RIP Donny Everett

Donny Everett

Minor League Madhouse offers its condolences to the family of Donny Everett. Everett, a highly regarded freshman, drowned yesterday in Normandy Lake, a day before Vanderbilt was to begin their regional against Xavier.

Everett came to Vanderbilt after a highly decorated prep career for Clarksville High School. Regarded as a potential first round pick, Everett was drafted by the Brewers, but opted to go to college instead. In one season for the Commodores, Everett pitched out of the bullpen, finishing with an 0-1 record, a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts. He was scheduled to pitch in the Cape Cod League after the season ended.

Rest in peace, Donny. Anchor Down.

2016 MLB Mock Draft: Final Edition

All good things must come to an end, and in this case, it’s speculation on who will be taken where in the 2016 MLB draft. It’s been a wild year, both for college and prep baseball, and with the draft landscape really starting to take shape, i.e. teams are starting to be more clear about whom they are taking, if not player-wise, then position or level-wise. Anyway, this mock will cover the entire first round, with explanations for picks, then the compensatory picks, with shorter explanations, then the competitive balance round, with maybe a blurb. All in all, it’s been a fun, speculative ride, and I thank you all for reading the mocks.

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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Every year, it’s the same narrative: In the MLB draft, you take the best player available. No player is a sure shot to be a star, let alone make it, and anything can happen. It’s that exact reason why not many people do MLB mocks because there isn’t any instant gratification of seeing players play in the majors immediately. That being said, this year’s class has been hard to measure. On the one hand, some impressive college players have made compelling cases, on the other, prep products have really opened eyes, and not just in hotbed states like California and Florida.

Diatribe aside, Philly can’t go wrong with this pick. They have a strong system that can only get better with whomever they take. Rumor has it that they are planning on going after an outfielder, and if this is so, Kyle Lewis may be their guy. Despite having one of the weakest schedules of any collegiate prospect, Lewis has more than compensated by completely obliterating his competition, and has cemented his place as one of the NCAA’s best hitters by virtue of being in the top ten in batting average, home runs, and RBI among NCAA baseball players. Lewis’ bat would translate well to the hitters haven that is Citizens Bank Park, although his defense would likely limit him to a corner spot. If he can adjust to the competition spike, he has the potential to be a vital cog in the Phillies’ lineup, giving the team a power hitter they haven’t had since Ryan Howard’s prime.

2. Cincinnati Reds

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I look at the Cincinnati Reds as a team that, should everything break right, and their prospects all develop, they can get back to competing with the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates in a few years. While their pitching staff definitely has the potential to wow, especially considering how much they got for selling off Johnny Cueto, their lineup does remain a question mark, especially since Jay Bruce and Joey Votto will be gone.

One of the better athletes of any class is in this draft, Louisville outfielder Corey Ray. Ray can fit anywhere near the top of the lineup, he has the speed to be a leadoff hitter, and the power to hit in the 3 hole. Ray’s one knock is where he will play defensively, while he can cover a lot of ground, his arm is considered his weakest tool. In a small ballpark like GABP, Ray could thrive as a run producer. Additionally, his arm strength issues could be ignored if he can contribute in the lineup.

3. Atlanta Braves

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At the beginning of the year, the biggest debate among draft nuts was who was the better prep pitcher, Jason Groome, or Riley Pint? As the season wore on, more and more debates came up, who’s the best college hitter? Are the Phillies planning on taking Groome? etc. etc.

However, the most unrecognized debate had to go to who the best prep outfielder is in this draft, and it was between Blake Rutherford, an established candidate and Mickey Moniak, someone who had been considered a potential first rounder, and who has since risen to the point where he could even be the first overall pick. Moniak may not have the power that Rutherford does, but he’s been regarded as a solid contact hitter with the ability to play a professional centerfield.

Although the Braves have all but said they’re taking a college hitter with this pick, considering how weak the college hitting class is, it’s possible they could gamble a bit and grab a higher ceiling player, and should they acquire another competitive balance pick, they could add more money to their bonus pool.

Colorado Rockies

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In 2013, the Colorado Rockies selected what many believed was the top pitching prospect in the draft with the third overall pick. In 2015, they drafted the best overall prospect in the draft. Now, they stand in a great position, with either one of the top players likely to fall into their lap.

While the no-brainer pick would be to go for the consensus top prospect, it’s likely if this scenario plays out, they go a safer pick. Having failed to develop a solid starter from the prep ranks, it’s possible that should AJ Puk be available, he’s their pick. Put may not have put together the strongest season, but he’s been regarded as one of the more consistent picks available, never really falling out of the top 5, despite questions regarding his durability. Puk and 2014 first rounder Kyle Freeland. who has really resurrected his top prospect status in Hartford, could make for a nice future southpaw 1-2 punch to go alongside Jon Gray and future rotation piece Jeff Hoffman.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers are in rebuilding mode, there’s no sugarcoating that, and it’s clear that in addition to selling off their top players for prospects, the scouting department will have carte blanche to pick the best player available at the 5th spot. The past two drafts have seen Milwaukee select high ceiling prep talent like Kodi Medeiros, Jake Gatewood, Monte Harrison, Trent Clark, and Demi Orimoloye, is it possible this continues?

If the draft plays out this way, the Brewers might actually have a shot at what many consider to be the top talent in the draft, Jason Groome. Groome’s senior season at Barnegat has taken its fair share of twists and turns, he was exceptionally dominant early on, even throwing a no-hitter, the first in school history, before being ruled ineligible, then later suspended for two weeks for violating the NJSIAA transfer rules. Since then, he’s been up and down. Milwaukee isn’t risk-averse, they took Harrison despite a strong commitment to Nebraska, so it’s possible they might make a hard push to get Groome, who is committed to pitching for Vanderbilt, should he land here.

6. Oakland A’s

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The 2016 MLB Draft will be the first in 20 years that Billy Beane will not oversee as GM of the Oakland A’s, having been succeeded by David Forst. Though Beane does not sit in the GM chair, it’s likely his influence will still be there as he currently is the executive VP of baseball operations, and Forst is a Beane protege. The question is, how will Forst handle his first draft?

If the Moneyball draft philosophy still stands, it’s likely that Forst will avoid prep pitchers at all costs, but could still make a run at a college pitcher, and no better option is available than Dakota Hudson. Hudson really raised his stock from a potential late first rounder to a top 10, maybe top 5 pick. Hudson has the body of a pitcher, and his pitches range from above average to plus. He would make an excellent frontline starter and eventual successor to Sonny Gray.

7. Miami Marlins

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How does a team that has four picks in the top 15 in the past four years end up with one of the worst farm systems in baseball? Part of it may have to do with trading away two of those picks, and the stalled development of one, while it’s two early to tell on the fourth one. Let’s put it this way, Miami desperately needs a talent infusion in that system. At the seventh spot, there isn’t a lot of tier 1 talent left, but what is available could fit well into Miami’s future plans.

I put Nick Senzel here a while back, and soon afterwards, he made a convincing case to stay there with an excellent season, to the point where Baseball America had him as their second ranked player available earlier in the year. The main selling point on Senzel is his ability to hit and hit, to the point where it trumps his positional uncertainty. With Senzel succeeding as a third baseman during his junior season, it’s all but certain that’s where he will be playing professionally, and considering Miami’s options at third, if he is available here, he would make the most sense.

8. San Diego Padres

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Three first round picks in the top 25 is going to give you a lot of room to work with, and it’s clear the Padres want to hit a home run with this draft after last year’s disastrous all-in splurge. I wouldn’t be surprised if AJ Preller decides to take some risks here, maybe a high ceiling player with an injury, or a player that may be a tougher sign.

While we may be robbed of the debate over who would be the #1 pick between this year’s best prep arms, Jason Groome and Riley Pint, it still will be fun to see how each adjusts to pro ball. Pint especially, considering his 102 mph fastball is something to behold. His character is also a plus, and will get him far in the minors. Pint’s ability should give the Padres something to cheer about, considering how long it’s been since they’ve drafted, and kept, a star player.

9. Detroit Tigers

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I’ve made it abundantly clear in the past that I have a soft spot for NECBL alums, having interned for a team back in 2014. And to be honest, there have been some very good players that have come out of the league. Joe Nathan, Stephen Strasburg, and AJ Pollock all come to mind immediately.

This year’s batch of NECBL alums is highlighted by Laconia/Winnipesaukee alum Jordan Sheffield. Sheffield comes from Pitcher U, Vanderbilt, and since taking over as Vandy’s ace, has shown that he has an arm. Considering the Tigers like fireballers that come from the SEC, Sheffield seems like the perfect fit, and can further justify this pick by performing well in both the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Concerns about his control aside, Sheffield could end up being yet another example of how height shouldn’t be an indicator of potential success as a pitcher. Interestingly enough, Jordan’s uncle Gary Sheffield was also a member of the Tigers from 2007-2008.

10. Chicago White Sox

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The White Sox have come a long way since having one of the worst farm systems in baseball in 2014. With Carlos Rodon running through the system quickly, and with Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer waiting in the wings, maybe the White Sox can use this draft to improve the system even more by drafting some high ceiling prep talent.

While we already touched on the subject, there’s no denying that Blake Rutherford has to be one of the better prep bats in the country, in fact, he’s so good that he was included on the Golden Spikes Award semifinalist list earlier this year, the only high schooler to be included. Despite concerns that he would suffer from prospect fatigue like Daz Cameron last year, it’s clear that he’s still one of the top talents, and the only thing that could possibly drop him is a strong commitment to UCLA, which is highly unlikely. Rutherford may be old for a high school player, he’s actually older than some of the high schoolers from last year’s draft. but if the adage that advanced age = advanced bat is true, Rutherford could actually make the big leagues faster than your average prep bat. Overall, Rutherford’s tools are about on par with that of some college players and it would be hard for a team like Chicago to overlook him.

11. Seattle Mariners

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Some teams are good at developing talent, while others are better at procuring talent. Seattle falls in the latter category, as while they have had two of their first round picks in the last five years make the major leagues, most of their success has come from outside help, like Nelson Cruz or Robinson Cano, or Dae-Ho Lee. While the Mariners have had other successes that came from their system in years past, see Ken Griffey and Felix Hernandez, any Mariners fan will tell you that their team is just awful at player development.

In order to remedy the situation, I feel the Mariners should go for one of the safest picks you can possibly make, Zack Collins. Not only can Collins hit, he comes from one of the best programs in the country for developing talent, Miami. Collins’ only question mark is where he will play in the future, some say he’ll stay behind the plate, others think that he’ll move to first, and others consider him to be a Billy Butler-type DH. Collins also has had time at third base. Regardless of his future position, Collins’s power almost certainly qualifies him for a cleanup role in any lineup. even one so power dependent as Seattle’s.

12. Boston Red Sox

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When you think of Upstate New York, one thing you will probably never associate with the region is baseball. Sure, there are some minor league teams, but the combination of weather and lack of exposure really makes it seem like any baseball that isn’t minor league is more of a recreational activity. However, last year, that changed when Garrett Whitley became the first Niskayuna High School draft pick ever.

Whitley’s selection must have had a ripple effect, as a player he faced his senior year, Ian Anderson, has really gotten attention and has the potential to be a top pick himself. Anderson may be skinnier than your average hurler, but he has a solid fastball that allows him to make up for that. Anderson does come with an injury concern, having strained his oblique early in the year, and his commitment to Vanderbilt will almost certainly cost Boston or whomever draft him. Still, Anderson has the makings of a future rotation piece, and his ability to play in cold weather is a plus. Anderson might be motivated to sign with Boston as well, since the Red Sox are his favorite team.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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I’m fairly certain the Tampa Bay Rays would love to have a do-over of the 2008 MLB Draft. With players like Buster Posey and Pedro Alvarez available, they ended up taking Tim Beckham out of Griffin High School in Georgia. Now all due respect to Beckham, who has since become serviceable, but in all honesty, there’s no denying that Posey and Alvarez would have been much better picks.

At the 13th position, the Rays may not have the ability to get as good talent, but should someone like Delvin Perez slip to them, you can bet they’ll pounce. Perez may be a throwback to the shortstops of yore that could field better than hit, but in this day and age, a great fielding shortstop is an asset, just ask Atlanta, who ended up scoring two top pitching prospects as compensation for trading Andrelton Simmons. Perez has the glove and the arm, and although his bat may be developmental, there definitely is potential for growth. At worst, Perez hits toward the bottom of the lineup, but at best, he evolves into a solid leadoff hitter. Additional plusses are his youth, he is the second youngest player in the draft, behind Ron Washington, and his lack of a college commitment, meaning whomever takes him will find him easy to sign.

14. Cleveland Indians

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The Indians’ minor league system is one of the better, if more under appreciated systems in baseball. Over the past five years, the team has opted to take plenty of high ceiling offensive talent, like Francisco Lindor, Clint Frazier, and Bradley Zimmer, to go along with solid pitching talent like Justus Sheffield and Brady Aiken, as well as Rob Kaminsky, who was acquired from St. Louis. It’s clear that the Indians will have a wealth of talent in the coming years.

While the Indians aren’t likely to get a Tier-1 player at the 14th spot, they could still net a solid player like Josh Lowe. Initially split between third base and pitching, he has since gravitated more towards third base, adding value to a very solid offensive prep class. Lowe stands to stay at third defensively because of his arm strength and his contact and power can only improve. He and Francisco Lindor would make up a very solid left side of the infield for the Indians.

15. Minnesota Twins

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What happened to the Twins? A year ago, they were competitive up to the final week of the season, now, they look like an early favorite for the Tanner Houck sweepstakes. Considering the young talent that makes up the nucleus of this team,, and the fact that they’ve gotten almost a full year under their belts together, it makes no sense that they should be this bad right now.

While the pickings aren’t as plentiful for the Twins at the 15th spot, they stand to benefit from a connection to one of their recent draft picks. Although Nick Burdi’s flame throwing younger brother is available, I can see the Twins grabbing Tyler Jay’s college teammate Cody Sedlock here. Like Jay, Sedlock is a converted starter, though Sedlock was actually converted in his junior season. The reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Year has a variable arsenal of pitches: a solid fastball and sinker, an above-average slider, and developmental curve and changeup. He has the body type that many associate with a starter, and at the very least, will induce many groundball outs. Having Jay and Sedlock in the same rotation should give the Twins an added chemistry boost, and could add more promise to what can be seen as an interesting future rotation.

16. Los Angeles Angels

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It’s clear that the Angels aren’t risk-averse when it comes to taking certain players in the draft. Mike Trout, Sean Newcomb, and Taylor Ward are all examples of this. But given the system that the Angels have, it may be time to dial back the risks a bit and go for something a little safer. Much like the White Sox and Carlos Rodon back in 2014, I can see the Angels grabbing a player here that could run through the system quickly and contribute in the near future.

In my opinion, Zack Burdi is by far the safest pick you can possibly make in the draft. Burdi has his brother’s pedigree, but because his fastballs are slightly slower and he has more control, there is definite starter potential. Burdi is also built like a starter as well. Considering the amount of bad contracts on the team, the Angels should really consider using this draft as the starting point for a total rebuild.

