We continue where we left off in our S2S 2012 MLB Mock Draft with the supplemental first round.
Even after selecting Mark Appel at second overall in our mock draft, the Twins still need a lot of pitching help. After going with a college pitcher in Appel with their first pick, it makes sense for them to draft a high school pitcher here at 32nd overall. A pitcher who makes sense is one who has some nice upside but fell out of the first round of this mock draft: Solon, Ohio High School LHP Matt Smoral.
Smoral is a scary pitcher for hitters to be matched up against, standing 6’8″ and weighing 225 pounds with projection to come. He fastball currently hits the low-90′s with some sink, and he also throws a slider and changeup. His slider has shown plus potential with late downward movement, although he needs work making it an effective pitch consistently. At least partially because of his size, Smoral has all sorts of mechanical problems, some of which will be solved as he fills out but others which may need to be consciously corrected. The mechanical problems have also led to bouts of wildness. Smoral has the potential to be at least a number two starter in the big leagues if he can add velocity on his fastball and deal with his current issues. In a Twins organization loaded with 4th and 5th starters, Smoral would shake things up with his upside and along with Appel, give the Twins a couple of power arms to build their pitching staff around.
The Pick: Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon High School, OH
The San Diego Padres are an organization that has been defined by pitching for quite a while because of their home stadium, the notoriously pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Yet especially after the trade of Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds, the Padres lack pitching depth, with no true ace remaining on their major league roster and only Casey Kelly providing a promising arm on the cusp of the big leagues. The Padres did draft Joe Ross in the first round in an attempt to address that, but considering they have four picks before the 2nd round, it does make sense for the Padres to draft a pitcher. In this case, the Padres will stick with their usual strategy of going for college players and draft University of San Francisco right-hander Kyle Zimmer.
Zimmer has a nice pitcher’s frame at 6’3″, 210, and he uses it to throw in the low to mid-90′s with his fastball, with features some good movement away from right-handed batters. Zimmer has been able to command his fastball well to both sides of the plate. Zimmer’s best pitch may actually be his curveball, which features sharp downward break and often flashes plus, but he has hanged it up in the strike zone too often as a collegiate athlete and has to generate a better downward angle on the pitch in order to harness its plus potential. He also adds in a changeup that he has begun to establish but which still needs a lot of work. Zimmer has number two starter upside if he can command his curveball and improve his changeup. Zimmer is a little less polished than a typical Padres college draft pick, but his overall ability more than makes up for that.
The Pick: Kyle Zimmer, RHP, University of San Francisco
Willingham was the A’s only power source in 2011, and they could draft a power source to replace him with this very pick. One way to do that could be by drafting their second college third baseman in as many picks, Richie Shaffer out of Clemson.
Shaffer is, like Piscotty, 6’3″, but he’s more filled out at 205 pounds and trades athleticism and pure hitting ability for great power. Shaffer’s raw power is a plus-plus tool for him, and presently he still has above-average power. He has a relatively long swing that will lead to strikeouts and he has had some problems in the past getting jammed swinging for the fences on inside pitches, but he does a good job hitting for power to all fields and should be able to put up at least a passable batting average in the major leagues. Shaffer is playing third base at Clemson because of team need and has a strong arm, but he doesn’t any fluidity there and profile much better at first base. He will need work to be an average defensive first baseman, but he should be able get there. And last but not least, he has nice patience and a good eye at the plate and even if his average is more in the .250-.260 range, his OBP should be around .350-.360, making him an even better fit in Oakland. Richie Shaffer is a vintage A’s draft pick who will give their system a legitimate power threat.
The Pick: Richie Shaffer, 3B/1B, Clemson University
Having their homegrown star shortstop sign with the division rival Miami Marlins stings even more for the Mets because the Marlins draft slot (9th) was too high for them to relinquish their pick. They do get this pick though, and they’ll do their best to take advantage. One position the Mets have a need at is catcher, where Josh Thole is questionable to begin with and the Mets have little depth behind him. But considering they’re rebuilding, it makes more sense for the Mets to stick with Thole for the time being and go with a high school catcher with upside. I think a good fit is AC Flora High School catcher David Houser.
The Mets have seen their crosstown rival New York Yankees develop Jorge Posada, never an elite catcher but a valuable commodity thanks to his switch-hitting ability with power. They also have witnessed the Red Sox with a similar player in Jason Varitek. I think the Mets are just a little jealous at this point after a history of futility at the catcher position after Mike Piazza moved to first base. David Houser fits the profile. He’s 6’1″, 215, just short of Posada’s 6’2″, 215 frame. But what distinguishes Houser is that he’s a rare switch-hitting catcher prospect coming out of high school and he has the raw power from both sides of the plate to be a 15-20-homer threat. Houser adds a dimension to Posada’s game with his outstanding bat speed and great ability to make contact, he could be a .300 hitter who limits strikeouts. Defensively, there’s almost no doubt that Houser will be better than Posada. He is graceful behind the plate, excelling at receiving, blocking balls in the dirt, and throwing baserunners out with an above-average arm. His transfers have been somewhat inconsistent and his accuracy with his throws has been a little iffy, but he has flashed superlatively fast glove to hand transfers and once everything is smoothed out, throwing out 30% or more of opposing basestealers shouldn’t be a problem. David Houser has the type of all-around upside that the Mets need as they rebuild, and he could be a very good major league catcher someday.
