Draft : : Story
Mock Draft, Version I
Thursday, May 13, 2010
1. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Bryce Harper, c, College of Southern Nevada
The Nationals picking anyone but the precocious 17-year-old Harper at this point would be a monumental upset of historical proportions in draft history. The lefthanded-hitting catcher has so far surpassed everyone’s expectations for him at the JC level (.417-23-68 in 56 games, with 33 walks and even 16 steals, all with a wood bat) that there can hardly be any debate about the top player in the 2010 draft. The Nationals went all out on Stephen Strasburg last year and there is no reason not to do the same with Harper.
2. PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Drew Pomeranz, lhp, University of Mississippi
Take away the Southeastern Conference rain-postponed debacle between Pomeranz and Louisiana State righthander Anthony Ranaudo, and the big Ole Miss southpaw has been among the most dominating pitchers in the country (6-1, 2.17, 74 IP/112 SO). Jaded Pirates fans will be hoping for more than they received from the last first-round Mississippi college product the team picked, Mississippi State lefthander Paul Maholm (8th round, 2003), but Maholm has actually been a solid starter the past four years and Pomeranz has significantly better raw stuff.
3. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Chris Sale, lhp, Florida Gulf Coast
The Orioles should learn a lesson from the 2008 draft here. I wrote at that point that Tampa Bay would be much better served picking college lefthander Brian Matusz over high-school shortstop Tim Beckham with the first pick. Matusz fell to the Orioles at No. 4, and is now already in their starting rotation and one of the most-prized young arms in the game, while Beckham is hitting below .150 in the Florida State League. Sale (8-0, 1.98, 82 IP/12 BB/114 SO) is a comparable talent to Matusz and could have a similar path to a big-league starting rotation.
4. KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
There should be no hesitation about the Royals taking the consensus best high-school pitcher in the country. Although he’s had an occasional performance bump, Taillon’s already superb stuff has moved up a notch this spring and the rest of his package (i.e. makeup, injury history) is flawless.
5. CLEVELAND INDIANS
Yasmani Grandal, c, University of Miami
The popular thought here for the Indians might be the top high-school position prospect, Florida shortstop Manny Machado, but the fact is that the last time the Indians picked a high-school position player in the top five rounds was 2005. That’s what you might call an established history. Grandal’s huge spring at the plate (.421-10-50, 43 BB) has dispelled questions about his bat and there has never been any second thoughts about his defense or leadership.
6. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Manny Machado, ss, Brito HS, Miami
The Diamondbacks, unlike the Indians at No. 5, have no hesitation in picking the best high-school position prospect available, which clearly seems to be Machado. The only open question on this pick might be that Arizona picked two high-school third basemen in the first round last year in Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson, and three left-side prep infielders (about a $5 million investment) in two years is plenty. But Machado is too good to slide any longer.
7. NEW YORK METS
Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton
There may be no more polished player in the draft than Colon, who should provide almost instant return for an organization whose harried front office is in desperate need of some instant return. Telling the Mets faithful that Colon would move to second base and should soon be joining Ike Davis on the right side of the Mets infield in the very near future would garner some positive feedback . . . and make for a very solid right-side infield.
8. HOUSTON ASTROS
Zach Cox, 3b, University of Arkansas
After years of painfully conservative drafts and equally pained signabilities, the Astros have almost overreacted the past few years, going almost exclusively to high-school talent. Of course, the team’s lone high college pick, catcher Jason Castro (1st round, 2008) almost made the team this spring. The Astros desperately need an immediate influx of offensive talent and Cox’s path to being a successful big-league hitter should be a short one.
9. SAN DIEGO PADRES
Karsten Whitson, rhp, Chipley (Fla.) HS
This pick came down to Whitson vs. California prep righthander Dylan Covey for me, and the two are very comparable talents and would both fit well here. The Padres are going to pick high-ceiling prospects, and both Whitson and Covey have the requisite two plus pitches and equally long resumes for a high-school prospect.
10. OAKLAND A’s
Deck McGuire, rhp, Georgia Tech
The draft board starts getting very heavy with college righthanded pitchers at this point, with any of perhaps a half dozen coming into play for whichever team likes them the best. McGuire’s raw stuff and base mechanics might suffer in comparison for some scouts, but he is as reliable as clockwork, and healthy and big as the proverbial horse, something those college hurlers in back of him don’t necessarily share.
11. TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Dylan Covey, rhp, Maranatha HS, Pasadena, Calif.
The Blue Jays will be a huge wild card in this draft with a whole lineup of extra picks and a completely new scouting staff and philosophy of scouting. Nothing would be a complete surprise here or in any of their extra picks. But Covey is a top-10 talent and potential front-line starter, and that is a good starting point for your first pick as a new scouting staff.
