06/06/2008 1:40 PM ET
New locales await top Draft picks
A freshly minted first-rounder may be headed to your town soon
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The selections have been made, now the pondering can begin. Which first-rounders will sign? Where will they go once they do?
These are the questions we will try to answer here as we predict what the newly minted first-round picks from the 2008 First-Year Player Draft can expect as they move forward.
The following starting towns for each of the first-round selections are based on each player signing in enough time to play this season. They are also based on the talent level of each player, and could be affected by his workload over the previous high school or college season.
Tim Beckham, Tampa Bay
While the Rays are high on Beckham's athleticism and ability, if he signs quickly the only place he'll wind up is Princeton in the Rookie-level Appalachian League. If he pushes his negotiations to the deadline, he'll be there, as well. But by then the Rays may just want to send him to instructs and wait and see if he's capable of handling life in the South Atlantic League to begin next season.
Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh
Alvarez has destroyed college pitching, so there's every reason to believe he's advanced enough to jump right into a full-season circuit. The guess here is that he'll wind up with Lynchburg of the Class A Advanced Carolina League to start, but he could be up in Double-A Altoona before the season is out.
Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
The Arizona Rookie League appears to be his destination, but Hosmer was considered by many to have the premier high school bat in the Draft. There's an outside chance he'd find himself in Idaho Falls of the Rookie-level Pioneer League to start, but he could be there anyway if he adapts quickly in Surprise.
Brian Matusz, Baltimore
Matusz's name was being bandied about as a potential top selection, so that's an indication of how much talent he actually has. He'll likely take those gifts to Frederick and try his luck in the Carolina League.
Buster Posey, San Francisco
Posey is still playing for Florida State, and will participate in the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend. Should the Seminoles reach the College World Series, he won't be available until the end of the month. Traditionally, players who have gone that deep into the collegiate season have taken some time before beginning their pro careers, and if that holds true he won't see the Class A Advanced California League (San Jose) until some time in July at the earliest.
Kyle Skipworth, Florida
The California prep star had a commitment to Arizona State, but decided to forgo that in order to sign with the Fish. Skipworth will likely head to Jupiter for a stint in the Gulf Coast League, or just wait it out and begin his career in instructs.
Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati
The slugging first baseman wasn't expected to go this high, so there could be some haggling when it comes time to sign. If the Reds can ink him before the deadline, Alonso will likely head to Dayton, and enjoy part of the summer in the Class A Midwest League. He's playing this weekend in an NCAA Super Regional.
Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
One of the top hitters in the SEC, he shouldn't have much trouble adjusting to life in pro ball. Kannapolis of the Class A South Atlantic League seems as likely a landing spot as any for "the other Beckham" selected in the opening round.
Aaron Crow, Washington
The Nationals showed last year with Ross Detwiler that they have no problems pushing a player quickly if he demonstrates the ability to handle the move. Detwiler was the only player from last year's opening round to reach the Majors, and who knows how quickly they'll push Crow. Look for him to start in Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, but he could go to Potomac of the Carolina League and work his way up from there.
Jason Castro, Houston
Castro is also headed to the Super Regionals this weekend, so his availability remains unclear. He's a Johnny Bench Award finalist and has proven to be capable both behind and at the plate. The feeling here is that he can start in the Carolina League (Salem), but he may go to the South Atlantic League (Lexington) just to get his feet on the ground professionally.
Justin Smoak, Texas
Smoak is big, strong and can hit. Boy, wouldn't that kind of profile look good in Bakersfield? Putting up some numbers in the hitter-friendly California League would be a nice way to begin a career.
Jemile Weeks, Oakland
Weeks will be playing in the Super Regionals, as well, this weekend but that shouldn't preclude him from making a quick jump to pro ball when and if Miami is eliminated. Kane County is a logical destination, but the Midwest League might not hold him. Rickie's younger brother could see Stockton before the summer is out.
Brett Wallace, St. Louis
Wallace comes out of high-profile baseball factory, Arizona State, where the team conducts its business as if it were a professional franchise. Based on that, there's every reason to believe he can handle playing at Class A Advanced Palm Beach of the Florida State League.
