A Far-Too-Early 2015 MLB Mock Draft

I wrote yesterday about the uncertainty surrounding the #1 overall pick, but that doesn’t keep scouts from trying to figure out who will go in the subsequent picks. It’s way too early to have any real idea what’s going to happen beyond the top 10-15 picks, but the buzz is growing in the scouting community about how things will play out and you people are sustained by lists, predictions and mock drafts. You’re welcome.

I’d bet it’s more telling on draft day to make judgments using the buzz and all the names I mention, rather than the one name I project to be picked, but you guys already don’t read the introduction, so I’ll shut up. For reports, video and more on these players, check out my latest 2015 MLB Draft rankings, or, if your team doesn’t pick high this year, look ahead with my 2016 & 2017 MLB Draft rankings.

UPDATE 5/11/15: Notes from this weekend’s college games: Dillon Tate was solid in front of GM’s from Arizona, Houston and Colorado. Dansby Swanson was even better, in front of decision makers from all the top teams, including Houston, who may still be debating whether they’d take Swanson or Rodgers if given the choice (Rodgers’ season is over). Carson Fulmer did what he usually does and probably has a home from picks 7-17 depending on how things fall on draft day, with an evaluation similar to Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray as previous undersized righties with stellar track records and plus stuff.

Andrew Benintendi went nuts at the plate again (I’ll see him and Fulmer this weekend). And, finally, Jon Harris was excellent, rebounding from a not-so-great start, so, at this point, I would make Harris the 9th pick to the Cubs and slide Trenton Clark down a few picks, but still comfortably in the top 20. I also updated the 2016 MLB Draft Rankings as a few top prospects came off the DL and impressed, further strengthening the top of that draft, which is far and away better than this year’s draft.

1. Diamondbacks – Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
I wrote about this more in depth yesterday, where I wrote it’s down to CF Garrett Whitley, C Tyler Stephenson and CF Daz Cameron with some chance RHP Dillon Tate is still in the mix and SS Dansby Swanson possibly involved. After writing that, I heard that Arizona is definitely considering those prep players, but teams don’t think they’ll pull the trigger on a way-below-slot prep option and they are leaning college, with Tate and Swanson the targets and SS Alex Bregman also getting some consideration as a long shot.

I’ve heard Arizona wants a hitter here and GM Dave Stewart was in to see Vanderbilt last night. I had heard they were laying in the weeds on Swanson, so, for now, I’ll go with Swanson here. To be clear, Arizona hasn’t made any decisions yet, so this group could still grow or they could change course. One scouting director told me yesterday when asked what he thought Arizona would do that “it sounds like they are going to do something crazy.” Until a few hours before this published, I had Arizona taking Whitley, so this is still very much in flux. There’s also some thought that Tate or Swanson were the targets all along and the rumors of cut-rate high school options have just been a ploy to get the price down–you can pick your own theory at this point.

2. Astros – Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL), Florida State commit
The Astros are widely believed to come away with a shortstop here, especially if Arizona takes one of those lower-priced prep at #1. Opinions still vary whether Houston prefers Rodgers or Swanson if both are on the board, but I think they prefer Rodgers’ higher upside and Swanson is gone in this scenario. Houston’s scouting director was at Vanderbilt last night, so this decision may not have been made yet. Rodgers was also easy for their top scouts to see in March, as their spring training home is near Rodgers’ high school. Tate has some chance to go here, but in this scenario I think they take Rodgers, especially given the buzz is that Houston wants two bats with these two picks.

3. Rockies – Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
The Rockies seem to like their options at this pick: they’re in on Rodgers, Swanson, Tate and LHP Tyler Jay, with Jay likely coming in a bit below slot if he’s the pick. Swanson allows Colorado to find Troy Tulowitzki‘s replacement internally and I’ve been told in hushed tones that Colorado loves Swanson, that he may be the top player on their board. Tate and Jay offer big time upside on the mound with life to their fastballs (a must for the Rockies scouting staff) if they can hold up as starters.

