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2004 - Year of the Pitcher

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[editor's note, by Russ in NY] The 2005 recap will be up later tonight. The 2000-2002 recap will be up by Wednesday. By late Friday night, the David Price profile should be up.

2004 1st Round

2. Justin Verlander - RHP, Old Dominion - Detroit Tigers: I wonder what the probability is for a college pitcher to have the same win-loss record and the same number of walks during his three years of pitching. Verlander had a 7-6 record with 43 walks in each of his three seasons as a Monarch. One could argue that his freshman campaign (2002) was his best season because he threw eight complete games, had his lowest ERA (1.90), and his lowest totals in hits, runs and earned runs (83, 34, 24 respectively). In 2003 he recorded 139 Ks and in 2004 he set the Colonial Athletic Associaton record at 151. Verlander was the first pitcher taken in the 2004 draft and won the 2006 Rookie of the Year award for the AL Pennant-winning Tigers. He can reach 100 MPH on the radar gun.

3. Philip Humber - RHP, Rice - New York Mets: Before the 2004 season started, it almost seemed impossible that out of the Rice trio, Jeff Niemann wouldn't have been the first one to go. And the seemingly impossible happened: the Mets plucked Humber with the third overall pick. Humber signed a 2005 contract and reached AA Binghamton during the middle of the season. In his first start at that level he experienced a problem with his arm and underwent Tommy John surgery. By August of 2006 Humber was back in Binghamton and later saw a promotion to New York. He pitched two games in relief and should find a spot in the Mets rotation at some point in 2007.

4. Jeff Niemann - RHP, Rice - Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 17-0. I'll re-type that: 17-0. In 2003, Jeff Niemann went undefeated on the Owls' way to winning the College World Series. After that he looked like a sure-fire bet for the number one pick. The 6'9" had the stats and the stuff to back that claim up. 2004 was troubling for him as he went through an injury phase and worked as a reliever on several occasions. His career in the minors has been interrupted with injuries but he reached AA Montgomery in 2005 and spent the entire 2006 season (when he wasn't injured) there also. If he can stay injury-free then Kazmir and Niemann will have the potential to be the best 1-2 combo in the AL East.

6. Jeremy Sowers - LHP, Vanderbilt - Cleveland Indians: Sowers were the best lefty in the draft, the most polished pitcher and the safest bet to make the Majors. In 2005 he pitched well enough to rise from High-A to AA to AAA for one game. He opened 2006 back in AAA and was promoted to Cleveland. He started 14 games and threw two complete game shutouts.

8. Wade Townsend - RHP, Rice - Baltimore Orioles: When the Orioles' pick came, Chris Nelson should have been the choice; however, Peter Angelos told his people to draft a college pitcher to get help right away, figuring Townsend would be an easy sign. Turned out that wasn't the case and he didn't sign (it didn't help that they low-balled him at first, I believe). Well see Wade again shortly.

10. Thomas Diamond - RHP, New Orleans - Texas Rangers: One must wonder: had the O's taken Nelson, would Diamond be sporting a Rockies uniform by now? His H/9, HR/9, BB/9 and K/9 have been steady throughout his minor league career. Yet, he did see a slight elevation in BB/9 this past season at AA Frisco.

12. Jered Weaver - RHP, Long Beach State - Anaheim Angels: Like Stephen Drew, Weaver held out until shortly before the 2005 deadline to sign draft picks from 2004. Weaver set the record for winning his first nine starts in the Majors. If it weren't for Verlander's rookie status in 2006, Weaver might have been the rookie of the year.

13. Bill Bray - LHP, William and Mary - Montreal Expos: Bray didn't really deserve to be taken this high, but the Expos looked for a pitcher that was affordable, a quick sign and had first-round ability. Bray fit that mold but probably would have gone towards the end of the round or in the supplemental phase. He was called up by the Nationals in 2006 and was traded in July to the Reds.

16. David Purcey - LHP, Oklahoma - Toronto Blue Jays: The Yankees drafted Purcey as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2003 but didn't sign at the end of the summer. Here's what John Sickels has to say on Purcey in his 2007 Blue Jays Prospects: "great arm, command a problem". If injuries hit the Blue Jays rotation he might be a possible call up.

