I won’t try and oversell you on day three of the MLB Draft. It’s a day that sees a lot of players who are simply organizational depth, players that won’t sign, or picks that are purely ceremonial, so I can’t really fault you for not paying a ton of attention.
Those complaints aside, if you look at any major league roster, you see plenty of guys selected in rounds 11-40 who end up becoming quality big leaguers. Picking those guys is really hard, but there were some standout selections Saturday afternoon who have a chance to contribute in some shape or form to their new respective organizations—assuming they sign.
It’s important to note that because of the way the allocated fund system works, you can’t give anyone drafted during rounds 11-40 more than $100,000 without dipping into those funds. That’s why you see so many prep players go in round 11—those players often have deals worked out overnight—and that’s why you’ll see so many of these high upside guys end up attending college or going back to school. It’s a rule I don’t like, but it’s a rule.
Without further adieu/complaining, here’s a look at a standout for each team during day three of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Baltimore Orioles: Zack Muckenhim, LHP, North Dakota
Muckenhim was a standout this year for the Bison, and it was surprising to see him still on the board when day three began. He gets his heater up to 93 mph, and he can manipulate it to cut and sink with decent enough command. Neither of the secondary pitches are going to be strikeout pitches, but they both flash average, and as a southpaw who can throw strikes it gives him a chance to pitch in a rotation someday, with “reliever who can get lefties and righties out” also a possibility.
Boston Red Sox: Nick Quintana, SS, Arbor View HS (Nev.)
Boston selected a lot of college talent in rounds 2-10 after taking that Groome guy, but they got one of the best prep infielders left in Quintana on day three. He shows big bat speed from the right side of the plate, and there’s a chance for above-average power when all is said and done. The Red Sox drafted him as a shortstop, but with below-average speed and his offensive potential, he’s the type of player I’d consider moving behind the plate to maximize the value.
New York Yankees: Zach Linginfelter, RHP, Sevier County HS (Tenn.)
Because the Yankees went so college senior heavy in rounds 6-10, they should have some money saved, and they just might be able to afford a guy like Linginfelter. His velocity has fluctuated, but when he’s at his best he throws a 92-96 mph fastball with good sink and downhill plane. When he stays on top of his slider it’s a solid-average offering, and he’s shown the makings of a decent change. There’s a lot of work to be done—and he’s a strong commitment to the University of Tennessee—but this late, it’s worth the risk.
Tampa Bay Rays: Zach Thompson, LHP, Wapahani HS (Ind.)
Thompson looked like a potential first-rounder after his sophomore year (yes, they scout that early, and it’s disheartening), but some shoulder issues have seen some of the shine wear off. When healthy, however, he’s shown an above-average fastball that can get up to 94 mph, and his curveball will flash plus with quality depth. It’s risky, but hey, in the 11th round, why not hope he can find the form he showed just a couple years ago?
Hall has excellent arm strength, and it allows him to touch 96 mph on a regular basis with his fastball. He doesn’t use his slider enough, but when he does, it flashes above-average with good tilt, and a surprising ability to throw it for strikes. He’s strictly a reliever, but with two pitches that could be plus, he could be a pretty good one, and that’s good value in the 14th round.
Chicago White Sox: Ian Hamilton, RHP, Washington State
When the “draft year” began, Hamilton was a potential first-round selection. Pretty much nothing went right upon his move to the rotation, and the White Sox are likely banking on what they saw from him as a reliever in 2015. In short stints his fastball will get up to 97 with movement, and he can pull the string on his change because of his quick arm. The breaking ball isn’t good enough to allow him to start, however, so Chicago would be wise to put him in the bullpen and see if they acquired a steal in the 11th round.
Cleveland: Mitch Longo, OF, Ohio University
Longo doesn’t provide much defensive value or baserunning, but what he can do is hit: He has a line-drive swing that allows him to make hard contact to all parts of the field. There’s not much power here, but he’s not a dink-and-dunk guy, and fringe-average pop isn’t out of the question. The hit tool is going to have to carry him, but it’s good enough that it’s not out of the question.
If not for some hip issues—and a bit of a stigma against hitters from the Big 10—Athmann would have gone much higher than the 14th round. He has above-average power potential from the right side, and he’s a quality receiver with a strong, accurate arm. You’re probably looking at a defense-first backup who can provide some pop of the bench, and while that may not sound sexy, it’s extremely valuable.
Kansas City Royals: Logan Gray, 2B, Austin Peay
You don’t see a ton of second baseman with above-average power, but that’s what Gray has. He generates quality leverage, and there’s a natural loft to his stroke. There’s also a ton of swing-and-miss here, and there are questions about where he’ll end up on the diamond, but if he can stay at second base and show the same pop, he’s a potential steal in the 13th round.
Minnesota Twins: Tyler Benninghoff, RHP, Rockhurt HS (Mo.)
