Unlike past years, this is the only mock draft I’m doing, mainly because the Phillies don’t have a pick until #75, but also because of the strangeness of this draft. At the top you’ve got arguably the best pitching prospect of all time, then a great college hitter, and then about 20 guys who seem like they could go anywhere from 3 to 22. Instead of just throwing out random names, I’ve spent some time compiling a database of the past 5 years of picks in the first three rounds. I’m a believer in teams going with what they know, meaning that they develop a trust with crosscheckers in certain states, or they target the same type of prospect and will lean that way when in doubt. So you’ll get lots of information here. If you don’t care about the draft, that’s fine, but I know there are those that do. Please keep the discussion on topic, thanks. Lets get started…
As I said in the intro, I’m looking at 5 years of data. In some cases, the current scouting director has been in charge for more than 5 years, in a few cases its an entirely new regime, and then everything else in between. I only considered drafting records from 2004-2008, and in cases where the guy has no track, I’ll just have to guess even more than in situations where I have data. I’ll give the total picks in rounds 1-3, and for the purposes of simplicity, I’m lumping JuCo selections in with college selections to just form two main groups. I’ve also broken down the picks into positions, RHP, LHP, C, CI (1B+3B) and MI (2B+SS) and OF. You’ll pick up the formatting as we go along. Predicting who will take who in a year with a lot of certainty is a tough task, and doing it in a draft like this, where there are 31 really uncertain picks in the first is nearly impossible. So I don’t expect to get a ton of these right, this is more a chance for me to take some guesses and say which prospects I like more than others. If I get 3 or 4 total after Strasburg, I’ll consider it a success. So, lets begin
01-01 Washington Nationals - Stephen Strasburg, RHP (San Diego State)
Scouting Director: Dana Brown (2002)
Total Picks R1-R3: 18 (10 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 11 HS, 7 COLLEGE
Positions: 4 RHP, 3 LHP, 1 C, 3 CI, 3 MI, 4 OF
Summary: When the Nationals were being run by MLB, they were much more conservative in the draft, but recently they’ve begun to take more legit talent and spend more money. Their last two #1 picks both came from Missouri, though they didn’t sign last year’s selection in Aaron Crow. In the first three rounds the last two years, the Nats have gone high school 5 times and college 4 times, taking 4 pitchers and 5 position players, so the mix is pretty even. None of this really matters though, because it’s a forgone conclusion that the Nats are going to take Stephen Strasburg, RHP from San Diego State. So because we have that determined, I’d like to present an idea to Nats upper management. The day after the draft, I’d hold a press conference, express how excited you are to have arguably the greatest pitching prospect ever, and tell everyone that you’re going to make history. Tell them that you are offering him an $18M contract, split between a signing bonus and a 6 year MLB deal, and you’re offering it right now. But starting Monday June 15th, the offer reduces in value by $250,000 for every day that he doesn’t sign. Mark Prior’s 5/$10.5M deal is still the most valuable package given to a draft choice, the $18M offered up front would shatter that record. Should Strasburg hold out until the deadline, his $18M offer will become $2.5M. Strasburg’s draft stock, realistically, will never be higher than it is right now. By making the initial offer, the Nats show they aren’t cheap, they want the player, and they’re willing to pay almost 90% more than the previous record bonus to get him. But they also show that they want him now, they don’t want to drag negotiations out until the 11th hour. It would be a perfect plan, in my opinion
01-02 Seattle Mariners - Dustin Ackley, 1B/OF (UNC)
Scouting Director: Tom McNamara (new)
Total Picks R1-R3: N/A
Summary: The Mariners fired Bill Bavasi this past winter, hiring former Brewers Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik, who then overhauled many positions in the front office, including Scouting Director, where he appointed Tom McNamara, a former scout who was with Milwaukee as recently as 2008. McNamara was an East Coast crosschecker, which may come into player later. There is no doubt Jack Z will have some influence over this draft, so it doesn’t hurt to generally think about what he did in Milwaukee, but I don’t know how McNamara will value players, so I didn’t look at Milwaukee’s detailed history. I do know they tended to like polished college bats (Braun, LaPorta, Weeks), but they also went high school with great success a number of times (Gallardo, Fielder). This year, the consensus opinion seems to be that they’ll take the best college player available in Dustin Ackley, a 1B/OF from North Carolina. Ackley is still recovering from arm surgery, which has kept him at 1B for most of the season, but most project him to be able to move to CF in pro ball, increasing his value. He’s a very polished hitter who will move quickly, hit for average and hit for power. Jack Z wasn’t afraid to make a bold pick (LaPorta in 2007) and could go somewhere else here, possibly for one of the big prep arms or even for a Tanner Scheppers. But most seem to think its Ackley, and I agree.
