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MLB Draft 2015: American League West draft analysis

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Riley Ferrell
Riley Ferrell
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

AMERICAN LEAGUE WESTERN DIVISION DRAFT REVIEWS

HOUSTON ASTROS
1-2) Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
1-5) Kyle Tucker, OF, Florida HS
CA-37) Daz Cameron, OF, Georgia HS
2-46) Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
3-79) Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU
4-109) Anthony Hermelyn, C, University of Oklahoma
5-139) Trent Thornton, RHP, University of North Carolina

COMMENT: What can you say? Bregman might be the best college hitter in the draft. Many thought Tucker was the best high school hitter. Cameron was a lock for the top ten until late bonus demands pushed him down the boards. With multiple picks, the Astros are one of the few teams able to meet his asking price without scotching the rest of their draft. Eshelman might be the best control pitcher in college baseball history; Ferrell throws very hard and could be in the majors by September. Hermelyn and Thornton are more role player/contributor types, but the top of this draft is outstanding. Most of the rest of the draft are solid college performers including Oklahoma State ace Michael Freeman (LHP, 7th round),scrappy USC catcher Garrett Stubbs (8th round), and University of Nevada closer Adam Whitt (RHP, 14th round, side-arm type who could come quickly). Overall this looks exceptional at the top and decent-enough elsewhere.


LOS ANGELES ANGELS
1-26) Taylor Ward, C, Fresno State
2-70) Jahmai Jones, OF, Georgia HS
3-104) Grayson Long, RHP, Texas A&M
4-135) Brendon Sanger, OF, Florida Atlantic
5-165) Jared Foster, OF, LSU

COMMENT: Interesting split here. In the second round we see Jahmai Jones, one of the youngest players available this year at age 17, a right-handed hitter with better-than-average tools, a feel for hitting, and exceptional makeup. The other four top picks are "safe" college choices: Ward has an excellent glove and some power, Long is a solid three-pitch guy who can eat innings or maybe be more dominant in the pen. Sanger has fair tools and put up some big numbers: .370/.492/.583 this spring. Foster is a senior outfielder with some pop but seems likely to be a "save money" pick so they can sign Jones. Subsequent choices had a strong college flavor, with David Fletcher (slick-fielding SS, Loyola Marymount, 6th round) and power-hitting Hutton Moyer (Jamie’s son, 2B, Pepperdine, 7th round) providing some up-the-middle depth. There isn’t huge upside except for Jones, however the Angels have had good luck developing "low upside" guys like Kole Calhoun and Matt Shoemaker into valued talents.


OAKLAND ATHLETICS
1-20) Richie Martin, SS, Florida
2-63) Mikey White, SS, Alabama
3-97) Dakota Chalmers, RHP, Georgia HS
4-128) Skye Bolt, OF, North Carolina
5-158) Kevin Duchene, LHP, Illinois

COMMENT: Like the Angels, the Athletics early in the draft mixed one high-upside-but-raw player, Dakota Chalmers, with four college guys. Chalmers could become a top-of-the-rotation starter or an A-ball fizzle. Martin and White will both get to the majors but it is uncertain if they’ll hit enough to be more than just decent pieces. Bolt has an excellent tool set but his hitting record has never matched the talent perceived by scouts. Given his first-round tools, he’s a good gamble in the fourth. Duchene has average stuff but an exceptionally tenacious approach to pitching. College players remained the focus otherwise, with Bowdien "Bubba" Derby (6th round, RHP, San Diego State), Kyle Friedrichs (7th round, RHP, Long Beach State) being advanced enough to help the major league staff fairly soon. Sleeper power bat: Seth Brown, 19th round, first baseman from Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho.

SEATTLE MARINERS
2-60) Nick Neidert, RHP, Georgia HS
CB-72) Andrew Moore, RHP, Oregon State
3-94) Braden Bishop, OF, Washington
4-125) Dylan Thompson, RHP, South Carolina HS
5-155) Drew Jackson, SS, Stanford
COMMENTS: Teams without a first round pick have to find the right balance between taking too many chances and not taking enough of them. The Mariners went with a diverse approach early here, taking a prep pitcher with advanced pitchability but some issues with a sore elbow in Neidert, then an exceptionally polished college arm in Moore who could be in the majors within a year or two. Bishop features plus speed and plus defense but didn’t hit enough to go earlier in the draft, while Jackson has excellent physical tools but an erratic track record, though he did hit well this spring. Thompson is similar to Neidert, fairly polished as high school pitchers go but who got lost in the shuffle amidst all the hard-throwing prep arms who generated headlines this spring. Subsequent choices were college-oriented, though a pop-up prep arm, Jio Orozco drafted in the 14th round from high school in Arizona, offers upside intrigue if signable away from college at Arizona.

TEXAS RANGERS
1-4) Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
2-45) Eric Jenkins, OF, North Carolina HS
3-78) Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
4-108) Jake Lemoine, RHP, Houston
5-138) Chad Smith, OF, Georgia HS

COMMENT: If you drew up a "stereotype Rangers mock draft" two weeks ago, it could look something like this. Tate: athletic fireballer of the type that often appeals to Texas. Jenkins: toosly speed demon, raw, high upside-low-floor prep outfielder. Matuella and Lemoine: both potential first round picks until waylaid by injuries, something like Tanner Scheppers perhaps. Smith: another toolsy prep, not as much upside as Jenkins but with respectably broad abilities. There’s also a raw college pitcher with a great arm but spotty performance (Tyler Ferguson, RHP, 6th round) plus a mixture of guys with a standout asset (6-9 lefty Adam Choplick for example, 14th round from Oklahoma) but flaws in their game that kept them from earlier rounds. It’s a high-upside draft with risk, but that’s how the Rangers have built their system.