I wrote yesterday about the uncertainty surrounding the #1 overall pick, but that doesn’t keep scouts from trying to figure out who will go in the subsequent picks. It’s way too early to have any real idea what’s going to happen beyond the top 10-15 picks, but the buzz is growing in the scouting community about how things will play out and you people are sustained by lists, predictions and mock drafts. You’re welcome.
I’d bet it’s more telling on draft day to make judgments using the buzz and all the names I mention, rather than the one name I project to be picked, but you guys already don’t read the introduction, so I’ll shut up. For reports, video and more on these players, check out my latest 2015 MLB Draft rankings, or, if your team doesn’t pick high this year, look ahead with my 2016 & 2017 MLB Draft rankings.
UPDATE 5/11/15: Notes from this weekend’s college games: Dillon Tate was solid in front of GM’s from Arizona, Houston and Colorado. Dansby Swanson was even better, in front of decision makers from all the top teams, including Houston, who may still be debating whether they’d take Swanson or Rodgers if given the choice (Rodgers’ season is over). Carson Fulmer did what he usually does and probably has a home from picks 7-17 depending on how things fall on draft day, with an evaluation similar to Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray as previous undersized righties with stellar track records and plus stuff.
Andrew Benintendi went nuts at the plate again (I’ll see him and Fulmer this weekend). And, finally, Jon Harris was excellent, rebounding from a not-so-great start, so, at this point, I would make Harris the 9th pick to the Cubs and slide Trenton Clark down a few picks, but still comfortably in the top 20. I also updated the 2016 MLB Draft Rankings as a few top prospects came off the DL and impressed, further strengthening the top of that draft, which is far and away better than this year’s draft.
1. Diamondbacks – Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
I wrote about this more in depth yesterday, where I wrote it’s down to CF Garrett Whitley, C Tyler Stephenson and CF Daz Cameron with some chance RHP Dillon Tate is still in the mix and SS Dansby Swanson possibly involved. After writing that, I heard that Arizona is definitely considering those prep players, but teams don’t think they’ll pull the trigger on a way-below-slot prep option and they are leaning college, with Tate and Swanson the targets and SS Alex Bregman also getting some consideration as a long shot.
I’ve heard Arizona wants a hitter here and GM Dave Stewart was in to see Vanderbilt last night. I had heard they were laying in the weeds on Swanson, so, for now, I’ll go with Swanson here. To be clear, Arizona hasn’t made any decisions yet, so this group could still grow or they could change course. One scouting director told me yesterday when asked what he thought Arizona would do that “it sounds like they are going to do something crazy.” Until a few hours before this published, I had Arizona taking Whitley, so this is still very much in flux. There’s also some thought that Tate or Swanson were the targets all along and the rumors of cut-rate high school options have just been a ploy to get the price down–you can pick your own theory at this point.
2. Astros – Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL), Florida State commit
The Astros are widely believed to come away with a shortstop here, especially if Arizona takes one of those lower-priced prep at #1. Opinions still vary whether Houston prefers Rodgers or Swanson if both are on the board, but I think they prefer Rodgers’ higher upside and Swanson is gone in this scenario. Houston’s scouting director was at Vanderbilt last night, so this decision may not have been made yet. Rodgers was also easy for their top scouts to see in March, as their spring training home is near Rodgers’ high school. Tate has some chance to go here, but in this scenario I think they take Rodgers, especially given the buzz is that Houston wants two bats with these two picks.
3. Rockies – Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
The Rockies seem to like their options at this pick: they’re in on Rodgers, Swanson, Tate and LHP Tyler Jay, with Jay likely coming in a bit below slot if he’s the pick. Swanson allows Colorado to find Troy Tulowitzki’s replacement internally and I’ve been told in hushed tones that Colorado loves Swanson, that he may be the top player on their board. Tate and Jay offer big time upside on the mound with life to their fastballs (a must for the Rockies scouting staff) if they can hold up as starters.
4. Rangers – Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
The Rangers are waiting to see if one of the consensus top three (Rodgers, Tate, Swanson) get to their pick and, in this scenario, none of them make it. I’m not sure who they take in this scenario and I’m not sure they are either. I’ve heard some leaning to college arms HERE, Funkhouser is the best on the board and could help soon, so this makes sense for this scenario. Texas has checked in on Stephenson recently and may consider him here. They’re believed to be targeting another Georgia prep hitter, OF Chad Smith, in the 2nd round. I’ve also heard some whispers of them on another Georgia prep bat, Daz Cameron.
5. Astros – Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA), Florida State commit
The Astros have been all over Cameron all spring, with GM Jeff Luhnow scouting him last week when I checked in on his playoff game. I think they’d take Cameron here in this scenario and everyone I’ve talked to thinks the Astros take two hitters here at 2 and 5. Houston has also been tied to RF Kyle Tucker and SS Alex Bregman, who are both real options here and I’ve also heard LF Trenton Clark at this pick. If Houston takes Rodgers at 2, it frees them up to take Bregman here, but they likely wouldn’t take Bregman at 5 if they take Swanson at 2, since they’re the same age and play the same position, which would cause some problems for development.
6. Twins – Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
Minnesota was tied to LHP Kolby Allard early this spring, but his back injury throws his status into question. He’s back on the mound and may pitch in a playoff game, but likely just throws a couple bullpens for scouts. He’s in the mid-first round area now, but could jump into the top 10 if he can show his early-spring form. In this scenario, I’ve heard Minnesota on Funkhouser, Bregman and Tucker, with Bregman making the most sense. I think he can stick at shortstop, but both he and last year’s first rounder, Nick Gordon, have some questions about that from scouts.
