With MLB’s draft pick signing deadline set for 5:00 today, there are obviously several high holdouts that have yet to ink deals. In total, in the first two rounds, competitive balance picks included, there are 7 picks who remain unsigned. Considering the measures taken to limit bonus pool money, the fact that only three first round picks are unsigned indicates that something clearly is working here. Whats even more surprising is the fact that there are no high school first round picks who haven’t signed. But I digress.
This article will focus on the remaining unsigned first and competitive balance round picks in the draft. There are four of them. Without further delay, here they are.
1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Diamondbacks.
The first overall pick becomes the second straight pick to hold off signing at the deadline. But unlike Brady Aiken last season, whose UCL wiped out any chance of him receiving a top level bonus, Swanson is perfectly healthy, and has no incentive to return to school.
Why he will sign:
As the first overall pick, Swanson is perfectly capable of commanding the $8,616,900 recommended bonus that is the league recommendation. The Diamondbacks have a large enough pool to afford the deal, and considering the fact that all but one of their first 10 picks signed for at-slot deals, and their only other remaining major commitment is 12th rounder Wesley Rodriguez, it seems that the best way to say it is that all that needs to be done is figure out how much money they want to commit to him.
As of now, the top bonus in the draft belongs to #2 pick Alex Bregman, who topped out with $5.9 million. If all goes well in Swanson’s camp, and given the fact that the negotiations between them and the D-Backs camp have been more about evaluating his market, I could see Arizona following their trend and signing him at slot. Should Rodriguez who may elect to recover from Tommy John surgery in college choose not to sign, the D-Backs could afford to sweeten the pot by offering him even more. However, the verdict is this. Swanson will sign, and based on the positive lines of communication, he’ll be rewarded handsomely.
24. Walker Buehler, RHP, Dodgers
The first of two remaining unsigned Dodgers, Buehler was a solid starter and piece of the 2014 NCAA champions and 2015 NCAA runners up. Buehler at one point was considered the best of the three Vanderbilt products taken in the first round, but slipped all the way to the 24th pick.
Why he will sign.
This one comes down to two major factors: Who do the Dodgers want to commit their remaining pool money to, and how much can they afford to? In addition to Buehler, the Dodgers do have another first round pick and a 6th rounder who have yet to sign, but the chances that they sign all three are incredibly slim. Buehler had a decent season this year, even if he had to take a 2 and a half week break to rest during the season.
The Dodgers ideally would want to sign Buehler because he would further add to the arsenal of future arms set to take over the Dodger rotation in the coming years. Given that Buehler is a college pitcher, there would be a chance for him to come up as early as late 2016 or early 2017.
Buehler would be the Dodgers’ best chance to sign, and if it means that they have to commit what remaining bonus money under the 5% threshold they have to sign him, then they should, and should let go of their remaining picks.
35, Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Dodgers
Kyle Funkhouser at one point in the draft was considered the top righthanded pitching prospect in the draft, but a down junior season dropped his stock, and he tumbled all the way down to the 35th pick.
Why he won’t sign:
The way I look at this, Kyle Funkhouser has leverage that former potential top pick Michael Matuella didn’t have. A bad junior season? Fine, go back to school, see if you can rebound, and hope to enter next year’s top pick conversation. Matuella didn’t have that same leverage because of his Tommy John surgery and back issues, which would have prevented him from pitching at all in his senior year.
Funkhouser knows that he’s worth more that whatever the Dodgers can offer him, and given the fact that they spent their top picks on college pitchers, he likely views himself as the odd man out.
Admittedly, the risks of returning to school for a senior season are big. What if Funkhouser doesn’t improve? What if he’s only able to slightly raise his stock from last season? Since compensation for losing a first round draft pick began, only one player who didn’t sign was a collegian, and that was Stanford’s Mark Appel in 2012. Granted, Appel was able to move from being selected by the Pirates at 8th overall to the Astros at first overall, but his decision to return doesn’t indicate a trend.
The only way I see Funkhouser choose to sign is if the Dodgers elect to not sign Edwin Rios, their sixth rounder. If they do that, they could try and split the remaining threshold bonus pool money they have in the hopes of getting both Buehler and Funkhouser. Knowing full well that the Dodgers don’t want to be the first team to lose a draft pick for exceeding their pool, the chances of that happening are pretty slim. In all likelihood, it will come down choosing between Buehler and Funkhouser, and signs indicate Buehler is their first choice.