19. Chris Lambert - RHP, Boston College - St. Louis Cardinals: Coming out of Boston College, Lambert had a devastating curve ball, possibly the best out of the 2004 pitchers. Lambert had a tough transition to AA in 2005 and spent all of 2006 back there. He needs to work on his command and cut down on several of his peripheral stats.

22. Glen Perkins - LHP, Minnesota - Minnesota Twins: If I told casual fans of a particular baseball team that one of their best prospects had a 4-11 record in AA this past season most would probably think I'm joking. Glen Perkins had that 4-11 record but Baseball America ranked him as the number two prospect in the Twins organization two weeks ago and the posters at Twinkie Town still favor him. He appeared in a few games for the Twins in 2006. He should settle in as a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher.

27. Taylor Tankersley - LHP, Alabama - Florida Marlins: Tankersley started for the Crimson Tide in 2003 but his freshman and junior years were mainly out of the bullpen. He started in the minors until this year when he began the season in AA. He became a core component for the Big League bullpen as the Marlins went young this season.

29. Matt Campbell - LHP, South Carolina - Kansas City Royals: Campbell has been a disappointment as he suffered an injury in 2005 and missed all of 2006.

31. J.P. Howell - LHP, Texas - Kansas City Royals: Howell started fifteen games for the Royals but the D'Rays received him in a 2006 trade. Like Sowers, he'll never be a pitcher with a high strikeout total. Unlike Sowers, Howell will probably be pitching at the back end of the rotation for his career.

32. Zach Jackson - LHP, Texas A&M - Toronto Blue Jays: Jackson transferred to A&M in 2004 after spending the first two with the Louisville Cardinals. Jackson climbed the minor league ladder quickly and after a trade to the Brewers in the winter of 2005-2006, Jackson was well on his way to the Majors. He reached the Bigs in 2006 and started eight games for the Brewers.

33. Justin Orenduff - RHP, Virginia Commonwealth - Los Angeles Dodgers: With all the pitchers the Dodgers are bringing in, it will be tough for guys like Orenduff to make the Majors with the Dodgers. He reached AA at the end of 2005 and started there in 2006. A shoulder problem resulted in Orenduff only starting 10 games in 2006. It's possible he could start at AA once again.

34. Tyler Lumsden - LHP, Clemson - Chicago White Sox: Lumsden missed all of 2005 after having surgery on his left elbow. He returned in 2006 and his campaign went very well. He was moved in the days leading up to the trade deadline to the Royals for Mike MacDougal. Before the draft Lumsden was compared to Andy Pettitte. He needs to cut down on his walks if he wants to survive in the Majors.

35. Matt Fox - RHP, Central Florida - Minnesota Twins: Fox threw six complete games, three of which were shutouts in 2004 for the Golden Knights. Fox missed all of 2005 and was back in rookie ball in 2006.

40. Huston Street - RHP, Texas - Oakland Athletics: Street was the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year after saving twenty-three games and striking out 72. He recorded thirty-seven saves in 2006.

41. Jeff Marquez - RHP, Sacramento CC - New York Yankees: Marquez was steady but unspectacular in 2004 and 2005. Ryan Mattheus' former teammate at Sacramento CC and they both pitched at the High-A level in 2006. He has the potential to be a solid back-of-the-rotation innings-eater.

Later Round Noteworthies

Jason Vargas - RHP, Long Beach State - Florida Marlins - 2nd Round: Vargas started 13 games for the Marlins in 2005 but spent most of 2006 in AAA Albuquerque. He was recently traded to the Mets.

Cla Meredith - RHP, Virginia Commonwealth - Boston Red Sox - 6th Round: Meredith received a vote or two in SBN's MVP and Cy Young awards. Meredith pitched in three games for the Red Sox in early 2005. In 2006 he was traded to the Padres and did exceptional work: 5-1, 1.07 ERA, 37 K, 6 BB.

Jim Miller - RHP, Louisiana-Monroe - Colorado Rockies - 8th Round: Miller put up sick numbers when he was with the Tri-City Dust Devils and put himself on the radar for at least Rockies fans. He has a chance to see Coors at some point in 2007.