The 2016 MLB Draft will be here before we know it, so that can only mean one thing: it’s MOCK DRAFT season. It’s been a few years since I published a mock draft around here, but I figured it was finally time to get back in the game. Of course, since I can’t offer much in the way of insider intel — I’m not BA-era peak Jim Callis over here — putting together a mock would be pretty much pointless. With the proper analysis attached to each pick mock drafts can be fun and interesting reads, not to mention a great way of exposing casual fans — the number of people who Google “2016 mlb mock draft” that find this site is insane, at least relative to the four people who read on their own volition otherwise — to players they might have not yet heard of. I might attempt a mock like that between now and June. Or not. Either way, this ain’t it.
So until then (or not) we’ll have some fun and take the idea of a mock draft to the logical extreme. If “mock” means to make something seem laughably unreal or impossible, let’s make our mock draft as unreal or impossible as we can. Our third edition of this 2016 MLB Mock Draft is based on fantasy value. Fantasy baseball is HUGE, like it or not. I play it largely because it’s become a means of staying close to a group of friends who share a common love (baseball), something that becomes increasingly difficult once you reach a certain age. Were it not for that reason, I’m not sure I’d still do it. I mention that not to be one of those too cool for school fantasy haters, but because I want it to be clear that I’m terrible at fantasy sports. I try to not be terrible, yet every season the Big Hurters are sitting in the bottom half of the standings. So, take the fantasy analysis here with all the skepticism you can muster.
Before we get into the picks, a few words about how our league operates…because there’s nothing more compelling to read about than other people’s fantasy teams. We’re a keeper league that allows each owner to retain up to eight big league players season to season. We also have shallow minor league systems of four players for each team. Categories are a mix of standard stuff that I hate but are necessary evils (wins, ERA, RBI) and analytical standards like OBP (instead of BA) and…actually I think that might be it. That’s fantasy for you, I guess.
I wasn’t sure how this mock would work out, but I think it winds up making a bit of sense. I enjoyed how attempting to create a board for a fantasy league with limited minor league keepers (four in our case) reflected the balance of upside and certainty that is such a big part of the real MLB Draft each year. You want the best possible player, obviously, but do you want to wait upwards of five years to reap the benefits? You might not be friends with your fellow owners by then! My own brother left the league this past year! With the real draft, any long-term pick like that has to be made with the acknowledgment that the person doing the picking might not hold the same job by the time the prospect turns into a player. On the other hand, if you go with more of a quick-moving “sure thing,” then, fine, maybe you get what you were expecting…but what you were expecting was a competent yet wholly unexciting big league player. That guy holds far more value in real life than fantasy so the comparison begins to show some cracks here, but drafting for star impact, especially with a top ten pick, is something that I believe bad teams need to be willing to do. I think the risk/reward balance is well-represented here, though your mileage might vary.
So, again, this isn’t a “real” mock draft, whatever that is. It’s a mock draft forcing big league teams to keep long-term fantasy implications in mind. Here we go…
1 – Philadelphia Phillies – LHP Jay Groome (Barnegat HS, New Jersey)
Risk gets thrown out the window when the reward is the closest thing to a future number one starting pitcher in this class. Working in Jay Groome’s favor is how advanced he is for a teenager. Unlike with many high school prospects, the expectation of a five year (give or take) waiting period does not apply. A big league cameo in September 2019 a month after turning 21-years-old is in play. Whether we’re talking fantasy or real life, nobody has to be told how rare true big league ace upside is. Adding Groome to the Phillies sudden — love how only in a baseball rebuild could eighteen months or so be considered sudden — pitching surplus would give them a potential difference-maker to pair with their otherwise more good than great (yet plentiful) collection of young hurlers.