The Pick: David Houser, C, AC Flora High School, SC
The Cardinals like to take safe college players early in the draft, but I think the 2012 draft will be at least in some ways an exception because of the Albert Pujols fallout. I think with this pick, the Cardinals take one of three shortstops to fill an organizational hole: Chris Taylor out of Virginia, Nolan Fontana out of Florida, and Addison Russell out of Pace High School in Florida.
While all three of these players are shortstops, they’re all very different. Taylor is may be a college player, but he’s more of a high-risk, high-reward kind of pick as a projectable athlete. Fontana is the player the Cardinals would surely pick at this spot in any other year, possessing solid tools across the board and excellent intangibles that make him a safe pick. Russell has best offensive upside of the three, but he’s also the most likely to move off shortstop. I think Russell is a nice player, but not exactly what the Cardinals are looking for, making this a deliberation between Taylor and Russell.
Taylor stands out most for his speed. An outstanding all-around athlete at 6’1″, 170, Taylor has the speed to steal 30 or 40 bases in the big leagues, although he does need to work on reading pitchers. In the batter’s box, Taylor has a compact line drive swing with little power at this point, although he may add power as he fills out his frame, and thanks to his speed as well he could be a .270 or .280 in the big leagues. He does have a good eye at the plate, but he swings and misses too much for a player without power. Defensively, Taylor has the athleticism and range to play shortstop but his arm is average, making second base possibly a better fit for him. But I think his overall athleticism and fluidity at shortstop make him a candidate to stay there. The biggest question for Taylor is going to be his bat and whether he can add any power and make enough contact to make his speed an asset. He has nice upside, but there’s also the risk that he’s ends up as a pinch-runner who can’t even handle playing shortstop.
Fontana does all the little things right as a middle infielder. A smaller player at at 5’11, 190, Fontana is adept at making contact and possesses an excellent eye at the plate. He has good power for his size, at least average power for a shortstop, although it’s mostly to the gaps. He’s not fast, but he has nice instincts on the basepaths and defensively at shortstop. He also is a good bunter. Defensively, Fontana possesses his only plus tool in his arm and although his speed limits his range, his instincts and reflexes still give him the ability to stay at shortstop. Overall, Fontana profiles as a slightly above-average big league shortstop as long as he can stay there because of his proclivity towards walks and his ability to limit strikeouts. Fontana may be just a .250 hitter in the big leagues with 20 doubles and 5 homers, but his OBP could be around .350 and he could contribute 15 steals, 20 sac bunts, and solid defense. Fontana is a good bet to be a big league contributor in some fashion, although he lacks much upside.
I think the Cardinals will go with Taylor among these two because while he does have significant risk for a college product, he has nice upside, and even though Fontana could be a quick-riser through the minors as a shortstop or utilityman is almost assuredly going to contribute to a major league team, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be better than the player the Cardinals currently have lined up to replace Rafael Furcal, Ryan Jackson. As with Trey Jackson in the first round, it would also be vindicating if a player they draft as compensation for Pujols became a star.
The Pick: Chris Taylor, SS, University of Virginia
After filling a couple of organizational gaps with Luke Sims and Nick Williams in the first round in this mock draft, the Red Sox have some flexibility with this supplemental first round pick and they’ll be able to go with the best available player. That player at this point of the draft is Texas A&M right-hander Michael Wacha.
Wacha is very projectable at 6’6″, 195, and throws his pitches at a nice downward angle with very good control, but his problem is that right now he has no plus pitches. His fastball hits the low-90′s at this point with average movement and good sink, but it’s not a great pitch except for the fact that Wacha locates it well. He has shown a nice changeup that plays up because it has the same arm motion at its fastball, but it’s movement is nothing special and professional hitters won’t be fooled. Wacha started throwing a slider this past summer and it’s progressing, but it’s still not even an average pitch. Wacha has a lot of things going for him, especially his projection and polish, but the question is whether he can develop at least one plus pitch. Nevertheless, he’s a risk worth taking for the Red Sox at this point in the draft.
The Pick: Chris Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M University
With their third pick of the draft, the Brewers will go for their second upside pick at a position of need, and this time shortstop seems to be the likely position they’ll go for. A player that makes a lot of sense is a player we just mentioned in brief, Pace High School shortstop Addison Russell.
Russell doesn’t have the typical build you’d expect from a shortstop prospect, coming in at 6’1″, 205, but he has nice tools across the board. He has excellent hand-eye coordination and hits the ball hard to all fields with plus power but not much projection. He gets into trouble when he loses his gap to gap approach and sells out for power, and that’s when his swing gets long and he swings and misses too much. Russell has also experienced problems with plate discipline. Defensively, Russell has great reflexes and an above-average arm at shortstop, but his uncommon body type for a shortstop gives him just average speed and has led to him showing awkward actions at shortstop. He has been able to get the job done despite the unorthodox actions, but he might profile better at second or third base. Nevertheless, the Brewers or whichever team drafts him will give him an opportunity to stay at shortstop, and he has the ability to be a plus offensive shortstop. After dealing with Yuniesky Betancourt in 2011 and being faced with Alex Gonzalez in 2012, the Brewers need a shortstop prospect with upside, something they have in Orlando Arcia, but he’s an extremely risky prospect who will spend 2011 at Rookie ball and is lightyears away from the big leagues. The Brewers also have a need at third base, something they will try to fill with their first rounder Rio Ruiz, but it’s always nice to have multiple options. And by the way, Rickie Weeks is a free agent after 2015. Russell’s bat gives him the opportunity to be an above-average major league player, and wherever he ends up defensively, he’ll fit for the Brewers. Russell fits perfectly with the Brewers with the 38th overall pick in the draft.
