This is the final mock draft that Jim Callis will lay out before the draft tonight. You can read previous versions leading up to the draft here. If he gets more information during the day, we’ll update the projection.
A year ago, the Astros owned the No. 1 overall selection and didn’t cement their decision until the afternoon of draft day. They didn’t engage their targets in serious negotiations until the final day, taking some of the leverage away from the players and their advisers. Houston reportedly was willing to pay Stanford righthander Mark Appel $6 million, but when it couldn’t pin down his asking price, it cut a deal with Carlos Correa for $4.8 million.
The same scenario is playing out again this year. The Astros have the first selection, and less than 12 hours before the draft’s 7 p.m. Eastern start tonight, we don’t believe they have settled on whom they will choose. They kept players in the dark yesterday, with Appel once again among their finalists.
With Houston still unsettled at the top, the entire first round remains very fluid. I continue to hear a lot of the same names in the same places in the top half of the first round, and the only changes between this first-round projection and last week’s is that I’ve flip-flopped Georgia high schooler outfielder Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows again, putting Frazier at No. 7 (Red Sox) and Meadows at No. 10 (Blue Jays). The willingness of players to provide discounts on the assigned pick values, which are up 8.2 percent from last year, will play a major role in who goes where in the first round.
My main role today will be to provide coverage on MLB Network’s draft broadcast, starting with their preview show at 6 p.m. Eastern. I’ll continue to monitor first-round machinations throughout the day, and if I sense significant changes, I’ll try to post one more revision to these projections in the afternoon.
This version doesn’t find a first-round home for Indiana State lefthander Sean Manaea, a candidate to go No. 1 overall before his stuff declined amid ankle, hip and shoulder ailments this spring. Teams received his medical records this week, and two sources told Baseball America that they revealed a labrum tear in his hip. There was no structural damage indicated in his shoulder, though one of the sources said his club would want more information, which it won’t have before the draft.
Manaea once figured to go in $5 million bonus territory, and it remains unclear how much less he’ll be willing to take at this point. There are rumblings that teams in the middle of the first round, such as the Pirates (No. 14) and Phillies (No. 16), could make a run at him. He also may drop completely out of the round and go in the top of the second to a club with a large bonus pool for the first 10 rounds.
For detailed scouting reports on all of the players discussed in this projection, please see the BA 500.
1. HOUSTON ASTROS: Houston may have a slight preference for Appel, but only at the right price. As a college senior, the July 12 signing deadline doesn’t apply to the Houston native, allowing him to essentially hold a club’s bonus pool hostage if he chooses. The Astros won’t take him without assurances of his cost. There was a lot of buzz Wednesday evening that the Cubs were closing in on a deal with Appel at No. 2, which could mean: a) he’d subsequently try to scare off Houston; b) he’d see if the Astros could trump Chicago’s offer; or c) no agreement is imminent and this is just an attempt to increase his leverage.
For now, I’m sticking with Oklahoma righthander Jonathan Gray as the No. 1 choice. There’s no indication that his positive drug test for Adderall will affect the stock of BA’s top-rated prospect, and I’m told it’s not an issue with Houston.
Some sources think the Astros would take San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant ahead of Gray. Others believe they’ll seek a heavy discount from their assigned $7,790,400 pick value by taking North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran, but that doesn’t make sense for reasons I outlined in Mock v3.0. Frazier and Meadows are possibilities in a similar scenario.
PROJECTED PICK: Jonathan Gray.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Mark Appel/2.0: Jonathan Gray/3.0: Gray)
2. CHICAGO CUBS: Chicago’s final four consists of the top four college prospects, with the pitchers ahead of the hitters. I’m told Gray’s positive test isn’t an issue with the Cubs either, and some of their decision-makers may prefer him to Appel.
PROJECTED PICK: Mark Appel.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Jonathan Gray/2.0: Mark Appel/3.0: Appel)
3. COLORADO ROCKIES: The top tier of prospects in this draft consists of Gray, Appel and Bryant, and Colorado is expected to take whichever remains. The Rockies have been tied to California high school first baseman Dominic Smith for a while, though Wednesday rumors that they’ll take him if they can’t determine Bryant’s price tag are a bit too much to believe.
