It was a strange first two days of the draft, with no consensus 1-1 overall, some very last minute moves, and some pretty surprising picks. For me, the best player in this draft (NJ prep LHP Jason Groome) fell all the way to 12th and the Phillies picked a kid 1-1 overall in Mickey Moniak who seems to have the ceiling of a weaker Steve Finley. We saw a consensus top-5 pick test positive for PEDs (Delvin Perez), and a sub-par CWS appearance cost A.J. Puk millions of dollars as he falls from everyone’s 1-1 prediction to #6 overall.
The Nats seemed to really depart from the draft strategy we’ve seen the Mike Rizzo-led front office follow in the past, where they normally focused on college arms with an occasional high-ceiling prep bat. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 draft picks with some thoughts.
|1-S||29||Dane Dunning||RHP||Col Jr.||Florida||2034600|
|2||58||Sheldon Neuse||3B||Col Jr.||Oklahoma||1107000|
|4||124||Nick Banks||OF (rf)||Col Jr.||TAMU||473300|
|5||154||Daniel Johnson||OF (CF)||Col Jr.||New Mexico State||354300|
|6||184||Tres Barrera||C||Col Jr.||Texas||265400|
|7||214||Jacob Noll||2B||Col Sr.||FGCU||198900|
|8||244||A.J. Bogucki||RHP||Col Jr.||UNC||177700|
|9||274||Joey Harris||C||Col Sr.||Gonzaga||166000|
|10||304||Paul Panaccione||SS||Col Sr.||Grand Canyon||156600|
Pick by Pick: if they’re ranked on the four main rankings sites I like (Keith Law, MLBpipeline, BaseballAmerica, and BaseballDraftReport) I’ll note them as such. Links to these three master rankings are at the bottom of the post.
- 1s/28: Carter Kieboom, SS/3B from Georgia HS. Law #27, MLB #45, BA #44, BDR #14: Brother of our budding C prospect Spencer Kieboom, Carter is thought to be the best of three baseball playing brothers. Described consistently as a great hitter, one of the best prep hitters in the class, he currently plays SS but is projected to move to 3B. He’s an overdraft according to MLB and BA but right in line with Law’s rankings (Law tends to favor toolsy prep players over lower floor/lower ceiling college guys). My thoughts: very surprising first pick here; as we soon find out, the team is clearly focusing on bats this year and has no qualms about picking a guy who won’t feature for the MLB team for years. Update: he’s *already* signed!
- 1s/29: Dane Dunning, RHP starter/reliever from Florida. Law #25, MLB #59, BA #60, BDR unranked. Once again, Law has this player significantly higher than MLB or BA. For me its notable that when projected 1-1 pick A.J. Puk got hit around in the CWS regional, it was Dunning who came in and pitchd 3 2/3rds of 1-hit ball to win the game for Florida. It wouldn’t be the first time that a college coach mis-used a quality arm (see Illinois using Tyler Jay inexplicably as a closer most of last year). Dunning goes before even his team’s friday starter Logan Shore and surprised the heck out of me. Especially when you consider who was still on the board in terms of college arms (notably Anthony Kay and Dakota Hudson, both of whom went in the picks just after Dunning. I’m talking myself into Dunning though; he was on my very early list for upper 1st round talents anyway, and seems like he was a better pro prospect than guys pitching ahead of him in the Florida rotation. Florida is known as a great program for developing arms, and he comes to the Nats without a ton of use.
- 2nd/58: Sheldon Neuse, SS/3B Oklahoma. Law #60, MLB #50, BA #129, BDR #40. Interesting discrepancy of opinion on Neuse; MLB likes him a ton and thinks the Nats got good value. He’s a 3-time all-Big12 pick who likely moves to third in pro ball and also throws out of the Oklahoma bullpen (so there’s a reliever fall back; he’s clocked at 94). At the plate, he’s got a ton of power, profiles as a 3-true outcomes guy and drastically improved his walk rate this year. The scouting reports also think his big arm could profile in RF, and his size could look promising behind the plate. He sounds like a polished college hitter with some pop, not unlike last year’s 3rd rounder Rhett Wiseman.
