The signing deadline for 2013 draft picks is coming up, and so far, 29 out of 33 players have completed deals. Most recently was the Padres first round pick, Hunter Renfroe of Mississippi State University. The remaining picks to sign are as follows:
University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant, who was chosen second overall by the Chicago Cubs. Sources indicate that Bryant and the Cubs have been “far apart in negotiations”, but the Cubs are “confident that they can get a deal done”. Bryant was Baseball America College Player of the Year and is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes award. It has been reported that Bryant’s camp wants more than the $6.7 Million that is recommended for the second overall pick, while the Cubs want Bryant to sign for slightly less than that amount, as they are over budget and could forfeit draft picks if they do overspend for Bryant. If the Cubs do not sign Bryant, he will likely finish his senior season at San Diego, and hope that he can raise his stock to the point where he is the number one pick in next year’s draft, much like Mark Appel did last year.
North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran was chosen with the sixth pick by the Miami Marlins. So far, nothing has come out of either camp. The Marlins have dealt with this situation before, when last year, Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State waited until the final hour to sign with the team, despite rumors that he would not sign as the Marlins would not offer him a contract. One point worth noting is that the Marlins also have not signed top pick Matt Krook and have no plans to, potentially freeing up more money to sign Moran.
Oaks Christian High School pitcher Phil Bickford, who was chosen tenth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays, is the sole remaining high schooler who has yet to sign. Bickford, who had signability concerns, is expected to command more than $3 million, which is more than the recommended slot for the tenth pick. Out of all the choices, he and Bryant seem the least likely to sign their deals.
Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge was taken 32nd overall by the New York Yankees. Judge is expected to sign soon, and had no signability concerns when he was drafted, in fact, he did take batting practice with the team after he was drafted.
Since 2008, when the “Draft and Follow” signing was eliminated, there has been at least one first round draft choice who ultimately did not sign, which led to compensation for the drafting team in the form of a draft pick. Here’s a rundown of those unsigned picks and where they ultimately went.
Aaron Crow was chosen with the ninth pick in the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Missouri. Crow elected not to sign, citing the infamous reason that the Nationals were a “Losing Organization”. He had exhausted his college eligibility, and ended up pitching for the Fort Worth Cats. A year later the Kansas City Royals chose him with the twelfth pick. He signed, and has since served as a valued bullpen arm and an emergency closer. He earned an All-star selection in 2011, although he didn’t pitch in the game.
(The Nationals used their compensatory pick the following year on Drew Storen, who pitched for Stanford University. Storen now serves as the Nationals set up man.)
Gerrit Cole was taken by the New York Yankees with the 28th pick in the draft out of Orange Lutheran High School. He never had any intention to sign with the team, and ultimately went to pitch for UCLA, where he had a half-decent college career. Three years later, the Pirates took Cole with the first pick in the 2011 draft. He was promoted to the major leagues a little less than a month ago, and has contributed to the team’s ascension to the top of the NL Central standings.
(The Yankees used their compensatory pick the following year on Slade Heathcott, an outfielder from Texas High School in Texarkana. Heathcott is currently playing for the AA Trenton Thunder.)
Matt Purke was a high school arm in Texas who drew rave reviews and was considered to be a potential first round pick. The Texas Rangers chose him with the 14th pick in the draft. He didn’t sign, and opted to pitch for the Texas Christian University baseball team. After two seasons, Purke’s stock fell, as he was injured his sophomore season. The Washington Nationals took him with their third round pick, where he signed. He’s currently pitching in Double-A after missing most of last year due to injury.
(The Rangers used their compensatory pick on Jake Skole, an outfielder from Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia. Skole, who has struggled since being drafted, is currently on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in Single-A)
LeVon Washington was a highly touted outfield prospect from Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida. He was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 30th pick in the draft. He elected not to sign, and ultimately went to Chipola College, a Juco team from Marianna, Florida. Washington was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round the following year. He currently plays for the Lake County Captains in the Midwest league.
(The Rays used their compensatory pick on Justin O’Conner, a catcher from Cowan High School, in Cowan Indiana. O’Connor currently plays for the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest league.)
James Paxton was a supplemental pick by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Kentucky. The Canadian chose not to sign, and because he was ineligible to return to the Wildcats, pitched for the Grand Prairie Airhogs of the American Association. The following year, the Seattle Mariners took Paxton with their fourth round draft choice. Paxton has managed to climb onto the top prospect list, and currently pitches for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.
(The Blue Jays used the compensation pick for Paxton on Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher for Legacy High School in Texas. Syndergaard was traded to the Mets following the 2012 season and currently pitches for the AA Binghamton Mets. He will be pitching in the Futures game on July 14th.)
Barret Loux was the sixth pick in the 2010 mlb draft, chosen by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Loux, a senior from Texas A&M, was not offered a contract after he failed a physical. After being declared a free agent, he signed with his home state Texas Rangers. Loux was later traded to the Chicago Cubs as a player to be named later in the Geovany Soto trade. He is currently pitching for the Iowa Cubs in AAA. Incidentally, the pick after Loux was North Carolina pitcher Matt Harvey.
(The Diamondbacks used their compensatory selection on Broken Arrow High School pitcher Archie Bradley, who is currently pitching for the AA Mobile BayBears.)
Karsten Whitson was taken out of Chipley High School, in Florida by the San Diego Padres with the ninth pick in the draft. Whitson declined his offer and went to pitch for the Florida Gators, where he’s had a solid college career. However, after an injury plagued 2013, Whitson’s stock fell, and he was chosen in the 37th round by the Washington Nationals. It is unlikely that he will sign, as he will want to raise his stock so that he can be a first round pick in 2014.
(The Padres used their compensatory selection the following year on Indian River State College third baseman Cory Spangenberg. He is currently playing for the AA San Antonio Missions.)
