For our third 2016 MLB mock draft, the four main writers for our draft site here at Scout are taking turns pretending to be the GM and will make picks for each team.
This is always an interesting exercise because it shows how each of us value different players differently. This is not a ‘where we expect players to go’, but rather what each writer would do at a particular pick, if he was the GM. I will include a key below, so you know who made every pick.
JE = Jeff Ellis, JB = Joe Becerra, TW = Taylor Blake Ward, MH = Mike Hattery
Scout's 2016 MLB Mock Draft, 3.0
1. Philadelphia Phillies - Braxton Garrett, LHP, Florence HS (AL) (JE pick)
Several times I have expressed that I do not believe that there is a true tier one player in this class. I know this pick is very off board, but I would rather take Garrett and save $3 million to use later in the draft. Garrett put on a show at NHSI. He’s a left-hander with advanced secondary stuff and a chance for three plus pitches. I think the gap in talent is not as great as the cost, so, as a GM, I am going to spread the money around and get the most talent possible. The extra money means I can look at a guy like Jesus Lazardo at the top of round 2. Last year, I had four top-50 players go undrafted. The extra money allows a team to add at least three of those players. I have no idea how much guys cost, so I grabbed the 11th player on my board, thinking I could get him for $2.5 to 3 million.
2. Cincinnati Reds - Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ) (JB pick)
Hard to leave arguably the top player in the draft on the board at 2 when you’re an organization that is rebuilding. I understand that the Reds lack top tier position players in their farm system, but they cannot afford to pass on a talent like Groome with the second pick. A big, tall lefty whose fastball sits comfortably in the mid 90’s and can touch as high as 96 MPH, mixed in with two other plus off-speed pitches (a curve and a slider), Groome has all the makings of being an ace someday. With this pick, Groome will go on to become the highest drafted player ever from New Jersey.
3. Atlanta Braves - Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade Prep (CA) (TW pick)
This draft is loaded with talent, but not much in the lines of “future superstar” potential. Aside from Groome (see above), Rutherford is likely the player with the largest upside throughout this entire draft. He’s the best prep player in the nation and likely the best position player in this entire draft. The Braves are in rebuild mode and have a high amount of quality arms in the system, leaving a mark for a standout position player. This should be a common theme in the early stages of the draft, with position players coming off the board and a high number of similarly skilled pitching talent that goes nearly five rounds deep.
4. Colorado Rockies - Nick Senzel, 3B, University of Tennessee (MH pick)
I love college bats. In terms of handling risk and assessing performance, I will always feel most confident in scouting college players. Senzel checks all of the boxes offensively and shows above-average raw and in-game power. The hit tool is also a 60+ tool. Senzel’s plate discipline has leapt forward, solidifying his offensive game and also lowering the risk in his profile. The defense is a small question mark as to whether he can stick at third, but the bat makes him a must have at four for the Rockies.
5. Milwaukee Brewers - Delvin Perez, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (JE pick)
This pick came down to Perez or Riley Pint, the top two players left on my board. I went with Perez, who plays a premium position and brings premium skills to the position. The defense and arm both look plus for shortstop. I think, with his size and bat speed, he could easily be a 20 home run player, which was a feat accomplished by only one shortstop last year. I know the Brewers have Orlando Arcia, but what is the worst outcome if both work out as a pair of stars up the middle? I don’t see an issue there.
6. Oakland Athletics - A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida (JB pick)
For me, this pick came down to Puk or Louisville outfielder Corey Ray. I decided to go with Puk because I believe Oakland is trying to put a premium on adding front-line starting pitching to their farm system. Puk does just that. Puk has all the makings to become a true ace someday, but command has been an issue. Oakland is known for molding homegrown pitchers in their farm system and Puk could join the likes of ace Sonny Gray and soon to be major leaguer, Sean Manaea, at the top of a future Athletics rotation.
7. Miami Marlins - Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS) (TW pick)
I’ve always been one to lean towards the “safer” picks, but when you have talent, like in the case of Pint, you have to jump at the risk. If it wasn’t for the location of where he pitches (Kansas), he’d be highly considered as a number one pick and still is brought up from time-to-time as an option to go #1. If everything comes together, you’re talking about a kid who has pitched upwards of 100 MPH (maybe even faster), with a wipeout slider who is a true ace. If things don’t all come together, you still have a guy with a triple digit fastball and big off-speed offering. That falls into a safe category for me, even with so many questions falling behind it.
