Analyzing the Draft by division: AL West
Breaking down the classes of the Astros, Angels, A's, Mariners and Rangers
*** 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 West: ***
Thanks largely to an unprecedented pair of top-five-overall choices and some finesse, the Astros had baseball's best Draft (at least based on first impressions). They used their first two selections on two of the best hitters, Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman (No. 2 overall) and Plant High (Tampa, Fla.) outfielder Kyle Tucker (No. 5 overall), whose older brother Preston plays for their big league club. When Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.) outfielder Daz Cameron's price tag caused him to drop to the supplemental first round, Houston pounced and got an all-around center fielder who gave them three of MLBPipeline.com's top seven prospects.
The Astros didn't stop there. Cal State Fullerton right-hander Thomas Eshelman (second round) throws more strikes than any college pitcher, and Texas Christian right-hander Riley Ferrell (third) could bolster Houston's bullpen in the near future. Armed with the largest bonus pool of any team at $17,289,200, the Astros may make a run at a late-rounder such as Mission Viejo (Calif.) High left-hander Patrick Sandoval (11th) or North Florida Christian High (Tallahassee, Fla.) right-hander Cole Sands (22nd).
Los Angeles Angels
In one of the biggest surprises of the first round, the Angels took Fresno State catcher Taylor Ward at No. 26 overall. He had the strongest arm among the Draft's catchers and some power, though he'll need to clean up his receiving and hitting. After Ward, they continued to zero in on bats, choosing them with eight of their first nine picks.
Wesleyan High (Norcross, Ga.) outfielder Jahmai Jones (second round), Louisiana State outfielder Jared Foster (fifth) and Houston outfielder Kyle Survance (eight) all have plus speed. Foster, a backup quarterback on Louisiana State's national championship team in 2011, has power potential as well. Loyola Marymount's David Fletcher (sixth) was one of the top defensive shortstops available.
In a Draft stocked with shortstops, the A's started with two from the Southeastern Conference. Florida's Richie Martin (first round, No. 20 overall) is a slick fielder who showed promise with the bat last summer in the Cape Cod League. Alabama's Mikey White (second) is a more polished hitter who's probably destined for second base.
Oakland cleaned up in Rounds 3-10, making the biggest splash on Day 2. North Forsyth High (Cumming, Ga.) right-hander Dakota Chalmers (third) had a first-round arm with a fastball that reaches 98 mph and solid breaking stuff. North Carolina outfielder Skye Bolt (fourth) can show four plus tools -- albeit with questionable hitting ability -- and polished Illinois left-hander Kevin Duchene (fifth) and hard-throwing San Diego State right-hander Bubba Derby (sixth) could both move fast.
Signing Nelson Cruz as a free agent cost the Mariners their first-round pick and meant they had to wait until the second round and No. 60 overall to get their first guy. They took Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.) right-hander Nick Neidert, who lacks size but uses athleticism and arm speed to run his fastball up to 96 mph. They also had a supplemental second-rounder that they turned into another undersized righty, Oregon's Andrew Moore, who relies on very good command of average stuff.
Seattle's first position player was Washington outfielder Braden Bishop (third round), who stands out more with his speed and defense than his bat. Socastee High (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) right-hander Dylan Thompson (fourth) has the makings of three solid pitches and already reaches 93 mph with his fastball.
The Rangers came away with four players who were considered to be possible first-round picks at one point. UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate was an actual first-rounder, going No. 4 overall to become the first pitcher taken in the Draft. Before he tired toward the end of his first season as a college starter, he consistently displayed two well-above-average pitches in his mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider.
West Columbus High (Cerro Gordo, N.C.) outfielder Eric Jenkins (second round) generated first-round buzz because he's a speedster with offensive upside. Duke right-hander Michael Matuella's (third) mid-90s fastball and plus breaking stuff made him a candidate to go No. 1 overall before he had undergo Tommy John surgery in April. Houston right-hander Jake Lemoine (fourth) also had legitimate first-round aspirations before a shoulder impingement shut him down in March.