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MLB Draft Recap: AL West

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Looking at the AL West draft classes

UTEP v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

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

Houston Astros

Best Pick: Seth Beer, 1B/OF, Clemson – Round 1, Pick 28 – The Astros have missed on many first base prospects in the past, but I believe they have picked the first baseman of the future in Beer. Many might consider Beer going 28 to be too rich, but the fit is perfect for the Astros. Beer can play some outfield, but his future is really at first base and his value is tied fully to his bat. His bat is surprisingly consistent for a power hitter, with nearly twice as many walks than strikeouts in his three years at Clemson. He has an advanced approach that the previous top first base prospects in the Astros organization lacked, and could be a quick mover to a team already loaded with young talent.

Reach: Cesar Salazar, C, Arizona – Round 7, Pick 222 – The Mexican native quickly established himself as a leader on and off the diamond in Tucson. He put together solid numbers for Arizona with 2018 being the best by far, but he lacks much power and has no real tool that is ranked above average. His swing is long and weight shifts too much, often behind on good velocity. Behind the plate he manages the game well but does not have a great arm nor does he have receiving skills that are all that impressive. He shows too much give in his wrists when receiving the ball and doesn’t square up enough when blocking the ball. Hit pop time is consistently 2 flat, making it yet another average at best ability.

Sleeper: Jeremy Pena, SS, Maine – Round 3, Pick 102 – Alex McKenna out of Cal Poly SLO was a steal as well, but I loved what I saw from Pena at Maine. He is in the discussion for the best defensive shortstop in this year’s class with well above average speed and arm. The concern on Pena (and the reason you may see others call this a reach) is the bat. I am not as concerned with the bat as I saw him swing it well at times this season. The bat path is long and he ends up on his heels at times in his weight transfer, but when he does connect he can drive the ball. I am not concerned about him losing any of his raw power if his swing is adjusted, in fact I believe it will help him. He has the upside of a premium defensive shortstop that can hit .275 with 10-15 home runs a year. While that is not a star, that is a great pick in a slot worth just over $500K.

Deep Sleeper: Brett Conine, RHP, Cal State Fullerton – Round 11, Pick 342 – I don’t see there being a whole lot Conine can do to improve his draft stock if he returns for his senior year, but at the same time I could see him being a quick moving reliever in pro ball. The concern is his inconsistency with his fastball, sitting in the low-90s rather than mid far too often this year, and with it lacking much in terms of run it becomes very hittable at the lower velocities. I like his change although there is some slight slowing in his arm speed. His curve is his best strikeout pitch showing good shape and consistency. Conine doesn’t have the upside of many relievers, but his floor is higher than most too. He is likely a middle relief type guy who can get guys out from both sides of the plate thanks to the change, but will never be a closer, he is also a guy I would be surprised if he never gets a cup of coffee at worst in his career.

Los Angeles Angels

Best Pick: Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS (NC) – Round 1, Pick 17 – Going into the draft I wasn’t sure where to pencil Adams into given he is a big time two sport athlete with a commitment to play baseball and football at North Carolina. The Angels are clearly convinced he won’t be heading to Chapel Hill by taking him with the 17th overall pick, which may be high but the upside is incredible. My first real exposure to Adams was at the NHSI, where every note I had on him was about his incredible athleticism and speed but he also showed a very good hit tool that stood out in a tournament that featured power in Tristan Casas and Nolan Gorman. He does have a big leg kick that was exposed last summer by elite pitching, but he held his own against good pitching this spring and showed an advanced eye at the plate. The swing is a bit long, but the athleticism and build suggest he will be able to develop into average power in time. He is about as fast as anyone in the this year’s draft class to go with solid instincts and reads in center that make him an above average defender at a premium position.

Reach: None – If there is a reach based purely on rankings, it would be Adams, but given his two sport commitment and incredible athleticism, I liked the pick there for an Angels team that is quietly creating a very good farm system. Beyond that, there really wasn’t anyone that seemed out of line in terms of where they were selected, so I don’t have a reach for the Angels.

Sleeper: Kyle Bradish, RHP, New Mexico State – Round 4, Pick 121 – Bradish is part of the impressive WAC pitching class in this year’s draft coming out of a conference that is loaded with hitter’s ballparks. He has a very high arm slot that creates a good plane on his fastball that can touch 96. There is good sharpness to his slider along with a 12-6 curveball that both can be solid average pitches. His change is a work in progress, but there is a lot of arm effort to his delivery, so he may not need the change if he is moved to a reliever. His stuff overall could allow him to be a fourth or fifth starter, but the effort does concern me enough to think he ends up a seventh inning guy in time.

