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2005 Draft: Pre-Draft Blog

The latest news, notes and rumors from the staff of Baseball America

June 6: Lights Shining On Broadway
by John Manuel

Texas Christian righthander Lance Broadway, considered a consensus supplemental or second-round talent three weeks ago, has surged into the middle of the first round for several reasons. First and foremost, Broadway finished a stellar season--15-1, 1.62, with 151 strikeouts and just 35 walks in 117 innings--with three quality starts against regional opponents. He tossed back-to-back shutouts against No. 1 Tulane (a four-hit, 10-strikeout complete-game performance on May 20) and Southern Mississippi (6 IP, 9 SO), then beat Stanford on Friday with a six-hitter, giving up one run and striking out seven. Broadway is efficient, commands his average fastball well and has one of the draft's best curveballs. Polished college righthanders with a plus pitch are hard to find this year, and Broadway's recent efforts vaulted him past Miami's Cesar Carrillo and Massachusetts' Matt Torra as the top righty not represented by Scott Boras on most draft boards.

June 6: Cuban Defectors Update
by John Manuel

While the buzz is all good on shortstop Yuniel Escobar, the buzz on righthander Maels Rodriguez is not. Rodriguez has joined Escobar (and the group of Cuban defectors who are working out with Escobar at Braddock High in Miami) by putting his name into the first-year player draft. Rodriguez had been declared a free agent last winter but had been having visa difficulties, as well as difficulty regaining the velocity on a fastball that touched 100 mph in the 2000 Olympics. Reports this spring of Rodriguez' workouts with clubs such as the Orioles indicated he was throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s. He was ridden hard in Cuba prior to defecting (pitching five times in a seven-game playoff series), suffered back and shoulder injuries and enters the draft as a wild card.
Escobar, meanwhile, has done nothing but improve in clubs' eyes, and heading into Tuesday's draft he was likely to be a first-round pick. Clubs have two main concerns with the shortstop, who scouts are saying is shorter than his reported 6-foot-2 listed height. First, they want to verify Escobar's age; he's likely 22 or 23. Second, they question just how much power is in his bat, but it appears they won't be able to ponder him for long, because enough teams are interested that he seems unlikely to last into the second round.

June 3: Sources Say D'backs Want Upton
by Jim Callis and Kevin Goldstein

Two baseball sources say the Diamondbacks have told them they will use the No. 1 overall pick Tuesday on Great Bridge High (Chesapeake, Va.) shortstop Justin Upton. That would make Upton and his brother B.J., who went second overall to the Devil Rays in 2002, the highest-drafted siblings in draft history. The other players known to be under consideration by Arizona are college righthanders Craig Hansen (St. John's), Luke Hochevar (Tennessee) and Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State). The Diamondbacks signed former Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew to a $5.5 million major league contract four days ago, so Upton, who has had some defensive struggles at that position, could be their center fielder of the future. We'll have an updated mock first round at baseballamerica.com on Monday.

June 3: Hansen To Start, Surgery For Varvaro?
by John Manuel

St. John’s righthander Craig Hansen, the top closer available in the draft, will start this weekend in the Red Storm’s regional opener against Virginia in Corvallis, Ore. That’s because the Johnnies’ top starter, junior righty Anthony Varvaro, had a difficult bullpen session this week, and the team decided to hold him out with elbow soreness. Now comes word of a memo from the Major League Scouting Bureau that Varvaro will not pitch this weekend and will require Tommy John surgery. Varvaro had moved himself into the first three rounds of the draft with a dominant spring, going 9-3, 2.32 with 115 strikeouts and just 54 hits allowed in 85 innings.

