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MLB Draft 2015: American League East draft analysis

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UCLA ace James Kaprielian
UCLA ace James Kaprielian
Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

MLB DRAFT 2015: AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST DIVISION DRAFT REVIEW

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
1-25) D.J. Stewart, OF, Florida State
1-36) Ryan Mountcastle, SS, Florida HS
2-68) Jonathan Hughes, RHP, Georgia HS
3-102) Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Oregon
4-133) Ryan McKenna, OF, New Hampshire HS
5-163) Jason Heinrich, OF, Florida HS

COMMENT: It was generally assumed that the Orioles would focus on fast-moving college talent. They did so with advanced power/patience hitter D.J. Stewart and hard-throwing reliever Cleavinger, but the rest of the early picks were high-school oriented, with Mountcastle and Hughes offering particularly high upside. Another high school bat to watch is eighth round first baseman Seamus Curran, a very powerful bat from high school in Massachusetts who could have gone much sooner if developed in a warm-weather state. College picks filled out the early teen rounds, with Robert Strader (LHP, Louisville, 12th round) a sleeper if he can improve his command. Overall much will depend on how the high school hitting group develops, but Stewart should help quickly.


BOSTON RED SOX
1-7) Andrew Benintendi, OF, University of Arkansas
3-81) Austin Rei, C, University of Washington
4-111) Tate Matheny, OF, Missouri State University
5-141) Jagger Rusconi, SS, California HS:

COMMENT: The rapid-rising Benintendi destroyed SEC competition this spring and looks like a multi-skilled, multi-tooled player. Imagine a cross between Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Markakis, and Jason Kipnis and you get an idea of his potential. Rei is an outstanding choice in the third round: he is an above-average fielder AND hitter and would have been worthy of first-round consideration if not for a thumb injury that cost him much of the spring. Matheny offers polish with slightly above average tools, while Rusconi is a switch-hitter with above-average speed who will need to be bought away from Southern Cal. Later picks of interest include eight-rounder Logan Allen, a very polished lefty out of IMG Academy, and 10th round Gonzaga third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus, a senior line drive hitter with outstanding plate discipline. Overall a heavy college class in general but Benintendi and Rei were two of the best available this year.


NEW YORK YANKEES
1-16) James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
1-30) Kyle Holder, SS, San Diego
2-57) Jeff Degano, LHP, Indiana State
3-92) Drew Finley, RHP, California HS
4-123) Jeff Hendrix, OF, Oregon State
5-153) Chance Adams, RHP, Dallas Baptist:

COMMENT: Some Yankees fans seem unhappy with this college-oriented class but if you want college guys the Yankees picked some good ones. Kaprielian is a solid near-future number three starter, which some people seem to think is an insult but should actually be considered high praise considering how many fail completely. Holder is an excellent defender and has a chance to be adequate with the bat. Degano might have been in first round consideration if not for a bad medical history but if healthy he could rise as quickly as Kaprielian. Hendrix and Adams are solid college contributors who could be useful role players. The young guy here is Finley, a very polished high school arm who could also develop into a number three type. Sleepers include sixth round junior college superstar Brandon Wagner, a second baseman, and 10th round Citadel strikeout artist James Reeves, a LHP. College choices round out the class. This isn’t a "sexy" group if you want pure athleticism and tools, but the Yankees signed a ton of those guys out of Latin America last year; the system needs some polish leavening as well and this class provides it.


TAMPA BAY RAYS
1-13) Garrett Whitley, OF, New York HS
2-52) Chris Betts, C, California HS
3-87) Brandon Lowe, 2B, Maryland
4-118) Brandon Koch, RHP, Dallas Baptist
5-148) Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia

COMMENT: High school picks early, then shifting to the college ranks. Whitley may have the broadest set of tools in the draft and only his cold-weather origins may have kept him out of the top five. He’ll need time but the upside is a 20/20 guy. Betts could be the steal of the draft: he was a Top Ten candidate six months ago but saw his stock slip this spring despite the fact that he actually played well, perhaps due to prospect fatigue and overblown worries about his glove. Lowe is very polished and will move fast; Koch has a powerful closer arm, and McCarthy has first round tools but was slowed by a back issue. College choices filled out the balance, but the keys here are Whitley, Betts, and McCarthy, all three bearing first round physical talent.


TORONTO BLUE JAYS
1-29) Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
2-56) Brady Singer, RHP, Florida HS
3-91) Justin Maese, RHP, Texas HS
4-122) Carl Wise, 3B,College of Charleston
5-152) Jose Espada, RHP, Puerto Rico HS

COMMENT: I like the balance in the early picks. Harris had Top Five buzz at one point and getting him at 29 is terrific value. Singer and Maese are prep arms who can hit 95; Singer has more polish but Maese’s arm is very fresh. Espada is highly athletic and projectable. The hitter here is Wise, a power bat with a proven track record with wooden bats but some questions about his glove. Later picks of interest include Travis Bergen (LHP, Kennesaw State, 7th round, fast-moving arm with low-90s heat) and Connor Panas (3B, Canisius, 9th round), a Canadian with power, speed, and strong strike zone judgment. Late-round sleeper: Josh DeGraaf, RHP, Taylor University, 31st round.