Dylan Covey was taken with the 14th pick our of Maranatha High School in California by the Milwaukee Brewers. He did not sign after tests revealed that he was suffering from Type 1 diabetes. Covey spent the next three seasons at the University of San Diego where he took control of his medical condition. Covey was drafted this year by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round. He signed a contract and is currently pitching in short season ball.
(The following year, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Georgia Tech left hander Jed Bradley. Bradley is currently pitching for the A level Brevard County Manatees)
We already covered Tyler Beede, who currently pitches for Vanderbilt and is likely a top pick in next year’s draft.
(The Blue Jays used their compensatory pick on Duke reliever Marcus Stroman, who, despite a suspension for PED’s, is now pitching for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.)
Brett Austin, a catcher from Providence High School in North Carolina, was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental round of the draft. Austin didn’t sign and is currently a catcher for the North Carolina State University team. He is a projected top prospect for the 2014 draft. With the team drafting Austin Hedges in the second round, it’s unlikely that they miss Austin that much though.
(The Padres selected Walker Weickel out of Olympia High School in Florida as compensation for losing Austin the following year. Weickel, a pitcher, currently plays for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in the Midwest league.)
Mark Appel was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 8th pick in the 2012 draft. He didn’t sign with the team, spent one more year at Stanford, and was chosen last month by the Houston Astros with the first overall pick.
(The Pirates chose Grayson High School outfielder Austin Meadows as compensation for Appel with the ninth pick in the draft. Meadows, who signed his contract last month, is currently playing for the Gulf Coast League Pirates.)
How many first rounders do you think will sign? Will this be the first year since 2007 where all the first round picks are signed?
After taking a two post break from draft grading, it’s time to grade the next division in terms of the draft picks. Remember, the top pick will be highlighted, along with four other intriguing prospects. Let’s get going.
First Pick: Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego (2)
Other Notable Picks:
Rob Zastryzny, Pitcher, Missouri (41)
Jacob Hennemann, OF, Brigham Young (75)
Tyler Skulina, Pitcher, Kent State (108)
Jeremy Martinez, Catcher, Mater Dei High School, California (1098)
Chicago surprised a lot of people when they bypassed possibly the best college pitcher in an age in favor of the top hitter, Kris Bryant. Bryant, who led several NCAA hitting categories, helped transform the Toreros from an also-known, to a powerhouse. Bryant profiles as a corner infielder, and given the hitters that the Cubs have taken recently, like Javier Baez and Albert Almora, we could be seeing a bright future for the Cubs, at least offensively.
The Cubs nabbed two potential rotation pieces in Rob Zastryzny and Tyler Skulina. Zastryzny is the latest in a long line of Missouri pitchers who have starting potential, while Skulina, who was instrumental in bringing Kent State to the College World Series, has ace or at least second starter potential. Skulina is actually the second Kent State ace to be drafted in three years, following the example of Andrew Chafin, who was chosen by Arizona in the 2011 draft.
You’ve heard of draft eligible sophomores? Say hello to one of the rare draft eligible freshmen. Jacob Hennemann is a Brigham Young outfielder who spent two years on a LDS mission. Henneman is an athlete, having also played on the Cougar football team. He’ll be an interesting project prospect if he signs, and could find himself as a solid fourth outfielder at the very least.
Jeremy Martinez was an original first round (Or Competitive Balance) pick for me, but he dropped all the way to Day 3. Nonetheless, Martinez, who models his game after Albert Pujols, may be a tough sign, as he has a strong commitment to USC. If he is somehow convinced, Martinez could become one of the better hitting catchers that baseball has to offer, but if he commits, expect him to be a first rounder by 2016.
Chicago’s draft was interesting in the fact that not only did they grab the best college bat, but they picked up some solid pitching help. If the Cubs are planning on building from the ground, up, their past three drafts have shown that there is potential for this team to break the Curse.
First Pick: Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford (27)
Other Notable Picks
Michael Lorenzen, OF/P, Cal State Fullerton (38)
Mark Armstrong, Pitcher, Clarence High School, New York (104)
Cory Thompson, SS/P, Mauldin High School, South Carolina (165)
Willie Abreu, OF, Mater Academy, Florida (435)
Cincinnati must be planning on going back to playing old-school baseball, because Phil Ervin’s greatest asset, like top prospect Billy Hamilton, is his speed. Ervin profiles as a corner guy, but is a legitimate base stealing threat, and a potential complement to Hamilton in a still potent Reds lineup. The only question mark with Ervin is his size, as he’s smaller than the average outfielder.
Though he was announced as a pitcher, Cal State Fullerton’s Michael Lorenzen is more of an outfielder. He has the speed and the range to play center field, and has drawn comparisons to one Ryan Braun. Lorenzen can pitch, but as a reliever, as he served as the closer for the Titans. With Aroldis Chapman staying as the closer and Jonathan Broxton setting him up, it’s highly likely that Lorenzen will be joining Ervin and Hamilton in the outfield.
Stigmas in the MLB draft are common, in fact, one of the bigger ones is against baseball players from the Northeast. Cincy must have deliberately chosen to buck that trend, as their choice of Buffalo prep pitcher Mark Armstrong hints at a potential bright spot. Thompson, who is an impressive athlete, has a basic array of pitches which he crafts to his advantage. Playing in the frigid Buffalo Climate may also give him an advantage especially in the earlier months.
Cory Thompson draws comparisons to Casey Kelly and 2013 draftee Trey Ball because of the unique situation that he’s in. He has no set position, yet he is equally strong as a pitcher and a shortstop. Given the Reds depth at the middle infield, Thompson may have his choice cut out for him as a pitcher.
One of the late round prospects that intrigues me the most is Mater Academy outfielder Willie Abreu. A former teammate of 2012 first round pick Albert Almora, Abreu has Almora’s power hitting capability. Abreu may be one of those late round gems who defies the odds and makes the majors, but if he does, considering the state of the Reds’ outfield, now and in the future, he may have to star on another team.
