2017 MLB Mock Draft: Final Edition
Time flies, and the time between the first mock draft I published in October and this one really went fast. In the time between those mocks, a lot has happened.There’s a reason why the MLB draft is one of the more interesting drafts. Outside of 2009 and 2010, there is no such thing as a sure thing. This year is no different. Without further delay, let’s take a look at how eight months of speculation ends.
And we thought the 2016 draft drama was insane. After months of speculation, and a belief that it was a two horse race for the number one pick, the Minnesota Twins threw us all a knee buckling curveball. Not even Nate Silver could have seen this coming.
It’s all but confirmed, but the Twins are all but saying they plan to take Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright with the first overall pick. And to be honest, that’s probably the smartest pick they can make. Vanderbilt does have a track record when it comes to developing pitchers, and in spite of Wright’s early season struggles that pushed him as far down as mid first round, he recovered quite nicely to lead his team to the number 2 seed in the Corvallis Regional. Wright’s selection would give the Twins a reliable ace of a starter, and a contributor in the near future.
Wright’s selection would also mark the tenth anniversary of Vanderbilt’s first number one pick, David Price, and there is perhaps no better validation of the Commodore pitching factory than another team opting to go with a product of the system.
With the Twins firmly committed to taking Kyle Wright, there’s a near certainty that the Reds will take one of the original projected 1–1 candidates. The question is, do they want a high floor collegian that can contribute in the near future, or do they want a high ceiling prepster that can contribute a little further down the line?
In my first mock, I placed Brendan McKay mostly because the geographical proximity to Cincinnati made it a likely possibility that he’d be at the very least considered. His strong spring seemed to justify that placement, and the Twins’ decision to take Wright has all but confirmed. Obviously, the biggest question that remains is McKay’s professional calling, with scouts believing that most teams, the Reds included, want him pitching, while he stands the best chance at major league success as a hitter. The Reds benefit either way, as they either will get a back end rotation workhorse starter, or Joey Votto’s heir apparent. McKay’s selection also will likely save the Reds a considerable amount in bonus pool obligations, allowing them to go after projectable prep talent.
The Reds hot start this year may or may not be real, but if they do have the pieces to get back into contention, then they should consider grabbing someone that can contribute sooner rather than later. The fact that McKay is not only a legit top 5 talent, but also in their backyard should encourage them to think long and hard about taking him.
San Diego Padres:
Teams with the third overall pick have benefited a lot the past couple years in the draft. The Braves saved a considerable amount of money by taking New York prepster Ian Anderson, then followed that up by taking tougher signs Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller. The Rockies saw consensus top shortstop and overall prospect Brendan Rodgers fall right into their laps, and the White Sox were able to draft Carlos Rodon, viewed by many as the top prospect that year, with that pick. The Padres could continue that trend if the dominoes fall correctly.
Until recently, the possibility of local prospect Hunter Greene making it to the number 3 pick was a very wishful fantasy. If the Twins weren’t going to get him, the Reds would. However, a couple things happened that made the scenario more realistic. Greene made it clear he was either going to Minnesota or San Diego. To confirm his desire to go first or third, he elected to shut himself down as a pitcher, playing shortstop the rest of the high school season. When the Twins confirmed they had no intention to pick Greene, it came down to the Reds or the Padres. While there still remains a possibility that the Reds take Greene second overall, I’m certain Greene’s camp will send very strong messages that he’ll go to college if taken by the Reds. The Padres seem the most likely destination now, and while Greene likely won’t take a hometown discount in bonus money, I can imagine he’ll sign relatively quickly if he’s drafted by the Padres.
The Greene pick is perfect for the Padres as they are a good few years away from being a serious threat in the NL West. What with the stacked division this year, grabbing as many high ceiling prepsters to contribute as the division evens out would greatly play in their favor.
