Posey projected to go No. 1 to Rays
By Keith Law
Updated: May 30, 2008, 3:30 PM ET
Making a first-round projection is like slamming your head into an omelette -- there's no way to do it without ending up with egg on your face. So, with a towel handy, here's my stab at the first 30 picks of next week's Rule 4 draft, accompanied by notes on other directions each team might take:
1. Tampa Bay -- Buster Posey, C, Florida State
The Rays are down to Posey and Tim Beckham, equally strong choices. Posey probably will cost them more but reach the majors faster, while Beckham is the better long-term prospect.
2. Pittsburgh -- Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt
The Pirates' decision also is down to Posey and Beckham, plus Alvarez, whom team president Frank Coonelly is said to covet in order to send a message to fans that the decision to pass on Matt Wieters last year won't be repeated. However, Alvarez scuffled in front of the Pirates' key decision-makers at the SEC tournament, and they might be waffling on their earlier commitment to him.
3. Kansas City -- Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage H.S. (Plantation, Fla.)
The Royals had sworn off Scott Boras clients after a tough negotiation with Mike Moustakas last summer, but they apparently have decided to have just one more for the road after seeing Hosmer's tremendous upside as a hitter. (They can quit any time.) Brian Matusz also is a consideration here.
4. Baltimore -- Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin (Ga.) H.S.
The Orioles have been on Justin Smoak, Beckham and Matusz this spring and probably would be delighted if Beckham, the draft's top talent, fell to them.
5. San Francisco -- Justin Smoak, 1B, South Carolina
The Giants are said to be "obsessed" with Smoak, but they would take Tim Beckham if he fell here and would look at Brett Wallace or Gordon Beckham if the board blew up -- for example, if the top four picks went Posey-Tim Beckham-Hosmer-Smoak or Beckham-Posey-Hosmer-Smoak.
6. Florida -- Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami
Florida likes Hosmer, with Alonso as a solid second choice. Ownership will have to sign off on a big over-slot deal to get Alonso in the fold. Alternatives include Kyle Skipworth.
7. Cincinnati -- Aaron Crow, RHP, Missouri
The Reds have been linked to Casey Kelly because his father coaches in their organization and is friends with their scouting director, but they are more likely to go for college pitching, especially if Crow and/or Matusz falls here, which would have to feel like Christmas in June.
8. Chicago White Sox -- Gordon Beckham, SS, Georgia
The White Sox's choices seem to be limited to Beckham and Wallace, although one of the college arms could be a sleeper pick here.
9. Washington -- Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot H.S. (Riverside, Calif.)
Skipworth could have cemented this spot with a better performance when the entire Washington organization flew to California to watch him play last month, but he still is in its final two with Zach Collier (assuming Alonso is gone).
10. Houston -- Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego
It's not far fetched to assume that either Matusz or Crow will fall to Houston, and Christian Friedrich and Shooter Hunt certainly will be here as well. Word is the Astros strongly prefer to take a pitcher over a position player. Crazy rumor of the day had them considering Daniel Schlereth.
11. Texas -- Christian Friedrich, LHP, Eastern Kentucky
Reports have Nolan Ryan going to see TCU closer Andrew Cashner recently, but I hope he realizes the folly of taking a college reliever this high with quality starters left on the board. Ethan Martin's first landing spots are here and perhaps Houston.
12. Oakland -- Brett Wallace, 3B/1B, Arizona State
Possibly the best hitter in the draft, Wallace's unusual body type has him low on most of the boards ahead of 12. Oakland also has been linked to David Cooper and, of course, any college player with "good stats."
13. St. Louis -- Shooter Hunt, RHP, Tulane
Local sentiment in St. Louis is for Wentzville, Mo., product Tim Melville, who was a solid top-10 pick coming into the year but had a somewhat disappointing spring. The Cardinals didn't take a high school pitcher before the seventh round in either of the past two drafts. With the big league team off to a good start, they could be in the market for a college reliever like Cashner, but unlike some of Cashner's and Schlereth's other suitors, they have internal options to fill out their 'pen.
14. Minnesota -- Aaron Hicks, RHP/RF, Wilson H.S. (Long Beach, Calif.)
The Twins (and Cardinals) have been linked to Friedrich, but he seems less likely to fall here than he did a month ago. Minnesota has cast a wide net, looking hard at Martin and Zach Collier, but Hicks' emergence as a potential No. 1 starter and/or middle-of-the-order bat has run him back up most draft boards.
15. Los Angeles -- Andrew Cashner, RHP, TCU
If the Twins take Collier, the Dodgers could turn right around and take Hicks, and there's still a chance they could take Collier if he is available. I was as surprised as anyone to hear the Dodgers were looking at college relievers, but Cashner and Schlereth apparently are in play, perhaps a reflection of the shortage of polished, high-ceiling high school players in this draft. They are rumored to be in on Martin, but he is more crude than the players assistant GM Logan White and scouting director Tim Hallgren typically take in the first round.
16. Milwaukee -- Ethan Martin, RHP, Stephens County H.S. (Toccoa, Ga.)
The Brewers have been hot and heavy on Connecticut prep shortstop Anthony Hewitt, but with four extra picks this year, including the second sandwich pick, they could play the board a little and try to nab Hewitt at No. 32. The Brewers do need some big league relief help and could look to Cashner, Schlereth or even Josh Fields, a senior and Boras advisee just like the Brewers' first-round pick last year, Matt LaPorta.