8. San Diego Padres - Corey Ray, OF, Louisville (MH pick)
Ray is a toolsy outfielder whose tools are turning into production. With above-average raw power and above-average speed, Ray looks like a potential 20-20+ guy in centerfield, which offers huge value. Ray is destroying his competition, bringing more power into games, increasing his stolen base frequency and refining his plate discipline. Ray at 8 is an absolute bargain, because he is a top-three talent in this draft.
9. Detroit Tigers - Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer (JE pick)
Lewis was the top player on my board here. At the start of the process, I was not so sure about him. Even after he went to the Cape Cod League and put up excellent numbers, I thought, how can he be a top-10 player? Then I really watched him. I saw the plus power potential and was intrigued. A year ago, he was a hacker at the plate; this year, he is walking twice as much as he strikes out. I get the issues: loud swing and facing lesser competition. This draft is weak on star type players; there is a non-zero chance Lewis becomes a middle of the lineup, right-handed power bat who plays centerfield, which would make him a star.
10. Chicago White Sox - Buddy Reed, OF, University of Florida (JB pick)
One of the better pure athletes in the draft, Florida’s Reed has a chance to fly through any minor league system. I took Reed here because the White Sox are in need of an influx of talent within their positional players in their farm system. Reed is one of the fastest players in this year’s draft. The White Sox would be thrilled to nab one of the best and safest prospects in this year's class and put him in centerfield for years to come.
11. Seattle Mariners - Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA) (TW pick)
This kid hits, and hits, and hits. There’s so much upside to Moniak, leaving him on the board after this would be a giant mistake. He’s pretty polished for a prep kid and has enough athleticism and arm strength to be a threat at the corner outfield positions. Although it’s risky taking high school players, this is almost a no-brainer knowing that, at worst, he’ll become a guy who hits and could tap into his raw power and give you gap power. Seattle needs someone like this and I think he could become an above-average MLB talent, when all is said and done.
12. Boston Red Sox - Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Vanderbilt (MH pick)
I am a firm believer in BPA over fit. Jordan Sheffield was the best player left on the board and a clear top-five guy for me. Sheffield sits 94-95 with the fastball, at times running it up to 98-99 and has truly swing-and-miss stuff. The slider is an average or better pitch already, with a strong likelihood of becoming plus. Sheffield is roughly six feet tall or shorter, which could be reason for a slide, because shorter pitchers tend to be undervalued. However, I trust the Red Sox to bet on his upside, which is huge.
13. Tampa Bay Rays - Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State (JE pick)
Hudson has been the top pitcher in college baseball most of the season. Opposing hitters just can’t seem to make hard contact against Hudson, who has given up just two home runs during his entire college career. The only concern I have right now is that his strikeout rate is good, but not great, for a top-performing arm. He’s a safe value here, as many people have him going in the top-10. I would not be surprised if he tailed off a bit at the end of the year, since this is his first year as a starter and he pitched a full year on the Cape. If he does struggle thanks to a tired arm, his stock could take a hit.
14. Cleveland Indians - Will Craig, 1B/3B, Wake Forest (JB pick)
For a team longing for a right-handed bat with power at a corner position, Craig brings just that to the Cleveland Indians. However, Craig has a high floor as a prospect and should move through the minor leagues quickly. The Indians have been aggressive the last few drafts with their draft approach, which has paid off. Drafting Craig here not only fills a need, but also adds depth and talent at a position that is lacking throughout the Indians’ farm system. With the Indians farm being stocked with pitching, thanks to the last couple drafts, it would be wise for the club to take a chance at the top available bat with this pick.
15. Minnesota Twins - Connor Jones, RHP, University of Virginia (TW pick)
There’s always something desirable about consistency. It doesn’t hurt to have a polished arm with nice stuff behind it in that consistency. Jones is one of the better pitchers in college baseball currently and tosses bowling balls in the mid-90s, with a plus slider and fine changeup, all with consistency. Although there’s some fear in taking Cavalier arms, Jones seems to not have any signs of injury in his past and should provide a middle of the rotation arm in the future, making him a very desirable pick.
16. Los Angeles Angels - Ian Anderson, RHP, Shenendehowa High School (NY) (MH pick)
The Angels have had success with gambling on big upside prep prospects from the Northeast in the past. Anderson is barely 18 years old, but runs his fastball in the 94-96 MPH range. Anderson is 6’3’’ inches and only 170 pounds, allowing room for more muscle growth and velocity to be added. Anderson’s best offering is a slurve/slider that flashes plus at times. Anderson is very projectable and already has a strong arsenal, making him a great gamble for the Angels at 16.
