Tagged: Billy Hamilton

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.

 

 

 

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My Day at the Futures Game and the Celebrity Softball game.

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Yesterday, after waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I finally made the trek over to Citi Field to attend All-Star Sunday. I had planned this weeks in advance with my dad, and two of my cousins.

Right about where we sat.

Right about where we sat.

We bought tickets out in right field, in section 106 in the 23rd row: the seats were pretty close to the field. It was agreed that my dad and I would meet our cousins at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Due to unforeseen complications, however, one cousin had to back out, as he had been “roped” into meeting his girlfriend’s friend from Miami. And that, my friends, is the true definition of being “whipped”. He gave his ticket to my uncle, so there wasn’t that much issue there.

We had a late start however, as the car needed gas, thanks in part to me sharing the car with my sister, who needed the car for delivering flowers. So when we finally made it to the ballpark, it was about 1:20, and because nobody had thought to get a parking pass, we had to park in the satellite lot across from the park. Incidentally, it cost $35 to park. Yes, $35. Highway robbery? Yes. Fortunately, those prices are for the All-star festivities only, and will revert back to the normal $15 by the time the festivities end, because if that was the actual price, you can bet that going to a ballgame is going to be more of a challenge than before.

We made it to the stadium by 1:30, and after finding out that my cousin (the non-whipped one,) was still waiting for the 7 train to arrive, and my uncle had mistakenly driven all the way to Coney Island thinking the game was there, and would predictably be late, we ended up trekking to our seats, but not before purchasing the official program for the game, and getting a free All-star Sunday handout.

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Interestingly enough, Citi Field was selling both this program, which was the special edition one, and the regular program for the same price. Guess which one I took?

It didn’t take long to reach the seats, to which I then took some photos. I apologize in advance for the quality, these were taken on an old Iphone 4.

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This was a picture of the outfielders for Team USA.

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This is Noah Syndergaard, the Mets pitching prospect acquired this past offseason for R.A Dickey.

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This is Padres catcher Austin Hedges

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This is the All-star Game Apple.

I stopped taking pictures for a while, and enjoyed the flag ceremony as well as the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) ceremony. After that was done, the Futures gamers were announced. Predictably, the Mets, especially Brandon Nimmo, who had been voted into the game, were cheered, and all Yankees players were booed.

The first inning was pretty quick. Noah Syndergaard set down Padres outfielder Reymond Fuentes, probably best known for being included in the Adrian Gonzalez trade two offseasons ago, then future Cub Arismendy Alcantara before giving up a single to Red Sox Super Prospect Xander Bogaerts. This was followed by an impressive strikeout of Twins prospect Miguel Sano.

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The bottom half of the inning saw Mets fast riser Rafael Montero pitching for the World Team. He was untouchable, as he set down Billy Hamilton, Delino DeShields, and George Springer without batting an eyelash.

I then took another photo of Taijuan Walker and Matt Davidson in the second inning. Again, pardon the blurriness.

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It’s kind of hard to see, but Walker was wearing stirrups while pitching, a nice touch.

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Here’s a better look.

My cousin finally made it by that time, so that was good. He told me that the wait for the train was so long that he bought a sandwich and snacks while he was waiting.

Team USA drew first blood by the way, thanks to Christian Yelich’s base hit in the second. Yelich went 2 for 2, and likely would have been named MVP if Anthony Ranaudo had not coughed up the lead later in the game.

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After that came a generally quiet third inning which was used more to showcase Arizona’s Archie Bradley more than anything else. Bradley got a hold, probably the only hold he will ever get in what will likely be a long career.

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The real damage done by the World team happened in the fourth inning. With Boston’s Anthony Ranaudo on the mound, Alcantara ripped a right field home run that tied the game. Yes, this is a .gif, I’m not cheap after all. This was followed by Xander Bogaerts scoring on a single in which he beat Austin Hedges on a tag. Unfortunately, I missed the live play, as I was in the concession line getting an early dinner of two Nathan’s hot dogs with ketchup braised onions and an Aquafina water. (MLB likes to hear their sponsors names, so don’t call me a sellout.)

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My uncle finally arrived in the middle of the fifth inning. Better late than never, I suppose. How he came to believe that the game was in Brooklyn is still beyond me.

Fortunately, he didn’t miss Joc Pederson reaching on a double, then Matt Davidson crushing a Michael Ynoa pitch into the left-center field seats for the go-ahead home run.

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Nice tounge, Davidson

The game was fairly uneventful after that. Jesse Biddle came into the game to a chorus of boos, obviously because he’s a Phillies product, and earned the win.

Brandon Nimmo, who I had hoped would play today, finally made his way into the game, along with Byron Buxton.

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As a prospect writer, I try to follow a lot of prospects on twitter, and friend the occasional ones on Facebook. Yes, I sent them links to my futures game articles, and yes, I told them that I would be there, and yes, they “liked” it. I love my hobby.

I sent a tweet to Nimmo for him to read later, saying that I was glad that he had made it into the game.

Eventually, the heat, which I neglect to mention, got too unbearable, so we beat a hasty retreat to the air conditioned confines of the Caesar’s club, where we watched the rest of the game in comfort. Garin Cecchini, top Red Sox prospect and brother to Mets prospect Gavin,  scored an insurance run, and AJ Cole of the Nationals earned the save.

