What made me do this to myself? You might as well call me crazy at this point, and you may be right. But what’s the point of stopping our mock draft when we have the information available to stretch it out to out at least one more round? A lot has happened since I started this little saga at the end of February, most notably the injury to Lucas Giolito, but all in all, this mock draft is giving us an idea of how the 2012 MLB Draft will play out. Let’s keep this going and get to even more picks with analysis and scouting reports galore.
95th Overall: Houston Astros
The Astros have an organizational overhaul to carry out. After a 106-loss debacle in 2011, the Astros are going to rebuild their team through the draft. That started with Lucas Giolito with the 1st Overall Pick of this mock draft, although the pick today would be Mark Appel, and they followed by drafted high-upside prep position players with their next two picks. The Astros can’t be drafting for need. They need to draft the best players they can get because we know how volatile prospects can get. Even though starting pitcher is an organizational strength for the Astros, especially after they draft Appel, the best player on the board is Butler High School right-hander Taylore Cherry.
Saying that Taylore Cherry is an imposing figure on the mound is an understatement. Cherry is 6’9″, 260, and that makes his stuff even scarier. His fastball hits the low-90′s and touches 94 at its best with excellent sink thanks to his crazy-high arm angle and nice late run away from right-handed batters. Cherry has solid control, but he needs to work on command of his fastball and locate it more consistently down in the zone. Cherry uses his already effective fastball to set up the type of change unheard of from high school pitcher, ranging at 84-85 MPH with nice late bite. It looks his fastball out of his hand before featuring almost late cutting action as it approaches the plate. One notable critique of Cherry’s changeup is that he slows his arm action when he throws it, something professional hitters will take advantage if it’s not corrected to take his changeup for a ball. Cherry also throws a breaking ball from 78-81 MPH, but although it’s a big change of pace from his other pitches, it’s loopy at times, he has a slower arm action, and it doesn’t really fit in with his fastball, which essentially acts like a sinker. Cherry has smooth mechanics although he struggles at times with control. Cherry is old for this prep class and he lacks projection, but once he refines his arsenal he has the ability to dominate major league hitters.
The Pick: Taylore Cherry, Butler High School RHP, OH
96th Overall: Minnesota Twins
With questions surrounding Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, the Twins could use prospects at both first base and catcher in order to prepared for anything. An interesting fit here for a catcher prospect is the free-falling Josh Elander out of TCU.
Josh Elander shows the flashes. The 6’0″, 200 backstop has flashed excellent raw power to go along with a smooth, compact line drive stroke that should help him hit for a solid average, a nice eye at the plate, and smooth actions defensively at the catcher position with a strong arm. But he just cannot put it all together. His power is virtually non-existent in games. He may be hitting .354 thus far in 2011, but his ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) is just .108, pretty pathetic for a player who’s supposed to have power. He’s basically a singles hitter right now, and he strikes out too much considering that’s the truth. Defensively, his arm is strong but erratic, and he still needs work on blocking balls in the dirt. Elander is a wild card prospect right now, but if he can put all his tools together he can be a good major league starting catcher. The Twins will be willing to take that chance.
The Pick: Josh Elander, C, TCU
97th Overall: Seattle Mariners
You can never have too much pitching. The Mariners have Danny Hultzen and James Paxton in the upper minors and Taijuan Walker a couple rungs down. But if the Mariners see another opportunity to take a talented pitcher, they’ll pounce. An interesting pick for them would be Daniel Starwalt, a right-handed pitcher out of Granite Hill High School.
Starwalt is a 6’3″, 210 prep pitcher with big time stuff. However, there are two disclaimers that dropped him to this point in the draft: 1) he’s a Stanford commit and because of its academic standing as well as its baseball prowess, it is awfully hard to sign players away from Stanford and 2) he’s had injury problems in the past, specifically with his back. Starwalt has grown 3 inches and gained 35 pounds in the past year, and his fastball is now consistently in the mid-90′s when healthy with nice run away from right-handed batters. His second pitch is a 78-80 MPH curveball that he throws from the arm slot of his fastball and looks like it out of his hand before showing late 11-to-5 spike break. Starwalt has also shown a solid feel for a changeup, although his top two pitches have been more than enough for him as a prep pitcher. Starwalt may be a tough sign, but he has a ton of upside and I don’t think a team like the Mariners could pass him up.
The Pick: Daniel Starwalt, RHP, Granite Hill High School, CA
98th Overall: Baltimore Orioles
With their first two picks in this mock draft, the Orioles loaded up on pitching, selecting a couple of talented right-handers Kevin Gausman out of LSU in the first round and Zach Eflin out of high school in the second. With this pick, it makes sense for the Orioles to go with a position player, and a positon where they have quite a bit of upside in the low minors but also considerable risk is the outfield. You never know if low-level upside prospects will pan out, so the more the merrier. The Orioles do have a few prospects on the cusp of the big leagues, but not the type of highly-regarded player you want patrolling an outfield spot. Another important consideration is that Adam Jones could be out the door and the Orioles need to find his replacement. Is Xavier Avery really the answer? And who knows what Nolan Reimold will give you in left field? So the Orioles have an interesting choice here. Should they take a high school outfielder who will take time to develop but has considerable potential or a college outfield with a little less upside who could contribute to the big league team much sooner? Two players are clear fits for the Orioles with this pick, one a prep player and another out of college: D’Vone McClure out of Jacksonville High School in Arkansas and Mitch Haniger out of Cal Poly University.
D’Vone McClure is teeming with upside. A projectable bat at 6’3″, 190, McClure is raw in his approach at the plate, but shows big-time tools. He swings with tremendous bat speed and solid lift, and when he connects on a swing, he hits the ball with authority, although he hasn’t been able to tap into too much of his power yet. His pitch recognition is questionable at this point and he’s too aggressive at the plate, but if a pitcher makes a mistake against him, he can destroy it. Defensively, McClure has above-average speed that gives him nice range in centerfield in addition to making him a stolen base threat but his arm is noticeably below-average. If he can put it all together, McClure is a four-tool prospect with the type of potential the Orioles don’t have too much of among the position players in their system (with Manny Machado being a notable exception).
