2007 MLB Draft Mailbag #4

Todd Morgan returns to answer more of your questions about the 2007 MLB Draft. He addresses which players have improved or devalued their stock status thus far, as well as questions regarding top outfield prospects, Hunter Ovens and more...

Before anything, I want to thank everyone for their questions over the last month. I apologize for not putting together a new draft mailbag earlier, and also for not getting to every question. Grad school and student teaching are keeping me plenty busy, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I go into Linda Blair mode (the neck thing, pea soup, the works) when I try to do more than two things at once. But by all means keep sending them in and I'll do my best to answer as many as I can. On to the questions...

Hey Todd,
Whose draft stock has risen or fallen the most now that we're almost two months into the season?
-Betsy

The two obvious answers to this question as it relates to my rankings are Cole St. Clair and Andrew Brackman. So far Brackman has been impressive for the Wolfpack, going 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA and 33/10 K/BB in 31 1/3 IP. He did give up 5 ER in his loss to Maryland, but he also struck out nine against one walk while enduring only one bad frame. He's a top three pick right now, but my earlier warnings still hold: Watch for command and durability issues as he gets deeper into the season.

St. Clair hasn't thrown a pitch for Rice due to shoulder soreness, and right now there still isn't a definitive timetable for his return. He's going to need to get back and have a strong and healthy April and May to get back into the first round.

Aside from those two guys, I'm still big on Ross Detwiler, and even though his season just got started (Missouri State didn't play its first game until February 22nd), his 1.27 ERA, 27/7 K/BB and .129 BAA in 21 1/3 IP over three starts have got to have scouts flocking to Springfield. For me he's still a top-10 guy.

Where do you project Hunter Ovens in the draft. He signed a letter of intent for football at Virginia Tech. Any chance he goes in first 3 rounds?
-Chris

Ovens has been highly regarded since he was a standout in high school ball as an eighth grader. Yes, you read that right. Since then he's put together one strong summer showcase performance after another, and right now he looks like a lock to go in the first three rounds based on talent alone. Perfect Game ranked him the 28th best prep prospect last April, but he's dropped to the 150-175 range this year.

The reason he isn't getting more attention has everything to do with his football aspirations. It looks like he'll probably wind up playing linebacker at VaTech, which makes him a big risk as a high round pick in the June draft. Figure he gets taken around round 10, with the caveat that things could change as MLB teams get an idea of what it will take to get him signed.

Do you have any kind of report on Ryan Caudle from Midwest, Iowa? His power hitting and speed in the OF? I know the Cincinnati Reds have seen his power at the plate and his outfield. Will he be any draft pick? Nobody hits like that kid.
-S44

Caudle does have a bit of power, and as a switch-hitter he might get a look on the draft's second day. He's not the kind of player who pushes scouts buttons due to his relative lack of size (6'0'', 180 lbs) and any single overwhelming tool, but I wouldn't be surprised if a team with a big regional presence is on him. The Reds would fit that profile.

Warren McFadden, Sequoyah Stonecipher, Chris Epps, Tyrell Worthington. Which of the listed OFs do the Dodgers take in the first sandwich round? If none are good enough to be taken in that round please select a name of your own choosing. -Washie

First, I love Stonecipher. He's exciting in a Rickey Henderson/Lenny Dykstra sort of way, with speed and flash that makes a baseball game a bit more fun to watch. He's a SoCal guy, so you have to know the Dodgers are very aware of his abilities. Still, both McFadden and Epps ranked above him heading into 2007. In regards to who the Dodgers would prefer among the players you listed, I'd go with Epps. He's got more projection than McFadden, who is hitting just 282/.360/.465 in 19 games for Tulane this year. Ultimately, I think all these guys will still be on the board when the sandwich round concludes.

If the Dodgers are targeting an outfielder early, I'd say they're more likely to target Alabama prep outfielders Kentrail Davis, an energetic leadoff-type, and Hunter Morris, who has tremendous power from the left side. Freddie Freeman, a 1B/OF from Orange, California is another possibility due to his pretty lefty swing and projectable power, though he may not have the athleticism to stick at a corner outfield spot.

As for Bumgarner, I can see him jumping into the top 10 if scouts become convinced that his slider projects as anything more than an average pitch. Right now it's more slurve than true slider, which means he needs to locate it incredibly well for it to be an out pitch. Right now my money is on McGeary at #20, though he's another potential helium guy who could wind up in the top half of the first round.

If the Diamondbacks fail to sign Max Scherzer, where will he rank among the top pitchers in this years draft? Any chance he pulls a Luke Hochevar and goes #1?
Thanks, Steve

The difference between Hochevar and Scherzer is that the former did not battle injuries prior to the draft, whereas the latter did. Everyone I've spoken with on the matter, along with several well-known writers, can't figure out why this deal is taking so long to get done. I think Scherzer will be a first round pick if he winds up back in the draft, but I don't think he'd improve upon his 2006 slot (11th overall). There's even a chance that he'd drop after a year of inactivity and a contentious negotiation with the Diamondbacks, but if he's throwing 97 mph in workouts the lack of high-ceilinged righthanders in this year's draft will keep his stock high.

Questions for Todd? Please email this address.

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