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Alternate Reality Mock Draft: 2012 NFL Mock Draft/2012 MLB Mock Draft

I did a few alternate reality mock drafts back in the day, so I thought I’d bring one back for a little lighthearted Friday fun. I had started this earlier in the week, so ignore any pre-draft (NFL Draft, that is) commentary that is no longer relevant. The premise here is simple: what if the MLB Draft order was determined by the NFL Draft order? Here’s how I set it up last time:

Roger Goodell rules the NFL with an iron fist, does he not? After finally tiring of wielding his unprecedented power of America’s Game, the commissioner now has set his sights on making big changes to America’s Pastime. First change? Unifying the draft order between the two sports. That’s right. This year’s MLB Draft order will be taken directly from the recently completed 2010 NFL Draft. As soon as the Rams went on the clock last night, so did the Cardinals. When the Lions celebrated taking the draft’s best player with the second overall pick, scouts for the Tigers were pouring over scouting reports of players they never believed they’d have a chance to get under the previous draft rules. Get the idea? Good. Prepare for more inanity with yet another Friday edition of an Alternate Reality Mock Draft!

Swap out the years and we’re more or less doing the same thing. Let’s do it…

Indianapolis – pass

I breifly thought about giving this pick to the Pirates, but came to my senses when I decided that a) having a AAA affiliate in the city isn’t good enough for my little alternate universe game, and b) any scenario when the Pirates have the chance to take the already banged up Lucas Giolito would surely result in tears for all involved. I guess that joke doesn’t work as well considering Pittsburgh’s recent stretch of relatively healthy minor league arms, but their run of failed first round pitching prospects amazes me so much that I had to mention it. If nothing else, I feel better after honoring the ghosts of Bobby Bradley and John VanBenschoten.

1. Washington

We all know by now that no team picks for need in baseball, right? Even mentioning the idea that a team might consider anything except best player available (BPA) is idiotic, right? Right? Well, here’s the thing – right or wrong, I’m pretty sure teams consider need on draft day. For smart teams it isn’t the determining factor, but it is a consideration. If the room is divided between two closely ranked prospects then it isn’t a stretch to believe that the ugly four-letter n-word, as determined by position and proximity to the big leagues, is as good a tie-breaker as any. Teams don’t go into the first round with tunnel vision to the point that they only consider right fielders because the man currently manning the position is in a contract year, but need, as we’ll loosely define below, isn’t as evil as some may lead you to believe.

The nice thing about need is that you can really define it any way you want. Need when it comes to baseball prospects, many of whom are at least two full minor league seasons away from even threatening to crack the big league roster, is a meaningless term. Allow me to explain using two 2012 Draft examples.

1) Washington has built a team that is ready to win now (or, at worst, now-ish), so the temptation for a quick rising prospect at a position of need (Mike Zunino) makes a lot of sense. Zunino fills an immediate organizational need while providing the team with a relatively high floor (starting caliber catcher a la Charles Johnson?) prospect who should be ready to go by 2015.

2) Washington has built a team that is ready to win now (or, at worst, now-ish), but must continue to replenish their minor league system with impact talent. Recent drafts have been kind to the Nationals in this regard. Things are no different in this alternate reality where, thanks to the Redskins dogged pursuit of their QB of the future, they hold the first overall pick in a draft with one potentially transcendant position player talent. From Strasburg to Harper to Rendon to Buxton? Byron Buxton fills the long-standing CF hole in DC. His timetable should position him to lead the next wave — the current group is already in DC or biding time in AAA — of pennant contending talent into the nation’s capital. If say, Buxton is up to stay in 2017, then he’ll likely be playing to Bryce Harper’s right. In this scenario, Harper is a grizzled veteran about to embark on his fifth big league season. This speaks to the importance of continuing the talent pipeline and staggering minor league prospects across levels.

So what does “need” even mean when it comes to drafting in baseball? Need can mean whatever you want it to mean. The Pirates needed to add a potential frontline starter in last year’s draft more than they decided they needed a polished college bat, so they selected Gerrit Cole over Anthony Rendon. I know this isn’t how need is typically viewed, but I think the whole concept of “need vs BPA” is overblown. How often does it even come up in a typical draft anyway? Has a team ever publicly admitted to drafting for need? Why do we even think it happens in the first place? I’m done thinking about drafting for need. Need is boring.

Florida C Mike Zunino is the pick, by the way.

