2016 MLB Mock Draft: April Fools Edition

What? You thought that you were going to get an actual MLB Mock draft to start April? Well too diddly darn bad!

Okay, in all seriousness, yes, you will get one later in the month, but as of now, I’ve decided to take a page out of Walter Football’s book and make an April Fools mock draft. Anything goes here, so let’s begin.

1. Philadelphia Phillies:

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Matt Klentak had two areas he planned to focus on when it came to the draft. One was pitching, the other was bringing people into the seats at Citizens Bank Park. Considering how new he is to the GM position, and the fact that he has a reputation of making incredibly questionable draft decisions to uphold, he decided to go with a pick that would make experts go “huh?” So when he called in his pick. it was understandable that Rob Manfred, after reading the card, was clearly confused. “With the first pick in the 2016 First Year Player Draft, the Philadelphia Phillies select EDP445, a YouTuber from Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania.”

“We feel that EDP445 brings us a certain… entertainment factor that will draw people to Phillies games. We’re prepared to accelerate his minor league development so that he can be ready in time for Opening Day 2017, and hope that he will give us at least 5 years worth of profanity laced tirades, with a lot of shouting and cursing out the coaching staff.” Klentak said. When asked how he was able to get him to balance his Eagles fandom with his Phillies fandom, Klentak remarked, “We tend to think of him as a two sport YouTuber. Hey, it worked for Bo Jackson, didn’t it?”

After he was drafted, EDP445 uploaded a Youtube video, with him decked out in Phillies gear. “MATT KLENTAK!? WHAT THE F***!!!!? WHY WOULD YOU DRAFT A SORRY A** N**** LIKE ME? ARE YOU ON CRACK HOMIE!? BECAUSE I WANT SOME OF THAT S*** THAT YOU’RE SMOKIN’!”

2. Cincinnati Reds:

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Reeling from what could only be described as one of the worst offseasons in team history, the Reds were in need of a serious talent infusion. But Walt Jocketty had a plan for this.

“You see, I had this cow that I had to sell, and a farmer just happened to come along. He offered me some Magic Beans in exchange for the cow, to which I agreed, but only on the condition that he also took my shirt and tie as well, with my pants to be named later. Jocketty explained, He followed that up with “Is it just me, or is it kind of cold in here?”

After showing the media his prized talent acquisition. one member of the Cincinnati Enquirer remarked that Jocketty had just gotten a handful of jelly beans. At this, Jocketty turned pale, and silently left the stage muttering about how he was getting too old for this.

3. Atlanta Braves:

 Ph: Barry Wetcher © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

John Coppolella’s magical offseason was highlighted by the shocking acquisition of 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson as well as Los Angeles Angels top prospect Sean Newcomb. Some would say that the moves he made had a hint of thievery, but according to the Braves GM, there was actually something else.

“Magic”, he explained. “In fact, we decided to draft a magician to help bolster our ability to swindle top prospects away from our competitors. Say hello to J. Daniel Atlas, of the Four Horsemen.” At this, a young man appeared out of thin air and bowed.

When asked what his secret was, Atlas smirked and said, “Always be the smartest guy in the room.” A minute later, ESPN reported breaking news that Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto were headed to Atlanta in exchange for Erick Aybar. Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who later saw the news, reportedly contacted the FBI to demand they launch a criminal investigation. When they interrogated Atlas, he remarked, “Always be the smartest guy in the room.” He casually walked out, leaving the interrogator chained to his desk and his partner miming playing the violin.

4. Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies were going to improve their farm system with the fourth overall pick in the draft, but then someone brought a joint into the scouting department meetings, and suddenly everything shifted direction.

A clearly stoned Jeff Brdich stumbled out of the conference room at one point, laughing at himself and mumbling, “Y-y’know wha… what would go great here? W-we should get a pot shop here. Y’know, it’d get a loooooooot of people throu…. through the doors here. I- I mean sure they won’t know what the hell is going on, but we’d get a lot of people here.”

He then turned to a reporter with the still smoking joint in his hand. “Heeeeey, kemosabe. Wanna puff? This stuff is amazing.” He then proceeded to stumble down the hall, looking for the restroom.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers, realizing that they had a golden opportunity fall into their lap, practically ran to the phone to call in their pick, at least according to new GM David Stearns. “I mean how often do you see this type of scenario happening?”

With the fifth pick, the Brewers selected Jason Groome, the promising lefty starter from Barnegat High School in New Jersey. Groome, who happened to be in Studio 42 at draft day, however wasn’t pleased. “What just happened? Did I just stumble into a universe devoid of logic and reason? Am I seriously the fifth overall pick?” Still, Groome reluctantly accepted the Brewers jersey presented to him, flinching as if he was putting on a suit made of Gympie Gympie leaves. As he went to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred. MLB Network caught him mouthing to no one in particular. “Well that’s it, I’m going to Vanderbilt. Screw you guys.”

Two months later, a visibly fatter Stearns was found in his office, a bottle of tequila in one hand and a half eaten brat in the other. He kept saying, “Only in F***ing Milwaukee. Only in F***ing Milwaukee does this s*** happen.”

6. Oakland Athletics

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Having finally gotten fed up with the fact that the A’s had been operating on a shoestring budget, and dealing with the constant debate over whether moneyball actually works, Billy Beane instructed his new GM, David Forst to make a splash on draft day. And what a splash he made. as Forst ended up picking an energetic socialist from Vermont to help the team out in the future.

When it was announced that Bernie Sanders would be the newest Oakland Athletics star, A’s fans rejoiced. One fan, a University of California-Berkeley student, was quoted, saying “He’s the answer. He’s an outsider, and he’ll make sure that the big spending teams that win titles year after year give their titles to this team. Furthermore, he’s going to force the wealthy teams to pay for the poorer teams free agents, and considering we haven’t made a free agent splash in years, it’s gonna be fun.”

She followed that up with an enthusiastic, “Feel the Bern, baby!” When asked how Sanders was going to force teams to do this, she immediately turned angry and stormed away, screaming “Stop triggering me you bigot! Who the hell appointed you to this position anyway!?” The president of Cal-Berkeley issued a statement the following day saying that his students were unfairly targeted by the media, and that a media blackout had been enforced on campus.

7. Miami Marlins

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Fed up with the constant mismanagement of the Marlins, ironically, by his own hand, Jeffery Loria finally agreed to step down as owner. With that sudden change, GM Michael Hill’s draft strategy suddenly became clearer, and so with the seventh overall pick, the Marlins chose a new and energetic owner to run the team.

“We believe that Mark Cuban is the answer to getting the fans into Marlins park. He clearly knows what he’s doing, as evidenced by what he’s done with the Dallas Mavericks. Plus, he’s had experience advising young startups before. Plus his name, Mark Cuban. It’s like we’re encouraging our Cuban American population to come to the games again.” Hill exclaimed, barely containing his excitement.

Cuban said he was ready to get to work immediately. “You know, based on my work at Shark Tank, I think I can figure out how to run this team without having to do a fire sale every five years. This is going to be a blast!” His first game didn’t go so well, though as he was caught screaming at umpire Jim Wolf about what he thought was a missed call. He was later fined $10,000 for complaining about the umpiring on Twitter.

 

8. San Diego Padres

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Padres GM AJ Preller has been feeling heat ever since his grand vision of 2015 completely crashed and burned around him. In fact, both the fanbase and ownership had been pressuring him to make a splash.

“They asked me to make a splash in the draft, and immediately what came to mind was Splash Brothers, you know, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson?” Preller said. “So I got in touch with the Golden State Warriors, but they flat said no, leaving me with my you-know-what in my hand”.

Preller then went to his next best option, find the Steph Curry of baseball. It didn’t take him long, as SEC Network, a subsidiary of ESPN, which is contractually obligated to keep stroking the real Steph Curry’s ego, called a small centerfielder from the University of Missouri by the name of Jake Ring, the Steph Curry of SEC Baseball. “At that, I said that’s our guy and focused all attention on him.” Preller said.

Minutes after the pick was announced, Padres message boards were flooded with 95-96 Bulls jokes, and Steph Curry’s ego chafed from being stroked too hard.

In an unrelated note, MinorLeagueMadhouse has been purchased by ESPN with terms of the deal stating that Steph Curry must be mentioned at least six times per article.

9. Detroit Tigers

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Owner Mike Ilitch has long stated that he wants the Tigers to win the World Series before he dies, and despite several chances to do so, the Tigers have come up short repeatedly. For new GM Al Avila, this gave him an idea on what to do with the ninth overall selection.

“So I got in touch with the folks at Oculus Rift and SCEA San Diego, and we decided that our draft pick would be used on a Simulated World Series Victory. All we have to do is get Mr. Ilitch to put on the Oculus headset and he can watch the final out of the World Series.”

When asked about how they planned to get Ilitch to put on the headset, Avila shrugged and said, “I don’t know, he’s a bit of a technophobe, we may just have to set up a box trap or something with a Little Caesar’s Pizza.

Ilitch later responded, “Avila can keep his dadgumed technology and his dadgumed pizza trap. I’d rather die than eat that crap, and I’d rather eat that crap before I put on any dadgumed virtue-al realy-ty headset!” When asked why he’d trash his own franchise, he replied. “I own the danged chain, it doesn’t mean I eat that garbage! It prob’ly gives you a third nipple or something!”

10. Chicago White Sox

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In the wake of the Adam LaRoche fiasco, White Sox Executive VP Ken Williams was left picking up the pieces in what was a horribly overblown fiasco. “Honestly, I feel like I’m the one who should apologize, because I basically told a guy that I’m paying $13 million that he couldn’t have his son around”.

In response to that, the White Sox drafted a new state-of-the-art daycare center, which is expected to debut some time during the 2017 season. “We’ve even gone the extra step by inviting Adam and Drake to come back, in fact we’re even thinking of naming it the Drake LaRoche Player’s Children Care Center. Heck, Adam’s even invited to be the first to bring snacks!”

When asked about the White Sox decision, LaRoche replied, “I get what Ken is trying to do, but he’s not going to get me back, no, in order to do that he has to draft Drake first overall and make him the team’s starting second baseman. And forget the locker in the clubhouse, he wants a play fort! And while we’re at it, I want my wife and daughter to have play forts in the clubhouse too!”

Williams could only shake his head upon hearing LaRoche’s new demands. “Like I pissed away $13 million. What a man-child!”

11. Seattle Mariners 

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Frustrated with the constant failures that the Mariners have produced through drafting, GM Jerry DiPoto decided to try a different approach when it came to his first round pick this year.

“It took a fair amount of persuading, and admittedly a considerable amount of begging, but I was able to use the Mariners’ first round pick on the most surefire chance at success, a guy who’s already reached the pinnacle of his career, and he’s only 24. Meet the future of the Mariners’ organization, Bryce Harper!”

Harper would end up struggling, get sent down to the minors, where he would never regain his hitting stroke, and retired at Single-A Clinton after three years.

DiPoto was later found at the top of a Christmas Tree in downtown Seattle, throwing pinecones at rescue workers and screaming obscenities at those who tried to get him to come down.

12. Boston Red Sox

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One of the greatest anomalies of our time will always be how the Boston Red Sox managed to win the 2013 World Series after a terrible 2012 season, and yet has not figured out how to capitalize on that success. Heck, when I’ve asked Siri, I’ve received an ERROR! DOES NOT COMPUTE! message. This is usually followed by the smell of burnt toast.

Thankfully, Mike Hazen, fresh into his new tenure as Red Sox GM, decided to answer mine, and possibly many other fan’s questions by drafting a Team of Scientists to explain how the Red Sox won in 2013, and how they can duplicate the success.

Minutes into discussion, one of the scientists abruptly quit and jumped out a nearby window. A second ended up running headfirst repeatedly into a concrete wall. The remaining two decided to become stereotypical Red Sox fans, adopting Boston accents and chugging Sam Adams while watching the game on TV.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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The Tampa Bay Rays have long been plagued by low attendance, mainly because their stadium is a cavernous dome more suited for a tomb. Because of this, the Rays have been constantly looking for a way to bring up attendance.

Earlier in March, the Rays played an exhibition game against the Cuban National team. “For us this was a scouting trip.” GM Matthew Silverman told reporters. “No, not for Cuban players, Actually we plan to draft the City of Havana to be our new DH… No, not designated hitter, honestly are you people listening? Yes, we’re still going to be the Tampa Bay Rays…No, President Obama hasn’t exactly approved this yet… No, neither has Castro… Good God, will you idiots stop bothering me?”

14. Cleveland Indians

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The perpetual factory of sadness in Cleveland may be based in FirstEnergy Stadium, but that doesn’t mean that its fumes don’t occasionally waft over to Progressive Field every so often. For GM Mike Chernoff, he felt the need to take a page out of the Browns playbook in order to break the spell.

“I talked to the Browns GM, Sonny Weaver, and he told me, as much as you’d like to go for that flashy kid from Wisconsin that everyone’s talking about, you should always go for Vontae Mack, no matter what.” Chernoff said. “Of course, Weaver also told me that I should consider making a deal with Seattle in which I trade away my three first round picks in the next three years, but considering you can’t trade picks in the MLB draft, I decided to just stick with drafting Mack. Though I did end up phoning Jerry DiPoto to call him a pancake eating motherf***er.”

There are no plans for the Indians to try and grab Ray Jennings later in the draft.

15, Minnesota Twins

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The Minnesota Twins are no stranger to drafting home state talent, especially when it is elite. Joe Mauer, a St. Paul native,  has served as the franchise face for the past 11 years. It came as no surprise that the Twins didn’t hesitate to draft their next star Minnesotan with the pick.

“For us, it was between this kid at Florida named Logan Shore, or this young shortstop named Snoopy.” GM Terry Ryan commented. “We did like what we saw with Shore, but were really blown away by the funny looking kid. He was the only bright spot on that team, I believe they lost 272-0 that day, but Snoopy really stood out on the field and at bat.”

When one of the reporters remarked that Snoopy looked like a beagle, Ryan shrugged. “You know, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve pushed the envelope, after all, in 1994 we had a 12-year-old managing our team.”

16. Los Angeles Angels

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Knowing full well that the Angels farm system was in need of a serious overhaul, GM Billy Eppler decided to utilize a rarely employed strategy when it came to making his selection.

The strategy, known only as project motor mouth, required the use of a guest pick announcer, who looked and sounded like the man from the Micro Machines Commercials. Commissioner Rob Manfred invited the guest speaker to the podium, announced as former Angels player, Johnny Moschitta, who proceeded to clear his throat and read the selection.