Did I mention that during the game, the mascots for most of the teams came out during the t-shirt launch, and seventh inning stretch? While my favorite mascots are Mr. and Mrs. Met, seeing mascots like Dinger of the Rockies, (the purple triceratops) Orbit of the Astros (the alien, and a major improvement over Junction Jack, the previous mascot) and Sluggerrrrr of the Royals (the lion) was pretty cool, especially since I had never seen them in person before. What was funny about it was seeing Dinger really get into the “Lazy Mary” number.

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Because the tickets were for both events on All-star Sunday, we stayed for the Taco Bell All-star legends and celebrities softball game. Having moved from the Caesars club to a covered part of the stadium, we had a bird’s eye view of everything.

My favorite celebrities at the game were Kevin James, Brian Kilmeade, (boy were they ribbing on him during the game)

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Jennie Finch (although I wanted Kate Upton to be there)

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and finally, the wounded warrior, Josh Wege, who won MVP honors with James.

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It was also interesting to see Frank Thomas pitch, and Mike Piazza back behind the plate, as well as Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden both playing.

All in all, it was a fun day, and certainly one heck of a way to promote the All-star game. Sure it was slightly expensive, but beyond that, the games were enjoyable, the prospects were fun to watch, and all in all, it was worth the hour and a half long drive.

 

Futures Game 2013: What you need to know about Team USA.

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All-Star Sunday is only 16 days away. What is considered the precursor to the big game consists of the All-Star Legends and Celebrity softball game and the Futures game. While we still do not know which celebrities will be playing, we were treated to the 2013 futures game rosters.

Here is the full list, from CBS Sports.

As you can see, the rosters are a little different from last time. Now, there’s no Jurickson Profar, Zack Wheeler, Dylan Bundy, basically, those who have reached the majors are all off the list. Still, there are some interesting names to look for.

Today, we look at part of the roster for Team USA.

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Team USA’s staff consists of plenty of high school arms. Among them are Phillies top prospect Jesse Biddle, Diamondbacks top prospect Archie Bradley, Giants top prospect Kyle Crick,  Rays 2011 top draft pick Taylor Guerrieri, Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker, and the most interesting USA pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, acquired by the Mets in the Dickey deal in the offseason. Syndergaard is interesting in the fact that he blazed through Port St. Lucie en route to a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Binghamton. Syndergaard is turning heads, and may be considered the real top prospect in the Dickey deal, as Travis d’Arnaud has been sidelined with a broken foot since April. It is widely believed, and in some ways, hoped, that Syndergaard will start, although in all likelihood, Walker may get the ball, as he is the only pitcher in Triple-A.

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In the catcher/infield department, the two big standouts are Padres backstop Austin Hedges and Addison Russell of the A’s. Hedges, who needed a lot of money in order to break his college commitment, tore through the Midwest league, and is now playing for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm, where he has done similar work in the California League. Addison Russell was the first pick in Billy Beane’s Anti-moneyball philosophy era, and he’s proven to be one wise choice. Having dazzled in his pro debut last season. Russell is now playing for the Stockton Ports, where he faces Hedges. Russell will not see any major league action for a while, but when he does come up, expect the label #1 prospect in baseball to come with him.

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In the outfield, the two notable names to look out for are Twins prospect Byron Buxton and Reds prospect Billy Hamilton. Buxton was the number two pick in the 2012 draft and while he started out slowly, he’s really turned himself around this season, and has already made it to the Fort Myers Miracle in the Florida State League. On the other hand, Hamilton is a name that has been on the radar for quite some time. Last year, Hamilton broke the minor league record for most stolen bases in a season, and although he has yet to be promoted, given the future of the Reds outfield, expect him to suit up in either August or September.

This year, Major League baseball has decided to add a little fun to the game, by having the people choose the final representative. a la the final vote in the MLB all-star game. There are five candidates to choose from.

Tyler Austin, outfielder, Yankees

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All you need to know about Austin is that he’s a converted catcher, and has been the most hyped Yankees prospect since Robinson Cano.

Nick Castellanos, outfield, Tigers.

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Castellanos caught national attention when he was named MVP of last year’s game. A return appearance would be welcome, although if Castellanos is promoted, he will no longer be eligible.

Garin Cecchini, Third baseman, Red Sox

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Cecchini is probably the most hyped Red Sox prospect not named Xander Bogaerts. He is currently leading the minors in batting average, and may be the clear favorite for the final spot.

Courtney Hawkins, outfield, White Sox

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Hawkins currently stands as the White Sox best prospect, and his athleticism and tools certainly have put him on the map. He has made a quick jump to the Carolina League, and would be a darkhorse for the final spot.

Brandon Nimmo, Outfield, Mets

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Nimmo is the ultimate underdog here. Not only is he at the lowest level among the Final Vote prospects, but he was drafted out of Wyoming, a state that does not sponsor baseball. Nimmo is toolsy with speed, and he can hit. He can make the final roster based on hometown popularity, though.

To conclude this post, there is a poll, which will ask who you want for the final spot for Team USA.

(Update: Brandon Nimmo is currently leading in the real poll with 39% of the vote. Trailing him with 23% is Garin Cecchini, followed by Castellanos at 20% while Austin and Hawkins bring up the rear at 9%)

Up next: the World Team profile.