Draft Mailbag #7: Money Shaping Top-5 Picks

With the 2007 MLB Draft fast approaching, Todd Morgan returns to answer another round of draft-related questions. He brings us the latest rumors related to who the Pirates, Giants, A's and Nationals might pick first, as well as analysis on where Matt Wieters, Andrew Brackman and more may go on Thursday.

[A correction from last week's mailbag: I referred to Ohio prep OF Ben Klafczynski as a "rare lefty thrower/righty hitter." He is in fact a lefty hitter/righty thrower. I took the info from an online profile and confirmed with a second, which just goes to show you that fact-checking is not the Internet's strength. Nor mine, in this case.]

Last year Joba Chamberlain was a high first round talent but dropped to the Yankees due to injuries. Is there anyone who could experience a similar slide this year?

There isn't an obvious parallel to ‘Joba the Hutt' out there this year, but I can see Andrew Brackman following a similar path. The "fatigue" and "dead arm" statements from NC State are almost certainly code for "he's hurting but we're not sure how serious it is." He has tons of upside, and if his arm is right , he can repeat his delivery and he gets himself to a point where he can shoulder a pro starter's workload, he'll be the biggest steal of the draft. Yankees at #30 is a distinct possibility.

Another guy who might fit this is Cole St. Clair, though he'd need to be taken by a team that sees him as a starting pitcher.

Thanks for all the draft work you do Todd. I've been reading every since you nailed the Cliff Pennington pick. Do you see any players who are being underrated as the draft approaches?

You're very welcome Alex; thanks for the kind words. There are two players that a bunch of teams are going to pass on who I think will cause a lot of retroactive grief once they hit the pro ranks. The first is North Carolina prep shortstop Justin Jackson. Both Baseball America and Keith Law question his bat, but from what I've seen all he needs is time and instruction to make full use of five above-average tools. The knocks are many – his bat speed is lackluster, his speed is average, he's a hotdog on defense. I call BS; he's going to be good.

Utah prep lefty Tanner Robles is another guy who slid down draft lists this spring, but the criticism does not, in my opinion, explain how he's fallen so far. He went 6-0, 1.10 ERA with 17 HA and a 75/20 K/BB in 38 IP (nine starts), but scouts feel his mechanics have regressed this year and he's throwing 92-93 MPH rather than 94-95. He's going to be taken somewhere between rounds two and five, get a middling bonus offer and choose to honor his commitment to Oregon State. When he gets drafted as a college junior in 2010 there will be a team out there with plenty of regret for not having acquiesced to his 2007 bonus demands.

Are you still sticking with your Jack McGeary to the Dodgers in Round One?

I haven't decided yet. Keith Law is one of my favorite draft analysts because his word isn't beholden to scouts that are attached to MLB teams. Thus, his recent report on McGeary carries a lot of weight with me. Still, my source is adamant that the Dodgers and McGeary are a match. Will I have him at #20 in my final projection later this week? As I said, I don't know because McGeary's subpar final start may have the Dodgers thinking they can get him at #39 in the sandwich round. One thing is for certain – the team that takes him is going to have to make a great offer to buy him out of his Stanford commitment.

Where do you see Danny Payne of Georgia Tech going in the draft? What about Matt Wieters?

I've covered Matt Wieters extensively, but it bears repeating that his representation (Boras, Inc.) could cause him to slide quite a ways come Thursday. I don't see him falling all the way to St. Louis or Texas as some other mock drafts have suggested. If I'm a scouting director picking in the 8-12 range and I see Wieters available when it's time to make my pick, I make two phone calls. The first is to Wieters to welcome him to the organization. The second is to my GM to ask that the draft budget get a bump because we just got a steal.

Payne has drawn comparisons to Rusty Greer for his stature, his all-out actions on the field and his leadership. His skill set is limited though, and I don't see him as more than a fourth outfielder in the big leagues. My comparison would be former Stanford outfielder and current A's farmhand Danny Putnam, who was a supplemental pick and looks like a fourth outfielder at best. So Payne? Sandwich or second round.

Give us 10 sleepers in the top five rounds. Go!

How about five college guys and five preps?

LHP Nick Hagadone, Washington
OF Austin Krum, Dallas Baptist
LHP Charlie Furbush, LSU
C Ed Easley, Mississippi State
RHP Jess Todd, Arkansas

High School:
RHP Scott Moviel, St. Edward High, Lakewood, OH
3B/SS Travis Mattair, Southridge High, WA
RHP Jonathan Bachanov, University High, Orlando, FL
CF/SS Gary Brown, Diamond Bar High, Walnut, CA
RHP Nevin Griffith, Middleton High, Tampa, FL

More Draft Notes:

• Most years the top five picks are solidified a day or two before the draft. This year could be different because both the Royals and Pirates are still trying to decide how much they're willing to spend at #2 and #4 respectively. If the Royals pick the guy they want most it'll be Rick Porcello. If they can't reach at least a general pre-draft agreement with him it's looking like they'll turn to Ross Detwiler.

The Pirates are even more up in the air because they've done an excellent job of not tipping their hand this year. Matt Wieters will almost certainly be on the board when Pittsburgh's pick comes up, but will they be willing to fork over a $10 million, major league contract? I think they will. After all, Wieters is essentially Mark Teixeira, with the added bonus that he plays a premium defensive position. Imagine what Joe Mauer would fetch in a trade right now and you'll get an idea of what the Pirates and any other team that passes on Wieters is giving up. Sure, all amateurs carry risk, but the Pirates once gave Derek Bell a 2-year, $9 million free agent contract. Another million dollars for the safest bet in the draft doesn't seem like much. Still, if the Pirates decide to go cheap I expect them to take Georgia prep outfielder Jason Heyward, whose power/patience combination is unmatched among high school position players. According to the rumor mill, high school C Devin Mesoraco is another player the Pirates might reach for here.

Jarrod Parker has surpassed all prep righties save Porcello on most teams' draft lists. He's smaller (6'2, 175) but has shown the most consistently nasty stuff this spring. The Giants were hoping to grab him at #10, but I don't think he'll be there. Right now I'd say his likely destination is Washington, D.C.

• As for the Giants, they have shifted their focus to prep lefty Madison Bumgarner after he wrecked Ashley High in his final high school start with a complete game, 12 K performance. His breaking stuff isn't very far along, but a 6'5 lefthander who can run his fastball up to 95 MPH will be hard to pass up.

Nick Schmidt's stellar performance in his Sunday start against Creighton (7 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) has catapulted him back into the top half of the first round after a spring of criticism for being unspectacular. He isn't spectacular, but he's consistent and his command has improved this season. He has one of the best changeups in the draft and projects as a solid #3 starter in the big leagues. A little luck and he could become a #2.

• The most recent rumor that came across my desk regarding the A's is that they are considering prep righty Tim Alderson (no relation to Sandy) with their first round pick. I have not gotten confirmation from anyone in the A's organization, but this makes sense when one considers that the top two tiers of college arms really separate between picks 15 and 35. USF lefthander Aaron Poreda's name has been linked to the A's as well as the Giants in the last few days, but the Giants seem to be more interested in him with their final pick in the first round (29th).

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