Withthe16thoverallpickinthefirstyearplayerdraftthelosangelesangelsselectAjPukCoreyRayRileyPintNickSenzelBlakeRutherfordMickeyMoniakJordanSheffieldConnorJonesandChrisOkey. Moschitta then stepped off the stage as Pint, Rutherford, and Moniak, who were all attending the draft, were handed jerseys. Commissioner Manfred could only stand mouth agape as he took the group photo.  Meanwhile, in the Angels war room, Eppler was frantically putting together contracts for his newly drafted players. “There’s no rule that says that you have to take only one player. So we decided to get the Micro Machines guy to draft us a new farm system.” Contracts were overnighted to the players while Manfred was still in a stupor in order to ensure they signed quickly.

17. Houston Astros

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Despite finally fielding a successful team after years of failures, the Houston Astros still felt that they were vulnerable, especially in the wake of the team’s servers being hacked. GM Jeff Luhnow was tasked with obtaining one of the best, if not the best security systems money could buy.

“For me, I realized that there was no better system than the one used by the Raccoon Corporation in the Resident Evil movie, particularly the Laser Room.” To provide a demo, he turned on the system and threw a baseball into it, which was sliced cleanly in two. “Nobody will be able to get after hours now!” Luhnow exclaimed, with a maniacal cackle.

A week later, an intern was found outside the offices cut into cubes. He had forgotten his car keys.

18. New York Yankees

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After last year’s Wild Card embarrassment to the Houston Astros, the Yankees brass realized that they had somehow lost their edge as the team to beat in New York. Brian Cashman was given free reign to do whatever he wanted with the team’s pick. And boy did his pick make some noise.

The team’s choice of Donald Trump came as surprising and yet expected, considering the Yankees’ rich tastes.

Trump, in his introductory press conference stated that he planned to “Make the Yankees great again”. When asked how he would do that, he said “We’ll start off by building a stadium with a big beautiful door, and have Toronto pay for it, because when Toronto comes to New York, they don’t bring their best. They bring Stroman and Donaldson and hockey fans.” He also pledged to “ban all National League travel to the American League” The conference later devolved into 45 minutes of sexist jokes and self-ego stroking. His press conference was the highest rated program on television that night, beating out the Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals game.

Brian Cashman could only sit in the corner with his head in his hands.

19. New York Mets

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The Mets decided the time was now to start looking for David Wright’s successor, and the first thing that came to mind was someone who was more dura… OW HEY! WHAT THE… WHO ARE YOU AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE? *CRACK*

Hey folks, it’s your old pal Deadpool here, and apparently some dweeb who writes shitty baseball mock drafts, how f***ing lame is that? decided to have me picked for his… favowwite team. I mean seriously, what the f***? Could his motive for having me, the most awesome comic book character ever fall 19 spots to the Mets be any more telegraphed? It’s like he put up a sign that says, “I’m a huge f***ing tool tool that loves the Mets, so I’m gonna make them awesome with my kickass fan fiction writing skills.” Ha! Hey loser, ever thought of getting a f***ing girlfriend, or are you one of those weirdos that has a Japanese anime character on a pillow… Is that Mr. Met on a f***ing pillow? How f***ing old are you man, 8? Well anyway, gotta go, apparently because of this f***ing April Fools mock, I have to start playing third base for the Mets now. Honestly, can my powers just prevent me from being medium aware? Well, at least I’ve already proven to be a huge box office attraction, should be fun shooting Chase f***ing Utley in the head.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers have made it very clear that they will use any means necessary in order to win a World Series title, and have decided that the best way to do so is to spend heavily on big name free agents. Of course, the Dodgers know that they need a lot of money, especially when it comes to the 2018 free agent class, so they decided to use their pick for a long term investment.

The Dodgers chose the gold at Fort Knox feeling that there would be sufficient enough funds for them to sign all the major free agents in time for 2019.

“We feel that a long term rebuild would be better for us, and in order to do that, we need to develop our gold prospect in order for it to be be ready for the 2018-19 offseason.” owner Magic Johnson said. When asked how much they valued their gold stack, Johnson replied,

“We feel that we have a pretty good shot at everyone on our priority list, and when we say everyone on our priority list, we mean every good free agent. ”

21. Toronto Blue Jays 

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Having been offended by Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks about the Blue Jays after he was selected, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to up the ante, by selecting someone that they feel could help them hold their own against a future Trump-led Yankees.

“We could have drafted Megyn Kelly, but to be honest, we were scared shitless by her.” GM Ross Atkins said. “And of course, we don’t want to scare anyone. So as much as we didn’t want to do this because we feel that he’s a complete and utter hoser, we decided to select Ted Cruz.” 

The selection did seem to raise a lot of questions, however. Cruz, who is incredibly old fashioned, was viewed as incapable to adapt to the continually evolving game. “I honestly believe we should do away with the newfangled WAR and sabremetrics, go back to the old fashioned batting average, ERA, home runs! And while we’re at it, get rid of these newfangled sliding pits! I want an all dirt infield! And furthermore, screw this turf stuff, I want to grow my crops on a natural field, not this plastic field!” You know what, let’s get rid of home runs as well!” Cruz then barged out of the press conference and hopped into a horse and buggy, where he proceeded to stop at the post office to send a telegram to Donald Trump. Reports later indicated he expressed an interest in growing a handlebar mustache.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Having been the victims of the NL Wild Card game the past two seasons, the Pirates decided to take someone who has had to deal with one-and-dones his whole career, but has consistently proven to be successful.

The team managed to take John Calipari with the 22nd pick, feeling that his experience with one-and-done players would translate well to the Pirates recent trend of one-and-done appearances in the postseason. “I’ve often had to rebuild the majority of my lineup from scratch a year later,” Calipari said, “However, this may be unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve never had to deal with players who have been here on contracts. Anything past two years is practically unheard of for me! But I relish the challenge of using my experience with one-and-dones to turn this Pirates team into a group of winners, and then watch as they all leave via free agency.”

23. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals, the epitome of major league franchises in terms of developing player talent, took a rather unusual approach when it came to making their next selection.

“One of our scouts proposed an interesting challenge, to make an all-star out of literally nothing. So with our 23rd pick, we are choosing nothing.” GM John Mozeliak said. “We feel that nothing can be developed into a quality 3 WAR a year player that will help us in the long term, it’s just where we plan to put nothing on the field. We’ve thought about maybe developing nothing as a catcher, just so that Yadi can be spared a few games before nothing takes over.”

 

That’s it for today. We will go back to our regularly scheduled programming later in the month. Until then, happy April Fools!

Mining For Gold: The Outstanding Collegiate Talent of the 2018 MLB Draft

TCU Baseball: Purple vs White

A lot of people have said that 2018 will be a banner year for baseball, mainly because of the free agent class. With players like Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, Josh Donaldson, Jose Fernandez, among others, possibly testing the market for the first time, clearly there will be a lot of multimillionaires come that winter. And to be honest, while it is an expensive matter, it can be seen as a good thing for baseball. With the talent that has come up in recent years, there are going to be players that will rightly command the money they feel they deserve.

But… that’s only one part of the story.

The 2018 MLB draft has the chance to be one of the best in memory, at least in terms of collegiate talent. With the number of high profile prep kids that elected to go to college rather than sign pro contracts, what we could be looking at is a major influx of advanced prospects, ready to take the MLB by storm in 3 years time. What started off is a class built on reputation has gradually become a class that has shown early results. Here are some of the highlights of this potentially amazing 2018 class:

Pitchers:

Cole Sands:

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How often do you make a first impression like Cole Sands did when he, Cobi Johnson and Jim Voyles threw a combined no-hitter against Toledo? Even though Sands didn’t get the win for that, and even though the game was against a weaker team, it shows that Cole, the younger brother of Carson, a Cubs prospect, has potential to be a key starter for the Seminoles. Sands currently is tied for the team lead in appearances, and has the lowest ERA among the starters. Additionally, hitters have a .212 batting average against him. Sands’ biggest problem though is his control, as he’s given up the most walks on the team. His build is not an issue, as he’s 6’3″ and weighs 210 pounds, typical of a starter. Sands as of right now, would probably be a Tier 2 starter, going in the mid to late first round of the draft, if it were today. If he can work on his control and build on his performance against the Rockets, chances are his stock could rise quickly.

Chandler Day:

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Chandler Day is part of what will definitely be a celebrated trio of Vanderbilt freshman. A potential starter, Day has shown the potential that had MLB Pipeline rank him as a top 100 prospect. He’s pitched in three games, two of which he’s started, and has a 1.64 ERA with 13 strikeouts and a .184 batting average against. Day’s build is slightly taller and thinner than former starter Walker Buehler, but it’s possible that he could bulk up or use his frame to give his pitches more of a downward motion. Day could be the next in a long line of pitchers that comes from Vanderbilt’s famous talent factory, possibly a mid first round talent.

Luken Baker:

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Perhaps one of the biggest anomalies of the draft class, Luken Baker, the former Gatorade Player of the Year, is an exceptionally strong two-way player that will either be a dangerous presence on the mound, or at bat. Baker’s dual stat line is impressive, as a pitcher, he has a 1.03 ERA with 24 strikeouts and a .196 BAA. As a hitter, he has a .359 average, 3 home runs and 24 RBI. Baker, in my opinion, has to be the best bet to go first overall in the 2018 draft. An absolute tank of a man at 6’4″ and 265 pounds, he is an imposing presence. In high school, he was considered a better pitcher, but if he continues to build on his performance so far, Baker could be the first major two-way threat to be drafted since Brooks Kieschnick.

Tristan Beck:

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With the prolonged absence of starter Cal Quantrill, freshman phenom Tristan Beck has been thrown into the mix of Cardinal hurlers that have eased the blow. Sporting a 1.74 ERA, 16 strikeouts, and a .213 BAA in four appearances, Beck, while a contact pitcher, is showing a tremendous amount of poise so far. Another tall, thin righty standing at 6’4″ and 160 pounds, Beck’s low 90’s heat can go higher if he bulks up. His mechanics remain an issue, but there is plenty of time for him to fix them. For now, Beck could see himself towards the middle of the first round, with a potential to go top 10 if he makes the adjustments necessary.

Catcher:

Cal Raleigh

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Not since Buster Posey has there been a more intriguing prospect behind the plate in Tallahassee. Raleigh has gotten off to a fast start at FSU. hitting .333 with 2 homers and 20 RBI. Raleigh has the potential to be a solid hitting catcher, and if his defense can improve, he’ll definitely be the top catching prospect in 2018. His switch hitting ability and his build as a catcher make him the perfect future backstop for any team, and the fact that he’ll be catching one of the top pitching prospects will put him in the spotlight as well.

Infield:

Brian Sharp

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A year after Tanner Houck took Columbia by storm, another Tiger recruit is starting to turn heads. Brian Sharp has been another outstanding two way freshman phenom; as a hitter, he’s hitting .317 with 12 RBI, and as the team’s closer, he’s pitched to a 1.32 ERA with 3 saves and a .132 BAA. Standing at 6’1″ and 214 pounds, Sharp looks more like an infielder than a pitcher, and could find himself staying at third base when he does go pro. Sharp has the potential to be a star player for the Tigers, and while he won’t be playing Cape baseball this summer, expect him to be a strong possibility to get an invitation to Team USA, especially if he continues playing the way he has.

Jonathan India

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India was one of the members of the Milwaukee Brewers’ “Hail Mary” draft picks last year, alongside Donny Everett, Nolan Kingham, Tristan Beck and Justin Hooper. It was a good thing he chose to honor his commitment, as he’s already made a strong first impression in Gainesville. Already the leading freshman hitter on the team, India has a chance to be even better as the season goes on. His defense does need work, and it would be a good idea to figure out where he would succeed better, as a shortstop or a third baseman. India could be a solid contact oriented run producer when he fully develops. He could significantly raise his stock in the Cape this summer, but as of now, he looks to be a late first round pick.

Nick Madrigal

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Part of a very talented freshman middle infield, Nick Madrigal has been consistently raking for the Oregon State Beavers. The second best hitter, Madrigal’s contact approach has been very good to him, as he’s hitting .384 with 18 RBI. Madrigal also has some speed, as he’s swiped three bases. Madrigal right now looks to be the top shortstop in the draft, and if he adds some power to his game, could go anywhere from top 15 to top 10. The only thing that is holding him back right now is his size; he’s 5’8″ and 160 pounds, which is small, even for a middle infielder.

Outfield:

Alonzo Jones

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While Vandy fans have been more intrigued by Jeren Kendall’s hot start and Jordan Sheffield’s increasing dominance, Alonzo Jones, the second of three highly touted Vanderbilt recruits has quietly had himself a solid season, hitting .333 and stealing 7 bases. The speedy outfielder had at one time been considered a possible first round pick, but an injury dropped him all the way to the end of the draft. Jones appears to be a player that knows how to make the most out of being on the base paths. He will definitely play a bigger role next season when Bryan Reynolds is gone, and could be yet another strong position player from the Vanderbilt Talent Factory.

Seth Beer

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No freshman outside of Luken Baker has enjoyed a better start than Seth Beer, and to think, he’s younger than his peers because of his decision to enroll at Clemson a year early. Beer, who could have easily been a top 3 pick had he stayed in high school, has been absolutely dominant, hitting .453 with 9 home runs and 23 RBI. Beer’s stats are otherworldly. While he may never break Pete Incaviglia’s single season home run record, it’s possible if the stats are adjusted to accommodate for BBCOR bats, that Beer’s freshman season could be comparable to Incaviglia’s. He’s almost certainly a lock to play for the Collegiate National team this summer, and could battle it out with Baker to be the number one overall pick in 2018. Regardless, whichever team is lucky enough to get him is going to get a special talent, perhaps one of the best college baseball players anyone has seen, and it’s only been 19 games.

Wild Card:

Kyler Murray

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For as controversial as Kyler Murray may be, especially considering the circumstances behind his departure at Texas A&M, Murray still is a talented athlete, and although he will be required to miss a year of baseball and a year of football, expect him to still be a highly regarded talent. The one red flag will be his maturity, but if Murray decides to go back to baseball and plays like he did in high school, you can expect the 2018 class to get even better.