01-03 San Diego Padres – Aaron Crow, RHP (Fort Worth Cats)
Scouting Director: Bill “Chief” Gayton (2001)
Total Picks R1-R3: 27 (14 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 7 HS, 20 COLLEGE
Positions: 3 RHP, 4 LHP, 3 C, 5 CI, 4 MI, 8 OF
Summary: The Padres are a performance oriented organization, and Grady Fuson, a key member of the front office with influence over the draft, likes college pitchers who will move quickly. The Padres have taken 7 pitchers and 8 OF in the data I studied from 2004-2008, and their bias is to college players by a wide margin. They’ve also taken quite a few 1B/3B as well in that time. This year’s draft is very top heavy in college arms, but their dream scenario probably involves the Mariners passing on Ackley, which I believe would be a slam dunk pick for them. Some outlets have reported that they like Donovan Tate, the top prep position player available, but I don’t buy this one. The last prep HS player San Diego took with their 1st round pick was Matt Bush, a local product in CA who was considered a big overdraft (read, cheap) at the time, who eventually had to be converted to pitcher, and was subsequently released either last year or the year before. The Padres only took him because they cut a deal with him and saved money, so it seems unlikely that they’d take Tate, who is rumored to want more than $6M, and who also may have some “motivational issues”, in terms of wanting to really commit to baseball. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I think they’ll go with a pitcher, since there aren’t any premium college bats after Ackley other than Grant Green, and Green again is going to require a lot of money, being a Scott Boras product. It just makes sense, looking at their profile, that they will go pitcher. There have been rumors of a Mike Minor selection here, but that would be a huge overdraft. Crow’s stuff reportedly has been solid, he’s close to ML ready it would seem, so this pick makes a lot of sense for me.
01-04 Pittsburgh Pirates - Mike Leake, RHP (Arizona State)
Scouting Director: Greg Smith (2008)
Total Picks R1-R3: 3 (1 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 0 HS, 3 COLLEGE
Positions: 1 RHP, 1 CI, 1 MI
Summary: The Neal Huntington era was promised to be a breath of fresh air, and last year they opened the wallet to take Pedro Alvarez, even though it took negotiations after the deadline to get a deal done. SD Greg Smith’s first year saw them take Alvarez, then take Tanner Scheppers, considered a top 10 pick before an arm injury, though they couldn’t get him signed. They also took shortstop Jordy Mercer in the 3rd round. There have been tons of rumors surrounding this pick. Some indicate they’ll make a big overdraft to save money, which will then be used to sign Miguel Sano, the best prospect available this July from Latin America. The Pirates have kind of said this isn’t true, but where there is smoke there is fire. If the Pirates wanted a quality college bat here, knowing their track record with college pitchers, the only guy that truly makes sense from a non-crazy overdraft situation is Grant Green, but I don’t seem them engaging in another battle with Scott Boras this soon. So then you’ve got a ton of possibilities. My pick here for them is someone they haven’t been linked to (as far as I know), but someone who would make a ton of sense based on their desire to stick to slot or under and get a college player. Leake is an undersized righty who has dominated during his college career, posting a better ERA than Stephen Strasburg this year while pitching in a tougher conference. He has great command and control and good stuff and no real health concerns, as far as I know. If the Pirates are looking to save money with this peak, they should grab Leake. He’s a high probability college arm who will move very fast, and who could easily be a reliable #3 in the majors.
01-05 Baltimore Orioles - Grant Green, SS (USC)
Scouting Director: Joe Jordan (2005)
Total Picks R1-R3: 12 (6 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 7 HS, 5 COLLEGE
Positions: 2 RHP, 3 LHP, 2 C, 2 CI, 1 MI, 2 OF
Summary: The Orioles seemed to turn the corner in 2007 when the Pirates passed on Matt Wieters, allowing the Orioles to grab him, the guy who would turn into the best prospect in the minor leagues only 1 year later. In that draft the Orioles also gave first round money to Jake Arrieta, a RHP who fell into the 5th round. Last year, the best college lefty in Brian Matusz fell into their lap. They’ve shown a willingness to take high school guys, but have gone college the last two years with their first pick. They’ve shown they are willing to spend and deal with Scott Boras. What their system lacks, right now, is impact bats with Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold in the majors. Last year they took a prep MI in LJ Hoes, but he’s struggling in A ball. The Orioles have a very promising OF core in the majors, a franchise catcher, and a bunch of intriguing arms, but they really don’t have a whole lot of answers on the left side of the infield. Prior to this year, Grant Green was being viewed as a surefire Top 5 pick, and was right there (maybe a tick ahead) of Dustin Ackley for best college bat after a big showing on the Cape last summer. He started the season off slow, and then dealt with nagging injuries all season. He started to put things together as the season neared a close, but he’s seen his draft stock slide, with some projecting he’d fall down to the end of the first round due to his “down” 2009 and his advisor Scott Boras. I don’t see this happening. Whether he ends up in Baltimore or not, I do think a team in the first 10 picks is going to take him. He had a huge summer with wood bats last year, and I think most scouts will still put a lot of weight into those performances and excuse a bit of draftitis. Baltimore is no longer afraid of Scott Boras guys, and they’ve shown a willingness to take top college talent. They could go with a pitcher here, but I think Green is the better pick.