17. Houston Astros

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For as much as we praise the Astros for building their team from the ground up, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to do. The farm system in particular could use a solid pitching boost. Considering how much the Astros gave up for Ken Giles, even if Mark Appel has yet to justify being the number 1 pick, it’s clear the Astros should spend this draft stockpiling future staff pieces.

One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft this year has been Eric Lauer. Lauer has been absolutely impressive this year, leading the nation in ERA and in the top 5 in strikeouts. Lauer may not pump premium gas, but he does make batters miss, and his pitch array gives him plenty of options. His performance in the MAC tournament could further improve his draft position as well.

18. New York Yankees

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It must be frustrating to be a Yankees fan, especially considering how much the team has struggled as of late. Since the Yankees are likely waiting until the 2018-19 offseason to make big moves, the front office should really look to the draft to keep the fanbase at least somewhat excited. This year especially would be a good start, mainly due to the impressive, if unpredictable number of first round high school pitchers.

At first, the idea of the Yankees taking a prep pitcher from Alabama seems out of the ordinary, but Braxton Garrett is far from ordinary. A Vanderbilt recruit, Garrett took Alabama by storm and raised his stock to at one point where he was speculated to be a top 10 pick. Garrett’s one of the few pitchers on this year’s list whose secondary offerings are better than his fastball, though it’s possible he could build it up with time in the minors. Although the Vanderbilt commitment is an obstacle, Garrett’s potential seems like the perfect opportunity for the Yankees to take a risk.

19. New York Mets

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The common theme of the Mets’ drafts of the past few years has been getting one of the top hitters, either in the prep level (Dominic Smith) or in the college level (Michael Conforto, David Thompson). With Conforto’s success so far in the Mets’ lineup, and with David Wright edging closer and closer to the end of his career, it would make sense for the Mets to develop the next generation of hitters.

Probably one of the worst kept secrets in the draft has been the Mets’ infatuation with Will Craig. Craig, last year’s ACC player of the year, followed up on an impressive sophomore season with an even better junior season, and likely would have repeated as player of the year, had Seth Beer stayed in high school. Craig is a big bodied masher, although defensively, there are questions as to whether he’s a third or first baseman. If Craig’s offensive game can translate to the next level, it’s possible he can be the next Lucas Duda, only less streaky.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Andrew Friedman would be regarded as a conservative drafter, if it weren’t for his risk-filled 2015 first round class. With Walker Buehler on the shelf due to Tommy John and Kyle Funkhouser coming back to school, the early returns of the Dodgers’ 2015 draft class are not promising.

Regardless, every GM has a drafting philosophy, and if that’s the case, then we can expect Friedman to play the safe card again. Bryan Reynolds makes a lot of sense as a safe pick because while he doesn’t excel at anything in particular, he is still consistent enough, and has plenty of potential for growth to be a first round pick. Reynolds has been an important cog in the Vanderbilt lineup, and he would stand to be a solid 5-6 hitter in the Dodger lineup in the future.

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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Sometimes, certain areas turn out to have good years when it comes to th MLB draft. Take Connecticut in 2011, when George Springer and Matt Barnes both were taken in the first round, and Nick Ahmed was taken a round later. How about Puerto Rico in 2012, who had three picks in the first round? Or how about 2015, when Indiana had two picks, and Canada had three? Call it luck of the draw. This year, it’s Pennsylvania and Kansas that will get the draft spotlight.

 

Toronto’s first foray into the Northeastern prep scene since 2011 gives them one of the better prep infielders in the draft, Nolan Jones. Perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects, Jones is a great hitter, and a solid defender. He could develop into a middle of the order bat, based on the potential for growth. The one question mark is where he will play professionally, as conflicting reports indicate he could be a pro third baseman, second baseman, or even outfielder. Jones’ development would coincide with Troy Tulowitzki’s contract expiring, so on the off chance he does stay at shortstop, he could take over if the development is there.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pirates stand at an interesting spot here, given the fact that they could conceivably walk away with a home state player. Drafting from home has worked for them in the past, Neil Walker was one of the more beloved Pirates players in team history. If a home state, or hometown player lands here, do they take him?

While a pitcher would be nice, I could see the Pirates going after the more interesting prospect, Alex Kirilloff. A home-schooled kid who plays at Plum HS just outside of Pittsburgh, Kirilloff is a consistent contact hitter who, with proper development can tap into power. He also has a strong arm, one that will serve him well in an outfield corner. Kirilloff’s college commitment to Liberty shouldn’t be much of an issue, so the Pirates should have an easy time getting him to sign. If Kirilloff does make it this far, the Pirates should waste no time drafting him.

23. St. Louis Cardinals

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I said earlier this year that this could be one of the better catching classes in draft history, on par with 2012, and lo and behold, we could potentially be looking at three, maybe four catchers going in the first round, including the competitive balance picks. While it’s obvious that Zack Collins is the consensus number 1 catcher, the debate stands as to who’s the second best, and who could the Cardinals pick at the 23rd spot?

It’s a battle between ACC catchers, but Chris Okey in my opinion stands as the better one. Though Okey was supposed to be the star of the Clemson team, Seth Beer’s arrival allowed him to move into a more comfortable supporting role, and in doing so, he had his best season yet. Okey is no stranger to playing with high profile talent, having caught for Team USA in 2014 and 2015, and as I have mentioned before, his almost veteran presence is certain to command respect from his pitchers. The opportunity to learn from Yadier Molina, one of the best in the game, should do a mountain of good for Okey as well.

COMPETITIVE BALANCE PICKS

24. San Diego Padres

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Anthony Kay was a key part of helping UConn win their first American championship, and their first conference championship since 2011. The lefty may be a bit undersized, and his fastball may be more of a low 90’s offering but should be able to compensate with a solid pitch array.

25. San Diego Padres

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Despite missing a solid chunk of the season due to injury, TJ Zeuch managed to rebound with an impressive junior year, and stands to be a first round pick. His height is ideal for a starter, although he might want to bulk up. Zeuch has four pitches that are greatly enhanced by the downward motion of his delivery. Zeuch also has the added benefit of playing in the ACC, meaning his competition level should help his stock even more.

26. Chicago White Sox

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The White Sox were considering Team USA players, and getting someone like Matt Thaiss would provide the team with a nice future backstop. Thaiss had an impressive senior season, and having caught the UVA pitching staff for the past three years, has experience with lively arms, something he should look forward to in Chicago.

27. Baltimore Orioles

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We could see an impressive prep market for shortstops, and Gavin Lux, nephew of Golden Spikes winner Augie Schmidt, could find himself making a case to go in the late first round. His time around his uncle has really developed his game, and should make him an interesting prospect to develop.

28. Washington Nationals

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If the Astros can do it, why can’t the Nationals? Carter Kieboom is the bother of Nats minor league catcher Spencer Kieboom. Carter is a great hitter, and could make a nice third baseman in the future.

29. Washington Nationals

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While UVA hurlers haven’t had the best professional track record, Connor Jones could break the streak, thanks in part to a solid junior season. He’d make a nice back end starter.

30. Texas Rangers

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Justin Dunn has surfaced lately as a starter with a lot of helium. I’m not quite ready to put him in the first round, but if he does well enough in the regional, I’m willing to eat my words. Still, he and Dillon Tate would make an excellent starting duo for the Rangers.

31. New York Mets

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Riley Pint isn’t the only Kansas product who’s got a spotlight on him. Joey Wentz (no relation to Carson) had an impressive run of starts a month ago, and there was consideration he’d jump into the top 15, maybe top ten. That talk has died down a bit, but I could see Sandy Alderson making a possible run at the Virginia commit and making him an offer he can’t refuse.

32. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Though Alec Hansen had possibly one of the worst junior seasons imaginable, he did manage to slightly correct his trajectory when he was moved to the bullpen. Hansen’s problems can be fixed, and there would be no better team to fix them than the Dodgers.

33. St. Louis Cardinals

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Anfernee Grier really saw his stock rise to the point where he should be in consideration for a first round pick. He can hit and defend, and for a team like the Cardinals, who would love to find Matt Holliday’s replacement, he makes the most sense.

34. St. Louis Cardinals

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The Cardinals could use the money they might save from taking college players to grab a prep pitcher with signability issues. I feel certain that Forrest Whitley could be a candidate to drop.

CB LOTTERY PICKS

35. Cincinnati Reds

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If a prep pitcher like Matt Manning falls into Cincy’s lap, and they haven’t drafted a pitcher second overall, I’m guessing this would be the spot to grab one.

36. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The potential for Lucas Erceg to be a Chase Utley-type contributor for the Dodgers should outweigh the fact that he transferred from California to an NAIA school Menlo College due to academic issues.

37. Oakland A’s

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If Nick Senzel isn’t available or if the A’s end up grabbing a college pitcher at the 6th spot, they should grab 3rd baseman Drew Mendoza for his defense and doubles ability.

38. Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies could grab David Dahl’s friend and high school teammate, Heath Quinn right here. He has shown he can handle the transition to the pro game easily.

39. Arizona Diamondbacks

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The Diamondbacks could certainly use a toolsy outfielder like they used to have in Justin Upton, Will Benson just might fall here.

40. Atlanta Braves

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The Braves have a lot of young pitching, but almost nobody to catch them. Sean Murphy may not be the best hitter, but he can call a game, and has a real cannon for an arm.

41. Pittsburgh Pirates

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It’s not often you gamble on project players, but Kyle Muller has the size and the potential to be a mid-rotation starter, plus, he comes from the same high school as Pirates prospect Josh Bell.


And with that, the mock drafts for 2016 are over. Stay tuned for the Winners and Losers of the draft, as well as a sneak peak into the 2017 draft. Thank you all for being a part of a fun year.

2016 MLB Mock Draft: Penultimate Edition

The 2016 MLB draft is almost here, and it’s looking to be one of the more interesting ones in terms of talent. With the prep season really starting to take shape, a lot of high school players are making the case to be first rounders, and as the college season gets close to winding down, those who have performed well are starting to separate from those who haven’t.

This month’s mock differs from the past couple mocks because there will be competitive balance selections. There will be no explanations this time around, as personal reasons prevent me from devoting much time to this particular mock. With that being said, let’s begin the penultimate edition of the 2016 MLB mock draft.

1. Philadelphia Phillies: AJ Puk, LHP, Florida

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2. Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer

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3. Atlanta Braves: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee

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4. Colorado Rockies: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep, California

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5. Milwaukee Brewers: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS, New Jersey

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6. Oakland A’s: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville

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7. Miami Marlins: Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State

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8. San Diego Padres: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Kansas

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9. Detroit Tigers: Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS, Alabama

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10. Chicago White Sox: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS, California

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11. Seattle Mariners: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico

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12. Boston Red Sox: Joey Wentz, LHP, Shawnee East Mission HS, Kansas

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13. Tampa Bay Rays: Will Craig, 1B/3B, Wake Forest

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14. Cleveland Indians: Zack Collins, C/1B/DH, Miami

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15. Minnesota Twins: Forrest Whitley, RHP, Alamo Heights HS, Texas

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16. Los Angeles Angels: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shendandehowa HS, New York

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17, Houston Astros: Matt Thaiss, C, Virginia

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18. New York Yankees: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia

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19. New York Mets: Anthony Kay, LHP, UConn

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20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum HS, Pennsylvania

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21. Toronto Blue Jays: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida

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22. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt

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23. St. Louis Cardinals: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt

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COMPENSATORY SELECTIONS:

24. San Diego Padres: Josh Lowe, 3B/RHP, Pope HS, Georgia

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25. San Diego Padres: Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State

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26. Chicago White Sox: Chris Okey, C, Clemson

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27. Baltimore Orioles: Nolan Jones, 3B, Holy Ghost Prep, Pennsylvania

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28. Washington Nationals: Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS, California

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29. Washington Nationals: Carter Kieboom, 3B, Walton HS, Georgia

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30. Texas Rangers: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford

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31. New York Mets: Drew Mendoza, 3B, Lake Minneola HS, Florida

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32. Los Angeles Dodgers: Kyle Muller, LHP, Jesuit College Prep, Texas

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33. St. Louis Cardinals: Will Benson, 1B/OF, Westminster Schools, Georgia

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34. St. Louis Cardinals: Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia

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COMPETITIVE BALANCE PICKS

35. Cincinnati Reds: Zack Burdi, RHP, Louisville

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36. Los Angeles Dodgers: Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn

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37. Oakland A’s: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California

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38. Colorado Rockies: Joe Rizzo, 3B, Oakton HS, Virginia

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39. Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon

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40. Atlanta Braves: Pete Alonso, 1B, Florida

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41. Pittsburgh Pirates: TJ Zeuch, RHP, Pittsburgh

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If a Tree Falls in the Woods: Finding Fault in the Jason Groome Transfer Rules Violation

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Everyone is familiar with the old philosophical riddle, “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around, does it make a sound?” Well, in some cases, that riddle can be applied to any situation, including this developing story out of Barnegat.

A week and a half after throwing a 19 strikeout no-hitter in his second start, Barnegat High School ace pitcher and presumptive MLB Draft #1 overall pick Jason Groome has been ruled ineligible due to a reported violation of transfer rules. According to the New Jersey’s prep sport governing body, Groome, who initially transferred to the IMG Academy in Bradenton for his junior season, left after a year in order to be closer to friends and family.

The NJSIAA rules state that a player must sit 30 days before being allowed to join an interscholastic athletic team should he transfer in. Barnegat High School did not follow the rules, allowing Groome to pitch two games before the governing body ruled him ineligible. As a result, Barnegat is forced to forfeit the two games that he played and his stats are wiped from the record books. Additionally, Groome will not be allowed to play until the end of April, effectively cancelling out most of his senior season.

This whole situation is wrong on many levels, mainly in part due to lack of communication between the NJSIAA and Barnegat High School. The fact that Groome has to be punished for this shows how awful these transfer rules are.

Insight from my friends at Reddit explain that the rules were put in place in order to prevent programs from developing powerhouse teams in certain sports, wrestling in particular. The rules in fact were put in place specifically in order to prevent transfers for athletic advantage.

First of all, having had the chance to read the NJSIAA’s full policy on student transfers, it’s clear that what Groome did was clearly not to give Barnegat an advantage, but rather because of personal reasons. He left IMG Academy because he was homesick, not because he wanted to increase his draft stock.

To be fair, this isn’t a case of the NJSIAA trying to take down a powerhouse school unfairly, however, instead of waiting this long to deliver a ruling, the governing body should have started asking questions as to why Groome left Barnegat, then came back. While I admit that I am not well versed in the NJSIAA’s procedures, I have to ask, why didn’t they act more diligently?

In the wake of such a high profile transfer, why didn’t they send a memo to the Barnegat athletics department clearly stating the transfer rules? Groome was a projected first round pick, granted he wasn’t the projected first overall pick at the time of his transfer, but still, he had enough visibility in order for the NJSIAA to at least take notice. Why did they sit on their hands and wait until Groome made at least two starts before swooping in and saying that rules had been broken?

Furthermore, what is the deal with striking Groome’s senior stats from the record books, and forfeiting Barnegat’s wins? Exactly what is this accomplishing? Fans and scouts saw Groome pitch a no-hitter, and wiping his stat line is going to do nothing to change the perception of who he is as a prospect. The same could be said for any athlete or coach whose stats were retroactively wiped. Even if the governing body has the records erased, it doesn’t mean that it can change the past.