Since Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs for the Orioles in 1996, just one Orioles outfielder, Tony Batista in 2002, has hit 30 home runs in a single season. Do the Orioles want to change that? Mitch Haniger could be that guy. Haniger, 6’2″ and 215 pounds, has great strength and lift in his swing and has power to all fields. He takes a short path to the ball in his swing, but he doesn’t have great bat speed, which will lead to more strikeouts and a lower batting average at higher levels, although he should be able to hit respectively. He needs some work on his patience and plate discipline, but he has very tangible power and that makes him stand out. Haniger has solid-average speed with nice instincts on the basepaths and he has good range in the outfield, but he has a true plus tool in his rocket arm. Haniger profiles well as a power-hitting right fielder, although he may be a guy who will only hit .260 with a .340 OBP, he’s a 30 homers, 35 doubles threat and he’ll play some nice defense.
I think Haniger makes more sense with this pick because he has upside of his own, and his power really makes him stand out, especially on an Orioles team that has been power-deprived in the outfield.
The Pick: Mitch Haniger, OF, Poly Tech
99th Overall: Kansas City Royals
Even after graduating some of their top prospects such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to the major leagues, the Kansas City Royals have a stacked farm system. One of the reasons for that is that commitment to drafting for upside. Could Mitch Nay be next?
It seems very bizarre that the Royals would draft yet another third baseman this early in the draft. They have Moustakas in the big leagues and then another impressive prospect, Cheslor Cuthbert, heading to High-A this season. But the Royals really don’t care. They’ll go for upside regardless of position, and Nay is worth it. Nay is a projectable power bat at 6’3″, 195, but his power has already been seen plenty in games. Nay hits for above-average present power to both the pull side and to right-center thanks to his strength and great lift in his swing. One problem is that his swing gets long and scouts question his hit tool. But if Nay can cut down slightly on his swing, he should be able to continue hitting for power while maintaining a solid batting average. Nay is very athletic for a third baseman and has solid speed with good reflexes, and he really stands out for his incredibly strong arm. If the Royals draft Nay, I would be interested to see if they try him out at second base, where he could be a plus defender as long as he doesn’t lose too much athleticism as he fills out a bit more. Nay has three nice tools in his power, arm strength, and defense and a developing tool in his hit tool, and his upside makes him worth the risk for the Royals.
The Pick: Mitch Nay, 3B/MI, Hamilton High School, AZ
100th Overall: Chicago Cubs
Thus far in this mock draft, the Cubs have gotten a pretty nice haul of upside players that can help reform their ballclub. Stryker Trahan and Skye Bolt are beaming with upside and even though Brandon Kline and Alex Wood are college pitchers, they have significant upside themselves as well. At 100th overall, this will be another upside pick, and a player that fits is Garnet Valley High School third baseman Joe DeCarlo.
DeCarlo, 6’1″ and 205 pounds, doesn’t have much projection and needs a lot of work, but the potential is there. DeCarlo has above-average raw power, but he doesn’t have enough leverage and lift in his swing to show the kind of power scouts want to see in games. Presently, DeCarlo has a short stride and a compact swing that he uses to spray line drive all over the field, but a stance and swing adjustment could help hit for more power. Defensively, DeCarlo has solid athleticism but he lacks any type of speed, although he does have the reflexes to stay at third base. DeCarlo needs a work improving his infield actions, but he has great arm strength and with time he could be a solid defender. DeCarlo has impressive talents that he’s a while away from harnessing, but if the team that drafts him can help him make the necessary adjustments, he could be a good major league third baseman.
The Pick: Joe DeCarlo, 3B, Garnet Valley High School, PA
101st Overall: San Diego Padres
Every team in baseball is envious of the San Diego Padres minor league system right now- and that will be even more true after the 2012 Draft in which the Padres have 6 picks before the third round. In this mock draft, they clearly got the best haul of anyone, getting Deven Marrero, Kyle Zimmer, Tyler Naquin, Nathan Kirby, ALex Bregman (pre-injury) and Patrick Wisdom. And here, they get a chance for another nice talent.
Brady Rodgers, a 6’2″, 187 right-hander out of Arizona State who may have some projection remaining, may not have the upside of a lot of the guys ahead of him in the draft and even a few guys behind him, but his polish is just about as good as anyone in the draft. Rodgers’ fastball ranges from 89-92 MPH with sink and late run and he supplements it with a 11-to-5 curveball with big break, a changeup with good sink, and a slider with solid late break. Rodgers locates his entire arsenal well and projects as a third starter type who forces a lot of groundballs. Rodgers is another impressive college talent for the Padres and gives them a safe bet to be a major league contributor among some of the upside picks they selected in their earlier selections.
The Pick: Brady Rodgers, RHP, Arizona State University
102nd Overall: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates showed flashes of greatness in 2012. But they have a lot of work to do to sustain that greatness. The Pirates realize that there’s an opportunity coming. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are gone. Zach Greinke and Lance Berkman among others could be gone after 2013. The time for the Pirates to take a true step forward and contend in the NL Central is approaching with alacrity. With their first three picks in this mock draft, the Pirates bucked their usual tendencies and went with three high school picks that could help them mightily in the future. With this pick, the Pirates should get a college player who could help them more quickly. A very intriguing prospect is Texas left-hander Hoby Milner.
Milner is a finesse lefty, but he could end up being more than that in the future. Milner is 6’2″, but just 165 pounds and could have quite a bit of projection remaining. Presently he ranges from 86-89 MPH with his fastball and touches 92. His fastball features natural late cutting actions down and in to right-handed batters, making it extremely hard to elevate, and it could be a plus pitch that forces swings-and-misses if it gets an uptick in velocity. Milner does have to work on locating it more effectively down in the zone. His second pitch is a 1-to-7 curveball that’s loopy at times but at its best featured sharp break, and he also throws a changeup with some run and sink. Milner has to improve his command, but if he gains velocity and gets more consistent with his curveball, who knows who far his arsenal will take him?
The Pick: Hoby Milner, LHP, University of Texas
103rd Overall: Miami Marlins
The Marlins had an enormous offseason, signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell, and those signing have changed the course of their ballclub. They also limited the Marlins draft picks, making this just their second pick thus far (they kept their first round pick because their pick was too early for them to forfeit it). The Marlins made their first pick count, selecting the enormously talented Chris Beck (who struggled to begin the 2012 season but has since gotten back on track and I stil wouldn’t be surprised to see him selected in the top 10) who could be in the big leagues before long, but with this selection, look for the Marlins to take a step back and go with a high school upside pick. A prospect who makes sense is Rockwall High School SS/OF Spencer Edwards.