PROJECTED PICK: Kris Bryant.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Kris Bryant/2.0: Bryant/2.0: Bryant)
4. MINNESOTA TWINS: Minnesota needs power arms, and assuming that the big three will be gone, I’ve had the Twins tied to Texas high school righthander Kohl Stewart in each of my previous first-round projections. Now there’s word they may look in a different direction, but I think that’s mostly just frustration with how predraft talks have gone with the Texas A&M quarterback recruit. If they do pass on Stewart and there are no surprises in the top three picks, Minnesota likely would take Washington prep catcher Reese McGuire. Indiana high school lefthander Trey Ball, Nevada righty Braden Shipley and Frazier would be other options.
PROJECTED PICK: Kohl Stewart.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Kohl Stewart/2.0: Stewart/3.0: Stewart)
5. CLEVELAND INDIANS: Unless one of the big three drops, Cleveland will choose between Moran and Frazier. The Indians usually prefer college players, but Frazier seems to be gaining steam here. Meadows is another possibility, with Shipley a longshot.
PROJECTED PICK: Colin Moran.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Braden Shipley/2.0: Colin Moran/3.0: Moran)
PROJECTED PICK: Braden Shipley.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Reese McGuire/2.0: Braden Shipley/3.0: Shipley)
7. BOSTON RED SOX: Boston will take Stewart if Minnesota doesn’t. If he’s gone, the Red Sox likely will take whomever the Indians don’t between Moran and Frazier. I’ve had a hard time pinning down whether Boston prefers Frazier to Meadows.
PROJECTED PICK: Clint Frazier.
(Mock Draft 1.0: Clint Frazier/2.0: Frazier/3.0: Austin Meadows)
8. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: It’s no secret Kansas City wants a pitcher. If Stewart and Shipley aren’t available, the Royals will choose between Ball and California high school righthander Phil Bickford. Bickford has helium after a spectacular start on Saturday in which he struck out 18 (including the final 11 batters) in seven innings. He also has a reported $3 million price tag, which fits with Kansas City’s assigned value ($3,137,800) but could make him a tough sign if he doesn’t go here. If the Royals go with a hitter, New Mexico corner infielder D.J. Peterson appears to be their man.
PROJECTED PICK: Trey Ball.
(Mock draft 1.0: Ryne Stanek/2.0: Trey Ball/3.0: Ball)
9. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (compensation pick for failure to sign 2013 first-rounder Mark Appel): Pittsburgh also has interest in Peterson but might be able to wait and get him with its No. 14 selection. The Pirates probably can’t do the same with McGuire, Meadows or Ball and will take one of them here.
PROJECTED PICK: Reese McGuire.
(Mock draft 1.0: Colin Moran/2.0: Reese McGuire/3.0: McGuire)
10. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: Toronto will take a high-ceiling talent. I believe the Jays’ pecking order is Stewart or Frazier, followed by Meadows, Ball, McGuire and California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford.
PROJECTED PICK: Austin Meadows.
(Mock draft 1.0: Trey Ball/2.0: Austin Meadows/3.0: Clint Frazier)
11. NEW YORK METS: Tough call here, because a lot of people think Peterson is New York’s primary target. The Mets are linked mostly to hitters, such as Meadows, McGuire, Smith and Renfroe. But there’s also a steep drop in college starters, and I think New York believes that drop begins after Arkansas righthander Ryne Stanek.
PROJECTED PICK: Ryne Stanek.
(Mock draft 1.0: D.J. Peterson/2.0: Ryne Stanek/3.0: Stanek)
12. SEATTLE MARINERS: Seattle’s moribund offense needs a lot of help, and it will get some here from Crawford or Peterson. Meadows and local product McGuire would be tempting if available. This is the high-water mark for Stanford outfielder Austin Wilson, but he generates mixed reviews in the industry and might not go in the first round. If the Mariners want a pitcher, the choices are Stanek (their third-round pick from 2010) and Bickford.
PROJECTED PICK: J.P. Crawford.
(Mock draft 1.0: Austin Meadows/2.0: J.P. Crawford/3.0: Crawford)
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Renfroe.
(Mock draft 1.0: Phil Bickford/2.0: D.J. Peterson/3.0: Hunter Renfroe)
14. PITTSBURGH PIRATES: Pittsburgh hopes Peterson or Ball gets here, with Renfroe and Stanek as backup plans. If all four are gone, the Pirates could turn to Smith. This is the earliest I’ve heard a whisper of any team taking Manaea, but putting him anywhere would be just a complete guess.
PROJECTED PICK: D.J. Peterson.
(Mock draft 1.0: Sean Manaea/2.0: Hunter Renfroe/3.0: D.J. Peterson)
15. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: The run on position players with six of the eight previous projected selections figures to lead Arizona to a pitcher: Stanek, California high school lefthander Ian Clarkin or Oral Roberts righthander Alex Gonzalez. If the Diamondbacks still want a bat, they’ll look at Smith and Fresno State outfielder Aaron Judge.
