On Wednesday I took a contrarian, adversarial look at how the first few picks of tonight's(!!!) MLB draft could unfold.
Unable to keep every front-office-related cogitation I had off the page, I ran out of real estate having only analyzed five picks. That's no fun.
Today I'll try to keep with the theme and identify one against-the-grain draft candidate for the rest of the top 15.
The catch is that in true contrarian style, I'll flip the script and only allow myself two sentences max to make the case for each of the surprise picks.
Here was the bizarro top 5, ICYMI:
1) Phillies - Jason Groome
2) Reds - A.J. Puk
3) Braves - Nick Senzel
4) Rockies - Mickey Moniak
5) Brewers - Dakota Hudson
6) A's - Kyle Lewis, Mercer
It of course feels preposterous to have Lewis falling to sixth, as his prodigious power gives him the most tantalizing ceiling of any bat in the class.
I do think Zack Collins could be quietly considered here, but we're slotting in Lewis because it has to be his absolute floor and he fits the front office's recent emphasis on power.
7) Marlins - Riley Pint, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, KS
This would be considered a bit of a fall for Pint, but I feel that the four Ivy League GMs ahead of Miami (plus the college-leaning Reds) could enact a risk-averse plan with their premium pick and take chances later if they're inclined.
Though 60+ pounds lighter, Pint has similar blistering stuff to Tyler Kolek and comes from an area where the midwest Marlins' contingent is known to mine.
8) Padres - Delvin Perez, International BB Academy, PR
Perez was linked to the Friars at various points this year, but the latest scuttlebutt is that human wild card A.J. Preller is looking to do a deal for someone like Cal Quantrill with his eye on taking big swings at 24 and 25.
If anything, Perez's pre-draft drama may make the situation ripe for cutting such a deal, as the high-ceiling PR shortstop may get a sense his stock is falling among other teams.
9) Tigers - Corey Ray, Louisville
I can recall Ray being lightly connected to Detroit early on, but the Louisville outfielder has gotten a lot of play with the top six teams and so Tiger targets have skewed towards other collegians such as Zack Collins and Dakota Hudson.
I think Corey Ray could remind Tigers' brass of another Chicago-born draftee who starred for them, Curtis Granderson - except that Ray's contact skills, precision on the basepaths, and commitment to his body could allow him to turn into something better.
10) White Sox - Justin Dunn, Boston College
The White Sox skew heavy towards college overall and slightly toward collegiate arms in the first round, and although Zack Collins would fit here, it's a coin flip whether he'll be available during the real thing at 10.
Justin Dunn has been heavily linked to each team right below this, and the stuff has looked so explosive in just his first half-season in the BC rotation that he could jump Dakota Hudson as the second college pitcher off the board.
11) Mariners - Zack Collins, Miami
The M's seem like a shoo-in for a collegian per Cookie's Team Draft Analysis, and now under the guidance of GM Jerry Dipoto that outcome seems increasingly likely.
Collins could be a favorite of the analytically-charged Dipoto regime, and though he is most commonly snatched up in the two picks preceding this, the Seattle Times reported the team may very well have eyes on him.
12) Red Sox - Matt Manning, Sheldon HS, CA
In a scenario where Dunn and Collins are gone, perhaps the Red Sox are disenchanted with the second-tier college talent and instead start a run on prep stars who've dropped.
Boston may have to get thrifty later on to sign Manning, but few players in the class possess his brand of power, projection, and athleticism that portend a possible future ace.
13) Rays - Braxton Garrett, Florence HS, AL
The Rays appear to have mostly neutral tendencies across the draft, and with a deep farm system they could go just about anywhere.
Taylor Trammell could be a dark-horse here, but I also think #13 is a spot where one or two 'disturbances' up top creates an opening for Tampa to grab serious value.
14) Indians - Cal Quantrill, Stanford
I think it's at least plausible that Quantrill does indeed have a deal on the table, but that it might not be with the Padres.
A college arm in the first flies heavily against Cleveland's recent draft history, but I'm willing to float it as a possibility as the team showed similar cojones in the wake of major injury with the selection of Brady Aiken.
15) Twins - Nolan Jones, Holy Ghost Prep, PA
Minnesota is most often paired with RHP Forrest Whitley and other prep arms, but I could envision a scenario where a mini-run on starters right before sees the Twins switch gears and select their highest-rated bat.
If rumors of Delvin Perez's fall turn out to be warranted, Nolan Jones has a chance to be the first prep infielder off the board. And if a team thinks he can stay at shortstop long-term, perhaps he goes even higher.