The Pick: Addison Russell, SS, Pace High School, FL
The Rangers almost exclusively draft for upside early in the draft, and they’re not afraid to load up at one position. It’s an added bonus though when the upside pick they’re looking for is also at a position of need. With the future of Josh Hamilton very cloudy at this point, outfield is an important position for the Rangers to address right now. The Rangers have to be looking for another potential superstar to take Hamilton’s outfield spot if necessary someday. Picking a player like that assumes significant risk. Good thing that Jordan Akins and Nomar Mazaro already qualify in that regard. The Rangers will likely decide to load up in the outfield because most of the high-upside the players they draft won’t pan out, and a player that fits well is Petal High School outfielder Anthony Alford.
Alford is a very interesting prospect, and not just in baseball. Alford, who comes out at 6’2″, 210 is a top talent both on the baseball field and the gridiron. Let’s have some fun with this and evaluate Alford on both the football field and baseball field. We’ll save the best for last and start with football.
Alford, who is committed to Southern Mississippi for both baseball and football, is an explosive athlete who projects as a run-first quarterback in the spread but could wind up as a wide receiver long-term. Alford is an dynamic runner with 4.35 speed. He has a lightning-quick first step and accelerates speedily into top gear. That acceleration helps him at the beginning of runs, but it also helps him stop and change directions very quickly. Alford is even more dangerous as a runner thanks to great vision and a great feel for how plays are developing. When facing a hit from a defender, Alford isn’t overly physical and can’t really break tackles, but he’s very elusive and doesn’t make it easy for even multiple defenders when he’s out in the open field. Alford is much less polished as a passer. His arm strength is below average with an unorthodox throwing motion. He does have nice accuracy in the short and intermediate passing game, but his throws tend to sail when he throws deeper than that. Alford will make explosive plays if he ends up in the Southern Miss system, but the majority of them will come with his legs.
Some of the things that make Alford such a great running quarterback make him a high-upside centerfielder. His outstanding speed makes him a possible 40-stolen base threat, and his instincts reading developing plays will help him read pitchers. Same story for reading flyballs off the bat as Alford has outstanding range in centerfield, although his arm strength is a tick below-average even for a centerfieler. The two complete wild card tools for Alford are hitting and power. Alford has shown some outstanding bat speed and an ability to slam line drives to the gaps with significant raw power. But he has a lot of work to do in the batter’s box to make that happen consistently. Alford has the ability to be a centerfielder with three or four plus-plus tools and he does have the superstar potential the Rangers want. He will be a project, but he could be completely worth it in the end. A worthwhile question to ask though, is his signability. It tells you something that Alford committed to not exactly a topflight college football program at Southern Miss and that he will continue to play baseball in college. Alford should command an above-slot bonus, but he’s signable and exactly the type of upside player the Rangers like to go after.
The Pick: Anthony Alford, OF, Petal High School, MS
After forfeiting their first round pick when they signed Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies finally get their first pick at 41st overall because their former closer, Ryan Madson, signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies have a very interesting farm system right now as they feature tons of upside, but as much risk as any team in baseball. A major reason for that has been their willingness to trade top prospects to fill needs on their big league team. In any event, the Phillies have tried to counteract the nature of their farm system a little bit by drafting more polished high school pitchers in the first round and supplemental round- although last year’s supplemental pick, Larry Greene, completely defied that. Nevertheless, expect the Phillies go with a safer high school player in the first round, and based on organizational need, a position player makes more sense than a pitcher.
A player who the Phillies will have to consider is Walker Weickel’s teammate at Olympia High School in Florida, outfielder Jesse Winker. Winker is a bigger, more filled out player at 6’3″, 200, and his prospect stock depends on his bat as his athleticism trails similar high school players. Good thing his pure hitting and power are excellent tools. Winker has a fluid swing that helps him consistently make contact and drill lasers to the gaps. He has plus raw power, and he’s already been able to tap into quite a bit of it, and his power could be an even better for asset for him as he finishes growing into his body. Winker has the ability to be a .300 hitter with 30 home runs. Winker also has a good feel at the plate, showing nice patience. The problem for Winker is the rest of his game. He has sub-par speed and a below-average arm, and he profiles as either a left fielder or first baseman. But his bat Will Carry him and he has the offensively ability to start at first base or left field. The Phillies have talent, but as with the rest of their organization, tons of risk among their outfield prospects, and they also need some depth behind Ryan Howard at first base, especially after his latest injury episode. Winker fills both needs.
The Pick: Jesse Winker, OF, Olympia High School, FL
The Astros got a gift from the Pittsburgh Pirates when they signed Clint Barmes to the major league contract, giving them a second pick before the 2nd round. After going with a high-upside pitcher in Lucas Giolito in the first round of this mock draft (or Mark Appel in a lot of other people’s mocks), it makes sense for the Astros to go with a position player. An interesting player for them to consider is somewhat of a compromise pick, Westview High School two-way player Carson Kelly.
Kelly, who comes in at 6’2″, 200, plays third base and pitcher for his high school team. Kelly is a legitimate prospect at both positions, but teams like him better as a third baseman. Kelly has nice hand-eye coordination and shows great speed and lift in his swing, which will help him hit for plus power and a solid average. Defensively, Kelly doesn’t run well but has shown smooth actions at third base along with the great arm he shows off as well on the mound. When on the mound, Kelly hits 91 MPH on his fastball, which features nice movement, and is also working on a changeup and curveball, although neither is better than average at this point. At both postions, Kelly is passionate about the game of baseball and shows sensational leadership and character. Kelly has nice upside as a third base prospect and fills a need for the Astros in their rebuilding process.
