Okay we’ve already talked enough about MLB Draft to acknowledge it’s far too early to establish which teams might be interested in specific players and why. Again, a player such as Jesus Montero and is not going to change the feeling of the front office or scouting department on one specific player. Just like Felix Hernandez or Taijuan Walker isn’t going to change their minds about drafting Lucas Giolito or Kevin Gausman. The depth of the system in place obviously helps push them in the direction of certain players such as having the need for catching depth last year.
Though we should at least acknowledge that there there has been a few moves that will shake things up for the coming draft. Such as the Mariners appointing a new national cross checker in, Mark Lummus, former Midwest area supervisor and a member of the organization since 1999 as a local area scout (and per Jason Churchill one key scouts involved in signing Adam Moore). I can’t find out what exactly happened to Mike Cadahia the former national cross checker, but he was referenced by Keith Law in a response to an e-mail from The Common Man and was said to have been recently let go. Which is mildly surprising but it does make you wonder how much had to do with what happened back in June with the draftroom debate of Danny Hultzen vs. Francisco Lindor. But I really don’t like coming back to that situation for every time a scout leaves or someone gets fired.
Anyways, it’s just an example of the changes that have happened and the likelyhood that we might see a few surprises this draft. Not just at the top of the draft but more over the draft as a whole. One example might be how when the new scouting department which came from the northeast and used quite a few picks in the late draft to select a few of their favorites out from under the radar. Likewise while the scouting department has leaned on the east coast for quite a few selections over the last few years we might see them go with a few more Midwest selections. That’s hardly a fact, pure speculation, it probably not happen, but it’s something to watch for as we march towards June.
Last week I talked a lot about catcher Mike Zunino. But I wanted to give my personal Top-5 guys I’m watching going into the spring and then my Top-5 guys to actually watchout, as in guys that I worry about in general. We’ll have some watches going on during the season. But until then here is a little Top-5 to tie you over
Top-5: Guy’s I’m watching to watchout for (in simpler words, avoid):
1. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford
I get everyone is all about velocity and that he gets out. But how he gets outs is mildly worrisome. He doesn’t miss enough bats for his “supposed” stuff that I’ve seen a few people make comparisons to both Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. I don’t buy it. You can look at a lot of guys that have been drafted over the last few years and while it’s easy to pull for the guys that have statistical backing the thing is guys that don’t have that backing burn out more often than the ones with it. I’ll watch him with a special eye but at this point I’m not a fan of his.
2. Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
Many different people associate Gallo as a third basemen but I believe he’s more likely a first basemen due to his huge stature and size (6’5, 220lbs+) at already the tender age of 17. He’s very similar, in my mind at least, to that of Travis Harrison last year. A guy who a lot of guys liked but never could quite figure out whether he was an elite first basemen or would stick long term at third base. The end summation was Harrison dropping into sandwich rounds and getting scooped up by Minnesota. I tend to think that Gallo will drop but then again, he could end up being this years version of Christian Yelich. He’s also been clocked as high as 94 coming off the mound so there is even the slight chance that a team might go with him as a pitcher. Either case he’s not a top-10 pick to me and certainly not someone in the top-5.
3. Brian Johnson, LHP/1B, Florida
Johnson is a guy that I think may have a shot at Danny Hultzen fever (a guy that catches fire and ends up in the top-5 discussion). He’s a guy that has a few things going for him on the mound and again he may just really lighting up the compitition on his way to a June payday. But he’s always been a tweener, never really one way or another, in therms of pitcher or position player and he’s not been real consistent. He’s not got the bat to stick long term at first base. He’s just got too many question marks to sit inside the top-10 for me. Again this is purely my opinion, based on statistics, seen on both TV/youtube and what I’ve read online.
4. Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State
First off, I think Marrero could probably compete opening day on about 3 or 4 major league rosters based purely on his defense. His bat is a bigger concern. Last year he posted a wOBA of .348 in a league that was good but not elite and is a similar though not all together better hitter as former ASU shortstop Riccio Torres (drafted by TB). Marrero might end up being a league average hitter and as a shortstop with a plus glove that easily puts him roughly in the same mold as say JJ Hardy, though, with less power. He’s not a guy that fits into the top-5 guy to me, but then again when you consider how little time he’d actually spend in the minor leagues his value increases. I figure he’ll fit in nicely in the 7-15 range. But I’ve been wrong about a lot in life and this would be lest surprised.
5. Lance McCullers, RHP, Jesuit HS, Tampa
McCullers is a guy I’ve tried to stay real positive about the past 4 or 5 months. I get tired of people dogging the power 18 year old. He’s been around major league ball most of his life with his father being a major league pitcher. The kid knows how pitch and throws in the mid 90’s with a wicked slider. The problem is his mechanics aren’t the nicest or cleanest in the world and he’s only 6’2. So there are questions on whether he can legitimately stay there and and whether or not he can stay healthy. There is a lot of talk about him being born to close. Which in my opinion is ludacris but at the same time there are concerns and I understand that. With a commitment to Florida that far as I can tell is pretty strong. I like him, but I’m not sure enough to buy him out of college. It’s really hard to get a feel on him and I can’t say that 6 months is really going to change a whole lot.
