Unlike the 2007 draft, the 2008 one doesn't have a clear-cut favorite for the first overall pick (though Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez seems a likely choice). David Price, a lefty out of Vanderbilt, went first overall to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and has a chance to pitch for the now Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The 2007 draft, just to recap, was the first one to be viewed on national television, having been relegated to an internet-only broadcast in years past. New draft rules came into effect in 2007 after the new CBA was agreed to. A universal signing date (15 Aug.) put an end to long-term holdouts (such as Justin Upton, Luke Hochevar, and Max Scherzer in the recent past) and the draft-and-follow practice that had been common for so long also went away. As for the Rockies in the 2007 draft, it wasn't a departure from past drafts. It was heavy on college players, with 11 of their first 13 picks coming from college. Casey Weathers, the eighth overall pick, closed for Vanderbilt and competed at low-A and high-A ball for the Rockies after signing. With those rule changes, the Rockies passed on drafting junior college players and selected many seniors in the later rounds.
With one year under these new rules in effect, front offices will now have a better sense as to how they should approach the draft. Does that mean we'll see more teams stop drafting once the rounds reach into the 30s? For some teams, it might. The Blue Jays stopped after round 30. Under the old rules, teams still passed, but it was much more common to happen in the 40s.
The 2008 draft will be different for the Rockies. For the first time since 2001, the Rockies won't have a pick in the top 10 choices. As we all know, during the '00-'01 off season, the Rockies signed two pitchers who cost the team draft picks, among other things, and didn't sign their first-round pick from the 2000 draft, Matt Harrington. As a result of not signing Harrington, the team received a supplemental first round pick as compensation. That pick became Jayson Nix, who is now poised to make the majors after seven years in the minors.
We'll take a look at some college players early on. For today, we'll look at three of the top pitchers available in the draft at the moment.
Aaron Crow is a RHP for the Missouri Tigers who dominated the Cape Cod League over the summer. He uses four pitches (fastball, cutter, slider, changeup) to dominate hitters, with his fastball usually reaching the mid-90s. He was named the top pro prospect in the League and the top prospect in Baseball America's Top 30 Cape Cod Prospects list (you can read his entry at at Missouri's site). I'd highly recommend reading his scouting report at Cape Prospects and watch the video that accompanies it. In 2007, Crow went 9-4, 3.59 ERA in 18 starts (2 CG), struck out 90 and walked 33 in 117 2/3 IP.
Brian Matusz is a 6'4"-5" LHP for the San Diego Toreros who spent the summer with Team USA, compiling a 1.33 ERA and a 3-1 record in four starts. According to his Brewerfan.net profile, Matusz throws three pitches: a fastball that sits in the low 90's, a curve ball, and a changeup that could become his best pitch. During the 2007 college season, Matusz went 10-3, 2.85 ERA in 18 games (1 CG), struck out 163 and walked 37 in 123 IP.
Zach Putnam is a two-way player for the Michigan Wolverines. He's pretty good doing both, but pitching appears to be his future in the pros. As a right-handed pitcher, Putnam offers a fastball in the low-90s, a slider, and a changeup. Putnam stepped onto the national stage last June when he came close to no-hitting the eventual College World Series winner, Oregon State.
That's it for today. If there are any special requests, such as a specific position or conference, I'm all for it.