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MLB Draft Recap: AL East

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Analyzing the AL East draft classes


I will be breaking down my favorite, and least favorite, picks for every team. This is a six article series, going East to West for the AL and NL. I will break down four picks for each team with those being:

Best Pick: Likely a Monday selection that I love as a fit and/or upside for the organization.

Reach: A selection I just don’t like, or at least as early as the player was selected.

Sleeper: Likely a Tuesday selection that the team got lower than I would have selected them, providing good value.

Deep Sleeper: This will be a pick often after the 10th round that will likely be signed and provide value in the system and potentially become a future big league player. Some will be inside the top 10 rounds depending on how the draft unfolded for that given team.

To see the other lists, use the links below (to be added as the articles post):

AL East
AL Central
AL West
NL East
NL Central
NL West

Baltimore Orioles

Best Pick: Cadyn Grenier, SS, Oregon State – Round 2, Pick 37 – I am in the minority on this pick, but I think Grenier is going to be a very good pro. He is in consideration as the best defensive shortstop in the draft and saw innings at both second and third at times this season with the Beavers. He will never provide much power, but he has a quick bat with a line drive swing. He has the floor of a plus defensive utilityman with the upside of a quality starting shortstop. His back foot does bail on his swing at times which saps any power that he does possess, so fixing that could allow him to be a 10 HR guy.

Reach: Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, Central Heights HS (TX) – Round 1, Pick 11 – There is a lot to like about Grayson Rodriguez, but also a lot to be concerned with. He has a fastball that flirts with triple digits with life to go with two really good secondary pitches. He also shows intelligence by varying his delivery and quick pitching at times. So what isn’t to like? His velocity seems easy, but there is a pause in it that takes away any momentum from his lower half. Add that to a heavy arm bend in his 3/4 slot delivery and sudden increase in velocity this spring screams future arm trouble. The breaking ball can be telegraphed, which advanced hitters will pick up on, and his curve can spin and hang too often. His upside is still great, I am just not sold he will reach it.

Sleeper: Blaine Knight, RHP, Arkansas – Round 3, Pick 87 – There is some concern over Knight’s ability to hold up over a full season as he has not pitched in the summer either of the past two years, but he is a combination of polish and upside. You can argue whether or not the 21 year old will ever add size to his frame, the fact he is still 6’3” and just 165 lbs. screams more velocity to come. Even without it, he can get his fastball up to 97 while sitting in the low-to-mid 90s and a slider that is above average. He also shows good feel for a curve and change to go with the ability to really command all four pitches. While he has not shown the track record of extended innings, the ease in his delivery should help him carry a starter’s workload on his slight frame.

Deep Sleeper: Cody Roberts, C, North Carolina – Round 11, Pick 325 – Roberts bat is a massive question mark including a stiffness in his wrists that contribute to inconsistency when it comes to driving the ball. Where he really makes the difference is behind the plate where he has an average to better glove. His arm will be a carrying tool as it is one of the better arms on a catcher in the draft this year and he has the athleticism to play right if he needs to which adds to his value.

Boston Red Sox

Best Pick: Triston Casas, 1B, American Heritage HS (FL) – Round 1, Pick 26 – Casas battles Nolan Gorman to be the player with the most power of the high school class. He was supposed to be a 2019 draftee but took on a heavy academic work load and reclassified to be eligible this year. He is not all that athletic, meaning he will be a first baseman only before long. He has performed against good competition and shows good pitch recognition although the pure hit tool is still a question. Typically a high school first baseman is not a prospect to get excited about, but a bat that could realistically give you 35+ HR a year is always a prospect to be excited about.

Reach: Kyle Cottam, C, Kentucky – Round 4, Pick 130 – Cottam has shown real power, but I don’t like the hit tool despite his .346 average with Kentucky this season. He allows his weight to shift out front too often, and when he doesn’t he drops his back half to create an uppercut swing instead. The inconsistent body control screams inconsistency at the next level and I could see some prolonged slumps. He does not have the arm or glove to stick behind the plate, and I am not sold on the power reaching its potential, nor the hit tool being enough to play as a first baseman.

