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Mock Draft #8 - First Round

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It's time for another mock draft, as things are starting to really get moving. Teams are in draft meetings now, so a lot will be changing, but follow the jump after the first pick to see how things are standing now.

1. Washington Nationals - Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada - Harper and the Nationals are undoubtedly linked together, and it's reached the point where no one can picture Harper in any other uniform. Debates now rage over which position he'll play for Washington, but the result is the same. He will be the number one pick next Monday.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates - Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (FL) - Though Drew Pomeranz and Jameson Taillon are still in this picture, it's looking more and more like Machado is their choice. Besides from being the best prep bat in the draft, he's a natural fit on a team that favors hitting and safe arms with their early picks, so Taillon is likely out. Having an excellent senior season helps, and the only question mark is how much adviser Scott Boras tells Machado he should ask for.
3. Baltimore Orioles - Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX) - The Orioles are a solid drafting team that stands to be in a perfect position next Monday. The decision-making process will be made easier by the Pirates, as they're likely to pick the player that Pittsburgh doesn't choose. If Drew Pomeranz goes #2, then things break a little differently, but it's likely going to be a Taillon selection either way.
4. Kansas City Royals - Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss - With a solid enough start in the SEC Tournament, Pomeranz has likely secured a top five spot, either with the Royals here, or the Pirates at #2 and the Indians at #5. It's whispered that the Royals are busy deciding between Pomeranz and Chris Sale, as they full expect the trio of Harper, Machado, and Taillon to be gone when they select. The Yasmani Grandal rumors have died down here.
5. Cleveland Indians - Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast - Like with Baltimore, the Indians stand to have their decision made for them, as they also prefer to choose between Pomeranz and Sale, as the Royals will. They'll likely take the one not chosen, and either one stands to be a solid choice. They could buck consensus with a bat like Michael Choice, but that's not expected.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks - Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech - I keep hearing that the Diamondbacks are almost certainly taking a college player, and the decision they're making this week is exactly which one. McGuire is definitely in the conversation, but so are players like Choice, Zack Cox, and the college names already selected. The best fit in this scenario seems to be McGuire.
7. New York Mets - Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas - The Mets usually draft defensively, and this is another pick that would qualify as just that. Word is that they may be overly conservative, which wouldn't surprise me, but names we haven't considered this high may just be picked this high. Bryce Brentz and Dylan Covey are a pair of options that are being whispered, but neither fits quite this high with Cox still on the board.
8. Houston Astros - Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington - Rumors are flying in every direction for the Astros, though most involve a bat at this point, which is what I've expected all spring. However, the similarity in the rumors ends about there, as they're connected to five or six players that are all over draft boards, and signability is supposed to be an issue for a team that usually pays slot and has extra picks. Choice is a solid natural fit.
9. San Diego Padres - Kolbrin Vitek, 2B, Ball State - This is a rumor that just won't die, as I expected it to. Usually some crazy names start flying as possible early first round picks about 3-4 weeks before the draft, but then the hype dies down and more traditional names emerge. However, Vitek is still strongly linked to the Padres, who are also considering names such as Nick Castellanos and Karsten Whitson, though neither are as strongly linked as much as Vitek.
10. Oakland Athletics - Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA) - This is another rumor that is really moving around quickly, and even though it may seem a bit early for Covey here, he's a solid arm that would fit well in their development system. I suspect that they are also strongly considering Christian Colon as a second baseman and possibly Bryce Brentz, though that one is weaker.
11. Toronto Blue Jays - Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL) - Whitson was the best arm in Sebring over the weekend, and he's regaining ground he lost earlier in the spring. Though Austin Wilson is a name thrown around a lot here, the odds are against them being able to afford him and all their other picks. I could see Colon as a strong possibility here, as well as Josh Sale.
12. Cincinnati Reds - Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami - Even though the Reds have been quite good at turning high draft picks into successful prospects and Major League players lately, they're also traditionally conservative with their spending. As such, they're looking at slot bats and arms here, and Grandal is the best fit. Alex Wimmers could be an option here, as well as Brandon Workman and Christian Colon once again.
13. Chicago White Sox - Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas - Workman has climbed up boards over the last month, and he's a typical White Sox pick. They're going to have a lot of options between the second-tier college arms, and other choices could include Wimmers, Asher Wojciechowski, Brentz, and perhaps Brett Eibner. There's no telling which direction they would go, as they're going to have a lot of options on the table.
14. Milwaukee Brewers - Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina - Even though Harvey comes with a lot of risk for a college arm, the Brewers are a team that desperately needs high-ceiling college pitching in their system. They could be looking at the likes of Wimmers, Wojciechowski, or perhaps a prep arm such as A.J. Cole. Harvey is the best fit, but a number of arms are possibilities.
15. Texas Rangers - Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State - Though Wimmers is an option for a few teams before this, he's likely a backup option in each slot, making him a natural fit here, where the Rangers could pay him slot money in an unprotected draft slot. A lot of names have been thrown around for this slot, but when it comes down to it, it makes the most sense to go with the simplest answer, which is Wimmers.
