Chat with Keith Law
Keith was formerly the special assistant to the general manager with the Toronto Blue Jays and has a wealth of knowledge for you to tap into.
Send your questions for Keith now, then check into The Show on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET to see his answers.
Keith Law (2:59 PM)
Good afternoon, folks. No shortage of surprises and bizarre events in this year's draft. Now let's see if I can go an hour without breaking the chat software...
Through 5 and no Miller taken yet... suprised?
Keith Law (3:01 PM)
I'm surprised that the consensus #1 - even if that was a reflection of the weak top of the draft - fell all the way to 6. I'm not surprised that the Tigers took him, though; they've had good success with supposed tough signs the last two years, and the organization as a whole places a premium on power pitchers. Good pick.
How much money do you think Hochevar cost himself in the long run by sitting out? I'm talking about when he goes to arb with 9 wins instead of 15 b/c he plays for the Royals!!
Keith Law (3:02 PM)
The bigger financial question for Hochevar is the lost year of development. But for any amateur pitcher, the signing bonus may be all the money he ever gets due to injuries and general attrition rates, so I think you have to say that this was a win for Hochevar and for his advisor, Scott Boras.
Scott (St. Louis)
What caused Joba Chamberlain to drop so far? It seemed he was a lock for the first round.
Keith Law (3:03 PM)
Medical concerns. Chamberlain missed two starts with arm trouble, and word is that the medical reports on him were quite bad.
What the word on Ian Kennedy? Could he come up this year and help out the Yanks some?
Keith Law (3:05 PM)
No chance you see Kennedy this year; not only is he not that kind of talent, but he's a Scott Boras client, so he's not likely to sign quickly. Kennedy's a polished pitcher who had a down spring, with slightly reduced velocity and less of the outstanding command he showed in his first two years. I liked Kennedy quite a bit off his summer with Team USA, but a full spring of reduced velo is a bad sign.
John (San Diego, CA)
As a team with many needs throughout the organization, how would you rate the Padres' picks thus far?
Keith Law (3:07 PM)
Excessively conservative. Antonelli is no better than a fringe regular in the majors and is probably a bench guy. You need to do better than that in the first round.
Gene (New Haven)
So from what your saying about chamberlain and Kennedy, the Yankees pretty much wasted their first two picks?
Keith Law (3:08 PM)
No, not at all. I thought getting a first-round arm in Chamberlain all the way at the back of the sandwich round was a good move. By that point, the probability of getting a great player is very small, so you should be more willing to take the risk that Chamberlain has more health issues.
How do you think the Nationals did with their two first round picks?
Keith Law (3:09 PM)
Marrero is another example of a consensus top-10 talent who fell because of a rough spring, so that's a good value at #15. But the Nats have, by far, the worst farm system in baseball, and their first four picks were high school kids, including their other first rounder Colten Williams, who has a good arm but some violence in his delivery. I buy into some of their players more than I buy into the overall strategy here.
Matt (San Marcos, Tx)
Keith, are you still working for the Blue Jays organization? If so, does that connection force you to hinder some of your responses to certain questions in this chat?
Keith Law (3:10 PM)
No, I resigned from the Blue Jays, effective May 31st, to take this job.
Kevin (Boston, MA)
What are your thoughts on how the Red Sox have done so far?
Keith Law (3:11 PM)
Slew of Red Sox questions today. I like their set of picks quite a bit, perhaps the most of any team through the third round. Good mix of college and high school talent, and a good mix of probability and ceiling. I'm a big Justin Masterson fan; I saw him through a consistent 93-94 with a mid-80s slider as a reliever on the Cape last summer, and I think that's his role in the pros.
Aaron (New Brunswick)
Hey Keith. The Blue Jays drafted OF Travis Snider 14th. But the Jays have such an outstanding outfield already. Any hope of seeing this kid in the majors any time soon?
Keith Law (3:13 PM)
No, I think Snider is a good four years away. But considering the college talent available to them at 14, taking the best high school bat available was the right move. Vernon Wells is a free agent after '07, and I'm not ready to buy fully into Alexis Rios based on two hot months with mediocre plate discipline.
What do you think about what the Phillies did? Drabek projects as a pitcher, not a shortstop, right?