17. Houston Astros - Nolan Jones, 3B, Holy Ghost HS (PA) (JE pick)
Jones is the highest-rated player on my board. I love the tools and think he has a chance to play second, even though the only second baseman of his size or larger since 2000 is D.J. LeMahieu. The concern is that, obviously, he is a growing kid and, as he gets bigger, he might lose quickness and end up shifting to third. I think he will be successful at either position. It is a bit of a no-lose situation; either he stays lanky and you get an above-average bat at second, or he bulks up and you get some extra power at a position with a little less value. I am a big believer in the tools and feel like a team is likely to get a starter either at third or second for a lot of years with Jones.
18. New York Yankees - Daulton Jefferies, RHP, University of California (JB pick)
Although he may be small in stature, make no mistake about Jefferies’ presence on the mound. Having one of the best seasons of any starting pitcher in college baseball this year, Jefferies would be a nice addition to the Yankees farm system. I see the Yankees going with a pitcher with this spot, rather than reaching for a bat. Jefferies has excellent command and has drawn comps to former Vanderbilt ace Sonny Gray.
19. New York Mets - Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt University (TW pick)
Reynolds is about the safest player in this entire draft and, since the draft is so pitcher-heavy, it’s a no-brainer to nab a safe position player early. Reynolds doesn’t have any superstar potential tools to his arsenal, but he’ll hit well enough, run the bases quickly enough, and play strong enough defense to be an average or better major league outfielder.
20. Los Angeles Dodgers - Logan Shore, RHP, University of Florida (MH pick)
Shore is a more refined product than most, with a higher floor and lower ceiling but a good value at 20 for the Dodgers. Shore sits in the lower 90’s, at times touching 94 with the fastball. His best pitch is an already plus changeup that Shore has used to dominate the college ranks while at Florida. In Shore, you have production, an already good secondary offering, and a little upside to move the velocity to 93-94 consistently. A nice get for the Dodgers here.
21. Toronto Blue Jays - Alex Kirilloff, OF, Plum HS (PA) (JE pick)
Kirilloff might be the best hitter in the prep class, behind Rutherford. The prep players ahead of him bring positional value, which elevates them in terms of draft value. Kirilloff’s power is his best trait, although his hit tool is also above-average. His power display at Petco is still talked about and the power is to all fields. He is a two-way player and his arm strength should allow him to play in right or left field going forward.
22. Pittsburgh Pirates - Zack Collins, C, University of Miami (JB pick)
The first catcher off the board and one of the more complete hitters in college this year, Collins is hitting .438, with 7 homers and 37 RBI, this spring. With Collins, you get a solid defensive catcher, but he really shows his worth in the batter's box. The Pirates already have one of the better farm systems in all of baseball; adding a guy like Collins to the fold will only help.
23. St. Louis Cardinals - Will Benson, OF, The Westminster Schools (GA) (TW pick)
There aren’t that many five-tool players in this draft - Benson has that potential. He has great bat speed and some big power upside as a prep player. There’s fear about how much contact he’ll make against professional pitchers, but the risk is worth the potential reward when you have multiple first round picks, like the Cards do. Benson is an incredible athlete and fits the mold of a future big league slugging outfielder who can play adequate or better defense.
24. San Diego Padres - Matt Krook, LHP, Oregon (MH pick)
Coming out of high school, Krook was taken at #35 overall by the Marlins, but did not sign due to issues regarding his physical. Krook is loaded with upside, even though his performance has shown some refinement issues. Krook is coming off Tommy John surgery and control is often the last thing to return. Drafting Krook is betting on a fastball that sits 91-93 and a hard curve that flashes plus fairly frequently. With a competent changeup to complement the arsenal, the Padres are getting some nice upside at pick 24.
25. San Diego Padres - Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA) (JE pick)
This is a pick where I have to take into account the players the Padres have grabbed. After the Padres go with a pair of talented college players, I think it makes a lot of sense for them to look into the college ranks. I can’t help but feel that Manning is a steal at this point in the draft. Manning, Anderson, and Garrett are battling for the third-rated prep pitcher. Considering the other two players went much higher, I love this value. Manning is a big, athletic, right-hander with tremendous upside to him. He started pitching regularly a year ago and has flown up the draft boards this year.
26. Chicago White Sox - Drew Mendoza, 3B, Lake Mineola HS (FL) (JB pick)
Mendoza, at this point in the first round, could be a steal. A shortstop now who projects to be placed at 3B down-the-road (due to his 6’4’’, 200 pound frame), he has the solid tools needed to become one of the better hitters in this draft as well as a good approach at the plate and the ability to hit line drives to all parts of the field. He doesn’t hit for much power now, but as he grows and fills out more, the power potential is there. Some scouts compare him to Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager. If he reaches that level then this pick is really good value.