2. Minnesota

Tough year for Minnesota sports, eh? The Twins lose no ground in this exercise with a friendly assist from their disappointing football counterparts. This reminds me that I wrote up a long piece about Christian Ponder (and Sean Gilmartin) and the myth of the “overdraft” last year, but never quite got it to the point where I was comfortable publishing. The fifteen second synopsis: if your guy is on the board and you don’t think he’ll be around the next time you pick, then you take him. There are other factors at play, of course, but the value gained in waiting a round to take the guy you want is often not worth the risk of losing him in the interim.

I have no idea which direction the Twins are leaning this year, but I’ve heard college pitching could be the focus. Good enough for me. Zimmer was once the perfect Minnesota pitching prospect — average stuff, plus command, righthanded, and nondescript. He’s retained the middle two qualities while cranking up the stuff, thus becoming very descript. (NOTE: descript may not be a real word, but it should be.) He’s like your typical Twins prospect who has been exposed to gamma rays or something.

San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer, welcome to Minnesota.

3. Cleveland

While the Browns struggle with the decision about what marquee skill player they want at pick four in the NFL Draft — quick aside: how in the world did the Browns end up with the fourth overall pick and yet still wind up in what looks to me like an unwinnable spot in the draft? I don’t like Tannehill here, would much rather wait on a WR until the second, and, as much as I love Trent Richardson, I’m not sure adding him would have the desired impact on their future they are looking for — the Indians thank their lucky stars over their good fortune. They’ll continue building up the middle and add to their existing core of 2B Jason Kipnis, SS Francisco Lindor, and C Carlos Santana by adding the draft’s biggest upside play.

Cleveland awaits Appling County HS (Georgia) CF Byron Buxton’s arrival

4. Tampa Bay

Giving the Rays a pick this early in the draft may bring back flashbacks to their horrible Devil days, but I’m sure it is a trade that they’d gladly take once they remember how much fun it is picking high in the draft. It’s like the opposite of a life lesson that way: it isn’t the journey because, damn, the journey sucks,  it’s the destination.

A part of me would really like to see how a team like Tampa or Texas or Boston or even the Phillies would draft if they had the chance to select in the top ten. I’m sick of seeing the Pirates, Royals, and Orioles always picking near the top. I want to see what a smarter scouting staff would do with a premium pick. That’s why the Rays are going with my pick of Lucas Giolito here. The subtext there is pretty clear: I’m lumping myself in with what I’d imagine these smart teams would do. I’m pretty much in love with myself.

Get well soon and enjoy the Florida sunshine, Harvard-Westlake HS (California) RHP Lucas Giolito

5. St. Louis

This annoys me. Can I just skip this pick? It is my alternate reality and I am making up the rules as I go, after all. We’ll just keep it brief. Have fun with your stupid championship and the pre-season consensus top draft prospect, St. Louis. Some teams have all the luck…

Stanford Mark Appel is off the board.

Jacksonville – pass

My brother had the world’s ugliest Jaguars starter jacket when we growing up. Every shade of color on it looked like vomit. I didn’t associate teal, gold, and black with vomit before he got that coat, but now I know that anything is possible.

6. Miami

Duke RHP Marcus Stroman to Miami. Why? Why not? Florida might not have picked a short college righthander with an early first round pick, but anything goes in wild and crazy Miami.

Carolina – pass

My Panthers starter jacket on the other hand, oh boy, now that was a thing of beauty. If there’s a nicer shade of blue than Panther Blue, I haven’t seen it. Is it weird that one of the most vivid memories of my young life was watching the 1995 Hall of Fame Game with my brother (my two sisters had wandered off) while my parents shopped for some kind of big ticket appliance (either oven or washer/dryer, can’t remember) at Sears. Memory…how does it work?

Buffalo – pass

Baseball? More like snowball? Am I right? (It’s pretty cold in Buffalo during the winter) (I hear their summer is quite nice, lots of upper-70s and low-80s days) (The joke only works if you ignore the previous statement, so if it isn’t too much trouble you can just go ahead and do that). Anyway, no pick for Buffalo because they don’t have a MLB team. Someday, maybe!

7. Kansas City

Kansas City has been hot on the trail of a college starting pitcher every year since I’ve been running this site. Three years later and they have yet to draft a true college starting pitcher, though I’m admittedly hiding behind the Aaron Crow independent league loophole here. They haven’t drafted an honest to goodness college starting pitcher since Matt Campbell, a player I legitimately have no memory, in 2004. I’m going to go ahead and assume this is a true fact, despite the fact that ESPN wants me to believe the Royals drafted a guy named Mitchell Myer the year before. A good copy editor is priceless. They get their college starter and arguably the most talented of the bunch in Kevin Gasuman.