40. Nathan Kirby, LHP: Brewers
Nathan Kirby was a preseason favorite to be a top pick in the draft, but an ineffective junior season towards the end dropped his stock and pushed him to the CB round, where the Brewers snatched him.
Why he will sign:
An article on the Daily Progress’ UVA sports blog indicates that Kirby has decided to wait until just before the deadline to sign. For Kirby, going pro would be the best decision. The Cavaliers will be fine without him, especially with the emergence of Connor Jones as a staff ace. Plus, as a UVA product, Kirby has a chance to go through the minor league system quickly. The Brewers could use the remainder of the minor league season to shut down Kirby and wait until next season, when he will be fully healthy and ready to go.
Considering the Brewers have made no effort to sign their gamble picks, Justin Hooper, Donny Everett and John India, they could definitely allocate the money they have left towards a higher bonus for Kirby.
The first 14 picks have been revealed for MinorLeagueMadhouse’s 2015 MLB Mock Draft; what happens with the next seven?
15. Atlanta Braves
The Braves dismantled their outfield, with the exception of BJ Upton, this winter, sending Justin Upton to the Padres and Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. When a team decides to take apart an area that could be considered well-established, it’s clear that something has gone wrong. Even the current Braves outfield leaves a lot to be desired, which brings me to whom they should draft.
DJ Stewart is Florida State’s top outfielder, a tank of a man, who, although he saw his stock drop somewhat due to a poor summer, scouts feel that it’s nothing to worry about.
Though he looks the part of a slugger, Stewart needs some fine tuning to actually be a true power hitter, as his stance and swing prevents him from making powerful contact.Although it looks like a reach now, Stewart’s potential, plus the opportunity in his junior year, will definitely springboard him into the top 15, especially in a weak collegiate hitter’s market.
Not only that, but Chipper Jones would potentially endorse the move, especially given the fact that Stewart went to Jones’ prep alma mater.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers are probably the last place you’d look these days for a homegrown pitcher, but the emergence of Tyler Thornburg and Jimmy Nelson as potential All-Star starters has allowed the team to stop being averse to drafting high pitching. Heck, they took a chance on Devin Williams and Kodi Medeiros the past two years, maybe it’s time to go for a bigger fish after having slow success with the once thought to be deadly combination of Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley. In this year’s strong collegiate pitching class, the Brewers have plenty of options, even if they’re mainly right-handed starters.
Take Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer for instance. The latest in a long line of intriguing Vanderbilt prospects, Fulmer can throw mid 90’s heat with regularity, and has solid secondary and tertiary offerings to give him dimension. What Fulmer needs work on is his control, and his delivery needs to be less… severe.
Although scouts will constantly knock pitchers who lack height, Fulmer’s experience with the Commodores and Team USA, both premier levels of competition, have shown that it is just a number, and given Marcus Stroman’s successful debut this season, Fulmer can only help that opinion change further.
17. New York Yankees
When it comes to the Yankees, especially in the draft, they usually go for players that either have major name recognition or are just plain good. Need proof? In 2008, the team drafted Gerrit Cole, who three years later would become the top pick in the 2011 draft, and another two years later, the ace of the Pittsburgh Pirates staff. In 2011, they drafted Dante Bichette Jr, the former little league star and son of Rockies legend Dante Bichette. In 2012, they drafted Rob Refsnyder, that year’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player, and in 2013, they took Ian Clarkin, who has emerged as one of the best young starters of the 2013 class.
2015 might as well be known as the year of the famous retreads, as both Brady Aiken and Phil Bickford, a former CSU Fullerton Titan, now a member of the College of Southern Nevada, highlight this year’s class. Bickford’s got the fame, as the only member of the 2013 first round draft class not to sign, he’s since dominated the summer league circuit after a meh freshman year at Fullerton. After being voted the Cape’s best prospect, Bickford left Fullerton, deciding that 2016 was too long of a wait for him.
Bickford’s fastball is the main reason why he’s such an appealing project, a mid 90’s offering with plenty of life, he can play the strike zone to his advantage. His slider has also become a solid pitch, and while he does need development on his third, a change, he could become a solid 3 pitch starter. Bickford is definitely more than a name though, and he’ll be worth watching when he plays his final season in college, or to be more precise, junior college.
