Scout's MLB Draft expert Jeff Ellis and Scout's Los Angeles Angels' Editor Taylor Ward recently teamed up to do a dual mock draft, so as to compare and contrast their picks for the first 34 selections. Below are the results of their mock drafts with commentary on why each expert made the picks that he made. This is Scout's second mock draft of the 2016 draft season. Click here for the Scout's 2016 MLB Mock Draft, 1.0.
Scout's 2016 MLB Mock Draft, 2.0
1) Philadelphia Phillies
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Taylor Ward’s pick: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ)
http://www.scout.com/mlb/scouting/story/1652035-2016-mlb-draft-rankings-...Jeff Ellis: Groome is the top talent in the draft, so I get why Taylor made his pick. Having said that, I would still not rank him as high as either Brady Aiken or Koby Allard the last two years.
The Phillies have a new GM, Matt Klentak, from the Angels system who is known as one of the most conservative drafters. I think the Phillies are leaning away from prep talent and pitchers. Senzel is my number one college bat and I think that is what the Phillies want.
Taylor Ward: When the season started, three pitchers came in as the “Big Three” coming into the draft and the only one that has stood out thus far is Groome. The Phillies have premier talent at nearly every position in their system and having excess amount of pitchers is never a bad thing. I like Senzel as the top bat in this draft, but feel that Groome has more to offer the Phillies. Groome is very polished as a prep southpaw, with a firm mid 90’s fastball, filthy curve and decent changeup. Scouts say he has top-10 MLB arm potential, which is a strong enough argument for me.
2) Cincinnati Reds
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (PR)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
Jeff Ellis: The Reds have not had an offensive weapon at shortstop since Barry Larkin. Perez has the tools to be the best player in this class. He could be a 20/20 player while being a top-five defender at shortstop. Senzel would make sense here, as well, but I had him gone at number one. The Reds are clearly in for a long rebuild and shortstops always rise.
Taylor Ward: The Reds are in rebuild mode and taking the best college bat will only improve their system. Senzel has questions about where he'll be defensively, but his bat carried through the best conference in the nation and the Cape Cod League. He'll gain some power, but is already a finely tuned hitter from the right-side. Perez has too many questions, but also doesn't have as many scouts seeing him regularly to make me believe he goes this high in the draft.
3) Atlanta Braves
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
Taylor Ward’s pick: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep (CA)
Jeff Ellis: The Braves are all-in on bats, or they want us to think that. I wonder if they are being so vocal to throw everyone off of the trail. After Ray and Senzel, there is a drop-off in terms of floor for hitters in this draft. I like Rutherford more than Ray, but all reports have the Braves targeting college talent.
Taylor Ward: Rutherford is arguably the best prep player in the nation. He does just about everything right and has some five-tool potential depending on how much better he gets in the field. The Braves’ system is stacked with pitching, so a bat only makes sense here. Rutherford falls in the Brendan Rodgers category due to his age, but Rutherford’s potential is too high to feel he isn't a top five selection this year.
4) Colorado Rockies
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
Jeff Ellis: A year ago, the Rockies took prep players with their first five picks. They know they are in for a long rebuild here and, with Groome on board, they could grab a top talent. One thing they didn’t grab a year ago was a left-handed pitcher. Groome would give them a lefty with front of the rotation potential. Lewis would make some sense here, but I think the Rockies are looking at prep talent.
Taylor Ward: This draft has room to take a player under-slot and save money for the rest of the first 10 rounds. Lewis obviously has a lot of luster to him, but the questions that follow a small conference player will always circle on how good a hitter he actually is. The Rockies could find a way to save some money with a small conference guy like Lewis with upside to be a top hitter in the league down-the-road, particularly in a park like Coors Field.
5) Milwaukee Brewers
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade HS (CA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
Jeff Ellis: We both have outfielders going to the Brewers. In this case, we swapped the players that each of us had going at three to the Braves. I have heard the Brewers connected with Rutherford. I think if he is here, then he would be an easy pick. A year ago, the Brewers went best player available with every pick. I expect the same this year.
