This week we pick up where we last left you, 10 selections into our “Whom would you draft?” exercise. As a recap, here were the first 10 selections published in last week’s Draft Ten Pack:
1:1 Houston Astros – Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, CA)
1:2 Miami Marlins – Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd (Shepherd, TX)
1:4 Chicago Cubs – Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina
1:5 Minnesota Twins – Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway (Conway, SC)
1:6 Seattle Mariners – Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Christian (Coral Springs, FL)
1:7 Philadelphia Phillies – Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, CA)
The rules of this exercise are simple: pick the player you would pick if you were calling the shots for your assigned team. These selections were not made with organizational preference in mind, or with a nod toward any real-world hints about which targets these organizations have begun to zero in on.
As was the case last week, 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.
Even though I doubt Toronto drafts two college guys with its two first round picks, Zimmer was too talented to pass up. Once thought to be a back of the first round selection, he's firmly solidified himself in the top half of the first round discussion, coming on strongly throughout the spring. At the plate, Zimmer has the makings of a plus hit tool, with the ability to drive the ball and make consistent, hard contact. He projects for average power at the major-league level, with the pop already playing a bit in-game. Though Zimmer runs well and currently mans center field for San Francisco, some scouts question his ability to stay there due to the fact he doesn't get great jumps or reads off the bat. If he does end up in a corner, the arm would play in right. Checking in at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds with good athleticism, the body looks to be that of a major leaguer, and with skills aplenty, Zimmer looks to be a potential first-division contributor.
The Brewers at no. 12 are likely going to wait to see which pitchers (from both the high school and college ranks) fall into their lap, including Holmes, Toussaint, Beede, and Nola. With those four off the board here, it came down to a pair of college lefties, Newcomb and Evansville ace Kyle Freeland. Newcomb has the big, workhorse size the Brewers like, to go along with a fastball that sits in the 90 to 95 mph range deep into games, as well as a plus changeup and promising breaking ball. Zimmer would be an option if he made it this far, as would Michael Chavis if the team looks to add a polished bat here (knowing that, given the depth of this draft, they can always grab promising arms with their next two to three picks).
Pentecost is one of those players who does everything pretty well on a baseball diamond. He's an athlete and a competitor and it shows up in everything he does. He's a plus defender with good hands, strong blocking skills and a plus arm. He's even an above-average runner—a quality not often found in a catcher. At the plate, Pentecost has quick hands, an excellent feel for hitting and great bat control. Home run power isn't necessarily a big a part of his game, but his bat speed and knack for squaring balls up should lead to double-digit home run totals. A potential big-league starting catcher with a plus glove and an above-average bat, Pentecost could easily end up one of the most valuable picks in the first round.
Jason Parks' Giants Top 10 prospect list from this offseason has pitchers in nine out of the 10 slots, with only catcher Andrew Susac interrupting an otherwise pitching dominated list. And while San Francisco picked high school infielders Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones in the top two rounds in 2013, the organization clearly needs even more offensive punch. Conforto is a strong-armed right fielder currently hitting .407-5-49 with a .552 OBP for what some consider the top college team in the country. He's going to hit and hit quickly in professional ball. There will be plenty of time and depth enough to pick talented pitching later. Apologies to Kyle Schwarber and Casey Gillespie in this slot but the Giants already have a very good first baseman in Brandon Belt and a decent part-time backup in Buster Posey.
Other Players Considered: None.
Even though I’m in the process of refining [read: fighting] my long battle with scouting sizeism, it’s still unnatural for me to go crazy on diminutive arms, unless, of course, they show mid-90s gas deep into games, backed up with above-average sliders and promising changeups delivered with an aggressive, confident approach. After I initially discounted the TCU lefty because of his height, Finnegan has slowly won me over throughout his collegiate career, starting when I put eyes on him last season and continuing with reports in 2014. Seeing that Finnegan is available at this spot in the draft, the combination of ceiling and present polish make this an easy choice, as Finnegan is a likely candidate to move quickly through the minors and could arrive in the majors at some point in late 2015, armed with three above-average offerings and a feel for execution. While unlikely to reach frontline status, Finnegan could develop into a consistent mid-rotation starter, with a fallback option at the back of a bullpen should the development process point him in that direction.–Jason Parks
Freeland comes cut from the Chris Sale mold of low-slot, slinging college lefties, and like Sale Freeland’s go-to pitch at the collegiate level has been his slider. A plus offering that will occasionally flash a half a grade higher, Freeland can show multiple looks with the pitch, including a low-80s late breaker with solid depth and tilt and a mid-80s short slider that flirts with cutter classification. The fastball is heavy low-90s offering that he can ramp up to 95/96 mph and he has been surgical with it throughout the spring, working both sides of the plate and carving his way through the lower “U” of the zone. The arm action and mechanics aren’t the cleanest, but it adds deception to the mix. Provided he stays healthy (no easy task nowadays) Freeland looks like a potential mid-rotation arm with an outside shot at front-end production if the changeup continues to progress.
In a draft relatively light on power from either the high school or college ranks, Davidson stands out as one of the most promising bats despite likely being locked in at first base as a professional. Armed with the potential for both his hit and power tools to play as plus from the left side, he generates strong bat speed without bells and whistles. The set-up is quiet, but with loud results. His approach is very sound for a high schooler—in fact, aside from the tools, he is one of the most advanced hitters available in the class. Another check in his favor is his age, as Davidson will not turn 18 until after the June draft, making him one of the youngest players in the first round mix this year.
Kodi Medeiros has one of the most interesting profiles in the draft. He is a left-handed high school arm with a fastball reaching 94 mph and a wipeout slider and a developing changeup. His rubber-like sidearm delivery, his Hawaiian address, and his size (6 feet, 180 pounds) have lowered his draft stock but the stuff is electric. His fastball will go 90-94 with great arm-side life and some sink. Even with the movement Kodi will work both sides of the dish with the heater. The changeup is a work in progress but has made significant strides over the past 12 months, projecting to at least average while currently flashing deception and late sinking action. The slider is his best pitch. Thrown in the low 80s, it has hard lateral break, a la Sergio Romo’s slider. Against lefties it’s a swing-and-miss machine and against righties he can backdoor it or bury it on their back foot. While there is not a comparable starting pitcher in the show right now, I have faith Kodi can find success as a starter. At the very least he becomes a useful weapon in any bullpen.
After highly coveted left hander Kodi Medeiros got snatched away one pick before this spot, Wilson becomes the next best upside pick. He has present plus speed and future plus power, and significant physical projection—he won’t turn 18 until months after the draft and he has been exposed to relatively little training. He's shown enough hit tool development for me to believe that the power will play, and though the defense needs work the raw tools give him a chance to develop into a quality defensive center fielder. While the lack of present refinement out of high school makes him a risky proposition at this draft position, there is a realistic chance that he reaches his lofty ceiling, and if it happens he will look like a steal.
Gatewood is a big kid with a 6-foot-4 frame that still has some room to add muscle and strength. He's a good athlete for his size, but lacks above-average speed and his range at short is average at best. While sticking at the six-spot seems like a long shot, the plus arm and good hands could fit well at third base. Gatewood's meal ticket is his power. He has exceptional bat speed and a swing that generates natural lift and backspin, allowing him to drive the ball over the fence to any spot in the ballpark. Pitch recognition will be paramount for his development. If he can start to recognize spin, the end result will be downright scary for opposing pitchers. Development of even a fringe-average hit tool would allow Gatewood’s bat speed and strong wrists to grow into a legit 30-homer threat with passable defense on the left side.