MLB’s First Year Player Draft takes place tomorrow and despite
blatant collusion efforts to maintain fiscal sanity on the signing bonus front, SI.com’s John Heyman is certain tomorrow’s event will largely revolve around the clients of Scott Boras.
The agent/adviser has at least two talented prospects he tags as “premium” (hitting prodigies Pedro Alvarez of Washington Heights in Manhattan and Vanderbilt University, above, and Eric Hosmer of American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla.), as well as several other potential No. 1 picks. Scouts seem to nod to Boras’ glowing assessments of his top two hitters, especially Alvarez, who one admitted was an “elite” hitter.
Maybe even better for Boras, this time around he won’t have to battle over every draftee with his arch nemesis Frank Coonelly, the king of baseball’s slotting system. Coonelly, a worthy adversary for Boras, has moved from his position as MLB senior VP, where he made his mark by promoting plans to keep bonuses down. Now he runs the perennially pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates as its club president and can only affect one team with his cost-controlling theories.
What’s more, there’s intriguing scuttlebutt going around the game that Coonelly’s new team, which hasn’t had a winning record since Barry Bonds left town 16 years ago, might actually take Alvarez or Hosmer with the No. 2 pick after years of discouraging others from bowing to Boras. If so, that would set up a negotiation to end all negotiations between baseball’s two brilliant draft zealots.
Coonelly won’t tip his hand but did suggest in a phone interview that he might not follow the slotting system he endorsed for years. “If we value the player above the recommendation … we would do it,” Coonelly says.
With the No. 1 pick, the Rays are expected to take either Florida State’s athletic catcher Buster Posey or five-tool Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham, leaving the hitting genius Alvarez, who like Manny Ramirez, hails from Washington Heights, as perhaps the strongest possibility for Pittsburgh, which has the second pick. In fact, one draft watcher said he’d be surprised if Alvarez, whom scouts love despite a hand injury that disrupted his junior season, falls past the Pirates.
Boras himself seems to be enjoying the delicious possibility that Coonelly’s team may take Alvarez. And Boras won’t be surprised if he does. “When you’re in the winning business versus the institutional business, those are two different worlds,” Boras says. “I hope all teams apply their best efforts to take the best player available to them.’
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (as quoted by the Daily News’ Adam Rubin) projects the Mets to select amongst Arizona State 1B Ike Davis, University of Miami 2B Jemile Weeks or pitcher Ryan Perry (Arizona) with the 18th, 23rd or 33rd pick. Rubin points out two of those picks came from the Braves as compensation for the signing of Tom Glavine, so never let it be said Atlanta’s biggest hockey fan never did anything for the Mets.