March 10, 2017
BP Experts Prospect Mock Draft
BP Expects Prospect Mock Draft 2017 - Rounds 7-8
Previous installments in this series
Until next year, friends. Until next year.
It's possible that neither of Reading's stat monsters from last year (Dylan Cozens being the other) will amount to everyday big leaguers, but I think Hoskins has the better chance of the two. He produced on the road (.853 OPS) and hit lefties (1.024 OPS) and righties (.920 OPS), doing all he could to ease concerns about his home ballpark playing kingmaker or the need for a platoon partner. His simple yet effective swing could produce 25-homer pop with a .270 average. Tommy Joseph and a final test this season against Triple-A pitching are all that stand in the way of Hoskins and the everyday gig in 2018.
God this is stupid. I don’t even like Newcomb. He walked 12 percent of all batters faced last season, and that was an improvement over his 2015 totals. But the thing is he’s left-handed, throws in the mid-90s and has a workhorse build. If it works, we’re looking at a legit SP3/4, and he’s close to the majors. There aren’t many (any?) of those guys left on the board. And now you see how I’ve talked myself into a guy who gives up more free passes than Groupon.
9.123) Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Brewers (Al Melchior, RotoGraphs)
Woodruff broke out in a big way in 2016, as his 173 strikeouts tallied up between Advanced Class A Brevard County and Double-A Biloxi led the minor leagues. Not only does he miss bats and pitch with superb control, but he showed a knack for preventing right-handed batters from pulling flyballs. Despite posting an 0.67 GO/AO ratio against righties with Biloxi, he allowed only two home runs by right-handed hitters over 60 2/3 innings. That skill, if it persists as he progresses through the Brewers' system, could come in handy when he pitches at Miller Park.
I could just as soon draw in a bunch of hearts and swooning emojis here, but instead I'll refer you to my glowing write-up in our Dodgers prospect list. Give me a dude with Stewart's pedigree - his pops Jeff is a pro scout for the Rays - any day of the week. But, by all means, feel free to liberally sprinkle into the mix some 94 with life and command, an ill cambio, and a slide piece that just keeps getting better. I think Stewart's been one of the more underappreciated pitching prospects around for a while, and he showed plenty of flashes in his big-league debut last year. LA's pitching depth chart could fill the National Mall, but I like Stewart's chances of forcing his way through the noise eventually and laying claim to a big-league rotation spot for a long time.
It took a couple years for Fedde to reveal his true self after the Tommy John surgery that bumped him down to 18th in the 2014 draft, where those high-rolling Nationals just couldn't resist. And after the successes of Anthony Rendon and Lucas Giolito, who can blame him? Once again, they appear to have struck gold in Fedde, whose minor-league numbers, while nothing for the record books, were thoroughly impressive. The sinking action he gets on his fastball, combined with his plus control, reminds me a little of Corey Kluber, and he could reach the majors as early as this year.
I really like getting Wade here. He’s going to steal bases, I believe the bat will play in the majors, and he may end up being eligible at three or four different spots in any given season. I think there is more power in the profile than he’s shown so far too, but at this point it’s a longshot he ever really taps into it in games. He also may be more likely to end up with shortstop eligibility than Kevin Newman. And if I didn’t take him my podcast co-host, Jarrett Seidler, would yell at me.
9.127) Carson Fulmer, RHP, White Sox (Ben Diamond, The Dynasty Guru)
Like my previous pick, Brett Phillips, I’m banking on 2016 being a fluke, and not the normal for Fulmer. There’s a glimmer of hope for Fulmer, the 8th overall pick in 2015, though, as he showed much improved command and stuff toward the tail end of last season, which has been credited to refining his delivery with Triple-A pitching coach Richard Dotson. Given the many adjustments he underwent last season, there’s reason to throw out the results and remain optimistic. The White Sox believed Fulmer’s stuff enough to give him 11.2 big league innings a year after being drafted, and, if he figure out how to consistently throw strikes, that stuff could be good enough to make a mid-rotation, high-strikeout starter in the near-ish future. His other path to value is as an elite closer, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to find at this point in the draft.
9.128) Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (Paul Hartman, Fantasy Assembly)
Stewart probably has just a DH-only profile, so his bat is going to need to excel for him to have a crack at a big league career. Fortunately, it looks good after a 2016 campaign in which he hit 30 home runs with a 16% walk rate across High-A and AA. He does have a fair bit of swing-and-miss to his game, increasing his likelihood of failure. At this point in the draft, I don't see anyone as close to the majors with his kind of power. If he continues progressing, (1 BB per 1.5 K in 2017 vs 1 BB per 3.3 K in 2016), this late-round gamble could just pay off.
