Draft Preview: Outfielder Could Be "Center"-Piece

Since the Phillies don't pick until the third round of the draft, they may not have the luxury of being picky. They may truly take the approach of simply going after the best available players, but it's more likely that they will do their best to fill some holes in the organization. One of those holes might be in center field.

If the Phillies had a first-round pick, getting a center fielder would be easy. There are some pretty good looking outfielders in the first thirty picks. Even in the second round, some pretty nice players will still be available. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they'll just be hanging out watching what Cleveland and San Francisco do with the picks that the Phillies lost to them for signing Jim Thome and David Bell.

When round three comes around and the eighty-fifth spot in the draft is ready to be picked, the Phillies will have hopefully woken up in time to find that the other teams left a few good players. If the Phillies decide to go for a center fielder in the third round, there probably will be some nice players just waiting for a good home.

If the baseball gods smile on Philadelphia, Edgardo Baez (Alegria HS in Puerto Rico) will still be sitting there. He's projected to go in the third round, but it may be a little earlier than the Phillies get to pick. Some scouts think Baez may sneak his way into the second round. Baez is a speed merchant, with a cannon for an arm. He's played center field almost all his life and seems like a natural for the position. Baez speed and his raw talent would look good in Phillies red and would ease the pain of not picking in the first or second round.

If Baez isn't there, the Phillies may look to grab a catcher or pitcher instead, since the rest of the likely remaining talent pool for center field isn't as talented and can probably be had in later rounds. Andre Ethier, who started last fall at Arizona State before transferring to a junior college, became a JUCO All-American. Ethier is a gap hitter – 32 doubles – who is a left-handed hitter, which never hurts. Problem is the Ethier is a corner outfield type who might not transition well to the middle of the outfield. There is some true power potential and if the Phillies can drift a little left or right of center, Ethier would be a nice pick for round four.

The other option for the fourth round would be to stretch for Josh Anderson. It's possible that Anderson would be there in the fifth round, but that isn't an easy gamble. The left-hand hitting, 6-2, 190 pounder stole 30 bases in 2002 and 24 stolen bases this season to date for Eastern Kentucky University. The national radar screen hasn't exactly buzzed over Anderson, but some scouts have him as one of the underrated players who may be a good pick in the late fourth or fifth rounds. Anderson has the speed that could definitely help the Phillies and though he doesn't have huge power potential, he also is a gap hitter, who could develop more power as time goes on. Defensively, he's not spectacular, but he doesn't hurt his team and makes the basic plays.

Javon Moran (Auburn University) can play all three outfield spots and is near the top of the list of the fastest players in the draft. Defensively, center field isn't his strongest spot, but he is showing improvement and with the right coaching, could easily handle the job full-time. Moran is expected to in the early to middle part of the fifth round, but may progress a little slower than some because of the added work he'll need defensively.

Finally, Adam Bourassa (Wake Forest University) is the typical type of center fielder. A lot of speed, which helps give him good range and he has good natural instincts to play in center. Bourassa has played in the Cape Cod League to show off his skills and was twice named as a league All-Star. Like a lot of the center field prospects, Bourassa is a lefty and should be able to swipe thirty-some bases per season with a little work.

It's not likely that the Phillies are going to come up with an Andruw Jones type center fielder in this draft. Plus, they also want to continue the string of young pitching that is coming through the system and have more of a need at catcher. It's likely that the Phillies will be looking to find at least a couple good, warm bodies to roam the outfield though. All they're really hoping to do is find someone closer to a Jim Edmonds type than a Doug Glanville type.

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