Less than two weeks to go before the draft. Mock drafts are being published by relative no-names, profiles are being tweaked, rankings are being updated and rumors are flying around everywhere. I wanted to put together a mock taking team draft history into account so I did. There are still plenty of names attached to certain teams which I can’t ignore, but a lot of these picks are based solely on team history. Crazy you say? You’re probably right. Enough talk, let’s draft!
1. Minnesota Twins: Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Twins selected four high schoolers with their first four picks in the 2016 draft and with a lot of prospects far away from the majors, I see them taking the top college pitcher available this year.
Wright’s draft stock plummeted through the first month and a half of the season but has flown up recently after he has put together a string of impressive performances. There have still been some inconsistencies but Wright is a good high-floor prospect with a higher ceiling as a pitcher than Brandon McCay.
2. Cincinnati Reds: Brandon McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville
The Reds have taken a college player with their first pick in three of the last four drafts. They seem to like working with more polished talent so they may lean towards McKay over Hunter Greene.
On the mound McKay’s velocity has dipped a bit over the last month but he has also unveiled a cutter that has a ton of potential so teams may be able to look past the velocity issue. As a hitter, McKay has been on fire all season and has sparked a healthy debate about his eventual role in pro ball. Either way, McKay is a pretty sure bet to get to the big leagues quickly.
3. San Diego Padres: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame HS (CA)
The Padres are heavily linked to Hunter Greene and all the research about their previous draft strategy is pretty much moot at this point. This would be the perfect situation for both parties so if Greene slips this far they are taking him.
Greene has been shut down on the mound for the remainder of the season but he throws in the upper 90s with ease and already has good command of the fastball and secondary stuff as a 17-year-old. He shows tremendous mound presence and a mature feel for pitching. He has drawn comps most often to Doc Gooden so yeah…he’s pretty good.
4. Tampa Bay Rays: Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)
The last time the Rays selected a pitcher with their first pick was in 2011 when they took Taylor Guerreri. They love toolsy high schoolers and Royce Lewis fits in with that strategy perfectly.
Lewis does everything well, his best tool being his speed. He is a good hitter with a feel for the barrel and has solid power upside. Defensively he is a good athlete with great range but scouts feel his arm may not be strong enough to stay at short. I think he will be just fine and I’m willing to bet he’ll stay on the infield in the long run, but even if he doesn’t he would be an excellent center fielder in pro ball.
5. Atlanta Braves: MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville HS (NC)
The Braves’ strategy in recent drafts has been to grab high-upside pitching talent and Gore falling into their laps would be exactly what they’re looking for.
Gore has shot up the boards this season and is now widely regarded as the best high school left hander available. Some scouts have even put him ahead of Hunter Greene as a prospect. Gore’s fastball sits in the mid-90’s and he has a nasty curveball that grades as a plus pitch. He’s an athletic kid and would be a perfect fit for the Braves should he make it to them.
6. Oakland Athletics: Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
After nabbing both A.J. Puk and Logan Shore in the 2016 draft, why not grab the guy who was arguably the best pitcher in that 2016 Florida Gators rotation? Oakland loves drafting polished college pitchers and they have had success with Puk and Shore so it makes sense to grab Faedo here.
A pre-season favorite to but the #1 pick, Faedo has fallen this Spring due to inconsistent performances. However, he has still put up impressive numbers even as he recovered from knee surgery this Spring. I think Faedo has fallen too far most places and I can’t be the only one right?
7. Arizona Diamondbacks: Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
This will likely be Smith or Adam Haseley, his UVA teammate. Arizona loves its college hitters and there is none better than Smith.
Smith has an absurd 4.1% K rate this season and has walked 4 times more often than he’s struck out! Smith is the best college hitter in this class and in my opinion is a steal at 7. Not only is he a phenomenal hitter but he has shown improved power and has played well defensively this year. I love Smith here for the D-Backs. (NOTE: The Rockies selected Smith in the 32nd round of the 2014 draft but he chose to go to Virginia instead, looks like a good decision).