2 – Cincinnati Reds – OF Corey Ray (Louisville)
I’m terrible at fantasy for a lot of reasons, but one flaw of mine that puts me at or near the bottom each year is my unique talent for completely ignoring certain categories. Drafting a player like Ben Revere fifteen rounds earlier than his overall talent level deserves just for the steals feels so dirty to me. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Corey Ray would be the kind of prospect who would help a dope like me salvage the steals category because he’s a damn good ballplayer who happens to rack up steals rather than a one-tool type who specializes in speed. A Winker-Hamilton-Ray outfield would give you a little bit of everything: speed, pop, speed, defense, speed, speed, patience, and speed. Bonus points for Louisville actually being just about as close to Cincinnati as Barnegat HS is to Philadelphia.
3 – Atlanta Braves – C Zack Collins (Miami)
Those two picks were easy. Now it’s truly anybody’s game. Collins has massive power, outstanding plate discipline, and enough defensive talent to (at minimum) follow the Kyle Schwarber “catch just enough to maintain fantasy eligibility behind the plate” early big league career path. Collins could catch for the Braves or force an eventual Freddie Freeman blockbuster trade out of town. Win-win!
4 – Colorado Rockies – 2B/3B Nick Senzel (Tennessee)
Power, speed, patience, and potential positional versatility make Senzel a surprisingly easy pick here. Considering I personally decided to keep Anthony Rendon, I support an early minor league selection of the prospect who reminds me of the current Nationals star. Meanwhile the Rockies can continue their recent trend of loading up on quality infielders like Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Forrest Wall, Ryan McMahon, Tyler Nevin, and Brendan Rodgers. I don’t know how that future infield would shake out in time, but I’m fairly certain it would wind up as one of the league’s best.
5 – Milwaukee Brewers – OF Bryan Reynolds (Vanderbilt)
This one even took me back me a little bit, I won’t lie. You’d think the guy controlling all the picks wouldn’t be surprised by what transpires in his draft, but the brain works in mysterious ways. This is also the point where I remind everybody that this is a weird theme mock draft and not a representation of what I would necessarily do. Reynolds over personal favorite Kyle Lewis pains me, but that little edge in playable speed on the base paths makes Reynolds the more appealing fantasy target. Plus, if we’re trying to make this even more representative of what might go down in a real fantasy draft, the national cache that being a Vanderbilt product brings gets Reynolds a boost, especially when compared to Lewis’s Mercer background. That’s not me talking, that’s the common fantasy fan! The “hey, I’ve heard of him” phenomenon with prospects is very real. Score one for Dansby Swanson, Sonny Gray, David Price, and the SEC Network. I love how the Brewers have drafted outfielders in recent years, swinging for the fences with high upside talents like Trent Clark, Monte Harrison, and Demi Orimoloye. Adding Reynolds to that mix along with Brett Phillips, Clint Coulter, and Michael Reed would give them plenty of options going forward.
6 – Oakland Athletics – 1B Will Craig (Wake Forest)
I’ve been calling Will Craig the next AJ Reed for a while now. AJ Reed went way, way too early in the big league portion of our fantasy draft last night. That tells me two things: 1) somebody in our league massively overrated the impact that AJ Reed will make on the big leagues this year, especially early on (i.e., stashing any minor league player on your bench for as long as Reed is expected to be in the minors is a tough pill to swallow), and 2) we, as a league, will respond to “missing” on Reed in the minor league acquisition phase last year by massively overrating a player one draft site once called “the next AJ Reed.” It’s also worth pointing out for context’s sake that quality first basemen tend to be held on to forever in this league. There are no Goldschmidt’s, Rizzo’s, Votto’s, Abreu’s, or Cabrera’s to be found on draft day here. Big bats are always needed and Craig has one of the biggest in this class. And a masher like Craig could bring back some of the old school power and patience days that the A’s were known for not too long ago.
7 – Miami Marlins – OF Kyle Lewis (Mercer)
I think I want this to happen just to see Kyle Lewis and Giancarlo Stanton hanging out in the outfield corners in Miami together. I’m certain they’d be friends in short order. Like many players picked already, Lewis brings serious thump and enough on-base skills to be a solid long-term fantasy keeper. The scary thing about Lewis is that as good as he’s been the past calendar year, it’s clear to anybody who has seen him that his star is still ascending. That’s rare for a college junior. For the purpose of our very specific and silly exercise, he’s helped somewhat by our league foolishly eliminating the CF distinction from the outfield group; where there was once a need for every team to start a CF, now all outfield positions are counted as one. Lewis’s fantasy stock takes a small hit due to the lack of steals on his résumé, but, hey, nobody’s perfect.