BBQ time for LSU RHP Kevin Gausman

8. Seattle

I gave up on trying to predict what Seattle would do last year before they made the shocking — to me, anyway — pick of Danny Hultzen. I’m man enough to admit when I’m beat. My logic for Correa is three-fold: 1) he’s the best player left on the board, 2) Seattle has a bevy of arms flying through the system, so the need (yes, need) for arms might not be on the forefront of their draft plan, and 3) I want to see a Correa-Dustin Ackley double play in person somewhere, someday. Lots of buzz out there that Correa is ahead of Buxton on Houston’s board, by the way.

Good luck in Seattle, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy SS Carlos Correa

9. Arizona

When I started this thing way back in 1997, I really thought mock drafts would be an integral part of the site. I enjoyed reading them, I wanted to challenge myself by making one myself, and, as I soon learned, people really, really, really love clicking on them – the first three search engine terms that lead people to my site all include the word “mock.” Then I started doing them and realized that they are more or less pointless (unless you are Jim Callis) beyond whatever entertainment and information you can provide in the rationale for each pick. Since I’m neither entertaining nor informative, I’ve moved away from mocks in recent years.

A good mock draft to me doesn’t necessarily have to get a single pick right. A good mock draft should be fun to read. A non-expert mock (i.e. anything not by Callis) should be a vessel for sharing information about interesting players while trying to make logical connections between prospects and teams. If you happen to have a little insider-y intelligence to share, so much the better. Marrero to Arizona falls under a few of my mock draft criterion. It is a logical fit (he’d be Stephen Drew’s long-term successor at short) and  there is a fun angle to write about (hometown player!). Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Arizona State SS Deven Marrero is already used to the dry heat, so…

10. Dallas

Even though the Rangers don’t need any extra help and, more importantly, I’ve spent a lifetime hating the Cowboys, I’ll throw the fine folks of Texas a bone and give the Cowboys pick to the Metroplex Rangers. This is a poor decision because it gives the talent-rich Texas club the draft’s best lefthander. Owner/GM/Scouting Direction/Secret Manager/Bullpen Catcher Nolan Ryan (as some Rangers fans tell it) should be pleased adding such a high upside arm in my fictional world.

Something something cowboy boots something something, Harvard-Westlake HS (California) LHP Max Fried

Alternate Reality MLB Mock Draft 2010: The NFL Takes Over

Roger Goodell rules the NFL with an iron fist, does he not? After finally tiring of wielding his unprecedented power of America’s Game, the commissioner now has set his sights on making big changes to America’s Pastime. First change? Unifying the draft order between the two sports. That’s right. This year’s MLB Draft order will be taken directly from the recently completed 2010 NFL Draft. As soon as the Rams went on the clock last night, so did the Cardinals. When the Lions celebrated taking the draft’s best player with the second overall pick, scouts for the Tigers were pouring over scouting reports of players they never believed they’d have a chance to get under the previous draft rules. Get the idea? Good. Prepare for more inanity with yet another Friday edition of an Alternate Reality Mock Draft!

1.1 St. Louis Rams/Cardinals: C Bryce Harper – Southern Nevada

As one of the few who believes Jimmy Clausen will be a better pro QB than Sam Bradford, allow me to express my hypocritical bewilderment that anybody in his/her right mind could think of a realistic scenario where Bryce Harper does not go first overall in the 2010 MLB Draft. The very thought of Harper not going first overall is pure lunacy, but, as mentioned, I realize that such a statement is at least a tad hypocritical coming from somebody who prefers a second round quarterback to the consensus number one pick in the draft. I’ve been told by certain fellow NFL Draft nuts that Bradford is leap years ahead of Clausen as a prospect; these certain people are ridiculously devoted to following college football and the NFL Draft, and, for whatever it’s worth, have dozens more meaningful contacts within the NFL than I do within MLB. They tell me that all, or at the very least nearly all, 32 teams have Bradford above Clausen on their boards. They tell me that certain teams viewed Bradford as the best QB prospect since Eli Manning. You’d think I’d be smart and defer to their expertise, but…no. I’m stupid. I admit it, but, based on what I’ve seen and read, I just like Clausen more. The doubts about his game are less significant to me than the ones surrounding Bradford. I get that some people may feel the same way about the gigantic risks associated with taking a prospect likely to demand more money than any silly junior college catcher should ever ask for. That’s fine. I’m being stupid about Clausen, so they can be stupid about Harper. Who am I to judge?

