Mock Draft, Version 2.0
Two weeks have passed since our initial first-round projection
, and there's still not much more certainty about who's going where. San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg is still a lock for the Nationals with the No. 1 overall pick, and teams picking behind the Mariners have lost hope that North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley will get past the No. 2 choice.
After that, there's little consensus as to how to line up the prospects, let alone in what order they'll be taken. Eleven days before the draft, here's what we're hearing:
The only way Washington doesn't take Strasburg, the best prospect of the draft era, is if he suffers a serious injury in the NCAA playoffs.
Projected Pick: STEPHEN
North Carolina first baseman Dustin Ackley is unquestionably the best hitter in this draft, plus he's showing more power and he's athletic enough to play center field or second base once he fully recovers from offseason Tommy John surgery. Most of the teams lined up behind Seattle would love a shot at Ackley but don't expect to get one.
Projected Pick: DUSTIN ACKLEY.
San Diego is debating between Georgia high school outfielder Donavan Tate and Vanderbilt lefthander Mike Minor. Tate is the best athlete in the draft, but there are some questions about his bat and it could cost $6 million or more to buy him out of a North Carolina football scholarship. Minor doesn't have No. 3 overall pick stuff, but he's a very polished southpaw who should reach the majors quickly. Fort Worth Cats (American Association) righthander Aaron Crow and Georgia high school righty Zack Wheeler are also in the mix.
Projected Pick: MIKE MINOR.
There's talk that Pittsburgh might try to save money with this pick to spend on Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano, in which case they might cut a deal with a player such as Florida high school third baseman Bobby Borchering or California prep righthander Matt Hobgood. But indications are that the Pirates won't make a budget pick and are targeting Crow, Wheeler and polished Missouri righthander Kyle Gibson.
Projected Pick: AARON CROW.
As with San Diego and Pittsburgh, Baltimore will focus on pitchers if Ackley is gone. The Orioles would prefer a college arm (Gibson and Minor more than North Carolina righty Alex White), but also have spent a lot of time evaluating Wheeler and the top high school lefthanders, Tyler Matzek (California) and Matthew Purke (Texas). Crow is another option.
Projected Pick: KYLE GIBSON.
San Francisco could use a hitter but all of its best options will be pitchers. If Minor, Crow and Gibson go 3-4-5, the Giants will get their pick of the best high school arms: Matzek, Purke, Wheeler and righthanders Jacob Turner (Missouri) and Shelby Miller (Texas). Matzek touched 98 mph in a start earlier this week, which jumps him to the front of the line.
Projected Pick: TYLER MATZEK.
It's no secret that Atlanta loves players in its backyard and covets Wheeler. If he's gone, other clubs believe the Braves will stay in Georgia and spend big to sign Tate. If they have to stick closer to slot, Miller could be their man because he has a lower price tag than Matzek, Turner and Purke. White is another possibility.
Projected Pick: ZACK WHEELER.
After it took more than expected to sign 2008 first-rounder Yonder Alonso, Cincinnati probably won't exceed MLB's slot recommendations this time around. That would make it tough to sign Crow or Matzek if they fell, though Gibson would be a nice fit. With those names off the board, the Reds could go for St. Paul Saints (American Association) righthander Tanner Scheppers, who has recovered from a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the first round a year ago. Though he has gotten a clean bill of health from Angels medical director Dr. Lewis Yocum, it's still an issue for some clubs and the only reason his electric stuff would last this long.
Projected Pick: TANNER SCHEPPERS.
Detroit doesn't have to look any farther than its own big league roster and Rick Porcello for evidence that paying top dollar for an elite high school arm can pay off big. Turner and Purke aren't as good as Porcello, but they aren't far off either.
Projected Pick: JACOB TURNER.
