By Eric Longenhagen
MLB amateur draft weekend has subsided, and the giddy prospect nerds like me get to justify countless miles driven and time spent away from our loved ones by writing a few sentences about mid-round selections from suburban northeast towns who probably won't even sign. Even if that's true, you deserve to know about them anyway.
What follows is some analysis of every team's draft, including a paragraph on their top pick, some highs and lows overall, and a sleeper I'd like you to know a little bit more about than you probably already do. And if I'm wrong about some of these projections? Well, you won't find out for a few years anyway.
About their top pick: For not having a pick on the first day of the draft, the Orioles did pretty well for themselves by selecting Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) lefty Brian Gonzalez. Gonzalez has an average fastball in the 88-92 mph range that features good downhill plane despite below-average height thanks to his arm angle. The changeup has above-average fade too, it but it's an easy ID out of Gonzalez's hand and plays down as a result. His sweeping curveball has some depth to it and could develop into an average offering. Baltimore might want to get him into shape and see if that extracts anything more from him. He could be a No. 4 starter, a fine outcome for a third round pick.
What they did that I liked: I like Notre Dame righty Pat Connaughton simply because his background is so much fun. Connaughton was second on the Fightin' Irish basketball team in scoring and can hum in the fastball at 95 mph, touching 98 mph this year. While the changeup is already fringe-average, Connaughton's curveball needs some serious work. The athletic background is there to promote optimism about his ability to learn some semblance of a breaking ball. His arm comes through very late and there's some violence to it, so he's a reliever-only prospect for me.
What they did that I didn't like: It's hard to have a good draft when you don't have a pick in the first 90 selections and then take four senior signs with your first 10 picks.
The sleeper: Brandon Bonilla is Bobby's son out of Grand Canyon University in Arizona, and he's also a lefty relief prospect who's been up to 97 mph. There's a lot to work on, though. Secondaries need help, control needs help, feel for the game is behind for a college kid, but he's a lefty who touches the mid-90s and was drafted in round 25.
Boston Red Sox
About their top pick: Michael Chavis is a stocky, strong young man from Sprayberry High School in Georgia who has a long developmental path in front of him to tap into his physicality and find him a defensive position. There's bat speed and power here, both of the above-average variety, but too often Chavis' footwork and swing are negatively impacted by how hard he's trying to rip balls out to his pull side. Chavis plays at 100 mph all the time and the same intensity that comprises his swing is also one of the things scouts love about him. The potential defensive outcomes here are vast: third base, second base and either outfield corner are all possibilities. Chavis has the arm for the left side of the infield but may not have the footwork and hands. How his bat profiles will ultimately depend on where he falls defensively; I think the it makes him a solid every day guy at second base and a below-average regular at third, but he doesn't quite do it for me in the outfield.
What they did that I liked: I thought the 11th round was an appropriate place to take a shot on Florida pitcher Karsten Whitson, who has seen his stock unravel since opting for college after being selected in the first round by the Padres in 2010. He's been throwing hard over the last few weeks, which probably made him some money.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm not as sold on Boston's second-round pick from Indiana, Sam Travis, as most others seem to be. The first baseman has terrific hands, bat speed and surprising raw power, but I didn't like the way he struggled to pick up Penn State pitchers' breaking balls when I saw Travis there last month.
The sleeper: Josh Ockimey, a first baseman from Neumann-Goretti High School near Philadelphia, has an NFL fullback's build, quick wrists, average or so raw power and a natural ability to take the baseball the opposite way. His footwork is clean and he keeps his head on the ball. He lacks projection and it may take him a while to adjust to the level of pro competition but he's an interesting player to keep an eye on if the Sox can buy him out of his commitment to Indiana.
Chicago White Sox
About their top pick: Coming into 2014, North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon was considered the slam dunk No. 1 prospect in this class. Inconsistent velocity, control and some concerns about the stiffness in his back and heavy workload clouded things a bit. At his best, Rodon pitches with a mid-90s two-seam fastball (he's said in the past that he has trouble keeping his four-seamer from sailing) and a plus-plus slider that'll touch 91 mph. It's the best secondary pitch I've seen on an amateur player in the relatively short time I've been doing this. The changeup is fringe-average but might still develop a bit, especially if the Sox find a way to loosen him up. The bad Rodon sits 90-92 mph, has grade 35 control and command and looks stiff in the back and shoulder through delivery. There's front-end upside here if Rodon can find consistency. The downside is still that of a No. 3 starter or elite reliever. The profile trumped the Reinsdorf/Boras dynamic.
What they did that I liked: It looks like they took enough senior sign type players in the early rounds to take an actual shot at Lawrence HS (Kan.) righty Bryce Montes de Oca, who has an explosive fastball. Montes de Oca is a big boy (6-foot-6, 235 lbs) with a long, slow arm action, but if you can get him to spin a curveball with any regularity or wrap his giant fingers around a baseball enough to get tumble on a splitter then you have something.
What they did that I didn't like: The downside of all those maneuvers to get deals done with Rodon, second-rounder Spencer Adams (who's committed to Georgia) and de Oca was they didn't find a lot of upside elsewhere.
The sleeper: He was a fourth-rounder, but NC State catcher Brett Austin has some juice in his bat and the athleticism to convert to a position besides catcher, which I don't think he can play. Second base would be where I'd start.
