Behind The Scenes

Who’s your ‘Franchise’ player?

And with the first pick in the 2011 ESPN Franchise Player Draft, Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech selects …

Albert Pujols? Felix Hernandez? Adrian Gonzalez?

We’ll have to wait until noon ET Wednesday to find out, but one thing is for sure, draft fever is in the air.

The official 2011 MLB First-Year Player draft begins Monday. ESPN will hold a selection process of its own — the Franchise Player Draft — live on ESPN.com.

The website has asked 30 baseball analysts which current MLB player they would choose if they were starting a franchise from scratch. The draft order was selected at random, and each analyst will make his selection and provide analysis of his pick.

“The idea came from [Senior Deputy Editor] Nate Ravitz of ESPN Fantasy. He thought it would be interesting to see which players in professional baseball would be drafted in order if there were an open draft like this one,” said ESPN.com Baseball Senior Deputy Editor David Kull.

“We thought it was the perfect idea to execute in advance of the actual MLB First-Year Player Draft.”

The Franchise Player draft begins at 12 p.m. ET with a 15 minute pre-draft online discussion.

The No. 1 pick will be unveiled at 12:15 p.m. and then the subsequent selections will be made every five minutes until No. 30 is chosen at 2:40 p.m. The draft will conclude with a 20-minute post-draft wrap-up.

Fans will have the chance to chat with ESPN baseball experts Jim Bowden, Jim Caple, Jerry Crasnick and Doug Glanville — each of whom are participating in the draft — among others.

With the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft next week, timing couldn’t be better to spark some lively debate and conversation about which big-leaguers are worthy of being deemed “the franchise.”

“The hope is to spark a fun, lively debate about baseball’s so-called ‘franchise players’ since the whole idea of the annual amateur draft is to find players who could potentially serve as the cornerstones of a championship team,” Kull said.

Among the analysts making the selections: Baseball Tonight host Ravech, Sunday Night Baseball analyst Orel Hershiser, ESPN reporters Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian, and Monday Night Baseball analysts Aaron Boone and Rick Sutcliffe.

The Franchise Player Draft will also feature video analysis from draftees, including a breakdown of the Top 10 selections with Bowden.

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