7. Red Sox – Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
It’s long been rumored that Boston has been hoping that Bregman makes it to their pick and he doesn’t in this scenario; it’s a 50/50 proposition at this point that he gets here. I’ve also heard them on Daz Cameron, Dansby Swanson and Dillon Tate and they all don’t make it here as well. RHP Carson Fulmer has been scouted by Boston’s top people and is the other option I’ve heard mentioned at 7. If the Red Sox draft Bregman, he will be compared to Dustin Pedroia for the rest of time by the Boston media, so prepare yourself.
8. White Sox – Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Chicago is on Jay and he likely gets here as long as Colorado doesn’t take him, but it wouldn’t shock me if Minnesota or Boston have interest in Jay as well. The White Sox have also been tied to Fulmer and Funkhouser and are believed to be looking at mostly college pitchers for this pick, which you can’t question given their track record for developing arms.
9. Cubs – Trenton Clark, LF, Richland HS (TX), Texas Tech commit
The Cubs have been tied to a number of players at this pick, either college pitchers (RHP Jon Harris, RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Walker Buehler) or prep hitters (Cameron, Tucker, Clark). The buzz is a little stronger that they go bat here and the Clark rumor has been around for awhile, but I hear they really like Harris as well.
10. Phillies – Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
The Phillies had four scouts, including GM Ruben Amaro in to see Stephenson two nights ago when he caught both games of a double header and hit two homers. They had Pat Gillick in southern California to see another prep catcher, Chris Betts, last week. The Phillies are also on Tucker and he and Stephenson will both go quickly if the Phillies don’t take them here. Amaro saw another Georgia prep product, 3B Cornelius Randolph, earlier in the day Wednesday before Stephenson’s game; Randolph won’t get past the 21st pick most likely, so he could also be an option here if their board blows up.
Amaro saw Vanderbilt vs. Florida last night, so there’s some talk that Carson Fulmer could be a target here. There’s also a (kinda crazy) rumor that the Phillies are looking at Stephenson’s teammate CF Reggie Pruitt for one of their top picks as well. The Phillies have also been connected to Trenton Clark and it wouldn’t shock me if they were on Whitley, too. What I’m saying is scouts don’t know what Philly is going to do.
11. Reds – Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant HS (FL), Florida commit
The Reds scouting director, Chris Buckley, lives in Tampa and has seen plenty of the local prep product Tucker, who is a superior version (as an amateur prospect) of another local prep pick Buckley made, Reds top prospect LF Jesse Winker. Tucker is also the guy in this mock draft that I like more than the industry and think he’s a great value at 11. The Reds were also heavy in to see Stephenson last week and I’d expect them to take Stephenson if he gets here.
12. Marlins – Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna HS (NY), Wake Forest commit
I haven’t heard a ton of teams tied to Whitley other than the D’Backs, but he probably doesn’t get much farther than this. I’ve had many scouts tell me the Marlins won’t pass on Tucker, so this is likely his floor.
13. Rays – Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas
I’ve heard the Rays are leaning towards college players, particularly if prep bats go in front of them, as I have in this scenario. Their scouting director was there the two nights ago with me to see Stephenson and I’ve been told they would take him here if he makes it. I’ve also heard the Rays on Missouri State RHP Jon Harris at this pick (he’ll go in the next few picks) and West Alabama RHP Tanner Rainey in the 2nd. Benintendi has lot of helium into this range; if you line up his tools, they’re basically the same as Daz Cameron, Benintendi is three years older and he demolished the SEC this year (.386/.488/.729, 15 homers in 166 AB). He has some attention in the top ten, but this is a reasonable place for him to land and this jives with what Tampa seems to be looking for this year, especially if none of the top tier prep outfielders makes it here (though some may argue Nick Plummer is in that group).
This is about where things start to break down as far as real intel on team preferences and consensus players. Due to the lack of consensus in the mid-to-late first round, the names beyond here will shuffle a bit leading up to the draft, based on late performances.
The Braves at 14 are interesting because they have lots of picks and pool money so they could be creative. They are tied, as usual, to multiple toolsy kids from the southeast. They would likely take Stephenson if he gets to their pick, which is doubtful at this point, and also like Rainey in the 2nd round, along with Georgia prep 3B Cornelius Randolph in the 1st round. Randolph is also a target for the Giants at 18 and the Royals at 21; he likely doesn’t get past both teams.
I deputize you to irresponsibly make the rest of a mock draft using this information, so here’s the order for the rest of the first round and the players in the mix for those 13 picks:
14. Braves, 15. Brewers, 16. Yankees, 17. Indians, 18. Giants, 19. Pirates, 20. A’s, 21. Royals, 22. Tigers, 23. Cardinals, 24. Dodgers, 25. Orioles, 26. Angels. 27-36 is compensatory picks and 37-42 are competitive balance picks, with round 2 starting at pick 43 with Arizona. Here is the full draft order and for reports/video on these players, consult my rankings.
College Position Players (5): RF Ian Happ, SS Kevin Newman, LF D.J. Stewart, SS Richie Martin, SS Kyle Holder
Prep Position Players (5): LF Nick Plummer, 3B Cornelius Randolph, C Chris Betts, 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, CF Eric Jenkins
College Pitchers (8): RHP Walker Buehler, RHP Jon Harris, LHP Nate Kirby, RHP Phil Bickford, RHP Cody Ponce, RHP Michael Matuella, LHP Alex Young, RHP James Kaprelian
Prep Pitchers (8): RHP Mike Nikorak, LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Austin Smith, RHP Beau Burrows, RHP Ashe Russell, RHP Donny Everett, LHP Brady Aiken, LHP Justin Hooper
Kiley McDaniel has worked as an executive and scout, most recently for the Atlanta Braves, also for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates. He's written for ESPN, Fox Sports and Baseball Prospectus. Follow him on twitter.