Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 07 June 2007
When the most die-hard of fans turn their TVs to ESPN2 this afternoon at 2 pm to watch the major league draft, they’re going to hear a lot of names they have never heard of before. That’s because college baseball, unlike its counterparts in football and basketball, does not have the opportunity to market itself that well. It’s just not that big of a sport at the collegiate level. However, MLB has decided to air the draft on cable television. Here’s an in-depth guide to the names you need to know.
Top Ten Players in Terms of Talent
C Matt Wieters, Georgia Tech – As Georgia Tech’s closer, Matt Wieters has received a lot of attention. His fastball has been clocked at 96 mph, which definitely draws the interest of scouts. However, Wieters’ true home is behind the plate. He’s a switch-hitting catcher with good power, decent defense, and a powerful arm. The biggest thing against him is that he is represented by Scott Boras, which may cause him to slip out of the first 10 picks.
LHP David Price, Vanderbilt – The left handed starter is the guy many people are picking to go first overall. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who own the pick, have remained mum about their intentions, and with their depth of quality pitching prospects, they may well go a different route. However, Price is a quality lefty who throws in the low 90s with a very good slider. Scouts are a little scared off by Price’s high pitch counts, however, as he has repeatedly thrown more than 100 pitches in games, including a 10-game shutout during the regular season. Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin rode his ace hard in what is likely Price’s final season as a collegiate player.
3B Josh Vitters, Cypress (California) High School – Vitters has been nominated by many as having the best swing in high school baseball this year. The third baseman has good bat speed and hits line drives at will. Defensively, he’s passable at the hot corner. Vitters will go very early in the draft.
3B Mike Moustakas, Chatsworth (California) High School – Like Vitters, Moustakas is a California schoolboy who has an excellent bat and the potential to be a decent defensive player. Unlike Vitters, however, this player has an arm that rifles throws across the diamond. His bat grades a little bit lower than Vitters, but these two are rather similar in talent.
RHP Rick Porcello, Seton Hall Prep High (New Jersey) – Scouts have been waiting years for this guy to become draft eligible. He’s tall, standing at 6-5, and has a body that teams project will fill out very well, weighing in at 190. His fastball is in the mid 90s, but he also mixes in a good curve and changeup. While he hasn’t thrown his changeup much -- he doesn’t need that many pitches to be dominant at the high school level -- he’ll have to get one to succeed in the majors, and that should be no problem.
OF Jason Heyward, Henry County High School (Georgia) – The biggest thing about Heyward is his power. This kid has light tower potential to go along with a good eye. Defensively, he isn’t that good, and he’ll end up as another average right fielder with an average arm. He will draw his fair share of walks, which should help what might not be a great batting average.
LHP Ross Detwiler, Missouri State – There’s a lot to like about this southpaw. He throws in the low 90s and has a great curveball. He stands at 6-4, so it’s not like he’s short. However, there are a couple of things about Detwiler that scouts may not like. He weighs only 175 pounds and throws by whipping his arm around. This may lead to future injuries. Projections have him going at pretty much every spot in the top 10 except first overall. It’s hard to guess where someone will take him.
RHP Andrew Brackman, North Carolina State – The biggest comparison Brackman is given is Jeff Samardzija. Both were dominant pitchers who had the chance to play other sports professionally. Brackman is 6-10 and played basketball at NC State, as well. However, like Samardzija, he is unrefined, but boasts a ton of talent. His upside is great, but whether he’ll get there is difficult to gauge. There are injury concerns with him, too.
RHP Matt Harvey, Fitch High School (Connecticut) – Like the Vitters/Moustakas combo above, Porcello and Harvey have a lot in common. Both have commitments to the University of North Carolina, both are represented by Scott Boras, and both are very good right handers. Harvey throws in the low 90s consistently, with a decent curveball, and an in-progress changeup. Like many northern pitchers, he just needs a chance to develop.
3B Beau Mills, Lewis-Clark Sate College – It’s difficult to gauge Mills’ junior season, because he played against weak competition in the NAIA. Over the last season, he flat-out dominated, hitting 38 homers and .458. During the regular season, his slugging percentage was 1.000. He finished the year as the NAIA Player of the Year and the NAIA World Series Most Valuable Player. However, we know the production is legitimate. At Fresno State his first two years at college, Mills hit .337 with 36 homers. His bat is projected to carry him.
Five Pitchers and Five Hitters You Need to Remember
LHP Daniel Moskos, Clemson – He began the year as Clemson’s closer but moved to the starting rotation towards the end of the season. A lot of projections are high on him as a starting pitcher, but the southpaw is probably best suited to a relief role.
RHP Phillippe Aumont, Ecole Du Versant (Canada) – He’s right handed, 6-7, and weights 225. Aumont had scouts at hello. This Canadian product can throw in the low to mid 90s, has a great slider, and should be a top 15 pick, whether it be somewhere like 4 or 14 remains to be seen.
LHP Joe Savery, Rice – There’s a stigma attached to Rice pitchers because of previous injury concerns to guys like Wade Townsend and Jeff Niemann. Savery can be a very good pitcher, but he has to hope for health. He throws in the low 90s and has a good changeup, but needs to develop a better breaking ball.
RHP Casey Weathers, Vanderbilt – He started his college career as an outfielder, but now he’s throwing in the upper 90s for baseball’s number one ranked team as the closer. He is one of those guys who could be pitching in relief later in the season or early next year.
LHP Nick Schmidt, University of Arkansas – He’s the kind of guy that seems better than he actually is. Schmidt can pitch and will give it his all, but he’s more of a mid-20s pick guy. The southpaw has a low 90s fastball and a decent changeup and curveball.
OF Julio Borbon, University of Tennessee – He may be getting more ink because there aren’t many college outfielders available in this draft, but Borbon was an excellent offensive force in Tennessee’s lineup at the top. The Volunteer has some pop and will swipe some bags.
1B Matt LaPorta, University of Florida – In his sophomore year, Matt LaPorta led NCAA in home runs with 26. In his junior year, Matt LaPorta struggled mightily due to an oblique injury. In his senior year, Matt LaPorta showed scouts that he’s an offensive force, with a .579 OBP and .853 SLG. He may be “just” a DH in the majors, but he’s good.
OF Michael Burgess, Hillsborough High School (Florida) – He has lowered his stock this past year, but Burgess should go in the middle 20s. He’s got awesome power, but not much speed, defensive ability, and the ability to consistently hit the ball. Teams just have to bet on his upside.
C Devin Mesaraco, Punxsutawney High School (Pennsylvania) – Behind the plate, Mesaraco is a good player, showing off a strong arm and can handle the duties of catching really well. Beside the plate, he’s got some pop in his bat.
OF Kyle Russell, University of Texas – Um, which Kyle Russell is the real Kyle Russell? The outfielder hit 27 home runs with the Longhorns, showing good on his power potential. However, the 6-5 outfielder also hit .206 last season in the Cape Cod League. Is he just a product of the aluminum bat? That’s the million dollar question.
And One Name Who Can Do Everything
OF/SP Michael Main, DeLand High School (Florida) – On the mound, he throws in the mid 90s. In the outfield, he shows amazing athleticism. On the mound, he dominated. In the outfield, he was a great player. Where does Main go? He can be a top pitcher or a five-tool outfielder. The best guess is that Main starts as a pitcher, and if that doesn’t work out, he’ll move to the outfield.