With the Twenty-First Pick, the Phillies Select...

Projecting the draft is not an exact science. Instead, it is an exercise in trying to figure out what other teams will do and then trying to figure out what the Phillies will do when they finally make their selection. With that in mind, there are some interesting scenarios to consider as we try to make the picture just a little clearer on Draft Day 2004.

The biggest news in the draft is the drop of Jered Weaver and Steven Drew. Both were figured to be picked one and two in either combination. Certainly, both figured to go in the first three or four picks. Now, there are rumblings that one or both could fall as far as the second round. Have their skills deteriorated massively over the last week? No, but their price hasn't fallen from the initial sky-high numbers that were thrown around either.

Just days ago, the San Diego Padres were poised to take Drew as the first overall pick in the draft. Now, they've decided that they wouldn't spend a dime more than the $3.5 million that major league baseball figures a first overall pick should get. With Drew and his agent - the one and only Scott Boras - deciding that the young shortstop's services are worth much more than that, the Padres decided to move along. They have now announced that local high school shortstop Matt Bush, who signed with the Padres over the weekend for $3.1 million will be fine.

Many other teams are scared away by the numbers that Drew and Weaver are looking for. With that in mind, the latest projections have Drew falling to the Cardinals at 19 and Weaver falling to the Yankees, who hold the 23rd pick. Ironically, the Cardinals have a long-standing relationship with Boras and the Yankees of course, have all the money that a young man could ever want.

If Drew or Weaver fall to the Phillies at number twenty-one, would they take a chance. No way. There is a better chance that the Phillies would draft me than risk grabbing either Drew or Weaver.

The Phillies draft history in past years has been high school pitchers or college outfielders. They don't have a particular need for either in this draft, but they do need catching and power hitters. The best catcher in the draft, Neil Walker, will be gone when the Pirates take him with the eleventh overall pick. Any other catchers in the first round would be a reach, but the Phillies might make the reach, although they're not known for having long arms, so to speak.

The only catchers that might jump into the first round are Landon Powell (University of South Carolina), Jason Jaramilio (Oklahoma State) or Kurt Suzuki (Cal State Fullerton). The Phillies have to decide if they want to reach for one of them or see if they're still hanging around when the Phillies make their second round pick. Odds are that all of them could be gone when the Phillies select in round two. If Walker somehow falls - which he won't - or if Powell is still there, the Phillies could be tempted. Suzuki has a little pop in his bat, so he could offer at least a moment's temptation for the Phillies as well. It's unlikely that the Phillies would take Jaramilio in the first round.

Power hitters? Most of the big boys will be gone by the time the Phillies pick. Suzuki hit 13 homeruns for Cal State Fullerton and has some projectable power. A lot has been mentioned about the Phillies supposed interest in high school outfielder Greg Golson. Golson hit four homeruns in 68 at bats this past season and some scouts believe that his power will develop as he matures. Golson also has above average speed. High school outfielders don't fit the mold that the Phillies drafts often fall into, but then again, molds can be broken. The Phillies might also consider college outfielders Danny Putnam (Stanford), or Jon Zerinque (Louisiana State). If Golson is gone and they decide to take a college kid, there's Dexter Fowler, who hit 12 homeruns in 83 at bats and also stole 22 bases.

The Phillies are fond of players from the University of Miami (Pat Burrell, Jason Michaels). There is a slugging U of M product this season in lefty power-hitter Mike Ferris. Ferris slammed 21 longballs this season. Problem is that he's a first baseman. With Jim Thome at the major league level and first base sluggers Ryan Howard and Ryan Barthelemy coming along, Ferris would be an overload. It's also likely that he'll be gone when the Phillies pick. Still, an interesting name to watch.

The Phillies could resort to what's comfortable and look for a young pitcher. After all, you can never have too much pitching. It's likely that the Phillies will keep a close eye on Philip Hughes. The high schooler out of Santa Ana, California put up impressive numbers (54 IP, 33 H, 3 BB, 75 K, 8-1, 0.78) and the Phillies might have only Walker ahead of Hughes on their list of players that they believe could possibly fall to them. Among Hughes' accomplishments are a seven inning no-hitter where he struck out 13 and needed just 74 pitches. He was also clocked at 95 mph in that one. The Phillies will be lucky if Hughes falls and they will jump on him if he does fall to number 21.

Other names that you might hear include: High school pitchers Jay Rainville and Brad Myers. College pitchers David Purcey, Jutsin Orenduff, Tyler Lumsden and Glen Perkins. Of course, since nobody knows exactly how things will play out, it's impossible to try to duplicate exactly what the Phillies may be thinking or who else could be in their sites.

So, with all of the guess work considered, here's the bottom line. The Phillies won't reach for a catcher. There will be other fairly solid catching prospects available after the first round. The pecking order goes like this: Philip Hughes (rhp, Foothill High School), Greg Golson (of, John Connally High School), Danny Putnam (of, Stanford), Jay Rainville (rhp, Bishop Hendricken High School), David Purcey (lhp, University of Oklahoma), Landon Powell (c, University of South Carolina), Brad Myers (rhp, Servite High School).

Hughes and Putnam will likely be gone. That leaves primarily Golson and Rainville. The Phillies aren't fond of high school outfielders and they love high school pitchers. Plus, they went heavily for outfielder and position players in general last season and are probably needing their fix of draft day pitching. Jay Rainville figures to be the Phillies first round pick in the 2004 Draft.

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