This afternoon we will fire up the transporter, fly our starship through an ion storm, and peek into an alternate universe where the top high school picks for each team in the 2013 draft did not sign but instead went to college. Where would these guys stand as college players entering the 2016 draft?
We did Part One yesterday. Part Three will follow later this evening.
HOUSTON ASTROS: The first prep player drafted by the Astros in 2013 was catcher Jacob Nottingham from high school in Redlands, California, drafted in the sixth round. Nottingham was committed to the University of Oklahoma. He exploded in 2015 by hitting .316/.372/.505 in A-ball while showing improved defense. He was traded to the Athletics in the Scott Kazmir deal and then to the Brewers for Khris Davis. In the alternate universe, Nottingham's 2015 would have been truly excellent against college competition for the Sooners, putting him into first round contention for 2016.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS: The first Royals high school pick in 2013 was right-hander Carter Hope from high school in The Woodlands, Texas. Hope was committed to Oklahoma State University. He has been ineffective in pro ball, posting a 6.04 ERA with 88 hits in 67 innings in rookie ball last year. His control is good (33/13 K/BB) but he's been much too hittable. Although the raw numbers would obviously look better in college for the Cowboys, without more ability to dominate hitters he would not go as high as the third round again.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: The first prep drafted by the Angels in '13 was left-hander Hunter Green from high school in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The very projectable lefty was committed to the University of Kentucky. Green's pro career has been ruined by injuries and he hasn't pitched professionally since the summer he signed. If he'd gone to college and gotten hurt in a similar manner, obviously he wouldn't be a high pick this year.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: The Dodgers selected first baseman Cody Bellinger in the fourth round from Chandler, Arizona. Committed to the University of Oregon, Bellinger has emerged as a top power hitting prospect and slammed 30 homers in High-A last year. A similar power surge at the college level would certainly have put him into first round contention in our alternate universe.
MIAMI MARLINS: The first Marlin prep was fourth-round outfielder K.J. Woods from Fort Mill, South Carolina. He did not have an official college commitment, though he reportedly drew the interest of some major programs including powers LSU and Florida. Woods had something of a breakout season in 2015, hitting .277/.364/.496 in Low-A with 18 homers. He has strikeout issues but the power would have looked really good on a college field with a metal bat. He could go in an early single-digit round again.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: The Brewers drafted right-hander Devin Williams in the second round from high school in Hazelwood, Missouri. He was committed to his home-state Missouri. Williams performed well in Low-A in '15 (3.44, 89/36 K/BB in 89 innings) and would certainly have been successful on a college field. In the alternate universe he would be a candidate for the second round again and perhaps earlier.
MINNESOTA TWINS: Kohl Stewart was Minnesota's top prep choice, the fourth-overall selection in the first round drafted out of high school in Houston. He was committed to Texas A&M. Stewart has been effective in pro ball, posting a 3.20 ERA in 129 innings in Low-A last year, though his other ratios aren't particularly attractive (134 hits, 71/45 K/BB). He doesn't throw as hard in pro ball as he did in high school and now projects as more of a number four, ground ball generating starter rather than a true ace as originally anticipated. Assuming a similar path in college ball, he would still be an early choice entering '16 but more in the compensation round territory than early first round. He'd probably get drafted by the Cardinals.
NEW YORK METS: Dominic Smith was the Mets first round pick, selected out of high school in Gardena, California. He was committed to the University of Southern California. He has hit .290 as a pro and .305 last year in High-A, but without the home run power generally desired of a first baseman, with just 10 homers in 1090 at-bats. In college he would certainly have hit for very high averages and OBPs but there would still be questions about his power translating from metal to wood. He wouldn't go 10th-overall again, but he could still get into the back of the first round or a little later.
NEW YORK YANKEES: The Yankees drafted lefty Ian Clarkin from high school in San Diego, compensation for the loss of Rafael Soriano to free agency. Committed to the University of San Diego, he was very effective in 2014 but missed all of 2015 with elbow problems, though surgery was avoided. Assuming 2015 as a redshirt season, he would enter '16 as a draft-eligible sophomore with his status depending on health reports and spring performance.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Outfielder Billy McKinney was drafted by the Athletics in the first round, 25th overall, from high school in Plano, Texas. Committed to Texas Christian University, he was traded to the Cubs in the 2014 Jeff Samardzija deal. He's hit well in pro ball (.300/.371/.454 last year between High-A and Double-A) and would certainly have hit well in college, probably putting him in the later part of the first round again given that his feel for the game is considered better than his pure tools.