Previewing the Draft (Part Two)
Continuing with our preview of this June's draft, we stay the course by focusing on many of the big-name college prospects, including a trio of potential first rounders out of the No.1-ranked Miami Hurricanes.
Pre-season first-team All-Americans Yonder Alonso (1B), Dennis Raben (RF), and Jemille Weeks (2B) are all projected to go in the top 20 by Baseball America. In addition, third-teamer Blake Tekotte (CF) is a likely second or third round pick according to draft expert Jim Callis. Mark Sobolewski (3B), rated as the top draft-eligible sophomore by Baseball America prior to the season, is a "top five round talent" although Callis believes he won't go that high due to a poor showing on the Cape last summer and signability issues.
When coach Jim Morris makes out the lineup card, he writes down Tekotte, a prototypical lead-off hitter, first; Weeks, a speedy line-drive type, second; Alonso, a pure hitter, third; the power-hitting Raben fourth; and Sobolewski fifth. As a group, this fivesome has put up a .362/.484/.620 line through games on Sunday.
AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG Tekotte 123 48 6 3 6 25 12 .390 .506 .634 Weeks 119 48 11 3 7 13 18 .403 .463 .723 Alonso 106 38 8 1 8 41 17 .358 .533 .679 Raben 72 19 8 0 4 19 16 .264 .423 .542 Sobolewski 127 45 8 1 3 17 17 .354 .429 .504
Tekotte went 4-for-4 with two home runs and 12 total bases while scoring four runs and driving home seven in a 15-5 victory over Georgia Tech in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday night. Over the course of the three-game sweep, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder had nine hits (including 3 HR) in 15 at-bats. Weeks went 7-for-13 and Alonso slugged two homers among his four hits.
Tekotte, Weeks, Alonso, and Raben were all freshmen when I saw the 'Canes play UCLA a couple times in February 2006. Miami won two of three games in that series with Tekotte, Weeks, and Alonso starting all three contests. Raben started twice and appeared as a relief pitcher on Saturday.
Given his pedigree, I was most interested in seeing Weeks play. However, outside of sharing the same last name and playing second base, the brothers are more different than alike. The smaller Jemille is listed at 5-9 and 180 pounds, hits from both sides of the plate, and sports better speed and superior defense while Rickie has more power. Baseball America rates Jemille's speed as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale and calls him the "fastest runner" in college baseball. He is the best all-round second baseman in college and will probably be the second middle infielder taken (after Gordon Beckham, a shortstop out of Georgia).
Tekotte, the "third-fastest runner among the top college prospects," led the Cape with 22 steals in 23 attempts last summer. He is 16-for-19 this season. While I missed Tekotte at the Area Code Games in 2004, I saw him make a diving catch in left field with the bases loaded in the fifth inning against UCLA, a play that perhaps was the difference between Miami winning and losing the Sunday finale. Callis told me that the former football player, who tore up his knee during his senior year in high school, "might be the best college center fielder" in the draft.
Alonso, termed "the best all-around hitter in the Cape Cod League last summer" by Baseball America, combines a good, disciplined approach and a short stroke to hit the ball to all fields. He may not have the power desired from a first baseman but could be a "Todd Helton type outside of Coors Field" in terms of offensive production by Callis' way of thinking. Born in Cuba and a U.S. resident since he was nine years old, the 6-2, 215-pound lefthanded hitter was selected in the 15th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins.
Beset by back problems earlier this season, Raben has struggled a bit in his return and may need a strong finish to warrant going in the first round this June. Rated the No. 3 prospect in the Cape by Perfect Game Cross Checker, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound lefthanded slugger has "legitimate power" according to a quote garnered by Baseball America from an NL scouting director.
We will cover at least a half dozen other top college prospects from the east in our next edition of Previewing the Draft before moving westward and then winding up the series with a focus on the best high school prospects in this year's amateur draft.