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2016 MLB Draft in Review: First Round

Scout's MLB Draft Expert Jeff Ellis breaks down the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Which teams hit it big and which ones made surprising picks?

1.  Philadelphia Phillies: Mickey Moniak OF La Costa Canyon HS

He is a sure centerfielder with great athleticism. If he was a little bigger and his swing had a little more power in it, then he would have been a tier one player. His hit tool is excellent and very advanced for a high school kid. I remember when I put him at four in February and took some flak. The thing with Moniak is, the more people saw him, the more they fell in love. He is going to work hard and be a premium defender with speed.

2.  Cincinnati Reds: Nick Senzel 3B Tennessee

Senzel was my top college bat. The kid hits everywhere. He has excelled in the Cape and in the SEC. He has the best current hit tool in the class. His power started to emerge this year, doubling his home run total from a year ago. I believe he has a chance at plus power and hit tool at third base. He could be a top-five player at the position down the road. He should also move through the minors rather quickly. I think he can be dropped right into High A.

3.  Atlanta Braves: Ian Anderson RHP Shenendehowa HS

The Braves think Anderson is the next Adam Wainwright. I like Anderson a lot, but I can’t see him as the top prep arm in this class. As a matter of fact, he was my number six prep arm and number three prep right-handed pitcher. He has potential to be number one, but I think this is also about draft savings. I am fine with that. I advocated such a strategy throughout this process because of the weakness at the top. The Braves get the arm they like and can save a ton of money. I think this is a smart approach and, while I might not have chosen Anderson as my guy, I get why the Braves did. Again, a very good player who, thanks to playing in cold weather, has a lot less wear on his arm. 

4. Colorado Rockies: Riley Pint RHP St. Thomas Aquinas HS

This pick is all about upside. Pint is the biggest boom or bust guy in this draft. He could end up the best pitcher in baseball or he could never hit the majors. He hits 100 rather easily, but he needs some mechanical tweaks. He is the top player on more than a few boards, because of his upside. The sky's the limit, but one has to realize there is a lot of risk here.

5. Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Ray OF Louisville

Ray is a good athlete who should be a solid player, but not in a great way. He has a chance to play center, but might end up in leftfield. I think he should have an above average hit tool, with a chance for average power. He is a top of the lineup hitter, but not a middle of the order type necessarily. He improved every year at Louisville. A fairly safe selection, who is another guy I would think could be placed in High A to start. The Brewers played it smart here and didn’t over think it. They saw a top player, who fits the model, and grabbed him. 

6. Oakland A’s: A.J. Puk LHP Florida

Puk had been a slam dunk to go in the top two picks, so, when he slid to the A’s, they jumped. While they traditionally take college bats, Puk was too good to pass on here. The A’s have been connected to several prep arms but, in the end, they stick to their college approach and get a big lefty with elite velocity. There is some concern about the fact that he was not able to pitch deeply into games and his command and control have had issues this year. He is going to take a little longer than your typical college arm, but it will be worth it.

7. Miami Marlins: Braxton Garrett LHP Florence HS

Garrett is the safest prep arm in this class. He doesn’t have flashy stuff or big velocity, but he is a solid pick here. He is a great pitcher, with a chance for three above-average to plus pitches. This is the opposite of the last time the Marlins took a prep player high, in Tyler Kolek, and could be signaling a change in mindset. He should be a solid 2/3 pitcher down the road. As a bonus, he should move a lot quicker than your typical high school arm.

8. San Diego Padres: Cal Quantrill RHP Stanford

This one had been rumored for awhile, but I didn’t think they would grab him here. If he had pitched this year, then there is a chance he would have been the top pick in this draft. It was obvious he had a deal and decided to not rush back to Stanford. He should sign quickly and be ready to go in the minors.

9. Detroit Tigers: Matt Manning RHP Sheldon HS

My one concern here is that Manning is rumored to want a $4 to $5 million dollar signing bonus. The Tigers pool money is just $5.4 million. This could essentially become a one pick draft for the Tigers. Manning is a good pick but, unless his bonus demand is less than expected, it will be a hindrance for the Tigers. Manning was my number four prep arm. A great athlete, who would have played basketball and baseball in college, he is relatively new to pitching and has a ton of upside. I think he was second to Pint, in terms of ceiling, among the prep arms.

10. Chicago White Sox: Zack Collins C/1B Miami

It will be a race between Collins and Senzel to be the first bat to the majors. He will more than likely move to first, but the bat plays anywhere. He led the NCAA in on-base percentage most of the year and should provide power, too. This is a bat-only selection, basically; anything he provides on defense is a bonus.

11.  Seattle Mariners: Kyle Lewis OF Mercer

This is a case where the smoke ended up legit. The talk today was that Lewis was falling, and falling hard. It was stated he would fall out of the top-10. It was interesting to see this develop so late, as the issues here are the same ones Lewis has had for years. He is going to be a strikeout machine and will be a top-10 guy in terms of strikeouts. Still, he has a chance for 30 home run power. This kid will work and I am sure the drop will motivate him. He changed his approach this year and saw his walk rate balloon. I know there are issues, but betting against Lewis is a mistake.