Other Players to watch:

Pitchers:

Donny Everett, Vanderbilt

Justin Hooper, UCLA,

Nolan Kingham, Texas,

Brady Singer, Florida

Tristin English, Georgia Tech

Catcher:

Domenic DeRenzo, Oklahoma

Infielders:

Johnny Aiello, Wake Forest

Cadyn Grenier, Oregon State

Outfielders:

Daniel Reyes, Florida

Marquise Doherty, Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

2016 MLB Mock Draft: Spring Training Edition

Spring training is coming up, college baseball is underway, and top prospect lists are being updated. Do you know what that means?

If you guessed, “It’s time for another mock draft,” then you are correct. And to make things even more interesting, the compensatory picks will be included this time around. The same rules apply, the draft will be done based on organizational depth rather than best player available, and if there is no clear deficiency, then best player available will be considered. With that being said…

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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Remember last year when everyone and their mother thought that the Arizona Diamondbacks would grab Brendan Rodgers with the first overall pick, but then towards the end, Arizona made it abundantly clear they would go after anyone but Rodgers? Well, Dansby Swanson became the first overall pick, and you know the rest of the story.

For the longest time, I’ve been sure that the Phillies would go high school with the first overall pick, but part of me has started to wonder if the Phillies system is ready to start contributing now? After all, Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco made it, and it won’t be long before we see JP Crawford, Mark Appel, and other parts of Philly’s system come up.

If the Phillies’ are ready to move from long term rebuild mode, perhaps now would be a good time to invest in the top college arm. AJ Puk may not have had the best debut of the 2016 collegiate season, but that shouldn’t discourage scouts too much. The Gators Saturday starter is an imposing presence on the mound, and he can only fill out more and improve his command and control as the season continues.

Philly will want to quickly transition from one dominant lefty starter (Cole Hamels) to another, and the quicker they do so, the faster they can get themselves in the conversation for a future NL East title.

Previous: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS, New Jersey

2. Cincinnati Reds

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For the longest time, I’ve avoided giving the Reds a pitcher, mainly because I felt that the Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake deals helped repopulate the Reds system with solid arms. During the offseason, I fully expected the Reds to sell off their major pieces for even more prospects, leading to a fully replenished system.

It’s too bad there’s no such thing as a do-over.

Good lord, in the deals for Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, and the failed deal for Jay Bruce, the Reds were fleeced so badly, Sandy Alderson would have felt sorry for them. Thankfully, the Reds can erase the memory of the offseason they had by grabbing the top lefty prep pitcher in the draft, Jason Groome. 

We’ve gone over how Groome is as a pitcher, and how his advanced stuff could lead to an accelerated development. Groome also has shown that he can adapt to change, not only taking over the ace role at IMG during his junior year after Brady Aiken went down, but transitioning from Barnegat to IMG, then going back to Barnegat. The one issue will probably be the competition level for Groome in New Jersey, while it is one of the better baseball states on the east coast, it doesn’t have the competition level that a state like California or Georgia would have. Still, Groome shouldn’t find the transition from prep to pro too difficult, and if he does go to Cincinnati, he will join a seriously intriguing young staff in the near future. Additionally, the Reds do have a large enough signing pool for them to sway Groome from going to Vanderbilt.

Previous: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico

3. Atlanta Braves

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The Atlanta Braves couldn’t be any more open about their plans for the 2016 season. Sell off as many assets not named Freddie Freeman as they can in the hopes that this new team they assemble is ready in time for the opening of SunTrust Park. They have not only their shortstop of the future, but also a considerable amount of high quality pitching talent. What they lack, however is a major league ready outfielder.

The first “staying the same as last time” pick of this mock is Louisville’s Corey Ray. Ray has been nothing less than a spark plug for the Cardinals offense, and given the start he’s had already for the team, there definitely will be talk about him being the first overall pick soon. Ray’s athleticism and tools make him an almost instant contributor, think of him as a left-handed version of Justin Upton, but he will need to work on his plate discipline if he wants to be a major threat.

Ray will be an exciting player to watch, both during this college season and when he does get drafted.

Previous: Ray

4. Colorado Rockies

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If you count the acquisition of Jeff Hoffman, the past four drafts for the Colorado Rockies have been nothing but absolute boons. While Jon Gray is the only big leaguer for the Rockies right now, things look especially promising for the other pieces and how they factor into the future. With that being said, I can imagine the Rockies deciding to take a gamble this time around with a batter whose stock has done nothing but rise.

I’ve been admittedly skeptical about Kyle Lewis,  but after seeing what he’s done the past few games, it’s possible he could end up being the second best outfielder in the draft. Lewis, who’s been an absolute terror in non conference play, and not against weak opponents, mind you, has the ability to be a powerful producer at the plate. Because of this, I can imagine Lewis thriving playing in the thin air of Denver. He and David Dahl would make up a dangerous future middle of the order, and could help the Rockies gain some footing finally in the NL West.

Previous: AJ Puk, LHP, Florida

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers are an interesting case study in regards to how a farm system can quickly turn itself around with a few well-thought-out draft picks. What was once decimated in the Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke deals has evolved into a top 10 system, apparently. With that being said, I can imagine the Brewers having a very difficult decision to make with the 5th overall pick.

While the Brewers may have a shortstop waiting in the wings, it doesn’t automatically disqualify them from drafting another one in the future. Just ask the Houston Astros, who drafted Alex Bregman even though they had Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. That being said, I doubt that Delvin Perez will fall lower than the top 5. Perez’s ability as a fielder trumps his developmental hitting skills, although it doesn’t mean that they won’t improve. Perez is also a fast player, and if his power doesn’t develop, he’d definitely be an exceptional leadoff hitter. If Perez, Jake Gatewood, and Arcia all stick together, chances are the Brewers will have an enviable wealth of middle infield talent that can be used to their advantage.

Previous: Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma

6. Oakland A’s

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In hindsight, going all in for Jeff Samardzjia was a bad idea. Oakland not only gave up a considerable amount of talent that could have been used in a rebuild, but they also didn’t have much to show for it afterward. The A’s constant rebuilding cycle has taken a toll on fans, who don’t know what to expect anymore.

The A’s biggest organizational deficiency is in the outfield, particularly in centerfield. With that being said, it’s possible the A’s go for a proven prospect like Buddy Reed. Reed is a defensive asset as he can cover a lot of ground and his arm is quite excellent. On the offensive side of the ball, Reed is a more contact oriented hitter. In a ballpark like Oakland’s Reed would fit in quite well, in fact, some may call him a younger Billy Burns with a higher ceiling. Because Reed’s hitting ability needs some work, it might take him a little extra time for him to make it to the majors. Still, Reed would represent a commitment to an even stronger and faster outfield defensively.

Previous: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep, California

7. Miami Marlins

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It’s amazing that the Marlins have been so bad for so long, and yet their farm system has ranked in the bottom half of the league. Granted, a lot of it has to do with prospect graduation and trades, but you’d think a team like Miami would have a Houston-like wealth of prospects that can be used in any way the organization feels. This being said, the Marlins could look for improvement in any position and they’d come out looking good, unless they really reached.

In a particularly weak class for prep pitching, it does seem odd that the consensus top right handed pitcher, Riley Pint falls this low, but given the talent at other positions, it’s not unfathomable to see a player drop. Pint has a devastatingly good fastball and an excellent slider-type pitch, as well as a changeup that can be mixed in if necessary. What he lacks is a track record, playing against top competition has been restricted to showcases. Even if Pint completely dominates the Kansas prep scene, I could see him drop mainly because of the lack of talent. Still, having a future rotation of Tyler Kolek and Riley Pint should be enough for the Marlins and their fans to salivate.

Previous: Nick Senzel, 2b/3b, Tennessee

8. San Diego Padres

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The Padres are the textbook example of why you should never go all in when faced with stiff competition. Considering the fact that the team was already weak enough, weakening the team even further with moves that wiped out a very large portion of your minor league system was bound to bite them sooner rather than later. Even with Craig Kimbrel being traded for a solid group of prospects, the Padres still have a bad system, and any help at any position would work.

I’ve never understood the hate for undersized pitchers, especially considering the recent success of guys like Marcus Stroman and Kelvin Herrera. Considering that, it makes you wonder why Carson Fulmer and now Jordan Sheffield are ranked so high. Sheffield has been impressive in his two starts, especially considering the biggest complaint about him the past two years has been with his control. If Sheffield has truly recovered fully from Tommy John surgery, then there’s no reason why he can’t jump higher on the list.

Previous: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Kansas

9. Detroit Tigers

Daryl Sullivan | The Daily Times 5/16/14 Florida's Harrison Bader (8) beats the throw to Tennessee's Nick Senzel at second in the fifth inning.

Detroit’s decision to go all in for a championship months after selling off pieces like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes shouldn’t come off as a surprise. After all, owner Mike Ilitch has made it clear that he wants to see the Tigers win a World Series before he dies. Because the Tigers are so dead set on going all in, it would make sense for them to consider going after a college player that will develop in the short term and help stabilize the time in the immediate future, rather than the long term investments the team has made the past two years.

I don’t think I ever mentioned that Nick Senzel is primarily a second baseman, and for that reason, it would take him out of being selected by a lot of teams, but Senzel would be a perfect fit here. Having him become the heir to Ian Kinsler would make perfect sense because Senzel is at his highest value as a second baseman. Additionally, his offense would allow him to be a contact oriented run producer, especially in a park like Comerica.

Previous: Chris Okey, C, Clemson

10. Chicago White Sox

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The White Sox have overseen a slow, but steady improvement in their system since it bottomed out back in 2014. Selecting high profile college arms like Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer has seen to that, while Tim Anderson and Courtney Hawkins have been solid long term prospects. With that being said, it would be hard for them to deviate from their strategy, but I could see them possibly taking a shot on a potential high riser.

The first newcomer to this month’s mock is Anfernee Grier, but let’s call him Penny. Penny has been nothing but a sparkplug for the Auburn Tiger offense, and his defensive presence in the outfield has been noticed. Penny has the speed to be a top of the order hitter, and his contact is exceptional. He does have projectable power as well. Overall, he has the tools to be a game changer, and it’s a possibility that if he continues the tear he’s on, he could make a case to be one of the top 2 outfielders in the draft.

Previous: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida

11. Seattle Mariners

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You can count on one hand the number of Seattle Mariners first round draft picks that have had a solid career with the team this millennium. That’s sad. The common joke among Mariners fans is that they can’t develop talent, and to be honest, that’s a pretty fair critique. Sure, there’s the occasional success, like Kyle Seager or Taijuan Walker, but those periodic successes are interspersed among failure after failure. It almost seems as if a top prospect with a red flag will have to fall into their lap in order to change their fortunes.

There are probably a lot of Oklahoma fans that will want to kill me when they read this, but I feel that the most likely prospect to fall is Alec Hansen. I’m not the only one to think that, as Baseball Prospectus’ Christopher Crawford mentioned in a Reddit AMA that Hansen was his most likely candidate to fall stock wise. But enough about the negativity. Hansen’s assortment of pitches makes him an attractive option, and his build makes him an ideal starter. Still, his command and control do need to be addressed, and considering the fact that he sat out both summer ball and fall ball show that there could be an underlying injury issue that could affect his stock even more.

Previous: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt

12. Boston Red Sox

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The Red Sox are one of the more underrated teams when it comes to drafting talent. With a lot of their picks from the early 2010s starting to make an impact now, like Blake Swihart, Deven Marrero, and Brian Johnson, it may be time to start developing some more long term prospects.

Even though the Sox drafted Andrew Benintendi last year, I could see them going back to the outfield, especially if the presumed top bat, Mickey Moniak were available. Although a lot of scouts would say that Blake Rutherford is the top high school outfielder, it’s possible that Moniak could surpass Rutherford, much like Clint Frazier surpassed Austin Meadows in the 2013 draft. Moniak right now would be more of a Brandon Nimmo type player, one who may not have the power, but can still keep a game going by hitting to the gaps. There’s a possibility that Moniak could develop power and be a Mookie Betts type talent, especially with his defensive ability. Still, Moniak has to be one of the more exciting players in this draft, and it will be interesting to see how he and Rutherford play each other off.

Previous: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer

13. Tampa Bay Rays 

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When MLBPipeline released Tampa Bay’s top prospects list a few days ago, it surprised me that they weren’t ranked higher. Considering a lot of the prospects that they have in that system have been there since 2011 and have really matured into potential future cogs, it’s almost disappointing this team wasn’t ranked higher. Still, it allows me to see what exactly the Rays are organizationally deficient in, and while it doesn’t look like much, perhaps another prep hitter wouldn’t hurt?

I go back to my Boston selection to start this off, but there are some people who still believe that Blake Rutherford is the consensus top prep position player in the draft. Now whether or not he can prove it and not suffer Daz Cameron Syndrome (Have a drop off in stats and become almost unsignable with the exception of that one team that has an absurdly large bonus pool) is entirely up to him. Rutherford is probably the most well known prep player because of what he did his junior year, and because of that, people know what to expect from him. Still, Rutherford will provide offensive potential and defensive skill, with some speed. It’s entirely possible that he could surpass Mikie Mahtook as the best up-and coming outfielder in the Rays’ system and make an interesting tandem with Garrett Whitley.

Previous: Will Benson, 1B/OF, Westminster Christian School (GA)

14. Cleveland Indians

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The Indians are probably the most underrated team in the AL. If it weren’t for the Mets with their insanely good rotation, Cleveland’s staff would probably be mentioned as one of the top, if not the top rotations in baseball. Assuming Cleveland’s offense gets in line with its rotation, the Tribe could make a serious push in the AL Central.

I believe that the best GMs draft on a cycle. The idea is you start with high school talent at a set year and continue to do so for a couple years until the high school class of said year becomes college juniors, then you take a college junior. If that’s the case, then the Indians could complement Clint Frazier and Rob Kaminsky with Connor Jones. Jones would probably be considered one of the more majors ready talents in the draft. Jones is also a proven big game pitcher and has experience shouldering big loads, like when he took over for Nathan Kirby last year.

Even though Virginia’s track record with starters that go pro hasn’t been the greatest, I could see no better place for Jones to go because of how Cleveland has managed to turn Kyle Crockett into an asset in the bullpen. If they can repeat what they’ve done with Crockett, it would be possible to do the same with Jones.

Previous: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford

15. Minnesota Twins

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How often is it that a team has a shot to grab a home state product, especially a good one? The Twins have been a good example of a team taking advantage of home state talent, see Joe Mauer in 2001 for reference, and it could be possible, especially with this year’s crop of pitching talent, that they add on more.

