More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same; It Will Be Cole,
Rendon After All
is my fourth mock draft of the year, and I’m finding that it is
increasingly difficult to move players around much from one exercise
to the next. I’m pretty much sticking to my earlier intuitions and
ignoring all the talk, and the wheeling and dealing that goes on in
the final days leading up to the draft.
not a big fan of listening to all the endless chatter that generally
begins with this tired line, “I hear that this team likes this
player . . . ,” because unless you actually hear it yourself (or
read it via e-mail/IM/text, etc.) from a credible inside source, at
least at a cross-checker level on the team in question, it generally
has little or no validity.
don’t know who started the information string, and without the
source you just don’t have reliable information, just gossip.
also not a big fan of reports that say, “Player X had a great
workout at the big-league ball park earlier in the week.” There
have been far, far, far more bad decisions made based on pre-draft
workouts on players at or near the top of the draft than good
decisions. Trust me!
this day and age when a scouting department has seen a top
high-school player, such as Florida high-school prospects Javier Baez
and Francisco Lindor, take literally hundreds of at-bats over the
course of a year, do you make a million-dollar decision on a few
nervous BP swings? If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a bad
decision. And I’d rather not base my mock drafts on anticipating
fact of the matter is that virtually every one of the players worthy
of consideration in the first round this year has been broken down in
every way possible, and analyzed time and again, over at least the
last 12 months, and in many cases, the last 3-4 years. There
shouldn’t be any snap judgments just because the team’s general
manager and/or assistant GM saw the guy hit 12 BP balls into the
also not a big fan of allowing “signability issues” to play into
more than a couple of mock-draft decisions. Historically, there are
teams that won’t go over slot in the first round, or whose
tentative financial situations (i.e., the Dodgers) might point
towards making a conservative decision, but that doesn’t often
throw around high-bonus figures as a matter of routine, and they
sometimes sound foolish doing it, but it’s often just a smoke
screen. Who can blame them? A team might buy their line, and actually
give them what they are asking. It’s all really background noise
that accompanies any draft, and almost everything works itself out in
that preamble, I’m sure I must sound like an old, weathered scout,
which is essentially correct. But I’ve seen too many drafts in my
lifetime to know how to cut through the fat and get to the meat.
let’s move on with what might make some sense in this year’s
draft, and I’ve essentially come to the conclusion that what made
sense a month or two ago, still makes sense. The first two picks in
this draft will still be UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole and Rice third
baseman Anthony Rendon.
with those two, here’s how we see the first round unfolding:
Cole, rhp, UCLA
was the presumptive top pick at the beginning of the 2011 season, and
has done nothing to warrant changing that—even with a few rocky
performances. For goodness sake, his fastball was 96-101 mph in his
last outing, and he beat the No. 7 team in the country. What more do
you want him to do?
Rendon, 3b, Rice
keep wanting to put someone else here, but as long as the Mariners
want a bat, which they apparently do, Rendon is still the only player
who really belongs in this slot—at least for where the Mariners are
as a rebuilding organization. Kansas outfielder Bubba Starling and
Florida shortstop Francisco Lindor, while great young high-school
players, do not fit here.
Hultzen, lhp, Virginia
as well as he has pitched and all the hype he has received, it would
be a major surprise if Hultzen didn’t go somewhere in the top three
picks. There is nothing but support for him, and for every part of
his game, in the scouting community.
Bundy, rhp, Owasso (Okla.) HS
is arguably the best high-school pitching prospect in draft history,
or at least has the best present stuff across the board of anyone
that has passed before him. He is so advanced that he could really be
evaluated as a college pitcher, though he is only 18. Taken in the
context of his falling to the fourth pick, the Orioles would be
getting a steal here.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Bauer, rhp, UCLA
had Starling in this spot all spring, mainly because of his local
connection with the Royals, and feel bad moving him. But it seems
apparent that the Royals want a fast-track arm to fit into where
their flourishing farm system sits at this moment, and one can hardly
fault that thought process. They would have more than enough polished
college arms to choose from.
Starling, of, Gardner-Edgerton HS, Gardner, Kan.
it get any better for Nationals fans to get Steven Strasburg, Bryce
Harper and Bubba Starling in three consecutive drafts?
Barnes, rhp, Connecticut
could be a surprise draft and one that the Diamondbacks get worked
out beforehand, given that it is not a protected pick (they would get
no compensation a year from if this pick goes unsigned). They would
like to get two premium college arms with the Nos. 3 and 7 picks, and
selecting Hultzen and Barnes in these spots would instantly change
the face of their minor-league pitching talent.