About their top pick: San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer has some of the highest offensive upside in the draft. It was surprising to see him go this late (No. 21 overall) given the dearth of quality bats, especially college ones, in this draft. The 6-foot-5 Zimmer is a little long to the baseball because his size and the length of his levers, but he has smooth, electric hands that help generate plus bat speed to make up for some of that. There's more loft in his swing during BP than there is during games when it can get slappy and handsy, lacking proper, efficient use of his lower half. Cleveland player development personnel will have to tweak some things there to tap into what should be above-average, or maybe even plus raw power as Zimmer continues to add muscle to his frame. He'll likely drop two full grades off his currently plus speed as that happens and be relegated to right field at maturity. He's already a bit of a tweener. Zimmer's plus arm will play just fine in right. The term "Five Tool Player" gets thrown around a bit too often, but Zimmer has a chance to be just that.
What they did that I liked: The Zimmer pick was terrific, but I also liked the Mike Papi pick in the compensatory round. Papi, an outfielder and first baseman from UVA, has good patience and bat to ball skills. The power is a little underwhelming but he's a safe bet to hit enough to be a regular, even if it's not an impact one. He also has the arm to play in right field.
What they did that I didn't like: I like Justus Sheffield, a lefty from Tullahoma High School (Tenn.) but don't think he's worth what it would take to buy him out of his Vanderbilt commitment. I love the athleticism and repetition in his delivery and how advanced the secondary stuff is, but I don't think the body has much more to give.
The sleeper: Puerto Rican shortstop Alex Pantoja is limber and flexible and has all the tools to play shortstop in the pros. The bat is slow and has a long way to go if Pantoja is ever going to be able to hit enough to even sniff a major league lineup, but he has a shot and that's pretty good for a 9th rounder.
About their top pick: Nobody in the draft class is as likely to stick in center field as Derek Hill, Detroit's first-round selection out of Elk Grove High School in California. Hill is a plus runner with a plus arm who projects as a plus defender in center. His ability to play a premium defensive position will carry him, but I have questions about Hill's swing, his offensive potential and ultimate upside. While there's playable bat speed here, Hill's swing is very downhill, geared toward groundballs and line drives and devoid of any power. Detroit coaches will have to try to coax more pop out of the swing as he climbs, otherwise they could be looking at a fourth outfielder type of player.
What they did that I liked: Detroit was heavy up the middle, drafting three catchers in the top 13 rounds, including the massive Grayson Greiner who, despite his 6-foot-5 frame, scouts like to stay behind the plate. He might not hit enough to play every day, but the glove and power give him a low floor.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm not big on the Derek Hill pick.
The sleeper: UVA reliever Whit Mayberry saw an uptick in velocity coming into this spring. If that trend continues, he could make some noise.
About their top pick: A prep lefty, Brady Aiken (No. 1 overall) works 92-95 mph with the fastball. That's quite a bit harder than he was throwing last year when he was sitting 88-91. Aiken's curveball and changeup are advanced for his age with room to grow into true plus pitches in time. Future above-average command and control and an advanced feel for pitching make this a potential No. 2 starter package, even if the fastball backs down to average with a heavier workload. Not the impact talent you're used to seeing go 1-1, but the right selection in a draft that lacks high-end impact without major red flags.
What they did that I liked: Their whole first day was a tremendous boon. Obviously it helps to have the first overall pick, but selecting Virginia outfielder Derek Fisher and Kentucky first baseman A.J. Reed at picks 37 and 42 respectively, felt like good value to me, especially Fisher, who has rare hit/power/speed potential and the legs to play center field if he can get a better feel for reading and pursuing balls. Good value to grab what was, in my opinion, a mid-round one talent in the compensation round. I'm not a huge Reed fan and his first base-only profile and fringe bat speed, but his college production was tremendous and he's fits a growing organizational trend of big bodied, big raw power bats the Astros have acquired over the past few seasons (Chris Carter, Japhet Amador).
What they did that I didn't like: I thought the third round selection of J.D. Davis, another two-way player who's likely a power-before-hit first baseman in the pros, was a little redundant after selecting Reed the round before.
The sleeper: Ben Smith, a lefty from Coastal Carolina, is coming off of Tommy John surgery. He'll sit in the upper 80s, touching 93 mph with feel for a changeup and the arm action to spin a seeping curveball. I think the 17th round pick has an outside shot to pitch in the back end of a rotation.
Kansas City Royals
About their top pick: TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan developed shoulder soreness a few weeks ago, but was still touching 95 mph leading up to the draft, and the Royals felt comfortable selecting him in the middle of the first round. While Finnegan's high-effort delivery and 5-foot-10 frame do bother some scouts, he still throws plenty of strikes and has starter's stuff. The fastball is a plus pitch in the low to mid-90s. The breaking ball is a hard slurve that will flash plus and, while the changeup doesn't move very much, Finnegan maintains his fastball arm speed which will at least help induce weak front foot contact. If his frame and delivery can handle a starter's workload, he's a No. 3 starter.