PROJECTED PICK: Ian Clarkin.
(Mock draft 1.0: Hunter Renfroe/2.0: Dominic Smith/3.0: Alex Gonzalez)
16. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: Philadelphia’s priority appears to be a bat, which could mean Crawford, Smith or East Central (Miss.) CC shortstop Tim Anderson. The Phillies also might not be afraid to invest in Bickford or Manaea.
PROJECTED PICK: Dominic Smith.
(Mock draft 1.0: J.P. Crawford/2.0: Ian Clarkin/3.0: Dominic Smith)
17. CHICAGO WHITE SOX: Chicago is associated mostly with pitchers: Ball (a pipe dream here), Stanek, Gonzalez and Jacksonville righthander Chris Anderson. If the White Sox continue their trend of taking athletic position players with their top choice, Tim Anderson would make sense.
PROJECTED PICK: Alex Gonzalez.
(Mock draft 1.0: Austin Wilson/2.0: Alex Gonzalez/3.0: Chris Anderson)
18. LOS ANGELES DODGERS: The obvious move is to assign Los Angeles a high school arm (Clarkin, North Carolina righthander Hunter Harvey, New Jersey lefty Rob Kaminsky) because it has used seven of its previous 11 first-rounders on them. I’ll take the easy way out, though I have a nagging suspicion the Dodgers could go with a bat for the second straight year and grab Peterson, Anderson, Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo or South Carolina prep catcher Nick Ciuffo. Stanek is another possibility.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Harvey.
(Mock draft 1.0: Ian Clarkin/2.0: Phil Bickford/3.0: Clarkin)
19. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: I’m starting to hear St. Louis on a lot of shortstops: Anderson, Stephen F. Austin State’s Hunter Dozier, Florida high schoolers Oscar Mercado, Tucker Neuhaus and Christian Arroyo and Georgia prepster Travis Demeritte. Anderson is the best bet to both hit and stay at shortstop, and he has little chance of getting to the Cardinals’ second pick at No. 28, so he’s the obvious choice.
PROJECTED PICK: Tim Anderson.
(Mock draft 1.0: Chris Anderson/2.0: Phillip Ervin/3.0: Tim Anderson)
20. DETROIT TIGERS: Detroit likes pitchers with quality fastballs, which would include Stanek, Gonzalez, Harvey, Anderson and Florida righthander Jonathon Crawford. If the Tigers want a bat, Samford outfielder Phillip Ervin may be the front-runner.
PROJECTED PICK: Jonathon Crawford.
(Mock draft 1.0: Jonathon Crawford/2.0: Eric Jagielo/3.0: Phil Bickford)
21. TAMPA BAY RAYS: Look for Tampa Bay to grab a pair of position players with its selections here and at No. 29. The Rays have been on Ciuffo for a while, as well as shortstops Anderson and Riley Unroe (an Arizona high schooler) and outfielders Ervin, Judge and Wilson.
PROJECTED PICK: Nick Ciuffo.
(Mock draft 1.0: Aaron Judge/2.0: Nick Ciuffo/3.0: Phillip Ervin)
22. BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Everything is in play for Baltimore: high school bats (Ciuffo, Georgia outfielder Josh Hart) and arms (Harvey) and college position players (Jagielo) and pitchers (Crawford, Anderson).
PROJECTED PICK: Chris Anderson.
(Mock draft 1.0: Nick Ciuffo/2.0: Alex Balog/3.0: Ciuffo)
23. TEXAS RANGERS: Unless Tim Anderson is still available, Texas probably goes for a pitcher here. Bickford would be costly, but the Rangers like him and have some flexibility with multiple first-round picks. They also could choose from among several attractive southpaws available, from college (Gonzaga’s Marco Gonzales) to junior college (Northwest Mississippi CC’s Cody Reed) to high school (Kaminsky, Kentucky’s Hunter Green, California’s Matt Krook).
PROJECTED PICK: Phil Bickford.
(Mock draft 1.0: Dominic Smith/2.0: Tim Anderson/3.0: Hunter Green)
24. OAKLAND ATHLETICS: Oakland’s top targets may be a pair of Northern California college outfielders in Judge (its 31st-round pick in 2010) and Wilson. Others in play include Chris Anderson, Texas high school outfielder Billy McKinney, Ciuffo, Kaminsky and Harvey.
