2013 MLB Draft: First Round Commentary

Mark Appel - Jake Roth, USA Today Sports

The time has finally arrived! Let the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft begin.

I'll have commentary for each pick tonight right here, and you can follow along in the discussion thread.

1-1) Astros: Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University: Last year's unsigned first-round pick by the Pirates at eighth overall, Appel's decision to return to school looks wise now that he's gone first overall. The 6-5, 215-pounder has a mid-90s heater and has added polish to his slider and changeup, giving him top-of-the-rotation upside. Scouts previously worried that he didn't dominate hitters enough given his quality stuff, but that is no longer a genuine concern. He's gone 10-4, 2.12 in 106 innings with an excellent 130/23 K/BB ratio and just 80 hits allowed this spring for Stanford. He's from Houston and could be in his hometown starting rotation within a year.

1-2) Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B, University of San Diego: The best bat in the draft, Bryant is a 6-5, 205 bruiser with outstanding right-handed power and the ability to hit the ball out of any park to all fields. He also has good pure hitting skills, controls the strike zone well, and has a chance to stick at third. Even if he moves over to first base, this is an All-Star bat that draws Troy Glaus comparisons, though he could have better hitting skills than Glaus did. Hit .329/.493/.820 with 31 homers, 66 walks, and 44 strikeouts in 228 at-bats. The Cubs were expected to take pitching, but could not pass on Bryant's outstanding bat.

1-3) Rockies: Jonathan Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma: Gray shot to the top of the draft boards with an outstanding spring, going 10-2, 1.59 ERA with a 138/22 K/BB ratio in 119 innings, allowing a mere 79 hits and a .188 average against. A 6-4, 240 pound righty, he showed improved command of a 95-100 MPH fastball along with a nasty slider and a decent change-up and is seen as a future ace. Gray tested positive for the stimulant adderral in pre-draft medical screening, though teams don't credit the drug for his improved performance this year.

1-4) Twins: Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS, Tomball, Texas: The top high school pitcher in the class, this Texas A&M quarterback recruit is a terrific athlete with a strong 6-3, 195 pound build, a low-to-mid-90s fastball, and a promising array of secondary pitches including a curve, slider, and change. He has the most pitching talent in the draft this side of college arms Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray and has number one starter potential, though of course he won't reach the majors as rapidly as the college guys are likely to.The Twins need high upside arms and Stewart fits the bill.

1-5) Indians: Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS, Loganville, Georgia: The red-haired, right-handed, 6-1, 190 pound outfielder has thrived in high school and may have even more bat speed than Bryant, although his approach to hitting (understandably) is less refined. He's a fine overall athlete, and while he might wind up in left field in the long run, his bat will certainly play there given his outstanding power potential. His makeup is considered a big plus. His University of Georgia scholarship is not expected to interfere with his signability this high in the draft, and he adds a potential star bat to the Cleveland system.

1-6) Marlins: Colin Moran, 3B, University of North Carolina: Bryant's outstanding season has overshadowed the progress Moran (listed at 6-4, 180) has made in tapping into his left-handed power. The nephew of B.J. Surhoff, Moran already had impressive pure hitting skills and excellent plate discipline. His defense has improved, although first base remains a fall-back option if he loses too much mobility to stay at third. Moran hit .348/.478/.557 with 13 homers, 60 walks, and 22 strikeouts in 253 at-bats for the Tar Heels. His on-base skills could bring him to Miami very quickly, and the Marlins will be patient with his defense. His makeup is considered quite strong.

1-7) Red Sox: Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle HS, New Castle, Indiana: The best lefty in the draft, Ball is a super-projectable 6-6, 180-pounder but already throws in the 90s and has good command of his curveball and change-up. He's very athletic and also a prospect as an outfielder, though teams prefer him on the mound. He has more polish than you might expect given his cold-weather background, and would thrive in college in the very unlikely event that he reaches the University of Texas. This is perhaps a few notches earlier than he was expected to go, but this isn't an overdraft and is a legit top ten talent.