Logan Shore may not be as high profile as his teammates AJ Puk and Buddy Reed, but his past two outings have been compelling enough for him to get in serious conversation to be a Tier 1/Tier 2 college pitcher. He does have a low to mid 90’s fastball, and his changeup has to be one of the best in the class. Shore, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, is a Minnesota native as well, and would be a popular pick for the Twins if he’s available.

Previous: Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M

16. Los Angeles Angels

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If there were a special subgenre of comedians that focused explicitly on baseball, a lot of jokes would be made at the expense of the Angels minor league system. What appeared to be going forward when the team selected lefty Sean Newcomb stagnated with Taylor Ward, then dropped to ungodly levels of awful when Newcomb and Chris Ellis were sent to the Braves for Andrelton Simmons. At this point, the Angels’ scouting department could throw darts at photos of prospects and draft an improved system.

One of the few instances where best player available is the only strategy that I can think will save a team works best here, and there is no better choice than Vanderbilt outfielder and College World Series hero Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds has proven himself time and time again that he can be counted on in big moments, and even though he is more of a project as a collegian than a major league ready talent, his season so far at Vanderbilt shows that there is a lot of potential. Reynolds may not be as excellent a defender as his peers, but his fit as a left fielder will be crucial for the Angels in the long run. Reynolds also has some speed and power, giving him the makings of a leadoff hitter. Reynolds may not be an instant improvement, but his selection would be crucial in a long rebuilding of one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

Previous: Mickey Moniak. OF, La Costa Canyon HS, California

17. Houston Astros

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It’s almost unfair to give the Astros a first round pick after they’ve practically hand picked their future team the past three years, but rules are rules, and the Astros now have the 17th overall pick. After a major splurge on position players though, it may be time to go back to pitching, even if it hasn’t been their forte.

Finding a left-hander that fits is usually a task, but the fact that there is an available Tier 2 lefty available bodes well for Houston. This isn’t the first time that Matt Krook has been mocked to Houston here, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Krook has progressed slowly, but surely since coming back from Tommy John, and if he is fully recovered, he could be the ace that George Horton saw when he committed to Oregon. Having him in a future Astros rotation alongside Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers would give Houston a devastating young rotation. that will keep them competitive.

Previous: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida

18. New York Yankees

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Even though calling the Yankees’ farm system a strong one would definitely be a stretch, the fact that they’re starting to realize the importance of development shows that the system could reach high potential in a couple years, at least until the Yankees sacrifice their first round pick in 2018 to sign Bryce Harper. But that’s another story. Anyway…

While I’ve been fairly consistent with who I think the Yankees could select here, it’s time to change it up a bit, with first baseman Will Benson now taking the spot. Benson, as I’ve said before, has a very big, athletic frame, something the Yankees are particularly fond of. He also can play in the outfield, giving him an alternative if first base doesn’t work out. Having Benson become Mark Teixiera or Jacoby Ellsbury’s successor would be a definite step up for the Yankees, especially if it’s such a talented and youthful player like Benson.

Previous: Zack Collins, C/1B Miami

19. New York Mets

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Mistakes can be made by even the best of minds. When Sandy Alderson signed Michael Cuddyer last season, you would have found it very difficult to find any Mets fan that agreed with the move, especially when the team forfeited the first round pick which became Mike Nikorak. Now a year later, with both a top 20 pick thanks to other teams signing QO free agents, and a second first rounder for losing postseason hero Daniel Murphy, the cycle of repopulating a farm system that has seen plenty of graduation over the past few years, will begin.

It took me a while to figure out the best fit for the Mets, but I believe they could, for the time being, kill two birds with one stone by selecting two way player Josh Lowe. The third baseman and right-handed pitcher may be forced to choose a position in the future, but as of now there is a benefit to having that type of versatility. Would Lowe be David Wright’s eventual successor? Would he possibly be a future member of the rotation if any of the Big 5 leave? And it’s not like Lowe is better at either position right now, as a third baseman he does have solid lefty power and professional defense. As a pitcher, he’s got a low 90’s fastball, and developmental secondary pitches, but his frame is suitable for a big league pitcher. Either way, if the Mets take him, they could have themselves a good problem.

Previous: Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers have had the benefit of a particularly strong system the past couple years, and with plenty of future assets expected to make an impact in the long term, as well as the immediate impact guys like Corey Seager, it’s possible the Dodgers could make their system a strength in time for their free agent additions to stop being productive. Because the Dodgers have a solid amount of talent, they could draft whomever they want with the 20th pick.

I have to admit that Drew Mendoza seems like an intriguing prospect. While he doesn’t have the profile that Brendan Rodgers had last year, he still could make a Rodgers type impact. He has the ability to hit for average and power, and his defensive ability seems to translate better to third base, although he has shortstop experience. Think a younger Manny Machado. Overall, I think Mendoza and Corey Seager would make a solid left side of a future Dodgers infield, and it will be interesting to see if the Dodgers decide to go for a long term third base project as the heir apparent to Justin Turner.

Previous: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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College baseball is the one sport where draft picks can come from anywhere at anytime, in addition to the powerhouse schools. While the success is varied, it shows that anything can happen at anytime. One of the beneficiaries of this has been mid major conferences, who have seen a few first round picks come in and show that there is something worth watching out in the smaller universities.

Whereas Kyle Lewis is this year’s top mid major hitting prospect, his summer ball teammate Eric Lauer could be the top pitching prospect. Lauer hails from Kent State, a MAC school that has had a track record for producing major league players, like Dustin Hermansen and Andrew Chafin. Lauer’s a lefty who has four pitches, all of which as of now would profile as average to above average. Even though Lauer’s 2016 debut wasn’t stellar, he was roughed up by his other summer ball teammate Connor Jones’ Cavaliers, he still could figure to be a solid first round pick for a team that wants a safe bet. Toronto seems like a solid destination, as Lauer was taken by the Jays in 2013. He would be an excellent mid rotation starter in a staff headlined by Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and fellow prospect and small school talent Jon Harris.

Previous: Drew Mendoza, 3B, Lake Minneola HS, Florida

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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There’s a lot to be said for rising stock. What you would expect to maybe be a second round pick has an outstanding start and soon enough, he rockets up the board. Given my conservatism when it comes to mocking, I tend to take things a little slower, but when a prospect demands attention, I’m prepared to look.

Probably one of the biggest surprises of the past two weeks has been Cal ace Daulton Jefferies. Jeffries has been untouchable in his last two starts and has struck out 17. An undersized righty, Jefferies has a low to mid 90’s fastball that shoots out thanks to his delivery. Jefferies does have two secondary offerings that are average, but he makes up for it by being a solid defender. I feel that Jefferies would fit well alongside future Pirates Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, as well as Gerrit Cole. Jefferies would probably fit best as a 4th starter for the team.

Previous: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia

23. St. Louis Cardinals

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Before anyone yaps my ear off about how the draft is about taking the best player available, let me say, yes, I know. Thank you, please sit down. Still, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take the best player at a position available. The Cardinals will be on the lookout for Yadier Molina’s heir in the future, and I can tell you right now, Brayan Pena is definitely not that answer. What better place to look then, then in the college ranks?

For the past 3 months, I’ve pegged Chris Okey, considered the best catcher in the class, ahead of guys like Zack Collins and Matt Thaiss, and while he hasn’t shown it offensively, I feel that offense for a catcher is a pleasant surprise, rather than an expectation. Okey has the poise of a 10 year veteran, and having played on two collegiate national teams has meant that he’s handled the best of the best. Okey is comparable to Yadier Molina as well, he may not be a world beater on offense, but he gets by, but his defense is impressive enough. Having Okey catch the Cardinals staff would be expected, considering his leadership ability, and I feel that he would be able to command a lot of respect from his peers.

Previous: Herbert Iser, C, Miami Killian HS, Florida

COMPENSATION PICKS

For the comp picks, rather than a spiel before introducing the player, I will stick to just explaining why said player would be a good fit at this spot. Thank you.

24. San Diego Padres (Justin Upton)

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Braxton Garrett has to be one of the more pro-ready high school arms in this draft. His curveball makes him an especially tricky starter to go up against. He would be a nice long term project, but don’t be surprised if the Padres accelerate his development if he were to succeed at the low levels.

25. San Diego Padres (Ian Kennedy)

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Avery Tuck may be a local kid, but that doesn’t mean that he’s just that. Tuck may be developmental, in the fact that he’s a classic inconsistent power hitter, but given San Diego’s issues with hitting, it would be a good idea to nurture him into a more well-rounded middle of the order hitter.

26. Chicago White Sox (Jeff Samardzjia)

CORAL GABLES, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Zack Collins #0 of the Miami Hurricanes hits a double scoring three runs against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second inning on February 14, 2015 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida. Miami defeated Rutgers 9-5. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Zack Collins

Complementing Jose Abreu’s power with a younger power hitter like Zack Collins would make the White Sox a formidable opponent. Plus, it would finally answer the longstanding question, “Who will catch all those young arms?”

27. Baltimore Orioles (Wei-Yin Chen)

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I think part of the problem with the Orioles inability to develop pitching has to do with who they select. If they go for a pitcher from a proven program like Ben Bowden, they’re not going to have to readjust his game too much. At worst, he ends up in the bullpen, but at best, he becomes a mid rotation starter.

28. Washington Nationals (Jordan Zimmermann)

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Nick Banks seems to be a likely choice here, mainly because I like him as the possible heir to Jayson Werth’s position. His speed will also be a major help producing runs in the future, although his defense will put him in a corner outfield spot.

29. Washington Nationals (Ian Desmond)

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Considering how Lucas Giolito has done with the Nationals after going under the knife, would it surprise anyone if they drafted Cal Quantrill and had that deadly of a young combination? On potential alone, these two could be on the same level as Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.

30. Texas Rangers (Yovani Gallardo) 

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Jesus Luzardo has been mentioned as a dark horse candidate to be a first round prospect mainly because his build and the fact that his pitches can only improve with development. The Rangers could make a solid future rotation out of him, Dillon Tate and Luis Ortiz.

31. New York Mets (Daniel Murphy)

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It came down to a home state product and a collegian from Georgia, but Robert Tyler would win out here mainly because of his arsenal. I feel that in the future, Tyler would make a solid bullpen arm, with the potential to start if any of the big 5 leaves. If he continues to pitch this way, you can expect him to jump back into the first round.

32. Los Angeles Dodgers (Zack Greinke)

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The Dodgers are big on speed. and there is no faster pitcher than Zach Burdi, brother of Twins future closer Nick. Zach however is a starter, and he would make a very dangerous homegrown rotation arm.

33. St. Louis Cardinals (John Lackey)

(Photo by Michelle Bishop)

Will Craig has to be one of the more underrated power hitting first baseman in this year’s draft. Considering St. Louis’ success with power hitting first baseman, I can imagine them going after him.

34. St. Louis Cardinals (Jason Heyward)

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I’m sure Cardinals management is probably still kicking themselves on letting Rob Kaminsky go in the Brandon Moss deal, so they could go after another Northeast prep product like Ian Anderson, who has a great pitchers’ body and a solid arsenal.

How to make the MLB Draft Better

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If you’re like me, you eagerly wait for the MLB draft the same way that a kid would wait for the last day of school. Then again, you’re probably not me, Heck, you probably didn’t realize the MLB Draft was a thing unless you have a subscription to Baseball America, read MLB Pipeline, or read Minor League Madhouse (Yeah, I know, self-plug, haha.) It’s kind of disappointing, really. How is it that everyone knows about the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft, but the MLB Draft is pretty much the equivalent of the chess club? Well maybe it’s because there are a couple issues that prevent the draft from getting the visibility it deserves.

First of all, the MLB Draft is the only draft that takes place during the season as opposed to the offseason. You know why the NFL Draft has so much coverage? Because it is the most exciting event for fans until the season starts. The same thing goes for the NBA Draft. Sure you have free agency, but you also have the NBA draft. The fact that the MLB draft coincides with the season, heck, it even goes on while games are being played, makes it one of the most overlooked drafts in pro sports.

Another problem is that the players that are available to be picked don’t have the same athletic profile as an NFL or an NBA prospect. People know these names because they see them on ESPN or the other sports networks all the time. I can guarantee you Dansby Swanson made it on ESPN about a third of the time that Jameis Winston or Karl Towns did. And it gets even worse if you are a high schooler because of the fact that the majority of high school games are not televised by national networks. If you want to see Jason Groome pitch so you can see the future, check YouTube or make a trip down to Barnegat, New Jersey, because the chances you see him on national TV right now are almost none.

The third problem is that whereas NFL, NBA, and in some cases, NHL talent have a good shot at making the jump to the pros immediately, in baseball, it’s rare to see that happen. Because it can take an average of three years to see a first round pick make the majors, the interest is not there unless the fans are made aware of the hotshot prospect. Sure, JP Crawford is supposed to be the next Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia, but let me ask you, Phillies fans, how many times have you seen Crawford play live? And no, the Futures game does not count. Additionally, there is the chance that a first round pick does not make the majors, making the MLB Draft one of the biggest risks involving amateur talent. In the 50 years the draft has been held, no class has had every first rounder make the majors.

While there is no way to guarantee the success of the draft, there is always a way to drum up more interest in the event itself. So how exactly is that done? Well, here are some ideas that could get the ball rolling.

1. Televise more college and high school games on MLB Network and other channels.

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If you want to get people interested in prospects, the best way to do so is to give the prospects more visibility. Sure, ESPNU will televise a college game every now and again, and the regional networks will do as well, but they play to a niche audience. And when ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN U do cover college baseball regularly, it’s usually after players are drafted, when the NCAA tournament is going on.  By getting more networks involved before the fact, especially the national networks and the sports networks, there should be at least a slight bump in interest. Play it like college football does and have college baseball games on in the morning and afternoon on CBS and ABC. Show highlights on SportsCenter, and not just the occasional Top 10 Play, make sure that baseball fans know the future of baseball. Heck, if possible, drum up interest early by showing summer league games on ESPN 2. The possibilities are endless.

As far as high school, perhaps there should be more games available to stream online. If MLB.com were to offer a service to allow fans to watch games that high level prospects pitch in, then you can guarantee fans will watch it. Reading about high school prospects is the equivalent of hearing a folk legend, people rarely get to see what these players are unless there is video footage. By highlighting the top prep players in each draft class through a stream, fans will be able to see what guys like Riley Pint or Jason Groome or Blake Rutherford actually are.

Come to think of it, if ESPN and MLB Network both decided to air the MLB draft, I’m sure there would be a major viewership spike.

