Draft Mailbag #6: Sleepers & The Boras Factor

As the draft draws nearer, draft expert Todd Morgan returns to answer readers' questions about some sleepers, talk about who the Reds and Pirates might target and provide some news and notes from around the draft board.

Todd: We know the high picks (rounds 1-2) by reading various lists. Who are the sleeper picks with good upside in rounds 3-10? Thank you.

It's easy to get caught up in the top two rounds – after all, they're the most exciting players. It's also much easier to find info about David Price than it is to find it on a potential 9th rounder, but as we've seen with Mike Piazza and Albert Pujols, plenty of superstars come out of those later rounds.

With that in mind, I'd like to draw your attention to Exhibit A: Highland High (Medina, OH) outfielder Ben Klafczynski. He doesn't rank in the top 200 draft prospect this year, but if somebody takes a gamble on him, he'll be a steal. At 6'3, 195 lbs. he is a legitimate 5-tool threat. Through 19 games this year, he hit .650/.720/1.417 with 10 homers (leading all Ohio preps). He has excellent usable power with a little projection, slightly above-average speed (11 steals) and has used an 88-94 MPH fastball to earn three saves from the mound. A rare lefty thrower/righty hitter, Klafczynski is probably a 7th to 10th rounder right now, but I feel he's better than that.

Another guy I dig is South Carolina reliever Wynn Pelzer. He's got great stuff but he doesn't always show it. One day he'll throw in the mid-90s with great arm action and a late quiver, then the next he'll be 88-91 with no life. I haven't seen him enough to pick his mechanics apart with confidence, but I get the feeling that he's not far from ironing out his consistency problems. He might go as early as the 4th round and I expect him to wind up as a closer or solid 7th or 8th inning guy in the bigs.

Hey Todd,
As you know, every year players are drafted lower than their projected value due to "signability" issues. Which players do you think will drop, for instance players represented by Scott Boras, or high school players likely to honor their college commitments?

It would be crazy because he is so talented, but Rick Porcello could be a candidate to drop because he is apparently asking for the moon this year ($6+ millon bonus and a major league contract). Boras doesn't want him landing with a team like Pittsburgh or Kansas City where his marketing opportunities will be severely limited, so he's set Porcello's price tag high enough to scare those teams away.

The Boras plan is for his most talented clients to slide down the draft board to where a big market/deep-pocketed team like the Red Sox or Yankees can snag them. Don't be surprised if this happens with Matt Wieters, Rick Porcello and, to a lesser extent, Matt Harvey.

Aside from Boras, there is still a lot of speculation that Massachusetts prep lefty Jack McGeary will be a tough sign thanks to his Stanford commitment, but I'm still hearing that the Dodgers are all over him.

Who are some prospects that the Pirates may target at the #4 spot? Are there any quality power hitters that they could get and put on a fast track to the majors?

I think this is the year the Pirates take a hitter. They'll likely have a choice between the best prep pitcher in the draft (Porcello) and the best college hitter in the draft (Wieters). Will they risk dealing with Boras and his so-silly-they're-stupid bonus demands? I doubt it, but I admit I want the Pirates to take someone whose limbs don't fall off a few months after the draft.

The optimist in me says Wieters or maybe Ross Detwiler. The realist in me says an overdraft like Beau Mills.

The Reds seem to be turning the corner as far as their Farm system. Dan O'Brien did a nice job of adding pitching depth. Wayne Krivsky leaned toward college players in '06. What's you guess for '07? Catching is a weakness in their system.

In January I had the Reds taking Chatsworth High 3B Matt Dominguez. Then I went with Jason Heyward in my April projection. I still think they're going to go with a prep hitter, but they're in no man's land for catchers at #15. Wieters won't get to them (if he does and they pass, they're fools) and it's too early for Mitch Canham, Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal. I can see them reaching for Mesoraco, but right now Houston prep 3B Kevin Ahrens is being mentioned as Cincinnati's guy most often. Both Heyward and Dominguez are still possibilities as well.