8. Philadelphia Phillies: Jordan Adell, OF, Ballard HS (KY)
Over the Phillies last 10 drafts, they have taken a prep player with their first pick 9 times, selecting 6 prep hitters and 3 prep pitchers. The only college player they have selected first in the last 10 drafts is Aaron Nola in 2014. There is a lot of talk that they are looking at college talent but their track record is hard to ignore.
Adell has excellent speed on the base paths and in the outfield with a plus arm and great instincts. He has big time raw power and the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. The concern with Adell is whether or not he can cut down the strikeouts; many think he can.
9. Milwaukee Brewers: Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS (NC)
The Brewers have taken a prep player with their first pick in 4 of the last 5 drafts with the exception coming last year when they took Corey Ray. I think they will get back to their typical trend by selecting Austin Beck here.
Beck is a great hitter with plus speed and the potential for plus power but has fallen a bit lately on the national stage as other prepsters have passed him up. The lack of a track record here hurts his draft stock but I think Beck will sneak into the top 10 with a team that believes in him.
10. Los Angeles Angels: Adam Haseley, OF, Virginia
The Angels haven’t selected a prep player with their first pick since 2010 in an attempt to capitalize on Mike Trout’s stay. Although it has yet to prove a successful strategy, the trend should continue here.
Haseley has performed as well as any college outfielder this year and has played himself into the top-10 conversation. This year he has shown an improved approach at the plate leading to more walks and fewer strikeouts. As a result, he is seeing better pitches to hit and hitting them hard.
11. Chicago White Sox: Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt
This is where the Rockies would have been picking, had they not signed Ian Desmond.
Over their last 10 drafts the White Sox have selected a college player with their top pick 9 times with the only exception coming in 2013 when they picked Tim Anderson. I see the trend continuing here with Kendall, a lightning quick player with hitting ability and power.
The White Sox are loaded with minor league pitching talent so a bat makes sense here. Kendall’s swing lends itself to swing and miss and mechanically it can be pretty ugly but a team that can help him make the adjustments necessary will reap serious rewards.
12. Pittsburgh Pirates: J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
The Pirates have been all in on position players in their last 5 drafts and haven’t drafted a pitcher with their top pick since 2011. I see them bucking the trend here as they select the free falling Bukauskas.
Bukauskas has electric stuff and may very well be gone by this point in the draft. However, he is an undersized righty and will likely slip a bit because of the profile, fair or not. Bukausas may have the best fastball in the class and has been particularly dominant this season. The A’s are the other team linked to him, but if they pass on him he could free fall all the way to the Pirates.
13. Miami Marlins: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)
The Marlins have drafted a prep player with their top pick in the last 2 drafts and I see another one in their future. Last year it was the electric lefty, Braxton Garrett, this year I think it will be the electric righty, Shane Baz.
Baz is one of the risers in this year’s draft, showcasing a 4-pitch repertoire that features a power fastball and both a curveball and slider that produce swings and misses. Scouts rave about his stuff but question his command.
14. Kansas City Royals: Nick Pratto, 1B/OF, Huntington Beach HS (CA)
The Royals have wavered back and forth the last few years between collegiate and prep talent, but upside should be the name of the game for the rebuilding Royals and Pratto has plenty of it.
Despite a bit of a down Spring, Pratto remains one of the top hitters in this year’s high school class. His contact skills are undeniable and his power is showing up a little more. He is an excellent defender at first base and has potential as a pitcher as well, though it is likely his bat that will get him to the majors.
15. Houston Astros: D.L. Hall, LHP, Valdosta HS (GA)
The Astros have taken a prep arm in two of the last three drafts. Rumor has it that they are looking for a college bat but I’m not so sure. It would be hard to resist grabbing Hall here.