Watching games may be a fun way to see the talent that does come up, but there’s more to evaluating players than seeing them perform, which brings me to my next point…

2. Create an MLB Scouting Combine.

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Believe it or not, this was proposed as an idea last year in the wake of the Brady Aiken saga, and it may be the only time that prep and college players get to be evaluated side by side. The idea that players can have certain measurable categories that can be evaluated against other players in the same vacuum allows for a more open approach to scouting. Additionally, if medical tests are included, teams are not left in the dark about records, and open communication between players, agents, and teams is encouraged. The other fun in it would be seeing who would be the “workout warriors” of the combine, which players would see their stock rise enough to jump them into the first round. Sure, players do see their stock rise during their seasons, but it’s not as fun to watch as seeing Aaron Donald completely defy expectations.

Now there is a certain timing issue that may lead to the question of when the combine could be scheduled, and with the MLB Draft already competing with the NCAA Tournament and the MLB season. This brings up my next point…

3. Move the draft (and possible combine) to the end of June/early July.

College coaches’ biggest complaint about the MLB draft is that it’s scheduled during the tournament, meaning that players could get distracted by all the hype that comes with being selected. Sure, it’s nice to have a celebration with your teammates like Dansby Swanson and Walker Buehler did last year, but to be honest, wouldn’t it be better to have the draft right after the College World Series? With all the distraction behind them, players can focus on the future, and teams will be able to gather more information on the players as they go through the College World Series.

Of course, one of the main issues with this is that a month of negotiating time for contracts would be cut, and considering the fact that there are over 1200 players chosen in the draft, and teams do try and sign each player, there would have to be some quick negotiations done in order to get all players in a draft class accounted for. Considering teams want to get players in the system as soon as possible, it’s reasonable that they possibly just send their draft picks to extended spring training, and then if they feel they are ready, add them to a low level part of the organization.

Now how about the actual draft? How do we make more people watch it?

1. Give the draft its own day. 

Now when I say the draft, I mean the rounds that are televised. No, we don’t need to do 40 rounds in one sitting.

Part of the problem with the way the draft is scheduled is that nobody really sees it, what with the competition being baseball games. By having there be a day off, you can bet more people would consider tuning in to watch the draft. In fact, encourage people to watch the draft by printing it on team schedules. In fact, promote it heavily, after all, this is the future of baseball that people should be seeing.

2. Invite fans to see it live.

Part of the reason why the NFL, NBA, and NHL drafts are so successful is because they encourage fans to attend the draft in person. And that’s why you see so many hardcore fans dressed up in their team colors, cheering for their team’s picks. The MLB draft, on the other hand, is almost like that exclusive party that very few people are invited to. It’s just the draft attendees and their families, the MLB Network personalities, the team representatives, the Commissioner, and maybe a few special guests. If you want to promote the future, don’t make it a stuffy cocktail party, make it an open experience. I’m sure there are plenty of fans that would give anything to sit in the left field seats at Studio 42 to watch players walk on stage and receive the jersey and handshake from Rob Manfred.

In fact, why restrict the location to Studio 42? Why not move the draft to a ballroom and set it up like Studio 42? Or even better? Have the draft at an actual MLB Ballpark, like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Wrigley Field or Fenway Park? If the NBA can have their draft at the Barclays Center every year, and the NHL can move their draft to whatever NHL Arena it is in every year, why restrict the MLB Draft to Secaucus, New Jersey? And speaking of invites…

3. Invite more college players.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 6:  (L-R) Clint Frazier, Dominic Smith, Tim Anderson, Nicholas Ciuffo, Billy McKinney, J.P. Crawford, Aaron Judge, and Ian Clarkin pose for a group photo during the 2013 First-Year Player Draft at MLB Network's Studio 42 on June 6, 2013 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Paige Calamari/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

This one is admittedly tricky and relies on a few scenarios to break the right way, but in my opinion, the MLB draft would get even more viewership if more college players were able to attend. Ever since the draft has been televised, very few college players have been able to attend. To prove my point, here are all the players that have attended the MLB draft in person since it started being televised in 2007:

2007: Josh Vitters (HS), Philippe Aumont (HS), Ross Detweiler (HS)

2008: Aaron Hicks (HS)

2009: Mike Trout (HS)

2011: Larry Greene (HS)

2012: Carlos Correa (HS), Andrew Heaney (NCAA), Gavin Cecchini (HS), Courtney Hawkins (HS), Clint Coulter (HS)

2013: Clint Frazier (HS), Dominic Smith (HS), Tim Anderson (JUCO), Nick Ciuffo (HS), Billy McKinney (HS), JP Crawford (HS), Aaron Judge (NCAA), Ian Clarkin (HS), Jon Denney (HS)

2014:  Nick Gordon (HS), Michael Chavis (HS), Jake Gatewood (HS), Monte Harrison (HS), Derek Hill (HS), Grant Holmes (HS), Kodi Medeiros (HS)

2015: Brendan Rodgers (HS), Ashe Russell (HS), Garrett Whitley (HS), Mike Nikorak (HS)

So out of 31 players that have attended, two have come out of college, or a little over six percent. Now of course, there is a logical reason, considering the fact that the draft and the NCAA tournament conflict with each other, and the best chance to be at the draft is if your team does not qualify for the tournament. So going back to those factors that break, in the best case scenario, what could happen is that if the draft is moved, more collegians could be invited. In the worst case, that is, the draft isn’t moved, the collegians from the smaller schools, like Kyle Lewis or Matt Crohan, would get the invite.

If more collegians are invited, there is a possibility that more fans will be willing to watch, as these are the players that have the best chance to be seen. The question is which collegians would be able to come?

4. Let teams trade picks.

The MLB draft is the only draft of the Big 4 sports leagues that doesn’t allow trading of draft picks. Well, technically they do, but the picks that can be traded are only competitive balance lottery picks. The lack of trading means there’s almost no reason to be excited for the draft, especially if a team has no first round pick at all. And in some cases, it can be a real disadvantage. A team with a terrible minor league system who is this close to contention would greatly benefit if they were allowed to trade draft picks, and the draft would be even more interesting if, say, the Yankees were allowed to trade up.

While only a couple trades have been made with CB picks involved, the opportunity to expand that to, say, maybe the first 5 rounds of draft picks would make for a more interesting show. Imagine if a team is willing to offer a major league caliber star prospect in exchange for a high pick, or if teams trade picks in order to move up or down. Instead of just waiting for players to be picked, it would be a lot more fun to watch.

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While these changes aren’t going to come around that quickly, if at all, it still should send a message. The future of baseball is just as important as the past and present. If the draft is given the exposure that it should get, then more fans will be willing to watch it and see what the future holds for their team.

2016 MLB Mock Draft 3.0

As the offseason continues to take shape, so does the 2016 draft order. In the month since I last produced a mock, the Nationals lost their first round pick for signing Daniel Murphy, and the Dodgers gained their pick back after backing out of the Hisashi Iwakuma deal Additionally, the Royals lost their first round pick for Ian Kennedy, and the Detroit Tigers lost yet another draft pick for signing Justin Upton. As of now, if the draft were to start today, there would be 25 first round selections and 9 compensatory selections. Anything can happen, so I will avoid the comp picks for now, and focus on the first round proper, although when the season starts, that will change. Without further delay, here is the third edition of the 2016 mock draft. This mock will simply focus on who goes where, any scouting reports are reserved for new entrants.

Philadelphia Phillies:

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Matt Klentak is a genius.

After taking the position as Philly’s GM, he trades their best asset, closer Ken Giles to Houston in exchange for 2013 first overall pick Mark Appel and starter Tom Eshelman, as well as lefty starter Brett Oberholtzer. For a closer on a bad team, especially one that had only inherited the position after Jon Papelbon was traded, you have to admit that he made out like a bandit.

The Phillies may have added on to their system, but they still could use another dynamic lefty starter, even if Oberholtzer and Matt Harrison are part of the rotation. What may be considered one of the best pitching classes of all time boils down to three lefties and one righty, but in this case, I believe Jason Groome may have already won. The Barnegat HS southpaw has already proven he can step into a big role through pitching at IMG Academy, and although he may be a prep arm, he could be a quick riser through the system.

Previous: Groome

Cincinnati Reds:

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The last time a highly coveted shortstop prospect from Puerto Rico was eligible for the MLB draft, he surprised enough people and rose to the top of the draft board, where he would displace the top consensus draft prospect. Carlos Correa, as I mentioned last time, inspired a generation of young shortstops to make themselves into stars.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Delvin Perez, the International Baseball Academy shortstop. He may not be as good a hitter as Correa was, but his defense makes him one of those slick fielding assets that are almost impossible to ignore. Additionally, his speed makes him a threat when he gets on the base paths. Perez could grow into the hitter that Billy Hamilton never could be, if developed properly.

The Reds have been known to grow their shortstop prospects, and Perez would be the next in a long line of Gold-Glove-caliber defenders to play in the Queen City.

Previous: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville

Atlanta Braves:

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It’s hard to sell a rebuild to a fanbase, but it gets easier as the future pieces come in through trades of incumbent stars. What was Andrelton Simmons and Shelby Miller became Sean Newcomb and Dansby Swanson, as well as a few other assets. The Braves are in a good position to sell off more major league talent for prospects, but even if they don’t, they still have the little matter of whom they will select with the third pick.

I find it hard to believe Ender Inciarte will be a career Brave, and to be completely honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t already been shipped off. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Braves go outfield, considering Corey Ray would likely be on the board.

Not since Jason Heyward have the Braves been in such a position to grab a top positional talent, and if they  do get Ray, there’s a solid chance that he becomes Heyward 2.o. Ray is a 5 tool player, and his game changing ability makes him an almost Major-league ready outfielder. It’s entirely possible that Ray could be the fastest 2016 draftee to the big leagues.

Previous: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida

Colorado Rockies:

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One of my biggest biases is small college prospects and their adjustment to the pros, hence why I’ve never been keen on Kyle Freeland. Still, he does deserve a chance to prove that he can make it through the system, and even if he only grades out as a bullpen pitcher, it will still be a success for a Rockies team that has never been known for developing pitchers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Rockies shouldn’t continue building up a future rotation, and when the consensus top college left-handed pitcher falls into your lap, you take it. AJ Puk is an advanced lefty prospect, and he definitely fits the bill of a tall ace pitcher. Comparisons to Chris Sale have been floated, and his delivery does seem to have a bit of the trademark sidearm action made famous by Sale and Randy Johnson.

Puk, Jeff Hoffman and Jon Gray would make a formidable trio in Denver, and it could be possible that the Rockies finally are able to make the leap out of the NL West basement with those three in the rotation.

Previous: Puk

Milwaukee Brewers:

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Whether or not the Brewers are fully committed to a rebuild is entirely up to their new GM, and frankly, considering how the system has been reconstructed after years of lackluster prospects, things could be looking up. The question that remains is who they take with the fifth overall pick.

Considering the consensus top college right-handed pitcher is still available, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers decide to go for him instead of the top high school right-handed pitcher. Alec Hansen is a more complete product, is better tested against competition, and is a lot more imposing and menacing than Riley Pint.

The one cause for concern I have has to do with Hansen’s body language when he pitches, as he always looks like he’s screaming or in pain when he winds up and throws.

Having Hansen join Taylor Jungmann in the Brewer rotation would definitely be something worth watching, especially since both are big battling right handers.

Previous: Riley Pint, RHP: St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Kansas

Oakland Athletics:

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The Oakland A’s are a team in transition, Clearly their roster is screaming rebuild, but the problem there is that a lot of their future pieces are older than your typical prospect. Trading Sonny Gray would net them a king’s ransom of players, and Josh Reddick probably would give them at least one more. The question is whether the GM is willing to pull this off.

In the interim, the team has two big organizational deficiencies in the minors: outfield, and right-handed starter. While it’s entirely possible they could go with Riley Pint, I think I’d rather see them grab Chaminade’s Blake Rutherford. Rutherford is an older high school senior, meaning that if he doesn’t sign, he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore.

His advanced skill set, even for a high schooler could be good for him and could possibly allow him to move at a faster pace in the minor leagues. Give him three years and he could be part of the future youth movement for the A’s.

Previous: Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma

Miami Marlins:

HOOVER, AL - MAY 20, 2014 - Infielder Nick Senzel #13 of the Tennessee Volunteers shows emotion during the postseason SEC Tournament game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Vanderbilt Commodores at Hoover Met Stadium in Hoover, AL. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

Part of me expects the Marlins to make yet another surprising selection after Josh Naylor, the question is how surprising? Considering how rich this year’s class is pitching wise, it almost seems foolish for the Marlins to pass on the opportunity to grab Riley Pint as a complement to Tyler Kolek, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

For me, I feel that the Marlins could revisit third base, especially after dealing away Colin Moran. They could go with Drew Mendoza, the home-state product, but I feel that Nick Senzel would better fit in as a Marlin. While he may be defensively ambiguous, his value as a hitter makes him impossible to ignore, and could prove to be strategic for Don Mattingly.

Senzel’s offensive approach, while not powerful, allows him to make the most of any pitch he gets, and he could really play Marlins Park to his advantage. I could imagine him as a possible table setter in the Miami lineup in about two years.

Previous: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico

San Diego Padres:

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Usually when a team sells the farm for a shot at winning now, the damage to the farm is bad enough that it’s a multi-year rebuild. The Padres, however, were able to kickstart the farm rebuild thanks to the Craig Kimbrel trade, will get a compensatory pick for Ian Kennedy signing with the Royals, and have a good chance at adding more if Justin Upton signs somewhere before June.

Initially, I believed that the Padres lacked offense, but as the offseason has taken shape, I’ve come to realize the Padres need to rebuild what was once a promising future rotation. That starts with grabbing the consensus top right-handed prep pitcher, Riley Pint. Pint’s plus offerings, height, and deceptiveness on the mound make him the ideal future ace the Padres have been looking to grow since the days of Jake Peavy.

Pint’s biggest concern though is his level of competition. He’s a Kansas boy, and Kansas isn’t exactly what you would call a baseball powerhouse. If Pint doesn’t sign and opts to play at LSU, expect him to beef his resume up to being a top pick by 2019. Otherwise, his potential drafting will boost one of baseball’s worst farm systems.