Tampa Bay Rays:
2017 marks the ten year anniversary of the final year of the Devil Rays, and while we can assume the Rays want to forget that era, the team’s performance as of late suggests otherwise. While no pick from this year’s draft will immediately reverse their fortunes, the Rays could definitely use this draft to continue to lay the groundwork for a stronger future.
Erik Neander has indicated the Rays are open to anything in the draft, and considering they could have consensus top prep hitter Royce Lewis fall to them at 4, I would imagine he’s priority uno for the team right now. The California Gatorade Player of the Year has a demonstrated track record against tougher prep competition, unlike some prepsters, and while scouts seem him more as an outfielder as a pro, Lewis does have the athleticism, if not the arm to potentially stick as a shortstop. Still, his value as a professional will likely hinge on his developing power. At best, he can develop more power and become a well-rounded threat in a lineup, at worst, he’s a top of the order hitter.
The Rays have a golden opportunity to build their lineup of the future, and Lewis could be the starter that everyone gets excited for.
John Coppollela has made the Braves rebuild incredibly palatable to Braves fans mainly due to shrewd trades that laid the groundwork for a potentially dominant rotation and strong offense. He even made his 2016 selection of Ian Anderson, who many would have considered to be a mid first rounder at best, palatable by taking tougher signs later in that draft. So how does he capitalize on that performance?
Scouts believe that the Braves are nearly all in on this year’s big riser, Austin Beck. Beck’s talent is certainly tantalizing, especially considering where he is in relation to where he was last year, but the one issue that will continually dog him is the fact that his wood bat track record is nonexistent. Still, Beck represents untapped potential, and considering what the Braves have managed to do with former reclamation project Alex Jackson by moving him behind the plate, the Braves could turn his potential into a reality. Additionally, people familiar with the Braves see Beck as a signability pick despite his high helium.
Austin Beck showed that he does have the potential to be a dangerous hitter, thanks in part to an outstanding final game where he hit three home runs. If he can get his game to translate to wooden bats, the Braves will have pulled off one of the biggest heists in baseball draft history.
When the Oakland A’s took Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson, and Matt Olsen in 2012 and Billy McKinney in 2013, many wondered if this was the end of moneyball drafting. After all, the A’s had not taken a prep hitter with a first round pick since Nathan Haynes in 1997, and had not taken a prep pitcher since Jeremy Bonderman in 2001. That notion was quickly dispelled with three straight collegians taken: Matt Chapman, Richie Martin, and AJ Puk.
That trend is likely to continue as, thanks to multiple scouting visits to North Carolina, the A’s are likely all in on JB Bukauskas. Bukauskas is one of my favorite pitchers in the draft, and he’s rewarded that favoritism with a Golden Spikes Award worthy junior season. Scouts aren't high on his potential as a professional starter, seeing him more likely as a closer at best because of his height and his effort in delivery. A team like the A’s, who have had demonstrated success in developing pitchers, could maximize Bukauskas’s potential and make him into a dependable mid-rotation starter, although a closer wouldn’t be a bad fallback.
As the A’s plan to move forward without the safety net of revenue sharing and with a new ownership group, I would imagine that Bukauskas represents a culture shift, one that encourages the A’s to keep their star players, and depending on how Bukauskas develops, he could be a future star in a potentially stacked rotation.
At the beginning of the mock draft season, the universal consensus was that this year’s crop of college hitters was terrible, and many would be overvalued in the draft. It’s safe to say that prediction has been confirmed, as many collegians have seen their stock rise, and some non-first rounders have made the jump into top ten territory.
As far as establishment teams go, the Virginia Cavaliers stand to lose a lot in this year’s draft with two potential first rounders. Adam Haseley quietly became the team’s best hitter, to the point where his name has made it as far as the top 5. The converted pitcher has shown that he can be a solid contributor in a lineup, most likely as a 2 or 5 hitter. He’s got some power, and he has the glove and the arm to play an acceptable outfield at any position. Should Haseley be taken by the Diamondbacks, he and 2016 CB pick Anfernee Grier would make for a nice 1–2 tandem in their lineup.