Look at Reggie Bush back in 2005, for instance. He had an outstanding season at USC and won the Heisman. Years later, the NCAA retroactively canceled out his stats and whitewashed his Heisman because it was ruled that he was ineligible for receiving improper benefits. It doesn’t matter, every college football fan in the country saw what he did. The benefits that Bush received did not impact his athletic performance in any way, Similarly with Joe Paterno during the Penn State scandal, because the NCAA felt that they needed to play the role of moral guardians instead of letting the police do their jobs, Paterno’s records were wiped, his statue was removed, and he left Penn State and died in disgrace because he was a victim of circumstance. Still, ask any Penn State during their time in NCAA purgatory how many games Paterno won, and they would most likely say 409, instead of the NCAA-mandated 298. The point here is that you can’t dictate what happened in the past, and the NJSIAA is clearly trying to save face by retroactively wiping out Groome’s stats.

Lastly, why didn’t the NJSIAA abide by their own rules? Rule 2 in the Transfer procedure states that a transfer is subject to a prompt review by the NJSIAA so that they can determine if the transfer was used for an athletic advantage. Groome transferred at the beginning of the school year, so the NJSIAA had ample time to read his case and make a ruling. Furthermore, if they had concerns, why didn’t they summon Groome for a hearing so that he could plead his case? Would it have been that hard to ask him to stop by so that he could explain why he came back to Barnegat? Furthermore, Rule 3 clearly states what constitutes a transfer for athletic advantage, and based on Groome’s reason for transferring back, it’s clear that he did not:

A. look to join a superior team: Going from IMG Academy, one of the best prep athletics programs in the country back to Barnegat, which is a public school in New Jersey, should not raise any red flags about level of competition unless the NJSIAA believed that Groome wanted to pad his stats.

B. Seek relief due to a conflict with the philosophy or action of  an administrator, teacher or coach relating to sports: Groome doesn’t seem to be the type of kid to have philosophical differences with coaches or teachers, and unless there was an incident at IMG which further prompted him to leave outside of his desire to return home, I highly doubt that he had issues with the coaches or teachers at IMG.

C. Seek a team consistent with the student’s athletic abilities: If Groome had wanted to play for a team that was more on his level, he would have stayed at IMG Academy. New Jersey may be one of the best Northeastern states for baseball, but the talent level is nowhere near that of Florida, Georgia, Texas, or California, widely considered to be powerhouses on the prep circuit.

D. Seek a means to nullify punitive action by the previous school. Again, unless there was an incident at IMG Academy, it’s highly doubtful that Groome left in order to escape discipline.

So as you can see, the NJSIAA clearly was operating on black and white logic instead of delving deeper into Groome’s decision to transfer back. Had they addressed the issue more promptly, this whole mess could have been avoided entirely.

To be fair though, Barnegat High School does deserve some blame. As a member of the NJSIAA, they should have at least pretended to know the policies behind student transfers. Furthermore, they had two options, they could have just let Groome sit, or they could have explained the situation behind Groome’s transfer to the governing body. Instead, they disregarded a simple set of rules and now they are without their ace for the rest of April.

The point is, however, that a young man will lose most of his senior season, an opportunity to further improve his draft stock, and also the chance pitch for a charity event in Red Bank, and all of this is because the governing body and the school both made stupid decisions. Whether or not this does affect his draft stock, if I were Groome, I would rightfully be upset with the decision.

So to conclude, if Jason Groome throws a 19-pitch no-hitter and the NJSIAA cancels it out because he’s retroactively ruled ineligible, did he still throw the no-hitter? I think we all know the answer to that question.

2016 MLB Mock Draft: April Edition

It’s time to get down to business.

With the college season heating up, the prep season beginning, and, of course, Major League Baseball officially underway, I think it’s safe to say that mock drafts might start to pick up right about now. Baseball America has already churned out their first mock of the season, for instance. It won’t be long before Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, and Jim Callis, among others, churn out their mocks. So to continue to stay ahead of the game, here is MinorLeagueMadhouse’s April Edition of the 2016 Mock Draft. Same rules apply, picks are judged by organizational strength or best player available.

Let’s begin.

1. Philadelphia Phillies: 

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So I may have been a bit overeager to change my mock a bit last time.

Lately, it’s been a three horse race for the number 1 pick in the draft, between a prep lefty, a college lefty, and, according to BA, a college infielder. Of course, since the prep season only began last week, the best way to judge who was the top prospect was based on reputation and workouts vs. actual stats. Until Tuesday.

Jason Groome had an interesting debut, to put it conservatively. Against Point Pleasant Borough HS, he struck out ten while allowing two hits and a walk. Groome’s day was short though, as he was pulled in the 5th inning. The Barnegat ace has long been in the top pick conversation and after Tuesday’s performance, it’s not hard to say that it’s been deservedly so. My main concerns however are the low level of competition and Groome’s Vanderbilt commitment – considering last year’s recruiting class for the Commodores, Philly might have to spend later picks wisely if they want the guy in their own backyard.

2. Cincinnati Reds

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan recently released his new book, titled The Arm, which took a look at one of the more highly valued commodities in the MLB draft, a prep arm. In it, he talked about how prep pitchers run the risk of being overworked for the sake of showcases, particularly those done by Perfect Game. One of Passan’s case studies is a top prospect in the draft.

I did read the excerpt that was published in SI, and found the information on Riley Pint, particularly his composure off the field to be of particular interest. We know that Pint has the potential to reach triple digits with his fastball, and his secondary offerings are definitely not developmental. Pint has been a smart prospect in the fact that he hasn’t overworked his arm in showcases, mainly because of his refusal to participate in Perfect Game’s events, which is practically a requirement in order to get visibility.

Pint’s stuff, and his character will serve him well as he goes through the season, and despite the fact that he doesn’t play in a baseball hotbed, expect him to garner serious consideration to be the first ever right-handed prep pitcher to be taken first overall.

3. Atlanta Braves

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As bad as the Braves will be this season, they are perhaps in a better place than they were back in 2014. With rebuild mode in full effect, the Braves have managed to obtain solid future pieces that should contribute anywhere between mid 2016 to 2019, with a chance to add more. Of course, with the draft, even more prospects will be coming in, and with the third overall pick, the Braves have myriad options.

Though they could go with a home state product, I think they would rather jump at arguably the best all-around position player in the draft, Corey Ray. Ray has had an excellent season for Louisville, leading the team in home runs and RBI. Ray, in my opinion, does look like a future Jason Heyward. I could see him, Dansby Swanson, and Freddie Freeman making up a solid middle of the order for Atlanta when they move to SunTrust Park.

4. Colorado Rockies

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Whether or not this ends up being the year that Colorado’s long-term rebuild finally comes to a head rests in their future rotation members. Sure, Trevor Story has shown that he’s more than just a bridge to Brendan Rodgers, in fact, that may have to be addressed down the line, but in all honesty, Colorado has always been a great hitting team. Pitching on the other hand has been the team’s Achilles heel, which has led to the team drafting hurlers in the hope of finding some that stick.

AJ Puk is probably the most pro-ready pitcher in this year’s class. The lanky lefty has had, for the most part, a decent season, and of course, nothing can take away from his fastball, considered one of the best in the draft. However, he hasn’t been as dominant as he was last season, and in his last start, he only lasted 11 pitches before leaving due to back spasms. Puk’s injury is not considered to be serious, but he should still be watched carefully, while he is still the top college pitcher as of now, there is a chance that others can pass him. Still, Puk would make a nice addition to Colorado’s stable of future arms.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers are a team that we know will be having a bad season, mainly because they do have a glut of replacement level players along with stars that we are almost certain will be traded for talent. With that being said, Milwaukee stands to be in a good spot with the 5th overall pick, as they could pick anyone at this spot and it would still improve their farm system.

Every year, Baseball America has a darling player that they tend to hype up before the draft, and this year is no exception, as Nick Senzel has been amazingly high on their draft boards lately. Blessed with solid contact and power, as well as positional versatility, Senzel has a .387 batting average with 4 home runs and 40 RBI as of now. The Volunteers slugger would be a great future replacement at third base for Aaron Hill, or at second base for Scooter Gennett.

6. Oakland A’s

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It seems like a lifetime ago when the A’s had one of the most offensively powerful teams in the league, but of course, that time has come to pass, and yet another fire sale leaves the A’s with some pieces but a lot of questions. Considering Oakland is in possibly the most competitive division, it seems the best course of action would be for the A’s to start building again, and there is probably no better draft than right now to find a future star.

Kyle Lewis has been one of the more controversial draft prospects, considering the fact that he plays in a weak conference that may have inflated his stats, but there’s no denying that Lewis’ potential as a power hitter is there. Tied for third in home runs, Lewis would definitely benefit from playing in the Coliseum. If he can keep playing at the level he has for the past few weeks, he will definitely cement his status as a top 10 pick in the draft.

7. Miami Marlins

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As the prep season starts and goes on, more and more candidates for the HAPS, or Highly Anticipated Prep Shortstop designation make their case. What started as Delvin Perez on his own has gradually grown into a triad, and each HAPS candidate has shown a different set of skills.

While I have largely ignored Nolan Jones of Holy Ghost Prep, his name has really started to pop up in internet forums as a potential dark horse top 10 pick, and justifiably so. Jones, according to some people, bulked up over the offseason, and should be adding more power to his swing. Jones has no definite weaknesses as of now, however, like many HAPS, he could find himself switching to a different position professionally, like third or second base. Jones’ offensive potential as of now has been compared to super utility man Ben Zobrist, but if the rumors of him adding more muscle are true, he could present more of a Daniel Murphy-like profile.

Jones’ potential for growth should be something the Marlins could monitor, and because he’s a prep product, he’ll have plenty of time to figure out where he’ll end up position wise.

8. San Diego Padres

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Anyone who has had the chance to watch some SEC baseball this year, regardless of the teams that are playing, can say that this year’s class of draft-eligible players has to be arguably the best in recent memory, from the already established players to the ones whose stock has risen the past few weeks.

Last year at around this time, Andrew Benintendi was the darling of both the SEC and the MLB draft, going from a potential unknown to a top 10 pick. This year, it could be a pitcher that sees their stock rise, and there has been no better example of rising stock this year than Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson.

Surprised? Well you should be. Hudson has taken this season by storm so far pitching to a 4-2 record, a 1.68 ERA, and 59 strikeouts. Hudson has one of the better fastballs in the class, and has a solid arsenal of secondary pitches, all of which range from average to plus.  Hudson has the ideal build for a pitcher as well, standing at 6’5″ and 205 pounds. Despite a rough outing against Florida, his stock could still rise and he could make a solid case to displace AJ Puk as the top college pitcher in the draft.

9. Detroit Tigers

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I have to give credit to owner Mike Ilitch and Tigers GM Al Avila on the offseason they had. A season after acknowledging that nothing was working and selling off major pieces, the Tigers reentered the AL Central race by signing two major pieces, and not having to lose their first round pick served as an added bonus. This New York Jets-like gamble could be yet another high risk-high reward proposition for the Tigers, but it still is early to tell. The Tigers do have a weak farm system however, due to graduation and gamble trades from previous seasons. While the possibility of getting one of the top prep outfielders seems attractive, I feel that getting an Ian Kinsler succession plan would serve them better here.

Delvin Perez comes with many benefits. He’s one of the youngest prospects in the class, has no looming college commitment, and comes from one of the best talent factories in the US. Perez is also one of the best defenders in the class, meaning that among all the HAPS candidates, he has the best chance to stay at shortstop. While his offense is developmental, the Tigers could take plenty of time to develop him. He and Jose Iglesias would make a Gold-Glove potential middle infield that would provide excellent support for the Tigers pitching staff.

10. Chicago White Sox

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After spending 2013, 2014, and 2015 in the lower half of the farm system rankings, something clearly has to change for the White Sox. While I still believe that Rick Hahn wants to draft a collegian with the 10th pick, the chance to grab a top prep talent could prove to be too great to ignore, and since the Sox have a compensatory selection, they could use it to grab a collegiate player later.

The debate regarding Blake Rutherford as of late has been whether or not he can keep his status as the consensus top hitter in the draft. Having already been exposed to the national spotlight, some prospect sites, particularly MLBPipeline, feel that Rutherford could go through prospect fatigue, which could plummet his draft stock. Having been named to the All-Tournament team for the National High School Invitational, it seems that Rutherford may avoid that fate for now. Rutherford’s power and speed make him the ideal candidate to succeed Melky Cabrera, and his age (19) will either help or hinder his progression through the minors.

11. Seattle Mariners

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You might think with the Seattle Mariners’ draft history that the team would have a lot more success with their picks. Having gone with safe bets for the past few years however has not been a solid strategy for them, and it may be time for a change.

My first real surprise of the draft has the Mariners taking a guy whose stock has been steadily rising the past few weeks. Cal hurler Daulton Jefferies has been what Oregon’s Matt Krook could not be, the top prospect in the Pac-12. Sporting a 6-0 record, a sparkling 1.29 ERA and 47 strikeouts as of this writing. Jefferies has quietly ascended from an almost Day 1 pick to a practical certainty. The Mariners will get an opportunity to see him pitch in their home state when Cal plays Washington State in May, so if Jefferies continues to pitch the way he has been, the Mariners should send plenty of scouts to Pullman.

12. Boston Red Sox

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The thing that amazes me about the Boston Red Sox is the fact that despite their clear plan to go all-in this year, they made such great moves without sacrificing too much talent. Sure, they did give up some solid prospects for Craig Kimbrel, but still, their system is considered one of the best in baseball, mainly due in part to Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Andrew Benintendi. So if that’s the case, where do the Red Sox go from here?

While Blake Rutherford may have more visibility, in my opinion, Mickey Moniak has better potential. The La Costa Canyon outfielder has seen his stock rise and fall even before the season started, and yet he still could make a solid case to beat out Rutherford as the top prep outfielder. Looking at Moniak’s highlight reel, I see a very capable centerfielder with a solid swing. While it is fundamentally different than Kyle Tucker’s from last year, it still is very smooth, like Tucker’s. Moniak, in my opinion could be a very solid choice for Boston, who has already had success developing outfield talent. Having him, Betts, and Benintendi playing alongside each other would give them quite the homegrown outfield.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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Two-way prospects are a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have a prospect that has two major strengths, which you can figure out where they will fit better into your team’s future plans, on the other, the development time is often increased because it can take a while to determine where they fit. In fact, there really hasn’t been a solid two-way player in baseball in a while.

The Rays have an advantage with Josh Lowe because they can look at him one of two ways, on the one hand, he does have projectable power, and his defense allows him to stay at third base, making him a potential successor for Evan Longoria. On the other, he’s got a solid fastball and an above average slider, with a developing changeup, allowing him to join the long line of solid pitching prospects in the Rays’ farm system. I personally feel that Lowe would stand to be a better option as a hitter based on his power potential, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility if the Rays decide to make him into yet another potential ace.

