Elder Drew vouches for Stephen as draft approaches
Posted: Friday June 4, 2004 1:25PM; Updated: Friday June 4, 2004 1:25PM
By Mike Fish, SI.com
ATLANTA -- If Big Brother had a say, Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew would be the first pick in baseball's amateur draft next week. And from the sound of things, the Padres are leaning in that direction, at least for now.
J. D. Drew, the Braves outfielder, says his brother's numbers -- .354-14-52 with 14 doubles, six triples and nine stolen bases in 10 attempts -- are all the more impressive because opposing pitcher's aren't give him much to hit. Drew is being considered for the first pick along with Long Beach State right-hander Jered Weaver [kid brother of Dodgers pitcher Jeff Weaver] and 6-foot-9 righty Jeff Niemann of Rice.
"I've watched a bunch of his games and talked to him, and he doesn't get anything to hit," Drew says of his brother. "And when he does, somebody sneaks a fastball by him. Well, the last thing on his mind is seeing a fastball. You got a guy like Jered Weaver -- he can control his own thing. He can pitch and it doesn't matter who he is facing.
"When you're a hitter and facing some guy who doesn't want to give you anything to hit because there is a guy on second and third, you really want to get a hit bad and you're swinging at everything. That makes you look bad."
Padres general manager Kevin Towers has told Baseball America that he currently favors Drew, the top collegiate position player. But Towers doesn't have final say and opinions can change between now and Monday's draft.
No matter how it shakes out, Drew is all but guaranteed to go in the first round, which would make the Drew brothers the only trio of first-round picks in the 40-year history of the draft. J.D. went in the first round to the Phillies in 1997 (and the Cardinals one year later) and middle brother, Tim, was a first-round pick of the Indians in '97 as a pitcher.
The debate around youngest Drew is the position he projects to play in pro ball. He may end up shifting to second base or even center field.
"He can be a great shortstop," offers J.D. Drew. "I think the big key for him is to have somebody who can work with him on a daily basis. He doesn't have that at Florida State. Those coaches can't coach him playing middle infield. They just don't have the resources. They don't know it that well. Once he gets somebody who can work on his footwork and his hands a little bit -- I think he has incredible range. His first step is way beyond me. I can't believe how good it is.
"I don't know if I see him at second base unless he decides to make the move. His arm is too good. He may make that transition, but definitely he can play center field because he has incredible speed. That will be a no-brain transition for him. I think he really wants to push the shortstop thing to see if he has a chance at it. Worst-case scenario is he goes to center field."
Mike Fish is a senior writer for SI.com.