Baseball America

Mock Draft 2.0: Shades Of Gray

This is the second of four complete mock drafts that Jim Callis will take you through leading up to the draft on June 6. You can read Version 1.0 here, and we’ll follow with another one next week and the final version on draft day.

Indiana State lefthander Sean Manaea has gone from a potential No. 1 overall pick to the biggest question mark in the 2013 draft. After displaying an explosive mid-90s fastball in the Cape Cod League last summer, he has battled ankle and hip injuries and pitched at 88-93 mph for much of the spring.

Teams picking outside the top 10 initially didn’t spend a lot of time scouting Manaea because they figured they wouldn’t have a chance to select him. When his draft stock began to tip, those clubs had to scramble to evaluate him.

Indiana State's Sean Manaea

Sean Manaea

Scouts flocked to see Manaea pitch Tuesday morning in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but he felt stiffness in his shoulder while warming up before the first inning. He left without throwing an official pitch, and whether he’ll take the mound again before the draft is in question. The Sycamores need a victory on Friday to reach the MVC tournament finals on Saturday, when Manaea conceivably could pitch. Indiana State won’t advance to the NCAA regional playoffs without winning their conference tourney.

The Boras Corp. is advising Manaea, so teams worry that his asking price could be higher than they believe his spring performance would merit. Add in the health questions, and there’s no telling where he might go in the draft. Manaea looked dominant in the Cape League but carries more risk than some clubs will be comfortable with in the first round. Scott Boras has cut several lucrative deals with the Nationals, but their first choice doesn’t come until the No. 62 overall pick and they have MLB’s smallest bonus pool for the first 10 rounds ($2,737,200).

There’s never enough college pitching available to sate clubs, and Manaea’s cloudy status is a blow in a year when the depth of first-round-caliber college arms is shallower than usual. The good news on that front is that two more likely first-rounders have emerged, with righthanders Alex Gonzalez (Oral Roberts) and Alex Balog (San Francisco) rising up draft boards.

Two weeks before the draft, here’s our forecast for the first round:

HoustonAstros1. HOUSTON ASTROS: Houston has narrowed its field to five: the top two college pitchers (Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray and Stanford’s Mark Appel), the top two college bats (San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant and North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran) and a fifth option, presumed to be Georgia high school outfielder Clint Frazier.

Rumors persist that the Astros might prefer to redistribute bonus-pool money by striking a deal with one of the hitters, and owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow have been spotted scouting Moran. Most industry sources, however, continue to believe the choice will come down to Gray or Appel, whom Houston also considered with the No. 1 pick last year. They’re close enough in talent that asking price could be a deciding factor, though either will command significantly more than the $4.8 million Carlos Correa got as the top choice in 2013.

PROJECTED PICK: Jonathan Gray (Mock Draft 1.0: Mark Appel).

3ds_cubs792. CHICAGO CUBS: Chicago is looking at the same four college players that Houston is evaluating. The Cubs have an acute need for pitching and have had scouting eyes on Appel and Gray throughout the spring. It’s not clear whom they would prefer between Gray and Appel if the Astros opt for a hitter.

PROJECTED PICK: Mark Appel (Mock Draft 1.0: Jonathan Gray).

3ds_rockies853. COLORADO ROCKIES: Gray, Appel and Bryant are the consensus top three prospects in the draft, so the obvious move would be to take the guy Houston and Chicago leave on the board, even though the Rockies probably would prefer a pitcher in a perfect world. Colorado also could consider Moran.

PROJECTED PICK: Kris Bryant (Unchanged).

3ds_twins814. MINNESOTA TWINS: Unless one of the big three falls, pitching-needy Minnesota appears focused most on Texas high school righthander Kohl Stewart. The Twins could save money with Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire, and Indiana high school lefty Trey Ball and Moran also are in the mix.

PROJECTED PICK: Kohl Stewart (Unchanged).