What they did that I liked: I think Scott Blewett, a right-handed high schooler from Western New York, has first-round upside. He's 6-foot-6 with power stuff and a malleable, northeastern arm. He has a chance to be a No. 3 starter and maybe more if I'm underselling how much room there is for him to grow into the changeup.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm not the biggest Foster Griffin fan, the 28th overall selection, because of the way he casts his changeup, but he has plenty of time to develop it. And despite sandwich rounder Chase Vallot's reportedly strong makeup, I don't think he sticks behind the plate. He has the bat to profile at a different position if he can learn it. Third base will likely get the first try. Both were pretty good picks, but I'm nitpicking to find something to write for this section. I liked Kansas City's draft a lot.
The sleeper: Virginia center fielder Brandon Downes is tooled up but struggles to make contact because his bat path isn't ideal. He might just have enough to profile as a fourth outfielder without hitting much, but he makes for an interesting developmental project to see if you can coax more out of his stick and have a real asset on your hands.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
About their top pick: Many thought Hartford lefty Sean Newcomb would come off the board in the top 10, either to Seattle or Philadelphia, but the fresh, raw, northeastern arm fell to the Angels at No. 15. Newcomb is a tank at 6-foot-4, 240 lbs and has no physical projection left. He'll sit 91-94 with the fastball and touch 96 and he does it effortlessly. The changeup and curveball are presently average with room to grow, especially the change, while the slide lags behind. He's a little raw for a college arm but the ease of the delivery projects to at least average command. I think he's a solid No. 3 starter and immediately becomes the team's top prospect.
What they did that I liked: Snagging Newcomb was a coup.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm down on second-round pick Joey Gatto from St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey. The UNC commit has plus fastball velocity but lacks consistency in all other facets and his other pre-season calling card, his curveball, has gone backwards.
The sleeper: Jake Jewell, a right-handed reliever from Northeastern Oklahoma, has mid-to-upper-90s heat that could solidify as he builds upon his projectable frame. His secondary stuff lags behind, but the arm action and slot lend projection to a changeup. He gets good downhill plane on the fastball and should be able to generate ground balls on his way up through the minors while the secondaries develop.
About their top pick: The bloodlines are strong with Olympia HS (Fla.) shortstop Nick Gordon, who doesn't have any impact/elite tools but whose overall potential is that of a future impact big leaguer. Most of that is tied up in Gordon's defensive profile, which pegs him as an average defensive shortstop with feel and instincts that should allow things to play up, including his range. Toss in plus arm strength (Gordon has touched 95 mph off the mound in the past) and his ability to play such an important position could carry him toward the big leagues on its own. What will separate him is his bat. More physical than his brother Dee, Nick Gordon has impressive bat speed, wrist strength and bat control and projects to hit for 45/50 power with above average contact. There's a non-zero chance Gordon fills out a bit too much to stick at short. He projects as a first division regular for me.
What they did that I liked: Minnesota has done a lot over the last few years to shake the idea that they shun velocity in favor of pitchability, limiting the upside of the arms in their system. They picked up two howitzers in college relievers Nick Burdi and Michael Lorenzen of Louisville and San Diego State, respectively.
What they did that I didn't like: I don't think draft-eligible Georgia Tech sophomore, Sam Clay, is quite ripe yet. I don't see a breaking ball that is going to miss bats, but they may need to pay a premium for his fastball.
The sleeper: We're reliever-heavy here, but I like Keaton Steele, a righty from Missouri who had injury issues but shows a heavy, mid-90s fastball and a solid slider at his best.
New York Yankees
About their top pick: Mississippi State's Jacob Lindgren is a pure reliever pick at 55th overall. His 92-95 mph plus fastball and plus-plus slider combination will most assuredly be death to lefties in the pros. He's probably a setup man, but there's a chance for more if he can figure out a way to get righties out with regularity. That may come with improvement of his currently below average command or it could come by developing the changeup to fringe-average.
What they did that I liked: Lindgren was a good value in round two and Austin DeCarr, a high school righty from Salisbury, Conn., has a fresh arm, sturdy frame and burgeoning velocity.
What they did that I didn't like: I like to see at least a dusting of upside in a draft and the Yankees have very little, going heavy on polished college players.
The sleeper: Garret Cave from South Sumter High School in Florida was one of the youngest draft-eligible players this year. At 6-foot-4, 180 lbs, he has both physical and technical projection in spades. His fastball has been up to 94 mph and has some feel for a curveball.
About their top pick: Cal State Fullerton's Matt Chapman is easy to fall in love with. He has plus power, a plus-plus arm and is an average defender at third base. The questions surrounding Chapman focus on his pure bat-to-ball skills. Chapman's bat doesn't stay in the hitting zone very long and its path is so geared for hitting balls down at the knees that he often misses cookies up in the zone. Even if he's a 40 or 45 hitter when all is said and done, he might tap into enough of his power to profile as a second-division regular. The potential outcomes here all depend on the bat and they range from Quad-A player to stud.
What they did that I liked: Mercer County CC (N.J.) righty Heath Filmyer has a fresh, electric arm and the makings of an above-average breaking ball. The shortstop convert has the sort of athleticism you look for when you're trying to mold an arm like this. He was a steal in the fifth round.
What they did that I didn't like: UVA's Brandon Cogswell moved from shortstop to second base in deference to freshman Dan Pinero this year, so I didn't have a chance to see him at short, which is where he'd have to be able to play, at least a bit, to profile as a utility man. It's also notable, though not necessarily bad, that none of the arms Oakland selected in the first nine rounds were over 6-foot-2. The average major league pitcher is 6-foot-3. It's possible Oakland has some internal research about the importance of a pitcher's height, or lack thereof.
