Author: Matthew Pouliot

James Kaprielian

2015 MLB Draft: Picks 11-18 – Indians take Brady Aiken at No. 17

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No. 11 pick – Reds – high school catcher Tyler Stephenson

Stephenson was the only catcher expected to have much chance of going in the top half of round one. He was also a legitimate prospect as a pitcher, but everyone was looking at him as a catcher, where his big arm will remain an asset. He offers big-time power potential, but he probably won’t turn into a particularly well-rounded hitter.

No. 12 pick – Marlins – high school first baseman Josh Naylor

The first Canadian taken, Naylor might offer the greatest power potential in the draft. He’s expected to be limited to first base, and he might not be much of an asset there. He could also be a big strikeout guy. The Marlins obviously have dreams of him protecting Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup someday, but it won’t happen anytime soon. He doesn’t even turn 18 for another two weeks.

No. 13 pick – Rays – high school outfielder Garrett Whitley

The Rays badly need this pick to work out after missing on so many first-rounders of late. Of course, this is the earliest they’ve picked since they grabbed Tim Beckham first overall in 2008. Whitley is a strong defensive center fielder with plenty of speed, and his swing should provide him with power in time.

No. 14 pick – Braves – high school left-hander Kolby Allard

The Braves are going with a West Coast guy in the first round for the first time since 1995, when they took, but didn’t sign, future Stanford quarterback Chad Hutchinson. Allard entered the year as a potential top-five pick, but a stress reaction in his back suffered in March damaged his stock. He could be a tough sign as a UCLA commit.

No. 15 pick – Brewers – high school outfielder Trent Clark

A left-handed hitter, Clark should hit for average and show at least doubles power. He could have gone even higher if teams were convinced he’d stay in center field, but it’s possible he’ll end up in left. The Brewers already have Tyrone Taylor and Monte Harrison as center field hopefuls, so it wouldn’t be such a disaster if Clark needs to slide over.

No. 16 pick – Yankees – UCLA right-hander James Kaprielian

Kaprielian is the biggest pitcher drafted so far, standing 6-foot-4. He should be one of the quickest movers among college pitchers, though he probably doesn’t have the ceiling of a Carson Fulmer. He’s just a low-90s guy with his fastball, but he has four pitches and fine command for someone his age.

No. 17 pick – Indians – left-hander Brady Aiken

The first overall pick from the 2014 draft is off the board. Aiken underwent Tommy John surgery in March, so he won’t begin pitching in the minors until next summer. He was viewed by most as the top talent in last year’s draft, and if his stuff comes all of the way back, he could prove to be a steal for the Indians. Obviously, there’s plenty of risk, but it’s a risk worth taking, considering that plenty of “safer” picks in this range don’t pan out.

No. 18 pick – Giants – Southern Nevada right-hander Phil Bickford

Bickford was the 10th overall pick out of high school in 2013, but he opted not to sign with the Blue Jays. His stuff has been up and down, more due to mechanical issues than any physical problems. He’s thrown in the mid-90s and shown a plus slider at times, and if he puts it all together, he could prove to be an excellent starter in time. Some believe he’s more likely to wind up in the pen.

2015 MLB Draft: Picks 6-10 – Twins pick college reliever sixth

Tyler Jay
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No. 6 pick – Twins – Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay

The Twins are going with a guy who has made one start in three years in college. Jay had a 0.60 ERA and a 70/7 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings for Illinois this season. He works in the mid-90s, uses two breaking balls and has the makings of a changeup, so there is plenty of potential as a starter if the Twins choose to use him there. Still, that he hasn’t done it before would only add to the injury risk. It’s possible the Twins will bring him to the majors as a reliever after the All-Star break and then move him to the rotation next year.

No. 7 pick – Red Sox – Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi

Benintendi was one of the draft’s fastest risers after hitting .380/.489/.715 with 19 homers in 221 at-bats for Arkansas. He’s a potential plus defensive center fielder and a left-handed hitter with power in a rather compact 5-foot-10, 170-pound package. He probably won’t move as quickly as the college infielders drafted ahead of him — particularly not with all of the outfielders ahead of him in Boston — but his ceiling is as high as anyone’s.

