WTNYMay 24, 2006
Preliminary Bryan Board
By Bryan Smith

For many of the college players that will hear their names called in the upcoming draft, this weekend is their last to shine. Many are already finished, and many more will see their stock stay volatile as they enter the collegiate postseason. With less than three weeks until the draft, uncertainty still surrounds the last weekend of the NCAA regular season.

Before the craziness of conference and NCAA tournaments creates a large stir in the draft rankings, I wanted to release my first big board of the spring. Before the season, I wrote a top 20 college prospects article for SI.com, but since then, so much has changed.

Please note that the upcoming rankings are in no way the order I think players will be drafted in this June, far from it. Instead, these rankings indicate my opinions based upon statistics and conversations with those inside the game. I chose to keep high school players out of the rankings because I cannot judge them as well, and will leave that to far smarter men.

So, if I was in charge of creating a draft board for a Major League organization, the top 25 of the college version would read like this...

1. Andrew Miller, LHP: North Carolina
His lack of sheer dominance this spring is a concern for a $5M investment, but Miller is worth the money with great stuff and oodles of projectablity.

2. Brad Lincoln, RHP: Houston
Has consistently dominated mediocre competition in 2006 thanks to a lights out fb-cv combination. Improvement in change will determine pro success.

3. Evan Longoria, IF: Long Beach State
Will hit at the next level, as he has been one of the best on Friday nights. At this point, profiles at second or third, and versatility creates a nice utility infielder fallback option.

4. Max Scherzer, RHP: Missouri
His start against Texas last weekend should be a tell-tale sign to organizations that Max is back. With full health, Scherzer could challenge Miller for top spot.

5. Tim Lincecum, RHP: Washington
I love the comparisons to Scot Shields, who Lincecum could be competing against for Best Set-Up Men honors as early as 2007. I just don't see the potential as a starter.

6. Luke Hochevar, RHP: Tennessee/Fort Worth Cats
Seattle Mariners have such an interesting choice in the fifth spot: pony up on Scherzer, Lincecum or Hochevar? For many reasons, the latter choice would be defendable.

7. Drew Stubbs, OF: Texas
Torii Hunter is the closest comparison to Stubbs: great defense, good power, and poor contact abilities. He could be worse, but at the low end, he's a good bench outfielder.

8. Brandon Morrow, RHP: California
Morrow comes at you hard, with a big fastball and a good splitter. He is another that screams future reliever to me, but a bit of refinement could lend an even higher ceiling.

9. Joba Chamberlain, RHP: Nebraska
Joba could stand to use a postseason similar to his 2005 efforts, but no matter what, teams love his future innings-eater potential and hope his fastball returns to the consistent mid-90s.

10. Daniel Bard, RHP: North Carolina
So many questions surround a seven figure arm, as Bard has truly been inconsistent since a fabulous freshman season. Multiple first-round pick organizations should gamble.

11. Matt Antonelli, IF: Wake Forest
I love thinking of Antonelli as an athletic Edgardo Alfonzo; his 2006 improvements should cap a dominant calendar year for Antonelli.

12. Greg Reynolds, RHP: Stanford
For me, the ceiling isn't there. He could eat innings, stay at the back end of the rotation, but if he's much better than that, why doesn't he strike anyone out?

13. Brett Sinkbeil, RHP: Missouri State
A pretty complete package, Sinkbeil has three good pitches and a good pitcher's body. Should fly through an organization to the middle of a rotation.

14. Dave Huff, LHP: UCLA
I fell for Huff following his Cape performance last year, where he looked primed for a good spring. Results have followed, and Huff is the '06 draft's first "crafty southpaw."

15. Ian Kennedy, RHP: USC
I know, I know, it's been an awful three months now. But not many players have 2 seasons like Kennedy and completely fall apart forever. Will eat innings somewhere.

16. Matt LaPorta, 1B: Florida
More weaknesses than strengths, no matter how far he can hit a baseball. LaPorta might be fun to watch, but the caveats should worry people.

