3 shortstops land atop latest mock Draft
Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers project to be top three selections on Monday
Heading into the final weekend before the Draft starts, the biggest wild card -- at least among fully healthy players -- is Daz Cameron. Several teams have been told that the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.) outfielder has a price tag of $5 million, and it's unclear whether that's a firm number or who might pay it.
Only the first four picks come with an assigned bonus-pool value of $5 million or more. In the mock draft below, we play it straight and have the Rangers selecting Cameron at No. 4. If Texas does pass on the son of former All-Star Mike Cameron, the Astros would have the easiest time fitting him into their budget. Houston has by far the largest bonus pool at $17,289,200, thanks to the highest pair of first-round picks ever at Nos. 2 and 5 -- not to mention a supplemental first-rounder (No. 37) and an early second-rounder (No. 46).
If the Astros believe Cameron, who is committed to Florida State, might fall dramatically, they could gamble and potentially wind up with three of the first six players on MLBPipeline.com's Draft Top 200. They could take Louisiana State shortstop Alex Bregman at No. 2, grab a college pitcher such as Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer at No. 5 and land Cameron at No. 37. Houston could spend $15 million on those three players and more than $3 million in the second through 10th rounds without exceeding its pool by more than 5 percent and triggering the loss of a future first-round choice.
For the third straight mock draft, MLBPipeline projects that the D-backs will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the No. 1 overall pick. Here are links to our three previous projections:
The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from@MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft. A breakdown of club signing bonus pools -- and Draft rules -- can be found here.
1. Arizona D-backs
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
The industry believes the D-backs clearly prefer Swanson to the Draft's top-rated prospect, Lake Mary (Fla.) High shortstop Brendan Rodgers. If Arizona can't agree on financial parameters with Swanson, it could turn to Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay or take a steep discount with Kennesaw Mountain High (Kennesaw, Ga.) catcher Tyler Stephenson.
2. Houston Astros (compensation for not signing 2014 first-rounder Brady Aiken)
Alex Bregman, SS, Louisiana State
The Astros love Swanson and can afford to pay him more than the D-backs can. Even if he's not available, Houston should wind up with a shortstop -- either Bregman or Rodgers. The Astros may go with a college option here (Bregman) and take a high school bat at No. 5. They're also considering the top three pitchers (Fulmer, Jay or UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate), but at least one of those arms will be available three picks later, while the shortstops probably won't be.
3. Colorado Rockies
Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS
This makes three teams in a row that would gladly pick Swanson. That won't be an option, so the Rockies will have to choose between Rodgers and Jay, and they appear to have a split camp. Cameron is another possibility.
4. Texas Rangers
Daz Cameron, OF, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (McDonough, Ga.)
If the Rockies leave Rodgers on the board, the Rangers could scoop him up. If that doesn't happen and Texas doesn't want to pony up for Cameron, it's unclear whether it would select one of the three college arms or look for another positon player such as prep outfielders Kyle Tucker (Plant High, Tampa, Fla.) and Garrett Whitley (Niskayuna, N.Y., High).
5. Houston Astros
Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
The Astros have been all over Tucker, whose brother Preston is an outfielder on their big league team, since early in the spring. They're also enamored with Fulmer, who potentially could contribute to their playoff drive this summer as a reliever before switching back to a starter in 2016.
6. Minnesota Twins
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
The Twins like Cameron a lot, but they don't feel the same way about his asking price. Bregman could be Plan B, though he's in the mix for every pick after the D-backs. That will leave Minnesota looking at pitchers, probably Jay versus Tate. The Twins also have strong interest in San Clemente (Calif.) left-hander Kolby Allard, the top-rated prep pitcher entering the season, but he hasn't taken the mound since a stress reaction in his back sidelined him in mid-March.
7. Boston Red Sox
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
The same three names keep coming up with the Red Sox: Bregman, Fulmer and Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Boston could have had all of them if it had been able to sign Fulmer (15th round) and Bregman (29th) out of high school in 2012.
8. Chicago White Sox
Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
It's no secret that the White Sox covet college arms here. Tate didn't figure to last this long a month ago, but his stuff faded down the stretch in his first season as a college starter. If the big three all go before No. 8, Chicago would likely take Missouri State right-hander Jon Harris.