If Vanderbilt is a pitching factory, then Virginia is a hitting factory, and any team that has the opportunity to take a Cavalier hitter would reap many benefits.
The NL East is a tire fire, and while you would think a team like the Phillies would take full advantage of it, they have not. With the worst record in Major League Baseball, they stand a good chance right now to make a run for Seth Beer, Luken Baker, or Bryce Turang in 2018.
Even though they have the eighth pick right now, the Phillies stand a good chance of getting some solid talent for their pick. 2017 Gatorade National Player of the Year Mackenzie Gore has been one of the biggest performers this year in the high school ranks, and were it not for a strong crop of prep talent, would probably go higher in this mock. Gore’s spring has shown that he has the potential to be an ace of a staff, and if he continues to mature the way he has, we could potentially be putting him in the same conversation as Madison Bumgarner, a fellow Tar Heel state prepster taken ten years ago.
The 2017 draft coincidentally marks the 15th anniversary of the selection of the Phillies’ last transcendant lefty prep pitching talent. Matt Klentak already pushed the envelope when he selected Mickey Moniak last year, one would hope he’s willing to take a big shot should Gore fall here.
Cypress Falls (TX) High School in 2002, Chatsworth High School (CA) in 2007, Calhoun (GA) High School in 2007, and Harvard Westlake (CA) High School in 2012 all have one thing in common: They each had two first round draft picks. To think that every five years, at least one high school has that amount of talent is nothing short of amazing.
Huntington Beach High School has an opportunity to continue that trend in 2017 with the dynamic duo of Hagen Danner (more on him later) and Nick Pratto. Pratto is arguably one of the better hitters in the draft, and makes consistent content. His power has been on and off this season, but the potential for him to be a dangerous middle of the order hitter is there if he can consistently dial in. Pratto is a great defender as well, and would provide a team like the Brewers a capable first baseman.
Pratto may seem like a reach at 9, but considering his potential and his track record in the national spotlight (he hit the game winning single in the 2011 Little League World Series), the Brewers should look long and hard at him as a potential future infield cornerstone.
Los Angeles Angels:
Perhaps the worst kept secret in baseball is the Angels desire to build a team around Mike Trout and capitalize on him while he’s affordable. It’s the exact reason why the team has foregone building up their farm system in exchange for trading for expensive veteran talent. With Trout’s time in Anaheim approaching its end, one would hope the Angels are able to find an advanced collegiate talent in this year’s draft that could contribute quickly.
Perhaps the most consistent pick I have made in this year’s draft has been Alex Faedo to the Angels. Faedo is a tier 1 college pitcher, and while he does have concerns about his durability due in part to the health of his knees, he still has shown glimpses of why he was at one point a potential number one pick. Faedo’s spring wasn’t especially strong for the Gators, but his performance in the SEC tournament and the Gainesville Regional has reignited his value. Faedo is arguably one of the more polished pitchers in the draft, and it’s likely he would be one of the fastest picks to make it to the majors.
The Angels are running out of time to take advantage of Trout’s affordability, and if they want to build the right team around him, going for high floor quick rising college talent is the way to go.
Chicago White Sox:
The White Sox added to an already stacked farm system when they signed Cuban phenom Luis Robert last month, and it’s likely they’re not done as starter Jose Quintana has been getting a lot of attention from contending teams. With that being said, the White Sox still stand at an enviable position just outside the top ten, and could parlay that into a near future contributor consistent with the team’s recent draft history.
Pavin Smith has had one of the stronger seasons of the weak college hitting class and were it not for teammate Adam Haseley and two way player Brendan McKay, would make a very strong case to be the first college hitter off the board. Smith has the defensive skills to stay a first baseman, and his ability as a hitter makes him a strong middle of the order presence. Smith’s also managed to hold his own at Virginia’s stadium, which is regarded as one of the more extreme pitchers parks in the nation.