Taylor Ward: Ray is in the conversation, along with Senzel, for the nation's best hitter and position player. Jeff and I are on the same page with top-five picks, for the most part, and I feel Rutherford is the better selection at #3 than #5, so the swap makes sense. Either way, we both see the nation's top collegiate hitters going in the top five.
6) Oakland A’s
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
Taylor Ward’s pick: A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
Jeff Ellis: The A’s go with college bats in the first round. It is just what they do. Their preference is up-the-middle players, as well. In the first 10 rounds last year, they took nine college players. I have also noticed a tendency to look for power early and that is what Lewis would provide. The A’s have also taken small school talent high before (Michael Choice from UT-Arlington in 2010 comes to mind). In the last decade, they have taken a pitcher in round one twice, which is why I avoided an arm here. I know Taylor had the top three college bats off the board, though, so in his mock draft there was not a college bat that would not have been a reach this high.
Taylor Ward: The A's have taken college players as of late and Puk is easily one of the most desirable arms in this draft. Control is somewhat questionable with him, but his stuff is the most pure of this entire draft. Any lefty who throws in the mid 90's, with power breaking pitches, is an entertaining selection. Also, it worked for them to take a pitcher in the first round with Sonny Gray in 2011, so why not Puk? I like Jeff's pick of Lewis here, as well, but see the upside and early slotting more for him a few picks prior.
7) Miami Marlins
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
Taylor Ward’s pick: Delvin Perez, SS, International Baseball Academy (PR)
Jeff Ellis: This selection is all about Stan Meek who, when I last checked, still appears to be in charge of the Marlins’ draft. Meek lives in Oklahoma and has had the Marlins take every single Oklahoma pitcher with a first-round grade in the first round. On top of that, add in the big velocity and size and Hansen is everything the Marlins adore. Two years ago, they took a very similar player in Tyler Kolek over a more proven player like Carlos Rodon. I will say that, if Hansen continues to flop badly, I could see him falling to the sandwich round very easily. A team could take him in the sandwich round and sign him to an above-slot deal like the Royals did with Sean Manaea back in 2013. As a matter of fact, if I had not locked in this pick so early, Hansen would be lower. Perez is a great pick here, but I just don’t think he lasts this long.
Taylor Ward: The Marlins have constantly gone with raw players early and Jeff's selection of Hansen makes all the sense in the world. However, they also like players with a connection to the city and Perez being from Puerto Rico is a nice connection. Not just that, but Perez fits the mold of Miami's playing style. Some say Perez is the best player to come out of the Puerto Rico Academy since Carlos Correa, who we all know is outstanding. There is a lot to desire in Perez as a top-notch future MLB shortstop.
8) San Diego Padres
Jeff Ellis’ pick: A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
Taylor Ward’s pick: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
Jeff Ellis: The Padres are all about upside and getting Moniak here makes a ton of sense. Between the tools and local ties, he would be a slam-dunk pick for me if Puk was not still on the board. Let me put it another way, if I had dropped Hansen out of the top-10, then Puk would have moved up one spot and I would have had Moniak here. We saw Puk have his first dominating performance of the year and, if he continues to pitch well, he is going to rise.
Taylor Ward: There's one guarantee with Moniak, which is that he will always hit well. His swing plane is incredibly desirable from the left-side of the plate. He's a product of San Diego, so a home team selection makes a load of sense. The Padres are always a question mark in my book, but this pick seems very safe in my mind, as his bat and speed mix well with Petco Park, along with the hometown connection.
9) Detroit Tigers
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Riley Pint, RHP, St Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
Jeff Ellis: This is the first pick where we both agree. Pint is the best player available at this slot and last year the Tigers did lead off their draft with a big velocity right-hander. Last year, the Tigers got a bit conservative, so I would not be shocked to see a college player here or safer prep player. Pint is the type of player the Tigers would have taken in the past, so I will be interested to see if the new front office follows suit.