Acting general manager Mike Rizzo says Washington isn't looking for a predraft, below-slot deal with this pick, which isn't protected by future compensation because his team got it after failing to sign Crow last year. Yet the names that pop up most often at No. 10 are Kennesaw State righthander Chad Jenkins, North Carolina high school catcher Wil Myers, California outfielder Brett Jackson and New Jersey prep outfielder Mike Trout, all of whom fit in the second half of the first round in terms of talent. Gibson and White would be awfully tempting, though.
Projected Pick: CHAD JENKINS.
After taking college pitchers in the first round of the last three drafts, Colorado would like a position player and has preferred collegians to high schoolers. The Rockies may consider Southern California shortstop Grant Green and Sacramento State outfielder Tim Wheeler, but they'd jump at Gibson if he got here. White, who projected as a top-five pick before slipping down the stretch, would be a nice value at No. 11. If the Padres don't take Minor, he'd be another consideration.
Projected Pick: ALEX WHITE.
Kansas City has been linked to the top three catchers in the draft—California high schooler Max Stassi, Myers and Boston College's Tony Sanchez—but No. 12 seems a bit high for all of them. The Royals would be tempted by homestate product Turner if his high price tag drove him down here. They also need a shortstop, and never would thought Green would have been available here after he tore up the Cape Cod League last summer. If they take Green or Turner, that will be four straight years with a Scott Boras Corp. advisee in the first round.
Projected Pick: GRANT GREEN.
The craziest rumor that's circulating right now is that Oakland will be the club that takes Tate. A raw high school outfielder with a $6 million dollar price tag doesn't seem like the A's style, but Tate also doesn't seem to have a home anywhere else in the first round right now. Matzek, Minor, Hobgood and Arizona State righthander Mike Leake make more sense here, but we'll go with the crazy rumor for now.
Projected Pick: DONAVAN TATE.
Texas would pounce on Miller if he lasted this long. If he doesn't, Purke's price tag could drop him this far. The Rangers' need for quality pitching and his homestate appeal would make him hard to pass up. If they go for a college arm, Lipscomb lefthander Rex Brothers and Indiana righthander Eric Arnett could be in the mix.
Projected Pick: SHELBY MILLER.
Cleveland prefers collegians and needs pitchers, and it would love for White or Scheppers to get this far. If not, the Indians could go with Brothers, Arnett or Kennesaw State righthander Kyle Heckathorn.
Projected Pick: REX BROTHERS.
Arizona has six of the first 64 picks, so don't expect it to opt for above-slot players. The Diamondbacks would prefer a college pitcher and a high school bat with its first two choices, and they'd be thrilled if they could keep Leake at home. Brothers and Jenkins might be next on their list of college arms.
Projected Pick: MIKE LEAKE.
Borchering and California high school third baseman Matt Davidson are two high school position players who could interest Arizona, which also might be the first club that could take the best prep shortstop, Jiovanni Mier (California). If the Diamondbacks want a college bat, Wheeler, Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock and Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress could interest them.
Projected Pick: BOBBY BORCHERING.
Florida's focus appears to be on college pitchers such Brothers, Arnett and Stanford reliever Drew Storen. Storen, who has extra leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore, has been moving up boards and likely will fit in the first round, though it's unclear where. The Marlins' front office also has strong Oklahoma ties and could go for Sooner State high school lefthander Chad James.
Projected Pick: ERIC ARNETT.
In a perfect world, Minor would fit St. Louis' desire for a polished southpaw, but too many clubs ahead of them like him. Brothers and Leake also would interest the Cardinals, who also might pay the freight for local product Turner. If all those arms are off the board, they may just take the best available prospect and go over slot for Purke.
Projected Pick: MATTHEW PURKE.
20. BLUE JAYS.
Toronto has selected four lefthanders in the first or sandwich rounds of the last five drafts, and it's known to like James. Other candidates include Pollock and Wheeler among position players, and Jenkins, Storen and Florida righthander Billy Bullock among pitchers.
Projected Pick: CHAD JAMES.
