Yesterday the community over at Minor League Ball partook in the annual mock draft. I ran the team last year and looked for power bats. This year there was a different approach.
This year I had help with the draft by my co-GM (scouting director is what we call in on the site), an avid prospect follower, and Red Sox fan Mav22. He did a really great job in not only draft prep, but most importantly draft execution. For this draft Mav and I made split picks. I took our first pick, he the second and third, I then had the fourth and fifth, then Mav took the final sixth pick for three a piece.
Going into the draft we have one overall strategy: best player available. I was leaning towards a bat, specifically a college one, but we both had a group of guys on the board that every pick would come down to.
#17 Bradley Zimmer - OF- University of San Francisco (my pick)
Initially I was very locked in to taking Casey Gillaspie, but the draft went as most drafts do: chaotic.
Here are the first ten picks:
1) Houston Astros: Brady Aiken, LHP, California HS
2) Miami Marlins: Alex Jackson, C-OF, California HS
3) Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP, North Carolina State
4) Chicago Cubs: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Texas HS
5) Minnesota Twins: Nick Gordon, SS, Florida HS
6) Seattle Mariners: Touki Toussaint, RHP, Florida HS
7) Philadelphia Phillies: Sean Newcomb, LHP, University of Hartford
8) Colorado Rockies: Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
9) Toronto Blue Jays: Kyle Freeland, LHP, University of Evansville
10) New York Mets: Trea Turner, SS, North Carolina State University
I figured Zimmer would likely be gone by now but the Phillies taking Newcomb and the Rockies Beede seemed to shake up the first round from the get go. I was expecting Conforto to go to the Mets.
The next six picks were as followed:
11) Toronto Blue Jays (for Phil Bickford): Max Pentecost, C, Kennesaw State University
12) Milwaukee Brewers: Jacob Gatewood, 3B, California HS
13) San Diego Padres: Aaron Nola, RHP, Louisiana State University
14) San Francisco Giants: Grant Holmes, RHP, South Carolina HS
15) Los Angeles Angels: Michael Chavis, 3B, Georgia HS
16) Arizona Diamondbacks: Kyle Schwarber, C-1B, Indiana University
Pentecost went a few picks earlier than I thought, but he's a really good grab at anywhere from 10-15. The biggest surprise here is Gatewood at #12. Most see him as a back of the first kind of guy, but if you want to gamble big time then Gatewood is the jackpot and the Brewers were willing to take that gamble.
Perhaps the other big surprise here is Michael Chavis to the Angels. He's another late first round guy, but still not an outrage at #15.
So with Zimmer, in a complete surprise to me, still on the board I had to take him. Casey Gillapsie, #1 on my "realistic" draft board was available, but Zimmer trumped him.
Truth be told I somewhat regret not taking Michael Conforto, the very next player picked, but I'm happy with Zimmer and he offers an additional defensive profile that Conforto does not have.
Zimmer is one of the best pure hitters of this draft and he's a polished college bat. While he doesn't offer the power that Conforto has, Zimmer has a better hit tool and can stick in centerfield. Conforto is a bat-first guy and is a very good prospect in his own right, but Zimmer offers a solid bat with good up the middle defense.
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#28 Spencer Adams - RHP - White County HS (GA) (Mav22 pick)
With the Royals comp pick for Ervin Santana, Mav took the ultra athletic Spencer Adams out of Georgia. I thought this was a very good pick and I thought Adams would have gone a few picks earlier.
Adams has a fast ball that sits mid-90's, a good out pitch slider, a changeup, and a curveball. Adams uses all four pitches regularly, but the fastball and slider are his two bests. He's got very clean mechanics which his athleticism helps and a good frame that could perhaps grow a bit more.
The only player other than Adams I would have taken here if it were my pick perhaps was Derek Fisher from Virginia.
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#40 Erick Fedde - RHP - University of Nevada Las Vegas (Mav22 pick)
I had an earlier post this week about players to avoid and admittedly Fedde was on there, but that was mainly for the Royals first two picks. Fedde this late, if he were to sign, could be one of the best steals of the draft despite his injury.
Fedde has a fastball that sit low-90's and he has really good control of it. Like Adams, Fedde also uses a slider as his second pitch and throws a changeup. Fedde spots and pounds the zone with his pitches.
The Hustlin' Rebels skipped a start of his in early may that got scouts wondering and then the very next week Fedde was announced as needing to have Tommy John Surgery.
