May 22, 2014
Draft Ten Pack
Whom Would You Draft, Part 3
We conclude our “Whom Would You Draft?” exercise with the final 21 picks of the first and supplemental rounds. You can catch up on the first 20 selections by reviewing Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.
As was the case the last two weeks, some representatives from our partners over at Perfect Game USA (Patrick Ebert, David Rawnsley, and Todd Gold) contributed to this week’s entry. You can find more of their excellent MLB Draft work here. Also make sure to check out the free Draft Video Library, which currently houses 200-plus videos of draft prospects.
Chavis can flat out hit, striking from a quiet load and utilizing a compact and impactful barrel delivery. The default is loud line-drive contact, and there’s enough natural backspin when he squares right below the midpoint that you can project a notch above-average playable power long term. Defensively he has the arm for the left side and enough lower-half agility to handle the keystone, depending on organizational need. The body, lower half, hands, and arm could make him a candidate for catching, though the bat is advanced enough that I’d assume this is useful more as a fall-back option in case the bat stalls out (similar to Marcus Littlewood).
After seeing Luis Ortiz at the Area Code Games last year and at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, I was impressed with the overall projection of the then-17-year-old. He sat 90-93 mph and touched 95, with a slider that had late tilt in the low 80s and plenty of poise on the mound. After a forearm issue shut him down, he returned to sit 93-96 and touch 97 this spring, with that same slider and an improving curveball and changeup. The forearm injury could scare some teams off, but a pitcher who is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds with increasing velocity and a feel for pitching should be a lock for the first round as long as the medicals check out.
At 6-foot-4 and 190, Fedde fits the mold of a typical Tigers draft choice, though he recently learned that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery. Before his injury, Fedde worked 92-95 with his fastball, with good plane and life, and a plus slider. He has a few command issues to iron out, and the changeup lags, but he has the stuff to be a middle-of-the-rotation stalwart. Pre-injury, he was a top 12 talent. Since Fedde doesn't have much leverage, and probably can’t go back to school, the Tigers could offer him a below-slot bonus and spend the money in later rounds.
Others players considered: None.
The Pirates were not looking to add a shortstop with this pick, looking more to the big currencies in the present baseball market; starting pitching and power hitters. The highly athletic Turner represents too much of a value to pass up with the 24th pick. I saw him play shortstop twice last summer against the hyperfast and aggressive Cubans and there is no doubt he can stay at that position. His swing has undergone some scrutiny and he isn't really an 80 runner, but he hits with some pop, performs at a high level, and has easy plus speed. I looked at Casey Gillespie here and his profile is one the Pirates wouldn't turn down, but short-term first base solutions are all over the place—the Pirates being a frequent finder of this slice of talent. The short-term solution at shortstop is Jordy Mercer and the replacement level bar is even lower.
Other players considered: None.
Fisher is not your run-of-the-mill potential first round college bat, and that could be seen as either a positive or a negative, depending on your vantage point. On the positive side, his pure athletic ability is greater than his peers, which gives the impression of upside and potential. Of course, when it comes in the form of very strong bat speed and five tools that you could put a 50 or better future grade on, it's a first-division profile if it clicks. On the negative side, he has not been able to reach his plus raw power in games with regularity and is likely a project on defense, most likely ticketed for left field in pro ball; his route running can be spotty and he has an average arm. The team that takes Fisher will have to work to get the power in his swing to play, but if it happens, the payoff will be large at this point in the first round.
This is a strong draft class, but a weak point is college position players. Given that, I'd be very happy to get a college player here who is a potential impact bat. Schwarber's short, explosive swing and thunderous raw power are awfully enticing. He's actually a better athlete than he looks, but the glove doesn't profile well anywhere. Still, that's a secondary concern to me since I have so much confidence in this bat. I've seen Schwarber in the outfield and I think I can maybe even live with that profile in a corner. If he ends up at first base (which is likely) I'm fine with that, too. He's going to hit plenty.
1:27 St. Louis Cardinals
Considered an undersized prep right-handed pitcher, the UNC commit could have one of the elite fastballs in the draft, clocking in the upper 90s. St. Louis has shown that size doesn't matter when they drafted undersized prep lefty Rob Kaminsky just last year. Developing off speed is the next step in Bukauskas' development and there is no better organization than the Cardinals for that. Presently, Bukauskas features a mid-80s changeup that will flash plus, along with a low-80s slider that does the same. Lastly, another attraction to Bukauskas is his recent reclassification, making him one of the youngest players available in the draft.
