Draft Deadline Looms Large Pt. 2
Major League Baseball teams have just over a week to get their remaining 2007 draft picks signed, or they will lose all rights to those players.
Two weeks ago I took a look at the five teams who had, in my humble opinion, the best drafts. Those teams included Texas, Toronto, Arizona, Cincinnati and Washington.
Last week I analyzed the remaining American League teams to see who remained unsigned with the impending Aug. 15 signing deadline. This week I am taking a look at the remaining National League teams.
National League East
Atlanta Braves: Atlanta's first round pick Jason Heyward has yet to sign a pro contract but word is that a deal is waiting to be announced. The prep Georgia outfielder is a very talented player but is also considered raw. Heyward has plus-plus raw power. The other top pick yet to be signed is college reliever Joshua Fields, who will become the third Josh Fields in professional baseball when he signs. Once (and if) he signs, Fields is expected to move quickly.
Florida Marlins: Top pick Matt Dominguez has a commitment to Cal State Fullerton but he is expected to sign by the deadline. Although he played some shortstop in high school, Dominguez is expected to man the hot corner in pro ball. He is extremely talented but many believe his stance at the plate must be overhauled. The Marlins have also not signed their second (Mike Stanton, 1B, prep), third (Jameson Smith, C, Community College) and sixth (Taiwan Easterling, OF, prep) round picks.
New York Mets: The Mets have signed their first 11 picks. The lowest unsigned pick is ninth round junior college hurler Michael Olmstead.
Philadelphia Phillies: With the recent signing of college hurler Joe Savery, the Phillies have locked up their first three picks. Third round high school pitcher Brandon Workman is the highest unsigned pick.
Washington Nationals: The former Montreal Expos franchise is still trying to lock up two very talented, young prep pitchers: Josh Smoker (supplemental first round) and Jack McGeary (sixth round), who fell due to signability concerns. If the Nationals can get those two players signed, the future will look much brighter on the mound in Washington.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs: Top pick Josh Vitters remains unsigned but he is expected in the fold by Aug. 15. The third overall pick should be an impact player in four to five years. The Cubs have signed all of their other picks through the 11th round.
Cincinnati Reds: College hitter Blake Stouffer (fourth round) and Canadian prep pitcher Evan Hildenbrandt (sixth round) are the top remaining picks who have yet to sign. Of the two, Stouffer is the most likely to sign by Aug. 15.
Houston Astros: This draft looks ugly. In recent years, the Astros have not put much emphasis on the draft, for whatever reason. This year they lacked first and second round selections. They also have yet to sign their third (Derek Dietrich, 3B, prep) and fourth (Brett Eibner, RHP, prep) round picks. It appears as though it will continue to be free agents or bust for Houston (although you have to give them credit for developing Hunter Pence).
Milwaukee Brewers: With no second round pick, the Brewers made a splash by taking college slugger Matt LaPorta with their first round selection. LaPorta and the remaining picks through the 10th round have all signed on the dotted line.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The hapless Pirates have signed all of their picks from the first 10 rounds, including first round pick Daniel Moskos, whom they have chosen to convert to a reliever (he started and relieved in college).
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards have signed their first five selections. The one remaining pick, who may or may not sign by the deadline, is draft-eligible college sophomore Kyle Russell. The slugger is seen by many to be the next Russell Branyan.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs had one of the best drafts in baseball this past June and only first round pick Jarrod Parker remains unsigned among the top four rounds. Chances are good that he will get a deal done with Arizona before the deadline expires. Fifth round pick Tyrell Worthington is likely headed to college.
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have signed their first 13 picks. 14th round choice and prep outfielder Kentrail Davis had an outside shot of being selected in the first round but fell due to signability concerns. He is potentially one of the most talented players in the draft, but he is very, very raw. He is likely headed to college.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers, experts at the draft process, have locked up their first five picks. Fifth rounder and prep pitcher Kyle Blair has yet to sign. If he is locked up before the Aug. 15 deadline, he could be one of the biggest steals in the draft. The 18-year-old is an exceptionally smart pitcher and has a slightly above-average repertoire. He may benefit greatly by spending three years in college but I'd love to see him in pro ball.
San Diego Padres: With six picks before the second round the Padres were destined for a solid draft. They went the "safe route" and took college players with five of those six picks. The Padres have already signed their first eight picks. Third rounder and prep pitcher Tommy Toledo is the highest unsigned pick and he is expected to head to college.
San Francisco Giants: The aging Giants desperately need some fresh blood. Despite lacking second, third and fourth round picks, the Giants were set up well to infuse their system with some talent due to six picks before the second round. Of their three first round picks, though, the Giants still have yet to sign high school pitcher Madison Bumgarner and prep outfielder Wendell Fairley. After that though, the Giants signed all of their picks through the 22nd round.
In just over a week there should be a frenzy of signings, as players who have agreed to over-slot deals come to terms with their new organizations. Most of the players signed on or just before Aug. 15 will likely begin their careers in the fall instructional camps and make their official debuts on the field next April.