Re: 2005 Draft
June 6: Cuban Defectors Update
by John Manuel
While the buzz is all good on shortstop Yuniel Escobar, the buzz on righthander Maels Rodriguez is not. Rodriguez has joined Escobar (and the group of Cuban defectors who are working out with Escobar at Braddock High in Miami) by putting his name into the first-year player draft. Rodriguez had been declared a free agent last winter but had been having visa difficulties, as well as difficulty regaining the velocity on a fastball that touched 100 mph in the 2000 Olympics. Reports this spring of Rodriguez' workouts with clubs such as the Orioles indicated he was throwing in the mid-to-upper 80s. He was ridden hard in Cuba prior to defecting (pitching five times in a seven-game playoff series), suffered back and shoulder injuries and enters the draft as a wild card.
Escobar, meanwhile, has done nothing but improve in clubs' eyes, and heading into Tuesday's draft he was likely to be a first-round pick. Clubs have two main concerns with the shortstop, who scouts are saying is shorter than his reported 6-foot-2 listed height. First, they want to verify Escobar's age; he's likely 22 or 23. Second, they question just how much power is in his bat, but it appears they won't be able to ponder him for long, because enough teams are interested that he seems unlikely to last into the second round.
I miss Adam Dunn.