Hits and Misses

It's nice to toot one's own horn every once in awhile, but I can't do it without pointing out a few of my miscalculations. So here are a couple of players on each side of my prediction ledger:

Hit: Andrew Brackman. Brackman's draft stock isn't exactly plummeting, but it's a long way from where it was back in January. He was scratched from his start last weekend with the Wolfpack citing "fatigue" as the reason. There is conjecture among scouts that something is wrong since he didn't throw a pitch faster than 87 MPH the previous weekend against Virginia.

On the season he is 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA and 74/37 K/BB in 78 IP. When the season started I wrote about his inexperience as a college starter and warned that he could wear down toward the end of the spring. It doesn't mean he's a bad prospect – in terms of upside he's one of the top college arms in the draft – but it does mean he doesn't belong in the top three picks, and probably not even in the top 10. Add Scott Boras to the mix and he could wait awhile to hear his named called on June 7th. If it turns out he's injured, he'll fall out of the first round. If he's not hurt he'll wind up in the 20-25 range.

Miss: Cole St. Clair. I thought St. Clair was poised to be The Man for Rice this year. Joe Savery was ailing, St. Clair was rumored to be moving into the rotation and his size (6'5, 225) and stuff (90-96 MPH, 10-4 curve with a sharp break) made him a huge helium candidate in my eyes. Then he was shut down with shoulder discomfort and is just now starting to regain his form. I think he'll be a steal somewhere in the first few rounds, but he's certainly not going to go 2nd overall like I predicted in my preseason projection.

Hit: Ross Detwiler. When I first started analyzing numbers and scouting reports on the 2007 draft class I was surprised to find Detwiler ranked so low by most draft publications. He offers a little bit of everything – size, stuff, projectability and makeup – so what's not to like? Then he went out and had a stellar season (2.09 ERA, 108 K and .192 BAA in 86 IP), cementing him as a Top 5 pick … which is just about where I had him in January.

Miss: Charlie Furbush. As you can see by my hit/miss highlights, I'm still somewhat obsessed with all the college lefties available this year, and I still think Furbush could turn into an above-average pro. He struggled for LSU this year, but it was his first year in Division I after making the jump from Division III. He may need to stick for another year and see where he gets drafted as a senior, because he isn't going in the first round like I predicted. Maybe somewhere between 5 and 10. Reminds me a bit of current Twins prospect Ryan Mullins, who is pitching well in the in High Class-A, but I think Furbush's stuff projects better.

And finally a few miscellaneous draft notes:

* Over the last month the rumors linking Lewis-Clark 3B Beau Mills to the Giants at #10 were everywhere. One AL scout I talked to this week said "when a rumor is generated by the team the rumor is about, I ignore it." Were the Giants putting up a smokescreen to get other teams off of Mills? With three picks in the first round they have more motivation to manipulate the way the first round plays out, so it wouldn't surprise me. Still, Mills makes sense for them. Tenth overall seems a bit high, but with the season he's having I don't think he makes it to their second pick (22nd overall).

* Another rumor making the rounds right now is that Tampa Bay has shifted its focus from Vanderbilt LHP David Price to Georgia Tech C Matt Wieters. Two scouts I talked with said they feel it's a tactic to reduce Price's leverage and that in the end he'll still go #1 overall. Wieters, on the other hand, is the closest thing we've seen to Mark Teixeira since, well, Mark Teixeira went 5th overall to the Rangers in 2001. Another Boras client, Wieters could wind up dropping in the draft, but it's unlikely he'll make it past the Giants at #10.

* Rice lefties Cole St. Clair and Joe Savery have both had difficult seasons due to injury and have seen their draft stock drop as a result. With the recent plethora of injuries to former Rice pitchers teams have to be wary of either guy, but they'd both be first rounders based on talent alone. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both drop to a big revenue team that can go over slot to get them signed. If they go to a team that wants to spend slot money, Rice could get both of them back next year.

* Max Scherzer pitched well in his first Independent League start, but he still doesn't figure to improve his draft slot over last year (11th overall). Every scout I've asked has him in the middle of the round at best, with one saying he wouldn't take Scherzer until the supplemental round. Scott Boras may not be doing his client any favors if he's advising him to pass up Arizona's offer, and I expect an agreement to be reached sometime in the next 10 days.

Questions for Todd? Send him an email.

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