Day two doesn’t get a lot of attention from fans, but in terms of building a system, it’s the most important day of the draft. The best groups always do well on this day, and it’s a chance to not only pick up depth, but there’s always some star quality to be found in the middle rounds. And 2015 is no exception, even with a less-than-stellar class on paper.
Here are some of the highlights of day two of the 2015 MLB Draft.
Best value: 78. Texas Rangers: Mike Matuella, RHP, Duke
If Matuella was fully healthy, there’s no way he drops into the second round, much less the third. He’ll show a 70 fastball with downhill plane, a 60 curveball, and a 50 change; and he throws all three pitches for strikes. Even coming off Tommy John, Matuella is a steal.
Questionable value: 83. Philadelphia Phillies: Lucas Williams, SS, Dana Hills HS (Calif.)
Not only did I not have any information on Williams before the draft, the two area scouts I spoke with couldn’t give me much either. I ended up finding out he’s a decent athlete who should be able to stick at shortstop, but neither liked the swing. If the kid becomes Jimmy Rollins, I’ll of course look silly writing this, but right now you have to question the value.
Closest to the big leagues: 84. Houston Astros: Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU
Ferrell struggled towards the second half of the year—mostly with command—but the peak version of him is a 70 fastball, borderline 70 slider, and an arm slot that’s very difficult for right-handers to pick up. If he throws those pitches for strikes, he could help the Houston bullpen next year.
Best value: 121. Milwaukee Brewers: Demi Orimoloye, OF, St. Mathews HS (Canada)
I was surprised that Orimoloye was still on the board, as I knew of at least a handful of teams that were discussing him in the compensation and second round. The Canadian outfielder has the potential for three 60 tools in his power, speed, and arm, and the feel for hitting is improving. There’s some volatility here obviously, but there’s also as much upside as any prep bat on the board. This was a very nice coup for Milwaukee.
Questionable value: 113. Chicago Cubs: Darryl Wilson, OF, Canton South HS (Oh.)
I loved much of what the Cubs did over the first two draft days, but this was one of my least favorite picks of day two. Wilson’s an above-average runner with a swing that has some strength, so he’s not completely without upside. The swing needs a ton of work though, and his overall baseball skills have a ways to go. Not hitting on your fourth-round pick won’t crush you, but there were better prep bats on the board than Wilson.
Closest to the big leagues: 134. Washington Nationals: Mariano Rivera, RHP, Iona
No, he doesn’t throw “The Cutter,” but Rivera does have a chance to be a very nice reliever—if the Nationals chose to deploy him there—with a fastball that will touch 97 and a slider that will show above-average with some tilt.
Best value: 148. Tampa Bay: Rays Joe McCarthy, OF, Virginia
Like Matuella, there’s no way McCarthy doesn’t go on day one if he’s healthy, and while he doesn’t have the same upside as Matuella, he is a potential regular with two above-average tools in his hit and power. He’s performed well for one of the best programs in college baseball too, so don’t be surprised if McCarthy is an everyday player for the Rays in the next couple of years—assuming he can stay healthy and is signable this late.
Questionable value: 139. Houston Astros: Trent Thornton, RHP, North Carolina
I’ve seen Thornton three times, and that along with the reports I’ve received from scouts I trust make me believe that Thornton is not a big-leaguer. The fastball command is below average, and neither of the secondary pitches are consistent. If he can find the sophomore version this will look silly, but I would not bet on that now.
Closest to the big leagues: 140. Minnesota Twins: Alex Robinson, LHP, Maryland
Boy, the Twins sure do love close-to-the-big-league relievers, don’t they? Robinson will show a 65 fastball and a 60 slider with your typical low three-quarter arm angle from a southpaw, so if he can throw enough strikes—which has been an issue this season—he could be a quick rise through the Minnesota system.
After round five, it’s tough to call anything questionable value. This is where draft boards really start to shrink down, so we’ll just mention some guys who were solid value along with some players who could move quickly through systems.
Best value: Cleveland: Jonas Wyatt, RHP, Quartz HS (S.C.)
Wyatt’s stock has fluctuated over the spring, at one point looking like a first-round lock while he was touching 97 and showing a solid-average breaking ball. He hasn’t shown that version on a consistent basis, but when you’re taking him in the sixth round, you better believe there’s enough upside to justify it.
Closest to the big leagues: Colorado Rockies: Jack Wyncoop, LHP, South Carolina
Wyncoop is essentially the left-handed version of Seattle second-round pick Andrew Moore: A left-hander without great stuff, but he keeps the ball down in the zone—big for Coors Field—and the command projects to be above average. He could become the Rockies fifth starter, if everything goes well, as soon as 2017.
Best value: Chicago White Sox: Blake Hickman, RHP, Iowa
Hickman is still new to full-time pitching (Chicago drafted him as a catcher/first baseman in 2012), so as you might expect, he’s still fine-tuning his command and feel for pitching. The arm strength is very impressive though, and on his best days he’ll show two 60 pitchers in his fastball and slider along with the makings of a fringe-average change.
Closest to the big leagues: San Francisco Giants: Jose Vizcaino, 3B, Santa Clara
There’s no one in this round who’s terribly close to making a big-league contribution, but the closest is Vizcaino. The son of the long-time infield with the same name, Vizcaino should be a plus defender at third base and there’s above-average power in his right-handed bat, though the hit tool may never get to average.
Best value: Minnesota Twins: Kolton Kendrick, 1B, Oak Forest Academy (La.)
It’s somewhat understandable why Kendrick slipped as a so-so athlete who’s destined for first base with a swing that’s long with holes that will lead to loads of swing and miss. That’s all well and good, but this is still a young man with 80 raw power, and the chance to get a 30-plus homer guy in the eighth round is a fantastic value play. We’ll see if they can buy out his commitment to Southeastern Louisiana, though.
Closest to the big leagues: Arizona Diamondbacks: Kal Simmons, SS, Kennesaw State
Simmons is one of the very best defenders at shortstop in college baseball, with solid hands, plus range and certainly enough arm strength to handle the position long term. If Arizona doesn’t mind the lack of offensive firepower, he makes a lot of sense as a future utility infielder.
Best value: Milwaukee Brewers: Karson Lindell, RHP, West Linn HS (Ore.)
Lindell was one of the best prep arm in the Pacific Northwest—and certainly the best player out of the state of Oregon—and the right-hander will show a 89-91 mph fastball that will grow as he fills out his frame, with an above-average slider and change all possible as he works on finishing the delivery.
Closest to the big leagues: Tyler Peltzmeier, LHP, Cal State Fullerton
Peltzmeier was the closer at Cal-State Fullerton, and while he’s not a high-leverage reliever at the next level, he does have a chance to pitch in the big-league rotation thanks to his deceptive arm slot and two average offerings in a fastball and slider.
Best value: St. Louis Cardinals: Kep Brown, OF/1B, Wando HS (S.C.)
St. Louis has been known to take risks on injured talents late in the draft, and if they can somehow buy Brown out of his commitment to Miami, he’s an outstanding add to the system. The right-handed hitter has borderline plus-plus power, and while the swing has some length, he should possess an average hit tool as he improves his pitch recognition. It’s a long shot that he doesn’t end up a Hurricane, but in the 10th round, it’s not a big loss if they don’t procure his services.
Closest to the big leagues: Milwaukee Brewers: Jake Drossner, LHP, Maryland
If the Brewers decided to move Drossner to the bullpen—and they should—he could fast-track through the Milwaukee system, with an arm slot that will give left-handers trouble and two solid-average offerings.
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