SEE: MLB Mock Draft 4.5
Having the No. 1 overall pick in the draft doesn’t make the draft all about the No. 1 overall pick.
Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey says he understands the hubbub for Minnesota fans and the industry. It’s the largest bonus pool; the Twins are allotted more than $14.1 million, more than half of it allotted to the top slot in the draft.
Falvey, in his first year running the organization, also knows the attention of the top pick, the symbolism, is important. The last time the Twins picked No. 1 overall, they hit a home run with local boy Joe Mauer, who won three batting titles and an MVP award and led the Twins to three playoff spots before his career slowed after a concussion.
But the Twins also pick 35th and 37th overall, and at the top of every round. Falvey insists that for all the attention he and his staff have given the top pick, they’ve also focused on the entire portfolio, with the first three selections a focus for him, general manager Thad Levine, and top amateur evaluators such as Mike Radcliff, Deron Johnson and Sean Johnson—the club’s last two scouting directors and its current director.
In an interview last week, Falvey said the Twins had narrowed their choices to “five or six” players and targeted today, June 7, as the end of the club’s deliberations of who they want at No. 1 and the beginning of making that selection a reality. But it’s not an isolated decision.
“I recognize the focus on the No. 1 pick,” Falvey said, “but we’re no less focused on 35 and 37 . . . Mike and DJ and (pro scouting director) Vern Followell have all been out with Sean, and (crosschecker) Tim O’Neil could be a scouting director for anybody. We’ve got so much experience and history, and we’re just trying to get the right blend of the ridiculous amount of experience we have here together with a systemic approach that may not have been here before.”
Falvey’s approach and process was expected to culminate at the end of this week, with the draft looming Monday at 7 p.m. Eastern on MLB Network. The Twins will work out Hunter Greene while monitoring super regional starts by Louisville’s Brendan McKay (at home against a deep, dangerous Kentucky lineup) and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright (at top-ranked Oregon State).
But by then, the decision may already have been made.
The industry consensus at the top of the draft remains that Greene has the highest ceiling. Falvey said his club will not shy away from Greene just because a prep righthander has never gone No. 1 overall.
“I do believe in evidence,” he said. “It’s likely that . . . there has been some rationale for that. Let’s figure out why it applies, or does not apply, in this case . . . rather than make a blanket statement.”
Most industry sources still expect the Twins not to take Greene, with their choice coming down to Wright and McKay.
Pick: Kyle Wright, rhp, Vanderbilt |
No one expects Greene to slip past three, and his Minnesota workout lends some hope to his desire to be the first prep righty picked No. 1 overall. If he doesn’t go first, he’s most likely to go second.
Pick: Hunter Greene, rhp, Notre Dame High, Sherman Oaks, Calif. |
MacKenzie Gore seems to be the most popular player in the draft class, a player scouts record highly for his athleticism, tools and love for the game. The Rays and Braves both would be very interested if Gore were available at their selections, but he’s not expected to fall. Gore hasn’t been included in a lot of the two-way discussions, but he’s an athletic hitter with a graceful swing and some barrel awareness. He’ll be an asset for a National League team.
Pick: MacKenzie Gore, lhp, Whiteville (N.C.) High |
Tampa Bay could wind up getting the best player in the draft with the fourth pick—if you think McKay is the best player. Tampa leans toward McKay as a hitter, where his power has emerged as a true plus tool this year. He has more room for growth as a position player—as a hitter but especially defensively and in terms of his baserunning.
Pick: Brendan McKay, 1b/lhp, Louisville |
Atlanta remains difficult to read, but industry sources expect president of baseball operations John Hart to lean in the direction of the player with the most 7s on the scouting card (on the 2-to-8 scouting scale). That likely means a prep hitter here, choosing from among Royce Lewis and Austin Beck. Atlanta may have to cut a deal here to sign a tougher sign, such as injured Stanford righty Tristan Beck, later at pick No. 41. Beck will not throw a bullpen prior to the draft, raising the probability that a deal with someone already is in place.
Pick: Royce Lewis, ss/of, JSerra Catholic HS, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. |
Here’s where the draft starts to get squirrelly, as options such as college righthanders J.B. Bukauskas and Alex Faedo have not stepped forward late in the year. Bukauskas has backed up, and he might be available into the double-digit picks now. North Carolina prep outfielder Austin Beck, who worked out recently in Oakland, has a higher upside if his bat clicks.
Pick: Austin Beck, of, North Davidson High, Lexington, N.C. |
Arizona is the absolute floor for Gore, but it doesn’t appear likely for Gore to fall this far. Arizona has been tied to Virginia’s two hitters regularly, but the one moving up boards of late was center fielder Adam Haseley, who finished the year hitting .390/.491/.659 with 14 home runs and just 21 strikeouts.
Pick: Adam Haseley, of, Virginia |
Will Philadelphia fans trust the process? It’s not just the 76ers who need to hit it big in the draft. The Phils are said to be off UVA’s other first-round bat, Pavin Smith, and are the highest potential spot for Bukauskas and Florida righthander Alex Faedo.
Pick: J.B. Bukauskas, rhp, North Carolina |
If Bukauskas falls, he could settle here or at pick 11 with the White Sox.
Pick: Alex Faedo, rhp, Florida |
11. White Sox
Chicago will consider any of the three previous picks in front of them if they are available. In this scenario, we still hear the Sox on a college bat. The lure of Jeren Kendall’s tools—plus the knowledge gleaned from having him on the White Sox’s Area Code Games team in 2013—will be too much to ignore.