14. Cleveland Indians

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When it comes to NCAA stat leaders, in particular, batting average, the last thing you expect is for a first round prospect to be in the top 5. Yes, they’re good, but they shouldn’t be that good. Usually, those positions are occupied by players that come from smaller schools, those that will be drafted high but will likely end up as a career farmhand. Of course, anything can happen, just look at Seth Beer and his amazing season that shouldn’t have been.

Digression aside, I think that Will Craig has the chance to make a serious case to be a first round prospect. Sure, he’s missed a few games, but so far, Craig has made the ACC his personal playground, leading the league in batting average (.476) and RBI (43) while tied for second with Corey Ray in home runs (9). Craig will be a corner infielder in the pros, it just depends on where exactly he fits. If the Indians draft him, I see him as a potential third baseman, taking over for Lonnie Chisenhall. Craig has the potential to be a solid producer in the lineup, and there’s no doubt that if he can handle one of the top conferences in college baseball the pros shouldn’t be that difficult to adjust to.

15. Minnesota Twins

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Though the focus last year was on the Astros and their jump from being one of the worst teams in baseball to a potential future threat, someone should really give credit to the Minnesota Twins for what they did last year, making a serious run for a wild card spot until the final week of the season. The Twins’ homegrown talent has managed to meet expectations so far, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if they make a compelling case to win the NL Central this year.

One of the more common assumptions in mock drafts is that teams will make every effort to grab home-state talent, and in some cases, it’s true, while in others, it’s not. Minnesota has benefitted from 11 years of Joe Mauer, so with the opportunity to grab Logan Shore another home-stater, presenting itself, the Twins would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t at least look at him.

Going into the season, many assumed that AJ Puk would be the breakout starter in the Florida rotation, but it’s been the complete opposite. Shore has not yet lost a game, is second on the team in strikeouts, and owns the lowest ERA among the Gators’ starters. It’s clear that Shore wouldn’t be a token home state pick to appease the Minnesota faithful, he could make a serious case to be a part of what will be a dangerous future rotation.

16. Los Angeles Angels

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A while ago, on Reddit, a discussion popped up on which team was in the worst situation heading into the 2016 season. I argued that the Angels were the most likely candidate, given the amount of bad contracts on the team, the fact that most of the roster was starting to decline, and the atrocious state of the farm system. Now would be the perfect time for the Angels to start a rebuild and if one of the top prospects in the draft starts to take a tumble, you can bet that the Angels should pounce.

While Buddy Reed has had a good season, there’s no doubt that he really hasn’t blown anyone away, and that the top 5 pick potential was clearly preseason talk. Reed is still a valuable commodity, his speed and defense make him one of the best athletes in the draft, and put on the right team, he will definitely provide a jolt in the lineup. Though Reed is a natural centerfielder, with Mike Trout already there, I could see him learning left field so that he can contribute almost immediately.

17. Houston Astros 

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Jeff Luhnow was appointed the general manager of the Houston Astros after spending 8 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. In the time that Luhnow has been with Houston, the Astros have gone from being a laughingstock to a very serious threat. Years of stockpiling draft picks that have started to contribute, like George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers has shown that Luhnow does deserve respect for what he has done, even if he’s had a few misfires along the way (Mark Appel and Brady Aiken, cough cough.)

While the Astros have a particularly strong farm system, one thing they could stand to improve is their future catching situation. Chris Okey has been one of my favorite players in the draft, partially because he’s managed to shake off a slow start to be Clemson’s second best hitter this year. Okey may only be 21, but he’s been cited for having one of the more veteran minds behind the plate. He may not be a power hitter like Zack Collins or Matt Thaiss, but as a defense first catcher with an average bat, Okey would be the perfect battery mate for the up-and-comers in the future Astros rotation.

18. New York Yankees

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Short pitchers often get a bad rap mainly because of their inability to look dominant on the mound. To compensate, many rely on pure velocity and movement, at the expense of control, in order to throw hitters off. We’ve seen it with Marcus Stroman and Kelvin Herrera, is it possible that this stigma can be broken?

Perhaps there is no better way to prove height doesn’t matter by bringing in a prospect from one of college baseball’s premier factories. Jordan Sheffield has a solid pitch selection, and a solid team behind him, but the main issue with him is control, as he does have 22 walks to his credit. Still, if his control problems can be fixed, he could be a solid mid rotation arm for the Yankees, but as of now, expect him to work out of the bullpen professionally.

19. New York Mets

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In five seasons as general manager  of the Mets, Sandy Alderson has used only one first round selection on a pitcher, and that was Michael Fulmer way back in 2011. Considering how good the rotation is now, it almost seems as if he had the foresight to make the call not to emulate his predecessor, Omar Minaya, who loved drafting college pitchers. However, 2018-2022 will be looming, and the Mets will start making decisions on who stays and who goes. If Alderson is prepared for this, he will start looking for future rotation pieces in this draft.

For me, Connor Jones is one of the more intriguing players in the draft. He has a track record of success, having played a key role in the Cavaliers’ first College World Series title. However, like the Cavaliers prospects before him, Hultzen, Howard, and Kirby, he does come with a red flag. Virginia starters have had a tendency to falter down the stretch, particularly when they are considered top draft prospects, and until his last start, Jones seemed destined to follow that trend until he pitched a complete game one-hitter against Boston College. Still, Jones has a long way to go to prove he’s still legitimate first round material.

Part of me feels that Jones will succeed if coached the right way, i.e, the right pitching coach works with him. If that’s the case, then Jones would greatly benefit working with Frank Viola and Dan Warthen. He definitely could be a solid future replacement for any Mets starter that leaves via free agency.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Roster construction in baseball is one of those things that you know is either black or white. You either build a team from the ground up, or you buy a team through trades and free agency. At least, that’s what we’ve grown to accept. However, there are exceptions to the rule. The Dodgers have managed to create a hybrid strategy, giving big money to players and still managing develop talent that can contribute in the near future.

Will Benson is interesting in the fact that he projects to be a power hitter, but has yet to build into his power. Still, his versatility as a first baseman and outfielder make him a valued commodity, especially for the Dodgers, who would stand to have plenty of roster questions by the time he’s ready. Benson looks to go in as a first baseman, but if Cody Bellinger continues to develop at the pace that he has, Benson could look to replace Andre Ethier in the outfield. He can throw, so he wouldn’t be a liability there.

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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The Toronto Blue Jays have always been a team that has been heavily reliant on offense, and the roster they have constructed is no exception. With Jose Bautista in a contract year, Josh Donaldson coming off an MVP season, and Troy Tulowitzki in his first full season away from Colorado, it’s clear that as long as Toronto focuses on offense, they will remain competitive in the AL East.

I did mention that Jose Bautista is in a contact year, and at 36, it’s debatable how long he can continue to be the late blooming star that he has been, so in my opinion, the Jays could stand to take a look at a pro-ready college outfielder, like Anfernee Grier. Grier has had an unbelievable season as one of the members of Auburn’s potent offense, having had at least one hit in all but one game this year. Grier isn’t afraid to go all out on defense, and his power potential ensures that whenever he comes up, he will be a threat.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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One of the first rules of the MLB draft is that nothing is certain, and this is especially true when it comes to determining who is the best college pitcher. Because of this, many surefire top 5 or 10 players often find themselves dropping due to an underwhelming junior season. It’s a humbling experience, but in some cases, those prospects end up proving that they should have been taken early in the first place.

It’s been an especially rough season for Alec Hansen however, and under any other circumstance, I’d pull him out of the first round entirely. However, part of me feels that Hansen could benefit by being drafted by Pittsburgh, where Ray Searage could get him back on track. Hansen does have the stuff to be a rotation arm, and the build as well. It will be tough to evaluate him right now, as he was recently demoted to the bullpen, and has yet to see action, but if any team decides to take a flier on him, I could see Pittsburgh doing so as a succession plan for Gerrit Cole, should he depart via free agency.

23. St. Louis Cardinals

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The Cardinals are one of those teams that have the good problem of too much talent. Because they are among the best at developing homegrown talent, they often find themselves with a surplus, that can be dealt for pieces to be used for a postseason run. Of course, now would be a great time for them to start using some of the talent they have obtained, as some of their key pieces from their 2011 title are starting to get old.

I like Bryan Reynolds here because while scouting reports insist that he’s a developmental college prospect, he is a Vanderbilt player, and Vandy has had a solid track record of producing players with big league potential This season, he’s been absolutely impressive, batting .328 while leading the team in home runs. In my opinion, Reynolds would be an excellent successor for Matt Holliday, and if his stats translate to the big leagues, he could be a solid #3 hitter in the Cardinals lineup.

COMPENSATORY PICKS

24. San Diego Padres

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Drew Mendoza is a lot better than his draft position suggests. Considering his pro potential as a third baseman, and his doubles power, he could really play Petco Park to his advantage.

25. San Diego Padres

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Avery Tuck is practically in the Padres’ backyard, but like Logan Shore with Minnesota, he wouldn’t be a token hometown pick. His potential for growth will definitely make him a serious consideration for AJ Preller and the Padres’ brass.

26. Chicago White Sox

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While Nick Banks may not have had the season that everyone has expected him to, the fact that he is a solid hitter that can play a corner outfield spot should make him particularly attractive to any team looking for a short term developmental project.

27. Baltimore Orioles

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Carter Kieboom may have pro potential as a third baseman, but if the Orioles do take him, they could use his solid hitting skills to justify using him as an offensively minded shortstop, a potential heir to JJ Hardy.

28. Washington Nationals

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Though Zack Collins is a catcher, his power makes it difficult for any team to justify sticking him behind the plate. If he’s drafted by an NL team, I could see him playing first base. Considering Ryan Zimmerman is starting to slow down, I see plenty of reason for the Nats to look into a future first baseman.

29. Washington Nationals

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Eric Lauer has rebounded from being shelled in his first outing to become one of the more intriguing small-school pitchers in the draft. The Golden Flashes ace has a solid array of pitches that should convince the Nationals to take him.

30. Texas Rangers

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After striking out 15 in his season debut, Braxton Garrett and his pro level curve should definitely garner a lot more attention as the season goes on.

31. New York Mets

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It wouldn’t be the first time the Mets went in-state, but Ian Anderson and his fastball look to make a compelling case to be, at the very least, a compensatory first round pick. Considering there’s an unwritten rule that there must be at least one prep product from the Northeast taken in the first round, Anderson makes the most compelling case.

32. Los Angeles Dodgers

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There’s no doubt in my mind that Zack Burdi has the potential to be just as good, if not better than his brother Nick. At the very least, he’s LA’s closer for the future, at the most, he’s a future member of their rotation.

33. St. Louis Cardinals

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Robert Tyler and his workhorse mentality would serve him well if he wanted to break into the Cardinals’ rotation. He really has bounced back from a slow start to his junior season.

34. St. Louis Cardinals

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Kevin Gowdy has really seen his stock rise, mainly due to a quick recovery from an underwhelming showcase circuit. His potential for growth from an above average pitch repertoire gives him the opportunity to show that he has the starting potential that scouts have been gushing about lately.

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And with that, we conclude this month’s mock draft. Tune in next month when we do the first, compensatory, and competitive balance picks in the May edition of MinorLeagueMadhouse’s 2016 MLB Mock Draft.

2016 MLB Mock Draft: April Fools Edition

What? You thought that you were going to get an actual MLB Mock draft to start April? Well too diddly darn bad!

Okay, in all seriousness, yes, you will get one later in the month, but as of now, I’ve decided to take a page out of Walter Football’s book and make an April Fools mock draft. Anything goes here, so let’s begin.

1. Philadelphia Phillies:

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Matt Klentak had two areas he planned to focus on when it came to the draft. One was pitching, the other was bringing people into the seats at Citizens Bank Park. Considering how new he is to the GM position, and the fact that he has a reputation of making incredibly questionable draft decisions to uphold, he decided to go with a pick that would make experts go “huh?” So when he called in his pick. it was understandable that Rob Manfred, after reading the card, was clearly confused. “With the first pick in the 2016 First Year Player Draft, the Philadelphia Phillies select EDP445, a YouTuber from Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania.”

“We feel that EDP445 brings us a certain… entertainment factor that will draw people to Phillies games. We’re prepared to accelerate his minor league development so that he can be ready in time for Opening Day 2017, and hope that he will give us at least 5 years worth of profanity laced tirades, with a lot of shouting and cursing out the coaching staff.” Klentak said. When asked how he was able to get him to balance his Eagles fandom with his Phillies fandom, Klentak remarked, “We tend to think of him as a two sport YouTuber. Hey, it worked for Bo Jackson, didn’t it?”

After he was drafted, EDP445 uploaded a Youtube video, with him decked out in Phillies gear. “MATT KLENTAK!? WHAT THE F***!!!!? WHY WOULD YOU DRAFT A SORRY A** N**** LIKE ME? ARE YOU ON CRACK HOMIE!? BECAUSE I WANT SOME OF THAT S*** THAT YOU’RE SMOKIN’!”

2. Cincinnati Reds:

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Reeling from what could only be described as one of the worst offseasons in team history, the Reds were in need of a serious talent infusion. But Walt Jocketty had a plan for this.

“You see, I had this cow that I had to sell, and a farmer just happened to come along. He offered me some Magic Beans in exchange for the cow, to which I agreed, but only on the condition that he also took my shirt and tie as well, with my pants to be named later. Jocketty explained, He followed that up with “Is it just me, or is it kind of cold in here?”

After showing the media his prized talent acquisition. one member of the Cincinnati Enquirer remarked that Jocketty had just gotten a handful of jelly beans. At this, Jocketty turned pale, and silently left the stage muttering about how he was getting too old for this.

3. Atlanta Braves:

 Ph: Barry Wetcher © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

John Coppolella’s magical offseason was highlighted by the shocking acquisition of 2015 first overall pick Dansby Swanson as well as Los Angeles Angels top prospect Sean Newcomb. Some would say that the moves he made had a hint of thievery, but according to the Braves GM, there was actually something else.

“Magic”, he explained. “In fact, we decided to draft a magician to help bolster our ability to swindle top prospects away from our competitors. Say hello to J. Daniel Atlas, of the Four Horsemen.” At this, a young man appeared out of thin air and bowed.

When asked what his secret was, Atlas smirked and said, “Always be the smartest guy in the room.” A minute later, ESPN reported breaking news that Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto were headed to Atlanta in exchange for Erick Aybar. Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who later saw the news, reportedly contacted the FBI to demand they launch a criminal investigation. When they interrogated Atlas, he remarked, “Always be the smartest guy in the room.” He casually walked out, leaving the interrogator chained to his desk and his partner miming playing the violin.

4. Colorado Rockies

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The Rockies were going to improve their farm system with the fourth overall pick in the draft, but then someone brought a joint into the scouting department meetings, and suddenly everything shifted direction.

A clearly stoned Jeff Brdich stumbled out of the conference room at one point, laughing at himself and mumbling, “Y-y’know wha… what would go great here? W-we should get a pot shop here. Y’know, it’d get a loooooooot of people throu…. through the doors here. I- I mean sure they won’t know what the hell is going on, but we’d get a lot of people here.”

He then turned to a reporter with the still smoking joint in his hand. “Heeeeey, kemosabe. Wanna puff? This stuff is amazing.” He then proceeded to stumble down the hall, looking for the restroom.