Jungmann, rhp, Texas
best comparison in the big leagues to the 6-foot-5 Jungmann, in terms
of pitching style and basic stuff, is Philadelphia Phillies
righthander Roy Halladay. That isn’t to say that Jungmann has
Halladay’s savvy and command, because no one does, but no one in
college baseball has Jungmann’s savvy and command, either.
Fernandez, rhp, Alonso HS, Tampa
is often nothing more difficult in any draft than trying to figure
out what Cubs veteran scouting director Tim Wilken is thinking. In
keeping with past draft, he’ll most likely do something off the
board that will raise eyebrows in the industry; more often than not,
he will eventually be proven right. In a good-news/bad-news scenario,
Fernandez’ best major-league comparison might be volatile Cubs
righthander Carlos Zambrano.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Lindor, ss, Montverde Academy, Clermont, Fla.
Padres’ leadership is smart enough to know that with their
expansive ballpark, they need to draft as many top-level position
players as possible, as pitchers are much easier to find or develop.
Bradley, rhp, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS
depressed state of the Astros organization simply means that they
can’t afford to take anything less than the best prospect
available, which at this point in the process might be either Bradley
or hard-hitting Texas prep outfielder Josh Bell.
Gray, rhp, Vanderbilt University
loved the Gray/Ben Sheets comparison ever since Perfect Game’s
Patrick Ebert, who may know the Brewers system as well as anyone,
brought it up earlier in the spring. Milwaukee needs immediate help
in every area in its stripped-down organization, and Gray would be a
very positive first step.
NEW YORK METS
Bradley, lhp, Georgia Tech
had Bradley much higher in previous mock drafts, but he hasn’t
thrown as well over the second half of the season for Georgia Tech,
and performance has to factor in to an extent.
Guerrieri, rhp, Spring Valley HS, Columbia, S.C.
wouldn’t surprise me to see Guerrieri drafted a little higher as he
has the type of stuff and profile that will often elevate a
high-school pitcher into the top 10 picks. But this is a very deep
draft, and there just isn’t much room to get him into that mix.
Springer, of, Connecticut
already-thin farm system was gutted again this off-season for proven
starting pitching, so the organization is in a true “best-prospect
available” mode for this draft. At this pick, that would mean a
player like Springer, a high-ceiling, five-tool type talent. I’m
still tempted to put power-hitting Utah first baseman C.J. Cron here,
as I did in my first mock, but Springer is a better pick.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Anderson, lhp, Oregon
no secret that the financially-strapped Dodgers will be mandated by
Major League Baseball to stick with slot picks in this draft.
Remember the Texas Rangers fiasco with Texas prep lefthander Matthew
Purke two years ago, while under MLB’s watch? The Dodgers wouldn’t
have to apologize to anyone for picking Anderson, a solid,
mid-first-round value in any draft.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Mahtook, of, Louisiana State
all due respect to top prospect Mike Trout, it’s about time that
the Angels started bringing in some young, talented outfielders
instead of overpaid veterans on the back end of their careers (Gary
Matthews Jr., Torii Hunter, Bob Abreu and Vernon Wells, just to name
Norris, lhp, Science Hill HS, Johnson City, Tenn.
A’s obviously value lefthanded pitching with Gio Gonzalez, Brett
Anderson and the injured Dallas Braden leading one of baseball’s
top young starting rotations.
BOSTON RED SOX
Swihart, c, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M.
pairing up this pick with the one that the Red Sox have at No. 26. In
a perfect world, they would like to get both Swihart and Texas
high-school outfielder Josh Bell. If they feel that one or the other
has a chance of being picked from 20 to 25, they would put that
player 19th and slide the other to 26. The opportunity to
sign two premium, switch-hitting athletes with plus power potential
in one draft? It seems like an easy decision to make, if budget
constraints aren’t a concern.
Susac, c, Oregon State
find it hard to believe that there are people raising yellow flags
because of things that Susac has been doing, or not doing, after
returning from hamate-bone surgery in five weeks. It’s naïve to
think that Susac wouldn’t be back at 100 percent immediately. If
anything, it’s a testament to Susac’s makeup, work ethic and lack
of fear of scout’s discerning opinions that he did come back so
quickly. Good for him, I hope he’s rewarded.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Michael, ss, North Carolina
interesting that two players, Michael and UCLA righthander Trevor
Bauer, who skipped their senior seasons of high school in 2009 to
enter college early, are both likely to end up as first-round picks.
