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Draft over, eyes turn to '09 prospects

Draft over, eyes turn to '09 prospects

The baseball world is still catching its collective breath after the whirlwind that is the two-day First-Year Player Draft. But there's no rest for the weary. Thoughts of the 2009 Draft class began almost immediately after this year's Draft was completed.

Obviously, a lot can happen over the next year, but it's interesting to ponder who would be atop Draft boards as of this moment.

Want to see some of these future prospects in person? There are several options this summer to get started early. There's the elite wood bat Cape Cod League for the top college talent. The AFLAC All-American Game, held at San Diego State, takes place in August. Or you can hit Wrigley Field on Aug. 17 for the Under Armour All-America Baseball game (formerly the Cape Cod High School Classic).

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To whet the appetite, here are some names of guys who could find themselves as top Draft prospects a year from now.

Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF, University of North Carolina: This year's Draft was big for college first basemen types, especially those who hit left-handed. Ackley could help continue the tradition with a sweet swing that has enabled him to hit .405 as the Tar Heels entered Super Regional play this weekend.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri: Aaron Crow went this year; next year, it will be Gibson's turn. Gibson went 9-4 witt a 3.84 ERA for Mizzou, striking out 96 over 86 2/3 innings and should be its Friday starter next season.

Mychal Givens, SS/RHP, Plant HS, Fla.: A five-tooler and two-way threat, Givens can do it all on a baseball field. He's an extremely athletic infielder with a plus arm. That comes in handy on the mound, where he throws in the low 90s.

Ryan Jackson, SS, Miami: The Hurricanes lost many top hitters in this year's Draft, but Jackson will be around to anchor the lineup. A true shortstop, Jackson has led Miami with a .374 average entering Super Regional play, to go along with a .441 OBP and .528 SLG.

Chris Jenkins, RHP, Westfield HS, NJ: He's 6-foot-6 with big-time arm strength. He throws the fastball in the low 90s, but there were rumors of him touching 96 mph this spring.

Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS, Texas: He might be the top prep pitcher in the Draft class and almost certainly the best southpaw. He's a projectable lefty who can get his fastball up to 92 mph.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State: If you were going to pick the top college arm in the Draft, it might be this guy. The All-American went 8-3 with a 1.57 ERA for San Diego State, allowing just 61 hits in 97 1/3 IP (.181 average against), walking just 16 and striking out 133.

Donavan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS, Ga.: It's looking like the Georgia high school ranks will be well represented yet again in 2009. Tate might be one of the best position players from the high school crop next year, he's a toolsy outfielder who's also a top-notch football player, just like his father, former NFLer Lars Tate.

Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy, Mo.: Big and strong (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) with a quick arm, Thompson throws a fastball in the 90-94-mph range to go along with a good breaking ball.

Alex White, RHP, University of North Carolina: A pretty good prospect back in high school who went in the 14th round because of his UNC commitment, White has been a big reason the Tar Heels are playing postseason baseball now. He's gone 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA, striking out 95 over 81 1/3 innings.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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