Edwards is a two-sport star who excels in both baseball and football. Incredibly athletic at 6’0″, 180, Edwards is raw in all facets of the game, but if he puts his focus exclusively on baseball, he could be an excellent player. Edwards has 4.40 speed in the 40 yard dash that translates on the basepaths and out of the batter’s box. He moves extremely well at shortstop (although his ability to cover ground could possibly be put to better use in centerfield) and he has the great arm a shortstop needs. Hitting is the most raw part of Edwards’ game, but he has shown nice bat speed with power. Edwards also happens to be apparently a little more signable than some of these other two-sport players, although he’ll likely end up with a two-sport bonus nevertheless. Edwards has the upside that captivates teams, and he has the ability to be an excellent baseball player if he can dedicate himself to baseball and develop his tools.
The Pick: Spencer Edwards, SS/OF, Rockwall High School, TX
104th Overall: Colorado Rockies
How funny would it be for the same player to be selected by the same team in the same round two years in a row? After Miami catcher Peter O’Brien (then of Bethune-Cookman) turned down the Rockies in the third round of the 2011 draft, the Rockies still need help at the catcher position, and at least in this mock draft, O’Brien is still available (he’s been playing very well for Miami so he’s a candidate to move up in the next S2S mock). But another interesting catcher prospect for the Rockies to consider is Riverside Poly High School catcher RJ Ybarra. Let’s compare these two players and try to determine who the Rockies should take.
O’Brien, 6’3″ and 215 pounds, is a senior now and he’s going to sign for less than a usual player with his talent because of his lack of leverage. O’Brien stands out for his outstanding power with a strong uppercut swing. His swing is a little long and that will lead to strikeouts moving forward, but he laces balls when he makes contact. He has really improved his plate discipline this year, but it’s still just a tick above-average. Defensively, O’Brien has a slightly below-average arm for a catcher but great accuracy, and he moves well behind the plate, although he still needs quite a bit of work on blocking balls in the dirt. O’Brien projects as a power-hitting catcher who will hit for a decent average and play solid defense.
Ybarra has much worse size than O’Brien at 5’11″, 200, but his tools may be better. Ybarra mirrors O’Brien in the batter’s box as he possesses deceptive yet impressive power for his size and makes hard contact consistently, but he’s also a player who will strike out a lot, maybe even more than O’Brien, and he needs work on discipline. But defensively, Ybarra is significantly better. He has a great arm and looks comfortable behind the plate, although he is inexperienced at the catcher position even though it’s his natural position because his high school team has needed him elsewhere. He needs work at blocking balls in the dirt and to smooth out his motions, but with time he could be an above-average defensive catcher.
So which player fits better? O’Brien is the better hitting prospect of the two at this point while Ybarra has the defensive edge. I think that there’s a chance O’Brien needs to move to first base, and considering the Rockies already selected Victor Roache in the supplemental first round of this mock draft. Ybarra has to be the pick.
The Pick: RJ Ybarra, C, Riverside Poly High School, CA
105th Overall: Oakland A’s
The Oakland A’s are a completely new cast of characters. After trading away Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey for a huge haul of prospects, the A’s completely refurbished their farm system, and the draft will do so even more. Thus far in our S2S mock, the A’s have drafted five college players, but all interesting ones, and it makes sense for them to go with their second pitcher here.
D.J. Baxendale is another one of these pitchers who is a finesse pitchers who might gain velocity moving forward. 6’2″ and 180 pounds, Baxendale’s fastball ranges from 89-92 MPH with good run away from right-handed batters and he commands it well to both sides of the plate. Baxendale complements his arsenal with a barrange of secondary pitches, a changeup, a curveball, a slider, and a cutter. Baxendale’s changeup looks like his fastball out of his hand but then features more sink. His curveball is a big 11-to-5 breaker that’s a big change of pace from his other pitches but too often looks loopy. His slider features nice downward movement but breaks too early to be consistently effective, but the cutter that Baxendale has started using as a spin-off of his slider by throwing it with more velocity has featured later movement and still had the nice cut. Baxendale’s cutter has clearly become his best secondary pitch and with time it could be his best pitch overall as it forces strikeouts and weak contact. Baxendale has nice polish but could use work on his secondary pitches and on bulking up so he can gain some velocity. He probably has third starter upside, something not so exciting, but something you definitely can’t disregard.
The Pick: D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Arkansas
106th Overall: New York Mets
The New York Mets are in a pretty desperate situation in an NL East where everyone else is several strides ahead. They have to drill it into their heads that it’s time for them to rebuild. They have to take risks- but not in the free agent market, but in the draft. They have to go for upside in the draft. They can’t draft safely and conservatively. In this mock, I have the Mets drafting three high school upside picks in this mock before finally going with a college selection with their second first round pick. Here, they go back to upside.
Carson Fulmer is one of the biggest risk-reward picks in this year’s draft. Fulmer hits the mid-90′s with his fastball with sink and nice late run, which he commands as well as any prep pitcher in this year’s draft. His secondary pitches are are mid-70′s spike curveball that flashes plus along with a changeup with nice sink. The problems for him as a right-handed pitcher are his size as he’s just 6’1″, 185, and even though Fulmer has shown excellent command and control, his delivery raises tons of red flags as he crossfires and seemingly puts pressure on his shoulder. Fulmer has nice upside, but whatever teams drafts him will strongly consider trying to smooth out his delivery. Nevertheless, he has great pure stuff and at this point in the draft, he’s worth the risk.
The Pick: Carson Fulmer, RHP, All Saints Academy, FL
107th Overall: Chicago White Sox
No one is completely sure what Kenny Williams and the Chicago White Sox are thinking. No matter what they’re doing though, they must have realized by now that they can’t be as conservative in the draft as they have been in recent years. With their first pick in this mock draft, I had them selecting big prep right-hander Walker Weickel, and I also had them going with prep shortstop Jesmuel Valentin Diaz in the second round (with college pick LHP Andrew Hearney in between). Here, I expect them to go back to selecting college players, but maybe they could shake things up a bit and go for a college player with more upside. Two players possibly on the White Sox’ radar are Georgia Tech right-hander Buck Farmer and Mark Appel’s teammate, Stanford lefty Brett Mooneyham.
