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MLB draft mailbag answers

MLB draft mailbag answers
How smart is it for a team, the Phillies, with a weak farm system to spend their first pick on a northeast player in Anthony Hewitt whose main weaknesses is hitting the ball?
R.J. from Collingswood, N.J.

I got a couple chances to see Hewitt play, and yes, against high-level competition he's had trouble with the bat. It is very, very hard to overlook his other tools though; they stand out huge. Was it the best choice for a team that has had trouble with their system? Maybe not, considering there were some good names still on the board. This is what the Phillies are sticking with though and have for a long time. Their hope is that one of these athletes clicks just right and becomes a superstar. They're willing to risk a lot of failures for that one picks that works out in a big way.

How long will it take for Buster Posey to make it to the majors? What kind of impact will he make on the Giants as a team and the league when he does get to the majors? All-Star?
Jason from Fresno, Calif.

In recent years more and more of these high draft choices are making a quick leap to the majors, but I'd say it could be a little more difficult for a catcher. His bat is ready to move quick, but keep in mind that catching is still fairly new for him. They're going to need to get him game savvy enough to call games for big-league pitchers and handle a staff. I personally think he'll adjust very easily but there's no way around the fact that it takes time. Chances are that his negotiations will go almost up to the Aug. 15 deadline so he may not see much minor league action until next year.

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I think what you'll see from him is a .300 hitter with 15-20 HR potential that handles himself well behind the plate. As a catcher you can't ask for much more.

Was it a mistake for Tampa not to take Buster Posey and get an immediate fix on their catcher situation? If the Rays make the playoffs, Buster is ready to fill that role now.
Dustin from Seneca, Mo.

Like I said above, Buster or any drafted catcher needs development in the minors. All that aside, I think Tampa Bay absolutely made the right choice. It's certainly been working for them to take players like Beckham so I stay stick with what's worked. Upton, Crawford, Young, and even Josh Hamilton all fit that mold of toolsy guys and look how they've turned out. With a track record like that you have to give the Rays the benefit of the doubt that they made the right choice.

With the O's needing hitters and position players did they do right by drafting a pitcher in the first round?
Nick from Las Vegas

I've told anyone that will listen about how much I like Brian Matusz. To me, Baltimore did a tremendous job on this one. He is not too far behind what David Price was last year. No, he isn't David Price but he's close. If you can get a dominant college starter who profiles to be a front of the rotation guy that just so happens to be left-handed I think it's something you absolutely have to do.

With Joey Votto taking over 1B for the Reds (so much so they allowed Hatteberg to leave), what are the plans for 1B pick Yonder Alonso? I know Jocketty takes the tactics of "best player available," but coming out of college, Yonder won't spend a lot of time in the minors. What do you see happening?
Jason from Cincinnati

That was a perplexing one for me when it happened, but it just goes to show that these guys are not lying when they say they'll pick the best player available. I'm not really sure I have any better idea than you on that. I really think that first base is the only spot Alonso can play from what I've seen of him. I guess it'll just be one of those decisions where the Reds will be happy if they have to make the decision on who to move.

It seems to me that the Padres should target athletic position players with plus defensive skills, however they seem to almost completely disregard athleticism. Why do you think this is?
Derrick from Tulsa, Okla.

Basically it just comes down to team philosophy. San Diego likes college players who have performed at high levels, and I'm not sure that is going to change any time soon. They are essentially the anti-Phillies. They do sometimes make you scratch your head but they are a team that believes in being safe when it comes to the draft.

However, there were not a lot of options like what you described unless you wanted to go very risky with a player like Anthony Hewitt. I think if Jemile Weeks was available they would have loved to have him. Dykstra is probably not a popular pick with San Diego fans but the guy can really hit and is as patient a young hitter as you'll find.

How likely is it that the Bucos will actually acquire Pedro Alvarez considering his agent? Why did the Pirates pick a slugger when their offense has been very productive this season instead of a high-quality pitcher to get things under control at the mound?
David from Pittsburgh

My feeling is that they wouldn't have taken him unless they were very sure they could land him. They are trying to make a big statement to their fans with this pick and don't want to mess it up. I suppose they could have gone with Matusz but it's really difficult to argue against picking Alvarez, as tremendous as he could be. Also, you have to consider what terrible luck they've had with pitchers in recent years. Matusz was really the only other option they had if they wanted a pitcher, but I think they wanted an explosive bat that could re-ignite some faith in them from the fans. I think they absolutely made the right choice. Hitters like Alvarez don't grow on trees.

Frankie, how are you? First of all, thanks for reading my question. I wanted to know your opinion about the Dodgers draft. Other than Martin, the first-day picks were a bit frustrating to me. But I believe in Logan White.
Ricardo from Curitiba, Brazil

I'm doing great, Ricardo. Thank you. Like anything else, and I think you have it right, you have to go with track records. The Dodgers, like the Twins and a couple other teams have such good records when it comes to the draft it is tough to argue with anything they do. I really love their selection of Josh Lindblom at 61st overall. That's quite an explosive arm to get at that pick. I saw a great deal of him in the Cape and he's one of the best arms in the country. They could really strike gold with Russell, too. Essentially, they bought lo on on him and receive a big payoff if they can straighten out his big lefty power stroke.

What's the difference for bonus moneys between the 30th round pick and the 50th round pick
Marv from Spokane, Wash.

When you get down that low it's close to nothing except a plane ticket. Of course, there are exceptions where teams simply ignore all rules and suggestions and give a player $1 million because they think he's a first- or second-round talent. That's rare for rounds that late though.