8 – San Diego Padres – 3B Nolan Jones (Holy Ghost Prep, Pennsylvania)
Though listed as a third baseman, Nolan Jones could be the type of special athlete good enough to stick at shortstop long enough to make fantasy owners happy. Many — myself included — have been quick to shift the powerful 6-5, 220 pounder to third in the pros, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Shortstops who can hit and move like Jones are incredibly value in both real life and fantasy, but the third base spot in a keeper league like ours can be just as devoid as re-draft talent. The best third basemen on the board last night were Evan Longoria, Kyle Seager, and…Justin Turner? The undrafted Travis Shaw and Jake Lamb were next on my personal board. Bottom line is simple: if you can play the left side of the infield and do positive things offensively, you’re fantasy gold. Shameless brag/plus of the week: assuming the weather holds, I’m set to see Jones next week on Thursday and Saturday. Do I think that Jones could be sneaky competition to Jay Groome as a 1-1 possibility with local ties to the Phillies? Stay tuned!
9 – Detroit Tigers – OF Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon HS, California)
The Mickey Moniak vs Blake Rutherford debate sure to pick up steam as we get closer to June makes an appearance in this very mock. Moniak gets the win thanks to his fantasy-approved advantages in speed and on-base ability. The potential for a on-base monster who runs down balls in center and piles up steals is very real with Moniak. I enjoy Moniak so much as a prospect that I have a difficult time forming coherent thoughts around him. Here are a few sentences that I wrote but couldn’t tie together in a cohesive paragraph designed to describe how much Moniak as a hitter. He can literally hit the ball anywhere on the diamond with authority. Watching him pepper the whole field is an absolute treat for any fan of the game. His approach at the plate is better than all but the smallest number of college prospects three years his senior. The improvements he’s made from last summer to this spring are incredibly impressive; he’s become a more complete hitter and improved both his arm strength and accuracy of his throws. His hands work fast and his bat speed is the kind that sends a buzz through any scouting section. I’ll compose myself just enough to say that if Moniak does get to the Tigers in real life, he’ll very likely enter his first full season as the organization’s number one prospect, at least depending on how Beau Burrows throws in 2016 and whether or not Michael Fulmer sticks in the big leagues long enough.
10 – Chicago White Sox – SS Delvin Perez (International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
If I was really doing this right, Delvin Perez would be higher than ten. I obsess about amateur baseball and the MLB Draft all year long. That makes me (and maybe you, dear reader) part of a comically small minority of baseball fans. That means that most baseball fans only begin following the draft in the immediate days before and after the first players are off the board. Minor league prospect coverage (and interest) has blown up in my lifetime, but amateur ball is still very much a niche thing. Most baseball fans would draft for their minor league fantasy teams based on fairly limited information. The fact that Delvin Perez’s name has been mentioned in the same breath as Carlos Correa’s would give a fantasy owner more than enough ammo to overdraft this year’s top prep shortstop. So, yeah, ten would be a steal in this universe. Maybe even the real one, too. I had a tangent ready to go about the White Sox having a really bad run of shortstops in my lifetime, but upon closer inspection it hasn’t been that bad. Not great, but not horrible. Still, with apologies to Tim Anderson, Perez would stand to be Chicago’s best hope at shortstop in quite some time if this is the pick.