9. Chicago Cubs
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
Though the Cubs have a more obvious need for pitching, they're linked to more bats than arms. Unless one of the top college arms gets to No. 9, Chicago appears to be targeting Benintendi and Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ over Harris. They also have spent a lot of time evaluating high school outfielders such as Cameron, Tucker and Richland High's (North Richland Hills, Texas) Trenton Clark.
10. Philadelphia Phillies
Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
While Stephenson rumors won't go away here, the Phillies need more immediate help. They'd strongly consider the four players we're projecting to go immediately ahead of them, and Harris also would make sense. If Philadelphia prefers a bat and Benintendi is gone, it could turn to Happ.
11. Cincinnati Reds
Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain HS (Kennesaw, Ga.)
Hometown players Benintendi (a Cincinnati high school product) and Happ would be enticing, though the Reds may not be able to pass on Stephenson's ceiling. They did well with the most recent prep catcher they took in the first round, Devin Mesoraco. If Tucker somehow fell to No. 11, he'd be the choice.
12. Miami Marlins
Trenton Clark, OF, Richland HS (North Richland Hills, Texas)
Everyone assumes the Marlins will take the best high school outfielder available. With Cameron and Tucker off the board, Clark is next in line ahead of Whitley.
13. Tampa Bay Rays
Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Rays look to be targeting college pitching. With the top three and Harris gone, that leaves Buehler and right-handers Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) and James Kaprielian (UCLA) remaining on the second tier.
14. Atlanta Braves
Ian Happ, OF, Cincinnati
The easy move is to give the Braves a Georgia high schooler. They'd take Stephenson, but they probably can't afford Cameron and may prefer Griffin (Ga.) High shortstop Cornelius Randolph with their second pick at No. 28. Atlanta could hit a variety of demographics from college bat (Happ) to high school athlete (Whitley) to prep pitcher (Stroudsburg (Pa.) High right-hander Mike Nikorak.
15. Milwaukee Brewers
Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville
Several teams in this range are looking for college arms, and the second group won't last much longer. Funkhouser projected as a top-five choice before a late-season slump, then helped his cause with a strong start in the NCAA Regionals last week. If he pitches well in the Super Regionals this weekend, he could go higher.
16. New York Yankees
James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA
The Yankees want a college pitcher, too, and the more polished Kaprielian should move faster than College of Southern Nevada right-hander Phil Bickford, the No. 10 overall choice in 2013. Hitters who could tempt New York include Randolph, Whitley, Happ and Wilson High (Long Beach, Calif.) catcher Chris Betts.
17. Cleveland Indians
Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna (N.Y.) HS
Another club that would prefer a college starter, the Indians may not see one they like get to No. 17. That would leave them looking at Whitley, Happ and high school pitchers Allard, Nikorak, Ashe Russell (Cathedral High, Indianapolis) and Donny Everett (Clarksville (Tenn.) High).
18. San Francisco Giants
Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS
Many clubs avoid high school arms in the first round, but the Giants aren't afraid after taking Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler. They might have their pick of the prep pitching crop, and Nikorak could have the highest ceiling available. San Francisco is strongly connected to Lawrence North High (Ind.) right-hander Nolan Watson, but he makes more sense at No. 31.
19. Pittsburgh Pirates
Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente (Calif.) HS
The Pirates are another team that will take high school pitchers, who represent the best value at this point. With a second first-rounder at No. 32, they can gamble on Allard's upside. The consensus among teams is that of the four injured pitchers who would have been top-10 picks until they got hurt, Allard carries the least risk, followed in order by Virginia left-hander Nathan Kirby (lat strain), IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate lefty Brady Aiken (Tommy John surgery) and Duke righty Michael Matuella (Tommy John surgery and spondylolysis, a defect of the vertebra in the lower back). Clubs that gamble on injured pitchers usually don't tip their hands before making their selection, so it's purely guesswork where they end up.
20. Oakland Athletics
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
It appears the A's will take aim at a college performer. With Happ and Kaprielian gone, they'd look at two-time Cape Cod League batting champion Newman, North Florida outfielder Donnie Dewees -- NCAA Division I slugging leader (.749) -- and slick-fielding San Diego shortstop Kyle Holder.
21. Kansas City Royals
Cornelius Randolph, SS, Griffin (Ga.) HS
Randolph's talent as a hitter merits going before No. 21, and he shouldn't get past the Royals. They also like high school arms and almost took Bickford with the eighth overall choice in 2013.
22. Detroit Tigers
Phil Bickford, RHP, College of Southern Nevada
The Tigers have taken more than their share of hard throwers under vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd, and they could do so again with Bickford or Everett.
