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MLB Draft 2015: National League Central draft analysis

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Ryan Kellogg
Ryan Kellogg
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

MLB DRAFT 2015: NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION DRAFT REVIEW

CHICAGO CUBS
1-9) Ian Happ, OF, University of Cincinnati
2-47) Donnie Dewees, OF, University of North Florida
3-82) Bryan Hudson, LHP, Illinois HS
4-113) Darryl Wilson,OF, Ohio HS
5-143) Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Arizona State University

COMMENT: I like it, because I generally agree with the Cubs that grabbing hitting at the top of the draft is a good strategy. Happ is a switch-hitter who will hit for both average and power and get on base. Dewees isn’t far behind, being rather toolsy himelf but with a strong production track record. Kellogg is a big lefty from Canada with lots of big game experience, who throws strikes with four average pitches and should be a durable inning-soaker. High school picks Hudson and Wilson offer upside, Hudson as an enormous 6-8 lefty with a fresh arm, Wilson as a speedy outfielder from a cold-weather state. Other picks of interest include college pitchers RHP Dave Berg (UCLA, 6th round), RHP Preston Morrison (TCU, 8th round), and LHP Tyler Peitzmeier (CS Fullerton, ninth round) who could all be ready to help out the major league pen within a year. Also keep an eye on 3B Matt Rose (Georgia State, 11th round) and RHP Casey Bloomquist (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 17th round) as teen-round sleepers.


CINCINNATI REDS
1-11) Tyler Stephenson, C, Georgia HS
2-49) Antonio Santillan, RHP, Texas HS
CB-71) Tanner Rainey, RHP, University of West Alabama
3-84) Blake Trahan, INF, Louisiana-Lafayette
4-115) Miles Gordon, OF, Canada HS
5-145) Ian Kahaloa, RHP, Hawaii HS

COMMENT: Certainly very different than the Cubs! Stephenson got buzz as a potential first-overall pick due to his size, strength, solid defense, and power potential. Santillan has been clocked as high as 98 MPH but is very raw with his mechanics and command. Kahaloa from Hawaii can hit 96 and has better command than Santillan but isn’t as physical. Rainey is a two-way guy who hit 19 homers but also has a mid-90s fastball that scouts prefer to his bat. Trahan has average tools but is a steady defender and hitter who shouldn’t need much refinement. Gordon was part of an impressive Canadian draft class but should be buyable from the University of San Francisco in this spot. Subsequent choices drew from both college and high school ranks, with the most interesting perhaps being 12th round RHP Alexis Diaz out of Puerto Rico. He received third-round rumors a few weeks ago due to his athleticism and projectability, so getting him in the 12th is very nice especially since he has no college commitment.


MILWAUKEE BREWERS
1-15) Trent Clark, OF, Texas HS
CA-40) Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
2-55) Cody Pence, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona
3-90) Nash Walters, RHP, Texas HS
4-121) Demi Orimoloye, OF, Canada HS
5-151) Blake Allemand, SS, Texas A&M

COMMENT: The Brewers went heavy for upside in the 2014 draft and the 2015 class is similar in some ways. Trent Clark is one of the top high school hitters and is reasonably polished too, looking like a future leadoff man. Orimoloye drew first round attention until an erratic spring; his offensive potential as a power hitter is excellent if he can add more refinement. Walters was viewed as a strong commit to Texas A&M and didn’t receive much pre-draft hype as a result, but he’s big (6-5, 205), throws hard, and is a solid choice if they have the proper read on his signability.Fellow Texan Blake Allemand is a scrappy utility type. Getting college pitchers Kirby and Ponce would have seemed impossible six months ago when Kirby was viewed as a lock for the Top Ten, but an erratic spring moved his stock down a bit. Ponce was rumored as high as the 20s. Another scrappy type is seventh round 3B-2B George Iskendarian from college at Miami-Florida. Bloodline: David Lucroy, RHP, East Carolina, 20th round. Unsignable: Justin Hooper (25th round), John India (26th round), Donny Everett (29th round). All could be first round picks after three years of college.


PITTSBURGH PIRATES
1-19) Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
1-32) Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Texas HS
2-62) Kevin Kramer, INF, UCLA
3-96) Casey Hughson, OF, Alabama
4-127) Jacob Taylor, RHP, Pearl River CC
5-157) Brandon Waddell, LHP, Virginia

COMMENT: This doesn’t fit the Pirate stereotype but there is a clear pattern here. The highest upside belongs to Ke’Bryan Hayes, who could be similar to his father Charlie and is already polished for his age. Newman and Kramer were two of the top infielders from the college ranks, Newman has the better glove and Kramer more thump with the bat. Both could be regulars but both could also wind up as utility men as a less maximal outcome. Hughson has solid tools and power from the left side. Taylor throws hard but is raw; Waddell was viewed as a second round talent at one point but an erratic spring pushed him back. Proper coaching could work wonders with both. College picks predominated from that point on, with 13th round NC State shortstop Logan Ratledge looking like a senior bargain to me.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1-23) Nick Plummer, OF, Michigan HS
CA-39) Jake Woodford, RHP, Florida HS
2-66) Bryce Denton, 3B-OF, Tennessee HS
3-100) Harrison Bader, OF, Florida
3S-105) Jordan Hicks, RHP, Texas HS
4-131) Paul DeJong, C-INF, Illinois State
5-161) Ryan Helsley, RHP, Northeastern Oklahoma State

COMMENT: Three upside picks at the top: Plummer looks to have a strong bat with power, plate discipline, and at least average speed. Woodford was part of a strong high school right-hander set and didn’t get as much attention as some pre-draft, but he’s turned out to be more signable than thought from the University of Florida and has the physical attributes of a number two or strong three starter. Likewise Hicks, committed to Tulane. Denton is a Vandy commit with outstanding power potential but questions about the rest of his game. The upside in those four picks is quite high but they won’t come cheap. Bader has a perfect tool set for a fourth outfielder who can do a little of everything. Both he and DeJong (a very good hitter with defensive versatility) are more traditional Cardinals picks with good metrics to go with their tools. There are a large number of questionable signability guys in later rounds such as Kep Brown (10th round, OF, South Carolina HS) and Cadyn Grenier (21st round, SS, Nevada HS) who could have gone much earlier based on talent but will be difficult or impossible to sign.