11 – Seattle Mariners – OF Blake Rutherford (Chaminade Prep HS, California)
At some point it’s prudent to move away from the safety of college hitters and roll the dice on one of the best high school athletes in the country. Blake Rutherford is just that. Him being older than ideal for a high school senior gives real MLB teams drafting in the top five something extra to consider, but it could work to his advantage developmentally in terms of fantasy. He’s a little bit older, a little bit more filled-out, and a little bit more equipped to deal with the daily rigors of professional ball than your typical high school prospect. That’s some extreme spin about one of Rutherford’s bigger red flags — admittedly one that is easily resolved within a scouting department: either his age matters or not since it’s not like it’s changing (except up by one day like us all) any time soon — but talking oneself into glossing over a weakness is exactly what fantasy drafting is all about. I like Rutherford more in this range in the real draft than in the mix at 1-1. The Seattle system is desperate for the kind of raw talent that Rutherford provides.
12 – Boston Red Sox – OF Buddy Reed (Florida)
I’m as fascinated by Buddy Reed as the next guy, but this would be a reach. Of the trio of college outfielders everybody liked to crash the top half of the first round party this June, the rangy Reed has done the least to impress in 2016. That doesn’t mean he’s been bad — he hasn’t been — but I think it’s safe to say he’s fallen clearly behind both Corey Ray and Kyle Lewis and potentially even further than that. There have been a lot of college outfielders (including one in Reed’s conference who should be off the board shortly) who have turned big tools into big production this spring that are now positioned to challenge Reed for third best college outfield prospect in the class. Still, Reed is a plus-plus runner with the athletic background that points to potential for as yet untapped upside with the bat. He doesn’t run quite like Billy Hamilton — a kept player in our league for what I have to assume are his steals and steals alone — because nobody runs quite like Billy Hamilton, but his realistic floor as a fantasy asset could be on that level. Even if the bat doesn’t come around, he could have enough speed and range in CF to get regular time in the big leagues. There’s no doubt that Peter Gammons would love the pick of a New England prep player turned college star in real life, so that’s good enough for me. The Gammons checklist for lifelong Twitter updates: 1) Does he have a New England connection in any way?, 2) Did he attend or consider attending North Carolina?, 3) Has he played on the Cape?, and 4) At any point in his life, has he owned any Red Sox paraphernalia?
13 – Tampa Bay Rays – 3B Josh Lowe (Pope HS, Georgia)
I know Mickey Moniak has the alliterative name thing going for him, but Josh Lowe is the closest thing to a Marvel-style super hero in this year’s high school class. What can’t he do? Three clear plus tools (power, arm, speed) with two sure to help in fantasy, stellar defense at the hot corner, elite athleticism, and the fallback option of taking his talents (90-95 FB, intriguing CU and SL) to the mound. Lowe has the raw talent to be one of the best third basemen in baseball. The Evan Longoria runs through 2038 — fine, I looked it up and it’s only 2022 guaranteed with a 2023 team option — so this would be a gamble on talent over necessity.
14 – Cleveland Indians – LHP AJ Puk (Florida)
At some point in the draft, name recognition wins out. AJ Puk’s connection to the 1-1 spot in the real MLB Draft has made him one of the handful of names familiar to any fan with a passing interest in prospecting. People know Puk, people like Puk, and people will gravitate to Puk on draft day. I’m not sure if I’d take him this high in this draft or the real one, but I do understand the appeal of a hard-throwing lefthander with size coming out of a major program. Perhaps the Indians would be better equipped with a conventional college arm like Puk than with whatever has gone down lately with Trevor Bauer. I’m sure there’s a lot there that the general public doesn’t know about, but it’s still surprising that they deemed him not quite good enough to crack their rotation this year. If that felt like a gratuitous mention of Bauer, it was. I’m contractually obligated to mention him every few weeks or else.
15 – Minnesota Twins – C Matt Thaiss (Virginia)
We count OBP rather than BA as a category in this league, so it’s likely that owners would take note of Matt Thaiss’s 17 BB/2 K start and file him away as somebody worth getting to know a bit more intimately. Catchers who get can get on base and flash serious power upside are fun. The Twins minor league system is a who’s who of college catchers from the past three or four drafts, so Thaiss would fit right in.
16 – Los Angeles Angels – OF Anfernee Grier (Auburn)
That power/speed combination is what everybody is looking for. Anfernee Grier has it. He’s got the chance to hit on top of a big league lineup for a long time. The Angels could pick me in this spot and it would still instantly be the most interesting prospect in the system.
