Baseball America

Ask BA: Which Draft Picks Will Become No. 1 Prospects?

Draft signings are starting to come fast and furious, and we’re tracking all the major developments at our MLB Draft Signings Central page. Four first-rounders turned pro yesterday: Hunter Dozier (No. 8, Royals), Alex Gonzalez (No. 23, Rangers), Phillip Ervin (No. 27, Reds) and Travis Demeritte (No. 30, Rangers). A fifth, Billy McKinney (No. 24, Athletics), has agreed to terms today.

I’ve been so busy monitoring the maneuverings leading up to draft day and the signings since—you can find all of the draft coverage produced by our excellent team here—that I forgot my annual column where I make my own picks in a 10-round draft. I’ll try to get that posted tomorrow or Thursday.

I ask you this question for Ask BA every year, so we need to continue the tradition. Which first-day picks automatically will become their parent teams’ No. 1 overall prospect, assuming they sign?

J.P. Schwartz
Springfield, Ill.

Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray

Jonathan Gray (Photo by John Williamson)

Last year, five draft picks claimed the No. 1 spot in their organizations when we released our Top 10 Prospects lists during the offseason. All went in the upper half of the first round: Carlos Correa (No. 1 overall to the Astros), Mike Zunino (No. 3, Mariners), Kyle Zimmer (No. 5, Royals), Addison Russell (No. 11, Athletics) and Courtney Hawkins (No. 13, White Sox).

This year, I see only two draftees who project to become their organization’s top prospect, and one of those is highly debatable. Third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant (No. 2) had the best power in this year’s draft, and though it’s an extremely close call, I’d take him over shortstop Javier Baez and outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler in the Cubs system. I’d also tab righthander Jonathan Gray (No. 3) over outfielder David Dahl in the Rockies system.

And that’s it. It’s close, but I like last year’s No. 1 overall pick (Correa) a little more than this year’s (righthander Mark Appel) among Astros prospects. Righty Kohl Stewart (No. 4) isn’t going to depose outfielder Byron Buxton or third baseman Miguel Sano with the Twins. Ditto for outfielder Clint Frazier (No. 5) with shortstop Francisco Lindor in the Indians system, and third baseman Colin Moran (No. 6) with outfielder Christian Yelich among Marlins farmhands.

Shortstop Tim Anderson (No. 17, White Sox) and righthanders Alex Gonzalez (No. 23, Rangers) and Devin Williams (No. 54, Brewers) all went to systems that don’t have an obvious No. 1 prospect because of some combination of promotions, injuries or subpar performances. But I don’t see any of those three ranking atop their organizations.

This Blue Jays draft doesn’t appear to be getting as much hype and love as the past two have. What’s your overall take on Toronto’s draft? Please give us a few names to keep an eye on as potential steals for the Jays.

Rick Brasil
Toronto

How do you think the Blue Jays did in the 2013 draft, considering this is the first in many years that they didn’t have any extra picks?

Erin Peters
Morden, Manitoba

Realistically, who do you think the Blue Jays will be able to lock up between lefthanders Jake Brentz (11th round) and Eric Lauer (17th), righty Sam Tewes (22nd) and first baseman Rowdy Tellez (30th)?

Will Tam
Toronto

The Blue Jays had four picks before the second round (and nine in the first three rounds) in 2010, five before the second round (and nine in the top two rounds) in 2011 and five before the second round last year. This June, they didn’t have any extra selections.

Toronto’s draft was all about pitching, as it took arms with its first nine selections. California high school righthander Phil Bickford (No. 10 overall) had as much helium as anyone in the week before the draft, and his lively 90-96 mph fastball can be unhittable at times.

The Jays followed Bickford up with two more hard-throwing prep righties in Kentucky’s Clinton Hollon (second) and Arizona’s Patrick Murphy (third), with the latter still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Toronto backed those three righthanders up with three straight southpaws, grabbing projectable Alabama high schooler Evan Smith in the fourth round and polished collegians Daniel Lietz (Heartland, Ill., CC) and Matt Boyd (Oregon State) in the fifth and sixth.

Bickford’s reported asking price was more than $1 million above the assigned $2,921,400 value for his pick. The Blue Jays should be able to create extra money in their $6,398,200 bonus pool, however. Hollon is considered a very easy sign, Murphy and Smith went higher than expected (neither made the BA 500) and Toronto’s sixth-, eighth-, ninth- and 10th-rounders all are college seniors.

The Jays should still have significant change left over after signing Bickford, and to me the key to their draft will be their ability to sign at least one of the four significant late-rounders whom Will mentioned above. I suspect they’ll land one or two of them.

Tellez (59th), Brentz (80th), Lauer (125th) and Tewes (175th) all ranked prominently on the BA 500 and fell for signability reasons. Tellez had as much lefthanded power as anyone in the 2013 draft, and he’d easily be the best position player Toronto landed. Brentz is raw but can hit 96 mph as a lefty, while Lauer and Tewes are very athletic and projectable.

In terms of sleepers, I like a pair of catchers, West Appleton (Wis.) High’s Danny Jansen (16th round) and Florida Gulf Coast’s Mike Reeves (21st). A Jacksonville recruit, Jansen is a physical player with arm strength and power potential. Reeves doesn’t have the same pop but does possess fine catch-and-throw skills.

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