Photo by Danny Parker

2016 MLB Draft Mailbag #1

Jeff Ellis opens up the mailbag for his first round of 2016 MLB Draft questions.

This year, I am planning on putting out a monthly MLB Draft mailbag. I will be taking questions via twitter @jeffmlbdraft. For each question, I am including the handle of the person who asked the question and then I will answer the question below.


@jeffMLBdraft Could high school infielder Nolan Jones get into the top half of the first round?

I had Jones going to Cleveland in my last mock draft at 14. He will be in the top 15 of my Big Board when it releases next week. I think he is clearly one of the top prep bats in this class and when combined with his ability to play second or third base, there is a lot of value there. At this point, I would be surprised if he wasn’t in the top-15. 

Then again, with the loss of first round picks this year through free agent signings, the first round is technically only 23 picks long. This would mean he would have to go in the top 11 to be in the top half of the first round. I’m not as sure that he will land in the top-11 as I am that he will be in the top-15. I feel like 12-20 is really his likely landing zone.


@jeffMLBdraft hey Jeff, any draft chatter on Logan Ice? Good D, and bat looks great this year. Yuge, yuge day on Saturday (6-7, 2 HR)

Logan Ice has been known as a plus defender with no bat for the majority of his baseball career at Oregon State. As a freshman, he showed some on-base skills with an excellent walk rate. He didn’t play regularly as a sophomore and didn’t excel at the Cape. His name was pretty far off the radar. Here is a guy who never hit a homerun his first two years and had just 10 total extra base hits. In 35 at bats this year, he already has seven extra base hits. This is a player who looks like a completely different guy than he was last year, or even over the summer.

When you look at the defensive value and a possibly emerging bat, there is a lot of potential here. I don’t expect Ice to keep playing this well, but as long as he continues to show more power with his already displayed eye at the plate, then I would expect Ice to go in the top five rounds. This catcher class is surprisingly deep when it comes to second through fifth round catchers.


@jeffMLBdraft what's your grade on the 2010 draft?

A history question is always fun. The 2010 draft has produced five stars in Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Jacob Degrom and Chris Sale, as well as two potential All-Stars in Yasmani Grandal and Christian Yelich. The second round also produced great value with players like Andrelton Simmons and Drew Smyly, but after that it takes till the 8th round to find a player who has become a regular starter with Kole Calhoun and Corey Dickerson.

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It has only been five years, so some players are still trying to establish value, but by this point most of the players who are going to make an impact in the majors have at least debuted. This is not the case for all, as Jameson Tailion, the second overall pick, has dealt with injuries and has yet to make the majors. I still think Taillon has a floor as a very good backend relief arm.

It was a pretty typical draft in terms of value, though it did end up being maybe the most important draft for the Mets team that just made the World Series. In terms of star power, though, it was above-average, but in terms of overall talent it was on par with most.


@jeffMLBdraft Nick Banks, Kyle Lewis, Bryan Reynolds. Who has highest ceiling, who has highest floor? How have each performed thus far?

The highest ceiling is Kyle Lewis, who has some amazing bat speed and right-handed power potential. If everything breaks right, you have a plus right-handed bat playing an average centerfield. There is some star potential here that someone could easily talk themselves into. He is also the biggest risk of the three. Playing against lower level competition will always cause concern for evaluators.

Bruce Thorson / USA TODAY Sports Images

I think the lowest floor is Nick Banks, though I know I would be in the minority with this. Playing in the same conference, he outperformed Bryan Reynolds in every rate-based category a year ago. They are similar players, but I think Banks has a stronger hit tool, better power potential, and is a better runner. I think Banks can be an average corner outfielder who does a bit of everything.

Reynolds has started the year stronger than Banks. Banks has dealt with some injuries which have slowed him down. Reynolds has feasted on weaker teams early, but would have performed well no matter who he faced. He has been one of the most consistent bats the last few years in college. I will explain soon, in depth, why I am not as big on Reynolds.


Any player (s) can make impact in Majors soon?