June 2: Red Sox Continue To Show Interest In Cuban
by Jim Callis

The Red Sox have been rumored to have strong interest in Cuban defector Yuniel Escobar Almenares. Those rumors will only intensifty now that John Tomase, BA's Red Sox correspondent, reports that Escobar visited Fenway Park for a workout following today's afternoon victory over the Orioles. Scouts say Escobar, a 22-year-old shortstop with all-around promise, should go in the first five rounds based on talent. If Boston wants him, it probably will have to take him with one of its six choices among the top 57 picks, because it doesn't pick against afterward until No. 140. The Red Sox, who have focused heavily on college players in recent drafts, have scheduled workouts with four high school players: catcher Jon Egan (Hephzibah, Ga.), shortstop Reese Havens (Sullivan's Island, S.C.), outfielder Colby Rasmus (Phenix City, Ala.) and first baseman Justin Smoak (Goose Creek, S.C.).

June 1: Justin Upton At The Hot Corner?
by Alan Matthews

Justin Upton remains the top prospect in this year's draft class, though he has struggled making accurate throws from shortstop consistently. He has at times shifted over to third base this season for his Great Bridge High team, which advanced in the Virginia Class 3-A playoffs with a win Monday May 30, when Upton played third base. "He's been balancing between short and third and third is where he's made all the plays," Upton's coach Wiley Lee said. "For whatever reason he makes that throw from third with ease and when we drop him back to short, he does well.
"(Third base) is more reactionary. And there's not as many angles so he doesn't have a lot the things to worry about. Justin never had throwing issues (as a sophomore and junior). And I just think early on it was a thing where with 30 scouts there and they weren't there to see his brother, they were there to see him. Now he's used to it and focused.
"He knew he wasn't thrilled about (not) throwing the way he was even capable of doing," said Lee, who added opposing teams' righthanded hitters have often pulled balls down the line, making Upton valuable at third. "He got to third and he made some plays that we just don’t win without him making those plays and that other third baseman don't even come close to making."

June 1: Field Of Dreams At PG Showcase
by Alan Matthews

A handful of high school players boosted their stock at Perfect Game's pre-draft showcase, held each year in Iowa less than a month before the draft. This year's turnout in Cedar Rapids was not brimming with premium, high-round talent but righthander Jeremy Hellickson made yet another strong showing in front of more than 75 scouts. The senior righthander from Hoover High in Des Moines pitched with his fastball between 91-92 mph, touching 94. He also flashed an above-average breaking ball that sat near 78 mph.
Luke Murton, a senior from Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga., was the best power hitter in attendance. The younger brother of Cubs prospect Matt Murton is committed to play for his brother’s alma mater, Georgia Tech. Texas prep products Preston Paramore, a switch-hitting catcher from Allen High, and Spring's Daryl Jones also made positive showings. Jones, who has committed to Rice, ran a 6.69-second 60-yard-dash and showed above-average arm strength from the outfield.
Righthander Brett Jacobson never made it to Cedar Rapids, though his willingness and effort to appear did not go unnoticed. Jacobson had planned to fly in from his home in Arizona at 3 p.m., pitch at 4 and head back home at 5:30 the day of the event so as not to miss much school.
Jacobson's connecting flight from Denver was delayed, preventing him from making it to Cedar Rapids, making for a long day without a chance to perform.

May 31: Diamondbacks Turn Full Focus To No. 1 Pick
by Jim Callis

With last year's first-round pick, Stephen Drew, finally signed, the Diamondbacks can shift all of their attention to the No. 1 choice in this year's draft. With a week to go, Arizona continues to look at four players—Virginia high school shortstop Justin Upton and three college righthanders, Craig Hansen (St. John's), Luke Hochevar (Tennessee) and Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State).

May 31: Weaver, Drew Could See Each Other Soon
by Jim Callis

Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew, who were teammates on the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League while negotiating multimillion deals with the Angels and Diamondbacks, could oppose each other on the diamond in the near future. Both will begin their pro careers in the high Class A California League, Weaver with Rancho Cucamonga and Drew with Lancaster. Weaver, who hasn't pitched in a game since last June 11 in the NCAA super-regionals, may not be ready to take the mound when Lancaster visits Rancho June 3-5. But the teams meet again with seven games in July.

