After worming my way into my first MinorLeagueBall community mock, I decided it was prudent to peruse around the draft archives, find out what this exercise was really about, and make sure my team is prepared when the Tigers are on the clock at 9.
What resulted was over 1900 words on how the first five picks may go, taking our drafters' history (where available) as well as team identity/needs into account.
2014 Braves - LHP Kodi Medeiros (1.32)
2014 Braves - LHP Alabama Cody Reed (2.66)
2013 Braves - LHP Marco Gonzalez (1.31)
2013 Braves - OF Josh Hart (2.65)
Nick, our peerless Managing Editor, played it predictably close to the vest when discussing pick 1-1 in his first Phillies MOD. In fact, ol' Melotticus mentioned more ancient philosophers by name (Plato and Aristotle) than he did draft-eligible players (not applicable).
While some might see this as a tactic to keep suspense high, I'd also generally agree with this sentiment.
However, knowing that this isn't Nick's first rodeo, the counterpoint is that he knows a lot can change between present day and draft day. It will behoove him to withhold opinions on his favorite player in the class until all necessary scouting work has been completed.
Nick's predilection for southpaws in the past coupled with an absence of LHPs in the Phillies system leads me to believe he'll ultimately consider Groome vs. Puk for the first selection. Whereas local (NJ) boy Groome has long been linked to the Phils, Puk's stock has seemingly surged ahead in the midst of his strong season down in Gainesville.
In the end, it's quite possible that the big lefty from Florida is the top pick based not only on his current level of filth (tops out at 96-99, wipeout slider), but because there could be a decent amount of projection left in him. The 6'7" Puk has thrived against advanced SEC competition despite continued issues with free passes, with 29 BB in just 58 innings this season. Puk's changeup also needs reps and refinement to be passable at the next level. If pro coaches can make headway on either of these fronts and help the big man find consistency with his delivery, Puk's potential seems to be just as tantalizing as the high-schoolers in play at pick 1.1.
As a bonus, the Phils might be able to get the collegian to sign a contract that's well below slot. The team has the 2nd-largest draft pool to play with, and any dollars saved with that first selection could allow the Fightin's to take big swings on picks 42 and 78.
The pick: Phillies select LHP A.J. Puk, Florida
1.2) Reds - [Mock drafter unassigned]
As the Reds are one of two teams without a designated mock drafter, we'll have to draw our own conclusions on Cincy's plans for the time being.
Since the Reds are legally unable to draft an entirely new bullpen with the 2nd pick, they'll turn their attention to the highest-impact prospect. It seems likely this selection will be a bat, for the purpose of balancing out a system that is decidedly pitching-heavy.
Further, Cincy possesses a noticeable shortage of outfielders down on the farm. Sweet-swingin' Jesse Winker remains highly-regarded as the team's no. 2 prospect, but the only other OFs to appear on John's preseason top 20 were struggling Scott Schebler (14) and Phil Ervin (17).
Though Moniak and Rutherford are possibilities anywhere in the top 10, it seems like a good bet that Kyle Lewis will be the first outfielder taken. Widely seen as a top-2 talent in this class, Lewis offers relative youth (age 20) and upside for a college player but has also shown his proficiency with the wood bat following two summers' worth of standout play on the Cape.
Lewis' plus power and average (or better) tools across the board portend a future as a classic right fielder, and the improvement he's shown in each of his three years at Mercer has led to his stock surging as we approach draft day. Maybe the most impressive facet of Lewis' current season is that he's drawn 61 walks in 56 games, more than double what he had in his freshman-soph years combined. I'm unsure how many of those free passes were intentional, but it's nonetheless an exciting development that he's adjusted so quickly to opponents that pitch around him. Put the whole package together, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to see Lewis drop out of the top 3 picks.
The pick: Reds select OF Kyle Lewis, Mercer
1.3) Braves - biggentleben - MOD 1
This is Ben's first crack at MinorLeagueBall's annual community mock, but his status as Tomahawk Take's lead(?) prospect writer leaves us with plenty of digital clues to chew on pertaining to the Braves' draft.
With Puk and Lewis gone, Atlanta's fondness for prep arms dovetails nicely with what's on the board at 3. The choice looks to come down to Groome vs. Pint, and BGB's recent draft analysis seems to inform which way he's leaning.
Ben has pumped out a mock draft each of the last two weeks, first slotting in Pint to the Braves and most recently pegging Groome, but also offering a caveat that there's a chance Atlanta could surprise and cut an under-slot deal with an outfielder.
It remains to be seen whether Ben tries to mirror the Bravos' plan or lets his freak flag fly a bit and simply selects his favorite prospect. Regardless, my impression from his writings are that both roads lead to Riley Pint.
Ben's report on Pint is easily the rosiest outlook I've seen on the young righty, giving him two more inches (of height) and a couple extra 'plus' pitches than most other writeups would indicate. BGB also praises Pint's athleticism and makeup, so it's clear he has his ear to the ground in making this decision.