4. Rangers – Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
The Rangers are waiting to see if one of the consensus top three (Rodgers, Tate, Swanson) get to their pick and, in this scenario, none of them make it. I’m not sure who they take in this scenario and I’m not sure they are either. I’ve heard some leaning to college arms HERE, Funkhouser is the best on the board and could help soon, so this makes sense for this scenario.  Texas has checked in on Stephenson recently and may consider him here. They’re believed to be targeting another Georgia prep hitter, OF Chad Smith, in the 2nd round.  I’ve also heard some whispers of them on another Georgia prep bat, Daz Cameron.

5. Astros – Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle’s Landing Christian HS (GA), Florida State commit
The Astros have been all over Cameron all spring, with GM Jeff Luhnow scouting him last week when I checked in on his playoff game. I think they’d take Cameron here in this scenario and everyone I’ve talked to thinks the Astros take two hitters here at 2 and 5. Houston has also been tied to RF Kyle Tucker and SS Alex Bregman, who are both real options here and I’ve also heard LF Trenton Clark at this pick. If Houston takes Rodgers at 2, it frees them up to take Bregman here, but they likely wouldn’t take Bregman at 5 if they take Swanson at 2, since they’re the same age and play the same position, which would cause some problems for development.

6. Twins – Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
Minnesota was tied to LHP Kolby Allard early this spring, but his back injury throws his status into question. He’s back on the mound and may pitch in a playoff game, but likely just throws a couple bullpens for scouts. He’s in the mid-first round area now, but could jump into the top 10 if he can show his early-spring form. In this scenario, I’ve heard Minnesota on Funkhouser, Bregman and Tucker, with Bregman making the most sense. I think he can stick at shortstop, but both he and last year’s first rounder, Nick Gordon, have some questions about that from scouts.

7. Red Sox – Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
It’s long been rumored that Boston has been hoping that Bregman makes it to their pick and he doesn’t in this scenario; it’s  a 50/50 proposition at this point that he gets here. I’ve also heard them on Daz Cameron, Dansby Swanson and Dillon Tate and they all don’t make it here as well. RHP Carson Fulmer has been scouted by Boston’s top people and is the other option I’ve heard mentioned at 7. If the Red Sox draft Bregman, he will be compared to Dustin Pedroia for the rest of time by the Boston media, so prepare yourself.

8. White Sox – Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Chicago is on Jay and he likely gets here as long as Colorado doesn’t take him, but it wouldn’t shock me if Minnesota or Boston have interest in Jay as well. The White Sox have also been tied to Fulmer and Funkhouser and are believed to be looking at mostly college pitchers for this pick, which you can’t question given their track record for developing arms.

9. Cubs – Trenton Clark, LF, Richland HS (TX), Texas Tech commit
The Cubs have been tied to a number of players at this pick, either college pitchers (RHP Jon Harris, RHP Carson Fulmer, RHP Walker Buehler) or prep hitters (Cameron, Tucker, Clark). The buzz is a little stronger that they go bat here and the Clark rumor has been around for awhile, but I hear they really like Harris as well.

10. Phillies – Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (GA), Georgia Tech commit
The Phillies had four scouts, including GM Ruben Amaro in to see Stephenson two nights ago when he caught both games of a double header and hit two homers. They had Pat Gillick in southern California to see another prep catcher, Chris Betts, last week. The Phillies are also on Tucker and he and Stephenson will both go quickly if the Phillies don’t take them here. Amaro saw another Georgia prep product, 3B Cornelius Randolph, earlier in the day Wednesday before Stephenson’s game; Randolph won’t get past the 21st pick most likely, so he could also be an option here if their board blows up.

Amaro saw Vanderbilt vs. Florida last night, so there’s some talk that Carson Fulmer could be a target here. There’s also a (kinda crazy) rumor that the Phillies are looking at Stephenson’s teammate CF Reggie Pruitt for one of their top picks as well. The Phillies have also been connected to Trenton Clark and it wouldn’t shock me if they were on Whitley, too. What I’m saying is scouts don’t know what Philly is going to do.

