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Pre-2015 Draft coverage; mocks and local players

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Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

The MLB rule-4 (Amateur) draft starts on Monday 6/8/15 at 7pm.  See MLB Network for the best coverage.  Since we’re also going to be talking about prep regional results and CWS results early next week, I thought i’d get this draft coverage post out there.  This post has good links to use to see draft prospect rankings, then links to help cover the draft starting monday, then some blurbs on local players of interest, and then links to a bunch of mock drafts.

Draft Coverage so far at NAR for 2015:

Here’s a slew of Draft Prospect rankings : these are NOT the same as mock drafts; see further down for those.

Draft Links of importance

  • MLB.com Official 2015 Draft Central home page.
  • MLB’s Awesome Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
  • Official MLB 2015 Draft Order (Nats first pick is #58 well into the 2nd round, next #69, then #103, then #134 in the 4th round, and then 134+30 picks there-after.
  • Official Draft Bonus Pool totals.  Astros have $17M (most).  Nats have 3rd least at $4.1M.
  • MLB Draft Database
  • Fangraphs Sortable Draft Board; a great new tool Fangraphs has that lets you slice and dice their top draft board.
  • Baseball-Reference Draft Tools: links to their draft database plus some custom reports.

Now, some news about College Players with local ties

  • Nathan Kirby Lat strain Press Release: UVA’s ace Kirby, considered a mid-to-late 1st rounder, missed a huge chunk of the season with a Lat Strain.  If the cards fall right, he may be able to pitch UVA’s 3rd regional game.  MLB has him ranked #26, as does BA.
  • Mike Matuella, of Great Falls (Georgetown Prep) and Duke, remains a back-end of the 1st round draft prospect but is also rehabbing his own TJ surgery.  He has far less of a track record than other college arms, and may be a crap shoot in the draft.  MLB has him ranked #28, BA #23.
  • Taylor Clarke, who hails from Ashburn (Broad Run HS), was named the CAA pitcher of the year while putting up stellar numbers for the College of Charleston, a trendy underdog pick to reach the CWS.  MLB has him ranked #144, so that’s perhaps a 4th-5th rounder, while BA has him higher at #118.  Here’s a draft profile of him from scout.com.
  • Joe McCarthy, OF for UVA, missed most of the season with a back injury and then hit horribly after wards.  His draft stock has dropped from a supp-1st to probably the back end of the 2nd round.  MLB has him ranked #68, BA #46.
  • Josh Sborz got dumped out of UVA’s rotation but still is ranked #115 in MLB’s pre-draft rankings (projecting to a 3rd-4th rounder).
  • Brandon Waddell had a good season as UVA’s #2 starter … and MLB projects him as a 5th rounder at #163.  BA has him at #153.
  • University of Maryland’s two best draft prospects are Alex Robinson (MLB ranked #124) and Brandon Lowe (MLB ranked #148).  Robinson is #74 on BA’s top 500 list and Lowe is #98 on BA’s list.
  • Radford’s Michael Boyle has pushed his draft stock up with his team’s post-season performance; BA has him ranked #132, which puts him in the 4th-5th round.

Local Prep players of note:

  • Cody Morris, probably the best local player matriculating this year, had to undergo TJ surgery and likely scuttling his draft plans.  Luckily he had already taken a scholarship offer to South Carolina, where he will now presumably attend and rehab to get ready for the 2016 season.  BA still has him ranked #265 but the odds of a team taking him in the 8th round seem slim.
  • A.J. Lee of St. Johns earned his 2nd straight Gatorade DC player of the year award and remains committed to Maryland; I do not sense he is a significant draft prospect and will go to College.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Ljay Newsome of Chopticon (south of Waldorf) made some noise with his stellar 3-A state final game; he has not picked a college and I wonder if he’s headed for the draft.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Nic Enright of Steward HS in Richmond (2015 Gatorade player of the year) is signed to Va Tech but ranked #132 by MLB.  Will he sign if he gets 3rd round money?  BA’s got him ranked far lower; #230, in the range of draft rankings where it makes more sense for him to go to school.