1-8) Royals: Hunter Dozier, SS, Stephen F. Austin State University: One of the best power hitters in college baseball, Dozier also has a strong arm and surprising mobility in his 6-4, 220 pound body. Scouts generally assume he'll move to third base, but his bat will still play anywhere. He hit .396/.482/.755 with 17 homers, 34 walks, and 35 strikeouts in 212 at-bats. He also stole 12 bases. Dozier was seen as a late first round pick so going this early is a surprise. Can he stay at shortstop? Do the Royals have a pre-draft deal made to save money? Stay tuned. I would not underestimate his offensive upside.

1-9) Pirates: Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, Loganville, Georgia: Often compared to hometown high school competitor Frazier, Meadows is a lefty hitter at 6-3, 210 pounds. His across-the-board tools may be a bit stronger than Frazier's and he'll be a better defender, but his bat has less zip in it and he won't provide as much power. That said, he still projects as a major-league regular with All-Star potential. He's committed to Clemson but signable and you can bet that the Pirates have sounded him out financially.

1-10) Blue Jays: Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS, Westlake Village, California: Probably the best high school pitcher on the West Coast, Bickford's projectable 6-4 195 build generates easy low-to-mid-90s fastballs; recent outings have him in the upper-90s. His slider and change need work and his pitchability isn't as advanced as some, but the upside is huge and he could develop into an elite starting pitcher. He is committed to Cal State Fullerton but certainly signable this early in the draft for the Blue Jays.

1-11) Mets: Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra HS, Los Angeles, California: Smith was seen as a first-rounder pre-season due to his bat speed and strong defense and he's done nothing to change that assessment. He's athletic at 6-1, 200 and projects to hit for both power and average from the left side, along with excellent glovework, possibly golden. His makeup is also considered a big positive. Committed to Southern Cal, he's certainly signable in the first round.The Mets were linked with college hitting pre-draft, but Smith is about as advanced as you can be for a prep hitter, so this is not a stretch.

1-12) Mariners: D.J. Peterson, 3B-1B, University of New Mexico: Another right-handed college power hitter, Peterson controls the strike zone well and has excellent power to all fields. His 6-1, 205 pound body lacks speed and he may have to switch positions, but his bat is expected to take him through the minors quickly. His college home park favors offense, but there's little doubt that his hitting skills are real. He batted .408/.520/.807 this spring with 18 homers, 46 walks, and 35 strikeouts in 218 at-bats.

1-13) Padres: Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State University: A burly-but-athletic type at 6-1, 215, Renfroe took a giant step forward this spring as a power hitter thanks to better plate discipline, solidifying the progress he made in college summer ball. His strong arm would look good in right field and he runs well for his size. A late slump didn't hurt his stock much, and he's still hitting .352/.440/.634 with 15 homers, 34 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 227 at-bats. I'm not sure what his batting average will look like against the best pitching, but he should hit for plenty of power and get on base at a good clip.

1-14) Pirates: Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS, Covington, Washington: High school catching is a strength in this draft and McGuire is the best of the lot, a 6-1, 190 pound lefty hitter with athleticism and excellent defensive skills. His hitting is considered solid and he's expected to hit for average, although opinions differ on how much power he'll develop. His makeup is considered superior, and his University of San Diego scholarship shouldn't interfere with his draft status. By adding Meadows and McGuire to the system, the Pirates have two of the best preps available in the draft, both with a chance to be complete players.

1-15) Diamondbacks: Braden Shipley, RHP, University of Nevada: Another breakout pitcher, the 6-2, 180 pound Shipley is a former shortstop who polished his mechanics this spring and throws strikes with a mid-90s fastball and a good change. Reports on his breaking ball vary, but his overall progress was extremely rapid this spring and his arm is fresh. He posted a 2.77 ERA with a 102/34 K/BB in 107 innings with 84 hits allowed this spring. Discussed as early as the fifth-overall pick, he could be very good value here for Arizona.

1-16) Phillies: J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS, Lakewood, California: This draft is thin in shortstops and the 6-2, 180 pound Crawford is the best of the bunch, with the arm and range necessary to remain at that position at higher levels. His bat draws mixed opinions due to an erratic track record, but he should be at least a decent hitter and perhaps better. He's committed to Southern Cal but signable. Crawford has been linked to the Phillies for weeks in mock drafts, partly because the Phillies are quite tool-oriented in their drafting and partly because he simply fits so well here talent-wise.

