A reader recently asked for an early take on the 2015 MLB first round draft picks. That seems like a reasonable topic and one we will expand into the compensation rounds and the second round.
We'll look at the pitchers today. We examined the hitters yesterday. Pre-draft comments on each pitcher are in italics. All this should be considered a starting point if I write the 2016 book. Yes, that is still undecided
27) Colorado Rockies (for Mike Cuddyer): Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS, Pennsylvania: Alabama commit, ideal size at 6-5, 205, can hit mid-90s but secondary pitches and command need some polish, hardly unexpected. Top-of-the-rotation upside if all pitches come together. Viewed as potential Top 15 pick so this could be a steal. RESULTS: Struggled with serious command issues in Pioneer League, 11.72 ERA with 14/32 K/BB in 18 innings, 26 hits. All statistical ratios terrible with walk rate exceedingly high. He was supposed to be raw but probably not THIS raw. One marker to watch: a very strong ground ball tendency at 4.83 GO/AO. There's talent here but it will take time to refine, more time than we thought back in June. C+.
28) Atlanta Braves (for Ervin Santana): Mike Soroka, RHP, Bishop Carroll HS, Calgary, Canada: California commit, obiouvsly signable or the Braves wouldn't take him here, strong build at 6-5, 220, low-90s fastball and a very impressive curve, change-up not as good but developable, an unexpected pick but an intriguing one, upside is as high as most of the other early high school picks. RESULTS: Debut split between Gulf Coast and Appy Leagues, did well at both levels combined for 3.18 ERA in 34 innings, 37/5 K/BB, 33 hits. Command and ability to change speeds were better than anticipated. You can dream on a number two starter outcome here if there are any velocity gains. B- at least.
29) Toronto Blue Jays (for Melky Cabrera): Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State: Junior, 2.45 ERA with 116/36 K/BB in 103 innings, 75 hits, low/mid-90s, quality curve, slider, change-up, durable and can be dominant at times. Another mid-rotation potential who could come quickly. Excellent choice here. RESULTS: Disappointing debut with 6.75 ERA, 32/21 K/BB in 36 innings in Northwest League, 48 hits. Workload was cautious getting to five innings in just one start, NWL reports not especially enthusiastic but also rather vague. Researching for further details at this time before thinking about a grade.
33) Kansas City Royals (James Shields) Nolan Watson, RHP, Lawrence North HS, Indianapolis, Indiana: Vanderbilt commit, but rising stock looks to steer him away, rumors existed that he could go in first round but this is close enough. Velocity has picked up into 90s and already had a good slider and change-up, throws strikes, relatively polished especially for a cold weather arm. Good value here and a nice pairing with Ashe Russell. RESULTS: 4.91 ERA in 29 innings in Appalachian League, 16/11 K/BB, 39 hits, neither good nor bad enough to draw any real conclusions other than he was not as polished as advertised. Youth, cold-weather background, draft status all buy him plenty of time. Grade somewhere in C+/B- range, high-ceiling but a long way off.0
35) Los Angeles Dodgers (Hanley Ramirez) Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville: Junior, 3.20 ERA with 104/45 K/BB in 112 innings, 97 hits, stock slipped with some rough outings down the stretch. Power sinker, good slider, curve and change could use more polish as could overall command. Still has mid-rotation projection despite late struggles, could be very good value here for the Dodgers. RESULTS: Did not sign, going back to college for his senior year and another shot at the first round.
39) St. Louis Cardinals: Jake Woodford, RHP, Plant HS, Tampa, Florida: University of Florida commit, well-built at 6-5, 210, works in low-90s with more possible, breaking ball and change-up need work but that’s not unusual, stock has risen this spring. Should be signable here, could be a number three starter, perhaps more. RESULTS: 2.39 ERA with 21/7 K/BB in 26 innings in GCL, sample small but positive, also note 4.60 GO/AO. Secondary pitches looked more refined than advertised and command was generally solid. B-?
40) Milwaukee Brewers Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia: Junior, limited to 59 innings by lat injury, posted 2.28 ERA, 75/30 K/BB, 50 hits. Rated a top five prospect pre-season but inconsistent spring, command issues, and the injury lowered his stock. Still has three solid pitches and could be a bargain for someone if he can rebound and resharpen his control. RESULTS: Threw 13 innings in Midwest League with weak results (5.68, 7/7 K/BB, 16 hits); elbow was the issue and needed Tommy John. Should miss 2016.
42) Cleveland Indians Triston McKenzie, RHP, Royal Palm Beach HS, Florida: Vanderbilt commit, hyper-projectable 6-5, 160 frame, already knows how to pitch and can change speeds but velocity is inconsistent. There was some question about signability but shouldn't be an issue in this spot. High ceiling. RESULTS: Sharp pro debut in Arizona Rookie League, 0.75 ERA in 12 innings, 17/3 K/BB, just four hits allowed. Sample small but highly promising, showed expected pitching instincts as well as consistent stuff. Will need to see how he handles larger workload but this looks like a great pick so far. B-.