Deep Sleeper: Nick Frank, RHP, St. Mary’s – Round 15, Pick 451 – I really don’t see much in terms of upside or seniors who can develop into a role player deep in the Angels draft. If I thought there was a real possibility of Isaiah Campbell signing rather than returning to Arkansas, I would have him here, but I doubt he signs. Frank is my pick here as he has a low 3/4 arm slot with a repeatable delivery although there is some effort in the arm. He hides the ball well allowing his fastball to play up from the 89-91 he typically sits. The slider and change are serviceable, and he shows good command. Most likely he doesn’t make it to the bigs, but if he does it will be as a spot starter with a quad-A type career ceiling.

Oakland Athletics

Best Pick: Jameson Hannah, OF, Dallas Baptist – Round 2, Pick 50 – Those that followed me ahead of the draft know I love Jameson Hannah. He is a blast to watch play in center as his plus speed allows him to cover a ton of ground and his first step reads are above average as well. At the plate he continues to improve in his plate discipline which is allowing him to swing at better pitches and drive the ball into the gaps, which is evident in his doubles numbers improving each year. He had an average of .328 or better in all three years, with this past year being his best at a .363 average. He is a very good baserunner, successful in 90% of hit attempts each of the last two years. He won’t be the traditional big bat star so many fans love to see, but he will be a smooth fielding center fielder that can set the table at the top of an order.

Reach: Kyler Murray, OF, Oklahoma – Round 1, Pick 9 – I praised the Angels for going up and getting the two sport star in Jordyn Adams, but here I have their upstate division rivals as a negative for doing the same thing. The difference to me is the Angels will likely keep Adams from playing football while the A’s will have to watch the Sooners all Fall and hope for a healthy season. Not to mention I think Adams has the higher upside at the same position. Plus, I believe Hannah, their second round pick, will have the better career than Murray, their first round pick. Murray had a rough year in 2017, his first year playing baseball after a year off after transferring from Texas A&M to Oklahoma, where he hit .122 with no extra base hits in 27 games. This year he was much better in every aspect of the game, but I just don’t see a true plus tool from him outside of his speed. His reads in center aren’t great, but he has the speed to make up for it. For a player who is expected to throw a football while replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and number one overall pick in the NFL draft, his arm is significantly below average in the outfield. At the plate there is some pop in the bat in his very sturdy frame, but I am not a fan of the swing. The leg kick impacts his ability to adjust to elite pitchers that change speed effectively, and he has a long uppercut swing that does not serve him well given his speed.

Sleeper: Jeremy Eierman, SS, Missouri State – Competitive Balance B, Pick 70 & JJ Schwarz, C, Florida – Round 8, Pick 233 – Both these picks were too good for me to pass on. I could have seen Eierman go in the first round, while Schwarz has the power in the bat to be a much higher pick, but the fact he is a Senior makes him a value signing. Eierman did not have the best year this season, but he has flashed plus power in his time at Missouri State while possessing one of the better arms of any shortstop in this year’s class. Some suggest he will be moved off short to third, but I believe he can stick as he has quick feed and a good enough glove. Schwarz was an All-American his Freshman season in 2015 but struggled some each of the next two years. He bounced back well his Senior year but was slowed limited some due to injury. He probably doesn’t stick behind the plate and will move to first where his raw power will fit in just fine so long as he doesn’t swing and miss too much which is a real concern.

Deep Sleeper: Joe DeMers, RHP, Washington – Round 11, Pick 323 – DeMers had a power arm coming out of high school, regularly touching 97 MPH but hasn’t been anywhere near there since getting to Washington. There is a ton of effort in his delivery, but his low 3/4 arm slot creates a ton of run on his fastball that now tops out around 93. He also has a good change that both drops and runs, while he has a slurvy breaking ball that is inconsistent in his shape. While he has been a starter for the Huskies, I would scrap that and move him to the bullpen where the excellent movement on his pitches will play well, and he may be able to re-discover some of his velocity.

Seattle Mariners

Best Pick: Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson – Round 1, Pick 14 – Gilbert is a long righty that has a power fastball even though it didn’t touch more than 94 after being closer to 97 in the summer. He uses his length to its fullest, betting big extension to go with some good run on the fastball to have it grade out as a plus pitch even with the lower velocity. His change drops off the table while he has a slider that shows good sharpness, although it is inconsistent. He mixes in a curve at times but it is not currently a pitch that plays well, although there is some potential to it if he can turn it more into a big 12-6 rather than the slow rolling curve it currently it. He has a repeatable delivery and strong body that suggests he can be a mid-rotation innings eater but, if the velocity comes back and breaking stuff improves, he could grow into a front of the rotation starter.