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers, realizing that they had a golden opportunity fall into their lap, practically ran to the phone to call in their pick, at least according to new GM David Stearns. “I mean how often do you see this type of scenario happening?”

With the fifth pick, the Brewers selected Jason Groome, the promising lefty starter from Barnegat High School in New Jersey. Groome, who happened to be in Studio 42 at draft day, however wasn’t pleased. “What just happened? Did I just stumble into a universe devoid of logic and reason? Am I seriously the fifth overall pick?” Still, Groome reluctantly accepted the Brewers jersey presented to him, flinching as if he was putting on a suit made of Gympie Gympie leaves. As he went to shake hands with Commissioner Rob Manfred. MLB Network caught him mouthing to no one in particular. “Well that’s it, I’m going to Vanderbilt. Screw you guys.”

Two months later, a visibly fatter Stearns was found in his office, a bottle of tequila in one hand and a half eaten brat in the other. He kept saying, “Only in F***ing Milwaukee. Only in F***ing Milwaukee does this s*** happen.”

6. Oakland Athletics

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Having finally gotten fed up with the fact that the A’s had been operating on a shoestring budget, and dealing with the constant debate over whether moneyball actually works, Billy Beane instructed his new GM, David Forst to make a splash on draft day. And what a splash he made. as Forst ended up picking an energetic socialist from Vermont to help the team out in the future.

When it was announced that Bernie Sanders would be the newest Oakland Athletics star, A’s fans rejoiced. One fan, a University of California-Berkeley student, was quoted, saying “He’s the answer. He’s an outsider, and he’ll make sure that the big spending teams that win titles year after year give their titles to this team. Furthermore, he’s going to force the wealthy teams to pay for the poorer teams free agents, and considering we haven’t made a free agent splash in years, it’s gonna be fun.”

She followed that up with an enthusiastic, “Feel the Bern, baby!” When asked how Sanders was going to force teams to do this, she immediately turned angry and stormed away, screaming “Stop triggering me you bigot! Who the hell appointed you to this position anyway!?” The president of Cal-Berkeley issued a statement the following day saying that his students were unfairly targeted by the media, and that a media blackout had been enforced on campus.

7. Miami Marlins

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Fed up with the constant mismanagement of the Marlins, ironically, by his own hand, Jeffery Loria finally agreed to step down as owner. With that sudden change, GM Michael Hill’s draft strategy suddenly became clearer, and so with the seventh overall pick, the Marlins chose a new and energetic owner to run the team.

“We believe that Mark Cuban is the answer to getting the fans into Marlins park. He clearly knows what he’s doing, as evidenced by what he’s done with the Dallas Mavericks. Plus, he’s had experience advising young startups before. Plus his name, Mark Cuban. It’s like we’re encouraging our Cuban American population to come to the games again.” Hill exclaimed, barely containing his excitement.

Cuban said he was ready to get to work immediately. “You know, based on my work at Shark Tank, I think I can figure out how to run this team without having to do a fire sale every five years. This is going to be a blast!” His first game didn’t go so well, though as he was caught screaming at umpire Jim Wolf about what he thought was a missed call. He was later fined $10,000 for complaining about the umpiring on Twitter.

 

8. San Diego Padres

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Padres GM AJ Preller has been feeling heat ever since his grand vision of 2015 completely crashed and burned around him. In fact, both the fanbase and ownership had been pressuring him to make a splash.

“They asked me to make a splash in the draft, and immediately what came to mind was Splash Brothers, you know, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson?” Preller said. “So I got in touch with the Golden State Warriors, but they flat said no, leaving me with my you-know-what in my hand”.

Preller then went to his next best option, find the Steph Curry of baseball. It didn’t take him long, as SEC Network, a subsidiary of ESPN, which is contractually obligated to keep stroking the real Steph Curry’s ego, called a small centerfielder from the University of Missouri by the name of Jake Ring, the Steph Curry of SEC Baseball. “At that, I said that’s our guy and focused all attention on him.” Preller said.

Minutes after the pick was announced, Padres message boards were flooded with 95-96 Bulls jokes, and Steph Curry’s ego chafed from being stroked too hard.

In an unrelated note, MinorLeagueMadhouse has been purchased by ESPN with terms of the deal stating that Steph Curry must be mentioned at least six times per article.

9. Detroit Tigers

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Owner Mike Ilitch has long stated that he wants the Tigers to win the World Series before he dies, and despite several chances to do so, the Tigers have come up short repeatedly. For new GM Al Avila, this gave him an idea on what to do with the ninth overall selection.

“So I got in touch with the folks at Oculus Rift and SCEA San Diego, and we decided that our draft pick would be used on a Simulated World Series Victory. All we have to do is get Mr. Ilitch to put on the Oculus headset and he can watch the final out of the World Series.”

When asked about how they planned to get Ilitch to put on the headset, Avila shrugged and said, “I don’t know, he’s a bit of a technophobe, we may just have to set up a box trap or something with a Little Caesar’s Pizza.

Ilitch later responded, “Avila can keep his dadgumed technology and his dadgumed pizza trap. I’d rather die than eat that crap, and I’d rather eat that crap before I put on any dadgumed virtue-al realy-ty headset!” When asked why he’d trash his own franchise, he replied. “I own the danged chain, it doesn’t mean I eat that garbage! It prob’ly gives you a third nipple or something!”

10. Chicago White Sox

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In the wake of the Adam LaRoche fiasco, White Sox Executive VP Ken Williams was left picking up the pieces in what was a horribly overblown fiasco. “Honestly, I feel like I’m the one who should apologize, because I basically told a guy that I’m paying $13 million that he couldn’t have his son around”.

In response to that, the White Sox drafted a new state-of-the-art daycare center, which is expected to debut some time during the 2017 season. “We’ve even gone the extra step by inviting Adam and Drake to come back, in fact we’re even thinking of naming it the Drake LaRoche Player’s Children Care Center. Heck, Adam’s even invited to be the first to bring snacks!”

When asked about the White Sox decision, LaRoche replied, “I get what Ken is trying to do, but he’s not going to get me back, no, in order to do that he has to draft Drake first overall and make him the team’s starting second baseman. And forget the locker in the clubhouse, he wants a play fort! And while we’re at it, I want my wife and daughter to have play forts in the clubhouse too!”

Williams could only shake his head upon hearing LaRoche’s new demands. “Like I pissed away $13 million. What a man-child!”

11. Seattle Mariners 

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Frustrated with the constant failures that the Mariners have produced through drafting, GM Jerry DiPoto decided to try a different approach when it came to his first round pick this year.

“It took a fair amount of persuading, and admittedly a considerable amount of begging, but I was able to use the Mariners’ first round pick on the most surefire chance at success, a guy who’s already reached the pinnacle of his career, and he’s only 24. Meet the future of the Mariners’ organization, Bryce Harper!”

Harper would end up struggling, get sent down to the minors, where he would never regain his hitting stroke, and retired at Single-A Clinton after three years.

DiPoto was later found at the top of a Christmas Tree in downtown Seattle, throwing pinecones at rescue workers and screaming obscenities at those who tried to get him to come down.

12. Boston Red Sox

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One of the greatest anomalies of our time will always be how the Boston Red Sox managed to win the 2013 World Series after a terrible 2012 season, and yet has not figured out how to capitalize on that success. Heck, when I’ve asked Siri, I’ve received an ERROR! DOES NOT COMPUTE! message. This is usually followed by the smell of burnt toast.

Thankfully, Mike Hazen, fresh into his new tenure as Red Sox GM, decided to answer mine, and possibly many other fan’s questions by drafting a Team of Scientists to explain how the Red Sox won in 2013, and how they can duplicate the success.

Minutes into discussion, one of the scientists abruptly quit and jumped out a nearby window. A second ended up running headfirst repeatedly into a concrete wall. The remaining two decided to become stereotypical Red Sox fans, adopting Boston accents and chugging Sam Adams while watching the game on TV.

13. Tampa Bay Rays

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The Tampa Bay Rays have long been plagued by low attendance, mainly because their stadium is a cavernous dome more suited for a tomb. Because of this, the Rays have been constantly looking for a way to bring up attendance.

Earlier in March, the Rays played an exhibition game against the Cuban National team. “For us this was a scouting trip.” GM Matthew Silverman told reporters. “No, not for Cuban players, Actually we plan to draft the City of Havana to be our new DH… No, not designated hitter, honestly are you people listening? Yes, we’re still going to be the Tampa Bay Rays…No, President Obama hasn’t exactly approved this yet… No, neither has Castro… Good God, will you idiots stop bothering me?”

14. Cleveland Indians

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The perpetual factory of sadness in Cleveland may be based in FirstEnergy Stadium, but that doesn’t mean that its fumes don’t occasionally waft over to Progressive Field every so often. For GM Mike Chernoff, he felt the need to take a page out of the Browns playbook in order to break the spell.

“I talked to the Browns GM, Sonny Weaver, and he told me, as much as you’d like to go for that flashy kid from Wisconsin that everyone’s talking about, you should always go for Vontae Mack, no matter what.” Chernoff said. “Of course, Weaver also told me that I should consider making a deal with Seattle in which I trade away my three first round picks in the next three years, but considering you can’t trade picks in the MLB draft, I decided to just stick with drafting Mack. Though I did end up phoning Jerry DiPoto to call him a pancake eating motherf***er.”

There are no plans for the Indians to try and grab Ray Jennings later in the draft.

15, Minnesota Twins

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The Minnesota Twins are no stranger to drafting home state talent, especially when it is elite. Joe Mauer, a St. Paul native,  has served as the franchise face for the past 11 years. It came as no surprise that the Twins didn’t hesitate to draft their next star Minnesotan with the pick.

“For us, it was between this kid at Florida named Logan Shore, or this young shortstop named Snoopy.” GM Terry Ryan commented. “We did like what we saw with Shore, but were really blown away by the funny looking kid. He was the only bright spot on that team, I believe they lost 272-0 that day, but Snoopy really stood out on the field and at bat.”

When one of the reporters remarked that Snoopy looked like a beagle, Ryan shrugged. “You know, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve pushed the envelope, after all, in 1994 we had a 12-year-old managing our team.”

16. Los Angeles Angels

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Knowing full well that the Angels farm system was in need of a serious overhaul, GM Billy Eppler decided to utilize a rarely employed strategy when it came to making his selection.

The strategy, known only as project motor mouth, required the use of a guest pick announcer, who looked and sounded like the man from the Micro Machines Commercials. Commissioner Rob Manfred invited the guest speaker to the podium, announced as former Angels player, Johnny Moschitta, who proceeded to clear his throat and read the selection.

Withthe16thoverallpickinthefirstyearplayerdraftthelosangelesangelsselectAjPukCoreyRayRileyPintNickSenzelBlakeRutherfordMickeyMoniakJordanSheffieldConnorJonesandChrisOkey. Moschitta then stepped off the stage as Pint, Rutherford, and Moniak, who were all attending the draft, were handed jerseys. Commissioner Manfred could only stand mouth agape as he took the group photo.  Meanwhile, in the Angels war room, Eppler was frantically putting together contracts for his newly drafted players. “There’s no rule that says that you have to take only one player. So we decided to get the Micro Machines guy to draft us a new farm system.” Contracts were overnighted to the players while Manfred was still in a stupor in order to ensure they signed quickly.

17. Houston Astros

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Despite finally fielding a successful team after years of failures, the Houston Astros still felt that they were vulnerable, especially in the wake of the team’s servers being hacked. GM Jeff Luhnow was tasked with obtaining one of the best, if not the best security systems money could buy.

“For me, I realized that there was no better system than the one used by the Raccoon Corporation in the Resident Evil movie, particularly the Laser Room.” To provide a demo, he turned on the system and threw a baseball into it, which was sliced cleanly in two. “Nobody will be able to get after hours now!” Luhnow exclaimed, with a maniacal cackle.

A week later, an intern was found outside the offices cut into cubes. He had forgotten his car keys.

18. New York Yankees

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After last year’s Wild Card embarrassment to the Houston Astros, the Yankees brass realized that they had somehow lost their edge as the team to beat in New York. Brian Cashman was given free reign to do whatever he wanted with the team’s pick. And boy did his pick make some noise.

The team’s choice of Donald Trump came as surprising and yet expected, considering the Yankees’ rich tastes.

Trump, in his introductory press conference stated that he planned to “Make the Yankees great again”. When asked how he would do that, he said “We’ll start off by building a stadium with a big beautiful door, and have Toronto pay for it, because when Toronto comes to New York, they don’t bring their best. They bring Stroman and Donaldson and hockey fans.” He also pledged to “ban all National League travel to the American League” The conference later devolved into 45 minutes of sexist jokes and self-ego stroking. His press conference was the highest rated program on television that night, beating out the Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals game.

Brian Cashman could only sit in the corner with his head in his hands.

19. New York Mets

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The Mets decided the time was now to start looking for David Wright’s successor, and the first thing that came to mind was someone who was more dura… OW HEY! WHAT THE… WHO ARE YOU AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE? *CRACK*

Hey folks, it’s your old pal Deadpool here, and apparently some dweeb who writes shitty baseball mock drafts, how f***ing lame is that? decided to have me picked for his… favowwite team. I mean seriously, what the f***? Could his motive for having me, the most awesome comic book character ever fall 19 spots to the Mets be any more telegraphed? It’s like he put up a sign that says, “I’m a huge f***ing tool tool that loves the Mets, so I’m gonna make them awesome with my kickass fan fiction writing skills.” Ha! Hey loser, ever thought of getting a f***ing girlfriend, or are you one of those weirdos that has a Japanese anime character on a pillow… Is that Mr. Met on a f***ing pillow? How f***ing old are you man, 8? Well anyway, gotta go, apparently because of this f***ing April Fools mock, I have to start playing third base for the Mets now. Honestly, can my powers just prevent me from being medium aware? Well, at least I’ve already proven to be a huge box office attraction, should be fun shooting Chase f***ing Utley in the head.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers have made it very clear that they will use any means necessary in order to win a World Series title, and have decided that the best way to do so is to spend heavily on big name free agents. Of course, the Dodgers know that they need a lot of money, especially when it comes to the 2018 free agent class, so they decided to use their pick for a long term investment.

The Dodgers chose the gold at Fort Knox feeling that there would be sufficient enough funds for them to sign all the major free agents in time for 2019.

“We feel that a long term rebuild would be better for us, and in order to do that, we need to develop our gold prospect in order for it to be be ready for the 2018-19 offseason.” owner Magic Johnson said. When asked how much they valued their gold stack, Johnson replied,

“We feel that we have a pretty good shot at everyone on our priority list, and when we say everyone on our priority list, we mean every good free agent. ”

21. Toronto Blue Jays 

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Having been offended by Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks about the Blue Jays after he was selected, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to up the ante, by selecting someone that they feel could help them hold their own against a future Trump-led Yankees.

“We could have drafted Megyn Kelly, but to be honest, we were scared shitless by her.” GM Ross Atkins said. “And of course, we don’t want to scare anyone. So as much as we didn’t want to do this because we feel that he’s a complete and utter hoser, we decided to select Ted Cruz.” 