Aaron Hicks, Minnesota
The only outfielder taken in the first round is a graduate of the Urban Youth Academy in Compton. He's an accomplished athlete, so adjusting to life as a pro won't be difficult. You'll see him patrolling the outfield in the Gulf Coast League (Fort Myers) before long.
Ethan Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers plan on using the Georgia high school product as a pitcher, and he'll begin that portion of his career in the Gulf Coast League (Vero Beach) if he signs.
Brett Lawrie, Milwaukee
The Canadian import has signed on to play for Arizona State. While he'll be near the Tempe campus, he won't be playing college ball. Rather, he'll be in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
David Cooper, Toronto
The University of California first baseman has proven he can hit at a high level. Will that be enough to start him at Dunedin? Probably not. Look for Cooper at Lansing of the Midwest League.
Ike Davis, New York Mets
Davis has been tearing it up at Arizona State, and that's just what the Mets need in their system, a first baseman who can hit. Look for New York to open the vault, then send him to St. Lucie of the Florida State League.
Andrew Cashner, Chicago Cubs
The thrice-drafted Cashner (he was selected by the Rockies in the 18th round in 2006 and by the Cubs in the 29th round in 2007) was one of the top junior college pitchers in the country before heading to Texas Christian. He's proven to be adaptable to just about every level, and that ought to translate to the pro game, where he should begin his career in Boise of the Class A Short-Season Northwest League.
Joshua Fields, Seattle
The Mariners liked the University of Georgia product's ability to close out games. Closers generally can move a little quicker -- remember Chad Cordero? -- so don't be surprised if he does the same. But he could move quickly enough to be as high as West Tenn of the Double-A Southern League before the season ends.
Ryan Perry, Detroit
Detroit has produced a wealth of talent over the last few seasons under the guidance of Glenn Ezell and Perry will only add to that. He'll join Rick Porcello, last year's top pick, in Lakeland of the Florida State League.
Reese Havens, New York Mets
The Mets already have their shortstop of the present and the future in New York, so it will be interesting to see where they decide to put Havens. At whatever position the Mets decide to use him, it will likely be with either Brooklyn of the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League or Savannah of the South Atlantic League.
Allan Dykstra, San Diego
The big first baseman from Wake Forest would look good in Lake Elsinore, where he can put on a show in the California League. But a more likely destination is Fort Wayne of the Midwest League.
Anthony Hewitt, Philadelphia
The prep shortstop can hit, there's no doubt about that. If he doesn't head to Vanderbilt, he'll head to Clearwater and life in the Gulf Coast League. As with Tim Beckham, if he takes some time to sign, he could just head to instructs.
Christian Friedrich, Colorado
A collegiate southpaw who knows his way around the mound is a commodity. He could move quickly, beginning in the California League. Oh to be a Modesto Nut.
Daniel Schlereth, Arizona
Schlereth's dad played in the NFL, so the athletic gene is there. The D-Backs have moved their previous top picks quickly, so don't be surprised if Schlereth joins that parade through the system, beginning in either Visalia of the Cal League or Mobile of the Double-A Southern League.
Carlos Gutierrez, Minnesota
The Miami hurler is headed to the Super Regionals, and if he reaches Omaha and the CWS he could be pitched out. How far the Hurricanes go, and how much Gutierrez pitches, will determine where he winds up, if he winds up anywhere at all. The Midwest League(Beloit) is a likely destination.
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
The California prep star likely won't be able to resist the draw of signing with the Bombers, who will be patient with him. The Gulf Coast League should be his home, but he'll benefit from being in Tampa and around all the organizational honchos who frequent the complex.
Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland
Chisenhall constitutes the biggest surprise of the first round. Makeup issues were expected to hold him back, but the Tribe gambled and figure to send him to either Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League or Lake County in the Sally League.
Casey Kelly, Boston
The Red Sox have done remarkably well in the draft in recent years and Kelly could only add to that legacy. He's got great family ties in the game and should carve his own niche beginning in the Gulf Coast League (Fort Myers). The shortstop/pitcher has also been recruited to play football at Tennessee.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.