2015 MLB mock draft: What if the picks had nothing to do with actual baseball ability?
In a recent mock draft, MLB.com's Jim Callis predicts the D-backs will select Dansby Swanson with the first pick, the Astros will take Brendan Rogers second and the Rockies will round out the top three with pitcher Tyler Jay.
In our mock draft, we predict outfielder Skye Bolt will go first overall, followed by catcher Austin Rei.
The difference is that our mock draft has precious little to do with actual baseball playing ability.
It's a simple question: If teams didn't care about draft prospects' tools or scouting projections, which players would they draft, and why? To answer the question, we analyzed the top 200 draft prospects (the line had to be drawn somewhere, lest this hypothetical approach the infinite) and figured out which draftee was the best match for each team, using literally any reason except skill on the diamond: Name, hometown, school, birthday, etc.
The results are below -- and it turns out the Rangers' pick works for both kinds of mock drafts.
1. D-backs -- Skye Bolt, OF, University of North Carolina
"Skye bolts home ahead of the throw!" "Bolt skies a ball to deep right field … it's gone!" The puns write themselves. Not only would he contribute on the field, but the effects of having such a versatile name in the lineup will give the franchise a boost in the booth, too. You can't teach "having an awesome name."
2. Astros -- Austin Rei, C, University of Washington
Houston, off to a tremendous start in 2015, has an equally tremendous beard game -- Dallas Keuchel, the current AL ERA leader, jumps immediately to mind. But just as no team can ever win too many games, no team can ever have too many great beards. So, with the second pick of the Draft, the Astros select the player with the best facial hair, based on photos from Pipeline's Top 200 list: Austin Rei out of the University of Washington.
3. Rockies -- Josh Naylor, 1B, St. Joan of Arc HS (ONT)
Though he's listed as a first baseman, some think he might profile as a right fielder, too. A left-handed, power-hitting kid who can play right field and first base? Drafted out of a Canadian high school, eh? Sound like anyone you've heard of before? LARRY WALKER 2.0, BABY!
4. Texas Rangers -- Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (GA)
The Rangers are having pretty good luck with sons of former MLB players this season -- that would be Prince Fielder and Delino DeShields. So, they should probably take another son of a former MLB player, right? That'd be Daz Cameron, son of 17-year veteran Mike Cameron. Plus, Daz wears glasses, and MLB can never have too many pairs of spectacles on the field. Even Callis agrees.
5. Astros -- Beau Burrowes, RHP, Weatherford HS (TX)
It's a widely known fact that alliterate prospects have a higher ceiling. And he's from Texas, so he's got "hometown hero" written all over him. Plus: his name is a homophone with Beau Burroughs, a character from the 2005 film "Rumor Has It…" Burroughs was played by none other than Crash Davis himself, Kevin Costner: the greatest baseball movie actor of all time. At five, Burrowes is the steal of this Draft.
6. Twins -- Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice HS (MI)
Plummer is already familiar with playing for a team with a familial name (even if the "Brother" in "Brother Rice" is in the Christian sense of the word and not the male sibling), so it'd be a smooth transition. If they want to go another route, however, it'll probably be outfielder Kyle Tucker from Florida -- whose brother Preston (but again, not twin) is the Astros' No. 15-ranked prospect.
7. Red Sox -- Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL)
The owner of the Red Sox, John W. Henry, also owns England's Liverpool Football Club, whose manager is Brendan Rodgers. So, it makes sense that they'd use their draft pick on someone they already know and have experience working with. Who knew he could also play shortstop?
8. White Sox -- Thomas Szapucki, LHP, William T Dwyer HS (FL)
The White Sox have a right-handed pitcher with a hard-to-pronounce last name that begins with the letter "S." They could probably use a left-handed one as well, making a complete set (though Szapucki's 20-point Scrabble value pales in comparison to Samardzija's 29).
9. Cubs -- Tyler Jay, LHP, University of Illinois
No one understands the plight of a Cubs fan quite like … a Cubs fan. Jay grew up in Lemont, Il. and stayed close to home for college. Who better to help end the World Series drought on the North Side than a kid who was probably up past his bedtime to watch the Steve Bartman game?
10. Phillies -- Phil Bickford, RHP, College of Southern Nevada
Did you know there is not one player named Phil on the Phillies' 40-man roster? Doesn't that sound like something that should be rectified as soon as possible? Fortunately, there is exactly one draftee in the top 200 named Phil.
11. Reds -- Andrew Benintendi, OF, University of Arkansas
This is a no-brainer because biologically we're all engineered to eternally chase The One That Got Away. The Reds drafted Benintendi in the 31st round of 2013, but he chose to be a Razorback instead. After two years of swiping right in other draft picks, the Reds are sure to be itching for a second shot.