11. Reds – Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant HS (FL), Florida commit
The Reds scouting director, Chris Buckley, lives in Tampa and has seen plenty of the local prep product Tucker, who is a superior version (as an amateur prospect) of another local prep pick Buckley made, Reds top prospect LF Jesse Winker. Tucker is also the guy in this mock draft that I like more than the industry and think he’s a great value at 11. The Reds were also heavy in to see Stephenson last week and I’d expect them to take Stephenson if he gets here.

12. Marlins – Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna HS (NY), Wake Forest commit
I haven’t heard a ton of teams tied to Whitley other than the D’Backs, but he probably doesn’t get much farther than this. I’ve had many scouts tell me the Marlins won’t pass on Tucker, so this is likely his floor.

13. Rays – Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas
I’ve heard the Rays are leaning towards college players, particularly if prep bats go in front of them, as I have in this scenario. Their scouting director was there the two nights ago with me to see Stephenson and I’ve been told they would take him here if he makes it. I’ve also heard the Rays on Missouri State RHP Jon Harris at this pick (he’ll go in the next few picks) and West Alabama RHP Tanner Rainey in the 2nd. Benintendi has lot of helium into this range; if you line up his tools, they’re basically the same as Daz Cameron, Benintendi is three years older and he demolished the SEC this year (.386/.488/.729, 15 homers in 166 AB). He has some attention in the top ten, but this is a reasonable place for him to land and this jives with what Tampa seems to be looking for this year, especially if none of the top tier prep outfielders makes it here (though some may argue Nick Plummer is in that group).

This is about where things start to break down as far as real intel on team preferences and consensus players. Due to the lack of consensus in the mid-to-late first round, the names beyond here will shuffle a bit leading up to the draft, based on late performances.

The Braves at 14 are interesting because they have lots of picks and pool money so they could be creative. They are tied, as usual, to multiple toolsy kids from the southeast. They would likely take Stephenson if he gets to their pick, which is doubtful at this point, and also like Rainey in the 2nd round, along with Georgia prep 3B Cornelius Randolph in the 1st round. Randolph is also a target for the Giants at 18 and the Royals at 21; he likely doesn’t get past both teams.

I deputize you to irresponsibly make the rest of a mock draft using this information, so here’s the order for the rest of the first round and the players in the mix for those 13 picks:

14. Braves, 15. Brewers, 16. Yankees, 17. Indians, 18. Giants, 19. Pirates, 20. A’s, 21. Royals, 22. Tigers, 23. Cardinals, 24. Dodgers, 25. Orioles, 26. Angels. 27-36 is compensatory picks and 37-42 are competitive balance picks, with round 2 starting at pick 43 with Arizona. Here is the full draft order and for reports/video on these players, consult my rankings.

College Position Players (5): RF Ian Happ, SS Kevin Newman, LF D.J. Stewart, SS Richie Martin, SS Kyle Holder

Prep Position Players (5): LF Nick Plummer, 3B Cornelius Randolph, C Chris Betts, 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, CF Eric Jenkins

College Pitchers (8): RHP Walker Buehler, RHP Jon Harris, LHP Nate Kirby, RHP Phil Bickford, RHP Cody Ponce, RHP Michael Matuella, LHP Alex Young, RHP James Kaprelian

Prep Pitchers (8): RHP Mike Nikorak, LHP Kolby Allard, RHP Austin Smith, RHP Beau Burrows, RHP Ashe Russell, RHP Donny Everett, LHP Brady Aiken, LHP Justin Hooper



Print This Post



Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Tucker's brother
Guest
Tucker's brother
1 year 22 days ago

Preston Tucker’s little brother is going to Florida? I will be keeping my fingers crossed he signs

Aaron
Guest
Aaron
1 year 22 days ago

That little Brother Tucker …

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
1 year 22 days ago

Wow. Not a single prep pitcher in the first half of the 1st round. Wonder when the last time that happened.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 22 days ago

My bet is someone takes a chance on Matuella

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 22 days ago

wait I read that wrong, thought you meant college to which I was suuuuper confused. But yeah, someone’s going to take a chance on Matuella early

Jon E
Guest
Jon E
1 year 22 days ago

The Detroit Tigers take a Vandy guy at some point in most drafts….if Walker Buehler is still there at #22, I’d put a small bet on him.