The Pick: Carson Kelly, 3B/RHP, Westview High School, OR
42nd Overall: Minnesota Twins (Compensation for Jason Kubel)
With their third and final pick before the 2nd round, the Twins will finally go with a position player after drafting two pitchers. Once again, they’ll go for upside, and it’s hard to find a player in the draft with more upside than Rhett Wiseman, an outfielder at Buckingham Browne & Nicols High School in Massachusetts.
Wiseman’s ceiling is enormous. He has four at least plus tools in his ability to hit for average, raw power, speed, and defensive ability. An athletic, a 6’1″, 195 centerfielder, Wiseman especially excites evaluators with incredible displays of power and blazing speed. But his hitting ability has come and gone. Wiseman possesses unconventional swing mechanics and crowds home plate, but his worst issue is problems with balance in his swing. That imbalance has led to far too many swings and misses than should happen to a player with his type of bat speed. Wiseman’s stance will assuredly be changed as a professional so he can get better balance and make more contact. When Wiseman’s swing is right, he hits rockets to all fields and flashes tremendous power that will show up more often as he gets better balance. On the basepaths, Wiseman has outstanding speed that he uses both to steal bases and to stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples. Defensively, Wiseman should be able to use his outstanding speed to have great range in centerfield and project as a plus defender. Instead, he struggles reading balls off the bat, another thing he needs to improve on. He has an average centerfielder’s arm. A lot of Wiseman’s problems stem from the fact that he lives in the Northeast, where strong winters and rains limit the season and haven’t given him the type of reps he needs to smooth out his problems. A positive is that he has a great attitude and great leadership. Wiseman has a ton of ability and he’s worth the risk that comes with him.
But another thing that complicates matters is Wiseman’s strong commitment to Vanderbilt. Especially with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement instituting penalties for going over slot bonuses in the first 10 rounds of the draft, Wiseman is an even more risky pick because he will command an above-slot bonus. Nevertheless, Wiseman’s upside is just too enticing for him not to go before the end of the supplemental round. Maybe drafting Wiseman leads the Twins to draft players that will sign for closer to slot in subsequent rounds, but he’s the type of aggressive upside pick that they need to go for as they look to turn their team around.
The Pick: Rhett Wiseman, OF, Buckingham Browne & Nicols High School, MA
With their first round pick in this mock draft, the Cubs went all-out for upside by drafting catcher Stryker Trahan. But a more pressing need for the Cubs is starting pitcher, and with this supplemental pick, they look to start filling that need. Two college pitchers appear to be the front-runners for this pick: Virginia right-hander Branden Kline, and Arkansas righty Nolan Sandburn. Let’s pit them against each other and see which one fits here.
Kline is projectable at 6’3″, 190, and worked with great success as Virginia’s closer in 2011. But he’s moving to the rotation for 2012, and his stock has risen significantly in the past few months. Kline works in the low-90′s with his fastball right now with nice sink and late movement that compensate for the late of elite velocity and make it a plus offering. His second pitch is a low-80′s slider with sharp downward movement along with horizontal fade away from right-handed batters, and that projects as a plus pitch as well. That was all Kline needed as Virginia’s closer, but he has shown some promise with a curveball and a changeup as well. Kline still needs a lot of work as a starter, but he could end up as a number two starter or even an ace when it’s all said and done.
Sanburn, a draft eligible sophomore, offers less projection at 6’0″, 185, but he might have more present ability and be more likely to reach his ceiling. Sanburn, who is a reliever for Arkansas but will get an opportunity to start games as a pro, hits the low to mid-90′s with his fastball and touches 98 MPH on his fastball with nice movement, and he has flashed plus with his low to mid 80′s slider. Sanburn also added a changeup to his arsenal that has shown potential. Sanburn has good mechanics and shows good control and command. Sanburn also has number two starter upside if he can refine his changeup and get his slider to be consistently plus.
Kline is the better pitcher because he’s likely going to add velocity as he fills out, has a better slider, and his changeup and curveball will both be at least average pitches down the line if not more. Kline gives the Cubs the type of starting pitching prospect they’re missing in their system right now and is a good fit for them at 43rd overall.
The Pick: Branden Kline, RHP, University of Virginia
44th Overall: San Diego Padres (Compensation for Aaron Harang)
After filling their two big needs at shortstop and starting pitcher with their first two picks, the Padres have a little leeway both here at at number 57 overall to go with the player who they consider to be the best available. A player who sounds like the kind of player the Padres like and fits in perfectly at 44th overall is Texas A&M outfielder Tyler Naquin.