3ds_indians835. CLEVELAND INDIANS: Right now, the most credible top-five projection is that Cleveland will take Moran. If he goes in the top four, the Indians could turn to Nevada righthander Braden Shipley or Ball, or they could explore Georgia high school outfielders Frazier and Austin Meadows.

PROJECTED PICK: Colin Moran (Mock Draft 1.0: Braden Shipley).

Miami Marlins6. MIAMI MARLINS: The industry buzz continues to be that the Marlins will look to save money with their first-round selection. Miami is expected to cut a deal with Shipley or McGuire, with New Mexico corner infielder D.J. Peterson a third option. Frazier and Meadows might factor in here as well.

PROJECTED PICK: Braden Shipley (Mock Draft 1.0: Reese McGuire).

3ds_redsox857. BOSTON RED SOX: Boston hasn’t selected this high in the draft since it took high school outfielder Trot Nixon with the No. 7 choice in 1993, so its scouting focus has been on high-ceiling prospects. The Red Sox covet Stewart, who could get here if Minnesota doesn’t take him. Frazier appears to be Plan B, with Ball and Shipley two more considerations.

PROJECTED PICK: Clint Frazier (Unchanged).

3ds_royals298. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: Kansas City seeks pitching and would love a shot at Stewart or Shipley. The Royals prefer Ball and could also be tempted by California high school arms Phil Bickford and Ian Clarkin. If they took a college pitcher, this could be the high-water mark for Alex Gonzalez. They don’t appear to have interest in Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek, who pitched in suburban Kansas City as a high schooler.

PROJECTED PICK: Trey Ball (Mock Draft 1.0: Ryne Stanek).

3ds_pirates819. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (compensation pick for failure to sign 2013 first-rounder Mark Appel): With two of the first 14 selections, Pittsburgh’s best case would have them landing both McGuire and Peterson. That might be tough, but the dropoff among catchers after McGuire is steeper than the dropoff among college bats after Peterson. If the Pirates go for a pitcher, it could be Ball.

PROJECTED PICK: Reese McGuire (Mock Draft 1.0: Colin Moran).

3ds_bluejays8110. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Without the benefit of extra picks to load up on talent like it had a year ago, Toronto will shoot for a high-ceiling player here. If Stewart, Frazier and Ball aren’t available, Meadows would stand out. The Blue Jays also would consider Shipley or McGuire.

PROJECTED PICK: Austin Meadows (Mock Draft 1.0: Trey Ball).

3ds_mets8111. NEW YORK METS: The prevailing belief in the industry is that New York wants a bat such as Peterson, Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe, one of the Georgia high school outfielders or California prep first baseman Dom Smith. But after taking high school position players in the last two first rounds (Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini), the Mets may choose to go after a college pitcher such as Stanek or Gonzalez.

PROJECTED PICK: Ryne Stanek (Mock Draft 1.0: D.J. Peterson).

3ds_mariners8312. SEATTLE MARINERS: There are several names associated with Seattle, including Moran (no way he gets to No. 12), McGuire (a local product), Stanek (its unsigned third-round pick in 2010), Peterson, Bickford and Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin. The name du jour is California high schooler J.P. Crawford, who’s easily the best shortstop in the draft and a target of many teams picking in the teens.

PROJECTED PICK: J.P. Crawford (Mock Draft 1.0: Austin Meadows).

3ds_padres8313. SAN DIEGO PADRES: High school hitters McGuire, Meadows and Crawford all would be targets for San Diego. If they go right before the Padres, the club will look to the next tier of high-ceiling prospects and consider Peterson, Renfroe, Bickford and Clarkin.

PROJECTED PICK: D.J. Peterson. (Mock Draft 1.0: Phil Bickford).

3ds_pirates8114. PITTSBURGH PIRATES: The Pirates will take Peterson if he’s here. If he’s gone, Pittsburgh figures to turn to the next-best college bat, which would be Renfroe. If Renfroe’s recent 4-for-32 slump gives the Pirates pause, they could look at Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo, Ervin, Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson or Aaron Judge.

PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Renfroe (Mock Draft 1.0: Sean Manaea).

3ds_diamondbacks2115. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona is looking for position players and would have interest in the three players projected to go right before them in this scenario. That would make Smith the best bat available, and Gonzalez the most attractive of the college arms remaining.

PROJECTED PICK: Dominic Smith (Mock Draft 1.0: Hunter Renfroe).

3ds_phillies8316. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Philadelphia looked like a perfect destination for Crawford, a toolsy athlete who could be Jimmy Rollins’ heir apparent. Now it appears he won’t get to the Phillies, who may switch gears and look at pitchers such as Gonzalez and high schooler lefthanders Clarkin and Hunter Green (out of Kentucky). Smith also could intrigue them.

PROJECTED PICK: Ian Clarkin (Mock Draft 1.0: J.P. Crawford).

3ds_whitesox8517. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: The White Sox have shown a preference for athletic outfielders in recent first rounds, and if the right position player fell here, such as Renfroe or Smith, they might pounce. But it looks like the best options for Chicago will be pitchers, and this might be the floor for Gonzalez.

PROJECTED PICK: Alex Gonzalez (Mock Draft 1.0: Austin Wilson).

3ds_dodgers8318. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: In the last 11 drafts, Los Angeles has used seven first-round picks on high school pitchers. That trend likely will continue this year, with Clarkin, Bickford and New Jersey lefthander Rob Kaminsky the most obvious candidates.

PROJECTED PICK: Phil Bickford (Mock Draft 1.0: Ian Clarkin).

3ds_cardinals8119. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: A lot of college pitchers get mentioned here, including Gonzalez, Florida’s Jonathon Crawford, Jacksonville’s Chris Anderson and Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales. A selection will still be available when St. Louis picks again at No. 28, so the better play could be to take a toolsy college outfielder such as Ervin, Judge or Wilson, who was a Cardinals 12th-rounder out of high school.

PROJECTED PICK: Phillip Ervin (Mock Draft 1.0: Chris Anderson).

3ds_tigers8320. DETROIT TIGERS: With its first first-round choice in four years, Detroit appears headed down the college route. The Tigers prefer Jagielo or Judge among the bats and Crawford and Gonzales among the pitchers. If they take a high schooler, it could be Texas prep outfielder Billy McKinney.

PROJECTED PICK: Eric Jagielo (Mock Draft 1.0: Jonathon Crawford).

3ds_rays521. TAMPA BAY RAYS: Another team with multiple choices at the end of the first round, Tampa Bay probably can wait until No. 29 to get one of its desired lefthanders (Gonzales, Green or Northwest Mississippi JC’s Cody Reed). If the Rays want to address catcher (South Carolina high schooler Nick Ciuffo) or shortstop (East Central, Miss., JC’s Tim Anderson), they probably have to strike here to get their preferred player.

PROJECTED PICK: Nick Ciuffo (Mock Draft 1.0: Aaron Judge).

3ds_orioles8722. BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Baltimore has taken pitchers with four of its last five first-round picks (the only exception being Manny Machado), and it seems to be zeroing in on college arms this year. Jonathon Crawford and Chris Anderson were hot commodities earlier in the year, but Alex Balog has passed them both with a late rush.

PROJECTED PICK: Alex Balog (Mock Draft 1.0: Nick Ciuffo).

3ds_rangers8323. TEXAS RANGERS: Texas is monitoring both Mississippi juco standouts, Tim Anderson and Reed, who are exactly the type of high-upside players it craves. Home state product McKinney and Green also could be targets, but the Rangers may wait until their second first-rounder at No. 30 for one of them.

PROJECTED PICK: Tim Anderson (Mock Draft 1.0: Dominic Smith).

