The 2016 MLB Draft is only days away, so it's time to break down what we might be able to expect from the first round and compensation selections in the HERO Sports MLB Mock Draft.
The MLB Draft is arguably the most anti-climactic draft of the four major sports, as most of the players selected won't even sniff the majors for the next three-to-five years, if ever. This makes the jobs of general managers and scouting directors even more difficult, as they search down the guy they hope will be a future face of the franchise and start in the bigs.
The Philadelphia Phillies are on the clock as they prepare to make one young man’s dreams come true and turn him into the No. 1 overall pick. Let’s talk about who that young man might be.
Round 1, Pick 1: Philadelphia Phillies – AJ Puk, LHP, Florida
The Phillies were a mess in 2015, and need help in just about every area of the diamond (besides third base where they have Maikel Franco). With so many areas of need, and endless options, it would be tough to get this pick wrong. But I see the Phillies rolling with a gamble here — hoping their selection will pay off and turn into a front-of-the-rotation guy and become possibly their next Cole Hamels. With the first pick of the draft, the Phillies take A.J. Puk, LHP from Florida.
A 6-foot-7 left-handed pitcher with ace-potential, Puk had his ups-and-downs in college, and only had two victories during his 2016 campaign for the fifth-ranked Gators squad. But scouts love his delivery, power and high ceiling. The Phillies will be lucky to have him.
Round 1, Pick 2: Cincinnati Reds – Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee
The Reds are on the verge of a talent fire-sale, with names such as Votto, Bruce and Phillips possibly on their way out of town, much like former third baseman Todd Frazier. With that on the horizon, the Reds will need a hitter to build around, and Tennessee's Nick Senzel is the perfect guy for that purpose.
Senzel went undrafted his first time through the process, but exploded on the collegiate scene since then, leaving lots of scouts questioning why no one took this guy before. While Senzel will not provide a lot of power (15 homers max per-year), his bat is a great contact tool and he plays a decent third base as well. The Reds need a guy to lock down as their next great hitter, and they should grab him up here at number two.
Round 1, Pick 3: Atlanta Braves – Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer
As a Georgia boy myself, I would be astonished to see the Braves go in any direction other than Kyle Lewis from Mercer, because he checks off plenty of necessary items the Braves tend to lean towards in the draft. One, he is from Georgia, much like Jeff Francoeur, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Two, he is a hitter, and their farm system is stacked with pitchers now. Three, he is a power bat, and they need someone to hit the ball out of the yard.
The most important of those above traits is Lewis’ power. He smashed 17 long-balls this year, nearly as many as the Braves have it all season (21). Apples and oranges, no doubt, but still. The Braves are aiming for a quick turnaround from their paltry play, and Lewis will help accelerate that process if he is the selection.
Round 1, Pick 4: Colorado Rockies – Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat HS (NJ)
Year after year, we see high school pitchers go off the board early because of the potential upside they represent, and the long-term success they offer over college pitchers. After seeing a collegiate pitcher go first overall, the Rockies go after the highest-rated prep arm, and select Jason Groome from New Jersey.
Groome has had some troubles recently though, including a lengthy suspension after returning to Jersey after transferring from the IMG Academy in Florida. Also, his sign-ability may be a question, as rumors have him leaning towards a junior college deal, in case he is not able to sign with a big league team. Colorado would be taking a big gamble here, but if they sign him, then it will be a big reward.
Round 1, Pick 5: Milwaukee Brewers – Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon HS (CA)
Considered by many scouts to be the best high school bat this year, Moniak would be a gift to last this long as the Rockies have been very interested in him. But since the Rockies went for a big-time pitcher instead, the Brew Crew get a future stud.
Moniak is a pure five-tool player. His game is incredibly polished and he has plenty of room to grow. With any luck, Moniak will become the right fielder the Brewers have searched for singe Geoff Jenkins retired.
Round 1, Pick 6: Oakland Atheltics – Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
A projected draft-slide ends at pick six for this future Oakland star, as the A's would jump all over this pick if Corey Ray is still around. Once considered a top-three lock, he ends up at number six and a potential franchise rock.
The A’s are all about the Moneyball technique, and Ray is a great player in the analytical age of baseball. If the pitchers in the system continue to grow up and maybe a few “splashes” in free agency can occur, Ray will be a leader of a World Series contender one day.
Round 1, Pick 7: Miami Marlins – Matt Manning, RHP, Sheldon HS (CA)
Originally, this pick was going to be Delvin Perez, the Puerto Rican shortstop who failed a drug test as this article was being written. With an expected plummet of his draft stock, the Marlins turn their attention to one of the best high school arms, Matt Manning.
You hear the name Manning and immediately think he may have some athletic family lineage, and you would be right in this case. However, he is not of the Peyton Manning family, but the Rich Manning family, the former NBA player. This comes into play because Manning has a hard commitment for baseball AND basketball at Loyola Marymount, and his requested price to spurn that scholarship is close to $5 million. If the Marlins are willing to buck up that money, then they have their future number-two guy to put right next to Jose Fernandez.
Round 1, Pick 8: San Diego Padres – Cal Quantrill, RHP, Stanford
The Padres will be taking a big risk no matter who they draft, as some of the safer picks are no longer on the board. With risk in tow, the Padres might as well go big with their pick, as they have a couple more in the latter part of the first round due to compensation. With the first of their few selections in the MLB Draft first round, the friars take Cal Quantrill from Stanford.
This pick is so risky because Quantrill has not pitched in nearly two years thanks to Tommy John surgery. At one point thought of as the best player in this draft class, he has lost his momentum and now will need to prove himself to any team that takes him. San Diego just traded James Shields, and are in need of starters. Taking the local product makes too much sense to let the risk deter them.
Round 1, Pick 9: Detroit Tigers – Riley Pint, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (KS)
The Tigers for years have been built on dominating pitchers, harkening back to the days of Denny McClain, all the way to present times of Justin Verlander. But the Tigers have fallen off in recent years, and need to find the arm of the future once Verlander’s career is at its twilight. With the future in mind, the Tigers take Riley Pint, a prep arm from Kansas.
Pint is a hard thrower… a really hard thrower. Pint has been clocked at 101 MPH on his fastball, which is harder than most of the counterparts he will ever face in the Majors. Besides his heat though, a dangerous breaking stuff has him only a few years away from the show, instead of the nearly five it takes some high schoolers.
Round 1, Pick 10: Chicago White Sox – Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State
Another collegiate arm comes off the board here, as the White Sox find what could round out a “big three” on the mound in a few years with Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon. Dakota Hudson has all the tools needed to become a premier starter and give the Sox a premier rotation in two years.
Hudson’s biggest weapon is the ability to strike guys out, as he racked up 109 in 106.2 innings. If that trait can come into the big leagues as well, then having Sale and Hudson together on a staff will be near-torture for opposing lineups, as they may rarely get the ball in play.