01-06 San Francisco Giants - Tyler Matzek, LHP (Capistrano Valley HS, CA)
Scouting Director: John Barr (2008)
Total Picks R1-R3: 3 (2 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 0 HS, 3 COLLEGE
Positions: 1 C, 1 CI, 1 OF
Summary: John Barr just took over in 2008, so the data set is limited. The Giants were famous for pissing away draft picks in recent years by signing aging free agents, and they showed a general disinterest in the draft in general, though it has produced talents like Matt Cain. They struck gold 2 years ago in selecting Madison Bumgarner 10th overall in the first. Bumgarner, a LHP, was a tall, lean prepster from NC with a big arm and lagging secondary pitches, but he’s refined his craft and is now arguably the best pitching prospect in the minor leagues. San Francisco needs bats, and if Ackley was here for some reason, surely they’d go that route. I think they’d also consider Grant Green here, and he may well be here, so they could go that route. If Ackley and Green are both gone, or they choose to pass on Green if hes here, I think they will look for an arm, and I think they will go the high school route. Matzek’s stock continues to rise. He’s already sitting in the low-mid 90′s, and as his frame fills out, he’s got an outside shot at triple digit velocity from the left side. That’s pretty special stuff, and even though the Giants lack position prospects in their system, it would be hard to pass on that.
01-07 Atlanta Braves - Zach Wheeler, RHP (East Paulding HS, GA)
Scouting Director: Roy Clark (2000)
Total Picks R1-R3: 23 (8 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 16 HS, 7 COLLEGE
Positions: 7 RHP, 6 LHP, 0 C, 3 CI, 4 MI, 3 OF
Summary: As you can see by the numbers, the Braves lean heavily toward the prep side of things, and they also love pitching. The last college guy to be taken in the first by Atlanta was Joey Devine, RHP back in 2005. Since 2006, they’ve taken 11 prepsters, 3 college guys and 3 JuCo guys, and of those 16 guys, 10 of them have been pitchers. The popular comment is that Atlanta loves the homegrown Georgia products (and its true), they’ve actually taken more guys from Florida than Georgia in my data set, obviously Florida isn’t far away and it generally produces more talent as a whole because its a bigger state. But anyway. So yeah, this pick seems logical. Atlanta generally sticks to slot in the first round, Wheeler is one of the best prep arms available, is a local product, and will sign for slot. So this pick makes a whole lot of sense.
01-08 Cincinnati Reds - Shelby Miller, RHP (Brownsville HS, TX)
Scouting Director: Chris Buckley (2006)
Total Picks R1-R3: 11 (5 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 3 HS, 8 COLLEGE
Positions: 4 RHP, 1 C, 3 CI, 2 MI, 1 OF
Summary: The Reds generally go college over prep, but have taken big prep arms in the past, and pitching remains a major concern for the team. Last year they surprised a lot of people by taking 1B Yonder Alonso when they already had a cornerstone type 1B in Joey Votto. The Reds have spread out their picks across 10 different states (only 11 picks counted), but have gone to Texas twice. There will be a few college arms here including Alex White and Chad Jenkins, but I feel like Miller is one of the top two prep RHP in the draft, would be the choice here. He’s a power guy who could sit at the top of a big league rotation, and Cincinnati is starved for pitching at all levels. They could go elsewhere here, but they do favor RHP, they’ve gone to Texas before, and there doesn’t seem to be a position player here that would line up with what they’ve targeted before. If they go college, I think its Alex White.
01-09 Detroit Tigers - Jacob Turner, RHP (Westminster Christian Academy, MO)
Scouting Director: David Chadd (2005)
Total Picks R1-R3: 12 (5 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 3 HS, 9 COLLEGE
Positions: 6 RHP, 1 LHP, 1 C, 1 CI, 1 MI, 2 OF
Summary: David Chadd is known for two things; targeting hard throwing pitchers and having the backing of ownership to grab an elite talent if it drops to them. The Tigers opened their wallet for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and most recently, Rick Porcello when those players slid into their laps. Chadd also loves velocity guys, grabbing Ryan Perry from Arizona last year when a signability guy wasn’t really their for the taking. Knowing this, Turner seems like a good fit for the Tigers. Along with Miller, he’s the top prep arm from the right side with plus velocity and a chance for more. Half of Chadd’s picks in the first 3 rounds since 2005 have been on RHP, and even though they’ve leaned college, the Porcello example should be fresh in their minds. If they decide they want a hard throwing college guy, and their doctors give him clearance, then it would be Tanner Scheppers.
01-10 Washington Nationals - Chad Jenkins, RHP (Kennesaw State)
Summary: The Nats philosophy was outlined with the Strasburg pick, so I won’t recite it here. This pick is a compensation selection for failing to sign last year’s #1 in Aaron Crow, and compensation picks aren’t protected, thus making this selection a must sign. Jenkins would be 10-15 spots down a number of boards based on pure talent, but he’s a higher probability guy and should sign for slot. Drew Storren, RHP from Stanford was my backup pick here, and I debated both, but lots of buzz has been on them taking Jenkins, so I’ll go with that.