Taylor Ward: The biggest knock on Pint going in the top five picks is where he's pitching. Missouri isn't a hot bed for prep talent and, if that were not the case, he'd likely go earlier in the draft. There are rumors that he hit triple digits already, with a wipeout slider. The Tigers have taken prep players in both of the last two drafts, making them a prime candidate to take on the risk of Pint. At worst, he should fill out as a hard-throwing reliever, leaving him with a nice ceiling. Also, Jeff and I agreed on this selection, so just another notch towards it working out.
10) Chicago White Sox
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt
Taylor Ward’s pick: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt
Jeff Ellis: We swapped the top Vanderbilt talent with the next two picks. A year ago, the White Sox took Vandy RHP Carson Fulmer with their top pick, so we know they saw a lot of the Commodores. After taking an advanced college arm the last two years, the White Sox are likely to take a bat here. Reynolds is a safe floor bat who should move quickly. If I made a list of the most conservative drafting teams it would go Yankees, White Sox, A’s, and then Angels. I think the White Sox are smart enough to know the draft and realize they should grab the bat here, because an arm of near equal value will be available later.
Taylor Ward: Hardly any team in baseball develops pitchers better than the White Sox and their future rotation is going to be filthy. Why not add a high-ceiling arm who can touch triple digits? Sheffield has put together strong outings nearly every time he takes the mound and the White Sox have connections with Vanderbilt already, after taking Fulmer last year.
11) Seattle Mariners
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt
Taylor Ward’s pick: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt
Jeff Ellis: We don’t know what new Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto will do with a high pick, as he has never had one in the top 12 of his career as the Angels’ GM. His past record seems to show he values college players, so I went with Sheffield, who has pitched very well this year. The Seattle system is weak in terms of pitching, so I think Sheffield makes a lot of sense here. We saw Dipoto go very safe with the Angels and Sheffield has a very low floor as, worst case, you should have an elite closer.
Taylor Ward: Jeff swapped picks with me here, which shows we both like the Vandy pairing going #11 and #12. There's been a constant with both the Mariners and their new GM Dipoto: they like the safe picks and Reynolds is one of the safer selections early in this draft. He isn't flashy, but does everything well enough to show he'll be a major league talent in the future. Though he won’t bless the Mariners with a premier prospect, which they're in need of, Reynolds is a sensible pick for them.
12) Boston Red Sox
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon (CA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford
Jeff Ellis: New Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski looked for two things when drafting for the Tigers. The first was big arms with big velocity. The second was toolsy outfielders. Moniak is a clear case of best player matching up with a team’s track record. I understand Quantrill here, as the Red Sox have an organizational need at pitcher, and a healthy Quantrill would have been a top-five pick. There are serious concerns that Quantrill will not pitch this year, which is going to hurt his value a lot. In the end, Moniak is too good to pass on.
Taylor Ward: The Red Sox have arguably the best system in all of baseball, but the majority of their top prospects are position players. They like high upside players and Quantrill gives them just that. There are two consistent elements about Stanford: they always produce talented pitchers and there is always concern about how Cardinal arms will hold up. Quantrill has yet to pitch this year, due to Tommy John surgery last year. How well he comes back and throws his off-speed pitches will heavily influence his draft stock. Right now, he's one of the premier arms in this draft even without the benefit of throwing a pitch yet this year.
13) Tampa Bay Rays
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Nolan Jones, 3B, Holy Ghost (PA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Joshua Lowe, RHP/3B, Pope HS (GA)
Jeff Ellis: This is another case where Taylor and I flip-flop a couple of players. I have Jones over Lowe because Jones has the bigger upside and is the more athletic of the two. I am starting to believe that Jones will go in the top-10 and will end up being the third prep bat off the board. I think Jones is the better athlete and is more advanced as a hitter over Lowe.