9.129) Grant Holmes, RHP, Athletics (Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ)
Strikeouts are the allure here, though his rate went down some in High-A in 2016. Fastball command still needs some work, but hard curveball gives him a second above-average pitch, and he’s shown some aptitude for a changeup. A sturdy frame and a hefty ground-ball split also work in his favor. Could use more reps to work on mechanical consistency. For fantasy purposes, hoping the strikeouts return as he hits the high minors.
9.130) Riley Pint, RHP, Rockies (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
Sure, he's going to have to figure out some things with his control and delivery, and he'll have to pitch his home games at Coors Field, but I can't pass on the guy with the highest ceiling in the 2016 Draft any longer. There's a reason Pint draws comparisons to Justin Verlander -- his stuff is that filthy. His fastball can reach 102 mph, he has power breaking stuff, his changeup is much more than you'd expect. I'll gamble on that with pick No. 130.
9.131) Taylor Trammell, OF, Reds (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
I wanted one more position player with upside before the end of this mock draft, so Trammell checks a lot of boxes with me. The stolen base potential stands out the most from a fantasy perspective, but the 19-year-old more than held his own at the plate in the Pioneer League and I’m excited to see what progress he could make as he continues to focus solely on baseball. He’s a ways off, but this is a fun lottery ticket.
One of the many big-money international signings by A.J. Preller and company in the last eight months, Ona—in the words of Theodore Roosevelt—carries a big stick. He projects as a prototypical right fielder, similar to another young Cuban prospect to come over earlier this decade, Jorge Soler. And while Soler has felt disappointing on the whole, he’s still been an above-average hitter in his career. Now just imagine that but with 30-homer power.
There's plenty of risk in Hansen, ranging from a volatile performance his senior year, to brief pro exposure, to, well, he's a pitcher. Still, if I'm going to gamble on an arm, I like the reward to be commensurate with the risk. Hansen crapped out his senior season, but looked the part of a first-half of the first-round type in pro ball. There are caveats to that: limited resume, beating up on younger competition, etc., but for a guy who doesn't lack talent, it was an encouraging step in the right direction. He's got the high-octane heat and bat-missing breaking ball that make for upper-echelon strikeout potential. Would I like my college products to be a little more polished? Sure. But few college arms match Hansen's room for growth, so I'm willing to risk it this late in a deep draft.
In order for this pick to work out, I'm either going to need Kris Bryant to move to the outfield or Candelario to be moved to another team. Assuming the latter happens, I think Candelario can be an everyday regular at the hot corner. There's no standout tool, but he get on base, he can hit for a little bit of power, and he's not a complete clod on the bases. You can do a lot worse, I promise you.
9.135) Garrett Stubbs, C, Astros (Lawr Michaels, Mastersball)
An eighth-rounder out of USC in 2015, Stubbs has now played in a total of 122 minor league games since being drafted, and has a line of .293-10-61 with 18 steals, 27 doubles, and a fantastic 64 walks to 53 strikeouts, good for a .385 OBP and an .811 OPS. And yeah, McCann and Gattis are ahead on the depth chart, but Stubbs has caught in 102 games thus far with just a couple of errors and has thrown out potential stealers at a rate of 51%. Since the DH slot is open in Houston, the skill set Stubbs offers should fall into play.
10.136) Austin Slater, OF, Giants (Lawr Michaels, Mastersball)
Being a Northern California Elitist (who does maintain his hippie values), you know I love guys who went to Cal and Stanford and such is Mr. Slater, who was taken by the Bums in the 44th-round of 2011 but chose to matriculate at the Farm before the Giants selected him in the eighth round of 2014. As a 23-year old last year Slater set the tone starting at AA going .317-5-25 over 41 games before hitting the PCL and Sacramento for 68 more at a .298-13-42 clip for a cumulative .305-18-67 with eight steals. Slater only hit 20 doubles, but with the dingers obviously has the pop for those numbers to increase (.808 minor league OPS) and his K/BB numbers took a major jump in 2016, for in 2015 he wrangled just 24 walks to 92 strikeouts (.336 OBP) but last year, at the higher levels, the totals were 57 free passes to 89 whiffs (.396 OBP). Plus, Slater was drafted as a second sacker and did that gig his first pro season meaning a combo of he is ready and the Giants will be able to use him. Soon.