The selection did seem to raise a lot of questions, however. Cruz, who is incredibly old fashioned, was viewed as incapable to adapt to the continually evolving game. “I honestly believe we should do away with the newfangled WAR and sabremetrics, go back to the old fashioned batting average, ERA, home runs! And while we’re at it, get rid of these newfangled sliding pits! I want an all dirt infield! And furthermore, screw this turf stuff, I want to grow my crops on a natural field, not this plastic field!” You know what, let’s get rid of home runs as well!” Cruz then barged out of the press conference and hopped into a horse and buggy, where he proceeded to stop at the post office to send a telegram to Donald Trump. Reports later indicated he expressed an interest in growing a handlebar mustache.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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Having been the victims of the NL Wild Card game the past two seasons, the Pirates decided to take someone who has had to deal with one-and-dones his whole career, but has consistently proven to be successful.

The team managed to take John Calipari with the 22nd pick, feeling that his experience with one-and-done players would translate well to the Pirates recent trend of one-and-done appearances in the postseason. “I’ve often had to rebuild the majority of my lineup from scratch a year later,” Calipari said, “However, this may be unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve never had to deal with players who have been here on contracts. Anything past two years is practically unheard of for me! But I relish the challenge of using my experience with one-and-dones to turn this Pirates team into a group of winners, and then watch as they all leave via free agency.”

23. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals, the epitome of major league franchises in terms of developing player talent, took a rather unusual approach when it came to making their next selection.

“One of our scouts proposed an interesting challenge, to make an all-star out of literally nothing. So with our 23rd pick, we are choosing nothing.” GM John Mozeliak said. “We feel that nothing can be developed into a quality 3 WAR a year player that will help us in the long term, it’s just where we plan to put nothing on the field. We’ve thought about maybe developing nothing as a catcher, just so that Yadi can be spared a few games before nothing takes over.”

 

That’s it for today. We will go back to our regularly scheduled programming later in the month. Until then, happy April Fools!

Mining For Gold: The Outstanding Collegiate Talent of the 2018 MLB Draft

TCU Baseball: Purple vs White

A lot of people have said that 2018 will be a banner year for baseball, mainly because of the free agent class. With players like Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, Josh Donaldson, Jose Fernandez, among others, possibly testing the market for the first time, clearly there will be a lot of multimillionaires come that winter. And to be honest, while it is an expensive matter, it can be seen as a good thing for baseball. With the talent that has come up in recent years, there are going to be players that will rightly command the money they feel they deserve.

But… that’s only one part of the story.

The 2018 MLB draft has the chance to be one of the best in memory, at least in terms of collegiate talent. With the number of high profile prep kids that elected to go to college rather than sign pro contracts, what we could be looking at is a major influx of advanced prospects, ready to take the MLB by storm in 3 years time. What started off is a class built on reputation has gradually become a class that has shown early results. Here are some of the highlights of this potentially amazing 2018 class:

Pitchers:

Cole Sands:

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How often do you make a first impression like Cole Sands did when he, Cobi Johnson and Jim Voyles threw a combined no-hitter against Toledo? Even though Sands didn’t get the win for that, and even though the game was against a weaker team, it shows that Cole, the younger brother of Carson, a Cubs prospect, has potential to be a key starter for the Seminoles. Sands currently is tied for the team lead in appearances, and has the lowest ERA among the starters. Additionally, hitters have a .212 batting average against him. Sands’ biggest problem though is his control, as he’s given up the most walks on the team. His build is not an issue, as he’s 6’3″ and weighs 210 pounds, typical of a starter. Sands as of right now, would probably be a Tier 2 starter, going in the mid to late first round of the draft, if it were today. If he can work on his control and build on his performance against the Rockets, chances are his stock could rise quickly.

Chandler Day:

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Chandler Day is part of what will definitely be a celebrated trio of Vanderbilt freshman. A potential starter, Day has shown the potential that had MLB Pipeline rank him as a top 100 prospect. He’s pitched in three games, two of which he’s started, and has a 1.64 ERA with 13 strikeouts and a .184 batting average against. Day’s build is slightly taller and thinner than former starter Walker Buehler, but it’s possible that he could bulk up or use his frame to give his pitches more of a downward motion. Day could be the next in a long line of pitchers that comes from Vanderbilt’s famous talent factory, possibly a mid first round talent.

Luken Baker:

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Perhaps one of the biggest anomalies of the draft class, Luken Baker, the former Gatorade Player of the Year, is an exceptionally strong two-way player that will either be a dangerous presence on the mound, or at bat. Baker’s dual stat line is impressive, as a pitcher, he has a 1.03 ERA with 24 strikeouts and a .196 BAA. As a hitter, he has a .359 average, 3 home runs and 24 RBI. Baker, in my opinion, has to be the best bet to go first overall in the 2018 draft. An absolute tank of a man at 6’4″ and 265 pounds, he is an imposing presence. In high school, he was considered a better pitcher, but if he continues to build on his performance so far, Baker could be the first major two-way threat to be drafted since Brooks Kieschnick.

Tristan Beck:

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With the prolonged absence of starter Cal Quantrill, freshman phenom Tristan Beck has been thrown into the mix of Cardinal hurlers that have eased the blow. Sporting a 1.74 ERA, 16 strikeouts, and a .213 BAA in four appearances, Beck, while a contact pitcher, is showing a tremendous amount of poise so far. Another tall, thin righty standing at 6’4″ and 160 pounds, Beck’s low 90’s heat can go higher if he bulks up. His mechanics remain an issue, but there is plenty of time for him to fix them. For now, Beck could see himself towards the middle of the first round, with a potential to go top 10 if he makes the adjustments necessary.

Catcher:

Cal Raleigh

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Not since Buster Posey has there been a more intriguing prospect behind the plate in Tallahassee. Raleigh has gotten off to a fast start at FSU. hitting .333 with 2 homers and 20 RBI. Raleigh has the potential to be a solid hitting catcher, and if his defense can improve, he’ll definitely be the top catching prospect in 2018. His switch hitting ability and his build as a catcher make him the perfect future backstop for any team, and the fact that he’ll be catching one of the top pitching prospects will put him in the spotlight as well.

Infield:

Brian Sharp

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A year after Tanner Houck took Columbia by storm, another Tiger recruit is starting to turn heads. Brian Sharp has been another outstanding two way freshman phenom; as a hitter, he’s hitting .317 with 12 RBI, and as the team’s closer, he’s pitched to a 1.32 ERA with 3 saves and a .132 BAA. Standing at 6’1″ and 214 pounds, Sharp looks more like an infielder than a pitcher, and could find himself staying at third base when he does go pro. Sharp has the potential to be a star player for the Tigers, and while he won’t be playing Cape baseball this summer, expect him to be a strong possibility to get an invitation to Team USA, especially if he continues playing the way he has.

Jonathan India

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India was one of the members of the Milwaukee Brewers’ “Hail Mary” draft picks last year, alongside Donny Everett, Nolan Kingham, Tristan Beck and Justin Hooper. It was a good thing he chose to honor his commitment, as he’s already made a strong first impression in Gainesville. Already the leading freshman hitter on the team, India has a chance to be even better as the season goes on. His defense does need work, and it would be a good idea to figure out where he would succeed better, as a shortstop or a third baseman. India could be a solid contact oriented run producer when he fully develops. He could significantly raise his stock in the Cape this summer, but as of now, he looks to be a late first round pick.

Nick Madrigal

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Part of a very talented freshman middle infield, Nick Madrigal has been consistently raking for the Oregon State Beavers. The second best hitter, Madrigal’s contact approach has been very good to him, as he’s hitting .384 with 18 RBI. Madrigal also has some speed, as he’s swiped three bases. Madrigal right now looks to be the top shortstop in the draft, and if he adds some power to his game, could go anywhere from top 15 to top 10. The only thing that is holding him back right now is his size; he’s 5’8″ and 160 pounds, which is small, even for a middle infielder.

Outfield:

Alonzo Jones

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While Vandy fans have been more intrigued by Jeren Kendall’s hot start and Jordan Sheffield’s increasing dominance, Alonzo Jones, the second of three highly touted Vanderbilt recruits has quietly had himself a solid season, hitting .333 and stealing 7 bases. The speedy outfielder had at one time been considered a possible first round pick, but an injury dropped him all the way to the end of the draft. Jones appears to be a player that knows how to make the most out of being on the base paths. He will definitely play a bigger role next season when Bryan Reynolds is gone, and could be yet another strong position player from the Vanderbilt Talent Factory.

Seth Beer

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No freshman outside of Luken Baker has enjoyed a better start than Seth Beer, and to think, he’s younger than his peers because of his decision to enroll at Clemson a year early. Beer, who could have easily been a top 3 pick had he stayed in high school, has been absolutely dominant, hitting .453 with 9 home runs and 23 RBI. Beer’s stats are otherworldly. While he may never break Pete Incaviglia’s single season home run record, it’s possible if the stats are adjusted to accommodate for BBCOR bats, that Beer’s freshman season could be comparable to Incaviglia’s. He’s almost certainly a lock to play for the Collegiate National team this summer, and could battle it out with Baker to be the number one overall pick in 2018. Regardless, whichever team is lucky enough to get him is going to get a special talent, perhaps one of the best college baseball players anyone has seen, and it’s only been 19 games.

Wild Card:

Kyler Murray

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For as controversial as Kyler Murray may be, especially considering the circumstances behind his departure at Texas A&M, Murray still is a talented athlete, and although he will be required to miss a year of baseball and a year of football, expect him to still be a highly regarded talent. The one red flag will be his maturity, but if Murray decides to go back to baseball and plays like he did in high school, you can expect the 2018 class to get even better.

Other Players to watch:

Pitchers:

Donny Everett, Vanderbilt

Justin Hooper, UCLA,

Nolan Kingham, Texas,

Brady Singer, Florida

Tristin English, Georgia Tech

Catcher:

Domenic DeRenzo, Oklahoma

Infielders:

Johnny Aiello, Wake Forest

Cadyn Grenier, Oregon State

Outfielders:

Daniel Reyes, Florida

Marquise Doherty, Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

2016 MLB Mock Draft: Spring Training Edition

Spring training is coming up, college baseball is underway, and top prospect lists are being updated. Do you know what that means?

If you guessed, “It’s time for another mock draft,” then you are correct. And to make things even more interesting, the compensatory picks will be included this time around. The same rules apply, the draft will be done based on organizational depth rather than best player available, and if there is no clear deficiency, then best player available will be considered. With that being said…

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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Remember last year when everyone and their mother thought that the Arizona Diamondbacks would grab Brendan Rodgers with the first overall pick, but then towards the end, Arizona made it abundantly clear they would go after anyone but Rodgers? Well, Dansby Swanson became the first overall pick, and you know the rest of the story.

For the longest time, I’ve been sure that the Phillies would go high school with the first overall pick, but part of me has started to wonder if the Phillies system is ready to start contributing now? After all, Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco made it, and it won’t be long before we see JP Crawford, Mark Appel, and other parts of Philly’s system come up.

If the Phillies’ are ready to move from long term rebuild mode, perhaps now would be a good time to invest in the top college arm. AJ Puk may not have had the best debut of the 2016 collegiate season, but that shouldn’t discourage scouts too much. The Gators Saturday starter is an imposing presence on the mound, and he can only fill out more and improve his command and control as the season continues.

Philly will want to quickly transition from one dominant lefty starter (Cole Hamels) to another, and the quicker they do so, the faster they can get themselves in the conversation for a future NL East title.

Previous: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS, New Jersey

2. Cincinnati Reds

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For the longest time, I’ve avoided giving the Reds a pitcher, mainly because I felt that the Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake deals helped repopulate the Reds system with solid arms. During the offseason, I fully expected the Reds to sell off their major pieces for even more prospects, leading to a fully replenished system.

It’s too bad there’s no such thing as a do-over.

Good lord, in the deals for Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, and the failed deal for Jay Bruce, the Reds were fleeced so badly, Sandy Alderson would have felt sorry for them. Thankfully, the Reds can erase the memory of the offseason they had by grabbing the top lefty prep pitcher in the draft, Jason Groome. 

We’ve gone over how Groome is as a pitcher, and how his advanced stuff could lead to an accelerated development. Groome also has shown that he can adapt to change, not only taking over the ace role at IMG during his junior year after Brady Aiken went down, but transitioning from Barnegat to IMG, then going back to Barnegat. The one issue will probably be the competition level for Groome in New Jersey, while it is one of the better baseball states on the east coast, it doesn’t have the competition level that a state like California or Georgia would have. Still, Groome shouldn’t find the transition from prep to pro too difficult, and if he does go to Cincinnati, he will join a seriously intriguing young staff in the near future. Additionally, the Reds do have a large enough signing pool for them to sway Groome from going to Vanderbilt.

Previous: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico

3. Atlanta Braves

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The Atlanta Braves couldn’t be any more open about their plans for the 2016 season. Sell off as many assets not named Freddie Freeman as they can in the hopes that this new team they assemble is ready in time for the opening of SunTrust Park. They have not only their shortstop of the future, but also a considerable amount of high quality pitching talent. What they lack, however is a major league ready outfielder.

The first “staying the same as last time” pick of this mock is Louisville’s Corey Ray. Ray has been nothing less than a spark plug for the Cardinals offense, and given the start he’s had already for the team, there definitely will be talk about him being the first overall pick soon. Ray’s athleticism and tools make him an almost instant contributor, think of him as a left-handed version of Justin Upton, but he will need to work on his plate discipline if he wants to be a major threat.

Ray will be an exciting player to watch, both during this college season and when he does get drafted.

Previous: Ray

4. Colorado Rockies

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If you count the acquisition of Jeff Hoffman, the past four drafts for the Colorado Rockies have been nothing but absolute boons. While Jon Gray is the only big leaguer for the Rockies right now, things look especially promising for the other pieces and how they factor into the future. With that being said, I can imagine the Rockies deciding to take a gamble this time around with a batter whose stock has done nothing but rise.

I’ve been admittedly skeptical about Kyle Lewis,  but after seeing what he’s done the past few games, it’s possible he could end up being the second best outfielder in the draft. Lewis, who’s been an absolute terror in non conference play, and not against weak opponents, mind you, has the ability to be a powerful producer at the plate. Because of this, I can imagine Lewis thriving playing in the thin air of Denver. He and David Dahl would make up a dangerous future middle of the order, and could help the Rockies gain some footing finally in the NL West.

Previous: AJ Puk, LHP, Florida

5. Milwaukee Brewers

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The Milwaukee Brewers are an interesting case study in regards to how a farm system can quickly turn itself around with a few well-thought-out draft picks. What was once decimated in the Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke deals has evolved into a top 10 system, apparently. With that being said, I can imagine the Brewers having a very difficult decision to make with the 5th overall pick.

While the Brewers may have a shortstop waiting in the wings, it doesn’t automatically disqualify them from drafting another one in the future. Just ask the Houston Astros, who drafted Alex Bregman even though they had Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. That being said, I doubt that Delvin Perez will fall lower than the top 5. Perez’s ability as a fielder trumps his developmental hitting skills, although it doesn’t mean that they won’t improve. Perez is also a fast player, and if his power doesn’t develop, he’d definitely be an exceptional leadoff hitter. If Perez, Jake Gatewood, and Arcia all stick together, chances are the Brewers will have an enviable wealth of middle infield talent that can be used to their advantage.

