The high school season is basically over, and the NCAA conference tourneys wrap up this week. That means we’re inching closer and closer to draft day. So here are some bullet point goodness to hold you over.
- Strasburg Watch: 94.1 IP, 54 H, 18 BB, 174 K, 1.34 ERA. With a 12-0 record in 13 starts, Stephen Strasburg has more wins than the Nationals (11-27), and his 174 strikeouts are just 52 fewer than the entire Nats’ staff, despite throwing 249.2 fewer innings. Acting GM Mike Rizzo has all but confirmed that the Nats will make the righty the first pick in the draft.
- While on the subject of the Nats, Rizzo also says the Nats will not go cheap with their second pick, #10 overall. Slot money for the tenth overall pick is expected to be around $2.1M, which means the Nats could spend close to $27M on their first two draft picks this year, nearly half their 2009 big league payroll of $54.9M. The current record for the most cash spent on one draft class is the $11.1M the Royals handed out last year.
- The Mariners are all over UNC 1B/CF Dustin Ackley at #2. He’s the best hitter in the draft class, and perhaps the safest bet in the class as well, even safer than Strasburg. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Ackley has recently seen time in center field, which is where he’d be most valuable. The only knock against him is his moderate power potential, but there’s no shame in falling back on a Mark Grace-esque type of career. Peter Gammons recently sung the kid’s praises.
- The two top LHPs in the draft, high schoolers Tyler Matzek and Matt Purke, are rumored to be seeking bonuses upwards of $3M, which would be overslot outside of the top three or four picks. It won’t take much for one, if not both of these kids to go the Rick Porcello route and fall to the back end of the first round. Either would be an outstanding selection for the Yanks at #29.
- It looks like USC SS Grant Green caught the same draftitis bug that hit ex-Trojan Ian Kennedy three years ago. He’s hitting .374-.439-.579 and has hit just one homer in conference play (four overall), underwhelming for a guy who was considered to be one of the three best players in the draft back when the season started. There are serious concerns about his ability to stay at short, and if he has to move off the position his value takes a significant hit. Green could still go as high as sixth overall to the Giants, but I would not be shocked at all if he was still on the board when the Yanks’ first pick comes around.
- Jason Churchill of ESPN and Prospect Insider spoke to at least one scout that thinks the Yankees could pop prep catcher Luke Bailey at #29. You may remember that I wrote about Bailey two weeks ago. He was the consensus top high school catching prospect coming into the year, but recently had Tommy John surgery.
- If you put a gun to my head right now, I’d guess that the first five picks play out like this:
1. Nats: Strasburg
2. Mariners: Ackley
3. Padres: Donovan Tate, CF, Georgia HS (new owner makes a splash)
4. Pirates: Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Indy League (they love him, and they took him last year so they have the best medical info of any team)
5. Orioles: Aaron Crow, RHP, Indy League (this would give them the two best pitching prospects from the ’08 draft)
- The Braves love their local products, so Georgia HS RHP Zack Wheeler seems like a slam dunk for them at #7. If Arizona State RHP Mike Leake makes it to the Diamondbacks’ back-to-back picks at 16 & 17, expect them to pop the local college product. Oh by the way, Leake’s 1.35 ERA (106.2 IP) would be an NCAA single season record, breaking Floyd Bannister’s mark (1.45) which has stood since 1976. It’ll be nearly impossible for him to maintain an ERA that low through the postseason, but it’ll be a fun story to follow.
- Bryce Harper’s season is over. His numbers were absolutely insane.
Just a reminder, you can check out the draft order at our 2009 Draft Order Tracker at anytime. Given the injury to Rickie Weeks, I suppose there’s a chance the Brewers could sign Mark Grudzielanek (resulting in another sandwich round pick for the Brewers), but I highly doubt that happens.