Looking Ahead: The June Amateur Draft

Baseball's First-Year Player Draft never seems to play out the way the projections predict. This is even more likely when the projection is made before the 2005 prep and college seasons get underway. Such projections usually take the tact of listing players in order of their big league potential. By June, issues such as signability and/or 2005 performance affect the draft status of most players. Nevertheless,it's never too soon to guess who will go where.

Author's Note:

There are too many variables to expect a high accuracy rate, but this list represents what I know of players, their current representation and college commitments, and the draft histories of the teams selecting them. I haven't seen any of them play in person, and there are a few that I haven't even seen on video. With this in mind I've scoured the Internet and read every scouting report I could find on about 45 different players. Here is the first round as I see it from my desk in early February, 2005:

1. Diamondbacks – Justin Upton, SS, R/R, 6'2, 180 lbs., Great Bridge HS (VA)

Upton's combination of 5-tool potential and polish make him an even easier choice at #1 than was his brother. He could end up in centerfield, but wants to play shortstop as a pro. The only real no-brainer in the draft.

2. Royals – Alex Gordon, 3B, L/R, 6'1, 205, University of Nebraska

Feeling pressure to add a player who will reach K.C. quickly, the Royals grab Gordon's potent bat and excellent hands and arm on defense. A patient hitter with excellent power, he should find his way to the big leagues quickly.

3. Mariners – Jeff Clement, C, L/R, 6'1, 205, USC

I expect Clement to have a huge season for the Trojans, and that combined with his already-proven ability to hit for power will convince the Mariners that he is the answer to their lack of organizational depth at the catching position. It may be unwise to draft for need, but his lefty bat would play fine in Safeco even as a first basemen.

4. Nationals – Luke Hochevar, RHP, R/R, 6'5, 205, University of Tennessee

Hochevar's agent is Scott Boras, which always casts a player's draft status in shadow. In this case, the Nationals will look to make a big splash with their first pick as a D.C. franchise and hope for the best heading into contract negotiations. Hochevar offers solid all-around skills with four pitches and good control and a shot at headlining a Major League rotation in the future.

5. Brewers – Cameron Maybin, CF, R/R, 6'4, 200, T.C. Roberon HS (NC)

Maybin has drawn comparisons to lanky, athletic players like Eric Davis, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Darryl Strawberry. He has work to do to turn his tools into skills, but the potential is there. The Brewers will be delighted to get him at five and won't have a problem waiting for him to develop.

6. Blue Jays – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, R/R, 6'3, 200, Long Beach State

This is a very slight overdraft, but Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will look at Tulowitzki and see a skill set similar to that of A's shortstop and former LBS Dirtbag (that is so fun to write) Bobby Crosby. Even if the Blue Jays still have Aaron Hill at short and Russ Adams at second when he arrives, Tulowitzki has the size and skills to shift over to third base.

7. Rockies – Ricky Romero, LHP, R/L, 6'1, 190, Cal State Fullerton

The hardest-throwing left-handed pitching prospect projected as a possible first rounder, Romero will move up in the draft fast with a strong 2005 season. He has good control, changes speeds well and features a great curve to go along with a consistent, low-90s fastball.

8. Devil Rays – Sean O'Sullivan, RHP, R/R, 6'2, 205, Valhalla HS (CA)

O'Sullivan is one of several players who have the talent to be taken in the first round as either a pitcher or position player this June. My guess is that he'll end up on the mound, where his big frame and ability to control the game are more likely to translate to the pros. He features an excellent fastball and great control (219/27 K/BB ratio in three high school seasons), but his best attribute is a nasty 12-6 curve.

9. Mets – Mike Pelfrey, RHP, R/R, 6'7, 215, Wichita State

Pelfrey is another college pitcher represented by Scott Boras, and that affiliation will keep him from being taken earlier than this. The Mets can afford to deal with him and will get good value as a result. Pelfrey can command the strike zone with three solid pitches, including a fastball that sits in the low-90s. It occasionally touches the mid-90s and with his size it could improve as he refines his mechanics.

10. Tigers – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, R/R, 6'2, 210, University of Virginia

Prior to 2004, Zimmerman's elite glovework and natural ability at the plate made him a good bet as a pro. His performance for Team USA, highlighted by a promising increase in power (12 doubles, four homers) make him a perfect fit for Comerica Park.