At the plate, Hill’s swing is short and sweet with bat speed and fluidity, but lacking in the power department. But Hill’s calling card is his defense; he displays plus-plus range due to his strong awareness, route running, and top-shelf speed. That combination allows Hill to make spectacular plays such as this one, and he will even beat corner outfielders to baseballs in their defensive zone. Due to the impressive number of prep talents still available, I considered a few other options, but Hill receives the call because he’ll stick at a premium position while providing comparable upside with four strong tools.
I really wanted to take Florida high school right-hander Sean Reid-Foley here, but there was a potential home run at the 29th pick, a player who could leave people five years from now wondering "How in the world did HE GET TO THAT PICK!!" For reference, see a) Clemens, Roger (19th pick, 1983), or b) Trout, Michael (25th pick, 2009) or even c) Pujols, Albert (13th round, 1999). Howard is an outstanding athlete who has been filling a dual third base/closer role for no. 1 ranked Virginia this season. He has shown absolutely dominating raw stuff along with a solid degree of pitchability. It isn't a stretch to imagine a scenario where Howard could have slotted into a starting role this spring and earned buzz as a top five or 10 pick. It is just a slight coincidence that the Reds went after a similar athletic/performance profile in Michael Lorenzen with the 38th pick in 2013; he has been outstanding as a starter, now in Double-A. Reds scouting director Chris Buckley has been doing this for a long, long time; he'll likely see the similarity.
Other Players Considered: Sean Reid-Foley (video).
Reid-Foley profiles as a potential mid-rotation arm, relying primarily on a three-way fastball that he can spot to the quadrants, sitting from the low- to mid-90s. His slider is a second plus offering, showcasing some tilt and swing-and-miss depth. Lagging a little behind his fastball and slider through the fall, the changeup has flashed potential with increased frequency over the past three months. He hasn’t needed to utilize the curve as much this spring, but the bender could give him another potential average offering if he returns it to the arsenal as a pro. It’s a sturdy body that doesn’t offer much in the way of projection, but the now stuff is impressive and he repeats his delivery and pitch execution well.
1:31 Cleveland Indians
Gillaspie has wowed this spring from a production standpoint, showing an easy ability to drive the ball to all fields while hitting for average and power. He has a solid approach, reflected in his walk rate (albeit, a walk rate aided some by his being pitched around). There is certainly risk, considering bat speed that is merely average and a metal bat swing that comes with length and has struggled against better velocity. Gillaspie also tends to get the barrel started early, which leaves him susceptible to quality off-speed stuff. He might struggle to hit for average, but if he can find enough balls with the barrel there is 25 homer potential and a decent on-base skill set. At this point in the draft, that upside is worth a roll of the dice.
Although his stock has dipped a bit from the end of the 2013 season, Weaver still offers plenty of value to any team at this stage in the draft. At 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, he's not built like a prototypical horse, but that's what he's been for the Seminoles since arriving in Tallahassee. The ace of the staff, Weaver throws a low-90s fastball to go along with a slurvy action curveball and his very effective changeup that projects to be a plus pitch. His mechanics are sound and he does a good job repeating while throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot. With his strikeout numbers down from 2013, it's been impressive seeing that he has the pitchability to go with plus command of all of his pitches to still turn over lineups in shutdown fashion. Weaver doesn't project to be a frontline starter, but he's got enough to be a very good mid-rotation guy in an organization that has a reputation for getting more out of their pitchers than most think possible.
Other players considered: None.
1:33 Boston Red Sox
A year ago the Boston Red Sox drafted in the top 10 for the first time since 1993 (Trot Nixon). With that pick they selected Trey Ball—a big, athletic, high school lefty with virtually all the qualities you'd like to see in a first round high school arm. Much was made of how that type of player isn't usually available where Boston is drafting. Foster Griffin is a big, athletic, high school lefty with virtually all the qualities you'd like to see in a first round high school arm. Now, 2013 Ball was better than 2014 Foster Griffin, but the fact that Griffin and other similar arms like Sean Reid-Foley and Touki Toussaint could be taken this late in the round gives a good indication how deep this year's pitching crop is. Griffin has begun to fill in and get stronger over the last year and his stuff and velo continue to improve.
