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Smoke at the Top of the Draft

June 07, 2004
June 07, 2004

Table of Contents
June 7, 2004

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Smoke at the Top of the Draft

College players, particularly pitchers, are expected to rule in
Monday's amateur draft. Here's the skinny on the top prospects.

This is an article from the June 7, 2004 issue Original Layout

Jered Weaver, RHP, Long Beach State
The 6'7" kid brother of Dodgers righthander Jeff Weaver won 14
games, struck out 193 in 128 1/3 innings and had a 1.68 ERA.
Weaver (right) twice whiffed the first 10 batters he faced in a
game.

Jeff Niemann, RHP, Rice
The Padres, who hold the top pick, are torn between Weaver and
this fireballer (17-0, 156 K's in 128 1/3 innings in 2003).
Niemann is one of three Rice righthanders--Philip Humber and Wade
Townsend are the others--expected to go in the first round.

Stephen Drew, SS, Florida State
He'll join his brothers, J.D. (the Braves' rightfielder) and Tim
(a pitcher at Triple A Richmond in Atlanta's system), to form the
first sibling threesome to be selected in the first round.

Justin Verlander, RHP, Old Dominion
His stock fell a bit after he struggled with his control this
season, but Verlander's mid-90s heater and sweeping curve give
him an alluring upside.

Chris Nelson, SS, Redan High (Ga.)
His fastball was in the mid-90s, but he had Tommy John surgery
last fall, ending his shot at being drafted as a two-way player.
The high school senior still showed plenty of pop (.582 batting
average) and speed (25 steals) this spring.

COLOR PHOTO: LARRY GOREN/WIREIMAGE.COM