Farmer, filled out at 6’3″, 221, has a frustrating combination of polish and issues. Farmer has an appealing four-pitch arsenal: a fastball, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. Farmer’s fastball hits the low-90′s and touches 94 with sink and a little late run away from right-handed batters. His changeup parallels his fastball movement but with better speed. Among his two breaking pitches, his curve has 11-to-5 break with solid depth and provides a nice change of pace from his other pitches while his slider has nice bite but he releases it from a slightly different release point than his fastball, limiting its effectiveness.Farmer controls all his pitches well although he has occasionally had problems with command within the zone. Compounding his problems is that he doesn’t have great character and has fell apart under pressure in the Cape Code League this past season. But he still has a nice four pitch arsenal and has 3rd starter upside.
Mooneyham, 6’5″ and 235 pounds, might be the most mystifying prospect in this year’s draft. Mooneyham missed all of 2011 following surgery on the middle finger of his left, pitching hand and his velocity hasn’t been the same since. A player that could consistently hit 94 MPH in the past, Mooneyham tops out at 92 MPH these days. His fastball has some run in towards righty batters along with nice late sink. Mooneyham complements his fastball with a changeup with excellent sink and a slider that at its best looks like his fastball out of his hand before showing great late tilt. Mooneyham has great stuff even with his fastball velocity lower, and his big problems have always been control and command, but with his velocity a little bit lower and his slider with a little less break, his control has been a little better and that could be a positive. Mooneyham has questions surrounding him, but he has nice upside even as a senior (redshirt junior), and the fact that he won’t sign for much money makes him even more like a White Sox selection. The White Sox like safer picks, but Mooneyham is a risk worth taking for them.
The Pick: Brett Mooneyham, LHP, University of Stanford
108th Overall: Cincinnati Reds
It tells you something when the Reds had to trade a couple of the most highly-regarded prospects in baseball, Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal, and more to get a topflight starting pitcher in Mat Latos. The Reds have some impressive starting depth in the major leagues, but even with Latos, they lack the type of ace-type starting pitching that can make them a consistent powerhouse in the NL Central. The Reds need some pitchers with that ace upside. They’re starting to do that, drafting prep right-hander Robert Stephenson in the first round in 2011. But so many prep pitchers flame out, and even if Stephenson does succeed (as the Reds are optimistic he will do), he isn’t enough. Here in the third round, it makes sense for the Reds to take a shot at another ace upside prep starter.
There are some common refrains for criticism for major leagues pitchers or prospects. One of them is “his fastball is straight (and hittable).” Straight fastballs are a worry because when hitters are used to trying to make solid contact on pitches with three-dimensional movement and you give them a two-dimensional pitch (only moving towards them and down towards the ground), it’s much easier for them to handle. But it’s something different when that’s your concern regarding an amateur player. Jamie Callahan is not about to pitch in the big leagues, but with the right adjustments to his fastball, he could be an impressive major league pitcher. Callahan, 6’2″ and 190 pounds, throws in the 89-92 MPH range with his fastball which features pretty good sink thanks to the nice downward plane he gets on it, but very little horizontal run. But his offspeed pitches are impressive for a prep product. Callahan throws two or three secondary pitches depending on who you ask. He throws a nice changeup in the 80-82 range with nice late sink, but when he takes something off it and throws it around 77, it has much sharper late break and has been called a slider. His change/slider has probably been his best pitch as a prep pitcher because it’s very difficult to put into play, although Callahan does need some work throwing it for a strike more rather than using it as a chase pitch. Callahan sells it well with his arm action, but he’s not getting quite as many swings and misses as he would like because it would be a better pitch if he could set it up more efficiently with his fastball. Callahan’s other offspeed pitch is an 11-t0-5 curveball in the low-70′s that features nice depth. Callahan locates his pitches pretty well, but the big issue remains the movement (or lack thereof) on his fastball. Callahan’s lack of fastball movement scares scouts away a little bit, but he has nice upside and if the Reds think they can fix his problems, here’s the type of pitcher they could go for at this point in the draft.
The Pick: Jamie Callahan, RHP, Hamer High School, SC
109th Overall: Cleveland Indians
College two-way players drive you insane. What position will they play as a pro? Are they better at one compared to the other? Are they not really so impressive but we overrate them because they play multiple positions? Austin Maddox is not even the only two-way player on his team, joining Brian Johnson, who I had going to the Brewers in this mock’s first round. But he’s a prospect worth watching and could possibly fill a couple of different holes for the Indians, who have needs at starting pitcher at first base.
Maddox, 6’3″ and 220 pounds, has done a lot of things for the Florida Gators during his time in Gainesville. He has played third base, first base, and pitcher. Whether Maddox is a better prospect as an infielder or a pitcher is still up for debate. From the mound, Maddox consistently hits the 92-95 MPH range with impressive late sink, and he also mixes in a nice 11-t0-5 curveball with sharp break and a changeup. Maddox controls all three of his pitches well down in the zone. Maddux has worked exclusively in relief at Florida, but he has the repertoire and likely the stamina to start if he’s converted exclusively to the mound, although that may come with somewhat of a downtick in his stuff. As a hitter, Maddux has a short stride and good bat speed with nice lift in his swing, but his inexperience as a hitter shows as he lacks patience and struggles to recognize which pitches he should drive. Defensively, Maddux has the athleticism necessary to play third base and he makes full use of his arm. He could be a tick above-average defender at third base if the team that drafts him decides to go that route. Maddux was a high school catcher who showed some nice ability defensively, and if a team really likes his bat, they might try him back at the catcher position. Maddux is a versatile prospect with questions in several divergent parts of his game, but he could definitely be a productive player at some position. The big question is where.
