Matthew Pouliot

michael matuella

2015 MLB Draft: Rounds 3-5 notes – Rangers grab Michael Matuella

6 Comments

– The Rangers made Duke right-hander Michael Matuella the third pick of day two and the 78th selection overall. The 21-year-old entered the year as perhaps the favorite to go first overall in the draft, but a back condition (spondylolysis) dropped his stock even before he required Tommy John surgery in April. There was still some thought he might go in the first round anyway, but after falling this far, it’s quite possible he’ll return to Duke and try to improve his stock prior to next year’s draft. It could hinge on what kind of offer the Rangers can make him.

– Right-hander Jacob Nix was the Astros draftee ripped off last year when the team couldn’t sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and then lost most of its draft pool, including the $1.5 million they had committed to their fifth-round pick. Nix ended up getting his most or all of his money anyway through a grievance, and now he should get to start his pro career with the Padres after being drafted 86th overall. It’s actually a bit lower than he was expected to go (he was considered a second-round talent last year, but he fell to the fifth because of his asking price).

– Mariners’ third-round pick Braden Bishop is probably a better fantasy prospect than an actual prospect. He stole 36 bases in 410 at-bats over the last two years for the University of Washington, so if he can hit enough to make it as an everyday center fielder, he’ll be a fantasy target in time.

– The Giants hope to have their double-play combination of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik long into the future, but they landed one of the better prep shortstops available in Jalen Miller at pick No. 95.

– After playing it safe and picking college shortstops with their first two picks, the A’s chose high school right-hander Dakota Chalmers in the third round. It seemed worry about his rather slight build and taxing delivery took him out of the first, but he’s one of the drafts top arms. He throws in the mid-90s and already has four pitches he can use in games. If the A’s can get their top two picks signed for less than slot money, it’d help a bunch in getting Chambers to forgo his commitment to Georgia.

– The Red Sox selected outfielder Tate Matheny, son of Mike, with their fourth-round pick. He was drafted by the Cardinals out of high school three years ago, but Mike asked the team not to take him this time around. The Red Sox certainly aren’t looking at him as a nepotism pick. His tools don’t stand out, but his bat and ability to handle center might make him a fourth outfielder in time.

– Outfielder Demi Orimoloye was the second Canadian taken, following the surprise pick of Josh Naylor from the Marlins at No. 12. Orimoloye, a right fielder with big power potential, went 121st overall to the Brewers. Baseball America had him ranked 41st going into the draft, so he could be a steal if the Brewers get him signed.

– Mariano Rivera Jr. went to the Nationals in the fourth round after seeing his stock climb as a junior at Iona. He went 5-7 with a 2.65 ERA and a 113/27 K/BB ratio in 85 innings against modest competition. Like his dad, he’s probably looking at a move to the pen. What he really needs is someone who can teach him a cutter.

– Outfielder Joe McCarthy had a chance to be a first-round pick before back surgery ruined his junior season at Virginia. The Rays picked him 148th overall and will try to convince him to sign now rather than go back and try to boost his stock.

– Michigan State outfielder Cam Gibson, son of Kirk, was taken by his dad’s old team in the fifth round, going 160th overall to the Tigers. Three years ago, the Diamondbacks picked him in the 38th round while his dad was still managing the team. He declined to sign then. Gibson lacks power, but he should be able to last in center field.

2015 MLB Draft Notes: Supp. Round 1 and Round 2

Kyle Funkhouser
2 Comments

– The first son of a former major leaguer was not Daz Cameron as anticipated, but instead Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of Phillies and Yankees third baseman Charlie Hayes. He went 32nd overall to the Pirates. Like his old man, Ke’Bryan plays the hot corner. He could turn into a similar hitter as well, combining a solid average with 15-homer power.

– The Dodgers figured to be a big player for any overslot guys, and they grabbed Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser after he fell to the 35th pick. Funkhouser opened the year as a top-five prospect and was still expected to go in the top 10 a month ago, but he suffered a velocity drop for a spell before bouncing back recently. It also didn’t help his case that he’s a Scott Boras guy. However, he has the potential to be one of the best starters in the class.