Conversely, our Braves' drafter seems to be down on Groome, noting athleticism and coachability as "the major knocks" on the southpaw from Barnegat, NJ. He also cites reports that Groome is "not near" the prospect that Brady Aiken or Max Fried were, two LHPs recently drafted in the top 10.
To put the nail in the coffin, Ben whipped up a hard-to-find draft manipulation piece wherein he divulges that Groome could be asking for #1 pick money regardless of where he's drafted.
The pick: Braves select RHP Riley Pint, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, KS
While CTC mentioned during signups that he drafted for the Rockies a couple years back, I couldn't find any evidence of his username being involved after combing through MinorLeagueBall mocks going back to 2010. Perhaps CTC drafted under a different alias, or maybe he was remembering doing a Rox mock on another site.
But what if - plot twist - ctcyawni is actually an incognito Dan O'Dowd?
Though we're again without draft history for a mock participant, CTC lays it all out there in the comments section of his first MOD, giving us an easy layup in this likely futile exercise.
Our 2016 Rockies rep took the bait of the first commenter, stating that he's happy to be sitting at #4 in a draft with four prize talents. CTC implies that Puk and Pint are at the top of his board, leaving Kyle Lewis and Jason Groome as the likely players rounding out his top 4.
Colorado has only used their top pick on a prep arm once in the last 15 years, popping Tyler Matzek 11th overall in '09. This makes me wonder if the team's front offices have run into major static when feeling out high school pitchers and their salary demands.
The holy grail for the average ballplayer is putting yourself in position to gain six years of service time and then cash in on the free agent market. If you're a star HS pitcher on the cusp of being drafted, there's no way you want to attempt to build your value in the curveball-killing confines of Coors Field.
I suspect the Rockies have been getting the cold shoulder from prep arms for some time now, as you'd figure their advisors would use the college commitment in tandem with unseemly contract demands to deter Colorado from drafting their clients.
This sort of contractual posturing is already reported to be coming from Jason Groome's camp, and it's hard to see a scenario where the real-life Rox take the rare first-round plunge on a high-school arm. Rockies' brass could try to play hardball, but their history suggests they won't want to risk delaying the premium pick until next season.
Luckily, ctcyawni doesn't have to answer to that history nor deal with diabolical agents to mock for the Rox. He'll simply take the last of the four elite prospects on his board, hoping and praying that his curveball doesn't disappear into thin air (literally) like Mike Hampton's and Darryl Kile's did.
The pick: Rockies select LHP Jason Groome, Barnegat HS, NJ
2015 Brewers - OF Garrett Whitley (1.15)
2015 Brewers - IF Alonzo Jones (Comp A, #40)
2015 Brewers - RHP Tristin English (2.55)
2012 Brewers - RHP Lucas Sims (1.27)
2012 Brewers - IF Joey Gallo (1.28)
2012 Brewers - OF Stephen Piscotty (Supp. Rd 1.38)
2012 Brewers - OF Josh Henderson (2.92)
Our resident burrito enthusiast displayed a deft scouting touch back in 2012, showing an eye for HS talent and also hitting on his early collegiate pick.
The early returns on his '15 class leave a bit to be desired, with Whitley yet to take the field this season following a subpar debut and Jones/English choosing the college route after being drafted in the 36th and 39th rounds, respectively.
Burritos' first MOD reinforces his affinity for prep players, cleanly laying out who he'll consider at the 5 spot while also hinting that he's in tune with the team's historical and current draft plans.
Our Brew Crew rep seems likely to choose between three players based on how the board has fallen: the Cali combo of Moniak/Rutherford and shortstop Delvin Perez.
Burrito dropped a clue that a BPA approach, to him, is defined as selecting the player with the highest upside regardless of positional needs for the big club. This thought process supports the notion that he'll look hard at Delvin Perez, whose glove is MLB-ready but needs a lot of work with the bat to fulfill his superstar potential.
The Perez-to-Milwaukee rumors have been plentiful this draft season, and it's easy to see why. First-year Brewers GM David Stearns made his bones in an Astros' front office that worked the draft board to great effect in engineering the franchise's stunning rebuild.
If Perez is indeed the pick, there are parallels to Houston's 2012 draft where they selected Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa 1st overall, signed him to a way-below-slot $4.8M, and used the considerable savings to bolster the rest of their class. The team was able to snag Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, and Brett Phillips on above-slot deals later in the draft.
Per Cookie's top 151 draft prospect list, Perez is one of only two prep players without a college commitment (fellow PR native Mario Feliciano, #119, is the other). This lack of leverage - as well as his obvious upside - should continue to see Perez as a popular top 10 target.
Not only will Delvin Perez' future team secure a potential impact up-the-middle player, but his relatively low bonus demands could equate to his team having a rockstar draft on the whole - if that team plays their cards right.
The pick: Brewers select SS Delvin Perez, International BB Academy, PR