As always, the best chances for quick impact are relievers. Zach Jackson of Arkansas is the top reliever in the draft, but I would try him as a starter if I drafted him. Zack Burdi of Louisville has an older brother who was also a reliever and a high pick by the Twins. I would bet on him being one of the first players to the majors. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Chad Hockin of Cal State Fullerton, who has been as close to perfect as a reliever could be early in the year. The Fullerton program has always done well with producing pitchers who are very polished.

Jackson is the only player who I think should go in round one. My problem with Jackson is he should have been given a chance this year to start. I think Arkansas did him such a disservice by not letting him show he could start. It could have changed his signing bonus by hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

If you wanted to know what bat should move the quickest, it is clearly Corey Ray. He is the most complete hitter in this draft. I think he could move quickly through a team's minors like, a Michael Conforto.


Most overrated, underrated prospects? 

Bryan Reynolds, who I mentioned above, is the most overrated prospect to me. I think he is a good player, but the lack of any plus skills makes me wonder how he is on so many top-10 lists. I, for the life of me, can’t understand in any way how you would put him up higher than, say, Nick Senzel. Reynolds is a guy I would view as a second rounder as a likely fourth outfielder with a low floor.

The most underrated is Will Craig, a first-baseman from Wake Forest. I know he plays first base, which hurts his value, but here is a guy who also pitches for Wake and is in one of the top three conferences in the country. He has shown power, an eye at the plate, and a potential plus hit tool. If Casey Gillaspie can go in the top 20 in a much stronger class in 2014, then Craig should be an easy top-15 pick. All he does hit and hit and hit. He did have some struggles on the Cape, but I am still a fan.


Heath Quinn or Nolan Jones or Matt Krook available who are you taking?

I am taking Krook. He is one of the top-10 players in this draft to me. I expect he will continue to rise as he gets more and more starts. I also think he is also the safest player in this group, as I think his floor is a back end lefty. It would take another injury for him not to make the majors to me.

I will take the player with both the highest ceiling and the highest floor every time.


How does this draft compare to last year's draft?

The top-five is weaker. I really don’t like the top of this draft. I just don’t feel like this draft has a lot of players with high-end talent. A year ago I was so bullish on this class, but I feel like a lot of players have taken steps back and no one has really stepped up. This is also the worst college hitter class I can remember.

I do love the depth in this draft. I think in round 2, there will be a lot of first round type talents. The class is deep. I think we will see known right handed college pitchers going in the third round. I am not sure I would have more than one player I give a typical top three grade, but there are going to be nearly 50 players that will be near a first round grade.


@jeffMLBdraft something that I always overlook is pool $ in regards to the draft. How much does a $2 million gap make in regards to strategy?

A ton, to put it mildly. An extra two million, if given to one player, would make him one of the top-20 highest paid players in the class. It basically allows a team to add a second top-30 talent. For the majority of teams, an additional first rounder would be another top-10 prospect for that organization.

For an example, take a talented prep player like Kep Brown, who I had in my top 40 a year ago. Thanks to injury, he slid to the Cards in the 10th round. He clearly wanted to sign with a team for the right price, as he eschewed going to Miami University to attend a JUCO, so he would be draft-eligible this year. This would be the type of player a team could add with the extra bonus money. I can’t think of a minors system that would not be better thanks to a 6’5” OF with plus right-handed power potential.

It is equally important to make sure to use this entire pool. We saw the Astros last year use all of their pool to add Daz Cameron, who many thought was a top-10 player a year ago. On the flip side the Arizona Diamondbacks ended up on coming in a million under pool. When you think of all the trades the D-Backs made this year, having another prospect would have been, at worst, a big trade chip. If they had added a Donnie Everett, Chander Day, or Kep Brown, that player would be a top-three prospect in the system. In terms of pure trade value, that player would be worth a lot more than the cost to sign them. For a comparison, in a trade, what would have more value, Dansby Swanson or a team eating 6.5 million dollars on a contract?

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