predict that 2009 top talent Dustin Ackley is announced at a different position, but not for 15 months.

Martin (Red Deer): Wow, you are approaching almost 2 hours! Thanks Bryan! Quick question, I am on my way to lunch, should I have subway or quiznos?

Bryan Smith: Quiznos, unless you have a Potbelly's nearby. Also, has anyone eaten at Which Wich yet? Fantastic place.

Carl (Pawtucket): Cole Rohrbough had some sick numbers in the minors last year. Is the kid for real with his strikeout potential?

Bryan Smith: I like Rohrbough quite a bit, as few left-handers can match his results and some pretty fantastic stuff. He's obviously not going to be that good going forward, because he doesn't have ace stuff, but he should be a real good #3. I'm a big fan.

John (Tampa): Where would Pedro Alvarez play on the Rays: 1st base,Right field?

Bryan Smith: I've said for a long time that Alvarez is built like Pujols. Since his bat plays at the position, I don't really see anything wrong with playing him at first base and seeing if he has similar defensive success there. I'd bet he'd be pretty good.

Ameer (Bloomington, IN): On your Jay Bruce comment...do you really think present day Jay Bruce is better than present day Barry Bonds?

Bryan Smith: Ah, very nice, you caught me. I do not, Bonds is the exception to the rule. I do think Bruce is better than Sammy Sosa though, so there.

Don (San Diego): There were some good reports on the Mark Prior front. Apparently he has been throwing curve balls that look good. What do you expect out of him this year and do you beleive he will ever be able to get his once promising career on track? I know many of us are rooting for him to do so, but I was wondering what your realistic thoughts are? Cheers

Bryan Smith: I think Prior will have to re-invent himself a little bit to be a good pitcher again, as I just don't see him consistently pitching in the mid 90s and making 30 starts a year. But if he mixes 4 pitches, hits his spots, is taken out after 90-100 pitches, he can be pretty good. As a Cubs fan, few players I've ever seen have given me as much joy to watch, so please do count me in the group that is rooting for him. Oh, and rooting against Dusty.

Don (San Diego): There were some good reports on the Mark Prior front. Apparently he has been throwing curve balls that look good. What do you expect out of him this year and do you beleive he will ever be able to get his once promising career on track? I know many of us are rooting for him to do so, but I was wondering what your realistic thoughts are? Cheers

Bryan Smith: I think Prior will have to re-invent himself a little bit to be a good pitcher again, as I just don't see him consistently pitching in the mid 90s and making 30 starts a year. But if he mixes 4 pitches, hits his spots, is taken out after 90-100 pitches, he can be pretty good. As a Cubs fan, few players I've ever seen have given me as much joy to watch, so please do count me in the group that is rooting for him. Oh, and rooting against Dusty.

Bryan Smith: All right guys, I think it's time to end this thing and grab some lunch. Computers have hated me all day today, so we're lucky to have gotten so long in. Happy Opening Day, ahead of time, and while you're pining for baseball on Friday, head out to your local university and see some. Take care.


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