27. Baltimore Orioles - Joshua Lowe, 3B, Pope HS (GA) (TW pick)
Lowe is the best position player on the board by quite a large margin. Once again, this draft is so deep in pitchers - take position players early. Lowe is a two-way player and I like him more as an infielder with potential to play shortstop. Every tool is right around par with the others and carry to make him an ideal well rounded, above-average player in the future. He’s young, with the option to move him to the mound, with a mid-90s sinker. Also, Georgia prep player... enough said.
28. Washington Nationals - Robert Tyler, RHP, University of Georgia (MH pick)
Tyler may have the best fastball in this draft class, if you grade based on velocity as well as movement. Tyler sits 93-95, while rushing it up in the upper 90’s at times. Additionally, Tyler gets a tremendous downhill plane, due to his mechanics and 6’4’’ inch frame; it even has some late run. The secondary offerings aren’t there yet; neither the curveball nor the changeup have shown anything significant yet, but all it takes is an organization that can make some adjustments to those pitches and construct an elite arsenal. Tyler’s floor is a dominant back-end guy and his ceiling could be really exciting, with a tweak or two. He’s a perfect match for the Nationals.
29. Washington Nationals - Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn (JE pick)
I think Grier is better than Reed, who went nearly 20 picks ago. Grier is a plus runner who will stick in centerfield. Much like Reed, Grier has always been a very toolsy guy, but unlike Reed, Grier is finally putting it all together and excelling. He is not as big as Reed, but has shown some pop this year. I don’t think it’s close between which player is better, either. If you want the stat side, his BABIP are crazy high which at levels below the minors is a good thing; in the low minors, it’s an indicator of future success. After taking the arm, it only makes sense for the Nationals to grab a bat, and Grier is a great value here.
30. Texas Rangers - Carter Kieboom, 3B, Walton HS (GA) (JB pick)
I love this pick for the Rangers. Kieboom is one of the better prep high school bats in the country. He can also play some defense at the hot corner and has more than enough arm strength to stick at the position. With a rather skinny frame, he could stand to gain about 25-30 pounds as his body matures. Kieboom has an open stance in the box and displays good power. The Rangers have had a really good run in the draft in recent years and to add a talent like Kieboom at the end of the first round is a good pick for them.
31. New York Mets - Kevin Gowdy, RHP, Santa Barbara HS (CA) (TW pick)
There’s always a risk in taking a high school talent, but Gowdy has a lot of polish to his game. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90’s and he has shown a good feel for a changeup, despite rarely going to it. He already flashes an off-speed pitch that could create swings-and-misses against even pro bats. The risk isn’t enough to shy away from Gowdy and I could even see him going near the top 15 in this draft.
32. Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Thaiss, C, University of Virginia (MH pick)
One of the predictors that is favored by forward thinking front offices is K%. Hitters who can post very low K% have a very strong likelihood of success. In this department, Thaiss is off the charts. While there’s a longstanding joke that there is no such a thing as a catching prospect, Thaiss’ contact ability is simply too good to pass up. The bar for an impact catcher is pretty low, offensively. Thaiss has shown the skill to stay at catcher defensively and the bat could play up nicely. For the risk averse, Thaiss is a very nice target.
33. St. Louis Cardinals - Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford (JE pick)
Quantrill, at this time last year, was talked about as a candidate to be the number one overall pick -- then he needed Tommy John surgery. The baseball draft has been, of late, a lot of “what have you done for me lately?” It is better to be good for the last two months and struggle for the first three than the other way around. Quantrill, though, has just been gone, which might be even worse. There is a lot of potential here, and with back-to-back picks for St. Louis, Quantrill is a very easy choice for the Cardinals to make. Getting a guy at 33 who, if he had been healthy, would have been a top-10 pick, is a slam dunk.
34. St. Louis Cardinals - Nick Banks, OF, Texas A&M (JB pick)
I’m a little surprised that Banks lasted this long, as he was projected as a top-20 talent in pre-season. Banks is a guy who is one of the better pure hitters in the college ranks. He displays some raw power with his sweet left handed swing. Banks, right now, is a centerfielder, but more than likely projects out to be either a left fielder or right fielder at the next level. The Cardinals are known for their deep farm system that brings guys along at their own pace and Banks could turn out to be a pretty solid player in the future.