Houston usually has a heavy Texas flavor to its drafts, but Miller won't get this far, Purke may be too expensive even if he does and high school outfielder Everett Williams apparently isn't in the Astros' mix. They also like big, strong pitchers, which could lead them to Heckathorn or Hobgood.
Projected Pick: KYLE HECKATHORN.
Leake and Minor are the type of pitchers that Minnesota likes to snap up, but they have too many suitors ahead of this choice. The Twins may have to look at the top high school arms on the board, such as Hobgood and Kansas prep righthander Garrett Gould. Borchering may intrigue them if he gets past Arizona.
Projected Pick: MATT HOBGOOD.
23. WHITE SOX.
Chicago general manager Kenny Williams can't get enough up-the-middle athletes, and his team appears to be highest on Everett Williams (no relation) among a crop of athletic high school outfielders that also includes Mike Trout (New Jersey) and Reymond Fuentes (Puerto Rico).
Projected Pick: EVERETT WILLIAMS.
Los Angeles has five picks before the second round and will seek high-ceiling players to restock a farm system that's showing signs of slippage. The Angels could grab an athletic position player and a projectable pitcher with their first two choices. They're probably on the same high school outfielders as the White Sox, and also could be looking at Louisiana State outfielder Jared Mitchell and Mier.
Projected Pick: MIKE TROUT.
Hobgood would be a nice pick for Los Angeles if he got this far, but many clubs think he'll go in the first 15-20 choices. The Angels could still stay in California and grab lefthander Tyler Skaggs, who pitches high school ball less than an hour from their stadium. James and Gould are two other prep pitching candidates.
Projected Pick: TYLER SKAGGS.
Milwaukee needs pitching more than hitting, so one of the high school starters or a college reliever such as Storen or Arizona's Jason Stoffel would be the most obvious choice. The Brewers, who have two picks in the sandwich round and two more in the second, also have been mentioned with hitters such as Borchering, Trout, Stassi and Davidson.
Projected Pick: GARRETT GOULD.
Seattle has four of the first 51 choices and can afford to take some chances. There are few high-risk, high-reward players in this draft more intriguing than Mitchell, who also plays wide receiver on LSU's football team and show considerable promise but also needs lot of polish. Other position players under consideration include Pollock and Sanchez, and the Mariners have interest in Borchering is he fell to them.
Projected Pick: JARED
28. RED SOX.
Boston is as aggressive as any team in the draft and thus is linked to any high-priced player who might fall. The Red Sox are more likely to spend big on Turner and Purke than Tate or Green, however. If all those players are off the board, they'll still be in best-player-available mode, with Hobgood, Stassi and Pollock as possible targets.
Projected Pick: MAX STASSI.
Of course, New York is linked to all the tough signs as well. The Yankees would have interest in Turner, Purke and Green, though they're not thought to be high on Tate either. Texas high school outfielder Slade Heathcott's athletic ability piques their interest, as does that of Jackson. Catchers Stassi and Sanchez are two more options.
Projected Pick: SLADE HEATHCOTT
Tampa Bay's most pressing need is catcher, and many of the top players remaining at this point will be backstops. The Rays may prefer Arizona high schooler Tommy Joseph to Stassi, Sanchez and Myers. They're also known to have interest in Brothers and Trout if they'd still be available.
Projected Pick: TOMMY JOSEPH.
Chicago is a magnet for former Notre Dame players, as the Cubs have given seven-figure draft deals to Grant Johnson and Jeff Samardzija and traded for Aaron Heilman. Now they're hot on the trail of Pollock. They've also shown interest in Arnett, James, Gould and Jackson, and they might be willing to meet Turner's demands.
Projected Pick: A.J. POLLOCK.
After considering Tim Wheeler at No. 11, Colorado would be happy to get him at No. 32. The Rockies also could make a move for a high school arm who slides a little bit but doesn't require more than slot money, such as Gould.
Projected Pick: TIM WHEELER.