Hall has quite a bit of projection left and already touches 95 with his fastball so there is probably more velocity in there. He is best known for his good curveball which should develop into a plus pitch.
16. New York Yankees: Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS (AL)
The Yankees selected prep outfielder Blake Rutherford who fell to them at 18 in last year’s draft and they are again being linked to prep outfielders. Bubba Thompson has been moving up draft boards all Spring and he seems like the likely pick here.
Thompson has always been a contact/speed prospect. He is an excellent defender and base runner with a mature approach at the plate. But this year, Thompson has displayed more power than he had previously.
17. Seattle Mariners: Keston Hiura, 2B/OF, UC Irvine
The Mariners like spending their first pick on high-upside college hitters (see Mike Zunino, D.J. Peterson, and Kyle Lewis) and the best one on the board is probably Keston Hiura.
The knock on Hiura has been his injury history (he hasn’t played in the field yet this season) and the fact that when he is on the field, teams aren’t sure where he fits defensively. One thing is certain though, Hiura can hit. In a class weak on college hitters, Hiura may go as high as 8 or 9 but the defensive questions seem to be enough to drop him. With a similar profile to last year’s first rounder Kyle Lewis, Hiura would be a great fit for the Mariners.
18. Detroit Tigers: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad HS (NM)
The Tigers have selected a prep player with their first pick in each of the last 3 drafts. The last 2 years they have selected a pitcher and this year I see them taking another.
Rogers is a tall, projectable left hander who shows a good fastball and slider. He has very good command for a prep lefty and certainly has plenty of room left to grow. Rogers’ stuff hasn’t been quite as electric this Spring but he is still one of the higher upside guys available.
19. San Francisco Giants: Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina
The last time the Giants selected a prep player with one of their first 3 picks was in 2013 when they picked Christian Arroyo with their top pick. Last year their first 12 picks were all college players! I’d say a college bat is a pretty safe bet and I’ll go with the top collegiate shortstop here in Logan Warmoth.
Warmoth has always hit the ball hard, spraying line drives to all fields but this year he’s showing more over the fence power which has really improved his stock. Some scouts think a move to second may be necessary but either way, his bat is what will get him to the show.
20. New York Mets: Heliot Ramos, OF, Martinez HS (P.R.)
The Mets selected 8 college players with their first 8 picks last season in a bit of a departure from their typical strategy. The Mets have taken high-upside high schoolers in the past and with so much older talent in the system I can see them getting back to that by selecting toolsy Puerto Rican outfielder Heliot Ramos.
Ramos is one of the more polarizing names in this year’s draft. Many see him as more of a second round project but it’s rare to find a 17-year-old with this much power upside this late. The knock on Ramos is whether he will tap into his power consistently but the Mets trust their developmental pipeline and should go with the upside pick here.
21. Baltimore Orioles: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
The Orioles have drafted a college player in each of the last two drafts and as a team who is regularly in contention in the AL East who could blame them? This year they should do the same and grab the best college bat still available in Jake Burger.
Burger is one of just a handful of players under consideration as the best pure college bat in this draft. Burger has hit well his entire life, starting in little league, and has serious pop. The only question marks are the fact that he plays in the Missouri Valley Conference and that he may end up at first base.
22. Toronto Blue Jays: Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville HS (MN)
The Jays haven’t taken a position player with their top pick since 2012 when they selected D.J. Davis 17th overall. They should go back to the old pitching well here with prep righty Sam Carlson.
Carlson had a decent showing over the Summer showing three good pitches, but most scouts felt he needed quite a bit of work before being ready to pitch at the professional level. Then this Spring happened and Carlson has flown up the boards. His fastball has added velocity, his slider has been sharper, he’s been locating his pitches well and his changeup is advanced for a prep pitcher.
23. Los Angeles Dodgers: Evan White, 1B, Kentucky
Weird and fluky trend, but The Dodgers have been alternating prep player-college player with their first pick each year since 2008! I’ll say it continues with the Dodgers picking Kentucky’s Evan White.