If not for a bicep injury and a report high asking price, Benninghoff likely would have gone in the first three rounds. Minnesota must feel confident that they can get him done to pick him with their first selection of day three. He touches the low 90s with projection left, and both his slider and change flash above-average. If the Twins can meet his demands (and he’s healthy, of course), he has a chance to be a real steal this late.
Houston Astros: Carmen Benedetti, LHP, Michigan
It wasn’t a great year for Benedetti on the mound or with the bat (he’s one of the few true two-way prospects in this class), but it wasn’t too long ago that he was one of the most intriguing southpaws eligible this year. When you see everything clicking, he’ll show an above-average fastball that touches 94 mph; generally sitting 90-92, and he’ll show a change that comes from the same arm speed as the fastball with late fade. The breaking ball comes and goes, but if it does show more consistency, he could be a backend starter. If not, he’s a tough lefty reliever.
Los Angeles Angels: Brennon Lund, OF, BYU
BYU is far from a baseball powerhouse, but they have produced some quality players, and Lund is one of the most athletic. He’s a plus runner, and he uses that speed along with a knack for tracking the baseball to play a quality center field. The hit tool has a chance to be average, and the speed helps compensate for a lack of power. It’s probably a fourth-outfielder profile, but a pretty good one.
Oakland Athletics: Brigham Hill, RHP, Texas A&M
There has to be a high bonus demand or an issue that hasn’t come up yet (or maybe both!), because Hill is certainly better than the 592nd player selected. He dominated the SEC conference, and while he doesn’t have the stuff to put up the numbers he did in college, it’s not luck. The fastball and slider flash plus, the change is a competent third offering, and he throws all those pitches for strikes, though the command is behind the control. Assuming everything is okay and he’s signable, this is crazy good value.
Seattle Mariners: Kenyon Yovan, RHP, Westview HS (Ore.)
Yovan is almost assuredly going to honor his commitment to Oregon, but he’s worth bringing up as a name to keep an eye on in the future. He looks more like a college draftee than a prep kid at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and he uses that frame to get up to 96 with his fastball. He also shows an above-average slider at times, and if he can develop a change, he has a chance to start. It’s far more likely that he’s developing that change for the Ducks than it does for the Mariners, but weirder things have happened.
This is another player likely headed to college—in this case Vanderbilt—but he’s far more likely to sign than Yovan. He’s a plus runner with quality hand-eye coordination, and while the swing path needs to be adjusted, he has a chance to hit for average at the next level. If I was a betting man I would bet on him becoming a Commodore, but from what I’ve been told, it’s not a lock. If he ends up in Texas, they should feel very fortunate to procure his services.
Atlanta Braves: Matt Rowland, RHP, Pope HS (Ga.)
Rowland can likely thank his teammate and Rays’ first-round pick Josh Lowe for the attention he got this spring, but Rowland took advantage. There’s lots of projection left, he touches 96 mph, and sits 91-93. He also shows a hard slider, and he’ll mix in a pretty good change. The concern here is that Rowland’s delivery has a ton of effort, but Atlanta will likely give him a chance to start, knowing that as he fills out he has a chance to be a nasty reliever.
Miami Marlins: Nick Eicholtz, RHP, Alabama
If you’re looking for a starter who is going to provide big power stuff and miss a ton of bats, Eicholtz isn’t going to be your cup of tea. If you can appreciate a starter who gets plenty of ground balls with a plus sinker and two average offspeed pitches, you’ll like Eicholtz, and you should. The upside is a fifth starter, but because of his advanced feel, he has a great chance of reaching said ceiling.
Assuming Cleveland doesn’t honor his commitment to Florida Southwestern JC, Cleveland is entering the perfect organization to sharpen his strengths and fix some of his weaknesses. He has excellent size and gets into the mid 90s with ease, but he doesn’t do a great job of repeating his mechanics, which means there isn’t a lick of consistency with his command or offspeed pitches. The talent is impressive, and if their excellent pitching-development team can fix the mechanics, he has a chance to be a real sleeper from this draft class.sourceid
Philadelphia Phillies: Josh Stephen, OF, Mater Dei HS (Calif.)
With the first pick of day three, the Phillies got another quality outfielder from the Golden State. The calling card is the hit tool, and it has a chance to be plus from a quick stroke that stays in the zone. The power is mostly gap, but he’ll capitalize on pitches thrown middle-in, and it could be fringe-average when all is said and done. They’ll likely give him a chance to play center field, but the most likely landing spot is left field because of his below-average arm. Because of the hit tool, he has a chance to justify playing in that corner everyday at some point.
Washington Nationals: Kyle Simonds, RHP, Texas A&M
Simonds was one of the better senior hurlers this year, and despite not having elite stuff—or even above-average stuff, really—he has a chance to pitch in the back of a rotation. He sits 89-92 with good sink on his fastball, and he’ll throw three useable offspeed pitches that all flash between 45 and 50. The key is his ability to throw those pitches for strikes, and Simonds can certainly do that, which is why he’s good value here despite the lack of obvious “talent.”