Other players of interest to Nats fans:

  • Andrew Suarez, the Nats’ 2nd round pick of last year, had a decent if not spectacular senior season at Miami and may end up getting picked right in the same spot.  MLB has him #75, BA #73.
  • Austin Byler, the Nats’ 9th round pick of last year, is ranked #199 by MLB (but much higher at #115 by BA) putting him in the 7th round or so.  Not too much of an improvement over last year; his senior season was more of the same for him; lots of power, perhaps stuck at 1B so will really have to hit his way moving forward.
  • Skye Bolt, the Nats’ 26th round pick in 2012, had a great UNC career and is ranked #67 by MLB ahead of the draft.  BA has him a bit lower at #106.  Maybe the Nats can draft him again since this is right around where their first 2015 draft pick falls.

Mock Draft Guesses

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  I like mock drafts from writers I like.  Since the Nats don’t pick until midway through the 2nd round, there’s no point (like in years’ past) in trying to project the Nats pick.  So here’s some popular pundits and their mocks, with their top 5 predictions (Law = Espn, McDaniel = Fangraphs, Callis & Mayo = Mlb.com, Manual = Baseball America and Crawford = Baseball Prospectus)

  • Keith Law Mock #1: Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Dillon Tate, Brendan Rodgers, Kyle Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Tyler Jay, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #3 (on ESPN podcast): Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Trenton Clark, Andrew Benintendi
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Bregman, Tucker
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #3: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Jim Callis Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Carson Fulmer
  • Jim Callis Mock #2: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tucker
  • Jim Callis: Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Benintendi
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #1: Tate, Rodgers, Swanson, Cameron, Fulmer
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Tate
  • Jonathan Mayo Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tate
  • John Manual Mock #1: Tate, Swanson, Rodgers, Jon Harris, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #2: Fulmer, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #3: Jay, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #4: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Cameron
  • Jeff Ellis/Scout.com Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • David Rawnsley/si.com final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Cameron
  • Chris Crawford Mock #1: Garrett Whitley, Swanson, Rodgers, … the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Ryan Sullivan/NatsGM final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • D1baseball.com Mock #1: Swanson … and the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Jon Sickels/MinorLeagueBall Mock #1: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Tucker
  • PerfectGame.org’s mock drafts and coverage now behind a pay-wall.

Todd Boss’ Mock draft?  Based on my vast level of expertise (sarcasm) and the thousands of man hours i’ve put in scouting players in person and cultivating industry sources (also sarcasm), I’ll take this as my guess for the top 5:

  1. Swanson: I think Swanson’s post-season hitting combined with his positional flexibility and the decline of all the upper-end college arms that have been mentioned in the conversation for 1-1 (First Aiken & Matuella, then Tate, then Funkhouser and Fulmer) has cemented Swanson’s spot at 1-1.  In other years, he’d be lucky to go in the top 10.  Not this year.  Arizona goes with the least risk; proven college hitter.
  2. Bregman: practically every connected pundit now has Bregman going 2nd.  Houston gets a sure thing and goes prep with #5.
  3. Rodgers: Houston hasn’t backed away from HS players before and get the best one, a SS with power, at #2.
  4. Tate: Tate’s regional performance pushed him back into this lofty level and he’s a better bet than Jay thanks to his reliever status all year.  Colorado likes college arms this high.  He makes the most sense.  If this pick isn’t Tate, its Jay.
  5. Tucker: practically everyone has Houston’s 2nd pick on Tucker, meaning they’re taking two upper-end prep talents.  Plus the Astros know the family; Kyle’s older brother Preston was a 7th round pick by Houston in 2012 and made his debut this year.  Makes too much sense.

So, just so you know, this guess matches the final mocks of Law, McDaniel and Ellis, and is nearly identical to the final mocks of a couple others.

This top 5 means some big time names are available 6-10.  Cameron, Jay, Fulmer, Clark and Harris could very well be in the next 4-5 guys picked.  Funkhouser seems to be slipping.  Also throw the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Stephenson, and Walker Buehler into the top 10 possible mix.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results added on 6/7/15: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker.  A number of the experts above had the top 5 pegged.  Yours truly … changed his prediction last minute to match the consensus and “got it right” too :-)

Brady Aiken has TJ surgery, shakes up draft boards

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Tough break for Aiken.  Photo via whotalking.com

Tough break for Aiken. Photo via whotalking.com

We got word today that 2014’s #1 overall pick Brady Aiken did indeed suffer an UCL injury in his first 2015 start and underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday.

