Review of the 2008 First Round
Here is a review of the first round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft.
1) Rays: Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin (Georgia) HS
Beckham has terrific tools and the best overall package of current offense, current defense, overall athleticism, and projectability among the high school players this year. He might not develop great power, but he should do everything else well. ETA: 2011-2012.
2) Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
The Pirates are apparently not afraid of Scott Boras and Alvarez's bonus demands, which is good because he has a good shot at being a star/superstar caliber hitter and a fine fielder to boot. He's a potential franchise talent and the Pirates will pay accordingly. ETA: 2009-2010.
3) Royals: Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Florida
The Royals are also not afraid of Boras and have taken his clients atop their last two classes. Hosmer has a terrific bat and is a strong athlete and defender as well, and might be able to play a corner outfield spot if needed. He's the most advanced high school hitter available. ETA: 2011-2012.
4) Orioles: Brian Matusz, LHP, University of San Diego
Matusz pushed ahead of others this spring to emerge as the most complete package among the available pitchers, with a low-90s heater and a strong assortment of secondary pitches. He won't need much time in the minors, but doesn't have a David Price-like ceiling. ETA: 2009-2010.
5) Giants: Buster Posey, C, Florida State
Posey was floating a $12 million price tag before the draft, which probably cost him the first slot. He won't get that kind of money, but he won't come cheap due to his combination of excellent defense and strong hitting skills, with above average power as well. ETA: 2009-2010.
6) Marlins: Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Rubidoux, California
Skipworth is compared to a "Joe Mauer clone with more power" although he's not as skilled as Mauer defensively and some still question his long-term position. His left-handed power was second only to Hosmer's among high school hitters, however. ETA: 2012.
7) Reds: Yonder Alonso, 1B, University of Miami-Florida
This pick was a big surprising given that the Reds already have a good young first baseman in Joey Votto. But there's nothing wrong with Alonso's polished offensive approach and above average power, and scouts anticipate he'll reach the majors quickly. He probably doesn't run well enough to play the outfield. ETA: 2010.
8) White Sox: Gordon Beckham, SS, University of Georgia
Beckham exploded offensively this season and has very good power for a middle infielder. He'll be able to remain at shortstop defensively, and scouts love his gritty, aggressive approach to the game. He is another polished college player, at worst similar to Khalil Greene and probably better. ETA: 2010.
9) Nationals: Aaron Crow, RHP, University of Missouri
Crow's erratic but often brilliant spring made him the top right-handed pitching talent available. His 90-95 MPH fastball and strong slider need to be complimented with a better changeup, but he's polished in most ways and should blow through the lower minors. ETA: 2010.
10) Astros: Jason Castro, C, Stanford
The first major surprise of the draft, Castro is solid on both offense and defense but is not a sure-fire star, and won't hit as well as some of the players picked after him. Is his selection a sign that the Astros are down on J.R. Towles? Don't read too much into that just yet, but one has to wonder given the other talents still on the board at this point. ETA: 2010-2011.
11) Rangers: Justin Smoak, 1B, University of South Carolina
A steal with this choice, Smoak is a switch-hitter with exceptional power, strong plate discipline, and Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base. He will tear through the minors and should seize control of the Rangers first base slot sooner rather than later. ETA: 2009-2010.
12) Athletics: Jemile Weeks, 2B, University of Miami-Florida
Rickie Weeks' little brother doesn't have his sibling's power potential, but he's very fast, very athletic, patient, and has developed into a skilled defender. He would look good on top of a major league order as an OBP/speed tablesetter. ETA: 2010-2011.
13) Cardinals: Brett Wallace, 3B-1B, Arizona State
Some experts believe that Wallace might have the best college bat in the draft, but doubts about his thick legs and defense at third base hurt his stock just a bit. He'll mash for power and draw plenty of walks, but how he fits into the Cardinals lineup if he can't play third is a good question. The bat is terrific though. ETA: 2010.
14) Twins: Aaron Hicks, OF-RHP, Wilson HS, Long Beach, California
Hicks is second only to Anthony Hewitt as the best athlete in the draft, and is intriguing as both a hitter (power potential, speed, defense) and pitcher (90-95 MPH fastball, promising curve). The Twins seem to like him as a hitter, where he is very promising but also quite raw and will need time to develop his skills. ETA: 2013.
15) Dodgers: Ethan Martin, RHP, Stephens County HS, Toccoa, Georgia
Martin fits the Dodgers' mold as a strong-bodied young fireballer with a plus fastball but in need of some polish. He was a third baseman before this spring and needs more mound experience, but the Dodgers are confident in their ability to refine talents like his. He has number one starter potential if the command is there. ETA: 2012-2013.
16) Brewers: Brett Lawrie, C-3B, Brookswood SS, Langley, British Columbia
Scouts love Lawrie's feel for hitting, power potential, and solid plate discipline, rating him as the best Canadian high school hitter since Larry Walker and Justin Morneau. The only question is his position. He has a strong arm and is athletic, giving rise to hopes he can catch, though he might be better-suited for third base or right field. He'll hit anywhere. ETA: 2012.
