2013 MLB Mock Draft, Version Two
With less than a month to go until the 2013 MLB Draft, here is a latest guestimate of how things could play out.
I tried to match up players with teams based on talent level of the player, recent draft patterns of the team, any obvious organization needs, and (where relevant) rumored interest, although such rumors are often ephemeral and not to be taken too seriously even now. As always, take these things with a grain of salt. A lot can still change by draft day, depending on late performances, injuries, and bonus demands.
1) Houston Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University: Just about everyone believes that the first two picks in the draft will be college pitchers Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray. Gray seems to have little more momentum at this point, but I'll buck consensus slightly and slot Appel here on the theory that he makes a late charge and/or Gray slumps just a hair.
2) Chicago Cubs: Jonathan Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma: Consensus seems to be that the Cubs will pick whichever college pitcher the Astros don't pick. That seems eminently reasonable given that the Cubs need high-ceiling pitching very badly. Gray and Appel are head-and-shoulders above every other pitcher in the draft.
3) Colorado Rockies: Kris Bryant, 3B, University of San Diego: Todd Helton is eight million years old, the Rockies have no long-term successor in place at first base, and Bryant is the best hitter in the draft. Seems like a perfect match to me.
4) Minnesota Twins: Kohl Stewart, RHP, Texas HS: Ok, now it gets complicated. The Twins have a robust group of hitters in the farm system but need more pitching. They have a well-known liking for college arms, but there is a big quality drop-off from Appel and Gray. I don't see guys like Ryne Stanek or Sean Manaea slotting here given their erratic springs. Some people like Braden Shipley here, but that still feels a bit too early for me. On talent I think the best available picks are high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, and prep arm Kohl Stewart. The Twins could also use a catching prospect to eventually relieve Joe Mauer, but is this too high to pop someone like Reese McGuire? The Twins are already loaded with outfield prospects, so I think either Stewart or McGuire fits best.
5) Cleveland Indians: Austin Meadows, OF, Georgia HS: The Indians are reportedly looking for pitching, but they need outfield and power prospects too and for me Frazier and Meadows are the most logical choices talent-wise. If Manaea and/or Stanek finish well they could also slot quite logically here. Meadows has across-the-board skills and tools and is a more balanced prospect than Frazier.
6) Miami Marlins: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State University: This is the first pick that might seem like a real stretch to some, but Renfroe has had an outstanding spring, has strong tools, has been moving up draft boards, and seems like he can get into the top ten for a team looking to save some money. The Marlins haven't drafted college hitters this early recently, but Renfroe is not your ordinary college hitter.
7) Boston Red Sox: Colin Moran, 3B, University of North Carolina: Under this scenario it would be either Moran or Frazier and you could make a case either way. Moran is safer, his upside as a pure hitter is as high as Frazier's upside as a power masher, and he won't need as long in the minors.
8) Kansas City Royals: Braden Shipley, RHP, University of Nevada: A college arm makes the most logical sense and Shipley is the best still on the board at this point. Ryne Stanek has local ties since he went to high school in Kansas City and he would be a logical choice as well if he finishes strong down the stretch for the Razorbacks. If they want a hitter, Frazier would be the best one still here.
9) Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Frazier, OF, Georgia HS: I can't let Frazier's booming bat drop any further than this. The Pirates haven't selected a high school bat in the first round for a long time, although Josh Bell was a first-round talent who fell in 2011. A future outfield of Frazier, Bell, and Gregory Polanco would be quite exciting.
10) Toronto Blue Jays: Trey Ball, LHP, Indiana HS: A very logical choice given Bell's combination of upside, athleticism, and youth plus Toronto's usual orientation towards those qualities in the draft.
11) New York Mets: Dominic Smith, 1B, California HS: Rumors about what the Mets are interested in are contradictory, and really at this point what happens will depend on what the teams ahead of them do. The system needs impact bats and the front office has shown a liking for high schoolers in the last couple of drafts. Smith is an excellent hitter and could fit here on both talent and organizational need terms. I also believe that first base prospects may be a new market inefficiency that some clubs may try to exploit.