Awful break for Aiken, and a  huge shake-up for the top of the 2015 Rule-4/Amateur draft.

Quick oral history of the Aiken situation: Houston made him last  year’s #1 overall pick, then rescinded/altered their $6.5M bonus offer after having “concerns” about Aiken’s UCL when viewing his medicals.  Aiken’s representatives rejected the lowered offer (wanting Houston to honor their original offer), and in the end declined to sign the lower amount (reportedly $5M at the deadline), and Aiken became just the third #1 overall pick to fail to sign in the draft’s history.  Thanks to baseball’s convoluted draft bonus rules, the failure to sign Aiken led to a cascading effect, costing them enough “pool dollars” to have to also rescind offers to 5th round pick Jacob Nix and 21st round pick Mac Marshall (now at LSU).  Nix (rightly so) filed a grievance against the Astros for the situation and was awarded his full $1.5M promised bonus (which, in my opinion, should absolutely be coming out of the Astros’ bonus pool for what they did).  Nix and Aiken eventually enrolled at the IMG academy in Florida, a post-graduate prep school designed to be a place for budding athletes to play who may have lost their HS eligibility.  Both had planned on re-entering the 2015 draft.

My thoughts on this whole mess?

  • I have to re-evaluate my opinion of the Astros organization’s behavior; previously I thought they were just being penny pinchers and were screwing with the careers of multiple amateur players (both Nix and Aiken lost UCLA scholarships over the mess).  Clearly they were right to be concerned about Aiken’s elbow, given that it tore within about 20 pitches of last being on the mound.  And now they get two top-5 picks out of a draft that does have some talent in it … and should have the money to sign them.
  • That being said … what was the real difference between their initial $6.5M offer and the $5M final offer?  Think about it: why are teams so ridiculously obsessed with figures in the $1-$2M range during amateur signings, when teams are *routinely* giving out 8-figure deals to mediocre veterans?  The Astros gave Luke Gregerson 3yrs/$18.5M and Pat Neshek 2yrs/$12.5M deals this off-season; that’s a combined $30M for two middle relief right handers.  They’ve been the lowest payroll team despite a massive RSN deal and play in the nation’s 4th largest market.  You mean to tell me they couldn’t still pony up the $1.5M difference for the #1 overall pick in the draft?  They couldn’t have just gotten an insurance policy to cover their risk of moving forward with Aiken?
  • If you were the Astros today, wouldn’t you rather have Aiken (with insurance policy), Nix and Marshall in the fold?  Do you think maybe your professional staff could have managed/mitigated this injury?
  • Did Aiken cut off his nose to spite his face by rejecting $5M?  Even before this injury, he was already dropping on draft boards, no sure guarantee to go 1st overall in 2015.  And with Houston holding the #2 and #5 overall picks there was already a real possibility of Aiken dropping outside the top 5 (since clearly Aiken would have refused “re-draft” possibilities), which means he’d have a heck of a time getting anywhere close to even the $5M he turned down. At some point his adviser should have just accepted the deal, in my opinion.  The new rules just make it impossible to get anything close to the bonus he turned down unless you’re #1 overall.
  • The situation kind of reminds me of the Matt Harrington situation, who turned down multiple bonus offers (one as high as $4M) and kept seeing his draft stock fall until he finally signed as a run-of-the-mill 13th rounder and quickly flamed out of pro ball.  His wiki page details the whole mess of a story.

There does exist a possibility of a team picking Aiken despite this injury.  Both Jeff Hoffman and our own Erick Fedde were picked in the mid-to-upper 1st round despite being rehabbing TJ arms.  And Aiken was more heralded than either guy.  I could see a team with a longer term view taking a chance on Aiken in the top 10.  A quick look at the 2015 draft order reveals some “gambler” type teams/GMs in the top 10 who could make a deal.  Assuming that your top-end names under consideration include the likes of Mike Matuella, Brendan Rodgers, Kolby Allard, Dillon Tate and maybe even someone like UVA’s Nathan Kirby , that could put teams in the 6-10 spot right in line to pick Aiken.  And that 6-10 range includes both Chicago teams and Boston, rich teams that could afford to wait him out.