Should the White Sox take Smith, they would stand to have one of the strongest hitting lineups in the league. With 2016 draftee Zack Collins’ power and Yoan Moncada’s five tool potential, the Sox could contend in the AL Central as soon as 2019.
When it comes to nontraditional prep baseball states, one of the biggest concerns is the level of competition, especially for first round caliber talent. In fact, every year some non-California, Texas, Georgia, or Florida player comes up, the same question is asked, “Is he a product of his environment?” Some make it past that test, others do not.
In the case of Jordon Adell, I opted for a more conservative approach. Do I think he is a legit talent? Considering how he obliterated his league, I would think he’s made a strong case. Do I think he’s a top 10 talent? Possibly, but I feel that he may just fall out of the top 10. Could I be wrong? Definitely. Still, Adell is one of the more intriguing players. At best, he grows into his tools and becomes a more complete player, one that’s well-rounded and able to contribute. At worst, he’s your classic all-or-nothing power hitter. For a team like the Pirates, who are willing to take a lot of risks, Adell would be a high risk, high reward player, someone who if he develops properly, would make for a nice complement to Austin Meadows and Cole Tucker.
Adell is arguably the most controversial prep prospect on the list, but if he is as legit as his numbers say he is, then wherever he falls, you can expect someone to pounce.
I am of the firm belief that the Marlins have a strong team, but what holds them back is their pitching. Even if Jose Fernandez was still taking the mound every fifth day, the Marlins would still need a strong supporting cast to get them out of the 4th place spot they currently occupy. The Marlins’ selection of prep pitching with high ceilings is applaudable, but considering how long it actually takes prep pitchers to develop, not to mention how expensive it can get, I would imagine that the Marlins are ready to finally get a major league ready arm.
Perhaps I’m overvaluing Griffin Canning a bit here, but considering how strong a season he’s had for the Bruins, I think a team that falls just short of the Tier 1 college pitchers would be willing to overvalue a Tier 2 arm. Canning by no means is an ace, but he would bring stability to a weak back end of a rotation. He is a smart pitcher with a real feel for the game and a decent toolbox of pitches. Canning is also decorated, having made the All Pac-12 first team, so it’s not like he’s an unknown commodity.
It would be a shame if the Marlins feel they have to sell off right before everything were to click, especially with a potentially stable ownership group on the horizon. One would hope the Marlins would be able to hold on just a bit longer and let their rotation strengthen.
Kansas City Royals:
It was not long ago that we were constantly singing the praises of Dayton Moore’s long term rebuild, and considering the results it yielded, two World Series trips and a title, you have to give him credit. However, with those pieces getting old and with the Royals looking more and more to capitalize, the farm system fell on the wayside and the Royals find themselves in the situation they took so long to get out of.
The Royals would do well to build themselves back up, and a name that they have been consistently connected to the past few months would serve them well. Trevor Rogers has evolved from hidden curiosity to legit talent in spite of weak competition and the fact that he’s 19 years old. He has the body of a starter and although he does need some work on his secondary pitches, the reward could be worth the risk.
The Royals have been consistently present at Rogers’ events and even if they don’t get him, there have been plenty of teams ahead of KC that have looked into him as a potential signability pick. I would imagine the Royals would be an ideal landing spot for the pick to actually make some sense.
Three years ago, the Astros were viewed as a joke not only because they had the first overall pick for a third straight year, but their failed to sign that pick as well as two other notable prep pitchers, not to mention, their first rounder the previous year, Mark Appel was pitching batting practice in a-ball. That notion has since been dispelled thanks to a strong 2015 draft as well as an unloading of unfulfulled prospects including Appel.
The Astros are in a position where their strong farm system will only get better, and perhaps there is no better prospect for them than D.L. Hall. Hall may not have lived up to his billing as the potential top lefty pitcher in the prep class, but he still managed to put together a strong enough season to warrant top half of the draft consideration. Hall has been compared to former Astro Scott Kazmir, and he would be a nice pairing with 2016 draftee Forrest Whitley.
