We’ve already mocked the first seven selections of the draft, now it’s time to mock the next seven. If you need reference to the first park the mock, here it is.
Anyway, same parameters apply.
8. Chicago White Sox
There’s no doubt that in three to five years, the White Sox will have arguably one of the best rotations in the American League, if not all of Major League Baseball. So why not make it better? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale could use more protection.
College World Series hero and Vanderbilt ace Walker Buehler may be one of the more surprising collegiate talents in baseball. While there is a stigma against pitchers that are his height, Buehler clearly has the talent to overcome that adversity and be a solid rotation piece. His pitch arsenal easily compensates for his stature, and he has the ability to pitch in big games, as evidenced by his College World Series, Cape Cod League and Collegiate National Team appearances.
Having a rotation that is made up of three of the best major league-ready arms will help the White Sox win one of the wildest divisions in baseball.
9. Chicago Cubs
Even after making what could possibly be the biggest splash in free agency, the Chicago Cubs will need a contingency plan should Jon Lester show signs of decline in his later contract years. The Cubs have done their due diligence in building up their hitting for the future a lá the Royals, but their young pitching is still a question mark, even with a young gun like Carson Sands, and a potential solid rotation man in Jake Stinnett.
I mocked him here last time, and for good reason: De La Salle High School’s Justin Hooper could potentially be the best prep lefty in the class.
Hooper pumps premium gas, he’s been clocked as high as 97 in showcases, but he is, like most prep pitchers not named Jose Fernandez, a work in progress. As of right now, he profiles as a closer, but work on secondary offerings could move him to the middle to bottom half of a rotation. Hooper is a big guy at 6’7″ and 230 pounds, a trait that many scouts love, and since you can’t teach build, he’ll have that going for him in the future.
If all goes to plan including the Cubs selection, Hooper could be in the majors by late 2019 or early 2020, by which time, Jon Lester will start hitting his decline, allowing him to seamlessly take over for the great ace.
10. Philadelphia Phillies
Who would have thought that Jimmy Rollins wouldn’t finish his career with the Phillies? Don’t raise your hand, I know you’re lying.
Moving aside from that, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Rollins/Utley middle infield days are drawing to a close, and depending on how durable the latter is, they could be drawing to a fast(er) close. With JP Crawford, a 2013 HAPS making a steady progression through the ranks, the Phillies will need to pair him with a solid second baseman.
Although he currently plays shortstop, LSU’s Alex Bregman may be the guy who the Phillies want at second. I mocked Bregman here last time for many reasons, he has the bat to be a solid middle of the order run producer, he and 2014 draft pick Aaron Nola were teammates in college and could replicate that chemistry in the pro level, etc. etc. What I like most about Bregman is his name recognition
Bregman’s credentials as the former College Baseball Freshman of the Year allowed him to make himself known early, and despite a down sophomore year, scouts noticed an improvement in his hitting in fall ball with the new baseballs, which are designed with a more “major league” specification. Despite this, Bregman should adapt to pro ball well, and could be the next big major league second baseman.
11. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds may have set their future rotation, but as far as their future offense, it’s clear that the only definitive piece is Billy Hamilton. With guys like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips getting ready to hit their primes, or for some, past their primes, the time to get the next generation of hitters is now.
The Reds have the benefit of a potential first round pick in their backyard. Cincinnati’s Ian Happ is a solid hitter who could be a second baseman or an outfielder, although scouts see him as a latter instead of a former. Happ projects as a number 2 hitter in any lineup, but in a park like GABP, he could move to the middle of the order.
12. Miami Marlins
The Marlins are gearing up for now, and in doing so, have foregone then. Despite this, they could still end up getting one of the top arms in the draft to cushion the loss of players like Anthony Desclafani and Nate Eovaldi.
Louisville’s arm factory gave us Nick Burdi last season, but this year, they offer a more complete pitcher in Kyle Funkhouser. One of the faster risers in the draft, my belief is that he’ll be a tough sign, allowing him to drop to a willing team.
Funkhouser is more complete than Burdi in the fact that he has more than a fastball to him. Whereas Burdi was a triple digit fastball and a decent slider, Funkhouser has three pitches, developing control and command, and the ideal pitchers body. Funkahouser’s completeness allows him to be more of an ace, and with Tyler Kolek behind him, they could be part of what is already considered a strong future rotation.
13. San Diego Padres
The Padres are big fans of big name shortstops, as evidenced by the draft history, with names like Sean Burroughs and Trea Turner. With Turner going to the Nationals in the Wil Myers deal come June, the Padres are going to have to look for a new shortstop prodigy to fill the Everth Cabrera sized hole…eventually.
Having Allen High School shortstop Kyler Murray get selected in the first round may seem like a giant middle finger to Texas A&M fans, but in my opinion, he could actually develop into a legitimate baseball player. He has the speed to eventually replace Cabrera. and as a prep player, has more dimension to his game than Turner had, with more of a bat, and more of a glove. In some ways, he reminds me of Jose Altuve, if Altuve played shortstop for the Astros.
In a bit of a summary for a future post, I’m just going to say this, as strong of a commitment a player has to a university, all it takes is the right amount of money in order to make him go pro. We saw it with Josh Bell, we saw it with Archie Bradley, and we saw it with Monte Harrison, It doesn’t matter if Murray is promised the A&M quarterback job from day one, if the Padres, or whatever team takes him offers him the right amount of money, you can bet he’ll go pro.
14. Tampa Bay Rays:
The Tampa Bay Rays, at one time, boasted a first round class of 10 players, and so far, none have made the majors, proof that quantity doesn’t mean quality.
One of the champions of building, not buying, the Rays really could use a boost in their homegrown department after losing David Price, and possibly witnessing the potential decline of franchise face Evan Longoria. The question is, where do they go to start that long term rebuild?
Cathedral High School righty Ashe Russell is the next product of the Hoosier State that could make it big. Considered possibly the best prep righty in the class, Russell could go as high as top ten, although he could fall due to signability.
Russell is a complete prep product, relying on his fastball and slider to get batters out. Built like a big leaguer, Russell’s only issue is his delivery. As a product of northern prep baseball though, he could have an advantage over his southern prep counterparts on his trek to the majors.