American League Central Division Draft Impressions
Chicago: Jared Mitchell in the first round out of LSU was the toolsiest college guy available this year. I like the speed, and the walks, and the power potential; I worry about the high strikeout rate, but will cut him some slack due to his football background. He's a legit first rounder certainly. Supplemental pick Josh Phegley out of Indiana has excellent college stats, but not everyone thinks he'll hit with wood, and his glove draws mixed reviews. Given the paucity of college hitters in this draft, he's OK in the supplemental round. Second round high school outfielder Trayce Thompson is extremely toolsy but very raw; he could be a star or he could flame out in A-ball. No way to know yet. Second round pick David Holmberg, high school lefty from Florida, has good breaking stuff but an average fastball; I really like his delivery and pitchability. Third round pick Bryan Morgado out of Tennessee didn't have a lot of college success, but can hit 96 MPH from the left side and could be an impressive reliever. Pitching was the emphasis in the subsequent rounds, a mixture of high school and college picks. Of particular interest is 8th round Monmouth RHP Ryan Buch, who was considered a second round talent but fell here, perhaps due to signability? An offensive sleeper is Purdue 1B Dan Black, drafted in the 14th round, who offers patience and power. Most of the rest of the draft was college-based.
Cleveland: Alex White at 15th overall could be a huge steal, if his performance in his last start for North Carolina is any indication. The stuff has always been there; it's just a matter of consistency and command, but you can bet that the Indians were thrilled he was still on the board. Jason Kipnis in the second round doesn't excite scouts, but his numbers for Arizona State are impeccable, and even if he turns out to be a "tweener," his skills should make him a solid contributor in some role. The whole draft was college-oriented for the Indians. Joe Gardner out of UC Santa Barbara has a plus sinker and could advance quickly in a relief role. Fourth round 3B Kyle Bellows out of San Jose State has a good glove and should be at least a solid hitter, perhaps a Casey Blake type. Fifth round RHP Austin Adams out of Faulkner is athletic and has a plus fastball, but coming from a smaller school he didn't get as much attention as some other guys. Sixth round 1B Ben Carlson out of Missouri State has power; 7th round OF Jordan Henry out of Old Miss has lots of speed. Basically the Indians drafted a bunch of very solid college players, with White having the highest ceiling. I personally would have mixed in a few additional high schoolers here and there, but on a performance basis I like a lot of their picks.
Detroit: The Tigers will have to spend money to sign Jacob Turner, but they aren't afraid to do that, and he fits well into the emphasis on power arms they've made lately. Second round pick Andy Oliver needs to relearn a breaking ball, but remember; he was rated right up there with Alex White among college arms pre-season, and to get both Turner and Oliver with the first two picks has to make the Tigers happy. Third round pick Wade Gaynor, 3B from Western Kentucky, has power and speed but needs to find a position and might end up in the outfield. Fourth round pick Edwin Gomez, out of Puerto Rico, is a toolsy shortstop long on projection but short on polish. Fifth round Texas lefty Austin Wood could be a good senior sign as a bullpen option, if his arm doesn't disintegrate after the 74,883 pitches he threw at the end of the season. Sixth round Michigan high school shortstop Dan Fields is strongly committed to college, but perhaps his home state team could sign him. Seventh round pick Jamie Johson, Oklahoma outfielder, has leadoff ability due to his speed and patience, but lacks power. This draft is a mixture of college performers, some with tools and some with good numbers, with a leavening of the occasional tools prep like Turner, Gomez, and Fields.
Kansas City: Aaron Crow at 12th overall is a nice pick. He has local connections, having gone to high school in Kansas and attending Mizzou, he throws hard, and should be ready for the majors quickly. Catcher Wil Myers in the third round is a coup; he has first round ability, and while he won't be cheap to sign, the Royals should have the money to make him happy since they don't have to pay a second round pick. College pitching was the theme after this. Clemson lefty Chris Dwyer in the fourth round is an unusual draft-eligible freshman. There could be signability issues there, and while he needs command refinements, his ceiling is quite high. Fifth round LSU ace Louis Coleman is an affordable senior selection who should move through the farm system quickly. Sixth round New Mexico RHP Cole White pitched well in a tough environment, throws hard, and could be a good bullpen asset, as should seventh round Missouri State southpaw Budd Baumann, a strike-thrower with average stuff. College and high school picks dot the rest of the draft, but the big three at the top will make or break this group.
Minnesota: Kyle Gibson at 22nd overall is either a huge steal (if he's healthy) or a huge risk (if his arm falls off). He's exactly the kind of pitcher the Twins like: he might not throw 98 MPH, but he throws strikes with three above average pitches and is highly intelligent. Supplemental pick Matt Bashore out of Indiana didn't get as much pre-draft press as he deserves, but he is a four-pitch lefty who throws strikes and has clean mechanics. Second round fireballer Billy Bullock out of Florida could be the closer of the future for the Twins if his command holds up. Third round Jacksonville State RHP Ben Tootle has first round stuff, but command issues this spring knocked his stock back. I love his arm. Fourth round Minnesota 2B Derek McCallum is a home-state talent, perhaps overdrafted by a round or two, but an understandable choice not to let the local guy get away. He can hit and has improved his defensive ability a lot this year. I'm less impressed with West Virginia catcher Tobias Streich in the fifth round; there were college catchers I liked better out there in this spot (Carlos Ramirez for example). This draft was more college-oriented than the standard Twins stereotype. Some guys of interest are Southern Miss infielder James Dozier, drafted in the eight round, a solid college player who projects as a fine utility guy, and Florida prep speedster Ronnie Richardson, drafted in the 11th round, who might not be signable but has some upside. 19th round Texarkana CC RHP Josh Stilson throws very hard.