17. Kyle McCulloch, RHP: Texas
Similar to Reynolds, pitching with solid-not-great results against very good competition. Kyle's pitchability ranks off the charts, but his ceiling is simply low.

18. Justin Masterson, RHP: San Diego State
Go straight to the bullpen, directly to the bullpen. Do not pass go, do not start any games, and do not collect $200.

19. Drew Carpenter, RHP: Long Beach State
After outperforming teammate all spring, Carpenter closed the year as the Dirtbags' Friday starter. Had many bright spots in 2006, and is a supplemental-type pitcher.

20. Mark Melancon, RHP: Arizona
The health red flag is a cause for concern, but Melancon was playing so well before going down. A calculated risk at the tail end of the first round that could pay off big.

21. Wes Hodges, 3B: Georgia Tech
A big year put him in the top ten, but an inconsistent 2006 may have cost him a first round selection. Hodges won't ever be a Major League star, but could be a solid-to-average third baseman.

22. Jared Hughes, RHP: Long Beach State
The Cape's 2005 darling has not pitched well of late, and his draft status has tanked. But teams love the sinker, and he makes a great early 2nd-round pick.

23. Mark Hamilton, 1B: Tulane
It wouldn't surprise me if Hamilton outplays LaPorta in the pros, where he truly has Ryan Klesko potential. Whoever picks him will get big points from me.

24. Brooks Brown, RHP: Georgia
Another great Cape pitcher that has found mixed results in 2006. A big finish has helped his status, and his controlled 93+ mph fastball is looking more and more appealing.

25. Wade Leblanc, LHP: Alabama
Gave up way, way, way too many home runs this season, but every other peripheral was fantastic in a tough conference. A solid, if unspectacular, second round choice.

Final Honorable Mentions: Dallas Buck (RHP-OSU), Josh Butler (RHP-USD), Josh Rodriguez (SS-Rice), Chad Tracy (C-PEP), Steven Wright (RHP-HAW).


I'd like to see the high school ratings. I think nearly everyone cheats when it comes to talking about draft picks. I've never seen anything but short video clips of Travis Snider and Billy Rowell, but I have no problem preferring to take one (Rowell) over the other. Do I really know in any substantive way? No.

I agree with many of the caveats.

"Torii Hunter is the closest comparison to Stubbs: great defense, good power, and poor contact abilities."

How does Chad Hermansen compare?

Talk to me about Steven Wright.

Brett Anderson? supposed to be another pitchability pick from the left side

Steven Wright first drew my interest in the Cape last year, where he was one of the league's best closers, south of Derrik Lutz. Wright went back to starting at Hawaii this year, and has flown up draft boards with a fantastically dominant spring. Wright is your typical sinker/slider guy, not a favorite of scouts because he rarely touches 90 as a starter. He could either be a mid-to-back rotation guy, in my mind, or a solid little reliever.

Brett Anderson is a high school player, and thus, not eligible for this list. But a southpaw with a great pitchability ranking he is, thanks to having a father that coaches Oklahoma State. Anderson is one of my favorite high school pitchers in the draft - the most refined usually have the most success. He should go as one of the top 15 picks, and realistically, won't be joining his father at college.

APiNG, Hermansen is at the very low end, in my mind. I really think that if Stubbs proves to not make enough contact for prolonged success, he becomes a bench outfielder better than Hermansen ever became. He really has too much speed, power and defense not to. Hunter is one guy, and I've also heard the Mike Cameron comp. Both fit, both are describing similar players. If the Pirates don't want to pay up for the pitchers that best correlate with their spot, and Evan Longoria is gone, Stubbs should be an easy pick.

Bryan, how much do you believe "the most refined usually have the most success" for high school pitchers? It seems like "polish" and "refinement" carry with them certain connotations of low ceiling guys. All you read about Carmine Giardina is poise, polish, refinement, etc. But is he due more success than most of the lefties in this draft? I guess I'm confused on your statement.

Are there any guys that could be considered major league ready, a la Ryan Zimmerman? Or better question which player is closest to being major league ready?