Overall, Cincinnati upgraded areas that they didn’t really need to upgrade, but the people they chose certainly have big name potential. It will be interesting to see how the team handles Lorenzen, and it will also be interesting to see how they adjust their lineup with two speedsters coming in the future.
First Pick: Devin Williams: Pitcher, Hazelwood West High School, Missouri (54)
Other Notable Picks:
Tucker Neuhaus, Shortstop, Wharton High School, Florida (72)
Taylor Williams, Pitcher, Kent State (122)
Josh Uhen, Pitcher, Wisconsin-Milwaukee (152)
David Denson. 1B, South Hills High School, California (452)
The Brewers used their first pick on prep pitcher Devin Williams. Williams, a pitcher from Hazelwood West High School, Williams used his upside to merit being taken in the second round, and outside of good speed on a fastball, he is a developmental pitcher at best right now. Williams has a toolbox, but the tools in it need fine tuning if he wants to be a potential Brewers starter. Expect him to be in the minors a good long time before he is ready.
Tucker Neuhaus had a rough year, with a burst eardrum, and a death in the family, but apparently that didn’t pull him down too far, as he managed to get plenty of attention. Neuhaus is a toolsy hitter with a good amount of contact and power. Though he is a shortstop now, expect him to move to third as he should fit better at that position. Neuhaus could be another well-developed starter who could impress a good amount of people.
The Brewers managed to get a good handful of high ceiling college relievers in the early portion of the draft, but none stand out like Kent State’s Taylor Williams and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Josh Uhen. Williams, who like Tyler Skulina pitched for the 2012 College World Series team, may not be cut out to be a starter considering the fact that he’s less than six feet. Williams has a delivery that could serve him well coming out of a bullpen. Uhen, on the other hand, came off of Tommy John surgery and showed no signs of adaptational struggling. Uhen can throw in the high 90’s, and could be a future closer for the Brewers if he impresses in the minors.
Prince Fielder may be long gone, but the Brewers may just have the cheap(er) replacement they need for him a fear years down the road. David Denson has the power to be a cleanup hitter, after all, he did hit a 500 foot home run in Miami in a power showcase, so one can possibly guess that Denson may find himself at the heart of any lineup in the future. I say that it may be cheaper to sign Denson, but he may still require a decent sum of money for him to avoid going to the University of Hawaii.
Normally, if a team does not have a first round pick, you can’t find a lot of good reasons to praise their draft, but the Brewers did manage to pull together a string of decent picks. Nonetheless, losing your first round pick to sign Kyle Lohse is inexcusable, and drops the Brewers a few points.
First Picks: Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson High School, Georgia, and Reese McGuire, Catcher, Kentwood High School (9, 13)
Other Notable Picks:
Blake Taylor, Pitcher, Dana Hills High School, California (51)
JaCoby Jones, OF, LSU (87)
Buddy Borden, Pitcher, UNLV (209)
The Pirates are no stranger to picking big names in the draft. While history has shown that they favor collegians, the occasional big name high schooler can be too important to pass up, and in this case, the Pirates snatched two of the biggest names. Austin Meadows was considered the first of the two big Georgia prep stars, along with close friend Clint Frazier. He’s a high ceiling outfielder with raw country power, and he is a rare high school 5 tool guy. Meadows may be one of the best prep outfielders in any draft class, and in such a weak draft like this one, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to be considered the best bat this draft. As for Reese McGuire, he came from what was considered a deep catching class which included the likes of Nick Ciuffo, Victor Caratini, and Andrew Knapp. McGuire gained a lot of national exposure playing for Team USA’s U18 squad. McGuire has decent hitting ability, but it his defense that had scouts crooning for him. McGuire is a special catcher who could be the long term answer a few years down the road.
The Pirates didn’t waste time in getting a solid prep arm in the second round. Blake Taylor, a California lefty, had generated some interest. Armed with a low 90’s fastball that can hit a mid 90’s tick at times, as well as a basic curve, Taylor could be a good developmental prospect. The only knock on him is the fact that his tertiary pitch, a change up, has barely been used and is underdeveloped. Taylor will be a developmental prospect, who, in all likelihood, could find himself at the back end of the Pirates rotation by 2018.
In a draft class that was generally weak in terms of middle infield talent, the Pirates may have pulled off a steal in taking LSU’s JaCoby Jones. Jones, who also is an outfielder, is a jack-of-all-trades type player. He flashes some speed a certain degree of hitting ability, and has no real position. In some ways, he could be considered another Jack Wilson, a lunch pail infielder who held the fort down at Pittsburgh for many years. Jones could find himself doing this if a position, any position at all, opens up.
Arizona Diamondbacks first rounder Braden Shipley may have gotten all the attention this collegiate season, but thanks to an equally impressive performance by rival Buddy Borden, he had to share the Mountain West Pitcher of the Year award. Borden may have not gotten the same degree of recognition, but the fact that he played his home games in Las Vegas, which is a deathbed for pitchers, shows that he could have some flashes of greatness. He has a low to mid 90’s fastball, as well as solid curveball-changeup combo. Borden may be the first Pirates draftee from the 2013 class to make the majors, and if he does, he’ll be a solid long reliever/spot starter.
I liked what the Pirates did in the first half of the draft. They took high profile names, and drafted solid filler talent. This could be one of Pittsburgh’s better drafts, and Neal Huntington clearly deserves a round of applause.