10.137) Travis Demeritte, 2B, Braves (Christopher Crawford, Rotoworld)
With my final pick, I acquire my favorite thing: Dingers. Dingers from a middle infielder, no less. Yes, he's going to strike out a ton, but Demeritte also showed improved selectivity in 2016, and it looks like he's found a home at the keystone. There's a ton of volatility here, but dingers. I like dingers.
10.138) Aristides Aquino, OF, Reds (Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus)
I saw Aquino in March of 2016 and haven't been able to get him out of my head since. It's not just the name (though it's a good name), either, as there are plenty of tools to dream on, here. A lanky 6-foot-4, Aquino started cashing in on his power potential in 2016, slugging .519 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. There are some contact issues, given the length, but he's shown the ability to stay short to the ball, and his whiff rates aren't too concerning, and he's got the bat speed to catch up to velocity. He's also faster than you think, posting plus run times, despite his size. Add it all together, throw in the that he'll be playing in Cincinnati and it's hard not to view Aquino's offensive potential through Reds-colored glasses. Double-A will be a stiff test, as he faces premium stuff on a more consistent basis, but if he's able to hack it, you'll see him fly up boards. I'm more than willing to try and get in early with a 10th round pick.
10.139) Fernando Romero, RHP, Twins (Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus)
It wasn’t necessary to take a second pitcher in this draft—I spent the better part of 2016 carrying only one pitching prospect on my TDGX farm team—but Romero offers a lot of upside here, albeit with a lot of risk. The Twins prospect returned from Tommy John surgery in 2016 with a really strong year across both levels of A-ball, striking out more than a batter per inning, limiting walks and giving up just one long ball on the season. He may not hold up in the rotation, but the time for those who are a good bet to is long gone. At least he’d probably make a really good reliever if all else fails.
10.140) Matt Strahm, LHP, Royals (D.J. Short, Rotoworld)
Strahm was dominant out of the Royals’ bullpen during his first stint in the majors last season, flashing a mid-90s fastball and impressive curve while posting a 1.23 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 22 innings. There was some hope that he would get a chance in the starting rotation this spring, but that now appears unlikely after the club’s recent addition of Travis Wood, who will compete with Chris Young and Nathan Karns for the fifth spot. That’s disappointing in the short-term, but here’s hoping Strahm gets a shot in the rotation at some point down the line.
10.141) Frankie Montas, RHP, Athletics (Jim Callis, MLB.com)
When the ninth round began, I hoped to get two of Riley Pint, Carson Fulmer and Taylor Trammell with my final picks. So much for that strategy. I kicked around the idea of taking an offensive-minded infielder like Christian Arroyo (Giants) or Richard Urena (Blue Jays) here, and I was tempted by Mike Soroka's (Braves) polish, but give me Montas. He looked spectacular in the Arizona Fall League and can help the A's in 2017 if he stays healthy. He might wind up being a closer, but based on his AFL performance, I wouldn't rule him out as a starter.
10.142) Ryan McMahon, 3B/1B, Rockies (Brent Hershey, BaseballHQ)
No, the trend line is not good, especially that nasty inverse relationship between his contact rate and proximity to the majors. But the power is still there, he’s maintained a solid walk rate, and is he just 22. And hey, he didn’t have a true home game all season. At this point in the draft, we’re taking flyers, so I’ll play the rebound card of a consensus Top 50 prospect from just last year.
10.143) Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays (Paul Hartman, Fantasy Assembly)
Bichette isn't likely to stick at shortstop, but it's his bat that makes him a worthwhile gamble here anyway. Bichette made waste to the GCL last year, hitting .427 with a 1.183 OPS over 22 games. He has big-time power, though there is a lot of risks especially with some length in his swing. Bichette is the type of player who could either break out in 2017 or one who could stumble against better pitching. At this point in the draft, it's fun to gamble on the huge upside.