The sleeper: Princeton lefty Michael Fagan once pitched with an average or so fastball and then saw that velocity go away during his junior year when he began monkeying with his arm slot. Some of that velo has come back this year and he has reliever upside if the building continues.
About their top pick: Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.) catcher Alex Jackson is perhaps the best offensive prospect in the draft with a chance to hit for plus average and power once he matures. While the athleticism to catch might be there, he'd be a project and his bat would be ready for the next level of the minors well before his glove, potentially harming his offensive development. Instead, scouts see him as an outfielder or potential third baseman. He was announced as the former and his plus arm strength and below-average footspeed will relegate him to an outfield corner. He should hit enough to profile as an above-average everyday player.
What they did that I liked: I think they nailed the Alex Jackson pick.
What they did that I didn't like: If sandwich round pick Gareth Morgan, a big time power bat, had an up-the-middle profile I would have liked the pick more. He doesn't and I don't think he'll hit enough to tap into the power. I wish he had the premium defensive profile to fall back on.
The sleeper: NC State's Pat Peterson has LOOGY upside, which would be a fine outcome for a 23rd round pick.
Tampa Bay Rays
About their top pick: Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie is a pick the early 2000s A's would have been proud of. The left-handed hitting Gillaspie is extremely patient, having led all of college baseball in walks this season after finishing third in free passes last year. As a first base only (albeit a good one) profile, Gillaspie will have to hit -- and he has the potential to do it. He takes a big, aggressive stride and generates impressive torque that culminates in above-average raw power. He has loose hands and strong wrists. The big stride leaves him off balance at times, causing some awkward swings and front foot rollovers. He loads his hands a tad high for me and doesn't seem to track as well as I expect from someone with his walk rate. A 55/55 hit/power combo at maturity would be enough for him to play every day but isn't enough for him to be an impact player in context to his peers at first base. He'd have to extract more value from his plate discipline than I anticipate him to.
What they did that I liked: I like compensatory selection Brent Honeywell, a pitcher from Walters State CC in Tennessee, who has a low 90s fastball, curveball and an old-school screwball that might just be his best pitch. There's also more room for the fastball to grow.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm not a huge fan of the Gillaspie pick and the draft as a whole lacked punch.
The sleeper: A fourth-round pick is a little early to consider someone a sleeper, but Blake Bivens of George Washington High School in Virginia fits the bill as a pop up guy who might already have a plus curveball to go along with an above-average fastball. The changeup has a great distance to go if he's going to start but changes are feel pitches that can be honed over time. Having the curveball on board already is a big deal.
About their top pick: A forearm injury before the draft likely cost righty pitcher Luis Ortiz a few spots in the draft, but he's looked just fine since returning, touching 96 mph and showing an advanced slider. His changeup lags behind a bit as he slows his arm speed to tip it too often, but the arm acceleration to develop one is certainly there. He's a bit on the small side and already has a bit of a gut, but as long as neither of those things impact his ability to throw strikes and keep the ball down he'll be fine.
What they did that I liked: They got big upside with their second selection in Ti'Quan Forbes, a high school shortstop from Mississippi. Forbes will need work to clean up some things with his swing, mostly in the extraneous movement that occurs in his hands before he swings and in the long, pregnant pause his front foot takes in the air before he strides forward. But there's bat speed here and strength in the wrists and solid hand-eye coordination. At 6-foot-4, 175 lbs, Forbes has filling out to do and power to add, though he'll likely move to third base or the outfield. He was long considered an option for the Athletics in round one.
What they did that I didn't like: I like Josh Morgan, the team's third-round selection, but think he'll have to move off shortstop and don't see the bat profiling at third as more than a fringe-average regular. Second base may be an option as well, however. His commitment to UCLA may make him more expensive than is typical for that kind of player. Texas must think he has a chance to stay in the middle infield, and that's justifiable.
The sleeper: 22nd round pick Tripp Martin, a third baseman out of Samford, has big time raw power but no idea how to tap into it. While not as talented as Joey Gallo, Martin has a similar, albeit very diluted, skillset and issues. The Rangers helped Gallo with his swinging and missing and have worked with him on improving his defense at third. Martin will need similar treatment.
Toronto Blue Jays
About their top pick: East Carolina righty Jeff Hoffman would have been the No. 1 player on my board if not for an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery late in the college season. Hoffman is a lanky, athletic 6-foot-4 arm with more physical projection than is typical for a college pitcher. His fastball will touch 98 and sit in the mid 90s with some run and dip down into the low-90s with sink when he alters his grip. He'll flash a plus curveball and changeup and both are presently average pitches in my eyes. The athleticism allows him to project for average command and control. It's No. 2 starter upside at a spot in the draft where that sort of ceiling is hard to come by. It's still a risk, though; the rate of recovery from Tommy John is about 80 percent.
What they did that I liked: Snagging Hoffman and Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, in the first round is a huge haul. Pentecost is a near certainty to stick behind the plate, possessing average arm strength, good receiving skills and superlative athleticism for a catcher that allows him to vacuum up balls in the dirt. Offensively, the bat-to-ball skills project to average or just above while there's presently below-average power. It will be interesting to see if Toronto tweaks the swing to try to squeeze more power from it or if they'll cash in their chips and take an average everyday catcher home with them.