17 – Houston Astros – RHP Riley Pint (St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Kansas)
A fantasy pick on a guy like Riley Pint is truly going all-in on upside. There have been a lot of challengers to his throne this spring, but Pint’s raw stuff is still the most impressive of any high school arm in this class. He’s the only prep prospect that I’m confident in putting future plus grades on three different pitches. Jay Groome, Ian Anderson, Alex Speas, Austin Bergner, and Forrest Whitley all could get there, but Pint’s already convinced me. He’s the singular most talented pitching prospect in the country. So why is listed as a mid-first round pick and not a slam dunk 1-1 here? If you’re reading this on your own volition — and I certainly hope there’s no crazed lunatic out there forcing random people to visit my site; that’s my job! — then you already know. Pint’s delivery has many of the smarter public talent evaluators concerned about how he’ll hold up pitching every fifth day. I’m less concerned about that because I’m fairly stubborn in my belief that there’s no such thing as “bad mechanics” since the mere act of throwing a baseball is bad and unnatural by definition. I’m just looking for a guy with athleticism who can repeat whatever he is doing on the mound consistently with an open-mindedness to receiving instruction and a willingness to adjust aspects of his craft as needed. I think Pint fits that bill. The one knock on the fire-balling righthander that I think could have some merit is the concern over his risk of injury going forward. Again, this isn’t something that I’m crazy with concern about — pitchers get hurt, so you have to be ready for that inevitability with any pitching prospect — but the idea that Pint’s most obvious selling point (100 MPH!) could also be his biggest red flag (too much velocity too soon) intrigues the heck out of me. That’s straight out of Shakespeare or The Twilight Zone or something. Red flags or not, Pint’s arm talent is unmistakable. He’s well worth a shot here and likely a whole heck of a lot higher. He’d be on my shortlist at 1-1 if I had a say.
18 – New York Yankees – RHP Cal Quantrill (Stanford)
The attrition at the top of the college pitching pile has left Cal Quantrill, yet to pitch in 2016 as he recovers from last year’s Tommy John surgery, one of the college game’s most intriguing mound prospects. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I wonder if the star student out of Stanford knew this and staged the whole elbow injury to allow time for his competition to implode all over the place. That’s a joke. Not a good one, but a joke all the same.
19 – New York Mets – RHP Alec Hansen (Oklahoma)
The biggest current question mark in the college game has to be Alec Hansen. He’s steadily pitched his way from the 1-1 conversation to the top five to the top ten to potentially all the way out of the first round. I’m no doctor — just a man who loves him some unsourced speculation — but the dots that connect Hansen’s summer away from the mound (forearm tightness) to his dreadful 2016 start are enough to raise an eyebrow. Truthfully, disclosure of a potential injury might just be the best thing that could happen to his draft stock at this point. I’ve linked Hansen’s rise and (as it has turned out) fall to that of Michael Matuella’s from last year. Still think that’s likely how this all plays out come June, but we’ll see. A healthy Hansen with the right kind of professional coaching could front a rotation. That’s why this pick works sooner in fantasy than I think it would in real life. Upside, upside, upside. If it fails, you’re out of a minor league draft pick…and not a couple million bucks and the opportunity cost of landing an impact talent otherwise as if you were picking for real. The Mets making this pick in real life would be intriguing as hell. On one hand, gambling on a potential ace just when some of your other young pitchers are starting to get expensive could be a genius way to replenish what you’ve been building. On the other hand, a little more certainty than Hansen might be prudent since the core you’ve build is so good that supplementing it rather than replacing it should be the priority. Either way, this would be fun.
20 – Los Angeles Dodgers – LHP Matt Krook (Oregon)
The selection of Matt Krook continues to recent run on risky arms that could wind up as legitimate big league aces if everything works out. He’d be perfect for the Dodgers!