The Pick: Austin Maddox, P/CI, University of Florida
110th Overall: Washington Nationals
The Nationals have gotten lucky, having received the opportunities to take two once-in-a-lifetime players in consecutive drafts, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. But this year, their first pick is just 16th overall. Will the Nationals be able to make another splash? In this mock draft, I have the Nationals drafted pretty conservatively, going for a couple of college players. But this is a spot where they’ll shoot for upside. A possible fit is the aforementioned D’Vone McClure, who we mentioned back at 98th Overall as a possibility for the Nationals’ in-state rival Baltimore Orioles. The Nats have some excellent upside in the outfield, with Harper and Brian Goodwin raising eyebrows (especially Harper, but don’t disregard Goodwin). But talented players will force themselves onto rosters no matter where they play and McClure has enticing upside. To sum up what I said earlier, McClure is a raw athlete but one with impressive bat speed and above-average raw power who adds into the equation speed and excellent range in centerfield. In the third round, he’s definitely a worthwhile risk, and the type of gamble that could pay off big-time for whichever team drafts him. The Blue Jays (who hold the next pick) will be dismayed if the Nationals draft McClure here, but the Nats couldn’t honestly care less.
The Pick: D’Vone McClure, OF, Jacksonville High School, AR
111th Overall: Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the teams hurt more by the stipulations in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement that enforce penalties for going to far above the slot bonus recommendations set by Major League Baseball’s governing body. With that in mind, I have them selecting only four high-upside high schoolers with their first six picks of the draft. But what will they do here in the third round?
There’s a talent on the board that’s just waiting to be taken, but he could very well be unsignable, and even if he does have a somewhat realistic number in mind, would you as a team potentially drafting him be willing to draft players who will be more likely to sign for slot in order to get this guy signed? The player we’re talking about here is someone you may be extremely familiar with if you’ve been following college football recruiting: Jameis Winston. Winston, a 6’4″, 208 quarterback who is committed to Florida State, possesses uncanny athletic ability, able to constantly turn busted plays into game-changers using both his arm and legs. But Winston is just as impressive if not more on the baseball diamond. Winston can do it all. A switch-hitter, Winston shows great bat speed with power from both sides of the plate, although he’s understandably lacking in plate discipline, and he makes the most of his 4.40 speed on the basepaths and in the field. Winston glides in centerfield and also plays shortstop, where his actions aren’t great but his pure athleticism makes him more than passable. Winston’s great arm comes into play both in the outfield and at short, and also on the mound, where he’s also a noteworthy prospect. Winston throws in the low-90′s with his fastball, which has excellent natural late cutting action, and he also throws a sharp spike curveball in the 70′s along with a good changeup. Even though he has a nice arsenal of pitches for a prep product, it doesn’t make any sense to put as explosive of an athlete as Winston at pitcher. Winston has stated in the past that he wants to play both football and baseball professionally. Winston chose Florida State at least partially because they would also allow him to play on their baseball team. Is Winston at all signable? I would say yes, especially considering he can sign a contract with a team that would allow him to play football at FSU (although his signing bonus in that case would be spread out over multiple seasons). But exactly what number Winston has in mind is anybody’s guess. The only reason Winston slipped this far in this mock draft is his signability. By talent alone, he’s a first round talent, supplemental first at the worst.
It will likely be a situation where the team that drafts Winston will have to be more conservative the rest of their selection to accomodate the 3 or 4 million dollar bonus that he’ll look for to sign. Will a team be willing to do that? The Blue Jays, like the other 29 times, are ecstatic about Winston’s incredible upside, but they’re not going to risk their entire draft on one player. We saw that last year when they were unable to sign Tyler Beede, now at Vanderbilt, but still came away with an impressive draft class. The Blue Jays are not the team that will draft Winston.
So we just spent 502 words on a non-draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. In which direction will they actually go? A more conventional high school upside pick is Lakewood High School right-hander pitcher Shane Watson. Watson, a projectable 6’4″, 200, throws a fastball in the low-90′s that tops out at 93 at this point with sink and great late run. It has such nice movement that Watson has gone through occasional fits locating it for strikes. Watson complements it with a high-70′s slider from the same arm slot that’s nasty and force swings-and-misses when Watson can sell it. Watson’s changeup remains a work-in-progress. Watson has dropped this far in this mock draft because of a delivery that makes evaluators wince. He crossfires a little bit in his delivery, which adds deception but also messes with his control, but the bigger issue is a hitch in his delivery that puts a lot of pressure on his right leg and left knee. But with Watson’s stuff, you worry about the delivery after you draft him, especially down here in the third round. Watson may not be nearly as exciting as Winston, but he has nice potential in his own right and is a vintage Blue Jays draft pick.
The Pick: Shane Watson, RHP, Lakewood High School, CA
112th Overall: Los Angeles Dodgers
After three straight high school picks and four of the previous five, the Dodgers will stabilize this mock draft a little bit with a college pick here. The Dodgers have drafted a college or JC player in the third round the last four years, and after going with prep players for their first three selections in this mock, it makes sense for their streak to reach five years. The Dodgers have worked hard the past two drafts on building starting pitching depth in their organization, but they still need help and a third round college pitcher seems like a probable outcome.
A pitcher we talked about above is Buck Farmer, who features a nice four-pitch arsenal, but I don’t think he has the type of upside the Dodgers want to go for with this selection, even as a college pick. The Dodgers aren’t afraid to go with more raw college talents, as they did in the third round in 2010 with Leon Landry out of LSU, so that route makes sense here as well. A pitcher who’s a possible fit is Wake Forest’s Tim Cooney, who is similar to Farmer in a couple respects but has a few notable advantages: 1) he’s a projectable 6’3″, 195 2) he’s a lefty and 3) he doesn’t have any known integrity issues. Cooney reaches 90-92 MPH with his fastball, up from the high-80′s just a few months ago, and it features great sink and dynamic late run towards right-handed batters. Cooney has lost some command and control since the recent uptick in velocity, but his control was great not long ago and it should get back to where it was before. His fastball command has been somewhat of an issue, but that’s more because of his fastball’s great movement than anything else. Cooney’s top secondary pitch is a 1-to-7 curveball with sharp break, and he also tosses a mid-70′s changeup with sink that has a crazy speed differential with his fastball. Cooney has a nice all-around arsenal with more velocity and hopefully significant improvement still to come, and he could be the type of college upside pick that the Dodgers go for with this pick.
