This is the third 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 Version 2.0 here, and we’ll follow with a final version on draft day next Thursday.
With the draft pushed back from its usual Monday or Tuesday to Thursday this year, teams aren’t as far along in their planning as you might expect on the Friday before the draft. I’m hearing most of the same names in the same places in the first 10-15 picks that I was hearing a week ago, and there aren’t a lot of difference between this first-round projection and our last one. In fact, the top six choices and 10 of the first 12 are the same.
The hottest rumor making the rounds is that the Astros will select North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran at No. 1 overall and sign him for roughly the same amount ($4.8 million) they paid Carlos Correa as the top pick in 2012. While Moran is on Houston’s short list of candidates, I don’t see this happening. For one, while Moran is a gifted hitter, he doesn’t have the impact potential of Oklahoma righthander Jonathan Gray, Stanford righthander Mark Appel or San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant. The Astros took a legitimate No. 1 overall talent and got a deep discount with Correa last year, but they’d be skimping on talent if they opt for Moran.
I’m also not sure how Houston would use all of the extra money if it saved $3 million off its assigned pick value of $7.8 million. The Astros could spend $2 million each on the Nos. 40, 74 and 107 picks, but this draft may lack the depth to provide players worthy of that kind of investment. Houston’s optimal strategy would be to sign a worthy player for somewhere between $6 million-$6.5 million, then have roughly $1.5 million to spread around.
Indiana State lefthander Sean Manaea remains the draft’s biggest wild card. He was a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick before his stuff dipped and he endured ankle, hip and shoulder issues this spring. Teams don’t have a good feel for his health or his signability, and I believe the most likely scenario is one of the clubs at the top of the draft with a large bonus pool will gamble on him after the first round.
So here’s this week’s look at how the first round will unfold. For detailed scouting reports on all of the players below, please see the BA 500.:
1. HOUSTON ASTROS: Houston’s list still includes five players, with Georgia high school outfielder Clint Frazier believed to be a distant fifth behind the four college prospects discussed above. Despite all the Moran talk, I still think it comes down to Gray and Appel, a Houston native whom the Astros considered at No. 1 a year ago. The industry perception is that it will be easier to strike a deal with Gray, and that could be the tiebreaker if the club is split between Gray’s upside and Appel’s polish. If the Astros take a bat, it would be Bryant over Moran.
PROJECTED PICK: Jonathan Gray (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Mark Appel/Gray).
2. CHICAGO CUBS: Chicago will consider the top four college prospects. While the Cubs won’t draft for need, they lack pitching and the decision will come down to Gray and Appel here as well. I don’t believe Chicago has resolved which pitcher it would select if it has its choice of both.
PROJECTED PICK: Mark Appel (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Jonathan Gray/Appel).
3. COLORADO ROCKIES: This might be the easiest decision in the draft, taking whichever of the three best prospects (Gray, Appel and Bryant) remains after the first two teams have selected. If the Rockies deviate from that, Moran could be their guy.
PROJECTED PICK: Kris Bryant (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Bryant/Bryant).
4. MINNESOTA TWINS: If Minnesota can’t get one of the big three, it will take Texas high school righthander Kohl Stewart. If Stewart’s price tag scares the Twins—he’s a Texas A&M quarterback recruit, though I can’t see him turning down top-10-pick money—they could go in the other direction and save cash for later by taking a discount with Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire. Indiana high school lefty Trey Ball and Moran are two more fallback plans.
PROJECTED PICK: Kohl Stewart (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Stewart/Stewart).
5. CLEVELAND INDIANS: Cleveland will take one of the top four college prospects, with the most likely outcome being Moran. If all four went in the first four selections, the next college guy for Cleveland would be Nevada righthander Braden Shipley. They also could consider Georgia high school outfielders Frazier and Austin Meadows and Ball.
PROJECTED PICK: Colin Moran (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Braden Shipley/Moran).
6. MIAMI MARLINS: Miami has been linked to Shipley for a while. He still appears to be the Marlins’ target, ahead of Meadows, Missisippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe and maybe Moran if he were still on the board.
PROJECTED PICK: Braden Shipley (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Reese McGuire/Shipley).
7. BOSTON RED SOX: If Minnesota doesn’t take Stewart, Boston will pounce on him. If he’s not available, the Red Sox likely will choose between the Georgia prep outfielders, and they’re split internally on which way to go. They also could look at Ball or college righthanders Shipley, Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) and maybe even Alex Gonzalez (Oral Roberts).
PROJECTED PICK: Austin Meadows (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Clint Frazier/Frazier).
8. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: It will be an upset it Kansas City doesn’t pick a pitcher. Assuming Stewart and Shipley are gone, the Royals would choose between Ball, California high school righthander Phil Bickford and Gonzalez. They don’t appear to be on Stanek, a suburban Kansas City high school product who’s stock is on the rise again after his strong start at the Southeastern Conference tournament.