18. Cleveland Indians
I find it incredibly hard to believe that the Cleveland Indians are that bad at developing starting pitchers, especially out of college. What are they, anti-moneyball? While they have had success with developing pitchers that they have gotten elsewhere, see Corey Kluber as the major example, the fact that the Indians have failed to make a homegrown pitcher blossom since CC Sabathia is baffling. Maybe there is hope that Kyle Crockett will buck the trend, but that’s another story.
There’s a caveat to developing small school pitchers, that the athlete will be on a major learning curve, that they haven’t exactly faced prime competition, but really, if it’s that hard, then why draft small school pitchers in the first place? Of course, pitchers like Division II star and Cal Poly Pomona ace Cody Ponce would really be at a major disadvantage.
Ponce worked his way through two seasons of California Collegiate Athletic Association baseball to make it to the Cape League this past summer, and while there, scouts got a taste of why Ponce is special.
While he is a work in progress, Ponce does offer more pitches than your average hurler, and a strong fastball can be improved even more if Ponce can give it more life. Ponce’s appeal though is his ability to keep the ball in the park, and while Progressive Field is no Yankee Stadium, and the CCAA is no SEC, the ability to keep the ball in the park is going to help Ponce more than hurt him regardless of competition or home stadium.
Ponce will be a work in progress, but if the Indians pitching coaches can somehow turn a Stetson product into a Cy Young winner, it wouldn’t hurt to see what they could do with a Division II star.
19. San Francisco Giants
I am of the belief that a team often needs to stretch out of their comfort zone when it comes to drafting and developing prospects. And while I did catch a little flak for saying the Giants should go for a prep outfielder when there were plenty of pitchers, which is their forté, my belief is that the Giants will need to build in other areas in order to stay competitive.
A third baseman can be replaced by the next man up, in this case, Matt Duffy, but when you lose two big power guys in one offseason, in a weak free agent class, then maybe it’s time to start looking at future homegrowns.
I’ve been pretty high on Miami 1B/3B David Thompson for a while. He’s a prodigy, the first Hurricane hitter to ever make his debut as a cleanup man, and a constant All-America threat. While his sophomore campaign was cut short due to life saving surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, he showed that he hadn’t lost a step when he played in the Cape that summer. Thompson is a student of the game, he was able to reinvent his swing after his injury, and he really adjusted to the learning curve in summer ball.
Health will be an issue, but if Thompson is able to get back to his freshman potential, then he’ll definitely be a late first round pick.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates
Every so often, there’s a team that has such a dearth of talent in their system that you wish they would just not have a first round pick. In this case, it’s the Pirates. The Pirates are strong in this year’s draft’s areas of strength, outfield, and right-handed pitcher, which means that BPA is the best way to go.
The BPA for the Pirates would be Brother Rice High School outfielder Nick Plummer, A lefty, Plummer is valuable because he has advanced power for his age. Plummer also has a good baseball IQ, taking “reach” pitches and aiming for the gaps.
Plummer is no Andrew McCutchen, nor is he Austin Meadows, but he could find value in a lineup as a 6 hitter. It’ll be interesting to see if he can improve his stock in the coming season.
21. Oakland Athletics
I could use the refrain from Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler as my intro for the Oakland A’s, as they pretty much gambled their bright future, that is, Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, etc. for a shot at the World Series which ultimately failed, leading to a Marlins type fire sale for prospects whom I wouldn’t even recognize.
It was clear that when the A’s ditched Moneyball, they really got some major talent, but sometimes, familiarity with an old system may be the best option. In fact, familiarity as a whole is often the best way of going at things during a rebuild.
Meet University of the Pacific outfielder Gio Brusa. In perhaps the weakest hitting class of any draft, Brusa stands out by being a switch hitting slugger. Although he’s only recently reclaimed his hitting ability in summer ball that led to a failed 5 round courtship by Boston in 2012, Brusa’s potential could lead to him hitting 3rd in a major league lineup.
Brusa is a more well-rounded athlete as he has solid running and fielding ability to complement his hitting. He also has the added appeal of being an in state and somewhat local product; University of the Pacific is based in Stockton, home of the Ports, the A’s California League club.
University of Miami senior Javi Salas became only the 23rd pitcher to throw a perfect game in college baseball history. Salas went the full nine innings in a 17-0 drubbing of Villanova. The game had a human interest element as his brother Jorge Salas was in the broadcast booth and had the honor of calling his brother’s perfecto.
