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2009 Draft: A Look Back at 2006

Evan LongoriaMy draft coverage this year will finish up this week with a look back at the previous watch lists. I start with my first ever watch list in 2005, which was now four years ago. The group should (and does) include major-leaguers at this point, and nobody still in baseball is below AA. In fact, the 2005 watchlist arguably looks better now than it did last year:

15. Whit Robbins, 1B, New Britain (MIN, AA) - .345 AVG, .418 OBP, .537 SLG - Despite jumping up a level, Whit's OPS has increased nearly 200 points to this point. This is by far the best he has looked as a professional, and it is even more impressive with the slow start he got off to. His path to the majors is still blocked by Justin Morneau, but maybe something has clicked for him this year.

14. Evan Longoria, 3B, TB - .305 AVG, .387 OBP, .584 SLG - The reigning AL Rookie of the Year is putting together an even stronger season, though an injury and slump slowed him down recently.

13. Chad Huffman, OF, Portland (SD, AAA) - .253 AVG, .360 OBP, .448 SLG - The average is not great, but solid plate discipline and power is helping Huffman to a somewhat successful first year in AAA thus far. He has already matched his home run total from 2008 in AA, and throughout the minors he has hit for good average, so there is reason to think his average will rise by the end of the year.

12. Luke Hopkins, INF - Out of baseball

11. Ryan Strieby, 1B, Erie (DET, AA) - .294 AVG, .408 OBP, .569 SLG - Strieby turned it on the second half of last year, and has not let up. His first three months in AA have been a huge success, and he remains the Tigers top power-hitting prospect.

10. Brad Lincoln, RHP, Altoona (PIT, AA) - 2.20 ERA, 69.2 IP, 59 H, 16 BB, 63 K, 4 HR - Lincoln seriously injured his arm to start his pro career, and has been coming back ever since. It looks like this is the year he has put it all back together. Pittsburgh has developed some solid starters the past couple years, but no one as overpowering as Lincoln could be.

9. Steven Wright, RHP, Akron (CLE, AA) - 3.57 ERA, 35.1 IP, 34 H, 10 BB, 25 K, 1 HR - Wright has started a few games, but is mostly a reliever at this point, and even got in a few games up in AAA earlier this year. He has steadily gone through Cleveland's system, moving up a level each year. His home run rate has dropped dramatically this year, which is good to see.

8. Wade LeBlanc, LHP, Portland (SD, AAA) - 4.08 ERA, 57.1 IP, 56 H, 17 BB, 47 K, 9 HR - LeBlanc made it to the majors at the very end of last year, but got shelled. He also was called up for a few days this year, but did not appear in a game. If Jake Peavy is traded and the Padres get no major league pitcher in return, this is the guy most likely to take his place. Wade is definitely a fly ball pitcher, and he gives up quite a few home runs. However, his second year in AAA is going way better than his first, and when he does get a longer chance in the majors, pitching in spacious Petco park should help mitigate his biggest weakness.

7. Jon Jay, OF, Memphis (STL, AAA) - .246 AVG, .322 OBP, .308 SLG - After a resurgence last year, Jay is struggling in his first full year at AAA. He has good speed, so he needs to get on base more to make it to the majors. The patience is there though, so all he needs to do is get some more hits. Jay's strikeout rate is not all that bad, so perhaps he has been the victim of some bad luck so far.

6. Cole Gillespie, OF, Nashville (MIL, AAA) - .204 AVG, .327 OBP, .373 SLG - Cole started the year hurt, so he has only about a month and a half worth of games in AAA so far. Looking at his splits, his OPS is improving as the season goes along, so I expect these numbers to improve as the season goes. He put together a better season than most realize in AA last year, because he was overshadowed by guys like Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel, and Alcides Escobar. Gillespie still flashes an intriguing blend of good (though not great) power, speed, and hitting, which should all equate to a chance in the majors soon.

5. Max Scherzer, RHP, ARI - 3.63 ERA, 67 IP, 61 H, 28 BB, 69 K, 8 HR - Scherzer has established himself as a quality starter this year, and should develop into a top of the rotation type as his command improves. His ERA is already good, but could plummet as his home run rate drops. It should with the stuff he has.

4. Eddie Degerman, RHP, Springfield (STL, AA) - 4.57 ERA, 21.2 IP, 15 H, 22 BB, 13 K, 1 HR - He simply does not throw enough strikes, and at 25 years old in AA, I wonder if he will ever develop enough command to make the majors. I would put the odds against it at this point.

3. Craig Cooper, 1B, San Antonio (SD, AA) - .356 AVG, .434 OBP, .489 SLG - Repeating AA has been good for Cooper, as he has exploded this year at the plate. He still does not have prototypical power for the position, but he never looked like a guy that would. The Padres have a log jam at first base, thanks to Adrian Gonzalez in the majors, and Kyle Blanks at AAA. Cooper needs to be in AAA, and I wonder if San Diego would try him in the outfield again. They have in the past.

2. Andrew Miller, LHP, FLO - 4.30 ERA, 46 IP, 46 H, 23 BB, 37 K, 2 HR - There are signs that Miller is starting to put it all together. He got rushed to the majors, and consequently struggled with his command on too big of a stage, but in the past two months has started to find control. In particular, allowing just two home runs on the season so far is very promising. Miller is a solid number four starter type right now, and by the end of the year could be solid three, and could be on his way to fulfilling the top end of the rotation potential most saw in him.

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP, SF - 2.66 ERA, 88 IP, 77 H, 26 BB, 103 K, 3 HR - The reigning NL Cy Young award-winner is putting together another great season.

It takes four to five years to really assess a draft, and four years in this group still looks pretty good. It already boasts a Rookie of the Year and Cy Young award-winner, and by my count 11-13 of the players are still on track to make the majors at some point. Not too bad for my first try.