One thing for sure; the odds of the Nationals getting another shot to pick a TJ case are slim; we gave up our 1st rounder to sign Max Scherzer and won’t pick until the 58th overall spot (compensation for not signing Miami’s Andrew Suarez last year).  I don’t think Aiken lasts til the 10th pick; certainly he won’t be there in the mid 2nd round.

Tough break for Aiken; hope he can salvage some bonus money and start his career.

Other opinions/hot takes I’ve read of use:

  • Jeff Ellis at Scout.com predicts the same that I do for Aiken’s draft status; top-10.
  • David Schoenfield at ESPN talks about Aiken and the “inequalities” between being born in the USA and elsewhere in the draft/signing markets (and the discrepancies are ridiculous).
  • Dave Cameron at fangraphs has some quotes from Aiken’s social media posting announcing his surgery and some critical analysis.

Post-posting update: presumed top-5 draft talent Kolby Allard is also out for the season with a back injury, further thinning the list of names in consideration for the #1 overall pick so far.

Another post-posting update: on 4/1/15, Duke ace (and NoVa native) Mike Matuella announced the he too has to have Tommy John surgery.  That’s three presumed top-5 picks in the upcoming draft now out with season-ending injuries.  Wow.

And the winner of the #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft is…

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http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/reversestandings

Your Arizona Diamondbacks!   Here’s next year’s top 10 (click on the above link for the full first round; the Nats will pick 30th out of 31 picks next year if we keep the pick).

(Another more complete post on this topic from MinorLeagueBall, including all the comp picks, bonus allocations and whatnot.)

2015 pick #
Team 2014 W 2014 L 2014 W/L Pct
1 Arizona Diamondbacks  64 98 0.395
2 Houston Astros
3 Colorado Rockies  66 96 0.407
4 Texas Rangers  67 95 0.414
5 Houston Astros  70 92 0.432
6 Minnesota Twins  70 92 0.432
7 Boston Red Sox  71 91 0.438
8 Chicago White Sox  73 89 0.451
9 Chicago Cubs  73 89 0.451
10 Philadelphia Phillies  73 89 0.451

Houston retains the #2 overall pick after failing to sign last year’s #1 Brady Aiken.  Teams that tied in records are given priority based on last year’s W/L record, meaning that Houston picks before Minnesota, the White Sox before the Cubs and Phillies, etc.   Houston, for their prolonged incompetence, gets the 2nd and 5th pick next year, and I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to out-smart themselves and screw it up again.  And that’s if they even keep the picks: 5th rounder Jacob Nix had his deal axed when Aiken’s deal went south, thanks to the ridiculous new signing bonus rules.  Nix has filed a grievance and if the Astros are forced to honor his deal, they’ll lose one or both of these picks (and maybe more).

The Diamondbacks with their fresh and completely inexperienced General Manager Dave Stewart now have the honor of selecting one from quite a few interesting candidates for #1 overall right now.  Aiken presumably will pitch a year at JuCo and be a completely legitimate shot to go 1-1 again (assuming he doesn’t get hurt).  But he’ll also be looking for significant money.  Duke’s Michael Matuella (who is a local kid, hailing from Great Falls and who attended Georgetown Prep) has been shooting up boards.  A couple of other prep players are considered upper first round talent (Brendan Rodgers in Florida, Mike Nikorak in Pennsylvania, Kolby Allard in California).  And, with a rising class of college juniors we have more than a few big-time college guys who may push Aiken down off the top spot.  Namely, Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt, Phil Bickford (late of Cal State Fullerton) or maybe even the likes of Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) or Carson Fuller (Vanderbilt).  In fact, Vanderbilt may be like UCLA was a few years back, with two starters selected in the top of the first round.  And like always, some one may come out of nowhere to claim the 1-1 spot with an under-slot deal, much like the Astros did in 2012.

The top 10 for next year is rounded out by four of the wealthiest clubs in the game (Boston, both Chicago teams and Philadelphia).  Which also means that along with Texas, half the teams who finished in the bottom 10 this year were among the highest spenders in terms of payroll in 2014.  You can’t fault Texas necessarily, but you can certainly continue to mock Philadelphia.  How does Frank Wren get fired but Ruben Amaro keeps his job?