Salas joins a rare company of Division One pitchers who have thrown a perfect game in college; only 22 others have done so, the exact same amount of perfect games thrown in Major League baseball. Salas’ perfect game was the first one since UVA’s Will Roberts tossed one against George Washington almost two years prior. Part of the difficulty in throwing a perfect game in college (prior to Roberts’ perfect game, the last one was thrown in 2003 by Ohio State alum Greg Prenger. against Oakland (Michigan)), may be attributed to the increased offense that came with the introduction of supercharged metal bats. While the metal bat was introduced in 1974 to NCAA baseball, the estimation was 1988 when the supercharged metal bat era began. Incidentally it was the year prior that two perfect games, thrown by Memphis’ Mark Bowlan and Miami’s Kevin Sheary were thrown. Post Bowlan, a total of 8 perfect games were thrown, with the closest time between games being 381 days.
The focus however of this article is what happens to the pitchers who throw these perfect games. Did any go on to become all-stars? Major Leaguers? Drafted?
Here is the list of Division One Collegians that have thrown a perfect game as well as the year they did it. Note that all pictures are of players in college uniforms:
* indicates a 7 inning perfect game, ** indicates a 5 inning perfect game
2014: Javi Salas (University of Miami)
2011: Will Roberts (University of Virginia)
2003: Greg Prenger (Ohio State University)*
2002: Eric Brandon (Auburn University)
2000: Chad Blackwell (University of Iowa) *
1997: John Stewart (Western Michigan University) *
1996: Chris McConnell (St. Francis University)
1991: Jason Johnson (Auburn University) *
1987: Mark Bowlan (University of Memphis)
1987: Kevin Sheary (University of Miami)
1980: Cliff Faust (University of Nebraska) *
1980: Joe Housey (University of New Orleans) *
1973: Joe McIntosh (Washington State University) *
1972: Jim Jacobsen (Oklahoma State University) **
1971: Bill Balfoort (SUNY Buffalo) *
1971: Larry Angell (Washington State University) *
1968: Rick Austin (Washington State University) *
1967: Bruce Baudier (Louisiana State University) *
1967: Larry Gonsalves (Fresno State University)
1965: Bob Schauenberg (University of Iowa)
1965: George Dugan (Murray State University)
1963: Don Woeltjen (University of Georgia)
1959: Dick Reitz (University of Maryland)
If you had no idea who any of these pitchers were, don’t be disappointed. Out of the 23, only one went on to pitch in the Majors: Washington State’s Rick Austin. And if you think Austin had a long and prosperous career as a major leaguer, think again. Austin spent parts of four seasons pitching for the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers. His best season was his rookie season in 1971 when he went 2-5 with a 4.79 ERA, three saves and 53 strikeouts.
It’s not to say that none of the following didn’t go on to play baseball, in fact all but 6 were drafted to play. However, only one is currently playing professionally, Roberts, who’s in the Indians’ system and finished the previous season in Double-A. Roberts in all likelihood will be pitching for the Indians Triple-A team after spring training, and with his 24th birthday not until August, He does have a chance to pitch for the big league club at the rate he’s going, but in no way is Roberts an elite prospect, and in all likelihood, he’ll be a solid long reliever/spot starter.
Going back to the most recent perfect game pitcher, Salas, it’s likely he will be drafted, but not in a high round. Perhaps he’ll labor through the minor leagues, but unless he absolutely dominates, I see no reason that he makes a major league roster. College seniors come with an accelerated clock, meaning their window of opportunity closes a lot faster than a college junior. Unless the collegian is a reliever or a really bona fide early round draft pick, like Mark Appel, there is almost no reason to put stock in them.
So to answer the question, what becomes of NCAA perfect game pitchers, it’s quite simple: almost nothing. Sure, they get a weekly award from their conference, are enshrined in their school’s athletic hall of fame, maybe if they’re lucky, also the College Baseball Hall of Fame, and they most likely get drafted, but unless they’re really good, that college no-hitter is probably going to be the high point in their athletic career.
Here’s part 2 of MinorLeagueMadhouse’s Mock Draft.
11. Blue Jays: Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana
Before the 2013 season started, Toronto had two really good catching prospects and a somewhat decent veteran. Now, they have… Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and one prospect whose value has taken a tumble. Kyle Schwarber, who helped Indiana make the College World Series last year, is like Toronto’s former big prize catcher, JP Arencibia, except he’s not just a power guy who strikes out a lot. Schwarber’s game is more balanced on the offensive side. However, for his hitting ability, he’s not a plus defender. If he’s to stay behind the plate, his defense will need some fine tuning, or he’ll become another Piazza.
