The annual amateur/Rule-4 draft is upon us. Wendy Thurm posted a nice overview of the festivities, kicking off today, June 5th. Who is going at the top, and who do we think the Nats are going to take with their first round draft pick (#18 overall?)
Lets check in with some experts and pundits. Unlike in years past, there’s no real consensus #1 overall pick this year thanks to a host of factors. But the top-5 is relatively consistent no matter who the pundit. We’ll talk about predictions for the first few picks plus who they think the Nats will end up with. (Link to the draft order for the first few rounds to show all the missing picks and supplemental additions from MLB.com). Note that all the Keith Law and Jim Bowden links are ESPN insider. Profiles on the frequent top-5 picks and the names being associated with the Nats potential picks are below the list of pundit’s mock drafts:
- MLBDraftInsider’s Chris Crawford has done a host of Mock Drafts this spring (the sixth version dated 5/28/14 and the “near final” version on 6/2/14, his penultimate mock on 6/3/14, his “really final” board on 6/4/14 and his “final mock ever” on 6/5/14) and in his last mock has come down on the Nats taking Hoffman. Predicted top 5 in final mock: Aiken, Rodon, Nola, Conforto, Gordon. Same movements that Law is projecting at the final minute.
- ESPN’s Keith Law put out his first mock draft on 5/16/14, his second on 5/27/14, his third on 6/4/14 and his final/last on 6/5/14 and had the Nats on Erick Fedde, calling it a “lock” in the industry. Top 5 in the latest mock: Aiken, Rodon, Nola, Conforto, Gordon (only list on here without Kolek in top 5).
- MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo posted a mock on 5/16/14, another on 5/30/14. One last one 6/5/14. In his latest he went Aiken, Jackson, Rodon, Kolek, Gordon. He has the Nats taking Jeff Hoffman, saying that it could come down to “financials” and who is willing to go over-slot.
- MLB.com’s Jim Callis posted his latest mock on 5/23/14 and one last one 6/5/14. He went Aiken, Jackson, Rodon, Gordon, Kolek. He has the Nats on Hoffman as well, but in the description basically says he says Hoffman could go top 10 and/or the Nats could take Fedde.
- MinorLeagueBall’s Matt Garrioch posted his first mock draft early (3/10/14), his second on 5/19/14. His top 5: Rodon, Kolek, Aiken, Jackson, Gordon. He has the Nats on Kyle Schwarber.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden posted his Top-10 picks on 5/28/14, trying to think like the GM of each top-10 picking team, and went Rodon, Aiken, Kolek, Jackson and wildcard Freeman.
- BaseballAmerica’s John Manuel has posted mock drafts on 5/9/14, 5/16/14 and v3.0 on 5/25/14 and his final the day of the draft 6/5/14. His top 5 in his most recent mock: Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, Conforto, Gordon, with the Nats on Fedde.
- GradingontheCurve’s Shaun Kernahan put up his mock draft 5/29/14. He went Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, Jackson, Gordon with the Nats on Gatewood.
- MinorLeagueBall did a community Mock Draft on 5/30/14 (so, not full of expert opinion but interesting nonetheless to see what the crowd-sourced opinion on players is). They went Aiken, Jackson, Rodon, Kolek, Gordon with the Nats taking Conforto. Based on where Conforto is now being projected, there’s little chance he survives to #18.
- BaseballInstinct’s Thomas Belmont has a top-200 draft board that isn’t a mock draft but lists top 5 as Aiken, Jackson, Kolek, Rodon and Toussant. #18 is Grant Holmes, who I would be surprised if the Nats picked despite his pedigree. He posted his mock draft on 6/4/14 where he follows his board, but I have a problem with his rankings considering what the professional reporters above are showing for top 5 and for the Nats.
- PerfectGame’s Patrick Ebert posted a bunch of mock drafts; in his last one on 6/4/14, he went top-5 of Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, Gordon, Nola with the Nats on Bradley Zimmer.
- Si.com’s Dave Perkin (a former professional scout who does some writing) posted a last-minute mock 6/5/14 online. He goes Aiken, Rodon, Kolek, Freeland, Jackson with the Nats on Beede. I like this scenario.
How do I think the top 5 will go? I like Aiken #1, Rodon to the Marlins (for the cuban-american/quick to the majors factors), then Kolek. From there I have no idea; the Cubs by all accounts want a college arm but the next best one (Nola) isn’t worth the #4 spot. Maybe they take a college bat (Conforto?), maybe they go BPA. I’m guessing they bite the bullet and play the hand that they’ve been dealt and get Jackson or Gordon 4th, with the other going 5th.
A quick overview of the names in discussion for top 5 selection:
- Carlos Rodon: lhp from NC State; was the heavy consensus 1-1 overall pick all winter, but a rough spring and high pitch counts have dropped him on most people’s mock boards. Scout.com has a detailed scouting report and video. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Brady Aiken is a prep lhp from San Diego who could be just the third high school pitcher ever picked #1 overall. Scout.com has a detailed scouting report and video. Keith Law scouting video.