21 – Toronto Blue Jays – RHP Dakota Hudson (Missisippi State)
This feels too low for Dakota Hudson, but I think the casual fantasy fan in this scenario might still be sleeping on him a bit. The guy I’ve comped him to in the past, Taijuan Walker, was one of the kept big league players in our league, so I can’t imagine why the potential college version couldn’t get similar attention. Hudson is awesome. I think he’s in play for 1-1 in real life and on the shortlist for best college arm in the country. Toronto would run this pick up to the podium if that’s a thing that ever actually happened in real life.
22 – Pittsburgh Pirates – RHP Alex Speas (McEachern HS, Georgia)
Alex Speas has gotten a very reluctant comparison to Dwight Gooden from Perfect Game. I don’t know how much fantasy league players read Perfect Game since it’s almost entirely all amateur baseball talk with little to no pro coverage, but all it takes is one clever owner wanting a head’s up on the next generation of prospects to have a subscription and stumble across that particular post. Feel like seeing that makes Speas a damn-near automatic pick, right? I should reiterate that the comparison made was done so with the utmost respectful hesitation. Gooden was one of those scouting unicorns that was so special as a talent that it’ll forever be difficult to see him in anybody else. The fact that Speas even got that mention is a compelling enough case to draft him and wait out his (hopeful) rise to the big leagues. An organization known for their ability to transition talented throwers to successful pitchers would be as close to an ideal of a landing spot for Speas as possible.
23 – St. Louis Cardinals – SS Colby Woodmansee (Arizona State)
College shortstop? Check. High probability at staying up the middle as a pro? Check. Flashes of power and patience? Check. Colby Woodmansee hits all the fantasy checkpoints with the exception of any expectation of stolen bases. Shortstop just so happens to be a gigantic organizational hole for the Cardinals, so Woodmansee’s path to playing time would be free and clear. The objective part of my brain knows this isn’t true, but the amateur baseball loving side wonders if he wouldn’t represent the best current option in the organization at short in light of Jhonny Peralta’s thumb injury.
24 – San Diego Padres – OF Will Benson (The Westminster Schools, Georgia)
The name Will Benson brings about all kinds of colorful opinions from those paid to watch him regularly. To call him a divisive prospect at this point would be an understatement. If you love him, then you love his power upside, defensive aptitude, and overwhelming physicality. If you’re cool on him, then he’s more of a future first baseman with a questionable hit tool, inconsistent approach, and overrated athleticism. I’m closer to the love said than not, but I think both the lovers and the haters can at least agree that his bat speed is explosive, his frame is intriguing, and his sheer strength as a human being should beget some monstrous BP performances. He’d be the rare type of hitter who could make Petco look small.
25 – San Diego Padres – RHP Connor Jones (Virginia)
Connor Jones represents the best cross-section of upside and safety in this year’s college pitching class. Assuming non-catastrophic injury, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t wind up at least somewhere around a big league starter. That’s about where I’d put his reasonable upside as well: solid big league starting pitcher. There’s a chance for more, of course, due in large part to his dynamic one-two offspeed combo of an upper-80s splitter and a low- to mid-80s slider. I’ve comped him to Masahiro Tanaka at the highest of high ceiling projections, so, yeah, I like him. Future mid-rotation arms are tremendous real life assets, but fairly boring in fantasy land. That depresses his stock somewhat here, but the upside is still high enough to make him a fantasy first rounder. His high floor is exactly what could attract him to the Padres here as they’d have the chance to diversify their draft portfolio after nabbing a pair of high school prospects (Nolan Jones and Will Benson) earlier.
26 – Chicago White Sox – SS Bryson Brigman (San Diego)
All of the boxes checked by Woodmansee above apply to Bryson Brigman as well. I could easily see the two being flipped based on the personal preference of the owner doing the drafting. You’re trading off some raw power in return for a bigger threat on the bases. So if you’ve got a need for speed, Brigman would be the pick. There’s a chance that the White Sox just locked in their double-play combo for the next decade with this pick and the earlier selection of Delvin Perez.
