TigsTown's '07 Draft Preview

With the 2006 regular season in the books, it's time to take a sneak peek at the draft class of 2007. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will hold the first pick in next June's draft, and they will have the luxury of picking at the top of a class that appears to be one of the better crops the decade has produced.

THE HEAD OF THE CLASS
Vanderbilt's David Price is the top candidate to go first overall, and the left-hander enjoyed his second successful summer pitching for Team USA. His fastball topped out at 97, and he has worked hard on improving his changeup. Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters was one of the top prospects in the Cape Cod League this summer, and he strictly worked on his catching (he also could be a first-rounder as a pitcher).

Wieters offers a ton of power from both sides of the plate, and if he can't stay behind the plate, he'll have plenty of bat for first base. N.C. State right-hander Andrew Brackman stands nearly seven feet tall and was clocked at 99 during his short stint in the Cape this summer. He didn't pitch much do to his recovery from a stress fracture in his hip, and he could be the top right-hander taken in next year's draft.

COLLEGE SOUTHPAWS
Teams in need of stacking up on experienced arms from the left side won't be disappointed. After Price, Rice's Joe Savery, Virginia's Sean Doolittle, Arkansas's Nick Schmidt, Maryland's Brett Cecil, and Clemson's Daniel Moskos are just a few of a solid group of lefties that has a nice mix of polish and overpowering stuff. Cecil in particular can be overpowering with a fastball that topped out at 96 and he also has a nasty slider that reached the mid-80s. Moskos and Rice's Cole St. Clair can also run their fastballs into the mid-90s.

PREP POWER
The power arms the high school class holds is quite remarkable. Michael Main (Deland, Fla.) leads the way with a fastball that has topped out at 99, while fellow right-handers Neil Ramirez (Virginia Beach, Va.), Greg Peavey (Vancouver, Wash.), Matt Harvey (Mystic, Conn.), and Rick Porcello (Chester, N.J.) all have the ability to simply blow away hitters with fastballs in the 95-96 range with solid secondary pitches.

Tanner Robles (Murray, Utah), Madison Bumgarner (Lenoir, N.C.), and Josh Smoker (Sugar Valley, Ga.) are just a few of the solid arms from the left side. Robles and Bumgarner offer plenty of projection, while Smoker is transforming into a power pitcher with a lethal three-pitch mix.

DEEP AT THE HOT CORNER
If there is one position that is ridiculously deep, it's the high school crop of third basemen. Led by Josh Vitters (Anaheim, Ca.), there are several players that could be premium picks next June. Victor Sanchez (Norwalk, Ca.) doesn't get a lot of national attention, but he impressed many scouts with his performances on the showcase circuit this summer. Jon Gilmore (Iowa City, Iowa.), D. J. LeMahieu (Bloomfield Hills, Mi.), Matt Dominguez (Van Nuys, Ca.), Jake Smolinski (Rockford, Ill.), Hunter Morris (Huntsville, Ala.), and Derek Dietrich (Parma, Ohio) are all multi-tooled players that either played in the Aflac-All American game this summer, or starred at the Area Code Games.

Dominguez also hit a couple of homers while playing with Team USA's junior national team that won a silver medal in Cuba.

The college crop also features Beau Mills (Lewis-Clark State), Matt Mangini (Oklahoma State), and Todd Frazier (Rutgers). All three have huge power potential, but Mills spent the summer as a DH in the Alaska League while rehabbing a shoulder injury that may require a move to first base. Mangini is a physical specimen with plenty of power from the left side, and Frazier is the little brother of Tigers farmhand Jeff, who was a third-round pick back in 2004.

SEALING THE DEAL
With the success of Huston Street and Chad Cordero, drafting college closers has become the latest trend for teams looking for immediate help and 2007 will provide clubs several options for future stoppers. Georgia's Josh Fields isn't big, but he reaches the high-90s and has a nasty slider. Fields was also the Cape's leader in saves with 13. Cecil, Moskos, and St. Clair also worked in the bullpen this summer, but Moskos could make it as a starter if his changeup continues to develop. Oregon State's Eddie Kunz attacked hitters with mid-90s sinker and TCU's Sam Demel has similar size as Fields, but doesn't throw as hard, although he has a nasty curveball. North Carolina's Andrew Carignan can reach 95 with his fastball and has a hard-breaking curveball.

ANALYSIS
Even though this was just a quick gloss, the 2007 draft shows tons of promise with plenty of power arms, and a much better crop of position players than in 2006. The Tigers hold the 27th pick, and even though they could lose that pick to a free agent signing, this draft could provide a huge boost to a farm system that badly needs an infusion of blue chip prospects.


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