01-11 Colorado Rockies - Alex White, RHP (North Carolina)
Scouting Director: Bill Schmidt (2000)
Total Picks R1-R3: 17 (6 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 4 HS, 13 COLLEGE
Positions: 7 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 C, 2 MI, 5 OF
Summary: The Rockies lean heavily toward college players, especially pitchers. Of the 17 picks in this data set, they’ve selected 9 pitchers, and of those 9, all but 2 were college arms. They generally spread out their picks, but the highest concentration is in arms and outfielders, so I’ll drop Alex White to them. White entered this year as a possible #2 overall pick but his results have been inconsistent, as has his raw stuff. He’s already gotten the “reliever” tag dropped on him a few times as well, but he seems like the safe type of pitcher Colorado targets, which hasn’t really worked for them in recent years. They’ve had more success on the position player side (Tulowitzki), but a bat like that probably won’t be around for them. If Grant Green were to slide, he’d be intriguing, but they generally tend to avoid paying over slot, which would rule them out. As with above, if Scheppers slides and the Rockies doctors clear him, he’d be an option here for sure, depending on his price tag.
01-12 Kansas City Royals - Tyler Skaggs, LHP (Santa Monica HS, CA)
Scouting Director: JJ Picollo (first draft)
Total Picks R1-R3: N/A ( in R1/Supplemental R1)
Summary: Picollo enters his first draft, having been promoted to scouting director last fall. The Royals have targeted position players in recent drafts, taking 1B Eric Hosmer in 2008, SS/3B Mike Moustakas in 2007, and 3B Alex Gordon in 2005. In between they took RHP Luke Hochevar 1st overall in 2006. The Royals have shown they aren’t afraid of dealing with Scott Boras, so if a Grant Green somehow makes it down here, he’s an option, but right now my guy is Tyler Skaggs. He’s a very projectable LHP with good present stuff and the chance for even better stuff in a few years. The Royals are building a nice offensive core, but they still lack pitching, which I guess can be said for a lot of teams. The Royals love a similar guy they drafted last year out of California in Mike Montgomery, so this would be a nice pick for them here at 12. Add the Scheppers caveat here that you’ve seen above.
01-13 Oakland Athletics - Drew Storen, RHP (Stanford)
Scouting Director: Eric Kubota (2002)
Total Picks R1-R3: 23 (10 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 5 HS, 18 COLLEGE
Positions: 10 RHP, 3 C, 1 CI, 3 MI, 6 OF
Summary: The A’s, as you might know by now, tend to like taking college guys. But they have recently begun to shift their philosophy in other areas, such as shattering the Latin America bonus record for RHP Michael Ynoa. There have been rumors that they are looking at Donovan Tate, the prep OF from Georgia who reportedly wants a $6M bonus and might not even want to play baseball. To me, this seems kind of crazy. The A’s spent a lot of money on last year’s draft after the first round, mainly on tough signs and guys you might not associate with a very conservative organization, but the A’s still drafted a college position player (Jemile Weeks, 2B) who would sign for slot, and their track record in the first round is pretty much undebateable. Since 2004, when I tracked this data, they haven’t taken a prep player in the first round, and that covers 10 picks. Oakland likes drafting guys from California, popping 9 of their 23 picks sampled here from their home state, and they’ve concentrated their efforts on RHP and OF. Storren, being used as a closer at Stanford, is viewed by some teams as a conversion project back into a starting pitcher. He has good stuff and is signable. The A’s may well spend a lot of money on this draft, but I don’t see them taking a high school player in the first round, and I don’t see them paying over slot. If they go OF, they could go for Sacramento State OF Tim Wheeler, but I’m going with Storren here.
01-14 Texas Rangers - Matt Purke, LHP (Klein HS, TX)
Scouting Director: Ron Hopkins (2003)
Total Picks R1-R3: 22 (11 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 11 HS, 11 COLLEGE
Positions: 9 RHP, 4 LHP, 2 C, 4 CI, 3 OF
Summary: The Rangers, one of the surprise teams of the season so far, are in an interesting position here in the draft. They’ve learned in favor of arms, taking 13 pitchers in the 22 picks analyzed here, and they’ve split their allotment evenly between the prep and college ranks. They’ve also stayed in state a good bit, taking more guys from Texas than any other state, 6 in total. Purke is one of the toughest guys to figure out. According to Keith Law today, Purke wants a deal similar to Rick Porcello’s deal, so about $7.5M. This will surely scare off most teams, which could see him slide out of the first round and down, where someone will take him and then follow him this summer and see if he has a change in demands. Purke was a guy I mentioned a few weeks ago as a great signability guy that might fall for the Phillies to grab in the 2nd round, but there is really no chance they pay that much money for Purke. If he doesn’t go here, I think he’s going to slide into the 2nd, 3rd or even beyond. If they get a read on him though and they feel like he’s signable, then he’s the guy they should take. If they don’t, then this is where I’m putting Tanner Scheppers, should he get this far.