Corry
Guest
Corry
1 year 22 days ago

The Reds drafting University of Cincinnati product Ian Happ would be the ideal scenario in my heavily biased opinion…is that a realistic possibility?

buctober 2015
Guest
buctober 2015
1 year 22 days ago

Im hoping he miraculously falls to his hometown team, the pirates, to become the new Pittsburgh Kid for when Walker leaves. Though your scenario is obviously more likely lol

Jose
Guest
Jose
1 year 22 days ago

As a Pittsburgher, I pray this does NOT happen. I have heard enough yinzers whine about how the Pirates won’t give Neil Walker a contract extension… I don’t need that cycle to repeat itself!

Corry
Guest
Corry
1 year 22 days ago

I wonder what weight that carries with MLB organizations? Drafting/signing the local kid or local university product is certainly fun for the fans, and creates a deeper connection between the community and team, but from a talent standpoint I wonder how far out of their way a team will go to acquire local talent.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
1 year 21 days ago

It’s also a matter of seeing a kid more and likely being able to understand the person he is better, because the team has connections within the region

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
1 year 22 days ago

Baseball America has Happ going to the Reds in their mock today.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 22 days ago

“What I’m saying is scouts don’t know what Philly is going to do.”

I don’t think the Phillies do either.

wildcard09
Member
Member
1 year 22 days ago

Do they ever?

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 22 days ago

Well, they successfully did not sign Yasmany Tomas to the contract he was being offered at the time, so that’s looking like it was actually a wise move. And by all accounts it sounds like they’ll be signing Jhailyn Ortiz on July 2, who is either the 1st or 2nd best international prospect available, depending who you ask. So, progress! I hope!

Sean
Guest
Sean
1 year 22 days ago

Why does that appear to be a wise move? He’s actually looked pretty good in his MLB debut so far.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 22 days ago

He’s a fine player, Sean. Just not at the dollars/years that he ultimately signed for, or what was being tossed around when the Phillies were the favorites to sign him. I think that money could be better spent elsewhere. Nothing against Tomas himself.

MG
Guest
MG
1 year 21 days ago

How was not signing Tomas a ‘good move’ when you have no idea what he will turn out to be?

In the interim, the Phils are trotting out the likes of Francoeur and Sizemore on a daily basis in RF. Meanwhile, Brown can’t even hit enough at Lehigh Valley to get promoted and there isn’t a corner OF prospect at AA or higher unless you count Dugan who is hurt yet again.

Until at least ’17, the Phils are either going to trot out hasbins or ‘square pegs in round holes’ (see Ruf/Asche) in the corner OF spots. Also a real lack of power prospects in the system too.

Phils reduced payroll more than any other team in MLB this past offseason and hardly used any of that money to facilitate trades or sign international prospects.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan
1 year 21 days ago

To be fair, MG, the flip side of your argument would be this:

“How was signing Tomas a ‘good move’ when you have no idea what he will turn out to be?”

You’re correct we have no idea what he’ll ultimately be, but all that uncertainty ultimately does is force us to draw conclusions based on more assumptions than with your typical free agent. Just because the Phillies have a terrible outfield doesn’t mean spending $68.5MM over 6 years on a one-dimensional question mark is the right decision.

I’m not sure Tomas will earn his contract as he’ll need about 2-3 WAR per season to justify it and that’s not coming from his defense, and while his .320 AVG, .382 OBP, and 12.7 K% look great, it should also be noted he’s hitting for zero power. That could still come (again, it’s super early) but if he ultimately becomes a .275/.325/.430 player like most projection systems (and me) seem to think he is, that basically makes him the 2014 versions of Lonnie Chisenhall or Pablo Sandoval (statistically). Given his likely subpar defense, he’ll probably be closer to Chisenhall’s overall 2014 line, which resulted in a 2.1 WAR season.