St. Louis Cardinals:
First Picks: Marco Gonzales, Pitcher, Gonzaga, and Rob Kaminsky, Pitcher, St, Joseph Regional High School, New Jersey (19, 28)
Other Notable Picks:
Oscar Mercado, Shortstop, Vivian Gaither High School, Florida (57)
Mason Katz, 2B, LSU (125)
Chris Rivera, Shortstop, El Dorado High School, California (215)
The Cardinals continued their draft strategy of taking college pitchers, only this time, they went with southpaws. Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales is a nasty lefthander from a mid major conference. Armed with a four pitch repertoire, as well as a solid bat, Gonzales has the ability to pitch deep into games, and if the game is going tough, win them by himself. As for Rob Kaminsky, he certainly can pitch, as his stuff is well developed for high school, and his command is there, but it’s durability that serves as the big question mark. If Kaminsky can develop the ability to stay late into games, the Cardinals might have another Shelby Miller-type prep star on their hands.
The Cardinals concluded their notable picks with three middle infielders: Oscar Mercado, who has almost no hitting ability but can play shortstop like Omar Vizquel in his prime, Mason Katz, who can hit, but has been moved around the diamond a lot, and really has no true position, and Chris Rivera, who garnered national attention as a tween baseball player, and is known best for his power. Given that the Cardinals middle infield is set for the duration, if anyone were to really make a difference in fighting for a Cardinals roster spot, it probably would be Mercado, who some thought was a first round talent. Katz probably is your typical utility bench bat, someone who can score late in the game, and if Rivera is going anywhere, it’s probably college, so that he can improve his draft stock three years down the line.
I liked the Cardinals picks in the first round, and the middle infielders that they chose had been whispered, but all in all, it really wasn’t one of the best drafts for the team. Gonzales will likely be one of the earliest first rounders to reach the majors, but other than that, this class has a long way to go before it can be considered a true success or failure.
Next up, the NL West.
Day One of the Draft is in the books and what an event it was. While not as entertaining as the NFL draft, it certainly had its highlights. From the attendees getting picked, to hearing Clint Frazier sing (something I never want to hear again), to Nick Ciuffo wiggling his ears, to the awkward moment when Ian Clarkin was taken by the Yankees despite the fact that he and his father both hate the team and were very happy when they lost the 2001 World Series, all in all, it was an interesting night. Now, we focus on the winners and losers of the draft:
Winners: Most Teams that had more than one first round choice in the draft.
Most teams that had two or more (in the case of the Yankees) first round draft choices used them on big name talent. The Pirates used their two picks on the consensus top hitter in the draft, and the top catcher in Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire. The Cardinals used their picks to bolster their pitching, specifically their southpaws, with Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales and Garden State prepster Rob Kaminsky. And the Yankees have begun their transition to the future with the selections of third baseman Eric Jagielo of Notre Dame, expected to take over for Alex Rodriguez, Aaron Judge, the freakishly large and athletic outfielder from Fresno State, and California prepster Ian Clarkin, who apparently had to quickly change his fan allegiance after saying he hated the Yankees. All in all, very solid names came to those who picked more than once. However…
Loser: Texas Rangers
Billy McKinney, a home state product and the second best prep corner infielder, was available at pick 23. The Rangers bypassed him, going for Oral Roberts starter Alex Gonzalez. Jon Denney, the third best prep catcher, was available at pick 30, and the Rangers went with Travis Demerritte, who wasn’t even close to being the best available prep shortstop after JP Crawford was picked. Two stupid decisions in one night. Must be a sign of things to come. The Rangers have generally had good picks in recent years, opting for prep talent which could contribute down the line, but this time, they overvalued their two picks. Will it come back to bite them? Possibly, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Winner: Mark Appel and the Houston Astros
Apparently waiting an extra year did help Appel in his quest to go first overall. The Astros, who bypassed him a year ago for prep shortstop Carlos Correa, decided that he was ready the second time around, and picked him first overall. Appel, a Houston native and soon-to-be Stanford alum, was considered, along with Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray and San Diego infielder Kris Bryant, to be a top pick. Because of his college experience, he should be fast tracked to the major leagues.
Loser: Jon Denney
You know how ESPN focuses on football players waiting to be drafted by showing shots of them in the green room, like they did with Aaron Rodgers, Brady Quinn, and Geno Smith? If they were covering the MLB draft, you can bet that one of the things they’d show more than anything else would be Jon Denney, waiting in the dugout while the names came and went. Denney, who was originally considered the top prep catcher, had a senior slump which dropped his stock. Nobody expected him to fall out of the second round, but unfortunately, he did. What’s worse for Denney is that the remainder of the draft will be done by conference call, instead of live television, No draft hat for him with the team logo on the side, no jersey, no putting his name on the board, no picture with Bud Selig, and no interview with the MLB network “on field” reporter. Sad. However, there are several options for him. He could sign with the team that does draft him, and likely he will be picked in the third round, he could go to a junior college program and resubmit his name for the draft next year, or he could go to college and rise his stock in time for the 2016 draft.
Winner: Billy McKinney
Billy McKinney is a Texan, but his allegiance lies in Oakland. Before the draft, he was asked if he was a Rangers fan, however, he said “No no, I’m an A’s fan” The A’s must have heard this and tabbed him to be their first baseman of the future. With two consecutive high schoolers chosen in the first round, Billy Beane is departing from his moneyball drafting strategy of high floor collegians in favor of high ceiling prepsters. McKinney and 2012 first rounder Addison Russell will be probably the most hyped prep players in Oakland since Todd Van Poppel and Ariel Prieto, but hopefully they won’t fizzle like the other two did.
Loser: Moneyball drafting
Billy Beane went 11 years between drafting prep players in the first round. Starting in 2002 and ending in 2011, the A’s selected collegians in the first round. Some panned out, like Nick Swisher, Jemile Weeks, and Huston Street. Others failed, like Jeremy Brown, John McCurdy, and Corey Brown. It seems that Beane has outgrown this phase, and ventured back into the prep drafting phase. With choices like Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, it has shown that Oakland is ready to ditch the drafting system that made them famous. That doesn’t mean that Moneyball is dead entirely, as Oakland still goes for cheap talent that can get them wins.