01-15 Cleveland Indians - Eric Arnett, RHP (Indiana)
Scouting Director: Brad Grant (2008)
Total Picks R1-R3: 3 (1 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 1 HS, 2 COLLEGE
Positions: 1 RHP, 2 MI
Summary: Brad Grant is entering only his 2nd draft, so its tough to figure out what to make of their plan. The Indians spent a decent amount of money in last year’s draft on signability guys, but it came after the first round. They went with JuCo SS/3B Lonnie Chisenhall last year, so that’s really all we have. In general, the Indians have gone with college guys in the first/supplemental round over the last 4-5 years, and I expect they go with another college guy here. Arnett is reportedly someone they are really targeting, and since I don’t really have a feel for their plan based on 1 year of picks under the current scouting director, I just went with Arnett.
01-16 Arizona Diamondbacks - Rex Brothers, LHP (Lipscomb)
Scouting Director: Tom Allison (2007)
Total Picks R1-R3: 9 (5 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 3 HS, 6 COLLEGE
Positions: 5 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 C, 1 MI
Summary: The Diamondbacks have picks 16 and 17, so you’ll get 1 writeup here and then the two picks. In the 2 years I’ve got on Tom Allison, his preference is pitching, mostly the college variety. The one prep pitcher that stands out is Jarred Parker, taken in the first round in 2007, and now looking like one of the best pitchers in the minors. The D-Backs have also taken 4 of the 9 picks studied from California, so that is something to consider. The consensus seems to be that Arizona will take one hitter and one pitcher with these two picks, so I’ll go with the pitcher first. Brothers has good stuff but has shown somewhat modest results pitching at a smaller school. Nevertheless, Brothers seems like a good bet here, mainly because hes a college pitcher and because he should sign for slot. The D-Backs have 5 picks in the first round/supplemental round, and are not a notoriously free spending team in the draft, so they’ll want guys they can sign for reasonable amounts of dough. Add that to the college/pitching bias, and Brothers is my guy here.
01-17 Arizona Diamondbacks - Bobby Borchering, 3B (Bishop Verot HS, FL)
Summary: As I said above, one pitcher, one hitter. Borchering’s bat is going to be his ticket, he’s not an exceptional athlete or base runner, but he’s a good hitter with good raw power and an idea of the strike zone. I could also see a Tony Sanchez going here as well.
01-18 Florida Marlins - Chad James, LHP (Yukon HS, OK)
Scouting Director: Stan Meek (2002)
Total Picks R1-R3: 27 (12 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 16 HS, 11 COLLEGE
Positions: 7 RHP, 7 LHP, 4 C, 2 CI, 2 MI, 5 OF
Summary: The Marlins have one of the largest samples of picks that I studied here, as they’ve racked up compensation picks from losing free agents in recent years. They have a bias toward high school players in general, and have taken 14 pitchers out of their 27 picks, but have guys represented at all positions. They have a lot of links to the state of Oklahoma and have gone there a number of times, as well as grabbing 9 guys from California. James, an Oklahoma prep pitcher, ticks off a number of the boxes that would seem to appeal to Florida, and this is a pick that most people have connected the dots on. So I’ll just go with it.
01-19 St Louis Cardinals - Mike Minor, LHP (Vanderbuilt)
Scouting Director: Jeff Luhnow (2005)
Total Picks R1-R3: 22 (10 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 6 HS, 16 COLLEGE
Positions: 11 RHP, 1 LHP, 3 CI, 3 MI, 4 OF
Summary: The Cardinals have gone to college in recent years, and about half their picks have been pitchers, all but one throwing from the right side. The word on the street is that they want to add lefties this year, so they’ve been linked to a number of guys. With the emphasis on LHP and then adding the college filter, I’ve settled on Mike Minor, who has been rumored to guy as high as #3 to San Diego, which seems extremely unlikely. Minor is a low ceiling/high probability guy who is more a command/control back of the rotation guy, but who should get there. Rex Brothers would be an option here, as would James Paxton from Kentucky. They’ve been linked to lots of guys, but Minor seems to satisfy a number of their critera both past and present, so we’ll see.
01-20 Toronto Blue Jays - Tim Wheeler, OF (Sacramento State)
Scouting Director: Jon Lalonde (2004)
Total Picks R1-R3: 19 (10 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 6 HS, 13 COLLEGE
Positions: 4 RHP, 4 LHP, 2 C, 3 CI, 2 MI, 4 OF
Summary: The Jays notoriously lean college in the draft, though they have begun to take high school guys, including Kevin Ahrens in 2007 and Travis Snider in 2006. When they do go prep in the first round its been position players, and they took a college position player in David Cooper last year in the first round. They’ve gone to Texas for 4 picks, California for 3, and then Florida for 2, so its the usual suspects in that regard. I think they’ll be open to a number of different options, but Tim Wheeler has been rumored to go as high as the first 5-10 picks, and I think he’d be a nice fit here. They could grab one of the college arms, but they’ve shown a willingness to take outfielders, coupled with the college tendencies, and I’ll stick with Wheeler here.
