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Top 2000 - 2009 MLB Draft Prospects
ama72@cornell.edu
| June 2, 2009
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June 9, a week from today, Major League Baseball will be holding its first year player draft. As part of the celebration, I have compiled a top-40 list of the top prospects heading into the draft in the past decade. These players have been compared to legends before signing a professional contract, and as you can see, some were successful, and others not so. Also, make note of Stephen Strasburg. He is number one on this list, and could be among the best pitchers in baseball by next season. 1. Stephen Strasburg – P San Diego State (Projected #1 pick, 2009) Strasburg is a prospect of historic proportions. He was the only non-professional player on the Olympic squad, and he has three great pitches already that most scouts believe he is not only capable, but expected to succeed, if placed in a major league game today. 2. Mark Prior – P Cubs (2nd overall, 2001) Prior was drafted out of USC and was already being compared to Nolan Ryan. He had three amazing pitches and was considered at the time to have perfect mechanics. He eventually had a dominating but short career due to a whole slew of injuries caused by high pitch counts and flaws in his mechanics. 3. Justin Upton – SS Diamondbacks (1st overall, 2005) Drafted as a shortstop, everyone knew he would move to outfield, but when you are already being named the next Ken Griffey Jr., that is not the worst move in the world. A true five-tool talent, Upton was very refined as a high schooler and was expected to move through the system quickly. 4. Delmon Young – OF Rays (1st overall, 2003) Albert Belle was the name that stuck out to me with Delmon Young. The younger brother of Dmitri, Young was a great athlete that had a cannon as an arm and incredible bat control. 5. David Price – P Rays (1st overall, 2007) Price was being named the best prospect after the 2006 draft, and he did not disappoint. The debate rages about if he was the best left-handed pitching prospect in the draft era. 6. Joe Mauer – C Twins (1st overall, 2001) Mauer could easily have been the best athlete in the past 10 years. He received a full scholarship to start at QB for Florida State, but turned it down after being selected number one. Although most scouts believed Prior to be the better pick that year, it was difficult to argue Minnesota picking a cheaper, extremely talented, local boy with the selection. If Mauer could remain at catcher (and his size was a question), he was supposed to put up historic numbers. 7. Rickie Weeks – 2b Brewers (2nd overall, 2003) Weeks and Young made it a good battle for who should be selected as the first overall pick. Weeks was considered the lower ceiling pick, but when your low ceiling was winning many batting crowns, you deserve the #7 prospect on this list. Weeks had an advanced bat, which propelled him to the majors right after being signed. 8. B.J. Upton – SS Rays (2nd overall, 2002) The older Upton brother was slightly less looked upon than his younger brother. Unlike Justin, the question of B.J. remaining at short remained in the air, giving him more value in that regards. He just was a little more raw than his brother, with slightly less power potential, but he was easily the best prospect going into the 2002 draft. 9. Alex Gordon – 3b Royals (2nd overall, 2005) The last time Kansas City had a superstar was when George Brett manned third base. That made Alex a perfect pick. After being named collegiate player of the year for Nebraska, Gordon was expected to put up Brett-ian numbers, hitting for a high average and good power. 10. Matt Harrington – P Rockies (7th overall, 2000) [[link|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=090423/harrington]]This ESPN article sums up Matt Harrington.[[end-link]] 11. Matt Wieters – C Orioles (5th overall, 2007) Wieters was considered a great hitter, but what really gave him value was that scouts thought he was good enough defensively to stick behind the plate for a long time. 12. Andrew Miller – P Tigers (6th overall, 2006) Miller was an All-American for UNC, and was great all three years he pitched. He was expected to move quickly and was supposed to have three refined pitches. His 6’ 7” frame helped too. 13. Evan Longoria – SS Rays (3rd overall, 2006) There were actually questions about Longoria before the draft. Some scouts thought he was the greatest hitter since Mauer. Others were not sure he would have the bat to become a starter. 14. Tim Beckham – SS Rays (1st overall, 2008) Scouts just love Beckham’s tools. He was being compared to shortstop legends like Barry Larkin and Derek Jeter. The reason he is so low was that it may take him a little longer than most of these other prospects to reach the majors. 15. Pedro Alvarez – 3b Pirates (2nd overall, 2008) If Alvarez was eligible to be drafted in 2006 or 2007, he would have been top-5 on this list. After an injury-filled year, Alvarez was still considered a great pick, but questions about his work ethic arose. He has crazy good bat speed which is hard to deny. 16. Luke Hochevar – P Dodgers (40th overall, 2005) I chose the 2005 Hochevar over the 2006 one (who was drafted number one overall by the Royals). At the time, he was considered the best pitching prospect in one of the best classes of the past 20 years. The reason he fell (and eventually did not sign) was not due to talent, but rather money demands. 17. Mark Teixeira – 3b Rangers (4th overall, 2001) Teixeira may have been the best pure bat if he did not have an injury filled year at Georgia Tech. Scouts knew he would not be able to remain at third which hurt his value, but he still had an advanced bat that was up for question depending on his health. 18. Stephen Drew – SS Diamondbacks (15th overall, 2004) The great shortstop was not as good a prospect as his older brother J.D., but he still was highly regarded as the best player in the 2004 draft. There was very little separation between him and the next two players on this list, but as a shortstop, he was considered a hot commodity. 19. Jared Weaver – P Angels (12th overall, 2004) The Californian was ready to contribute quickly in the bigs. He had excellent stuff, and was highly touted several years leading up to his pick. 20. Jeff Nieman – P Rays (4th overall, 2004) Nieman was the leader of the Rice trio (Philip Humber and Wade Townsend) that kept Rice atop the country for most of the year. He had the best fastball going into the 2004 draft. 21. Joe Borchard – OF White Sox (12th overall, 2000) 22. Rick Porcello – P Tigers (27th overall, 2007) 23. Tim Lincecum – P Giants (10th overall, 2006) 24. Mike Pelfrey – P Mets (9th overall, 2005) 25. Buster Posey – C Giants (5th overall, 2008) 26. Dewon Brazelton – P Rays (3rd overall, 2001) 27. Zack Greinke – P Royals (6th overall, 2002) 28. Scott Kazmir – P Mets (15th overall, 2002) 29. Gavin Floyd – P Phillies (4th overall, 2001) 30. Jeff Clement – C Mariners (3rd overall, 2005) 31. Cameron Maybin – OF Tigers (10th overall, 2005) 32. Dustin Ackley – 1b/OF University of North Carolina (Projected #2 pick, 2009) 33. Eric Hosmer – 1b Royals (3rd overall, 2008) 34. John Van Benschoten – P/1b Pirates (8th overall, 2001) 35. Kyle Sleeth – P Tigers (3rd overall, 2003) 36. Gordon Beckham – SS White Sox (8th overall, 2008) 37. Clayton Kershaw – P Dodgers (7th overall, 2006) 38. Lastings Milledge – OF Mets (12th overall, 2003) 39. Aaron Crow – P Fort Worth Cats (Projected top-5 pick, 2009) 40. Jeremy Guthrie – P Indians (22nd overall, 2002) One final note: there is no Adrian Gonzalez on this list. Despite being the number one pick in the 2000 draft by the Marlins, this was due to his signability over his talent. [[link|url=http://wvbr.com/sportsblog/402]]He turned out pretty nicely.[[end-link]]
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