- 3rd/94: Jesus Nuzardo, LHP from Florida HS. Law #42, MLB #77, BA #50, BDR #58. The Nats special; a Tommy John reclamation project. Nuzardo was projecting as a mid 1st rounder early this spring before blowing out the elbow; if he comes back to form, then the Nats just stole a 1st round talent in the 3rd round. You’d have to think that Nuzardo’s advisor will tell him that it makes more sense to join the Nats and their experienced TJ-rehab team than to head to Miami, but we’ll see what happens.
- 4th/124: Nick Banks, OF from Texas A&M. Law Unranked, MLB #101, BA #88, BDR #148. I love this pick; Banks led the US Collegiate national team in hitting just last summer, but his stats backed up after he had a minor surgical procedure. Skills don’t erode overnight, and Banks was thought to be a mid 1st round pick who slid precipitously. I think the Nats got an absolute steal here and Banks will be a stud for this team for years to come.
- 5th/154: Daniel Johnson, OF from New Mexico State. BA #222. Johnson was the WAC player of the year, hit for power and average. Barely rated and seems like he’ll sign for slot or less. Sounds like a nice little value pick.
- 6th/184: Tres Barrera, C from Texas. Law unranked, MLB #194, BA #284, BDR unraked. A Catcher who had the defensive flexibility to move around as the Texas team needed him. This is more than just a filler pick at this point; i’m guessing he signs for a bit less than slot and could feature later on.
- 7th/214: Jacob Noll, 2B from Florida Gulf Coast. BA #240, BDR #193: Nice slash line for a senior, even if it was in a weaker conference. 367/.427/.620 . Classic senior sign; 6th-10th round, middle infielder, likely a nominal bonus to save cash for later. Can’t argue with the pick.
- 8th/244: A.J. Bogucki: RHP reliever from UNC. BA #263, BDR #388. Nice stats for a guy at this point: 9.48 K/9 – 4.47 BB/9 – 50.1 IP – 2.86 ERA. Good MPH on his fastball, looks a little wild though. I wonder if he signs. Still has a year of eligibility and he’s in that area where they’re looking for bonus savings.
- 9th/274: Joey Harris, C from Gonzaga; unranked anywhere. Classic college senior sign who likely backs up Barrera at Auburn.
- 10th/304: Paul Panaccione, Sr. SS from Grand Canyon U. See 9th round pick; likely a one-and-done middle infielder for Auburn in 2016.
First 10 rounds worth of picks breakdown:
- 8 Position players, just 3 arms.
- 9 College, 2 prep (typical)
- 3 clear senior sign/save on bonus money that I could tell (Noll, Harris, Panaccione)
- 2 more in Johnson and Barrera who could be targeted for under-slot deals
- Regional breakdown: 5 from SouthEast (Georgia, Florida, North Carolina), 5 from the South West (Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona), and one from the upper NW (Washington).
Conclusion: I like the first four picks, a lot. Keith Law liked the Nats first couple of days too. I like the focus on hitters after years of focus on arms. I like the underrated pick up of Dunning over other “big name” guys who may be overrated. I love the Banks pick; think its a steal not unlike the situation where Rendon fell to the Nats because of a short-term injury concern. I know practically nothing of anyone after Banks.
What do you guys think of it?
Draft Links of Use
- MLB.com Official 2016 Draft Central home page.
- MLB’s Awesome 2016 Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
- Official MLB 2016 Draft Order. Per my “evolving draft order” xls online, The Nats forfeited what would have been the #16 pick and now their first two picks are #28 and #29. After that, they pick 58th, 94th, 124th and then +30 picks there after per round.
- Official Draft Bonus Pool totals for 2016. Reds and Phillies have the most ($13M+). Nats have $7.6M
- MLB Draft Database for all past databases.
- 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.
- Baseball America’s 2016 Draft Order
Draft Rankings referred to within here:
- ESPN/Keith Law‘s June “Draft Big Board” (insider only)
- MLBpipeline’s top 200 draft prospects:
- Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects
- BaseballDraftReport big 500.