The Astros may be in a solid position right now, but they could run the AL West for years if they build well through this draft, one where they have multiple picks in Day 1.
New York Yankees:
Did anyone expect the Yankees to be in contention this late in the season? If you did, you’re either really smart or a big liar. Still, give props to Brian Cashman on finally realizing the importance of a strong farm system. And with such amazing talent waiting in the wings, one would hope the Yankees continue to build their way to contention rather than exclusively relying on buying.
The Yankees can add to their already strong system by grabbing Jake Burger here. Burger’s season at Missouri State was pretty par for the course. Everyone knows that he is a great hitter with a solid power stroke, and everyone also knows that he is a bit rough defensively. Still, Burger’s style of play produces results, and for a team that will soon be looking to replace Chase Headley, Burger may be the guy. If his power continues to show in the minors, Burger might find himself hitting in the middle of the Yankee lineup.
Jake Burger may be the best power bat in the draft, and for the Yankees to add him to a potentially stacked middle of the order, they would be able to hold onto the AL East lead for a long time.
With the Super Regionals set to begin next weekend, let’s take a moment to thank Oregon State for the reestablishment of the University of Oregon’s baseball program. Yes, imagine that. The Ducks would probably not have returned to the diamond had it not been for the Beavers winning two straight College World Series titles.
History lesson aside, Oregon’s David Peterson represents yet another opportunity for the Ducks to make their mark in the majors in less than ten years. Peterson’s performance over the season was initially erratic, but he managed to pitch a few gems towards the end of the season in order to bring his draft stock back up. Peterson has been mostly connected to the Mariners and the Mets, and considering the Mariners are in close proximity, I can imagine that the team has sent countless scouts to watch him pitch.
Peterson would be a nice injection of youth in a Mariners rotation that definitely will need it in a couple years, and if Jerry DiPoto turns out to be a much better developer of talent than his predecessor, he’ll definitely reap the benefits of this pick sooner rather than later.
The Tigers stand in a good position to scoop up a player that will likely fall and considering how much the draft landscape could change over the weekend, anything can happen. While Detroit has had a history of selecting high ceiling prep hurlers, a certain college bat falling into their lap could prove to be compelling enough for them to break that streak.
At the beginning of the year, Jeren Kendall was in conversation to be the top pick of the draft, but a failure to capitalize on an outstanding sophomore season has dropped his stock. His estimated projection has him as a potential top half pick, but in my scenario, he just manages to stay in the top 20. With the Tigers still self-debating over whether or not they plan to sell off their major league assets, they could at least bulk up their farm system and potentially grab a successor with this pick. Kendall is one of the fastest players in college, and he would provide true value to a team looking to add a threat on the basepaths.
Admittedly, Kendall to the Tigers may be a bit of a pipe dream because of the tools he possesses, but considering how the draft usually plays out, there’s a good chance the Tigers could find themselves salivating should he land here.
San Francisco Giants:
JuCo talent is arguably the most interesting talent you can find in the draft. Part of it has to do with the fact that some players are Division 1 caliber that left schools for myriad reasons, and part of it is that the players are eligible to be drafted immediately. This year’s crop of JuCo talent is no different, and it’s possible one, or even two players may go in the first round.
Nate Pearson made a lot of noise at the end of last month when he touched 102 on the radar gun. The scouting contingent was mostly Mets, but I can see a team like the Giants potentially snapping him up beforehand. San Francisco has had a history of taking pitchers in the first round, and considering their last first round pick was also a JuCo (Southern Nevada’s Phil Bickford), it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for them to grab another. Pearson has starter potential, but his control and secondary stuff do need some fine tuning, otherwise, he’d make, at worst, a solid bullpen piece, something the Giants could use.