3ds_athletics7924. OAKLAND ATHLETICS: The two highest-ceiling players still available could be a pair of Northern California college outfielders: Judge, who was Oakland’s 31st-round pick selection three years ago, and Wilson. Another player from the region, high school lefthander Matt Krook, also could be in the A’s mix. Jagielo might trump them all if he lasts this long.

PROJECTED PICK: Aaron Judge (Mock Draft 1.0: Phillip Ervin).

3ds_giants8325. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Krook has been inconsistent but has shown frontline stuff, and San Francisco knows how to refine young pitching. Balog, another local product, also would fit here. The Giants have been linked to several other pitchers, including Gonzales, Chris Anderson and Marshall righthander Aaron Blair.

PROJECTED PICK: Matt Krook (Unchanged).

3ds_yankees8526. NEW YORK YANKEES: New York will be busy at the end of the first round, with three of the last eight picks. With the first of those selections, the Yankees could address the aging left side of their infield if Jagielo or Tim Anderson make it here. If not, Kaminsky’s polish may be too much to pass up.

PROJECTED PICK: Rob Kaminsky (Mock Draft 1.0: Eric Jagielo).

3ds_reds8327. CINCINNATI REDS: Our last projection had Cincinnati taking Kyle Serrano, but it’s looking more and more like he may be impossible to sign away from a commitment to play for his father Dave at the University of Tennessee. The Reds’ best options may be Wilson, McKinney and Gonzales.

PROJECTED PICK: Austin Wilson (Mock Draft 1.0: Kyle Serrano).

3ds_cardinals8128. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (compensation pick for losing free agent Kyle Lohse): A number of the college pitchers St. Louis contemplated at No. 19 will still be on the table at No. 28. There has been buzz that the Cardinals could take high school righthander Devin Williams from the St. Louis suburbs, but he fits more in the second round.

PROJECTED PICK: Jonathon Crawford (Mock Draft 1.0: Billy McKinney).

3ds_rays529. TAMPA BAY RAYS (compensation pick for losing free agent B.J. Upton): If Tampa Bay goes with a catcher at No. 21, it likely will opt here for a lefthander (Gonzales, Green, Krook, Reed) or shortstop (Arizona high schooler Riley Unroe, whose father Tim had a long pro career and got cups of coffee in the big leagues).

PROJECTED PICK: Marco Gonzales (Unchanged).

3ds_rangers8330. TEXAS RANGERS (compensation pick for losing free agent Josh Hamilton): McKinney’s bat would provide nice value at this stage of the draft. If Texas wants a pitcher after opting for a position player at No. 23, then Reed, Green and North Carolina high school righthander Hunter Harvey (the son of former all-star Bryan) could be targets.

PROJECTED PICK: Billy McKinney (Mock Draft 1.0: Hunter Green).

3ds_braves8331. ATLANTA BRAVES (compensation pick for losing free agent Michael Bourn): Atlanta scouting director Tony DeMacio has a history of taking lefthanders with early picks, including Sean Gilmartin in 2011′s first round and Alex Wood in 2012′s second. This year he could get to choose between some combination of Kaminsky, Gonzales or Green. McKinney is a possibility if the Braves want a position player, and California catcher Andrew Knapp and Georgia high school third baseman Travis Demeritte could sneak into the first round here.

PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Green (Mock Draft 1.0: Billy McKinney).

3ds_yankees8532. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Nick Swisher): If any team can afford to gamble on Manaea, it’s New York, which has more first-round picks and more money than anyone else. Should the Yankees decide to go with a less risky pitcher, they could deliberate between Reed, Blair and Seminole State (Okla.) JC righthander Teddy Stankiewicz could be their top choices.

PROJECTED PICK: Sean Manaea (Mock Draft 1.0: Rob Kaminsky).

3ds_yankees8533. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Rafael Soriano): The same rules for the previous pick also apply here. New York also likes offensive-minded catchers, and Oklahoma high schooler Jon Denney might have more upside with the bat than any backstop in the draft.

PROJECTED PICK: Jon Denney (Unchanged).