Taylor Ward: The Rays have consistently gone with raw players with high upside. They may have made a mistake with Garrett Whitley, as scouts were concerned with how he'd adapt to professional pitchers. Regardless, it shows that the Rays are still going with raw players with question marks. Lowe shows better development as a hitter, but is also one of the top prep arms in this draft. I see the Rays taking him as a third baseman, with pitching (on a short leash) as a backup plan. Once again, Jeff and I swapped picks between #13 and #14.
14) Cleveland Indians
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Joshua Lowe, 3B, Pope (GA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Nolan Jones, 3B, Holy Ghost HS (PA)
Jeff Ellis: The Indians have a lot of depth when it comes to pitching, so much so that I think it might preclude them from considering a college arm early. A prep arm is possible, since a high school pitcher would just go to the Arizona complex for his debut season. Now, the Indians could consider Florida OF Buddy Reed, but the only other position in Cleveland’s system where it would be hard to fit in another player would be outfield. I think they will be looking for prep arms or infield talent. In terms of the college ranks, I just don’t see the value there. Lowe and Jones are similar athletes, with bat speed, who are currently shortstops. That profile fits the bill in terms of what I have seen the Indians go for. Hey, if Lowe struggles, you can always try him as a bullpen arm, as he is the top two-way player in this class.
Taylor Ward: Last year, shortstops were the talk of the draft. This year, it's the polar opposite. Though Jones is considered better at third base, I'm in the short mix that believes his athleticism will keep him at short. Mix in a strong bat with raw power and he becomes one of the top infield selections of the draft. Jeff and I both see the Indians and Rays taking a raw prep infielder in the first round and it's only a matter of opinion between the pairing.
15) Minnesota Twins
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia
Taylor Ward’s pick: Connor Jones, RHP, Virginia
Jeff Ellis: Here we are, in agreement again. The past few years have seen the Twins go with upside prep talent early. Then last year, they used their top picks on a pair of college arms. Jones is a mid-rotation arm who has a chance to be a bit more. My concern, and I am not alone, is why do Virginia arms always seem to fail? It is a top program with a consistent track record that has never produced a pitcher with a WAR over 9. The highest WAR in team history is Javier Lopez, followed by Ricky Horton (from 1980) and, in third, Sean Doolittle, who was a hitter when he was drafted. I like Jones, but, at this point, there has to be significant concerns about what is going on at Virginia.
Taylor Ward: The Twins have a nice group of position players in their system, so their focus could be on pitching. Jones fits the mold of Minnesota's dimensions. He has a heavy mid 90's fastball, with fine-tuned off-speed offerings. Earlier this year, I saw Jones going in the top 10, but something opted me out of this despite constant strong outings from the best pitcher in one of the top conferences across the nation.
16) Los Angeles Angels
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida
Taylor Ward’s pick: Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon
Jeff Ellis: I have Reed here. At the start of the year, Reed was listed in the top-10 many places. He can do a bit of everything, or at least people think he should, even though he has not shown a lot of power in college. I am concerned by the amount of swing-and-miss in his game and I think a lot of the hype from this summer has started to wear off. Reed is not a bad player, but he is also not the player people thought he would be this year in terms of growth. I think he is a potential starting centerfielder in the majors, but more like an Austin Jackson than the plus power guy I heard people talk about this summer.
Taylor Ward: The argument here is that the Angels need help with position players in their system, but the argument can also stand that they need premier talent just about everywhere. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Krook has filthy stuff as a southpaw, ranging the mid 90's, with a disgustingly good curve and changeup. There's just too much to desire not to see the Angels going large to improve their system overall.
17) Houston Astros
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford
Taylor Ward’s pick: Buddy Reed, OF, Florida
Jeff Ellis: This is the 17th pick in the draft and, at this point, we have used 16 of the same players. There seems to be a pretty similar idea of who the top talents are perceived to be. Quantrill is a hard player to place. There is a good chance that he won’t see any game time this college year. Yet, at this time a year ago, he had some top overall pick talk. The Astros often go with upside earlier and, after spending a lot of high picks on bats, it might be time for them to start taking arms early.