Naquin is a projectable hitter at 6’2″, 175, and his current lanky frame make his abilities seem worse than they are. Naquin has shown nice bat speed, a nice ability to make contact, and some solid gap power, but he has experienced problems making hard contact, something that could be fixed as he fills out and gains strength. He has shown nice plate discipline, but thus far as a collegiate athlete, he’s been missing and mishitting too many mistake pitches. Nevertheless, Naquin projects to hit for at least a solid average with average overall power once he fills out. Naquin’s best tool right now is his plus speed, which has helped mask some of his hitting problems he’s been able to beat out grounders for infield hits and it also helps him take extra bases. But he has a severe deficiency in his ability to read pitchers, and that’s something he really has to improve because based on speed alone, he’s at least a 30 stolen base threat. Defensively, Naquin has played primarily right field at Texas A&M and he has shown nice instincts and an above-average arm, but his bat may not be good enough to handle a corner outfield spot. However, Naquin playing right has more to do with speedy teammate Kray Bratsen than his own problems, and he should be able to handle centerfield as a pro. Naquin may need more development time than your average college prospect, but he ranks average or better in all 5 tools, and his speed, something the Padres especially value, is a plus tool for him.
The Pick: Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M University
45th Overall: Pittsburgh Pirates (Compensation for Ryan Doumit)
The Pirates generally like drafting low-risk college players in the first round. But they completely nixed that in the first round of this mock draft by drafting high-upside shortstop Gavin Cecchini in the first round of this draft, a pick that makes a lot of sense because the Pirates lack notable shortstop prospects and Cecchini is just too good for them to pass up at 8th overall. The Pirates have started to make more risks in the draft in recent years, and I see them taking another risk here and drafting a high school third baseman with third base being another organizational weakness starting in the major leagues with Pedro Alvarez, who has yet to show his great potential. A player that fits at this pont in the draft is Upland High School third baseman Daniel Robertson.
Robertson, who comes in at 6’1″ and 190 pounds, profiles a bit of an unorthodox third baseman because his raw power is just average. But the trade-off for the lack of power is that Robertson has shown a fluid line drive swing that he uses to hit line drive after line drive, especially to the gaps. Robertson may top out at 15 home runs annually in the major leagues, but if he can avoid trying to force power and stick with a gap to gap approach with his swing, he could hit .320. Despite sub-par speed, Robertson has excellent instincts on the basepaths and still has the ability to steal an occasional base. Defensively, Robertson has plus arm strength and accuracy along with good instincts that allow him to project as at least an average defensive third baseman and possibly better despite his below average speed. A third baseman possessing just average power and below-average speed would normally have no business anywhere near the first round or supplemental first round, but Robertson’s hit tool along with his arm are special enough tools to offset that and give him the ability to be an above-average big league third baseman and worthy of his draft slot here.
The Pick: Daniel Robertson, 3B, Upland High School, CA
Someone needs to replace Todd Helton, who will play of the 2012 season at age 38. The Rockies will likely look to get a player to do just that with this pick. Even a week ago, there was no way Victor Roache was going to last this late into the draft, and the Rockies would have taken a long look at him at 10th overall. But after suffering a season-ending wrist surgery, Roache is available at 46th overall, and there’s little chance that the Rockies will let him slip through their fingers, even if there’s a chance that he will last at least until their next pick at 68th overall.
Before the injury, Roache, a 6’1″, 225 outfielder at Georgia Southern University, showed outstanding power with a compact swing. He has prolific raw power and the bat speed to potentially hit for a solid average. Roache has had trouble recognizing and hitting breaking balls, but he has completely annihilated fastballs and hitting breaking balls is just an adjustment he has to make. If the Rockies or whichever team drafts Roache can help him hit breaking balls, he could be a 35-40 homer threat in the big leagues, and he could hit in the .270 to .280 range with an OBP .370 or higher. All of this is assuming he recovers sufficiently from his wrist injury. Defensively, Roache has halfway-decent speed and a solid arm and could fit in left field, but if the Rockies draft him, they would probably move him to first base, where he has the ability to be at least a decent defender. Especially after the wrist injury, Roache had a good deal of risk involved with him, but his power potential makes it all worth it.
The Pick: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern University
47th Overall: Oakland Athletics (Compensation for David DeJesus)
A third college infielder in as many picks? You have to be kidding me, right? I’m not. Stephen Piscotty is a great fit for the A’s at 11th overall because of his polished hitting ability. Richie Shaffer also makes sense at #34 as a power bat with nice plate discipline. And finally, although much less exciting, the aforementioned 5’11″, 190 Florida shortstop Nolan Fontana is a fit here for the A’s with the 47th pick of the 2012 MLB Draft.
To summarize what I said above when talking about Fontana in relation to the Cardinals’ pick at 36th overall, Fontana may not have overwhelming tools, but he does all the little things right, and one of those “little things” is considered a very big thing in Oakland: his great eye and ability to draw walks. Thanks to his on-base ability, Fontana profiles as a slightly above-average major league shortstop, something the A’s don’t have any sort of guarantee of anywhere in their organization. Fontana also fits will in a utility role for the A’s should Cliff Pennington figure out how to get his OBP over .319 (where it’s been each of the past two years) or one of their questionable shortstop prospects actually beats the odds and pans out. Fontana is the type of player born to play in Oakland and Billy Beane will be overjoyed to take him at this spot.
The Pick: Nolan Fontana, SS, University of Florida
If the White Sox are known for anything, it’s for rushing top prospects through the minors. If they’re inevitably going to do that anyway, they might as well draft players who can handle such rapid movement. Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Heaney fits that mold.