Ultimately, still a lot of question marks, and we can’t say Philly made a good move or a bad move yet. If you want to call it either, you sort of just have to make an educated guess.

MG
Guest
MG
1 year 20 days ago

Bryan – The Phils have no corner OF prospects on the near-time horizon and zero power prospects at AA or above except Franco.

The only thing Tomas cost was money for a system that still is quite thin especially at the upper levels and a MLB roster that has the worst young talent on their MLB roster right now.

Phils also have one of the lowest totals committed in salary after ’16 and if they trade Hamels it drops to the lowest in ’17.

Even if Tomas is a 2-WAR player with power in LF, that’s would provide a lot of value to this team right now given their lack of talent and more importantly help them to get back to their gaol of contending again by ’17.

At worst, he is a marginal player (say ~1 WAR) that the Phils would look to move in 3-4 years to an AL team looking for DH help/power off the bench.

If Tomas looks likely to opt out of his deal after the 4th year, then the Phils would have a decent trade chip.

Bryan
Guest
Bryan
1 year 20 days ago

MG — If Tomas was a 2 WAR player with power in LF, that would probably be worth something. Unfortunately, he’s currently displaying zero power and would have to be a near-20 HR player to justify his deal. I agree he’d be a good fit in Philly if that’s the player he becomes, but he’s not that player right now and we have no way of knowing if he becomes that player, so I think it’s fair to say the Phillies made a good move not signing him. If you believe in Tomas, then it’s also fair to say it was a bad move. The only truth with Tomas is the jury is still out, and neither stance is presently incorrect.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 22 days ago

It all goes to show how important the draft + international signings + player development are.

I mean, when it comes to MLB trades/signings etc. the Phillies haven’t been much worse than the Red Sox. But while the Red Sox have been killing it in recent years growing their base of young talent, the Phils have been dreadful.

MG
Guest
MG
1 year 21 days ago

No team has been worse at drafting in the 1st round the past decade than the Phils.

They have complicated matters too in the international market by being very ‘risk-averse’ for any kind of pricey FAs except MAG. Instead they generally have spent moderate dollars at best overall and allocated in on nickels (<$50k) and dimes (<$100k) signings. It adds up to adding a lot of prospects but you generally get what you pay for rummaging through the discount bin too internationally and looking at only very inexpensive bargains.

Hopefully that changes this season with Almaraz in place but you have to go back to the late 70s/early 80s when the Carpenters still owned the Phils for them to be considered at the forefront of scouting and developing international talent especially in Venezuela at that time.

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
1 year 22 days ago

Any chance Nikorak falls low enough that he doesn’t go pro? Bama could use an impact guy in the rotation.

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
1 year 22 days ago

If he’s a 1st rounder he will almost certainly go pro. Don’t see how he drops out of the 1st round at this point.

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
1 year 22 days ago

If he drops later in the supplemental round, maybe there’s a chance? I’m in wishful thinking mode at this point.

Rico Brogna
Guest
Rico Brogna
1 year 22 days ago

I think it’s highly unlikely he doesn’t sign. Even if he falls for signability reasons (and I have no clue what his number is), I would assume some team that goes below slot early will have the money to pluck him later.

Meat Cart
Guest
Meat Cart
1 year 22 days ago

Can’t wait for people to ask why the Astros will take a SS even though they have Correa.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
1 year 21 days ago

I don’t recall a SS ever successfully transferring to another position. All the other infielders have a base that is theirs, but he doesn’t

rekameohs
Guest
rekameohs
1 year 20 days ago

Justin Upton?

Wrenzie
Member
Wrenzie
1 year 22 days ago

I hope the Giants still have a chance of drafting Benintendi. Been hoping to make him our guy at #18.

