Author’s Note: With spring training opening this week and the college baseball season nearly upon us, now is a great time for the first real mock draft of the year.
I am going to go 30 picks deep in this mock draft as there are 30 teams. Technically the first round runs only 24 picks this year because of picks lost due to free agency compensation. Instead of cutting the mock draft short, I figured more picks is a good thing, so you get six bonus picks from the supplemental round. I could have gone to pick 34 and done the entire supplemental round but it is still comically early in this process and those extra four spots weren’t likely to be all that enlightening.
When I started this mock draft, the Baltimore Orioles signing of Yovani Gallardo had not been announced. As of now the deal has not been finalized, but I am assuming it will happen for the purposes of this mock draft. I am not including the rumored signing of Dexter Fowler, because the rumor doesn’t seem as certain as the reported Gallardo deal. The mock draft order can all change if and when Fowler or fellow free agent Ian Desmond sign. It would also change of the Gallardo deal falls apart.
As always, mock drafts are best guesses. This is not who I think should go at these spots and this is not who I like the best. Instead, this mock draft is a result of hours spent on each team’s draft history to find patterns and tendencies along with dipping into the ‘group think’ to see who the most popular names are. I will give analysis of the players but the picks themselves are projection alone.
Scout's 2016 MLB Mock Draft, 1.0
1) Philadelphia Phillies Jason Groome - LHP - Barnegat HS (NJ)
The Phillies have a very deep system highlighted by the number two prospect in baseball, shortstop J.P. Crawford. They have a lot of mid-rotation type arms with one pitcher who strikes me more as a possible number two starter in Aaron Nola. I don’t currently see that guy who has a chance to be one of the top-20 or starters in the game in their system. Groome has that type of potential. He is far away but I think he is overall as safe a bet as Alec Hansen right now. If Hansen’s command shows a jump as a junior then he takes over this spot. A.J. Puk is also a heavy consideration. As of now they seem to be the clear top three players in this draft.
2) Cincinnati Reds Alec Hansen - RHP- Oklahoma
I was down to Hansen or Puk for this pick. The Reds have not taken a left-handed starting pitcher in the first round since Jeremy Sowers in 2001. He was a high schooler at the time and I remember hearing that the Reds drafted Sowers since he was a local kid who they knew would not sign and they didn’t want to spend the money on a first-round pick. The last time they signed a left-hander in the first round was Ty Howington in 1999. He was once the 25th-best prospect by Baseball America. Hansen is big, throws hard, and has great stuff. He has really matured in college, but his command and control just aren’t there yet. One of the biggest questions of this draft is whether Hansen’s command or control improve enough to make him the top pick in this draft. If he shows no improvement, he could end up dropping because concerns about those areas convince teams he might end up in the bullpen. I am one who falls into the camp of the latter, and I have some big concerns with his command and control.
3) Atlanta Braves A.J. Puk - LHP - Florida
Former Scout MLB Prospect Analyst Kiley McDaniel is an important person in the Braves front office. We know based on his past draft rankings that Puk was his top player from this current group. Puk is my top player, as well, and would be a great pick here. He has a very good chance to go number one overall and I could still see that being the case. The Braves have targeted mostly bats in their rebuild, so an arm makes sense here, as well. He will be compared to Hansen a lot in this process because of their height and being the top two college arms. He has some command and control issues like Hansen, and the stuff isn’t quite as good as Hansen’s. I have him rated higher because his command – while a work in process – is not as concerning as Hansen’s to me. Of course, Puk being left handed is also a bonus.
4) Colorado Rockies Mickey Moniak - CF - La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
Last year, the Rockies went with high school picks early and often. The organization is currently in full rebuild mode. This pick will surprise many, but every time anyone brings up Moniak to me, their reports are glowing. It is a universal statement is that he is underrated and will go higher than anyone thinks. Moniak is a sure future centerfielder with a strong eye for the strike zone already. He has the tools to develop into an upper tier centerfielder. At this point, I feel like he has passed Blake Rutherford, who I prefer. Moniak is a name you need to know now. He is an advanced high school bat who projects as a plus player at a position typically difficult for teams to find advanced prospects at.
5) Milwaukee Brewers Riley Pint - RHP - St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
The Brewers are another team in tear-down mode. I loved what they did in the draft a year ago. They consistently went with the top player on the board. At this point I feel the top player on the board is Pint. Pint pitches in Kansas, which is not a baseball hotbed. I am very curious to see how much his stock gets dinged because he won’t face top competition this spring. The draft is often a lot of ‘what have you done for me recently’ which hurts a player like Pint. A smart team like the Brewers could sit back and grab a player with ace potential like Pint if he falls a bit. Pint has hit over 100 on the radar gun and has a big build, but he needs to add some weight and his mechanics need to be cleaned up a bit. Pint is a player I will watch closely because his stock may tumble a bit unjustifiably before the draft. (This is not to say his stock can’t justifiably tumble, but I think where he lives will hurt him more than how raw he is as a pitcher.)
