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Extremely Early Thoughts on the 2008 Draft

I'm just starting to focus on the 2008 draft, but here are some preliminary thoughts. Note this is not intended to be any sort of comprehensive report, merely some early impressions and a way to get the discussion started.

It looks like a pretty deep class. On the high school side, I don't know enough to comment in any but the most general way at this point. Everyone seems to like Tim Beckham (SS, Griffin, Georgia) as the player with the best combination of tools and skills available. Another Georgia prep, Xavier Avery, is an outfielder with excellent speed and a cool name, but we'll need to see what kind of power he develops. There are all kinds of toolsy outfielders available. One guy I am intrigued with is Harold Martinez, a third baseman from Miami who is drawing kudos for a strong bat and potential gold glove defense.

On the high school pitching side, it's very early to say of course. The best current combination of stuff and command likely belongs to Tim Melville, out of Wentzville, Missouri. Gerrit Cole of Orange, California, throws harder but is not as polished. At this point I'm not at all focused on the high school pitching, as I expect that people are going to move up and down the list substantially this year. I think there is a lot of fluidity in this class.

On the college side speculations are on firmer ground, since I've actually seen many of these guys and we have some statistics to look at. There are some terrific bats. I agree with everyone that Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez is really, really good. He should be an excellent hitter. Justin Smoak of South Carolina has even more power than Alvarez but perhaps less overall polish. Miami's Yonder Alonso is the third elite corner infielder with an excellent bat. All these guys have good plate discipline and I think they will advance quickly. I tend to like bloodline players and for this reason I will track Jemile Weeks of Miami very closely.

The two University of Texas outfielders are intriguing. Kyle Russell has the big lefthanded power, but questions persist about his contact ability. Jordan Danks looks really good to me when I've seen him in person. Very fast, athletic, great glove, draws walks, and I think he has untapped power in his bat. He could move up the draft charts very rapidly with a good spring. Baseball America has him at number 40 on their college draft list, but it would not surprise me at all to see him in the middle of the first round if he can show more consistency.

On the pitching side, Aaron Crow of Missouri looks like the top guy to me, with excellent velocity and good command. Lefty Brian Matusz of San Diego is rated as the top guy by BA, but I like Crow a bit better right now. After that things thin out a bit, with a solid group of very good prospects who aren't quite as good as Crow and Matusz. Tanner Scheppers of Fresno State looks very interesting to me.

Thinking ahead to the 2008 Shadow Draft, the Twins pick 14th, 27th, and 31st, giving me a nice shot at adding additional talent to my fake farm system. My last three first round picks have been a college pitcher (Matt Torra), a high school first baseman (Lars Anderson) and a high school pitcher (Nevin Griffith). My Fake Twins Farm System is thin in outfielders and catchers in particular. While I don't particularly draft "for need" and prefer to take the best player available, it makes sense to me to add some depth at those positions. I don't see a particular reason to draft a first baseman early considering I have Morneau in the majors and Lars in the minors. I like to mix high school and college talent when possible as well. I'm assuming that the top guys like Tim Beckham and Alvarez will be gone by 14th. With that in mind, some guys I am keeping close track of for Shadow Draft consideration in the early rounds include (alphabetical by position):

Adrian Nieto, C, American Heritage HS, Plantation, Florida: Sounds interesting, switch-hitting catcher
Buster Posey, C, Florida State: Top college catcher available
Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside, California: top high school catcher
Jemile Weeks, 2B, Miami: Bloodlines
Harold Martinez, 3B, Braddock HS, Miami: Like the glove/bat combo
Gordan Beckham, SS, Georgia: Solid across the board
Jordan Danks, OF, Texas: Bloodlines, athleticism, speed, glove, walks
Dominic de la Osa, OF, Vanderbilt: possible senior bargain, have to consider costs drafting for the Twins
Luke Greinke, OF-RHP, Auburn: bloodlines
Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech: Interesting power bat
Dennis Raben, OF, Miami: Power bat probably available at 14
Brent Warren, OF, Xavier HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Always track the Iowa guys close
Cody Adams, RHP, Southern Illinois: I like the Midwesterners
Brett DeVall, LHP, Niceville, Florida HS: power lefty with 6-4, 205 build
Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Fresno State: Just like this guy for some reason

It's February 27, all of this will change of course.

Who are your favorite '08 draft prospects?