Royals will avoid p.r. nightmare, take UNC's Miller
Posted: Monday June 5, 2006 12:04PM; Updated: Monday June 5, 2006 6:37PM
North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller is considered the top player in the draft, but the Royals may balk at his asking price.
Top 5 College Pitchers
1. Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina
2. Tim Lincecum, RHP, Washington
3. Brad Lincoln, RHP, Houston
4. Greg Reynolds, RHP, Stanford
5. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Nebraska
-- Baseball America
Top 5 College Hitters
1. Evan Longoria, 2B/3B, Long Beach State
2. Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas
3. Matt Antonelli, 3B, Wake Forest
4. Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
5. Emmanuel Burris, SS, Kent State
By Bryan Smith, Special To SI.com
Tuesday's major league draft may have a shortage of hitters, but what it lacks in talent it makes up for in intrigue, as uncertainty has lingered at the top for months. When the selections are announced, here are the 30 names you should expect to hear first.
1. Kansas City Royals: Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina In the end, look for the Royals to avoid a public relations nightmare. The top of this uncertain draft has provided some odd speculation, but the easiest route for the Royals is to take Miller. Neither Miller nor Kansas City's backup choice, Brad Lincoln, has pitched particularly well recently, which means the Royals should go with the player who offers the best pure stuff.
2. Colorado Rockies: Evan Longoria, 2B, Long Beach State The Rockies want Miller, a player whose two-seam fastball could spell success at Coors Field. However, if he isn't available, the Rockies will likely go with their fourth infielder in four years. Many in baseball have reservations about Longoria's ability to play second, but he should be solid there and has an above-average bat.
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Brad Lincoln, RHP, Houston With a crowded outfield full of blue-chip youngsters and a solid group of infielders, the Devil Rays are focusing on pitching in this draft. They would have considered Longoria had they signed juco first-round talent Bryan Morris, a 2005 selection, but his re-entry into the draft ensures a pitcher. The last two pitchers the Devil Rays drafted -- Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend -- didn't fare so well, so Tampa will look for the sure thing. The consistent Lincoln is just that.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Daniel Bard, RHP, North Carolina This will be the wild-card pick of the draft. Owner Kevin McClatchy dislikes prep pitchers, ruling out sensible choices Clayton Kershaw and Kyle Drabek. Drew Stubbs makes sense, but his bat is uncertain and the Pirates selected an outfielder in the first round last year. The decision is likely between Bard and Greg Reynolds, both college right-handers coming off good regional appearances. Here's to guessing that in a stuff vs. polish argument, stuff wins out.
5. Seattle Mariners: Luke Hochevar, RHP, Fort Worth Cats This may be the most interesting pick among the top 10. The Mariners have the money to avoid signability concerns, so they must decide between the three most talented pitchers at this spot: Hochevar, Washington's Tim Lincecum and Missouri right-hander Max Scherzer. The Mariners always liked Hochevar, and with the gradual improvement he has shown in Independent League ball, it makes the selection justifiable. A year of rest on his right arm doesn't hurt either.
6. Detroit Tigers: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Highland Park (Texas) High For the second straight season, the Tigers will go for one of the top two prep talents in the draft. Some argue whether Kershaw or Drabek is the better pitcher, but no one disputes that Kershaw is the safer pick. Tigers officials were on hand when Kershaw recently struck out every batter he faced over five innings. While other picks, including Drabek and Stubbs, make sense, Kershaw offers the most value.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers: Drew Stubbs, CF, Texas The Dodgers have made it known that they love Kershaw, and if he drops to this spot, it might be the quickest decision of the draft. However, he won't, so the Dodgers will have to decide between prep pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, Drabek, Stubbs and Reynolds. Scouting director Logan White continually asserts that he has no preference between high school and college players, but his track record tells a different story. It has been high schoolers in the past, and it could very well be Jeffress, but Stubbs offers more than enough tools to entice White.
8. Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Morrow, RHP, California In his time with the Twins, new GM Wayne Krivsky saw a lot of college pitchers drafted. Look for him to bring that same philosophy to Cincinnati, which has been in need of good pitching for a long time. There are concerns about Morrow, but at worst most teams think he could be a solid reliever. Since dominating the Cape Cod League last summer, Morrow's mid-90s fastball and tough splitter have turned a lot of heads.
9. Baltimore Orioles: Bill Rowell, SS/3B, Bishop Eustace (N.J.) Prep The Orioles have the money to mix things up, so it would not be a surprise if they drafted Lincecum or Scherzer. However, it's more likely the team will lean toward taking a high schooler, deciding between the best hitter and local product Jeffress. While people disagree on Jeffress' potential, most believe that Rowell is a worthy top 15 pick, and his individual workouts have gone well. The hitter gets the nod.
10. San Francisco Giants: Matt Antonelli, 2B/3B, Wake Forest The Giants' system could use more pitching, and as a result, the team would be interested should Bard or Morrow drop this far. However, few players have taken a rise in the last year like Antonelli, a player who most resembles a 2005 Giant: Edgardo Alfonzo. Many people consider Antonelli a reach in the top half of the first round, but no one in this draft offers the blend of athleticism and discipline that he does. If the Giants do opt for a pitcher, Antonelli could end up dropping pretty far.