Pick: Jeren Kendall, of, Vanderbilt |
Pittsburgh has been linked to San Diego prep righty Michael Mercado, but that’s more likely in the second round than its first. The Pirates have consistently been linked to college bats, but this class offers plenty of prep upside, and this is the club that took Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes with first-round picks in recent years.
Pick: Nick Pratto, 1b/of, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS |
Will the recent injury news of Braxton Garrett, last year’s first-rounder, prompt the Marlins to stay away from prep arms such as Shane Baz, D.L. Hall or Trevor Rogers? The guess here is no, but it’s just a guess.
Pick: Shane Baz, rhp, Concordia Lutheran HS, Tomball, Texas |
We’ve linked the Royals to prep arms for weeks, and we’re not stopping now, but it’s a different prep arm.
Pick: D.L. Hall, lhp, Valdosta (Ga.) HS |
In this scenario, Houston has more college bat options that it knows what to do with, but the highest riser in the group is Kentucky’s athletic first baseman Evan White, who seems to have surpassed Pavin Smith on many clubs’ boards due to his top-of-the-scale defense, hitting ability and the possibility that he could move to the outfield.
Pick: Evan White, 1b, Kentucky |
New York has been linked to college arms all spring, but it also could go for the right college bat. If Keston Hiura were fully healthy, he’d fit at 15 or 16, but both those teams have history of voiding or not signing players due to medical issues. Hiura either fits higher, such as with the Angels at 10, or he may start to slip a bit.
Pick: Griffin Canning, rhp, UCLA |
This would be a win for Seattle if Smith falls this far. The Mariners have preferred righthanded bats in recent drafts but also have hit up Virginia heavily, so both Jake Burger and Pavin Smith are good fits.
Pick: Jake Burger, 3b, Missouri State |
One pitcher rising up boards of late, righthander Nate Pearson of Central Florida JC, had a fantastic workout at Detroit’s Lakeland spring-training home. The physical righty, who hit 100 repeatedly in the workout with an upper-80s slider, could be an option higher than this, perhaps as high as five. He’s committed to LSU and may not come cheap, as he could pitch in the SEC next season and go out as one of the top college arms.
Pick: Nate Pearson, rhp, Central Florida JC |
A solid performer in college who hit well in the Cape Cod League, Smith scratches the Giants right where scouting director John Barr itches.
Pick: Pavin Smith, 1b, Virginia |
New Mexico prep lefty Trevor Rogers is in play higher than this, but the Mets would be a tremendous fit considering their track record of developing pitchers of late.
Pick: Trevor Rogers, lhp, Calsbad (N.M.) HS |
While Baltimore usually is linked to college players in the first round, it has taken a liking to this year’s high school outfielder class, with Puerto Rico’s Heliot Ramos the top target. The Orioles’ other options might not be available at No. 60 overall, their second selection.
Pick: Heliot Ramos, of, Leadership Christian Academy, Guaynabo, P.R. |
22. Blue Jays
Toronto could get to choose between one of the best college lefties available, Oregon’s David Peterson, and the top college shortstop, Logan Warmoth.
Pick: Logan Warmoth, ss, North Carolina |
We continue to hear L.A. tied to prep bats, but if Hiura is still on the board, the Dodgers should pounce. Team orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache has handled Hiura’s elbow issue, performing a platelet-rich plasma treatment in January.
Pick: Keston Hiura, 2b/of, UC Irvine |
24. Red Sox
Early in the spring, the Red Sox likely thought they had little chance at a potential impact college arm this late. They drafted Oregon’s Peterson out of high school, and he fits here as a college performer who still has some upside.
Pick: David Peterson, lhp, Oregon |
This pick just makes too much sense to change.
Pick: Seth Romero, lhp, no team |
With two selections early, Texas could restock a system thinned out by trades. The board has shaped up for it to land one of the prospective Southeastern Conference aces such as Missouri’s Tanner Houck, who was on the rebound before a poor SEC tournament start.
Pick: Tanner Houck, rhp, Missouri |
Another fast riser on the workout circuit has been Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Daulton Varsho, whose father Gary was a Cubs draftee in 1982 and played parts of three seasons on the North Side. The younger Varsho, a third-team All-American, has the best bat of any available college catcher, moving ahead of San Diego’s Riley Adams and TCU’s Evan Skoug, and has shown the athleticism to catch.
Pick: Daulton Varsho, c, Wisconsin-Milwaukee
28. Blue Jays
The college first-base ranks are crowded, and after McKay, White and Smith at the top, the consensus starts to evaporate. Teams looking for lefthanded power have options such as Gavin Sheets, whose father Larry played for the Orioles when Jays team president Mark Shapiro was growing up in Baltimore, as his father was the agent for players such as Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray.
Pick: Gavin Sheets, 1b, Wake Forest |
Chicago’s search for pitching continues. Picking at 30, it makes sense to roll the dice on an injured player such as Clarke Schmidt if the Cubs believe in the makeup and the work ethic, and everyone does. The Cubs could get a top 15-caliber talent with the 30th selection.
Pick: Clarke Schmidt, rhp, South Carolina |
Supplemental First Round
Oakland buys a little security after the high-risk pick of Austin Beck.
Pick: Alex Lange, rhp, Louisiana State |
This would be local fave Sam Carlson if he falls this far, but that seems unlikely. With another pick coming at 37, Minnesota could save up for a run at a high-dollar tough sign such as Brady McConnell or Mark Vientos by saving some money with an older college player at 35.
Pick: Brent Rooker, 1b, Mississippi State