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2008 Draft Class

It's shaping up nicely says BA's Jim Callis:

The strength of the draft varies from year to year. The 2005 draft, the best this decade, featured an outstanding group of high school outfielders and multitooled college position players. In 2006, college pitchers stood out among a weak crop. Last year, prepsters outclassed the college talent, especially with everyday players.

Scouts are enthused about the 2008 draft, which will begin on June 5 with the Rays making the first pick, because of the diverse talent available. The consensus is that there are more quality college bats--not in terms of athleticism but just sheer offensive firepower--than in any year in recent memory.

Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez, South Carolina first baseman Justin Smoak and Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso headline that group. Alvarez is the consensus No. 1 overall prospect entering the season, while Smoak and Alonso project as the first first basemen to go in the top 10 picks since the Brewers drafted Prince Fielder seventh overall in 2002.

... Four players clearly stand above the rest at this point: Alvarez, San Diego lefthander Brian Matusz, Missouri righthander Aaron Crow and Griffin (Ga.) High shortstop Tim Beckham. Alvarez is the best hitter for both power and average in the draft. Matusz is a tall, lean southpaw who could have three plus pitches, while Crow is a more compact righty with a deadly fastball-slider combination. None of the three should require much time in the minors.

Beckham is a five-tool athlete and sticks out even more because there's no comparable player in the college ranks. Holt High (Wentzville, Mo.) righthander Tim Melville has separated himself from the rest of the high school pitchers with his plus fastball, projectable body and advanced feel for his secondary pitches and command.

Callis also says the slotting recommendation system may crumble this year. And, as bhoov pointed out, here's Callis' chat transcript.
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