The Pick: Tim Cooney, LHP, Wake Forest
113th Overall: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
If you read my previous three mock draft posts (which I’ll link to at the end of this one), one team was noticeably absent: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who signed a couple of unknown players named Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to small, inconsequential contracts. Those two contracts cost the Angels their first and second round picks, so this pick at 114th overall is their first selection. They better make it count.
Currently in this mock draft, we have a few players floating, meaning I’ve discussed them but haven’t had them selected yet. The one that interests the Angels is Miami catcher Peter O’Brien. Hank Conger was supposed to be the Angels’ catcher of the future, but he’s dealt with injuries and simply hasn’t blossomed into the player the Angels thought he would be. The Angels traded for Chris Iannetta to be their catcher of the present, but he’ll turn 29 in April and likely isn’t their catcher of the future. So with this pick, the Angels could decide to go for a catcher. O’Brien, who we discussed at 104th Overall, is a power-hitting catcher prospect who may be prone to strikeouts in the future but makes hard contact and shows nice ability behind the plate, although he still needs significant defensive work. O’Brien is a fit for the Angels here, but let’s compare him with another catcher prospect, Highland Park High School catcher Jason Goldstein.
Jason Goldstein, 6’0″ and 190 pounds, has nice all-around ability if not sky-high upside as a prep catching process. At the plate, Goldstein shows nice bat speed with a short path the ball, and he hits the ball hard with good, not great raw power. He has interestingly shown significant power to right-center as a right-handed hitter. Goldstein needs work on his discipline, both in terms of taking pitches and in terms of over-swinging. Goldstein has at times gotten frustrated with his lack of outstanding raw power, and his swing gets long as he overcompensates. Defensively though, Goldstein wows evaluators. He shows silky smooth actions behind the plate with super-quick transfers between glove and hand on stolen base attempts, and he’s above-average at the intricacies of the catcher position, such as blocking balls, for a perp product. Goldstein’s arm strength grades as average, but it plays up thanks to his great transfer and nice accuracy. Goldstein looks to be an above-average defensive catcher moving forward. Goldstein is a thought-provoking prospect, especially because of his defensive tools, and he could provide the Angels with a player with the upside of an above-average major league catcher, something they need right now.
The disclaimer with O’Brien remains that he’s no guarantee to stay at catcher. The Angels are absolutely loaded at first base, with Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo able to capably (OK, a little more than capably) play the position, and a first base prospect is essentially a trade chip and nothing more for them right now. O’Brien may have less risk than Goldstein with the bat, but his defense is no where near as good. Especially considering this is the Angels’ first pick of the entire draft, Goldstein makes more sense here.
The Pick: Jason Goldstein, Highland Park High School, Illinois
114th Overall: San Francisco Giants
Some things in the baseball draft don’t seem to make any sense. How could the pitching-heavy Giants possibly go with pitchers with both their first and second round picks in this mock draft and not look like complete idiots? In any event, this pick will not be a pitcher. The Giants don’t have a need at third base either, but a player that makes sense for the Giants with this pick is Sandusky High School third baseman Xavier Turner.
Turner, 6’2″ and 210 pounds, possesses incredible athleticism that he also utilizes to play basketball, but his future is on the baseball diamond. Turner shows nice bat speed with a quick path to the ball, and he’s good at making contact and hitting line drives to all fields. Turner has some raw power that he isn’t tapped into much in games, possibly because he’s not tall enough in his stance and sacrifices some lower-body leverage because of that. On the basepaths, Turner has slightly above-average speed with good instincts, and his speed also plays at third base, where he has nice range and a true third baseman’s arm. Turner should be at least a tick above-average defensive third baseman moving forward. Turner really has only one impressive tool in his hit tool and little projection, but his nice all-around game and possible power upside with a stance adjustment makes him an appealing prospect.
The Pick: Xavier Turner, 3B, Sandusky High School, OH
115th Overall: Atlanta Braves
In the history of the MLB Draft, the Atlanta Braves have never drafted a high school third baseman in the third round. With Chipper Jones arriving at the twilight of his career, it makes sense for them to buck that trend now. Could David Thompson be Chipper’s long-term replacement?
Thompson, a 6’1″, 195 third baseman out of Westminster Christian High School in Miami, has already set off fireworks as a prep player. As a junior at Westminster Christian, Thompson set the Florida high school record for most home runs. Now he’s just building on his achievement. But Thompson is more than numbers. Thompson has an unorthodox, almost Evan Longoria-esque batting stance, standing straight up in the back of the batters box before striding into an open stance. It works. Thompson shows great bat speed with outstanding lift in his swing, and his home runs are no fluke. Thompson lacks projection, but his present power is well above-average and he could be a 35 homer threat in the big leagues if he can get the other parts of his game right. At his best, Thompson drills line drives all over the field and only drives pitches he can handle, but he gets into trouble when he becomes overzealous and gets under balls, leading to routine flyouts. When everything is right in Thompson’s approach at the plate, he looks like a future superstar. Defensively, Thompson moves well at third base and features an above-average arm, although he needs to work on smoothing out his motions. David Thompson has a lot of things he needs to work on perfecting, but the final product could be well worth the Braves’ while. The Braves love drafting college players that will sign for slot. This pick will have to be an exception.
The Pick: David Thompson, 3B, Westminster Christian High School, FL
116th Overall: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are not traditionally an aggressive team in the early rounds of the draft, but addition picks from the Albert Pujols (and others) departure gives them the opportunity to draft for upside this year. I have them selecting high school players with two of their first two picks plus a higher-upside college player in Virginia shortstop Chris Taylor. That may not be a lot, but it’s a lot for the Cardinals. Look for them to go for upside here as well.
Vahn Bozoian doesn’t have the speed to handle centerfield, but otherwise he’s an extremely alluring upside outfield prospect. Bozoian, a big guy at 6’5″, 210, has shown above-average raw power but his swing concerns scouts as it gets long at times. However, it does take a relatively short path to the ball and when Bozoian connects, he hits the ball hard to all fields. Defensively in right field, Bozoian really shines. He makes good reads and really stands out with his true plus-plus right fielder’s arm that instills fills in runners who want to take extra-bases against him. Bozoian is a four-tool prospect at best and his hit tool is questionable, but he still has considerable upside and in the third round is the type of risk-reward pick teams like to go for.