Previous: Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona

Detroit Tigers:

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The Tigers had a very frustrating sell-off at last year’s deadline. On the one hand, they were able to beef up their future rotation with the additions of Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer, but on the other, those were their biggest additions. In the offseason, however, the Tigers went a completely different direction, signing Jordan Zimmermann to boost the rotation. Additionally, they have been mentioned as one of the teams still in on Yoenis Cespedes.

Are they in the middle of a rebuild, or are they planning on starting as a contender again? My guess is that it’s the latter, but that doesn’t mean that they should completely forget about the draft. With pitching set for the foreseeable future, I still believe they could grab the consensus top defensive catcher in the draft: Chris Okey. 

Okey’s been compared to Yadier Molina, and while he isn’t as offensively skilled as Molina, he does seem to look like he’d grow into the type of player the former was, a well-rounded catcher who can be an anchor in any lineup. Okey’s been on the biggest stage before, playing catcher for two Collegiate National Teams. While there is a considerable debate as to how high he could go, it’s possible his stock rises high enough for him to make it into the top ten.

Previous: Okey

Chicago White Sox:

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I remember reading an article on MLBTradeRumors a month ago about the White Sox and their 2016 draft strategy, and one of the things that was mentioned was that the Sox would be looking very closely at members of the 2015 USA Collegiate National Team. At what position, we don’t know, but if it were up to me, I’d assume the Sox would pick an outfielder.

Complementing Courtney Hawkins with the speed of Buddy Reed would definitely give the White Sox a very balanced outfield, but from an athleticism standpoint, we could see one of the better young outfields in the game. Reed’s speed would definitely make him a solid candidate for a leadoff position, but if he does develop his other skills, he could be a dangerous middle-of-the-order hitter.

Previous: Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M

Seattle Mariners:

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Anybody know what’s happened to Danny Hultzen? The former second overall pick, once considered a future integral part of the Mariners rotation capped off a disappointing minor league season by being outrighted to AAA after being pulled off the 40 man roster. Considering the alternatives that the Mariners could have had, like Anthony Rendon and Trevor Bauer, this has to hurt for them. But we aren’t here to dwell on the past but rather the future. The Mariners rotation at the present may be set for a while, but as they grow older, it may be possible that Seattle looks at the pitching-rich 2016 class to draft a future rotation star. While prep pitching will experience a major drop-off from the first to the second tier of hurlers, the college crop is especially strong this year,

I really like Jordan Sheffield. He has a pedigree, he pitches for one of baseball’s best arms factories, and as I’ve mentioned, he’s one of the few players on this mock draft that I have seen pitch live. Without even looking at the Fueled By Sports scouting report, I can tell that he has the makings to be a Marcus Stroman 2.0 (they think so as well), and considering the recent rise in short pitchers, it’s possible his drafting could validate the short pitcher as a viable starting option.

Previous: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep, California

Boston Red Sox:

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The NFL, NBA, and NHL all have workout warriors, players that significantly boost their stock en route to being drafted high in the first round. and usually, the aftermath is a mixed bag of success and disappointment. Baseball doesn’t have a combine, but they do have a way for players to gain exposure: summer ball.

It’s been a while since I’ve used this term in my mocks, but it looks like the Cape Cod King will be legitimized. This year’s Cape Cod King is Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis, whose summer in Orleans was instrumental in helping raise his draft stock. Lewis profiles as a corner outfielder, another well-built model of athletic outfielder that reminds people of the Heywards and the Uptons of now. Combine Lewis with Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, and you have perhaps one of the more athletic outfields in baseball.

Previous: Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia

Tampa Bay Rays:

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In high school, it always seems like the big hitters are asked to play one of two positions: first base, or outfield. Some don’t end up doing much defensively and get relocated to a corner outfield spot, others prove that they can be something and move to first base permanently. This year’s draft isn’t particularly overwhelming on prep hitting talent, but it doesn’t mean the talent cupboard is barren.

Yet another Georgia prep star gets taken here, Westminster Schools’ Will Benson. Benson has the look of a power hitter, think Lucas Duda, but actually plays more like an athletic first baseman, like Freddie Freeman. While Benson has the athleticism and speed atypical of a first baseman, what he needs to do is improve his tendencies, because he’s considered to be a pull hitter.

Having Benson play in Tampa will not only allow the Rays to develop one of the more interesting prospects of this year’s draft, and will allow them to transition from one athletic corner infielder to another.

Previous: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee

Baltimore Orioles:

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When you play in one of the most homer-friendly parks in baseball, it’s both a blessing and a curse. For one, your offense is going to look like world beaters 81 times a year, but on the other side, your pitching has to be top notch in order to make sure that the offense doesn’t need to go long ball crazy. The Orioles have two dynamic young pitching prospects, even if they are coming off of injury, but could they add another to bolster their rotation for the future?

Matt Krook is the only tier 2 collegiate lefty, and although he will be a year removed from Tommy John surgery, chances are he’s ready to live up to the expectations set for him when he came to Oregon. If he can show that he’s got his low to mid 90’s fastball as well as his secondary offerings, he could boost his stock considerably. If Hunter Harvey and Dylan Bundy can recover from their injuries to possibly join Krook, then the Orioles could finally have a decent homegrown rotation.

Previous: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer

Cleveland Indians:

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The Indians’ recent gamble on Brady Aiken is either going to turn out to be a boom or a bust for them, depending on how the young lefty progresses through his rehab. Considering the rate of success the Indians have had in rehabilitating young arms, it’s possible that they could make another gamble on a former high end pitching prospect.

At the beginning of the 2015 college campaign, Cal Quantrill‘s name was up there alongside Puk and Hansen as Tier 1 collegiate pitchers.  Tommy John surgery wiped out his sophomore season and put him on the shelf for the summer collegiate season. This year, he has everything to prove. The son of Blue Jays closer Paul Quantrill, Cal is expected to be a much better pitcher than his dad was, and could conceivably anchor an up-and-coming Indians rotation in the future.

Previous: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt

Minnesota Twins: 

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Let’s be honest, while versatility is always an excellent strategic move in baseball, sometimes there are less than favorable outcomes, case and point, the possibility of Miguel Sano in right field. Sano is definitely a third baseman by trade, and even though he may be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, I highly doubt that converting to the outfield will be a successful endeavor for him.

The Twins would be lucky then to grab Nick Banks, the Collegiate National team’s leader in batting average last summer. Banks fits the profile of a typical Twins outfielder, good speed, at least above average defense, and solid contact. Plus, in regards to his versatility, he could potentially spell Byron Buxton a few games in centerfield. Overall, I feel the Twins are getting massive value here if they make this pick.

Previous: Herbert Iser, C, Osceloa HS, Florida

Los Angeles Angels:

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There are teams that have an embarrassment of riches in the farm system, and then there are teams that have an embarrassing farm system. Ever since Mike Trout graduated and Randal Grichuk was traded to the Cardinals, the Angels have constantly fielded a bottom 5 farm system. Clearly something must be done.

While college prospects provide short term gratification that drastically improves a system, a prep prospect is a long term investment that leads to more long term projects which overall can improve a farm system dramatically in the long run. I like La Costa Canyon’s Mickey Moniak here because he has the potential to be a solid run producer in a non power context. Moniak has the speed to stretch singles into doubles, and his baseball IQ is enviable. Moniak has the outfield defense to play anywhere needed, even center field.

If Moniak does develop at his anticipated rate, he will be an excellent top of the order hitter that could really use Angel Stadium to his advantage offensively.

Previous: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia

Houston Astros:

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We move from a team with an awful farm system to a team with an amazing farm system. The Astros are an example of a team that has parlayed three embarrassing rebuild years into a wealth of prospect riches that can either be used to improve the team internally or be dealt for external help. It was so good that the Astros felt that they could afford to deal former number 1 pick Mark Appel to Philadelphia for their closer.

Trading Appel and a few other pitching prospects however does have its drawbacks, as the Astros now lack a top 3 pitching prospect. However they need not look far for a dynamic option as former PG Freshman of the Year Logan Shore could fall into their lap. The right-handed punch of the Gators’ power rotation, Shore’s arsenal includes a low to mid 90’s fastball, and a pro-grade changeup that serves as an “out” pitch. His third offering, a slider, will need some professional work, but if he can make it into a pro pitch, it’s possible Shore’s stock as a pitcher could improve greatly. Houston has shown that they can produce pitching prospects at the prep level, now’s the chance to prove it with a college pitcher.

Previous: Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon

New York Yankees:

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The Yankees are like the US Economy, they seem to operate on a 20 year cycle. This year’s cycle seems to place an emphasis on building instead of buying, and justifiably so, considering the potential for many of their big contracts to become albatrosses. With A-Rod limited to DH, Mark Teixeira reaching the point of his contract where he’s more dead weight than anything else, and the rotation starting to age, where do the Yankees go?

I had Zack Collins go to the Yankees last time, and I’m sticking with it unless something happens. Collins by far is the best power hitter in the class, and given Miami’s track record for producing power hitters, it’s not like the Yankees would be going into uncharted territory. Collins can play either catcher or third base, but pro scouts feel that his bat will transition more to a Billy Butler-type DH role. Still, his power can’t be ignored, and I would be hard pressed to see the Yankees not going after him, especially with the influx of youth coming up.

Previous: Collins

Texas Rangers:

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I mentioned before that there was a huge gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2 prep pitchers in this draft, and I’m not kidding, as it’s taken 13 picks to get from the second best to the third best, but in the grand scheme of things, it really shouldn’t matter because the draft is a big gamble in the first place. Still, the Rangers could go after a southpaw, and although the best route is to go BPA, it’s possible they could reach for a guy here.

Braxton Garrett was left off my mock last time, so I do believe he deserves a scouting report. Considered one of the more pro-ready prep pitchers, Garrett’s pitches seem to be more in line to develop rather than peak as he goes through the minors. His fastball tops out in the low 90’s, and he has a curveball that, when managed effectively, could make him a threat. If he can use his changeup more, it’s possible he’ll be ahead of the development curve. The one caveat is that he, like Groome, is a Vanderbilt commit, so teams will exercise caution when signing him. Still, having him complement the speed of Dillon Tate and Mike Matuella, and the ability of Luis Ortiz, the Rangers could have a complete rotation in the future.

Previous: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS, California

New York Mets

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Much like the Yankees, the Mets are in the building phase of a cycle, with the only exception that their cycles last about 5-10 years. The Mets have managed to turn one of their biggest weaknesses in previous years into a strength, and were able to parlay some of their pieces into players that played a key role in the 2015 NL championship team.

The Mets’ most glaring organizational deficiency right now is at third base, and with David Wright having to manage spinal stenosis, I highly doubt he’s going to be able to play past the end of his extension. That being said, there’s really nobody behind him. David Thompson may or may not develop into a major leaguer, and unless Gavin Cecchini can learn how to handle the hot corner, I highly doubt he’s the answer.

Bobby Dalbec may not be the defensive answer for Wright, but offensively, he could be a threat. He’s your classic all-or-nothing power hitter, he can mash, but he also can strike out. While there is definite room for improvement in his game, as-is, he still has value, and could provide future protection for Michael Conforto. Incidentally, Dalbec could take a few pointers from Conforto on improving defense and contact.

Previous: Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville

Los Angeles Dodgers:

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We all remember when Yasiel Puig took baseball by storm, when the fans and ESPN almost led a successful campaign to get the Cuban star to start in the All-Star game. Oh how those days have gone, and now we have yet another underperforming international import. Additionally, Joc Pederson has shown his flashes, he’s either a power hitting outfielder who inexplicably has low contact, or he’s just looking lost in the batters box. And don’t even get me started on Andre Ethier. The point is, the average shelf life of a Dodgers outfielder these days is about the same as an organic salad at a Los Angeles health food store.

Last year, the Dodgers drafted 2014 College World Series hero Walker Buehler, but this year, they could grab his teammate and possible runner up for College World Series Most Outstanding Player Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds is considered one of the more raw players in this years class as he doesn’t have a particular stand out skill, however he is able to slow down the game to his speed and ability to poke balls into the gaps. Reynolds is not a standout defender either, but he can man left field and not be a liability.

On a personal note, I almost had the chance to see Reynolds play in the NECBL for the Plymouth Pilgrims in 2014, but his performance in the CWS earned him a spot on the collegiate national team that summer.

*Note: At the time of the release of Mock Draft 2.0, the Dodgers had agreed to a contract with Hisashi Iwakuma. As a result, I had not given them a selection. Since Iwakuma did not sign with the Dodgers, they have their first round pick back unless they sign one of the QO free agents. 

Toronto Blue Jays:

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Toronto is definitely one of the more challenging places to play in, especially if you’re an infielder. Consider the fact that you’re on field turf, which is going to do a number on your body as the years go by. Additionally, the culture is different, and travel is most likely a nightmare. However, the Blue Jays have managed to stay competitive by becoming buyers and parlaying that into an appearance in the 2015 ALCS. The question is whether they will be able to retain the same level of performance from the talent they reaped.

Before Delvin Perez came to our collective attention, I was prepared to put the H.A.P.S (Highly Anticipated Prep Shortstop, for the unenlightened) label on Drew Mendoza. Mendoza is perhaps one of the more gifted players in terms of his defense, but that mainly has to do with his arm strength. Mendoza also can hit, and while his frame is more suited for hitting doubles, he could bulk up and add some power to his swing in the future.

Mendoza almost certainly will move to the corner at the pro level, and as a result, could easily become the heir apparent to Josh Donaldson when he decides to make the move to DH.

Previous: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford

Pittsburgh Pirates:

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Much like the Baltimore Orioles, the Pirates have two dynamic pitchers that are considered to be the future of the staff. Righties Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon’s debuts however have been delayed due to injury and development issues. Still, they project to be a major part of the rotation in the future, and when they graduate, the Pirates will probably look to develop their next pitcher.

A peculiar idea came to me long before I decided on Pittsburgh’s draft pick: Can Ray Searage help develop a UVA pitcher? Considering the struggles of the past UVA starters as they acclimated to the pro game, is it possible that Connor Jones, given the right coaching, can break the trend? Jones has ranged in mock drafts from being a top 10 pick to being a low first round draft choice, and part of it has to do with the reputation of those who preceded him. Still, that shouldn’t detract from Jones, who in my opinion, could be the next Aaron Nola, depending on how he develops, especially if he builds on his already advanced, if not outstanding tools.

