|You won't find Johnny Bench on the list of high school catchers taken
with the No. 1 overall pick of the June baseball draft.
You won't find Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter or Mike Piazza, either.
You will find Steve Chilcott and Danny Goodwin -- and, if you want to be
real technical, Mike Ivie and Rick Monday (whose future positions came with
instructions that read: "shin guards not included").
But Joe Mauer is no Steve Chilcott. If he is, a whole bunch of scouting
directors are going to look seriously ridiculous in about five years.
Well, the Minnesota Twins apparently aren't worried about that -- because
indications Monday were that they were about to bypass two sure-thing college
studs to make Mauer the first pick in Tuesday's first-year player draft.
The Twins never wanted to mess with Scott Boras, who is representing
Georgia Tech third baseman Mark Teixeira. But they did negotiate furiously all
weekend with John Boggs, agent for Southern Cal right-hander Mark Prior, one
of the most ballyhooed college pitchers ever.
But then, according to three different scouting directors, the Twins abruptly turned their attention to Mauer on Monday after deciding they couldn't cut a pre-draft deal with Prior, who now is said to be looking for up to $20 million.
If, in fact, the Twins do end up taking Mauer, they'll be getting maybe the most
highly regarded high school catcher in the history of the draft. And they
sure won't incur the wrath of any Minnesotans, since Mauer comes from St.
Paul, where he is viewed as possibly the best all-around high school athlete
since Dave Winfield.
So if the Twins take Mauer, they'll definitely know what they're getting.
Heck, they've seen almost as much of Mauer as they have of Denny Hocking.
Normally, when baseball people talk about high school catchers, you would
think there must be some unknown baseball regulation requiring that almost
every upbeat word be followed by the phrase: "but he's a high school catcher."
Not with this guy. Just listen to a sampling of scouts and scouting directors
talk about Mauer, a 6-4 left-handed-hitting masher:
"He's the best catcher I've seen in years. He's got a stroke like John
Olerud. His arm's so good, I saw him throw 91 (mph) off a mound. I saw him
take BP in the Metrodome, and he hit two balls in the upper deck. And it
isn't just his tools that impress you. This kid has great leadership skills."
"We love the guy. Initially, you hear he's a catcher from Minnesota, and
you take a step back. But then you watch him. He's effortless in everything
he does, in all parts of the game. He's a middle-of-the-order run producer
with the bat. He can throw. He can catch. And he should stay behind the plate
for a long time. But if he ever moves to first base, he's a Gold Glove first
baseman. That's how talented he is."
"I've been doing this for a lot of years now, and I've never seen a catcher
like that guy. He's got a booming bat. I mean, he takes BP and cars are
stopping in the street. It's something to see."
Mauer, who will be represented by long-time agent Ron Shapiro, does have bargaining power, since he holds a football scholarship to Florida State. But he'll still come cheaper than Prior and Teixeira, both of whom are rumored to be asking for dollars well in excess of anything ever paid to a drafted player. (Pat Burrell's $8 million package with the Phillies is the current precarious record.)
So unless they can close the gap with Prior at the last minute -- or go with third choice Dewon Brazelton, right-handed pitcher from Middle Tennessee State -- the Twins will call Mauer's name, making him the first high school catcher to go No. 1 since Goodwin in 1971. Then the rest of the draft will get rolling.
While agents' demands jumbled this picture like a jigsaw puzzle Monday, here is the latest projection on the rest of the top 10 picks, as best the scouting directors we've surveyed can figure it:
2. Cubs: Mark Prior, RHP, Southern Cal
Agent: John Boggs
Scouting report: "He's every bit as good as the hype. He should be pitching
in the major leagues by September. He should be a fifth starter in the big
leagues by next year. And down the road, he's a sure No. 1 or No. 2. ... Reminds me physically of Roger Clemens -- but not Roger Clemens when he was
drafted, Roger Clemens after five years in the big leagues. ... He's a
power pitcher in a power pitcher's body. He's Schilling. He's Clemens. He's
big. He's strong. And look at his numbers -- a lot of strikeouts (189, in 131
2/3 IP) and not many walks (17). You just don't see that from guys like this."
