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2016 MLB Draft: National League Central Reviews

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION

CHICAGO CUBS
3) Tom Hatch, RHP, Oklahoma State University
4) Tyson Miller, RHP, California Baptist
5) Bailey Clark, RHP, Duke
6) Chad Hockin, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
7) Michael Cruz, C, Bethune-Cookman
COMMENT:
Not picking until the third round the Cubs went conservative with four college pitchers to start with. All four of these guys project best as relievers in my opinion but all could be solid in the role; the goal here was to add organizational pitching depth. The first hitter was Cruz, who has a very intriguing power bat but may end up at first base. More college pitchers were drafted in rounds eight through 16, most again projecting best as relievers. Notably interesting are small college ace Stephen Ridings out of Haverford (8th round), Dartmouth control artist Duncan Robinson in the 9th, and Michigan State deceptive strikeout machine Dakota Mekkes in the 10th. A pair of junior college bats drafted late are raw but interesting if signable, SS Delvin Zinn in the 23rd round and 1B Reynaldo Rivera in the 24th.

CINCINNATI REDS
1) Nick Senzel, 3B, University of Tennessee
1-C) Taylor Trammell, OF, Kennesaw, Georgia
2) Chris Okey, C, Clemson University
3) Nick Hanson, RHP, Savage, Minnesota
4) Scott Moss, LHP, University of Florida
COMMENT:
Nice balance here for the Reds. Senzel is a highly advanced college bat with strike zone judgment, power, and improved defense at third base who won’t need long in the minors. Trammell is the opposite, a top-flight athlete with speed and power potential who will need development work but made the right decision to give up other sports. Okey has generally average tools but stellar makeup and a track record of both defensive and offensive success. Hanson is a cold-weather high school arm who can hit 94 and has a promising breaking ball but is raw. Moss is a Tommy John rehab guy who can hit 94-95 when he’s right and is good value here. Subsequent picks were mostly college guys with ninth round RHP Alex Webb from British Columbia a pitchability sleeper. 17th round RHP Mitchell Traver out of TCU has an extremely long injury history but also has very good stuff and has pitched well when healthy.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
1) Corey Ray, OF, University of Louisville
2) Lucas Erceg, 3B, Menlo College
2-C) Mario Feliciano, C, Florida, Puerto Rico
3) Braden Webb, RHP, University of South Carolina
4) Corbin Burnes, RHP, St. Mary’s
COMMENT:
This looks pretty good to me for the Brewers. Ray was in contention for first overall so getting him at fifth overall is just fine; he could be a complete hitter with power, speed, and under-rated defense. Erceg was an NAIA superstar after transferring from California but questions about competition level and vague makeup rumors add a bit of doubt; he’s got some tools, though, with power and arm strength standing out. Feliciano from the Carlos Beltran Academy has the tools to catch and some power in his bat as well; he’ll need time but is a solid pick. Webb and Burnes were both talked about as second-rounders so they are great values here, too, particularly Burnes who has plenty of arm strength but needs more consistency. It seems unlikely that 20th round RHP Jared Horn will sign but he was also a first-round talent.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
1) Will Craig, 3B, Wake Forest
1-C) Nick Lodolo, LHP, La Verne, California
2) Travis MacGregor, RHP, Tarpon Springs, Florida
3) Stephen Alemais, SS, Tulane
4) Braeden Ogle, LHP, Jensen Beach, Florida
COMMENT:
Interesting balance here for the Pirates. Craig has standout power and a great track record but may or may not stay at third base. Personally I think he can be okay there; his arm works but range is questionable in the long run. Lodolo is an uber-projectable type who could be a three-pitch mid-rotation guy down the line. MacGregor isn’t as polished but also shows the potential for a wide arsenal and already throws fairly hard. Ogle is also quite interesting if he can be bought away from the Florida Gators due to his low-90 fastball and solid curve. Alemais impresses scouts with his defense but worries them with his bat due to lack of power. A lot will depend on the high school arms obviously. SLEEPER: 7th round catcher Brent Gibbs from Central Arizona Junior college has a good glove and hit well this year but is already 22.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
1) Delvin Perez, SS, Ceiba, Puerto Rico
1) Dylan Carlson, OF, Elk Grove, California
1) Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
2) Connor Jones, RHP, Univrsity of Virginia
3) Zac Gallen, RHP, University of North Carolina
4) Jeremy Martinez, C, USC
COMMENT:
I think this is excellent deployment of multiple picks. Perez was in the running for the top five until a late positive PED test; his defense and youth remain elite and getting him at 23rd could be a real coup. Carlson didn’t get as much press pre-draft but is just 17 and has a broad set of tools that could make him a multi-category player. Both Hudson and Jones were possible first rounders who fell and fit perfectly into the Cardinals history of developing college pitchers to their maximum ability. Gallen is another advanced arm due to his pitchability, while Martinez has inspiring instincts that help him play above his natural tools. Fifth rounder Walker Robbins from high school in Mississippi will have to be bought out of college but could hit for both average and power down the line. College choices dominated the rest of the draft, with 11th round LHP John Kilichowski from Vanderbilt and 14th round OF Vincent Jackson from Tennessee being of particular interest. Best name in the draft: infielder J.D. Murders, drafted in the 31st round from high school in Bolivar, Missouri. I don’t know anything about him, but how can you go wrong with J.D. Murders?