Wake me up when the MLB Draft is over

By Chris Ruddick
MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Well, the Major League Baseball Draft is upon us once again and you will have to excuse me while I yawn. I have to be honest, I will be paying more attention to what Mike and the Mad Dog are saying on Tuesday than who goes where in the biggest crap shoot in all of sports - MLB's First-Year Player Draft.

Seriously, does anyone care about this thing? Baseball doesn't even take it seriously. It is all run over the phone and it lasts 50 rounds or until teams decide they want to stop picking - whichever comes first, and it is usually the latter.

Come on now, even the NHL puts its draft on television.

And, oh by the way, a good portion of the players selected will never don the team's jersey that takes them. They either go to college, stay in college or don't reach agreement with the team, putting them back in the draft for another year.

Sure, a good number of first-round picks pan out, but there are also a good number of 35th-round picks that pan out as well. And when I say pan out I mean become huge stars.

Mike Piazza, for instance, was a 62nd-round selection and the last player chosen in the 1988 draft as a favor to Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who is godfather to one of the catcher's brothers.

Can you imagine Mr. Irrelevant amounting to anything in the NFL? The Oakland Raiders selected Maine wideout Kevin McMahan with the last pick in this past April's NFL Draft. What are the chances of him putting up a Hall of Fame career like Piazza? Heck what are the chances of him even making the team? No offense to Mr. McMahan, but I think the Arena Football League is in his future.

I have to give baseball credit, though, it wastes no time with this thing. The entire first round takes about 15 minutes and the whole thing lasts two days. Maybe we have finally found something that the NFL could takes notes on from MLB.

As with all sports, draft order is determined by the previous year's finish and since the Kansas City Royals dropped a whopping 106 games last season they hold the top pick this year. They are believed to be leaning toward left- handed North Carolina standout Andrew Miller, who was the 2006 ACC Pitcher of the Year and is the Tar Heels' all-time strikeout leader.

This season Miller, who has drawn comparisons to Randy Johnson, won 11 of his 13 starts and tossed four shutouts along the way. If Miller is chosen he will become the first North Carolina player to be selected with the first overall pick since B.J. Surhoff in 1985.

Should Kansas City pass on Miller, it will likely choose between either Washington right-hander Tim Lincecum or Houston righty Brad Lincoln.

The Colorado Rockies will have the second pick, followed by Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Seattle. The Detroit Tigers select sixth. Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Baltimore and San Francisco complete the top 10.

Pitching is expected to dominate early in the first round, but the one position player that could sneak into the top-five is Long Beach State infielder Evan Longoria, who is probably the best hitter in the draft. And no he is not related to actress Eva Longoria.

I won't be on the edge of my seat waiting for an e-mail to tell me who went where that is for sure. But there are a few players that I will be tracking.

One is New York City pitching prospect Danny Almonte, who rose to fame in 2001 while pitching for the Rolando Paulino All-Stars in the Little League World Series. Almonte, of course, was found to be older than everyone else and the team was disqualified. However, he is back and one of the top pitchers in the Big Apple. He also made headlines a few months back when it was learned that he had married a 30-year-old woman. Nice to see he's got that age thing all figured out now.

Another player I will be watching for is Jeffrey Maier. Who is that you ask? Well, you remember the kid that stole the ball from Baltimore's Tony Tarasco in the first game of the 1996 ALCS giving Derek Jeter a home run? Well that's him. Only now he is Wesleyan University's career hits leader and is expected to be drafted on the first day.

Don't hold your breath, though, waiting for the Orioles to take him.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
Chris Ruddick
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