NOTE FROM COOKIEDABOOKIE: John and I decided to put our heads together and pull off what may be the greatest mock draft of all time. The rules are simple: I will start, John will follow, and we will continue this pattern until we stop. There will be explanations as to why such picks were made, feel free to vehemently and vigorously disagree with us in the comments below! On to the good stuff.
NOTE FROM JOHN: We started working on this late last week and new rumors have already made some of it obsolete. But it is still the greatest mock draft of all time because, well, because. Except for the Minor League Ball Community Mock Draft of course.
1. Philadelphia Phillies: A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
The Phillies have the top pick thanks to a dismal 2015. Puk is a big lefty with even bigger stuff. He isn't the safest pick, but there is no real slam dunk number one guy in this draft. The Phillies could go one of about nine ways here. I personally would pick Kyle Lewis here, but all rumors seem to point towards Puk. If they decide against Puk, Lewis seems the most likely. There are some recent rumors that they are in on prep bats, which could bring Mickey Moniak, Blake Rutherford, or Delvin Perez into consideration here at the top.
2. Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer University
Rumor has it that the Reds badly want Puk but in this scenario he is not available. A college bat is the second-strongest rumor, but there also seems to be late interest in Puerto Rican shortstop Delvin Perez.. Some think Nick Senzel is the choice here but we'll track late rumors closely. For me this would come down to either Kyle Lewis or Corey Ray, with Lewis having a bit more athletic and defensive upside to go with his offensive potential. He would likely have a sooner impact than Perez without loss of upside potential. (Monday Morning Note: Newest rumors have accelerated the idea that Senzel being the likely pick here)
3. Atlanta Braves: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat, NJ
There are a lot of ways the Braves could go here at three. But they love drafting prep arms in the first, and the best prep arm - perhaps the best prospect - in this draft has fallen to them at three. With some late rumors of Groome falling a bit, you could see them grab Corey Ray here. The dark horse candidate is Matt Manning, who has big bonus demands to match his big arm. Right now, he is the second-best prep arm in this draft class for me. The Braves could easily assuage him here, with their bonus pool.
4. Colorado Rockies: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS, CA
Contradictory rumors for the Rockies: some say they want a college pitcher, some say they want a high school hitter. Mickey Moniak has late helium with some commentary he could go as high as first overall; we'll buy the prep bat here, a combination of safety compared to an arm for Coors Field but matched with upside and youth.
5. Milwaukee Brewers: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas, KS
The Brewers are torn between three players here: Pint, Corey Ray, and Delvin Perez. With great risk comes great reward, and high school flamethrowers are always risky. The lightning bolts flying out of Pint's right arm are too much to ignore for the Brewers here.
6. Oakland Athletics: Corey Ray, OF, University of Louisville
Everyone thinks the Athletics are on a college bat here, but with some consideration to Jason Groome if he falls. Groome is off the board in this scenario, so we'll go with the advanced stick. The strongest rumor is Nick Senzel but at this point of the draft teams often throw some change-ups. Corey Ray is still on the board and he has a broader skill set, plus the A's could use some outfield prospects. Another possibility is Zack Collins, who certainly has an Oakland-style bat. If they think he can catch, he could go off the board here. I'll go with Ray since his position is less of a question.
7. Miami Marlins: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy, PR
The Marlins would love to grab Matt Manning here, but they don't tend to break the bank on draft picks, and Manning would be looking for an over slot bonus here. I think it comes down to two players here: Braxton Garrett (they love lefty pitchers) and Delvin Perez (they love prep bats and shortstops). In the end, they take the toolsy Perez to replace Adeiny Hechavarria in a few years.
8. San Diego Padres: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford University
Rumors last week indicated that the Padres were on Quantrill, who hasn't pitched competitively in over a year due to Tommy John surgery but still commands great respect for his combination of stuff, command, and major league bloodlines. Baseball America reported that Quantrill had a private bullpen session with the Padres recently; if they don't pick him here, he may not last until they pick next at 24.
9. Detroit Tigers: Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
Given their history of drafting college arms in the first round, especially guys with big fastballs, there are a few candidates: Dakota Hudson, T.J. Zeuch, and Zach Burdi. Hudson is pretty clearly the second-best college arm in this draft class, it seems like a no-duh here.
