National League West Division Draft Impressions
Arizona: Like all teams with multiple picks, the Diamondbacks needed to find the right balance between talent and affordability. In the first round, they went with Florida HS third baseman Bobby Borchering, a switch-hitter with power who should stick at third base. Their second pick, A.J. Pollock out of Notre Dame, is more of a steady guy with average tools but a good performance record. Supplemental choices Matt Davidson (3B, California) and Chris Owings (SS, South Carolina) are high school hitters who are somewhat raw but have upside. Their last supplemental pick, Mike Belfiore out of Boston College, is a lefty with a 90+ fastball who could reach the majors quickly if he can polish his breaking stuff as soon as the Dbacks hope. Second round picks Eric Smith (Rhode Island RHP) and Mark Krauss (Ohio, OF) are successful college players with good track records. Krauss looks like an astute choice in particular, having led the Cape Cod League in OBP last year and having at least decent power. The next two picks were toolsy, Keon Broxton (Santa Fe CC 3B) in the third round and David Nick (California HS SS) in the fourth. Both will need development patience. Fifth round Loyola Marymount 1B Ryan Wheeler, on the other hand, has the bat to move through the system rapidly. The main emphasis in subsequent rounds was on successful college choices. Overall, I think Arizona used their extra picks very well, drawing talent from a variety of sources, mixing raw players with more skilled counterparts.
Colorado: The negotiations between Tyler Matzek and the Rockies could get VERY interesting, as the young moundsman seems intent on signing a huge contract or marching off to college at Oregon. His talent is undeniable, but will he really turn down several million dollars? How much hardball will be played here? Will the Rockies call his bluff? Stay tuned. Tim Wheeler at 32nd overall is a fine choice; he'd been mentioned as a top 15 pick pre-draft, and the Sacramento State outfielder does a lot of things well. Supplemental first round pick Rex Brothers out of Lipscomb has a first round arm, and with both Wheeler and Brothers signable, the Rockies could be more willing to let Matzek walk and take the extra draft pick next year. Second round California prep 3B Nolan Arenado needs mechanical refinements with his swing but has a strong arm. Clemson 1B Ben Paulsen in the third round and Alabama OF Kent Matthes in the fourth are very successful college hitters with average tools, but the Rockies have had some success with similar players in the past. Auburn 3B Joseph Sanders in the fifth round lacks patience at the plate, but has strong power potential. College pitchers drafted in the sixth through 10th rounds all have at least average arms, with Oregon's Erik Stavert (7th round) probably the most advanced. Overall I think this is a good draft, and the Rockies have enough talent on the board that they don't have to give in to Matzek if they don't want to.
Los Angeles: Supplemental first rounder Aaron Miller out of Baylor is an impressive two-way talent who will pitch as a pro due to his 90-94 MPH fastball, though he'll need refinement time. California OF-RHP Blake Smith is another two-way type who could succeed as a power hitting outfielder or a power-throwing pitcher, but will need development time either way. Second round Kansas HS RHP Garrett Gould has an excellent curve, a solid fastball, and additional projectability, a type the Dodgers have had good success developing. Third round choice Brett Wallach out of Orange Coast JC is projectable and has good bloodlines, being the son of a former major leaguer. Fourth round Loyola Marymount OF Angelo Songco and fifth round Oklahoma catcher J.T. Wise were both successful college hitters with power in their bats, and I think that Wise in particular is an underrated talent. Overall, this draft brings in power bats and power arms.
San Diego: The Padres are known for going after college guys with good numbers, and they did that with third round pick Jerry Sullivan (RHP, Oral Roberts), seventh round pick Miles Mikotas (RHP, Nova Southeastern), eighth round pick Nate Frieman (1B, Duke), and ninth round pick Chris Fetter (RHP, Michigan). But at the top of the draft they went after tools this year, picking Donavan Tate in the first round and Everett Williams in the second. Tate's athleticism is off the charts. Some scouts worry about his bat, and his Boras-oriented price tag is steep, but if you want an athlete he is the best available this year. Williams is also impressive, not quite as toolsy as Tate but no slouch himself, and owning a more refined bat. I also like fourth round pick Keyvius Sampson, a high schooler from Florida with loads of athleticism to go with his 90-95 MPH fastball. If the Padres can get everyone signed, this is a very strong class.
San Francisco: The Giants have a good track record with high school pitchers, and Zack Wheeler out of Georgia fits the mold: he's big, throws hard, and has additional projectability. He could be another Matt Cain if all goes well. Second round Arizona prep catcher Tommy Joseph needs to improve his defense but has enormous power in his bat. Third round Louisville 3B Chris Dominguez also has enormous power and a very strong arm, and he's made progress reducing his strikeouts. I wonder about what his batting average and OBP are going to look like, but he's got 30-homer juice. Fourth round Arizona RHP Jason Stoffel was a first round candidate before a disappointing spring. He throws hard but needs polish. I thought that fifth round University of Texas 1B Brandon Belt was one of the more underrated bats it the draft, and I think he's a good pick here. Sixth round Texas prep RHP Matt Graham is erratic, throwing 93 in one outing then 85 in the next. Giants coaches could perhaps turn him around. I like the top five picks in this class a lot, a nice mixture of talent.