Sleeper: Durbin Feltman, RHP, TCU – Round 3, Pick 100 – It was hard to watch the MLB draft coverage and not hear Callis pounding the table that Feltman could be a guy that fits into the Red Sox bullpen this year. While that is incredibly uncommon, it is not a crazy idea. His fastball is a legitimate plus pitch, sitting mid-90s and touching 99, but his delivery is so herky-jerky it plays as though it is even harder than that. His slider is also a plus pitch that runs a ton. His mechanics will only ever be a reliever, but it is surprisingly repeatable despite all the moving parts. He doesn’t have the greatest command, but he controls the pitches enough to not be a liability there. To go with his plus stuff, he has the demeanor of a closer, not afraid to show emotion on the mound.

Deep Sleeper: Chase Shugart, RHP, Texas – Round 12, Pick 370 – The best player taken after the 11th round by the Red Sox is Nicholas Northcut, but there is almost no chance he signs as he has a commitment to Vanderbilt where he will both pitch and play in infield. Shugart was taken a round later and can be another quick moving bullpen arm for the Red Sox. He got some time as a starter this year for the Longhorns, but it is pretty clear his future is in the pen. He is a short righty but can touch 97 with ease in one inning stints and has two breaking balls that both grade out average to better. There is some concern over his fastball which doesn’t have any run to it and lacks much of a downhill plane as a result of his shorter stature. He is not a future closer, but he does have big league reliever potential and could possibly get there by the end of the 2019 season.

New York Yankees

Best Pick: Ryder Green, OF, Karns HS (TN) – Round 3, Pick 97 – There is real life in this bat. Green was one of the underrated power bats in this draft with athleticism than could play in center but he is more likely to end up on a corner, where he has a strong enough arm to play really well in right. There is natural uppercut to his swing without sacrificing balance. He does struggle with pitch recognition, leading to swing and misses against elite competition, but there is enough body control at the plate to show the potential to limit that in the future.

Reach: Josh Breaux, C, McLennan CC (TX) – Round 2, Pick 61 – I am not a big fan of either of the catchers the Yankees took in the first two rounds. Breaux had one of the better moments in the draft having Nick Swisher announce the pick with the last name pronounced “bro”, but that was where my positivity towards this pick ended. Breaux has an incredibly strong arm, touching triple digits on the mound, but he wants to be a position player. He is not good behind the plate but reports are he has worked on his D to the point it is not a liability and his arm obviously plays really well behind the plate. He has real power, but the mechanics behind it are rough. The bat is quick to the zone but takes a long time to clear the zone. There is a stiffness to his hips and wrist that give him a ton of holes in the swing. When he makes contact the ball can travel a long way, but contact will be a real concern.

Sleeper: None – I simply didn’t see a real value in the draft for the Yankees. Most of their selections were higher than I had them ranked and I simply could not come up with a sleeper I liked.

Deep Sleeper: Isaiah Pasteur, RHP, George Washington – Round 13, Pick 397 – This is a pick that jumped out to be because he was announced as a pitcher. The senior did not play in 2017 after transferring to George Washington from Indiana and he is really a better position player than he is a pitcher. His pitching numbers aren’t impressive although he does have solid mechanics. I was not able to find notes on his pitch mix or velocity, but the delivery looks solid. At the plate he drifts out front a bit too much but has decent bat-to-ball skills. He also have very good instincts on the bases to go with the athleticism to stay up the middle as he stole 31 of 34 bags this year. I will be keeping an eye on him to see if he truly tries to make it as a pitcher or if the Yankees allow him to play the infield.

Tampa Bay Rays

Best Pick: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ) – Round 1, Pick 16 – The Rays have seemingly aced the draft, and getting my top prep player at 16 is an absolute steal. Liberatore has the polish of a senior college player with the upside of a high schooler. He has four above average-to-plus pitches and a feel for all of them. His fastball isn’t going to blow people away, often sitting 89-93, but he has gone over 95 more than a few times. He has one of the better curve balls and decided to add a slider that might have more potential than the curve. The pitch I have long been in love with is his change that has movement out of the same arm slot and speed of his fastball. He has a repeatable delivery on an already mature frame that can still develop into an even stronger pitcher.

Reach: Ford Proctor, SS, Rice – Round 3, Pick 92 – The Rays had a fantastic draft and finding a reach was, well, a reach. Proctor is the closest thing to a real reach in their draft for me. He will never hit for power and there are real questions about him sticking at short. His hips don’t clear as quickly or fluidly as I like, but they aren’t poor enough to keep him away from the middle infield. He is probably a long term second baseman but he does have enough arm strength to play third in a pinch. That flexibility makes him a future utility infielder for me that can put up a good batting average. Had he gone in round five I wouldn’t have an issue with it, but in the third I don’t like the pick unless he signs for significantly below slot.