Keith Law (3:14 PM)
I haven't spoken to the Phillies specifically, but I don't know of any team who rated Drabek higher as a hitter.
Trey, West Blocton, Alabama
I saw Luke Hochevar pitch in the CWS last year and, to me, he just "looked" like a pro hurler throwing the ball. I've heard this year's draft called weak and lacking a bona-fide stud. Given that analysis, how do you personally assess the former Tennessee Vol and who, in general, from this year's crop of amateurs do you see as potential All-Stars?
Keith Law (3:16 PM)
I think he was the most complete starting pitcher package in the draft this year. My concern with him is how he handled himself in the September debacle, where he agreed to a deal with the Dodgers, then reneged on it. But his stuff and command are good, and he threw well in indie ball in May. It's a good pick at #1, but perhaps not the optimal one.
Mike (NY, NY)
Welcome to ESPN Keith and good luck!! Now that Draft day 2006 has come and gone let's start looking ahaead to 2007! Who would you say are the top half-dozen college draft prospects for next year?
Keith Law (3:17 PM)
Vanderbilt's David Price, Rice's Joe Savery, Virginia's Sean Doolittle, Tennessee's JP Arencibia, Rutgers' Todd Frazier. And one for 2008: Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez, who probably would have gone first overall if he was eligible this year.
What do you think about the NCAA Division II players, when will some of them start being picked?
Keith Law (3:18 PM)
Houston took University of Tampa RHP Sergio Perez at #67. It was generally a weak year for D2, though.
Can you explain to why the Mariners passed on Miller?
Keith Law (3:20 PM)
I heard more than once that the Mariners weren't prepared to go over slot with their pick, which would eliminate Miller from consideration. I like Morrow (Seattle's pick at #5), although I think that he'll end up in the pen unless his slider develops - a lot.
What are your thoughts on the Cubs first round pick Tyler Colvin?
Keith Law (3:21 PM)
Has to be signability, don't you think? He was a third or fourth round talent. I'm surprised that the Cubs went "cheap," especially since they went over slot last year with Utah HS pitcher Mark Pawelek. Perhaps they didn't feel anyone on the board was worth slot at #13.
Any news on Danny Almonte and his status?
Keith Law (3:21 PM)
He's already married. Sorry, ladies.
So apparently the sox should has gotten Pedro Alvarez signed last year, huh?
Keith Law (3:22 PM)
Well, yes, but they offered him something like $700K, so it wasn't for lack of effort. Signing kids away from Vanderbilt commitments is very tough.
Keith (Grand Rapids)
What do you mean by going over slot? Is it on a guy by guy basis or is it a where you are taken is what you are offered type of a thing?
Keith Law (3:25 PM)
Major League Baseball issues signing bonus "recommendations" for each pick in the first round and sandwich round, called "slot money." They're not binding, but teams are "encouraged" to comply. So going over slot means paying more than the bonus amount recommended by the Commissioner's Office. One benefit of slot assignments is easier budgeting for teams over the winter - add up the slot money (there are round recommendations through the fifth round, I believe) and you can estimate your draft budget for the following year.
Are you suprised Smarjda hasn't been drafted yet (you had him ranked top 20)?
Keith Law (3:26 PM)
I'm not surprised, because he's a legit NFL prospect at wide receiver, and the path to the NFL is a lot shorter than the path to MLB. He's also more developed as a football prospect than as a baseball prospect.
Was Beato a steal for the O's?
Keith Law (3:26 PM)
Yes, I think so.
How's bynes' first draft for arizona going?
Keith Law (3:29 PM)
Looks like a typical Mike Rizzo draft to me (and that's a good thing). Scherzer is a big name with a big arm, so he might as well have "RIZZO" tattooed on his forehead. Anderson was seen as a fringe first rounder, so getting him at #55 is a potential steal. And although I dumped on Dallas Buck a little bit in my top 20, taking him in the third round is a reasonable gamble. He was the hottest prospect in the Cape League in 2004.
How good do you think Drabek can be?
Keith Law (3:30 PM)
Best HS arm in the draft, if he can clean up his act. The DUI, car crash, and other incidents probably cost him upwards of a half a million dollars.