1.2 Detroit Lions/Tigers: RHP Jameson Taillon – The Woodlands HS (Texas)

Fireballing righthanded pitcher goes to Detroit with an early round selection. Feels vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? Taillon going second overall isn’t quite the slam dunk that picking Ndamukong Suh was, but it’s pretty close. Verlander-Porcello-Scherzer-Turner-Taillon. Scary.

1.3 Tampa (Bay) Buccaneers/Rays: RHP AJ Cole – Oviedo HS (Florida)

Stubbornly sticking with Cole as the second prep pitcher off the board, but slowly beginning to soften my once Gerald McCoy-esque strong position on the subject. Am I forcing these NFL Draft analogies a little bit? Anyway, as for the Tampa connection to the pick, well, I’d be lying if I had any actual idea what direction they’d go with their pick of any non-Harper/non-Taillon player on the board available. The Rays have very few easily discernible draft patterns, with perhaps the one exception being an emphasis on long-term upside stemming from faith in their magic touch with in-house player development. Cole or Karsten Whitson certainly fit the bill on the upside tip, and I was tempted to give them a bat like Manny Machado or Nick Castellanos. Ultimately, Baby Verlander is the pick.

1.4 Washington Redskins/Nationals: LHP Drew Pomeranz – Mississippi

Stephen Strasburg is joined by the potentially quick moving Pomeranz as a lethal 1-2 combination atop the Nationals rotation. If the presence of two ace caliber pitchers can’t get the fans out to the ballpark in Washington, nothing short of actually moving the Redskins back to the District will.

1.5 Kansas City Chiefs/Royals: RHP Karsten Whitson – Chipley HS (Florida)

Back in December I wrote this about Whitson: “Whitson, currently ranked fourth in this little subgroup, has a potential dynamite 1-2 punch with his fastball (sitting 91-93, hitting 95-96) and slider (works best in the mid-80s, but has shown up as a less effective slurvy high-70s CB at times), but I think his mechanics will need something pretty close to a complete overhaul as a professional.”

Sounds like the slider has tightened up a great deal this spring and his changeup is much improved. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – that’s very, very good news for his prospect stock. Next stop, consensus top ten pick!

1.6 Seattle Seahawks/Mariners: 3B Zack Cox – Arkansas

Wanted to give Jack Z an elite projectable high school arm or a plus defender at a premium defensive position, but, alas, no such player exists at this point in the draft. Cox, far and away the best college position player in 2010, is a swell consolation prize and, as an added bonus, gives the Seattle system someone with much needed power upside.

1.7 Cleveland Browns/Indians: RHP Deck McGuire – Georgia Tech

Both Cleveland and Kansas City stinking in both baseball and football really make this mock easy for me. I really like McGuire to Cleveland in a real mock, so it only makes sense to stick with him here.

1.8 Oakland Raiders/Athletics: RHP Anthony Ranaudo – Louisiana State

Buffalo and Jacksonville, owners of the next two picks in the NFL Draft’s first round, will both have to enjoy CJ Spiller and Tyson Alaualu instead of partaking in my fake NFL/MLB mock amalgalmation here. Injured college starting pitchers are the new Moneyball! I may not like a healthy Ranaudo as much as many seem to, but even I can’t quibble with a pro team scouting him and scouting him and scouting him until they are happy enough to slap a top ten grade on him. I’m opinionated, no doubt, but I also know my limitations; Ranaudo may not be my guy, but I can at least appreciate why some team is likely to grade him out as a top ten prospect.

1.9 Denver Broncos/Colorado Rockies: OF Austin Wilson – Harvard-Westlake HS (California)

Broncos? NFL? Draft? That can only mean one thing! TebowTebowTebowTebowTebowTebowTebowTebowTebow…

1.10 Miami Dolphins/Florida Marlins: SS Manny Machado – Brito HS (Florida)

Not really sure how well Machado would fit in Parcells’ 3-4, but he could potentially serve as a long-term successor to Hanley Ramirez in case the Marlins MVP ever has to move off the position. Also, he’s a local product and, let’s face it, lazy writers love plugging in local players to their nearest pro team when they have no other idea how to finish a mock…

Alternate Reality MLB Mock Draft 2010: The Name Game

Same warning as last year before we go on…

Don’t freak out, this isn’t a “real” mock draft.

