2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft

UPDATE: 2:30PM Central: ESPN's Keith Law has the Cubs going with a college relief pitcher, Andrew Cashner from TCU. Interesting, he also thinks the Cubs' interest in Kelly has been overstated. I'm not too big on these college relievers, let's hope they go a different direction. Here's Law's take on Cashner:

19. Chicago Cubs -- Andrew Cashner, RHP, TCU

I had heard the Cubs were linked to Casey Kelly, but that seems to have been overstated. The Cubs are also the high spot for Jake Odorizzi, and have had some interest in Tim Melville. Brett Lawrie and Niko Vasquez both played well in a recent workout in Mesa, too.

Here's BP's take on the righty:
Seattle has been attached to a number of players at the 20th pick, and many of them, including Texas Tech outfielder Roger Kieschnick and Cal righty Tyson Ross, are the types of players that most teams see as falling just outside of the first round on a pure talent level. They’re also high on a number of college relievers, especially Cashner. If he’s there, the Mariners bite on it with the hope that they’ve found their next closer.

And BA's blurb:
15. LOS ANGELES (NL). Hicks also fits what the Dodgers look for, and if he's gone, they're zeroing in on pitchers. Martin, fireballing Texas Christian righthander Andrew Cashner, Hunt and Arizona lefthander Daniel Schlereth are all in the mix. Los Angeles is the one team seriously considering Arizona State two-way star Ike Davis as a lefthanded pitcher, but may not have seen enough of him on the mound to get that daring.

UPDATE: 1PM Central:
Baseball America has a new mock draft up. And things have changed up a bit. BA is now projecting the Cubs to take Missouri high school RHP Tim Melville with their 19th pick. Here's BA's take:

19. CHICAGO (NL). The Cubs are making some noise about homestate prep righthander Jake Odorizzi, but that's more of a smokescreen. Davis and Kelly appear to be back-burner guys rather than leading candidates here, so Chicago could be lying in the weeds on someone who's sliding—perhaps Missouri prep righthander Tim Melville, who wants a bonus commensurate with the top 10-15 picks.
Projected Pick: TIM MELVILLE, rhp, Holt HS, Wentzville, Mo.

And here's what Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein says on Melville:

An already bad system made downright barren by the Johan Santana deal needs help. The Mets are hardly complaining, because they got one of the best pitchers in the game, but with three picks between 18 and 33, the pressure is on for them to re-stock the system. They’re very high on University of Miami second baseman Jemile Weeks, and they might pop Rickie’s brother here if they don’t think he’ll be there when they select again at 22. On the other hand, Tim Melville began the season as one of the top high school pitchers available, but he disappointed observers throughout much of the season before returning to form down the stretch. He wants to be paid the way his pre-season status dictated, and the Mets have deep pockets.
Selection: Tim Melville, RHP, Holt HS (MO)

For some reason, I'm pretty excited for the MLB First-Year Player Draft this year. That's the first year I can really say that. I'm not too sure why. I know the MLB draft is a lot different than the NFL or NBA drafts. In those, you draft a guy, and he can immediately improve your team the following year. Not true at all with baseball. The average time it takes a player to go from the draft to the majors is 5-7 years. I don't really even want to think about how old I'll be in 7 years.

There's no guarantees in the MLB draft like there are in other sports. Teams will be drafting across 50 rounds over the next two days. If two of those guys make your major league club, you've had a good draft. And there's really no telling where you'll get these guys. The only Cubs players drafted and developed within the system are Geo Soto, 11th round in 2001, Ryan Theriot, 3rd round in 2001, Ronny Cedeno, undrafted in 1999, and Kerry Wood, first round in 1995. IF guys make the majors-you can find them anywhere.

But...it's still fun to look at this stuff. So ahead of this afternoon's draft (coverage begins at 2PM on ESPN2), let's take a look what direction some of the "experts" have this draft going.

The first overall pick in the draft was looking to be a crapshoot between Vanderbilt C, Buster Posey and Atlanta high school SS Tim Beckham. Until today. Apparently Posey is looking for something in the $12M range-some say it's a strategy to get him bumped down to a better team. But with this going down, look for Beckham (Tim, not David) to join the Rays (who will be picking first, again, and probably for the last time in a long time) today.