Previous: Matt Crohan, LHP, Winthrop

St. Louis Cardinals: 

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When it comes to drafting, I’m fairly conservative in terms of rankings, and my reach picks usually are within 10 spots. However, every so often, I’m inclined to make a huge gamble. Last year, for instance I dogged hard for David Thompson as a first round pick, and looked silly as he ended up going in the fourth round. This year, I’m sticking to my guns on a personal favorite prospect.

Herbert Iser is nothing special offensively, in fact, scouts will be the first to tell you he’s going to become an average hitter when he goes pro with some pop in his game. However, defensively, Iser is one of the best. He has an arm that will get runners out, and you be hard pressed to find a better prep defender. If the Cardinals do draft Iser, he could definitely be ready in time to take over the position from Yadier Molina. Overall, I feel that Iser could end up being the next Tyler Stevenson, an overlooked prep prospect that will shoot up the draft boards and make a convincing case to be taken on Day 1.

Previous: Brad Debo, C, Orange HS, North Carolina

And that’s it for Mock Draft 3.0. Stay tuned for Version 4.0, which is likely to be released towards the end of February. Until then, let’s hope this is a short winter.

 

 

 

The Money Is Talking to Kyler Murray, Actually, it’s Screaming at him.

Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs the ball against Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Lloyd Carrington (8) during the first half of a college football game during the Advocare Texas Kickoff game at NRG Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. ( Karen Warren / Houston Chronicle )

When Kyle Allen opted to leave Texas A&M football, there was a belief that it was because freshman quarterback Kyler Murray was ready to take the role of starter, that he was going to bring back the Johnny Manziel-era of exciting football. Additionally, people thought that he would play a vital role in the Aggies baseball team when Nick Banks departed. However, Murray shot that down when he announced that he would transfer out of Texas A&M, While his final destination is still unknown at this time, one of the more popular theories that has been floated around is Murray going to a junior college to play baseball in order to be eligible for the 2016 draft.

Naturally, this has led to plenty of discontent in College Station, both in the football and baseball circles. Murray’s teammates on both teams believe that the former 5-star recruit is yet another example of an entitled student athlete leaving because the pressure, or the money, has gotten to him.

Both Banks, and Aggie lineman German Ifedi have indirectly called out Murray on his so-called entitlement, with Banks even saying that high school athletes have to earn the honor of being a somebody.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Doesn’t matter what you did in HS you’re a nobody when you step on to campus. You prove that YOU ARE somebody. Nothing is given you earn it</p>&mdash; Nick Banks (@Nick_Banks4) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Nick_Banks4/status/677265000969334784″>December 16, 2015</a></blockquote> //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Going past the so-called entitlement theory, is it possible that more and more college baseball players, even high school players, could take this route? Could they commit to a big school, then change their minds before the season starts so that they can get the money they feel they deserve?

We saw this phenomena arise at the end of the 2014 collegiate summer season when highly touted Cal State Fullerton pitcher Phil Bickford left the program to pitch at the College of Southern Nevada. Immediately afterwards, former first overall pick Brady Aiken chose not to attend UCLA and instead, after a long period of deliberation, went to IMG Academy. The same happened with pitchers Mac Marshall and Jacob Nix, who went to Chipola College and the IMG Academy as well. A year later, Bickford was chosen by the San Francisco Giants, and Aiken was chosen by the Cleveland Indians in the first round. Marshall and Nix were top five round picks as well.

While I have no problem with junior college players getting drafted, part of me feels that, from a moral perspective, if a high school baseball player wants to go pro and ends up choosing college, they should at least honor the three year commitment, or in the case of certain players who are draft eligible as sophomores, two years. It doesn’t matter if Kyler Murray was one of the highest rated infield prospects out of high school; he had two choices, go pro out of high school, in which case he likely would have been a high draft pick, or go to college and figure out if he wanted to play baseball or football. The issue with Murray is that he’s a highly touted prospect in both sports, and while it would be difficult to determine if he would have been a first round talent by 2018, he still would have had to have made a choice.

Whatever motivation Murray had to transfer, whether it was football or baseball related, I find his decision lines up perfectly with the baseball offseason and the megacontracts that have already been doled out. Even Jeff Samardzjia, a former college football wide receiver and current second starter, received a 5 year deal worth over $100 million. I don’t believe that Murray thinks he’ll get that type of money out the gate, he’d have to be a very good player with a solid track record to earn that type of contract, but I’m certain that if he is planning on leaving football in order to chase baseball money, he’s thinking of a lucrative signing bonus.

Nobody is telling Murray he can’t leave Texas A&M, but whatever reason he leaves, he’s going to leave a very bitter taste in people’s mouths. If it’s because of the coaching situation at Texas A&M and he wants to play at another school, Murray is going to come off as spoiled and unable to handle pressure. If it’s because he wants to have a quicker path to professional baseball, he’s going to come off as an impatient and entitled, completely focused on the money.

Whatever motivation Murray has, let’s hope that his decision doesn’t influence other kids to do the same thing. If they commit to a major program for college baseball, they should stay there, otherwise, why even commit? Let’s hope that this is just a small phase of young kids that think they are major league ready, the last thing we need is another one-and-done sport.

2016 MLB Mock Draft 2.0

With MLBpipeline.com releasing their top 50 draft prospects on December 2nd, MinorLeagueMadhouse will now be able to do the long-awaited sequel to the 2016 Mock Draft from October. All information is taken from Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis’ scouting reports, although I will be able to offer some personal insight on a couple prospects this year, having seen them pitch while I was interning in summer ball. Same rules apply as last time, the players are picked based on organizational depth, although best player available does consider into the equation. Without further delay, here is the 2016 Mock Draft, version 2.0.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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Mike Trout has long been regarded as the best prospect to ever come from the state of New Jersey, and for the longest time, that went unquestioned. This year, however, he may have some competition, courtesy of Barnegat High School’s Jason Groome.

Groome was thrust into the national spotlight last season at IMG Academy. When Brady Aiken went under the knife for Tommy John surgery, Groome stepped into his role and took off. After his junior year ended, he went back to Barnegat to pitch his senior year.

He has the look of an ace, standing 6’6″ and weighing 220 pounds. Groome also has solid pitches, a Major League ready low to mid 90’s fastball, a solid curve, and a developmental changeup. Groome’s advanced feel for pitching could mean that he could be fast tracked in the minors, although not at the level that Jose Fernandez was. Expect him to make his major league debut 3 years after being drafted, barring any setbacks. With him, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eichoff, the Phillies could have the makings of a solid top three by 2019.

Groome’s one major drawback is his commitment to Vanderbilt. Because of that, he could potentially command a very large bonus, that if not fulfilled, could see him leave for Nashville.

2. Cincinnati Reds

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The Reds could conceivably go any direction with this pick and still come out looking good. The Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake trades effectively rebuild their rotation for the long run, and with Walt Jocketty saying that anyone is available this offseason, it’s possible the Reds could be primed for long term success.

Considering pitching has already been addressed, I could see the Reds maybe looking at the consensus top hitter in the draft, Louisville’s Corey Ray. Ray, who is part of a banner class of Louisville draft prospects, more on them later, is considered one of the more complete athletes in this class. He has the arm and the speed to play wherever needed in the outfield, and he can hit well enough to be at the top of the order.

Although the Reds did draft Phil Ervin two years ago in the first round, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if they opt to go for Ray, as he seems like a much more complete package than Ervin was when he was drafted. He would definitely slot in well with Jesse Winker and Ervin, and they would definitely form a formidable outfield trio.

3. Atlanta Braves

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Another school that could make up a considerable portion of the top part of the draft is Florida, with four potential selections. Atlanta happens to be lucky enough to be in play for the two top talents.

Much like the Reds, the Braves have been able to build a potential future juggernaut pitching staff through selling off major pieces. Because of that, I feel that the Braves might be interested in upgrading their lineup. Florida’s Buddy Reed may not be as well-rounded as Corey Ray right now, but he does have the potential to build himself up to that level.

Reed’s best asset is his speed, giving him a defensive presence in centerfield. He’s also a switch hitter, although his best work comes from the right side. At best right now, he profiles into two players, from the right, a polished player who has power plashes, from the left, a leadoff hitter. Reed will likely benefit from some mechanical tinkering in the minors, in the hopes that he can improve from the left side, so it’s possible that he could get even better then.

4. Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies have been major beneficiaries of the past three drafts, both on their own and thanks to others. They’ve been able to nab a future ace in Jon Gray, three future rotation stalwarts in Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, and Mike Nikorak, and a top offensive prospect in Brendan Rodgers. Why not continue this run of success with another top of the line starter?

Considered the top college pitcher in the class, Florida’s AJ Puk happens to be the second best lefty, behind Groome. He has a very lively fastball, a slider which is tough on lefties and a changeup. While his arsenal is big league, his control and command do need work in order for him to be a top of the rotation starter.

Puk also has the added appeal of height and can contribute somewhat offensively, as he was a two-way player when he started. Overall, it may come down to him and Groome battling it out for the number 1 spot, and if the Phillies do what Arizona did last season between Rodgers and Dansby Swanson, Colorado may be lucky enough to choose between Puk and Groome.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers have managed to make some more interesting draft choices in the past two years, nabbing three quality prep players in 2014, then another in 2015, as well as a former consideration for top pick in the draft. Nathan Kirby, when he fell due to injury. Combine that with the late emergence of Taylor Jungmann after four years of toiling in the minors and you may have a resurgence in the Brewers’ prospect department. So where do you go from there in a pitching rich class?

I’ll admit, I did consider the humor angle when it came to St. Thomas Aquinas HS pitcher Riley Pint being drafted by a team that’s associated with beer brewing, heck, if the Brewers had another pick in the first round and Seth Beer had not opted to go to Clemson early, that also would have been considered, but for me, the Pint selection has to due with what he is as a pitcher. Pint has the best fastball among prep pitchers, and his body could potentially bulk out and make it even better. His secondary offerings range from developing (curve) to redundant (changeup).

Much like AJ Puk though, Pint needs to fine tune his mechanics if he wants to succeed at the next level. He’s at best a 5th starter right now, but could move up if everything develops correctly for him.

6. Oakland A’s

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Billy Beane has constantly preached the Moneyball philosophy, and in most cases, it has worked, but in a rebuild, the A’s are going to need to build up their roster in order to succeed again. Whether or not Sonny Gray factors into the future plans of the A’s matters little, but if Beane does decide to move on from his ace, then June would be the ideal time to find his heir.

It’s a three horse race for the top pick between Groome, Puk, and Oklahoma’s Alec Hansen, but Hansen had the early jump after a dominant sophomore season, so much so that he was nearly considered a lock for the number 1 pick. Another 6’7″ pitcher. Hansen has a nearly elite fastball and a pro-ready slider. His curve and change are considered above average offerings.

Hansen’s accuracy is the main issue, but many say it’s because of his delivery, Tweaks could make him a more accurate pitcher. Although he was shut down for fall ball, he should be back and ready for spring, giving him plenty of chances to surpass Groome and Puk.

7. Miami Marlins

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Last year’s selection of Josh Naylor was definitely the puzzler of the 2015 draft, and it raised questions as to whether or not Miami was once again acting cheap after yet another failed offseason spending spree. Assuming Jeffery Loria once again pulls the Fire Sale button, it’s possible that the Marlins could find their replacement for Adeiny Hechavarria here.

Puerto Rico high schooler Delvin Perez is a byproduct of the Carlos Correa-Francisco Lindor phase, a young shortstop who could conceivably outperform expectations. I’ll admit when Correa was taken first overall in 2012, I had my doubts, but he really prove me wrong. While Perez is no Correa, he still can play like some of the best Puerto Rican shortstops. Perez’s main calling card right now is his defense, he is a professional shortstop, what needs to catch up, however is his hitting. As of now, he’d probably slot into the lower part of a batting order, but if he hones his hitting skills in the minors, he could become a middle of the order hitter.

8. San Diego Padres

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The Padres came out with the worst luck in the 2015 season, gambling the future of the organization on what they believed was a playoff run. A year later, they were able to mitigate some of the damage by sending Craig Kimbrel to Boston for prospects, but they do need to add more in order to have a shot at the future.

Dealing Yonder Alonso did deprive them of a power bat, albeit an underperforming one, but the Padres should look for his replacement. Arizona’s Bobby Dalbec may not be a first baseman, but he does have a power bat that the Padres could use to somewhat combat the extreme dimensions of Petco Park.

Dalbec does have the arm to stay at third base as well, but his fielding may be an issue. Additionally, he’s a classic example of a feast or famine power hitter. If Dalbec can learn to hit for contact, he could be the power hitter the Padres have been looking for that Alonso wasn’t.

9. Detroit Tigers 

 

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Every draft has its fair share of risks, and I’d be hard pressed to admit that every once in a while I do take risks. Given the fact that the Tigers recently signed Jordan Zimmermann to a contract, thus forfeiting both a second round pick and a fair amount of their bonus pool, I feel that Al Avila could potentially play the signability card here.

You may recall that in one of my 2013 mocks, I put Chris Okey, then a high school star, in the compensatory first round. At the time, he was considered one of the better prep catchers in a loaded class, but signability issues sent him to Clemson. In his two years at Clemson, he’s shown to be a solid game caller, and has made two appearances on the Collegiate National team.

Okey’s a jack-of-all-trades catcher in the fact he’s a good player, He may not dazzle with his star skills, but he could definitely become a team leader in a few years. When the Tigers do rebuild, I would imagine he would be one of the players left behind to mentor the new team.

10. Chicago White Sox

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Give the White Sox credit for somehow drafting two of the most major-league ready pitchers in the past two drafts. Losing Jeff Samardzjia will definitely hurt less when Carson Fulmer takes his place alongside Carlos Rodon. Now it’s time to start thinking about upgrading the offense.

This one comes down to three college players, Mercer’s Kyle Lewis, Tennessee’s Nick Senzel, and Texas A&M’s Nick Banks. I choose Banks in this spot because he’s the surest bet of the three. Banks can hit, giving him ample chance to be a part of Chicago’s lineup. He’s also a decent fielder.

Banks won’t wow with power, but inconsistency in his speed ratings put him as an ideal table setter in any lineup. I would imagine that he could be a good threat to get on base, allowing Jose Abreu ample opportunity to drive him in.

11. Seattle Mariners

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The last time the Seattle Mariners drafted a player that worked out well for them, it was 2010 and Taijuan Walker was their pick. Before that, it was Alex Rodriguez in 1993. The Mariners are essentially the New York Jets of the MLB draft, in that there have been very few successes among a handful of failures.