12) Seattle Mariners: Reese McGuire, C, Washington HS: I know the Mariners already have Mike Zunino, but that gives them the flexibility to let McGuire develop without the temptation to rush him. You can never have too many catchers since even top prospects at that position are volatile and often don't develop as expected. A high school pitcher or an outfielder could also slot here, but Phil Bickford, Ian Clarkin or maybe even Austin Wilson as plausible choices.
13) San Diego Padres: Ian Clarkin, LHP, California HS: The Padres aren't afraid of high school pitching and at this spot there are several interesting arms to choose from. Either Bickford or Clarkin fits talent-wise, with Robert Kaminsky another darkhorse possibility. Sean Manaea might fit if he finishes strong.
14) Pittsburgh Pirates: Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State University: He didn't live up to expectations this spring, but Manaea still has first-round talent and could be a nice steal here.
15) Arizona Diamondbacks: D.J. Peterson, 3B-OF, University of New Mexico: His position may be in question, but nobody seems to doubt his bat. If they are more interested in athleticism, J.P. Crawford could fit.
16) Philadelphia Phillies: J.P. Crawford, SS, California HS: Tools, youth, and upside are the standard Phillies emphasis and J.P. Crawford has all of that. Bickford would also fit their patterns favoring high school pitching.
17) Chicago White Sox: Phillip Erwin, OF, Samford University: The White Sox like tools, power, and outfielders, so Erwin seems logical to me. If they go for pitching, someone like Jonathan Crawford, Bobby Wahl, or Aaron Blair from the college ranks could be an affordable college pick who could move quickly.
18) Los Angeles Dodgers: Phil Bickford, RHP, California HS: The Dodgers are well-known for their love of high school pitching and Bickford is the best one left on the board under this scenario.
19) St. Louis Cardinals: Jonathon Crawford, RHP, University of Florida: The Cardinals have had success drafting from just about every source and a ton of possibilities present themselves here. Crawford, Wahl, Blair, Chris Anderson, or Marco Gonzalez would fit the advanced college pitcher theme. Catching is one of the few weaknesses in the farm system and there are strong prep backstops still on the board. For now I'll go with Crawford, whose stock has dropped slightly but is still considered first-round material.
20) Detroit Tigers: Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford: The Tigers could use talent from any source in a thin system, but do they go for a quick contributor or a long-term investment? We'll split the difference in a way and go with high-ceiling college outfielder Austin Wilson, who has the tools to be a star but an erratic track record.
21) Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Ciuffo, C, South Carolina HS: Catching is a farm system weakness here and the Rays have gotten little from investments in guys like Luke Bailey and Justin O'Conner. Ciuffo is the best catcher on the board and the Rays have shown little fear of high schoolers in the past, so perhaps they'll try again with that demographic.
22) Baltimore Orioles: Marco Gonzalez, LHP, Gonzaga: How about another pitcher to follow up Dylan Bundy in 2011 and Kevin Gausman in 2012? Robert Kaminsky is the best high schooler available, but you could make a case for several different college guys including Wahl, Gonzalez, Blair, and Anderson. The Orioles are in contention right now and Gonzalez is the most advanced of that group; in the long run he would look good in a rotation with the hard-throwing right-handers.
23) Texas Rangers: Jon Denney, C, Oklahoma HS: The Rangers take risks and look for loud tools: Denney's power bat is one of the loudest tools still here and he's got a shot to stick behind the plate.
24) Oakland Athletics: Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall University: This makes perfect sense if you think about it. Blair is big, throws hard, is sabemetrically sound, and comes from the same school that produced Dan Straily.
25) San Francisco Giants: Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State. The Giants love their high school pitching, but they've invested in college hitters too. Tooled-up outfielder Aaron Judge seems like someone who would fit their style, as would high school arms like Matt Krook, Kaminsky, or Hunter Harvey. While everyone seems to assume a prep arm, I'll go with Judge, raw for a college guy but with enormous upside.
26) New York Yankees: Robert Kaminsky, LHP, New Jersey HS: Kaminsky could go 10 slots sooner than this, but he shows up here in a lot of mock drafts because it seems right aesthetically and emotionally. It would make sense talent-wise if he falls this far; he's the best prep arm still available.
27) Cincinnati Reds: Ryne Stanek, RHP, University of Arkansas: The Reds are strongly linked to Tennessee prep Kyle Serrano, but he may be very tough to guy away from college ball. I'm going to assume he's unsignable. Someone always falls farther than they should in the draft, and so far that's Stanek under this scenario. I can't see him going much lower than this, and he'd represent great value for the Reds if he does get this far.