No. 8 pick – White Sox – Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer

Factoring in performance and potential, Fulmer appeared to be the top college pitcher available, though two went ahead of him. The White Sox also stumbled into the best college pitcher available last year when Carlos Rodon fell to the third pick. Fulmer lacks ideal size, at 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, which might have scared off the Rangers and Twins. There’s a good chance he would have been Boston’s pick had the Astros taken Bentintendi. Fulmer was 13-2 with a 1.82 ERA and a 152/46 K/BB ratio in 114 innings for the Commodores this season. He probably won’t move quite as quickly as Rodon, but he could still be one of the first players here to reach the majors.

No. 9 pick – Cubs – Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ

Happ might offer the greatest offensive potential of the college players picked so far, but he’d also seem to have the least defensive value. He played some second base at Cincinnati, but most expect he’ll end up in left or right. Happ is a switch-hitter with considerable power and on-base ability. He’s another college product likely to move quickly for the Cubs, like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber before him.

No. 10 pick – Phillies – high school shortstop Cornelius Randolph

The Phillies already have an awesome shortstop in 2013 first-rounder J.P Crawford, but that’s not much of an issue here. Randolph offers a very promising left-handed bat, but he’s going to need to move off short. Ideally, he’d go to second base, but third and the outfield are also possibility. The youngest player take in the top 10, Randolph just turned 18 last week. He should show power in time.

2015 MLB Draft: Picks 2-5 – Astros, Rockies take shortstops

Alex Bregman
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No. 2 pick – Astros – Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman

On the day they called up 2012 first overall pick Carlos Correa, the Astros added another shortstop with the second overall selection, their compensation pick for not signing Brady Aiken as the first overall pick last year. Bregman doesn’t have the tools one might expect from a No. 2 overall pick, but he hits a bunch of liners and plays solid defense up the middle. With the Astros, he’s more of a threat to Jose Altuve’s spot at second than Correa’s at short. Altuve might eventually benefit from a move to the outfield anyway.

No. 3 pick – Rockies – high school shortstop Brendan Rogers

It’s all shortstops early, as the Rockies follow suit by going with the consensus No. 1 high school position player available. Rogers offers more power potential than either No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson or Bregman, and most expect that he’ll be able to remain at shortstop for the long term. Rogers is probably four years off, so this shouldn’t affect Troy Tulowitzki whatsoever. Most likely, Tulo will be gone from Colorado by the time Rogers is ready, and even if he’s still there, he probably won’t be a shortstop.

No. 4 pick – Rangers – UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate

It sounded like the Rangers wanted to go with a college pitcher, and they had their choice of all of them, settling on Tate. A starter for the first time this year after closing last season, Tate was 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA and a 111/28 K/BB ratio for Santa Barbara. He has a mid-90s fastball and an excellent slider, but he lacks a reliable third pitch right now. Some believe he projects best as a reliever going forward, but the Rangers wouldn’t have picked him here if they felt that way.

No. 5 pick – Astros – high school outfielder Kyle Tucker

In at least a minor surprise, the Astros took the younger brother of their own Preston Tucker. Preston wasn’t regarded so highly out of high school and went to the University of Florida. Kyle is committed to the same school, but expectations are that he’ll sign. The first left-handed hitter selected, Tucker projects as a legitimate power bat. Also, whereas Preston is an adequate-at-best left fielder, Kyle should turn out to be above average in right field.

Diamondbacks take Vandy shortstop Dansby Swanson with No. 1 overall pick

150608_DansbySwanson
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After much deliberation in a draft with no obvious standout, the Diamondbacks chose Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick in the 2015 draft.

The 21-year-old Swanson appeared to be the safest choice. One of the best players in college baseball this year, he hit .348/.441/.648 with 14 homers in 253 at-bats against a tough SEC schedule.

Despite the fine power numbers, it’s Swanson’s on-base ability that has teams most excited. He projects as a future No. 1 or No. 2 hitter and a quality defense shortstop. It might not be a package that takes him to several All-Star Games, but in a draft short on star potential, he looked like the right choice for Arizona.

Swanson is the second Vandy product chosen No. 1 overall, joining David Price. It’s the second time the Diamondbacks have had the first overall pick; they went with Justin Upton in that spot in 2005.

The best the top of the MLB draft has had to offer

Reggie Jackson - Oakland Athletics
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As a little warmup for tonight’s MLB Draft coverage, here’s a quick look at the best players to come from the top 10 spots in previous drafts. I’m also noting who is picking in each spot tonight.