16. Chicago Cubs - Justin O'Conner, C, Cowan HS (IN) - The Cubs have a history of taking players at an infield position, only to transition them to catcher. However, they haven't made a pick this high of someone already transitioning, as O'Conner has this spring. As a player from the Midwest, he's naturally getting linked to the Cubs, and he does profile as  a typical Cub pick when it comes to a prep bat.
17. Tampa Bay Rays - Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA) - Though the Rays are typically big on athletes, they are also good at taking what the draft gives them. This year, they might get a good bat that slides, and Sale is looking more like a backup option at a number of slots rather than a primary target. The Rays, however, probably wouldn't let him continue to slide, as he's a signable power bat.
18. Los Angeles Angels - A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL) - All indications are that the Angels would love to get Dylan Covey in this slot, but there are enough teams ahead of them that are considering Covey that he's not a sure bet to reach them. However, the projectable Cole fits their profile, too, and they heavily comb Florida every year with one of the best area scouts in the game. This is a very logical pick.
19. Houston Astros - Delino DeShields, OF, Woodward Academy (GA) - This is yet another rumor that won't go away, and I'm very close to the action on this one. There's a lot of late movement going on in Georgia, and DeShields is at the center of that movement. The Astros are certainly in love with his bat, and I'd be surprised if they took the chance of seeing if he fell to their pick at #33.
20. Boston Red Sox - Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU - This is a connection that is red-hot right now, and almost every person I talk to seems to think that this is now Ranaudo's draft floor. However, without a team ahead of them that is heavily connected to him, the Red Sox are likely to have him fall in their lap, where they're likely to pay well over slot for his services. There aren't a lot of other names linked to Boston right now.
21. Minnesota Twins - Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee - The Twins are trying to find a polished pitcher or athlete here, but they don't necessarily want to pay out for a big athlete from the high school level. Brentz offers enough pop in his bat and athleticism to fit as a Minnesota pick. Other names being considered here are Brett Eibner and Asher Wojciechowski, either of which would make equal sense.
22. Texas Rangers - Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Cook County HS (GA) - After going relatively safe with their first pick, which is unprotected, I expect the Rangers to be a little more aggressive with their second pick. That could mean Cowart, who is also a big pitching prospect. He wants to hit, though, and the word is that the Rangers are willing to let him do that for the right price, which is easily over slot.
23. Florida Marlins - Brett Eibner, RHP/OF, Arkansas - Though Eibner wants to hit like Cowart, he has less leverage and will likely sign as whatever drafting team prefers. The Marlins typically go for a high school arm or bat, but with so few signable high school players in this range, it makes more sense to see them going for a signable arm here, and Eibner is an athletic fit for their system.
24. San Francisco Giants - Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton - Though nothing is concrete, early indications are that Colon wants more than slot money outside of the top seven or eight picks, which drops him out of consideration for a lot of teams that prefer to stick to slot. The Giants are not one of those teams, however, and this likely represents Colon's floor, as he's a backup option for half a dozen teams before this.
25. St. Louis Cardinals - Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edward HS (OH) - Though Allie has climbed up boards quickly late int he spring, he still is the type of arm that doesn't necessarily fit with a number of teams, both for his high risk and his high asking price. The Cardinals stood around and had Shelby Miller fall into their lap last year, and Allie could be the next big arm to join their system.
26. Colorado Rockies - Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech - Though Hahn has some work to do before he's at the level he was before his injury, there are enough teams considering him that it's hard to imagine him dropping out of the top 35 picks. The Rockies were on him heavily until his injury, and now he's expected to reach them, so they might find a potential bargain.
27. Philadelphia Phillies - Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) - Raw athleticism is always a factor when the Phillies pick, and Wilson would fit that mold. However, it's probably a matter of signability here, as they typically don't jump way over slot for just any player. The other option I've been hearing here a lot is Fullerton's Gary Brown, but the preference is easily for Wilson.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers - Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Barstow HS (CA) - All indications still point to the Dodgers sticking very closely to slot for all their picks this year, and while that shouldn't completely hamstring them, it's likely to mean that they call a name a little earlier than expected. They like projectable arms, and Sanchez is the definition of projectable, so this makes some sense.
29. Los Angeles Angels - Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) - A lot of teams would  love to have Castellanos, except for the fact that he's going to cost a good amount without supreme athleticism or the biggest bat in the prep class. He's an option for multiple teams, starting as high as #9, but signability is still a factor. The Angels might be more aggressive this year with their spending, even with extra picks.
30. Los Angeles Angels - Seth Blair, RHP, Arizona State - This rumor continues to persist, and I had Blair here in my last mock draft. He represents a fast arm that will sign for slot money, and that might be a bigger factor than usual here if they go for two big high school players like Cole and Castellanos with their first two picks. Either way, Blair is a strong fit here.
31. Tampa Bay Rays - Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, The Citadel - Wojciechowski could easily be off the board well before this pick, but he would represent the highest ceiling college arm available in this scenario. I've run off the assumption that the Rays are going to pick a big college arm in this pick all spring, and it's looking more and more like I'm going to be correct.
32. New York Yankees - Zach Lee, RHP, McKinney HS (TX) - The Yankees are looking at a number of prep arms, as well as Barret Loux of Texas A&M, and Lee represents the biggest upside of the bunch. Teams are still trying to gauge his signability away from an LSU quarterback scholarship, but if he goes this high to the Yankees, he's likely to be signable. Tyrell Jenkins is the other persistent name here.


That's it for this mock. What do you think?