Fasten your seat belts as this year’s draft should be one wild ride. I expect that the surprises will come both early and often. Expect ‘signability’ to be a major factor in Tuesday evening’s decision making, actually driving some players like prep Texas, LHP, Matt Purke nearly out of the first round. Health issues for Tanner Scheppers and Kyle Gibson will also impact where they eventually are selected. I don’t expect that our Mock Draft will be more or less accurate than anyone else’s, as we have tried to inject too much logic into our selections. Nonetheless, after eating drinking and breathing NCAA baseball and the amateur draft for the last two weeks, we present our take on tomorrow’s first round.
1. WASHINGTON – Stephen Strasburg, RHP, San Diego St…There is nothing more that needs to be said.
2. SEATTLE – Dustin Ackley, CF, North Carolina…I am about 90% certain that the Mariners won’t screw this one up.
3. SAN DIEGO – Tyler Matzek, LHP, Mission Viejo, CA…This is where things will begin to get interesting. Donovan Tate and Grant Green are other possibilities for this slot, but in the end it will be the prep lefty from just down the road that will provide the least risk.
4. PITTSBURGH – Grant Green, SS, USC. The key to how a number of other picks will fall hinge on this selection. I have settled on Green based on who they are likely to not pick. Tony Sanchez’s name has been linked here, but I don’t think Neal Hunington wants to come away with an overdraft like that on the heels of the McLouth trade. The Pirates have showed a willingness to spend money on the Alvarez pick last year, so I don’t expect the big price tags to limit this pick too much. Other rumors have them taking Aaron Crow, but I can’t help wonder why Crow is better after essentially a year off after he went #9 last year and this draft has far better pitching options. Interesting to note here, if Green doesn’t go here he likely falls all the way to KC at #12. If there is a huge surprise here, I think it is more likely to be Borchering than Sanchez…but it is after all the Pirates.
5. BALTIMORE – Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul/Amer. Assoc…This is the pick I have the hardest time getting my arms around in the Top 10. Scheppers will go to the first team from #5 on that has received a positive medical report. I just don’t know who that is. Perhaps Monday night's outing did enough to alleviate any concerns. If it isn’t Scheppers, look toward Alex White.
6. SAN FRANCISCO – Donovan Tate, OF, Cartersville, GA…A couple of things about the Giants: 1) they have had tremendous success drafting high school players and 2) they aren’t scared off by high $ demands. With all of the prep pitchers available, it could be easy to see them taking any of the prep righties (Turner, Miller, Wheeler) who all profile higher than either Alderson or Bumgarner did in 2007. But I think that if someone has the stomach for dealing with Tate, it will be the organization that endured Barry Bonds for so long.
7. ATLANTA – Zack Wheeler, RHP, Dallas, GA…This matchup is too easy. So much so that it makes you want to over think it. The Braves love prep players from their own backyard, and Wheeler fits perfectly.
8. CINCINATTI – Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth/Amer. Assoc…The Reds have a penchant for drafting polished College players (Devin Mesoraco excluded) and they have visions of inserting Crow into their rotation as early as next season. Had Gibson not come up injured, he wouldn’t have gotten past here.
9. DETROIT – Jacob Turner, RHP, St. Charles, MO…The Tigers are not afraid to spend and have had success with prep pitchers. While Turner isn’t quite Porcello, this pick seems to make way too much sense.
10. WASHINGTON – Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt…The Nationals receive no compensation if they fail to sign this pick and they want to come away with two players that have a high probability to join the rotation in short order. Strasburg was a given, but Minor would be a relatively easy sign and be a nice left-handed complement. Chad Jenkins is also a possibility here.
11. COLORADO – Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri…With two picks early in the supplemental round the Rockies are in a unique position to pass on Gibson if he isn’t healthy. If he is, his repertoire should play well in Coors. Regardless, this is likely to be a college pitcher.
12. KANSAS CITY – Wil Myers, C/3B, Wesley Academy, NC…The Royals were hoping to have Green fall to here and they will look at other SS prospects like Mier and Franklin. Borchering is also a consideration, but with Moustakas and Hosmer already in the fold, that would be too much risk if Borchering ends up having to move to 1B. In the end though they will settle on Myers bat and worry later about where to play him.
13. OAKLAND – Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State…Wheeler is the kind of hitter that Billy Beane loves. I could tell you that one of the college pitchers like Alex White or Mike Leake might be considered here, but why? The Wheeler pick makes way too much sense.
14. TEXAS – Shelby Miller, Brownwood, TX…If we are even close as to how this thing unfolds, then Miller is an obvious choice for the Rangers who have shown a penchant for young flame throwing arms. If the rumors of Matt Purke’s asking price have been exaggerated, then he is also in play at this spot.
15. CLEVELAND – Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State…I reported yesterday about the Jason Kipnis rumors, and they did take Chisnhall much earlier than anyone else would have last year, so it wouldn’t totally shock me. Nonetheless, the Indians need pitching and a polished collegian like Leake makes excellent sense.