10. Chicago White Sox: Zack Collins, C, University of Miami
Multiple sources report strong rumors of the White Sox on a college bat, with Senzel and Collins the two favorites. I buy Collins as a catcher and it seems plausible that the White Sox will too.
11. Seattle Mariners: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
The Mariners are jumping for joy here, as Senzel has been mocked as high as the second pick. He's going to hit for average, with a decent eye, and has one of the higher floors in the draft. He should be able to stay at third, but he's athletic enough that second base or right field could be options. Had Senzel not fallen, this would be the first spot that Bryan Reynolds would be an option.
12. Boston Red Sox: Justin Dunn, RHP, Boston College
Rumors here are contradictory, with the Red Sox linked to long-term investments like high school bats as well as immediate-impact types like college pitchers. In other words, nobody knows. College arms like Justin Dunn and Zach Burdi have been rumored, as well as bats like Josh Lowe or perhaps Blake Rutherford. Will Craig from Wake Forest could be a sleeper, too. We'll avoid overthinking and go with the local talent in Dunn, who has plenty of upside and more polish than expected.
13. Tampa Bay Rays: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep, CA
The Rays look up and see Rutherford is still available. It's hard to mess this one up. Although I could see them grab Josh Lowe or Nolan Jones here as well. Rutherford may be old for his draft class, but his bat is more advanced than some of the college guys who are going to be picked in the first round. So humbug to the age criticism.
14. Cleveland Indians: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa, NY
Prep pitchers or hitters are the rumors here. Last year's draft was heavy with the high school picks early and they could go the same direction, but on the other hand diversity is a good thing, too, and they could throw a change-up here with a college pitcher. Or not. New York high school arm Ian Anderson is being mentioned a lot and it is true they have not shied away from high risk arms of late.
15. Minnesota Twins: Braxton Garrett, LHP. Foley, AL
The Twins do have a slight tendency towards young arms, and Garrett has perhaps the highest floor of any prep pitcher this season. That is not meant to sell short his ceiling, however, which is just outside the Groome/Pint/Manning trio. The Twins would love to grab Garrett here. They may be tempted by one of the college arms here, and Josh Lowe or Nolan Jones would be nice grabs here as well.
16. Los Angeles Angels: Nolan Jones, SS, Holy Ghost HS, Pennsylvania
The common assumption is that the weak Angels farm system needs someone who can make an immediate impact. There's logic to that, but that doesn't automatically mean "college player" and rumors indicate the Angels are strongly considering prep bats. Nolan Jones is likely to end up at third base but he should stick there and has a (likely) impact bat that could advance more quickly than the typical cold-weather bat.
17. Houston Astros: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt
The Astros of old, at the top of the draft, leaned on prep players and expensive college guys. They have the eighth-lowest draft pool this year, so they will likely be looking at college players here. They tend to focus on bats. The three highest ranked college bats for me here are Bryan Reynolds, Will Craig, and Matt Thaiss. Reynolds has the athleticism the Astros like, so they grab him.
18. New York Yankees: Forrest Whitley, RHP, San Antonio, Texas
Rumors indicate the Yankees are mostly interested in high school arms, with college bats the second option should the right arms not be available or signable. Top prep right-hander Forrest Whitley is still on the board in this scenario and seems the obvious choice, fitting the profile to which the Yankees are most strongly linked.
19. New York Mets: Will Craig, 3B, Wake Forest
The Mets have been so strongly and consistently linked to Craig here that I would be surprised if he isn't their pick. In a draft weak on top-tier college bats, Craig is going to go in the first round regardless of the likelihood he ends up at first base. If Craig is grabbed by a team higher than this, the Mets will shift attention to Matt Thaiss.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum HS, PA
When you get into the 20s the level of speculation increases from "unavoidable" to "knock over the scrabble board." The Dodgers have been linked to college pitchers, high school pitchers, and high school bats and many top guys in those categories are still available. We'll go with Alex Kirilloff here, Pennsylvania high schooler with broad tools and a booming bat who should interest all teams in this area.