– Foolishly, the rest of the league let Cameron go to the Astros with the 37th pick. They’ll have the most flexibility of any team to sign him, thanks to the league-high bonus pool. Cameron, son of longtime outfielder Mike, is reportedly asking for $5 million, though he could easily take less in the end. The 18-year-old outfielder wasn’t necessarily the top talent on the board, but a lot of people had him in the top 10.

– One pick after Cameron went off the board, Phil Nevin’s son, Tyler, was selected by the Rockies. He was drafted as a third baseman, but he was more likely to wind up in the outfield or at first base even if he didn’t get picked by Nolan Arenado’s team.

– There was no consensus on Austin Riley as a pitcher or a position player headed into the draft, just the likelihood that he’d go high either way. The Braves announced him as a third baseman while picking him 41st overall. He probably would have gone earlier as a pitcher if not for some velocity issues this year.

– The Phillies might have gotten their second baseman of the future in No. 48 pick Scott Kingery. He outhit his double-play partner, No. 19 overall pick Kevin Newman, this year, finishing at .392/.423/.561 for the Arizona Wildcats.

– It was a surprise to see the A’s go back to their Moneyball roots on day one. Taking Florida shortstop Richie Martin 20th overall made some sense, but they they followed it up by selecting his counterpart at Alabama, Mikey White, 63rd overall. While Martin should stay at short, White projects better as a second baseman.

– An expected first-round pick entering the year, Kyle Cody went 73rd overall to the Twins after posting a 4.91 ERA in 66 innings for Kentucky.

2015 MLB Draft: Picks 19-26 – Pirates, A’s add shortstops

Quincy Nieporte, Richie Martin
Leave a comment

No. 19 – Pirates – Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman

Newman is never going to offer much power, and he lacks the range to be a plus defensive shortstop, though he might prove adequate there or above average at second base. His calling card is his ability to hit for average, and he could be a No. 2-hitting second baseman for the Pirates down the line.

No. 20 – Athletics – Florida shortstop Richie Martin

Another college shortstop off the board. Of the four taken so far, Martin offers the most defensively, but he has the biggest questions about his bat. He hit just one homer in his first two seasons at Florida before coming through with five this season. Overall, he hit .292/.404/.424 with 20 steals. He’d seem to have a really good chance of becoming a major league regular someday, but it might be as a bottom-of-the-order guy.

No. 21  – Royals – high school right-hander Ashe Russell

This is the first time the Royals have used their first pick on a high school pitcher since they got Zack Greinke sixth overall in 2002. Russell has a moving 92-94 mph fastball and a quality slider, and he has one of the highest ceilings available. He will need to come up with a better changeup.

No. 22 – Tigers – high school right-hander Beau Burrows

Burrows throws in the mid-90s and offers one of the best curveballs in the draft, but control is an issue for him and he probably won’t move very quickly. Both he and Russell are committed to Texas A&M, but they should prove signable.

No. 23 – Cardinals – high school outfielder Nick Plummer

The Cardinals often seem to hit with these picks, so Plummer will get the benefit of the doubt. His stock was higher last year, but he didn’t meet expectations in his senior season. He might prove to be one of the best bats in the draft if he cleans up his swing. Plummer is listed at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, but he might last in center field anyway.

No. 24 – Dodgers – Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler

The third Commodore selected, Buehler had a 2.97 ERA and an 81/25 K/BB ratio in 78 2/3 innings as the team’s No. 2 starter. He missed some time early in the year with elbow soreness, but he came back strong enough to remain a first-round option.

No. 25 – Orioles – Florida St. outfielder D.J. Stewart

Stewart is a left-handed-hitting left fielder with on-base ability and power. It’ll be interesting to see if the Orioles alter his exaggerated batting stance in an effort to make him a more consistent power threat. His bat will have to carry him since he’s not going to offer much defensive value.

No. 26 – Angels – Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward

A second catcher went in the first round after all. Aside from maybe 12th pick Josh Naylor, this rates as the biggest surprise of the draft so far. Ward is a quality defensive catcher, but most experts don’t think he’ll hit enough to become a major league regular. The Angels clearly targeted him, so they believe they know something others don’t.

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

James Kaprielian
8 Comments

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
7 Comments

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.