White has been moving up quickly over the last few weeks as he has shown a consistent hit tool and good gap power over the last two years, with a bit of a power surge this season. He is a college first baseman so don’t be surprised if he ends up falling to the CBA round but the Dodgers are rumored to like him a lot.
24. Boston Red Sox: Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA
The Red Sox have generally been a team that takes whoever is highest on their overall draft board regardless of position or level so they are a tough team to project. Canning has been moving up boards and the Red Sox do seem to like late risers so he would make sense here.
Canning is a command over stuff type with a decent fastball and useful secondary pitches. His changeup is a plus pitch and has proven to be very effective as he’s used it a little more this season. (NOTE: the Rockies also selected Canning in the 38th round in 2014; Pavin Smith and Canning in Hartford right now would have been fun).
25. Washington Nationals: Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina
The Nationals have made a habit of drafting guys who fall due to injury (see Anthony Rendon, Lucas Giolito, and Erick Fedde) and this year they may have the opportunity to do so yet again by drafting Clarke Schmidt.
Schmidt had been cruising through the first half of the season and rising up draft boards with eye popping stuff when he found out he would need Tommy John surgery. Schmidt brings a lot to the table including a plus fastball and off speed stuff that was greatly improved from years past before going down with the injury.
26. Texas Rangers: Seth Romero, LHP, Houston
The Rangers have selected a pitcher with their first pick in each of the last 4 drafts. They could make it 5 straight with Seth Romero, formerly from the University of Houston but now without a team to pitch for.
I honestly don’t know how far Romero will fall but this feels about right and maybe even too far. The Rangers own two first round picks and Romero is a Texas native. Anytime the words “dismissed from the University” appear next to a name, it’s a major problem. He’s a top-10 talent but his off the field concerns are gravely concerning.
27. Chicago Cubs: David Peterson, LHP, Oregon
The Cubs draft college talent; it’s just what they do, and they do it well. After all the success they’ve had over the last few years, the Cubs are a virtual lock to take a college player with their top pick and David Peterson would fit well.
Peterson has been incredible this year for the Ducks. Peterson has always had a big fastball but had not shown the ability to control it. This season he looks like a different guy, filling up the strike zone with all his pitches and baffling hitters at the plate with his good fastball/slider/changeup mix. The lack of a track record makes it hard to predict who will grab him but the Cubs love guys with this profile.
28. Toronto Blue Jays: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
Another arm for Toronto here as they selected a prep pitcher with their first pick. Houck would fit well as their second pick.
Houck started the season high on draft boards but has fallen a bit to the end of the first round more because of the upwards movement of others. Houck has been very consistent over the last two years, showing a great fastball with average secondary pitches. He has the ability to control all of his pitches even though his delivery is violent. Scouts see some bullpen risk here but as this is the Jays second pick, they can afford a little risk here.
29. Texas Rangers: Matt Sauer, RHP, Righetti HS (CA)
After taking Romero, who should be a fast mover, the Rangers could go with a talented prep player here in Matt Sauer for their second.
Sauer is a big kid with a big arm. He has a lot of projection remaining which makes for an exciting profile. Sauer works with a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a good fastball/slider combo. The slider is an out pitch and has a lot of late life while the fastball sits in the low 90s with a lot of room for more as he fills out and gains more experience. He also owns a changeup and a curveball but they are works in progress at this point.
30. Chicago Cubs: Brian Miller, OF, North Carolina
Miller is yet another polished college hitter for the Cubs to snatch up. He has the defensive chops and range to stay in center and has a good hit tool. Scouts are a little split over his power potential which drives him down a bit but he is the kind of guy the Cubs love to draft.
Basing a draft mainly on team history is far from an exact science but it is interesting to see how teams look at the draft year to year. Of course, different GMs, owners, and player development people can make a big difference but there are clear trends for many teams. The one thing I know for sure is that draft day cannot get here fast enough.