One of the very tricky parts of mock drafting is the question of signability, more specifically how much a given team might budget for their first pick and how that plays into their future picks. Whereas most mock drafts try to make a guess as to how a GM or scouting director makes a decision as far as talent and draft history, I try to include where a player might rise or fall due to their price tag. That makes it infinitely more difficult, so you'll notice how my mock might differ from that of others, even those of experts. They have the insider info, I don't, but I'm hoping that my mock draft is more realistic in this area than the others.
With that extra opening paragraph aside, here's the fifth installation of my weekly mock draft, with round one starting it off:
1. Washington - Steven Strasburg, RHP, San Diego State - Yeah, when you throw a no-hitter with your future team's front office in the audience, you're pretty much a rock star. I hear Lastings Milledge already hates him. Previously: #1.
2. Seattle - Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina - The time has come to take off the first baseman tag from Ackley. He played a full nine innings in center field this weekend, all in a single game, and his arm held up fine. Add that to the fact that he's a .400 hitter in the ACC and you have yourself a solid #2 pick. Previously: #2.
3. San Diego - Tanner Scheppers, RHP, St. Paul Saints - This is a fluid pick, and I reserve the right to change it tomorrow morning when I see how Scheppers does tonight. He's slated to go another 75 pitches or so from what I read last time, so I should know more by tomorrow morning. Power pitcher in San Diego. Match found. Previously: #11.
4. Pittsburgh - Aaron Crow, RHP, Ft. Worth Cats - Same goes for this pick. I reserve the right to change my mind. I think the general audience has underestimated just how good Crow is. He was the top college pitcher taken in a strong class last year, just one without a Strasburg. Don't hold that against him. Previously: #6.
5. Baltimore - Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA) - Although the battle for first prep pitcher taken is far from done, there's quite a few things working in Matzek's favor. In a year with a lot of uncertainty, he offers good upside while being more advanced than your normal prep arm. Baltimore could add him to the stack of pitching and young hitting. Previously: #8.
6. San Francisco - Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri - Gibson's usage is really starting to worry me. It was about the same point a year ago when I started wondering if teammate Aaron Crow's arm would hold out long enough to get him a first round slot. However, Gibson's command is still the best, and he's a safe, solid pick. Previously: #5.
7. Atlanta - Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA) - This is one of the few picks this week that I don't have to take a look at my mock draft spreadsheet. I just know his name fits here if he's available. Good upside, above-average prep polish, local product. Check, check, check. Previously: #7.
8. Cincinnati - Alex White, RHP, North Carolina - While his teammate took a step forward this weekend, Alex White was busy getting relatively beaten up by a helpfull NC State squad. Not a good outing at a pivotal time for White. I'd suspect there were a number of scouts present, hoping to see a Strasburg-like outing from him. Crushing blow. Previously: #3.
9. Detroit - Matt Purke, LHP, Klein HS (TX) - Even with all the questions about his lack of lower body use in his delivery, I'm hearing way too many good things about Purke to ignore him. He's probably a top ten guy now, and Detroit would be lucky to have him. He's also a slot sign. Previously: #12.
10. Washington - Tim Wheeler, OF, Sacramento State - And this week's lucky winner is Tim Wheeler. I think he's surpassed Jared Mitchell quite easily with another impressive weekend, and it's time to start thinking of Wheeler as a legit prospect for this bargain slot of signability. Previously: #28.
11. Colorado - Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State - This guy just won't go away. Leake continues to utterly dominate the Pac 10, and while it's not the strongest of conferences, you have to take notice. He's making some noise, and I'd be surprised if he lasted past Cleveland at #15. Previously: #13.
12. Kansas City - Shelby Miller, RHP, Brownwood HS (TX) - I think the Royals would be terrified of picking the wrong guy here, if these players were on the board, but going with the high upside arm here makes plenty of sense after a couple of years with hitters. Miller's where Zack Greinke was as a prep. Previously: #14.
13. Oakland - Rex Brothers, LHP, Lipscomb - I expect some heat over this one, but I still see Oakland going with a solid college arm in this draft. The options are just too good, and the alternatives are just too risky. At least Brothers has good upside. Previously: #15.
14. Texas - Donovan Tate, OF, Cartersville HS (GA) - I, like most talent evaluators out there, believe Tate has done too little to convince teams he's good enough for a top ten slot. However, the Rangers have fallen in love with toolsy outfielders of late, and Tate would be a good pick for a team with a solid system. Previously: #4.
15. Cleveland - Grant Green, SS, USC - For some reason, I don't see Green getting past Cleveland here at #15, but he could continue to hit his way south. The phrase I'd use to describe Green right now is sinking brick, but he could rebound. It's just too expensive of a mistake to draft a light-hitting shortstop with questionable hands. Previously: #9.