6) Oakland Athletics Delvin Perez - SS - International Baseball Academy (PR)
From the 2002 draft until the 2012 draft (Addison Russell), the A’s drafted nothing but college players in the first round. In 2012 and 2013, they drafted four high school players who all ended up being top-100 prospects They have since traded three of those four prospects (Russell, Billy McKinney and Daniel Robertson). Matt Olson is the only one left in the A’s system. I give this history lesson because it shows that while the A’s lean college, I don’t think they will have any issue going prep early. The other big trend for the A’s is to draft up-the-middle talent, specifically shortstop or second base. Perez is a sure shortstop that I expect will rise. He is the only second baseman or shortstop I can see going in the top-15 picks let alone top-five. He is a sure shortstop with good tools and size to make me think that his offense could grow as he fills out.
7) Florida Marlins Connor Jones - RHP - Virginia
Michael Hill is back as the GM after Dan Jennings handled the job from 2013-15. During Hill’s first tenure, the Marlins had seven first-round picks they spent five on high school players. They picked in the top-10 three times and took two college players then. I could have gotten cute and put Matt Krook here who they drafted in the first round of 2013 and failed to sign. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a team in recent memory drafting the same player twice in the first round, however. Both of those college players the Marlins took were safer types. Jones might be the safest arm in this draft. He was the ace over the highly regarded Nathan Kirby a year ago. Jones is a polished pitcher who should move quickly while still having upper mid-rotation ability.
8) San Diego Padres Will Benson - OF - The Westminster HS (GA)
This is the first of three picks in the top 30 for the Padres. They need to take advantage of not just all of those picks but the huge amount of pool money that will go with those picks. GM A.J. Preller comes from Texas where they went upside with virtually every early pick. Last year. Preller did the same with his first pick Austin Smith. Everything about Benson is huge, starting with his 6’6” frame. Benson is a plus runner with speed and power potential. He won’t be 18 until after the draft, and no bat has more upside in this class. There is a world where he ends up with 70 power and an average hit tool.
9) Detroit Tigers Corey Ray - OF - Louisville
Ray should go higher than this, but there was not a great match in the first eight picks. He is clearly, as of now, the top college bat in this draft. The Tigers have always loved athletic outfielders and last year they went with college players with multiple early picks. Ray should stick in centerfield and do a bit of everything. His best tool is his speed, but I would not be surprised if he ends up with above-average power down-the-line. Ray is a bit undersized, so despite Ray having better production so far in college, Buddy Reed has a chance to be the first college hitter off the board.
10) Chicago White Sox Bryan Reynolds - OF - Vanderbilt
The White Sox have historically been one of the more conservative teams early in the draft. Reynolds is one of the top-10 players on a lot of draft boards. I am not as big a fan. If you read my 2011 re-draft piece then you know I think drafting too conservatively is a mistake. I like Reynolds but I don’t see a single plus tool. He has less than 10 total home runs during his college career and strikes out twice as much as he walks. He strikes me as an average regular in center or a below-average corner outfielder.
11) Seattle Mariners Blake Rutherford - OF - Chaminade HS (CA)
I am not sure why so many people have been racing to jump off the Rutherford bandwagon. I still think he is a top-5 talent in this draft. His bat and speed look like plus tools. I think he has a chance to be a five-tool talent. I get he is more than a year older than Benson, and there is some scouting fatigue. Yet Rutherford is a great talent and should go in the top-5 selections in this draft. My feel right now is that he will slide due to age and the previously mentioned scouting fatigue. He has a chance to be the best hitter in this class, and has a long history of playing well against top competition.
12) Boston Red Sox Buddy Reed - OF - Florida
I mentioned before how the Tigers loved to draft toolsy outfielders. The new Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski was in charge of those Tigers drafts. He often went the prep route, but I think Reed would be too much to pass on here. He is another player on the top-10 of most boards, but I am a bit leery of Reed as a prospect. The tools are clear. It is his eye at the plate and his production that have concerned me. He has a chance to be the first college bat taken because of his size and speed. I worry about the four home runs over two years and the high strikeout rates.