Winner: Nick Ciuffo’s ears
When Tampa Bay took their catcher of the future, we all learned that he has an interesting fact about him: He can wiggle his ears. When he was chosen, we got to see first hand, his talent. Although not as awesome as Courtney Hawkins doing a backflip in a suit, Ciuffo wiggling his ears like a mischevious leprechaun certainly was a highlight of the night.
Loser: Clint Frazier’s pipes.
There should be a rule that states that unless athletes have good singing voices, they should avoid singing entirely. Clint Frazier didn’t get the memo, and “graced” the viewers with his half-dead rendition of a certain Taylor Swift song that I absolutely refuse to name. Stick to baseball, Clint.
Winner: Colorado Rockies
Jonathan Gray’s positive Adderall test may have hurt his draft stock, but he still fell into the welcoming arms of the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies, who have yet to produce a true franchise pitcher, may have finally found their star. A workhorse with a 102 mile per hour fastball, Gray projects to be the ace of the Rockies staff for years to come.
Loser: San Francisco Giants
Either the Giants are really smart, or really stupid, because their first round pick were not even remotely close to the MLB top 100 prospects. Christian Arroyo, a shortstop, the position which they are set with. With Brandon Crawford in the majors and 2011 first rounder Joe Panik at AA, it made absolutely no sense for them to go after Arroyo. Similarly, the Giants could have picked a catcher in the hopes that when Buster Posey does inevitably have to move to first base, he would be ready to take over. Jon Denney was available. Instead, they bypassed him twice in favor of Arroyo and Ryder Jones, a prep third baseman. If Denney is still available by the time the Giants pick next, then they should seriously consider taking him.
Winner: Harold Reynolds
Harold Reynolds is the consummate professional analyst at the 2013 draft, and is starting to draw comparisons to Mel Kiper in terms of his experience. Reynolds, a former baseball player and fourth round draft pick, has the most insight into the situation, as he’s actually been there and done it. Reynolds will be the face of the MLB draft for years to come.
Loser: Pedro Astacio
I dont’ know which was more painful to watch/hear: Clint Frazier “singing” or Pedro Astacio coming up to the podium to announce who the Rockies picked. Either way, it was awful. Astacio mumbled through his words, couldn’t get the names of the schools correct, and just stumbled in more ways that you can imagine. Even Bud Selig’s annual “with the X pick in the 2000 draft” was more bearable this year. Bring back Garrett Atkins.
Coming up: Draft Grades, steals, and busts.
The 2013 MLB Draft starts tomorrow at 7 PM at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. Studio 42 will once again be used for Bud Selig and the team representatives. The MLB Draft crew will be on the first base side of Studio 42, while all draftees that are in attendance will sit in the third base dugout.
This year marks the third consecutive year that prospects will be in attendance, and the fifth year overall that prospects have attended the draft. What started off as Phillippe Aumont, Josh Vitters, and Ross Detweiler in 2007, became Mike Trout in 2009, shortstop Larry Greene in 2011, and last year, a record five attendees: Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Marlins pitcher, and the first collegian to attend the draft in person, Andrew Heaney, Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins, and Brewers catcher Clint Coulter. All were selected in the first round, and all were given major recognition. This year, the number of draftees increases to eight who will be in attendance. They include six high schoolers, one Junior Collegian, and a collegian.
First off, the high schoolers:
Nick Ciuffo is one of the top three high school catchers that this draft has to offer. Ciuffo, who was the South Carolina player of the year, hit .468 with 5 homers and 33 RBI. I projected Ciuffo to be a late first round pick, going to the Tampa Bay Rays, whose catching system was decimated earlier this year.
JP Crawford is the best shortstop in one of the weakest middle infield classes in recent memory. Scouted as a contact hitter with an excellent glove, my belief is that he was going to be a top 15 pick, playing in his home state for the San Diego Padres.
Jon Denney is one of the three top high school catchers in this year’s draft. His stock took a hit this year after I originally mocked him to Minnesota. This time, I picked Denney to fall to Pittsburgh, where they will use their 13th pick on him.
The second of the two hyped Georgia outfielders, Clint Frazier has made a name for himself this year as his hit a triple crown line of .521/13/34 to end regular season play. Frazier’s friend and rival, Austin Meadows however, chose not to attend. Frazier was originally mocked to the Blue Jays by me before he moved up to Boston.
Billy McKinney may be the most underrated high school first baseman in the draft. A Texan, McKinney hit well in his home state and excelled in showcases. I mocked him to his home state Rangers twice, as the Rangers are prone to drafting home staters more than anything else.
Dominic Smith is another high school first baseman who has an interesting pedigree in terms of his school. it is common knowledge that Serra high school is one of the best hitters mills in the nation, producing alums like Barry Bonds, Jim Fregosi and Gregg Jeffries. I had originally mocked Smith to his home state Dodgers, but changed his choice to the White Sox.
Next, the Junior Collegian:
Tim Anderson has the benefit of a monster season and a weak middle infield class. Originally just an afterthought, Anderson shot up draft boards at an accelerated pace, to the point where he could be picked in the bottom half of the first round. I mocked him to the Cincinnati Reds with the final pick in the first round.
Lastly, the lone collegian
Aaron Judge is a physical specimen. 6’7 and an outfielder, Judge is a raw power hitter with defensive ability. He has drawn comparisons to Richie Sexon, and has proven that he can hit top flight pitchers (Mark Appel, for example). I had mocked him to hte Rangers with a compensatory selection, but ultimately moved him to the top 15, where the Mets took him at number 11.
Stay tuned for the draft, starting tomorrow night at seven, when the first and second round will be broadcasted.
This is a continuation of the new version of my MLB mock draft. The general rule of thumb in this is that teams draft best player available, although in some cases they will draft based on what is the cheapest option. We start off the second part of the draft with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and end with the New York Yankees.
