One of my favorite columns to write every year is my annual 10-round pretend Draft. Starting in 2003, I've assigned myself a random spot in the Draft order and made my own picks, conforming to realistic budget constraints.It wasn't that I thought I could do a better job than a
One of my favorite columns to write every year is my annual 10-round pretend Draft. Starting in 2003, I've assigned myself a random spot in the Draft order and made my own picks, conforming to realistic budget constraints.
It wasn't that I thought I could do a better job than a real big league club with a full scouting department, but more that I thought it would be an instructive exercise. Just as I annually critique how organizations fare in the Draft, I've gotten feedback from teams, especially if I blow a first-round choice (ahem, Jon Zeringue).
I've done reasonably well, with recently promoted Ryan Schimpf becoming the 34th Major Leaguer I've "signed" from my first nine Drafts, a group highlighted by Chris Archer and Jason Heyward. All of my past selections are listed on my MLBlog here.
This year, I drew the eighth overall pick, which was fortuitous because it's my highest ever and it also meant that I'd be shadowing the Padres, who had two free-agent compensation choices toward the end of the first round and a competitive-balance lottery selection after the second. Armed with a $12,869,200 bonus pool and the willingness to stretch that an extra 5 percent (the maximum allowed without forfeiting future first-rounders) that gave me a total of $13,512,660 to spend:
Round 1 (No. 8): Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer (real life: Round 1, No. 11, Mariners). I would have taken Lewis with the No. 1 overall choice because he offers the best combination of high ceiling and high floor in this Draft, big leg kick and all. His level of competition at Mercer isn't an issue because he destroyed the Southern Conference for two years running -- his 1.266 OPS topped NCAA Division I in 2016 -- and performed well with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. It'll be a bonus if he can stay in center field, and if not, his 25-homer power will profile just fine on a corner.
Round 1 (No. 24): Dakota Hudson, RHP, Mississippi State (Round 1, No. 34, Cardinals). At times this spring, Hudson looked like a top-10-overall choice and the best college starter prospect available. Though he slumped in April and faded in the postseason, it's hard not to love his combination of a lively 93-97 mph fastball and a dastardly slider/cutter that could make him a frontline starter or a closer.
Round 1 (No. 25): Joey Wentz, LHP, Shawnee Mission East HS, Prairie Village, Kan. (Round 1/supplemental, Braves). Signability concerns knocked Wentz all the way out of the first round, but I have the budget to pay him. He bounced back from a dead arm last summer to work in the low 90s this spring, backing up his fastball with a curveball and changeup that also could be plus pitches. He also has size, athleticism and a clean arm action.
Round 2 (No. 48): Bryan Reynolds, OF, Vanderbilt (Round 2, Giants). Reynolds may not have a true plus tool, but he's a switch-hitting center fielder with power and speed. That package should have found a home in the first round somewhere and it's a steal in the second.
Round 2/supplemental (No. 71): Cole Stobbe, 3B, Millard West HS, Omaha, Neb. (Round 3, Phillies). Hitting ability, burgeoning power, great makeup, high school shortstop who could fit at third or second base? Yes, please.
Round 3 (No. 85): Jon Duplantier, RHP, Rice (Round 3, Diamondbacks). If he hadn't missed 2015 with a shoulder injury that didn't require surgery, Duplantier wouldn't have lasted until the third round. He regained his 91-96 mph fastball with good extension and life and his power curve this spring, finishing one shy of the NCAA D-I lead with 148 strikeouts in 111 innings.
Round 4 (No. 114): Jameson Fisher, 1B, Southeastern Louisiana (Round 4, White Sox). Fisher also missed last year with shoulder issues (labrum surgery), and bounced back in a big way in 2016 (topping NCAA D-I with a 1.266 OPS and ranking second with a .424 average). He's a pure hitter with a sweet lefty swing and at least average power.
Round 5 (No. 144): Conner Capel, OF, Seven Lakes HS, Katy, Texas (Round 5, Indians). The son of former big league pitcher Mike Capel, Conner is a high-motor guy with plenty of tools, including well above-average speed, solid center-field ability and arm strength, and a knack for barreling balls.
Round 6 (No. 174): Ulysses Cantu, 3B/C, Boswell HS, Fort Worth, Texas (Round 6, Indians). His advanced hitting ability should have landed Cantu in the top three rounds, but a shoulder injury hampered him this spring and he lacks an obvious defensive home. The hope is that he can handle third base or catcher rather than having to go to first base.
Round 7 (No. 204): Garrett Williams, LHP, Oklahoma State (Round 7, Giants). A 2007 Little League World Series hero, Williams has a riding 93-96 mph fastball and hammer curveball when at his best. Though he has barely pitched for the Cowboys' College World Series team this year because his control fell apart, he could be a starter or a dynamic lefty reliever if he can get straightened out in pro ball.
Round 8 (No. 234): Ryan Moseley, RHP, Texas Tech (Round 8, Orioles). Another potential first-rounder entering 2016 who has pitched his way into the bullpen on a CWS club, Moseley also could become a starter or high-leverage reliever. He has a power 91-95 mph sinker and flashes a solid changeup and slider.
Round 9 (No. 264): Boomer White, 3B, Texas A&M (Round 10, Padres). The Southeastern Conference player of the year, White excels at making contact and getting on base, and he has some untapped power too. Some scouts think he lacks the pop for third base and the quickness for second, but his bat is worth betting on this late.
Round 10 (No. 294): Chris Hall, RHP, Elon (Round 14, Blue Jays). I need a discount college senior to make my budget. Hall intrigues me because he attended the same high school my kids do (New Trier HS, Winnetka, Ill.), but more important, he's a converted catcher with a 93-96 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider that can be a solid second pitch.
*Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.*