Welcome to Brewerfan.net's annual draft coverage. It's time to look ahead to the talent that is available for the 2009 draft. The strength of the '09 draft class lies in its pitchers, particularly from college, in which we may see the top 10-15 overall picks dominated by arms. San Diego State righty Stephen Strasburg is the early favorite to go first overall, with the perfect combination of size, athleticism, stuff and command, and profiles in a similar fashion to David Price in the 2007 draft and even Mark Prior from 2001. Whether he goes first overall of course remains to be seen, as he has chosen to align himself with Scott Boras. The same can be said for Oklahoma State lefty Andrew Oliver, North Carolina outfielder Dustin Ackley, USC shortstop Grant Green, Tennessee draft-eligible sophomore outfielder Kentrail Davis and the top unsigned pick from the 2008 draft, right-handed pitcher Aaron Crow, who plans to pitch for the Fort Worth Cats next spring in the Independent American Association league. Top prep stars, such as outfielder Donovan Tate from Georgia and right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner from Missouri, will also be advised by the super-agent. Meaning of course signability will once again play a prominent part of the draft. The high school crop is highlighted by a pair of left-handed pitchers in Purke and Matzek. Both have touched the mid-90s, and pitch comfortably in the low-90s. Purke is praised for his competitive fire and wicked fastball-slider combo, while Matzek tosses a hard curveball with silky-smooth mechanics. Ian Krol (Naperville, IL), Chad James (Yukon, OK) and Beau Wright (Los Alamitos) add to the prep southpaw depth. Tate may be the most physically gifted player to come from the prep ranks since Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin in 2005. He is a two-sport star whose father, Lars Tate, was a college star running back that spent three seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Givens, Maddox and Sampson are going to draw a lot of interest in the spring for their two-way talents. Givens and Sampson are more likely to be drafted as pitchers with easy arm strength and wicked breaking balls. Maddox' arm strength and power potential will likely lead to him being pursued as a catcher. Catchers overall are a strength for next year's crop, which includes Maddox, Stassi, Luke Bailey (LaGrange, GA), Jonathan Walsh (Coppell, TX), Andrew Susac (Roseville, CA) and Michael Zunino (Cape Coral, FL), all of whom are candidates to go in the first two rounds of the draft. Texas strong righty Shelby Miller is quickly rising up draft boards, while the twin towers of Chad Thompson (Trabuco Canyon, CA) and Christopher Jenkins (Westfield, NJ), who check in at 6'8" and 6'7" respectively, also throw gas with good secondary stuff. Davidson, Goodwin, third baseman Brian Borchering (Alva, FL), shortstop Deven Marrero (Davie, FL) and outfielder Jake Marisnick (Riverside, CA) really helped their stock with strong performances this summer. Strasburg as noted above is the cream of this year's college and overall crop, and is poised for a huge junior year, and has posted impressive numbers throughout his college career. He earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team's bronze medal-winning roster as part of the Beijing Olympics. He along with fellow draft-eligible pitchers Oliver, Gibson, Minor, Volz, Smith, Mike Leake (Arizona State), Tyler Lyons (Oklahoma State), A.J. Griffin (San Diego) and Chris Hernandez (Miami) formed an incredible staff for the Team USA National Collegiate team this past summer, posting a staff ERA of 0.88 that carried the team to an undefeated, 24-0 record. Green and Ackley showed their tools on the Cape, along with infielders Robbie Shields (Florida Southern), and D.J. LeMahieu (draft-eligible sophomore, LSU), first basemen Ben Paulsen (Clemson) and Ryan Wheeler (Loyola Marymount), third basemen Chris Dominguez (Louisville) and Rich Poythress (Georgia), and outfielders A.J. Pollock (Notre Dame), Tim Wheeler (Sacramento State) and Brett Jackson (California). Kentrail Davis was the lone draft-eligible hitting star for Team USA. Cape starters such as Jeff Inman (Stanford), Craig Fritsch (Baylor), Shawn Tolleson (Baylor), Matt Thomson (San Diego) and Brad Stillings (Kent State) add to the impressive pitching talent available for next year's draft. Jason Stoffel (Arizona), Brad Boxberger (USC), Ben Tottle (Jacksonville State) and Scott Bittle (Ole Miss, an unsigned second rounder by the New York Yankees) highlight the short list of power relievers available. The weakest positional category for the 2009 draft at this point in time appears to be college catchers. Tony Sanchez (Boston College), Josh Phegley (Indiana) and Tommy Medica (Santa Clara) could be drafted in the early rounds based on need more than merit. Robert Stock (USC) may ride his reputation to an early draft selection as well.
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