13. Pittsburgh Pirates select Jon Denney, Catcher, Yukon High School, Oklahoma
(Prev. Trey Ball, Pitcher, New Castle High School, Indiana)
The Pirates have a pretty stacked minor league system in terms of most positions, so their pick will likely be a cheap one here. Jon Denney has plummeted on most draft boards, some would say that he barely stays in the first round. If the Pirates do select Denney, it shows that Boston College’s Tony Sanchez was not the right choice four years ago. Denney is classified as probably the second best catching prospect this year, behind McGuire, and his grades suggest that potential-wise, he could be one of the best draft choices, especially at a bargain. Look for the Pirates to at least try to lowball him, but rig him in at the end with a deal that will steer him away from his University of Arkansas commitment.
15. Arizona Diamondbacks select Braden Shipley, Pitcher, Nevada
(Prev. Kohl Stewart, Pitcher, St. Pius X High School, Texas)
A lot of MLB draft site have Shipley and the Diamondbacks pairing up, perhaps because Shipley’s fastball is one of the best in the draft, or maybe because Shipley has pitched in the dry climate of Nevada, which is quite similar to Arizona. Beyond Shipley’s fastball is a good mix of pitches that will serve as a developmental toolbox for the Nevada ace. Shipley could be the next big homegrown pitcher in Arizona, though, following in the footsteps of Brandon Webb and Josh Collmenter. His stock will probably go higher after the Tournament.
16. Philadelphia Phillies select Trey Ball, Pitcher/Outfielder, New Castle High School, Indiana
(Prev. Austin Wilson, Stanford)
It’s no secret that the Phillies have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Considering most of that system went to Houston for a season and a half of Roy Oswalt, the Phillies are more of a win-now team. This year, they do have two prospects in the top 100, both former high school aces, Jesse Biddle and Ethan Martin. Expect a third to come along. Trey Ball is not only a high school pitching ace, he also plays the outfield, so if pitching doesn’t work out, he can go there. Like Lance McCullers and Casey Kelly, he can go either way, so the team that drafts him may find themselves with either a solid rotation guy, or a decent high school outfielder, depending on which need is more pressing.
17. Chicago White Sox select Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra High School, California
(Prev. Reese McGuire, Catcher, Kentwood High School, Washington)
The only minor league system worse than Chicago’s right now is the Los Angeles Angels. Chicago has only one top 100 prospect in last year’s first round pick, Courtney Hawkins. That being said, the old Sox, mainly Paul Konerko, are starting to grind down or leave. When Konerko inevitably retires, it is highly likely that a homegrown first baseman will take over. That being said, with DJ Peterson already hypothetically being taken by the Mariners, Dominic Smith is the only logical choice left. Smith has the benefit of being a high machine in the high profile climate of Southern California baseball, in fact, he’s a 14 minute drive away from Dodger Stadium. Still, Smith’s bat is a high school equivalent to Paul Konerko, and while he’s still developing a home run swing, his defense is also tops.
18. Los Angeles Dodgers select Jonathon Crawford, Pitcher, Florida
(Prev. Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra High School, California)
Los Angeles is not known for patience, in fact, last year, they promoted second round pick Steven Rodriguez a mere two months after drafting him out of Florida. With the Dodgers underperforming, the team may have to start looking at college players to replace some of their aging and/or ineffective cogs. Jonathon Crawford is a pitcher who has a terrific fastball, a potentially powerful slider, and two good tertiary pitches. He’ll likely rise through the system quickly, and if the Dodgers are in contention by September, will likely be called in to make a spot start.
19. St. Louis Cardinals select Chris Anderson, Pitcher, Jacksonville University
(Prev. Marco Gonzales, Pitcher, Gonzaga)
St. Louis may need a revamped bullpen in a year or two, and Anderson, a small school product, may be a big help in retooling that bullpen. The Dolphins pitcher has a solid array of pitches, and a good amount of durability, but with the emergence of Michael Wacha in all likelihood taking Chris Carpenter’s vacant rotation spot, Anderson may find himself in a reliable bullpen role with Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte behind him.
20. Detroit Tigers select Hunter Renfroe, Outfielder, Mississippi State
(Prev. Oscar Mercado, Shortstop, Gaither High School, Florida)
Detroit’s outfield, once highly praised for its youth in Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, is starting to lose its sense of wonder. Torii Hunter is obviously here for temporary relief, and with Jackson hurt, and players like Avisail Garcia and Don Kelly holding the fort until Nick Castellanos comes up, Detroit may want to upgrade the outfield quickly. Hunter Renfroe has risen up draft boards to possibly a top ten pick, but in my mock, he falls to Detroit. Renfroe is raw, but his potential could outweigh his risk. While still developing a contact swing, he does have power, speed, and a big league outfield arm, which is perfectly suited for Comerica Park.
21. Tampa Bay Rays select Nick Ciuffo, Catcher, Lexington High School, South Carolina
Tampa Bay’s catcher depth was seriously compromised over the offseason, Stephen Vogt and Robinson Chirinos were traded, and with Jose Lobaton, Jose Molina, and Chris Gimenez as holders of the fort, it wouldn’t hurt to draft one of the many high school catchers in this year’s draft. Ciuffo is the ideal player, with good power and a great arm. He’s still devloping, but has the potential to become one of the better catchers in the American League if drafted there.
22. Baltimore Orioles select Marco Gonzales, Pitcher, Gonzaga
(Prev. Jonathon Crawford, Pitcher, Florida)
You can never have enough lefthanded pitching talent, and with the Orioles having a potentially solid rotation down the line, getting a small-school prospect like Gonzales would be a solid gamble. In addition to being a lefty, Gonzales has great command, with the changeup being his best weapon. Gonzales improved his stock the previous summer while pitching for Team USA. Gonzales could find himself as a back of the rotation option behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy.