Taylor Ward: The Astros consistently take the best player available in the draft and Reed fits the mold here. He reminds me of former Astros’ prospect Brett Phillips in his all-around abilities on the field and I see a connection between the two. This pick is nothing more than looking and seeing the best talent available.
18) New York Yankees
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida
Taylor Ward’s pick: Logan Shore, RHP, Florida
Jeff Ellis: There might not be a more conservative drafting team than the New York Yankees. I won’t even consider a non-college player to them when I am mocking a draft, considering their recent history. Shore is the safest arm in this draft. A year after taking a safe mid-rotation arm (James Kaprielian), I have them doing the same here again.
Taylor Ward: There's been no better pitcher in the nation so far than Shore and the Yankees took a very similar arm in last year's draft, with Kaprielian of UCLA. Although there's not a lot of flair from Shore, he places the ball where he wants to and could mold into Yankee Stadium well, despite its short porches and him being a right-handed pitcher. Oh hey, look at that, Jeff and I both have him with this pick.
19) New York Mets
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Will Benson, OF, Westminster Schools (GA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
Jeff Ellis: The last two years, the Mets have gone for upside and toolsy players early. The player who has the most tools at this point is Benson. He is a huge outfielder, with easy to see plus power potential down the road. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of a bigger version of Kyle Lewis, who I had going earlier. Hansen would make sense here, as the Mets would be able to gamble given their pitching depth. I will say that the Mets’ system is a bit weaker after recent trades and graduations, so they might be tempted to go safer this year.
Taylor Ward: Hansen came in as one of the "Big Three" and has seen his stock fall dramatically. If there's any team that can take on a big arm with no control, develop it, and turn it into something special, it's the Mets. I still like Jeff's pick for Hansen at #6 and there's a strong chance he jumps higher due to his potential, but I still see him on the board this late in the draft and the Mets know what to do with guys who reach triple digits (see: deGrom, Jacob; Syndergaard, Noah; Harvey, Matt; etc.)
20) Los Angeles Dodgers
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California
Taylor Ward’s pick: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California
Jeff Ellis: When I look at what Dodgers President Andrew Friedman did in the draft last year and the past few years with the Rays, it is clear that he has a very conservative drafting approach. The Dodgers also had no problems with taking the undersized Walker Buehler a year ago. Jefferies is a pretty safe arm who fits what the Dodgers seemed to be looking for in the first round a year ago.
Taylor Ward: The Dodgers have one of the top farm systems in baseball and they take projectable players who are also safety picks. Jefferies is another case for one of the best pitchers in the nation who could be an undervalued arm. The Dodgers can save some bonus money here and use the rest with their pick that is 12 selections away. Worth noting that Jeff took Jefferies here, as well.
21) Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M
Taylor Ward’s pick: Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia
Jeff Ellis: This is based on my time as an Indians writer when current Jays’ President Mark Shapiro ran the Cleveland front office. I spent a lot of time studying his time as GM and, when it came to the draft, it was a disaster. I did a study and the Indians were the second worst team in baseball, in terms of drafting, during the 20-year period that was the Shapiro/John Hart era. During Shapiro’s time in Cleveland, the Indians often were very conservative and would lean towards hitters when drafting. Banks was a guy who had first-round talk at the end of last year. He had an okay summer and then had an injury slow him down. There is a real lack of college hitters here, so his potential upside makes him the Toronto pick.
Taylor Ward: Toronto has shown no fear in taking raw arms in the draft and Tyler fits that mold. I like Tyler's fastball as the best in the entire draft for starters and his changeup is pretty fine-tuned. The biggest concern is Tyler's ability to find the zone, but the overall package is enough for me to see him go this early.
