With about a month and a half left till the June 8th MLB first player Draft, much has changed as we have seen the draft boards flip flop completely. Injuries, poor performance and lack of depth has really shaped this draft class into one of the worst in the past few years.
Coming into the draft, prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers was rated as the top player and projected to go number one overall, and that still seems to be the case as he is hitting well this spring. Pitchers Brady Aiken and Michael Matuella both must undergo Tommy John surgery, knocking two of the top pitchers out for 12 months.
With a draft class that looks to be weak in top of the line starters, these two college studs might just not fall too far in the draft. Aiken seems to be ranked higher because he has more innings and looks to have a full recovery. Matuella doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt and not only is getting Tommy John surgery, but has a history of having back trouble. So expect Matuella to fall pretty far from his once potential first overall pick.
Former UC Santa Barbara closer Dillon Tate has seemed to come out of nowhere as UC moved him to a starting role. Now Tate maybe considered the top starting pitcher because of a mid-90’s fastball and solid off-speed offerings. Being a former closer, Tate doesn’t have a large number of innings, which will make scouts nervous.
To go along with the Aiken and Matuella being injured, Nathan Kirby and Kolby Allard both have been injured. Kirby has a lat strain and will most likely miss the rest of Virginia’s season, while Allard hurt his back and hasn’t pitched much this season.
Pitchers that have seen their stock go up this spring are Carson Fulmer, Mike Nikorak and Ashe Russell. Nikorak is a big righty who has had a dominant year for his high school. Fulmer is the ace for Vanderbilt and is pitching his way into being a top-10 draft pick.
Pitchers who have fallen are Justin Hooper, Kyle Cody and Riley Ferrell. Hooper is a 6’7″ lefty who probably has the fastest fastball for a prep player this year. With tons of projection and room to still fill out there’s a chance for Hooper to be a steal. He hasn’t had the type of year he would like to have but who can pass up on a player this this type of potential? Ferrell attempted to move from being a closer to starter and has stalled this year. He has great velocity and may find himself be a closer when drafted.
This year’s hitters have seen many players jump up the board. College shortstops Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson have been raking this spring as they look to lead their teams back to Omaha. It’s going to be interesting to see which college shortstop is taken first because they both are excellent players. Personally, I prefer Bregman. He is a baseball junky who has great hit ability and more power than Swanson. Swanson looks to be an above-average hitter with great defense — an overall great shortstop.
Trenton Clark, Nick Plummer and Kyle Tucker are the top prep hitters this year. Plummer and Clark are both toolsy outfielders who have the potential to be starters in left or center. Tucker has recently shot up the draft boards because of an outstanding spring. He has tremendous power and looks to move to right field.
One interesting player is Daz Cameron. His stock has fallen to where he should realistically be come June. He’s a solid outfielder, but he isn’t the type of offensive player his father Mike Cameron was. Ian Happ is living up to the projection that he is the best college bat in the draft this year, as he has played great for Cincinnati.
With the ups and downs of this spring, it should make June 8 a very interesting day. Scouts definitely have their work cut out for them because of what has happened to the 2015 draft class.
Below is a quick mock draft that I put together. This mock draft is based on current prospects for that team, team needs and team status (win now or rebuild) and team draft strategy.
- Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Dillion Tate (UC Santa Barbara)
- Houston Astros (compensation for Brady Aiken): Shortstop Brendon Rodgers (prep, FL) — Interview with Rodgers.
- Colorado Rockies: SS Dansby Swanson (Vanderbilt)
- Texas Rangers: RHP Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt)
- Houston Astros: OF Kyle Tucker (prep, FL)
- Minnesota Twins: RHP Kyle Funkhouser (Kentucky) — Interview with Funhouse.
- Boston Red Sox: Alex Bregman (LSU) — Interview with Bregman.
- Chicago White Sox: OF Trenton Clark (prep, TX)
- Chicago Cubs: RHP Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt)
- Philadelphia Phillies: OF Nick Plummer (prep, MI)
- Cincinnati Reds: LHP Nathan Kirby (Virgina)
- Miami Marlins: OF Daz Cameron (prep, GA)
- Tampa Bay Rays: 2B/OF Ian Happ (Cincinnati)
- Atlanta Braves: RHP Mike Nikorak (prep, PA)
- Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Ashe Russell (prep, IN)
- New York Yankees: C Christ Betts (prep, CA)
- Cleveland Indians: LHP Kolby Allard (prep, TX)
- San Francisco Giants: LHP Brady Aiken (IMG Academy)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: RHP James Kaprielian (UCLA)
- Oakland Athletics: OF DJ Stewart (Florida State)
- Kansas City Royals: RHP Phil Bickford (JC of Southern Nevada)
- Detroit Tigers: LHP Justin Hooper (prep, CA)
- St. Louis Cardinals: OF Demi Orimoloye (prep, Ontario)
- Los Angeles Dodgers: RHP Mike Matuella (Duke) — Interview with Matuella.
- Baltimore Orioles: RHP Donny Everett (Clarksville)
- Los Angeles Angels: RHP Kyle Cody (Kentucky)
- Colorado Rockies (compensation for Michael Cuddyer): RHP Cody Ponce (Cal Poly Pomona)
- Atlanta Braves (compensation for Ervin Santana): RHP Beau Burrows (prep, TX)
- Toronto Blue Jays (compensation for Melky Cabrera): SS Kevin Newman (Arizona)
- New York Yankees (compensation for David Robertson): LHP Tyler Jay (Illinois)
- San Francisco Giants (compensation for Pablo Sandoval) 3B Ke’Bryan Haye (prep, TX)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (compensation for Russell Martin): OF/3B Bryce Denton (prep, TN)
- Kansas City Royals (compensation for James Shields): RHP Dakota Chalmers (prep, GA)
- Detroit Tigers (compensation for Max Scherzer): Gio Brusa (Pacific) — Interview with Brusa.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (compensation for Hanley Ramirez): RHP Riley Ferrell (TCU)
- Baltimore Orioles (compensation for Nelson Cruz): OF Garrett Whitley (prep, NY) — Interview with Whitley.