We did this last year, and we’re trying it again here in 2010 as a Friday feature leading up until the draft. Alternate Reality Mock Drafts. I’ve got some pretty fun ones planned this year, but we’ll kick things off with perhaps the most nonsensical version – the Name Game. Let’s pretend for a second that Bud Selig is utterly incompetent, out of touch, and flat out bad at his job. I know it’s a stretch, but try your best. Now let’s pretend that Bud’s latest executive decision was to announce that all big league clubs could only draft players with last names that share the first letter of the city in which they play. Got it? Good. Ignoring for a minute how utterly stupid and arbitrary such a decision would be, let’s see how this Alternate Reality Mock Draft would look if such rules were in place…

1.1 Washington Nationals: OF Austin Wilson – Harvard Westlake HS (California)

Missing out on Harper stings, but the Nationals do the best they can to recover by going with the high upside outfielder over an impressive field of righthanded pitching prospects. Wilson instead of Karsten Whitson, Brandon Workman, and Alex Wimmers is a gamble, but one that could give Washington close to 1-1 value if the stars align. I also like Wilson in this spot because it would present one of the most interesting signing decisions that I can remember. Does Wilson, the Stanford commit who seems like at least a 50/50 shot to wind up on campus next fall, stick to his academic guns in the face of the highest honor an amateur ballplayer can achieve? The pressure, prestige, attention, and cold hard cash that comes with going first overall would really test Wilson’s signability.

Last Year’s Pick: RHP Zack Wheeler

1.2 Pittsburgh Pirates: LHP James Paxton – Kentucky

Drew Pomeranz has emerged as a front runner for the Pirates pick in the real world, but I’ll change things up and go with my favorite 2010 lefthanded pitcher for the sake of updating his current playing status. I mean, Pomeranz has gotten plenty of digital ink spilled his way in recent days and I’m sure, nice guy that he is and all, he wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight just this once with a fellow SEC lefty in need of some love. Paxton will pitch this season for the Grand Prairie AirHogs. His season begins May 14. His manager will be none other than former big leaguer Pete Incaviglia. I see no way that this ends in anything other than excellence for all involved.

Last Year’s Pick: LHP Matt Purke

1.3 Baltimore Orioles: RHP Cameron Bedrosian – East Coweta HS (Georgia)

Surprisingly slim pickings here, but Baltimore bypasses the alliterative choice in Bryce Brentz — why take the Markakis knock-off when you’ve got the real deal already? — to take a personal favorite of mine, Cameron Bedrosian. Kyle Blair, another favorite of mine, also received some thought here. Some insight into my thought process on this pick. First, I thought about Brentz, then I thought about Bedrosian, then back to Brentz, then Blair, and finally back to Bedrosian. All that thinking made me tired and cranky, so…that’s about all I’ve got for Baltimore. On the plus side, at least I didn’t make any snide remarks about Billy Rowell like I did last year. Progress!

Last Year’s Pick: 3B Bobby Borchering

1.4 Kansas City Royals: RHP Dan Klein – UCLA

Nary a first round lock in the K player pool, although the emergence of Klein at least gives the Royals a potential successor to Joakim Soria if/when they either trade him or move him to the rotation. In fact, and I promise I’m not just doing this for the sake of convenience, but Klein’s four-pitch mix (change, curve, slider) and low-90s fastball actually remind me a little bit of the erstwhile Royals closer. Soria’s curve is better than Klein’s, Klein’s change is better than Soria’s, but each player has done impressive things at the back end of the bullpen with the stuff more typical of a successful starting pitcher. Haven’t heard any talk of Klein moving to the rotation yet, but it’s something that wouldn’t surprise me as we get closer to the day of the draft.

Oh, and again I’m not saying this just to make the small but vocal Golden Gophers reading contingent happy, I strongly considered Mike Kvasnicka for this spot before settling on Klein.

No Pick Last Year

1.5 Cleveland Indians: 3B Zack Cox – Arkansas

More depth with the C’s than just about any other letter here in the top ten. I’m going off my own personal big board by jumping Cox over four, count ‘em four, prep players I like more. With apologies to Nick Castellanos, AJ Cole, Dylan Covey, and Kaleb Cowart, Zack Cox just feels like the best fit based on what Cleveland has done in the past. I know I’m shuffling some players around here, but I like the thought of a LaPorta-Chisenhall-Cabrera-Cox infield.