PROJECTED PICK: Aaron Judge.
(Mock draft 1.0: Phillip Ervin/2.0: Aaron Judge/3.0: Judge)
25. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Many industry sources believe the pitching-savvy Giants will take Krook, a local San Francisco product. They’re also linked with other lefties such as Gonzales, Reed and Green. In a draft thin on shortstops, they could opt for Arroyo. One more option would be a college outfielder from among Ervin, Judge and Wilson.
PROJECTED PICK: Matt Krook.
(Mock draft 1.0: Matt Krook/2.0: Krook/3.0: Krook)
26. NEW YORK YANKEES: New York has more first-rounders than anyone, with further selections at Nos. 32 and 33. Tim Anderson, Jagielo and Harvey represent the best-case scenarios for the Yankees. Other possibilities here include Crawford and high school outfielders McKinney and Hart.
PROJECTED PICK: Eric Jagielo.
(Mock draft 1.0: Eric Jagielo/2.0: Rob Kaminsky/3.0: Jagielo)
27. CINCINNATI REDS: If Ervin actually lasts this long, and he might, he’d be a steal for Cincinnati. The Reds would have interest in Harvey, Tim and Chris Anderson, Ciuffo and Jagielo, all of whom we project to be gone. Green, McKinney and Oklahoma high school catcher Jon Denney are other alternatives.
PROJECTED PICK: Phillip Ervin.
(Mock draft 1.0: Kyle Serrano/2.0: Austin Wilson/3.0: Hunter Harvey)
28. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (compensation pick for losing free agent Kyle Lohse): St. Louis has a perennial contender, baseball’s top farm system and two first-round picks, so it could afford to gamble on Bickford or Manaea. The Cardinals repeatedly are linked to suburban St. Louis prep righthander Devin Williams, who hit 96 mph in a Busch Stadium workout on Tuesday, and Wilson, their 12th-round choice in 2010. Crawford and Marco Gonzales would be two college pitching possibilities.
PROJECTED PICK: Marco Gonzales.
(Mock draft 1.0: Billy McKinney/2.0: Jonathon Crawford/3.0: Marco Gonzales)
29. TAMPA BAY RAYS (compensation pick for losing free agent B.J. Upton): In addition to the position players mentioned at No. 21, Tampa Bay also has shown interest in McKinney, Hart and a third Florida prep outfielder, Cord Sandberg. Sandberg is also a Mississippi State quarterback recruit.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Dozier.
(Mock draft 1.0: Marco Gonzales/2.0: Gonzales/3.0: Austin Wilson)
30. TEXAS RANGERS (compensation pick for losing free agent Josh Hamilton): There’s a lot of talk that Texas could take Demeritte. If the Rangers want an up-the-middle player, Demeritte projects more as a third baseman and could lead the club to take Unroe or Hart. McKinney, a corner outfielder, has a better bat than any of them.
PROJECTED PICK: Travis Demeritte.
(Mock draft 1.0: Hunter Green/2.0: Billy McKinney/3.0: Riley Unroe)
31. ATLANTA BRAVES (compensation pick for losing free agent Michael Bourn): Scouting director Tony DeMacio’s affection for lefthanders could lead him to Kaminsky, Green, Krook or Gonzales (who’s reminiscent of Atlanta’s 2011 first-rounder, Sean Gilmartin). Harvey might trump all the southpaws. If the Braves desire a bat, it could be Hart, McKinney or Demeritte.
PROJECTED PICK: Hunter Green.
(Mock draft 1.0: Billy McKinney/2.0: Hunter Green/3.0: McKinney)
32. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Nick Swisher): Kaminsky pitches across the Hudson River in New Jersey and has been tied to the Yankees throughout the spring. New York also has the financial flexibility to make a run at Bickford, Manaea or Tennessee prep righthander Kyle Serrano, another difficult sign.
PROJECTED PICK: Rob Kaminsky.
(Mock draft 1.0: Rob Kaminsky/2.0: Sean Manaea/3.0: Kaminsky)
33. NEW YORK YANKEES (compensation pick for losing free agent Rafael Soriano): McKinney worked out for New York on Tuesday, and his pure hitting ability should put him in the first round somewhere. Denney, Wilson and Hart also generate a lot of buzz in the bottom half of the first round and could fit there, though I didn’t find a spot for them in this projection. All three are on the Yankees’ radar.
PROJECTED PICK: Billy McKinney.
(Mock draft 1.0: Jon Denney/2.0: Denney/3.0: Denney)