Pipeline Inbox: Where is Aiken projected to go?
Jonathan Mayo responds to fans' questions about baseball's future stars
It's Inbox time again and we're all about the First-Year Player Draft at MLB.com. Jim Callis has his first mock of the first round today, I wrote a story on Wednesday about pop-up guys in this year's class and there's much, much more to come.
All of it leads up to the big event on June 8-10. MLB Network and MLB.com will have live coverage of the first night, covering the top 70 picks -- or through Round 2 -- starting at 7 p.m. ET. MLB.com will provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Then Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on June 10, beginning at noon ET.
Why do you have Brady Aiken going so late in the first round? I know he had Tommy John surgery. Is college eligibility a reason?
-- Dan Z., Milwaukee
No, college eligibility has nothing to do with where you've seen Aiken showing up in various mock drafts. Most have him somewhere near the end of the first round. If this were a case of it being the elbow surgery only, I think you're right to assume that Aiken would go higher than that, like Jeff Hoffman (No. 9) and Erick Fedde (No. 18) did last year. But there's potentially more at play here.
Based on pure talent and the success rate of TJ surgery, Aiken would still be ranked very highly, perhaps even top 10. But there are lingering questions about whatever the Astros claimed they saw in his medical report last year that led to them not signing the left-hander. Even if it's thought the that Astros could have handle the situation more gracefully -- a sentiment shared by several people around the league -- claims of an abnormally thin UCL followed by the need for surgery are going to worry many teams.
Does this guarantee that Aiken is going to go so late in the first round? Of course not. If a team's medical staff is given all of the information about his elbow and they feel like the risk isn't too great, he could easily go a lot higher, but the prevailing thought now is it's likely to be a team picking a bit lower, with multiple picks, like the Dodgers, who pick at 24 and 35.
Are there any players who may be end up being drafted in both the NFL and MLB Drafts?
-- Sheila D., Daly City, Calif.
It's not uncommon to see multi-sport standouts in college. It's less likely to see them drafted in more than one sport. There are the obvious recent exceptions, like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft and actually played in the Minors for two summers. The Cubs took a shot at Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers QB in the 2009 Draft, but he never signed.
The Cubs have been on the flip side of that coin as well. Jeff Samardzija would have been a very high pick in the NFL Draft as a wide receiver if he hadn't announced he would forgo that Draft after signing a deal with Chicago (he had been drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft). Likewise, outfielder Matt Szczur could have gone as high as the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but committed to the Cubs instead.
There aren't any players with those kinds of options in this year's Draft. The closest may have been Jameis Winston, who went No. 1 overall to the Buccaneers in the NFL Draft. The Florida State QB also played college baseball for a couple of years and was drafted out of high school, but is obviously headed to the NFL. Even with a provision that says he can't play baseball, it wouldn't be shocking if some team drafted him very late.
There is a track record for it, and it often involves the Rockies. Wilson was a legitimate baseball prospect, but Colorado also drafted Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech in the 30th round of the 2000 Draft even though he hadn't played baseball since his junior year in high school. They like their quarterbacks, many of whom have reached the big leagues: Todd Helton, Matt Holliday (signed away from being a QB at Oklahoma State), Kyle Parker and Seth Smith all were QBs at some level. The Angels drafted, and actually signed, Jake Locker, even though the former University of Washington QB hadn't played baseball since high school.
In terms of two-way players in this year's Draft class, Stanford's Zach Hoffpauir seems to be choosing baseball. Kyler Murray has told teams he's opting out of the MLB Draft so he can play two sports at Texas A&M, but at his size, he may not be an NFL prospect down the road. Missouri high school standout Marquise Doherty could go on to be a running back at the University of Missouri.
Knowing the Tigers' David Chadd favors college guys, who do you see at No. 22 for Detroit?
-- Lee M., Plainwell, Mich.
Here's the thing about that assertion. It's not necessarily true. Take a look at the Tigers' top picks since 2009:
2009 -- Jacob Turner (High school)
2010 -- Nick Castellanos (High school)
2011 -- James McCann (College)
2012 -- Jake Thompson (High school)
2013 -- Jonathon Crawford (College)
2014 -- Derek Hill (High school)
See what I'm getting at? Now, the Tigers haven't always had a first-round pick, and Chadd's role with the organization as a vice president has changed over time, meaning he's hasn't always been as involved in the Draft, so that plays into things. I've seen a number of names with the Tigers thus far in mock drafts, including my selection last week, Phil Bickford, who is a junior college pitcher. I'm more likely to see the Tigers looking for a power arm, one of Chadd's known tendencies, than specifically targeting a college player.