The Cubs will be selecting 19th in the first round. Who's going to be available, and who the Cubs will select at that point, is anyone's guess. Here is a nice article on the Cubs drafting strategy and where scouting director Tim Wilken will be looking. And here's the way some see this shaking out:

MLB.com Mock Draft:
19. Chicago Cubs: Casey Kelly, SS, Sarasota HS, Fla.
It's been looking likely that the Cubs will go with a high school bat if the right one is here. Collier and Lawrie have been mentioned, but with them off the board, it could leave the Cubs looking hard at Sarasota High School shortstop Casey Kelly. He's also a talented pitcher and a University of Tennessee QB recruit, but the Cubs have the resources to get it done if they so choose.
Last projection: Casey Kelly

Baseball Prospectus Mock Draft ($):

19. Chicago Cubs
Scouting director Tim Wilken loves athletes, but many of the Cubs' top targets are looking like they’ll be unavailable when the draft reaches them. So they may instead go with someone who has been a slow and steady riser, as the Cubs have been in on hard and heavy to see the last few starts by Illinois high school star Jake Odorizzi. He has the kind of velocity, command, and clean mechanics rarely seen from the cold-weather states. Odorizzi has been even better than ever down the stretch, consistently touching 95 mph with his fastball while showing a much-improved breaking ball. He’s not a hometown pick per se; Highland is actually only 35 miles from St. Louis. The Cubs passed on the best Midwest high school arm last year when they opted to take Josh Vitters over Jarrod Parker; they won’t let him go by this time.
Selection: Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland HS (IL)

Here's Baseball Prospectus' take on Casey Kelly:
It’s no secret that the Dodgers are also very high on Hicks, who plays in their back yard. With Hicks likely already gone by the time they pick, there has been a lot of speculation about the Dodgers going the college closer route, and their scouting department has been seen in attendance of Texas Christian closer Andrew Cashner’s late-season games. The problem is that kind of safety selection just doesn’t fit with the Dodgers' philosophy. High-ceiling high school players do, and the best one on the board at this point could be two-way Florida prep star Casey Kelly, the son of a big leaguer who has first-round talent as an infielder and as a pitcher, while also having a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee clouding his signability, a factor which contributes to people having him going anywhere from seventh to 30th

Baseball America Mock Draft:
19. CUBS.
Chicago is the first team that has been linked to Cole, though it's always possible that another club is lying in the weeds. The Cubs have no pressing needs and scouting director Tim Wilken loves athletes, so they could take a long-term project like Hewitt. Wilken's Gulf Coast ties also could lead him to Kelly, who shows equal promise as a pitcher and a shortstop.
Projected Pick: CASEY KELLY.

Phil Rogers' Chicago Tribune Mock Draft:
19. CUBS.
Sarasota (Fla.) H.S. SS-RHP Casey Kelly
: Scouting director Tim Wilken loves the potential of Kelly, a QB who hopes to be a two-sport star at Tennessee. He's the son of longtime minor-league manager Pat Kelly and is believed to be intent on a career in baseball, which would make it tough for him to turn down an opportunity with the Cubs.

This Kelly kid looks to be a good possibility for the Cubs. But will he fall to 19? And will the Cubs want to deal with trying to talk yet another player out of playing football (and having to do some with cash)? He sounds like he could be legit, but I'm not so sure I wouldn't rather have a kid who's all about becoming the best MLBer he can be, rather than screwing around with other sports.

Tune back in to Towel Drills this afternoon to see how this all shakes out.

Comment (1)


June 5, 2008 at 9:55 AM

I think that while the comparison to Jeff ND is too easy to pass up, I think we are talking about two very different creatures. First, Kelly is a HS'er...Jeff ND was a potential first round draft pick in the NFL. Second, Jeff ND was talked about as potentially a first round talent, but no experts actually picked him in the first round, because of the signability issue. Kelly seems universally in the first round discussions, making me believe that the experts believe he is headed to the diamond instead of the gridiron. Finally, his status as a top-rated QB needs to be put into context. Yes, he is potentially headed to Tenn. on a football schollie. And yes, he's was rated as a top 20 QB. But Tennessee also got a top 20 QB in the last two classes, so it's not as if this kid has been annointed as the next Peyton Manning.

If the Cubs do land him, does he need to be called Casey UT?