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1998 mlb draft

draft list projected top picks past no.1s Baseball America: Projected First-Round Picks

1. Philadelphia Phillies

No clear-cut favorite for the top choice has emerged this spring, making Phillies scouting director Mike Arbuckle's job more difficult. Most of the speculation has centered around three college players, third baseman Pat Burrell and left-handers Mark Mulder and Ryan Mills. Burrell's back problems have complicated matters, but he's the guy the Phillies have wanted all along. Selection: Pat Burrell.

2. Oakland Athletics

The A's have gone heavily for college pitching under scouting director Grady Fuson, and they feel they can't lose with two talented college left-handers available. The big wild card is J.D. Drew, who is widely believed to be Oakland's choice if the A's think they can sign him. Selection: J.D. Drew or Mark Mulder.

3. Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have drafted heavily for pitching under scouting director Jim Hendry, with Kerry Wood being just one example. Mills has perhaps the highest ceiling of any college pitcher in the draft. Outfielder Corey Patterson also has been closely pursued. Selection: Ryan Mills.

4. Kansas City Royals

Scouting director Terry Wetzel's instinct is to draft athletes, but his organization's resources and talent base dictate a more conservative approach. Stanford right-hander Jeff Austin is probably the closest to the major leagues of any player eligible for the draft, though South Carolina shortstop Adam Everett is a tempting choice. Selection: Jeff Austin.

5. St. Louis Cardinals

Though the Cardinals have always been known for speed and athleticism in the big leagues, they have always drafted conservatively, concentrating on college players in the first round. But new scouting director Ed Creech comes from the Expos organization, where high-ceiling athletes are the priority. Selection: Corey Patterson.

6. Minnesota Twins

It's no secret what the Twins need: pitching, pitching, pitching. Scouting director Mike Radcliff and special assistant Joe McIlvaine had the responsibility of finding as much as they could. Right-hander J.M. Gold has been the class of the high school pitchers the past two months. Selection: J.M. Gold.

7. Cincinnati Reds

The new blood in the scouting department gave a boost to the Reds' beleaguered staff, but the important decisions are probably still made by veteran scout Al Goldis and general manager Jim Bowden's group of special assistants and advisers. The Reds might pull a surprise and select a player like prep corner infielder Austin Kearns, much as they selected Brandon Larson last year. Selection: Kip Wells.

8. Toronto Blue Jays

Tim Wilken has shown a preference for players with high-ceiling hitting potential. Given Toronto's continued offensive struggles in the big leagues, such an approach is understandable. The choice appears to have come down to Chip Ambres or powerful Ben Diggins. Selection: Chip Ambres.

9. San Diego Padres

The Padres have focused on high school third baseman Sean Burroughs and Stanford right-hander Chad Hutchinson most of the spring, though both have significant signability baggage. Burroughs is the best high school hitter in the draft, and the Phillies have even talked about him with the top pick. Selection: Sean Burroughs.

10. Texas Rangers

While the Rangers need an injection of up-the-middle talent, this isn't the year. In Carlos Pena, the Rangers could get a rare commodity, a young college player who has proven he can handle a wood bat. In shortstop Felipe Lopez, they would get a defensive whiz. Selection: Carlos Pena.

11. Montreal Expos

Logic says the Expos will take the approach of other small-market teams and draft older, more polished players who can contribute quickly. But the Expos have always lived on the raw athlete and show no indications of changing. In 1997, 13 of their top 14 selections were high school or junior college players. Selection: Choo Freeman.

12. Boston Red Sox

Scouting director Wayne Britton has shown that he loves a challenge, and Hutchinson will be one of the more challenging players in the draft to sign and to commit to baseball year-round. Not in question is Hutchinson's ability, which might give him a higher ceiling than any player in the draft. Pena and third baseman Mark Teixeira also are strong candidates. Selection: Chad Hutchinson.

13. Milwaukee Brewers

Five of the six players Ken Califano has selected in the first or supplemental round as scouting director have been college players. While Fresno State right-hander Jeff Weaver is in his fourth year of college, he has shown continued improvement and pitched well in key outings late in the spring. Selection: Jeff Weaver.

14. Detroit Tigers

At this point in the draft, most teams are hoping that a certain player will slip to them. The 'best player available' philosophy usually kicks in about this point. While shortstops such as Everett and Lopez may still be on the board, there are few better athletes than Diggins, who bears more than a little resemblance to Tigers first baseman Tony Clark. Weaver also is a fit, if he falls. Selection: Ben Diggins.

15. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates often make unconventional draft picks, and 1998 should be no different. They'll probably go for a pitcher. Selection: Chris George.

16. Chicago White Sox

Given the team's history of success with first-round college players, White Sox brass is said to strongly favor drafting from college in the first round. Five of Chicago's six first-rounders in 1997 were college or junior college players. This pick should be no different. Selection: Brad Lidge.

17. Houston Astros

Even with the Astros moving from the spacious Astrodome to a cozier home field in 2000, the organization should continue its strong history of picking big power pitchers in the first round. Few are bigger or pack more power than high school right-hander Pat Strange. Selection: Pat Strange.

18. Anaheim Angels

The Angels' revolving door at second base this spring has put the spotlight on a major weakness in the organization, middle infielders. While many college middle-infield prospects were disappointing this season, Everett has shown both polish in the field and bat potential. The Angels would take Lidge if he gets to them. Selection: Adam Everett.

19/25/29. San Francisco Giants

The Giants have seven picks in the first two rounds, a strange bonanza for a club that rarely picks high school players and has traditionally had a limited budget for signing players. Look for a heavy diet of college pitchers, including seniors such as Seth Etherton and Nate Bump. Selection: Bubba Crosby.

20. Cleveland Indians

The Indians have drafted almost exclusively for power during the '90s, and now they need an influx of speed and athleticism, especially in the infield. Lopez bears an uncanny resemblance to Omar Vizquel, and he has speed to burn. If its power they still crave, outfielder Rick Elder might be the answer. Selection: Felipe Lopez.

21. New York Mets

The buzz this spring has the Mets looking strongly at college pitching. Many of the top college pitchers at the beginning of the spring have disappointed, leaving less depth than expected. The top ones still on the board will be Etherton, Bump, Clinton Johnston, Jeff Verplancke and Matt Burch. Selection: Matt Burch.

22. Seattle Mariners

The Mariners, perhaps the best organization in baseball at picking the right player in the first round, need pitching, but this draft is deeper in power prospects. High school third baseman Mark Teixeira scares off many teams with his signability, but the Mariners have shown little fear of such issues before. Selection: Mark Teixeira

23. Los Angeles Dodgers

Some 135 high school prospects from California have been picked in the first round since the draft's inception in 1965, but the Dodgers have selected only one - and that was in 1965. That could change this year with right-hander Nick Neugebauer, who potentially has one of the best fastballs in the country. Selection: Nick Neugebauer.

24. New York Yankees

The Yankees' willingness to go wherever players are and spend whatever it takes to sign them allows them to go after high-ceiling players. Drew Henson may be the best high school athlete in the country, as he's a premium talent in baseball and football. The Yankees have no experience with a player who will continue to play football, which Henson almost surely will at Michigan. Selection: Drew Henson.

26. Baltimore Orioles

After years of being one of the most college-oriented teams in baseball, the Orioles switched gears and nabbed high schoolers with each of their three first-round picks in 1997. Elder, who's been compared to Braves star Ryan Klesko, can add to that collection of young talent. Selection: Rick Elder.

27. Florida Marlins

The Marlins have brought in so much young talent on their own and through the dismemberment of their big league team that a first-round pick will just blend into the mix. Austin Kearns entered the year as a top high school pitching prospect, but he struggled on the hill. He has more than made up for it with his bat. Selection: Austin Kearns.

28. Colorado Rockies

The Rockies have made it no secret what their priority in the draft is: young pitchers. Coors Field dictates few alternatives. Scouting director Pat Daugherty has also shown a distinct Midwestern flavor with their selections. Selection: Nate Cornejo.

52. Atlanta Braves

Trading your first-round pick for Andres Galarraga is good business, and the Braves surely don't regret it, especially picking 28th. The Braves are a hardcore high school pitching organization and there may be a unique pitcher available for them, right-hander Matt Belisle. He battled shoulder, knee and performance problems this spring. Selection: Matt Belisle

103. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have been heavily pitching-oriented in their development approach. Right-hander Brian Sager has been one of the biggest signability questions of the draft, with agent Scott Boras and a Stanford scholarship both involved. Sager could slide out of the first round and go off most teams draft boards as too expensive. Selection: Brian Sager.

132. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

The choice for scouting directors without picks in the first few rounds is which players to go see: the top prospects they would normally see or a lesser cut of talent they have a better chance of getting. Both Tampa Bay and Arizona won't hesitate to pick a signability or injury problem, so odds are that they've seen all the high-profile players, hoping one will slide. Selection: Matt Holliday. Baseball America


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