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2016 MLB Draft: American League Central Review

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Will Benson
Will Benson

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
1) Zack Collins, C, University of Miami-Florida
1) Zack Burdi, RHP, University of Illinois
2) Alec Hansen, RHP, University of Oklahoma
3) Alex Call, OF, Ball State University
4) Jameson Fisher, OF, Southeastern Louisiana
COMMENT:
If I were a White Sox fan, I would be quite pleased with this. Collins and Burdi are two of the most advanced college players in the draft; Collins will hit for power and get on base, has a chance to stay at catcher and would be an impact bat even at first base. Burdi throws 100 MPH strikes. Hansen is more speculative but was in the mix for number one overall until his command failed this spring; he’s a terrific project for the coaches. Call and Fisher were two of the most dangerous college outfielders with the bat this spring. Fifth round RHP Jimmy Lambert from Fresno State is an advanced strike-thrower and sixth round shortstop Luis Curbelo from the Florida prep ranks has power and a throwing arm. There’s a good mixture here, safety picks but without lacking upside. SLEEPER: 22nd round OF Joel Booker from the University of Iowa, a senior with speed, a plus throwing arm, and some power potential.

CLEVELAND INDIANS
1) Will Benson, OF, Atlanta, Georgia
2) Nolan Jones, SS, Bensalem, Pennsylvania
2-C) Logan Ice, C, Oregon State University
3) Aaron Civale, RHP, Northeastern University
4) Shane Bieber, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
COMMENT:
Very different from the White Sox draft but I like it too; it will take longer to bear fruit but huge upside. Benson has premium tools and could be a 20/20 guy with some swing adjustments, while Jones was a projected mid-first-rounder, fell due to circumstances, and is a steal in the second. Ice is a fine defensive catcher who took a large step forward with the bat this year, while Civele and Bieber were two of the most polished college arms in the country. Texas preps Connor Capel in the 5th round and Ulysses Cantu in the 6th could have been third round picks based on their tools and upside. It won’t be a cheap class to sign but the upside is quite high. SLEEPER: 11th round OF Andrew Calica from UC Santa Barbara has some speed and impressive plate discipline.

DETROIT TIGERS
1) Matt Manning, RHP, Sacramento, California
4) Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, University of Louisville
5) Mark Ecker, RHP, Texas A&M
6) Bryan Garcia, RHP, University of Miami-Florida
7) Austin Sodders, LHP, UC Riverside
COMMENT:
Lacking second and third round picks the Tigers needed to be creative and I think they did a good job here adding pitching to the system. Manning is tall, athletic, and throws hard; just like the Tigers like them. Funkhouser is an enigma but the senior right-hander threw well down the stretch and could be a steal in the fourth round if he gains some consistency. Ecker is another Tigers-style pick with upper 90s heat out of the bullpen; Garcia doesn’t throw quite as hard but has better breaking stuff. Both could help in the pen quickly. Sodders needs development work with his secondaries but is a 6-5 lefty with arm strength. SLEEPER: 20th round RHP Clate Schmidt out of Clemson.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS
2) A.J. Puckett, RHP, Pepperdine
3) Khalil Lee, OF-LHP, Oakton, Virginia
4) Jace Vines, RHP, Texas A&M
5) Nicky Lopez, SS, Creighton
6) Cal Jones, OF, Dadesville, Alabama
COMMENT:
It is always interesting to see how teams cope with not having a first round pick. Puckett is not the stereotypical Royals pick: he’s a polished college right-hander with pretty good stuff but excellent command and makeup. More typically Royaly is third rounder Khalil Lee, a prospect as both a hitter and pitcher with lively athleticism and arm strength. He’s a project either way but one with high upside. Vines has a nice sinker but is raw for a college arm, while Lopez can field and run but may not hit. Jones is another toolsy sort, with plus speed but a lot of rawness with the bat. The subsequent college pick who may arrive most quickly is ninth round RHP Walker Sheller, a reliever. SLEEPER: Richard Lovelady, 10th rounder from Kennesaw State, could join Sheller in a rapid advance to the MLB pen. It is too early to know for sure of course but the draft feels light to me and much depends on the ability of guys like Lee and Jones to make their tools work.

MINNESOTA TWINS
1) Alex Kirilloff, OF, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2) Ben Rortvedt, C, Verona, Wisconsin
2-C) Jose Miranda, SS, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
2-C) Akil Baddoo, OF, Conyers, Georgia
3) Griffin Jax, RHP, United States Air Force Academy
4) Tom Hackimer, RHP, St. John’s
COMMENT:
The Twins go directly for high school upside bats at the top. Kirilloff should hit for average and power, Rortvedt was the most balanced high school catcher in the draft, Miranda has a good chance to stay at shortstop, and Baddoo is a leadoff type with speed and some pop. Jax has a lively arm and I doubt he would have been drafted here unless the Twins could work out some kind of deal with his service commitment. Hackimer is a budget-saving senior reliever. Fifth round pick Jordan Balazovic from high school in Ontario is a terrific projection arm. College picks filled out the rest of the draft, necessary for the bonuses to work. SLEEPER: 11th round RHP Tyler Benninghoff from high school in Kansas City, if signable; Power-hitting SS Andre Jernigan from Xavier in the 14th round.