1-17) White Sox: Tim Anderson, SS, East Central Mississippi Community College: The lack of quality shortstops in this draft class pushed Anderson up the lists, but his tools would stand out any year. His best tool is speed but he's got some pop in his bat too, hitting .495 this spring with 18 doubles, 11 triples, 10 homers. He also stole 41 bases. The 6-1, 175 pound right-handed hitter has some a long way in a short time, going from an obscure athlete to a legitimate first-round choice in less than a year. The White Sox are often linked with big, hard-throwing pitchers and toolsy outfielders, but Anderson is a good fit in this organization, or any organization really.

1-18) Dodgers: Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville University: Strongly built at 6-4, 225, Anderson showed sharpened command this spring of a plus fastball/plus slider combination. His change-up has also improved, and he profiles as an inning-chewing mid-rotation starting pitcher with the ability to dominate at times. He pitched quite well for a weak 17-37 college team, posting a 2.49 ERA with a 101/27 K/BB in 105 innings and allowing 90 hits. The Dodgers have favored big, hard-throwing right-handers over the years, mainly from the high school ranks, but Anderson's combination of upside and signability makes him a good fit here.

1-19) Cardinals: Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga: A classic college-trained finesse lefty, Gonzales doesn't have ace upside but he also has a high floor thanks to outstanding command of his 88-91 MPH heater, a solid breaking ball, and a superb change-up. His stats were quite good with a 2.80 ERA and a 96/25 K/BB in 106 innings with 102 hits allowed. This strikes me as a slight overdraft since there were higher-upside guys available, but the Cardinals know pitching and Gonzales won't need a great deal of time in the minors. He'd look interesting in the rotation with the hard-throwers the Cardinals have collected.

1-20) Tigers: Jonathan Crawford, RHP, University of Florida: Some teams see Crawford as a reliever due to his impressive fastball/slider combination but a change-up that lags behind. Others believe he can be a mid-rotation starter with more development time. The 6-2, 195 pound right-hander didn't pitch as well as expected this spring with a 3.84 ERA and a 69/37 K/BB in 87 innings, not dominating to the extent that his stuff indicates that he should. Nevertheless, his stock didn't drop as much as you might think, and the Tigers obviously believe his problems are fixable.

1-21) Rays: Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS, Lexington, South Carolina: Ciuffo is a 6-1, 205 left-handed hitter with solid across-the-board abilities, projecting as above-average on both offense and defense. His makeup is considered particularly excellent. He's committed to South Carolina but certainly signable if drafted where his talent warrants, which he was. The Rays were linked to Ciuffo for weeks, so this pick isn't really a surprise.

1-22) Orioles: Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS, Catawba, North Carolina: Son of former major leaguer Bryan Harvey, the 6-3, 175 pound Hunter has great bloodlines and is fully committed to being a professional pitcher. He doesn't have a college plan, making him attractive to anyone worried about signability. He's a bit raw but has plenty of talent, including a 90-plus mph fastball and an erratic, if promising, breaking ball. His upside is among the highest in the prep class. The Orioles were often linked to college talent pre-draft, but Harvey was too much to resist.

1-23) Rangers:
Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts University: Gonzalez throws strikes with a low-90s heater, a vicious slider, and a workable curveball and change-up. His makeup is well-respected and his 6-3, 200 pound build looks strong. These qualities and excellent statistical performance (1.83 ERA, 126/27 K/BB in 113 innings, jut 83 hits) shot him up draft boards and made him attractive to anyone looking for solid college pitching with upside. Gonzalez saw his stock rise in the weeks before the draft and, at one point, was rumored to be going in the top dozen. He's great value here for the Rangers.

1-24) Athletics: Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West HS, Plano, Texas: McKinney is one of the best pure hitters in the draft, with a mechanically-sweet swing, an eye for the zone, and plenty of bat speed. He'd be a very early pick if the rest of his tools weren't just average, but even without Meadows or Frazier-level tools, he is a legitimate late-first round pick. A 6-1, 190-pound left-handed hitter, he is committed to Texas Christian but is signable here. His plate discipline is considered sharp, which makes sense for an Oakland pick.

