Editor's Note: To send Jeff Ellis questions for future mailbags, tweet them to @jeffMLBDraft.
Which hitter has highest probability of being selected in top-5?
Corey Ray would be the most likely bat. I have heard him connected to the top three picks and I doubt he would get past the Milwaukee Brewers, who tend to take best player available. I expect his true floor to be the Braves, but, again, there’s a chance he could go one or two. I have been told he is one of about five names on the short list for one. I was told the Cincinnati Reds are looking for athletic players, so he makes sense there, as well. Basically, he is mentioned by every team in the top five.
I think next would actually be Blake Rutherford or Mickey Moniak, as both have a chance to go fourth or fifth, but I would not be shocked to see either fall; it’s the same deal with Delvin Perez. If Ray goes top two, then Kyle Lewis moves up to the top five. There is a world where four of the first five picks are bats, so be prepared for anything.
Basically, Ray is the only top-five lock, even though there is a decent chance we could see four bats in the top five.
Has Zack Collins launched himself into top-10 consideration?
All Collins does is produce. The problem is with his position, and that will hurt him on draft day. He is not a great catcher, so you need to find a team who either really values the bat or is okay with a below-average defender at catcher. I feel like there is a top nine in this draft and, after that, it's a free for all.
I think Collins, as a proven left-handed bat with patience and power, is a top-20 pick, for sure. He has a chance to crack in the top-10 with the Chicago White Sox or the Detroit Tigers and I would not be surprised at all to see him at either spot. He has been heavily linked to the White Sox. It would make a lot of sense for the White Sox to grab the bat early and get a pitcher later, just because of how this draft breaks down.
Consider this a spoiler, but I do have him in my top-15 in the next mock draft.
With a super small pool of $2.245 million, what would be your strategy if you were in the Cubs position?
The Cubs have seven picks in the top-10 rounds, after adding several players in free agency. They don’t make a pick until the 104th overall selection. Now, there will still be plenty of talent left, as unlike other sports, drafting a player does not give you that player’s rights. A team only gets the right to make a deal and, if the deal falls apart, then the player will reenter the draft when they are next eligible. This means several of the top 100 players every year do not sign. Last year, of my top 75, there were six players who did not sign. This is my long way of saying there will be talent.
Now, we have to assume they will spend up to 4.9% over pool, as this only incurs monetary fines, which I think the Cubs are fine with, no pun intended. Now, I am no math major, but, if I did my numbers right, this will give them an extra $100,000 to spare. This would, in total, now come out to an average of $336,000 per pick. I would go senior sign for three selections, offering 10K to those players. I would then offer the $2.31 million over those four picks. I would maybe try and steal a top talent for close to a million and offer several smaller talents for around 400K to 500K. This gives me a few chances to find a player.
The big thing here, though, will be trusting my scouts and using rounds 11-40 to find players for 104K. I would look to spend often in these rounds, finding players who will take that much money. I expect they will be the most active team on day three trying to add players, instead of many teams who often punt a quarter to a half of these picks.
What's going on with Avery Tuck? His name was everywhere for a while but haven't heard much recently.
The danger with the summer circuit is that guys can explode, showing natural tools, then fade off a bit. It happens every year. Tuck is far from the first and he won’t be the last. This is a big risk for the players who are more tools over polish. He struggled as a junior in high school, as well, so it's to a point where there has been more negative performance than positive. He could still get drafted, depending on asking price. After all, all it takes is one team who really liked what they saw this summer.
I think the first-round talk we heard this summer is a thing of the past and he might be better off going to San Diego State.
Do you still see Bobby Dalbec going in round #1?
He will be lucky to go in the third round at this point. He might be better off trying to get his game in order and coming back for his senior year, because of all the money he has cost himself this year. I talked about it at the start of the year and have heard at least one other person say his future might be in the bullpen, not as a hitter. No one has hurt themselves more than Dalbec this year; all of his numbers are down across the board. He has not shown anywhere near the same level of power, which was his calling card.
How high can you realistically see Joey Wentz going?
I think there is a chance he could go to the Marlins at seven or at eight to the Padres. I think he has moved into the 7-15 range. It is not often you find a big lefty with his velocity and lack of miles on the arm. He has gone from 3-5 round high school bat to top-15 pick as a pitcher. Just a crazy year for anyone named Wentz, it seems.
Do you like Braxton Garnett?
I am going to assume you mean Braxton Garrett. Yes.
Oh, you want more? Okay, fine. He is a pitcher, not the typical high pick who is all ceiling. He has two developed secondary pitches and should be able to move quicker than your typical high school player. I had him at 11 on my last board, which should show I think pretty highly of him. I was told I was too high on him a month ago by multiple people and decided not to listen. I should have done the same with T.J. Zeuch, but that's another story. In conclusion, I do like Garrett and you should too.
At what point do the Phillies just say screw it & go with a proven bat & hope for a Dansby Swanson/ Brendan Rodgers outcome?
I think Corey Ray has a legit chance to go there. I know everyone and their mother has A.J. Puk at one. It could be a smoke screen, but what would the point be? I mean, they don’t have to worry about a team taking who they want and they can’t trade the pick. I guess it could be a negotiating tactic. I have said more than a few times that I would try and grab a lesser talent if I can save a ton of money at one. Maybe they are going to just take whoever from the pool of players they like that is willing to sign for the lowest total, and this is a way to drive down Ray’s price. Yet, that still makes little sense, because someone will be willing to pay his price, so this would be a lot of work for nothing. In other words, it’s a lot like this exercise; there’s a lot going on here, but really I think Puk is their guy. There is little reason I can see for them to lie at all. Having talked to someone who has talked to Phillies GM Matt Klentak, I know Puk is a player they have liked for the past few months.
I would agree with you and grab the bat but, as of now, they seem pretty locked in.