David, tampa: Jim, who are some of the candidates for TB with the top pick in the '07 draft?
SportsNation Jim Callis: Here's the top of the sneak preview that John Manuel is working on for our issue:
1. David Price, lhp, Vanderbilt
2. Matt Weiters, c, Georgia Tech
3. Andrew Brackman, rhp, North Carolina State
4. Matt Harvey, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton, Conn.
5. Justin Jackson, ss, Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C.
I'll add a bit more to the fun here.
One thing I forgot to mention about David Price is his athleticism. For a guy his size (6'6), he has terrific agility and awareness around the mound. Some scouts, coaches, and draftniks seem to think that he has a chance to be a gold glove pitcher, given this talent. If all things go according to plan, he should be ML-ready when he's drafted. That's not to say he'll be a finished product, but his stuff is already so good that he could come in to any team right away and be a productive starting pitcher. Whether or not that happens is anyone's guess.
I was in a bit of a rush when I was typing up my evaluation of Wieters and I noticed a mistake I made. His arm isn't pretty good; it's terrific. If he weren't a position player, he'd be a reliever and would still be a darn good prospect. He's touched 97 on his fastball in the past and could have ended up becoming a talented reliever. However, you simply cannot ignore how good his bat is. There is a really good reason why the Prior/Teixeira comparisons are being thrown around with Price and Wieters.
Brackman is going to be a fascinating study. I've seen him listed anywhere from 6'10 to 7'. However, there are a lot of things that work in his favor. For one, Brackman played basketball at NC State and for a period of time debated giving up baseball to focus on improving his skills and entering the NBA Draft. So, because he's split his time between the two sports (much like Jeff Samardzija in the last draft), he's still a bit rough around the edges. However, unlike Samardzija, his stuff is already fairly advanced and he has a decent degree of polish. He's not going to be one of those guys who needs to start from the ground up. Also, to his advantage, his arm doesn't have the mileage on it that some other guys in this draft do (more on that in a minute). He repeats his delivery, has three plus pitches (works 92-94 and has touched 97), plus a low arm angle, which can absolutely murder some hitters (see: Pujols). He's also pretty skinny. With some tall guys, you worry about their conditioning because they balloon up in a hurry. This guy won't be one of them. You'll instead worry about his endurance.
Matt Harvey is a RHP who's been competing with Michael Main and Robert Stock (until Stock committed to Southern Cal) for the top pitcher's spot in the draft. He has a projectable frame and already sits in the low 90s with his fastball. He's a pitcher from a mold similar to Chris Carpenter, with an over the top delivery, sitting in the low to mid 90s, with a big 12-6 curveball that completely fools hitters. He has a smooth delivery and clearly is the product of being the son of a coach who knows what he's doing.
Justin Jackson is indeed a Scott Boras client. Typically with Boras HS clients, they are incredibly tough signs (save for two years ago with Pawelek, who was the first official signee and paid slightly below slot). I don't know if that'll be the case with Jackson, considering most people see him as the top HS position player. The most important thing for him is that he is already polished defensively. Most scouts don't think he'll have to move to another position. He also has the complete package of tools, with most of them likely to end up as above average to plus. Coaches and scouts rave about him on and off the field. The only major concern I've seen with him is plate discipline. Not because people rag on it, but because people really don't talk about it. He could end up being really good at it...but I have no idea.
I'll talk a bit about Michael Main since I've seen plenty of people consider him as the top HS prospect overall. As a 15 year old, he was pitching 90-91. He has a large, imposing, and durable frame, reminiscent of Mike Mussina. His fastball sits at around 94 with good life. He's hit 97 on the radar gun on a few occasions. His curveball and change are both already good pitches. He has an injury history which seems to have finally cleared up. However, he has a tendency to overthrow and will have to iron out his mechanics.
That's all for now!