Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pre-Scouting the 2010 #1 Pick

I thought it might be time to re-post this from a Jim Callis Q&A in January. Just in case you were wondering...
Rich (Columbia, SC): 2010 Draft question - I know it may be a bit early, but who do you project as the top 5 players for the 2010 MLB draft? Any clear-cut #1 (like Strasburg)?

Jim Callis: Too early to do project a top five with much accuracy. The leader to go No. 1 overall right now is North Carolina RHP Matt Harvey.
And then Callis said this the next week:
Had they been eligible, where would San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg (the probable No. 1 pick in 2009), North Carolina righthander Matt Harvey (the probable No. 1 pick in 2010) and Las Vegas High catcher Bryce Harper (the probable No. 1 pick in 2011) have ranked on your Top 100 Prospects list?

J.P. Schwartz
Springfield, Ill.

One of these things is not like the others. Strasburg might be the most anticipated pitching prospect of the decade, more than Mark Prior or David Price. Harper might be the most anticipated high school hitting prospect I can remember, more than Alex Rodriguez or Justin Upton. Harvey is a prime candidate to go No. 1 in 2010, but he's not in the class of Strasburg or Harper.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters and Rays lefty David Price are the clear top two prospects in baseball, and after them, there's little consensus as to who should rank No. 3. If they were eligible—we consider only professional players affiliated with major league organizations for the Top 100—Strasburg would rank No. 3 and Harper would rank No. 4.

Some scouts might take Strasburg over Price, and it's possible to argue that Harper could match Wieters' offense while providing better defense. However, Wieters and Price have established a high level of performance against a much higher level of competition, and I can't put a college junior or a high school sophomore over them at this point. When I did a story asking player-personnel experts how they'd stack up Price vs. Wieters Premium, most believed it's harder to find a catcher than a No. 1 starter. I'll still take Strasburg over Harper, because he'll make a near-immediate impact in the majors and Harper is still 2½ years from pro ball.

I like the top pitcher in the 2008 draft, Orioles lefty Brian Matusz, more than Harvey, and Matusz ranked No. 25 on the Top 100. Harvey would fit more in the 35-45 range, somewhere between pitchers Derek Holland (Rangers, No. 31), Wade Davis (Rays, No. 32), Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals, No. 41) and Tim Alderson (Giants, No. 45).
Followed by this:
Following up on the question from the last Ask BA discussing Matt Harvey as the leading candidate to go No. 1 in next year's draft, could you predict the top five picks for 2010? Your comment on Harvey makes me think it's not going to be a stellar draft, but maybe I'm just comparing everyone to Stephen Strasburg.

John Davis
Washington D.C.

The 2010 draft isn't stacking up as a stellar draft. Harvey is the projected No. 1 overall pick at this point, and he's not in the same class of a David Price or Matt Wieters from 2007, a Tim Beckham or Pedro Alvarez from 2008, a Strasburg from 2009 or a Bryce Harper or Gerrit Cole from 2011. He's not having an inspiring sophomore season (3-1, 5.32) at North Carolina, and Duke just shelled him for seven runs in two innings yesterday. His delivery isn't the prettiest, either, but scouts still love his fastball, curveball and body (6-foot-4, 225 pounds), so he's still the top candidate.