With the amateur draft four days away, the very early returns on the Class of 2007 give the Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay and Baltimore high marks, with Milwaukee right behind.
A look at the top nine players taken last year, with their signing bonus in parentheses:
1) David Price, Tampa Bay ($5.6 million) — was throwing 96-97 mph in his second pro start at Class A Vero Beach on Wednesday, opposite a rehabbing Pedro Martinez.
“He did it like a big leaguer,” Martinez said. “He had such a command. Right there, I’m challenging you. That’s the kind of talent you love to see,” Martinez said.
2) Mike Moustakas, Kansas City ($4 million) — the best high school bat in the draft last year, Moustakas is hitting .242 with seven homers in 50 games at Class A Burlington of the Midwest League.
3) Josh Vitters, Cubs ($3.2 million) — an ASU commitment out of high school last summer before getting an offer he couldn’t refuse, Vitters played in four games at Midwest League Peoria in mid-April before suffering tendinitis in his left hand.
4) Daniel Moskos, Pittsburgh ($2.475 million) — a college lefty signed as a money-saver, Moskos is 3-2 with a 5.22 ERA in 11 starts at high-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League.
5) Matt Wieters, Baltimore ($6 million) — a 6-foot-5, 230-pound catcher, Wieters is on the fast track with a spectacular pro debut, hitting .337 with 12 homers, 32 RBIs and a 1.023 OPS at Frederick of the Carolina League. He should be in Double-A by midseason.
6) Ross Detwiler, Washington ($2.15 million) — Another Carolina Leaguer, he is 4-2 with a 5.08 ERA at Potomac, with 50 strikeouts and 26 walks in 46 innings.
7) Matt LaPorta, Milwaukee ($2 million) — a college first baseman transitioning to left field, LaPorta brought a big bat to Double-A Huntsville, where he is hitting .285 with 14 doubles and 13 homers in 54 games.
8) Casey Weathers, Colorado ($1.8 million) — a closer at Vanderbilt, the Rockies have kept him in a setup role at Double-A Tulsa, where he has a 2.14 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 21 innings.
9) Jarrod Parker, D-Backs ($2.1 million) — when the Cubs took Vitters, Parker fell to the D-Backs and is 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA at South Bend of the Midwest League, with 30 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings and a fastball that has hit 97.
LARISH GETS THE CALL
Former McClintock High and ASU power hitter Jeff Larish made his first major league at-bat count Friday. He saw 10 pitches, fouling off six, before driving in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder.
Larish, the Tigers’ fifth-round draft choice in 2005, had 16 homers in 53 games at Triple-A Toledo before being recalled when the Tigers placed Gary Sheffield on the disabled list.
Larish, who had 23 homers at ASU as a senior and 28 at Double-A Erie in 2007, is expected to be used as a DH against right-handers, which was his role Friday.
RANDOLPH SAFE, DELGADO IN JEOPARDY
After meeting with manager Willie Randolph last Monday, Mets general manager Omar Minaya called around about available first basemen, left fielders and right-handed relievers.
Names of interest include Baltimore’s Kevin Millar and Pittsburgh’s Jason Bay and Xavier Nady.
Randolph benched his $16 million first baseman, Carlos Delgado, against Florida left-handers Andrew Miller and Scott Olsen last week, and the Mets won both games.
If Delgado and his .295 on-base percentage don’t improve, New York sources insist he could be released.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, GEORGE BRETT?
Kansas City had its losing steak, its third streak of at least 11 games since 2005, extended to 11 Thursday when Minnesota scored five runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 8. The night before, Jose Guillen went off on his teammates.
“Too many babies in here,” Guillen said. “They don’t know how to play the game and how to win games. That’s the problem here. Now I know why this organization has been losing for a while.”
Guillen, of course, once was kicked off the Angels for detrimental conduct and was mentioned in a Sports Illustrated survey as the player who got the least out of his ability.
• When Jamie Moyer beat Colorado for the first time Monday, he became the sixth pitcher to beat all 30 major league teams. The others are Curt Schilling (216-146), Kevin Brown (211-144), Al Leiter (162-132), Woody Williams (132-116) and Terry Mulholland (124-142).
• After awarding the Angels the 2010 All-Star game, are the Diamondbacks next?
• Commissioner Bud Selig all but guaranteed ticket prices will go down after ranging from $75 to $285 in San Francisco in ’07 and, now $150 to $725 in New York. “Each year and each location is different,” he said.
“I think they need that player that will grab somebody by the throat and say ‘We don’t do that here.’ The best teams take care of stuff in the clubhouse. They make demands of each other, and I’m not sure we have that going on right now.”
BILL BAVASI, MARINERS GENERAL MANAGER, ABOUT HIS TEAM
LOOKING AHEAD: AL East contenders Boston and Tampa Bay — believe it — begin a three-game series Tuesday at Fenway Park.
Writers from around the league contributed to this report.