12. CINCINNATI REDS
Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Louisiana State University
Another big wild card in the draft is Ranaudo, who would have been a top-3 pick in mid-February. But an elbow injury and subsequent struggles since returning (2-2, 8.26, 52 base runners in 28 IP) speak loudly. It could be similar to the Kyle Gibson situation from the 2009 draft, where a consensus top pick falls to the team that feels the risk is worth the reward. The Reds have shown plenty of stomach for taking risks on pitching recently (Edison Volquez for Josh Hamilton, Aroldis Chapman for $30 million, Mike Leake straight to the majors out of last year’s draft), and this might be another way of stealing a premium pitching talent that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
13. CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Brandon Workman, rhp, University of Texas
Workman has been quietly efficient (9-1, 3.22, 74 IP/16 BB/78 SO) on a pitching staff that features the country’s hottest pitcher (Cole Green), one of the top two 2011 pitching prospects (Taylor Jungmann) and college baseball’s best closer (Chance Ruffin). Switching Workman and McGuire (No. 10), just as switching Whitson (No. 9) and Covey (No. 11), would simply be a matter of liking one a bit better than the other.
14. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Michael Choice, of, University of Texas-Arlington
It wouldn’t surprise many observers if Choice went higher than this and would probably disappoint most teams picking in the 15-20 pick range if the Brewers picked him here. Choice is a Vernon Wells-type player, especially offensively, with a wide range of talents and skills, plus scouts say that the ball comes off his bat as hard as almost any player in the country not named Harper. His 2010 season (.405-16-55, 66 (!!) walks) almost defies adjectives taken in its context.
15. TEXAS RANGERS (for not signing Matt Purke in 2009)
A.J. Cole, rhp, Oviedo (Fla.) HS
Yes, the Rangers are probably still privately cursing their fates for not signing Purke (9-0, 3.80 for Texas Christian this spring) last year. They got that pick right from a scouting perspective, though, and Cole’s talent and profile isn’t much different on a righthanded thrower. There have been reports out of Florida lately that Cole is touching 98 mph and maintaining 94-96 mph late into games.
16. CHICAGO CUBS
Matt Harvey, rhp, University of North Carolina
Put the 2010 spring in a box and just draft from that sample, and Harvey would go higher than mid-first round, possibly in the top five. He’s been maintaining plus/plus stuff throughout his starts (96 mph on the 156th pitch of a game two weekends ago), and has shown little or none of the mysterious struggles he experienced as a sophomore. But scouts do have long memories, and mysteries that are difficult to explain often account for players being drafted lower, in retrospect, than history says they should have been.
17. TAMPA BAY RAYS
Nick Castellanos, 3b, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that the Rays’ ascent to the top of baseball’s elite organizations is driven more by pitching dominance and defense than by offense. The team’s profile draft pick is still the high-ceiling athletic position player, which fits Castellanos’ tool set. And this is where fans don’t need to worry about Tampa Bay’s star player, Evan Longoria, playing the same position. A talent like Castellanos would be 4-5 years away from the big leagues, and if he hits like he’s projected to, a position will open up for him.
18. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (from Seattle for Chone Figgins)
Austin Wilson, of, Harvard-Westlake HS, Los Angeles
Wilson is the one player in this draft that can be compared with Atlanta Braves phenom outfielder Jason Heyward without awkward hyperbole. He is an African-American athlete with huge potential baseball tools in a body that is more readily associated with future NFL stars. Like Heyward, he’s also an extremely bright young man (has signed with Stanford) from a highly educated family. Wilson doesn’t have the polished hitting skills that Heyward had at the same age, nor is he a lefthanded hitter, but a comparison to a Joe Carter-type player wouldn’t be inappropriate either.
19. HOUSTON ASTROS (from Detroit for Jose Valverde)
Bryce Brentz, of, Middle Tennessee State University
It’s not often that advocating drafting for team needs is a prudent idea in the baseball draft, but the Astros need hitting. But if the Astros draft Zach Cox with their first pick (No. 8) and come back and get the power-hitting Brentz with this pick, they will look back at the end of the day and feel pretty darned good, I would expect. At least, the Astros and their fan base will know there are hitting prospects on the fast track to the big leagues.
20. BOSTON RED SOX (from Atlanta for Billy Wagner)
Stetson Allie, rhp, St. Edwards HS, Lakewood, Ohio
Allie may have best arm in the draft with a fastball that reaches the high-90s consistently. He has made significant improvement this spring with his command and pitchability, according to scouts, and now that he’s being used regularly as a starter and is finally putting some meaningful innings under his belt, he has established himself as a legit first-rounder. Allie still profiles as a power reliever at the big-league level, but will be given every opportunity to start on his path through the minors. There would be some irony if Allie was selected with the pick the Red Sox acquired for Billy Wagner’s free agency, as Wagner is perhaps the most consistently hard thrower of the past 15 years.
21. MINNESOTA TWINS
Asher Wojciechowski, rhp, The Citadel
Wojciechowski pounds the strike zone with a potent fastball/slider combination, and is both durable physically with top-flight makeup. If that doesn’t sound like the profile for a Minnesota Twins player . . .