Previous: Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma

6. Oakland A’s

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In hindsight, going all in for Jeff Samardzjia was a bad idea. Oakland not only gave up a considerable amount of talent that could have been used in a rebuild, but they also didn’t have much to show for it afterward. The A’s constant rebuilding cycle has taken a toll on fans, who don’t know what to expect anymore.

The A’s biggest organizational deficiency is in the outfield, particularly in centerfield. With that being said, it’s possible the A’s go for a proven prospect like Buddy Reed. Reed is a defensive asset as he can cover a lot of ground and his arm is quite excellent. On the offensive side of the ball, Reed is a more contact oriented hitter. In a ballpark like Oakland’s Reed would fit in quite well, in fact, some may call him a younger Billy Burns with a higher ceiling. Because Reed’s hitting ability needs some work, it might take him a little extra time for him to make it to the majors. Still, Reed would represent a commitment to an even stronger and faster outfield defensively.

Previous: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep, California

7. Miami Marlins

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It’s amazing that the Marlins have been so bad for so long, and yet their farm system has ranked in the bottom half of the league. Granted, a lot of it has to do with prospect graduation and trades, but you’d think a team like Miami would have a Houston-like wealth of prospects that can be used in any way the organization feels. This being said, the Marlins could look for improvement in any position and they’d come out looking good, unless they really reached.

In a particularly weak class for prep pitching, it does seem odd that the consensus top right handed pitcher, Riley Pint falls this low, but given the talent at other positions, it’s not unfathomable to see a player drop. Pint has a devastatingly good fastball and an excellent slider-type pitch, as well as a changeup that can be mixed in if necessary. What he lacks is a track record, playing against top competition has been restricted to showcases. Even if Pint completely dominates the Kansas prep scene, I could see him drop mainly because of the lack of talent. Still, having a future rotation of Tyler Kolek and Riley Pint should be enough for the Marlins and their fans to salivate.

Previous: Nick Senzel, 2b/3b, Tennessee

8. San Diego Padres

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The Padres are the textbook example of why you should never go all in when faced with stiff competition. Considering the fact that the team was already weak enough, weakening the team even further with moves that wiped out a very large portion of your minor league system was bound to bite them sooner rather than later. Even with Craig Kimbrel being traded for a solid group of prospects, the Padres still have a bad system, and any help at any position would work.

I’ve never understood the hate for undersized pitchers, especially considering the recent success of guys like Marcus Stroman and Kelvin Herrera. Considering that, it makes you wonder why Carson Fulmer and now Jordan Sheffield are ranked so high. Sheffield has been impressive in his two starts, especially considering the biggest complaint about him the past two years has been with his control. If Sheffield has truly recovered fully from Tommy John surgery, then there’s no reason why he can’t jump higher on the list.

Previous: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Kansas

9. Detroit Tigers

Daryl Sullivan | The Daily Times 5/16/14 Florida's Harrison Bader (8) beats the throw to Tennessee's Nick Senzel at second in the fifth inning.

Detroit’s decision to go all in for a championship months after selling off pieces like David Price and Yoenis Cespedes shouldn’t come off as a surprise. After all, owner Mike Ilitch has made it clear that he wants to see the Tigers win a World Series before he dies. Because the Tigers are so dead set on going all in, it would make sense for them to consider going after a college player that will develop in the short term and help stabilize the time in the immediate future, rather than the long term investments the team has made the past two years.

I don’t think I ever mentioned that Nick Senzel is primarily a second baseman, and for that reason, it would take him out of being selected by a lot of teams, but Senzel would be a perfect fit here. Having him become the heir to Ian Kinsler would make perfect sense because Senzel is at his highest value as a second baseman. Additionally, his offense would allow him to be a contact oriented run producer, especially in a park like Comerica.

Previous: Chris Okey, C, Clemson

10. Chicago White Sox

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The White Sox have overseen a slow, but steady improvement in their system since it bottomed out back in 2014. Selecting high profile college arms like Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer has seen to that, while Tim Anderson and Courtney Hawkins have been solid long term prospects. With that being said, it would be hard for them to deviate from their strategy, but I could see them possibly taking a shot on a potential high riser.

The first newcomer to this month’s mock is Anfernee Grier, but let’s call him Penny. Penny has been nothing but a sparkplug for the Auburn Tiger offense, and his defensive presence in the outfield has been noticed. Penny has the speed to be a top of the order hitter, and his contact is exceptional. He does have projectable power as well. Overall, he has the tools to be a game changer, and it’s a possibility that if he continues the tear he’s on, he could make a case to be one of the top 2 outfielders in the draft.

Previous: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida

11. Seattle Mariners

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You can count on one hand the number of Seattle Mariners first round draft picks that have had a solid career with the team this millennium. That’s sad. The common joke among Mariners fans is that they can’t develop talent, and to be honest, that’s a pretty fair critique. Sure, there’s the occasional success, like Kyle Seager or Taijuan Walker, but those periodic successes are interspersed among failure after failure. It almost seems as if a top prospect with a red flag will have to fall into their lap in order to change their fortunes.

There are probably a lot of Oklahoma fans that will want to kill me when they read this, but I feel that the most likely prospect to fall is Alec Hansen. I’m not the only one to think that, as Baseball Prospectus’ Christopher Crawford mentioned in a Reddit AMA that Hansen was his most likely candidate to fall stock wise. But enough about the negativity. Hansen’s assortment of pitches makes him an attractive option, and his build makes him an ideal starter. Still, his command and control do need to be addressed, and considering the fact that he sat out both summer ball and fall ball show that there could be an underlying injury issue that could affect his stock even more.

Previous: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt

12. Boston Red Sox

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The Red Sox are one of the more underrated teams when it comes to drafting talent. With a lot of their picks from the early 2010s starting to make an impact now, like Blake Swihart, Deven Marrero, and Brian Johnson, it may be time to start developing some more long term prospects.

Even though the Sox drafted Andrew Benintendi last year, I could see them going back to the outfield, especially if the presumed top bat, Mickey Moniak were available. Although a lot of scouts would say that Blake Rutherford is the top high school outfielder, it’s possible that Moniak could surpass Rutherford, much like Clint Frazier surpassed Austin Meadows in the 2013 draft. Moniak right now would be more of a Brandon Nimmo type player, one who may not have the power, but can still keep a game going by hitting to the gaps. There’s a possibility that Moniak could develop power and be a Mookie Betts type talent, especially with his defensive ability. Still, Moniak has to be one of the more exciting players in this draft, and it will be interesting to see how he and Rutherford play each other off.

Previous: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer

13. Tampa Bay Rays 

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When MLBPipeline released Tampa Bay’s top prospects list a few days ago, it surprised me that they weren’t ranked higher. Considering a lot of the prospects that they have in that system have been there since 2011 and have really matured into potential future cogs, it’s almost disappointing this team wasn’t ranked higher. Still, it allows me to see what exactly the Rays are organizationally deficient in, and while it doesn’t look like much, perhaps another prep hitter wouldn’t hurt?

I go back to my Boston selection to start this off, but there are some people who still believe that Blake Rutherford is the consensus top prep position player in the draft. Now whether or not he can prove it and not suffer Daz Cameron Syndrome (Have a drop off in stats and become almost unsignable with the exception of that one team that has an absurdly large bonus pool) is entirely up to him. Rutherford is probably the most well known prep player because of what he did his junior year, and because of that, people know what to expect from him. Still, Rutherford will provide offensive potential and defensive skill, with some speed. It’s entirely possible that he could surpass Mikie Mahtook as the best up-and coming outfielder in the Rays’ system and make an interesting tandem with Garrett Whitley.

Previous: Will Benson, 1B/OF, Westminster Christian School (GA)

14. Cleveland Indians

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The Indians are probably the most underrated team in the AL. If it weren’t for the Mets with their insanely good rotation, Cleveland’s staff would probably be mentioned as one of the top, if not the top rotations in baseball. Assuming Cleveland’s offense gets in line with its rotation, the Tribe could make a serious push in the AL Central.

I believe that the best GMs draft on a cycle. The idea is you start with high school talent at a set year and continue to do so for a couple years until the high school class of said year becomes college juniors, then you take a college junior. If that’s the case, then the Indians could complement Clint Frazier and Rob Kaminsky with Connor Jones. Jones would probably be considered one of the more majors ready talents in the draft. Jones is also a proven big game pitcher and has experience shouldering big loads, like when he took over for Nathan Kirby last year.

Even though Virginia’s track record with starters that go pro hasn’t been the greatest, I could see no better place for Jones to go because of how Cleveland has managed to turn Kyle Crockett into an asset in the bullpen. If they can repeat what they’ve done with Crockett, it would be possible to do the same with Jones.

Previous: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford

15. Minnesota Twins

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How often is it that a team has a shot to grab a home state product, especially a good one? The Twins have been a good example of a team taking advantage of home state talent, see Joe Mauer in 2001 for reference, and it could be possible, especially with this year’s crop of pitching talent, that they add on more.

Logan Shore may not be as high profile as his teammates AJ Puk and Buddy Reed, but his past two outings have been compelling enough for him to get in serious conversation to be a Tier 1/Tier 2 college pitcher. He does have a low to mid 90’s fastball, and his changeup has to be one of the best in the class. Shore, as mentioned in the opening paragraph, is a Minnesota native as well, and would be a popular pick for the Twins if he’s available.

Previous: Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M

16. Los Angeles Angels

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If there were a special subgenre of comedians that focused explicitly on baseball, a lot of jokes would be made at the expense of the Angels minor league system. What appeared to be going forward when the team selected lefty Sean Newcomb stagnated with Taylor Ward, then dropped to ungodly levels of awful when Newcomb and Chris Ellis were sent to the Braves for Andrelton Simmons. At this point, the Angels’ scouting department could throw darts at photos of prospects and draft an improved system.

One of the few instances where best player available is the only strategy that I can think will save a team works best here, and there is no better choice than Vanderbilt outfielder and College World Series hero Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds has proven himself time and time again that he can be counted on in big moments, and even though he is more of a project as a collegian than a major league ready talent, his season so far at Vanderbilt shows that there is a lot of potential. Reynolds may not be as excellent a defender as his peers, but his fit as a left fielder will be crucial for the Angels in the long run. Reynolds also has some speed and power, giving him the makings of a leadoff hitter. Reynolds may not be an instant improvement, but his selection would be crucial in a long rebuilding of one of the worst farm systems in baseball.

Previous: Mickey Moniak. OF, La Costa Canyon HS, California

17. Houston Astros

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It’s almost unfair to give the Astros a first round pick after they’ve practically hand picked their future team the past three years, but rules are rules, and the Astros now have the 17th overall pick. After a major splurge on position players though, it may be time to go back to pitching, even if it hasn’t been their forte.

Finding a left-hander that fits is usually a task, but the fact that there is an available Tier 2 lefty available bodes well for Houston. This isn’t the first time that Matt Krook has been mocked to Houston here, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Krook has progressed slowly, but surely since coming back from Tommy John, and if he is fully recovered, he could be the ace that George Horton saw when he committed to Oregon. Having him in a future Astros rotation alongside Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers would give Houston a devastating young rotation. that will keep them competitive.

Previous: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida

18. New York Yankees

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Even though calling the Yankees’ farm system a strong one would definitely be a stretch, the fact that they’re starting to realize the importance of development shows that the system could reach high potential in a couple years, at least until the Yankees sacrifice their first round pick in 2018 to sign Bryce Harper. But that’s another story. Anyway…

While I’ve been fairly consistent with who I think the Yankees could select here, it’s time to change it up a bit, with first baseman Will Benson now taking the spot. Benson, as I’ve said before, has a very big, athletic frame, something the Yankees are particularly fond of. He also can play in the outfield, giving him an alternative if first base doesn’t work out. Having Benson become Mark Teixiera or Jacoby Ellsbury’s successor would be a definite step up for the Yankees, especially if it’s such a talented and youthful player like Benson.

Previous: Zack Collins, C/1B Miami

19. New York Mets

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Mistakes can be made by even the best of minds. When Sandy Alderson signed Michael Cuddyer last season, you would have found it very difficult to find any Mets fan that agreed with the move, especially when the team forfeited the first round pick which became Mike Nikorak. Now a year later, with both a top 20 pick thanks to other teams signing QO free agents, and a second first rounder for losing postseason hero Daniel Murphy, the cycle of repopulating a farm system that has seen plenty of graduation over the past few years, will begin.

It took me a while to figure out the best fit for the Mets, but I believe they could, for the time being, kill two birds with one stone by selecting two way player Josh Lowe. The third baseman and right-handed pitcher may be forced to choose a position in the future, but as of now there is a benefit to having that type of versatility. Would Lowe be David Wright’s eventual successor? Would he possibly be a future member of the rotation if any of the Big 5 leave? And it’s not like Lowe is better at either position right now, as a third baseman he does have solid lefty power and professional defense. As a pitcher, he’s got a low 90’s fastball, and developmental secondary pitches, but his frame is suitable for a big league pitcher. Either way, if the Mets take him, they could have themselves a good problem.

Previous: Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Dodgers have had the benefit of a particularly strong system the past couple years, and with plenty of future assets expected to make an impact in the long term, as well as the immediate impact guys like Corey Seager, it’s possible the Dodgers could make their system a strength in time for their free agent additions to stop being productive. Because the Dodgers have a solid amount of talent, they could draft whomever they want with the 20th pick.

I have to admit that Drew Mendoza seems like an intriguing prospect. While he doesn’t have the profile that Brendan Rodgers had last year, he still could make a Rodgers type impact. He has the ability to hit for average and power, and his defensive ability seems to translate better to third base, although he has shortstop experience. Think a younger Manny Machado. Overall, I think Mendoza and Corey Seager would make a solid left side of a future Dodgers infield, and it will be interesting to see if the Dodgers decide to go for a long term third base project as the heir apparent to Justin Turner.

Previous: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt

21. Toronto Blue Jays

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College baseball is the one sport where draft picks can come from anywhere at anytime, in addition to the powerhouse schools. While the success is varied, it shows that anything can happen at anytime. One of the beneficiaries of this has been mid major conferences, who have seen a few first round picks come in and show that there is something worth watching out in the smaller universities.

Whereas Kyle Lewis is this year’s top mid major hitting prospect, his summer ball teammate Eric Lauer could be the top pitching prospect. Lauer hails from Kent State, a MAC school that has had a track record for producing major league players, like Dustin Hermansen and Andrew Chafin. Lauer’s a lefty who has four pitches, all of which as of now would profile as average to above average. Even though Lauer’s 2016 debut wasn’t stellar, he was roughed up by his other summer ball teammate Connor Jones’ Cavaliers, he still could figure to be a solid first round pick for a team that wants a safe bet. Toronto seems like a solid destination, as Lauer was taken by the Jays in 2013. He would be an excellent mid rotation starter in a staff headlined by Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and fellow prospect and small school talent Jon Harris.