Is Daniel Bard a headcase? I think you wrote that there were questions about his coachability...what can we expect from him?
Keith Law (3:32 PM)
I'm glad someone asked this. I don't see how anyone can say with any certainty that a player is a "headcase" unless there's some specific incident or pattern of behavior, like a drinking problem. There are two types of makeup questions. One is serious - alcoholism, throwing bats at umpires, etc. The other is vague and is a great way to kill a prospect you don't like for whatever reason - saying he's not tough, or he's hard to coach, or he doesn't care. That second category is extremely hard to verify and impossible to quantify.
What can you tell me about the Mets first two picks, Mulvey and Smith?
Keith Law (3:33 PM)
I like Kevin Mulvey quite a bit; I had him as a fringe first-rounder on talent, although I hadn't heard his name with any club in the top 30. Low-90s fastball, good low-80s slider, good command, a little off the radar screen because the Big East was so bad this year.
Thoughts on the Buccos pick? Why didnt they take Miller?
Keith Law (3:35 PM)
Seems like a lot of folks aren't sure about Brad Lincoln. If Miller wasn't signable - and I don't remember the Pirates exceeding slot in any of the last few years - then Lincoln was the best guy on the board. He's also a nice break from the projection arms the Pirates have taken (and largely whiffed on) the last few years. He'll probably be their #2 prospect behind McCutchen by October.
How about the reverse. Who had the worst first three rounds, in your opinion?
Keith Law (3:38 PM)
St. Louis, with an overdraft of Ottavino in the first and a big overdraft of future-fourth-outfielder (F4O?) John Jay in the second. But if they can sign him, Mark Hamilton in round 2A might save the draft for them - he was a potential first-rounder before he had some wrist trouble this spring.
Joba Chamberlain , is he better than betances, why did yankees select him instead of betances.
Keith Law (3:39 PM)
Betances is extremely raw - just a big arm you can dream on, facing weak competition, no polish, doesn't have a second pitch yet. And he's probably a tough sign as well. I don't have a problem with this choice.
Was Huff a steal for Cleveland at 37? I like what I've seen from him.
Keith Law (3:41 PM)
Lefty with a below-average fastball who can really pitch. Hard to see him as more than a fifth starter in the bigs, and that may even be a stretch.
Scott (San Jose)
How did the Giants do today?
Keith Law (3:41 PM)
It's their best first-round pick in years.
Kevin (Manassas, VA)
I watched Jeremy Jeffress pitch a couple weeks ago. He looks impressive. What are your thoughts?
Keith Law (3:42 PM)
Very impressive - it's an electric arm. But he came out of nowhere this spring, and it's not a classic build for a starter. I think it was a good gamble at that spot in the draft, but there's some Mark Rogers risk there too.
James (Redlads, CA)
Would you say Hank Conger is one of the top three high school hitters in this draft? Will he be able to stay behind the plate?
Keith Law (3:44 PM)
Top five, definitely. Probability that he stays behind the plate is under 50%, but it's worth a shot. Teams are often quick to move talented hitters out from behind the plate, but sometimes it's better to just tolerate the bad D back there to get the value of a big bat at a skill position.
Adam (St. Louis)
Can you elaborate more on the Ottavino pick, I haven't heard much about him and want to know what he brings to the plate.
Keith Law (3:45 PM)
He has a good arm, fastball in the low 90s and up to 94, flashes a good slider. But he doesn't repeat his delivery and it puts a lot of strain on his arm; I think he needs a revamp, rather than just a cleanup, and that puts a lot of risk into the pick.
What do you know about Kris Johnson from Wichita State?
Keith Law (3:47 PM)
Sophomore-eligible pitcher, returned quickly from Tommy John surgery last spring, didn't throw well early this year but was up to 93 towards the end of the season. There was some buzz about him sneaking into the first round. Although Wichita State pitchers have a horrendous track record of injuries in the pros, I think it's a good job by Boston to stay with the guy as he improved over the course of his season.
David ( seattle, wa )
Hey Keith, i went to high school with Tim Lincecum and let me tell you this guy is really a freak of nature, looking at him you could never tell that the dude can throw in the high 90's, do you think a person of his size can succeed in the Majors
Keith Law (3:49 PM)
Absolutely. Roy Oswalt's on the diminutive side. Jason Frasor isn't much taller than I am (and I am decidedly untall). But I do think Lincecum's future is in the pen. The data we have indicate that he has much better control when he's used in relief. It would also be nice to keep him under 300 pitches a week for a change.