What they did that I didn't like: There wasn't much I liked after the first four picks, but I loved those first four picks. I'm not sure fourth-round high schooler Matt Morgan can catch and I don't think he'll hit enough to profile anywhere else.
The sleeper: Illinois high school arm Tanner Houck has the potential for three average or better pitches, but he's committed to Missouri and I'd imagine he'll end up at school to prove he can stay healthy and look for a bigger bonus in a few years.
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About their top pick: Aside from having the best name in the draft, Coral Spring Christian High School (Fla.) right-hander Touki Toussaint has some pretty hefty upside. Perhaps nobody in the draft puts as many RPMs on the baseball as Toussaint, who flashes a plus-plus curveball. The fastball velocity is a bit erratic as Toussaint will sit anywhere between 90-97 mph with armside whip depending on how focused he is on trying to hit his spot. The splitter is a work in progress, as is his below-average control and command. With the poor location, lack of present changeup and violence in the delivery, there's a chance he's a reliever. But, if everything comes together, Touki could be a No. 2 starter. He's a complex developmental project and perhaps the most interesting player in the draft.
What they did that I liked: North Florida Christian High Schooler Matt Railey has an ideal build, quiet footwork in the box, and smooth, quick hands. He's an average runner, but has a great feel for routes and could be a plus defender in a corner to go along with an above-average hit tool and fringe-average power.
What they did that I didn't like: Cornell righty Brent Jones saw his fastball velocity go backwards this spring and the curveball will flash 50/55 on the scouting scale, but it doesn't appear consistent enough to miss bats in the upper levels of pro ball. Even if a little juice in the fastball comes back and/or the curveball improves, I still think this is a middle relief arm at best. Arizona selected him in the fourth round.
The sleeper: I guess this is a good spot to mention Jake Bukauskas, a prep righty from Virginia who appears very serious about honoring his commitment to North Carolina. He's almost certainly not going to sign, but he's worth mentioning here because he can dial the fastball up to 100 mph and flash a plus slider. He's a name you'll be hearing plenty about in three years, assuming he doesn't blow out his arm at UNC.
About their top pick: I love Braxton Davidson's swing, which produces hard contact to all fields. I love the T.C. Roberson High School (N.C.) product's precocious patience, the balance in his cut, the fluidity of his hands, the use of his lower half. I think he's going to hit. The problem is that he'll likely have to do enough hitting to justify what many scouts feel is a first base only profile. Despite a solid-average arm, Davidson's lack of mobility will likely pull him in from right field and put a ton of pressure on him to hit, hit and hit some more. There's a chance he'll do it, and I'm more optimistic about it than most, but it would be foolish of me not to acknowledge the risk that comes with selecting a prep bat that's already moved far from the middle of the diamond, where all the value seems to be these days.
What they did that I liked: Despite his limited defensive profile, I really believe in Davidson's bat and liked that pick at No. 32. I also liked the upside in the massive pitchers they selected in rounds 2-4 who altogether average 6-foot-6 and feature plus fastballs.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm skeptical about Chris Diaz, a little lefty from Miami without big stuff. He has a nice sinker in the low 90s, but the secondaries underwhelm me.
The sleeper: Ashton Perrit, a two-way player from Liberty University in Virginia, has been into the low 90s with his fastball and has the athleticism to manifest instruction and try to spin a breaking ball and maybe make it as a reliever. He was a 17th round pick.
About their top pick: The Cubs selected the player I feel is one of the top two pure hitting prospects in the draft, Indiana catcher/outfielder/first baseman Kyle Schwarber. The 6-foot, 240 lb behemoth has plus raw power and 50/55 bat-to-ball skills that could play at plus thanks to a tremendously patient approach. The question with Schwarber is going to be where he fits defensively. There's tremendous value in keeping him behind the plate, and while he's an okay receiver and has average arm strength, I have issues with the throwing accuracy and movement skills. Further down the defensive spectrum is left field, which some think Schwarber has the athleticism to play and others have too many concerns about his size. I love the bat, but think some of his value will be mitigated by an ultimate move to first base.
What they did that I liked: I also like the Cubs' second-round selection of Jake Stinnett, a righty out of Maryland with a low to mid-90s fastball and 50/55 slider in the low 80s that he locates with dictatorial impunity. If the changeup doesn't come along, he's a reliever, but a damn good one at that.
What they did that I didn't like: They selected some tough signability guys that they should get inked thanks to the savings they accrue by selecting Schwarber and Stinnett as early as they did, but none of the names they grabbed had the sort of splash to them that I would have wanted. No Jake Bukauskas, no Jeren Kendell.
The sleeper: James Norwood, a lefty from St. Louis, has been up to 98 mph but lacks a secondary pitch. If payer development guys can coax some more spin out of the 7th round pick, they'll have a quality reliever on their hands.
About their top pick: The Reds selected Nick Howard, a hulking right-handed pitcher from the University of Virginia. Howard has bounced back and forth between the Wahoos' bullpen and rotation, settling in as the closer this year. He was announced as a starter. When I saw Howard this spring he was sitting 92-95 mph with a well below-average breaking ball and getting by on velocity alone. At the time I thought he'd be selected between rounds three and five as a pure reliever, but his stuff ticked up and he had helium late in the spring as a result. I'm not a fan of the pick based on what I've seen in person and think he ends up in the bullpen as a setup guy. It's closer velocity but not a closer's secondary stuff.