11. Pirates – Stephen Head, 1B, L/L, 6'2, 220, University of Mississippi

The second player in the two-way parade, Head's bat will likely outstrip his arm as he makes the jump to the pros. He has a pretty swing, though his size will confine him to first base or a corner outfield spot. Still, he is a force at the plate, and his stock should only rise as the 2005 season progresses.

12. Reds – Wade Townsend, RHP, R/R, 6'3, 230, Rice University

One-third of the Owl's vaunted first-round pitching trio with Jeff Niemann and Philip Humber, Townsend was taken by the Orioles with the eighth pick in last year's draft. What happened after that has been well-documented. A low-ball offer, a conference call meltdown and a return to class later, Townsend finds himself with no team to play for, a college degree and, fortunately, a good shot at being taken in the first half of the 2005 draft. From everything I've read, Townsend is smart, driven, colorful and candid – exactly the kind of guy baseball needs.

13. Orioles – Tyler Greene, SS, R/R, 6'2, 190, Georgia Tech

Greene's combination of tools and performance are consistent with a Top Five selection in the draft, but he suffers for Boras-itis. Greene tore up the Cape Cod League and has shown flashes of big league ability at shortstop, with excellent range and a strong arm. His weakness so far is that he hasn't been able to show both sides of his game at the same time. Eventually, he will.

14. Indians – Justin Bristow, 3B, R/R, 6'4, 205, Mills Godwin HS (VA)

Bristow represents stop number three on the two-way railroad. A prep shortstop, he is a big kid with a powerful arm. I predict that the team that chooses him will want him in the lineup rather than on the mound, which will necessitate a move to third in the pros due to a lack of range. Has drawn comparisons to Chipper Jones due to his size and athleticism.

15. White Sox – John Mayberry, Jr., 1B/OF, R/R, 6'5, 230, Stanford University

John Mayberry, Jr.'s bloodlines speak for themselves. His performance as a prep and with the Cardinal are what make him a promising talent in the eyes of Major League ballclubs. He could wind up at first base or at a corner outfield spot in the pros and will likely excel either way, though he is already a slick-fielding first baseman. There is a ton of power in his bat though he will strike out a lot.

16. Marlins – Andrew McCutchen, CF, R/R, 5'11, 170, Fort Meade HS (FL)

Think "right-handed Juan Pierre", but with surprising power for his size. He has incredible range in centerfield and great baserunning instincts. What he is now is likely what he will be in the big leagues – a prototypical leadoff hitter – though he could end up averaging between ten and 20 homeruns per season.

17. Yankees – Craig Hansen, RHP, R/R, 6'5, 185, St. John's University

Hansen improved his stock greatly with an excellent summer last year, when his 41/2 K/BB ratio and 0.00 ERA in 22 innings made him Baseball America's #3 Cape Cod League prospect. The downside is that he is still a third pitch away from projecting as a starter in the pros. Still, he has a perfect pitcher's body with a mid-90s fastball and a high-80s slider and could still develop that third pitch. Even if he doesn't he will be a force coming out of the ‘pen.

18. Padres – Travis Buck, OF, L/R, 6'2, 205, Arizona State

A good athlete with range and a strong arm in the outfield, Buck is also one of the best pure hitters in the 2005 draft class. To date he hasn't shown the kind of power that gets scouts excited, but he uses the entire field in a way that could work well in spacious Petco Park. The Padres will help him develop with that in mind, and any increase in power will be a bonus.

19. Rangers – Jordan Danks, OF, L/R, 6'5, 200, Round Rock HS (TX)

Texas took LHP John Danks with the ninth overall pick in the draft and he quickly became one of their top three prospects. His brother Jordan is bigger, stronger and a better athlete, so it makes sense that the Rangers would dip into the Danks gene pool a second time. The family is familiar with the organization and The Ballpark in Arlington is a hitter's paradise.

20. Cubs – Zach Putnam, RHP, R/R, 6'2, 205, Pioneer HS (MI)

Two-way prospect #4, Putnam's athleticism and flawless mechanics make him more attractive as a pitcher. He throws a low-90s fastball with good sink, along with a changeup and a curve that he commands well.