Heaney, a slender, projectable lefty at 6’2″, 175, is the most advanced pitcher in the 2012 MLB Draft. He’s a “thinking man’s pitcher”, possessing a four-pitch arsenal and does things few pitchers his age or even in genearl do, such as purposely varying arm slots to befuddle hitters. Heaney’s fastball currently ranges from the high-80′s to low-90′s with some nice late movement, but he could have a couple more MPH in him after he fills out. His best secondary pitch is a curveball with quick descent that flashes plus. His remaining two pitches are a two-seam fastball with late cutting action and a changeup with some sink. Heaney should be able to fly through the minors and he has a chance to be in the back end of a big league rotation by early 2013. He currently profiles as a safe bet to be a 3rd or 4th starter in the big leagues, but if he can fill out his frame and get some more velocity on his fastball while also improving his secondary pitches, he could have number two starter upside. In a White Sox system with a dearth of pitching, Heaney can provide a stable presence that could zoom through the minors.
The Pick: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State University
49th Overall: Cincinnati Reds (Compensation for Ramon Hernandez)
As the Reds look to make a quick transition from mediocre to contender after a lost 2011, they need players with the ability to help soon in the big leagues. One position that teams normally don’t focus on overly much in the minor leagues is relief pitcher, but the Reds are especially thin in that regard in their minor leagues system, and they could use a late-inning relief prospect. Rice right-hander J.T. Chargois can fill that role.
Chargois, who comes in at 6’3″, and 200, has power stuff. He throws a low to mid 90′s fastball with powerful late sink, and a curveball with sharp break. Both profile as plus pitches, and he also has a decent changeup that he can catch hitters off guard with. Chargois basically lets his pitches fly and sees what happens, but he has been able to do a good job keeping the ball around the strike zone. Chargois may have the stuff to start, but he has a max-effort delivery that would leave him exposed to injury in a starting role. Nevertheless, he has shutdown closer upside in relief and could move quickly through the minors.
The Pick: J.T. Chargois, RHP, Rice University
Three straight safe college picks… yawn. Good thing the upside-crazy Blue Jays are here at 50th overall to shake things up with a high-ceiling, high risk high school pick.
Lewis Brinson is a big, projectable bat at 6’4″, 180 and he has three plus tools in his raw power, speed, and defensive ability. Brinson can put on exhilarating displays of power when he’s right, but his problem is that his swing is often off. He has a long stride and the timing on his swing is occasionally off. In addition, while he’s strong enough to show plus bat speed at times, at other times he sells out for power and his swing gets too long. All of Brinson’s offensive problems are compounded by poor pitch recognition and too many swings and misses. Brinson’s pure hitting tool is a complete wild card. On the basepaths, Brinson has nice instincts and is significant stolen base threat (just how significant depends on his bat). He is very smooth defensively with an average arm. Brinson is the type of project that the Blue Jays love to take on, and even though he has a long journey ahead of him as he hopes to reach his upside, a team like the Blue Jays will give him every opportunity.
The Pick: Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs High School, FL
The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have a bad situation on their infield with only Dee Gordon projecting to last long-term among their four starters and with little upside or depth at infield positions in the minors. With the 18th overall pick in the mock draft, the Dodgers selected corner infielder Joey Gallo, a big-time power threat who could be a big part of the middle of the Dodgers lineup someday and will occupy either third base or first. Arkansas infielder Matt Reynolds could help with the rest.
Reynolds, 6’1″ and 200 pounds, has burst onto the draft scene following a batting stance adjustment while he was with the US Collegiate National Team over the summer. Reynolds now has nice balance in his stance and a short stride leading into his compact swing that helps him make a lot of contact and spray line drives to all field. He could be a .280 hitter in the big leagues, although his power is fleeting and has mostly been gap power at this point, but as he gets used to his stance he could regain the slightly above-average raw power he once showed as a high school prospect. He has nice patience at the plate and could be a .350 OBP threat. On the basepaths, Reynolds has slightly above-average speed but outstanding instincts, and he’s the kind of player who may steal 15 to 20 bases while getting caught just once or twice. Defensively, Reynolds has played primarily third base and profiles well defensively there, possessing fluid actions and good range along with an above-average arm, although he’ll never hit enough to be a regular there. He has the speed athleticism to play second base, where his bat fits much better, and he can also handle a part-time shortstop role. Reynolds has the ability to be a tick above-average big league second baseman or an excellent major league utility infielder who gets 300 or more plate appearances per season. Either one of those roles would pay dividends for the Dodgers moving forward.
The pick: Matt Reynolds, INF, University of Arkansas
52nd Overall: St. Louis Cardinals (Compensation for Octavio Dotel)
They say that you can never have too much pitching. With their 4th pick between the first round and supplemental first round, it makes sense for the Cardinals to go with a pitcher. With a stacked group of pitchers in their organization already, it makes sense for them to go for upside with this pick.
Ty Hensley has a big, quality pitcher’s frame at 6’5″, 220 and has the power stuff to boot. He throws his plus fastball in the low to mid-90′s with nice late sink but could still add velocity. He throws two other pitches, a curveball and a changeup in the mid-70′s and high-70′s respectively, and both of them have potential. His curveball has variated in movement for 11-to-5 to 12-to-6 and has flashed plus, while his changeup is straight but he does a good job deceiving hitters with its arm action and gets a nice speed difference between his change and fastball. Hensley has a lot of moving parts in his delivery and he has to smooth that out because it has been giving him command and control problems, especially with his breaking pitches. Hensley has the stuff and build to be a workhorse number two starter but is a long way away from getting there. In a Cardinals organization that includes Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Tyrell Jenkins, and Trevor Rosenthal, he would be just another one of the guys.
The Pick: Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe High School, OK
53rd Overall: Texas Rangers (Compensation for Darren Oliver)
The Rangers will go for upside just about every pick in the first round and supplemental first round of the draft. This pick will be no exception, although I can see them going for a high school player with a little more polish in Camarillo High School left-hander Hunter Virant.