May 30: Weaver, Drew Agree To Terms
by Jim Callis

Minutes before the midnight Eastern Time deadline before they would have re-entered the 2005 draft, 2004 first-rounders Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew agreed to terms. Weaver, a former Long Beach State righthander selected 12th overall by the Angels, accepted a $4 million bonus pending a physical. Drew, a former Florida State shortstop, signed a five-year big league contract with the Diamondbacks, who took him 15th. Drew will receive a $4 million bonus over to be paid over four years and is guaranteed a minimum of $5.5 million. He also can make another $2 million in incentives that a source close to the negotiations describes as easily attainable. Both Weaver and Drew are represented by Scott Boras and had signed with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League this spring. Weaver was BA’s top-rated prospect and Drew the top-rated position player last year, but concerns over their bonus demands caused them to slide in the draft.

May 30: Deadline Nears For Weaver, Drew
by J.J. Cooper

One way or another, Jered Weaver will officially be a professional baseball player tomorrow.
As the deadline for Weaver to sign with the Angels neared, he was getting ready for his first appearance with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League.

Weaver threw 35 pitches against live batters before Camden's game Saturday night as a final tune-up. He is scheduled to pitch an inning of relief in Lancaster on Tuesday, and is expected to start against Newark on Friday.

Weaver was the Angels' first-round pick in the 2004 draft. He and shortstop Stephen Drew (selected by the Diamondbacks in the first round) have until midnight tonight to reach an agreement on a contract. If not, they both will go into the pool for next week's draft.

Drew, who also plays for Camden, has been swinging an even hotter bat since returning from his second absence because of a minor foot injury. Drew went 3-for-4 on Sunday to raise his average to a league-leading .410.

May 27: Angels Sign Marek For $800K
by Jim Callis

The Angels haven't been able to close a deal with 2004 first-rounder Jered Weaver, but they landed another quality arm by signing draft-and-follow righthander Stephen Marek for $800,000. Marek went in the 40th round last year out of San Jacinto (Texas) JC. Named the most outstanding pitcher at the 2004 Junior College World Series, where the Gators finished second, he has plenty of arm strength. He hit 98 mph with his fastball during fall ball, and has spent most of the spring working at 92-94 mph and touching 96. His curveball often gives him a second plus pitch. A reliever at San Jacinto, Marek figured to go in the second to fourth round if he had re-entered the 2005 draft.

May 27: Weaver's Price Tag Not What It Seems
by Jim Callis

In the latest update on the Jered Weaver saga, the Orange County Register reports that Scott Boras' new $6 million price tag for the unsigned Angels 2004 first-round pick doesn't include an incentive proposal. Boras wants Weaver to receive an additional $750,000 if he spends three straight years in the majors starting in 2006, which would bring the total value to $6.75 million--or $1.5 million more than the club's last offer of a big league deal. Weaver has until midnight Monday to sign, or he'll re-enter the 2005 draft.

May 26: Mixed Message On Weaver Status
by John Manuel

Los Angeles area media continue to hit up Angels general manager Bill Stoneman and owner Arte Moreno at the ballpark for quotes on the Jered Weaver holdout, which has a deadline finally approaching. The closed period begins at 12:01 a.m. May 31, giving the Angels, Weaver and his agent, Scott Boras, through Monday to come up with a deal for the 12th overall pick last year out of Long Beach State. Moreno and Stoneman told various news outlets that Boras’ characterization that the two sides were only about $750,000 apart was not correct; Moreno characterized it as “low” in an MLB.com story, while Stoneman told the Los Angeles Times that the club would not budge from its last offer of a $5.25 million major league contract. “I know Scott characterizes things in a certain way,” Stoneman told the Times, “and obviously he’s going to put a spin on it to make it look like he’s made major concessions to get a deal done. But the fact remains that we’re still far, far apart, and what he’s asking us to do is bid against ourselves. We’re not about to do that.”