21. Athletics – Ryan Mullins, LHP, L/L, 6'6, 180, Vanderbilt University

Ryan Mullins is everything the A's look for in an amateur pitcher. He has good control of three pitches and gets outs by mixing them well and setting hitters up. His fastball doesn't light up the radar gun, but it sits in the high-80s, low-90s. More than any of that, he performs. He was great in the Cape Cod League last summer, and the video I've seen reminded me a lot of Mark Mulder. With his height he might be able to add some velocity under the tutelage of Oakland's instructors, but even if he doesn't he will be a solid addition to a system lacking in pitching talent at its lower levels.

22. Marlins – Bradley Clark, RHP, R/R, 6'6, 200, Hillsborough HS (FL)

Clark is a big boy who uses his size to throw what is the nastiest curve in the draft. A true 12-6 knee-buckler, Clark throws it in the low-80s. His performance as a senior could improve his draft stock, but he will likely be around for the Marlins at 22.

23. Red Sox – Brian Bogusevic, OF, L/L, 6'3, 210, Tulane University

Bogusevic is another polished two-way prospect, pitching in the high-80s and playing centerfield between starts. Most scouts favor his bat, and I see the Red Sox developing him as a rightfielder whose ability to use the entire field will allow him to pepper the Green Monster with line drives.

24. Astros – Mark McCormick, RHP, R/R, 6'2, 195, Baylor University

So far McCormick's potential hasn't helped him get results on the field, but the Astros organization has a good track record of developing pitchers. His representation is an obstacle (Boras, of course) as well, though his upside and Texas ties should pave the way to a relatively smooth negotiation.

25. Twins – Brett Jacobsen, RHP, R/R, 6'6, 195, Cactus Shadows HS (AZ)

Jacobsen could be a tough sign as he seems committed to attending Vanderbilt, but some team will take that gamble based on his high ceiling. His size and easy delivery help Jacobsen generate a low-90s fastball and a hard curve that touches 82-83 MPH. The fastball can get up into the mid-90s on occasion and could improve based on his size and age.

26. Red Sox – Taylor Teagarden, C, R/R, 6'0, 190, University of Texas

Teagarden hit only .278 in 2004, but by many accounts he displays stellar power. Behind the plate he is the consensus choice for best defensive catcher in the draft. His presence on the field is enhanced by great leadership skills, and he could find his way to Fenway Park in time for Jason Varitek to show him the ropes before Varitek's contract expires.

27. Braves – Chris Volstad, RHP, R/R, 6'7, 190, Palm Beach Gardens HS (FL)

Always willing to take a chance on high school pitching, the Braves will happily grab Florida prep product Volstad at 27. The towering righty throws in the low-90s and repeats his delivery well for his size. His pitches tend to sink a great deal and his control is impressive. He should blossom in the Atlanta organization.

28. Cardinals – Brandon Snyder, C/SS, R/R, 6'2, 190, Westfield HS (VA)

The third-rated catcher in most 2005 draft analyses, Snyder is also a solid shortstop. His future looks like it will be behind the plate, where he is still learning but has the physical ability to be a keeper. His bat is quick and his approach to hitting sound.

29. Marlins – Austin Jackson, CF, R/R, 6'2, 180, Denton Ryan HS (TX)

Though he will head to Georgia Tech on a basketball scholarship, Jackson still intends to spend his summers playing professional baseball. This is good, because he is exactly the type of athlete baseball should be trying to lure away from the hardcourt. He draws comparisons to Torii Hunter with his build, speed and defensive skills. His bat needs work but he will get it should he decide to concentrate on baseball full-time.

30. Cardinals – Daniel Carte, OF, R/R, 6'0, 180, Winthrop University

Carte cemented his draft status by winning the Cape Cod League's MVP award in 2004, hitting .308 with 11 homers, 38 RBI, 13 steals an a .900+ OPS. Scouts don't feel that his ceiling is very high, but he has already shown that he can handle a wooden bat well.

Todd Morgan is a Senior Writer for OaklandClubhouse.com. He can be reached at toddybaseball@comcast.net

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