01-21 Houston Astros - Mike Trout, OF (Millville HS, NJ)
Scouting Director: Bobby Heck (2008)
Total Picks R1-R3: 5 (2 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 4 HS, 1 COLLEGE
Positions: 2 RHP, 1 C, 1 CI, 1 OF
Summary: After a number of disastrous drafts, the Astros seemed to get on track last year, grabbing a number of interesting arms, and taking 4 out of their 5 first picks from the high school ranks, the lone college guy being their first round pick C Jason Castro. Because I’ve only got 1 year of data on their SD Bobby Heck, its kind of tough to guess where they go with this pick. They’ve traditionally mined their own home state, as well as neighboring states, and could go for a local product, but OF Mike Trout has been making a trip up a number of draft boards, and could actually go before Houston’s pick here. The Astros have one of the worst farm systems in baseball (actually, the worst I’d say, I was just being nice), so they need talent at pretty much every position. Trout has a lot of upside and good present skills, and would be a solid pick here.
01-22 Minnesota Twins - Matt Davidson, 3B (Yucaipa HS, CA)
Scouting Director: Deron Johnson (2008)
Total Picks R1-R3: 5 (3 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 1 HS, 4 COLLEGE
Positions: 3 RHP, 1 MI, 1 OF
Summary: The Twins, like the Astros are entering their second draft under their current scouting director, so again there isn’t a ton of information to work on. The Twins are known for taking the guy they like, even if others think they are overdrafting. They’ve been linked to a few of the prep outfielders, but after taking two prep OF in the last two drafts, that avenue doesn’t seem as likely. They’ve generally leaned college overall, but did take a prep OF in Aaron Hicks last year. The Twins system is famous for its pitching, but they currently lack infield prospects, and Davidson would give them a legit power hitting corner infielder, maybe their first since Justin Morneau? I have no real conviction in this pick, but from what I’ve read on Davidson, I’m impressed, and if hes here he’s the guy I think they should take. But its the Twins, they could go way off the radar here.
01-23 Chicago White Sox - James Paxton, LHP (Kentucky)
Scouting Director: Doug Laumann (2007)
Total Picks R1-R3: 5 (2 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 1 HS, 4 COLLEGE
Positions: 2 RHP, 1 LHP, 1 CI, 1 MI
Summary: The White Sox under GM Kenny Williams have generally favored college players, taking Gordon Beckham in 2008, Aaron Poreda in 2007, Kyle McCulloch in 2006, and Lance Broadway in 2005. Of those, only Gordon was a position player, so in the first round they are generally looking at pitchers, college pitchers. Paxton was looking like a possible top 10 pick early, but has struggled down the stretch. He’s a 2 pitch guy right now, and his repertoire (from what I’ve read) is similar to Aaron Poreda’s, a recent White Sox selection. Tim Wheeler here would be an interesting choice if hes on the board, and I could also maybe see Mike Minor here as well if he’s on the board. Actually yeah, Mike Minor is my backup pick here, but I’m staying with Paxton.
01-24 Los Angeles Angels - Matt Hobgood, RHP (Norco HS, CA)
Scouting Director: Eddie Bane (2004)
Total Picks R1-R3: 12 (4 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 10 HS, 2 COLLEGE
Positions: 7 RHP, 1 C, 2 MI, 2 OF
Summary: The Angels, like the Diamondbacks, have back to back picks here, so I’ll go over their general philosophy with this pick than just give their pick in the next one. The Angels stick to two principles; grab California prospects (6 of the 12 picks studied here were CA prospects) and grab pitchers, as 7 of the 12 guys they’ve taken have been RHP. Hobgood is the pick here, and if Tyler Skaggs is still on the board, they might look in that direction as well.
01-25 Los Angeles Angels - Raymond Fuentes, OF (Fernando Callego HS, P.R.)
Summary: The Angels apparently love Fuentes and want to take him if he’s there when they pick. Since they have two picks back to back, if he makes it to 24, he’s theres. He’s a high school guy, so he fits the bill. I just put him at 25 instead of 24, but obviously these two picks are interchangeable.
01-26 Milwaukee Brewers - Tony Sanchez, C (Boston College)
Scouting Director: Bill Seid (first year)
Total Picks R1-R3: N/A ( in R1/Supplemental R1)
Summary: With Jack Zduriencik taking his show (and a bunch of scouts) to Seattle, it will be interesting to see what the Brewers decide to do in the draft. GM Doug Melvin is still in charge in Milwaukee, so the theories I talked about when discussing the Mariners first pick could still apply here. The Brewers were kind of a mixed bag, mixing prep and college and position players and pitchers, so this pick is a wildcard. Sanchez is being rumored to possibly go as high as #4, but he’s more likely to fall into the 20-30 range it would seem, based on pure talent. He’s a defense first catcher with power but probably won’t hit for a high average. The Brewers don’t have a knockout catcher in their system, Jon Lucroy is a bat first catcher, and Angel Salome is like 5’6, I can’t wrap my mind around him being a catcher at the big league level. Anyway, I have no idea, Sanchez fits into this part of the draft somewhere, this seems as good a spot as any.
01-27 Seattle Mariners - Alex Wilson, RHP (Texas A&M)
Summary: The Mariners making their 2nd pick of the round here, so refer to their first pick for the setup. Wilson never really took off this year, and is mainly a two pitch pitcher, leading some to believe he’ll be a reliever at the next level. He’s also said to want $1M+ to sign, but that would be in the neighborhood in this pick, and he’d be a nice grab for the Mariners at 27, when it looked like he could be a mid first round guy before the spring. He has a good power arm and could move fast, even faster if moved to the bullpen.