PROJECTED PICK: Trey Ball (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Ryne Stanek/Ball).
9. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (compensation pick for failure to sign 2013 first-rounder Mark Appel): Pittsburgh has been associated with McGuire and New Mexico corner infielder D.J. Peterson for weeks. The Pirates pick again at 14 and have a better chance sneaking Peterson through five more selections, so they’ll take McGuire here.
PROJECTED PICK: Reese McGuire (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Colin Moran/McGuire).
10. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Toronto is looking for a high-ceiling talent to fall here. Getting Stewart of Frazier is the Jays’ primary hope, with Meadows, Ball and California prep shortstop J.P. Crawford the other possibilities.
PROJECTED PICK: Clint Frazier (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Trey Ball/Austin Meadows).
11. NEW YORK METS: Some sources think Peterson is a lock for New York if he gets here, and the club would love a chance at Meadows. The Mets also are tied to other bats such as Mississippi State outfielder Hunter Renfroe and California prep first baseman Dom Smith. Even with all that, I think they could go for a college arm, especially if Stanek makes a strong closing argument in his NCAA regional start on Saturday.
PROJECTED PICK: Ryne Stanek (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: D.J. Peterson/Stanek).
12. SEATTLE MARINERS: Unless someone surprising drops in their laps, Seattle figures to choose between Crawford, McGuire (a local product), Stanek (its unsigned third-round pick in 2010), Peterson and Bickford. Several clubs behind the Mariners hope they pass on the shortstop.
PROJECTED PICK: J.P. Crawford. (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Austin Meadows/Crawford).
13. SAN DIEGO PADRES: Count San Diego among the teams hoping for a pleasant surprise among the high-ceiling players available. If the Georgia high school outfielders and Crawford are gone, Renfroe looks like the pick over Peterson, Bickford and San Diego prep lefthander Ian Clarkin. The Padres are one of the few teams that might draft Ball as an outfielder.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Renfroe. (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Phil Bickford/D.J. Peterson).
14. PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Pittsburgh will consider Peterson at No. 9 and won’t pass him up here. If he’s gone, the Pirates could opt for Stanek or Ball. Otherwise, it’s probably another college bat from among Renfroe, Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo or outfielders Phillip Ervin (Samford), Austin Wilson (Stanford) or Aaron Judge (Fresno State).
PROJECTED PICK: D.J. Peterson. (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Sean Manaea/Hunter Renfroe).
15. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: The mini-run on position players ahead of them probably will push Arizona toward a pitcher, unless it goes for Smith. Stanek and Gonzalez would be the most attractive arms, with Jacksonville righthander Chris Anderson and Clarkin perhaps in the mix.
PROJECTED PICK: Alex Gonzalez (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Hunter Renfroe/Dominic Smith).
16. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Philadelphia would love Crawford and could turn to the next-best shortstop, East Central (Miss.) CC’s Tim Anderson, in a draft short of quality middle infielders. Smith could be the heir apparent to Ryan Howard, while Stanek and Clarkin also could draw the Phillies’ interest.
PROJECTED PICK: Dominic Smith (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: J.P. Crawford/Ian Clarkin).
PROJECTED PICK: Chris Anderson (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Austin Wilson/Alex Gonzalez).
18. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: This might be the high-water mark for Jagielo, though Los Angeles has spent seven of its last 11 first-round choices on high school pitchers. The Dodgers could do so again with Clarkin, righthander Hunter Harvey (North Carolina) or lefty Rob Kaminsky (New Jersey).
PROJECTED PICK: Ian Clarkin (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Clarkin/Phil Bickford).
19. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: With a perennially contending big league club, baseball’s best farm system and multiple first-round selections, St. Louis can afford to gamble on upside here and take Anderson, a raw but gifted junior college product. The Cardinals are mentioned with many of the third-tier college arms, such as Anderson, Florida righthander Jonathon Crawford and Gonzaga lefty Marco Gonzales, but at least one of them should get to No. 28.
PROJECTED PICK: Tim Anderson (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Chris Anderson/Phillip Ervin).
PROJECTED PICK: Phil Bickford (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Jonathon Crawford/Eric Jagielo).
21. TAMPA BAY RAYS: Tampa Bay is known for developing pitchers, but it wants (and needs) bats and could take two of them in the first round. If the Rays do want a first-round arm, they’ll probably wait until No. 29 to get him. Ervin, Tim Anderson and South Carolina high school catcher Nick Ciuffo are the names that come up most here.
PROJECTED PICK: Phillip Ervin (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Aaron Judge/Nick Ciuffo).
22. BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Baltimore doesn’t appear to have a preferred demographic, getting mentioned with college bats (Jagielo) and arms (San Francisco righthander Alex Balog) as well as with high school position players (Ciuffo) and pitchers (Harvey). Speedy Georgia prep outfielder Josh Hart has helium and could be a factor here.
PROJECTED PICK: Nick Ciuffo (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Ciuffo/Alex Balog).
23. TEXAS RANGERS: If Tim Anderson is gone, Texas could opt for a lefthanded pitcher here and wait for an up-the-middle talent at No. 30. The top southpaws available would be Kaminsky, Kentucky high schooler Hunter Green, California prepster Matt Krook and maybe Northwest Mississippi CC’s Cody Reed—unless they wanted to gamble on Manaea.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Green (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Dominic Smith/Tim Anderson).
24. OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Oakland has several intriguing possibilities from Northern California in Judge (its 31st-round pick in 2010), Wilson and Krook. If the A’s venture further from home, Jagielo and Harvey might be their guys.
PROJECTED PICK: Aaron Judge (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Phillip Ervin/Judge).
25. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Local products Krook and Balog have quality arms but lack consistency, making them the perfect projects for pitching-savvy San Francisco to refine. The Giants appear focused on pitchers, with Harvey, Gonzales and Marshall righthander Aaron Blair also in the mix.
PROJECTED PICK: Matt Krook (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Krook/Krook).
26. NEW YORK YANKEES: Another club interested in Tim Anderson, New York still could address the left side of its infield with Jagielo. The Yankees like high school pitchers Harvey and Kaminsky, with the latter a little more likely to be around for their next first-rounder at No. 32.
PROJECTED PICK: Eric Jagielo (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Jagielo/Rob Kaminsky).
27. CINCINNATI REDS: Two years ago in this same spot, Cincinnati landed fireballer Robert Stephenson. The Reds again will let the draft come to them, with Ervin perhaps their best-case scenario. Other candidates who we project to be gone include Chris and Tim Anderson, Ciuffo and Green. That could leave Cincinnati picking between Harvey, Oklahoma high school catcher Jon Denney or Texas prep outfielder Billy McKinney.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Harvey (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Kyle Serrano/Austin Wilson).
28. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (compensation pick for losing free agent Kyle Lohse): Jonathon Crawford and Gonzales are still on the board if St. Louis wants a college pitcher. The Cardinals also could consider Wilson, their 12th-round pick in 2010, and suburban St. Louis prep righthander Devin Williams.
PROJECTED PICK: Marco Gonzales (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Billy McKinney/Jonathon Crawford).
29. TAMPA BAY RAYS (compensation pick for losing free agent B.J. Upton): If Tampa Bay doesn’t get Ciuffo or Tim Anderson at 21, it probably has to turn to Plan B at catcher (Denney) or shortstop (Arizona prepster Riley Unroe). Stephen F. Austin State Hunter Dozier is another shortstop possibility, though he probably will change positions. Wilson’s huge ceiling and McKinney’s sweet lefthanded swing might be hard to ignore.
PROJECTED PICK: Austin Wilson (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Marco Gonzales/Gonzales).
30. TEXAS RANGERS (compensation pick for losing free agent Josh Hamilton): If Texas wants the up-the-middle player we alluded to earlier, Unroe and Hart would be intriguing. If another Georgia high schooler, third baseman Travis Demeritte, goes in the first round, it could be here. Should the Rangers opt for a bat at No. 23, they could grab one of the lefties or Harvey here.
PROJECTED PICK: Riley Unroe (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Hunter Green/Billy McKinney).
31. ATLANTA BRAVES (compensation pick for losing free agent Michael Bourn): The industry know that Atlanta scouting director Tony DeMacio likes lefthanders, and he did well with Sean Gilmartin in 2011’s first round and Alex Wood in 2012’s second. At least one southpaw from among Kaminsky, Gonzales, Green and Krook should be available, but it’s starting to look like the Braves will grab a bat. The best available might be McKinney.
PROJECTED PICK: Billy McKinney (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: McKinney/Hunter Green).
32. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Nick Swisher): The pitcher most closely linked with New York is Kaminsky, who pitches across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The Yankees also are tracking the top juco arms, Reed and Seminole State (Okla.) JC righthander Teddy Stankiewicz. They have the wherewithal to make a run at tough signs such as Manaea and Tennessee prep righthander Kyle Serrano, too.
PROJECTED PICK: Rob Kaminsky (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Kaminsky/Sean Manaea).
33. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Rafael Soriano): New York has invested in numerous offensive-minded catching prospects over the years, such as Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy. If that trend continues, Denney is an obvious target.
PROJECTED PICK: Jon Denney (Mock draft 1.0/2.0: Denney/Denney).