May 26: ACC Tourney Attracting Plenty of Scouts
by John Manuel

The Atlantic Coast Conference tournament always attracts plenty of scouts, scouting directors and even general managers (such as Pirates GM Dave Littlefield, a former Clemson assistant coach), and this year is no exception. The highlight of Wednesday’s games proved to be the Miami-North Carolina State matchup. Scouts saw impressive efforts from Miami ace Cesar Carrillo, who threw well in a 2-1 loss to the Wolfpack, and freshman Andrew Brackman. Brackman, the 6-foot-10 righthander who also was a part-time starter for N.C. State’s Sweet 16 basketball team, touched 94 and could be a first-rounder in two years. But even more impressive was Wolfpack closer Joey Devine, who pitched two flawless innings for the save. Devine, who comes from an odd, near-sidearm delivery, has stuff that’s far from odd, and one scout contacted Thursday said Devine was at his best Wednesday night. “He was 94-95 mph with the fastball with command,” the scout said, noting that he’s seen Devine throw as hard as 97 in the past. “But his slider was excellent—tight, he was out front with it, it was a great pitch.” Devine’s polished stuff, track record of success and mental toughness could put him on the fast track once he’s drafted, and he keeps moving closer and closer to first-round consideration. At worst, he’ll be a sandwich pick.

May 25: New Law Opens Door For Foreign Players
by J.J. Cooper

Thanks to a new law, the draft outlook for Canadian players and other foreign citizens who are playing college ball in the U.S. just got a whole lot brighter.

The Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act was signed into law by President Bush on May 11, effectively freeing up 35,000 temporary work visas. That gives major league teams a chance to apply for new visas for foreign players beginning on May 25.

Before the new law, the 66,000 work visas for the 2005 fiscal year had all been handed out by Jan. 2, meaning that any foreign player without a visa would not get another chance to get one until 2006. Because of that, a number of Canadian and other foreign citizens were dropping on draft boards because they wouldn't have been able to sign and play right away.

The supply of the type of visas used by minor league baseball players (in both affiliated and independent ball) tightened considerably in the last few years, in the wake of Sept. 11. Before that, visa limits existed but the government did not observe them. Major league players are not affected because they come under another type of visa.

The new law should significantly reduce the crush for visas, which also involved industries with seasonal employees such as ski resorts and landscaping. Workers who have had temporary visas in the past three years can reapply without counting toward the yearly cap of 66,000. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service estimates that 35,000 current visa holders have previously had them.

Another provision of the new law will also help baseball. In the past, all 66,000 visas became available on Oct. 1 and they all went quickly, often before teams knew which players needed them. But for 2006, 33,000 slots will come open on Oct. 1, with the other 33,000 coming open on March 1, allowing teams a chance to apply for visas closer to the start of the season.

May 25: McCormick Injured In Big 12 Tourney Start
by Will Kimmey

Baylor junior righthander Mark McCormick left his Wednesday start against Kansas with two outs in the first inning after getting hit on the right hand while trying to snag a line drive off the bat of A.J. Van Slyke. He bruised his right thumb near where the digit connects to the hand. X-rays were negative, and McCormick didn't suffer much swelling. He's day-to-day and could pitch again later this week.

May 25: Drew's Foot Injury Flares Up
by J.J. Cooper

The same right foot injury that put Stephen Drew on the sidelines earlier this month with the Camden Riversharks has flared up again. Drew has missed the independent Atlantic League team's last six games and is officially listed as "day-to-day". The Diamondbacks' first-round pick last year out of Florida State leads the league with a .387 average in 62 at-bats.

