Draft's '08 class loaded with talent
By Jonathon Mayo / MLB.com
With the second the 2007 First-Year Player Draft ended, some have automatically turned their attention to the 2008 Draft class.
Scouting staffs will begin work on next year's Draft almost immediately. A lot can happen over the next year, but it's interesting to note which players would be atop Draft boards right now.
If you can't wait to learn about these top players, there are a number of places you can check them out. For a two-for-one shopping experience, head to Cape Cod. The top college players often play in the elite wood bat Cape Cod League and that circuit's all-star game is on July 28 in Wareham. One day earlier is the Baseball Express Cape Cod Classic, a high school all-star game which has featured players like 2007 first-rounders Josh Vitters and Phillippe Aumont. Not enough? Head across country for the AFLAC All-American Game in San Diego on Aug. 11.
Here's a list of high schoolers and college players who should be watched closely for next year's Draft.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
Alvarez was the only college player not eligible for the 2007 Draft who was a Golden Spikes Award finalist. The Vanderbilt third baseman was the SEC Tournament MVP hit .386, slugged .684 and had a .463 OBP during his standout 2007 season.
Jack Armstrong, RHP, Jupiter Community HS, Fla.
The son of the former big league pitcher of the same name, this younger Armstrong is a thin 6-foot-6 righty who throws in the low 90s. He's got room for more with a low-effort delivery. A standout basketball player as well, Armstrong is a terrific athlete.
Jordan Danks, OF, University of Texas
Danks, the younger brother of White Sox pitcher John Danks, was a pretty good prospect out of high school but wanted to go to Texas. He hit .332 in his sophomore year with 19 steals and a .440 OBP.
Ike Davis, OF, Arizona State
Another good draft prospect out of high school, Davis honored his commitment to ASU. He's been a two-way player as a left-handed pitcher, but his future is at the plate. Davis hit .354 as a sophomore and slugged .547.
Anthony Ferrara, Riverview HS, Fla.
Ferrara is a left-hander who has cranked it up into the mid-90s. He had some biceps tendinitis this season, but if he can stay healthy, the sky's the limit.
Aaron Hicks, OF/RHP, Woodrow Wilson HS, Calif.
He might be considered the top high schooler in the class as of right now. Hicks is an athletic two-way player who can reach the low 90s from the mound, but is probably an outfielder in the future and a potential five-tool guy.
Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage School, Fla.
Hosmer is a pure hitter from the left side of the plate, with a very fluid stroke. He's got some leverage for future power. He also can touch 90 mph on the mound, but the bat is his best tool.
Casey Kelly, Sarasota HS, Fla.
The son of Pat Kelly (the one who played briefly for the Blue Jays), Kelly is a big, strong and athletic shortstop. He's one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country as well and he shows the arm strength at short. He's got a short swing with some pop. Even though he's big, he should at least get the chance to stay at short.
Daniel Marrs, RHP, James River HS, Va.
Marrs dealt with a little tendinitis this spring, but sits in the low 90s with his fastball. His secondary stuff is a little behind, but he's a tall right-hander with plus arm strength.
Brian Matusz, RHP, San Diego
The second-team All-American went 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA, striking out 163 and walking just 37 over 123 innings for San Diego. Hitters managed just a .214 average against him during his sophomore season.
Quinton Miller, RHP, Shawnee HS, NJ
A right-hander with a low-90s fastball, he's got more advanced command than some of the other prepsters on this list. He can throw three pitches for strikes and might have a few more ticks on his fastball as he matures.
Tyson Ross, RHP, California
It may not have been a good 2007 draft for college right-handers, but 2008 might be different with Matusz and Ross at the top. Ross had a 2.49 ERA for the Cal Bears, striking out 120 and walked 39 in 115 2/3 innings.
Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina
A 16th-round selection in 2005, he would have gone much higher if not for his strong commitment to South Carolina. After hitting .317 with 21 homers as a sophomore, he now has 38 round-trippers in his two years of college ball.
Jacob Thompson, RHP, Virginia
Thompson became the Friday starter this past season, replacing Sean Doolittle, the school's all-time wins leader. That should tell you enough about him, but his 11-0 record, 1.50 ERA, .198 batting average against and 101 strikeouts in 114 innings show he belongs in the group of elite college righties on this list.