Astute decisions by both young men, but not a decision that many
should be encouraged to make.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Meyer, rhp, Kentucky
would like to have put Meyer a couple of slots higher up, including
much higher in one case, but there always seemed to be a better fit.
He can’t slide too far, especially with the way be pitched late in
the 2011 season. I’d be curious to hear a veteran scout compare
Meyer with Detroit Tigers righthander Justin Verlander at the same
point in their careers.
Chafin, lhp, Kent State
firmly believe that Chafin is one of the unrecognized values in this
draft, and I don’t see him being much different in the big scheme
of things than Stanford’s Drew Storen was in roughly the same spot
in a more shallow 2009 draft. The Nationals signed Storen to a
below-slot, pre-draft deal and he was on the fast track to the big
leagues before most other first-rounders signed that year. That’s
not to say that Chafin profiles as a reliever, like Storen. It’s
just that having a plus fastball, a plus/plus slider and advanced
pitchability shouldn’t be taken for granted.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Baez, 3b, Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
keep seeing Baez being elevated significantly higher than this spot
in some mock drafts, and I simply don’t think, with all due
respect, that he is that type of player, in anything but a strict
signability situation. For Tampa Bay, with its menagerie of 10 draft
picks between slots 24 and 60, it’s a very good fit, however.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Spangenberg, 3b/2b, Indian River State (Fla.) JC
feel the same way about Spangenberg going in the top 10-15 picks as I
do Baez (see pick No. 23). No disrespect intended, but there are just
too many better, more-established players at that point in the draft
for anything but a signability pick.
BOSTON RED SOX
Bell, of, Dallas Jesuit HS
well-publicized letter to Major League Baseball, reaffirming his
intent to attend college at Texas, probably only more-tightly defined
his market, which may have been his intent all along. If the letter
was sincere, then the entire baseball industry may need to apologize
to the Bell and his family, but most believe there was an ulterior
Stephenson, rhp, Alhambra (Calif.) HS
wouldn’t surprise me if Stephenson didn’t reach this slot as
there isn’t much that separates him from fellow prep righthander
Taylor Guerrieri (slotted at No. 14), except a less-consistent
breaking ball. The Reds present management has spoken loudly in the
past few years about how much they value strong-armed young pitchers.
Wong, 2b, Hawaii
would be a great value here as many believe he has a strong chance to
fulfill his projection as a top-of-the-order offensive catalyst.
Remember, the Braves have an entirely different scouting leadership
than they did when high-school pitchers and players from the
southeast filled their draft board.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Meo, rhp, Coastal Carolina
Giants may be World Series champions, but they need to get more
athletic and address their long-term offensive woes. They are not the
type of organization, though, that will pick more-risky players like
Wyoming outfielder Brandon Nimmo or Florida junior-college outfielder
Brian Goodwin in this slot. The fallback is the best college pitcher
still on the board, which would be Meo, but might also be one of two
lefthanders, Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin or Vanderbilt’s
Beede, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Auburn, Mass.
Twins are much like the Giants in that they need an injection of
athleticism and offensive potential into their system, but would be
stretching to find it here. Beede, one of the most-mature pitchers in
the country despite his Northeast upbringing, fits the Twins’ mould
for pitching prospects. So would Gilmartin or Garvin.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Cron, 1b, Utah
still not convinced that Cron doesn’t belong significantly higher
than this slot. He can flat-out hit, and that type of player usually
carries the day when scouting directors have to make a tough
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Stilson, rhp, Texas A&M
is a protected pick, so the Rays are in a position to roll the dice a
bit. They could elect to go for a tough-signability pick, a player
coming off a serious injury or maybe even a leveraged two-sport
athlete. I previously had Texas Christian lefthander Matthew Purke,
who missed a chunk of the 2011 season with a shoulder issue, here and
there still is some logic to that. But based on the latest reports
that Stilson is not as seriously hurt as previously believed and
should be back at full strength this summer, seals it for me. Getting
a mid-first-round talent at No. 32 would be a steal for Tampa Bay.
Story, ss, Irving (Texas) HS
would be much more than just a local pick as his name came up more
and more frequently as a potential first-rounder. He would require
some patience with the bat, but is a first-round quality defender and