13) Tampa Bay Rays Kyle Lewis - OF - Mercer
Tampa went with upside a year ago and two years ago had no trouble taking a player from a smaller school when they grabbed Casey Gillaspie from Wichita State. Lewis’ value is based heavily on how he destroyed the Cape Cod League over the summer. A’s CF Billy Burns is the top player to come out of Mercer, a program that has never had a first rounder. Lewis’ calling card is his bat and plus right-handed power potential. I am among those who think he has to end up in leftfield, which does limit his value. Lewis can do little to help his value at this point; all he can do is hurt it if he doesn’t produce video game numbers again for Mercer this year.
14) Cleveland Indians Nolan Jones - 2B/3B - Holy Ghost Prep (PA)
Jones is currently a shortstop, but the long-term thought is he will end up at third. I think he has a chance to play second, as he is not a bad infielder, but his size at 6’4” will more than likely cause him to move off short as he fills out. I think second will be the best place to maximize his value. He is a great athlete and should be a solid 55 runner. He has a chance for above-average skills across the board. His best tool is his hit tool, which I think can be plus. This all adds up to a player with a ceiling of being a top-five player at the second base position.
15) Minnesota Twins Cal Quantrill - RHP - Stanford
If he had remained healthy, Quantrill would have been a potential number one overall pick in this draft. The son of long time major leaguer Paul Quantrill has a solid four pitch mix, all of them looking like potential major league pitches. He had Tommy John surgery last year and will miss a good chunk of this season, which is why he is lower on most boards. The Twins have taken more than a few sons of major leaguers, and last year they drafted a pair of college arms with question marks. Quantrill is too good a value for them here to pass up.
16) Los Angeles Angels Matt Krook - LHP - Oregon
Speaking of injured great values, Krook is the player coming back from injury I like the most. I have him above Quantrill on my board, and realize I am in the minority on this view. The athletic lefty was a supplemental first-round pick by the Marlins in 2013 but obviously didn’t sign. He went to Oregon and was dominant until he required Tommy John surgery and missed all of last year. After his first eight starts as a freshman, he looked like the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in this draft. If he comes back healthy, he has a chance climb very high in the next mock draft.
17) Houston Astros Reggie Lawson - RHP - Victor Valley HS (CA)
The Astros are a team that loves upside, and Lawson might be the arm with the most upside in this class. If you listen to Scout’s MLB draft podcast, you heard a long discussion on Lawson and the issues with the Victor Valley area he is from. Every overused term has been attached to Lawson and his ability. He has been described as loose, athletic, high ceiling, etc. They all apply and there is a chance for an ace here. For many, he is the top right-handed prep arm in this class.
18) New York Yankees Nick Banks - OF - Texas A&M
It has not been a kind summer for Banks, who last June was a top-10 (if not top-five) player on virtually every posted board. He played well with Team USA, leading the team in batting average, but his tools were outshone by his teammates Reed and Ray. All Banks does is hit, and has above-average to average tools in most areas. I prefer him to Reynolds, who has passed him on most boards. Banks is a tweener, a corner outfielder whose value is hurt by the lack of size or a standout tool. The Yankees were very conservative a year ago, and Banks would be the clear top college player on the board here.
19) Texas Rangers Drew Mendoza - SS/3B - Lake Minneola HS (FL)
I mentioned earlier that the Rangers love to go for upside, but I didn’t mention that they will often give preference to up-the-middle talent. Mendoza has been a solid shortstop who, because of his size, everyone assumes will have to move to third. He is a great athlete who has the ability to play third or second. I think he has a chance to stick at short, as well, but more than likely as he bulks up he will move off short. There is a chance he goes to Florida State, as he is already 18 and viewed as a hard commit.
20) New York Mets Avery Tuck - OF - Steele Canyon HS (CA)
The Mets have been a team to go after prep talent early outside of Michael Conforto (2014). They have gone with more toolsy players with these picks. Last year’s top pick Desmond Lindsay was such a player. Tuck is a name that popped up a bit late in the process this summer. He is bundle of raw tools. His power and arm stand out, and his bat is the biggest question mark. He screams boom or bust though obviously my exposure has been limited. He needs a strong spring or I think there is a very good chance he ends up at San Diego State.
21) Los Angeles Dodgers Dakota Hudson - RHP - Mississippi State
The Dodgers were connected via rumor to a ton of prep arms last year. Instead they ended up drafting college arms that had been previously viewed as possible top-10 selections. There were three arms I considered here but Hudson had the best mix of size and projection. If there was one pick I was to isolate in this mock draft and say it has the most volatility, it would be Hudson. He struggled his first two years at MSU with awful command. He pitched a total of 34 innings over two years. Then he went to the Cape, worked as a starter and a reliever. His walk rate went from over five to not quite one and a half. If he can keep that up this year, he will be a sure first-rounder. If he goes back to his old ways, then he will wait awhile to hear his name.