What they did that I liked: I like Alex Blandino as a bat-to-ball guy who could provide added value due to his versatility by playing second, third and who knows where else. There's probably not enough power for him to profile as a first division regular, but I think he'll hit enough to be a solid big leaguer in some capacity -- likely a utility guy, which is a pretty good outcome late in the first round.
What they did that I didn't like: The Howard pick obviously wasn't my favorite and I think UC Irvine third baseman Taylor Sparks' approach might be unfixable.
The sleeper: Montrell Marshall, a left side of the infield prospect committed to Auburn, is incredibly raw but has some serious physical gifts, most notably a very natural, power-oriented swing path. His hands are rough and he needs a ton of work to better incorporate his lower half into the swing. If the Reds can keep him from Auburn they might be able to barbecue him for a half decade and get an above-average regular out of it.
About their top pick: Evansville left-hander Kyle Freeland works from a low arm slot, has a fastball that sits in the low 90s (but plays up thanks to deception in the delivery) and has a devastating cutter that's already a plus pitch as well as a slower, slider-like pitch that's more fringe average. He throws more strikes now than he did last year but the delivery has some scouts wondering if it can continue. That, combined with a fringe-average changeup, has some scared that he might end up in the bullpen. Chris Sale had similar questions coming out of Florida Gulf Coast a few years ago and he's answered them all.
What they did that I liked: I'm a fan of Forrest Wall's bat. Wall was Colorado's sandwich-round pick but had first round heat on him late in the year because of his quick, sweet, left-handed stroke. His arm limits him to second base so he'll have to hit. I like his chances to do that and hit for some power as he fills out.
What they did that I didn't like: I thought Freeland was a bit of a reach.
The sleeper: Andrew Rohrbach, a righty from Long Beach State, was the team's ninth-round selection and is relatively new to pitching. He has been up into the mid-90s and has impressive feel for a changeup.
Los Angeles Dodgers
About their top pick: Right there with Brady Aiken as the draft's most polished prep arms, Conway High School (S.C.) righty Grant Holmes is lacking physical projection but has plenty of now-stuff to justify a first-round selection. Holmes has a beautifully paced delivery which he repeats with ease allowing him to throw plenty of strikes. The fastball sits 91-93 mph with life and is already an above-average pitch, as is Holmes' low-80s hammer curveball. The changeup is about fringe-average right now, but Holmes' arm action is so consistent and his feel for the pitch is so advanced that it's likely to improve with experience. If you want to nitpick, you'd talk about Holmes' long arm action and already mature body and lack of truly elite upside. I'll take an advanced prep arm that has no history of arm issues and will move quickly through the system and be a No. 3 starter for a decade or so.
What they did that I liked: The Holmes pick was shrewd.
What they did that I didn't like: There are many red flags surrounding Washington pitcher Jeff Brigham. He's had arm trouble, is small, and his velocity this year was wildly inconsistent. The secondaries aren't great, either.
The sleeper: A.J. Vanegas, Stanford's closer, has a hard fastball that's back in the mid-90s after Tommy John and the makings of a slider that could miss bats in the bigs. The 11th rounder has a shot as a 7th inning type of arm.
About their top pick: A big, fireballing, teenage Texan, Tyler Kolek is one of the hardest-throwing high school players to come around in a long time. At 6-foot-5, 270 lbs, Kolek is physically mature and doesn't project to add velocity. Rather, I expect it to take a step back as Kolek throws every five days instead of once a week. His slider will flash plus but sit about average and is going to have to come along considerably if he's to justify this selection, as will his seldom-used changeup and spotty command.
What they did that I liked: The Fish snagged a couple of really intriguing value picks, including Southern Miss High's Blake Anderson (no, not the guy from Workaholics) who has a chance to catch and hit for contact. Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson, who has really interesting leverage and power potential in his swing, is a favorite of mine. Dillon Peters, the team's10th round pick out of Texas, has a solid sink/cut/curveball combination.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm a little lower on Kolek than most and think he was an overdraft at No. 2. I have concerns about whether his body will ever allow him to have acceptable command for a starter and the long term viability of his meal-ticket velocity. There's high-end upside here, but many risks.
The sleeper: I'm not sure the Marlins will be able to buy Stone Garret, an outfielder from George Ranch High School in Texas, who is committed to Rice. He's one of those lottery ticket athletes that are studs if everything comes together.
About their top pick: The Brewers selected lefty pitcher Kodi Medeiros from Waiakea High School in Hawaii at 12th overall. Medeiros has one of the draft's best secondary pitches, a 60-grade frisbee slider with hellacious horizontal movement that has a chance to be a near plus-plus offering at maturity. The slider compliments a low-90s fastball that will touch as high as 96 mph. Medeiros' arm slot, size and distance between where his changeup is now and where it'll need to be for him to be a big league starter all have a lot of scouts worried he's a reliever.
