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'Tis the season for late-rising prospects and nothing is better at raising the stock of a hitter than impressive BP at private pre-draft workouts. Mississippi Juco SS Tim Anderson and Fresno State RF Aaron Judge are two of the hottest names in the draft. The industry seemed to have some questions about the bats of both and were fringe first rounders in the middle of the season. With solid finishes to their seasons in front of high-level evaluators and then private workouts where they can flash tools and not face live pitching, both seems unlikely to last into the 20's now.
The Mets at 11 are the highest teams with some interest in Judge but it sounds like he isn't in play until 15 to the Diamondbacks. If Hunter Renfroe and Dominic Smith (USC signee) don't get to 15 (less than 50% chance one of them makes it), then Judge looks to be the pick and Arizona may prefer him even if one of those players is also available. Judge's floor is 24 to Oakland, who drafted him out of high school with St. Louis and Detroit ready to pounce if he's available at 19/20.
Anderson could be in play as high as 13 to the Padres if their board falls apart but is a real factor starting at 16 to the Phillies with a floor in the early 20's with every team from 19-24 showing lots of interest and the Yankees at 26 now realizing they don't have a shot at him. I spoke to one team that won't get a chance to take Anderson that have him in the top 15 on their board and urged me to move him up in my rankings. I really liked Anderson when I saw him last month and it sounds like the industry is coming around.
Another player that has helped his stock recently is private workouts is OF Austin Meadows, who is now securely in play at picks 6/Marlins, 7/Red Sox and 8/Royals when he wasn't just a few weeks ago. SS J.P. Crawford (USC signee) and RHP Phil Bickford (Fullerton) took advantage of the late end to the LA-area prep season with standout performances that have been heavily attended by top evaluators along with Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek.
While his season has been over for awhile, North Carolina prep RHP Hunter Harvey has always been a trendy under slot pick in the middle of the first round and is getting some momentum going that way. He's an option for the Mets at 11 and is a factor at 16, 18 and 20, but doesn't have an easy place to project him to land.
Along with Judge, Marshall RHP Aaron Blair has been receiving a lot of attention from the D'Backs. Blair has momentum in the late first round and it sounds like his floor is Arizona's compensation pick after the first round. I was told this week that Arizona GM Kevin Towers went from Judge's game where he was underwhelming to see a disastrous Blair start, but it doesn't sound like those bad showings have deterred the Snakes from taking those two players if the board shakes out correctly. Arizona also had Cory Thompson, Sam Moll and Mason Smith (Utah signee), all non-local players in my Top 111 in for their private workout.
One of the clubs that's shown some interest in Blair is the Giants, who pick at 25, but he isn't the only power arm that's been on San Francisco's mind. Local prep LHP Matt Krook (Oregon signee) came in for the rare pre-draft pitcher workout in front of all the top brass after being understandably scouted heavily all spring given his ability and proximity. The rumor is Krook wants $1.5 million but hitting 95 mph with a potential plus hook, a projectable 6'4 frame and clean arm action from the left side is enough for a number of teams to pony up the cash. The other hot rumor for the Giants, covered in my 2nd mock draft (link above) was Florida prep IF Christian Arroyo (Florida signee) at a steep discount at the 25th pick with an eye towards converting him to a catcher eventually. I think Arroyo fits more in the second round and think he'll be picked there.
Another team tipping their hand somewhat with who they invited to a pre-draft workout were the Rays. Among others, Tampa Bay invited Atlanta area prep SS Travis Demeritte (South Carolina signee), local prep SS Oscar Mercado (Florida State) and Tim Anderson (UAB). All three have a chance to stick at the position long-term, though Demeritte has the least chance of the bunch. Tampa has been tied to all three players all spring and prefers athletic up-the-middle bats, figuring to take at least one of these players on draft day. Anderson likely won't be available to them, but Demeritte and/or Mercado could fit for them late in the first round
Another prep SS in the Trop at the recent workout was local kid Tucker Neuhaus (Louisville signee), though he's more of a 3B professionally. He's been hurt almost the entire spring with a number of temporary ailments but had a loud fall on the showcase circuit and early spring showing. Neuhaus has been making up for lost time hitting double digit workouts for clubs and looks to be in play for a number of clubs starting in the comp round and likely not getting out of the second round. Other interested teams include the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Twins, Blue Jays, Royals, Astros, Marlins and D'Backs.
Another prep shortstop making the workout rounds and looking like a possible 2nd round pick is South Carolina's Cory Thompson, a South Carolina signee. He's been up to 94 mph and flashed a plus curveball but has been uneven later in the season and most clubs prefer him as a hitter. The hot rumor earlier in the spring was that the Red Sox and White Sox were eyeing him in the second round, and more recently I've heard the D'Backs may be in that group as well. Athletic, raw two-way players can find themselves with helium due to the backup plan on the mound giving a little more projected ROI to the pick.
With the Adderall drug test coming up positive for Jonathan Gray, there was yet another another piece of news flying around the #1 pick this weekend with the rumor that Clint Frazier is still in play. It's sounding more now like Gray at a discount will be the choice at #1 with only two real options and one (Gray) being discounted likely over seven figures from the other (Appel). I would need a $2 million gap to take Gray over Appel, but for less it's certainly a defensible position. I haven't and still don't buy the Colin Moran or Frazier at a steep discount rumors coming out of Houston like clockwork.
Other rapid fire connections with players/teams...
- Colorado and Oakland are the two clubs that have been scouting Florida prep LHP Sean Brady most closely, a Florida signee. He fits anywhere from late 2nd round to the 4th round.
- The Rays are also rumored to be on Ole Miss signee and dual-sport prep athlete OF J.B. Woodman (3rd-4th round), under the radar prep 1B Brandon Brosher (Oral Roberts) (4th-6th round) and prep speedster CF Josh Greene (3rd-5th). The D'Backs have also been on Brosher all spring and the Indians and Mariners have been following Greene closely.
- The Mets have closely followed Alabama LHP Evan Smith (Faulkner signee) as he also plays on their scout team in the summers. Smith could be picked in rounds 3-6, is 6'6 and has hit 94.
- The Nationals and Blue Jays are among the teams expected to make Florida signee RHP Tyler Danish a second or third round pick.
- Palm Beach CC RHP/1B J.D. Underwood (Miami signee) has been tied mostly to Detroit and Texas. The crafty athletic righty likely won't get to Coral Gables, possibly finding a home as high as the 3rd round and likely not getting out of the 5th.
- Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the Cubs have been shadowing Tampa prep RHP Nick Eicholtz (Alabama signee) all spring and could pick him as high as the third round.
- Florida RHP Karsten Whitson is still looking for seven figure money but after a cleanup of his shoulder and a lost season, it may be for less than the over $2 million he turned down out of high school. Rumor has it he could be an over slot target for a club that saves some money up top in the early rounds, with Houston, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland among possible homes.
- Miami-Dade CC 3B Victor Caratini (3rd-4th round) and Nova Southeastern 2B Carlos Asuaje (5th-8th round) both hail from small Miami schools and have been targeted by the Astros all spring. Miami area prep CF Brandon Diaz has also been followed closely by the Astros, along with the Mariners and Brewers. He looks likely to go in the 5th to 7th round to one of those clubs.