It takes four or five years for an MLB draft class to be judged, but that won't stop us from expressing our first impressions for each team, beginning with the American League Eastern Division.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EASTERN DIVISION
1) Cody Sedlock, RHP, University of Illinois
2) Keegan Akin, LHP, Western Michigan
3) Matthias Dietz, RHP, John A. Logan JC
4) Austin Hays, OF, Jacksonville University
COMMENT: The Orioles draft is headlined by two college arms at the top who should both advance fairly quickly, Sedlock commanding three quality pitches, Akin featuring a fastball up to 97. Dietz has excellent upside but needs time to build his secondary pitches, while Hays profiles as a right field power bat. High school picks RHP Brenan Hanifee, SS Alexis Torres, and RHP Tobias Myers in the next three spots are projection picks, while Preston Palmeiro out of NC State in the seventh round could be very good value if he can add some additional power to his line drive approach. Overall, not the most exciting class in the world but the set of pitchers is interesting: SLEEPER: LHP Brandon Bonilla, 13th round, Hawaii Pacific due to bloodlines and arm strength.
BOSTON RED SOX
1) Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat, New Jersey
2) C.J. Chatham, SS, Florida Atlantic
3) Shaun Anderson, RHP, University of Florida
4) Bobby Dalbec, 3B, University of Arizona
COMMENT: The Red Sox go bold with the selection of Groome, tagged for the number one prospect in the draft back in March. His stock began to decline in April for reasons which aren’t entirely clear but are some mixture of health concerns, makeup worries, and bonus demands. He could be a real coup, or he could be a bust, but the Red Sox have enough system depth to gamble a first round pick. The rest of the class is college-oriented, with Chatham and Anderson projecting as solid role players. Dalbec has huge power but big holes in his swing. More college types filled out the remainder of the class so the biggest impact, for good or ill, will likely come from Groome. SLEEPER: C Alan Marrero, 8th round.
NEW YORK YANKEES
1) Blake Rutherford, OF, Canoga Park, CA
2) Nick Solak, 2B, University of Louisville
3) Nolan Martinez, RHP, Culver City, CA
4) Nick Nelson, RHP, Gulf Coast State JC
COMMENT: There’s always someone who falls unexpectedly and this year it was Rutherford, who had a fine spring but seemed a victim of prospect fatigue since scouts have been watching him for what seems like 20 years. Getting him at 18th would have seen impossible six months ago when he was in the mix for number one overall. He’s very advanced for a high school player. Solak is an excellent hitter who only needs to be adequate with the glove, while Martinez and Nelson provide upside arms. College picks filled out the rest of the draft, most with strong performance records particularly ninth round 1B Tim Lynch from Southern Miss. Overall I think the Yankees did well. SLEEPERS: Lynch, 8th round Cal State Fullerton 1B Dalton Blaser, and 16th round RHP Zach Linginfelter (if signable).
TAMPA BAY RAYS
1) Josh Lowe, 3B, Marietta, Georgia
2) Ryan Boldt, OF, University of Nebraska
2-C) Jake Fraley, OF, Louisiana State University
3) Austin Franklin, RHP, Paxton, Florida|
4) Easton McGee, RHP, Hopkinsville, Kentucky
COMMENT: Three of the top five are long-term high-upside talents; Franklin has arm strength but needs refinement, while McGee has refinement but needs to get stronger. Lowe is the real gem, a top prospect as both a hitter and pitcher who will need time to refine his hitting. Boldt and Fraley will beat him to the majors, albeit more as fourth outfielder types in my view. Interesting subsequent choices include 5th round RHP Mikey York from JC of Southern Nevada and 6th round RHP Zach Trageton from Las Vegas, both upside guys but with some signability risks. SLEEPER: Zack Thompson, LHP in the 11th round from high school in Indiana, if signable.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
1) T.J. Zeuch, RHP, University of Pittsburgh
2) J.B. Woodman, OF, University of Mississippi
2) Bo Bichette, INF, St. Petersburg, Florida
3) , RHP, University of Arkansas
4) Josh Palacios, OF, Auburn
COMMENT: Notre Dame second baseman Cavan Biggio in the fifth round adds more bloodlines to the organization along with Bichette. While early picks are college oriented, the upside in Zeuch and Woodman should not be under-estimated; Zeuch could be a true workhorse starter and Woodman has big power that he learned to tap this year. Jackson has electric stuff at times but fights his command, while Palacios has an advanced bat but may end up as a tweener defensively. Sixth round Wilson North Carolina outfieldr D.J. Daniels is quite athletic. SLEEPER 10th round LHP Kirby Snead projects as a LOOGY but could be in the majors within two years out of the University of Florida. 14th round pick Chris Hall from Elon is a RHP who can hit 96.