3. Devil Rays: Mark Teixeira, 3B, Georgia Tech
Agent Scott Boras
Scouting report: "The kind of guy who could contend for a batting title and
contend for a home-run title. The real deal. ... Switch-hitter. Better from
the left side. But he could hit 40 home runs a year just hitting left-handed. ... Defensively, you can play him at third base, but he's no Scott Rolen. Can't play the outfield, so your options are one of the corners -- third or first. ... Real close to the big leagues. Just give him time to adjust to
the wood bad, get a feel for the pro game and let him fly."
If not Teixeira: Boras had earlier "advised" the Devil Rays not to take Teixeira because he wouldn't sign. But there have been rumblings Monday that new COO John McHale Jr. has been negotiating personally with Boras. If that deal falls through, the Devil Rays probably would take Brazelton.
4. Phillies: Gavin Floyd, RHP, Mt. St. Joseph HS, Severna Park, Md
Agents: Ron Shapiro, Michael Maas
Scouting report: "I like him better than Prior when Prior was in high school.
I love that guy. Great curveball. Throws strikes. I saw him throw 18 out of
20 first-pitch strikes. And he throws 95. I think this guy could pitch for a
couple of major-league teams right now."
If not Floyd: The Phillies were told by Boras that Teixeira wouldn't sign with
them, so they would take Mauer if he slides this far, or go for one of the
other high school pitchers, probably Alan Horne, of Marianna, Fla.
5. Rangers: Dewon Brazelton, RHP, Middle Tennessee State
Agents: Scott Sanderson, Mike Moye
Scouting report: "He's nasty, man. He's got a Maddux changeup. ... He could
be the quickest to the big leagues of them all. His change is just this side
of Pedro Martinez. And he the throws up to 95. I'm befuddled why Tampa Bay
would even hesitate on a guy like him. He could be Fergie Jenkins, somebody
If not Brazelton: There are mixed reports on whether Texas would take Teixeira if he fell to them, but despite their need for pitching, it seems likely they would. If both were gone, their next-rated college pitcher is right-hander Josh Karp of UCLA.
6. Expos: Bobby Crosby, SS, Long Beach State
Scouting report: "Best of a mediocre lot of middle infielders. Good instincts. Decent hitter. Occasional power. Gotten a lot stronger. ... Prototype Expos draft pick. I don't know anybody who had him in the first round until today."
If not Crosby: The Expos are so consumed by money issues, they could do practically anything. They've talked about Kent State first baseman John VanBenschoten. They also like Florida high school first baseman Casey Kotchman and Arizona high school right-hander Mike Jones.
7. Orioles: John VanBenschoten, 1B, Kent State
Agent: Joe Bick
Scouting report: "Like a Richie Sexson type. Athletic tools. A lot of holes.
But stronger than Sexson and he can run. But when we saw him against better
pitching, he struggled. Hard to say if he'll be Dave Winfield or Brian
If not VanBenschoten: The Orioles have been hoping to wind up with one of their two local products, Floyd or Teixeira (who is from Baltimore). And it's still possible Teixeira could drop this far. If not, they've talked extensively about Horne.
8. Pirates: Jeremy Sowers, LHP, Ballard HS, Louisville
Scouting report: "He's left-handed, and there's very little left-handed pitching out there. Pretty good stuff. But probably should be a late-first rounder, a sandwich pick or early second round. To take him that high is sending a message. And the message is: They're concerned about money."
If not Sowers: The Pirates reportedly negotiated a pre-draft deal with Sowers. But they also have talked about Houston high school pitcher Colt Griffin, Horne, Jones, and Roscoe Crosby.
9. Royals: Roscoe Crosby, OF, Union HS, Buffalo, S.C.
Agent: Jeff Moorad
Scouting report: "There are a lot of questions about this guy. I
don't believe he's taken off his football helmet for the last time. He's so
good in football, you hear he could be the first player taken in the NFL
draft. So he's a risky proposition. ... But he's a very talented baseball
player. He's got a lot of Terrence Long in him, with maybe more power. You
hate to use a name like this, but he's got Griffey-like tools."
If not Crosby: The Royals want to make sure Crosby will commit to
baseball at some point. So he's been visited by George Brett, CEO David Glass
and GM Allard Baird. He was said to have spent Saturday in Kansas City, but
then headed to Tampa Bay on Sunday. If he waffles, the Royals have interest
in Horne, Jones and Griffin.