Other Players Considered: None.
1:34 St. Louis Cardinals
Arguably the best overall athlete in this draft falls into the Cardinals hands here. Monte Harrison is a three-sport athlete and has a football commitment to Nebraska currently. He glides in center field and projects to stay there while playing plus defense; it’s a plus-plus arm at full maturity and a plus runner. At the plate, Harrison features an upright stance and quiet load before releasing his explosive hands to ball with plus bat speed and a swing with natural lift. At 6-foot-2 with broad shoulders and premium athleticism, Harrison has a beautiful frame to add weight and good strength, which will allow him to tap into some more power. This would be great fit for both sides since Harrison is a local kid and Cardinals have a track record of turning great athletes into prospects. Most recent example is Vaughn Bryan.
Other Players Considered: None.
A two-way high school player from Georgia, Gettys can best be described as a toolsy player. Equipped with two plus tools (arm and run), he holds good value and tons of upside at this slot. He should have no trouble sticking in center field. The main knock is the hit tool. Gettys is a strong kid with good bat speed, but his swing isn’t clean and he has struggled squaring the ball against quality pitching. There is a power component to his game that projects to average or a tick above down the road.
Other Players considered: None.
With Gettys' slide coming to an end one spot ahead of this slot, Forbes becomes the highest-ceiling talent available. One of the youngest and toolsiest prospects in the 2014 high school class, the Marlins supplement their initial pick of flamethrower Tyler Kolek with a high-risk/high-reward position prospect. Forbes has a long, loose projectable body, good present bat speed, and he already flashes present power with plenty of remaining offensive projection to go with plus speed that should allow him to stay up the middle.
Other Players Considered: Spencer Adams, Nick Burdi, and Matt Chapman (video).
Forrest Wall hits. He's got an athletic frame at 6 feet and 170 pounds, an approach at the plate beyond his years, and a simple ability to barrel baseballs all over the yard. Time moves slow for Wall at the plate, as he's a low-heartbeat hitter with a quick line-drive swing and a solid-average power projection. Wall has plenty of tools that will play at the major-league level, including a plus glove at second and plus-plus speed that drives multiple facets of his game. Wall is a quick-twitch athlete and a gamer, and if it weren't for a shoulder injury that zapped his throwing arm he could be a high-end prospect at short. As an advanced prep bat that should eat up low-minors pitching, Wall could burst onto the national scene quickly, and he has the potential to be a well above-average second baseman at the major-league level.
Other Players Considered: None.
1:38 Cleveland Indians
Burdi is the best pure relief arm available in the draft class and should be ready to contribute in the majors almost immediately. The command profile has come a ways since his erratic high school days, though it’s still below average. Most importantly, he hasn’t had to sacrifice the upper-90s velocity or upper-80s wipeout slider while making this developmental step, and the ability to miss bats should have no issue playing against advanced pro bats. He’s a potential big-league closer with an elite fastball/slider combo, and the Indians land him with their third pick in the draft.
Other Players Considered: Michael Cederoth (video).
1S:39 Miami Marlins
It has been a disappointing season for Chapman and his Fullerton teammates, and his
draft stock seems to have slipped a bit as a result. Nevertheless, he features a quality tool set that includes the best third base arm in the draft class and quality offensive tools. After the Marlins took a pair of high school prospects, including a raw 17-year-old, in this draft, Chapman provides a nice balance as a more advanced prospect who is also a good value at this spot from a tools standpoint.
1S:40 Kansas City Royals
I hoped to take a quick mover here, but the draft didn’t quite unfold the way I hoped after my previous pick, forcing me to change strategies. Instead, I exercise my fallback option of taking the best player available. I considered Verdugo a dozen picks earlier, so this isn’t a disappointment. The two-way sensation profiles as a right fielder, but I prefer his athleticism on the mound. He’s got an active low-90s fastball, a curveball with tight rotation, and strong feel for the changeup from the left side. I would have had to look elsewhere if I preferred Verdugo’s bat to his arm, having already selected two prep bats in this exercise.
Other Players Considered: None.
The Brewers were tempted to take a second, promising left-hander with this pick, and still might have a chance to do so with their second-round pick. However, Blandino being on the board made this an easy decision, fitting both an organizational need and a best-player-available philosophy.