16. ARIZONA – Alex White, RHP, North Carolina…I believe the Diamondbacks have been targeting Leake for some time, so seeing him go to the Indians would hurt. But the fact that arguably the second best college pitcher in the draft is still available at this spot will have to quickly get them over their grief.
17. ARIZONA – Bobby Borchering, 3B/1B, Fort Myers, FL…Borchering will be in play at any number of spots from #4 on, and I do believe he has the best prep bat in the draft, but this looks like the best chance for him to go.
18. FLORIDA – Mike Trout, OF, Millville, NJ…Borchering seemed like the perfect pick for the Marlins, but with him off the board look for them to take a ‘toolsy’ prep player. I think Everett Williams will be considered but Mike Trout is the pick.
19. ST. LOUIS – Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb…Although there have been some rumors about prep thumper Randal Grichuk and the Cardinals, that would be too much of a reach for me. On the other hand, the Brothers pick would make way too much sense. Don’t forget about Kentucky LHP, James Paxton either.
20. TORONTO – Chad James, LHP, Yukon, OK…I believe this pick will be a pitcher and with players like Purke, James, Hobgood, Heckathorn, Jenkins and Oliver still on the Board, the Jays will have a lot of options. I think that Purke’s asking price is too high and he continues to slide and that leaves James as the high upside selection.
21. HOUSTON - Slade Heathcott, OF, Texarkana, TX…I never like the Astros draft, so why should this year be any different. Purke would be a natural fit here, but unless there is a significant hometown discount, that doesn’t appear likely. Heathcott is coming off of a monster Texas State playoff run and has as much helium as any player in the draft. Randall Grichuk and Everett Williams will also get consideration here.
22. MINNESOTA – Drew Storen, RHP, Stanford…With Joe Nathan getting a bit long in the tooth, a college closer makes a lot of sense. Also consider the Twins penchant for holding onto their $. They like Jared Mitchell who they drafted three years ago, but after Revere and Hicks were picked in the last two drafts, that kind of redundancy would be surprising.
23. CHICAGO WHITE SOX – James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky…Gordon Beckham fell into Kenny Williams’ lap last year, so I have to discount that to some degree. The reality is that I haven’t liked a White Sox draft before that in nearly a decade. They are desperate for a CF and I could see them taking Jared Mitchell, but I think the White Sox will surprise everyone—me included and actually make a great pick.
24. LOS ANGELES ANGELS – Reymond Fuentes, OF, Puerto Rico…The Angels like high upside players and Eddie Bane does a great job at finding the right ones. With 4 picks in the top 48 and 6 on the first day, the Angels will need to be opening up the checkbook often, so while I think this is the first real opportunity for Purke to go, he is likely still too expensive. Fuentes is the kind of ‘toolsy’ projection guys that the Angels love.
25. LOS ANGELES ANGELS – Jeff Malm, 1B, Las Vegas, NV…While this will be considered by many to be a reach, don’t count me among them. I love Malm’s bat and think when you couple this with the Fuentes pick the Angels have the early makings of a special draft.
26. MILWUAKEE – A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame…The Brewers still fight signability issues and because of it expect them to pass on some of the higher upside prep arms available and take a college player. Either of the Kennesaw State pitchers could go here and Jared Mitchell will also be considered, but I think Pollock’s skill set is more of a sure thing.
27. SEATTLE – Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia…If there is one team that Poythress would be a perfect fit for, it is the Mariners. With only Mike Carp ahead of him, this would seem to make perfect sense for all involved.
28. BOSTON – Tony Sanchez, C, Boston College…Yes, Purke would work here and Boston could pay him, but the Red Sox system is currently loaded with pitchers stepping over each other for opportunities and they have a tremendous need to replace Varitek coming and no one to fill it. Playing in their own backyard, the Red Sox are plenty familiar with Sanchez and this would seem to be a perfect fit. Max Stassi, the top prep Catcher, will also be under consideration.
29. NEW YORK YANKEES – Matt Purke, LHP, Spring, TX…It must be wonderful to never have to worry about signability. The Yankees get a top 10 talent at the end of the first round.
30. TAMPA BAY – Max Stassi, C, Yuba City, CA…I really believe they will take whichever Catcher the Red Sox pass on. That said, Everett Williams will still be on the board and be looking very attractive.
31. CHICAGO CUBS – Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State…The Cubs system could use an infusion of position players, and Matt Davidson and Jiovanni Mier will be considered strongly. The addition of Tim Wilkinson has made the Cubs less predictable, especially when it comes to college or high school players. When you look at the Board though, the choice comes down to Heckathorn, Jenkins, Andy Oliver or Eric Arnett.
32. COLORADO – Chad Jenkins, RHP, Kennesaw State…The depth of college pitchers available in this draft make it nearly impossible to pass on a college pitcher here. Eric Arnett is another strong possibility.
Top Five Talents still on the Board – Matt Davidson, Yucaipa, CA; Jiovanni Mier, SS, Pomona, CA; Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brantley, FL; Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana; Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco, CA.