The Pick: Vahn Bozoian, OF, Ayala High School, CA
117th Overall: Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are another team that loves drafting for upside, and Jameis Winston is a player they’ll give a long look to at this spot. But even in this mock draft, they’ve already drafted three high school players in their first four picks. This may be a situation with Winston where you see a usually hyperaggressive team in the draft select players more conservatively and that will be the hint that they’ll draft Winston. I don’t think the Red Sox will pull back from their usual draft strategy just to draft Winston.
This becomes a comparison between a couple of high school arms: Ryan McNeil and Chase De Jong. McNeil, 6’3″ and 215 pounds, is kind of like the third round version of the player I had selecting with their first pick in this mock draft, Luke Sims. McNeil ranges from 90-93 with his fastball with run away from right-handed batters and nice late sink. McNeil is filled out, so his fastball may not gain much velocity moving forward. His secondary pitches are a curveball, which at its best has sharp 11-to-5 spike break, and a changeup with sink that he still needs to work on. McNeil controls and commands his fastball and breaking ball well to both sides of the zone. McNeil needs work to solidify his curve and changeup, but he’s a relatively polished high school product with number three starter upside at this point.
It is exceedingly funny to compare McNeil to De Jong. McNeil has little to no projection. De Jong is just scratching the surface, coming in at 6’5″, 190. But he trades that projection for much less polish. De Jong’s fastball tops out at just 91 MPH at this point and it’s straight, featuring even slight horizontal run only occasionally. His breaking ball sometimes features sharp late 11-to-5 break, but other times it looks loopy and hangs up in the zone. He does throw a nice changeup for a prep product with arm action that mirrors his fastball. McNeil gets a nice downward plane on his pitches and has solid control, although his command needs work. De Jong has a high ceiling but also a ton of risk, and that’s what gets him down to this point in the third round.
I think that De Jong gets the nod here. McNeil is just way too similar to Luke Sims and doesn’t have anywhere near De Jong’s upside. De Jong is a worthwhile risk for the Red Sox at this point in the draft.
The Pick: Chase De Jong, RHP, Woodrow Wilson High School, CA
118th Overall: Tampa Bay Rays
Do the Rays need any more pitching? They’ll tell you yes. With this pick, they’ll go for yet another high-upside prep pitcher, hoping that he could be a productive starter or more for them someday. David Price and Jeff Niemann were top 5 picks by the Rays, but Wade Davis was a 3rd rounder, Jeremy Hellickson was a 4th rounder, Matt Moore was an 8th round pick, and some guy named James Shields was drafted down in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB Draft. The Rays have an excellent record drafting pitchers and turning them into franchise cornerstones. Will the player they select here be next?
By stuff alone, there’s no way Clate Thomas would have lasted this long into the draft. Thomas, who has a solid 6’2″, 180 frame, hits 96 MPH with his fastball with sink and late run. At its best, Thomas’ fastball looks plus-plus and completely unhittable. If that isn’t enough for opposing hitters to deal with, Thomas features an 11-to-5 curveball with tantalizing late break. Thomas’ change is non-existent, but based on those two pitches, he seems like a first round pick, maybe supplemental first at the worst. How have I not even mentioned him until way down here at 118th Overall? The answer: his delivery. Thomas features a crossfire delivery that adds deception but also puts significant pressure on his shoulder and elbow. Thomas may have the stuff to start, but his delivery could push him to the bullpen. But if the team that drafts Thomas can smooth out his delivery a little bit and teach him a changeup, he could be one heck of a pitcher. The Rays are a team willing and able to take that chance.
(For what it’s worth, Thomas has a good failsafe as a baseball player as an infielder. Thomas has incredible athleticism and is extremely smooth in his actions at shortstop, and of course his arm strength is superlative. Thomas features legitimate speed that makes him a stolen base threat if he remains a position player (and maybe enough to cause a heart attack or two as a pitcher). With the bat, Thomas features little power, but he has a nice line drive swing and could hit for a solid average. But Thomas’ future is undoubtedly on the mound, and a team like the Rays will be excited to see what he can do.)
The Pick: Clate Thomas, RHP, Allatoona High School, GA
119th Overall: Arizona Diamondbacks
With Miguel Montero entering the final year of his contract, the Diamondbacks need some insurance at the catcher position. Maybe Peter O’Brien (see 104th Overall) isn’t the best fit for that role because his defense is somewhat questionable, but he has a nice bat with power and he could be a passable, even good, overall big league catcher in three years. The D-backs would love to get a talented college catcher here in the third round, and O’Brien is a nice fit.
The Pick: Peter O’Brien, C, University of Miami
120th Overall: Detroit Tigers
The Tigers have historically been a time that has selected college players early in the draft. It may be time for them to change that after seeing the success of Nick Castellanos with a supplemental first round pick in 2010 and after the failure of their more conservative college picks the past few years. I had them going with a prep player in middle infielder Mikey White with their first pick in this mock, which came at 90th Overall in the second round thanks to the Prince Fielder signing, and I’ll have them taking another one here. The question is who.
The Tigers could use a high-upside pitching prospect as they have depth but much upside among the pitchers in their systems. They also could use another upside outfield prospect as well since their current outfield prospects come with quite a bit of risk. Here, we’ll compare three prep players: RHP Ryan Burr, LHP Austin Fairchild, and OF Tyrone Taylor.
Burr, 6’4″ and 215 pounds, is another one of these guys with electric stuff but a scary delivery. Burr, who does have projection remaining, ranges from 90-93 with his fastball, with nice a nice downward plane that leads to sink along with late run, and he mixes in a sharp 11-to-5 curveball from the same arm slot that consistently flashes plus. But his delivery instills fear in not only opposing hitters, but also scouts. He brings his arm back behind the back in the middle of his delivery before delivering over the top. His delivery gets him deception along with sink, but he looks like he could seriously injure his shoulder or elbow on any pitch, and it also throws off his control. When everything is smoothed out, Burr could be an impressive pitcher. But is he worth the injury risk?