Baseball America ranked Fedde as their 11th best draft prospect and obviously getting him at #40 is a very good pick...if he signs.
I think at #40 Fedde would sign. Otherwise he goes back to UNLV, sits out essentially a year with rehab and redshirts, then hope his stuff comes back ready for the 2016 draft. The Royals have $1,420,000 to spend on this slot and if I were Fedde I'd take that.
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#56 JJ Schwarz - C - Palm Beach Gardens HS (FL) (my pick)
With us taking two straight pitchers, a prep and a college, I wanted a bat here. At this point in the draft the biggest name on my board was Chase Vallot a prep catcher with a strong bat. Vallot is from a small town is Louisiana and as luck would have it so in former Yankee great Ron Guidry. This would only hurt my chances because with the 55th pick, one slot before me, he would be selected by...the Yankees.
With Vallot gone one pick too soon I was "forced" to take JJ Schwarz and I'm very happy with that decision despite being him my second choice. Schwarz dominated to 18U World Cup.
Schwarz isn't quite as polished of a bat as Vallot perhaps, but he offers plus raw power and the skills to stick behind the plate. The hit tool is a work in progress and perhaps will only be a 50 grade tool in the pros, but the power is tempting for a back stop.
Schwarz is a Florida commit and he could be a tough sign.
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#92 Sam Travis - C - Indiana University (my pick)
I'm very happy about this pick this late. BA has Travis as the 85th best prospect and I think he should be higher than that.
Most know his Hoosier team mate Kyle Schwarber, a bona fide first rounder, who a major power hitter, but Travis was no slouch with the stick either.The once third baseman now first baseman has hit very well in his first three years at UI.
Travis suffered a broke hammate bone, which can be a power buster, but came back strong from it and nearly out homered Schwarber this year.
Travis isn't your prototypical slugger first baseman as he offers a solid approach at the plate and has more doubles power than home run power perhaps. Like most first baseman Travis doesn't offer very much in the speed department and isn't a plus defender at the bag.
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#123 Dylan Cease - RHP - Milton HS (GA) (Mystery Guest pick)
My picks for the draft were all done and I stepped away from the computer to let Mav make the final pick for our organization. Unfortunately Mav had computer issues minutes before the selection was to be made and he wasn't able to so a fellow Royals fan stepped in. Thanks to MTV KC Baseball & General Geek for wearing the GM hat if only briefly.
With our final pick MTV took Dylan Cease a prep righty. Cease has been a roller coaster for the past year or two not only in his velocity but his command at time. He's had outings of throwing 97 MPH then some outings in the high-80's. Couple the velocity changes and mechanics and wouldn't you guess it...Cease was injured. A first x-ray showed no damage but a second one showed a small tear in his UCL. Of course a UCL tear is usually code word for Tommy John surgery but instead Cease went with Platelet-Rich Therapy.
Cease hasn't pitched since late March. He's a Vandy commit so at this point he isn't 100% un-signable, but it's gloomy. The Royals have a $420,000 assignment for this slot.
Here you can see Cease play against some top draft prospects like Jacob Gatewood, Marcus Wilson, and local Missouri kid Monte Harrison.
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So that's this years group. You can see the trend of Mav liking pitching and me liking bats. Overall a solid group and many people had us in the top 5 overall drafts afterwards.
I also want to look at last years group as well as I expect to keep a running tally each year for a shadow system.
In 2013 I was the sole Scouting Director for the Royals and I had a strong focus on power bats.
Rnd 1 P #8 RF Hunter Renfroe - .282/.358/.551 13 HR 135 wRC+ in A+ Ball
Rnd 1 P #34 3B Eric Jagielo - .256/.339/.500 10 HR 143 wRC+ in A+ Ball
Rnd 2 P #46 RHP Ryan Eades - 8.31 K/9 4.15 B/9 5.66 ERA 3.76 FIP A Ball
Rnd 3 P #82 RHP Dylan Covey - 4.81 K/9 2.64 B/9 3.88 ERA 3.80 FIP A Ball
Rnd 4 P #114 Drew Ward 3B - .289/.338/.423 3 HR 115 wRC+ A Ball
As you can see my pitching selections haven't panned out yet so far, but Renfroe and Jagielo are doing very well.
If you followed my writing last year you would remember how much I gushed over Renfroe's power (and how I was pysched out when the Royals pick was being announced and started yelling when Selig said "Hunter").
Hopefully this years crop of Adams, Fedde (and perhaps Cease) make up for the pitchers I've so far missed on.
Until next year...