May 25: Angels, Weaver Getting Closer To Deal?
by John Manuel

The Orange County Register is reporting significant movement in the Angels' negotiations with former Long Beach State righthander Jered Weaver. Just days after Weaver, the 12th overall pick in last year's draft, signed with the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League, his agent, Scott Boras, told the Register that the asking price for Weaver's services had come down to a $6 million major league contract. Such a deal would be the largest given to a 2004 draftee. Angels general manager Bill Stoneman remained tight-lipped on the negotiations. The Angels' last offers were a $4 million straight bonus or a $5.25 million major league deal that Boras claimed was too back-loaded. Weaver must sign with the Angels by May 31 or go back into the 2005 draft, where he would be measured against other Boras clients such as Tennessee's Luke Hochevar and Wichita State's Mike Pelfrey, who have less polish but bigger stuff.

May 24: Marlins Work Out Prep Stars
by Alan Matthews

A Marlins workout in suburban Atlanta this week included a handful of the top high school prospects in the Southeast. P.J. Phillips, Justin Smoak, Reese Havens and Colby Rasmus were among those in attendance. According to Rasmus’s father, Tony, who is also Colby’s coach at Russell County High in Seale, Ala., Colby displayed impressive power with a wood bat and touched 94 mph from the bump. Rasmus was one of the high school draft class’ fastest movers this spring, posting .484-24-66 numbers and leading his high school team to an Alabama Class 5-A title. The Marlins have three first-round picks and five of the first 44.

May 24: Texas Prep Lefty Thompson Suddenly Signable?
by John Manuel

Scouts have said that Texas prep lefthander Aaron Thompson wants a seven-figure signing bonus to keep him from heading to Texas A&M, but that may have changed Monday, when the Aggies fired head coach Mark Johnson. Recruiting coordinator and pitching coach Jim Lawler, Baseball America’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003, also will not be retained after his contract runs out in August. The new era at A&M, plus Thompson’s status as the most polished prep pitcher available, means his signability probably is better than scouts were thinking.

May 20: Carrillo Suffers First Collegiate Loss
by Will Kimmey

Clemson scored 11 runs (five earned) on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings Thursday against Miami junior righthander Cesar Carrillo, dealing him his first collegiate loss in 24 decisions. It marked Miami;s first loss in the 35 games in which Carrillo has pitched. All 11 runs and 10 of the hits came in the fourth inning, when Miami's defense also committed three errors. "I came out trying to throw strikes," Carrillo said. "Everything seemed to be going (Clemson's) way. Baseball is a crazy sport."

Clemson won the game 15-5, and it marked the second straight shaky outing for Carrillo. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings in a 7-6 win at Virginia last Friday. The Clemson game pushed Carrillo past the 100-innings threshold on the year, so the slight 6-foot-3, 177-pounder could be wearing down a tad, though he has not yet exceeded his sophomore mark of 114 innings.

The struggles shouldn't submarine him out of the first round as scouts are likely to base their decisions on seeing him at his best, with an extremely lively two-seam fastball in the low to mid 90s and a curveball that rates as a plus pitch at times. He should go in the middle of the first round.

May 20: Marceaux Makes His Case
by Will Kimmey

McNeese State junior righthander Jacob Marceaux struck out nine batters Thursday in a 6-1 complete-game victory against UT San Antonio. He allowed five hits and two walks in pitching his fourth complete game in five starts. He's 5-0, 2.66 with a 47-16 strikeout-walk ratio and 35 hits allowed in his last 44 innings. His 6-foot-2 frame and repertoire of a low-to-mid 90s sinking fastball, power slider and hard downward-breaking curveball remind some scouts of current Houston righthander Roy Oswalt. Marceaux could pitch his way into the first round, but is more likely to go in the supplemental first round.

May 19: Scouting Directors Expect Weaver, Drew To Sign
by Jim Callis

Though agent Scott Boras indicated three days ago (see below) that 2004 first-round picks Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew likely will re-enter the draft, multiple scouting directors contacted by Baseball America think that's just a negotiating ploy. Weaver, taken 12th by the Angels, has been offered either a $5.25 million big league contract or a $4 million bonus. Drew, who went 15th to the Diamondbacks, has yet to accept a major league package that would guarantee him $5.5 million and would swell to as much as $7.5 million with easily attainable incentives. There's been no indication that other teams are willing to approach those deals, and if Drew and Weaver don't come to terms it would hurt the signability of Boras' other seven clients with legitimate first-round aspirations in this year's draft. "They're going to sign," an American League scouting director said. "Scott's not dumb. He may say he thinks they're going to re-enter the draft, but I can almost guarantee they're going to sign. They have to. He's going to go to the last minute to get the last penny. That's just Negotiating 101 with Scott Boras."