12. Boston Red Sox: Jason Groome LHP Barnegat HS

I have heard the Red Sox on Manning for awhile, but didn’t place him here because of the limited bonus pool money, a little under $7 million. Groome was rumored to want $7 million, so this will be a fascinating situation to watch. There is no deal in place, which means that, unless Groome is willing to settle for a bit more, then he could end up at Chipola JC and re-enter the draft next year, and the Red Sox would lose this pick.

13. Tampa Bay Rays: Joshua Lowe 3B Pope HS

This is a pick I have been on for a long while. The best two-way player in this entire draft, Lowe  was viewed as mostly a pitcher over the summer, but, this spring, everyone switched to the idea that he would be a hitter. A great hitter with power potential, he becomes the heir apparent to Evan Longoria.

14. Cleveland Indians: Will Benson OF The Westminster Schools HS

This is the first big reach of the night for me. Benson is 38th on my board and the first player taken who was not in my top-30. There are tools for days and big power potential, but he is about as far away as a prep hitter can get in this class. His best tool is his left-handed power potential, but there are issues with plate discipline and his hit tool. I think he will end up at first base long term.

15. Minnesota Twins: Alex Kirilloff OF Plum High HS

Kirilloff has shown big-time power, but there are concerns that the bat is a bit slow. He has been rising over the past few months. He is going to end up as a corner outfielder long term and should be average there. Drafting Kirilloff is a bet on the bat above everything else.

16. Los Angeles Angels: Matt Thaiss 1B/C Virginia

I think he has a better chance to play catcher than Collins, although the bat is not as strong, which is why he went later. He put up big numbers in a notorious pitcher's park. One thing he does better than anyone else is not strikeout. His strikeout rate was phenomenal. He has a chance for an above-average hit tool, with average power at first base. A bit of an overdraft to me, but he was a name who was rising.

17.  Houston Astros: Forrest Whitley RHP Alamo Heights HS

Whitley was considered a top-15 talent to some. A kid who worked hard to mold his huge frame, 6’7”, he went from being labeled a soft body kid to one who was muscular. He has nice downward plain on his fastball, and projects out as a number three type of pitcher. After the run on prep pitchers, he was clearly the top prep arm left. The Astros like upside, so they ended up grabbing the top prep arm left on most boards here; it's hard to argue with that.

18. New York Yankees: Blake Rutherford OF Chaminade HS

I don’t give grades, but, if I could, the Yankees would get an A here. They have been a notoriously conservative team, but they stepped up and took the player I think is the best on the board. There was a lot of prospect fatigue, because Rutherford has been known for years. He has faced top competition and I know he is old for his class, but he has excelled when he faced older competition. A smooth, complete hitter with a chance for a ++ hit tool with above-average power, he reminded me a lot of Michael Brantley.

19. New York Mets: Justin Dunn RHP Boston College

Another great pick here, Dunn reminds me a lot of Dillon Tate, in terms of an athletic reliever turned starter with big velocity. Dunn had a lot of helium, but didn’t go as high as expected after a run on prep talent early. I had some people tell me they thought he could help a team out of the bullpen this year, then be stretched out as a starter. A good athlete with two above-average to plus pitches, he's a great value here.

20. Los Angeles Dodgers: Gavin Lux SS Indian Trails Academy

The rule with shortstops is that they will rise on draft day. It is the premier position of the MLB draft. Lux is a no-doubt shortstop, whose uncle was a number two overall pick and a college coach in Wisconsin. He is a kid who grew up around the program and shows the polish you would expect of a kid who was around a college team. He doesn’t have loud tools and is more like a guy who is average at everything. Yet there is still a lot of value if he can do that at short. 

21. Toronto Blue Jays: T.J. Zeuch RHP Pittsburgh

Zuech was part of a loaded 2013 Ohio prep draft class that should see several names called tonight. He is a big kid who started the year hurt, and then came out and pitched very well once he was healthy. A mid-rotation innings eater type, he was rumored to be in play from 15 on, so a very solid pick. He might not be exciting, but should be a solid pitcher down the road.

22. Pittsburgh Pirates: Will Craig 1B Wake Forest

There was some confusion here when he was announced as a pitcher. He was a closer at Wake Forest, but most agree his bat is his best tool. He walks more than he strikes out and shows right-handed power. He has the arm for third, but it's clear that he is going to have to play first down the road. I thought that, based on his bat alone, he was a top 20 player. He is a numbers over tools type of player.

23. St. Louis Cardinals: Delvin Perez SS International Baseball Academy Puerto Rico

Perez was in the news recently because of a failed drug test for PEDs. He had been falling before this, because of character and attitude concerns. If he had no character issues, then Perez is the top player in this draft. So to land him at 23 is a great value, in terms of talent. I compared him to Ian Desmond a few months ago and think that is fair. The big question is what the Cardinals will do to make sure they keep this kid on the straight and narrow, in order to maximize his big talent.

Click here for Jeff's review of the compensation and competitive balance round A picks.


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