No. 1: Alex Rodriguez – 1993 Mariners (2015 Draft: Diamondbacks)

For the first 20 years of the MLB Draft’s existence, No. 1 overall picks were largely disappointing. The first ever in 1965 produced Rick Monday, and he was the best of the bunch until Harold Baines in 1977. It wasn’t until 1987 and Ken Griffey Jr. that a future Hall of Famer was picked first overall. He was followed by Chipper Jones in 1990 and, the best of the lot, Rodriguez in 1993.

No. 2: Reggie Jackson – 1966 Athletics (2015 Draft: Astros)

The first overall pick in the 1966 draft, taken by the Mets, was catcher Steve Chilcott. He was the only No. 1 overall pick not to reach the majors in the first 25 years of the draft (the Yankees’ Brien Taylor (1991) was the second). The A’s followed that pick up with Jackson, the lone Hall of Famer to go second overall. Justin Verlander has a chance to join him someday, as might Kris Bryant and Byron Buxton way down the line.

No. 3: Robin Yount – 1973 Brewers (2015 Draft: Rockies)

This one is a pick’em between a pair of Brewers stars; Paul Molitor was chosen in the very same spot four years after Yount. Both went on to become first-ballot Hall of Famers. The third overall pick has been a great spot for third basemen, but little else. That was Molitor’s primary position before he became a full-time DH, and Matt Williams, Troy Glaus, Evan Longoria and Manny Machado were also drafted here.

No. 4: Dave Winfield – 1973 Padres (2015 Draft: Rangers)

The No. 4 spot is home to two Hall of Famers, Winfield and Barry Larkin, plus a guy in Kevin Brown who finished with comparable numbers to some Hall of Famers. It’s also been home to a ton of disappointments; Ryan Zimmerman is the only impact player to come from this spot in the last 15 years, though the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman could get there. 2014 first-round Kyle Schwarber is also awfully promising.

No. 5: Buster Posey – 2008 Giants (2015 Draft: Astros)

There aren’t any Hall of Famers here, though Dale Murphy has his backers and Dwight Gooden certainly had the talent. So, I’ll reach a little bit and anoint Posey the best of the bunch, even if that’s still a little premature. Gooden, Mark Teixeira, Murphy, J.D. Drew and Ryan Braun currently rank as the top five players by bWAR.

No. 6: Barry Bonds – 1985 Pirates (2015 Draft: Twins)

This was a no-doubter, even though the No. 6 spot also produced Derek Sanderson Jeter in 1992. The Yankees got more from their pick than the Pirates did, but that’s not really what I’m going by here.

No. 7: Frank Thomas – 1989 White Sox (2015 Draft: Red Sox)

This could eventually become Clayton Kershaw’s spot, but it goes to the first-ballot Hall of Famer for now. Picked ahead of Thomas in the 1989 draft were two guys who failed to make the majors (Jeff Jackson and Paul Coleman), two guys who might as well not have (Roger Salkeld and Donald Harris), a journeyman in Tyler Houston and No. 1 overall selection Ben McDonald.

No. 8: Todd Helton – 1995 Rockies (2015 Draft: White Sox)

This is the weakest spot in the top 10, with little beyond Helton to salvage it. Jay Bell (1984 Twins) rates as the second best No. 8 pick, and Jim Abbott (1988 Angels) is probably the third for now, though Mike Leake (2009 Reds) should eventually overtake him. The big hope here for the future is 2011 selection Francisco Lindor.

No. 9: Kevin Appier – 1987 Royals (2015 Draft: Cubs)

The No. 9 spot is without a single superstar, though the terribly underrated Appier was an excellent pitcher for a lot of bad Royals teams in his career. Barry Zito is the runner up here. Javier Baez might factor into the mix somewhere down the line.

No. 10: Mark McGwire – 1984 Athletics (2015 Draft: Phillies)

Again, there are no Hall of Famers here. McGwire, though, has the numbers, and Robin Ventura is an inner-circle Hall of Very Good guy. Plus, there’s Madison Bumgarner as a future possibility, not to mention two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. Overall, 41 of 50 No. 10 picks have reached the majors, which is the most of any spot outside of the top three. In comparison, just 29 No. 5 picks and 30 No. 8 picks have reached the majors.