2006 Draft Leans Towards College Talent

The 2006 draft is shaping up with few standout players in the first round. Although the stars might be limited, the overall depth is considered average, or slightly above average. The A's won't pick until the 22nd pick of the second round. Although the A's won't have a first round pick, there may be some decent college talent still available in the second round. Bobby Vangelatos spoke with a number of area scouts to get a feel for this year's crop of talent.

The majority of scouting directors had the same thing to say about this years draft class. The final verdict is not promising. Countless scouting directions knew the 2006 class was shaping up as a weak class once the 2005 draft ended, however, those scouting directions were hoping players would step up their game in 2006.

"There are no dominant players that will go in the top five or ten picks," one National League Scouting Director said. "I can pick out seven names from the 2005 draft that I would select before any players from the 2006 class."

"I'd definitely agree that this draft is of the weaker variety," Royals scouting director, Deric Ladnier told Scout.com. "It is below average compared to what we've had over the past couple years. Looking at last year's draft crop, the big difference is the position players. Last year, there was an abundance of prep position players and college position players. This draft doesn't have that."

Although Ladnier agreed with most scouting directors that the 2006 draft is weaker than previous ones, it does not mean it's a bad draft.

"That's not to say it doesn't have its strengths. It has quality arms and a lot of them. Both at the high school and college level, there are some quality pitchers that could go in the first couple rounds."

"Every draft is going to have its strength and this one is no different, " Orioles Scouting Director, Joe Jordan told Scout.com. "When you look at a draft, it is tough to call a class weak until the draft actually happens. Yes, this class has its holes. We're all looking for position players. You know, everyone is trying to narrow down who the top position players are and everyone seems to be having a hard time doing that. So, we're going to keep looking. But, right now, that's what makes this class weak. It has one big weakness and that is the position players. They might go pretty fast because there's so few top guys out there."

Early rumblings in the draft process suggest that the some might even want to spend below the amount of their slotted pick. One source familiar with the thinking of the Toronto Blue Jays suggested the club might not want to spend the slot value for the No. 14 pick since the talent level is a reduction from past years.

"Signability is a huge part of every draft, but it might be extra big this year because this isn't an overly deep draft," Jordan later said.

"Think of it as the No. 14 pick this year going late in the first round in other years," said one source. "The Jays', and even a lot of other teams, might not feel comfortable spending the amount of dollars you have to pay in the first round this year."

Up to 22 college players could be selected in the first round this season, and the majority of those players are right-handed pitchers.

One scouting director told Scout.com that he believes at least the first four picks on June 6, and up to the first seven picks could be college pitchers.

"If teams want to draft by need, and are looking for position players in the first round, they will be disappointed."

College closers could move up the draft board this year because they are viewed as to be safer picks, and will arrive quicker to the major leagues.

Justin Masterson, Blair Erickson, Chris Perez, Mark Melancon, Steve Richard and Brant Rustich are just several pitchers that teams will be taking a closer look at and view them as closers.

Another interesting twist in the 2006 draft is the rising value of junior college players.

"Since the 2006 draft is a poor one, do not be surprised to see junior college players rise up to the first three to five rounds," an area scout from the south told Scout.com.

At this time in previous year's teams would have a firm idea of the player they want to select, or at the very least have a list of their top three. However, this year is different with the weak crop. Teams will likely go down to the wire when deciding who to pick, and pre-draft talks with players and advisors will be more critical than ever as clubs are trying decipher how much each player will want to sign for.

Bobby Vangelatos is the publisher of InsidetheDome.com, which is part of the Scout.com network.

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