27 – Baltimore Orioles – 3B Logan Gray (Austin Peay State)
All Logan Gray does is hit. There’s no point in me doubting him anymore. I’m sure there are scouts who don’t love every aspect of his swing or his bat speed or the way he circles the bases after hitting yet another home run, but at some point his extended run of hitting, hitting, and hitting some more has to matter. His athleticism and speed should translate to some steals (double-digits upside?) as he climbs the ladder and his power should play.
28 – Washington Nationals – 3B Carter Kieboom (Walton HS, Georgia)
Carter Kieboom is listed at third, but recent impressive defensive showings could allow him to remain at shortstop for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, he could jump ten or more spots up these rankings because the bat is legit.
29 – Washington Nationals – 1B Pete Alonso (Florida)
This would be something of an overdraft, but you have to pay big if you want bats you can count on in fantasy. Pete Alonso is a good enough hitter that I think he’ll carve out a long-term big league role in some capacity before too long, possibly in a manner not unlike Preston Tucker has done with the Astros. Or something like that. I’m terrible at fantasy and only halfway decent at prospects, so I should really quit while I’m behind here.
30 – Texas Rangers – RHP Daulton Jefferies (California)
There’s nothing that really gets the blood flowing when it comes to Daulton Jefferies, but sometimes paying for certainty makes sense. That might directly contradict something I said in another pick, but nobody is reading all of these so we’re good. The older Jefferies comp to Walker Buehler, a big draft favorite last year, remains a good one. I can’t remember if it was Frankie Piliere or Aaron Fitt who came up with it, but I like it. Fastball-slider-change is a fine way to go through lineups.
31 – New York Mets – RHP Ian Anderson (Shenendehowa HS, New York)
A pre-season FAVORITE who has only gone on to bigger and better things in the interim, Ian Anderson can make a case for being the top prep righthander in this class. He’s one of the handful of young arms with the potential for three plus pitches — 88-94 fastball (95 peak), 77-80 breaking ball, and a 80-85 change — but what truly separates him from the pack is his ten years in the big league veteran command. Fantasy owners rightfully scared off by high school pitchers — so far from the big leagues with so much time to get hurt! — not named Groome and Pint would be wise to include Anderson in that big three on draft day. One scout friend of mine called Anderson a “more explosive Aaron Nola.” A little bit of upside (or a lot), a little bit of certainty (very little, but still more than most HS arms)…where do I sign up?
32 – Los Angeles Dodgers – RHP Forrest Whitley (Alamo Heights HS, Texas)
You really shouldn’t have a first round mock draft that doesn’t include at least one big prep righthander from Texas. It just doesn’t feel right. Whitley, standing in at a strapping 6-7, 240 pounds, has the requisite fastball velocity (88-94, 96 peak) to pair with a cadre of power offspeed stuff. We’re talking a devastating when on upper-80s cut-slider and an average or better mid-80s split-change that has been clocked as high as 90 MPH. I’m not sure how power on power on power would work against pro hitters — this is NOT a comp, but I guess Jake Arrieta has found a way to do it — but I’m looking forward to finding out.
33 – St. Louis Cardinals – OF Avery Tuck (Steele Canyon HS, California)
Avery Tuck, or West Coast Will Benson (kind of) as he’s known around here, is about as boom or bust as you get in this year’s high school hitting class. He 100% looks the part and his athletic abilities are off the charts, but the question that has dogged him since he first broke onto the prospect scene — will he make enough contact to put his gifts to use at the pro level? — remains open for interpretation. If he hits, he’s a star. If not, well, when’s the last time you’ve heard a success story about a guy who can’t hit making it big in pro ball?
34 – St. Louis Cardinals – SS Stephen Alemais (Tulane)
A no-doubter at shortstop with a chance to be consistently average or better at the plate and on the base paths? Yes, please. Stephen Alemais’s offensive contributions should fall closer to solid than spectacular, but the 99.99% likelihood he remains at short for the next decade or longer gives him clear fantasy value. If Woodmansee isn’t the answer, then maybe Alemais can get it done.