The MLB draft goes tomorrow. It used to be that a bettor could afford to ignore this event because it was going to be a while until the players were relevant. That’s no longer the case. The 2007 draft’s impact hasn’t yet been felt, but seven of the top ten players from 2006 are already in the pros, and a couple – Evan Longoria and Tim Lincecum- are well on their way to stardom. This year, again, there are several players who could step right into the lineup in a year or so and contribute. That means that getting familiar with them now will help you to take advantage of their appearances when they do show up. Here’s a quick look at the players who are likely to go at the top of the draft. We aren’t going to see nearly as many pitchers go in recent years. In fact, we might only see one go in the top ten.
Buster Posey, C, Florida State – You might recognize this guy as the one who recently played all nine positions in a game. You might also soon recognize him as the top pick in the draft. He might not have the biggest upside in the draft, but he is probably the closest to being ready. He has the potential to be an all-star for many years.Tampa bay is obviously pretty close to being the real deal, so they probably won’t want to draft someone they have to wait on.
Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin HS (Georgia) – If Posey doesn’t go first overall then Beckham likely will. He’s risky because he is young and a lot can change in the few years it will take him to make it. On the other hand, he has probably the biggest potential upside in the draft, and some team will take the risk. He probably won’t make it past Pittsburgh in the second spot, but will almost certainly be gone by the time Kansas City has picked third.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt – This is a clear sign that Vanderbilt is doing something right – Alvarez could go first and won’t go worse than third last year, and David Price went first overall last year. Alvarez has serious offensive upside, and he is versatile enough to move around the infield if need be.
Brian Matusz, LHP, University of San Diego – Matusz is potentially the only pitcher in the top ten. He had a complete game shutout in regional action last week, and he has been consistently impressive. I have him going to Baltimore fourth, but that could change.
Gordon Beckham, SS, University of Georgia – What are the chances of two shortstops from Georgia named Beckham who aren’t related landing in the top ten? Seems bizarre, but it will probably happen. He’s a remarkably good hitter for a shortstop, and he is competent enough in the field. His advantage is that he can make it through the minors and contribute to a team that needs the help. The buzz surrounding him and the Giants is huge, and they will soon need the next Omar Vizquel. The pieces fit.
Kyle Shipworth, C, Patriot High School (California) – This is the closest thing to a lock on the board. He’s not likely to go in the top five, and he almost certainly won’t get past the Marlins in sixth. They need serious catching help, and this guy has been tearing it up in high school. This guy could redefine power for the catcher position if he makes it.
Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina and Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami – I put these two guys together because they are largely interchangeable. They are both first baseman with very heavy bats. The Reds, White Sox, Washington and Houston all need power in their system, so these two guys will likely go to some combination of those four teams from seven to ten. They could even go sooner.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS (Florida) – The only difference between Hosmer and the previous two is that he is still in high school so he will likely take longer to come along. His talent is impressive, and he’ll also likely not make it out of the top ten.
Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri – This is the other pitcher who could go in the top ten. Like Matusz he had a complete game shutout in regional play. There isn’t really a lot to differentiate him from the other pitcher, so it comes down to what teams prefer.
Brett Lawrie, 2B, Brookswood HS (B.C.) – As a Canadian I have to mention this kid. He has huge power. He hasn’t been getting a lot of first round talk, but he did a big tour to the Dominican and lit it up and the buzz is really strong that Cincinnati picking seventh has their eyes on him. He doesn’t really have a position – in a good way – so the Reds could pick him now and let him find his place in the minors.e