Looking ahead to the 2006 draft
Two UNC righties head the list of next year's prospects
The dust may have just settled on the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, but that doesn't mean work hasn't already begun on 2006.
At this point, most Major League organizations already have piles of reports on high school and college players who will fill up the draft pool a year from now.
Who are some of the top names to watch in the coming year? Start preparing for the 2006 Draft by keeping an eye on these names in the coming year:
Daniel Bard, RHP, North Carolina
Bard was one of the top high school pitchers in 2003, but wasn't drafted until the 20th round by the Yankees because of a strong commitment to UNC. He was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2004, then went 7-5 with a 4.22 ERA as a sophomore. He'll try to improve his stock in the Cape Cod League this summer.
Dallas Buck, RHP, Oregon State
Buck put himself firmly on the map with an outstanding Cape season last summer, going 4-1 with a 0.77 ERA. He followed that up this past season by going 11-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 114 1/3 IP. Opposing hitters managed just a .187 average against the sophomore. Oh, and he's also a defensive back for the football team.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Southern California
Another top high school arm in '03, Kennedy was drafted by the Cardinals that year. He pitched on Team USA last summer, posting a 3.81 ERA and striking out 40 in 26 innings. The Trojans ace went 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA, striking out 150 against 36 walks in 111 2/3 innings in 2004. He'll get to pitch against wood bats this summer in the Cape Cod League.
Andrew Miller, LHP, North Carolina
Miller was taken in the third round by the Devil Rays in 2003, but opted to become a Tar Heel instead. The right-hander went 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings this year as a sophomore. He'll join Bard in the Cape this summer.
Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas
Another 2003 third-rounder, Stubbs headed to UT instead of signing with the Astros. The center fielder has hit .331 with 11 homers, 45 RBIs and 31 steals for the college powerhouse this season. He'll match wits with his wood bat in Cape Cod against some of the pitchers on this list this summer.
Kyle Drabek, RHP/SS, The Woodlands, The Woodlands, Texas
The name may sound familiar to you. His father, Doug, won 155 games in a 13-year big-league career. Kyle is built much like his father at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and can throw in the low '90s already with a hard slider. Drabek is also a wide receiver on the football team as well; he's a tremendous athlete.
Jared Mitchell, OF, Westgate, New Iberia, La.
Mitchell is an outstanding athlete and a good student (3.5 grade-point average). The center fielder may have to make a decsion between playing college football (he's a quarterback but might move to wide receiver if he goes the football route) and beginning a professional baseball career next June.
Gavin Brooks, LHP, Rancho Buena, Vista Vista, Calif.
Despite some injuries this spring, Brooks projects to be one of the top high school lefties in next year's class. He's got tremendous command as a polished southpaw while being able to consistently hit 90-92 mph with his fastball. He's been selected to participate in the AFLAC All-American Classic in August.
Kasey Kiker, LHP, and Cory Rasmus, RHP/3B, Russell County, Phenix City, Ala.
Talk about a good high school team, these teammates make Russell County a powerhouse. Rasmus' brother, Colby, was a first-rounder this year. They won a state championship in 2005 and Kiker and the younger Rasmus are poised to do it again. Both have been selected to play in the AFLAC All-American Classic in August.
Jeff Rappaport, OF, Westlake, Westlake, Calif.
Another AFLAC Classic participant, Rappaport is a toolsy outfielder. He's got plus speed, a plus arm and and has already shown tremendous bat speed with wood. He's an all-out kind of player with plus athleticism.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.