Previous: Drew Mendoza, 3B, Lake Minneola HS, Florida

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

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There’s a lot to be said for rising stock. What you would expect to maybe be a second round pick has an outstanding start and soon enough, he rockets up the board. Given my conservatism when it comes to mocking, I tend to take things a little slower, but when a prospect demands attention, I’m prepared to look.

Probably one of the biggest surprises of the past two weeks has been Cal ace Daulton Jefferies. Jeffries has been untouchable in his last two starts and has struck out 17. An undersized righty, Jefferies has a low to mid 90’s fastball that shoots out thanks to his delivery. Jefferies does have two secondary offerings that are average, but he makes up for it by being a solid defender. I feel that Jefferies would fit well alongside future Pirates Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, as well as Gerrit Cole. Jefferies would probably fit best as a 4th starter for the team.

Previous: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia

23. St. Louis Cardinals

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Before anyone yaps my ear off about how the draft is about taking the best player available, let me say, yes, I know. Thank you, please sit down. Still, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take the best player at a position available. The Cardinals will be on the lookout for Yadier Molina’s heir in the future, and I can tell you right now, Brayan Pena is definitely not that answer. What better place to look then, then in the college ranks?

For the past 3 months, I’ve pegged Chris Okey, considered the best catcher in the class, ahead of guys like Zack Collins and Matt Thaiss, and while he hasn’t shown it offensively, I feel that offense for a catcher is a pleasant surprise, rather than an expectation. Okey has the poise of a 10 year veteran, and having played on two collegiate national teams has meant that he’s handled the best of the best. Okey is comparable to Yadier Molina as well, he may not be a world beater on offense, but he gets by, but his defense is impressive enough. Having Okey catch the Cardinals staff would be expected, considering his leadership ability, and I feel that he would be able to command a lot of respect from his peers.

Previous: Herbert Iser, C, Miami Killian HS, Florida

COMPENSATION PICKS

For the comp picks, rather than a spiel before introducing the player, I will stick to just explaining why said player would be a good fit at this spot. Thank you.

24. San Diego Padres (Justin Upton)

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Braxton Garrett has to be one of the more pro-ready high school arms in this draft. His curveball makes him an especially tricky starter to go up against. He would be a nice long term project, but don’t be surprised if the Padres accelerate his development if he were to succeed at the low levels.

25. San Diego Padres (Ian Kennedy)

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Avery Tuck may be a local kid, but that doesn’t mean that he’s just that. Tuck may be developmental, in the fact that he’s a classic inconsistent power hitter, but given San Diego’s issues with hitting, it would be a good idea to nurture him into a more well-rounded middle of the order hitter.

26. Chicago White Sox (Jeff Samardzjia)

CORAL GABLES, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Zack Collins #0 of the Miami Hurricanes hits a double scoring three runs against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the second inning on February 14, 2015 at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Florida. Miami defeated Rutgers 9-5. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Zack Collins

Complementing Jose Abreu’s power with a younger power hitter like Zack Collins would make the White Sox a formidable opponent. Plus, it would finally answer the longstanding question, “Who will catch all those young arms?”

27. Baltimore Orioles (Wei-Yin Chen)

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I think part of the problem with the Orioles inability to develop pitching has to do with who they select. If they go for a pitcher from a proven program like Ben Bowden, they’re not going to have to readjust his game too much. At worst, he ends up in the bullpen, but at best, he becomes a mid rotation starter.

28. Washington Nationals (Jordan Zimmermann)

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Nick Banks seems to be a likely choice here, mainly because I like him as the possible heir to Jayson Werth’s position. His speed will also be a major help producing runs in the future, although his defense will put him in a corner outfield spot.

29. Washington Nationals (Ian Desmond)

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Considering how Lucas Giolito has done with the Nationals after going under the knife, would it surprise anyone if they drafted Cal Quantrill and had that deadly of a young combination? On potential alone, these two could be on the same level as Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.

30. Texas Rangers (Yovani Gallardo) 

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Jesus Luzardo has been mentioned as a dark horse candidate to be a first round prospect mainly because his build and the fact that his pitches can only improve with development. The Rangers could make a solid future rotation out of him, Dillon Tate and Luis Ortiz.

31. New York Mets (Daniel Murphy)

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It came down to a home state product and a collegian from Georgia, but Robert Tyler would win out here mainly because of his arsenal. I feel that in the future, Tyler would make a solid bullpen arm, with the potential to start if any of the big 5 leaves. If he continues to pitch this way, you can expect him to jump back into the first round.

32. Los Angeles Dodgers (Zack Greinke)

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The Dodgers are big on speed. and there is no faster pitcher than Zach Burdi, brother of Twins future closer Nick. Zach however is a starter, and he would make a very dangerous homegrown rotation arm.

33. St. Louis Cardinals (John Lackey)

(Photo by Michelle Bishop)

Will Craig has to be one of the more underrated power hitting first baseman in this year’s draft. Considering St. Louis’ success with power hitting first baseman, I can imagine them going after him.

34. St. Louis Cardinals (Jason Heyward)

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I’m sure Cardinals management is probably still kicking themselves on letting Rob Kaminsky go in the Brandon Moss deal, so they could go after another Northeast prep product like Ian Anderson, who has a great pitchers’ body and a solid arsenal.

How to make the MLB Draft Better

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If you’re like me, you eagerly wait for the MLB draft the same way that a kid would wait for the last day of school. Then again, you’re probably not me, Heck, you probably didn’t realize the MLB Draft was a thing unless you have a subscription to Baseball America, read MLB Pipeline, or read Minor League Madhouse (Yeah, I know, self-plug, haha.) It’s kind of disappointing, really. How is it that everyone knows about the NFL Draft and the NBA Draft, but the MLB Draft is pretty much the equivalent of the chess club? Well maybe it’s because there are a couple issues that prevent the draft from getting the visibility it deserves.

First of all, the MLB Draft is the only draft that takes place during the season as opposed to the offseason. You know why the NFL Draft has so much coverage? Because it is the most exciting event for fans until the season starts. The same thing goes for the NBA Draft. Sure you have free agency, but you also have the NBA draft. The fact that the MLB draft coincides with the season, heck, it even goes on while games are being played, makes it one of the most overlooked drafts in pro sports.

Another problem is that the players that are available to be picked don’t have the same athletic profile as an NFL or an NBA prospect. People know these names because they see them on ESPN or the other sports networks all the time. I can guarantee you Dansby Swanson made it on ESPN about a third of the time that Jameis Winston or Karl Towns did. And it gets even worse if you are a high schooler because of the fact that the majority of high school games are not televised by national networks. If you want to see Jason Groome pitch so you can see the future, check YouTube or make a trip down to Barnegat, New Jersey, because the chances you see him on national TV right now are almost none.

The third problem is that whereas NFL, NBA, and in some cases, NHL talent have a good shot at making the jump to the pros immediately, in baseball, it’s rare to see that happen. Because it can take an average of three years to see a first round pick make the majors, the interest is not there unless the fans are made aware of the hotshot prospect. Sure, JP Crawford is supposed to be the next Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia, but let me ask you, Phillies fans, how many times have you seen Crawford play live? And no, the Futures game does not count. Additionally, there is the chance that a first round pick does not make the majors, making the MLB Draft one of the biggest risks involving amateur talent. In the 50 years the draft has been held, no class has had every first rounder make the majors.

While there is no way to guarantee the success of the draft, there is always a way to drum up more interest in the event itself. So how exactly is that done? Well, here are some ideas that could get the ball rolling.

1. Televise more college and high school games on MLB Network and other channels.

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If you want to get people interested in prospects, the best way to do so is to give the prospects more visibility. Sure, ESPNU will televise a college game every now and again, and the regional networks will do as well, but they play to a niche audience. And when ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN U do cover college baseball regularly, it’s usually after players are drafted, when the NCAA tournament is going on.  By getting more networks involved before the fact, especially the national networks and the sports networks, there should be at least a slight bump in interest. Play it like college football does and have college baseball games on in the morning and afternoon on CBS and ABC. Show highlights on SportsCenter, and not just the occasional Top 10 Play, make sure that baseball fans know the future of baseball. Heck, if possible, drum up interest early by showing summer league games on ESPN 2. The possibilities are endless.

As far as high school, perhaps there should be more games available to stream online. If MLB.com were to offer a service to allow fans to watch games that high level prospects pitch in, then you can guarantee fans will watch it. Reading about high school prospects is the equivalent of hearing a folk legend, people rarely get to see what these players are unless there is video footage. By highlighting the top prep players in each draft class through a stream, fans will be able to see what guys like Riley Pint or Jason Groome or Blake Rutherford actually are.

Come to think of it, if ESPN and MLB Network both decided to air the MLB draft, I’m sure there would be a major viewership spike.

Watching games may be a fun way to see the talent that does come up, but there’s more to evaluating players than seeing them perform, which brings me to my next point…

2. Create an MLB Scouting Combine.

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Believe it or not, this was proposed as an idea last year in the wake of the Brady Aiken saga, and it may be the only time that prep and college players get to be evaluated side by side. The idea that players can have certain measurable categories that can be evaluated against other players in the same vacuum allows for a more open approach to scouting. Additionally, if medical tests are included, teams are not left in the dark about records, and open communication between players, agents, and teams is encouraged. The other fun in it would be seeing who would be the “workout warriors” of the combine, which players would see their stock rise enough to jump them into the first round. Sure, players do see their stock rise during their seasons, but it’s not as fun to watch as seeing Aaron Donald completely defy expectations.

Now there is a certain timing issue that may lead to the question of when the combine could be scheduled, and with the MLB Draft already competing with the NCAA Tournament and the MLB season. This brings up my next point…

3. Move the draft (and possible combine) to the end of June/early July.

College coaches’ biggest complaint about the MLB draft is that it’s scheduled during the tournament, meaning that players could get distracted by all the hype that comes with being selected. Sure, it’s nice to have a celebration with your teammates like Dansby Swanson and Walker Buehler did last year, but to be honest, wouldn’t it be better to have the draft right after the College World Series? With all the distraction behind them, players can focus on the future, and teams will be able to gather more information on the players as they go through the College World Series.

Of course, one of the main issues with this is that a month of negotiating time for contracts would be cut, and considering the fact that there are over 1200 players chosen in the draft, and teams do try and sign each player, there would have to be some quick negotiations done in order to get all players in a draft class accounted for. Considering teams want to get players in the system as soon as possible, it’s reasonable that they possibly just send their draft picks to extended spring training, and then if they feel they are ready, add them to a low level part of the organization.

Now how about the actual draft? How do we make more people watch it?

1. Give the draft its own day. 

Now when I say the draft, I mean the rounds that are televised. No, we don’t need to do 40 rounds in one sitting.

Part of the problem with the way the draft is scheduled is that nobody really sees it, what with the competition being baseball games. By having there be a day off, you can bet more people would consider tuning in to watch the draft. In fact, encourage people to watch the draft by printing it on team schedules. In fact, promote it heavily, after all, this is the future of baseball that people should be seeing.

2. Invite fans to see it live.

Part of the reason why the NFL, NBA, and NHL drafts are so successful is because they encourage fans to attend the draft in person. And that’s why you see so many hardcore fans dressed up in their team colors, cheering for their team’s picks. The MLB draft, on the other hand, is almost like that exclusive party that very few people are invited to. It’s just the draft attendees and their families, the MLB Network personalities, the team representatives, the Commissioner, and maybe a few special guests. If you want to promote the future, don’t make it a stuffy cocktail party, make it an open experience. I’m sure there are plenty of fans that would give anything to sit in the left field seats at Studio 42 to watch players walk on stage and receive the jersey and handshake from Rob Manfred.

In fact, why restrict the location to Studio 42? Why not move the draft to a ballroom and set it up like Studio 42? Or even better? Have the draft at an actual MLB Ballpark, like Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Wrigley Field or Fenway Park? If the NBA can have their draft at the Barclays Center every year, and the NHL can move their draft to whatever NHL Arena it is in every year, why restrict the MLB Draft to Secaucus, New Jersey? And speaking of invites…

3. Invite more college players.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 6:  (L-R) Clint Frazier, Dominic Smith, Tim Anderson, Nicholas Ciuffo, Billy McKinney, J.P. Crawford, Aaron Judge, and Ian Clarkin pose for a group photo during the 2013 First-Year Player Draft at MLB Network's Studio 42 on June 6, 2013 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Paige Calamari/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

This one is admittedly tricky and relies on a few scenarios to break the right way, but in my opinion, the MLB draft would get even more viewership if more college players were able to attend. Ever since the draft has been televised, very few college players have been able to attend. To prove my point, here are all the players that have attended the MLB draft in person since it started being televised in 2007:

2007: Josh Vitters (HS), Philippe Aumont (HS), Ross Detweiler (HS)

2008: Aaron Hicks (HS)

2009: Mike Trout (HS)

2011: Larry Greene (HS)

2012: Carlos Correa (HS), Andrew Heaney (NCAA), Gavin Cecchini (HS), Courtney Hawkins (HS), Clint Coulter (HS)

2013: Clint Frazier (HS), Dominic Smith (HS), Tim Anderson (JUCO), Nick Ciuffo (HS), Billy McKinney (HS), JP Crawford (HS), Aaron Judge (NCAA), Ian Clarkin (HS), Jon Denney (HS)

2014:  Nick Gordon (HS), Michael Chavis (HS), Jake Gatewood (HS), Monte Harrison (HS), Derek Hill (HS), Grant Holmes (HS), Kodi Medeiros (HS)

2015: Brendan Rodgers (HS), Ashe Russell (HS), Garrett Whitley (HS), Mike Nikorak (HS)

So out of 31 players that have attended, two have come out of college, or a little over six percent. Now of course, there is a logical reason, considering the fact that the draft and the NCAA tournament conflict with each other, and the best chance to be at the draft is if your team does not qualify for the tournament. So going back to those factors that break, in the best case scenario, what could happen is that if the draft is moved, more collegians could be invited. In the worst case, that is, the draft isn’t moved, the collegians from the smaller schools, like Kyle Lewis or Matt Crohan, would get the invite.

If more collegians are invited, there is a possibility that more fans will be willing to watch, as these are the players that have the best chance to be seen. The question is which collegians would be able to come?

4. Let teams trade picks.

The MLB draft is the only draft of the Big 4 sports leagues that doesn’t allow trading of draft picks. Well, technically they do, but the picks that can be traded are only competitive balance lottery picks. The lack of trading means there’s almost no reason to be excited for the draft, especially if a team has no first round pick at all. And in some cases, it can be a real disadvantage. A team with a terrible minor league system who is this close to contention would greatly benefit if they were allowed to trade draft picks, and the draft would be even more interesting if, say, the Yankees were allowed to trade up.

While only a couple trades have been made with CB picks involved, the opportunity to expand that to, say, maybe the first 5 rounds of draft picks would make for a more interesting show. Imagine if a team is willing to offer a major league caliber star prospect in exchange for a high pick, or if teams trade picks in order to move up or down. Instead of just waiting for players to be picked, it would be a lot more fun to watch.

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While these changes aren’t going to come around that quickly, if at all, it still should send a message. The future of baseball is just as important as the past and present. If the draft is given the exposure that it should get, then more fans will be willing to watch it and see what the future holds for their team.

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:

14M_0413-Oregon-Ducks-Baseball-Matt-Krook

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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