What they did that I liked: They committed to the lottery tickets. Medeiros and their other two Day One picks, Jacob Gatewood and Monte Harrison, all have big time tools and ceilings if important linchpins fall into place for them. For both Gatewood and Harrison it means they'll have to learn to hit. Gatewood, a shortstop from Clovis High School in California, has the most raw power potential in the draft but can't make a lick of contact and is likely to move to third base as his 6-foot-5 frame fills out and slows him down. If he learns how to hit he's a star. If not, he won't make it past Double-A. Harrison, a center fielder from Lee's Summit West HS (Miss.) needs to hit, not only to get to the power, but to allow his legs to play on the base paths. Harrison is an above-average runner committed to Nebraska to play both football and baseball. He has a 70-grade arm and, apart from it being useful in center field, gives him a potential fallback option on the mound if he doesn't work out as an everyday guy. Both have already signed to overslot deals, which is why Milwaukee went heavy on senior signs on day two.
What they did that I didn't like: I thought Medeiros was a bit of a reach but they may have had an underslot pre-draft deal done with him to help sign Harrison and Gatewood. I like fifth-rounder Dustin DeMuth who has a utility profile out of Indiana, but not quite that high.
The sleeper: Jordan Yamamoto, another Hawaiian high school arm, has an above-average fastball, feel for a changeup and a decent slider with a show-me curveball well behind everything else. His delivery is a little stiff and at 6-foot, 185 lbs, he might not have the size or fluidity to handle a starter's work load. He hasn't had arm problems thus far. Yamamoto is committed to Arizona.
New York Mets
About their top pick: Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto is a stocky, strong college hitter who some think has the most advanced bat in the class. There's present average bat-to-ball skills here with plus power to the pull side, although I have questions about whether Conforto will be able to take the ball the other way with authority in pro ball and I don't think the bat has plus projection as many others do. Defensively, he's a left fielder only and he might not even be that if he continues to thicken up and/or doesn't iron out some of his presently unpolished defensive tendencies. He has a below-average arm. As a left fielder, and a bad one at that, all of his value is tied into the bat and I'm lower on it than the industry consensus. I think he'll be a second division regular.
What they did that I liked: The team's third-round pick, Milton Ramos, was a terrific value. Ramos, a shortstop from American Heritage High in Florida, is one of the best defensive shortstops in the class with quick feet and explosive range. At 5-foot-11, 155 lbs, he's got a ways to go before he'll be able to physically compete with upper level velocity. I think the frame is there to add enough strength that he can hit at the back end of a lineup and play good defense at short, a terrific outcome for a third-round selection.
What they did that I didn't like: The Conforto pick. I like Conforto a little bit, but not enough to have passed on some of the other guys that were on the board at the time.
The sleeper: Fifth-rounder Josh Prevost out of Seton Hall has a fresh, live arm that will run the fastball up to 94 mph. He's raw, but the fact that he hasn't pitched much means the secondaries could come along shortly now that he's pitching full time.
About their top pick: LSU righty Aaron Nola combines an above-average fastball, potential plus changeup and average, slurvy breaking ball with 50/55 control and command for a quick moving, No. 3 starter candidate. There are concerns about the delivery and the arm angle, but the changeup should help mitigate platoon issues and the violence might be moot due to Nola's hypermobility. That's right, he's double-jointed.
What they did that I liked: They stayed true to the board in the early rounds despite the fact that it meant taking virtually all college guys, very un-Phillies like. This led to them grabbing some value guys, including Arkansas righty Chris Oliver, who has a second round fastball/slider combo but lasted into round four because he was just popped for a DWI.
What they did that I didn't like: Their draft was so college-heavy that it's hard to find interesting developmental projects to follow. I also liked their third-round selection, Pepperdine's Aaron Brown, more as a pitcher. They selected him as an outfielder.
The sleeper: Seventh-round selection Emmanuel Marrero, a shortstop from Alabama State, has all the tools to stick at shortstop and might hit enough to stick at the bottom of a big league lineup while playing above average defense at a premium position.
About their top pick: A big time projection pick, the Pirates selection of Mountain Pointe High School (Ariz.) shortstop Cole Tucker might be seen by many as a bit of a reach, but his chance to hit from both sides of the plate and stick at short make it a reasonable, if risky, selection in my mind. Tucker generates pretty good bat speed and for someone who's essentially skins and bones. At 6-foot-3, 175 lbs, there's a good amount of projection here. If, with added strength, Tucker can continue to improve his already impressive bat control and add some pop while simultaneously staying limber enough to play shortstop, he could be a first division player. Of course, the Bucs can't want him to get too big, lest he have to move off of short and lose the value of playing a premium position. Tucker is an average runner right now, has average range and below average but projectable defensive actions. If he slows down, he and his above average arm will have to move to third base where a 50/50 hit and power combination is still a solid player, but not a star. This selection was high-risk and will be profoundly interesting to watch develop.
What they did that I liked: Another team that focused on up the middle talent, the Pirates drafted six players with up-the-middle pedigrees in the first 12 rounds.
What they did that I didn't like: The tremendous risk associated with Tucker is probably a little much for a first rounder based on who else was available.
The sleeper: I really like Carl Anderson, a center fielder from Bryant University who has above average speed and surprising power with a chance to stick in center field.
St. Louis Cardinals
About their top pick: Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver has a similar stuff profile as former Atlanta Braves first-round selection, Sean Gilmartin. Terrific feel for pitching and an above-average changeup are the meal tickets here, though Weaver has a little more zip on the fastball than Gilmartin did. The concern with Weaver is the breaking ball, which is fringe-average if you've had a few drinks. Weaver's low arm angle might help keep righties at bay. While I'm not a huge Weaver fan, it's clear this pick was made in effort to save some money and pop a difficult sign later, which they did in Jack Flaherty. I think Weaver's a solid No. 4 or 5 starter and that value combined with the financial flexibility he gives the Cardinals with the rest of the draft make this a justifiable selection.