May 19: Cuban To Red Sox?
by Jim Callis

Five Cuban defectors have declared for the draft, and word is that the Red Sox could take shortstop Yuniel Escobar Almenares with one of their six picks in the top 59. Escobar, 21, is a slick fielder and has some pop in his bat. If Boston wants Escobar, it probably will have to take him high, as the club doesn't have a pick between No. 59 and No. 140. The Red Sox forfeited their second- and third-round choices to sign free agents David Wells and Matt Clement. Escobar would be the second Cuban defector drafted by Boston. The Red Sox took 27-year-old righthander Rolando Viera in the seventh round of the 2001 draft but released him after the 2002 season.

May 19: Townsend Less Impressive In Recent Workouts
by Jim Callis

Former Rice righthander Wade Townsend, whose negotiations with the Orioles quickly broke down after they took him eighth overall last year, has been pitching again in workouts for clubs in Texas. His last two outings haven't been as impressive as the first two, as he has pitched at 85-88 mph and rarely cracked 90. Last year, his fastball usually ranged from 88-92 mph with the Owls. Townsend's best pitch is his spike curveball, and even that looked average rather than plus his last two times out. Townsend obviously wasn't going to be in full game shape, so while some teams are backing off of him others aren't too concerned. It still sounds like he'll go in the first round, and he could go as high as the No. 8 pick again, this time to the Devil Rays. Coincidentally, his next scheduled workout will be held in Tampa on Monday.

May 18: Clement Catches On
by John Manuel

Scouts say Southern California catcher Jeff Clement has made strides with his defense in his junior season, and he gave more evidence of why he’s considered a first-round talent in the Trojans’ 13-6 loss Tuesday at Notre Dame. Friend of BA Mark Gonzales, the Chicago Tribune’s White Sox beat writer, took in the game at South Bend and reports that Clement showed much-improved blocking skills. As far as throwing, USC called a pitchout in the fifth inning, and Clement nailed Irish runner Craig Cooper on a perfect throw.
At the plate, Clement went 3-for-3 with an RBI double, each time working deep in the count and showing more of an inclination to use the whole field than in his first two seasons. Clement lashed an outside 0-2 fastball for a double to center field in his first at-bat, then followed with a line-drive single to left-center in the third.
In the fourth, the Irish pitching coach showed Clement the utmost respect, visiting the mound with a 1-2 count on Clement and no one on base. Clement got hit in the back on a Derik Olvey curveball on a 2-2 pitch. In the sixth off reliever Scott Bickford, Clement gets hit again on a curve. In the ninth, Clement looked anxious in swinging at the first pitch against Jeff Manship and reaches safely on what looked like an infield error but was ruled a hit.

May 18: Working Late In Louisiana
by John Manuel

A pair of Louisiana prep pitchers who should go in the first five rounds of the draft matched up in impressive and distressing fashion Friday night, as both pitched nine-inning complete games. Captain Shreve’s Sean West, a 6-foot-9 lefthander, threw 147 pitches in a 5-0 loss to lefthander Beau Jones and Destrehan High, which went on to lose in the Class 5-A state championship game. West and Jones (whose pitch count was 120) both went the distance, combining for 32 strikeouts, despite a two-hour rain delay between the fourth and fifth innings. A scout who was at the game reports West threw harder after the delay, touching 92 mph with his fastball, while Jones maintained his velocity well while pitching on three days’ rest. Jones, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound lefthander who is committed to LSU, topped out at 93 mph before the delay, and his last fastball in the ninth hit 90 mph. “I’m sure the kids wanted the ball and wanted to go back in,” the scout said. “Some of the scouts left during the delay to go see Luke Hochevar pitch against LSU, but some of us stayed, and they pitched well.”

