1998 Draft Review

By Kevin Kolb

By Peter Gamens

When a 32 year old pitcher is the 1st player selected in ANY draft, one has to wonder just HOW deep the available talent pool really is.  Granted Rick Reed has looked great in winter ball.  But generally speaking, a team is looking for more of a long term return when selecting so high up.  Now, much of where Reed was selected has to do with the team which selected him.  The Chicago Knights are coming off a 100+ win season, and look poised to do so again this year.  Reed was likely the best player available to help the Knights win the AL Central.  Plus, they are loaded with solid prospects at several positions.  Regardless, the talent pool this year was thinner than in the past.  But hey………why be negative?  Let's take a look at some of the goings on in this year's draft………..

Round One saw the Ocala Ocelots do some serious cherry-picking.  Armed with 3 first round picks, he 'Lots nabbed promising outfielders JD Drew and Juan Encarnacion, and stud 19 year old hurler Matt White.  All three players have the word "impact" written all over them.  While White is a couple years away, Encarnacion and Drew could be putting up big numbers by 1999.

Box City took another blue chipper in Mark Kotsay.  After selecting mega-prospect Carl Pavano in the 1st round last year, the Parcelmen look to have scored again with Kotsay, a "do-it-all" type player.  Now, if they can just keep the impressionable kid away from Prince Albert Belle, the future should be bright in CF for many years.

Naptown hopes Rolando Arrojo enjoys the same type of success that Livan Hernandez had in AAA last year.  Hernandez might make his debut in Naptown late this seasonl.  Arrojo should follow by opening day 1999.  Staying in the NL Central, Portland may have garnered help for the not-to-distant future by tabbing Tony Womack and John Thomson with its two 1st rounders.  Womack will steal 50 bases this year if given the chance to play, and Thomson may be of assistance to the big club this year too.

With the final pick in round 1, the Brassball champs from Bloomington selected big David Ortiz.  The Bees GM was shocked at Ortiz's availability, and quickly snapped him up.  Had the Cook County Maulers shown any type of intelligence in round 1, Ortiz may not have been available.  Instead, the Maulers tabbed middle reliever Danny Patterson after failing to address their bullpen woes via trade.  While Patterson will likely toil in mediocrity most of his career., Ortiz could be a consistent power source in this league in the not-to-distant future.

Racine may have surprised some people with the relatively high selection of Garrett Stephenson.  But fro Racine, a team on the verge of playoff contention, the 26 year old right-hander may be a guy who wins some big games for the Heat this year.  Similarly, Wauwatosa's selection of Jose Mercedes could produce a payoff this year, if not down the road also.

No less than FIVE catchers were chosen in Round 2.  The one with the highest ceiling may bhe ghe guy chosen last among the five.  Ben Petrick has been compared to Craig Biggio on more than one occasion.  If he approaches that level, the Albany Anchormen will be quite pleased.  Divisional rival Santa Barbara made its first selection in Round 2, and may have gotten a keeper in Matt Clement.  The rangy right-hander adds to an already impressive collection of young hurlers in Santa Barbara (Colon, Carpenter, Dreifort, Halladay).  Pitching may not be a weak spot much longer for this team.

Other pitchers taken in round 2 who may soon make an impact in the major leagues are Brad Riby (Box City), Manny Aybar (Naptown), Dennis Reyes (Ocala), Steve Woodard (E. Indy), and Scott Eyre (Iowa).  Ruben Mateo (Albany) and Eric Chavez (St. Croix) may turn out to be the best players selected in this round, as both have the offensive game to hit in the middle of a big league team's lineup.

Among the other players tabbed later in the draft who might be real keepers were:

Lance Berkman--Long Island round #4
Matt Anderson--Channel Islands round #5
Julio Ramirez--Hessville round #5
Ryan Minor--St. Lucie round #5
John Patterson--Cook County round #7
Willie Martinez--Bloomington round #10

And some real sleeper picks……….

Mike Kincade--Portland round #5
Mike Judd--Florida round #5
Courtney Duncan--St. Croix round #7
Cole Liniak--North Georgia round #7
Corey Koskie--Channel Island round #8

Don't sell this draft short just yet.  There were some impressive players selected.  Only time will tell us where this year's draft truly ranks.

***the opinions expressed by Peter Gamens are not necessarily the opinions of the Commissioner.  If Pete REALLY knew what he was talking about, would he realy be evaluating a BRASSball draft?