22. TEXAS RANGERS
Zach Lee, rhp, McKinney (Texas) HS
Lee may be one of the biggest surprises in first-round consideration, but has repeatedly shown that level of stuff throughout the spring, including a fastball that has gone from 88-91 mph previously to a steady 93-95. One might question the Rangers drafting a high-school pitcher with a difficult signability profile (see Purke, Matthew, 2009), but Lee’s high-profile status as a Louisiana State quarterback recruit would enable the Rangers to spread out Lee’s signing bonus, and thus save immediate cash, not an unimportant consideration for an organization in a bit of ownership turmoil. The potential for a hometown bargaining chip can’t hurt, either.
23. FLORIDA MARLINS
Aaron Sanchez, rhp, Barstow (Calif.) HS
Some California scouts believe that Sanchez is a legitimate top-10 talent, and to see him drafted higher than this slot would not be a surprise. However, 2010 is a year that is top-heavy with talented high-school righthanders, and only so many teams will go that route in the first round. The Marlins are definitely one of those teams.
24. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Gary Brown, of, Cal State Fullerton
Brown is simply one of the fastest players in college baseball, and the Giants can certainly afford to get more athletic, both offensively and defensively. Brown’s offensive skill set is a mixed bag. He’s hitting .450 for Cal State Fullerton and has struck out only 11 times, but has drawn only eight walks, as well. The extra bases he misses out on with his hitting approach he more than makes up for in other areas: 19 doubles, 8 triples, 6 home runs, 28 stolen bases.
25. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Jesse Hahn, rhp, Virginia Tech
The improvement Hahn showed in the Cape Cod League last summer has carried over to the spring, especially now that the Connecticut native (and ex-high school teammate of Matt Harvey, No. 16) is starting instead of relieving. He has been able to make only nine starts (5-2, 2.81, 57 IP/14 BB/64 SO), however, and has missed some outings lately with kidney stones of all things, in addition to some reported elbow soreness. That limited window and the lingering injury might affect his draft-day status.
26. COLORADO ROCKIES
Brett Eibner, of-rhp, University of Arkansas
It is very tempting to put hometown high-school righthander Kevin Gausman in this slot, but Gausman has not taken a step forward yet this spring after a late start due to basketball. Eibner is one of the bigger enigmas for scouting directors to figure out, as his dramatic improvement at the plate (.333-17-56) doesn’t automatically overshadow the prevailing wisdom that he’s a better overall pitching prospect. It’s split down the middle. Any team that drafts Eibner had better be prepared to let him sink or swim initially in the outfield before a move to the mound.
27. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Kaleb Cowart, rhp-3b, Cook HS, Adel, Ga.
Like Brett Eibner (No. 26), Cowart is a complicated draft because he has first-round tools as both a pitcher and left-side infielder. Cowart is a better raw athlete than Ethan Martin, a similar Georgia high-school talent drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. He’s also a switch-hitter, but his lack of a present mid-90s fastball may mean that he’s not taken quite as high as Martin as a pitcher, or even goes out first in that role.
28. LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Sammy Solis, lhp, University of San Diego
Solis missed almost all of the 2009 season with a back injury, but represents outstanding value at this point in the draft as a polished college lefthander who will flash plus stuff. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a team well ahead of the Dodgers recognize that, and pass on one of the more powerful high-school righthanders in favor of Solis.
29. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (from Boston for John Lackey)
Alex Wimmers, rhp, Ohio State University
Wimmers has little projection left and is somewhat of a max-effort thrower, but you can’t argue with three very good present major-league caliber pitches, especially a polished changeup, plus his history of dominance, including a 9-0. 1.61 record this year. With all their extra picks, the Angels will need a sure-thing/easy-sign pick at some point, and Wimmers qualifies. He has been out the last two-plus weeks with a bad hamstring, but given his established track record, that probably won’t make much difference in his evaluation.
30. LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Kellin Deglan, c, R.E. Mountain HS, Langley, BC
If the Angels go for a solid, established college righthander like Alex Wimmers at No. 29, Deglan could be an ideal speculative pick. Angels scouting director Eddie Bane has a history of going off the board and using his imagination, and taking a Canadian as the first prep catcher in the draft would be up his alley. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Deglan is an impressive lefthanded hitter with the same type of background and profile as fellow B.C. product and former American League MVP Justin Morneau, only with better defensive tools at the same age.
31. TAMPA BAY RAYS (for not signing LeVon Washington in 2009)
Justin O’Conner, ss-c-rhp, Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind.
O’Conner can do too many things on the baseball field to just let him slide out of the first round, even if there is uncertainly over what his future position might be. The fact that he is a top prospect at positions as diverse as shortstop, catcher and pitcher, and could undoubtedly play pretty much any other position on the field at a high-prospect level, speaks loudly to his talent.
32. NEW YORK YANKEES
Josh Sale, of, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle
Yankees fans, the presumption here is that you like Nick Swisher in right field for your team. Sale is essentially a Swisher clone, with more juice in his bat. Along with having the same build and athletic profile as Swisher, Sale also has established an early reputation as a gamer, something Yankee fans might also appreciate.