12. Miami Marlins -- Mike Soroka, RHP, Bishop Carroll HS (AB)
A resident of Calgary, Alberta, Soroka lives the northernmost of any of Pipeline's Top 200 draft prospects. Conversely, Marlins Park is the southernmost ballpark in MLB. In other words, this is a perfect match. Fun fact: It would take 941 hours to walk the 2,885 miles from Calgary to Miami, according to Google Maps. Whatdya say, Mike?
13. Rays -- Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona
In the early 14th century, a Spanish conquistador named Ponce de Leon was contracted to venture northwest of Puerto Rico to search for "The Islands of Benimy." He ended up exploring the land we call Florida. Some historians even suggest he first made landfall near Tampa Bay. The prodigal son returns at No. 13.
14. Braves -- Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)
Hooper was born on Monday Oct. 21, 1996. That also happens to be the last time the Braves won a World Series game (they lost four in a row after going up 2-0 to the Yankees in '96, then got swept by the Yanks in '99, their last Fall Classic appearance). You can't say for sure that a bit of that Braves win wasn't celestially bestowed upon Hooper that night. So, who better to lead the Braves back to their mid-'90s glory than a player who literally entered this world on the occasion of the team's last World Series win?
15. Brewers -- Jeff Degano, LHP, Indiana State University
Degano profiles as a three-pitch starter or situational lefty. Milwaukee already has a real Will Smith in their pen and he -- and the baseball world at-large -- desperately need the Brew Crew to add a DJ Jazzy Jeff.
16. Yankees -- Wesley Rodriguez, RHP, George Washington HS (NY)
It's gotta be the kid from NYC, right? Rodriguez goes to school less than an hour's walk from Yankee Stadium -- a school which also happens to be Manny Ramirez's alma mater.
17. Indians -- Trey Cabbage, 3B, Grainger HS (TN)
Xavier Roberts -- the guy who invented the Cabbage Patch Kids -- began producing the dolls, then called "Little People," in a converted medical clinic. He called it "Babyland General Hospital" and it was located in a small town in Georgia: Cleveland, Ga. Close enough, right?
18. Giants -- Patrick Sandoval, LHP, Mission Viejo HS (CA)
The Giants lost a Sandoval this past offseason. It makes sense that they'd bring in a replacement Sandoval with this year's draft selection.
19. Pirates - Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
There are six Vanderbilt Commodores in the top 200 draft prospects this year, but only one of them has a name that sounds like he dominated the salty seas in a previous life. Dansby Swanson should go from one pirate-y team to another with ease.
20. A's -- Ian Kahaloa, RHP, Campbell HS (HI)
Out of the top 200 draft prospects, we believe the letter A appears the most times in Kahaloa's name (four). Wouldn't a team that is literally called the A's have to draft him?
21. Royals -- Tate Matheny, OF, Missouri State University
What better way to get under your in-state rival's skin than by drafting their skipper's kid? Tate's dad Mike is the current manager of the Cardinals. Paint the Matheny household in Royals' blue.
22. Tigers -- Ryan Kellogg, LHP, Arizona State University
Last year, the Tigers drafted Joey Pankake. In keeping with the breakfast theme, they should definitely select Troy Bacon at some point next week. But in the first round, it's Ryan Kellogg -- because cereal is the everyday player of breakfast.
23. Cardinals - Bryan Hudson, LHP, Alton HS (IL)
The Cardinals are often called the Redbirds -- their mascot is even named Fred Bird. Hudson's a highly-touted pitching prospect from the same high school that produced Braves hurler Mike Fotynewicz. The school's nickname? The Redbirds. Sounds like a match made in heaven.
24. Dodgers -- Donnie Dewees, OF, University of North Florida
As stated above, alliterative names are objectively better. They're even better if they're alliterative with the team name: Dodger Donnie Dewees. Plus, manager Don Mattingly would probably appreciate another person named Donnie in his organization.
25. Orioles - Andrew Moore, RHP, Oregon State University
Every day is a little bit like Halloween when you play for the O's (and not all ballplayers look good in the colors typically associated with All Hallow's Eve). Moore is a former Oregon State persuasion, which means that he's more than comfortable rocking the orange and black.
26. Angels -- Mariano Rivera Jr., RHP, Iona College
Fun fact: Mariano Rivera Sr.'s 3.75 career ERA against the Angels is his highest against any opposing team. If they draft Mo's son, they could remind him of that fact every day.
Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins Monday at 6 p.m ET., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network.