1-25) Giants: Christian Arroyo, SS, Hernando HS, Brooksville, Florida: Arroyo is well-known to scouts but was seen more as a second round guy pre-draft. He might have been a victim of "Shiny New Toy" syndrome, with pop-up and helium guys getting more attention.The 6-1,180 pound right-handed hitter has a track record of strong hitting but scouts have been unsure about his long-term defensive position. It will be very interesting to see if a pre-draft deal has been struck between Arroyo and the Giants.

1-26) Yankees: Eric Jagielo, 3B, Notre Dame: Left-handed power from a 6-3, 215 pound body makes Jagielo an elite hitter in the college ranks and should carry forward to pro ball. Sharper plate discipline and defense have boosted his stock, but even teams that see him as a first baseman long-term respect his bat. He mashed .388/.500/.633 this spring with 35 walks and 33 strikeouts in 196 at-bats. Jagielo has been linked to the Yankees for awhile, so this isn't a huge surprise. The Yankees are among the teams that believe he can stay at third base.

1-27) Reds: Phil Ervin, OF, Samford University: Another talented college right-handed bat, Ervin is stocky but strong at 5-10, 205. He runs and throws well, could stick in center field, and is considered a safe bet to bring his power/speed combination forward for success in pro ball. He hit .337/.459/.597 with 11 homers, 39 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 196 at-bats this spring, also stealing 21 bases in 23 attempts. I like Ervin and I think this is a very good value pick for the Reds.

1-28) Cardinals: Robert Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph Regional HS, Edgewood Cliffs, New Jersey: He's not big (5-11, 190) but Kaminsky has major league stuff with a 90-plus mph fastball, an excellent curveball, and unusually good polish for a cold-weather high school arm. He is committed to North Carolina but should be signable. Kaminsky's lack of size might turn off some teams, but his stuff is solid, particularly the breaking ball, and he's long been seen as a late first-round talent. I like him quite a bit and he could be a steal here.

1-29) Rays: Ryne Stanek, RHP, University of Arkansas: Rated as a top five talent pre-season, Stanek has had an inconsistent spring but still rates as an elite talent on the basis of his 6-4, 190 pound build, low-to-mid-90s fastball, hard slider, and developing changeup. He could be a number two starter if all goes well, or a power reliever if it doesn't. He posted a 1.39 ERA with a 79/41 K/BB in 97 innings with 72 hits allowed. His strikeout rate is lower than it could be given his quality stuff and his delivery isn't perfect. Could that be part of the reason that he fell this far? Perhaps, but he's a great value here and the Rays know how to refine pitchers.

1-30) Rangers: Travis Demeritte, SS, Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Georgia: An outstanding athlete, Demeritte saw his stock rise quickly in the last weeks before the draft, especially since some believe there's a chance he can stick at shortstop. His bat will be good enough if he does move to third base, with superior bat speed standing out. He had been linked to the Rangers for several days, so this choice isn't a huge surprise, and the Rangers aren't in a position where they have to rush him.

1-31) Braves: Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State University:
A Tommy John survivor, Hursh is a 6-1, 195 pound right-hander with a fastball that can get to the mid/upper 90s. His changeup and slider are inconsistent, but all of his pitches have movement. He posted a 2.79 ERA with an 86/28 K/BB ratio in 106 innings for the Cowboys. He made good progress refining his mechanics and command this spring. I can see him as a mid-rotation starter, or a power reliever at worst.

1-32) Yankees: Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State University: Judge is huge at 6-7, 255, but the right-handed hitter is quite athletic with decent speed and a strong throwing arm. There is some concern that his wide wingspan could hamper him in pro ball, but few players in this draft offer as much raw power. He hit .369/.461/.655 this spring with 12 homers, 35 walks, and 53 strikeouts in 206 at-bats. He also stole 12 bases in 14 attempts. Good upside with the Yankees with this pick.

1-33) Yankees: Ian Clarkin, LHP, James Madison HS, San Diego, California: If Phil Bickford isn't the most talented California prep pitcher, the 6-3, 190 pound Clarkin is. Teams saw him as a certain first round pick due to a low-90s fastball, so it is maybe just a bit surprising that he fell this far, especially since he also has unusually good feel for his curveball and a promising change. Committed to the University of San Diego, he wasn't expected to pose a signability risk. With Jagielo, Judge, and Clarkin, the Yankees made some diverse choices.




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