#1 Will Steinbach, P - Reds: looks like the Reds decided to take their chances with next year's #2 pick rather than go fishing in a weak draft this year
#2 David Estrella, RP - Dodgers: Surprise pick here as the Dodgers skipped over a number of more "fulltime-player" choices (I had Estrella 8th on my board) to grab a closer. There was little question about his potential - his pre-draft projected ratings were off the charts - and his post-draft current ratings confirm a bright future. Projected Major League Role: top-flight closer
#3 Chip Caminiti, IF - Orioles: Pre-draft: The opposite of his counterpart (#9 Ryne) Gant in the health/DUR department...much lower injury risk but will have significant in-season fatigue. Looks like he'll develop much better range and glove ratings than Gant...almost certainly good enough to play a top-notch 2B and possibly enough for CF. While he won't have Gant's accurate cannon arm, it will be plenty good for 3B and a big + for 2B or CF. As a hitter, he won't be Mr. Contact/On-Base...his split will be lower than Gant's, although not bad...so I expect him to hit for a lower average and OBP than Gant. His big plus as a hitter over Gant is in the power department...he could easily be a 40-HR hitter. Projects to being a good baserunner but not the base-stealer Gant will be. Tough call between Caminiti and Gant. Gant will be better in more categories, but Caminiti, with his power stroke and ability to play 3 critical defensive positions, might be the rarer talent. Post-draft: current ratings more or less confirm his pre-draft projections, with the exception of the 58 Glove. Projected Major League Role: 40-HR 2B/3B and maybe a few All-Star trips
#4 Jorge Campos, SP - Brewers: My scouts missed this guy, but based solely on current ratings I think we have our first major misstep of Round 1. With splits starting in the 30's, it's tough to see them reaching higher than the mid-to-high 50's...maybe low 60's for the vR. And the pitches...nothing special there. Projected Major League Role: at best, a SP5/LR, although a long AAA career wouldn't surprise me.
#9 Ryne Gant, IF - Athletics: Pre-draft - tossup between Gant, Caminiti and Wooster for the top college player in this draft. Gant's range is likely to limit him to 3B, although he'll be excellent defensively there. As a hitter, he'll have great vL and vR splits, but only middling contact and walk-drawing-skills. I see 25-HR power. Will have some big years around .320/30 HR's, and probably have some disappointing .260/20 HR seasons as well. Fairly high injury risk, although he might not ever leave the field for any other reason (high DUR). Should be a very good baserunner, possibly a 30-40 base-a-year thief. He's a little less than you'd hope for in a top-5 pick, but certainly a solid addition in a poor draft. Post-draft - don't think his batting splits will reach the lofty heights of his pre-draft projections, but they're still starting pretty high. Projected Major League Role: everyday 3B, maybe a few All-Star Games
#10 Brace Wooster, SP - Yankees: Pre-draft, I had him #1 on my board - he looked like a huge innings-eater with pinpoint control, 2 excellent pitches, 2 above-average pitches, and decently-high splits. His current ratings are moderately disappointing, though, so I'm a bit less optimistic post-draft. Still projects to be a good pitcher, and a solid selection at #10. Projected Major League Role: #2 - #3 starting pitcher
#21 Jeimer Carrara, 2B/CF - Expos: Pre-draft, he was #4 on my board (although I saw almost no High Schoolers and it was a big drop from the top 3 of Wooster, Caminiti and Gant). His range might become adequate for him to play 2B (his glove will), but he's more likely going to be a good defensive LF. Not much plate discipline, but pretty good contact and power, combined with excellent vL and very good vR. Only average speed and slightly better baserunning, and a higher than ideal injury risk. 160-game-a-year durability. Post-draft: current ratings look very good, maybe even good enough for some positive surprises. One to watch: Range. My (supposedly) pretty good college scouts pegged his range projection at 73. He's starting at 67, so if he can exceed the projection by a few points he becomes a far more valuable player at 2B than LF. Projected Major League Role: looks like a .275, 25-HR hitter. Not bad if he's a LF...if his range grows to 75 and he's a 2B, he's one of the BARGAINS OF THE DRAFT
#22 Milton Jacquez, RP - Cardinals: Pre-draft, we had moved him way down our list because of the very low STA projection we had (8). Given that he's starting at 15, we can at least say he's capable of being a 1-inning reliever. Quality-wise: great control, 1 great pitch and good enough splits. Projected Major League Role: not positive there is one. Setup B for a few seasons at best.