22) Pittsburgh Pirates
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Reggie Lawson, RHP, Victor Valley (CA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa HS (NY)
Jeff Ellis: The Tigers love to go with upside. The players with the most upside on my board at this point are prep arms. The question then becomes which prep arm has the most upside and I think that is Lawson. He is an excellent athlete, has a big frame and easy velocity. He is a player who has front of the rotation potential.
Taylor Ward: The Pirates have never had a fear of taking prep pitchers and there is plenty to desire in Anderson. I like Jeff's pick of Lawson here, but will explain later why I see him falling. Anderson fits the mold of quite a few guys in showing size and a mid-90s fastball, with a feel for his off-speed. It should be enough to leapfrog him into the mid-first round.
23) St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Dakota Hudson, RHP, Miss State
Taylor Ward’s pick: Will Benson, OF, Westminster School (GA)
Jeff Ellis: This time last year, Hudson was an ineffective, wild reliever. Now he is one of the most consistent starters in the nation. I am not sure I have seen a player’s command change so much in a year. I think he has mid-rotation potential and, while that might not be super exciting, it is very valuable. I have heard some top-10 talk, but I just can’t see him that high. The Cardinals have been a more conservative team in the past and, with three picks, I would expect them to go safe early and then take some risks with the next two picks.
Taylor Ward: The Cardinals have multiple things going well for them in this draft: 1) their system is still strong, 2) they have three first-round picks within 11 selections of each other, and 3) the draft is deep beyond the first round. These three factors give St. Louis the ability to go after top prep projection players and Benson is one of the best. If he is still on the board, this would be a premier spot for them to grab him.
24) San Diego Padres
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa HS (NY)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Chris Okey, C, Clemson
Jeff Ellis: San Diego GM A.J. Preller came from Texas and, last year, we saw the Padres go with the upside approach. My top upside prep player left would be Anderson, who I don’t believe has even seen his season begin yet. He has been hitting mid 90’s velocity and, being a cold weather arm, the growth potential is intriguing. The Padres have three picks in the top 34 and two in a row. I expect them to go with upside early and often.
Taylor Ward: The argument for best catcher in the nation is still up for grabs between Okey, Sean Murphy, Matt Thaiss and Brian Serven. The Padres have nearly no catching depth in the minors and catchers tend to go early and quickly following the first round. Okey fits the mold for the Padres, as he'll become a strong blocker with the Padres' erratic system pitchers.
25) San Diego Padres
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Bo Bichette, 2B, Lakewood HS (FL)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Will Craig, 1B, Wake Forest
Jeff Ellis: Bichette is a nice upside grab here by the Padres. They’re getting a potential plus hitter at second base. His brother (Dante, Jr.) has had some struggles in the Yankees’ system, but Bo could bring 55 grade hit and power tools to second base. This would put him in the upper tier of second basemen, offensively. I have the Padres going with an arm with their first pick, so I think they grab a bat here. The overall weakness of the hitter class means if the Padres are going to grab a bat, they should not wait.
Taylor Ward: Another form of the Padres making an odd pick. They'll likely do the opposite of the Cardinals, and take strong bats early, saving the rest of the draft for decent mid-to-late projection arms. Craig may not have the luster due to his position, but his bat is enough to jump him into the first round.
26) Chicago White Sox
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon
Taylor Ward’s pick: Sean Murphy, C, Wright State
Jeff Ellis: In every mock draft, there is a player who falls. In this case, it was Krook for me. His performance has slipped a bit in the last few weeks. It should be noted, however, that the command issues he has shown are extremely common for a player returning from Tommy John surgery. After grabbing a hitter earlier, the White Sox could wait and get a very good arm later. Getting Krook here would be ideal with his upside. There are few teams who do better with young pitching than the White Sox.