21. Toronto Blue Jays: T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Pittsburgh
The Blue Jays love prep pitching. Unfortunately, the top tier arms that are affordable are gone here. They could reach slightly for Jared Horn, Kevin Gowdy, or Alex Speas. But I think they may actually lean college arm here, and there are some good ones available. Jordan Sheffield fits into the power arm mold, and they showed with Stroman they aren't afraid to draft a short righty starter. They drafted Eric Lauer out of high school, and he's been one of the best college performers in recent memory, with the stuff to suggest he's not a stats-based pick. But T.J. Zeuch has been shooting up draft boards, and this seems like a nice landing spot for him.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates: Josh Lowe, 3B, Pope HS, Georgia
I was hoping Zeuch would fall here, who would make sense on a number of levels although physical prep right-handers and high school bats are a common Pirates draft theme. With Zeuch gone as well as Pennsylvania preps Jones and Kirilloff, a non-typical Pirates pick like Eric Lauer seems a possibility. However we will stick to type, head south of the Mason-Dixon line with toolsy Georgia prep Josh Lowe, could could easily go much higher than this.
23. St. Louis Cardinals: Gavin Lux, SS, Indian Trail Academy, WI
The Cardinals have one of the higher draft pools available in this year's draft, and they could be tempted to take one of the prepsters with rumored big price tags. Or they could cut a deal here, and use the savings on a player that falls to picks 33 or 34. They tend to take the best player available, regardless of position or background, with a slight lean towards college players and bats. But in a draft with little top tier shortstop talent, they grab Midwestern prepster Gavin Lux.
24. San Diego Padres: Matt Thaiss, C, University of Virginia
We went with Cal Quantrill with the number eight pick. Would the Padres opt for some non-injury risk here, or would they continue to be aggressive? They have been tied to preps but most of the obvious ones are off the board right now. Somehow Matt Thaiss is still available; I don't know if the Padres would go that route in real life, but I can't pass up his bat here and perhaps this would open up a bit of room for a riskier pick with number 25. But that's up to Cookie.
25. San Diego Padres: Matt Manning, RHP,Sheldon HS, CA
The Padres, with a pre-draft deal with Quantrill, and some cheaper grabs in future rounds, think they can get one of the top three prep arms in this draft signed. Grabbing a top ten talent at this point is a coup, and the Padres are one of the few teams that can make it work.
26. Chicago White Sox: Eric Lauer, LHP, Kent State University
His combination of statistical dominance, pitchability, and solid stuff should get him to the majors quickly. The Sox have been linked to college pitching and Lauer is as good a choice as any in this spot.
27. Baltimore Orioles: Jared Horn, RHP, Vintage HS, CA
The Orioles lean prep players, pitchers more than hitters. There are a lot of options here. They could go with a prep bat like Taylor Trammell or Will Benson. But I have a feeling they will look at an arm here. Kevin Gowdy and Alex Speas are both nice targets, but they decide to grab Jared Horn, whose velocity has hit the upper 90s this spring with a power curveball.
28. Washington Nationals: Zack Burdi, RHP, University of Louisville
He has a chance to start, but even as a power reliever with better-than-normal control Burdi is a legitimate first round choice in this territory. 100 MPH fastballs don't grow on trees. He's been rumored 10 spots higher than this and wouldn't fall much further.
29. Washington Nationals: Chris Okey, C, Clemson
The Nats could go a bunch of ways here, but they focus on college talent in the first round more than most any other team. If they want to diversify early, they'll look at a bat. Buddy Reed is available, but his stock has fallen. Anfernee Grier could be a nice grab. But they go for a position of scarcity and grab Chris Okey, the catcher from Clemson.
30. Texas Rangers: Will Benson, OF, Atlanta, GA
Benson has the sort of toolset and upside to entice the Rangers, who aren't afraid to work with a young player who needs swing adjustments and patience.
31. New York Mets: Taylor Trammell, OF, Mt. Paran Christian, GA
The Mets look to add some prep talent to go with the polished bat of Will Craig. They see some guys they like, but fall in love with the tools and athleticism of Taylor Trammell.
32. Los Angeles Dodgers: Carter Kieboom, 3B, Walton, GA
The Dodgers are said to be tied to prep bats. Drew Mendoza would be one option but reportedly has very large bonus demands to pass up college at Florida State. Kieboom is a Clemson commit but perhaps more signable in this spot, while offering power, a refined hitting approach, and a third base arm.
33. St. Louis Cardinals: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida
The Cardinals like grabbing college arms with pitchability, and Logan Shore may be the best example of this in this year's draft. They could also look at Robert Tyler, Jordan Sheffield, or Connor Jones here.
34. St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt
More college pitching seems logical and Sheffield, a mid-first round talent, is a steal here.