#23 Rip Elbert, OF - Tigers: pre-draft, I had him #31. His path to the majors rests entirely on the premise that his range reaches 80-85...enough to play CF...as his 40's-to-50's splits will render him useless as a COF or 1B. My projections say his range won't make it there, but in this draft he was probably as good a bet as any at 23. Projected Role: AAA COF/1B
#24 Sean Wagner, SP - Mariners: pre-draft, I had Wagner at #41, which in retrospect was too low. I project him to have good enough control, vR and pitches to at least have a better shot at a ML role than #22 Jacquez or #23 Elbert. That vL will limit him to duty against all or mostly-all righty lineups, but that's not terribly uncommon. Not a great shot at a ML role, but certainly a reasonable risk at this stage of the draft. Projected Role: probably AAA, but a shot at ML mopup or LRB
#25 Billy Shoemaker, RP - Tigers: Why not? At least the question about him is crystal clear...will his control develop well beyond anyone's projections (my scouts say 37 tops)? If so, he's the steal of the draft. Splits should easily reach 80's, maybe 90 for the vR. 2 good pitches. I don't think his control will let him be a successful ML pitcher, but he'll probably get some chances.
#28 Nomar Ashley, SP - Red Sox: pre-draft, I had him pushed down to #40 due to my scouts' estimation that his splits would max out at 48 and 53. His current split ratings aren't great, but they're enough that they COULD surpass 48 and 53. The talent has really thinned at this point, so I can't take issue with the pick, but he's a real long shot for any ML role. Projected Role: AAA SP
#31 Luis Santos, ?? - Padres: pre-draft, I had him at #37 and saw him as having an outside shot as a ML utility CF/2B pinch runner type. He's not going to hit at all, and I doubt his glove rating makes it to the 75 my scouts projected. Projected Role: AAA
#32 Ugueth Infante, SP - Expos: pre-draft, I had him at 28, with projections of decent enough control and splits but woefully inadequate pitches. Post-draft, his mid-50's splits are encouraging - not crazy to think they might reach the 70's. His pitches still don't look like much...that will really limit him but he might get some ML time. Projected Role: probably AAA, but a shot at ML LR.
There's your 1st round of the collegians, with only Estrella, Caminiti, Gant, Wooster and Carrara looking like 1st-round talent. There are a few more guys who I think slipped some, and could ed up being nice bargains:
#44 Al Herrera, 2B - Expos: pre-draft, I had him at #6 on my board, potentially with 25-HR power and .300 contact skills. His current ratings are a bit disappointing, but he could certainly develop into a full-time ML 2B. That would make him one of the absolute steals of this draft.
#74 Dustin Painter, LF - Yankees: I had him at #7, based mostly on his 35-HR potential. Critical rating: my scouts saw his vR reaching 61, which is now in real doubt given his 41 current rating. Still, if the worst case for him is a vL platoon OF, it's better than most of this crop.
#49 Jarek Albers, RP - Reds: I had Albers at #11 based on pre-draft projections of 85 control, 83 vL, 70 vR and 2 monster (90+) pitches. In a testament to how fuzzy our projections really are now, his current ratings brought me back to earth. His control now looks like it'll end up in the 70's, splits in the 60's, and those 2 good pitches still good but 80's. Probably still a pretty useful 1-inning ML reliever.
There will undoubtedly be some more ML players come out of the later rounds...got a suspicion some will come from the ranks of the defensive SS types. Couple of things seem clear about our fuzzy projections now: 1) a first-round pick is no guarantee of getting a ML player, and 2) it pays to do your homework deep into the draft - there WILL be positive surprises in Rounds 2 and 3 (I think).