22) Toronto Blue Jays Kyle Funkhouser - RHP - Louisville
Funkhouser was a greatly debated name that ended up going much later than expected last season. He decided it was better to go back to school and see if he could be drafted higher as a senior. He is exactly the type of player and pitcher that Blue Jays’ President Mark Shapiro used to love with the Indians. Shapiro would go for these safer, sinker-ball types early and often with Cleveland. Funkhouser has flashed plus ability, but his command has come and gone throughout his career.
23) Pittsburgh Pirates Nick Senzel - 2B/3B - Tennessee
The Pirates have taken an up-the-middle talent with their first round pick the last two years. They have drafted more than a few up-the-middle guys featuring production over tools. Senzel has played all over for Tennessee, but where he fits long-term is the big question for him. If he can stick at second, his value is a lot higher. If second and third don’t work and he moves to the outfield then it would really hurt his value. He has a quick bat and is a natural hitter with average pop. He has been a hard guy to strikeout and has a solid eye for the strike-zone. He destroyed the Cape this summer and if he can continue that momentum, he will go high on draft night.
24) St. Louis Cardinals Joshua Lowe - RHP/3B - Pope HS (GA)
The Cardinals had been a conservative drafting team for years and were quite successful doing that. The last two years have seen them take prep talent either with their top pick or give a prep talent their biggest signing bonus. I see Lowe as a bat, but most seem to think he will be an arm. If that sounds familiar to Cards fans, he is very similar to their pick of Jack Flaherty two years ago. There is a lot of room for comparison between the two players who throw right-handed, are 6’4”, and both played third base and pitched.
25) San Diego Padres Alex Speas - RHP - McEachern HS (GA)
Speas is a risky but talented pitcher from Georgia. He has hit 96 already though there have been concerns about his potential. His command has been an issue and is the reason many think he might end up in the bullpen long-term. He is a pure upside pick here.
26) San Diego Padres Bobby Dalbec - 3B- Arizona
The Padres could easily go with three high school players with these picks, but instead I have them grabbing an upside pick from the college ranks. Dalbec is a two-way player at Arizona who has a 90s fastball and plus, plus power projection from the right side of the plate. For those who think he can stick at third and that the hit tool will improve when he focuses on hitting, Dalbec is a top-20 prospect. I am sure we will hear comparisons to former Kentucky two-way star and current Astros’ prospect A.J. Reed if he hits well even though Reed is a lefty who plays first.
27) Chicago White Sox Jordan Sheffield - RHP - Vanderbilt
I have back-to-back Vanderbilt picks for the White Sox, who also took a Vandy pitcher last year in Carson Fulmer. Sheffield is another undersized Vandy arm with great velocity. His control was a mess last year after returning from Tommy John surgery. He is a hard arm to place because he is an undersized right-hander, which limits the teams who would take him early. He is also hard to place because if he pitches like he did last year, he is going in the 3-5 round range, but if he excels he could end up going in the top-10.
28) Baltimore Orioles Ryan Boldt - OF - Nebraska
Last year, the Orioles were all about college bats. After years of struggling to develop prep arms, it was hard to blame them. Boldt was a possible top-10 pick back in 2013 out of high school, then he got hurt and ended up being basically unsignable. He has been a very good hitter in college with a strong eye at the plate. He is a plus athlete, but has hit only three home runs over the last two years. Reed hit four home runs all last year, yet people have faith that he will develop power while Boldt has been given up on. I understand the reason, his ISO was awful a year ago, but if he can bounce back, Boldt has a chance to move up boards.
29) Washington Nationals - Robert Tyler - RHP - Georgia
Since the Lucas Giolito pick in 2012, the Nationals have been a fairly conservative drafting team. They have leaned towards arms early, as well. They are also a team that has no problem drafting early hurt or recovering arms. Tyler has been on the radar since high school. He ended up going to Georgia and hit 99 MPH, and also ended up needing Tommy John surgery. I could not leave him out of this mock draft. I think he will bounce back this year, his second year back from surgery. His mix of velocity and off-speed stuff make him another name to watch in this draft as a potential riser.
30) New York Mets - Eric Lauer - LHP - Kent State
The Mets have done very well with late first-round pitchers. Lauer is a lefty from Kent State, which has quietly become a very solid pitching factory, producing a high pick every few years. Lauer is a very good athlete who I have been following since high school. He has three pitches that project to be at least major league average. I think he is being underrated, as his mix of athleticism, clean delivery and stuff leave room for more projection than most give him.