Bo Knows
Guest
Bo Knows
1 year 22 days ago

I’m hoping beyond hope the Yankees take Kolby Allard in this situation. Over the past two drafts and their IFA splurge, they’ve really focused in on potential impact position players. Allard would be a huge boon to a system that doesn’t have much depth right now with all the injuries. Also, Allard imo has the highest potential ceiling of anyone in this class. (save for a healthy Brady Aiken) He has a quick arm, easy/effortless delivery, a really nice breaker, and Allard looks like he’ll still be able to pack on another 20-30 lbs of muscle on that skinny 174 lbs frame.

Bomok
Guest
Bomok
1 year 22 days ago

I’m a big Ian Happ guy.
1)If a team views him as a 2B, does he go in the top half of the first round?
2) any chance he falls to the Mets in the 2nd round?

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
1 year 22 days ago

He’ll be picked by #20 or so.

Harrison Wells
Guest
Harrison Wells
1 year 22 days ago

I think if he falls to the Pirates at 19 (depending on the arms available) the pirates will take him in the first round. I mean someones gotta take the mantle of Pittsburgh Kid after Walker leaves

IRV
Guest
IRV
1 year 22 days ago

Any chance the hometown kid, Nick Plummer, falls to the Tigers at 22? If so, do they pounce on him there?

simon
Guest
simon
1 year 22 days ago

It’s far too early to be doing something like this.

Rico Brogna
Guest
Rico Brogna
1 year 22 days ago

OK, Kiley, every year there’s talk of teams opting for the hometown kid, and the comments section here reflects such indulgence. So how does this work? I have a hard time believing teams would pass on a better player to go local, so when it happens I assume that these teams just so happen to think that the local kid is the best player available, a potentially biased eval since they likely would have a larger sample size of viewings given proximity. Since you know everything about how every FO operates without exception, what’s the deal?

Chris R
Guest
Chris R
1 year 21 days ago

I doubt that any organization would overvalue whose talent or fit was a grade ahead of a local kid, but if there is a grouping of 3-4 guys, having more looks over a longer time can create comfort with progression, strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think there are nearly as many gaps locally, as my cousin in Atlanta complains that the scouts are crowding people out of the best seats at several of the high school games his son’s team has played this year.
All that being said, the Braves could definitely opt for Cornelius at 14, but prep baseball in Georgia and particularly around Atlanta is more pretty high level most years.

Dan
Guest
Dan
1 year 22 days ago

I’d be pretty stoked if Nikorak was available for the Brewers at 15. High ceiling, pretty reasonable floor for a high schooler it seems.

Ernesto
Guest
Ernesto
1 year 22 days ago

I’m disappointed that Fangraphs didn’t go so far as to analyze pick #18. Honestly, we get the same prospect analysis and draft strategies each year as the bad teams remain bad and get top picks for a while, while the better teams struggle with picks at the end of the round. It isn’t bad, but it’s fairly routine reading, especially as that information is duplicated on BP and SB Nation.

The Giants this year are especially interesting because of their high draft pick for a World Series winner, as well as subsequent high draft picks in later rounds due to their own compensation pick and the increased pool money that comes from higher higher round picks. Tracing the talent flow of picks from such teams into pieces for the next contending team is novel angle to talk about. For example, the Cardinals in 2007, following their 83-78 championship season, drafted former starter Pete Kozma at #18. Take that as you will.

Austin Carpenter
Guest
Austin Carpenter
1 year 21 days ago

Looks and sounds like Kyle Tucker is in the mold of Billy McKinney. Lefty OF with solid contact rate and a sweet swing. I hope the Cubs take him if he’s available.

JackJeff
Guest
JackJeff
1 year 20 days ago

I think I like Randolph better among the HS hitters.

JackJeff
Guest
JackJeff
1 year 20 days ago

Justin Hooper is a stud, been saying it almost for a year. I want the Cubs to take him at 9.

wpDiscuz