Friday, February 09, 2007

Beginning to Look toward the Draft

2007 draft

We are 4 months away from the 2007 draft—most of the big college programs get started this weekend. We hope to provide coverage leading up to the draft—covering players that the Royals might be interested in.

There are some pretty big changes to this year’s draft. First there is an August 15th deadline to sign draftees—that means no more long holdouts—clubs and draftees have to get a deal done. As added leverage for clubs, if a club does not sign a player from the first couple rounds, the club is given a compensation pick next year right after the lost pick. (i.e. if the Royals failed to sign their top pick—the #2 overall—they would get the #3 overall pick in 2008). There are no more draft and follows—drafting a HS player who then goes to JC where he can be signed after he season ends and before the next draft begins. Lastly, due to changes in the way free agent compensation works, the Royals after the #2 overall pick won’t pick again until around pick 64.

The draft will bring to conclusion Dayton Moore’s 1st year as GM. It will be interesting to see if our draft strategy changes much. Deric Ladnier has a Braves background-so perhaps he has already brought many of those changes with him. I will especially be watching to see if the Royals new emphasis on pitchers with curveballs (as opposed to sliders) affects who we draft. That may have been one of the reasons that the Royals took Hochevar over Miller in 2006. Hochevar has a good curve—Miller is known for his slider.

The 2007 draft will hopefully be the last time the Royals have a top 5 (or even top 10) pick for a long time. It will be very tempting to take a college talent who is closer to the big leagues—but this year’s draft class has excellent depth. While there are definite front runners for the top couple of picks, there are plenty of other players who could zoom up the charts in the next few months. Here are some of the best known players.

Baseball America has excellent draft coverage, but you have to pay for most of it.

Brewerfan has excellent free coverage—I encourage you to check them out:

Here are my rankings as we head into the amateur season:

1. David Price
Price has very good stuff—FB, SL, CH and good control. His numbers were better than his ERA indicated last year at Vandy. He pitched great for Team USA last summer—5-1 .20 ERA, 44ip, 7W, 61K. If he pitches well in the spring, he probably becomes a Devil Ray. I would love to have him—but wonder how dogmatic the Royals are about pitchers that that feature a slider.

2. Matt Wieters
If Price is #1, Wieters is #1a. A switch hitting catcher who also closes for Georgia Tech. He has power and patience. He as a rocket arm (he is also a very talented pitcher). Being 6-5 there are questions about whether he can stay behind the plate. His offense doesn’t seem quite as advanced as Alex Gordon’s but Wieters plays a premium defensive position. He has apparantly signed with Scott Boras--which may make things interesting (as has Brackman). The question is: if he has to move to 1st base, is he still worth the #2 pick?

3. Andrew Brackman
Brackman is 7 feet tall. Brackman throws easily in the mid to upper 90’s. That will get you noticed. He is supposedly more polished than most really tall pitchers. He will need to back it up this year with some good numbers—particularly K/BB ratio. More risk than your typical college player.

4. Joe Savery
Savery has had some injury issues but he has a good FB/CB combo. On the downside, the recent history of Rice pitchers, coupled with the injuries he’s already had, does not inspire confidence that he will develop.

5. Nick Schmidt
Schmidt posted a dominant year last year in the SEC (beating out Price for SEC Pitcher of the Year). He has three quality pitches--fastball, slider, change. However, he had a less than inspiring summer that left many questions as we head into this college season. He has to prove the doubters.

We'll cover the High Schoolers next time...