No Pick Last Year

1.6 Arizona Diamondbacks: RHP Stetson Allie – St. Edward HS (Ohio)

This pick was Robbie Aviles for a solid week in my head before I was reminded of the existence of Stetson Allie in conversation last night. In said conversation it was intimated to me that Allie’s commitment to North Carolina is a lot stronger than has been reported. I don’t typically pass along any sort of insider information like that because, well, I don’t typically have access to it (nor do I think anybody should listen to some dummy like me just because I like to pretend I’m some great big draft authority), but there you go. I’m putting ten bucks on Allie winding up in Chapel Hill, but, really, and I can’t stress this enough, what the heck do I know?

No Pick Last Year

1.7 New York Mets: RHP Jimmy Nelson – Alabama

Nelson is a fastball-slider pitcher with the modest upside of a generic big league middle reliever. For a team picking seventh overall, that would most certainly qualify as bad news. Good news for the Mets, however, comes in the form of the money saved with Nelson’s significantly underslot bonus. That’s important, you see, because (as I assume) Fred Wilpon will happily tell you, the Earth will fly right off its axis and crash straight into the Sun if any Metropolitan draft pick is signed to an overslot contract. Anything to keep a smile on the face of the Commish, right?

No Pick Last Year

1.8 Houston Astros: C Bryce Harper – Southern Nevada

Without piling on too much, I’ll just say that I’m pleased to see something go Houston’s way in this version of the mock. To paraphrase a bad joke I made when doing this last year, no truth to the rumor that the Astros organization is petitioning Major League Baseball to adopt my silly draft rules in time . To take the bad joke a step too far, Houston may want to rethink making the Name Game rule permanent. It would be a real shame to miss out on Anthony Rendon after they get the number one pick next year…

No Pick Last Year

1.9 San Diego Padres: LHP Chris Sale – Florida Gulf Coast

Sale is the right pick, but Sammy Solis would have been a much cuter pick. San Diego to San Diego? Torero to Padre? Cunningham Stadium to Petco Park? All too perfect. As it stands now, Sale to San Diego is actually not a bad pick for a real life mock draft, assuming he is still on the board.

Last Year’s Pick: RHP Tanner Scheppers

1.10 Oakland Athletics: SS Justin O’Connor – Cowan HS (Indiana)

Prep players from both Ohio and Indiana represented in the top ten of a mock. As somebody who has always lived somewhere cold, I appreciate players from chilly locales succeeding, even if it’s only in my Alternate Reality Mock Draft. I know the momentum connecting O’Connor and catching is pretty much unstoppable at this point, but I wonder why it doesn’t seem like anybody has stopped and asked, hey, why not just let him keep playing shortstop, a pretty darn important position in its own right, until he can’t play it anymore? I suppose many don’t think he can stick there as a pro, but I think he’s got the tools to play up the middle professionally. I don’t hate the catcher idea (quite the opposite, really), but O’Connor is a shortstop in my mind until proven otherwise.

Quick Question

Who do you like as the top 2010 MLB Draft prospect with a last name starting with either the letter N or the letter K?

Alternate Reality Mock Draft – Name Game

Don’t freak out, this isn’t a “real” mock draft.

We began last month we an Alternate Reality Mock Draft, so it just feels right to kick June off in similar fashion. What the heck is an alternate reality mock draft? So glad you asked. This is how I described it (without actually describing it, of course) last month…

We’re promoting a new feature straight from AA to the big leagues today because, well, it’s Friday and that seems like as good a day as any to trot out something totally random and nonsensical. Alternate Reality Drafts – the name evokes a certain feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like. Something about alternate realities and parallel universes really get the blood flowing.