Reach: Josh Stowers, OF, Louisville – Round 2, Pick 54 – My initial reaction was that this was a solid pick as I do like Stowers, but when I looked at the board to see what other outfielders were available, it was clear this was a reach. I liked Alek Thomas, Tristan Pompey, Kyle Isbel, and Mike Siani as much if not more, and all went after Stowers. He is not a center fielder at the next level and does not have the power to fit well on a corner, where he looks most like a left fielder. It is not a terrible pick, I just feel there was better value here.

Sleeper: Joey Gerber, RHP, Illinois – Round 8, Pick 238 – Gerber will never be confused as a pitcher with the potential to be a starter. He has a power delivery with a low arm slot that has a ton of effort, but it works. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a power slider to go with it. He doesn’t command his pitches well, but that just adds to the reliever quirkiness of his game. His stuff is big league ready if he had a better idea of where it was going, so a little smoothing out could make him a real option to be in the Mariners bullpen by this time next year.

Deep Sleeper: Keagan McGovern, OF, Georgia – Round 9, Pick 268 – McGovern started to turn his raw power into game power this year, hitting three times as many home runs as his previous career high. He has always shown an advanced eye at the plate and has improved his average each of the past three seasons. He is below average in the athleticism department, likely limiting to left field with the ability to play in right in a pinch, so he will have to hit to become a regular. He will be a rather inexpensive sign, but could turn into a near league average left fielder in time, so a very strong pick in the ninth round.

Texas Rangers

Best Pick: Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS (CA), Round 1, Pick 15 – Winn was a rare elite prospect from the state of Colorado, but then he moved to Southern California and became the top prospect in a region that is often loaded with top prospects. He has a plus fastball with a smooth, repeatable delivery. He has shown both a big curve and a solid slider but rarely in the same game. It will be interesting to see if he chooses to go with both or stick with one. He shows a good feel for a change for a high school pitcher and has a ton of upside even with a body that is already strong for a high schooler. I am not sure he has the greatest of upside, but he has a pretty high floor for a high school righty.

Reach: Jayce Easley, MIF, Sandra Day O’Connor HS (AZ) – Round 5, Pick 149 – I have seen a lot of Easley in his high school career, and I have been rather unimpressed. When I was working in recruiting I was quite surprised to hear he had committed to Oregon State as I didn’t feel he had the game to play there. He has improved quite a bit since then, especially with the bat, and I think he could be a very good college player, but I am not sold as a fifth round draft pick out of high school. He shows more power than his body would suggest, although it will likely remain doubles power rather than home run power even as he adds strength. The bat is a little long and there is a ton of hand movement in his load. Defensively he can play either position up the middle infield and has plus speed, I am just not convinced the bat ever develops enough to justify this high a pick.

Sleeper: Mason Englert, RHP, Forney HS (TX) – Round 4, Pick 119 – There is a pretty good consensus that if Englert makes it to the Texas A&M campus he could develop into a first round arm. The Rangers are well known for taking high upside arms, and thisis another one. He can touch the mid-90s, but typically sits in the low-90s with his fastball with a good plane and some run thanks to his 3/4 arm slot. He has a curve and slider but they come out of a slightly different arm slot and both have a tendency to hang too much. He has shown the feel for a change already, giving him a projection of four average to better pitches with the fastball holding plus potential. The delivery is pretty smooth despite a slight arm bend, but his long frame can hold more weight and strength making him a potential future mid-rotation starter.

Deep Sleeper: Destin Dotson, LHP, Scotlandville Magnet HS (LA) – Round 12, Pick 359 – I honestly don’t think Dotson will sign even though he hasn’t ruled it out, but there was nobody else past the top 10 rounds that jumped out at me and I didn’t feel Jax Biggers in the eighth qualified here. If the Rangers to convince the Tulane commit to sign, they will be getting a super projectable lefty who is long at 6’6” and can carry more weight than his 235 lbs. currently. He has a repeatable delivery with a high arm slot that creates a lot of downhill plane in the low-90s but has been up to 95. He has a looping breaking ball and also has a slider that cuts really early and just runs the whole way. He does have the upside to reach a big league rotation, but there is a lot of work to do as his stuff is still rather raw.