Chicago Cubs: Michael Rucker, RHP, BYU
Rucker was one of the real “risers” of the 2016 class, and there was talk he could go early on day two. He touches 96 mph with his fastball; sitting comfortably 90-93, and he does a good job of locating his heater for strikes. He’ll throw an average curve and slider, but those pitches can run into each other, and the Cubs may ask him to scrap one in favor of the other. He’s still gaining some feel for the change, but if that can be an average pitch, he has a chance of maximizing as a fourth starter in the coming years. That’s pretty good value for the 11th round.
Cincinnati Reds: Cassidy Brown, C, Loyola Marymount
This is the second college catcher the Reds took this year, and while Chris Okey went several rounds earlier, there were some I spoke with who thought Brown was the third-best college catcher in this class behind Zack Collins and Matt Thaiss. He’s not the defender Okey is, but he has plus raw power in his bat, and there’s enough feel for hitting to project a fringe-average hit tool. He’ll have to stick behind the plate to have any value, but if he can, he has a chance to be a real contributor.
Milwaukee Brewers: Chad McClanahan, 3B, Brophy Jesuit Prep (Ariz.)
The Brewers also took Jared Horn—the highest rated pitcher still on the board to start day three—but there’s a better chance of me signing with Milwaukee than he, so we’ll focus on another good get in McClanahan. There’s a ton of projection in his offensive game from his 6-foot-5, 200 pound build, and when all is said and done he should have plus power. He also has some feel for the barrel, and despite his size and being a below-average runner, he has a chance to stick at the hot corner, and his plus arm plays well there. There’s at least a chance he ends up at Arizona State, but by taking him in the 11th round, Milwaukee must at least have some idea about his signability.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Max Kranick, RHP, Valley View HS
I was not a huge fan of what the Pirates did with their day one selections, but day two was better, and I loved starting off with Kranick. There’s more velocity to come from a fastball that already touches 94 mph, and he complements that pitch with a change that has excellent deception from his arm speed, and flashes plus. The curveball is slurvy and he doesn’t always stay on top of it, but if it’s even an average pitch, he’s got a chance to be a no. 3 starter.
Kilichowski has posted disappointing numbers as a member of the Commodores, but—for the umpteenth time—the numbers don’t reflect the talent. If you see him on a good day, he’ll show three quality offspeed pitches, led by a plus change with late fade. The fastball is only a 45 pitch, so there’s a lot of pressure on those secondary pitches and his command. Look for the Cardinals to make the most of those abilities, because that’s what they do.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Manny Jefferson, SS/3B, Pepperdine
If Jefferson were a lock to stick at shortstop, he would have gone several rounds earlier. There’s a chance for above-average power in his bat, and the approach is good enough to project an average hit tool. Despite being a below-average runner, Jefferson does have a chance to stick at short, but the most likely landing spot is the hot corner. That obviously drops the value, but because of the power and improving feel for hitting, he has a chance to be a nifty little pickup this late in the draft.
Colorado Rockies: Justin Valdespina, RHP, Southern New Hampshire
That’s two players featured today from New Hampshire. A baseball hotbed if there ever was one. Valdespina is a former Tommy John surgery survivor, and he looks fully recovered. He sits 90-92 while touching 95 with his fastball, and he shows an above-average curve as well. There’s some mechanical changes—and he’ll need to add a third pitch—if he’s going to start, but with two quality offerings, he could be a very nice middle-relief arm.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Graham Ashcraft, RHP, Huntsville HS (Ala.)
When Ashcraft is firing on all cylinders, he has two pitches that would make you not believe he is a prep pitcher. The slider flashes plus with huge break, and he also throws a fastball that has clocked in the high 90s. What Ashcraft does not have, however, is a useable third pitch, and the command and stuff both come and go from start to start. There is a ton of upside here, but a ton of volatility. On day three of the draft, it’s smart to bet on the upside, assuming he’s signable.
San Diego Padres: Jared Poche, LHP, LSU
It’s funny to have Poche next to Ashcraft, because they couldn’t be less similar outside of the fact they’ll throw baseballs for a living (probably). Poche will never have more than a 45 fastball, but he makes it work by putting that fastball where he wants, and both the curveball and change will flash plus. If Ashcraft is your classic high-ceiling, low-floor pitcher, Poche is your no-ceiling, high-floor hurler. You need both in your organizations, and San Diego was fortunate to get him on day three, I thought he’d go early on day two.
The depth in Puerto Rico was one of the strengths of this class, so it’s only right we end the draft talk with one of the best outfielders from the country. Layer is a quality athlete with plus speed, and his ability to recognize pitches and lay off bad ones gives him the look of a potential leadoff hitter. There’s also some power projection here, and he’s good enough defensively to project in centerfield. He’s light years away from contributing, but because of his upside, it was a surprise he was still available this late. Good for the Giants for taking the “risk” at this point in the draft.
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