Certain Positions Offer Contrasts of Skill




The 2005 June Draft offers a few contrasts of skills from the top prospects at certain positions. In this piece, we'll highlight the contrasts among the top two prospects among college catchers, third basemen, shortstops as well as the top two high school players.



Jeff Clement, USC -- Clement has been known for his power potential since breaking the national record for home runs in a high school career. His greatest asset is his bat and his sometimes-maligned defense has reportedly improved.


But don't be fooled, he's still "bat first, defense second". And if you follow catching prospects much, you'll know that means he's likely a 1b/dh candidate. His bat may only be a couple years away from being a run producer in the middle of a big league lineup, but his development as a catcher will take much longer.


Taylor Teagarden, Texas -- Teagarden is the reverse image of Clement. Teagarden could catch and handle a major league pitching staff within the next couple of years.


But the concern regarding Teagarden is whether his bat will progress into major league quality. That will be the difference between Teagarden being a major league regular or a journeyman backup. The opposite of Clement, Teagarden is "defense first, bat second" and his development as a hitter will slow his progress through the minor leagues.


Third Base


Alex Gordon, Nebraska -- Gordon is regarded as the top college hitter available. His bat sets him above the rest of the college crop as a potential #1 overall selection. His swing and approach at the plate are polished and he could bat 3rd in a major league lineup in just a few short seasons.


Though Gordon may be viewed as a "bat first" type player like Clement, Gordon's defensive skills at the hot corner are legitimate. A position change is not in question at this point.


Ryan Zimmerman, Virginia -- Zimmerman excels with the glove. He's a better defender than Gordon. There are thoughts that Zimmerman could even move to his left and play shortstop.


Like Gordon, who is no slouch defensively, Zimmerman is no slouch at the plate. It's just that his bat can't compare with Gordon's. Similar to Teagarden, how much his bat develops is instrumental to how long Zimmerman spends in the minors.




Troy Tulowitzki, Long Beach -- Tulowitzki is potentially a top 5 selection. His bat is said to be reminiscent of another Long Beach shortstop in recent years, Bobby Crosby.


Tulowitzki's defense is good enough that remaining at the position is not a question. His bat, which has a bit of power, should be more effective than Greene's.


Tyler Greene, Georgia Tech -- Like Teagarden and Zimmerman, Greene is more impressive defensively than he is offensively. In each of these three contrasts, the player with the better offensive skills (Clement, Gordon, and Tulowitzki) is projected to be drafted higher than their alleged "defense first" comparisons. None of the other three are to be overlooked, however, and could develop into solid major leaguers.


The Prep Players


Justin Upton, Chesapeake, VA -- The younger brother of B.J. Upton, Justin is regarded as the top talent available. His quick bat, lightning speed and power potential make him a potential impact as a key part of a major league lineup.


Upton's defense is the greater question. If he is to remain at shortstop, it may take him a few extra years to develop. If he is moved to center field as many scouts speculate, his range and arm could make him a Gold Glover there in addition to making a speedier rise through the minors.


Cameron Maybin, Arden, NC -- Maybin and Upton could be the only high school players in the top 10, 12 or even 15 picks. And that's after the genuine possibility that Upton and Maybin could be the first two overall selections.


An outfielder, there is not a tool that Maybin lacks. He is not as polished with the bat as Upton, but could establish more power. Maybin is the complete package, a bit reminiscent of Mets 2003 first-round pick Lastings Milledge.