Virant’s combination of projection and polish makes him an intriguing prospect. Standing at 6’3″ and weighing 175 pounds, Virant was an outfielder as a freshman and sophomore in high school before moving to the mound as a junior. That was undoubtedly the right move. Virant’s fastball ranges from the high-80′s to low-90′s but should be able to register consistently in the 90′s once he fills out. The pitch has nice horizontal movement towards a right-handed batter and late sink. Because of his lack of present velocity on his fastball, Virant took the rare step for a high school pitcher of developing a two-seamer that hits 86-87 MPH which drops off the table with outstanding cut, although Virant has had a lot of trouble controlling it. Virant has been working on three offspeed pitches: a slider and changeup, both in the high-70′s, and a curveball that comes in with low-70′s velocity. Virant has been able to get nice horizontal movement and some drop on his slider, but he controls it even worse than his two-seamer, basically meaning he’s lucky when it’s a strike. His changeup is straight and it’s been the easiest of his pitches to hit on the rare occasions that he’s thrown it. But his curveball has flashes plus potential with 1-to-7 break, although it sometimes gets loopy. Virant might have ace upside somewhere in him if a lot of things go right (gets his fastball into the mid-90′s, controls his two-seamer and slider, curveball consistently plus), but he most likely profiles as a number two or number three starter. Virant is a player to watch both as a senior in high school and once he transitions to pro ball, and it will be very interesting to see what ends up happening with his arsenal.
The Pick: Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo High School, CA
54th Overall: Philadelphia Phillies (Compensation for Raul Ibanez)
We know about the Phillies incredible top of their rotation and they also have some nice starting depth in the minors. Starting pitcher is not really a need for them. Nevertheless, Freddy Avis is a perfect fit for them- and not just because his name is similar to Phillies top SS prospect Freddy Galvis.
Avis is a projectable high school right-hander at 6’2″, 180, but he’s a little more advanced than your average prep pitcher. He tosses a low-90′s fastball with nice movement that he commands extremely well, and he also throws a curveball and a mid-80′s changeup. The curveball, especially, has flashed plus. Avis should gain velocity on his plus fastball, and if he can improve his secondary pitches he could have number two starter upside.
The Pick: Freddy Avis, Menlo School, CA
55th Overall: San Diego Padres (Compensation for Failing to Sign 2011 Supplemental Rounder Brett Austin)
In what expects to be a prolific draft for the Padres, they possess one first round pick and three supplemental rounders. In addition to their regular first rounder, the Padres get two picks after Heath Bell and Aaron Harang signed elsewhere, and they get their final one here after failing to sign one of the 2011 supplemental round picks, Brett Austin. Here they get another chance to draft for upside.
Nathan Kirby, a 6’2″, 185 left-handed pitcher at James River High School in Virginia, has a relatively polished arsenal along with projection. He often throws in the high-80′s with his fastball and touches 91 MPH with nice late life that has made it an effective pitch for him, although the lack of velocity has also made him focus on his secondary pitches more. Kirby’s offspeed pitches are a curveball and a changeup. His curveball shows acute 1-to-7 movement and could be a plus pitch if he can get that type of movement consistency. He also throws a changeup with nice sinking action that will be at least a slightly above-average pitch. Kirby is hard to project because we’ll have to see how much velocity his fastball gains as he fills out and how his secondary pitches develop. But he has shown a lot of potential is a worth a shot by the Padres here at 55th Overall.
The Pick: Nathan Kirby, LHP, James River High School, VA
56th Overall: Chicago Cubs (Compensation for Carlos Pena)
The Cubs have high expectations for this 2012 MLB Draft. I don’t think one of them is to draft the players with the best names. But pairing first rounder Stryker Trahan with high school outfielder Skye Bolt would guarantee them that crown. More importantly, he’s another high-upside player as the Cubs start their rebuilding process under Theo Epstein.
Bolt, who attends Holy Innocents’ Episcopal High School in Georgia, has five-tool potential as a switch-hitting centerfielder. Currently 6’3″ and 175 pounds, Bolt has shown great bat speed and power potential from both sides of the plate, although right now he’s significantly more comfortable from his natural right side. I was lucky enough to see Bolt and saw that as a left-handed hitter, he lands a little awkwardly with his front foot when he strides, often leaving him just a bit unbalanced when he swings. That should be a correctable problem (I would say that he should stride out towards the pitcher just slightly more and he’ll be fine). A more serious issue is that from both sides of the plate, Bolt doesn’t get good leverage from his lower body, something that will have to change, especially as he fills out. On the basepaths, Bolt doesn’t quite run like Usain Bolt, but he has plus speed and will be a significant stolen base threat. Bolt’s speed also gives him outstanding range in centerfield, and he also has a plus arm, meaning he could also profile in right field. Bolt has tremendous upside and would give the Cubs another topflight talent.
The Pick: Skye Bolt, OF, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal High School, GA
57th Overall: Cincinnati Reds (Compensation for Francisco Cordero)
The Reds normally prefer to go for college players in the first couple rounds of the draft, but this year’s draft crop could cause them to get away from that, as what happened with the Reds first pick in the mock draft, prep outfielder Albert Almora. It will be the same story here with Northwest Cabarrus High School shortstop Corey Seager.
