This draft is changing so fast in the final 24 hours before the Devil Rays kick things off that it's making my head spin. I have literally made nine pick changes in the last hour after nine separate phone calls or emails that revealed new wrinkles. They will likely continue all night and most of the morning, but I'm comfortable with the board as it stands right now. Don't forget to join Melissa Lockard and I on OaklandClubhouse.com as we blog live during tomorrow's draft!
As a reference point, here are the links to my pre-season and mid-season projections. As you'll see, a lot has changed. And on to the picks!
1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays - David Price, LHP, B:L T:L, 6'5, 215, Vanderbilt
David Price is the best player in the 2007 draft and should be in Tampa Bay's rotation by the end of 2008. A true no-brainer for an organization desperate to develop starting pitchers.
2. Kansas City Royals - Rick Porcello, RHP, R-R, 6'5, 190, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, NJ
The Royals are a difficult team to gauge this year because they have so many pitchers to choose from and have given no idea what kind of budget they'll be working with. Porcello is the best right-hander in the draft, was ranked off the charts by MLB's scouting service and wants a huge signing bonus. The Royals did not shy away from Luke Hochevar last year despite a few similar obstacles to an easy sign, so I think they'll stick with Porcello. If they don't, Ross Detwiler could be their pick.
3. Chicago Cubs - Jarrod Parker, RHP, R-R, 6'2, 175, Norwell High School, IN
After two solid months spent salivating over Josh Vitters, the Cubs have reportedly soured on him and turned their attention to Parker instead. Why? I'm serious. Why? Did they just get bored with Vitters? He certainly did nothing to diminish his standing, so my guess is that scouts looked at Mike Moustakas's emerging celebrity and started looking for flaws in Vitters. Parker is still a great pick and may wind up being a better pitcher than Porcello in the pros.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates - Josh Vitters, 3B, R-R, 6'3, 190, Cypress HS, California
The Pirates salivated over Vitters all summer, as well, and will be delighted when the Cubs pass on him. It will save Dave Littlefield's backside too, because this way he can take a big name hitter while avoiding the premium bonus Matt Wieters will ask for and receive.
5. Baltimore Orioles - Ross Detwiler, LHP, R-L, 6'4, 180, Missouri State
Probably my favorite player in the draft. The Orioles are looking for an arm but don't want to deal with Scott Boras or pay a huge signing bonus. Detwiler is left-handed, advanced, has some projection left and already throws a nasty assortment of pitches. If he can add 10 pounds to his frame, he's a number one starter in the making.
6. Washington Nationals - Matt Wieters, C, S-R, 6'4, 205, Georgia Tech
Rumors have Wieters going anywhere from #1 to #30, which is preposterous considering that he's the best hitter with the lowest amount of risk in the draft. That's the kind of player you want if you're going to shell out a big signing bonus. I really don't get the fear of Scott Boras in this case; every team from 2-10 has given out an incredibly stupid free agent contract in the last 10 years, most of which were more expensive than what Wieters figures to get. He'll slide past the pitching-starved Royals and maybe even the penny-pinching Pirates, but the Nats want to make a splash and will ultimately reap the rewards.
7. Milwaukee Brewers - Mike Moustakas, 3B/C, L-L, 6'2, 170, Chatsworth HS, CA
I am not as sold on Moustakas as most draft analysts, but the discussion on him reminds me a lot of what was said about Evan Longoria at this time last year, so I'm going to take it on faith that Moustakas will hit, hit and hit some more as a pro. Where he will play is a different matter entirely. If he catches – which he certainly has the arm to do – he will be an extremely valuable prospect. If he plays at the hot corner, he won't have as much value, but the bat will make up for that. The Brewers are giving Wieters a lot of thought in case he falls to them, but with Washington deciding on him, Moustakas becomes the property of the Brewers at a slightly cheaper price than Wieters' would have demanded.
8. Colorado Rockies - Jason Heyward, OF, L-L, 6'4, 220, Henry County HS, McDonough, GA
The Rockies really want an impact bat and my belief is that they like Jason Heyward too much to pass on him, especially after he stepped up an already impressive skill-set in his final few games of the season. He has plus-plus power and should be an excellent RF for years to come.
9. Arizona Diamondbacks - Daniel Moskos, LHP, R-L, 6'2, 200, Clemson
Another team rumored to be looking at college pitchers, Arizona will take Moskos and in the process stay away from Scott Boras clients after giving Max Scherzer a huge bonus last week. Nick Schmidt is a possibility here but he doesn't have Moskos' stuff.
10. San Francisco Giants - Madison Bumgarner, LHP, R-L, 6'5, 220, South Caldwell HS, NC
The best prep lefty in the draft, he finished his season with a very strong complete game, 12 K performance. The Giants are looking to have a well-rounded first round, and Bumgarner offers a lot – a young lefty starter with great size and lots of upside.