10.144) Dylan Cease, RHP, Cubs (Ben Diamond, The Dynasty Guru)
I’ll be honest, Cease is more of a lottery ticket than anything else right now. Still, if I’m stuck choosing between a potential ace (that has roughly a 20% chance of getting to that upside) and a higher probability back of the rotation starter of OF5/6, I’m going to go with the guy who could win a league for me one day. Cease’s triple-digit fastball and plus curveball combination are deadly, so let’s just focus on that instead of the lack of a good third pitch (he currently has a fringy changeup) and the poor command. This polarizing pitching prospect could very likely end up in the pen, but if he does, there’s a high-end closer to be had. Cease looks a bit like my previous pick, Fulmer, though with a higher ceiling, higher risk, and longer lead time.
10.145) Dustin May, RHP, Dodgers (Jeffrey Paternostro, Baseball Prospectus)
There are pitchers I ranked higher this offseason still on the board. There are plenty of safer bats still available too. Give me the ginger Syndergaard! Okay, that’s unfair. He will definitely end up with Bobby Kielty’s hair, but Thor’s stuff is a much bigger ask. So give me the tall, projectable teenaged Texan! Any comp to Noah Syndergaard is purely for entertainment purposes only! But if I were to bet on a pitcher turning into Noah Syndergaard in five years...well, I’d get better odds on the Hard Eight, but...
10.146) Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves (Scott White, CBS.com)
I could have gotten cute with my final pick, or I could have just gone with the player drafted third overall last year. I opted for the latter, and the reasons should be obvious. It's true Anderson wasn't necessarily projected to go that high, but the Braves insist it wasn't just to sign him under slot. They set their sights on him, and you may have heard they have a pretty good feel for pitching. Most publications have no problem slotting him in as the third- or fourth-best of the Braves' mountain of pitching prospects, and that's as an 18-year-old with almost no production to his name. His pitchability at such a young age gives us plenty to dream about as he begins to fill out.
10.147) Carl Edwards Jr., RHP, Cubs (Wilson Karaman, Baseball Prospectus)
A reliever? Ohhhhh, a reliever, alright. Last year the average big-league four-seamer generated an empty swing 19 percent of the time, while hitters fruitlessly flailed against a deuce 32 percent of the time. Against Edwards those numbers were 33.5 and 58.5. His control's not the best, but then again with that kind of stuff it doesn't really have to be, now does it? Wade Davis' Strained Forearm is all that stands between him and a shot at rolling up some Saves, but even without 'em he's the dude you invest in if you want to unearth this year's Dellin Betances.
10.148) Christian Arroyo, INF, Giants (Al Melchior, RotoGraphs)
Arroyo's power output over the last two seasons has been less than impressive, and that even includes his 2015 campaign in the California League. He has been limited to 12 home runs over 209 games over that span, but he has had the misfortune of playing in home parks in San Jose and Richmond that were tough on both home run and doubles power. Arroyo's .315/.348/.438 road slash line in the Eastern League may be a better indicator of the sort of hitter he can be in the majors. We probably can't expect Arroyo to hit with all that much thump at AT&T Park, but he should be able to hit for average with a high doubles total. He uses the whole field and doesn't strike out much. With his anticipated full-time move to third base, he could have at least as much appeal as that of a recent predecessor at the hot corner in San Francisco, Matt Duffy.
10.149) Harold Ramirez, OF, Blue Jays (Ben Carsley, Baseball Prospectus)
I know I know I know, I probably just drafted, like, 80% of Jesse Winker. This is an extremely unsexy pick, because Ramirez has yet to show any inkling of power. But I’m a sucker for the hit tool. I believe in Ramirez’s ability to make contact, though I admit an empty-average bat is a tough profile when you fit best defensively in left field. Ramirez is still just 22 and could grow into some pop. If he doesn’t and if the loss of speed he showed last year is real, this will look like a bad pick, but at 149, I’ll gamble on the stick. I mean relievers have been drafted, for chrissake (YEAH WILSON GET @ ME).
10.150) Luis Urias, 2B, Padres (James Anderson, Rotowire)
Austin Riley, Desmond Lindsay, Max Fried and Touki Toussaint were all tempting here, but instead I’ll buy some more real estate on Urias Island. A scout once told me that if a player can hit, he can hit for power. That’s obviously an oversimplification, but we’ve seen players like Rougned Odor, Jose Altuve, Daniel Murphy and Mookie Betts bear that out over the past couple seasons. Urias was the youngest player in the California League last year, but was arguably the league's best hitter (130 wRC+, 36:40 K:BB) despite not turning 19 until June 3. The key here is the age, hit tool and approach, all of which are huge marks in his favor. If he handles Double-A the same way he handled High-A, he'll be in the big leagues before his 21st birthday.