10. Astros: Colt Griffin, RHP, Marshall (Texas) HS
Agent: Jeff Moorad, Brian Peters
Scouting report: "A very risky proposition, since he only started to pitch
in March. But best arm in the draft. ... One of those out-of-nowhere
stories, and that's why everybody's scared to death of him. I've seen him
throw 99, but no control. He's all over the place. Big. Raw. No history. The
worst-case scenario is, he never gets out of A ball. The best-case scenario
is, he's Nolan Ryan."
If not Griffin: The Astros haven't been big on high school paitchers, but Griffin is a Texan. If they go back to their staple -- signable college pitchers -- it's apparently between three college seniors -- Notre Dame right-hander Aaron Heilman, Central Florida's Jason Arnold and Rice's Kenny Baugh. An outside possibility is VanBenschoten.
First-round high school catchers
The history of high school catchers taken in the first round is ... well, just check to see how many of these names you recognize, going back to selections made since 1970.
Scott Heard (Rangers, 25th overall)
Ryan Christianson (Mariners, 11th)
Jason Werth (Orioles, 22nd)
Ben Davis (Padres, 2nd)
Paul Konerko (Dodgers, 13th)
Ramon Castro (Astros, 17th)
Mark Johnson (White Sox, 26th)
Jason Kendall (Pirates, 23rd)
Mike Lieberthal (Phillies, 3rd)
Tyler Houston (Braves, 3rd)
Charles Johnson (Expos, 10th - did not sign)
Bill Henderson (Tigers, 20th)
Phil Clark (Tigers, 18th)
Kurt Brown (White Sox, 5th)
Trey McCall (Phillies, 16th)
Erik Pappas (Angels, 6th)
Matt Stark (Blue Jays, 9th)
Ron Karkovice (White Sox, 14th)
Kevin Burrell (Red Sox, 25th)
Jeff Reed (Twins, 12th)
Lebo Powell (Phillies, 13th)
John Gibbons (Mets, 24th)
Jay Schroeder (Blue Jays, 3rd)
John Mizerock (Astros, 8th)
Dan Lamar (Reds, 20th)
Bob Geren (Padres, 24th)
Bob Cummings (Giants, 7th)
Nick Hernandez (Brewers, 8th)
Tim Glass (Indians, 14th)
Mike Scioscia (Dodgers, 19th)
Butch Benton (Mets, 6th)
Donald Young (Braves, 18th)
Dale Murphy (Braves, 5th)
Ted Farr (Dodgers, 18th)
Steve Nicosia (Pirates, 24th)
Bobby Goodman (Expos, 5th)
Richard Bengstrom (Mets, 13th)
Ken Thomas (Orioles, 24th)
Danny Goodwin (White Sox, 1st - did not sign)
Mike Ivie (Padres, 1st)
Barry Foote (Expos, 3rd)
Darrell Porter (Brewers, 4th)
Rex Goodson (Royals, 8th)
Terry Mapin (Tigers, 20th)
James West (Orioles, 24th)
Multiple picks in first round
Orioles (7th and 19th picks) -- get Yankees' pick for Mike Mussina.
Indians (17th and 27th picks) -- get Red Sox pick for Manny Ramirez.
Giants (21st and 30th picks) -- get Indians' pick for Ellis Burks.
Braves (24th and 29th picks) -- get Dodgers' pick for Andy Ashby.
A's (25th and 26th picks) -- get Mets' pick for Kevin Appier.
No first-round pick
Mariners, Rockies, Red Sox, Marlins, Dodgers.
What happens to Matt Harrington
The seventh player chosen in last year's draft by the Rockies, Harrington turned down
offers as high as $5.3 million (over seven years) coming out of high school.
Now he's pitching in the Northern League, dazzling nobody and sinking fast on
many a draft list.
"He turned down a ton of money, and now he's going to get squat," said
one scouting director. "His first outing in the Northern League, he topped
out at 88 (mph). He's got no college options. It wouldn't surprise me if
somebody drafts him and puts a serious pinch on him."
Jayson Stark is a Senior Writer at ESPN.com.