Fairchild, meanwhile, is a projectable 6’1″, 175 lefty with impressive stuff, but once again, delivery issues. Fairchild tosses a fastball in the 91-93 range at this point with nice run in turns right-handed batters, and he complements it with a very interesting curveball. Fairchild’s curveball has been all over the place, ranging from 12-to-6 to 1-to-7 break, and it flashes plus when he gets on top of it more. One of the reasons it’s been inconsistent is his delivery. Fairchild is another one of these “crossfirers” who gets deception and it throws off his command, but he has been able to stay around the zone most of the time. Fairchild has some effort in his delivery, but he doesn’t incite quite as much worry as Burr and Thomas. Fairchild needs to fill out, develop a changeup, and get by his delivery concerns but he’s a nice prospect.
It doesn’t make any sense to classify Tyrone Taylor is safe, but in the context of Burr and Fairchild, that’s exactly what he is. 6’2″ and 180 pounds, Taylor has four potential above-average tools. Taylor has a little of movement in his stance, but when he’s right shows nice bat speed and sprays line drives from gap to gap. Taylor is sometimes unbalanced when he swings, something he’ll have to fix, and he needs work on his patience. Taylor could develop some more power, but that’s not happening right now. Taylor’s other tools are more safe. Taylor has blazing speed and will be a 30-35 stolen base threat, and utilizes his speed extremely well in centerfield as he covers a ton of ground and takes great paths to the ball. He also has an above-average outfielder’s arm, especially good for a centerfielder. Best-case scenario, Taylor has four plus tools and grades as a tick above-average in the power department. He’s an outstanding athlete with nice offensive upside.
This is a very interesting three-way debate. Burr has the best upside, Taylor is the safest pick, and Fairchild has the best balance of ceiling and floor. Starting pitcher is a bigger need for the Tigers than outfielder, so they will really be leaning towards a pitcher. I think Fairchild has to be the pick here because Burr’s delivery is simply spine-chilling.
The Pick: Austin Fairchild, LHP, St. Thomas High School, TX
121th Overall: Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers draft strategy can drive you insane. After three high school upside picks in their first four picks, this pick is going to be an exponentially more safer college pick. A nice fit is Purdue catcher Kevin Plawecki.
Plawecki, 6’1″ and 200 pounds, doesn’t have standout tools but is an all-out baseball player who makes the most of his ability. Plawecki has a compact swing that’s conductive of line drives, although he has gap power at best. He’s a very pesky hitter who’s a challenge to strike out, although he doesn’t have great plate discipline. Plawecki also has average overall speed, impressive for a catcher, and he’s not afraid to take extra bases when he sees opportunities. Defensively, Plawecki moves well behind the plate and does a lot of the little things well, and even though he has an average arm, he has very good accuracy. Plawecki has a chance to be a slightly above-average big league catcher thanks to his abilities and all-around hustle and his floor is probably a big league backup catcher who sees time at other positions.
The Pick: Kevin Plawecki, C, Purdue University
122nd Overall: Texas Rangers
The Rangers will also consider Winston, but they’ll pass on him as well. They already got their quarterback in this mock draft, Southern Miss recruit Anthony Alford. The Rangers are the type of team that could take a chance on a player like Ryan Burr. The Rangers have tons of picks and a multiplicity of upside in their system, and if they can make his delivery more fluid, he could end up as an excellent major league starting pitcher. He’s a pick that comes with tons of risk, but the reward could be an elite talent.
The Pick: Ryan Burr, Highlands Ranch High School, CO
123rd Overall: New York Yankees
If there’s any team that will bite on Jameis Winston in the third round, it’s the New York Yankees. The Yankees have drafted an elite quarterback before (some guy named John Elway), and they have the funds to take a risk on Winston knowing that the reward could be unbelievable. I have the Yankees drafting high school players with two of their three picks prior to this pick because that’s there usual strategy, but any deviation from that strategy could be a tell that the Yankees will go for Winston with this pick. The Yankees aren’t afraid to go after their guy even when outside evaluators chastise them for it. People didn’t like the picks of Slade Heathcott, Cito Culver and Dante Bichette in recent drafts, and the Yankees could not care any less. I could see the Yankees making a couple of slight overdrafts that they like more than other teams with their first couple picks and sign them for below-slot bonuses, and then go for Winston and see what it will take to sign him. Winston will assuredly sign a two-sport deal even if he signs, and the Yankees don’t care about the money as long as their total bonus end up close enough to MLB’s recommended slot bonuses.
The Pick: Jameis Winston, OF/RHP, Hueytown High School, AL
124th Overall: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have to smiling. They let Ryan Madson go, he needs Tommy John surgery. They sign Jonathan Papelbon and still have two picks before the second round. That gives them some flexibility with this pick. I could see them making a safer pick that could help their big league club after a couple of upside selections earlier. An interesting choice would be Buck Farmer, who could be a third starter in the big leagues before too long if he can make some minor adjustments, including to his attitude (see 107th Overall). The Phillies are getting old, and they have oodles of risk in their system. A safer pick might be exactly what they need. The Phillies’ rotation is entering a time of transition. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are aging. Cole Hamels could be out the door following this season. The Phillies need some starting pitcher insurance, and Farmer can provide that. Farmer won’t be an exciting pick, but not every pick should be exciting. Farmer has the ability to be a productive middle-of-the-rotation option in the major leagues, and that’s something teams appreciate.
The Pick: Buck Farmer, RHP, Georgia Tech University
This is a lot. The MLB Draft makes up for its lack of recognition with its sheer magnitude, ranging 50 rounds. It seems crazy to keep this going. But it’s worth it. Even if this mock draft is completely wrong, at the very least we’re learning about some of the players who will compose the future of Major League Baseball. I hope your enjoyed reading.
Topics: 2012 Draft, Austin Fairchild, Austin Maddux, Brady Rodgers, Brett Mooneyham, Buck Farmer, Carson Fulmer, Chase De Jong, Clate Thomas, D'Vone McClure, D.J. Baxendale, Daniel Starwalt, David Thompson, Hoby Milner, Jameis Winston, Jamie Callahan, Jason Goldstein, Joe DeCarlo, Josh Elander, Kevin Plawecki, Mitch Haniger, Mitch Nay, Peter O'Brien, RJ Ybarra, Ryan Burr, Shane Watson, Spencer Edwards, Taylore Cherry, Tim Cooney, Vahn Bozoian, Xavier Turner