Pearson is definitely going to see his stock rise after that bullpen, and considering how much the Giants could use a rebuild especially considering how strong the NL West stands to be this year, a back to basics approach with Pearson as a starting piece may be in their best interests.
New York Mets:
I had the opportunity to meet a North Carolina pitcher this past weekend while working with my summer ball team, and he was especially candid on this year’s class of UNC talent. He spoke very highly of JB Bukauskas and Brian Miller, and believes that there could be a chance the Tar Heels have three players taken on Day 1.
I did ask him about Logan Warmoth, and he spoke very highly of his game. Warmoth is a very scrappy player who thanks to being overlooked in high school has played very well for the Tar Heels. His junior season has been nothing short of impressive, and he has the potential to be a future starter in a major league infielder. Warmoth may be listed as a shortstop right now, but his arm strikes me as more second base/third base when he turns pro. Considering the less than ideal situation the Mets have at third base, and the uncertainty over whether the team plans to extend Neil Walker or utilize Gavin Cecchini, Warmoth makes a lot of sense here.
Even though the Mets have had their share of headaches with their last pick from North Carolina, Warmoth strikes me as someone who is less like Matt Harvey and more like David Wright. One can hope that he’d be able to contribute to a very talented future Mets infield.
One of the more pleasant surprises for the Orioles has been Jake Ring, a 31st round draft pick from Missouri, who’s absolutely been ripping South Atlantic League pitching. Ring has been so impressive that he’s been mentioned as a potential trade option should the Orioles elect to buy at the deadline.
The Orioles could make another trip back to Mizzou and grab Ring’s old college teammate Tanner Houck. Houck is an interesting prospect in the fact that he was at one point a serious 1–1 candidate. However, unconventional mechanics and diminished fastball has dropped him down to a late first round prospect. Still, Houck possesses one of the most lively, if not the fastest fastball in the draft. Houck’s got a fairly high floor as a closer right now, but there is potential for him to be a starter if his mechanics can be adjusted and he can tap back into his velocity.
The Orioles seem to have learned from the mistakes that cost them Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel, as their homegrown pitchers seem to have blossomed this year. One can hope that they will continue to utilize their new strategy with new arms coming up in the future.
Toronto Blue Jays:
The Blue Jays have a great opportunity to capitalize on losing Edwin Encarnacion and making a run for last place in the AL East. With two draft picks this year, and a possible high one next year, the Jays could potentially rebuild their team and have it ready as the old guard leaves.
The Jays could start by grabbing Minnesota prepster Sam Carlson. Carlson at one point was a dark horse first round candidate, but a play up in his fastball velocity has had people looking into him as a potential top 20 pick. Carlson has the body to be a full time ace, and if he continues to grow, he’ll definitely be a real asset to the team that drafts him. I could see Carlson coming into the rotation and helping anchor it as 2016 first rounder TJ Zeuch is establishing himself, giving the Jays a nice 1–2 righty punch.
Carlson is one of those rare polished non-pipeline state products and although the Jays do play it very safe with their pitching prospects, it’s entirely possible his development will be accelerated if he were to be picked here.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
There’s a lot to be said about older high school players. For one, the best ones come off as more advanced than their younger counterparts. For another, those that don’t develop as quickly run the risk of being exposed in the rule 5 draft. That being said, with Blake Rutherford’s performance with the Yankees, not to mention the emergence of this year’s class, there’s a good chance we could be seeing more of them coming out of the woodwork.
The Dodgers have been connected to one in particular, McGill-Toolen’s Bubba Thompson. Thompson, an Alabama prepster, has been regarded as one of the best athletes in the class, to the point where he turned down multisport offerings from multiple schools to play baseball only at Alabama. Thompson is a freak, and his experience as a quarterback has helped him as a centerfielder, with his legs, arm and fielding ability rated as pro grade. Thompson can also hit for contact, making him an ideal 2 hitter in a lineup.
The Dodgers have shown that they like athletes, and Thompson’s pedigree as a multisport athlete makes him an electric talent. One can expect him to be a valuable contributor for the team down the road.