17. Toronto -- David Cooper, 1B, California
The Blue Jays would love to get Alonso, but there's little chance of that happening, and the top college starters are likely to be off the board as well. Expect a lot of local pressure for them to take Canadian hitter Brett Lawrie, who has had a hot spring but lacks a position. They won't take a prep arm, and they are much more likely to take a college player than a high school player because the high school hitters this year are raw.
18. New York Mets -- Jason Castro, C, Stanford
Interesting rumor of the week had a few top Mets people in to see Georgia at Vanderbilt before the SEC tournament, then spending the whole day up the third-base line, where you would stand to scout left-handed hitters … like Alvarez. The Mets covet Castro but probably could play the board here and try to grab him at No. 22 instead.
19. Chicago Cubs -- Casey Kelly, SS/RHP, Sarasota (Fla.) H.S.
The Cubs' scouting director, Tim Wilken, always has favored multi-sport stars, and Kelly is committed to Tennessee to play quarterback. He also knows Kelly's dad from their time together in Toronto. But more importantly, Kelly is a top-20 talent, maybe top-15, and offers more upside than anyone left on the board. The Cubs also have been tied to pitcher/wideout Jake Odorizzi and Melville.
20. Seattle -- Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Arizona
Everyone is assuming the M's will take a college reliever and shoot him to the big leagues to help their beleaguered bullpen. Cashner, Schlereth, Fields and perhaps Aaron Weatherford would fit here, as well as Arizona's Ryan Perry, who was great on the Cape last summer but has had an up-and-down spring. Scouting director Bob Fontaine has long shown a preference for size, which could hurt Schlereth (he's short) but also could help him (he's built like a football player, oddly enough).
21. Detroit -- Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia
This is the first potential landing spot for Gerrit Cole, a Boras advisee and probably the best pure arm in the high school crop this year, but Detroit also is looking for bullpen help, and Fields has now stuff, is a year or two older than the other relievers in the class and is a Boras advisee as well.
22. New York Mets -- Brett Lawrie, C/2B, Brookswood SS (Canada)
The Mets are looking for position-player depth, and Lawrie would be one of the better bats in their system, although his lack of a position is a long-term concern. He's not a catcher, so taking him behind Castro wouldn't be an issue -- Lawrie could at least return to second base to see whether he could handle that position with pro instruction.
23. San Diego -- Lance Lynn, RHP, Mississippi
The Padres nearly always go college in the first round, and while they have said they would like to take a position player, the best one available in this scenario would be Wichita State's Conor Gillaspie, yet another third baseman to get in line behind Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley. Lynn fits their profile for college pitching -- major conference, good performances, plus control and two quality pitches. He threw well in front of half of the Padres' organization in the SEC tournament.
24. Philadelphia -- Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills (Calif.) H.S.
The Phillies also have been linked to various college relievers, including Cashner, Schlereth and Weatherford, and they also are heavy on two Northeast products, Hewitt and Jason Knapp, with Knapp likely to be their pick in the sandwich round.
25. Colorado -- Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland (Ill.) H.S.
The Rockies have been heavy on Odorizzi the past few weeks as his game has continued to improve. They also are a possible landing spot for Collier.
26. Arizona -- Tim Melville, RHP, Holt H.S. (Wentzville, Mo.)
This would be found money for Arizona, although it's more of a fill-in-the-blanks pick, as I haven't heard the D-backs specifically linked to Melville, who was expected to go higher than this. Melville's velocity has been better in May, albeit not every time out, and the softness in his curveball might be just the result of a delivery tweak that the team that signs him can untweak.
27. Minnesota -- Anthony Hewitt, SS, Salisbury (Conn.) School
The Twins love Collier, but it's unlikely he'll get past all the teams between the Twins' picks if they don't take him at No. 14. The fear that the Twins would take Hewitt here -- or that the Phils or Mets would earlier -- could drive the Brewers to overdraft him at No. 16.
28. New York Yankees -- Gerrit Cole, RHP, Lutheran H.S. (Orange, Calif.)
Cole is a top-half-of-the-round talent, but his bonus demands are expected to be large, and whispers about his makeup started when he signed with Boras. The Yankees aren't afraid of any of those things.
29. Cleveland -- Ike Davis, 1B, Arizona State
Cleveland is in an unfortunate spot, picking near the end of the round where the best players left on the board will be signability guys, sandwiched between two teams that don't mind making it rain. The Indians are unlikely to go with a high school pick here, given the lack of polish among the available options.
30. Boston -- Reese Havens, SS, South Carolina
The Red Sox would love to see Castro get here, but the Mets won't pass on him twice. The Red Sox have been tied to every tough-sign guy in the draft, but they can just as easily grab a few of those later in the draft, even on the first day, while locking in more of a sure thing with Havens at 30.
For what it's worth, the best players on my rankings who aren't projected to go in the above 30 picks are Conor Gillaspie, Robbie Ross, Jemile Weeks and Aaron Weatherford.