Seager, the younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, is a completely different player than his brother. While Kyle stands at 6’0″ and weighs 195, close to a typical middle infielder frame, Corey is very projectable at 6’4″, 195 and will not be able to stay at shortstop once he fills out. That’s fine though, because he has the power potential to profile as a regular if not more at third. Seager has a compact swing from the left side of the plate and excels at making contact, but his problem is that he has a lot of moving parts in his stance and swing and his timing sometimes suffers, leading to weaker contact rather than line drives. He also tries to put everything into play, setting his patience back. Right now, Seager projects as a third baseman who hits .270 or .280 with 25-30 home runs, not walking overly much, but also limiting the strikeouts, but it will be interesting to see how his stance is changed in pro ball and how it affects him. Defensively, Seager will move off short thanks to his frame and just average speed, but he has the fluidity in his motions and the above-average arm to be a good defensive third baseman. Corey Seager has the potential to be an above-average overall third baseman, and if the Reds draft him, he could be Scott Rolen‘s eventual replacement.
The Pick: Corey Seager, SS, Northwest Cabarrus High School, NC
58th Overall: Toronto Blue Jays (Compensation for Jon Rauch)
In this mock draft, the Blue Jays have three of the first 54 picks and went with two crazy upside picks and a college reliever, but one with legitimate closer upside. The Jays are usually a pure upside team, but nobody’s perfect. When you have a starting player on your big league tema with one foot out the door and your only decent prospect at that player’s position is down at rookie ball, something needs to be done. That position is second base and the player to fill that hole could be Cal Berkeley second baseman Tony Renda.
Renda is the opposite of an upside pick, being significantly undersized at 5’8″, 173. But he has the game to compensate. He has a quick, compact swing that he uses to spray line drives and it should allow him to hit for at least a relatively high average as a pro. Renda does have little power, and the power he has goes almost exclusively to the gaps. He’s very good at making contact, but he needs to take advantage of his diminutive frame to draw more walks. Renda’s speed is nothing special, but he has nice instincts on the basepaths and is a 10 stolen base threat. He has solid actions and a solid arm at short, and he’ll make the cut defensively but he won’t be above-average. Renda is pretty much an average overall player with a good bat. However, all of Renda’s tools play up because of his hustle and determination. Renda is nowhere near an upside but he has the ability to be a tick above-average big league second baseman.
The Pick: Tony Renda, 2B, University of California, Berkeley
59th Overall: St. Louis Cardinals (Compensation for Edwin Jackson)
With their final pick before the end of the supplemental round, the Cardinals will go back to addressing organizational needs, and a player who fits is Florida State senior outfielder James Ramsey. The Cardinals have a ton of upside among their outfield prospects, but a lot of risk as well, and Ramsey can help address that.
Ramsey, who is 6’0″ and 195 pounds, is a gutsy player with the tools to match. He has a fluid swing that he uses to hit the ball to all fields, and he also has nice power for someone his size. He has excellent plate discipline and has a proclivity towards making contact. Ramsey’s offense profiles well in centerfield, but his speed is just average. He does read balls well off the bat and has an average arm, but he profiles better defensively in a corner spot, although is bat is somewhat questionable to be good enough to fit there. Nevertheless, Ramsey is close to a sure bet to be a productive big league 4th outfielder type and especially considering he’ll be a senior sign, he’ll zoom through the minors. In addition, Ramsey’s nice hustle he help him out-play his tools and fit in a starting role.
The Pick: James Ramsey, OF, Florida State University
60th Overall: Toronto Blue Jays (Compensation for Frank Francisco)
Somehow the Blue Jays are always in the thick of things. This year, the Blue Jays are tied for the most among the 30 MLB teams with five picks before the second round, and they also signed two players to give the Reds and Rangers supplemental picks. They finish off the supplemental round here at 59th overall.
Courtney Hawkins, a 6’3″, 215 outfielder at Carroll High School in Texas, has five-tool potential, although he may fit better in right field than in center. Hawkins shows quick bat speed with nice raw power, although his tools come out somewhat inconsistency because he has a lot of pre-pitch movement in his stance, sometimes messing up his balance and timing. Hawkins has shown an ability to drive fastballs to every part of the field with legitimate power, but he needs work on his patience and on hitting breaking balls, which he has struggled to pick up. Hawkins has a somewhat thick frame but has above-average speed that makes him a 25 stolen base threat, and although he may not be able to stay in centerfield, he has the range, motions, and plus arm strength to be an above-average right fielder. Hawkins has also pitched at Carroll, and his fastball has hit the low-90′s, but he has struggled mightily with control and his future is in the outfield. Hawkins has nice present ability with significant room for improvement, and he has the type of all-around upside the Blue Jays love.
The Pick: Courtney Hawkins, OF/RHP, Carroll High School, TX
That’s it for the supplemental round. Thanks for reading. We’ll continue our mock draft with the second round early next week.
If you missed our mock first round, here it is.
Topics: 2012 Draft, Addision Russell, Andrew Heaney, Anthony Alford, Branden Kline, Carson Kelly, Chris Taylor, Chris Wacha, Corey Seager, Courtney Hawkins, Daniel Robertson, David Houser, Freddy Avis, Hunter VIrant, J.T. Chargois, James Ramsey, Jesse Winker, Kyle Zimmer, Lewis Brinson, Matt Reynolds, Matt Smoral, MLB Draft, Nathan Kirby, Nolan Fontana, Rhett Wiseman, Richie Shaffer, Skye Bolt, Tony Renda, Ty Hensley, Tyler Naquin, Victor Roache