No. 1 Pick in MLB Draft: Diamondbacks, Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt
The MLB Draft is only one week away. Thus, here at Grading on the Curve we are starting to ramp up our coverage of all 32 teams heading into the selection. Today, we bring you our first mock draft, spanning from picks number one to number five.
Since the inaugural first-year player draft, nine shortstops and seventeen pitchers have been take with the first overall pick. That means that, over the last 50 years, there is a better chance that the first pick is a shortstop or pitcher than there is that he plays any other position on the diamond. And in the 2015 MLB Draft, it seems rash of pitchers and shortstops taken at the top of the draft will only continue.
I see the Diamondbacks selecting Dansby Swanson number one due to his incredible polish. He’s already 21 years old, on the older side for a draft prospect, and has spent the past three seasons developing at one of the premier college baseball schools in the country.
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At the plate, Dasnby has lightning-quick hands that give him the ability to turn on any pitch in an instant. His numbers were certainly inflated by his metal bat, however, a .350 batting average, a .442 on-base percentage, and a 1.100 OPS are impressive in any environment. Plus, Dasnby stole 15 bases and was caught only two times, revealing a high baseball IQ that is echoed in all facets of his game.
My only real concern with Dasnby is his future positioning. At 6-1, 190, he certainly has the body to play a good shortstop, but I wonder if he might end up at second base, the position he played for the first two years of his college career. That concern may be for naught though, as Swanson’s plus baseball knowledge should compensate for the lack of positional fit.
Still, regardless of his specific position, Swanson has the ability to move quickly through the system and provide excitement for D-Backs fans somewhere up the middle.
Oh, and the fact that current Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings has a career-low 60 OPS+ in 2015 doesn’t hurt Dasnby’s chances at this spot, either.
No. 2 Pick in MLB Draft: Astros, Tyler Jay, Illinois
The Colorado Rockies are hoping against hope that the Astros select SS Alex Bregman with the second overall pick, however, I see Houston passing on the New Mexico product and turning to Tyler Jay out of Illinois.
Jay, a southpaw, throws a fastball that can reach 97 mph, a power curve that should be a plus pitch at maturity, and a changeup that could reach a 55 grade in time. Jay’s high leg kick allows him to rear back and throw hard, but he appears to have some trouble controlling his arsenal. Consider this clip below.
Frequently, Jay widely misses the catcher’s target but gets a swinging strike anyway due to the sheer power of his stuff. I could just be nitpicking here, as Jay owned strong BB/9 numbers during his time at Illinois, but his control is certainly something to watch out for as he develops.
The real issue with Jay is his projection. He started just one game in college and relieved all the rest. MLB.com has reported that Jay maintained his plus velocity in back-to-back relief outings, but it remains to be seen exactly how that velocity would translate as a starter.
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Further, his control issues would certainly be exacerbated in the rotation. All in all, Jay is a risky selection for the Astros, but if he can make it as a starter, he will be a very good major league player.
At the very least, he will be an elite closer for years to come. Lefties who throw harder than 95 are extremely rare, and Jay’s curve may already be an above-average major league pitch right now.
It all hinges on growing that changeup and his stamina, but those things should come with development.
After missing out on Jay, Colorado has no choice but to forget their pitching holes and draft the best player available, undoubtedly high-school shortstop Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers, like Dasnby, has great size for the position at 6-1, 190, and all reports indicate that he should stick as a major league shortstop, high praise for any prospect. Some even think that his defense may be a plus at shortstop at maturity.
Rodgers is also outstanding with the bat. His combination of size and a compact swing should allow him to hit for both average and power. And at Coors field, it would not be surprising if he posted elite offensive numbers during his prime.
He is only 18, so the high schooler will need time developing, but as the potential number one overall pick, the Rockies are getting great value by taking the Rodgers at number three overall. And while Troy Tulowitzki ages, Colorado can groom his replacement with a player who might just be able to come near that level of production.
The best-case scenario for the Rockies is Tyler Jay, but as Astros already have a strong middle infield with Carlos Correa on the way, that situation is unlikely. Rodgers, though, is a fantastic consolation prize. Not only does he offer an elite all-around package of athleticism, bat speed, power, and defense, but he also represents a perfect blend of need versus value for Colorado.
Rodgers should be the no-doubt selection if Jay and Swanson are off the board at number three.
No. 4 Pick in MLB Draft: Texas Rangers, SS/2B Alex Bregman
Texas will likely have the chance to select Bregman or Rodgers at this spot, but Bregman falling to four is the best-case scenario for the Rangers. Baseball America has him going second overall to Houston, but I believe he is a better fit a bit later in the draft.
While Bregman may be the best pure hitter (contact-wise) this year, he probably will have to slide over to second base once he reaches the major leagues. He’s only an inch shorter and ten pounds lighter than Rodgers, however, he owns a very stock build more reminiscent of Dustin Pedroia than Derek Jeter.
Nevertheless, regardless of the position Bregman eventually plays, he has my favorite bat of the entire draft class. He holds his lumber at about a 90 degree angle, loads while keeping his bat straight, and releases one of the most compact and linear swings I have ever seen.
Above is a screenshot of Bregman’s swing I took from MLB.com. Notice the strength of his hands and the especially straight nature of his bat. Bregman is able to load while not dropping his hands or the bat-head, creating a swing that can smack line drives to all fields. This approach does likely limit his power to 12-15 homers during his peak years, but I have no trouble projecting him as a future .320 hitter in the big leagues.
Bregman’s defense will also be an asset to whatever ball club he ends up on, as his comfort level at short makes him an above-average defender at second base. And while the Rangers were once thought to have an extremely crowded middle infield (remember the Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar, and Elvis Andrus problem?), Rangers’ second basemen are actually hitting just .182/.265/.307 in 2015 with a paltry .572 OPS.
If Bregman does descend to the number four spot, GM Jon Daniels should be sprinting to the podium.
After the number four draft spot, there is a wide range of prospects who could be in play as the top-five filters out. Cameron, at just 18 is relatively raw and must undergo a lot of developing, but he has the chance to grow into a five-tool player at maturity.
His defense is the strongest part of his game right now, as Baseball America gives him “the best chance of this year’s prep class to stay in center field.” Cameron’s plus speed gives him good range in center and he backs that up with a strong arm.
Cameron’s swing, though, is farther off from the big leagues. Sometimes, he will drop his hands, load too early, and finish off-balance. Nevertheless, he does consistently flash elite bat speed and plus power, two tools that could make him an excellent hitter in time.
The Astros are too far into their rebuilding process to mistakenly select a player more due to need than value. There are certainly much more polished players at this spot, and one could definitely make the case for the Astros to go in another direction at five. Regardless, Cameron’s five-tool potential and superior athletic ability should caution the Astros against thinking otherwise. He has the potential to hit 20+ home runs, steal 20+ bases, and play solid defense at the top of what’s looking like a stacked future Astros lineup.
I think Daz could become a player than his father, Mike Cameron, who amassed a 46.5 WAR during a 17-year career.