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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…
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.
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.