Sleeper: Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida – Round 1 Compensatory, Pick 31 – Liberatore was my favorite left handed prep arm, McClanahan was my favorite collegiate lefty in this class. His mechanics remind me a ton of Chris Sale, which is actually the negative. He has as big a fastball as anyone in the draft regardless of pitching side, and touching triple digits from the left side is an incredible commodity. His changeup simply falls off the table and can be a plus pitch while his slider is more average as it runs rather than showing a sharp break. I wrote earlier that Durban Feltman could make a case to reach the big leagues this year, I actually felt McClanahan fit well into the middle of the first round where a team like the Angels could get him and plug him into their bullpen almost immediately. He is with the Rays so he will be able to work his way slower and will be given a chance to start, but his floor is that of a dominant reliever. I had him ranked right around 15 on my draft list and he went 31, not a bad value.

Deep Sleeper: Nick Sprengel, LHP, San Diego – Round 15, Pick 450 – It will be really interesting to see if Sprengel signs after having an abysmal season with San Diego. His ERA this year was over 11, he was dropped from the weekend rotation, and he walked 30 batters over just 37.1 innings. That is the bad news, the good is he struck out 51 and enough stuff from the left side that there was some first round buzz before the year after he showed well with the US Collegiate National Team. He has a fastball that can touch 95 to go with a solid change and slider. If he can get over the mental hurdle that left the fastball right over the heart of the plate when it wasn’t a ball, he just might be a late gem for the Rays. In addition, I do believe he signs as another rough year like this year will leave him undrafted or a severely below slow senior sign next year.

Toronto Blue Jays

Best Pick: Adam Kloffenstein, RHP, Magnolia HS (TX) – Round 3, Pick 88 – I will start by saying I do not like the arm load for Kloffenstein. He does not get much extension with the arm on the way back, causing him to come through with a short arm delivery but does show good balance and extension in the follow through that may reduce some of the strain on the arm. He does not light up the radar gun, but his fastball has a bunch of arm side run that allows it to play up to an above average fastball. His breaking ball is inconsistent, sometimes looking like a curve while other days more of a slider and rarely does he show both in the same start. His change is better than most at the high school level and shows more command of all his pitches than I expected when I first saw his arm action. He does not have the highest of ceilings, but I think he can make it as a starter in the big leagues someday.

Reach: Jordan Groshans, SS/3B, Magnolia HS (TX) – Round 1, Pick 12 – The high school teammate of my selection for the best pick by the Blue Jays, Groshans is my reach for the team from up North. He is not going to be a shortstop at the next level but does have the arm to fit in just fine at third. It seems like everything is moving when he is at the plate other than his head. That does allow him to recognize pitches pretty well although the leg kick and huge weight shift will likely result in a bigger learning curve than most will expect from a player selected 12 overall. He has a good amount of strength that allows for good power and he can get the bat through the zone quick enough to handle velocity even inside. He is another that I don’t dislike necessarily, I just don’t like the spot he was taken.

Sleeper: Sean Wymer, RHP, TCU – Round 4, Pick 116 – I did give real consideration to Addison Barger out of C Leon King High School in Florida here, Wymer is the player I ultimately settled on. He has proven himself as a closer on the biggest of college stages and started the year as a starter for TCU. There is a lot of concern and doubt over Wymer as a starter, but he has for pitches that can all grade out as average to above average. His stuff is sharper as a reliever and he seemed to show signs of fatigue later in games. He does not use his lower half nearly enough which could mean a slight mechanical tweak over the winter could open the door to his future sticking as a starter. If he doesn’t stick as a starter, he can become a very good reliever, although no one pitch is really a true put away offering. If Wymer can stick as a starter, which my belief is there is a better than 50/50 shot he does, taking him in the fourth will prove to be a very good piece of drafting.

Deep Sleeper: Troy Watson, RHP, Northern Colorado – Round 15, Pick 446 – With Cole Winn in California, Watson became the best pitching prospect in the state of Colorado. He was slowed this season with injuries and only pitched 34 innings, but his coaches love it when he is on the hill. The draft eligible sophomore had nearly two strikeouts per inning with an ERA of his senior year of high school in Texas and got attention from scouts, but decided to attend Northern Colorado after going undrafted. This year he put up an ERA of 2.91 in the underrated WAC and stuck out almost three for every walk he issued. He has already changed his twitter account to state “pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays organization” so I think it is safe to say he is signing.