Analyzing the Draft by division: AL Central
Breaking down the classes of the White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Royals, Twins
*** MLBPipeline.com's experts will break down how each team fared in the recently concluded Draft, though we'll have to wait until the July 17 signing deadline to know exactly who will and won't turn pro. Here's our look at the American League Central: ***
Chicago White Sox
Because the White Sox forfeited their second- and third-round picks to sign free agents Melky Cabrera and David Robertson, much of their Draft hinges on the success of the No. 8 overall selection. The club hoped to get a top college pitcher there and wound up with the top college pitcher, Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer. While his size and delivery lead to questions as to whether he's best suited for a rotation or a bullpen, Fulmer has swing-and-miss stuff and Chicago believes he'll be a starter.
The White Sox continued to stock up on college starters with their early picks, taking Clemson LHP Zack Erwin (fourth round), Rice RHP Jordan Stephens (fifth) and Iowa RHP Blake Hickman (seventh). Hickman, who has a big league body and arm strength, could be the best of the bunch. Carl Albert High (Midwest City, Okla.) 1B/RHP Corey Zangari (sixth) can hit 97 mph with his fastball but was disappointing on the mound this spring, so Chicago will hope he can tap into his prodigious power.
If IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate LHP Brady Aiken (first round, No. 17 overall) can navigate his way back from Tommy John surgery, the Indians will have a potential ace with three plus pitches and command to match. That's what made him the No. 1 overall pick by the Astros in 2014 and a gamble well worth taking midway through this year's first round.
Cleveland split its next six choices between high school arms and college bats. Ultra-projectable Royal Palm Beach High RHP Triston McKenzie (supplemental first), advanced Olympia High (Orlando) LHP Juan Hillman (second) and hard-throwing Quartz Hills (Calif.) High RHP Jonas Wyatt (sixth) were good values for their rounds. Cal Poly 2B Mark Mathias (third), Clemson shortstop Tyler Krieger (fourth) and Kentucky outfielder Ka'Ai Tom (fifth) have a track record of production against quality competition.
The Tigers have an affinity for hard throwers, so it surprised exactly no one that they exercised their first choice on Weatherford (Texas) High RHP Beau Burrows (first round, No. 22 overall), who has a mid-90s fastball and a power curveball. Burrows and Highlands Ranch (Colo.) High SS Nicholas Shumpert (seventh), the son of former big leaguer Terry, were the only prepsters Detroit took in the top 32 rounds.
Most of the Tigers' selections were top college performers, including slugging Tennessee OF Christin Stewart (first, No. 34 overall), polished Texas Christian LHP Tyler Alexander (second) and fireballing Dallas Baptist RHP Drew Smith (third). Louisiana State C Kade Scivicque (fourth) came out of nowhere to earn all-America honors, OF Cam Gibson (fifth) is a speedster whose father Kirk helped Detroit win the 1984 World Series and LHP Matt Hall (sixth) relied heavily on his curveball to lead NCAA Division I with 171 strikeouts in 125 innings.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals invested seven-figure bonuses in a pair of high school pitchers (Foster Griffin, Scott Blewett) in 2014 and will do so again this year after using two first-round picks on prep right-handers from Indianapolis. Cathedral High's Ashe Russell (No. 21 overall) was MLBPipeline.com's top-rated high school pitcher, while Lawrence North High's Nolan Watson (No. 33 overall) out-pitched him late in the spring.
Four of Kansas City's first five choices were pitchers. Azusa Pacific (Calif.) RHP Josh Staumont (second round) was the hardest thrower among college arms in this Draft, while South Point High (Belmont, N.C.) LHP Garrett Davila (fourth) is advanced for a prepster. Western Kentucky OF Anderson Miller (third) combines power and speed, and he also has shown a low-90s fastball as a left-hander.
The Twins have picked in the top six in the past four Drafts, and they followed Byron Buxton (2012), Kohl Stewart (2013) and Nick Gordon (2014) with Illinois LHP Tyler Jay (No. 6 overall) this June. Jay made just two starts in three years of college, but he has the stuff, command and delivery to develop into a front-line starter, which is Minnesota's plan for him.
They gave up their second-rounder to sign free agent Ervin Santana, but the Twins may have found another future starter in Kentucky RHP Kyle Cody (supplemental second round), who has a mid-90s fastball. As for bats, Pottsville (Pa.) Area High's Travis Blankenhorn (third) and Grainger High's (Rutledge, Tenn.) Trey Cabbage fit the third-base profile well and Oak Forest Academy (Amite, La.) 1B Kolton Kendrick (eighth) had as much raw power as anyone available.