23. St. Louis Cardinals
Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
Though the Cardinals are tied to several college position players, including Newman and Florida shortstop Richie Martin, Kirby could be a steal once he regains his health.
24. Los Angeles Dodgers
Brady Aiken, LHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) post-graduate program
Because they have a successful big league team and are expected to dominate the international market this summer, the Dodgers have less riding on their first-round pick than most clubs. So why not gamble on Aiken, the No. 1 overall pick a year ago?
25. Baltimore Orioles
Richie Martin, SS, Florida
A mini-run on college positon players could start here, with the Orioles choosing between Martin, Dewees, Florida State outfielder D.J. Stewart and Arizona second baseman Scott Kingery.
26. Los Angeles Angels
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona
The Angels are on several college middle infielders, including Newman, Martin, Kingery and Louisiana-Lafayette shortstop Blake Trahan. They may not be able to ignore one of the first-tier high school arms, and Russell and Everett would still be on the board in this scenario.
27. Colorado Rockies (compensation for loss of free agent Michael Cuddyer)
Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida
The Rockies could face the same decision as the Angels -- choosing between college performers and younger pitchers. They might be the ceiling for right-handers Jacob Nix (IMG Academy post-graduate) and Peter Lambert (San Dimas (Calif.) High), as well as the floor for Nikorak.
28. Atlanta Braves (compensation for loss of free agent Ervin Santana)
Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (Indianapolis)
Though high school right-handers usually last longer than they should, it may be a stretch for Russell to get to No. 28. Everett would be another consideration, as would Texas Christian left-hander Alex Young, who's more likely to be available.
29. Toronto Blue Jays (compensation for loss of free agent Melky Cabrera)
Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice HS (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
Slated to go in the upper half of the first round before an inconsistent spring, Plummer still has a high ceiling. The Jays are probably the first team that would take another prep outfielder, West Columbus High's (Cerro Gordo, N.C.) Eric Jenkins. They also have an affinity for shortstops and high school pitchers, which should give them some intriguing options to choose from.
30. New York Yankees (compensation for loss of free agent David Robertston)
Chris Betts, C, Wilson HS (Long Beach, Calif.)
The Yankees prioritize offense in their catchers more than most organizations, making Betts an obvious match, because he has the most potent bat at the thinnest position in this Draft. They might have a hard time passing on Everett or Plummer and look like the high-water mark for Kentucky right-hander Kyle Cody.
31. San Francisco Giants (compensation for loss of free agent Pablo Sandoval)
Nolan Watson, RHP, Lawrence North HS (Indianapolis)
Watson has a pretty good chance of getting to the Giants' second pick. Everett also would be a nice fit, as would another prep flamethrower, De La Salle High (Concord, Calif.) lefty Justin Hooper.
32. Pittsburgh Pirates (compensation for loss of free agent Russell Martin)
Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville (Tenn.) HS
As with Russell at No. 28, it's hard to believe Everett would last this long. Some teams consider him the best high school pitcher available, but stranger things have happened with prep right-handers.
33. Kansas City Royals (compensation for loss of free agent James Shields)
Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista Community HS (Lake Worth, Fla.)
A year after drafting a Florida high school pitcher (Foster Griffin) in the first round, the Royals could travel that route again. They've been associated with Smith and Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) High right-hander Triston McKenzie.
34. Detroit Tigers (compensation for loss of free agent Max Scherzer)
Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
Matuella might have been the No. 1 overall pick had he stayed healthy, so he's worth a gamble for a club with multiple first-rounders. Hooper and Azusa Pacific (Calif.) right-hander Josh Staumont fit the Tigers' profile of guys who can light up radar guns.
35. Los Angeles Dodgers (compensation for loss of free agent Hanley Ramirez)
Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Concordia Lutheran HS (Tomball, Texas)
One of the more advanced high school hitters and defenders available -- no surprise for someone who grew up around the game as the son of ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes -- Ke'Bryan is making a late push into the first round.
36. Baltimore Orioles (compensation for loss of free agent Nelson Cruz)
Josh Naylor, 1B, St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (Mississauga, Ontario)
Another guy with late helium is Naylor, who has as much raw and usable power as anyone available. He homered five times in 12 games on a recent swing through the Dominican Republic with Canada's 18-and-under national team, and a similar tear helped push fellow Canadian Brett Lawrie into the first round in 2008.