Ten years ago was a draft that had a ton of talent in it. I wasn't doing draft coverage in 2001 so I will look back at how the great minds at Baseball America saw the draft in their Early Draft Preview.
Looking back at the February 19th-March 4th, 2001 issue, it is obvious to see how a crystal ball could be extraordinarily useful in this business. Leading off the high school top 100 list was RHP Mike Jones from Thunderbird HS in Phoenix, Arizona. Jones was a two way player who could run it up to 98 on the mound and could have been drafted in the top two or three rounds as a center fielder. On the mound "he throws so easily now that he may establish new standards for velocity for a high school pitcher this spring."
#2 on the list was the best pure hitter, Casey Kotchman. "One of the most advanced hitters to come out of high school in years." Kotchman was also commended for his power with wood and ability to make big league parks look small.
Along with Mike Jones, the top athletes were Roscoe Crosby(#16), Joe Mauer(#5), Chris Carter(#9), Justin Nelson(#47) and J.J. Hardy(#15). Surprisingly, Mauer wasn't mentioned in the pure hitter portion, just Kotchman and Garrett Guzman(#91) who lacked the size and raw tools to be a premium prospect but could flat out hit. He definitely lived up to that as he hit really well in the low minors but never made it to the big leagues. 1B/OF Billy Paganetti (#6) had "plus bat speed and leverage from his 6'4" frame, making the ball explode off his bat." Josh Ford (#33) and Brad Nelson (#43) could crush the ball but weren't as polished as "Pags" and Kotchman.
#4 "Kris Honel's curveball ranks with Bobby Bradley and Josh Beckett's for the best high school hammer in recent years." J.P. Howell at #44 was noted for his unhittable slider at the high school level but lacked velocity to be a 1st rounder. Andy Sisco at #11 was raw mechanically and could hit 95 MPH, and as a 6'9, 250 pound lefty, it allowed scouts to dream. Dan Denham had a curveball nearly as good as Honel, but was more inconsistent. Kyle Davies (#27) and Macay McBride (#21) also had dominating sliders.
Brandon League was at #10. All-stars David Wright (#37) and Stephen Drew (#40) were a little further down the list. Vanderbilt commit Jeremy Sowers, at #31, was one of the closest to the majors.
On the college side, it was led by Georgia Tech 3B Mark Teixeira. "Teixeira's combination of bat speed, plate discipline (an NCAA leading 67 walks in 2000) and power make him as sound a hitter as college baseball has seen in years." Todd Linden (#4) from LSU was considered the best athlete and the closest thing to a five tool talent in the college ranks. Patrick Boyd (#18) and Gabe Gross(#6), who was Auburn's QB as a freshman, were also in the mix. Tyrell Goodwin, who wasn't going to play in his senior year at NC was mentioned. Another eye catcher, 6'6" Dwight Edge (#77) was a Tight End at Florida and may have had the best tools but was very raw when it came to baseball skills.
Outside of Tex, Linden, Mike Fontenot (#15) and Brian Stavisky (#17) were amongst the best pure hitters. The last 3 were mentioned mostly because they excelled the previous summer in the Cape Cod League.
The best power hitters included Tex, Linden and a player that evokes Fred McGriff and Willie McCovey comparisons named Ryan Howard. He was #16 on their top 100.
When it came to pitchers, RHP Preston Larrison (#9) was the hardest thrower who occasionally hit 97-98 MPH. RHP's Mark Prior (#2) and Dewon Brazelton (#5) sat at 94 and could reach 96. RHP Josh Karp (#3) was just behind them. Mike Gosling (#10) and Jon Switzer (#14) were the hardest throwing southpaws and Gosling had good late life with a low 90's fastball. Both Karp and Prior were praised for their breaking balls that were both big league strikeout pitches and Aaron Heilman had the best slider in the nation. Lenny DiNardo was praised for throwing both breaking balls for strikes and his ability to command them .
Some other notable players in the top 100 were Bobby Crosby at #8, Tagg Bozied at #11, Shelly Duncan at #19, Trevor Hutchinson at #25, 3B Khalil Greene at #29, 2B Chris Burke at #37, #49 Kelly Shoppach, #56 Jeff Keppinger, and #75 Noah Lowry.