Pipeline Inbox: White Sox eyeing arm at No. 8?
Reporter Jim Callis answers prospect questions from fans
The 2015 First-Year Player Draft may be 11 days away, but you don't have to wait that long for detailed discussion and video of the best players available. Jonathan Mayo and I spent Wednesday recording an hour-long MLB Network special that counts down the top 50 Draft prospects. It will air Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET.
If you can't last three more days without some Draft analysis, you've come to the right place. We're dedicating this installment of the Pipeline Inbox to Draft questions. I'll also try to get to more of your Draft queries via Twitter at @jimcallisMLB, so try me there as well.
The 2015 Draft will take place on June 8-10, beginning with the Draft Preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on June 8 at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 9.
The White Sox like college pitchers in the first round. But will there be any worthy of the No. 8 selection who will be available there?
-- Kevin S., Chicago
The White Sox do like college arms and are on the hunt for another with their top pick. Their two best first-round choices of the past decade were Florida Gulf Coast left-hander Chris Sale (2010) and North Carolina State southpaw Carlos Rodon ('14). Had Rodon gone off the board before the No. 3 choice last June, Chicago's Plan B was Louisiana State right-hander Aaron Nola.
The top pitchers available in 2015 are righties Carson Fulmer (Vanderbilt) and Dillon Tate (UC Santa Barbara), but neither figures to make it to the White Sox. Illinois lefty Tyler Jay and Missouri State righty Jon Harris would both be worthy selections at No. 8, and the decision likely will come down to one of those two. While Jay could go before Chicago picks, Harris likely will be available.
The Yankees took four college pitchers and one high school arm with their first five Draft picks last year, then gave seven-figure bonuses to international position players. Would you expect another pitching-heavy Draft in 2015 due to organizational needs, or does their international spending indicate an investment strategy in position players?
-- Marcus Z., Endicott, N.Y.
In the first round, most teams target the best player available rather than a specific demographic. That said, the strength of the Yankees' system is hitters, and they could lean toward pitchers with their top choices.
New York has a pair of first-round picks at Nos. 16 and 30. Right-handers Harris, Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt), Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) and James Kaprielian (UCLA) all could be in play for the Yankees at No. 16, as could juco righty Phil Bickford (Southern Nevada). They're more likely to go for a college arm than a high school hurler with their top choice, and that could be true at No. 30 as well.
If New York looks to double up on college pitchers with its first two choices, it could look at Cal Poly Pomona right-hander Cody Ponce, Texas Christian left-hander Alex Young or Kentucky righty Kyle Cody with its second selection.
Which shortstop has more offensive upside, Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt or Trea Turner of the Padres?
-- Dustin M., Fargo, N.D.
This is an interesting comparison, because Turner was the first college shortstop drafted in 2014, and Swanson will be this year. Turner, who soon will be headed to the Nationals as the player to be named in the Wil Myers trade last December, went 13th overall out of North Carolina State. As of now, Swanson is the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the D-backs.
Turner is definitely the faster of the two, getting 75 and 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed, while Swanson is more of a 60 runner. Swanson has a higher offensive ceiling, however, because he has a better approach and gets to his power more easily. I see him as a .280/.360/.440 hitter in the big leagues, with Turner capable of .270/.350/.400 numbers.
Who is the best defensive outfielder in the Draft?
-- Blake P., Tempe, Ariz.
The 2015 Draft's best defensive outfielder is Louisiana State's Andrew Stevenson, whose well-above-average speed and ability to get terrific jumps add up to tremendous range. Washington's Braden Bishop has similar ability and a better arm than Stevenson. Scouts are less sold on their bats, but a team that believes Stevenson and Bishop will hit enough could grab them in the third round.
On the high school side, the top outfield defender is Eagle's Landing Christian Academy's (McDonough, Ga.) Daz Cameron. He doesn't have the pure speed that Stevenson and Bishop do, but Cameron is a solid runner with tremendous instincts in center field.
That's no surprise, considering he grew up around the game as the son of three-time Gold Glove Award winner Mike Cameron. Daz has one of the more well-rounded sets of tools available, which should make him a top-10 pick.