Taylor Ward: This pick harkens back to the argument from earlier regarding catchers going early and quickly. The White Sox need someone to help develop their pitchers from behind the plate. Murphy has nice abilities at the plate, as well, making him even more desirable. This is a perfect spot to take a top-talent catcher who will also also gain a relationship with the pitchers in the organization from the early stages.
27) Baltimore Orioles
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Will Craig, 1B, Wake Forest
Taylor Ward’s pick: Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M
Jeff Ellis: The Orioles went with numbers over scouting a year ago and, while last year’s pick D.J. Stewart has struggled, the Orioles could recoup value getting Craig here. The only time Craig has not performed was over the summer, when it was clear he was tired. At Wake Forest, he pitched a lot and hit every day. He has power, plate discipline, and a potential plus hit tool. To me, he’s the most complete hitter in this class.
Taylor Ward: This nearly matches last year's selection for Baltimore, when they took Stewart, a polished left-handed hitter who could rise quickly. Banks has a lot of bat to desire, but early injuries may have dropped his stock. This could turn into a blessing for the Orioles, who can turn him into a player that could soon be blasting balls to the gaps and towards Cal Ripken Way.
28) Washington Nationals
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Robert Tyler, RHP, Georgia
Taylor Ward’s pick: Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
Jeff Ellis: The Nationals have not taken a prep player with their top selection since Lucas Giolito in 2012. They have also taken arms often the past few years. Tyler is too good a value to pass on here. I have been stating in every article how deep the right-handed pitching is in this class. Someone like Tyler won’t only be available here, pitchers of that profile will be at the top of the second round, as well. I love the depth in this class. I would prefer to be the Nats than the Tigers in this class, in terms of the first round positioning.
Taylor Ward: This is only the second time in the last four years that the Nats have a first-round pick and they just happen to go back-to-back. In the past, they've taken pitchers who possess one thing - plus, plus stuff. Hudson lacks some effort overall in his performances, but his sinker and cutter are enough to put him in the first round. The Nats could benefit from his stuff, while saving some nickels and dimes for their next pick.
29) Washington Nationals
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Chris Okey, C, Clemson
Taylor Ward’s pick: Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA)
Jeff Ellis: When teams have two picks in a row, they often go one hitter and one batter. I have a catcher going in the first round and we have seen the Nationals draft a catcher from Clemson before, with Spencer Kieboom. Okey isn’t the best hitting catcher, nor is he the best defensive catcher. Instead, he has the best combination of skills and, after producing for three straight years in the ACC (after first-round talk as a high schooler), he isn’t likely to fall past the first two rounds.
Taylor Ward: Manning has been a high riser, maybe one of the highest thus far, for this draft. He's basically a duplicate of Dakota Hudson, with a power sinker while still maintaining raw velocity. Manning is also one of the best athletes in this draft, which fits the mold of the Nationals’ past selections. With Hudson being selected before, the Nats can hold a pair of sinkerball pitchers a few years apart in age/development to man the early to mid-stages of their future rotation.
30) Texas Rangers
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Santa Barbara HS (CA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Santa Barbara HS (CA)
Jeff Ellis: I mentioned before that the Rangers love to go for upside. When I look at who’s left, the best upside bet is Gowdy. He is a big kid with an advanced feel for his off-speed pitches. He isn’t quite the risk of the other arms in this class because of his feel for his secondary offerings. There are a few prep arms here the Rangers could choose between, but Gowdy is a guy I expect to see go in the first round.
Taylor Ward: Jeff and I agreed on this selection, but I'm sure we have very different reasoning. The Rangers are pretty well known for jumping at upside pitchers early in the draft, but one thing stood out to me. When the Rangers were in Santa Barbara last season to take a look at Dillon Tate (who they selected fourth overall last year), multiple scouts jumped at the chance to see Gowdy in action, as well, and the Rangers’ scouts were openly impressed. It's more of a hearsay pick for me with Gowdy and the Rangers. Gowdy also doesn't suck at pitching, having an amazing feel and command for everything he throws, with low to mid 90's velocity and a lot of bite on his off-speed.
