College corner infielders, relievers represent strength of draft

Compared to recent drafts -- from the superstar-laden 2005 first round (Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman), to the Evan Longoria-Clayton Kershaw-Tim Lincecum top 10 in 2006, to last year's high school pitcher bonanza -- the pool of top-shelf talent in 2008 is subpar.

This year's crop better resembles 2004's low-upside college-centric first round. If you want to look at the glass as half-empty, this year's first round has more than a few things in common with the 2000 first round, which has produced three stars in Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Adam Wainwright, but which on the whole has been a dud. None of the 13 picks between Gonzalez (No. 1 overall) and Utley (No. 15) from that 2000 draft has appeared in a big league game this season, and eight of them have never appeared in the majors.

Corner-ing the market

The draft's top tier of talent is deepest in an unsexy area -- college corner infielders. That category of player has typically yielded high returns -- from past names like Mark Teixeira, Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro to more recent picks including Gordon, Zimmerman, Braun and Nick Swisher -- but doesn't fit the standard first-round profile of players who offer a wide set of plus tools or pitchers with big fastballs and good breaking balls.