May 18: Draft-And-Follow Signings
by Dan Friedell and Allan Simpson

Checking in from Marianna, Fla., Chipola Junior College coach Jeff Johnson says that Brewers' 2004 daft-and-follow Darren Ford has agreed to sign for $200,000. The 18th-round pick just completed a .306-1-32 season with 45 stolen bases for the Indians. Ford's speed is no secret, as the Major League Scouting Bureau rates him as an 80 runner on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. In another significant draft-and-follow signing, the Mariners corralled their 11th-round pick from last year, lefthanded-hitting Canadian third baseman Michael Saunders, out of Tallahassee (Fla.) CC. Saunders received a $237,500 signing bonus.

May 17: Royals Deny Rumors About Budget-Minded Pick at No. 2
by John Manuel and Jim Callis

Royals officials have let it be known the rumors that they would take a signability pick with the No. 2 overall selection—such as, for example, Texas A&M shortstop Cliff Pennington—are just rumors, not fact. Club officials say they're not under orders from ownership to shy away from top talent in favor of a slot-money pick. For now, Kansas City is focusing on Virginia high school shortstop Justin Upton, North Carolina prep outfielder Cameron Maybin and Nebraska third baseman Alex Gordon.

May 17: Nationals Have Money To Spend At No. 4
by John Manuel

The Nationals are still owned by Major League Baseball and thus aren’t likely to set any bonus records with the No. 4 overall selection, but the increased revenue of their move to Washington will allow them to make signability less of a priority than it was their last few years in Montreal. The Nats don’t have a second- or third-round pick, giving them more to spend on the top selection, and they also were expanding their efforts in the international theater to fill in the gaps left by losing those picks for signing the left side of their infield, Vinny Castilla and Cristian Guzman.

May 17: Smoak 'em If You Got 'em
by John Manuel

First baseman Justin Smoak, like fellow South Carolina signee Reese Havens, finished his high school career in championship fashion, leading Stratford High past Mauldin (S.C.) High in the Class 4-A state title matchup. Mauldin beat Stratford last year, and tried its best not to let Smoak beat it this year. Smoak entered the title series 11-for-14 in the playoffs with seven of his 18 home runs on the season, but was walked in 11 of his 12 plate appearances in the title series. Smoak’s solid switch-hitting bat and premium glove at first base have earned him comparisons to J.T. Snow, and he could get drafted in the first three rounds if his Gamecocks commitment doesn’t scare off scouts.

May 17: Nolan Reimold Update
by John Manuel

Bowling Green outfielder Nolan Reimold kept his bat hot with a no-doubt long home run Tuesday in Bowling Green's 4-3 loss to Michigan. His 19 homers leaves him three short of the school record of 22 set in 2002 by current Tigers farmhand Kelly Hunt.

May 16: Drew and Weaver Returning To Draft?
by John Manuel

Agent Scott Boras says, "Never say never," but he indicates 2004 first-round picks Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver will likely go back into the draft for 2005. Weaver, drafted 12th overall by the Angels, is close to throwing simulated games at Boras' baseball complex. Drew, drafted 15th overall by the Diamondbacks, is playing for Camden in the independent Atlantic League.

May 16: Quigley Shut Down
by John Manuel and Alan Matthews

Georgia prep lefthander Miers Quigley has been shut down with tendinitis in his arm. Quigley started strong in the spring, hitting 94 mph in his first start, but has seen his velocity dip into the upper 80s throughout the spring while battling arm tenderness. Quigley’s poor senior season, coupled with makeup questions, has dropped him out of first-round consideration.