- Alex Jackson is a prep C also from the San Diego area. Scout.com has a detailed scouting report and video. Scouting video from Keith Law.
- Tyler Kokek is a prep RHP from Texas with big time stuff; 100mph velocity on his fastball. Scouting video from Keith Law.
- Aaron Nola is a polished RHP friday starter for LSU who may not overpower you with velocity, but is a good pitcher. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Nick Gordon is a prep SS from Florida. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Michael Conforto is a junior OF from Oregon State.
- Kyle Freelan is a lhp junior starter from Evansville. He has good velocity, a good slider and great control.
- Max Pentecost is a C from Kennesaw State who may be a stretch to go top-5 but should be top-10.
- Touki Toussaint is a prep RHP from Miami, FL who is considered the second best prep RHP arm behind Kolek; he doesn’t quite have the velocity but he has better secondary stuff.
MLB.com reports that seven of these guys will be in-studio during the draft (all high schoolers), including a couple that may drop out of the first round (could be a bit embarassing for both them and MLB).
The names associated/predicted with the Nat’s #18 overall pick:
- Erick Fedde was UNLV’s friday starter before going down with the dreaded Tommy John injury, diagnosed on 5/10/14. Before his injury Fedde was projected in the same general area where the Nats are picking … which makes me question this prediction. I could understand if Jeff Hoffman falls (a projected top -5 pick) to #18 grabbing him … but here I don’t know if I’d agree with picking a guy who you won’t see for a year and a half in uniform. Though that being said, BA had Fedde ranked #8 in their top-200 pre-injury draft rankings, so perhaps grabbing him at #18 could be appropriate.
- Tyler Beede: RHP Vanderbilt starter, who was a projected top-10 pick thanks to his amazing sophomore season (14-1, 2.32 ERA and a Golden Spikes finalist), before a rough season (7-7, 3.49 ERA and 92/41 k/BB in 91 innings) dropped his draft status. He turned down a big bonus out of HS as a Toronto 1st rounder and that apparently (combined with unknown/unstated “make-up” issues) has him dropping fast. Personally, I think he could be a steal at #18. BA’s Aaron Fitt profiled Beede on 5/29/14. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Kyle Schwarber, C/1B power hitter from Indiana. Listed as 6’0″, 240. .340/.450/.623 on the year with 12 homers, 27/41 K/BB ratio in 215 ABs. Great numbers if he’s really a catcher; some listed him as C, others at 1B. Question: Big10 baseball isn’t exactly the SEC; are his stats padded thanks to playing a bunch of weak programs all year?
- Jeff Hoffman was ECU’s friday starter and a consensus top-5 predicted pick (perhaps as high as #3) before being felled by TJ surgery (diagnosed on 5/8/14). I think he’s a huge long-shot to make it to #18 because Toronto picks twice in the top 11 picks and it makes complete sense for them to use their 2nd pick to take Hoffman, save some slot money and basically temper their draft risk by virtue of having a second high pick. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Jacob Gatewood is a prep SS from Fresno, California who has a ton of power for a middle-infield bat (he won the prep home run derby held during last year’s all-star game festivities), even if he has to move off Short to 3B. Gatewood gets some mention as a potential Nats pick, but this seems very much out of Mike Rizzo‘s style. I cannot see the Nats taking a high school player unless someone falls to them unexpectedly. Scouting Video from Keith Law.
- Casey Gillaspie is a 1B from Wichita State with huge power numbers in 2014: .389/.520/.682 with 15 homers and 28/58 K/BB ratio in 211 ABs. But, like with Schwarber, do you draft a guy who is already locked into first base? Are his numbers a mirage thanks to the weaker Missouri Valley Conference?
- Michael Chavis is a prep OF/3B from Georgia who Crawford has the Nats taking in his mock draft … but which I cannot believe will happen. I just don’t see Rizzo taking a HS player, practically ever, unless there’s huge upside or value.
- Brandon Finnegan: friday LHP starter for national seed TCU. Undersized but a big-time arm. Not the prototypical pick for Rizzo (he likes big, tall guys).
- Grant Holmes is a big RHP prep pitcher from South Carolina who likely goes before #18, but if he’s sitting here he could get a look.
- Bradley Zimmer is an OF with a brother already in pro ball from San Francisco.
Who do I like for the Nats at #18? Honestly, I think picking TJ surviver Fedde at #18 might be an overdraft. Now, if Hoffman fell there I’d grab him … but most pundits put Hoffman at #11 (Toronto’s extra 1st rounder). I’d love to take a crack at Tyler Beede; he was so good last year and I don’t think he’s forgotten how to pitch. I like Finnegan too. Maybe they go with a college bat. But one thing seems certain; I just cannot see one of these HS names at #18. I think they’ll take someone whose quicker to the majors.