16. Arizona - Max Stassi, C, Yuba City HS (CA) - I'm getting the feeling that Stassi has benefitted more from Luke Bailey's injury than I first realized. His untangibles have always been graded up, as seen here. He'll be the first catcher off the board. Previously: #25.
17. Arizona - Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State - Oliver picked a good time to start waking up, and I think he's pretty firmly in the top twenty or so picks. I wonder about his price tag, but then I figure that he hasn't had a good enough year to hold out, and there will be a worry about him regressing next and losing upwards of $1 million. Previously: #19.
18. Florida - Jiovanni Mier, SS, Bonita HS (CA) - Another prep player I've underestimated is Jiovanni Mier, whose ability to stick at shortstop is a huge plus in this draft market. He's signable, a big plus for the Marlins, and he'd be a nice combination with last year's pick Kyle Skipworth. Previously: #27.
19. St. Louis - James Paxton, LHP, Kentucky - Well, I started to think about what Paxton's signing on with Scott Boras meant, and then I figured Boras was signing Paxton with a vision for the future. I don't think it affects his price tag too much this year, and there's always a short supply of hard-throwing lefties. Oliver and Paxton are interchangable in a few ways. Previously: #20.
20. Toronto - Mike Trout, OF, Millville HS (NJ) - With their favorite Canadian Paxton off the board, and questionable options available, I expect Toronto to go for athleticism. Trout's a perfect pick for a team with patience, and having a center fielder locked up long-term breeds that patience. Previously: #24.
21. Houston - Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy - Yes, I know the Astros took a catcher in the first round last year. However, Myers' ability to stick at catcher is a little questionable, and his athleticism and bat make him the obvious option here. Previously: #30.
22. Minnesota - Bobby Borchering, 3B, Bishop Verot HS (FL) - I've actually seen a few references to Borchering as if he's already a first baseman, which could hurt his stock a little. However, he's still got the bat, and he's signable to the Twins here. Previously: #22.
23. Chicago (AL) - Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia - He's still got the bat, but a lot of the teams drafting above here have either established first basemen or ones in their system. If things pan out this way, though, the White Sox would be happy to have him. Previously: #16.
24. Los Angeles (AL) - Jared Mitchell, OF, LSU - Even though the Angels have money, they'll still be on a budget, and they have tons of picks. Mitchell's a solid pick here, and even though the Angels don't have the history, I think they go with a college bat somewhere in their first five picks. Previously: #10.
25. Los Angeles (AL) - Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK) - Alright, I jumped him a little too much last week, but James is still a first rounder. The Angels would jump on board with James if he was available here. I have no doubt about that. Previously: #17.
26. Milwaukee - Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Santa Monica HS (CA) - Still hanging on to that first round status, Skaggs will go to a team that values size and a long-term pitching program. Skaggs could pay serious dividends for teams here, and he's also a signable prep. Previously: #21.
27. Seattle - Matt Hobgood, RHP, Norco HS (CA) - Hobgood's another guy I probably jumped a little too high this week, but he still deserves more attention than he normally gets. He's quietly placed himself solidly into first round consideration, and some team will get more from him than expected. Previously: #18.
28. Boston - Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO) - Turner's the main reason I put my opening paragraph in today, as he's much better than the 28th best prospect in this year's draft. He's just scary as far as signability goes. He's Matt Harvey circa 2007. Great arm though. Previously: #29.
29. New York (AL) - Madison Younginer, RHP, Mauldin HS (SC) - I see the Yankees once again going with a big arm in the draft this year, and they'll have a big enough budget and better sensibility to make sure they sign this one. Younginer may be a bullpen arm in the long-run, but that arm is too good to pass up. Previously: #26.
30. Tampa Bay - Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ) - While some disagree with me, I think Joseph has firmly planted himself as the third best catching prospect. I still do think the Rays go with a catcher at some point, mainly due to the fact that they have better bats than a lot of their up the middle counterparts. Previously: #39.
31. Chicago (NL) - Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt - Minor also chose an opportune time to wake up, as I'd already slid him back to the supplemental first round in my mind before he pitched this weekend. He's a solid, unspectacular arm, that could be hyped up for more in a big market. Previously: #23.
32. Colorado - AJ Pollock, OF, Notre Dame - I still think this makes too much sense, especially for a team on a budget with two first round picks and a supplemental first rounder two picks later. Pollock is athletic and signable, and his bat actually works. Previously: #32.
The usual disclaimer: writeups on draft status going into the draft were a mixture of BA and PG unless otherwise noted. Go to their sites for draft coverage. They're awesome.
I said all I needed to say in my opening paragraph. What do you think?