23. Texas Rangers select Billy McKinney, Outfield, Plano West High School, Texas
Home state favorites are big for ballclubs. Billy McKinney is no exception to this rule. Though still developing, Mckinney has the chance to become the third best bat in this draft. He can’t run, and everything else is still developing, but the added benefit of playing in familiar territory will help him out plenty as he rises to the big leagues.
24. Oakland Athletics select Ian Clarkin, Pitcher, James Madison High School, California
I like Clarkin as Oakland’s pick not only because he has the potential to be the best prep lefty in the draft if Trey Ball converts to outfield, but because Clarkin is an In-state product. The one caveat here is that Billy Beane altered his draft strategy last year when he took prep shortstop Addison Russell, but if he’s content on dropping the established collegian strategy in favor of developing high schoolers, then it’s a major hit or miss. Still, Clarkin wows with his fastball, and had a decent Area Code games, which led to his stock rise to the first round.
25. San Francisco Giants select Austin Wilson, Outfield, Stanford
(Prev. Ryan Boldt, Outfield, Red Wing High School, Minnesota)
You don’t see a lot of Stanford outfielders in the big leagues, for reasons unknown, but sometimes, one just happens to slip through and make the majors. Austin Wilson didn’t sign out of high school and led a productive, if injury prone college career. San Francisco likes to draft collegians, especially after losing Zack Wheeler for a one year rental of Carlos Beltran. The Giants will want a toolsy guy to complement future Giants leadoff man Gary Brown, so there is a good chance that he will not go past this spot.
26. New York Yankees select Rob Kaminsky, Pitcher, St. Joseph Regional High School, New Jersey
(prev. Ryan Eades, Pitcher, LSU)
There’s something special about New Jersey prep baseball players, as they usually have solid to hall-of-fame careers.Rick Porcello and Mike Trout can attest to that. If the Yankees want the next big prep arm, then Kaminsky is their guy. He’s well developed for a high school pitcher with a college-level fastball and a good toolbox of pitches. Normally, northeastern prep baseball players are avoided until late in the draft, but Kaminsky is apparently one to be considered.
27. Cincinnati Reds select Tim Anderson, Shortstop, East Central Community College
(Prev. Cavan Biggio, Utility, St. Thomas High School, Texas)
JuCo players are like Stanford outfielders. Most don’t make it, but those who do generally are solid. This is evidenced by Craig Kimbrel and Bryce Harper, who have gone on to have good starts to their careers. The Reds are a team that are full of depth. They have plenty of pitching talent, decent catchers, a solid enough infield, and an outfield that will carry them this year, then next year, new pieces will take their place. It’s difficult to really pinpoint what the Reds would do with their first pick, but in all likelihood, they will take a shortstop, as they have none in their top 20 prospect rankings. Anderson did not get picked two years ago, but at ECCC, he’s really risen his draft stock to first round levels. Anderson is a throwback to the fast, defensive wizard shortstops with marginal hitting ability, which is good, as the power shortstop is beginning to decline. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Anderson to develop, but he should be a solid prospect for years.
Coming soon: The compensation and CB lottery picks, as well as top draftees by draft position.
The MLB Draft is less than two months away. With that in mind, it’s time to put on my Draft Cap, act like Mel Kiper Jr. and make my predictions as to which prospects are going where. But rather than doing an entire mock draft, I’m splitting it into three posts. The first round, which includes the new compensation round and competitive balance lottery picks, is 39 picks long. It begins with the Houston Astros and ends with the Detroit Tigers. It has been said that this year’s class is considered weak compared to previous ones as aside from Stanford ace and former Pirates pick Mark Appel, nobody stands out as a consensus number one selection. Regardless, I relish the challenge and will take a shot at determining who goes where. The general idea here is that the picks will be either best player available or by weakest position in farm system. Here we go.
1. Houston Astros: Mark Appel, Pitcher, Stanford
Mark Appel and first overall draft choice are two phrases that have been used in the same sentence before. Last year, it was almost certain that the Astros were going for the big Stanford ace, but they ultimately decided that prep shortstop Carlos Correa would be a better investment as a top pick. That being said, Appel did not sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that did draft him, and ultimately returned to Stanford. In a relatively weak class like this one, Appel is a certainty. He has top pick written all over him, especially with the mid 90’s fastball that scouts have continually gushed over. Appel seems to also be a top candidate for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to college baseball’s best player as well. If the Astros are willing to give Appel the money that he asks for, expect him to be an anchor in an up-and-coming rotation.
2. Chicago Cubs: Sean Manaea, Pitcher, Indiana State
The NFL Draft has Workout Warriors, the NBA Draft has Tournament Stars, and Major League Baseball has Cape Cod Kings. This is the name given to baseball players who play in summer leagues and excel, raising their draft stock for that sole reason. Sean Manaea became the latest CCK when he registered a 5-1 record and a 1.22 ERA. The Indiana State product had previously not garnered much attention, but with the Summer league and a high-90’s velocity on his fastball, the Cubs will likely abandon their latest draft tradition of drafting high ceiling high school position players in favor of Manaea, who draws a comparison to a left handed Matt Harvey.
3. Colorado Rockies: Austin Meadows, Outfield/First Baseman, Grayson High School, Georgia
Last year, the Rockies selected one of the biggest sleeper picks in Oak Mountain High School outfielder David Dahl. Expect them to do something similar this year with Grayson High School’s Austin Meadows. While Meadows’ primary position is outfield, Colorado could move him to first base and have him develop as an infielder throughout his minor league career. Meadows, like Dahl is a plus hitter with some speed. Whereas the humid Georgia air had a dampening effect on Meadows’ power, if drafted by the Rockies, Meadows could become one of the best hitters in baseball.