I have no problem with each of these guys above. Brian Johnson may even vault himself into #3 discussion by the end of the year with his peripherals. But, at the current time I’m wary of them and I’d like to see more information on them and specifically Johnson, I’d like to see a few of his starts being that they broadcast plenty of SEC baseball games on TV down in south. Each of them have special skills and could very well all end up being either inside the top-5 or top-10.
Top-5: Guy’s I’m watching…with a bit of excitement.
1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
You know how excited I was last year about Dylan Bundy. He’s an amazing talent and if I was a Baltimore fan I’d be very excited about what he could bring to the organization. Giolito could very well be in that same category with more checks in the scout box. He’s got the height and proportion, the attitude and smile, oh and that high 90’s fastball with a hammer curve that makes you shudder. He’s easily at the top of my list. If the Mariners come up and Giolito is on the board I can’t see the point in not taking him. According to several sites he’s a top notch student with a full ride to UCLA. He’s going to get a large percentage of some team’s allocation money or he’s going to college. This is one of the reasons why I can’t stand this new CBA.
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County HS, Baxley, Ga.
I’ve read a couple of guys that claim Buxton is just Donavan Tate redux, which is crazy speak. Buxton isn’t just a pure athlete, like Tate was, he didn’t just start in 3 different sports in high school. He’s a guy that is committed to baseball and though he plays QB for his local high school team he’s going to Georgia as a baseball player. A guy that draws comparisons to both Upton brothers, not just for his speed but his power and ability to drive the ball. A guy that could hit .280-.300 and still hit 20-30 home runs. He’s a specimen and one that could be a perennial all-star center fielder.
3. Mike Zunino, C, Florida
We’ve covered him a lot and I still don’t get all of our regular readers disinterest in him. Imagine at this time next year talking about a catcher who could potentially, maybe not, make the team out of spring training but is within the next 9 months making his appearances on the team. We’re talking about another Buster Posey type. A guy who is already a defensive major league plus and a guy that wouldn’t need much time in the minor league system. He might not be a 40 home run guy but those are FEWER and FEWER becoming available. Those are the Victor Roache guys that you draft in the sandwich round. Guys that are hardly safe picks, but have boom type potential. Mike Zunino is a guy who is building block. A Dustin Ackley guy, that is going to contribute more to your team than just home runs.
I wish people could get beyond failed prospects because I feel like Jeff Clement really screwed us over here with how the fan base will react if Zunino is selected. At this point in time I can’t see Zunino not going in the top-5, short of injury. The guy fits for some many teams in so many ways. I wouldn’t be surprised even if he was taken #1 but I personally think that the Twins would be better suited in drafting Giolitto. Just my personal opinion.
4. Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU
Gausman is a bit under the radar but shouldn’t be. He’s a draft eligible sophomore from Colorado playing for LSU. A guy that was widely regarded back in 2010 as one of the better high school pitchers out of the crop. But with a known sign ability issue. So he dropped, he dropped and despite his talents. Now he’s showing off better numbers than that of Mark Appel, widely considered the best available arm in the draft. Gausman flashes a fastball that sits in the low to mid 90’s with easy velocity and good mechanics by many different accounts. He throws both a curve ball and slider but flashes a gem of a change-up that mimics the same arm splot and arm speed of his fastball. He’s got good size at 6’4 and he has plenty ceiling to aspire to. I think Gausman is the Trevor Bauer to Mark Appel’s Gerrit Cole. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up.
5. Trey Williams, 3B,
Williams is a bit of stretch here, but I’m alright with that. By many different accounts he should stick at third base long term with all the tools to make him an above average defender that includes the rifle that is attached at his right arm. His father is a former big leaguer and like McCuller you can’t hate on the genes. He’s shown many of the same traits that made his Dad a #4 overall pick. Except that he’s bigger and stronger, already than his Dad. Did I mention that he’s a pure hitter with a sweet swing? One that generated 3 home runs at the age of 16 during the WWBA 16U National Championships. He’s got the ability to hit for both average and power (it should be noted that his opposite field power has showed in severall different events) from third base and he has a bit of speed to go a long with it. He’s a five tool player that has blood lines. A lot to like here.
Having the number 3 pick it’s not like you need a top-5 list. But at this point in the season scouting directors have lists much longer than this of guys that they might see this spring in anticipation of the June draft. I’m sure that my list can be picked apart. That’s the fun of it, it’s subjective. It’s mine. I’m not here to tell you anything that you couldn’t find anywhere else. This is just my opinion of the mass amounts of information that is readily available on these players. I’m sure that if you asked 5 or even 10 other people for their list that it would be different. This is my blog so there, argue all you want.