May 15: Miami's Carrillo Could Benefit From Boras Factor
by John Manuel

Miami righthander Cesar Carrillo, doesn’t have the prototypical body of a first-round pick, but the 6-foot-2, 165-pounder should go in the first half of the first round. In fact, one Florida area scout speculated Carrillo could go in the first 10 picks. His reasoning: teams desperate for college pitching that want to avoid Scott Boras clients have few other choices.

Carrillo’s body leaves little projection, but he has plenty of “now” stuff. At his best, his fastball can sit in the 92-95 mph range, and despite his small frame, he’s shown the ability to hold that velocity deep into games. He also maintains the heavy, heavy sink on his fastball, which one scout rated as a 70. In fact, he had not allowed a homer since Feb. 18 (spanning more than 80 innings) until another future first-rounder, Virginia’s Ryan Zimmerman, took him deep Friday night in a Miami victory.

Carrillo’s hard curveball also sits in the low 80s and is a strikeout pitch, at times a plus big league curve. He also throws enough strikes and has a good enough changeup (at times a plus pitch as well) for teams to project him as a starter, despite his stature.

May 15: Former First-Round Pick Alan Horne Near End Of College Odyssey
by John Manuel

Florida righthander Alan Horne was already a first-round pick, having gone 27th overall to the Indians in the 2001 draft. However, Horne didn’t sign, beginning a college odyssey that started at Mississippi, wound last year through Chipola (Fla.) JC, included Tommy John surgery and finally a transfer at mid-semester to Florida, where he has settled in as the Saturday starter.

This past Saturday, Horne had one of his best starts in college, a 130-pitch, complete-game victory against Mississippi State in a 2-1 Gators decision. Two scouts at the game report Horne didn’t touch the 96 mph he was rumored to hit, but they were still impressed with Horne’s stuff, which should be good enough to move him into the third- to fifth-round range. Horne’s fastball sat in the 88-93 mph range and touched 94 several times. He also showed better command of the fastball and slider he’s refined this season with the Gators, a pitch he picked up at Chipola.

“He’s improved,” one scout with an American League club said, “and he competes; I don’t think that’s a problem. He’s still slow to the plate, one thing that makes you wonder if he can be a reliever, and I don’t know if he throws enough strikes to be a starter. But someone will bite.”

May 15: Injury Bug Strikes Slayden Once Again
by John Manuel

Georgia Tech outfielder Jeremy Slayden has had plenty of injury problems, and now he has another, having had a cyst removed from one of his feet last week. The surgery is likely to keep him out of the lineup for three weeks—until regionals. Slayden, a redshirt junior, has as much raw power as any college hitter in the draft, but his inability to make consistent contact and lack of other tools has depressed his draft stock to the fourth- to sixth-round range. He’s gotten some comparisons to Jeromy Burnitz because of his uppercut swing, but scouts agree Burnitz was more athletic and better defenders than Slayden, who has little arm strength since a 2003 shoulder injury and who also has battled an ankle sprain.

May 15: Bowling Green's Reimold Looks Like Class Of The MAC
by John Manuel

Bowling Green outfielder Nolan Reimold, the best bet for the Mid-American Conference to produce a high pick in 2005, has regained some helium by pulling himself out of a bad funk. Reimold hit four home runs on the weekend against Toledo, bringing his total to 18 for the season. Prior to the weekend, one area scout with an AL club said Reimold’s swing had been geared too much for home runs during a six-week slump—poor timing for a Northern player who was playing in front of crosscheckers coming in to see him. His weekend binge improved his numbers to .354-18-57, though he has just six doubles due in part to his all-or-nothing approach. Reimold also is an above-average runner and projects to go in the first 10 rounds.

May 15: Havens Ends High School Career In Style
by John Manuel

South Carolina prep shortstop Reese Havens completed a stellar high school career by helping Charleston's Bishop England to its second state championship in three seasons. Havens, who is signed to South Carolina and is considered a tough sign but a definite first-five-rounds talent, went
4-for-5 with an RBI in the title game for the Bishops.