31) New York Mets
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Heath Quinn, OF, Samford
Jeff Ellis: I mentioned before that the Mets have been going with upside picks. This week, at the NHSI, Garrett was one of the big winners. He had everyone talking about his performance and his pitches. He showed advanced secondary stuff, held his velocity and had good command this week. It was one of the more impressive performances of any pitcher in the tournament. If his velocity ticks up a little, he would fly up these boards.
Taylor Ward: Quinn is a very interesting name on my board. He's in the same conference as Kyle Lewis, who I have going early, and brings nearly the same tools to the plate with him. However, he falls on every board. The Mets have taken very good bats before who are a few levels ahead in development. I see Quinn being that guy for them, but he'll jump all around on my board before draft time.
32) Los Angeles Dodgers
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Colby Woodmansee, SS, Arizona
Taylor Ward’s pick: Reggie Lawson, RHP, Victor Valley HS (CA)
Jeff Ellis: I can’t have a first round and not include a college shortstop. The college shortstop class is a mess right now. Woodmansee has been gaining more steam as the rare shortstop in this draft at a big program that is performing. He’s a likely shortstop at the higher levels, who has shown doubles pop and has hit very well. He looks like a potential starting shortstop down the road, which is incredibly valuable. I think this pick would allow the Dodgers to save some money, as well, to use on their later picks.
Taylor Ward: I said I'd explain why Lawson falls and also why the Dodgers can take on his risk. I have the Dodgers taking Jefferies earlier, to save some money on an upside prep player in the draft, and Lawson fits that mold for me. Also, Lawson comes from a region of California that is better known for crime and poverty than baseball. This has nothing to do with Lawson as a person, as his makeup is FANTASTIC. The location will take scouts opting to see him elsewhere, away from his high school, which may cause them to not see him as often. The Dodgers front office knows the region well and may see him more consistently, with scouting directors and head honchos of the office getting a first-hand viewing of Lawson and his plus slider and mid 90's sinking fastball.
33) St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Carter Kieboom, SS/3B, Walton HS (GA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL)
Jeff Ellis: This matchup is a pair of players who excelled at the recent NHSI. Kieboom has long been thought to be a future third baseman, due to his size. Maybe there is a chance, much like Corey Seager, that he could stick at shortstop for a few years. Kieboom’s defensive play looked great at NHSI and that made me change my mindset and think there is a chance that he could play shortstop. If others start to have this belief and, if I had seen tape before writing up this mock draft, Kieboom would be much higher. If (and it’s a big if) he can stick at short despite his size, suddenly you’re looking at a top-15 talent, maybe top-10.
Taylor Ward: This is where the Cardinals can really put themselves in a nice position. They can take upside prep players who are slightly under stock selection, getting nice talent at a nice price. Garrett just blew scouts away this past week at NHSI and his stuff plays out well. The Cardinals system is the best place to develop. Garrett is a semi-polished prep pitcher already, and the Cardinals could find a gem with this selection.
34) St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Ellis’ pick: Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA)
Taylor Ward’s pick: Bo Bichette, 2B, Lakewood HS (FL)
Jeff Ellis: Manning is another player, along with Carter Kieboom, who should be much higher on this mock draft. I sent my mock draft off to Taylor at the start of the week. This was before Manning’s debut -- and what a debut it was. He is a plus athlete, who is 6’6”, and has only been pitching for a year. If I was redoing the mock, he would be somewhere in the top 25. There is so much potential here, I think the Cardinals would leap at the chance to take him.
Taylor Ward: Bichette has been impressive at showcases since his sophomore year and obviously has the advantage of bloodlines (his father, Dante, Sr. was a long-time major league All-Star). Though many see him in the second round, Bo has some first-round potential and could come at that price. This would be a nice place for the Cardinals to jump at multiple prep players with upside, which is where Jeff and I agree. We just happen to go with a separate pairing of players.