28) St. Louis Cardinals (for Kyle Lohse): Hunter Dozier, SS, Stephen F. Austin State University: Here's a changeup, but bear with me. Dozier has legitimate pure hitting skills in addition to power, is sabermetrically sound, and might have a chance to stick at shortstop. It is true that the Cardinals drafted a lot of third basemen last year and that Dozier will probably have to switch positions eventually, but he otherwise fits the Cardinals mold. Notre Dame slugger Eric Jagielo is another possibility, as are college arms Wahl and Anderson.
29) Tampa Bay Rays (for B.J. Upton): Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame: Jagielo's power bat could easily go 15 spots higher than this given the paucity of college hitting this year, so I can't see him falling much further. Scouts seem more comfortable with his glove now, but the Rays could still slot him at first base and he'll have the bat for the position.
30) Texas Rangers (for Josh Hamilton): Hunter Harvey, RHP, North Carolina HS: Harvey is rather raw, but he has plenty of arm strength, projectability, major league bloodlines as Bryan's son, and has made it clear he wants to sign. He could easily go much higher.
31) Atlanta Braves (for Michael Bourn): Bobby Wahl, RHP, University of Mississippi: The Braves are another team in win-now mode that could be looking for a quick return and a boost for a farm system that has thinned out. Wahl's stock has been stagnant this spring but he's still considered late first round material by most and fits here on talent.
32) New York Yankees (for Nick Swisher): Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville University: The Yankees usually march to their own drummer on draft day but Anderson is another guy who doesn't seem like he'll drop much further than this.
33) New York Yankees (for Rafael Soriano): Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP, Seminole State JC. So far we have a prep lefty and a college right-hander for the Yankees. Let's stick with pitching but dip into the junior college ranks with Teddy Stankiewicz, who passed up a below-slot offer from the Mets in the second round last year. His signability isn't expected to be a huge problem as long as he goes where his talent warrants, and his stock has remained level despite the delay in starting his career.
34) Kansas City Royals: Ryan Eades, RHP, LSU: We have the Royals missing out on hometown boy Stanek. I thought about Mizzou's Rob Zastryzny, a strike-throwing sleeper type who has had an inconsistent spring but could sneak up on people in pro ball. He has received less press than guys like Kevin Ziomek from Vanderbilt or Kent Emanuel from North Carolina. Other possibilities would include Riley Unroe or Billy McKinney if the Royals want to go with the high school upside route. However, I think this is too early to pop Mr. Z, so I'll go with Ryan Eades out of LSU, another advanced college arm to pair with Shipley.
35) Miami Marlins: Tim Anderson, SS, East Central Mississippi Junior College: Anderson is an athletic middle infielder with terrific wheels and a chance to hit for moderate power. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes 10 slots higher than this, and he'd fit well in this farm system. Or anyone's farm system really.
36) Arizona Diamondbacks: Riley Unroe, SS, Arizona HS: Switch-hitter with pop, good makeup, and major league bloodlines (son of Tim Unroe) and a chance to stick in the middle infield. Seems like a good fit for his homestate team.
37) Baltimore Orioles: Billy McKinney, OF, Texas HS: This would be in the "how did that guy fall that far" category, as McKinney is one of the best pure hitters in the draft. His other tools are mediocre and he is a Texas Christian recruit, which might be just enough for him to fall this far as teams look at guys who are closer to the majors, have better pure tools, or less signability risk.
38) Cincinnati Reds: Hunter Green, LHP, Kentucky HS: Green is a big lefty with a live arm, projectability, and a regional tie. He's rather raw but moldable and would pair well with a college arm like Stanek.
39) Detroit Tigers: Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts: At this point in the draft weird stuff often happens, so let's throw another changeup and have Oral Roberts right-hander Alex Gonzalez. He's moving up draft boards and throws strikes with three pitches. Some teams like him better than more-famous names like Wahl and he could be good value here.
40) Houston Astros: Cavan Biggio, INF, Texas HS: And with the first pick in the second round, the Astros do the obvious thing and pick Cavan Biggio. You just know they will!