Grabbing the top high school bat in the draft may help, and Chaminade Prep’s Blake Rutherford is special enough to warrant major consideration. Although he’s one of the oldest prep prospects this year, this could matter little. Rutherford has an advanced approach at the plate, and his attributes have plenty of opportunity to get better with proper development. He and Alex Jackson could conceivably help reshape Seattle’s outfield in the coming years.

12. Boston Red Sox 

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The Red Sox are an interesting organization. Whereas in the 2000’s they were consistent enough to constantly be mentioned in the championship conversation, the 2010’s Red Sox are a mixed bag of contender vs. overhyped mess. I’ll always consider 2013 to be a big fluke because somehow through some combination of low-key signings, developed talent, and the Boston Strong mentality, they were somehow able to pull off a World Series win. Feeling that they could continue that run of success, they’ve made several questionable roster decisions that have so far backfired and put them in an even worse position.

By some miracle, the Sox haven’t lost a draft pick after signing David Price, so they could possibly use their pick to grab a young, controllable college starter who could come up quickly. Georgia’s Robert Tyler is one of the more underrated top tier pitchers in this draft, and thus warrants some consideration as a top pick. Tyler’s toolbox has some solid offerings, he has a mid to high 90’s fastball that is good in short stints and a curve and changeup that will need some development. Tyler may be built like a starter, but his durability has always been a question, so much so that he’s never completed a full season since his junior year in high school. Tyler may be one of the bigger college projects, but some tinkering will do him good as he prepares to pitch the next level.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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It will be the five year anniversary of the Rays’ 2011 draft class, a class which produced a major league record 11 first round picks due in part to the decimation of the Rays’ relief pitching corps. The 2011 class has been largely hit or miss. Taylor Guerrieri has yet to reclaim the form that had many scouts considering him a viable arm, while Mikie Mahtook looks ready to be a full-time big league outfielder, and Blake Snell is viewed as the future of the Rays’ rotation.

The Rays are fairly balanced in their system, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another hitter to take a load off the pitching. Tennessee’s Nick Senzel is defensively ambiguous, but he can hit, so much so that he completely demolished the Cape Cod League over the summer. Senzel may not be a power guy, but he can produce.

The one issue of course is where to put him. He’s bounced around the diamond in college, and scouts are agnostic on whether or not he can be an infielder or will have to move to the outfield. At worst he doesn’t have a position and becomes a Major League DH, at best, he figures out where he can play and becomes the heir apparent to that position.

14. Baltimore Orioles

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I’d be lying if I said I’m not keen on small school prospects. This is mainly because I believe that the level of competition is vastly different between a smaller conference and a power conference, and that level of competition artificially inflates the prospect’s profile. Of course, players can prove me wrong by playing well in the Cape League, and this is where our next pick comes in.

I’ve held off long enough on Mercer’s Kyle Lewis because I feel that outside of the 2015 Cape League season, he’s really not proven himself to be a full first round threat quite yet. However, it is possible that he does have the skills necessary to put him in the conversation. He does have a power bat that could, with the right amount of development, easily displace Chris Davis as a home run threat. I do also feel that he has plenty of room for improvement in the outfield, playing in a corner position where he would be able to learn the nuances of being a corner threat. If Lewis can prove that he’s not a byproduct of the SoCon’s competition level, then perhaps he can go higher in the draft than my initial projection.

15. Cleveland Indians

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The Cleveland Indians have somehow emerged into a darkhorse each year, mainly because of their underrated pitching. Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer have definitely kept the team competitive and relevant in a division that’s basically been the Tigers, Royals and nobody else for the past two seasons. The question now is how can they possibly continue this wave of pitching success, especially with the increasing likelihood of their star pitchers leaving?

In 2014, the Indians drafted Tullahoma HS pitcher Justus Sheffield with the final pick of the first round, then the following year, added Brady Aiken and Rob Kaminsky via draft and trade. They are three great options, certainly, but the main issue is that none of them are right handed, and as good as left handed pitchers can be, too many can lead to predictability.

I met Vanderbilt righty Jordan Sheffield (Justus’s brother) during the 2014 New England Collegiate Baseball League season when he pitched for the Laconia Muskrats, and he was a very nice guy. I only wish he had not been recovering from Tommy John because the only time I saw him play, the Danbury Westerners had a field day with him. Still, Sheffield has managed to regain his old form since then. He can throw a fastball in the mid 90’s with regularity topping out at 98 MPH, and his slider and changeup have become reliable secondary pitches.

Sheffield comes with pretty much the same concerns that Carson Fulmer came with last year, height, and issues with pitch location, as well as the question of whether or not he’ll be a big league starter. At worst, he becomes a taller and lighter throwing version of Kelvin Herrera, serving as Cleveland’s closer. At best, he’s another member of a potentially vaunted future rotation.

16. Minnesota Twins

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No team has made a better killing in the development ranks than the Twins, who have seen Byron Buxton blossom into a potential Kirby Puckett-like franchise face, and Miguel Sano into another power hitting stud. All that needs to come up now is the young pitching talent that could make the Twins’ rotation a scary one. Tyler Jay, Kohl Stewart, Nick Burdi, basically these are all young guns that could make a major killing in the AL Central. Of course, when they come up, the question will be who will catch them?

This year’s catcher class is stronger than Jim Callis would have you believe, and there is probably no better example of high ceiling catching talent than Miami Killian HS catcher Herbert Iser. Iser has been on the radar since early 2015 when he was considered one of the top juniors to watch.

Iser has a hose for an arm, and he is a steady presence behind home plate. Although his hitting is considered developmental, he has the potential to be a well-balanced hitter once given the proper training. Depending on his development, he could run through the system at a decent pace and still be ready to catch the electric arms of the Twins’ rotation by early 2020.

17. Washington Nationals

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The Jayson Werth era will come to an end in 2017, and when that happens, Nationals fans will probably remember it as both a mixture of expectation and disappointment. While he didn’t exactly become the solid bridge to Bryce Harper that everyone expected, he definitely played a key role on the 2012 and 2014 NL East Championship teams.

The Nationals in turn would be smart to grab a young, moldable college outfielder like Vanderbilt’s Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds first came to national attention when he was the driving force on the 2014 National Championship team, and yet lost out on winning the College World Series Most Outstanding Player to Dansby Swanson. Reynolds is considered a raw talent, but potential wise, he could transition easily into Werth’s vacated role.

Reynolds as of right now would probably be best suited to play either in the lower part of the order, but once he clicks in the minors, could easily move up to as high as the #2 or #5 spot in the lineup. Because Reynolds hasn’t found his niche quite yet, it’s possible he might be tinkered with by whomever drafts him until they find the right spot for him.

18. Los Angeles Angels

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Remember when Sean Newcomb was expected to be the next young star for the Los Angeles Angels? That quickly went out the window when Andrelton Simmons became available. Ever since Mike Trout graduated from the minors, the Angels have had a standout prospect problem. Sure, they’ve made some splashes, like Joe Gatto and Roberto Baldaquin, but nobody has really popped onto the top 100 radar outside of Newcomb and Andrew Heaney.

The Angels’ best approach would be best player available then, and in this case, it would be another left handed pitcher that would take Newcomb’s spot as top prospect, Virginia’s Connor Jones. Like Jordan Sheffield, I did have the opportunity to see Jones play in the NECBL, when he was the ace for the Keene Swamp Bats, but also like Sheffield, he was very hittable that game. Jones is one of the few players on the MLB Draft top 50 who has 4 pitches, and his fastball can range from low to mid 90’s with a lot of weight.

Jones has already proven he can win in big game situations, having served as the Friday Night Starter for the Cavaliers during their 2015 championship season, and he seems like a high floor talent. The one major issue is the fact that Virginia has gained a reputation for producing players that can’t adjust to the next level of competition. He will have every chance to prove that wrong this year.

19. Houston Astros

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Houston’s prize for being a terrible team four years in a row was four straight seasons of high draft picks and an absurdly large bonus pool to sign most of the talent they recouped. Because of this, the Astros have a system that’s considered one of the best, if not the best in baseball. Even after seeing Lance McCullers and Carlos Correa graduate from the minors, the team could still draft whomever they see fit.

In my opinion, the Astros would do fine if they went with another southpaw after whiffing on two big ones in 2014. The best option right now, although he is a big wild card, would be Oregon’s Matt Krook. No stranger to being a high draft pick, he was a CB choice in 2013 by Miami, he went to Oregon where he’s shown both flashes of promise and disappointment due to Tommy John surgery.

Krook recently resurrected his prospect status in Cape Cod, and while statistically, it wasn’t a great summer, he still showed what he has, a pro level fastball and curve, and an average changeup. He has every chance to raise his stock in the spring since he’ll be fully recovered from Tommy John and well rested from not pitching fall ball.

20. New York Yankees

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Power is a crucial tool for draft prospects, but power combined with contact makes for an ideal slugger. For a team like the Yankees, who play in a smaller stadium, a power hitter is definitely an ideal piece to have. With a lot of aging stars like Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez approaching the twilight of their careers, it may be time to go back to the good old days of building talent, especially considering the Yankees’ system is one of the lower tier systems in baseball.

Miami catcher/first baseman/DH Zack Collins may just be the best power hitter in the draft. A well-built slugger, his best asset is his power, and he and former teammate David Thompson completely terrorized ACC pitching last season en route to the College World Series. Collins would instantly be a #4 hitter in any lineup, offering solid protection, and he is an average contact hitter, showing that he won’t be a feast or famine player. His one trick point is his defense, and although he can through, his defense has left a little to be desired. Ideally, Collins could become a DH at the pro level and form a terrific tandem with top prospect Aaron Judge.

21. Texas Rangers

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The Texas Rangers look more like a team that’s been assembled through buying rather than building, with some exceptions, and it has paid off in all but one year since 2010. Of course though, those contracts are going to expire and those players will soon age, so it may be an ideal time to start building young again.

Although Delino DeShields is looking more and more like he may stick in Texas after his Rule 5 season, it wouldn’t hurt to grab the second best prep outfield bat in the draft, La Costa Canyon’s Mickey Moniak. Moniak is a consistent hitter that can find holes in the outfield and exploit them with his pro level speed. He may have an average arm, but his speed also could keep him in center field, almost in a Juan Lagares-type role. Moniak, in my opinion is a much better and more likely to stick DeShields. His baseball IQ will definitely resonate well with his coaches.

22. New York Mets

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When you have a rotation that’s full of ace-level starters, all of whom are under team control, you have a solid advantage over all comers. But when you have a free agent market where two of the best starters received deals with a $30+MM AAV, you can bet you will lose at least one or two arms come free agency. Because pitching in such high supply in the 2016 draft, the Mets could conceivably find two replacements in one draft.

Sandy Alderson loves guys who can pump premium gas, but it wouldn’t hurt to draft a workhorse like Kyle Funkhouser. The highest rated senior in this year’s class, Funkhouser turned down an opportunity to pitch for the Dodgers after they picked him 35th overall. There isn’t much to be said that hasn’t been discussed in my 2015 mocks, but it’s pretty much the same with him, he can throw in the low to mid 90’s, with an effective, if somewhat inconsistent low fastball. His secondary pitches are above average, but mechanical tinkering and a confidence adjustment could make them better. If he can refine his command, he’ll definitely look like a stronger and higher ceiling version of Jon Niese.

 

23. Toronto Blue Jays

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The Blue Jays had a golden opportunity to rally the local fan base by selecting a Canadian prospect in 2015, but missed on Josh Naylor and Mike Soroka, and didn’t go after Jeff Degano or Demi Orimoloye. However, this year, they may be more inclined to take this year’s top Canadian prospect.

Stanford righty Cal Quantrill is the son of former Blue Jays reliever Paul Quantrill (1996-2001) and although he will be a year removed from Tommy John surgery, is still considered one of the most underrated, and possibly one of the higher rising prospects in the 2016 draft. It wouldn’t be just a legacy pick either, as Quantrill has four solid pitches, and an advanced feel for them, allowing him to be a very effective starter.

24. Kansas City Royals 

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When you have a team whose offense was built through the draft and international free agency, with a few trades and signings thrown in, you’re going to have a lot of cost-controlled assets that will tide you over for a while. And since the Royals have had such a stellar track record with developing prospects, it almost makes it impossible to find an organizational weakness. In this case, my version of Dayton Moore will select the best player available.

Continuing the trend of prep stars from Georgia is Westminster Schools outfielder Will Benson. Benson is what you would call a well-rounded player with solid contact, power, and speed as well as defensive skill. He can play either first base or outfield and is more than capable of carrying an offense. Benson has drawn comparisons to Jason Heyward, and could possibly eclipse him as a better player by the time he hits his age 27 season. Although Benson would be going to an organization with solid depth, he could definitely fit in at any spot a few years down the road.

25. Pittsburgh Pirates

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The fact that the Pirates have gone from 20 straight losing seasons to three straight years of qualifying at the very least for the Wild Card shows how much value there is in developing talent. Gerrit Cole has emerged into a legitimate All-Star ace, Andrew McCutchen is one of the most exciting players in the game, and with so much impressive young talent coming up in the next few years, the Pirates could be a solid team in the future.

What the Pirates lack from an organizational perspective is a standout left-handed starter, and while this year’s class is top-heavy, the second tier of southpaws isn’t too bad either. Matt Crohan of Winthrop may come from the same conference as Kyle Lewis, but unlike Lewis, he has actually performed on the biggest collegiate stage, pitching for the National Team and beating Chinese Taipei. Crohan is a well-built lefty with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s but is typically low to mid. He also has a changeup and a developmental slider.

Crohan’s delivery does need some work, and his consistency will determine whether or not he’s in a big league rotation or bullpen. Having already seen him play in person in 2014 when he was in the NECBL, I can assume that he’ll be much better than he was when he pitched in relief for Keene.

26. St. Louis Cardinals

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For the past two years, I have harped on the Cardinals, and their seeming inability to find a contingency plan for when Yadier Molina retires, and I still believe that they can draft his successor in this year’s draft.

In my opinion, Orange HS catcher Brad Debo is the heir apparent to Molina. He is an above average fielder, however this is greatly enhanced by a pro-ready throwing arm. His offense is above average and his contact and power are even. The one thing he lacks is speed, but as far as catchers go, who needs it? Debo may need a little time to develop, but if he makes it through with very few setbacks, he could definitely find his way behind home plate by the time Molina’s ready to hang it up.

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Although there are already compensatory picks on the board, I will be holding off on mocking them until the full draft order is realized. Until then, next mock draft will be coming in January.