Chris (Pittsburgh, PA)
What can you tell me about the Braves' selections of Cody Johnson and Jeffrey Locke? Welcome to ESPN!!
Keith Law (3:52 PM)
Thanks! I'm surprised Locke got as far as he did, as some people had him going late first round to Boston; then again, with God's apparent attempts to flush all the sins out of New England this year, I'm surprised anyone saw Locke pitch at all. He's a projectable lefty, very inconsistent curve, good feel for his changeup (rare in a HS arm), good athlete. Cody Johnson was seen as a possible first-rounder - maybe even the top HS bat - prior to his awful showing at the AFLAC showcase last summer. Good raw power, some question about his ability to make contact. I think he's a ways off.
How do you like what the Dodgers have done so far? Project the future of Kershaw. Mattingly SS, who is this guy?
Keith Law (3:56 PM)
Kershaw was a gift, since he was going to go to Detroit if Miller was off the board. He was the top HS arm in the pool after Drabek's off-field issues hurt his stock. Kershaw's a big, strong, athletic kid with a live fastball and a quick arm. Preston Mattingly is Donnie Baseball's son, better athlete than his father but unlikely to stay at shortstop. He came on late this spring.
What do you mean "Mark Rogers risk"? Is Rogers considered a bust, he's still pretty young.
Keith Law (3:57 PM)
Not a bust yet - just a slow developer, and I think there's some bust risk there now. He was extremely raw out of high school, which is why I made the comparison.
The Rockies took the Reynolds at #2. What are your thoughts on him as well as how the Rockies farm system is shaping up with this new kid, Ian Stewart and Tulowitski?
Keith Law (3:58 PM)
Craig gets points for perseverance with this question. I don't like the selection of Reynolds at all, but I think Tulo and Stewart are among the best prospects in baseball at their positions. Once those two get into the lineup and the Barmes and Hollidays and Atkins of the world are relegated to bench roles, the Rockies will finally score runs the way a Coors Field team should.
Seth (cleveland, OH)
keith if you were a high school player that was drafted would you sign or go to college?
Keith Law (4:00 PM)
Great question. It depends on your family situation, but if I was drafted in the top two rounds I'd probably sign. A million dollars isn't set-for-life money, but it's change-your-life money, and a lot of players (especially pitchers) have held out or gone to school and gotten hurt or just not developed. Just ask Matt Harrington how all that worked out for him.
James (Redlands, CA)
Why has Matt La Porta not been taken yet?
Keith Law (4:01 PM)
Couple of LaPorta questions in a row. Two reasons - well, maybe three: Oblique injury, bad spring performance (possibly due to the oblique), and Scott Boras. Although I did have questions about LaPorta before the injury; pitchers could beat him inside too easily for me to view him as a solid first rounder. He should go back to school and try to have a healthy season in '07.
With relative low marks as far as the productive power hitters in this draft, who do you feel is the best potential superstar in this draft in terms of run production? I would lean more towards Cody Johnson because of the Brave's farm system and his potential.
Keith Law (4:02 PM)
Mike (Oshawa, ON)
Keith, any insider information on Toronto's pick of Brandon Magee in the 4th round?
Keith Law (4:04 PM)
Solid back of the rotation candidate, pitched for Bradley, good sinker, throws strikes. My only inside info is to say that Aaron Jersild (the area scout who has Illinois for Toronto) is probably a happy man right now.
Paul (Port Orchard)
OK, not a Tigers query...five years from now, who will be considered the best pick from this draft?
Keith Law (4:06 PM)
That's a good question for me to wrap this up ... Andrew Miller would be a good name, but I think Brad Lincoln will look the best five years from now. He'll contribute in the majors relatively quickly because he's pretty polished, whereas I think Miller has the bigger ceiling but will take longer to be a real asset in the majors.
Keith Law (4:07 PM)
I'm glad to see so much interest in the draft, which kind of gets short shrift compared to the NFL and NBA extravaganzas. Thanks for all the questions!