4. Minnesota Twins: Jon Denney, Catcher, Yukon High School, Oklahoma
The last time the Twins selected a high profile prep catcher in the first round, his name was Joe Mauer, and he soon became one of the best catchers in baseball. Minnesota’s catching depth behind Drew Butera is suspect, and unless the Twins are content with having him or Ryan Doumit serve as Mauer’s successor when he retires or moves to another position, Oklahoma’s Jon Denney will likely be the best choice for the Twins. Denney is like Mauer in a lot of ways. He has power in his bat, and is a defensive asset. He certainly will fit in with Minnesota’s recent philosophy of drafting high ceiling prep products, as evidenced by last year’s selections of Byron Buxton and J.O Berrios.
5. Cleveland Indians: Kris Bryant, Third Baseman, San Diego
College baseball players take less time to develop, and Cleveland has opted to go that route before, especially with last year’s pick of Tyler Naquin. In Bryant, the team not only gets a dependable third baseman but also a legitimate power threat, perfect for Progressive Field’s dimensions. While the team does already have a third baseman in Lonnie Chisenhall and a power threat in Mark Reynolds, Bryant is a better hitter than Chisenhall and doesn’t strike out as much as Reynolds. In addition, Chisenhall would be more valuable as a trade chip anyway. Bryant should be at the top of Cleveland’s board, especially since he is the fourth best player available.
6. Miami Marlins: DJ Peterson, First Baseman, New Mexico
Miami’s biggest weakness in their minor league system is first base, and the draft is relatively weak in that position. Fortunately, there is at least one college first baseman who could fit in the Marlin future. DJ Peterson may be a reach right now, but if he can repeat what he did in the summer leagues and Team USA, his stock should rise exponentially. Peterson also has power, as he was Team USA’s best hitter over the summer. That could translate well in the cavernous Marlins Park. It will certainly be interesting to see him, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup.
7. Boston Red Sox: Ryne Stanek, Pitcher, Arkansas
The MLB Draft has its fair share of tumblers, players that are projected to go high but fall down. Usually, its money, sometimes its injury related, sometimes it’s both. Ryne Stanek is a tumbler because of injuries and possible demands of a high contract. Stanek is projected as the top pitcher in some drafts, and in some cases, he could go as high as first overall. While he does have the talent, the teams that do pick before Boston are usually not at a luxury to spend high on draft picks. Boston is an ideal destination as the Red Sox have a top rotation in the making with Matt Barnes and Henry Owens coming up. Expect Stanek to be a solid second or third starter in Boston’s rotation.
8. Kansas City Royals: Jonathan Gray, Pitcher, Oklahoma
Like Sean Manaea, Jonathan Gray has risen quickly up draft boards. Kansas City should take a look at him because of his ability to throw 100+ miles per hour. While the Royals do have a solid cache of pitchers in their arsenal already, Gray could be used in any aspect. Prospects2pros envisions Gray as a closer for the Royals, especially with his speed and his pitch arsenal. In addition, with the Wil Myers trade taking away two of the Royals’ top pitching prospects, Gray could become Kansas City’s first big pitching star since Zach Greinke.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (Compensation for inability to sign Mark Appel): Chris Anderson, Pitcher, Jacksonville University
The Pirates are not big on selecting small school prospects, (see Alvarez, Pedro, Cole, Gerrit, Appel, Mark, Taillon, Jameson) but in Chris Anderson, the team may just have to go around that bias and take a hard look. Anderson compares to fellow draftmate Jonathon Crawford in size, pitch speed, and athletic ability, but unlike the University of Florida ace, Anderson has a lot more to gain, especially after facing stiffer competition. Considering the last small-school Florida college star (Chris Sale) has done a lot for himself since being drafted, getting a guy like Anderson could catapult the Pirates pitching rotation to the top.
10: Toronto Blue Jays: Clint Frazier, Outfield, Loganville High School, Georgia
If Austin Meadows were to lose two inches and ten pounds, curl his hair and dye it orange, learn to bat and throw righthanded, and transfer to Loganville High School, then people would probably say that the two were separated at birth. Frazier is a bit undersized for an outfielder, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in ability. As previously mentioned, Frazier and Meadows are similar talents, and in a hitters park like the Rogers Centre, Frazier could make the most out of Toronto.
11. New York Mets: Phillip Ervin, Outfield, Samford
Even if the Mets’ outfield is performing better than expected, Sandy Alderson should seriously use the 11th pick on a college outfielder with a high ceiling, especially since the team still lacks a true leadoff man. In Phillip Ervin, the Mets are getting some of the fastest legs in the draft, as well as a bat that can hit ten to fifteen home runs in a good year. Like Clint Frazier, however, he is undersized, and like Chris Anderson, he hasn’t had the benefit of playing for a major college program, but in a place like Citi Field, Ervin will certainly thrive for years to come.
12. Seattle Mariners: Colin Moran, Third Baseman, North Carolina
Seattle has made plenty of investments in SEC and ACC players in the past few years, like Josh Fields, Dustin Ackley, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and most recently, Mike Zunino. Don’t expect them to buck the trend this year, especially if Colin Moran is still on the board. Moran, the nephew of former first overall pick BJ Surhoff, has the ability to spray hits around the park and his defensive capability make him an ideal candidate to play in Seattle’s infield with fellow Tar Heels alum Ackley. His power would be ideal for the newly shifted Safeco Field, and he would be a solid fast track developer.
13. San Diego Padres: JP Crawford, Shortstop, Lakewood High School, California
San Diego’s recent trend of drafting long term projects could suit them here, especially with a premier talent like JP Crawford still on the board. Crawford is similar to current shortstop Everth Cabrera, but he has more offensive capability. Crawford garnered nation attention in the Under Armour Showcases during the summer, and scouts feel that he will develop into a Jeter-like shortstop. If the Padres get Crawford and he matures correctly, they could have one of the top left infields in baseball by the end of the decade.