Yesterday, we took a look at the organizational needs for the American League, and some prospects who would make sense to fill said needs without going too far—if at all—off the board.
Today, it’s the National League’s turn. Here’s a look at each NL team’s system flaw, and some players who make sense in plugging those holes.
Atlanta Braves (First pick: 14)
Team need: Catcher of the future
Potential fit: Tyler Stephenson, Kennesaw Mountain HS (Ga.)
Atlanta’s farm system has improved as much—if not more—than any farm system in the National League in the last six months. They’ve done so by adding Matt Wisler, Rio Ruiz, and Tyrell Jenkins—just to name a few—and all it is missing from becoming the most “complete” system in the National League is a future starting catcher. Because of his size, lack of athleticism, and 6-foot-4 frame, it’s not a lock he’ll stick behind the plate, but with borderline plus-plus power from the right side and an improving hit tool, Stephenson’s a potential all-star if he can.
Miami Marlins (12)
Team need: Outfield
Potential fit: Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (Tex.)
Miami has been attached to essentially every talented prep outfielder in the class, and it makes sense from both a value and need standpoint, as the Marlins have as little depth in the outfield as any team in the National League (their best current prospect there is Isael Soto, a left-handed hitter with some upside, but massive contact issues that likely keep him from reaching it). The most realistic option at this point is Clark, an outfielder with three potential 60 tools in his hit, glove, and speed.
New York Mets (53)
Team need: Left-handed pitching
Potential fit: Juan Hillman, LHP, Olympia HS (Fla.)
Even with the “graduation” of Noah Syndergaard, this is still one of the more underrated systems in baseball, so calling left-handed pitching a system need is sort of nitpicking. That being said, behind Steven Matz, there isn’t much there, so a left-hander like Hillman who doesn’t have elite stuff, but does show three above-average pitches with improving command would be a nice coup in the second round.
Philadelphia Phillies (10)
Team need: Offense
Potential fit: Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati
Like Atlanta, this system has improved considerably since the end of the 2014 season, but outside of J.P. Crawford, it’s pretty light in terms of potential bats. A player like Happ makes a lot of sense as a switch-hitter with outstanding feel for hitting and average power, and he can either be the replacement for Chase Utley at second base or handle a corner outfield. The upside isn’t huge, but Philadelphia has done awfully well the last two years by taking the “safe” prospect like Aaron Nola, Crawford, and Andrew Knapp.
Washington Nationals (58)
Team need: Power
Potential fit: Chris Shaw, OF/1B, Boston College
Shaw has as much raw power as any left-handed hitter in the class, as displayed by his 11 homers in 143 at-bats, despite missing a majority of the season with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Concerns about where he’ll play on the field and a below-average hit tool likely see him drop out of the first round however, and Washington would do well to procure his services with either of their two second-round picks.
Even with the promotions of Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, this is still an upper-echelon system, but it’s still light in terms of starting pitching. There are questions about whether or not Fulmer can start long-term because of his size and high-effort delivery, but there’s no question that Fulmer possesses some of the best stuff in college baseball. If he does get past the Red Sox and White Sox, he’d be an awful intriguing fit in the Chicago system.
Cincinnati Reds (11)
Team need: Middle infield
Potential fit: Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Alex Blandino is a nice player who has been very impressive at High-A Dayton, but the chances of him sticking at shortstop are slim, and there’s very little behind him in the system. Newman has been one of the best performers of the spring, and with a hit tool that many believe is plus-plus, 60 speed, and enough athleticism to play shortstop, he’d be outstanding value if he makes it to the Reds at 11.
Milwaukee Brewers (15)
Team need: Quite a bit
Potential fit: Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Whomever Milwaukee selects with this pick, he’ll immediately rank at (or very near) the top of their system. Harris is not without his flaws (track-record, concern about the delivery), but he’s been dominant in the MWC and may have the most complete arsenal of any pitcher in the class—including Fulmer and Walker Buehler. In a system that is severely lacking upside, a potential top of the rotation arm like Harris would certainly fill a need along with the BPA strategy.
Pittsburgh Pirates (19)
Team need: A third baseman, I guess.
Potential fit: Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Concordia Lutheran HS (Tex.)
Pittsburgh’s system has a lot of good things going for it; a future (potential) ace in Tyler Glasnow, the catcher of the future (potentially) in Reese McGuire, and a couple of promising middle infielders in Alen Hanson and Cole Tucker. The best third baseman in the system right now is Wyatt Mathisen, and while there’s some offensive upside there, he’s certainly upgradeable, and an elite defender with solid-average offensive tools like Hayes would represent said upgrade. Again, it’s nitpicking, but deep systems like the Pirates have can afford to nitpick.
If there was one word to describe the Cardinals system—other than good, because it is a good group—I would go with safe. Yes there is Alex Reyes and Magneuris Sierra who both ooze upside, but the majority of the top prospects in the system like Jack Flaherty, Rob Kaminsky, Stephen Piscotty are high-floor, medium-ceiling types. Outside of Houston (and we know why that’s not gonna happen) and maybe the Cubs, I’m not sure there’s another system who could afford to take the risk on Aiken more than St. Louis, and if they are willing to gamble, they may just get the best player in the class.
Arizona Diamondbacks (1)
Team need: Middle infield
Potential fit: Dansby Swanson
Hey, what a nice coincidence. The Diamondbacks happen to have the first pick of the draft, and the draft’s strength is shortstops at the top. I would take Brendan Rodgers, but I certainly understand why Swanson is the likely pick, as he’s more likely to help them win in 2017 thanks to his plus hit tool and fringe-average to above-average remaining skillset from a premium defensive position.
Colorado Rockies (3)
Team need: Pitching. It will always be pitching.
Potential fit: Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
The only reason Tate isn’t a potential fit is that he doesn’t get downhill plane in that hitting utopia of a ballpark, but neither does Tyler Jay, and that’s the arm that they’re more than likely going to take. I’d much rather have Tate, a right-hander who has shown two plus-plus pitches in a 94-96 mph fastball and a hard, biting slider that can give hitters fits. Either way, the Rockies need arms, because the Rockies are always going to need arms. So sayeth the Chris.
Los Angeles Dodgers (26)
Team need: Something expensive with high ceiling
Potential fit: Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke
If Aiken does make it past both the Giants and Cardinals, I think he’s a perfect fit for the system, but I make the rules, and in my scenario Aiken doesn’t make it to them. Matuella might have been a top five pick if not for undergoing Tommy John surgery in March, and assuming the Dodgers continue to take calculated risks in the draft—and in free agency with guys like Brett Anderson, Brandon Beachy, and Brandon McCarthy—like they have the last few years, this makes a lot of sense.
San Francisco Giants (18)
Team need: Pitching
Potential fit: Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Again, I think Jay will go higher than this, but should teams worry about his ability to start or the Big 10 factor, he could slide into this range. One way or another, the Giants system needs a lot of help, and acquiring a southpaw who will show you a 65 fastball, 60 slider, and 50-plus curve would be a nice start in an important draft for San Francisco (note: all drafts are important).
San Diego Padres (51)
Team need: To not be punished for improving the team through free agency. Also pitching.
Potential fit: Peter Lambert, RHP, San Dimas HS (Calif.)
The Padres traded approximately 98.6 percent of their system this winter, and the group that took the biggest hit was the pitching, with top 100 prospects Max Fried and Matt Wisler both finding new organizations in the offseason. Lambert is one of the more intriguing prep arms as a right-hander with loads of projection left, but can already hit 94 on guns with an average slider and a change to boot.
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