12. Brewers: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
Every once in a while, the state of Connecticut produces a quality collegiate talent. Two years ago, it was George Springer and Matt Barnes, this year, it’s Sean Newcomb. Coming out of the same school that produced Jeff Bagwell will do wonders for his reputation, but as for himself, what endears him to scouts is his fastball and his ability as a strikeout pitcher. Newcomb has other pitches which he can get batters out with, but what he needs is a consistent delivery. Still, in a system that’s starved for southpaws, Newcomb may be Milwaukee’s next big lefty hurler.
13. Padres: Nick Gordon, SS/RHP, Olympia High School, Florida
One of the benefits of drafting a two way player out of high school is that there’s more time for that player to develop, so if in one area they fail, they will develop in another. Gordon, who has a baseball pedigree thanks to his father, former reliever Tom Gordon, and brother, Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, has his brother’s speed and arm, and his father’s fastball and curveball. Still, scouts see his value as a shortstop more. Although the Padres have tried to stay away from prep hitters as of late thanks to the failures of Donavan Tate and Matt Bush, Gordon’s pedigree and adaptability may be too good to pass up.
14. Giants: Bradley Zimmer, OF, San Francisco
The Giants already have one home state product waiting in the wings to take his spot in the outfield, why not go for another one that’s right in their backyard? Zimmer, the brother of Royals pitcher Kyle Zimmer, can hit and throw, and while he’s not as fast as Gary Brown is, he has the ability to play as a 3 or 5 hitter in the Giants lineup. Although the Giants have locked up Hunter Pence for five years, my gut tells me that they are going to regret it, and will want a younger guy patrolling the vast outfield of AT&T Park.
15. Angels: Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger High School, California
The Angels system is arguably the biggest joke in baseball right now. With no one in the top 100 and the top prospect in their system likely making the majors soon, it’s time to restock once again. While there are so many options for the Angels to pick, if they want to strengthen their system, they’ll opt for a high school talent. Luis Ortiz is a NorCal product who has a fastball that he can throw with ease. When he’s not using his fastball, his slider also works as a Major League offering. Ortiz has a body fit for pitching, so development isn’t that much of an issue, but what does need improvement is his control. Still, if the Angels want a bona fide prospect to rebuild their system, Ortiz is that guy.
16. Diamondbacks: Braxton Davidson, OF, TC Roberson High School, North Carolina
Braxton Davidson is probably one of the better all around prep players in this year’s draft. His offensive game is definitely the most polished, and his arm and fielding ability make him an asset for teams that play in bigger parks. While he doesn’t have the speed to play center, his arm makes him a near lock to play one of the corner spots, left field especially comes to mind. Davidson’s power isn’t as big as Paul Goldschmidt’s, but in the Arizona lineup, he definitely looks to be a #3 hitter at best.
17. Orioles: Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State
“But the Orioles already have a catcher locked up for the long term!” Yes, but given the life expectancy of a catcher’s knees, in all likelihood, if they do draft Pentecost and he rises through the system at the normal rate, Matt Wieters will probably be a designated hitter. Moving along from that, Pentecost isn’t as flashy as draft mate Kyle Schwarber, but his game is balanced in areas. He was once a highly touted prospect three years ago, and would have been a Texas Ranger, but an injury and a strong commitment to Kennesaw State kept him from going pro. In a draft class that is ripe with small school talent. Pentecost is a hot commodity. He’ll certainly be worth the pick for a team looking for a future catcher.
18. Royals: Derek Fisher, OF Virginia
The Royals are the model of developing prospects, but the prospects that have been highlighted over the past few years are starting to graduate to the Majors. In developing the next crop of quality prospects. Kansas City should go after a good Alex Gordon-type hitter. Derek Fisher is one of the bigger names from a bigger school. The Cavaliers outfielder may have started show in Charlottesville, but a strong summer league has propelled him to the top of a lot of preseason watch lists. Fisher’s biggest weakness, however, is his fielding ability, and if he can’t improve it, he may end up being what Billy Butler became: a young Designated Hitter.