11. Seattle Mariners - Nick Schmidt, LHP, L-L, 6'5, 220, Arkansas
Schmidt's last two starts showed he is still a bulldog on the hill against high-level competition. His stuff isn't on the level of David Price or Ross Detwiler, but he's a number three starter waiting to happen, and might work his way up to being a number two once he starts working as a pro. The Mariners have been rumored to be concentrating on college arms since April, and I haven't seen or heard anything that would make me think that has changed.
12. Florida Marlins - Phillippe Aumont, RHP, R-R, 6'5, 210, Ecole Du Versant HS
There's a chance that Aumont could slide if what I'm hearing about his delivery (arm slot is too low and mitigates his height advantage) is true, but I don't think it is. A skilled developmental staff can help him refine his mechanics, and he made it through his entire senior season before some evaluator "discovered" this flaw. It's a ruse. He's been rumored as a top-10 pick for the last two months because he's really that good, and with a sinker that has drawn comparisons to Kevin Brown he could be a great fit with any team.
13. Cleveland Indians - Beau Mills, 3B, L-R, 6'3, 200, Lewis-Clark State
I have yet to meet a scout who thinks Mills is anything better than horrible at third base, but his power bat profiles as one of the best in the draft. If it translates to 30+ homeruns per season in the bigs nobody will care if he has to move to first base. Lots of rumors about Casey Weathers here, but I can't see the Indians taking a reliever this early. The wealth of pitching and dearth of position players will ultimately cause them to worry about pitching in later rounds.
14. Atlanta Braves - Josh Smoker, lhp, L-L, 6'2, 190, Calhoun (Ga.) HS
Imagine the Braves taking a prep lefty from Georgia. Smoker has a great baseball name and profiles as a number two starter in the big leagues thanks to a solid fastball (88-93 MPH) and a fall-off-the-table curve.
15. Cincinnati Reds - Matt Dominguez, 3B, R-R, 6'2, 180, Chatsworth HS, California
The Reds are looking prep with upside, and if Scott Boras didn't represent so many of the prep arms this year they'd probably go that route. Slightly overshadowed by the phenomenal year of teammate Mike Moustaksas, Dominguez is still a great talent and offers a package similar to Ryan Zimmerman's, including stellar D at the hot corner.
16. Toronto Blue Jays - Devin Mesoraco, C, R-R, 6'1, 195, Punxsutawney HS, PA
Mesoraco could go as high as #4 as a signability pick, but I think he'll wind up somewhere in the middle of the first round. The consensus among draft analysts is that the Blue Jays are looking for catchers and middle infielders early. I've heard rumors about Nick Noonan, Pete Kozma and Ryan Dent, but in my opinion those guys would be reaches even at #21. I also think the Jays are sensitive to criticism from fans who might see a light-hitting middle infield selection as another Russ Adams-like mistake. If Mesoraco, an athletic catcher with five average to above-average tools, gets to them, Toronto will be elated.
17. Texas Rangers - Blake Beavan – RHP, R-R, 6'7, 210, Irving HS, TX
The Rangers are going to consider several arms with lots of upside here, including Michael Main and Matt Harvey, but ultimately they'll go with the Texas boy who was unhittable all spring. His size brings Jeff Juden to mind, and some scouts see him as a dominant big league reliever, but the Rangers think he can become a fixture in their rotation.
18. St. Louis Cardinals - Tim Alderson, RHP, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, AZ
Despite all the makings of a potential number one starter, Alderson is seen by most scouts as a sandwich round pick because they feel he'll need to move to the bullpen as a pro. With few college options remaining on the board who are worthy of the 18th pick, the Cardinals will take advantage of this draft class's deep premium prep righty talent pool.
19. Philadelphia Phillies - Michael Burgess, OF, L-L, 5'11, 195, Hillsborough HS, Tampa, FL
Burgess has incredible power and a nice bundle of tools but the knock on him is that he swings and misses too much. The Phillies love their toolsy outfielders (read: Greg Golson) when it comes to amateur hitters, so Burgess could represent their latest gamble on a tool player with glaring flaws. I like him though, and think with a little work he could be a middle-of-the-order hitter who gives him team a lot of value despite strikeout totals exceeding 150 per season. Works for Ryan Howard, right?
20. Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Harvey, RHP, R-R, 6'4, 195, Fitch HS, Groton, CT
Matt Harvey entered the spring as the best prep arm in the draft, a little bit ahead of Rick Porcello. He fell behind not so much because he didn't perform well but because Porcello went supernova. So while Harvey's future might not look as bright right now, he's still very, very good and would be a Top-15 pick if not for being connected to Scott Boras. The Dodgers would love to get this kind of arm here and won't worry about paying a premium for Harvey this year. Rumors about Jack McGeary are still finding their way to me, but McGeary's performance this year (more than 20 walks in 40 innings) will ensure he's available later.
21. Toronto Blue Jays - Michael Main, RHP, R-R, 6'2, 185, DeLand HS, FL
After taking a prep catcher with their first pick, I expect the Blue Jays to surprise everyone here. They are rumored to have ignored prep pitchers completely this year, but my gut tells me that they know all too well that the middle infielders they're targeting will be available in later rounds. A pitcher with Main's upside will not be available later and Toronto's pitching cupboard is virtually bare. This is a perfect opportunity for them to throw a change up of their own, then look for Kozma, Noonan or even Justin Jackson to fall to them in the supplemental round. I realize I'm bucking all convention here, and I'm not sure if I'm doing it because I think the Jays will do it, if I want the Jays to do it, or if I just want to be different. Probably a blend of all three.
22. San Francisco Giants - Casey Weathers, RHP, R-R, 6'0, 195, Vanderbilt
The Giants were hot on Weathers for awhile then cooled off. Now I'm hearing he's a target with either of their late first rounders. They probably won't wait until #29 because several teams in the mid-20s like Weathers a lot, and he could be in San Francisco later this summer. If they take the conservative development route with him(the non-Ryan Wagner, Joey Devine and Craig Hansen route), he'd be in the big leagues sometime in 2008.
23. San Diego Padres – James Simmons, RHP, R-R, 6'4, 215, UC Riverside
It would be nice to see the Padres shift away from their college-heavy emphasis this year, but with Grady Fuson running things it's likely that they'll go with another low-risk college arm at this spot. SoCal righty Simmons offers a good track record with a tiny bit of projection.
24. Texas Rangers - Julio Borbon, OF, L-L, 6'1, 190, Tennessee
Borbon's broken leg cost him about 14 slots in the draft this year, but agent Scott Boras will still steer him to a good team or to one that is simply willing to go slightly over slot to get him signed. Rangers' owner Tom Hicks doesn't have any problem underwriting Boras' interests, and the Rangers need a solid CF prospect. We have a match.
25. Chicago White Sox – Corey Brown, OF, L-L, 6'2, 210, Oklahoma State
The White Sox need infielders and pitching, but should be able to get both in later rounds. Brown is one of the best all-around athletes in the draft and looks like a middle-of-the-order corner outfielder that would fit well on any team.
26. Oakland Athletics – Aaron Poreda, LHP, L-L, 6'6, 240, USF
This is a last minute change, as I had prep righty Tim Alderson going to the A's until I got wind of St. Louis' interest in him. Poreda may wind up with the Giants at #22 or #29, but I think the A's will pop him in-between San Francisco's picks. Poreda has lots to like, including the makeup and work ethic to overcome some of his current skill deficiencies such as a slurvy slider and undeveloped change-up.
27. Detroit Tigers - Matt LaPorta, 1B, R-R, 6'2, 215, Florida
The Tigers have a history of dealing with Boras clients and LaPorta, a college senior, has less leverage than any of his fellow Boras clients. He also gives the Tigers a replacement for Sean Casey/Chris Shelton and he should move through the minors rather quickly.
28. Minnesota Twins - Nevin Griffith, RHP, R-R, 6'4, 180, Middleton HS, Tampa, FL
The more I see Griffith the more I like him. Early season film showed a pitcher who relied too much on his arm for velocity, but as the season wore on he began incorporating his lower half more. The result was a spike in velocity up to 94-95 MPH. His rise into the first round will be complete when the prep arm hawks in Minnesota's scouting department make their case for him.
29. San Francisco Giants - Kevin Ahrens, 3B, S-R, 6'2, Memorial HS, Houston, TX
The rumors of Ahrens to the Reds at #15 went on too long. While the Reds do like him, they aren't willing to spend that high of a pick on him and probably never were. They may have fooled a lot of people along the way though. Ahrens profiles as a Chipper Jones-type: switch hitter with good power who plays shortstop now but will need to move to third base as a pro. He'd be an excellent fit for the Giants because he offers an advanced approach at the plate with good versatility and upside.
30. New York Yankees - Andrew Brackman, RHP, 6'10, 250, North Carolina State
Brackman will be lucky if he doesn't fall out of the first round all together after throwing only four innings for NC State during the month of May. Still, he may have more upside than any other player in the draft, and the Yankees are going to be looking for players who fall due to signability issues. For the Yankees, everyone is signable. Brackman would be their 2007 version of Joba Chamberlain.
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