Boston Red Sox:
In the draft, playing without a position can have its advantages and its disadvantages. If you’re a good hitter and good fielder, you can play where needed, and your value goes up. If you’re a good hitter, but a bad fielder, then there are some concerns. We saw how JJ Schwarz’s stock fell when he had a rough start to his junior season, but how about a player that had a great year?
Keston Hiura’s future position is arguably one of the more interesting topics of discussion in this year’s draft, and for good reason. Having played the entire season as a DH due to an injury sustained in summer ball, Hiura managed to mash his way into a cemented first round status, albeit under the assumption that whomever picks him will have to accept the fact that he will likely be shelved because of Tommy John surgery. Still, Hiura’s bat is exceptional, and teams will likely find a way to work through Hiura’s defensive placement when the time comes. The Red Sox could in theory utilize him as a future second baseman for when Dustin Pedroia decides to retire.
Hiura’s value as a bat definitely pulls away from his concerns on defense, but obviously with what lies ahead, teams could be wary of picking him even in a weak collegiate hitting class.
The Nationals have made it clear that if high value talent falls to them, they’re willing to pay the price to get it. Anthony Rendon in 2010, Lucas Giolito in 2012, Erick Fedde in 2014, all of them were high value, but due to injury and signability issues, the team made a hard push and got them.
Even though mock drafts have been very high on Shane Baz mainly due to his value as a five pitch starter, I think Baz, who is a talented pitcher in his own right, will be an expensive pick and will likely eat into a team’s bonus pool thanks to a very attractive offer for him to be a Luken Baker-like two-way player at TCU. Still, considering his talent and, according to some people, his spin rate on his pitches, he’s definitely worth the cost. Baz would be a great option especially if the team’s rotation starts to break down and not live up to the life of their contracts.
Baz is arguably one of the more interesting prospects in terms of where he will land, and while the chances of him falling this far may be slim especially if a team in the mid teens like the Astros grabs him, you can bet that the Nationals will be prepared to make him a big offer if he falls.
For as good as the 2016 Rangers season was, I believe that they sacrificed way too much in order to get to the playoffs. To give you an idea, they gave up 2015 first rounder Dillon Tate for Carlos Beltran and Luis Ortiz for Jon Lucroy. Considering the age of their rotation not to mention the impending free agency of certain starters, they could have used those players as future rotation replacements.
The Rangers can get some pitching talent in this years draft if Alex Lange manages to fall here. Lange at one point during the season was a potential top ten pick, but has seen his stock fall somewhat. The Tigers ace has come back in the spotlight after a gutsy, if flawed performance in the Baton Rouge Regional. Lange comes off as a gamer and a workhorse, something the Rangers could use in their rotation for the future.
LSU pitchers have had a decent track record in the majors, and Lange would be an ideal player for a team that needs to inject some new blood.
Bryce Harper came out earlier this month about his desire to play for the Cubs once he finally hits free agency. Considering how much money the Cubs invested in Jason Heyward, not to mention their impending financial obligations to players like Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber, it’s likely that Harper will have to look elsewhere unless the Cubs are willing to shed payroll dramatically.
Assuming the Cubs are unable to keep all their young stars from their 2016 championship run, and that’s pretty much a given now, the team could at least start at the shortstop position. Nick Allen has been one of the biggest surprises of the homegrown crop, and as a HAPS (Highly Anticipated Prep Shortstop) prospect, he certainly has value. Allen has been connected most to Chicago because of his mentality not to mention scouts belief that he will be a shortstop professionally. Allen reminds me somewhat of Jose Iglesias due to little power, but solid contact and pro grade speed. He fits Joe Maddon’s mold of blue collar players.
Allen would be an ideal heir to Addison Russell should the team decide not to extend him, and he would add a nice small ball element to the Cubs lineup. Even though he is undersized, there is a belief that he has a solid chance to be a big league regular.