A “real” mock draft is primed and ready, but it’ll need another quick edit before seeing the light of day. In the meantime, let’s pretend for a second that Bud Selig is utterly incompetent, out of touch, and flat out bad at his job. I know it’s a stretch, but try your best. Now let’s pretend that Bud’s latest executive decision was to announce that all big league clubs could only draft players with last names that share the first letter of the city in which they play. Got it? Good. Ignoring for a minute how utterly stupid and arbitrary such a decision would be, let’s see how this Alternate Reality Mock Draft would look if such rules were in place…

1.1 Washington: RHSP Zack Wheeler – The Nationals just can’t catch a break. Wheeler is a very good prospect, but missing out on a generational talent like Stephen Strasburg is a bitter pill to swallow. At least they’ll save some serious coin, right? Hey, maybe they can use the savings to hire a spellchecker…

1.2 Seattle: RHSP Stephen Strasburg – Hot rumor alert – Seattle’s petition to have MLB adopt my silly draft rule is being faxed to corporate headquarters as we speak…

1.3 San Diego: RHSP Tanner Scheppers – Scheppers may not be a terrible idea for the Padres in the real draft. He figures to be a reasonably easy sign (little to no leverage), but not at the expense of upside (I waffle at times, but I think I’m buying the talk that he has the second best raw stuff of any “college” guy behind Strasburg).

1.4 Pittsburgh: LHSP Matthew Purke – The Pirates have very few options here at pick number four (AJ Pollock being the only other potential first rounder with the magic letter leading off his last name), but Purke isn’t a bad consolation prize for a franchise in need of impact talent.

1.5 Baltimore: 3B Bobby Borchering – Slim pickings here for Baltimore, but they make the most of it by taking one of my absolute favorite bats in this entire draft. They have to hope that this pick works out a little better than the last time they drafted a high school infielder in the top ten…

1.6 San Francisco: LHSP Tyler Skaggs – After losing out on two electric arms, the Giants can only curse their bad luck and settle for a high upside prep arm. Max Stassi was also considered, but the Giants couldn’t justify using back to back high first rounders on catchers. Skaggs actually reminds me a little bit of a Madison Bumgarner/Tim Alderson mashup, so maybe there will be a happy ending in San Fran after all.

1.7 Atlanta: CF Dustin Ackley – If Seattle was the clear big winner in this format, then Atlanta is a close second. Ackley is a perfect fit for a Braves team loaded with young talent, but desperate for a fast moving bat. Ackley could slide right into the big league lineup by late summer; he would easily be the best hitter in their outfield from day one one, a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.

1.8 Cincinnati: RHSP Aaron Crow – A fake mock pick that could imitate the real thing, the Reds would be more than happy to land the near ML-ready groundballing righthander. The Reds thank their lucky stars that they pick ahead of the Rockies, knowing that the pickings are slim after Crow. Who would be next on their list? Brody Colvin is one of the few names I can come up with off the top of my head…

1.9 Detroit: RHSP Sam Dyson – Dyson over 3B Matt Davidson only because of Detroit scouting director David Chadd’s love of high velocity pitching. Dyson’s stock has yo-yoed all spring long, but the raw stuff is pretty sensational and worth the gamble at this spot. If he had performed better this season, this pick could have had an outside shot of happening in real life, but, alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

1.10 Washington: RHSP Alex White – It’s not quite Strasburg, but a Wheeler/White combo is intriguing in it’s own right. If the Nationals were still in Montreal, they could have had a 1-2 punch of Tyler Matzek and Shelby Miller. Wheeler and White or Matzek and Miller – which is the better combo? I think I’d take the latter, but it’s close.

Alternate Reality Mock Draft – The Revenge of the 06’s

We’re promoting a new feature straight from AA to the big leagues today because, well, it’s Friday and that seems like as good a day as any to trot out something totally random and nonsensical. Alternate Reality Drafts – the name evokes a certain feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I like. Something about alternate realities and parallel universes really get the blood flowing. Our question today is a relatively simple one. What if…all of the top high school talent from the 2006 Draft decided to spurn the big leagues and head off to college for three years instead? Let’s find out, shall we? Alternate Reality here we come…

1.1 Washington – RHSP Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State) – Strasburg would still be the man at number one, but there would be a ton of consideration for the next player on the list…

1.2 Seattle – LHSP Clayton Kershaw (Texas A&M) – The Aggies rotation could go five deep with Kershaw joining Raley, Wilson, Loux, and Hales in a rotation that would rival the best in all of minor league baseball. Fans in Seattle wouldn’t be nearly as upset as they are now about losing out on the top spot with a consolation prize like Kershaw.

1.3 San Diego – OF Travis Snider (Arizona State) – Imagine Wallace/Snider/Davis as the heart of the Sun Devils order in 2008. The Padres give consideration to many of the high profile arms in this spot, but eventually decide that a premium hitter ready to step in right away and mash at Petco is more valuable than any particular pitcher on the board.