01-28 Boston Red Sox - Max Stassi, C (Yuba City HS, CA)
Scouting Director: Jason McLeod (2005)
Total Picks R1-R3: 22 (13 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 9 HS, 13 COLLEGE
Positions: 11 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 C, 2 CI, 4 MI, 2 OF
Summary: The Red Sox are probably the most aggressive team in baseball with regard to the draft, often times grabbing 4 or 5 premium signability guys after the first few rounds and giving them high 6 figure/low 7 figure bonuses to keep them away from college. They’ve generally been a bit more conservative in the first round and then gotten more risky, but last year they paid Casey Kelly top 5 pick money to turn pro at the end of the first round, so they’re willing to kind of go in any direction. They haven’t been aggressively linked to either big plunge candidate this year in Tate or Purke, and it doesn’t seem logical that they’d take a college guy like Tony Sanchez just because he’s a local guy. The org does have a “need” for catching prospects, so Stassi has been linked here by a number of outlets, and it makes a lot of sense. So yeah, thats the pick.
01-29 New York Yankees - AJ Pollock, OF (Notre Dame)
Scouting Director: Damon Oppenheimer (2005)
Total Picks R1-R3: 13 (6 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 4 HS, 9 COLLEGE
Positions: 8 RHP, 1 LHP, 1 C, 2 MI, 1 OF
Summary: If the Red Sox are the most aggressive team in the draft, the Yankees are #2 or #3 at worst. Like the Red Sox, they’re not afraid to open their wallet and pay for premium talent, but like the Red Sox they also tend to wait a few rounds before popping the signability guys. This pick, #29 overall, is a compensation pick for failing to sign their first round pick last year, so like the Nats pick at #10, its not protected. The Yankees were willing to pay for Gerrit Cole last year, he just decided college was ultimately what he wanted. The Yankees could take Purke here, or Tate, or Scheppers, or really anyone else. The fact that the pick is protected won’t be an issue for them financially like it will be for the Nationals. Pollock is a quality all around OF, he can do a bit of everything, and he makes sense other than that the Yankees have taken lots of pitching in the last few years. Prep RHP Garrett Gould is my sleeper pick here, but I’ll just go with Pollock.
01-30 Tampa Bay Rays - Jiovanni Mier, SS (Bonita HS, CA)
Scouting Director: RJ Harrison (2006)
Total Picks R1-R3: 9 (3 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 4 HS, 5 COLLEGE
Positions: 4 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 C, 1 CI, 1 MI
Summary: Picking outside the first 3 spots must be an incredibly odd feeling for the Rays scouting department, and it will be very interesting to see what they have planned. They generally favor pitchers, both prep and college, but projecting this pick seems really tough because we have no real reference on them in this part of the draft. They do like athletes, and even though they took SS Tim Beckham last year, I don’t see that stopping them from taking Mier here. He’s one of the best up the middle prospects in this draft, and seems like a decent bet. Projecting in this part of the draft is really difficult (obviously), especially for a team that’s never picked here. So Mier it is.
01-31 Chicago Cubs - Billy Bullock, RHP (Florida)
Scouting Director: Tim Wilken (2006)
Total Picks R1-R3: 8 (4 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 1 HS, 7 COLLEGE
Positions: 3 RHP, 1 C, 1 CI, 2 MI, 1 OF
Summary: The Cubs lean strongly toward college players early and then look at prep guys in the later rounds, and they’ve spread out their allotment among a bunch of different positions, but have grabbed 3 pitchers out of their 8 picks I looked at. They’ve taken 2 of their 8 picks from Florida and then spread the others out across different states, so that with that relatively small sample of data, I just kind of plucked Billy Bullock out of the air. The Cubs have had success so far converting Jay Jackson into a starter, and could try the same thing with Bullock, the Gators closer. If not, he’s a power arm in the pen, something the Cubs covet.
01-32 Colorado Rockies – Rich Poythress, 1B (Georgia)
Summary: The Rockies second pick of the round, so see above for the details. Poythress generated some early season buzz with a fast start, but seems to still be looked at as more of a sandwich round type. The Rockies, with their affinity for college types, could take a run here.
That concludes the first round. I’ll also throw names out for the sandwich round picks, and post a writeup on the Dodgers, who pick here, and then finally throw out a name for the Phillies and Mets picks in the 2nd round. But even guessing here is fruitless, its just fun. So
01-33 Seattle Mariners - Stephen Baron, C (Fergueson HS, FL)
01-34 Colorado Rockies - Tommy Joseph, C (Horizon HS, AZ)
01-35 Arizona Diamondbacks - Brian Pearl, RHP (Washington)
01-36 Los Angeles Dodgers - Garrett Gould, RHP (Maize HS, KS)
Scouting Director: Tim Hallgren (2007)
Total Picks R1-R3: 7 (3 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 4 HS, 3 COLLEGE
Positions: 3 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 CI, 1 OF
Summary: The Dodgers have leaned toward the high school ranks slightly, but have leaned heavily toward pitchers. Logan White, now Assistant GM, still helps shape the draft, and his preference always seemed to be power arms of the high school variety. Gould fits that bill, possessing great arm strength and projection. Just seems like a Dodgers type of player.