Toronto Blue Jays:
We now move to the compensatory picks. The Blue Jays earned this pick when Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Cleveland Indians. Having already invested in a prep pitcher, the Jays could use this pick to grab a quick rising college bat that could contribute in the near future.
Evan White has been the MVP for the Kentucky Wildcats during their amazing season. Even though he does not fit the typical first base profile, White definitely has a unique skillset. He’s a solid defensive first baseman with the ability to hit for average, if not for power. He has potential to play the outfield, making him a viable candidate to replace Jose Bautista. White comes as Toronto tries to figure out what to do with their older and more expensive players. If the Blue Jays want to remain competitive in the East, they will have to consider getting younger.
This is the pick awarded to the Rangers after the Colorado Rockies signed Ian Desmond. Having already nabbed an advanced college pitcher in Alex Lange, the Rangers can probably afford to jump into the prep ranks.
Ryan Vilade is probably one of the more underrated names in the draft, but his ability to make adjustments not to mention his potential value as a third baseman in a weak corner infield class makes him attractive here. Vilade can hit, and he comes as a decorated athlete, having won the Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year award. Vilade’s progression if he were to be drafted by the Rangers puts him in an ideal spot, as Adrian Beltre will likely have retired and the team will have made a decision on the all-or-nothing Joey Gallo. An interesting sidebar, Ryan’s father James Vilade was formerly a coach with the Rangers’ AA affiliate before taking a position with Oklahoma State University.
The Cubs earned this pick after the St. Louis Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler. Having already taken Nick Allen with their first pick, the Cubs could look at one of the more intriguing, and also controversial names in the draft.
Even if he hadn’t been dismissed from Houston’s baseball team, Seth Romero does come with flaws, as he does have a questionable work ethic regarding conditioning. Even then, Romero is still one of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in the draft, brought down only by his off the field issues. Romero has starter potential, and in the right environment, will flourish. Joe Maddon has a reputation as a players manager, and he will be able to coax cooperation out of a headcase like Romero.
Tampa Bay Rays:
The Rays continue their anti-strikeout crusade in this draft by grabbing one of the best college hitters in Brent Rooker. Rooker may be older than your standard prospect, but in a class that is rife with college seniors, Rooker’s bat, not to mention his performance not only during the regular season and the regional certainly should have cemented his stock as a legit first round talent.
The Reds follow up on Brendan McKay by grabbing one of the more talented Alabama two way prepsters in Tanner Burns. Burns has been compared to JB Bukauskas, and although he comes off as short and stocky, his pitch arsenal assures people that there is certainly first round potential in him.
The A’s have had their fair share of speedy outfielders as of late, see Billy Burns, but none have had the potential that Quentin Holmes could offer. Holmes is a bit raw, but at the very least, he is a solid centerfielder and leadoff hitter.
This is probably more pie-in-the-sky, but the Brewers would find themselves in an enviable position if they were to grab both Nick Pratto and Hagen Danner in the same draft. Danner has value as both a pitcher and catcher, although scouts seem to favor him on the mound, and his pro career will likely be more successful there.
The Twins will likely want an advanced college catcher to be able to handle the ever growing stable of live arms they currently possess. Evan Skoug has the poise of a ten year vet and in his three years with the Horned Frogs, has caught everyone from Riley Ferrell to Alex Young to Luken Baker to Nick Lodolo. Skoug’s mentality not to mention his power potential make him an interesting catching prospect, with a move to first base possible if he can’t adjust to the pro game.
With the Marlins potentially considering selling off their outfield, it’s possible they could look at this year’s incredibly stacked prep outfield to help rebuild it down the line. Drew Waters was the State Player of the Year for Georgia, and it’s shown. He has some shades of Angels prospect Nonie Williams with the ability to hit for power as a lefty and for contact as a righty.
And with that, we conclude this year’s mocks. Come back on June 12th when we react to the Day 1 selections. Thank you all for a great mock season.