1.4 Pittsburgh – RHSP Kyle Drabek (Texas? Rice? A&M?) – I just spent twenty minutes I shouldn’t have trying to find Drabek’s college commitment, if he ever even had one at all. If anybody knows it, please let me know. Anyway, wow – we’ve got our first real shocker of the draft. The Pirates never fail to do something out of the ordinary on draft day, so why not add a little nepotism to the usual mix of overdrafting questionable arms and being scared off by high bonus demands that rarely ever actually come into play anyway? The pick will surely be questioned, what with a slew of ridiculously talented pitchers with cleaner health records and more consistent track records of success, but Drabek’s upside is undeniable. The pundits are ready to pan the Pirates for another blown pick, but I applaud them for taking a chance on a truly talented player like Drabek. Would I myself have passed on, say, the player who later went to the Giants in this draft instead of him? Doubtful.(See how I didn’t ruin the surprise there – clever, right?) Though I may not have taken Drabek quite so high, it’s certainly a defensible pick – this isn’t a Moskos over Wieters situation, you know? Incidentally, good for young Kyle for being picked so high – all of the off the field concerns surrounding him coming out of high school are but a distant memory after three years of working hard during his offseasons, rehabbing from injuries diligently, and generally being a good all around teammate.

1.5 Baltimore – SS Adrian Cardenas (Florida) – As tempting as it was to give them Billy Rowell, power hitting shortstop (yeah, right…) from Alabama, I decided that the good fans of Baltimore deserved better. Instead, Baltimore goes with the second surprise pick in a row by taking the Gators star shortstop with pick number five. There are many scouts and talent evaluators that question Cardenas long-term future at short (myself among them), but the O’s will give Cardenas every chance in the world to hold on to the spot. The thought of putting the nearly ML-ready bat in a lineup with Roberts, Markakis, Wieters, and Jones is something special. In a world where batting average is still incredibly overrated by the casual observer, it almost pains me to admit that I think there is still an undeniable cool factor in envisioning  a core group of six youngish (Roberts) to very young (pretty much everybody else) veterans all capable of hitting .300 or above.

1.6 San Francisco – LHSP Brett Anderson (Oklahoma State) – Anderson, Oliver, Lyons…if you’ve got a team loaded up with lefties in your lineup, there’s really no point in showing up at the ballpark for a weekend series against the Cowboys. The Giants may want to grab a hitter like Dustin Ackley, Grant Green, or Lars Anderson here, but eventually decide that Anderson’s mix of polish and projection is too much to pass up. Lincecum, Cain, Anderson, Bumgarner, Alderson…the mind reels at the possibilities.

1.7 Atlanta – RHSP Jordan Walden (Texas) – The Braves stick with what they know best at the seventh spot, going with the big Texan with number one starter upside. Walden’s gigantic junior season with the Longhorns propelled him past a strong group of college righties and there was buzz the Padres considered popping him with the third overall pick. Baseball fans won’t soon forget his Friday night duel against Missouri ace Kyle Gibson that helped determine the Big XII regular season conference champ.

1.8 Cincinnati –  RHSP Trevor Cahill (Dartmouth) – Dartmouth’s (yes, Dartmouth’s) most accomplished pitcher since Mike Remlinger is a perfect stylistic fit for the Reds. Cahill’s groundball tendencies and strikeout stuff should play perfectly in Cincinnati. There is some concern about Cahill’s level of competition, but a closer look reveals a pitcher capable of shutting down any team that takes the field against him. The manner in which he has risen to the occasion time and time again, most notably in his nearly perfect early season starts against Duke, San Jose State, and Santa Clara, as well as a late season mid-week beatdown of Boston College (after the Big Green locked up their spot in the Ivy championship series, of course), show that he is a big game pitcher who is both willing and able to take the ball in important spots.

1.9 Detroit – SS Grant Green (Southern Cal) – In a decision too close to call, the Tigers eventually opt for the college position player over the prep arm (Tyler Matzek). The system is in such sore need of an infusion of talent in any way, shape, or form that it is more than likely that whomever is selected with this pick will be the number one player in the system by the end of the year.

1.10 Washington – 1B Lars Anderson (Cal) – Anderson occupies Rich Poythress’s usual spot as the slugging college first baseman who also happens to be relatively safe to sign with Washington’s second top ten selection. Anderson’s power potential gives him the slight edge over Carolina’s Dustin Ackley. You’d better believe that Washington would be thrilled to land such a potent 1-2 punch of pitching and offense with their top two picks.

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