19. Nationals: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Although the Nationals have been building up on pitchers as of late, another one, particularly a lefty, wouldn’t hurt. Brandon Finnegan had a rough year last year, but as Gerrit Cole could probably tell you, a poor record isn’t usually indicative of one’s draft position. Finnegan has a fastball that’s worth a second look, as well as a solid slider. He’s short for a starter, but as a bullpen guy, particularly a closer, Finnegan may be one of the best options out there. What he needs to improve upon is his consciousness of his delivery, which could be used as a tell, which may have caused him to have a bad year. Still, the Nationals would be smart to look at him.
20. Reds: Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway High School, South Carolina
There’s a stigma that seems to go against heavy pitchers, maybe because of health concerns, but for whatever reason, they still manage to carve out solid careers. Case and point, C.C. Sabathia and Bartolo Colon. Grant Holmes is nothing different. A big pitcher (6’2″ and 190 pounds, although those numbers are supposedly more generous than indicated), Holmes gets people out with a zippy fastball. He does have a couple of secondary pitches, including a curveball with an identity crisis (fast like a slider, but moves like a curve), and a developmental change up. Holmes’ baseball pedigree is not as well known as Nick Gordon’s, but it’s there, as his brother was a two time national champion at South Carolina. Holmes could join the two prep prospects that the Reds already have drafted in Robert Stephenson and Nick Travieso, and they’d make a solid portion of a typical big league rotation.
There’s part two. Stay tuned for Part three, coming sometime this week.
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.
A happy Opening week to my readers, whomever you may be. As we get ready for what is the greatest day in American sports, we congratulate those members of the top prospects who have made their teams’ respective Opening Day Rosters. Congratulations to the following players:
Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves
Jose Fernandez and Adeiny Hechavarria of the Miami Marlins
Wily Peralta of the Milwaukee Brewers
Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal of the St. Louis Cardinals
Jedd Gyorko of the San Diego Padres
Jose Iglesias and Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox
Aaron Hicks of the Minnesota Twins
These ten prospects will (most likely) have the advantage of a full season under the major league microscope and possibly also the best chance for Rookie of the Year, barring an excellent season from a call-up.
Prospects2Pros has made it very clear that one of the highlights of this blog will be the MLB draft. But with the draft a couple months away, and with college baseball heading into the midpoint of the season, I have decided to take the first of many looks at the draft. To start, I will focus on three players who were already drafted in the first round, but elected to stay in school.
Today, I began by following a bunch of prospects and draft experts on twitter, among them, former 2nd overall pick Jameson Taillon, and the official MLB draft twitter feed, as well as MLB.com prospect writer Jonathan Mayo, whose rankings serve as the basis of my top 100 prospect mini-profiles. Mayo had sent out a tweet saying that he would be answering questions about the draft, so being the nut that I am, I felt compelled to ask the following question:
Mayo responded rather quickly with this:
Now, unless you are a draft nut like I am, you will have no idea who those two players are, so I will provide some exposition.
Karsten Whitson and Dylan Covey are two former first round picks. Whitson was a highly touted arm out of high school, who was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft by the San Diego Padres, while Covey also was a highly touted arm who was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers who was drafted in the same year.
Whitson elected to go to the University of Florida, where he spent the next two years contributing to the continued success of the program, while also contributing to the team’s 2011 College World Series Final appearance, the first one to be held in TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, which had replaced the old Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Whitson unfortunately missed the entire 2013 season with shoulder surgery, and, as Mayo stated, is unlikely to be another first round pick.
Covey, on the other hand, decided to go to college because of a recent diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. He then spent the next three years pitching for the University of San Diego Toreros, the same school that former first rounder Brian Matusz attended. As Mayo said, it is uncertain if Covey will be a first round pick.
Covey and Whitson would cross paths once again, this time pitching in the Cape Cod League for the Orleans Firebirds in 2012, and they would contribute to the team that made the semifinals of the Cape Cod League playoffs.
The other player who is a former first round draft choice is Stanford ace Mark Appel. Appel famously turned down a lucrative offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates under the advice of his agent, Scott Boras. He is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2013 draft. You may also recall that Appel’s actions caused the Mets to lose out of Michael Bourn, allowing him to sign with the Cleveland Indians
My general feelings about these three players are that Appel will be taken with the first pick in the draft, and Covey may go as high as the sandwich round, while Whitson decides to wait another year and attempt to challenge NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon and Vanderbilt ace Tyler Beede for the top pick in the draft. We will see how things go until then.