What they did that I liked: Grabbing a useful asset like Weaver to save money and then funneling it to the very projectable Flaherty was a solid move. Flaherty has a terrific feel for his four-pitch mix that scouts expect to develop along with his highly projectable frame. There's moldable athleticism here. He profiles as a No. 3 starter with a lengthy developmental road ahead.
What they did that I didn't like: In a vacuum I'm not big on the Weaver selection but hey, Michael Wacha was a pure fastball/changeup guy coming out of college, too and that's worked out alright for them.
The sleeper: Brian O'Keefe, a catcher from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, has interesting opposite field power and a decent idea behind the plate, though his decision-making needs some work.
San Diego Padres
About their top pick: North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner was mentioned as a potential top-five choice at the beginning of the year but his legs went backwards and, more importantly, questions about his swing abound. He's not the 80 runner he was reported to be coming into the year but he still has comfortably plus legs that give him plenty of range at shortstop. The arm is just above average and should play fine on the left side of the diamond. The only concern for me regarding his defense is the quality of his hands and actions. I think overall he'll just be an average shortstop, though this is no small feat and made him first round worthy on its own. That he has a chance to hit is why he went in the top 15. The swing is unique. He tracks the baseball well and has a flat, contact-oriented swing but adjusts the vertical path of the bat by altering the bend in his knees through contact instead of changing the barrel path with his hands. It's bizarre and nobody's totally sure if it's going to work. He'll hit for some pull power on pitches way up in the zone that he can backspin. The defensive profile should carry him, but I don't think the upside is star-level.
What they did that I liked: Toolsy high school outfielder Michael Gettys, the team's second-round pick, can fly and has a true 80-grade arm, but struggles to make contact. The defense gives you something to fall back on, and even if he never learns to hit the Padres have a traditional leadoff hitter on their hands. Rice lefty Zech Lemond was a solid third-round value.
What they did that I didn't like: I get that late round picks are often used as courtesy selections on sons and nephews who have no chance to play pro ball, but is there any reason to select Johnny Manziel other than to get bums like me to tweet or write about it? Yeah, it's kinda fun, but it's also kinda stupid.
The sleeper: NC State righty Logan Jernigan had a disappointing year, but still has an interesting fastball/curveball combo that could culminate into a relief profile if he can get on top of the curveball more often.
San Francisco Giants
About their top pick: Vanderbilt righty Tyler Beede came into the season as a potential top-five selection thanks to a plus fastball and the chance for two above average or better secondary pitches in his seeping curveball and diving changeup. The stuff is legit but Beede's control/command and whispers of makeup issues caused his stock to dip a bit. The fastball will sit at 91-93 and touch 96. The curveball rests in the mid-70s and has nice depth, but Beede often struggles to get on top of the ball when he throws it and he'll miss badly to his arm side. I think the changeup will be his best secondary offering. He has a good No. 3 starter's upside but there's a non-zero chance he's a reliever because of the control issues.
What they did that I liked: I like second-round selection Aramis Garcia out of FIU who I think has a chance to put up good, contact-heavy, offensive numbers while being passable behind the plate thanks primarily to above-average arm strength and decent receiving. His footwork behind the plate needs to improve.
What they did that I didn't like: I'm not sure Day Two picks Dylan Davis and Skyler Ewing are anything more than first basemen who don't hit enough to play there.
The sleeper: I liked the chances they took late on talent from Puerto Rico, which is having a bit of a renaissance as a talent producing locale. My favorite of the group is switch hitting Kevin Rivera who has surprising bat control for someone his size and has a shot as a utility option.
About their top pick: The Nationals cashed in big time when they selected Lucas Giolito two years ago, and they've doubled down on another Tommy John arm in UNLV's Erick Fedde. At 6-foot-4 and just 180 lbs, Fedde has plenty of physical projection left. The fastball presently resides in the low 90s, touching 95, and might pick up steam as Fedde fills out. The slider will flash plus but is presently average and lacks consistency. Fedde optimists project him to have better control over his lanky extremities as his body matures. The changeup is below-average, but the way it fades and Fedde's arm speed allow it to project to fringe-average. He should throw enough strikes to start and I think he's a No. 3/No. 4 starter.
What they did that I liked: Jakson Reetz was a terrific third-round selection as the Norris High School (Neb.) catcher looks extremely likely to stick behind the plate and has a solid, if handsy, inside-out, line drive stroke. I'd like to see more power, but it's hard to argue with this kind of athleticism behind the plate from a high schooler.
What they did that I didn't like: As Grantland writer Michael Baumann mentioned on Twitter during the draft, selecting Cal Ripken Jr.'s son was "dirty pool."
The sleeper: Princeton outfielder Alec Keller is at least going to be one hell of an organizational player. He has tremendous makeup and enough athleticism to hold his own through Double-A. He does everything fairly well and might make it as a bench outfielder.
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Eric Longenhagen hails from Catasauqua, PA and has been working in various baseball capacities since his freshman year of college in 2007, including work in the minor leagues, at Baseball Info Solutions and most recently scouting and writing for CrashburnAlley.com and ProspectInsider.com.