Here are my first reactions to the 2016 MLB draft, continuing with the American League West.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WESTERN DIVISION
1) Forrest Whitley, RHP, San Antonio, Texas
2) Ronnie Dawson, OF, The Ohio State University
3) Jake Rogers, C, Tulane University
4) Brett Adcock, LHP, University of Michigan
COMMENT: The Astros open with a home state prep, hard-throwing right-hander Forrest Whitley. He can hit 96 and shows potential with three secondary pitches, giving him upside as a possible number two starter eventually. Houston then switched to college choices, headlined by Ronnie Dawson’s intriguing power/speed combination and the superb defense of Jake Rogers. Adcock throws very hard but needs a lot of work with his control. Fifth rounder Abraham Toro is a junior college slugger from Oklahoma with power upside. Various college players rounded out the class with possible fast movers including reliever RHPs Tyler Buffett (7th round, Oklahoma State) and Nick Hernandez (8th round, Houston). SLEEPER: Carmen Benedetti, LHP from Michigan in the 12th round is erratic but athletic.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
1) Matt Thaiss, C, University of Virginia
2) Brandon Marsh, OF, Buford, Georgia
3) Nolan Williams, SS, Kansas City, Kansas
4) Chris Rodriguez, RHP, Pace, Florida
COMMENT: In desperate need of a farm system talent infusion, the Angels adopted a mixed approach with an early focus on offense. Thaiss may or may not stick behind the plate but his bat was one of the most polished available and won’t need long in the minors. Marsh and Williams will take longer: both are very toolsy, both featuring speed and power potential with Williams being more of a development project with the bat. Mechanical concerns kept Rodriguez from the earlier rounds but he can hit 95 MPH. Subsequent choices focused on strong college performers, with 5th round shortstop Connor Justus from Georgia Tech and 8th round OF Troy Montgomery from Ohio State already signed. Both are very good defenders with a chance to hit. SLEEPER: Mike Kaelin, RHP from Buffalo in the 15th round hits 96 and throws strikes but lasted that long because he’s just 5-9. Overall, I think the Angels did what they needed to do, adding a mixture of upside and polish to the system.
1) A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida
1-C) Daulton Jefferies, RHP, University of California
2) Logan Shore, RHP, University of Florida
3) Sean Murphy, C, Wright State University
4) Skylar Szynski, RHP, Mishawaka, Indiana
COMMENT: You like college pitching? You’ll love this. Puk could have gone first-overall if he’d been more consistent and the A’s also picked up his extremely polished rotation-mate Logan Shore. Jefferies could have gone in the Top Ten if he’d been completely healthy all spring. There’s a bit of risk here but you could also wind up with three quality big league starters ready for the majors within two years. You need someone to catch them and Murphy can do that well, with a chance to hit as well. Szynski is a cold-weather prep arm but with showcase experience who had second round buzz at one point. Subsequent college picks of interest include toolsy bloodliner JaVon Shelby (3B, University of Kentucy, 5th round) and University of Minnesota ace Dalton Sawyer (9th round LHP). SLEEPER: 21st round OF Kyle Nowlin from Eastern Kentucky has big power if he can make sufficient contact.
1) Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer University
2) Joe Rizzo, 3B, Vienna, Virginia
3) Bryson Brigman, SS, University of San Diego
4) Thomas Burrows, LHP, University of Alabama
COMMENT: The new front office went mainly in the college direction with the exception of Rizzo who may not have a clear position but can certainly hit. Lewis was in the mix for number one overall and while he has some risk in the profile, getting him at 11th overall is a huge coup considering his upside. Brigman is a polished hitter while Burrows is a hard-throwing bullpener who could be up within a year or two. 5th rounder Donnie Walton (SS, Oklahoma State) and 9th rounder Jason Goldstein (C, Illinois) are well-known to college baseball fans and could be solid role players. SLEEPER: 13th round RHP Reggie McClain from the University of Missouri has exceptional command.
1) Cole Ragans, LHP, Tallahassee, Florida
2) Alex Speas, RHP, Powder Springs, Georgia
3) Kole Enright, 3B, Winter Garden, Florida
4) Charles LeBlanc, SS, University of Pittsburgh
COMMENT: Bucking the industry trend towards more predictable college players, the Rangers load up on high school upside early, with Ragans projecting as a mid-rotation starter with three pitches. Speas is more of a pure upside play, up to 97 MPH with premium athleticism but a lot of rawness in his pitching approach. Enright strike some obsevers as a slight overdraft but he makes good contact and may develop more power, plus he’s signable. LeBlanc is probably more third baseman or right fielder than shortstop in the long run but he can hit. Fifth round LHP Kyle Roberts from Henry Ford Junior College is extremely raw but is another hard-thrower, while sixth round RHP Kyle Cody from Kentucky had a mediocre senior year but still tantalizes with the physical ability that made him a second-round pick in 2015. SLEEPERS: Two junior college infielders stand out for their tools: 13th round SS Jonah McReynolds from Patrick Henry CC and 25th round 2B Tra’mayne Holmes from Wallace Community College.