How does Justin Smoak compare to Teixeira coming out of College?
Armando from Amarillo, Texas

It's never easy to put those type of expectations on a player, but I think Smoak has the potential to be every bit as good as Teixeira. He might even be a more balanced hitter, in that he hits equally well from both sides of the plate. Predicting whether a guy can hit 40 home runs is not easy task but Smoak really is that special.

Did the Twins reach too high for Carlos Gutierrez of U. Miami late in the first round.
Tom from Shakopee, Minn.

Like I mentioned before with the Dodgers, until they prove otherwise, the Twins deserve to be trusted with their selections. I think all of us in the media just perhaps had our closers ranked a little bit wrong. If you watch him throw he really stacks up right with the other closers in the class. Ben Revere was considered by some to be a reach last year but has worked out so far. I totally trust the Twins made the right choice here.

The Mets seemed to avoid drafting high-end high school players. Was this because they wanted to draft players who would come to the majors sooner? Because they wanted to adhere to the "slotting" policy (something they had suggested they would not do)? How would you rate their draft?
Jim from Nassau County, N.Y.

I think the Mets did what they had to do, and that was get some guys that could immediately improve their system. Reese Havens and Ike Davis are really two of the best college bats out there and Mets' fans should be thrilled by that haul. This wasn't a year for the Mets to be risky and take a high school player who could blow up in their faces. They increase their odds that at least one of these two guys will make a big impact for them. You also have to consider when a team has two picks in the first round it is hard to just ignore the slotting rules. You'd find yourself spending an awful lot just in the first round.

Which players drafted on Day 2 do you imagine we'll be hearing about in the future? Which team had the best Day 2?
Menelaus from Salem,Ore.

Excellent question. More and more, Day 2 is becoming a factor because good players slide due to signability issues. As they typically do, the Yankees picked a lot of high-upside guys in the late rounds, and because of the money they have signability may not be an issue. The same goes for the Red Sox, who did they exact same thing.

As for individual players, a couple of eighth-rounders stand out to me. Ricardo Pecina is a good lefty arm with some nasty stuff. Washington made a nice pick there. Also, Isaac Galloway was suppose to go in the first round and ended up falling to the Marlins in the eighth. Early word is that he may sign so that could be a steal and a half for Florida. D.J. Mitchell, a 10th rounder for the Yankees out of Clemson, is a guy I and a lot of scouts loved in Cape Cod last summer. The righty showed a fastball with big movement and he touched 94 MPH. The word is that stuff diminished a bit this spring. If it returns, that's a big time arm to get in the 10th round.

The Giants have been a running joke for a number of years because of their inability to develop home-grown position players and their repeated mistake of overpaying washed-up veterans. How far do the acquisition of Gillaspie and Posey go toward changing the Giants makeup? Will these guys be big league players by 2010?
Andrew from San Francisco

I think you have a real good shot at seeing those guys in 2010. Posey will get all the big talk but Gillaspie can really hit. I've been saying for a while that he could have been one of the best pure hitters in this draft. I think he'll be a guy who can start out at a real high level. I think you, as well as all Giants fans, have reason for hope after this class.

Why did the Mariners pick Josh Fields? The only reason I can muster is they will put him in the setup role and move morrow to the rotation.
Jason from Spokane, Wash.

Might there have been some better talents on the boards? Yes, maybe. But, Seattle made it pretty clear that they were going to take the biggest college arm available to them and they felt Fields was that guy. He really is a guy that you could probably stick in the pen maybe as early as September.

Does Brett Wallace become one of the top five prospects for the Cardinals after this year?
Mike from Fenton, Mo.

I absolutely think he will be. I don't think there are too many systems he wouldn't be. There aren't many bats as good as what Wallace brings to the table.

I saw that Baseball America really liked Sonny Gray's arm. He's really small for a pitcher, comparable to Lincecum, but still was said to have the best fastball and curveball in the draft. He also said that he was serious about college. What are the odds the Cubs will be able to sign him now that he's been drafted considering if he doesn't sign he won't beeligible again until after his third year?
Kyle from Chicago

I'd be shocked if the Cubs were able to sign him. He's been adamant about going to Vanderbilt and that's historically a tough one to pry guys away from. This will likely end with Gray pitching for Vanderbilt for a few years. I don't think he's Lincecum in terms of stuff but he'll probably get his money in three years if he stays healthy.

How do you rate the selection of Cooper by the Blue Jays, when the comparable Ike Davis was still on the board? Was it a good pick?
Kai from Ottawa

Purely in terms of picking the best hitter, I think Toronto made the right choice. Cooper, I believe, is the better hitter with a better track record. He hit better in the Cape and probably will move faster up the ladder.

Does the Mets top draft pick of first baseman Ike Davis mean that they've grown iffy about their so-called future first baseman Mike Carp? Carp is having his best minor league campaign this year, but maybe they see some serious flaws in his game.
Darren from New York

I wouldn't read too much into that. They wanted to take the best bat available and they felt that was Davis. I don't think they were thinking to much about already having Carp. They probably also feel that if things go perfectly they could probably shift Davis to the outfield. It's one of those decisions the Mets will be happy if they have to make.

What is the ceiling on Shooter Hunt? And how long until he gets a shot at the bigs?

Shooter was one of my favorite arms in this class and I still think he was one of the top few pitchers in this draft. In other words, I think Minnesota got an absolute steal. He's got a plus fastball, sitting easily at 93-94 MPH with a big, hammer curveball. The only issue for him is some spotty command at times. I see him as a No. 2-type starter in the bigs only because the less-than-ideal command keeps him from being that top dog. I don't think he's that extra-fast-moving guy, but if all goes well I could see him pitching for a spot in the rotation in 2010.

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Added: June 10, 2008

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