01-37 Toronto Blue Jays - Kyle Heckathorn, RHP (Kennesaw State)
01-38 Chicago White Sox - Jared Mitchell, OF (LSU)
01-39 Milwaukee Brewers - Wil Myers, 3B/C (Wesleyan Christian Academy, NC)
01-40 Los Angeles Angels – Bryan Berglund, RHP (Royal HS, CA)
01-41 Arizona Diamondbacks - Brad Boxberger, RHP (USC)
01-42 Los Angeles Angels – Everett Williams, OF (McCallum HS, TX)
01-43 Cincinnati Reds - Brooks Raley, LHP/OF (Texas A&M)
01-44 Texas Rangers - Kyle Gibson, RHP (Missouri)
Summary: Gibson is a true wildcard in this draft. After looking like a consensus Top 10 pick, his velocity dipped from the low 90′s to the mid 80′s, and he said he had “forearm tightness”, which was later diagnosed as a stress fracture in his shoulder. He’s been shut down for at least a month, so the team that drafts him will likely only have a short window of time to evaluate him before the signing deadline. I really don’t know what teams will consider taking him. Last year, Tanner Scheppers fell out of the first round with a stress fracture in his arm, landing with the Pirates in Round 2. This year, I expect Gibson’s fate to be the same. The only exception would be a team with an extra pick, either the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Angels or Rockies, rolling the dice on him and seeing what happens in mid August. I just gave him to the Rangers here because they always need pitching, and because they’re willing to take a risk financially. Its just a shot in the dark, I don’t think anyone really knows what is going to happen to Gibson on draft day.
01-45 Arizona Diamondbacks - Jason Stoffell, RHP (Arizona)
01-46 Minnesota Twins - Ben Tootle, RHP (Jacksonville State)
01-47 Milwaukee Brewers - Madison Younginer, RHP (Mauldin HS, SC)
01-48 Los Angeles Angels - Brian Goodwin, OF (Rocky Mount HS, NC)
01-49 Pittsburgh Pirates – Sam Dyson, RHP (South Carolina)
2-72 New York Mets - Bryan Morgado, RHP (Tennessee)
Scouting Director: Rudy Terrasas (2006)
Total Picks R1-R3: 13 (5 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 3 HS, 10 COLLEGE
Positions: 7 RHP, 2 LHP, 1 CI, 1 MI, 2 OF
Summary: The Mets, for a team with immense financial resources, choose to spend in a very frugal manner in the draft, always sticking to slot and sometimes going even cheaper in the first few rounds. They do spend heavily in Latin America, so they make up for it in that regard. They have a preference for college guys, and they lean heavily toward pitchers overall. So I’ll give them a college pitcher. Easy enough, eh?
2-75 Philadelphia Phillies - Jeff Malm, 1B (Bishop Gorman HS, NV)
Scouting Director: Marti Wolever (2002)
Total Picks R1-R3: 20 (7 in R1/Supplemental R1)
HS/College: 11 HS, 9 COLLEGE
Positions: 6 RHP, 3 LHP, 2 C, 3 CI, 2 MI, 4 OF
Summary: Ah, it’s the Phillies pick. This pick is pretty impossible to even guess at. The Phillies lean high school, and they’ve also taken pitchers with almost half their picks. I don’t think anyone has any idea what we’re going to do. We’ve been linked to Slade Heathcott and Jake Stewart, toolsy OF, and that certainly fits the bill. We also obviously like power arms/projectable pitchers, so find a few of those guys and add them to the list. But instead I’ll go with my wish pick here, assuming we can’t re-draft Gibson, and that’s Jeff Malm. BA has him ranked #59 overall and says this about him
The first thing out of everyone’s mouth when talking about Malm is some variation of: “That guy can hit.” Few high school players in the draft have a better track record of performance than Malm, who does it from the left side. Everywhere he goes, he hits. The question is whether he will be able to hit for the same power with a wood bat. At a soft-bodied 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he’s limited to first base and will need to produce power. He has a good arm—sitting at 87-89 mph as a pitcher—but can’t play the outfield. Malm’s commitment to USC is strong.
So, you’ve got a big pure hitter here who can only play 1B with a strong college commitment. The Phillies currently lack anything resembling a stud 1B prospect, and they lack a surplus of prospects with pure raw power in general. Malm might not make it to us, or he might be deemed unsignable, but all things considered, he’s a guy I’d love to see. Heathcott would be my backup plan if he’s there.
I didn’t actually assign Tanner Scheppers to any team in the writeup, but I’m assuming he does somewhere in the first 50 picks, I just have no clue which teams will be ok with his medicals and which won’t. He’ll obviously land somewhere, so at least one of my picks will be wrong ;)
There you have it. Hopefully we have a first round pick next year and I can get more excited about the draft. But I must be pretty excited anyway to have written almost 7400 words. Tune in Tuesday and we’ll see what happens.