17) Blue Jays: David Cooper, 1B, University of California
The Jays were reportedly interested in both Wallace and Lawrie, and with both off the board they went with the California Golden Bear slugger Cooper. No one doubts his power and he should draw walks too, but doubtful defense even at first base may limit him to a DH role eventually. This could be a slight overdraft. ETA: 2010.
18) Mets: Ike Davis, 1B-OF, Arizona State
Looking to rebuild a depleted farm system, the Mets went with a polished hitter who should hit for average and power in Ike Davis, son of former major leaguer Ron Davis. Ike also has a strong arm and runs well enough to play an outfield corner. He's not quite as good as Sun Devil teammate Wallace, but there's no question this is a legitimate pick. ETA: 2010.
19) Cubs: Andrew Cashner, RHP, Texas Christian
Cashner struggled as a starter in junior college, but converted to relief at TCU and showed off a 95-98 MPH fastball and a nasty slider. His command is still erratic, but the Cubs are talking about moving him back to the rotation and seeing if he can sharpen it and add a better changeup. He has one of the best arms in the draft but won't move as quickly to the majors if he starts. ETA: 2009 as a reliever, 2010-2011 as a starter.
20) Mariners: Joshua Fields, RHP, University of Georgia
Fields had a much better senior season for the Bulldogs, showing better command of his 95-97 MPH fastball and filthy slider than he had during his erratic junior campaign in '07. His control is still an issue, but he could end up reinforcing the major league bullpen quite soon if his command is even adequate in the pros. ETA: 2009.
21) Tigers: Ryan Perry, RHP, University of Arizona
Perry has a 90-95 MPH fastball but inconsistent secondary pitches and some problems starting for Arizona made him a bit of an enigma, some teams seeing him as a first round talent while others saw him more as a second rounder. Like Cashner, he would move very fast if used in relief, but will need more time in the minors if used as a starter. ETA: 2009 in bullpen, 2010-2011 if used in rotation.
22) Mets: Reese Havens, SS, University of South Carolina
Like fellow Mets draftee Ike Davis, Reese Havens is a polished college hitter who will move rapidly. He has above average middle infield power, strong plate discipline, and a terrific sense for the game. Scouts now believe he can remain at shortstop, though he might move to second base for the Mets. ETA: 2009-2010.
23) Padres: Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest
A surprise pick here, Dykstra is a local San Diego kid and the Padres likely did not want to wait until the second round and risk losing him. He has terrific raw power and good strike zone judgment, but most teams saw him as a supplemental round or second round talent due to his huge size (6-4, 230) and shaky defense. ETA: 2010-2011.
24) Phillies: Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury School (Connecticut)
Hewitt is the best athlete in the draft, with enormous raw power and terrific speed. He's also extremely raw, and will have to be bought out of a Vanderbilt commitment. Hewitt could become a superstar, but he could also be a huge bust who hits .200 in A-ball and never makes it. This is a huge gamble by the Phillies, granted the payoff could be equally huge. ETA: anywhere from 2012, to 2014, to never.
25) Rockies: Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky
The Rockies had to be thrilled that Friedrich dropped this far, given his status as the second-best lefty available on most boards. He has a 90 MPH fastball and a Barry Zito-ish curveball. How that curveball will act in the thin air of Colorado remains to be seen, but on his own terms Friedrich is an excellent pick at this spot. ETA: 2010.
26) Diamondbacks: Daniel Schlereth, LHP, University of Arizona
An intense reliever with a hard-nosed attitude, a 90-96 MPH fastball, and a wicked slider, Schlereth could be a major league closer or at worst a strong setup man. Some see this as an overdraft, but Schlereth was generating late buzz and I'm not surprised he went late in the first round given how quickly he could reach the majors. ETA: 2009-2010.
27) Twins: Carlos Gutierrez, RHP, University of Miami-Florida
I am surprised by this choice, as most teams pegged Gutierrez as a third or fourth round talent, but the Twins were in love with Gutierrez's excellent sinker and believe his slider will improve as he gets further away from 2006 Tommy John surgery. He projects as a setup man but could close if the slider comes around. ETA: 2010-2011.
28) Yankees: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS, Orange, California
Cole could have the best pure arm in the draft, reportedly hitting 100 MPH late this spring and consistently hitting 93-95. He fell to this spot due to Scott Boras, a UCLA commitment, and questions about his makeup and mound composure, none of which fazed the Yankees given Cole's upside. ETA: 2012.
29) Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Pitt Community College, North Carolina
At one time Chisenhall was the number three hitter in a South Carolina lineup that contained Justin Smoak and Reese Havens, but a burglary charge got him kicked off the team. He ended up in junior college. Scouts still love his bat and the Indians, who focus a great deal on makeup, are apparently convinced that his legal troubles are behind him. An interesting pick that could bear dividends. ETA: 2010.
30) Red Sox: Casey Kelly, SS-RHP, Sarasota HS, Sarasota, Florida
Kelly's athleticism and baseball bloodlines (son of Pat Kelly) attract scouts, and he showed enough with the bat this year to convince them he can be a regular, although he's still raw in some ways. He has a slot waiting for him at the University of Tennessee to play quarterback, so the Red Sox will have to pony up some cash to sign him. That shouldn't be a problem for Boston, and Kelly's upside is worth it although he won't reach the majors especially quickly. ETA: 2012-2013.
Article first appeared 6/6/08