<
>

DOUBLE TAKES

5/21/2008
Is the next Micah Owings lurking in this draft? Getty Images

For those who've followed Micah Owings since he played at Tulane, his hitting prowess with the D-backs comes as no surprise. He led the Green Wave with 18 homers as a 1B/RHP in 2005 before Arizona drafted him as a pitcher in the third round. But Owings is just one of several big leaguers whose two-way skills gave teams pause on draft day. Take Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis: Though most scouts preferred him as a lefty pitcher before the 2003 draft, Baltimore believed in his bat and picked him seventh overall. Similarly, James Loney was once deemed to be a better prospect as a southpaw hurler because of his 93 mph fastball; the Dodgers picked him as a first baseman in 2002. This year, MLB execs are scratching their heads over four possible first-rounders with two-way potential.

Casey Kelly RHP/SS, Sarasota (Fla.) H.S.
As a pitcher, the son of former Yankees second baseman Pat Kelly is aggressive with his fastball and has a solid feel for his secondary stuff. But at the moment, more teams prefer Kelly as an athletic infielder who'll likely end up at third base. Of course, Phillip Fulmer thinks he's a QB: Kelly has signed a letter of intent to play for Tennessee in the fall.

Ethan Martin RHP/3B, Stephens County (GA.) H.S.
After putting himself in the first-round mix with big numbers as a hitter on the summer showcase circuit, Martin has come on as a pitching prospect. His fastball sat from 91 to 95 mph in a recent outing, and he flashed a sharp, spiking curveball. Like most high school hurlers, Martin needs to improve his command and develop his off-speed stuff.

Aaron Hicks RHP/OF, Wilson H.S. (Long Beach, Calif.)
The consensus is that he'll be selected as an outfielder because of his five-tool potential, but Hicks throws consistently in the 91 to 93 mph range and gets good action on both his power slider and changeup.

Anthony Gose LHP/OF, Bellflower (Calif.) H.S.
Although he has expressed a preference to play every day as a position player, Gose is raw as a hitter, and clubs have made it clear that he has more value as a pitcher—because lefties who can light it up at 97 mph are hard to find. If he commits to the mound, Gose will get drafted a lot earlier and increase the value of his signing bonus by as much as $500,000.