I haven’t been one to do too many mock drafts if the information doesn’t support it. I won’t just brazenly move around names with little justification in a bid for clicks every few days. I have enough info to change enough picks now for a worthwhile read, but I’m going to do a full mock draft on Monday with the supplemental rounds and the back half of the first round, as things will be much easier to project then (although still not easy).
Clubs have told me they aren’t even discussing medical and signability info openly in their rooms until later today or this weekend and some teams in the back half of the first round haven’t even started stacking the board for their first-round pick yet, instead focusing on lower picks and positional rankings. I’ll have a much better feel for the picks beyond the top dozen on Monday, so it would be foolish to throw darts for those picks now only to reorder everything in a few days. If you’re desperate for what I think about those picks now, combine the notes below with my previous mock draft and the sortable draft board, that I updated just moments ago with the information below.
Since teams aren’t talking medical and signability info and the consensus is that the reasonably predictable part of the draft is the top 10-12 picks, that means some certainty about the injured pitchers could help shed some light on those later picks.
– Yesterday, one club told me their doctor diagnosed Virginia LHP Nate Kirby’s lat injury as a tear. The school described the injury as a strain and Kirby threw a 40-pitch bullpen on Tuesday (video below, sent by UVA to all 30 teams) with UVA coach Brian O’Connor saying Kirby is medically cleared to play, but won’t pitch this weekend in the Super Regional. I’m told (reminder: I’m not a doctor) that a tear and strain are on the same spectrum, somewhat open to interpretation, and the MLB team that called it a tear noted that it wouldn’t need surgery, just a long rest period.
At this point, Kirby should be on all 30 boards, but the interpretation from team-to-team will vary, so his market is hard to predict. I’ve slid Kirby down to 29th on my rankings and would guess he won’t go until the mid-20s, but this one is tough to call right now. It sounds like teams will basically differ on whether Kirby could pitch right away after signing, or he needs to rest for months (he’s already been out two months, which can contribute to that time), which would likely mean not pitching this summer but maybe in the fall/winter as a way to build up for Spring Training.
– I noted in my update three days ago on the Brady Aiken medical situation that there were a number of rumors supporting the assertion teams were making that Aiken’s elbow surgery wasn’t standard, but that one source indicated soon after the medical was out that it wasn’t as bad as expected. I also mentioned that teams had no incentive to tell me positive things about Aiken’s medical, but I’ve now had three more sources tell me the concerns about Aiken’s medical were overblown to varying degrees.
I’m now of a mind that Aiken is closer to a standard surgery/recovery/career projection than the awful scenarios we were expecting, so I’ve moved him up the board to 17th on the updated rankings. He would be in the 8-11 range if there were no additional surgery questions and he may be there by Monday as I learn more. Teams suggested Aiken’s range starts when those first dozen or so players go off the board, saying he could go as high at 12-15 but that the Dodgers at 24 should be his floor. This movement on this story likely isn’t done either.
– I’ve also heard generally positive things about prep LHP Kolby Allard. The sense is that teams aren’t worried long-term about his back and, even though he won’t throw before the draft, that he should go in the same range as Aiken, likely the 15-25 range.
You can likely see my justification for not doing a full mock draft here: there’s two giant wildcards just beyond the top tier about which I need more info, not to mention a landing spot for Duke RHP Michael Matuella. I’ll get that info this weekend from teams stacking their board and making signability calls, plus advisors dialing in the ranges for their players. Here’s where I see the top tier of players going at this point and I’ll expand on this for Monday. This top 11 is also reflected in the “Mock” column of the the sortable draft board, with picks 12-26 the same as the previous mock draft.
1. Diamondbacks – Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
This one is still expected to go this way, with the only question if Arizona will go another direction if they deem Swanson’s asking price (which could be all of the second pick’s slot) too high, in combination with the fear that he might topple their draft plans in the event that they’re unable to come to terms. That’s still seen as unlikely.
2. Astros – Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
I’m still 50/50 split on this one. The buzz is that the Astros want two bats, one prep and one college, so this pick is seen as Rodgers and then Benintendi or Bregman and then Tucker. I don’t think they’ve decided yet, but if I had to pick which pair is most likely, I’d go Bregman/Tucker, but I still think Rodgers has a better chance of going here than people are giving him credit for.
3. Rockies – Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL)
As best I can tell, the Rockies’ board is Swanson then Rodgers then Jay and I heard yesterday that Benintendi would be a cut-rate option here if the signability isn’t good on their targeted player.
4. Rangers – Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
The three shortstops will go in the top-four picks; the question is the identify of the fourth player. If Colorado passes on the shortstops, it’ll likely be for Jay, allowing Texas to take the last shortstop. If the shortstops go 1-2-3, it’s still unclear what Texas wants to do, with rumors they’ll go upside as usual but louder rumors that they’ll go college pitcher. Tate falls into both categories, which is why I think the industry thinks he’s the pick here. If it goes Rodgers-Jay-Bregman at 2-3-4, look for Tate to go sixth.
5. Astros – Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant HS (FL)
I think Tucker will be the pick here, but Benintendi is still possible, especially to save a few dollars for a later pick and especially if they take Rodgers at #2.
6. Twins – Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA)
The Twins want Bregman or Tucker and I’ve heard mixed things about which pitcher they’re on here. Cameron is the other bat to which they’ve been heavily linked and I was told that, earlier this week, the Cameron camp (I’ll let you guess which advisor) told Minnesota that they can’t afford Cameron. That same advisor has a habit of doing this, including telling the White Sox they can’t afford Carlos Rodon, who they afforded. Teams don’t like getting told this and no one thinks Cameron will go to school, so I think the bluff gets called here. If Rodgers goes second, as suggested above, I could see Tate going here, and Cameron would stop at ninth, if not sooner. Or that’s my best guess, at least.
7. Red Sox – Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas
The Red Sox would take a long look at Cameron if he gets here; in fact, they’ve been tied to all six players going ahead of them. At this point, it would be down to Benintendi and Fulmer, with Jay as a longshot, although it sounds like Boston is leaning bat here.
8. White Sox – Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
I’ve heard that the White Sox prefer Fulmer to Jay (as do I, further proving the White Sox have good taste in pitchers) and all spring they’ve been tied to those two, with some chance neither gets here — although, in this scenario, they both do. I’m not sure who their third option is if all three college arms fail to get here (I haven’t heard them tied to one bat), but most assume it’s Jon Harris.
9. Cubs – Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Ian Happ had a private workout in Wrigley Field a few days ago and is seen as emerging from the huge group of names tied to the Cubs. I think, like Boston, that they like every single player going ahead of them here, but the assumption is that they have Jay ahead of Happ, as the home state player could be an ace and has the upside to justify breaking up the Cubs’ streak of selecting hitters with top picks.
10. Phillies – Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA)
Stephenson has been tied here for awhile and likely goes in the 10-14 range: all of those teams like him and I don’t think any teams in the top 10 are looking at him too hard, except maybe Arizona. Cornelius Randolph and Ian Happ are both possible here.
11. Reds – Ian Happ, 2B/RF, Cincinnati
I’ve tied the Reds, like the Cubs and Red Sox, to nearly every player going in front of them, so they’ll just wait to see who slides to them. The proximity of Happ’s school to the Reds isn’t necessarily important to the pick, but it doesn’t hurt.
I’d probably go Trenton Clark at 12, Jon Harris at 13 and Cornelius Randolph at 14 as I did in my last mock draft, but things really open up right around there, so I’ll check back on Monday with a better idea of what to expect.
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.